I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Monday, 19 June 2017

Five Year Anniversary Candy

Hello all!  Five years... five years?  Yes, Words and Pictures is five years old today.  I still can't quite believe it.  This utterly unexpected journey into the world of arts & crafts has been such an uplifting experience.  I've learned so much, not least about myself, and done things I had no idea I could do.  And there are exciting things in the offing...

All of that has been made more intense, more joyful and more extraordinary by the friends and travelling companions I've discovered in Craftyblogland.





The nourishment, inspiration and happiness you have all provided to me in those years is immeasurable - whether in your lovely comments here, or in my visits to your own blogs.

So, as is traditional, here is an offering of gratitude.  You all receive my thanks, with a full heart.

But there is also a blog candy to be won.

And, although I can't send each and every one of you the prize, this year I've decided to have both a winner and a runner up.  Well, it is five years!

The first name out of the hat will receive the treasure trove you can see here (not the little wooden tray, I'm afraid - that's just to make it easier to see everything).















There are laces, fabrics and papers, including some of the rice paper I brought back from China; tags, postcards and buttons of various sorts and sizes; wood and metal embellishments; some paper flowers and seashells; and, of course, the PaperArtsy Hot Picks stamps.













The second name out will receive a slightly smaller selection of almost exactly the same goodies, but without the stamps.  (And the runner up can't have the tray either, sorry!)

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave a comment below telling me that you'd like to be included in the draw.











If you would like to share the main photo and link in your sidebar, and/or join up as a follower if you aren't one already, then that would be lovely, but it's not compulsory in order to be a winner.

I'm going to give you a whole month to comment, since I'm not back in the UK to post it before then in any case!  So the deadline is 19th July, 23.59 British Summer Time.  And yes, I will post worldwide.








I know I've used it for Blogaversary posts before but I don't mind repeating things that matter so, once again, I return to the Shakespeare quote which is the only one which can do justice to the occasion...

I can no other answer make but thanks,
And thanks, and ever thanks.
From Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Breaking the silence...



Hello all!  I know, I'm sorry.  It's been vanishingly quiet here at Words and Pictures.  Three weeks without posting... unheard of!!

I'm afraid I've been thoroughly immersed in my other creative world, working on a production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure here in New York, and that's been taking up my time and my energy.   (I'm writing this at midnight, having just got in from work, because I can't bear to leave it any longer.)

But there is a flurry of blog activity due shortly, starting with a celebratory post on Monday and getting more exciting from there on.  That's another reason it's been quiet here...  There's been lots in preparation which couldn't be revealed, but the time is coming soon!

I keep promising to catch you up on my watercolour journey so, for now, I'm going to share a few sneak peeks and tasters of some of where that's been taking me.  Shock, horror, I'm finding myself in florals quite often!!








The watercolouring really started to take hold earlier this year, partly because the equipment is relatively easy to travel with.

I've already shared some flowers, some fungi, wild meadow grasses, some trees, and some general messing about.  (There are more watercolour posts if you've missed them and are curious.)













And I've carried on with the nature theme quite often, unsurprisingly.

There's a sort of tree series, varying according to the season or my mood on any given day...













... and playing on different kinds of paper (sometimes with added white acrylic splatter).















It's still amazing to me how much difference the surface you're working on makes to the play of the paints.












Some of what I'm sharing today was done months ago, back at the beginning of the year, or through February and March.

I had a whimsical turn at one point...












... all very pastel and pink.  An interesting excursion but not very me, probably!















And I got obsessed with faces for a while...














... full of rainbow colours.














I'm still fascinated by how changing the colours will change the mood.















Some of them turned out to be whole figures.  I never in my life thought I'd end up with little girls appearing in front of me on the page.












There are also some sketchy figures in action.  I've doodled active figures for a while in the margins of my scripts (inspired by the stage action going on in front of me during technical rehearsals, when there are often long periods with not much happening that I have to pay close attention to).












I started with rough sketches in watercolour pencil, and used a water brush to add more shading.

I suppose it's no coincidence that I got hooked on faces and figures whilst I was in the midst of making my Elizabethan dollshouse dolls.














I even took a little sideways journey into some whimsical birds - this little chap is one of many.  I suppose they're still part of that exploration of expressive faces in a way.













I had a glorious time combining the watercolours with my much-loved mixed media texture during a brief window of time in my actual craft room.













As always, the exploring and the learning are the main excitements for me... 














... finding out what the paints will do, and trying to work out how they and I fit together best.














These pages feel like a really exciting part of the journey, and I know there's more to explore here.  Trees feature again, you'll notice.











Then there are these florals which keep cropping up.

I guess it's partly the wonderful Tim Holtz coneflower stamp which inspired me to head towards daisies.













But they're also a relatively simple thing to draw, and drawing is an area where I need lots of practice.

It's nice to start with something which gives you pleasing results fairly early on.














I really enjoyed this version done over some watercolour ground applied quite roughly to the page.  The scrumptious texture took all the pressure out of trying to get my drawing "right".













And the flowers have continued to come alive right here in New York.... some more daisies, in varying hues!














I got some fabulous decorative thistles to put in the large mason jars in my apartment...














... so I thought I'd have a go at trying to capture them on paper.















And then there's the relaxation of just mixing colours for fun...














I'm so glad I thought of bringing the wonderful colour wheel stamp from this fabulous stamp set by Andrea Ockey Parr with me.













It's great when you just want to clear your head by playing with colour.













And sometimes that inevitably leads on to yet more florals...!

I'm not going into details with any of this right now, partly because when I do have a spare hour I find I want to play with the watercolours rather than write a blogpost.  As you know, my blogposts tend to be rather lengthy, so they eat up time!









But it's also partly because I've got plans for some of these, and I'll share the work in more detail if and when I get the ball rolling with those plans later in the year.  In the meantime, I hope this post will have whetted your appetite for more.

And I do hope you'll be able to pop back and visit again between now and the end of June... I promise it will be worth your while.  For now - given that it's 1.30am, I'll just say thank you so much for stopping by, have a lovely day, and happy crafting, all.

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou
(Yes, thank you, Maya - but what about the time needed to play with it all?!)

Monday, 22 May 2017

Traveller's Notebook








Hello all!  I'm sorry it's been quiet here, but I'm so grateful for the lovely feedback on my Nature Assemblage for PaperArtsy.  It was one of those makes which just felt right, so I'm happy to know it struck a chord for many of you too.

The reason I've been absent is that I'm embedded in a new rehearsal process, and also enjoying settling in to New York City again.  That doesn't leave a lot of time or headspace for much else.

I have been spending some of my spare time playing with paints and inks, but I'm finding it hard to progress beyond backgrounds and preparation to an actual finished piece.  Still having fun playing both craftily and otherwise, though...














So this post really is a bit of a traveller's notebook entry.

I thought I'd just share a couple of pictures of my travelling craft set up here in my rather lovely Brooklyn apartment.

And then I've also got a few photos of some in-progress pages in my Midori Traveller's Notebook.  Yes, I yielded to my long-time desire for one of those lovely leather journal covers and some inserts.  Well, given the amount of travelling I seem to do...







I have a craft mat with me, some Oxides, some mini-distress inks, Prima watercolour pencils and my tin of Qor watercolour paints (the black tin you can just see on the left), as well as various brushes, plastic palette knives and selected embossing powders, twine and Archival Inks (in the craft bag on the right).


I had some stuff on order with The Funkie Junkie Boutique ready for posting when I got here (fantastic customer service from Linda Coughlin) - so that's where the mini Dina Wakley paints you can see came from.  And I've also been to Blicks for some Watercolour Ground, and a sample set of Golden texture pastes.

On the windowsill right next to the table (lovely big wooden table - couldn't be better!), I've got some stamps, tags, book pages and ephemera, stencils, and stickers (some brought from home and some bought here).


And the lovely basket was just sitting there waiting - perfect to hold the washi and tissue tapes, as well as various Idea-ology bits and bobs - not to mention some Tattered Angels sprays picked up for a song here (yes, there'll likely be an extra bag on the way home).  I'm not travelling light, but then I am here for ten weeks.






As well as the bits and bobs of tag backgrounds and watercolouring you can see in the very first photo of this post, I've been having a lovely time starting to add things into the Midori notebook, though so far I've not progressed to any writing or completed art-journalling.













Before leaving home, I'd already stuck some Tim Holtz design papers into the Midori inserts in various places.














The 8x8 Etcetera pad is perfect for creating signatures just by folding the sheets in half or, as I've done here, cutting them in half to add detail to one side of a page spread.














And I'd also added some washi and deco-tape detailing...














... as well as doing some stamping with the gorgeous vintage Scrapcosy stamps from PaperArtsy...
















... alongside some of Lin Brown's grasses and leaves.










One of the things on order from The Funkie Junkie Boutique was Tim's Illustrated Garden stamp set from the releases earlier this year.  So I've already inked them up and started adding them in to the notebook.


These fantastically detailed botanical drawings make wonderful page accents (and go so well with the Scrapcosy stamps too!).


I don't know yet whether I'll paint these, or tint them, or just work around them, but I feel as though I'll be inspired to write or draw or collage when I arrive at these pages. 







The "blank page syndrome" is already dealt with, so you might as well just write something.













Not all the pages have been inked or altered so, if it continues to be the case that all I really feel like doing is backgrounds or occasional elements, then there's still plenty of space to carry on.  I'm not going to bully myself about it.













While still at home, I was also using up scraps and leftovers from around the craft table.














So these two Photobooth photos...















... which have tried and failed to make it onto a number of projects in recent months...














... now finally have somewhere to live.














And I constructed a kraft pocket insert to hold extra Photobooth strips in case I want to add more vintage photos as I go (seems probable!).













Although the standard Midori papers are not really up to much in terms of wet media, I rather like the weathered look you get if you add watery distress inks to them.














The covers of each insert are made of sturdier stuff, so there's some space to play with wetter media there.  And I've got some homemade watercolour page inserts ready too, so if I do want to branch out, I've got the wherewithal.









So that's what I'm up to... just some dabbling to keep my hand in while my creativity concentrates itself back in the Words side of things for a while.  (For the insatiably curious, this is the production which I'm working on here.)   I'm also continuing my drawing/watercolouring endeavours, as well as ending up with lots of Oxide-y backgrounds to play with if Mr Mojo moves over to Pictures again at any point.





Thanks so much for stopping by today, and for your patience while things take a turn for the peaceful here at Words and Pictures.  I may get some Encore posts up, or I may manage to share some more of my watercolour journey (there's oodles to catch up with on that front), and I hope I'll also manage some blog-visiting at times.

But for now I'll wish you all a wonderful week, and happy crafting!

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson