Thursday, 30 July 2009

Luscious Things for Sale!

New Mexico Harvest, originally uploaded by nicholsphotos.

We interrupt this blog to give you the following public service announcement:

I have reduced the prices on all of my larger zines to celebrate the fact that I have a printer now and I don't have to pay for them to be photocopied. I am also giving away a free copy of my new mini zine Dreams with every order until the end of August. (Photos next time.)

I've having a bit of trouble taking photos the last few months. I leave the house in the dark to get to work, and the light's too bad to take any photos when I get home. So I can pretty much only take photos on the weekend - if the sun is out! I'm looking into making a light box, but my place is full to the gills with stuff already!

I hope the rest of your week is a rapid but smooth slide into a relaxing bath of weekendy goodness.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

A Day's Work

I had the day to myself this fine, freezing cold winter Saturday. So I made up a long list of Things To Do so I wouldn't get too cold or bored. I tried to make sure the housework was interspersed evenly amongst the fun crafty things, so I could hopefully trick myself into doing it without too much pain.

One of the things I did was finish the Creativity page in my art journal. (Though I guess they're all creativity pages, aren't they?) I started it the other night using the journalling prompt from Suzi Blu's YouTube video on layering. I just found out about her, and she's great inspiration. So, for this page. First, you write down all of the reasons why you can't or won't do art journalling. Then you cover it up with paint. I had to put a few layers on before it was all covered up, but it felt good. It ended up being a slightly different colour to what I'd planned in the start, but I liked the reds and yellows - they made me think of the fire and passion of creativity. I used my fingers to dab paint onto the edges. Then I set it out to dry.

Art Journal 18-JUL-09, unfinished.

Today, I got it out again to finish it off. You're supposed to stick a photo of yourself as a child on it, but I don't have any. So on the right-hand side I made a base with white paint that I could draw on, and used up the leftover paint on the left side, where I tried to make more of a raised, textured effect. When that was dry, I drew a polaroid-type frame with a Sharpie, and drew a picture of myself in it. I don't really remember what I looked like as a child, but I did have very long, thick hair which people always commented on, so I drew that. Actually, I don't think the face looks really like either an adult or a child - it has an ambiguous quality to it. But somehow that's appropriate - I'm not really an adult now, and I wasn't really a child then.
I couldn't remember what I was supposed to do next from the video, but then I thought, perhaps that's not such a bad thing. I'll let my instincts guide me instead. So I wrote across the top: "Perhaps from a creative point of view it's better if I don't remember exactly how to do it". I had been thinking of putting some blue on for contrast, so I mixed together some sky blue, white and silver paint, and I rubbed it on with my fingers. The finished effect on the left makes me think of steam - as if the creative fire is dissipating all the frozen misgivings and fears. I don't even remember now what I wrote underneath there! Perhaps that's the point.

To finish it off, I mixed the leftover blue/silver paint with some purple, and used it with a squiggly rubber stamp I got from Riot Art N Craft a few weeks ago. I love how it looks! It came in a pack of 6 with different textures. They are Teacher's Choice brand. I highly recommend going into the children's or school supplies section of any art or craft shop you find yourself in. You can pick up some really great stuff.
Here is the finished page:

Art Journal 18th - 25th July '09, finished.

Part of me wants to add more to this page. But then again, another part of me wanted to stop after the first, yellow layer of paint. I hate covering up stuff I've done before. It's so hard to decide when to stop. You just have to draw a line and trust that it's in the right spot.

In other news, I bought this last week:

It's my first (and probably not last) purchase from Notemaker. Here you see a mini Moleskine notebook (my first Moleskine, yay!), the Rhodia Essentials Box (also a very reputable maker of paper goods - and see how the box the notepads came in looks like a notepad itself!), and for special I also got some O-Check rubber stamps and stickers (a similarly reputable stationery brand from Korea). I have to say, I was very impressed with Notemaker. I had been unable to find the things I'd wanted in any of the bricks-and-mortar shops that I'd had time to go to. This site had them all. Some of the things my heart desired were on sale. And they had free postage over $60 so I added a couple more. Within 2 hours of ordering, I received an email saying my order had been shipped! And I received it the next day! And my things came in the lovely free drawstring bag you see in the picture. It's perfect for keeping my rubber stamp collection in. I was really thrilled with this purchase.

I think I'm becoming a bit of a pen and paper snob. I never anticipated it, but it's true. In Japan I saw a little of their aesthetic for beauty and quality in everyday things. I'm starting to realise that money well-spent on quality household items can be life-enriching. Gosh, I love to sit down and write with my Platinum Preppy fountain pen! So much so that I wrote this whole blog post out on paper with it before typing it up. And if you don't have the money to buy nice things, then making them yourself is just as special. Even more special, in my opinion. (Which is what I've been saying ever since I started this blog!) Hence the desire to learn how to bind my own journals. One day soon Ill get around to it, I hope!

Meanwhile, this is what I'm doing with my mini Moleskine:

The first page.

Amy being curious about the sticker page.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Small Update

Last night I made a few changes to my blog sidebar. =========>

I made the colours and sizes of the headings a bit more consistent, and I got rid of the 'Recently Finished' section. It had stuff on it dating back to last year! I seem to finish a project about once every 3 months lately. My focus isn't so much on finishing stuff lately - it's on practising and learning new things. So it made more sense to have a 'Recently Inspired By' section instead. In it, I'll feature books I've been reading, movies, blogs, etc. that have started my creative juices flowing.

I've just started a new project which will take 6 months. I'll explain more when I have some photos to show.

I'll leave you with another interpretation of Side Bar:

Tropical Poolside Bar HDR, originally uploaded by kim-i.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Etsy Eye Candy, Part 1

I've decided to start an occasional series - Etsy Eye Candy.

I'll choose a theme to share that appeals to me at that moment, whether it's a type of product, a colour or picks from my favourites list.

Today, it's cute, drool-worthy stationery!

Shop Credits:
1. YeeHaw
2. macaroniandglue
3. Etsy
4. Etsy
5. GoMakeMe
6. BrambleberryLane
7. GoMakeMe again
8. InkspotWorkshop

Monday, 13 July 2009

Art Journalling - Ur Doin It Wrong!

About 18 months ago, I started an art journal. About 12 months ago, it got lost in the hobby room somewhere. I did about 10 pages, but it slowly petered out. I wanted to journal, but it just didn't happen. It wasn't for lack of ideas or materials: I had plenty of both. I had logistical difficulties, you see. I would cover a page with layers of lovely, luscious glazes, and the page would just warp and go wrinkly. I would colour in an area with black crayon, and it would end up marking half the other pages too, even when I inserted a piece of tissue paper. The cover went all floppy when I tried to put a base layer of paint on it. After a while, it wouldn't lie flat when it was open because the previous wrinkled, warped pages were so bulky. It drove me nuts, and I gave up. Then, over time, my painting station slowly accumulated mounds of unrelated junk - receipts, doctor's letters, magazines, souvenirs and other random stuff - making it completely impossible to do any painting or drawing without spending hours moving and sorting all that stuff first. It was all just too hard. I was sad, but I didn't have the motivation to do anything about it.

Last weekend, motivated by an urge to write, I cleared off my painting station (converting it to, as I thought at the time, purely a writing station). I had the smart idea of putting all the junk in a box, so I could go through it at my own leisure. Here is my writing painting creating station now:

1. Mug with gel pens, scissors, smaller paintbrushes.
2. Vase with larger paintbrushes, foam roller, pencils with Star Trek toppers, mirror.
3. Glue caddy. A wire caddy that was originally full of hot sauces.
4. Bizarre purple ceramic thingy that I got at an op-shop, which I think might be a pen holder. I'm using it as a brush holder.
5. Chinese ink and larger paint pots.
6. Organiser drawers which I installed just yesterday. They contain my art journal, writing journal, spare writing journals, and pencil case with special writing pens.
7. On top are my rubber stamps, another pencil case with my special drawing pens, and a dinosaur figurine.
8. Window. During the day, there's a nice view of a tree and courtyard of my building.
9. Lamp. Hanging off it are beaded book thongs and elfy Tree decoration I bought from Jelli Bat last December.
10. Spools of ribbon and candle holders with sponge and aloe vera gel in them. That's just stuff I haven't gotten around to tidying off yet.
11. Box with acrylic paints in it.
12. Inspirational dragon plaque and kapibara-san coin purse that I got in Japan. Also a lip balm. I have stashes of them all over the house.

When I sat down to do some creative writing exercises, my metallic textas and rubber stamps were still on the table. After I finished the exercises, I found myself spending just as much time decorating the borders of my pages as I had writing! And it felt good. So what's wrong with decorating my writing journal if I feel like it?

It got me thinking about my old art journal, and what had gone wrong with it. For a start, I'd bought the cheapest scrapbook I could find. It needed to be sturdier, with a real hard cover. It needed thicker paper. It needed to be bound like a proper hard-cover book so it would lie flatter. Basically - I had to stop being tight for a minute! Secondly, I hadn't done any research on materials. I had just used whatever I had lying around. But I didn't know anything about what the best paints were for laying down backgrounds, what the best markers were that didn't bleed through to the other side, what glue was best for adding collage. No wonder it went wrong more often than not! This time, I'm going to try to keep in mind that it's important to observe and learn, not just to do. My perception has changed - I thought that a tutorial on 'how to make art' is a bit beside the point. You just DO it. You just ... be creative. But then it occurred to me - when I was a little kid and I learned to knit, I had to actually learn to knit. Then I learned more techniques and practised and I got better. Singers learn how to sing, writers learn how to write. They need to get to know their instrument or medium before they can get the most out of it. So I would like to do some research (as an information geek, I have no issues there!), start over again and make a better art journal. No, not better, just more appropriate to my needs.

Yes, I'm proud of some of the pages I did in the old one, this one for example:

but overall it just doesn't inspire me to get it out and turn the pages, reminisce over old ones and be excited about making new ones. And I think that's what's important.

So I've enrolled in an online course run by Dawn Sokol of the art journalling blog D'Blogala (among many other projects). I find her blog very inspiring, so I'm sure it'll be good. It consists of a weekly e-mail every week for 10 weeks, with attached tutorial, tips, etc. It's US$15, which seems very reasonable. The only problem is - it doesn't start until 12th August! That's a whole month away! I bought a lovely sturdy journal from Riot Art n Craft yesterday and I'm ready to start! I'm the kind of person that wants it now, cause I know that tomorrow I'll have moved on and be all excited about something else. But the thing about art journalling is that you can put it aside and come back to it later. It's as finished as you want it to be. And there's such a huge scope with what can be done with them. Why couldn't I write in it instead of paint sometimes, take some photos and stick those in instead of draw, if I felt like it?

I started already, last night. Here is page One, a declaration of intent:

[The text says: "ART JOURNAL No. 2. Yes, I know the first one isn't finished yet, but I really feel I need to start afresh."]

P.S. I also wrote a Tanka poem tonight too! I'll post it next time.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Writing - the All-Weather Craft

I am very excited to say I wrote two stories yesterday! They were pretty short ones, but still!
I borrowed a book from the library called The Right to Write by Julia Cameron a few weeks ago, and I'm finding it very helpful. It's not so much a technical guide on HOW to write, but more an inspirational guide on WHAT and WHY to write. There's an exercise at the end of each chapter, and I've been slowly working through and doing them all. I thought I'd share one with you; I found it a lot of fun to write. The exercise was called Bad Writing, and it is meant to get you out of the habit of thinking that everything you write must be amazingly perfect, or else it's not worth the bother. The aim is to write a mock tabloid article on a really cheesy topic. I had a lot of fun using as many cliches as I could possibly cram in. (I usually try to avoid them, so it felt very freeing.) Here it is:


Poor BIANCA SPOONS is at it again. The Spoons household erupted into a domestic nightmare over the weekend, as Bea and hubby KEITH FOPPERDEW argued over baby-sitting duties. According to a close friend of the family, the spat lasted for hours, with insults being hurled on both sides. Bianca is sick of failed rapper K-Fop's womanising ways, and being left at home with Shaynne, 2, and Jaguarr, 18 months, while he parties every weekend. Well-known rumours abuot K-Fop's antics have only served to hurt Bianca and further erode her trust in her man. A neighbour, who sensitively refused to be identified, claims that the ugly argument could be heard beyond the borders of the Spoons' Hollywood mansion. What's more, the screaming upset the children, who could be seen running back and forth through the house's huge bay windows.

An inside source revealed K-Fop's fustration at being forced into the role of Daddy, and his desperate yearning to break free of his other moniker: Mr. Bianca Spoons. As the fight reached a crescendo, well past the children's bed-time, Keith was seen leaving the Spoons domicile, throwing more insults over his shoulder as he sped away in his recently-purchased Porsche. A sobbing Bea called her closest pal, pop songstress MIDOONA, and she rushed from the studio where she was recording her latest album Flexible to be at Bea's side. Our source reveals that the girlfriends talked for hours, with Midoona's comforting influence the only thing preventing Bianca from indulging in yet another embarrassing eating binge. Eventually, Midoona was seen leaving the Spoons estate, well after 3am, and returning home to Mr. Midoona and her own multi-fathered children.

Bea's confidence has been shattered by her failure to lose her baby weight after the birth of her second child Jaguarr, now a long 18 months ago. Her anguish must be compounded by the knowledge that K-Fop is spreading his attentions amongst an ever-widening circle of female admirers, not least of which is 19-year-old model TATIANA SNOGKOVA. A record industry insider confirms that K-Fop's new album I'm Really Sexy is about to begin production, whereas Bianca is in danger of losing her pop star status, not to mention her credibility, if she doesn't make a move soon. The pressure on Bianca is mounting as she struggles with being a mother and holding onto her past successes.

Cracks began to show in her veneer of happy motherhood a year ago when she was accused of leaving little Shaynne alone for over 10 minutes while he played at the edge of the local swamp. Bea's desperate attempts to blame the boo-boo on the children's then-Nanny fooled no-one, and K-Fop's faith in her as the mother of his children was shattered. Since then, her life has been a never-ending spiral of guilt-inducing eating binges and obsessive gym junkie sessions, with little Shaynne and Jaguarr left with a succession of minders, barely even knowing who their real Mommy and Daddy are.

What will the future hold for Bianca, Keith and their troubled relationship? Will Bea manage to hold her life together as a wife and mother and stop K-Fop from straying? Will K-Fop succumb to the charms of his latest love interest, Tatiana? Only time will tell.

And remember, comments are love! ;)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

My Etsy Purchases

Top Left: notebook bookmark. Top Right: coptic-bound sketchbook. Bottom Left: art card. Bottom Right: handbound journal.

As you might have noticed, I'm a bit obsessed with paper goods at the moment. After umming and aahing for a while, I finally decided to buy some things from Spacedog Studios on Etsy. She has some innovative and pretty things. I love the idea of a bookmark with a notebook built in. It's one of those things that made me think - why didn't I think of that! I gave the little coptic bound sketchbook with the faux bois (fake wood) fabric cover (so hot right now!) to Boy. He might have to put up with me stealing it back and cradling it lovingly in my hands from time to time, though. It's so beautifully made. The journal at the bottom right has a more simple binding, but it has a few inserted decorative pages for inspiration. That one's for me. And the little art card with the Japanese lady on it is just a treat!

My new order of pens from JetPens arrived last night too, with my special new fountain pen in it. I was tired when I got home, but I perked right up when I saw the box! I'll post pictures later.

I hope everyone else is feeling inspired, too!