Oriental Crane Sunrise

I have a craft room!!  It’s mainly white (the walls are a very pale aqua) and it has been well and truly purged.  The hallway is full of boxes and I’m only allowing things in that I really love or I  know I will use.  There’s so much stuff going out that I think we’re going to have to open the doors and have a warehouse sale at some point.

I have a slightly bigger table than I used to have and I’m slowly getting a working arrangement set up that suits me.  It’s got a south facing window which is actually proving a slight problem as the low winter sun (when we see it) slants through the window into my eyes and there are not many places to put the table to avoid it.  I’ll have to drop the blind when it’s very sunny, but I have some good task lighting, so even in the evenings I have plenty of light to work by.

I’ll do a full studio tour when I’m finished – still a fair bit of unpacking and sorting out to do, but I did manage to make a card at the weekend.

Oriental Crane

Not my normal colour palette at all, but I love it.  This has been created with PanPastels, mainly using tints to create a soft dreamy colour scheme.  I rubbed various tints around the background then used a circle mask to add some ink (Saffron and Venetian Orange Archival).  The stenciling (Tile Texture) was done with ink and I didn’t realise until Lesley pointed it out that it gives an illusion of oriental vertical script.  I stamped the blossoms with Versafine and lightly dabbed on PanPastel in shades of lilac and pink.

I stamped the lanterns from Lily Pad with Versafine Smokey Grey and the crane (Oriental Crane) was stamped in black.  I added a hint of colour to the lanterns and crane with Coloursoft pencils, then added a tiny bit of VersaMagic ink around the edge of the card.  It’s mounted onto a lilac embossed card (ancient stash recently re-discovered) and onto gold pearl card.

I’m really pleased with the way it has turned out and I can’t tell you how enjoyable it was to craft in a clean, tidy, WARM, space …. bliss!


A catch up post

Last week it was Lesley’s birthday and I wanted to do something to make her birthday special.  I hope she will tell you about it on her own blog soon (thepaperengineer.blogspot.co.uk), but I know she thoroughly enjoyed not one, but two fantastic days.  Plus I got to try out some workshop ideas on her which was good for me too!

Above is the card I made for her.  It features an old Prima mask in the background (no longer available in our shop, but wait til you see the new ones …) and stamps from Woodland Dreams and Nature Swirls.  The trees are coloured very simply with Inktense pencils and I used Distress inks over the mask and Memento to over stamp the background.

A couple of months ago, I made a birthday card for our other ‘Team Chocolate’ member, Val.

This one uses Sunny Sunflowers and our wood mounted Happy Birthday stamp.  I stamped the background with Versamark and used PanPastels over the top.  I don’t have any of the tints (yet) so I used lots of white before rubbing some of the stronger colours over the top.  The large flower is made using the leaves from the stamp set.  They are stamped onto yellow card with a dye ink (can’t remember now what I used, probably Memento) and after cutting them out I sponged some ink around the edges.  The smooth shape means they’re nice and easy to cut out.  I curled them with my fingers and assembled the flower with foam pads to keep the shape.  I was going to put one of the small sunflowers in the middle, but the rose was lying around and just looked perfect, so on it went.

In other news, Adrian’s doing ok, but obviously he is still coming to terms with losing both parents and it’s a slow and painful process.  He’s quite restless, so we have been going out quite a lot and actually been to some lovely places.  We discovered Helmsley last weekend and I might just have to move there.  Not for the picturesque ruined castle or the proximity of the glorious Rievaulx Abbey.  No the thing that would tempt me to sell all my worldly possessions and live rough on the street …. the turkish delight ice cream!  Oh boy, now I understand Edmund’s reaction in Narnia, I’m with the white witch every time if I can just have a little more of that heavenly stuff …




Let your dreams take flight

It’s been a funny couple of weeks and many ‘non-urgent’ activities have fallen to the bottom of the to do list.   I have a stack of unread emails in my inbox, a heap of unfinished projects, a messy house (hey, what’s new) and tumbleweeds rolling around the blog.

Adrian and I have a lot to sort out.  He is obviously still grieving – for both parents – and nothing but time makes that any easier. We haven’t started the job of clearing the house yet, but have had a fair bit of stuff to do, including finalising all the social services paperwork (we were on the ‘Direct Payments’ scheme, so have to sort out redundancy for the carer and reconcile the bank accounts – tedious, but necessary).  It’s the end of a chapter and the start of a whole new book for us.  Peeking through the grief we feel a sense of freedom and we know that our future is now full of choice and opportunity.

I may not be around blogging as much as I’d like in the immediate future.  I’m still making time to create – mainly introspective musings in my journal, workshop and retreat ideas (one of the many things that I’ve been reluctant to commit to before now) and quite a few magazine submissions.  Luckily for me, Chocolate Baroque has an amazing Design Team, so there will still be lots of inspiration coming your way over on the Design Team Blog.  I’ll try and interject some non-Christmas stuff this month in case you’re not quite ready to be thinking of that yet.

Here’s a simple one layer card that I made this morning.

I had used the Zinnia stencil with PanPastels on another project and laid it over a sheet of glossy card to clean it with a baby wipe.  The pastel to baby wipe ratio was just right to leave a beautifully softly coloured pattern (I tried it again a few times and it’s a bit hit and miss, but the key is to use glossy card).  I stamped over it with Memento (Teal Zeal), but stamped off on paper first to give a softer colour, then stippled around the edges and stamped the sentiment.  Stamps are all from Butterfly Dreams.

Says it all really!

Inspired by the sky

I see that storm we had in Barnard Castle on Wednesday made the news and a couple of local bridges remain closed awaiting structural surveys.  One of them is a wooden bridge at Whorlton which always makes me slightly nervous at the best of times as it literally is wooden planks – you can see right through the gaps to the water below.  It always felt wrong taking a car over it, but I believe it is a listed or protected structure, so even if it needs work, I suspect the wooden planks will stay.

Something I read fairly recently (but can’t remember where) was about the creativity gap.  That’s the difference between what you see in your head and what you end up creating.  You know how you want it to turn out and because it isn’t how you pictured it, your inner critic comes out in full force and tells you it’s rubbish.  The article went on to say that basically you need to practice if you ever want to close that gap.  It’s true, I really believe quality is overrated when it comes to making art – quantity is more important.  Just keep on doing it and the quality will come.

So while my inner critic sits on my shoulder and says “you’re not seriously going to put that on the internet are you”, my wiser self just says “shut the **** up” and is going ahead anyway.

It’s loosely based on the photos I took the other night and no, it’s not quite how it was in my head, but for a first attempt at an actual painting with PanPastels, I’m quietly happy with it.  I’m happy with the sky, but don’t have the fine control of the media yet to do trees as well as I’d like.  Yes, I’m being pernickety, but I think we all are with our own work.  I used an old canvas pad I have and it was actually a bit too textured, so I think I may invest in some pastel paper.

Did you know that research has found looking up at the sky or just looking up in general can combat depression?  I can’t remember where I read that either, so I can’t back it up, but I like the idea a lot.  Not so great in the rain and fog, but most of the time I find the sky an inspiring and uplifting thing to stare at.

So far the sky is looking overcast, but it’s dry at the moment.  Adrian has two gigs this weekend – I’ll be watching him play at The Ship in Richmond tonight, but I’ve cried off Sunday’s afternoon’s performance as it’s in a field at Catterick.  If the weather forecast is right, it will be a bit of a mudbath so I’ll stay at home and pretend I’m a domestic goddess by making sure he has a nice hot dinner ready to come back to.  (My slow cooker is my latest favourite kitchen gadget!)

Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing, and I hope it stays dry for you.

(My inner critic has flounced off in a huff and is now trying to form a coalition with the time thief…)

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