Thursday 26 March 2009

Sent & Received!

We are off to Perth tomorrow for a friend's wedding on Saturday so this weekend is going to be pretty blog-free. We'll be back on Sunday afternoon so I can go to work on Monday :(( So I thought I had better post some pictures of the ATCs and postcards I have been working on and the lovely ATCS I have I have been receiving.

To start off the postcard at the top is a replacement floral themed one that I have made for Carole Brungar as my first-ever "naked" one didn't make it through the post to her last month. I am a bit sad about that as I really liked that original postcard. This time I made a different sort using painted lutradur type textile into which I melted holes. This month we are exchanging vintage themed ATCs and this is the one I have made. Mine is paper/cardstock based and includes a vintage pen nib and a stamped background.

Carole's has already arrived this end and she made a lovely collaged and stitched fabric ATC.

I have been participating in the Surface Design Yahoo Group's second technique based ATC exchange. I decided to make a large piece that I would then cut into ATCs. Firstly I created a patchwork fabric background using two strong colours (and of course for me they were hot pink and orange!), then I squirted small squares of puffy paint onto the fabric. The one I wanted to use up just happened to be purple!

Next step was to puff the paint using an iron on the reverse and then to paint the lumpy little squares with gold paint. I layered the fabric to a piece of felt and then used gold thread to free motion machine stitch over the painted areas. This flattens the paint a little and unifies it more with the fabric background.

I rubbed some permanent black ink lightly on the painted squares to tone down the gold. I finished it off by adding some simple decorative hand-stitching around the painted stitched squares in a few bright colours. To make the ATCs I ironed on a piece of Pelmet Vilene Plus and then cut it into ATC sized pieces.

Here are the ATCs I have received so far from this exchange:

And then I also received this lovely Valentine cross-stitch ATC from the prolific Anne Lugherini.

Monday 23 March 2009

Some More Retreat Photos

Yesterday's post (which comes up as if I posted it on Saturday as that was when I started drafting it!) ended up too big to include photos of everything so today's post is mostly photos. This is my painted face canvas from the second workshop I did with DJ. The next picture is where I stopped in class as I was just muddying the shading and getting into quite a mess (on the canvas and in my head). I think I have rectified it "enough" although what I can mostly see is what I needed to do differently (including learning more about lips and chins and shading and hair and eyebrows etc etc etc). I am an eyelash sort of girl and had to add them even though DJ recommends against spider leg lashes!! Hopefully I didn't go toooo overboard with them. I really learnt a lot in this class and need to start another face while I remember at least some of DJ's techniques.

These are the inside covers and "wrapped" signatures in the Art Journal I made in DJ Pettit's wonderful workshop. I think this will definitely be something I will be making again and it will be really nice to use my own artwork made miniature to personalise it a bit more. As you can see DJ gave us postcards of her lovely dreamy pictures to cut up and sew onto our wraps. There is a very glare-y picture of the postcards - two sizes - further down. Marvellous way to promote your work and make some money (they are a really nice quality and will look great framed and hung as a group!).

This is my favourite one!

I changed this one today on the left side -
will have to photograph it again - it looks much better now!

DJ's gorgeous postcards - the little ones are standard size and the bigger ones are much bigger!

As mentioned before we swapped "little houses" at the retreat but as yet I haven't taken a picture of mine altogether but when I do I'll post a picture here. I am thinking about mounting them along the edge of my big whiteboard in my office at work as I sit facing it and it would be a great way to see them often!

And here are photos of some of my Queensland art sisters (Kasha - how did I not end up with a photo of you???) These guys are all wonderful artists and great fun!

Gaye Todd

Gorgeous "Art of the Month" bust (with beautiful Moo card) for me from Jo

Jo Wholohan & Celeste Santin

The beautiful interior of the building in which my cousin Wendy has her design business
and where we had a lovely lunch!

A beautiful vintage doily I bought from a shop in the above building

A tiny peek at the part of an eight foot long vintage obi I bought at the same shop -
gorgeous heavy fabric that will have to become part of something special!

A gorgeous gift bundle from my special retreat room mate Susie -
it was waiting on my pillow when I arrived - how nice is that!!

And I have just realized that I haven't yet loaded a picture of my beautiful Jen Crossley etched metal necklace. It will have to wait until tomorrow now - and I am wearing it to work tomorrow so I won't forget!

Saturday 21 March 2009

Where Do I Start? (PS Very Long Post!!)

(One of my Retreat purchases - a wonderful DJ Pettit print)

Goodness - eleven days away from blogging and all of them blog-worthy in one way or another!!

It started with a flight to Perth on the Wednesday. This was the first leg of my trip over to Melbourne for the Creative Soul Art Retreat. I stayed with my wonderful friend Jude and had a lot of fun catching up with her and her husband Peter. I hadn't seen them since their wedding in December and since then they have been in Paris and London so there was a lot to catch up on - including viewing some of the beautiful wedding photos (although there is one of me all by myself making my speech that seriously needs deleting - how can I manage to do something like "that" with my face!!). I don't have any photos yet so can't share but I can guarantee there is at least one that I will not be posting here!!

The next day I spent in the airport and flying the Perth to Melbourne leg. It was a relaxing stress-free day once I got my very heavy case checked in (art supplies weigh a lot and I wasn't able to deliver on my minimalist intentions). The Eagles (for anyone from out of Australia, they are one of two football teams in our state that compete in the national Australian Rules Football competition) were on the plane and only a row away. This is significant as I had a long period when I was an Eagles fan and based much of my weekend around football. What is also significant is that the decade since that period meant I only recognised the oldies (who are now the coaching department!) and everyone else looked the same ages as my sons!! Needless to say I didn't spend time gawking but read my book and watched the movie "Doubt" which I loved. As I was staying at my sister's place in Melbourne for the night and as she was away, I caught the Skybus for the first time - great bus service from the airport to the city but it would have been a whole lot easier with a small lighter bag or if I had been one of the first on the bus - big heavy cases are not easy to slot into full luggage racks!

After a quiet night (including a little dusk walk around Prahran - man, those cicadas are loud) I got myself to the huge Chadstone Shopping Centre the next morning where I was meeting my friend Karin Hutchinson. We had a lovely time wandering through the many shops - as a result of my pre-existing luggage weight I wasn't buying (except for some German chocolate and hot pink Smiggles stuff) but just looking was good fun. Karin introduced me to the delights and decadence of a Belgian hot chocolate for morning tea and we had yummy sushi for lunch.


From there we headed up to Amberley in Lower Plenty for the Art Retreat registration. (and what a fantastic venue it was). That was the start of three and a bit days of fun, laughter, art and catching up with many online friends, some of whom I hadn't previously met in person! It was a bit over-whelming for the introvert in me but it was a really special time and I can feel myself smiling while I write this. The tutors (DJ Pettit, Bernie Berlin and Stephanie Lee) were all lovely and friendly - they mixed in with everybody and there was a wonderful atmosphere all weekend. As is often the way with me, I got all caught up in the experience and took only a couple of photos - none of the tutors or the workshops I took but I'd rather be totally involved than behind a camera anyway! See here and here and here for some photos taken by others over the weekend.
(The lovely bush view from the balcony at the rear of Amberley)

On the Friday night the air of anticipation was palpable and we all made the most of the twilight markets - the tutors and some others were selling art and supplies. I treated myself to a lovely DJ print and a Jen Crossley mixed media necklace (neither of course were heavy so it wasn't hard to justify the purchases). I love them both and can't wait to find a spot to display the print. I was very circumspect when it came to additional supplies though.

Saturday was the first of two workshops I was doing with DJ. It was a journal making class and involved some great techniques for the very heavy water-colour paper covers as well as incorporating her fabric signature wraps, an idea that really appealed to me and one that I will be using in the future. The marriage of paper and fabric is perfect to my mind. The journal was big and involved many steps so it was a lot to get done in the one day but a few of us returned to the workroom after dinner to finish the assembly part. I was getting a bit tired towards the end of the marathon session and managed to stab myself rather convincingly with a thick three inch needle so I had to extract some blood spattered journal pages as a result! I ended up with a rather dramatic bruise on the finger as well but it was all for art!

(My DJ Art Journal - not quite finished but close...)

DJ was a terrific teacher and I really enjoyed the workshop. As I knew I wouldn't have everything I wanted around me, I was able to let go of the urge to make something I'd love and just concentrate on the techniques. In the end though, I was pretty happy with the result and I am looking forward to making another one with all the special bits and pieces that I have at home. As you can see from the photo, I have still some finishing off to do on the spine (painting my stitching and adding beads to the dangling threads). The only thing I didn't do that I wish I had, was to incorporate some text on the cover in the early stages of stenciling and masking. I'll probably just add rub-ons now but it would have been better to have some words under the paint washes.

The Sunday workshop was also with DJ and was a face painting class. Fortunately DJ gave us a sketch to transfer to our canvas or I would have spent half the class just drawing a face to paint! The technique involved painting on a chiffon covered canvas and it was another workshop that I am very glad to have done even if I wasn't happy by the end of the class with what I produced. It certainly wasn't the fault of the teaching but had a lot to do with me wanting to get the shading right and struggling with doing something so detailed with so many people around me. I learnt a lot about myself - I am just too used to doing art by myself and I really got quite uptight! Fortunately my beautiful serene friend and room-mate Susie was sitting next to me and with humour and sweetness she helped me through my "challenges"! I'll post photos tomorrow...


In the end I just wrapped it up and put it away so I wouldn't be tempted to fiddle any more with it until I got home. Now with several days in between I can see that it is all very fixable and that my mistakes came from over-working a not wet enough surface! The big lesson for me is that despite thinking I had a good attitude to workshops (ie you are delusional if you think you are going to produce something close to the tutor's art from a single workshop!!) I did manage to invest too much ego and perfectionism into what I was doing!

Sunday night I had a real thrill when my Retreat Challenge Book (as per my previous post) won second prize - all of the entries were fantastic so I was pretty lucky. The prize was a whole bag full of art supply goodness and seriously was perfect for me and my tastes. It was however weighty and created a little more pressure in the luggage department though!

(My prizes!)

On the Monday I did the Bernie Berlin "Secrets of the Burnt and Bound" workshop. I selected this one because it was a technique based workshop and was not something I expected to get a specific result from. Bernie was just the most delightful person and a really enthusiastic, generous and personable tutor. I let go of all my expectations and just played and I enjoyed expanding my knowledge of background techniques etc! As a result of the learnings from the day before I didn't invest any ego in the result and just went with the flow and as a result had a lovely day of play! I got to sit at a table that included Julie Hetherington so finally had a bit of a chance to get to know her after so long reading her beautiful inspiring blog! Until this retreat I had only had one very short meeting with Julie at a retreat two years ago. And then to finish off a wonderful day I won a door prize (more lovely art supplies!!).

(My finished piece and two unfinished backgrounds from Bernie's workshop)

My beautiful sister Marrijane picked me up on the Monday after the Retreat finished and I had the next few days with her. We had a lovely relaxing and very special time together - all the more special as we live so far apart these days and time together (and time alone together) is rare.
(Marrijane and me!)

Marrijane had planned a day of surprises for me for the Tuesday so at 9am we got in her car and started a journey that was full of unknowns for me (quite a weird feeling actually). As it turned out my sister and Mum had met this lovely Melbourne artist, Beverley Exell back in November when Mum went over to Melbourne for the Andre Rieu concert. Beverley was selling her work at the Arts Centre Sunday Markets and her passion, her creativity and her love for what was she was doing really sparked with Mum and Marrijane and they were positive that I needed to connect with her. I remember Mum being quite insistent on the phone when she got back to WA but I just wrote down Beverley's contact details "for later"! Anyway Marrijane had made contact with Beverley and had made arrangements for me to visit her at her lovely studio. And I am so very glad she did - I felt an instant connection and after just a couple of hours know that I have met a soul sister. Check out Beverley's beautiful portfolios and other items here.

(Beverley - on the right - and me in her studio)

(The beautiful watercolour journal by Beverley)

(One of Beverley's beautiful notepad covers - note the little pen holder on the side!)

And as if that wasn't enough, the surprises continued with a further drive down to Newtown for lunch with my "twin" cousin Wendy. We are only three months apart in age and used to love that we had such similar colouring etc (both of my sisters are dark haired and olive skinned) so we often pretended to be twins or sisters when we were little. I hadn't seen Wendy for at least four years so it was a very special chance for the three of us to have some time together (and a delicious risotto).

(Wendy and me)

The next day Marrijane and I just relaxed and made the most of the gorgeous sunny weather. In the early evening we walked through Prahran to meet my ex-workmate and friend Adam for dinner at Kush. After living such a "car" based existence in Kalgoorlie for the last 15 years, I really noticed how lovely it is to be able to walk to places and how interesting all the shops and street-life is. It was so good to see Adam again as these days, at best, we catch up once a year.


The next day was basically spent in airports or flying - I had a two-leg journey and what was supposed to be a three hour gap in between flights became a lot longer due to an extra two and a half hour delay on the last leg. Fortunately I was in the middle of reading a really good novel (Kate Grenville's "The Idea of Perfection") and was travelling with books of logic problems, crosswords and sudoku. Meredith Morgan was on the same Melbourne to Perth flight so we had a good chat before we boarded as we hadn't really ended up with much time together at the Retreat so that was really nice. Meredith was one of the first group of stamping artists I connected with via the internet and she provided me with a very memorable and powerful example of "paying it forward" when she sent me, as a virtual stranger, a whole lot of Radiant Pearls (a very special sort of paints that I adore) for which she had duplicates when I was so limited by my then measley collection of three colours! I have tried since then to embody that same approach with others that are starting out on their art/craft/creative journey. As I have only ever met Meredith in person once before, our catch-up at the airport gave me a chance to thank her again (several years had passed of course)!

So in the end one very tired but happy person finally got home Thursday night and ever since I have been floating - unpacking, sorting and tidying up and doing a bit of domestic type stuff but so far pretty unfocused even though I have a head full of new inspiration and ideas. I go back to work on Tuesday so I am planning on getting into some serious play this afternoon and tomorrow. Enough floating (except for thinking about the next Retreat)!

And that is the end of the marathon post. Phew...more photos tomorrow or the next day or...

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Catching Up

This weekend I finally caught up with my pages and covers for the Creative Soul Book Challenge for the Art Retreat NEXT weekend!!

The picture at the top is the front cover of the concertina style book which I have made out of lovely Fabriano paper. The one below it is the back cover. For these covers I used some graph paper that I had used the back of when I was doing a large painting/colour wash project. It is lovely thick paper and the splashes and over sprays made it quite attractive so I have just embellished it a little further with stamps, stencilling and glimmer sprays and a stitched collage and book plate for the front.
Next are a couple of the pages I have finished off. The first one is for the challenge theme "all things French". I tried to avoid doing the Eiffel Tower for a change although it was rather hard as I, along with many others, really love that iconic image. I love that image of the woman posing in her floaty wraps and for some reason it always make me think of "things French" so I printed it on fabric and stitched it to a stamped and painted canvas page. The stamp at the bottom is a lovely corner "Poste Francaise" clear stamp by Prima (and their stamps are just divine - I have two of the "Build a Frame" sheets and love love love them!

The second page is for the theme "my favourite things". As my favourite things are many and varied, I decided to go for flowers as my main favourite thing but bright paint colours, texture paste, stencils, text stamps and canvas are some of my favourite art items as well. I have stitched all the skinny book pages onto the concertina book pages and I have wrapped the book with gorgeous vibrant recycled sari yarn (which is more like a twisted cord and which is worth every cent of its rather high price!) to keep it altogether.

Now, as I am on holidays as of today, I am off to pack for the Art Retreat (and do all the hundred other things I have left to the last minute).

Saturday 7 March 2009

A Little Bird Quilt

A few posts back I shared a partial shot of a little bird themed art quilt that I was working on. Well I have finally finished it. This is for my friend Karin Hutchinson over in Victoria - she was my "Art of the Month" partner for February and seeing as I am going to be able to personally deliver this in a week's time, I had a little bit of extra time to finish it. (And yes I have sent an email to Karin warning her not to look here if she wants a surprise.)

I really enjoyed making this quilt - the silk was lovely to stitch and the seed stitching itself, although time consuming, was very meditative (most of it was done while I was a passenger on long car drives in February). The silk pieces that I used for the background and the no-stitch applique were hand-dyed by Joanna - glorious colours - they just make my heart sing! I absolutely adore the leaf trim and have recently invested in a much bigger quantity via the net to make sure I don't run out! This time I glued it to the quilt and then added a few stitches to each leaf but next time I don't think I would risk the fabric glue - it was too fiddly making sure I didn't get any where it shouldn't be! I originally intended to bead the leaves but I decided it might be overkill on such a small quilt. (It is 8.5 by 7.5 inches or approx 21 x 18 cms). In the background you can just see a tiny little bit of a new tree patterned batik fabric that I bought recently from a local shop here. The owner is sourcing batik fabrics from Bali and some of them are just wonderful! Things are looking up here on the edge of the desert!!

When I came to binding the quilt I had a real dilemma as I hadn't planned anything. I thought it needed a silk binding but there was no way I wanted to use slippery fabric for a binding so in the end I used a lovely wide sari ribbon in graduated colours and hand stitched it with fine gold thread. I think it works on this quilt (hope so!). I must keep my eyes open for more of those lovely ribbons - I can't recall if the few I have were an online purchase or a gift.

I found out today that Carole over in New Zealand didn't ever receive the postcard I sent her for our February exchange. I am very disappointed as it was my first go at posting a "naked" postcard! I will be going back to using envelopes from now on - Carole reckons someone along the way probably liked it enough to nick it.

Last night after work Annie and I went to the opening of an exhibition here in Kalgoorlie - it is a dual exhibition of landscape paintings (by Peter Williams) and of felt works by the Warburton Aboriginal Community which is about 900kms east of here into the desert. They also had some of their incredible glass art on display as well. The 11 felt pieces were all large and very striking. There would have been a lot of work involved in meshing all those wet fibres! It was really interesting to see Aboriginal art and stories translated into such a different medium. All of the pieces are in the collection of Janet Holmes a Court ( a lady with exceptional taste!). I can't find any pictures on the net of the felt pieces unfortunately so you will just have to take my word for it when I say they were VERY striking!

I have been a bit quiet blogging-wise this week, even though I haven't been travelling, but it was because I got a throat infection and head cold and was just too wiped out to blog by the time I got home from work each day. Still struggling but it at least it is the weekend! To cheer us all up I have been baking rich fudge brownies and banana cake.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Creative Soul Retreat

Well it is now less than two weeks to the Creative Soul Retreat - I can't wait but I must admit I am feeling unprepared - I haven't even checked the class requirements lists! I am taking two weeks leave from work - I fly to Perth on the 11th to have a night with my friend Jude and then on to Melbourne on the 12th. We all get together on the afternoon of the 13th and the workshops start the next day and go for three days. I'm doing two days with DJ Pettit and the third day with Bernie Berlin. So much inspiration!! Then I'm staying in Melbourne for a couple of extra days to have some time with my lovely sister Marrijane.

I mentioned before that many of the Retreat participants are doing a little house swap, so today I finally finished my 50 little houses (they really are little). Mine are bright and hopefully more funky than cute! Here is a photo of most of them - I couldn't fit them all on one piece of 12x12 paper. I am really looking forward to seeing the resulting little village that I will come home with - I think I will mount mine around the door frame of my craft room.

I've had a funny sort of day - I enjoyed knowing I have tomorrow as a public holiday so didn't really settle at any one thing today - a nice sleep-in and lots of cups of tea before getting up, a bit of gardening (in the rain which we are very lucky to be receiving!), a bit of stitching, a bit of reading, a bit of blog and etsy surfing (I've discovered pounce!), a bit of stamping, a nice long conversation with one of my sisters and of course, finishing off those little houses. Going to cook a nice dinner now...