Thursday 9 January 2014

My New 2014 Journal & The 12 Books Of Christmas: Part 1

Hello Lovely!

Have we all been busy little bees this January? I always find it's a weird time of year with SO much to do but not a great deal of motivation...whether it's the stormy weather, or the long, dark nights, or the cold I dunno, but those warm blankets seem extra snug in the mornings! Have to crowbar myself outta them!

I have been busy though. I'm setting about re-organising my art studio/craft room (again). It's a mess after all the hustle before Christmas so I figure that instead of just jamming stuff back onto shelves, I should take a little more time and make a bit of sense of things. Makes the job longer, but more worthwhile. As my grandmother always said, "If a job's worth doing at all, then it's worth doing it well."

The reason - aside from just the simple "ARGH!" moment when I look at a mess like that  - for the intensive re-organisation is that I've re-opened my Etsy shop after my Christmas break and now I have to fill it with STUFF as lovely, LOVELY people have bought things! Fabulous! I need more journals in there, so I've been cutting and folding papers ready to get going.

LOVELY colours! I have some gorgeous scrapbook papers to add to them as well. It's good to be prepared! I've also treated myself to a brand new cutting mat in the January Sales - just £2.00 for an A3 size! Awesome!

I've made myself a new 'everyday' journal too. I had a stack of empty sticker backing cards that have been sitting in a pile for a while now, so I rounded the corners and covered the sides with designer paper scraps and hey-presto! One big ole' stack of journal pages. I used some of my DCWV Garden Tea Party stack for the covers and for the first page. That paper is GORGEOUS!

I bound the pages together twice - once with brown waxed linen thread, then again with black. It gave a really cool ridged caterpillar effect which I like a lot.  I left the 'tails' of thread - and added a few more - because I wanted to have these beads as decoration. The paper stack - as always with DCWV - gives a great selection of 'cut out-ables' so decorating is easy and fun. I just added a little shading with pro-markers and embellished with gold gilding wax to make it look more yummy.

I wanted my first page to be a happy thought so I cut out a phrase from the paper and used that - it seemed ideal!

So that's my new journal. It measures 18.5cm x 12.5cm and I love it!

Now - I promised I'd show you the first instalment of the anthology I gave mum for Christmas. The idea stemmed from the anthologies of poems and prose that I put together for 'speech & drama' exams as a teenager, all of which mum has kept. I chose poems and prose that had a significant meaning for me when I was living with her, growing up.

The book I used is a Bockingford watercolour 'fat pad', A5 size with a 140lb heavyweight paper with a cold-pressed finish. This is exCEPtional paper - it takes ANYTHING you throw at it, gives excellent texture, but also allows for detail. I'd most highly recommend! You can find them at good art stores, or online. Here in the UK I'd recommend JACKSON'S ART SUPPLIES for price and excellence of service as well as a great range of goodies for artists to drool over. I actually picked an A4 version up on ebay so you may want to check there for bargains before you spend!

The fact that it's a spiral bound book didn't bother me much as I had a plan - which I'll show you now!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA--HA! Bauble-tastic! Yup. I said in an earlier post that I'd chosen the theme of 'baubles and decorations' for mum's pressies this year so I decided that I'd add a 'bauble' to each page, and on the back I wrote a reason why I chose a particular book or poem. These were such fun to make and look really bright and pretty.

**I've promised to make some extra baubles to decorate the cover...I just ran out of time before Christmas, finishing this as I did at about 2pm on Christmas Eve, shortly before traveling to mum's for the big day!!**

I'll start at the beginning, but will split this up into a couple more posts otherwise we'll be here forever!

Page 1: The Quangle Wangle's Hat by Edward Lear. 

I used my beautiful Neocolor II soluble wax pastels and Derwent watercolour pencils to sketch and paint the page. I then gave it a quick spray of Chestnut satin acrylic lacquer before adding detail with Uni Ball gel pens, Uni Pin fine line pens, and some fabulous rich gilding effects with Winsor & Newton gold ink.

I die- cut the pages by hand as I wanted to create a layered effect throughout the book, which becomes more apparent later on.

 The back of the page has a hand-written extract from the poem - including

Mum used to read this to me as one of my regular bed-time books. My favourite part is the list of amazing names - "Attery Squash", "Bisky Bat" and of course "The Pobble who has no toes"! I've always loved words and fantasy and fabulous imagination. If you've not read it then Google it - it's awesome, as are the rest of Lear's wonderful poems! Excellent for kids and adults alike!  Mum reading these to me really grew my love of words and the marvellous way we can play with them!

Page 2: Sonnet #XXIX by William Shakespeare

I love the works of Shakespeare. I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but I can lose myself in his plays or sonnets and be happy. Sonnet XXIX is my favourite. It HELPS, of course, that it was recited to perfection by the divine Ron Perlman OH so many years ago when he played the character of Vincent in tv's Beauty And The Beast, opposite Linda Hamilton. Whenever I read this now I hear his voice. Awesome. 

I used the same media and techniques as with the first page, adding some Tattered Angels Glaze to the hearts which, although it doesn't show up much in photos or scans, does add a nice dimentional element to the page

For those who may wish to enjoy the sonnet - here it is:
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand - last one for today:

Page 3: Love Of Seven Dolls by Paul Gallico

Actually, it was a pretty hard push to choose just one Gallico book as I have a love of so many. I Chose this one because it has so many layers of complexity...the story of a young girl, lost on the streets of France, who joins a puppet show run by a mysterious, reclusive enigma of a man, capable of expressing his emotions only through the characters of the puppets he works with. The book is truly (to coin a phrase) an emotional roller-coaster, as the reader follows little 'Mouche' from girlhood to maturity, finding love and friendship in the company of her adored puppets whilst fearing the terrible man who controls them. It's not a long book - you can read in a day. I'd recommend it most strongly. It had a great impact on me and the characters seem so real that they reach out from the page to involve the reader in every aspect of the tale. My favourite was Monsieur Reynardo, the fox (hence the piccy!) - cunning and devisive, filled with innuendo, but also loyal and fun.

Again, I used the same media and techniques, making greater use of the Uni Ball white gel pen to add the 'snow' on the fox and the pattern on the ground (which doesn't show up well on the scan but it's there - promise!) You can see the layering effect with the die-cutting more on this page, thanks to the colour contrasts:


Okee - Hope you enjoyed those? Please consider leaving a comment - or a suggestion, if there's something you'd like me to focus on more; I'd love to hear from you! If you like my blog and would like to see more, please add yourself as a member (easy - just click the link in the right hand column!) 

I'll be back soon with more rambling and plenty more photos. In the meantime, look after yourselves, make art, be happy, stay healthy and I'll see you back here real soon! Love and hugs - Shroo :) xxx


  1. Ooh Shroo I LOVE LOVE LOVE your fox! I like your birds too, but that fox is gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Rhomany! Foxes are completely awesome - I think I'm a bit addicted to drawing them! Just watched your totem fox video on youtube: I return fox-art appreciation! AWWW!!! Hugs - Shroo:)xxx

  2. what an original and beautiful way to illustrate poems and stories . The work is exquisite ! The yellow bird took my breath away the first time I saw him . Obviously a lot of love and talent went into this beautful gift ... something to treasure for life .

    1. Thank you squillions Daisy - I'm so glad you like these. It's been a long time since I last made an anthology of poems and prose and I enjoyed doing this one SO much! Hugs from Shroo:)xxx

  3. I am in love with each unique piece you show in this post!

    Happy weekend !

    1. Thank you so much - that's a lovely thing to say! Very best wishes - Shroo:)xx

  4. Oh my, I am speechless for amazement, it is all sooooo beautiful. You have so much talent. Beautiful work, love those journals, too! Hugs, Valerie

    1. Thank you so much - that means a lot! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Big hugs - Shroo:)xx

  5. I am sat here.. well, in disbelief really! So much beauty in this post. So much. It kind of grabs you by the heart and squeezes as, in the wonderful way you've done this also makes the love for your Mum explode off the screen.

    Vincent! Squee! My Mum had a slight crush on him. OK it wasn't slight. It was embarrassing! :D I loved that program.

    I have to go look up all these poems now. I really love how you've illustrated them.

    It must be a January thing as I have just spring cleaned the shedio ;)

    Oh and thank you so much not just for your recent comments over at mine but your replies here. Your encouragement and lovely words mean so much (tried to reply via email but your blogger has that 'no reply' thing.

    Scotland. One day. She says knowing it will probably never happen. One day. x x x

  6. Thank you a BA-JILL-ION for your awesome and timely comments (was having a stupid 'sink-hole' 'what's-the-point' moment). Sometimes I need someone to poke me in the eye and remind me not to be a complete arse - thank you for being that person today! I remind you of your own epic awesomeness, missus - just in case you'd forgotten!

    I'm sorry about my blogger being a pain... I can't figure it out. It SHOULD allow emails - through my profile at the very least. I'll go click things randomly for a bit and see if that can't fix the problem. You can always email me at whenever you like - no worries!

    Lose ye not your goal of being in Scotland! I'm sure you can move your shedio up there with you! (very impressed with the tidy re-shuffle thereof - more that I can say for the heap that is my studio right now. ) Sending hugs - Shroo:)x