Thursday, 29 September 2011

Embroider Me Happy


Apologies for my absence in Blogland of late - it's been a while hasn't it?  I'm afraid I had a little disagreement with a hand blender (aka an Awful Accident) at the beginning of last week and ended up with a huge bandage which made it very difficult to type.  It took me an age to type an e-newsletter for the Being Creative Group and I just didn't have the juice to write a post!  You might be wondering what on earth happened, but I certainly don't want to upset those of you who might be reading this with a nice piece of cake and a cuppa...i'll just say I was Very Lucky I didn't lose an important finger whilst cooking something and leave the rest to your imaginations.  It's all healing nicely and yes, I also felt awfully silly for being so absent minded. 

Moving swiftly on.... 

Being one handed meant an abrupt end to crocheting.  This realisation made my heart sink as I was intent on finishing my Rainbow Bliss Scarf.  But if crocheting was impossible, then so was doing the dishes and I didn't mind about that part!!  Itching to create something though, I had a flash of an idea to set about making some Christmas gifts...and decided the sewing stuff could come out for a play.

A little jaunt to the haberdashery was had, and I came home with some lovely vintagey coloured embroidery threads.  My idea was to make some Lavender Pillows, and you can see my first effort at the top there.

I haven't done any embroidery work since...ooh, let me think...forever!! No, I did it as a young girl and used to spend hours working on cross stitch pieces too.  It proved to be a lovely distraction (as I stroked yarn and missed it dreadfully) and also very relaxing.  I could easily hold the embroidery hoop in my poorly hand and stitch with my right - oh yes, I was very lucky in that I didn't damage my Painting Hand!! Can you imagine if I'd done that??!  
My first design has been stolen by my daughter - she slept with it inside her pillowcase last night and went out like a light!  I ordered a little bag of French Lavender which has the most beautiful fresh and heavenly scent (my garden supplies were harvested but ended up looking rather magnificent in an ancient stone marmalade jar and it was unanimous that they should stay there, so they have - they're in my kitchen looking gloriously summery).

I'm looking forward to making some more of these, with plans for some seedhead designs and a request for a Peppa Pig one...I hope the recipients will be pleased with them!

Although we are still only in September, and it feels awfully early to be chattering away about Christmas gifts and the like, I'm afraid I have to get ahead of myself even though I don't naturally start to feel Christmassy until the very end of November.  There is so much to achieve it seems, and I have already begun work on one of this years card designs...want a peek?
I managed to sneak an hour of painting in this morning, despite it feeling very wrong to be painting Rudolph and snow as the sun cracks the pavements and we waft about in our summer clothes that we'd just packed away.  An Indian Summer is a lovely gift though isn't it?  A last taste of warmth; lazy golden days that give way to cool evenings and peach melba sunsets.  In a few weeks we will be trudging up to school in horizontal rain and tornado style winds that rush down the valley from the Pennines, so we are making the most of it whilst it lasts.

It's time for me to pick my little bean up from nursery now, so I will bid you farewell!  Thanks for dropping in to see me, I'm looking forward to properly catching up with you now that all my digits are back in working order!

Sending love
Julia x x x

ps - note to the Being Creative Project people ~ Gallery will be posted on 1st October, not 30th September as mentioned in the e-letter!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Seedheads and Boats ~ A New Painting

'Seedheads and Boats' acrylic on paper ~ 34cm x 34cm

Hello friends,

I've just had the nicest possible morning ~ I managed to get a little time to myself in which to finish this painting that I've been working on in fits and starts over the summer.  It seems a long time ago since I began this one, and if you recall, it all started with a little drawing in my sketchbook...

I had been happily inspired by a book I had purchased round about this time called Plants and Places by the talented print maker, Angie Lewin.  I have long been a fan of her work and had coveted this book for ages before it finally came to live with me.  There is page upon page of her print work, featuring her trademark seedheads and other native flora; and peeks into her sketchbook which are themselves beyond beautiful.

I myself have rather a love affair with the latter end of summer, when the dry stone walls here become fantastically enhanced by the skeletal shapes of teasels and cow parsley.  I've been known to stop the car suddenley on quiet country lanes to collect small armfuls of them to bring home and draw.

So anyway, I think what I'm getting round to saying is that Angie's book was the catalyst for this particular painting.  I decided I wanted to paint a late summer window scene with found objects from the shore on the ledge, overlooking a harbour.  I also wanted to focus (unusually for me) on a limited colour palette.  The colours I worked with mainly on this painting were:

Titanium White
Yellow Ochre
Raw Umber
Paynes Grey
Cobalt Blue (hue)
Buff Titanium
Cobalt Teal
Cadmium Red

These paints are from the Daler Rowney Artist Acrylics, and Golden Acrylics ranges. 

I also use Derwent watercolour crayons to add texture and detail.

As the painting progressed, I was reminded of a time I had spent in St Ives one October a few years ago.  We stayed in a little fisherman's cottage just up from the harbour, and although there were still plenty of people about, the town seemed much quieter since the summer hoardes had returned home.  It also had a beautiful light to it.  I remember there being a warmth to the days too, warm enough to sit down the harbour and catch the sun, but which turned to an unmistakeable autumnal coolness come teatime.

I hope I've managed to convey a feeling of this time of year in this painting.  

As well as using my imagination to create the layout and Angie's book as inspiration, I also wandered down the riverbank beyond my house to collect some real seedheads to use in the work (alongside the ones I had drawn in my sketchbook).  It was a bonus to discover a huge undiscovered bank of blackberry bushes as I went foraging and I shall be going back down there later on with a big bowl to fill up!! I feel a blackberry and apple tarte tatin coming on!! (something else that is very much a part of this time of year).

So once more I am at the point of feeling euphoric that another work is done, but am also on the brink of 'what next?'  It's a bitter sweet feeling to complete a painting; I've probably said so a hundred times but the journey through a painting is so deep and involved, there are highs and lows, there are absences and intense periods spent is really like a love affair and I miss it when the journey is over.

However, I have a few small ideas I'm keen to start on so the fact I have projects lined up is a good thing at least!  I recently ordered some tiny canvas boards and have Great Plans for those, not to mention designs for new Christmas cards which are already happily percolating away!

The painting will be available shortly in my gallery, in both original and printed format. 
I hope you all have a glorious weekend, sending love and thanks for visiting ~

Julia x x x

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Rainbow Bliss Scarf

Hello there my lovelies!

I'm far too excited to wait for a grand reveal of my Rainbow Bliss Scarf, so I am popping in today to share some WIP pictures with you.

You may recall a little while ago, I purchased a Special Gift for myself ~ some rather beautiful and luxurious Debbie Bliss Andes yarn...

I knew I really wanted to make a cosy scarf with this wool, after being inspired by one I had seen on the most amazing French blog here.  I was instantly smitten by the random stripes of Cecile's scarf and set about finding a pattern that would be suitable for my own.

I eventually (after heaps of searching) stumbled upon a rather nice one which is known as Sultan Stitch; you can find it in the Handbook of Crochet Stitches by Betty BarndenIt's a fairly easy one to follow and I reckon most folks who can do a Double Crochet (US) stitch would be able to pick this pattern up relatively fast.

This wool is an absolute dream to crochet with, it's almost like working with warm air and so very, very soft.  I managed to save up to buy three more balls to add to my collection, and these are the colours I am using for my randomly striped scarf here:

From left to right, top row:  Ruby 08, Gold 06, Apple 10
Middle row:  Denim 12, Duck Egg 11, Sage 09
Bottom row: Rose 15, Dusky Pink 16 and Fawn 05

I'm almost looking forward to the colder days, so I can put this on!  It's going to be a pretty long scarf as I like to be able to wrap them around myself a couple of times.  It won't be long before it's finished though, the rate I'm going, just got those pesky ends to sew in and then it will be ready to wear!  
I have to say that I'm also enjoying the randomness of the colour scheme on this scarf...adding whatever takes my fancy and not being to rigid about it.  The colours also look delicious when nestled next to one another...

I think when I have completed this scarf, I will have to finish my Japanese Flower Shawl (which you can see here), and which I'm making out of the remnants from my Sirdar Sublime rainbow ripple blanket.  You see, I was rather blown away by yet another beautiful make by Vanessa over at Coco Rose Diaries here...what an inspiration she is, and thanks to her I am now inspired to get my own well and truly done.  I do like scarves and shawls, there's something very comforting about having something warm and soft to nestle into when it's cold and windy outside.  
Despite Autumn arriving here rather suddenly though, I am rather looking forward to the cooler seasons.  I feel a longing for walks in the forest with my little family, a carpet of crisp golden leaves below us and a bright blue sky above as we look for chestnuts.  There is nothing more satisfying following an afternoon of chestnut hunting than to come home to hot buttered crumpets and pots of steaming tea.  I love Autumn, and it makes me smile to think of those happy times just around the corner!

So!  I'd best get cracking if I'm to finish all these projects if I'm wanting to wear them this side of Christmas!  I will be back soon, hopefully with a picture of myself modelling the finished Rainbow Bliss Scarf - and also with my flower shawl to show you too!  
Thank you for stopping by and visiting today, sending love to you, wherever you are in the world ~

Julia x x x 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Land of Procrastination

(a little corner of my newest painting...which is being created during small chunks of time)

Hello dear souls,

I hope September finds you well.  I am writing this blog post as monsoonal rains lash the window and the trees opposite the house sway dangerously in a tornado style wind; it feels as if Autumn has arrived early in these parts!

So anyway, I wanted to write a wee post to follow on from the one I wrote about the Creativity Hiatus.  I felt it might be useful to those of you who find that your Hiatus has turned into Procrastination and Stuck and if you're wondering how the heck to get past that part.

It's happened to me alot - I'm actually a fantastic procrastinator!  I've been through the Hiatus part where nothing happens and then I start to feel glimmers of inspiration returning.  I've felt the excitement as new ideas manifest and new opportunities present themselves, and I've also felt the hesitation as I do nothing about them and find a million and one different reasons to avoid starting.  Here are a few I use, you may recognise them:

I'm too busy
I have household chores to take care of
I have to go shopping
This cupboard looks interesting, lets empty it!
Ooh, I've been on Facebook for three days!
I'm too tired...

This is the part when the Hiatus has transformed into Procrastination - and you need to watch out for it.  We can get seriously stuck here, because the Land of Procrastination is a nice place to be.  We get to dream our dreams, languish with the nice feelings those ideas bring us, and we get to wander around imagining how it will all turn out...and we don't lift a finger to do anything beyond that, because that's when it becomes real.

And that is what scares us.

When you've had an absence from creating, it can be pretty scary to start again and it can also be tough to rouse yourself out of the feelings of inertia.  I'm going to give you a couple of ideas on how to move through the Stuck and get going again - and these ideas work because I still use them myself.

  • Choose to take a Small Step:  For example - get your pens and a sketch book out, and lay them on the table for a day or so.  You don't have to physically start drawing right away if you don't want to (the idea is to keep these Small Steps very minimal).  The energy that will arise from the motion of actually getting your stuff out is momentous and not to be underestimated.
  • Take Five Minutes:  Literally, yes. It's enough to begin with although you may find (as I do) that five minutes can elapse into an hour or so without you being aware of it.  Next time you pass your creative pile on the table, and you feel moved to do something, do it.
  • Do Something Different:  To get the creative energy moving, you might want to try something a little different.  I sometimes make cakes or do a bit of gardening to get myself into a creative frame of mind.  This is a great energy shifter.  You may notice that it fuels you up to get started on what it is you've been putting off doing.  I recently made bead bracelets with my daughter, and then that same day had a cracking design idea for a Christmas Card which I hurriedly drew in my sketch book (conveniently laying on the table just in case).
I hope these little ideas help - I'll be sharing more ways of dealing with Procrastination and moving through Stuck in my new E-Book which is nearly completed and which I'm really excited about sharing with you!  Meanwhile, you can also check the resources out in the side bar where there is a list of Inspiring Posts that may be useful to you.

Wishing you a bright and delight~filled weekend, thanks as always for dropping in to see me!

Much love, Julia x

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Being Creative Gallery Check In: August


Welcome to the August 2011 Gallery for the Being Creative Project.  The theme this month was Travel.  Have you taken part this time?  Are you ready to share some work with us?  I do hope so as I'm looking forward to seeing how you have used the theme this month!

I have been travelling about a fair bit myself this month ~ we were lucky enough to visit Northumberland for a spot of camping and I was inspired by the beautiful Farne Islands that we took a boat trip to whilst we were there...the RSPB ranger on Inner Farne (where our boat docked for an hour of exploration and tranquility) explained that this time of year the islands are used as a resting place for birds passing through on their migrations.

This got me thinking about birds and travel, and the amount of miles that these feathered souls fly to reach their destinations.  I wanted to share a piece of work that would depict this time of year and a flock of migratory birds travelling their annual journeys. 

I seem to like the wistful feeling that arises as Summer draws to a close and the first signs of Autumn appear.  There are gentle changes to the landscape and unseen movement in the natural world that tell us that the seasons are changing; it's often more of a 'feeling' than anything visual at first.   But the sight of a faraway flock of birds, their distant calls just audible in the still air seems to lend itself to something melancholy, lonely and magnificent all at once.  In that moment you know that you're seeing and hearing the rythmns of nature repeating their age old patterns, ones that you can really feel, that you're connected to and that beat like a drum in the very centre of soul.

Here's a piece of work I did a few months back which captures the very essence of this time of year, and the theme of Travel...

'Home' - available in my gallery at


Gallery Posting:  You can share a URL link using the link tool below.  Use this to link back to your Flickr, other photo hosting webpage or Blog page, but please do not link back to Folksy, Etsy or other online marketplace stores.

The gallery will be open from September 1st ~ September 30th so you can come back and post your links through the whole month if you're still working on something, which is absolutely ok by the way - this isn't school and there aren't any concrete 'deadlines'.  I prefer to not restrict projects by killing them off with a deadline anyway, it sounds so terminal and causes unnecessary stress and worry - and this is meant to be fun remember!  So, worry ye not if your work isn't finished already.  Why not consider giving yourself an extension...oh and I love what author and artist Sark did with that word; she disected it and turned it into a word with new meaning: ex - tension...get it...?!! I just love that idea and it completely works for me!  Feel free to gift yourself with one if you need to!

In case you lose this page during September, you'll find a link in the right sidebar which will enable you to find the Gallery post again, once new blog posts replace this one.

You can also post in the Flickr Group pool (there is also a link in the right hand side bar) and your work will be welcomed by the friendly and supportive members of the group.  You can also use the Flickr Group as a place to open a discussion, to see what other people have been working on, and to find inspiration for your own creations.

*Note about my role as Being Creative Project Host:  I am really enjoying hosting this group on my blog for all of you but I am choosing to step back from the actual creating side of it and will be running it in more of an administrative way.  By this I mean that I will be focusing more upon the supportive element of the group; dealing with personal emails, sending out the newsletter and working on the monthly gallery pages.  I will of course share art/craft and illustrations with you where possible but I have to allow for the fact that I'm sailing this little ship single handedly and there are other business and family commitments that I have to allow for too.  I am thinking about choosing a piece of work from the Flickr Group to feature on Gallery Day when I don't have a relevant piece of my own to share...what do you think about having your work featured on my blog?  I hope that these little changes don't upset you or cause a problem for you ~ please share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

I would just like to thank ALL OF YOU who have signed up to receive the FREE e-newsletter so far - there are heaps of you (wowzers!!!!)  I hope that you are enjoying the newsletters which I aim to send with scoops of guidance, ideas and support for your creative journey.

Don't forget, if you haven't signed up to get your copy of the Being Creative Project E-Letter yet, then you can do so by filling in the form on the Being Creative Page; there's also a FREE MINI CREATIVITY E-BOOK for you, to get you started on your creative journey!  Aaaaaaannnnnnnd....talking of books, I'm sooooo excited!! Some of you may know that I've been working on a brand new Creativity E-book these last few months and I'm pleased to say it's all finally coming together and will soon be ready to lauch!  As well as it being chocka-doodle full of illustrations, guidance, tips, inspiration and support, I'm really delighted that there are also a gorgeous scoop of creative entrepreneurs who have dedicated their time, wisdom and experience to contributing to this book too.

I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all ~ sign up to the newsletter to be the first to hear about the launch!

Righty~ho!  This month's theme is Autumn.  I hope you will be inspired by misty mornings, carpets of golden leaves, the scent of bonfires, home baking and walks in the forest...what does the word Autumn conjure up for you? 

I'm looking forward to finding out.

Sending much love, thanks for taking part!
Julia x

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