Cherryblossom Tears is Five

‘ Creativity takes courage’ –  Henri Matisse

Everything begins with an idea. And five years ago I decided to blog about the creative things I was doing, like an online dairy. I was nervous about showing the world my ‘flawed’ works but part of my plan was to become an art therapist and this felt like one small step in that direction.

I started Cherryblossom Tears when I was 28 and now I’m 33. My art has changed as much as I have in that time. I’ve recognised that my blog was never going to be a glossy portfolio of finished pieces. My strengths lay in the so called imperfections and the process of creating. This is what art therapy was about; engaging with the materials and the creating of artwork. I learnt how to run a blog inside out by doing it, making mistakes and learning from them.

I developed better writing skills and found a natural voice when putting up posts. I learnt how to take better pictures of my work and how to plan my projects. The purpose of my blog started to shine through: It was about not giving up, sharing my frustrations with my work, the trying, the experimentations, working through to find and cultivate a personal style, the materials you connect with and feel on an intuitive level.

‘Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning.’ Charles de Lint

I think writing in this way is liberating. I realised where my creative strengths were and also how much I love combining materials to makes something unusual. One my favourite things to do is go to the art shop and find something new to try. What can I make with Polymer clay? What happens if I add beads? What about wire? How can I create a monster in my own style?

By allowing myself this freedom, I stopped caring so much what other people thought of my art and really embraced the enjoyment I got from making things. It doesn’t matter if something I make doesn’t work, I can try again! I’ve found a quiet confidence in presenting myself as who I really am; a little eccentric, messy, prone to over-thinking. But who I wished to be in my 20s wasn’t real or authentic.

Embracing this has also given me confidence to offer advice and encouragement to others. I like doing tutorials on the blog for anyone starting out of a creative journey, wanting to find a new side to their personality or just wanting to find a new hobby.

below are a few of my favourite things I’ve done in the last five years – I always forget how much I’ve made!

Mixed Media Fantasy Pond

I wanted to do a different kind of nature themed project incorporating more mixed media in with my sculpture. While my love affair with the sea and all its creatures continues, I wanted to try something else for my new big piece. After finding a kidney shaped glass dish in Oxfam, I was inspired to make a pond.

I had all my materials and ideas but as usual I was procrastinating about starting my new project. I have a tendency to strive for perfection which stops me doing anything at all. I had been looking at Christi Friessen’s book Flourish which I bought a few weeks ago and I just love her approach to creating. Perfection be damned!

I decided to start of small and made some fish using a combination of orange colours and translucent. I was pleased with the way they came out, especially as they were my first try. I made my pond over about a week, starting on a weekend. I mixed browns, sand, translucent and grey together to get a marbled affect and started placing it in the dish, building up rocks around the side. I made more marbled colours with some lighter and some darker to add contrast between the rocks. I then began making reeds from green polymer clay, using a similar mixing technique to get a deep colour of green.

As I went along, I realised I was making more of a fantasy pond. The elements where exaggerated and stylised which is my favourite way of working and allows a kind of freedom to take something and change it. I added different beads to round-headed pins, twisted the ends with pliers and added them into the clay.

I decided to add a little bug and a frog, nestling them into some of the twisted leaves. I made a bunch of lily pads, baking a few separately so I could add them to the resin later on. I brushed different colours of Perfect Pearls onto the leaves and creatures to give it a gorgeous shimmer. When everything had baked and cooled I started adding the resin to the dish in layers, adding pieces of fantasy film in the bottom. I added the fish to the second layer and scrunched smaller pieces of fantasy film in cobalt blue, which added dimension and shimmer to the pond.I am really happy with the way this project turned out. It is lush and vivid and the glass dish was a great choice to build into a pond.

Mixed Media Hindu Goddess Lakshmi

3

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.

DSCN2556

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.

Continue reading

Polymer Clay Reef Sharks

11

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.

DSCN2485

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

Continue reading

Life, Creative Ruts and Days Out

3

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!

Continue reading

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.

dscn2364

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.

Continue reading

Mixed Media On Wood

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!

Continue reading

a pile of art 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.

Continue reading

Fizzling Evolution Plus Competition!

5
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.

Continue reading

New Art Journal Pages

4

It’s been a while since I put a new post up on the blog, partly because I got flu and wasn’t able to do anything but sleep for a week. I felt a little uninspired with my sculpting and wasn’t sure what art I wanted to make, so I just got out my art journal and started making marks on the page with paints, pens, Dylusions sprays, soft pastels and pencils.  As I did this I found myself getting back into my art journaling and did a few more pages over the last week.

My last page, the girl with orange hair I filmed as I made it and put it together as a video on my YouTube channel. I want to do more video projects, although the lighting in my room isn’t the best. I think it helps to try other mediums when you feel uninspired, it doesn’t have to be any big project just messing around with paints on the page is enough to get you back into a creative mind set. I’ve ordered some more Dylusions paints because they are really good and so vivid, I’m looking forward to doing more pages in my journal and even adding in college.

Polymer Clay box

Some Recent Polymer Clay Things

7

This is a short post as an update on what I have been doing recently.

My main project has been an altered wooden box. I removed the lid and covered it with polymer clay (Fimo), creating a hummingbird on a branch as the central image. Using my pasta machine to roll the clay into sheets, I cut out the shapes and built the image up with leaves and flowers around the edges of the box. I used some tools to texture the bird, branches and leaves and added my favourite Perfect Pearls for shimmer and depth. I added some Tim Holtz hinges to the back and a clasp at the front I had.

For the bottom part of the box I primed it with Gesso then painted a few coats of Cosmic Shimmer paint in green and blue. When baking the lid I made some separate leave pieces with added gold leaf and once they were hard I glued them to the box for interest. I then varnished it and am quite pleased with how it turned out, especially the background.

Feeling a little despondent recently, I bought this book Pop Surrealism to inspire me. It’s glossy and beautiful with interesting essays at the being about this movement. I’ve always been drawn to this kind of ‘underground’ art and didn’t really know about Pop Surrealism until a few years ago.

I made a little frog from clay when I didn’t have any particular project in mind, which was fun because I just made something from scratch.

 

I made this octopus in the round sweets tin a few weeks ago but had run out of resin. I was finally able to complete his watery home the other day and think he is super cute. I experimented with the colour and made him gradient from orange to yellow. He is my favourite octopus I’ve made so far.

I’m updating some of my pages on the blog and starting some new clay projects as well. Next week I am off to London and the South for a few days so looking forward to going to some museums, getting some inspiration and having a mini break.

Polymer Clay & Fantasy Ocean Life

2

It’s no secret that I love sea imagery. It’s beautiful, alluring and mysterious, full of myths and legends, history and a literary cave of treasures. It has overtones of Art Nouveau, Expressionism and the surreal. It is something that I keep returning to as a theme in my work and which I doubt I will get bored of. The creatures, plants and landscape are alien and fascinate me. It opens up a world for fantasy and one of my favourite things is to blend together different elements, ideas, materials, in a whimsical way.

I’ve been playing around with making mini octopi in their own little sea pond (made from Altoids Mints tins) as well as a bunch of cute smaller octo-dudes. I recently made this one holding onto a jar of beads which is just so cute. I am thinking of making that into a necklace. I used some effects polymer clay, two were quartz although the yellow was really difficult to condition.

Still wondering what to do with these guys, they look pretty cool hanging out on my bookcase!

 

The other octopus creature was an experiment with armature and super sculpey, which turned out much bigger than intended! I quite like him though, he is sort of weird. I painted him with black gesso then tried out my new Cosmic Shimmer paints which are luscious.

Continue reading

An Ode to Monsters

6

There is a wealth of literature, art and film dedicated to monsters. They are very much a part of human culture, from ancient myths of curses to modern incarnations such as Freddie Kruger. Children have an innate dialogue with monsters, lurking under the bed or in the shadows yet love being told stories with goblins and scary beasts.

sea monster

Monsters arise from our own mind, an innate fear of the unknown, of disease, death and suffering. Yet it is these things that intrigue us and compel us to watch scary films or read Gothic novels. We are drawn to the strange, the peculiar and the unnatural. We are curious by nature about the world we live in and have a need to explain it – through stories, myths, art and religion.

This post is a reflection on monsters and my own passion for creating them in my artwork. Monsters are shadowy and take on many elements from a person’s mind. They are a combination of ideas, thoughts, feelings and of a time and place. Monsters from Medieval Europe are quite different from the creatures depicted in modern American film for example.

Continue reading