Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Work in Progress - April, a Very Mixed Bag!

Until this week, our weather in April has been more like early summer than springtime!

Just as well, as I've had to be out and about a lot more than usual, mostly walking into town to meet friends or going to various medical appointments. All this walking is much better for my back than sitting at a computer. But on the other hand, it's time I'd otherwise be using for designing and 'creating' products and greeting cards for sale in Print-on-demand stores!

All that taken into consideration, I haven't done too badly!

I've made three of my new 'Friendship' quotation illustrations into Flexible Fridge Magnets.

You can see them, and a couple of older ones

And I've finally finished creating products with my collage fishes, ending with a set of Persian New Year (Norooz) greeting cards. This custom-front card is just one of the fifteen cards addressed to various family relations and friends -

Zazzle have introduced so many new products since I first started stocking my Posh and Painterly store in August, 2013, that one of my weekly tasks is to go back over my collections, adding new products wherever there are gaps. 

This month, I finished some of the 'Daisy Chains' patterns. And then moved on to my 'Islamic Collection'

Here, for instance, is a Cube Pouf -

Red Bubble have also added scarves to the products we can put our patterns/designs on so that has kept me busy as well -

If the quality is anything like as good as the
Tote Bags, they'll be excellent value and just right
for gifts for friends that I have to send by post!

It's been quite a challenge to fit in working on a new pattern with so many other things going on. 

So I cheated slightly and chose a pattern that I'd begun a while back. It still needed a lot of work, though, and I'm quite pleased with how many products I've been able to create with it, in spite of a lack of time!

Here it is - my "Granny Print" collection,
another hand-painted paper collage,
digitally manipulated to make a repeating pattern.

I've barely started creating coordinating patterns for my 'Granny Print' so I expect that to take me right through most of May.

One of the new products that Zazzle have introduced this year really caught my imagination - Ceramic Drawer Knobs and Pulls!

They seem the ideal product to feature my somewhat 'Shabby Chic' patterns. So, whenever I've had a few moments to spare, I've begun to 'create' some of them - lots more to come! 

(If only Zazzle would slow down with the introduction of new products, just for a while, it might give us time to catch up!)

And finally -

My Fairy House is finished and varnished!


Can you see the lacy pink Fairy Wings hanging on the washing line at the back?

So I've turned my attention to my paper bead-making

I'm not finding the roller I bought is all that helpful in getting the paper to roll nice and straight. I seem to have more control over it when I use a cocktail stick - hopefully I'll be able to post some finished necklaces next time!

I wish, as always, that I'd had more time to be creative.

But I think the various appointments have been worthwhile. It seems that, having been prescribed asthma inhalers for nearly three years, I almost certainly don't actually have asthma! (The symptoms may be caused by the acid reflux/possible hiatus hernia that took me to hospital just before Christmas.)

And the physiotherapist I've just started seeing seems to know what she's about, even if that does involve leaning heavily on my back, causing a lot of 'treatment soreness' for the rest of the week! I've had an increasingly nagging, burning pain down my 'wrong' leg for more than four years and it didn't feel like sciatica. But apparently it is nerve pain coming from my back - though not the sciatic nerve. Now that we know that, I can be treated and do exercises in the hope that it will gradually improve. I've already begun to feel that my back is less stiff than it was a week ago.

Who knows, I might even be able to go out with the local walking group again one day! 

With a bit of detective work and a lot of determination on my part the pieces of the puzzle are finally starting to fit together. (I'd rather be designing, though!)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Strawberry, Melon and Kiwi Fruit - a Color Palette for all seasons!

So far, April has been mostly dry and sunny - and remarkably warm for spring. 

Almost summer-like, in fact, and I've seen plenty of people in t-shirts and shorts in town, though I wouldn't go quite that far myself!

But I do have buds on some of my roses:

And it won't be long before this dark corner of my garden is brightened up by the wonderful bright blue Ceanothus; the fluffy buds are all ready to open!

More of this summer-like weather is forecast for the rest of the month so, with that in mind, here's a luscious 'Summer Fruits' colour palette that caught my eye while I was shopping -

It's a mouth-watering colour scheme 
with so many applications! 

It would give a small, dark room a warm and cosy feel, all year round. But it could equally be used with a lot of white - and maybe some black? - to bring a summery feeling to a larger, lighter room.

What would you use it for?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Another Favourite Friendship Quote - Stars

If you've moved house as many times as I have, you'll probably have a number of old friends living too far away to meet up with them face to face very often.

But if they were truly good friends, as opposed to 'acquaintances', the bond will more than likely remain intact, even though you may not even get the chance to speak with them as often as you'd like. These are the friends you make time to ring for an annual chat on their birthday and within seconds, it feels as if you spent time with them only yesterday.

These friends are your 'stars' - and maybe, hopefully, you are their 'stars' too!

This is a high resolution, A4-sized image that you are welcome
to save and print or pin to Pinterest.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Looking Forward to Summer with this Seaside Colour Palette

Now that the evenings are staying light longer, it's beginning to feel as if winter really is on the way out. 

At times, the past few days have almost tempted me to get out my t-shirts and flip-flops - almost! So spring has definitely sprung - before we know it, it will be summer! And don't you think these bead necklaces have a 'summery' feel about them? 

I suppose it's partly because I can't imagine wearing a sea-shell necklace with a thick, warm sweater, but it's also because the colours remind me so strongly of days at the beach.

There are the brilliant blues of the sea and the coral pinks of crabs and shrimps, contrasting so well with the light beiges and greys of the sea-shells and pebbles! They all add up to a day out at the seaside - can't you even hear the waves and smell the sea?

I think it's amazing that we can find wonderful colour palettes so close to home - provided we keep a look out for them. So there's never any need to lack inspiration.

Could you make a pattern using this colour scheme? If you do, I'd love to see it - perhaps you could post a link to it in the comments?

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Work in Progress - March

My top-floor studio is like an ice-box in winter and an oven in the summer, even when it's not particularly hot outside. 

But at this time of year it's just the right temperature so I try to make the most of it, working my way through my list of ideas for designs. For some reason, I seem to have created more patterns and cards with furry or four-legged friends than usual recently.

First there were lots more elephant patterns -

Then the fishes, Finnegan and Friends, still ongoing:

And then there are the hedgehogs I've been working on. 

But I'm not yet at all satisfied that I've found the best way to use them for a birthday card - and this is the ninth attempt!

(I have the feeling I need to leave them alone for a while and then,
 maybe, when I come back to them, I might see them differently.)

But I have been working on other things as well as animals.

A birthday card for a friend -

 - and a faux patchwork tote bag from Red Bubble for the same friend's birthday gift.

Here are some more tote bags I've created for my Red Bubble store -

I'm adding a few each week because I'm so impressed with the one I ordered. 

The colour is great, the fabric strong and the price is very reasonable, even including shipping to the UK. (The only downside was the length of time it took to arrive so I'll order even further in advance the next time!)

Just for a change, inspired by Pinterest, of course, I've been making a 'Fairy House' from a plastic juice bottle, a cardboard toilet roll tube and papier mache! 



Not quite finished yet but nearly there!

And last but not least, I've been working on another 'Friendship' Quotation with the illustration in hand-painted paper collage. 

Here's how I made the collage and here's the finished Illustrated Quote:

This image is A4 size, 300 dpi so please feel free to save and print it you wish

It's a quote that I have on a fridge magnet.

And my fence did once actually break during a gale - but I was still able to enjoy the flowers in my garden! I just think it's a pity that some people seem to have such highly developed 'flaw-detectors' that the first thing they notice is the 'broken fence'. 

So I plan to put this quote on some Zazzle fridge magnets, hoping it might help some friendships along!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

How to Make an Easy Floral Hand-painted Paper Collage

My eldest daughter was born in the late Sixties which I realise, with hindsight, was a time of momentous change in the world of Children's Books.

I'll freely admit that I never much enjoyed reading my children their bedtime stories but I was constantly drawn to the illustrations! My favourite was EzraJack Keats but it was only relatively recently that I discovered that his illustrations were made from handpainted paper collage.

Painted paper collage seems to be a popular medium with children's book illustrators and when I decided to have a go at making a collage myself, I found Eric Carle's demonstrations really helpful.

And it's really quite a simple process - you just cut out the shapes and glue them onto a sturdy background!

My very first attempt was really far too ambitious for a beginner and involved some drawing and the use of tracing paper to place the pieces where they were supposed to go.

But if you stick to something simple, such as imaginary flowers, you don't even need to be able to draw!

So, in case you'd like to give it a try, here are a few hints and tips -

Here's what you'll need

  • Tissue paper or any kind of fairly thin paper.
  • Paint - children's ready-mixed paints in pots, acrylics or gouache
  • Big paintbrush
  • Newspaper to protect surfaces
  • Craft Knife
  • Scissors
  • Glue - pva or any craft clue. I used wall paper paste for my first attempt and it wasn't too bad.
  • A sheet of card, probably best to start with something about A4 size
  • A cutting mat or surface that doesn't matter if it gets scratched
  • Craft tweezers (optional)

First paint your papers - 
leaving plenty of time for them to dry thoroughly before you plan to use them.

Use the thickest, widest or fattest brush you can find and don't make the paint too watery or your brush will tear the wet tissue paper. Paint a good selection of colours, including several shades of green if you are going to make a floral collage.

You don't need to worry about painting the colour evenly. In fact, you can have fun making your painted paper streaky or use a piece of sponge or scrunched up newspaper to create 'paint effects'. It all looks much more natural when it comes to creating flowers and leaves.

Once your paper is completely dry,
 start to cut some shapes - petals, leaves etc.

It will save a lot of time and make your petals and leaves more uniform if you fold the paper and cut through several thicknesses at the same time.

This is probably easier to do with scissors but you'll discover by trial and error when to use scissors and when to use a knife. At this point, you may discover that it's not wise to sneeze, or even sigh with any force, as your petals will scatter far and wide if you do!

Then all that's left to do is to stick the petals and leaves onto a firm sheet of card.

I sometimes use old coloured page dividers that I no longer need!

Here's mine, scanned.

It came out pretty dull and dreary with that yellow background but this is where Photoshop comes in so handy - an advantage that the illustrators of the Sixties and Seventies had to manage without!

And now it's all ready to have a quotation written in the big yellow-ish space at the top.

Anyone guess what the quote is going to be?
if you can't guess, don't worry - you'll find the answer 
in next week's 'Work in Progress' blog post!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Daffodils for a Beautiful Spring Colour Scheme

This clump of mixed varieties of daffodils and their soft green leaves creates a wonderfully typical Spring Colour Scheme, set off beautifully by the purplish grey of the wall in the background - 

Spring is not my favourite season of the year - I love the late summer and I even enjoy a lot of aspects of winter (apart from the bigger heating bills!) 

Years and years ago, I used to paint watercolour landscapes and they were almost always winter scenes. I love the muted browns and purples in the winter hedgerows and copses and I also like the mellow golds and browns of late summer into autumn. The spring landscape, on the other hand, seems to me too strident with its brilliant yellow/green foliage - a colour that somehow seems to irritate me. 

But I do love daffodils, especially the ones that are almost white - maybe because of the soft green of their leaves.

If I were using the colour palette above for a decorating scheme, I'd probably stick mainly to the three more subtle colours in the bottom row, with maybe some of the pale yellow and white above - and then introduce either the brilliant orange or the bright yellow as an accent.

How about you?