Wednesday, 26 October 2016

WOYWW 386 - an almost empty desk

Happy WOYWW to all those that I do not manage to visit in the next few days.  I definitely feel that one day for the global desk tour that is WOYWW (click HERE for more information and to join in) is not enough - so tend to extend it until Friday!

I am up bright and early this morning (well - I would not say that I am bright and it is still dark outside - but I could not sleep, the cat wanted her breakfast fish and my craft room was calling me).

I then realised that my crafting desk was actually clean and clear.  I did think about staging some Xmas card manufacturing, but looked at my Xmas stash box and just had no motivation.  Oh well, there is still over a month until I need to start posting them.  Anyone else have no desire to make Xmas cards at the moment?

My small collection of 'Just 15 Minutes' pieces needed to be laid out and a decision made on how to make them up into a book - so here they are.  The problem is that they are different thicknesses.  I would prefer not to mount them on bigger pieces of paper, so going to Google in a minute and see if there is a technique of bookbinding to suit.  There are 10 there, and I may well do a few more as I really enjoyed the quick process each day.  Forced my brain to get creative and not think too much.


(Nothing else on the desk except for various craft mats/cutting mats, and still the pile of journal pages from August that are waiting to be made up into the final book when I have finished the lessons from The Journey Within journalling/book making course.)

I hope that everyone is reasonably well and happy.  I continue to cope without codeine.  I had a morning yesterday when the pain level was high enough to make me grumpy, and at those times I do get sad about having to cope without painkillers for possibly the rest of my life (I am always optimistic that they will find a cure for Fibromyalgia one day in my lifetime).  I dream about having just one day with no pain or at least with a comfortable level of 'blurring'.  Oh well, as usual I got busy doing some client readings (I have started learning the Lenormand method of divination) and sorting out sales of more decluttered items, and by the afternoon I was feeling better.   Distraction and pacing is key.

Today I am planning to start the free course that I was amazed to receive in my inbox yesterday - sent to all those that have signed up for Life Book 2017.  Click on the link to the left or in my sidebar for more details on this year long mixed media extravaganza (not a word I use very often!) - and remember to use the code for a 20% discount.

Ali x

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Loss of a Dog

Medina the Lurcher left us on 23rd October 2015.  I can remember that day in huge detail, but it is also a blur - a lot of waiting for the vets to come and end her suffering.

It was peaceful and strangely not at all upsetting at the end.  One of the best decisions in my life not to struggle to get her from the kitchen to a vehicle, drive 11 miles to the vets and have to carry her in, past a waiting room full of people/animals.  She was very much a lady and her end was as dignified as her.

A huge gap has been left in our lives.  A physical space on the kitchen floor where her big bed was.  A space in the pantry where her big food container was.  A space on the sink drainer where her big food bowl would dry.  We still have the big water bowl on the floor (Milky the cat prefers to drink from it than her own small one).

Buzz the Jack Russell (who shared her life for 7 years) has always seemed ok.  He still has an occasional 'mad run around' in the field by himself, but he is older now and generally prefers a slower pace.

Medina came into my life in May 2003 (before I even met Rich!).  She came from Ireland, was absolutely terrified - could not get a lead on her or even touch her.  She gradually gained confidence from my Pekingese and had a good life with us - but there was always a fear inside her.  Only a few of us saw her play in the fields.  It was wonderful to see her in the last year of her life when she relaxed and allowed a few more people to see her true character.

Life wasn't always easy with such a traumatised dog, but it was worth every minute - and she will always be part of our hearts.

The last photo I have of Medina - taken in one of her favourite fields, only 11 days before she left us.
She shared my love of standing and staring at a view.
She was running in a nearby field the afternoon before her death - my wish that she would not suffer for long was granted.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

WOYWW 385 - stitching and scrap paper

Morning everyone (or afternoon/evening).  If you want to join in with the weekly global hop around crafty workspaces, go to Julia's Stamping Ground for more details.

A quick post from me, as I had a slow morning (since stopping taking the codeine painkillers I am a lot more sleepy in the mornings, so I am listening to my body and adjusting my routine) and got a lot in my head to do today (with family visiting tomorrow I need to tackle some housework downstairs!).  I may well fail to get all of that list completed, but it is pushing me at the moment to get away from the computer.

My crafty table is showing signs that I have returned to finish the handmade journals I started back in July.  Two more to stitch up (and I have done the practice stitching for the first one) and then the set of four will be complete.  I am loving making books in this way.  Very satisfying.

There is also an increasing pile of scrap papers, ie paper that has been used to 'mop up' spare paint etc when doing other projects, plus some printed out photos (just on copier paper) to be used eventually - and my 'practice' journal which I use for first time experiments with different mediums/techniques.  This pile will have to move into a box this week, as it is getting out of hand on the table.



I plan to visit as many blogs as possible this week, but Happy WOYWW to everyone anyway.

Ali x

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

WOYWW 384 - daily crafting for distraction

I am admitting that I am typing this on Tuesday afternoon, as I hope to be driving myself into town on Wednesday morning and my limited energy may well be completely gone after that!

WOYWW is 'What is On Your Workdesk Wednesday' and you can join in at Julia's Stamping Ground.

Here is my 'crafting' desk (the other one is mainly used for PC stuff).  Crafting actually in progress (see my post for today - Subtractive Pear - for details).  It started off as my 'Just 15 Minutes' piece, but will definitely take longer than that to finish.  An interesting technique that could be used with different mediums.

On the kraft mat is the Subtractive Pear - well the beginning of it.  Mine is not going to look anything like the example in the project booklet!  The usual scraps of paper above, and you can just see the journal covers in the top right.  There are some sweet wooden buttons which I found in my button jar, and will be used on some canvases soon.  A single robin button on the glass cutting mat, which is destined for a Xmas card probably.  The piece of watercolour paper that I am using for the 'waste' acrylic paint from this project.  Nearly covered it now and will be fab for backgrounds.  Paintbrush and palette knife.  Above those in the middle are the contents of the Golden Sample Box - some fab colours and different mediums to try.

It is fantastic being back to daily crafting - this 'Just 15 Minutes' is a miracle way of ensuring that I don't tell myself that I don't have time to craft.  One of the best ways of coping with chronic pain.  I often get up from my desk and then realise how much pain I am in.  I am still doing the Pomodoro Technique a lot of the time - 25 minutes of activity and then a 5 minute break - and that helps to pace my day.

Happy WOYWW to those I do manage to visit.

Ali x

ps  Another reminder that registration is now open for Life Book 2017.  I am really excited to start on 1st January.  Click on the link in my side bar to join in.  I have just been told that a 20% discount is being given using the code FIREWORKS2017.  An even more brilliant reason to sign up!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Subtractive Pear - a new technique for me

No - I had no idea what that meant until now!  I bought a starter set of Golden Acrylic Colours and Mediums, and it came with a little project booklet.  I was looking for inspiration for my 'Just 15 Minutes' today and saw this project - which only used 3 of the paints, so would not require me to spend all day at my desk.


(Sorry, you cannot see all of the mediums included - but it gives you an idea of the range of products included.)

I started with brushing on the 'High Flow Fluorescent Pink' onto my piece of paper.  This is more of an ink texture and I needed a fair amount to cover the paper.  Dried quickly.


Then a layer of 'Fluid Iridescent Bright Gold Fine'.  This had incredible pigment - one of the best golds I have ever used.


Finally a thick layer of 'OPEN Phthalo Blue/G.S' using a palette knife.  An amazing colour with green undertones.


I used the tip of the palette knife to draw the shape of the pear.



The rest of the process will involve me using other tools or a soft cloth to take away other areas of the top layer, which they said may take 2 days to dry completely.  

It is like posh scratch art!!

I am thinking of using other colours to make some Christmas cards.

I am going to get my WOYWW post typed up now and scheduled for midnight.  I am hoping to drive myself into Haverfordwest again tomorrow, so I need to spread my jobs out in order to have enough energy.

A reminder that registration is now open for Life Book 2017 - a year long mixed media project with amazing teachers.  Click on the link in my sidebar to join in.

Ali x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Tangles and Smashed Background

I am finally returning to the Journey Within 2016 3rd Quarter, which I started in July, did quite a lot of it and then put it to one side.  (The final quarter has just started and you can sign up any time before the end of the year, including a special offer if you want the entire year of classes.)

One of the teachers for July is Sadelle Wiltshire.  Click here for her website.  She is a Certified Zentangle Teacher and her teaching style is wonderful.

She was very generous and created 3 separate lessons - one basic Zentangle tile, a journal page and then a bonus tutorial for creating our own labryinth.

I did start doing some Zentangle a few years ago, but it had literally been pushed to the back of a cupboard, so it was wonderful to be tangling again.

Here is my basic tile (the tangles are Hollibaugh, Twiggee, N'Zeppe and Sampson).


I have also started the journal page (our theme for July is Sanctuary & Silence).  I will be returning to add more details/colour/shading - but it is ok for now.

Sadelle showed us the Smashed Background technique, where you apply a medium directly to your craft mat, spritz with water and then press your paper down onto it.  I used watercolour pens to put the colours down.



Here is the initial effect (I used the left hand page to mop up some of the remaining colour).


I then started to use a Micron pen to create areas for tangles.


The sort-of finished page


It felt great to be back working in a journal. but I do tire easily and that is enough for today.  I know that I will be doing Zentangle regularly from now on.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

WOYWW 383 - I hope the worst is over

Happy WOYWW to you all.  Go over to Julia's Stamping Ground for more details about this global tour of crafty workspaces.

I am on Day 20 of codeine withdrawal now and really feel that the worst is behind me.  I am back to my usual routine of constant/varying pain, fatigue and other symptoms - but it is great to know that I am coping without the prop of a codeine tablet.  I am resting more and taking less steps each day (aiming to keep below 10,000 which is really difficult when I have housework/gardening/animal care to do).

A new daily exercise of "Just 15 Minutes" is helping to distract me and create new healthy habits.  Read my post from yesterday which explains all and gives you the links - Just 15 Minutes.

My 15 minutes of creativity today is shown in my photo.  In my exploration of mixed media artist websites/blogs I found a lady who shares a photo of a sidewalk each month.  She encourages you to print it off and then just create with whatever you see in that picture.  I printed off the one for September, but had not got round to doing anything with it - so have cut it into two 5x5 pieces and used the first piece today.  I saw a landscape through a window, and used my new Derwent Line Painter pens to doodle over it.  Very child-like - but there is nothing wrong with having a young mind (and artistic ability!).  When I can remember which website I got this from, I will come back and post a link.  It would be something fun to do with non-crafty friends/family and children, or as a warm up in a workshop.


The image before I attacked it with pens.


The finished piece - plus the pens in their funky storage case and the usual baby wipes/scrap paper etc.  (Please excuse the paint blots - I obviously need some more practice with using these pens.)

The morning is almost over here, so I had better get this linked up and tour around a few blogs before it is lunch.  Busy afternoon ahead - helping to move our heifers to a new field on the other side of the farm (involves some roads) and then taking the farm van for its MOT (hoping to persuade hubby that we can go and get fish/chips afterwards and walk the dog along a beach).

ETA - Registration is now open for Life Book 2017 - click on the image in the side bar to join this exciting exploration of mixed media.

Ali x



Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Just 15 Minutes

Hi, everyone.  I am actually starting to feel more like myself - whatever that is!  Day 19 of withdrawal from codeine, and most of the symptoms have gone.  I very proudly drove myself to town yesterday (about 25 minutes each way) and managed to walk around a supermarket.  Exhausted afterwards, which meant that I did not sleep well last night - but that was a big milestone for me without any painkillers.  Yes, I still do automatically think about taking a tablet sometimes, especially when I am really sore, but I have never got close to actually getting the box out of the cupboard.  I am not surprised that I am coping, but have had to reduce the amount of activity I do each day.  My average steps used to be above 13,000 per day - but aiming to keep that below 10,000 most days.

digital art by Sebastian Michaels, Phototshop, 21 days, creative abundance


I am taking more time to be creative now - on a daily basis - which is just wonderful.  The main push for me was the invite from Sebastian Michaels (I signed up for his Photoshop course many years ago - and been getting inspiration from him ever since - as per the picture above) to take part in his 21 Days to Creative Abundance e-course.  A large part of this is the 'Just 15 Minutes' practice - where we are aiming to sit down/stand up/kneel down for a minimum of 15 minutes (you will probably end up doing more as you get focused) and just create.  I am incorporating my love of handmade books into this, by using a 5x5 piece of paper each day, and will then make them into a book at the end of the month.  I have completed 2 days so far (see my Instagram for the first piece).

I used to write a quote into a diary every day back in 2015, but had stopped before finishing the year, so I have gone back to that and adding again daily.  I use that quote to spark some sort of creativity.

The quote for today is - Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can (Arthur Ashe).


I can make a lot of mess in 15 minutes!  I used 2 different texture stamps by John Bloodworth/Gentleman Crafter, an acrylic paint and a chalk paint, and a fine black pen.  


Totally random result.

By the way - do not assume that Sebastian's course is just for digital art - I am using it purely to make creativity a habit for me again.  However, if you would like to learn to use Photoshop - and create digital art in a deliciously grungy way (or whichever style that you love) - then the original course, Photoshop Artistry, is a must for you.  The amount of material is incredible - I still receive bonus material/training regularly after several years - and I am also no longer using it with Photoshop, but with the cheaper/just as good Serif software.  Contact me if you would like further details on the Serif CraftArtist and separate photo editing software.

I plan to be back tomorrow for the usual weekly WOYWW post, but can never make any promises (busy day on the farm).

ETA - If like me you really want to learn more about mixed media and get lots of fab inspiration, join in with Life Book 2017.  Registration is now open.  

Ali x