Rusting An MDF Chalkboard


I’m still beavering away in the studio making items to sell at the church Christmas Fayre. Yesterday I used what I had learnt at Andy Skinner’s workshop I attended last weekend to create a faux rusted enamel frame and stand for this MDF chalkboard. As it happens, I actually prefer the back – some of the paint had seeped under and the ‘chips’ appear much more organic against the gesso undercoat:


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Mixed media sketchbook cover


This is another sample for my ‘Finnabair-inspired Sketchbook Cover’ workshop in July (booking details here). It features moulded polyurethane pieces (crafting chemistry at its best), lots of black gesso, Viva Decor Inka Gold, Silks acrylic glazes and an awful lot of dry brushing over Dreamweaver texture paste through a stencil. Microbeads by Finnabair/Prima Marketing, adhered with matt multi-medium. There are still places available on the workshop if you’d like to come and get guidance on making your own.


Book Review: Art Journal Kickstarter

In the first of what I hope to be regular book reviews, I’d like to offer my thoughts on:


Art Journal Kickstarter: Pages and Prompts to Energize Your Art Journals (2015)
Kristy Conlin (ed.). North Light Books. 144pp.

First off, it’s good to find a book on art journaling that doesn’t regurgitate the various way of working with mixed media in a book. This one is illustrated with  ‘back-to-back journal pages’, each accompanied with a Q&A summary with the artist. The questions tend to follow a pro forma – what was your inspiration; which mixed media artists inspire you; what interesting or unique techniques did you apply to this work. Alongside these ‘interviews’ are quotes and sayings that are more than suitable to include in your own work, or to stimulate creative juices. There are also some gems, suggesting the artist was less than impressed with the interview questions – such as describing art journaling as their ‘yoga mat’.

There are 99 contributing artists, resulting in a true variety of styles, subjects and techniques. Just about every mixed media technique is covered, including watercolour, collage, image transfer, acrylics, stamping and inks. It’s also nice to see carefully assembled pages alongside cathartic explosions of emotion, exploring the range of uses of an art journal from experimenting with materials through diarising one’s day to illustrated quotes and expressions. There are also various sizes and types of journal leaving the reader no excuse when trying to find a suitable book to work in.

The illustrations are in rich colour (as they need to be) and aren’t annoyingly cropped to fit the page. This does result in loss of detail on some of the larger spreads, but this doesn’t detract from the overall impact of the featured journal page. Each image is also accompanied by a short summary of materials used, which is often enough to work out the techniques used if this isn’t included in the Q&A section.

If one were to follow up all the artists who have inspired, many months could be lost online – and would be a great way of using the book as a further reference for art journaling inspiration. The advice to other art journal makers are pretty much of a muchness: it’s your book, your own artistic expression, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, including yourself. This in turn does lead to the implied rule: don’t compare your own pages to those featured in the book – that’s not what it’s for!

One other thing I noted – certainly less than 10%, and may be even just 5% of the featured artists are male based on the names. Is this because few men journal, or are less likely to submit work for publication, or some other reason? I’d love to follow one piece of advice given, which was to form a group to journal with – so if you’re a male art journaler, please get in touch!

Am I glad I bought it:
Yes, definitely.

Who’s it for:
Someone already used to working in mixed media, looking for inspiration.

Estimated time spent reading:
Three to four hours – a fascinating insight into the artists, as well as the art.

Overall rating: 5/5


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Artist’s Palette Assemblage



This project started several years ago as an impromptu challenge with another crafting artist – it’s had bits and pieces done to it in between other projects, but with my altered art demonstration day today at Coleman’s Craft Warehouse, it seemed the perfect time to get it finished and on display!

Made with a Tim Holtz Configurations box, a free wooden palette and various bits and bobs gleaned at pound shops I’ve tried to include both colour, texture and materials used by an artist. Now all I have to do is find somewhere to put it!


Mixed media cards

It’s demo time again for the Manic Stamper Craft Club, and I’ve spent the last four sessions teaching various techniques, including distress inks, image transfer, acrylic paints and myriad other art materials. There was a request that we take time out this month to put the techniques into practice, so I’ve spent a while in the studio coming up with these three cards:

The bath time one features image transfer, distress inks, and faux rusted enamel technique. The flowers use acrylic paints for background, stamping, tinting and covering metal embellishments. The final card uses the Ranger Summer Palette Challenge colours in distress inks, stains and alcohol inks as well as a bit of shine from Perfect Pearls, trying the capture the long car journeys for our summer holidays! Hopefully they’ll be enthusiastically received as examples of mixed media chemistry 🙂

Graphics & Illustration – Exhibition Piece

This is the last post based on my end-of-first-year exhibition pieces. Today’s is the graphics and illustration project – we had four sessions to create a collage based on the portrait and work of our chosen artist. I developed several collages, based on thumbnail images of the myriad works of Jacek Yerka, courtesy of a Google search. The two I chose to take forward were a simple cut and paste montage of as many thumbnails that would fit on an A4 sheet, and a number of thumbnails mounted on acetate hoops circling an image of the artist photocopied from one of his books (to represent his images being inspired by his dreams). I then researched and mocked up a magazine cover and article (based on Artists and Illustrators March 2012 magazine) and a book cover dust jacket using a photo of the 3D whirling dreams montage and a scan of the A4 montage.