Sunday, 31 May 2015

Giveaway Winner Announcement! HURRAH!

Hello lovely!

It's good to be back - I've missed you all! I've taken a little time to focus on some urgent life stuff (life stuff sucks)...there's a LOT still to figure out and problems yet to solve, but I've made a good start and that counts for somethin'. I'll delve more into such matters when I get back to posting properly (later this week, I promise!) but THIS post is AAAAAAAALL about the giveaway of my li'l birdie book!Thank you all so much for entering and for your gorgeous and lovely comments! I wish I could send something to ALL of you, but there's only one birdie book and only one winner.

To make the winner selection fair I enlisted the help of a professional - The Colonel! Well, it's not like I see PEOPLE on a regular basis, and The Colonel is the Emperor of everything (he wants a Death Star for his birthday - armed and fully out Ewoks! Mooowahahaha!). I printed off all of your names and cut the paper into strips like so -

....then rolled them up, like so  -

...then with the addition of a teeny spray of catnip foofy cat attracter I dropped them as an offering before the Lord Of All Adorableness himself -

There was a lot of sniffing and snuffling and not a little drooling...

....then eventually one very sucked paper twisty straw was selected -

Hey presto! Took a bit of convincing and fairly substantial bribery with nippity treats but I wrangled it away from his whiskery mush and the winner is......*drumroll* 



Congatulations! You are the new owner of the birdie book! I'll send you an email/message and sort out postie details with you so that it'll be with you as soon as post persons permit.

Because I labour under colossal amounts of guilt that there's only one winner here I plan to do a giveaway every month - that will increase the chances for anyone who wants to win free goodies! I'll be back later this week with some fun finds from mum's house - proof positive that I've not always been the most artistically gifted person - and some catch-ups to share with you. In the meantime, thank you again to everyone who entered the giveaway and to every lovely reader and visitor - The Colonel and I love you squillions! Sending out some hugs to y'all xxxxx

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Evicting The Belly Bees - Journal Page

Hello lovelies!

I hope you're all sparkly and fine? We've had hailstones - HAIL - here today! The Colonel has taken to his blanky in disgust -

That's his "Oh my, aren't I just adorable" face!

I've been alternately rather busy or having a brain wobble for a few days now...kind of oscillating between the two I'm going to take a tiny break for a couple of days so that I can get my brain-imps settled back down, finish things nicely and reboot (hopefully!) I've not had much workable spare arty time but I did manage a little mixed media page in my "emotional crap" art journal....Camera's being its 'own little individual' so I apologise that the pics are a bit below par!

I promise I'll try for better pics, for what it's worth and replace these dodgy ones as soon as my camera agrees a wage rise with its union, or whatever its problem is! SO yes - I need to get rid of my scratchy, crawly belly bees and settle myself a bit and be back before the end of the week. Setting myself a goal there! Wish me luck! For the moment I bid you a temporary but fond farewell and I'll see you soon - hugs and a big bucket of hailstones from Shroo :) xxx

Saturday, 16 May 2015

It's a 'Sid's Toys' Situation - More Memory Journaling

Hello and happy Saturday!!!

WOO! Are we all having a good weekend so far? I hope so. I hope the sun is shining for you and that you're well and full of the joys of summer.

I have a lot of niggly brain stuff to process at the moment so rather than negotiate those pitfalls and pathways right now I thought I'd turn to happier times and share some more memory cards with you - and the accompanying ramblings, of course!

When I was a child I was extremely fortunate to have a creative and talented family who would make me toys to play with. Mum would sew, knit and crochet dolls and animals; my Grandma would knit pretty clothes for the dolls to wear, and my Grandpa would busy himself in his workshop, and wonderful wooden toys would be waiting for me every birthday and Christmas.

Any store bought toys were a treat and hugely treasured as much as any of the toys my family made for me. My biggest obsession for many years was my collection of Britains farm animals. I'd save my pocket money and spend hours - no, really, sometimes whole day - choosing which one to buy! Drove my poor mum MAD! She tolerated the addiction to small plastic critters because it controlled my super-lust for the shiniest things on the whole planet ever: STAR WARS TOYS! I mean, they were pretty much CRACK to a sci-fi fangirl child! There they'd be in the local toy shop, the biggest section devoted to them FOR YEARS, and week after week I'd float on stars and wishes towards them, and stand and drool!

See, my mum was one smart lady. She KNEW that the day I owned just one Star Wars figure it would start a hankering that our income simply coudn't support. Of course I never realised that at the time. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity one birthday rolled round and.....da daaa DAAAAAH! My first Star Wars toy! A figure? Nope. A spaceship? Nope? It was a LIGHTSABER! I was instantly a Jedi Knight, ready to battle the might of the Empire and defeat all things evil (including ewoks.....don't argue...they're evil). So. were there regrets? Weeeeellll the problem was that in our house we had HUGE round paper globe lamp-shades. Round like a moon.....or.....wait.....THAT'S no moon...... that's a DEATH STAR! Yep....I have a bad feeling about this too....

Anyone wanna guess just how many of those lampshades survived without being repeatedly repaired with sticky tape? Yeah.... I destroyed a LOT of Death Stars! I often wonder whether mum had wished she'd just bought me Han Solo and risked the ensuing collect-o-mania!

But then, I don't have  great track record with these store bought things... It started when I was given a plastic doll when I was a toddler. I called her Anna (another one) and dragged the poor creature everywhere. She had a knitted wardrobe - courtesy of Grandma's needles - and mad blonde hair which stuck up in all directions. NATURALLY I insisted on taking her into the bath with me. Problem? How could that be a problem? Well. Here's the thing... her manufacturers in their infinite weirdness had opted to put the 'air-escape' hole (which meant she could be squished and still return to he rotund original form) in her, well, let's say 'nether regions'. As a consequence, the unfortunate dolly would 'suck up' the bath water through said aperture and retain it perfectly throughout the drying process, ONLY leaking it back OUT once I'd returned to dragging her around the house. She weed on the carpets, she weed on the table and chairs, she weed on the newpaper, she weed EVERYWHERE! It wasn't long before her 'nap time' oddly coincided with my bath time, the leaking horror returning only when I gave her sneaky baths in the sink. I also figured out the cause of the issue, and discovered that if I aimed and squeezed hard enough I could also bath the cat!

When I was a little bigger, I was given a huge (or so it seemed at the time) orange Space Hopper toy. It was my first nemesis. It pretty much won every battle. I'd sit on it, grab the handle horns and bounce. Rather, IT would .....and I'd land on my face in a puddle. Dammit.....

By the time I was six I had a couple of fashion dolls - Pippa dolls they were....they don't make them any more but they were about six inches high with long hair and an infinite wardrobe. I loved them. I have NO idea what happened to them, which is a shame. When I was eight I was bought a Sindy doll, with her ENORMOUS head and ballerina outfit and a HORSEY to go with it (I prefered the horse if I'm honest!) At some point I was also given a Barbie. She was a bog-standard basic Barbie. It always annoyed me that these dolls never had underwear - all Nellie-no-knickers.  I had my nan knitting pants for all of them! It's a fact that, no matter how well made the outfits were, they never sat well over enormous knitted knickers! I didn't play with these dolls much, but on one notable occasion, I set fire to Barbie. Yeah.... She just, well, flapped her foofy hair too near the fireplace (nothing at all to do with me *ahem*) and WOOF, she went up like a molotov cocktail. I panicked and sprinted through the house to extinguish the inferno in the salvation that was the toilet bowl. She met her undignified end with a sizzle and her eyes melted onto her neck. She was buried with full doll honours DEEP in the garden and the truth forever hidden from my mum. R.I.P. Barbie.

Anyone have any toy stories to tell? I have SO many more so it's one of those 'watch this space' situations! Please say hello and leave comments or your own fond/destructive toy/horror stories in the section below and don't forget to read my GIVEAWAY post and enter if you want a chance to win my little book.  It's been lovely to see you! I'm off now for a nice cup of tea so I'll see you soon, ok? Hugs and summer sun to all! - Shroo :) xxx

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mini Art Tile/ACEO Catch-Up Time!

Hello Gorgeous!

IT'S NEARLY FRIDAY!!! Which in turn means IT'S NEARLY SATURDAY! I say we all start celebrating now.... crack open a nice bottle of wine, switch off the phone and mellow! Aaaaah....  Yeah, I know it doesn't work like that but I can dream!!!

Can I just jolly well say a great big THANK YOU for your response to yesterday's post and the GIVEAWAY contained therein? Oh you ARE just comPLETEly lovely! I'm very excited about the whole giveaway thing and if this all goes well I shall be doing more of them. Really quite giddy!

I've been meaning to post more of the little ACEO/art tile thingies that I've been playing with. It's a lot of pressure-free fun just doodling about randomly on eeny-weeny little cards! So yes, the first set are birdie-based and there's a LOT of shimmer in there, not that the camera picks it up hugely well...but here they are:

These are roughly 2.5" x 2" ish so only diddy-widdy! They're mixed media - Neocolor IIs, Inktense pencils and Cosmic Shimmer watercolour paints, with black indian ink and gel pen. I don't know what's going on with my camera - it's definitely got some focus and contrast issues! *sigh*....I'll figure it out! My camera and I will have a 'convesation'!

Anyhoo - the next ones are a teeny bit bigger (about 3.5" x 2.75") and part of an unfinished little set which I did just on a whim, as one so very does, and are a bit of a tangent from the usual thing:

And one last one, a little 'Vampirella' card, again a bit of a whim:

These are SUCH fun to do - I don't know what took me so long to actually have a go... I have few more ready inked but haven't had a chance to do the painty bit yet so they'll just have to wait for a while.

I'm interested to know whether any of you wondrous arty lovely people have played with ATCs and ACEOs and such like? Do you sell them? Do you make prints of them to sell or do you only sell originals? I've been watching some Youtube videos by artists who make a living selling sketch cards and art cards this sort of size but it seems like quite a large and intimidating market to break into. Hmmm....I'm just having a ponderous brain waffle!

Ok - I'm off to finish the day's work so that I can relax with The Colonel, who's a bit fed up as he has a rumbly tummy, poor chap. Don't forget to check out my GIVEAWAY post and leave a comment there if you want to enter, ok? Sending out some love and hugs to all of you - see you soon! Shroo :) xxx

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Turning 'Hmmmm' to 'WOO!' - A Simple Fix & GIVEAWAY!

Hey there, you little sparkler you!

The sun's at it again - blue skies, warm air, insects EVERYWHERE! Summer's definitely well-and-truly here. The Colonel's just come in having flash-fried his bad-ass self in the garden again. He's quite happy. And hot. Toasty kitty!

AAAAAAAAAAAAnyhoo....remember yesterday's stress page? Twitchy birdy with all his stritchy-scratcyness? Well, you've all been completely gorgeous and wonderful, but you know when you have a page in your book that's just........ Hmmm... One of those pages that you're really never going to be sure about? Well, this was such a page. I don't HATE it or's just.....blah, sitting in a book that I'm otherwise mostly happy with. Soooooo I decided to be proactive and DO a thing with it - and, VOILA!

It's now a book! Well, why not I say! It wasn't going to stay in the sketchbook and it would have been shoved in a box somewere 'til I chopped it up for some project or other, so might as well make it into something useful - and you know, I really, REALLY like it now!  Just shows you that nothing's a failure...with some determination and a little creativity anything can become a jolly part of a happy collection! I took plenty of pics so here we go:

It's a simple two-signature pamphlet stitch book, using pretty pink waxed linen thread with beaded dangles that hang below the spine so that when the book's open it will lie nice and flat.  I chose a mix of glass beads and Tibetan silver charms that would complement the splooshy colours. The colours do so very much make me happy!

I used a piece of ribbon from my mum's sewing box, threaded through the spine to tie-fasten. I added two yummy lampwork beads to weight the ribbon which can be tied in a pretty bow on the spine when the book's open and being used.

 I used some designer paper to create a lining to the cover and a spine-strengthener then collaged some vintage images - just because it looks pretty! The paper's a fabulous heavy weight cartridge paper (300gsm) which will take pretty much anything thrown at it, so ideal for mixed media work. There are 12 pages - it's a nice size for a small keepsake project

The book measures roughly 10.5" x 5" (closed so has a good 10" square as an open spread - very workable!

I really like this book now. It feels nice to hold and it'll be good to work in. What do you think? Success? Anyone want to give it a home? YES I'm making this my FIRST GIVEAWAY!!! FANFARE!!!! DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DAAAAA-DAAAAAAAAH!!!  Anyone who'd like to have this book to play with just leave a comment below - all you have to do is begin ONE of your sentences with "I'd like to give this book a home because......." then...tell me! I'll run this 'til the end of the month and draw a winner (randomly to make things fair) on 31st May,ok? So - as this is my first giveaway post I'll run through the simple rules one more time (for my benefit as much as yours !)


If you'd like to enter the draw,
  • Leave a comment below THIS post
  • Write ONE of the sentences in your comment  beginning with "I'd like to give this book a home because......"
  • Make sure you leave a link to your blog so that I can contact you if win
  • Check back with me on 31st May to find out the winner
That's it. Easy enough? The winner will have to have contact details ready so that I can post this to them. This is open to any blog visitor in any country. One entry per person please - I'll only include one entry per person in the draw.

Ok - I hope that meets with happy approval! I've been DYING to do a giveaway for AAAAGES but had no confidence or courage so fingers crossed I've chosen the right thing to do! That's it - I'm off to wait with nervous excitement to see what you think! Love and hugs to all of you from me! xxxxx

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Not Everything Goes To Plan....

Hello Lovelies!

It's Tuesday - and what a sunny one it's been! The temperature has been high (ugh!) and the grass in the garden plot seems to have tripled in length over night. The Colonel has been in the garden for most of the day, inspecting the vegetation and reminding me that it needs attention!

He's in his 'Harvey Quartermain' mode, searching for lost tribes and buried treasure. He needs a little pith helmet and a safari suit then he'll really look the part!

Although the day started well, with me finishing plenty of little necessary tasks I did have a bit of a wobble when I had to go out to pay the bills. It's not far to go, but the trip to the shop set my nerves a-jangle and by the time I returned I was very edgy and twitchy.

I tell you this because I want to show how my mood directly affects the nature and quality of my art. I'd started another page in my birdie book and it was all quite plain sailing, THEN I used it as a means of settling my twitchy, edgy, antsy brain and raw, agitated nerves. What had been a simple page ended up reflecting my fractured, scratchy mood. I dunno - you judge for yourself....I  wanted to share this page even though I'm not happy with it at all, because I think it's useful and important to see work that DOESN'T go to plan, that isn't what I wanted or set out to achieve. Not everything is a keeper! But once I'd calmed down and looked at the page I found it a fascinating insight into the in-the-moment unfocussed and unaware state of my mind.

This page totally lacks the definition and form that I'd planned, and no real depth or contrast. There are so many layers - and I don't have a clear memory, like I just worked on it blindly, without perspective.

This is what the inside of my brain was feeling...lots of layers and lines and scratchy, unplanned, messy thoughts. Too much going on. Too much random detail. There's no soul or story to this picture and nothing working together in harmony to make a successful outcome. The bird is flat and doesn't belong. The visual 'noise' is overwhelming and the substance is lost

There are a LOT of layers - not applied with thought. A lot of smudgy mess. A lot of scribbly, formless distraction.

This page most likely won't stay in the book, but it's interesting as a product of an emotional 'swing' and a gap in cognitive awareness. Art as an expression of self is a complex and intriguing thing. I may cut this up and use it for collage shapes or something. We'll see. I hate waste!

So that's it - perhaps a strange post today, but if I'm sharing all aspects of my art with you then I need to include the failures and weirdnesses as well as the successes, otherwise the journey is never honest or complete! I hope you find this interesting as well. I'm calm now, and looking forward to a pleasant evening where I allow myself to relax and breathe - and hopefully sleep a little as well! I'm sending out some calm and happy thoughts along with my hugs so grab what you need and I'll see you soon - hopefully with something a bit more successful!! xxxxx

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A Colourful Journal Layout Share


*Sigh*......Peace, quiet, relaxation.......HA! No chance this week. I don't know WHAT has been going on outside my flat today but it sounds like a 'Die Hard' movie out there! There've been idiots on motorbikes revving the damn things on and off throughout the day - I have the greatest of respect for bikers, but these aren't bikers...they're morons riding what sounds like amped-up sewing machines on wheels! The police helicopter's been swooping up and down accompanied by police car sirens, apparently  unrelated to idiots on sewing machine bikes, plus some genius decided to demolish a wall with a drill and a sledgehammer (though no Myley Cyrus wrecking balls, thankfully!) It's been VERY noisy! The Colonel is not amused and has forsaken his spot in the garden in favour of curling up and sulking under a blanket ...poor little fluff-bag.

Strangely though it's been quite a good day! With all the hubbub outside there's no relaxation option so I've been cleaning the flat and tidying up - something I've neglected while....a looooong while!  Shelves are dusted, nik-naks and doodads are cleaned and polished and sparkling, I've re-organised SOME of my books and even made small inroads on fixing the armageddon that is the studio. Productive! Maybe next week a sinkhole will open up and a tornado will hit and I'll actually jump-start that vacuum cleaner.... or not!

Today I've decided to share some of the pages of my current journal with you. This one is a wonderful little leather-covered book , 5" x 6,5", from a company called 'Authentic Models'. I've had this for YEARS so I honestly don't know if they make these any more. The paper's GORGEOUS though and takes anything I throw at it.

I've mentioned before that every journal I keep seems to evolve differently and have its own style. It just seems to happen. It would appear that this little journal wants to look like an illustrated storybook, so that's what's happening! I'm going to share some pages so that you can see how I've set it all out. I'm hoping that the layouts might be helpful to prompt some ideas for those of you who want to have some journaling fun. It's very much intuitive rather than planned and the pictures don't always happen at the same time as the writing. (Obviously, because this is my personal journal I've removed most of the written entries 'cos they're all private an' stuff. )  So then, here we go with my intro page (all my journals have their own intro page!) -

A simple way to find illustration space is to leave a little gap at the top or bottom of the page. It's a small space to fill, not scary, and suits any kind of doodling, especially something like zetangling -

You can sort of see that I've turned the book so that on these pages my writing goes in a different direction to just plain old left to right. With other pages I've illustrated across the spine and open spread but kept my writing a little more traditional - it just adds interest both when I'm journaling and when I look back at pages I've finished. This is my St George's Day page, illustrated across the top (I'm on the side of the dragon! This one ATE St George!) -

 ...and this one is an illustration (across the MIDDLE of the page) of the banner my mum made for my last birthday with her -

On other pages I split the open spread into quarters - four blocks. I like to illustrate one or more of the blocks and write in the others - these are from one such page split -

Here are some close-ups - 

They're not uber-detailed, but it's the colour that makes me happy. I doodle in black indian ink with my favourite nib pen, then when I want to wind-down or switch off my brain I'll go back and colour them. I'm using a lot of Cosmic Shimmer watercolour paints so the illustrations are bright and shimmery. These are from another page spread with the same layout -

(The scanner's flashed out the shimmer quite a lot but you kinda get the idea I hope. )

Some pages have panels on the left and right sides of the open spread and space for writing in-between -

This one is a similar idea but I chose a shape that reminded me of stained glass windows -

....not coloured-in yet, but then I think I like them as they are. I dunno..we'll see... The box-borders are wiggly ("organic" in art-speak!) but that's how I prefer them to be. I'm not a big fan of straight lines.  On the 'window' theme, I have a greedy little fox awaiting some blinging-up as well -

(I'm SO not good with text!! NOT my forte!)

The next two pages were inspired by some beautiful photos from Valerie's blog, Bastelmania. She shares the most wonderful images, not only of her own work, but of the wildlife, landscapes and scenery around her. (I did ask her a while ago if it was ok to borrow a couple of her images, don't worry!). I'll re-share her photos and the doodle that resulted from them -

I decided to add some of my favourite poems and verses into this book - something I have always loved to do. On a day when I WANT to journal but have a brain made of peas and cheese I make a page like this to kickstart some THINKIN'! Doesn't always work, but at least I have a pretty page with happy writing!

When you're playing with art in your book there's also nothing wrong with going 'full art journal' and just illustrating a whole page just for the sheer joy of 'arting'. This is the joy of keeping a diary - anything and everything you do is fine!

Equally, there's no need to place everything in a formal panel....just draw what feels right -


Some of mum's favourite flowers
I also have pages with doodles, scribbles and splashes of colour still waiting for me to write on them.

I think what I want to do by showing you these pages is to support the idea that when you keep your own journal anything goes. You don't have to follow a prescribed format or style; you don't have to compare your journal with ANYTHING or ANYONE - it's yours and it's a part of you. It's the same as working with textiles, or beads, or felt, or clay, wire or wood...whatever you create is a part of you: the only difference is that with a journal, no one will see it unless you show them. It's a part of you, created BY you, FOR you. It's special, it's unique and it can look however you like.

I have some more thoughts on journaling (surprise! ahaha) so there'll be more rambing on the way (apologies in advance! Break out the gin and cd of whale-song for recovery!) For now that's it, as the cheesey peas are already taking over my brain. That's what happens after a 'Die Hard'/housework combo day! Back tomorrow, so 'til then, have a big ole bunch of  squooshy hugs from myself and the Colonel (the snoring lump in the blanket). We loves ya! xxxx