Friday, 21 September 2012

Reason #125 why I should buy a Silhouette machine

I never really used stencils much... until recently. Buying original ones is not easy for me - they are not available (or sold our quickly) here and importing them is a bit expensive.

I used to work in desktop publishing so designing a pattern is only a matter of minutes. Cutting it out with my craft knife is a completely different story, though...

Somewhere in the middle of the process, when my fingers, shoulder and back hurt, I check the availability of a Silhouette Cameo on our market and then get back to hand-cutting. But I'm getting better. And it's getting addictive. I see the patterns everywhere. The first question is - would I be able to cut this shape by hand? and if I say YES, then it's "sorry, my aching body"...

Blue Moon

This page is to celebrate the blue moon of August – not the actual BLUE moon but THE blue moon (as in "once in a blue moon"). Right?
 [quote by Mark Twain]

The background is done with aluminum tape and some alcohol inks – it is inspired by TimHoltz’s September tag.
I was slightly impatient to do all the “faux rivet” texture details, though. Also, my cheap tape wasn't cooperating very much... The Moon is texture paste and Lumiere paints. 

Walking in circles

Now... I'm back in my element. Finally, the joy of a creative process is back!

I originally used this page to clean my stencils, so there was some texture in the background to begin with. I added some colours simply by repeatedly imprinting the page into a puddle of paints on my craft mat. The arrows are cut out of acetate and then covered in tissue paper. The text is printed on a laser printer, as usual. 


Oh no, another page that started with a sketch and a plan. I was considering creating a magazine cover for some time (I saw several magazines that had handwriting on their covers and I liked it a lot) and I had a spare head (that is to say, I painted this girl some time ago and I didn't know what to do with her).

So I drew this piece of art [for the lack of better expression]. I'm not happy – I don't know why I feel so bad about it. It is way out of my element. It's just not me...


This page started as an experiment as I was testing a new (= unknown to me) technique.
You simply apply texture paste (or some thick paint) on a piece of paper. Next, you place a second paper on top of the wet paste and press together - then you quickly pull the two pieces apart. You get an intricate  seaweed-like pattern.  

[quote by Charles Dickens]

I used crumpled tissue paper around the edges to create more texture. I don't think I got the colours right, though... Somehow I had a different vision in my head and didn't succeed in transferring it onto paper. 

Looking for my mojo

I had a rough time this particular week. Things happened and I was feeling blue. And art wasn't helping... 
[quote from Dracula by Bram Stoker]

I don't like to plan – because then I have to stick to something and it makes me nervous when things don't go as intended. So I don't usually “plan” my artwork, but if I do, I almost always struggle. 
This was a prearranged page and I struggled big time. I knew I wanted to do an Olympic page, I knew the background would be in the 5 Olympic colours, I knew I wanted to zentangle the rings. So, why did I struggle when all was clear from the beginning? I was sticking to my plan and didn't listen to my heart. And... I don't even like the page much...
[quote by Baron de Coubertin]


I was trying to follow Barb Owen's tutorial during one of her regular Friday streams.  

I started pretty well, but because I didn't have the sprays and stencils Barb was using, my result is slightly different. I'm not complaining, because I like it.
 [quote by Helen Keller]

I was looking specifically for a “pathetic” quote because that's how I've been feeling lately... The tiny monsters are inspired by (= copied from) my favourite painter Joan MirĂ³.

A Game of Chess

I made several backgrounds by randomly covering my craft mat with paint and imprinting the paper into it. Sometimes you get a really good result, sometimes not...

This page uses one such background cut into hexagons. Hexagons are IN this year – apparently... And because I don't own any instrument that cuts hexagon shapes, I had to use a ruler and a craft knife...
[quote by Robert Brault]


This page sort of took a life of its own. It started like this...
... and was supposed to go a little bit steampunk...

But somehow is ended up like this:
[quote by Virginia Woolf]

Monday, 3 September 2012

Tissue paper and washi tape tutorial

You will need: thin paper, distress inks, water, stamps.
I begin with ordinary thin paper – this one is used for snack packaging. I found it by accident when I was looking for tissue paper and - not being able to get it anywhere (would you believe it? tissue paper?) - I had to look for alternatives. This one is not as thin as tissue paper, so it doesn't tear (much) when I spray it with water. So it is actually much better...
I use distress inks directly from the pad - not caring about blending it, because I spray it with water. 
When dry, you can stamp your paper with whatever stamps you like. I use StazOn ink because it won't bleed. 

Or - if you dare - you can run it through your inkjet printer.
[Disclaimer: Your printer manufacturer advises you not to use crumpled paper. So, do this at your own risk. If your printer breaks, you don't know me, never heard of me.]
I glue the thin paper down on a regular printer paper with repositionable glue paying extra attention to the edge that goes into the printer first. Approx. one in every five prints jams the printer, so I don't do this very often… [and BTW – don't try it on laser printers!!]

I use the paper as background in my journal or on my cards - even on my canvases.

Or I make my own Washi tapes.
You will need double-sided tape.

Attach your double-sided tape to the back of the paper.

Cut along the edges of the tape.

Once you start, it's very hard to stop... The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


This page is inspired by a technique introduced to me by Barb Owen. She printed photos of her paintings only to cut them apart again and reassemble. (I actually won one of her reasseblages - Thanks, Barb)

When I accidentally forgot to set my printer to "glossy paper" and had a couple of useless photos of my paintings, I knew I had to do something like this...
[my favourite quote from A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket]


My favourite colour combo of this month - yellow, gray and purple.
[quote by ?] 


Disclaimer: I'm not a pessimist but my glass is almost always half empty.

I love this lattice pattern and - having no cutting machine - I had to take a craft-knife and create a stencil myself. And I think I did a great job - giving myself another pat on the shoulder...
[quote by Ambrose Bierce] 


I had to do a page commemorating the Diamond Jubilee. As I say, I must have been British in one of my previous lives... The Union Jacks are actually chocolate wrappers. The page is glittery - the scan doesn't do it justice. 
[quote by Confucius] 


You know, I don't do art to please anyone but myself. If you like it, I'm glad (and flattered) but I'm my own toughest critic. And I LOVE this page.
[quote by Eleanor Roosevelt]
[wandering quote by JRRT]

Today is a new day...

... or maybe not.
Drawing a face has always been a challenge for me. But I decided to give it (another) try. Although this one doesn't look like a monster, I still need more practice. Or maybe not... (anyway, why should I draw more faces?)

[words taken from here]

I had this "bird period". I did a lot of cards and ATCs with birds on them... I'm not sure why...
[quote by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart]


Did I mention I was stubborn (bordering on pig-headed)? Sometimes, when I don't like something I create, I bury it deeply in one of my many boxes (no, I don't throw anything away). But there are times when I decide to redo it. At all costs. This is one of those cases.

I did this page - front (using drywall tape - inspired by Donna Downey) and back:

But I didn't like the front so I started to "repair" it. And thus ruined it completely. It had so many layers of various mediums that it couldn't be covered by anything else let alone a brand new painting. After careful deliberation, I decided to sacrifice the back painting and redo it. 

And I don't regret that decision...
[quote by Pablo Picasso]

And because the back painting deserved to survive (and I had a spare pair of hands...), here it is - brand new:
[quote by George F. Will]

Moving on

After some initial mistrust and misunderstandings, I'm really starting to use stencils more and more in my art. This page uses Tim Holtz houses as a stencil. 
 [the quote is from my horoscope]

I was in a freakish mood...
[quote by John Lennon]

This page reuses parts of a painting I did long time ago - but I don't think I did a better job this time. Third time lucky? We'll see...

Spring gloom

I must have been English in my previous life – because I have recently developed a habit of complaining about weather. Don't get me wrong, I like almost all kinds of weather – if they come when they should, in the right order and don't go into extremes. Living in what we call “mild” climate (I believe it's officially called “temperate zone”) doesn't mean we get mild weather. We usually have snow and up to (or down to?) -15°C in winter, and dry and hot temperatures sometimes reaching over 30°C in summer. And we used to have spring and autumn in between... The last couple of years, winter ended abruptly and someone forgot to include spring. My favourite kind of weather would be somewhere between 5 and 25°C, moderate sunshine, some clouds and even some rain. But I'm tired of these extreme swings from -17°C to +15°C. The nature is all confused, everything wakes up at the same time, the birds are yapping, my head aches and… we are all forced to switch to Daylight Saving Time. THEY steal ONE HOUR of my sleep and they expect me to like it? Especially when it is known and scientifically proven that this FAKE time is not “saving” anything nowadays (as we are online 24-7…).
[quote by Dorothy Parker]


I was waiting for some reaction concerning my last week's decision (aka Treason). But it never came.   Instead, I was surrounded by silence. No one talked to me, I was kept out of the loop and I was purposely excluded from any decision-making. Or maybe I was imagining it… But it felt so weird.
 [quote by Jack London]

Oh, and then the gossiping started. It was quite funny to hear what people tell about you behind your back. And it was even funnier when I started to spread misleading gossip in various directions and waited through which channels it would come back to me. 
[quote by Kahlil Gibran]

Difficult times

I don't particularly like this page but it reflects my anger and frustration about how certain people at work were treating me (and/or how I allowed them to treat me). 
[quote by Harvey Fierstein]

This was a difficult page – not art-wise but because of the message I wanted to communicate. I made up my mind about something (concerning my job) – and I was called a traitor by a person I used to respect very much. Not any more… The problem is, I felt betrayed (and I really don't want to go into details about it…). 
 [quote by Thomas Fuller]

Challenge won

I won a challenge with this thank you card I sent to my wee friend Sarah in Scotland.

Poor card was missing in action for several weeks - both Czech and UK post lost track of it - but it arrived safely in the end.

Defeats and victories

This page started badly – with a distress inks background that wouldn't blend  the way I wanted. I kept adding more ink and ended up with a solid dark green background and a brick wall in one corner. The wall was supposed to have a graffiti-like inscription but it just didn't look right. So I decided to rework it. Out of sheer frustration, I added some washi tapes. It looks presentable now, but I'm not entirely happy with it. 
 [quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald]

This page looked like another failure before it transformed itself into one of my favourite pages. I painted the background and I didn't know what to do next. I set it aside and for a couple of days – and then, out of the blue, an inspiration came. I thought of Donna Downey and her India ink doodles and those flowers quite literally materialized in my head. 
Why "success"? I won a challenge and I was elated! 
 [quote by David Frost]


Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?

I'm a dreamer and I don't deny it (and I need to do some art around that quote from the Matrix in the future...). And daydreaming is my favourite activity… closely followed by procrastination… 
I bought this magnetic bookmark with my name in Exter in 1997 - not only because it had my name and its origin on it but because it said I was a Utopian Dreamer. Finally a definition that fits perfectly. 

This page features two of my stencils - designed by me, hand-cut but no other than me. 

[Japanese Proverb]

Here, I used pages that came out of my printer instead of a text document. That was some 10 years ago - I treasured it, and every now and then I dig it out and use it. And I scanned it because I'm running out of it... 
And there is of course a deeper meaning in me choosing this quote but that I'll keep for myself...
 [quote by Henry S. Haskins]

This page is to remind me that I need to slow down and stop chasing things that are not that important. 
[quote by John De Paola]