Sunday, July 29, 2012

Home is lovely too!

My holiday to France was AMAZING.  But I have to remember that it's really quite beautiful here too!
 I really like to keep my camera handy so I have it clipped into my purse so it's nearly always with me.  The first three shots are taken in a park about a 10 minute walk away from where I live.  (Didn't take my purse, did take my camera.)  It was a lovely evening although perhaps a bit cool for summer.  You probably can't feel the 'cool' part just from looking!
It's so very strange.  The horizon isn't always straight in my part of the world either....although in this shot I don't have the excuse of being in a moving car!!
Evening sunlight through the trees.  Magic!
It is easy to find lovely things everywhere!!! We had taken some large-ish compost to the local recycling and this stalwart bramble was climbing up the side of one of the containers.   Gotta love it!!!
Still painting, still stitching.....I'll be back.....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Soy Wax, Handmade books and More Gouache

I have finished making one of the bookcovers and have started the cover for another hand made book. 

The photo above is the finished book cover that I have slipped onto one of my sketchbooks.  I think I had some of the process a bit confused last time (sorry, it's the brain, sigh).  This one was prepared using soy wax, but in this case the soy wax was applied through a stencil onto the fabric, left to dry  (which takes but a moment) and then the fabric was painted with procion MX dyes that had been mixed with urea and soda ash, so that the fabric didn't need any presoaking.  I used felt for batting and bound it as for a quilt, with sleeves inside into which I slipped the front and back covers of the book.
This book cover was prepared in the same way as the previous cover...that is, the wax was applied first, this time with a stamp, onto plain white fabric and then the fabric was painted with the dyes.  Then it was batched and rinsed, as one does.  I did a bit of stitching onto it before attaching it to the covers.  I haven't yet added any of the signatures....that part won't happen for a little bit, but I'll show you again when it's all finished.
And this is another page I have completed in my travel journal, using the same image from Beauport Abbey.  I prepared the page with oil pastels and a watercolour wash, then I painted with the gouache onto the watercolour paper that is in the journal.  This is the first time I've used watercolour paper...well, each time so far has been different.  I've tried tracing paper, tissue paper and now watercolour paper.  I can't say I have a favourite, although I expect the watercolour would be the most usual option.  It didn't buckle at all, which was nice but it wasn't an especially wet application.  It buckled a wee bit from the watercolour wash but the gouache doesn't seem to have affected it.  I'll play some more with it and see what happens.

I am working into my sketchbook using some other images and symbols from the Abbey.  I'll show you that next time.

Back soon.....

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gouache and Soy Wax, Further thoughts

These two pieces are from the Soy Wax workshop I took a couple of weeks ago.  The inspiration is, again, Beauport Abbey in Brittany.  In the top pic I have also applied Shiva paintsticks through a stencil I made based on another one of my pictures taken that day.  (There is lots to work with there, I haven't nearly finished exploring the ideas from my photos!!)   The shot below is again printed through the soy wax silk screen.  Both pieces are part of the book cover I am working on.....more on that later.
 This is what became of my gouache painting. I have applied it to a piece of watercolour paper that I had previously gessoed, painted, tissue papered (is that a verb???) and then repainted.  I applied the gouache painting with matte medium being careful to not get any on the painting itself.  That worked.  But what I did find is that in the places where there were now two layers of tissue paper, the paper retained a white misty look and didn't fuse as nicely with the background as it did where there was only one layer.  I painted over the parts that had no gouache on but I'm still not totally satisfied. 
What I really like about the gouache is that, being opaque, it stands up quite nicely against any paint that is under it, if the gouache is painted on full strength.  For instance, I really like that space between the windowsill and the wheelbarrow and the gouache kept that lovely dark colour and covered up the marks below.  And where some of the marks show through the wheelbarrow, well, I like that effect also. And the white gouache kept the crisp image of the windowsill. I was also pleased that, because I didn't have to put the image face down, in order to prevent smudging, I was able to retain that lovely velvety look of the gouache.  So, some successes!!! But I'm still not crazy about that mistiness.....
Oh well.  I'll ponder on it some more.......
Back soon..... 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Experiments with gouache

I am playing with some of the pictures I took of Beauport Abbey.  This is my gouache version, on tissue paper, of one of the photos I posted earlier after my visit to the Abbey last June.  I am going to affix it to another prepared background (gesso, watercolour, tissue paper, matte medium) that I'm working on but the gouache smudges badly with the matte medium on top of it when I apply it to the background so I am trying to outwit it!!  So far it may be winning.  I've tried putting it face down which prevents the smudging but I lose some of the velvety look of the gouache.  This is my second version, the first was on tracing paper.  And I can't paint directly onto the matte medium with the gouache because it doesn't give nearly the effect I'm looking for.  No matter, I shall persevere!!
If you have any ideas I 'd love to hear them. 
Back soon,.....I hope!!!...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Soy Wax Resist

I recently attended a workshop given by Susan Purney Mark on soy wax resist.  It was one of the best workshops I have ever attended.  It was the first time I had worked with soy wax and I can assure you it won't be the last!!!  I had prepared a couple of stencils using photos (taken during my recent trip to France, therefore no copyright issues) of Beauport Abbey in Brittany.  I affixed one of the stencils to a screen printing frame and painted soy wax into the opening on the stencil.  The image was somewhat degraded because I couldn't get the freezer paper stencil to properly stick to the screen, but I rather like the distressed images that resulted.  What a lucky accident!!!  I had also prepared a couple of stamps using a sponge purchased at a DIY store.  These also worked very well and will be put to good use again.

I am working on a book cover using some other fabric that I printed that day, ising the same inspiration.  We used procion MX dyes, mixed with soda ash and urea, so that we could paint directly onto the fabric after we stamped it with the soy wax.  The second day we used thickened dyes on soda-soaked fabric so that we could use the screen prints.  I can't decide which was my favourite method.  I'm planning another session in the next while, so I'll let you know how that one works out and I'll see if I can pick a favourite.  But maybe it's nice to have both of them tucked away in my 'techniques' stash!! That's fun too!

Susan has a wonderful blog filled with tons of information, that you can follow.  She has also authored a couple of books and is currently working on a video.  You might want to sign up to follow her's well worth the visit.  You might even want to sign up for her next cruise!!! 
The workshop took place in a studio in Duncan, about a one-hour drive from Victoria.  The studio belongs to Gloria Daly and you might want to check out her website as well  Oh gosh, so many fun happenings!!
Hope you're having fun too!!
Back soon...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Last holiday post

 So, as you know, I am home now, but still haven't quite finished bringing you up to date with the trip!  So a few last shots from our trip and then I'll get on to more things that I've been busy with at home.

The sky, oh my gosh, the beautiful skies over Holland.  Well, over all of Europe that we saw.  Gorgeous big wide skies.  Here is one quick shot.  Endless, endless skies.
 On our last drive-about in Holland we stopped and walked around in Edam.  What a lovely little town.  There were more canals, with boats safely moored beneath bridges....
and cheese.  Edam is another word for cheese, right???!!!
 And a mallard duck in the water.  Water and water birds, they go together!
 And I confess, I was very intrigued with the boats in the shadows.....
 And back in Amsterdam, lots of bikes, and more canals....very Amsterdam!
 And trams.  There are tram lanes, and bike lanes and then people lanes.  And you have to be very careful about which one you are in!!
 Windmills, so lovely....
 And more boats.....
And finally, I got some pictures of flamingoes!!! I had been sad that I hadn't been able to capture any flamingoes on film whilst we travelled through the Camargue.  So, flamingoes in Amsterdam.....that works!!

So that was the end of our holiday.  And such a holiday it was.  I enjoyed every second of it!!  And I would do it again in a heartbeat!!  I hope you enjoyed my travels as much as I did.

But wait, I have thousands of photos, and so I will continue to enjoy my trip for a long time and I am sure it will show up in my art bits more and more often.

When it does, I'll show you that too!
Back soon....

Monday, July 2, 2012


 We stayed at a fabulous bed and breakfast in Amsterdam ( and I just had to show you the amazing breakfasts that were provided.  Oh my!  And they insisted that we take what we hadn't eaten to have for our lunch.  And notice the dishes?  They were hand painted by our hostess who paints on porcelain.  These had fanciful insects on them but she does a variety of styles, all very lovely.  What a nice touch!!!
We stayed in the Garden Room,  should you happen to check out the link.  It's worth it, and it is certainly worth staying there should you be in Amsterdam.  I can't recommend it enough!!
 This was a tunnel that we passed through a couple of times as we were driving around Amsterdam.   I was messing about with the camera.  I liked the bumpy parts the best, just for the distortion!!   We kept our car for one night and took a drive the second day before returning our car to the airport.
A little story....beware when you park in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is crazy expensive to park in....outside our b and b it was 5 euro per HOUR.  And the powers that be are lurking nearby to ticket one for any seeming transgression.  We arrived at 5:35 in the evening (I know that because they had asked us to arrive after 5:30), we knocked on the door of our b and b, introduced ourselves, asked what to do about the car, our host indicated that we needed a special card to even buy a parking permit, my guy went with him to purchase the permit which was stamped at 5:41.  Too late, the ticket on the car window was stamped at 5:39!! For 58 euros!! So beware if you are parking in Amsterdam.  Maybe at the very least, I should have stayed with the car whilst my guy went and sorted out the permit. Just something to keep in mind of you plan on driving in Amsterdam....well, I guess the driving is all right, it's the parking that's a problem!!
But on our second day we took the car and did a bit of exploring.  We came across this delightful parade.
 A bit of countryside.
 We drove along the coast, winding northeast out of Amsterdam, which at this point was field on one side and a dike on the other, and then lots of water on the other side of that!
 These guys were enjoying a snack and the water view from the top of the dike.
 More snacking, more waterside views.  Sigh.
 And always, and everywhere, these monsters.
 Water, water, everywhere.....
 I much prefer this version of 'wind turbine'.  So much more tranquil, don't you think??
 But then the wind is good for fun things as well.  And even the cows stopped to watch the fun!!
Honestly, there were so many beautiful views, everywhere one looked.  More crazy shutter snapping!!
At the risk of boring you with all these shots, I'll save the rest of the pics for next time.
I'm home now and have been to a workshop using soy wax on cloth.  Wow, what a fun time.....more on that later.
I'm back in my own time zone now and my head has caught up with my body at last.  Jet lag, gotta love it!!!
Back soon.....