Beads and things

Mixed Media Hindu Goddess Lakshmi

If you follow my social media, you may have seen some updates on a Hindu goddess I was making. A lovely friend of mine sent me a commission request for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity (both physical and material). I just loved this idea and was thrilled – and a little bit apprehensive!

I looked through a few images I found on Pinterest and decided to approach my project as a clay relief on wood, adding different media to create the opulent and embellished style I love in Indian religious art.

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My craft desk! Always messy with something

Materials 

  • A4 wood
  • balsa wood
  • Pencil
  • Polymer Clay (I used Fimo)
  • Clay tools
  • Gold leaf
  • Assorted beads, metal charms
  • Strong glue
  • Paper flowers
  • Clay varnish
  • Pasta Machine
  • Liquid sculpey

Using a print out as a general guide, I started by sketching an image onto the wood, adding a board round the sides. Gathering my base colours of blue, pink and gold, I started mixing different blues together to get an idea of shade and, using my pasta machine, rolled out the clay into small sheets.

 

Using my craft knife (a tool I use all the time) I cut out different shapes, basing them on my reference picture and placed them onto the wood. As I built up the image, I blended the clay together, which helped create depth and make it look like material of her dress. This process was time consuming, mainly as I needed to step away from my piece for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. I knew where I wanted my embellishments to go, but needed to get the first part balanced.

One of the most challenging parts of this piece was making her four arms. I wanted to make sure the colour looked right, as well as get the angle of the pose for each one. I mixed together white, peach and yellow to get a flesh tone and copied the lines on the wood to make the arms the right shape. This was tricky as the pieces of clay not embedded didn’t want to stay in the right place. I used some liquid sculpey to help secure them before adding in the background, flowers and jewellery.

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Resin moulds with charms and beads

Resin Things and New Tins

A short post on some things I’ve made in the last few weeks. I wanted to try and make more projects with resin, and how I can incorporate it into future mixed media projects. I experimented with different mould, making a jellyfish tank using polymer clay and drilling a hole to add wire once it was set.

I made some different sized beads using resin and added metal charms, beads, gems and glitter. I’m still thinking about a project to use them in.

I’ve also been playing around with different tins and thinking of new things I can make with them. I’ve like spray painting them and using different materials to alter them. No matter how much I try to work in a linear and organised way, my brain just doesn’t want to! So I end up doing several things at once, putting things to one side to set or dry while I make something else.

Rocket Tin Lid

Space Things & Galaxy Octodudes

I think after making my large scale shark coral reef, I felt a little bit of a lull with my ideas. Although I had some vague thoughts on new clay projects, I couldn’t seem to get started. I looked at Pinterest (go to place for inspiration!) and started thinking of a space theme for an Altoid tin. I drew round a tin I had in my drawer at work and did a mini sketch of a 1950’s style rocket. I liked where this was going!

Working with Altoid tins in the past, I found that putting clay over the entire thing doesn’t always work and wanted to try spray painting them. I learned pretty quickly that you should invest in some metal primer if you don’t want the paint to scratch off.

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I decided to used my rocket drawing as the basis for my tin lid. I mixed together Fimo clay in black, purple, translucent, green and stardust to get a blend similar to a galaxy. I rolled it through the pasta machine to stretch the colours out rather than completely mix them and placed this on the lid. Next I cut out some basic shapes in silver clay for my rocket, using a deep blue and aqua to define parts of the rocket ship. I used a pointed tool to make some indents and added some small gold pieces for detail. I used a fluorescent clay to make the stars which I thought would be add dimension.

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Ready to bake

After baking and leaving the tin to cool, I sprayed it with metal primer and left it for a few hours. I then did several coats of black spray paint before deciding what to do with my tin.

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ArtMannix10030

Polymer Clay Reef Sharks

I like to give myself creative challenges, and sometimes I think why am I doing this to myself!? But having seen some beautiful polymer clay sea scenes that include different sea creatures, I thought it was time to stretch myself and make a bigger version of my sea Altoids tins.

The first thing I needed to do was find a suitable container for my mini reef. I didn’t want it to be too heavy or deep so it was easy to see all the details inside. After looking round a few charity shops, I found a large bowl in the supermarket for £2 – bargain!

For references and inspiration I looked through Citizens of the Sea, a beautiful book recommended to me by a friend with has the same obsession with sea creatures! I also love Pinterest for ideas and YouTube for videos on techniques with polymer clay.

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Now I had all my materials, I gathered all the different coloured Fimo together I wanted to use in the coral reef. I also used white sand for the sea bed, some really shells and resin. I bought some rubbing alcohol and found it is one of the best (and cheapest) things to clean your clay of lint and dust while you’re working, and can be used to smooth the clay.

I started the coral reef in the bowl by adding clay around the edges, which was a mixture of brown, yellow and mother of pearl. Looking at a few pictures on my phone for reference as I made the different coral shapes, I worked intuitively as I went along and found this to be my favourite approach to this project. I didn’t draw out any plan of how I wanted it to look and I think this helped with making something organic and natural.

As the different shapes and pieces were so small, this became quite a time consuming project. I had to take frequent breaks over the weeks that I made it to save my hands from getting to rough. At first I was going to have one shark and maybe an octopus in the reef, and to get the scale at least semi accurate, I put the bowl to one side after doing a little bit to make the shark. I was very happy with the way he turned out for my first attempt.DSCN2486

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Life, Creative Ruts and Days Out

I’ve had some creative blocks recently, and with other things going on in my life, it’s been over a month since my last blog post. And who knows how it is June already?! It’s only just started to get warm here in Manchester, May seemed to be a lot of rain.

I recently added a page about creativity and creative blocks, a topic I have been thinking about for a while. I also decided to take my own advice and went for a walk a few weeks ago to the Southern cemetery near where I live. Getting away from my desk was a good way to stop worrying about any creative blocks. It was quiet and peaceful with so many bluebells. I sat down on a bench and woke up some sleepy ducks – they gave me a heart attack being surrounded by old gravestones in the quiet!

It was serene and a lovely place to think, walk around and having a break from technology. I also went to Blackpool last week, somewhere I have never been. The weather was beautiful and the breeze from the sea was a nice relief from the sun – I still managed to get sunburnt, whoops! It was full of arcade places, fish and chip shops, tacky gift shops and I thought it was so much fun. My friend and I went to the Sealife centre there so I could continue my sea creature obsession. I loved the rays, seahorses and I got to see a nautilus. They are cool and weird!

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Mermaids and Sea Things

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would have guessed I have a little obsession with the sea!

And not just the creatures but also myths and legends of monsters and mermaids. Sea things seem to come naturally to me in my art, and also lends itself well to creating mythical things. I think it is the organic shapes, swirls and diverse colours and patterns that draw me in. I could probably paint mermaids forever!

My latest journal page started out as me wanting to use my latest purchase Pearlscent Liquid Acrylic by Daler Rowney, and I always imagine mermaids to be shimmery with magical qualities. I love fun colours too, so decided to use pink for the hair and a mixture of greens and gold for the tail.

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For this page I sketched out my mermaid and coloured the tail and body with my Inktense pencils, going over with water to make the colours pop. I used a brush to paint the pink Liquid Acrylic in her hair, then went over the details in black in and a nip pen shown above. I was listening to a podcast about Jupiter’s moons as I worked on this which was when I decided that was were she would be; a moon! I used Posca pens to draw out the rock and add details, and Dylusions paints for the background. I just love the starry sky.

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Some other sea related pages I’ve done recently can be seen below, I love tentacled creatures!

I am having fun trying out these new inks, they give beautiful shimmer and coverage and can be used with a brush or pen. I’m going to try them out in my black journal next, see what affects I can come up with.

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Creating Physical Texture in Art Jouralling

My new book 101 Mixed Media Techniques have inspired to take different mixed media elements and explore them in my art journal.

As I read other artists books and watch videos, I’m beginning to approach my art journaling in a different way. It feels more organic and, rather than planning a page in my mind from start to finish, I’m having more fun with the materials and allowing them to show me a direction.

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Jane Davenport, an artist I adore, talks about journals having a ‘connective tissue’ and when I heard this idea, it stayed with me. Not all my pages need to be finished as I start them and I am looking at my journal as a complete book, with each page following into another.With these ideas in mind, I decided to focus on building physical texture in a few pages and explore different materials.

First Page

In my first double page of my Dylusions journal, I used modelling paste on one side, swirling the end of a paintbrush into it as it dried. I then dripped PAV glue across both pages, which took a while to dry. I used my heat tool to speed the drying process up a little, and then used a wide brush to paint over the surfacing using my current favourite Dylusions paint pots.

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A Mixed Media Daydream

Happy Springtime!

It’s my birthday tomorrow (32 years young!) and what better excuse to get some art supplies and new books! I got this gorgeous book The Book of Beetles: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred of Nature’s Gems and 100 Flowers from the RHS: 100 Postcards in a Box as amazing references for my artwork.

I also bought 50 Art Ideas you need to know as I love learning about the history of art and 101 Mixed Media Techniques which has loads of great ideas and things I am already trying out in my art journal pages. I think I need a new bookcase!

In my most recent project, I decided to incorporate many different materials and techniques. I had a piece of PDF wood for ages, for a long forgotten project which would be good for the basis of a heavily mixed media piece.

I often listen to different podcasts when doing my artwork and listened to a great one about the Egyptian God Re  the sun god whose tears became bees. I loved this idea and wanted to create some kind of sun goddess, incorporating bees into my imagery, along with golds, yellow, orange and bronze.

I have also been influenced by Susi Blu, reading her book and watching her mixed media videos on YouTube which inspired me to approach my work with more freedom and also try adding beeswax to my work.

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My journals

Art Journaling Delights

Recently I’ve been focusing on working in my art journal and trying new things to push myself as an artist. I felt some kind of creative block with my sculpting so I picked my journal and made marks on the page. I allowed myself not to really think, just enjoy the materials and the shapes.

Since then I have done quite a few journal pages and love what art journaling gives me. I work in front of a computer during the week, so it is normally the last thing I want to do when I come home. Sitting at my desk with my supplies, some music or podcast and my imagination allows me to come back to myself, to relax, explore and think in a different way than I do in everyday life.

I can experiment and play with my materials, find what works and explore my ideas and themes. I’ve wanted to try watercolours for a while so I got out my watercolour pencils (I use Derwent Inktense) and started sketching, seeing what effect I can get. watercolour is so dreamy. I love how the colours go in a flowing motion with the water. I also used a small watercolour block by Winsor & Newton.

Adding pen to the paint gives definition and detail, building up a nice contrast between flow and line in a picture. The pencils give you more control than the paints, but also the softness you get with the paints. You can use the pencils to build up intensity of colour and shape while the pens add a boldness and build the volume within the shapes. I used my favourite Posca pens in my journal. I wanted to try creating realistic skin tones and bought these Derwent watercolour pencils which come in a nice range of colours.

Working outside my comfort zone feels liberating!  I’ve been trying not to judge my work but to enjoy a new way of making art. I’m also finding a new way of approaching my art journaling, and it is in the process of creating it that I will find my style evolving and my ideas develop.

Another purchase this week (I am obsessed!) were these beautiful  Derwent metallic pencils, which I instantly wanted to try out in my new black Ranger journal. The shimmery blues and greens made me think of mermaids so that is what I drew! I love how it came out and I added some pen to the page for contrast. I want to incorporate these pencils into a mixed media page soon.

It sometimes feels like an ongoing battle, but it really is worth reminding ourselves to enjoy the creative process and experiment with new materials. Try not to get hung up on how it is supposed to look – draw or paint whatever feels natural. This is how we grow and develop our skills. I hope everyone had a great Easter break!

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Fizzling Evolution Plus Competition!

Fizzlings

Win one of these dudes!

I’ve been thinking for a while about writing a post just about my fun monster sculptures, which I called Fizzlings, and how they evolved and I also wanted to do a little give away competition as I have made so many and they need proper homes! So keep reading to find out how to win one of the three you see here!

Making my little creatures began last when when I had been playing with Polymer Clay Fimo for a while, just bored after making loads of mini charms. I, as always, wanted more of a creative challenge and to make something bigger, so I started with these oddly shaped characters. I added little metal bits lying around, giving them personality.

Stumps

In the Beginning…

Each creature I made was an improvement on the last, but I wanted to make something more substantial. I watched sculpting videos on YouTube (a great resource) bought a variety of books on Polymer Clay and sculpting, and began using an armature of wire and foil inside my sculptures. This is when my creatures started to get bigger and take on a proper form. I had been sketching rough ideas now and planning my work more, thinking of themes, embellishments and colour.

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