Tuesday, 6 December 2016

WOYWW 392–More on Mamhead Album

This week I’ve managed to do a tiny bit more on the Mamhead Woods album that I am making to commemorate a walk we had with friends in the summer – a stunningly beautiful area of woodland outside Exeter, pretty well on our doorstep! How blessed we are to live in such a scenic part of the country.

Here is my drawing zone.

WOYWW 392 7-12-16

You can see some of the pages with the parchment overlay with tracings, now painted, and a couple of “logs” that I have made, lying on my light panel with its translucent cutting mat. On the left are some backgrounds, and at the back is my ATG gun, the wooden Turkish Delight box that holds my drawing pens, and various knives, scissors and other bits and pieces. Here are some detail shots of what I’ve been doing.

I’ve taken the photos with the parchment tracing overlays and added some colour. Here is the fern. I coloured it with coloured pencils in 3 shades of green.

24 Fern Tracing Coloured Green

I painted this one with gold Perfect Pearls.

25 Leaf Tracing Painted with Gold Perfect Pearls

This one was done with copper Perfect Pearls. Unfortunately the photo hasn’t really caught how shiny and metallic it looks.

26 Leaf Tracing Painted with Copper Perfect Pearls

The two metallic pages together. I am pleased with this effect.

27 Copper and Gold Leaf Tracings

I had a couple of small photos with purple flowers in amongst the greenery, and I searched through my collection of inked kitchen paper to see if anything would go. This particular sheet was used to mop up some Dylusions spray inks and I absolutely love the rich colour and the random patterns created in the paper. What’s brilliant about kitchen paper is that it is 2-ply, and you can pull the layers apart and get two identical sheets! For my two identical albums, this is ideal. I chose the best way to use the sheets and cut them in half.

The picture below shows how much better this inked kitchen paper looks against a purple background than with a white card backing, so I cut the pages from this purple card rather than using the white card pages I’ve used so far.

28 Inked Kitchen Paper and Card

I cut the kitchen paper slightly larger than the pages and stuck it down using soft matte gel medium, folding the edges round the back to give a nice clean finish.

29 Pages Made with Inked Kitchen Paper

Here are the two identical sets of pages side by side, with the photos in place, also stuck down with soft matte gel medium. As they are tending to curl as they dry, I have left them with some heavy books on top, and by morning they should be nice and flat.

30 Inked Kitchen Paper Pages with Photos

I was rummaging through the papers in my drawing zone and came across the teabag stains I made on watercolour paper – drying teabags in this way leaves fabulous marks that can be used for different things. So far I’ve mostly done tiny Zentangle drawings on them, but as I looked at these round teabag stains, I could imagine them as logs cut through, revealing the tree rings. I drew these with brown coloured pencils and then cut them out. I used the natural creases in the teabag stains to create the cracked effect of the logs.

22 Logs Cut from Teabag Stains

Here they are in close-up. I am amazed at how wood-like they have turned out! It was a real spur-of-the-moment decision to make these! I am probably going to use them to embellish the album covers.

23 Logs Cut from Teabag Stains Detail

My Skype interview with the lady from the forum went very well, and using the iPad Pro, I was able to show her the various art works that she was interested in for her feature, and to give her the guided tour of the studio. I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with on the forum, and I also asked her about our request for a specific art board to be set up. We spoke about the therapeutic benefits of art, and I said that although our request had been rejected because “all the boards are disease-related,” because so many people derive benefit from art when dealing with chronic illness and cancer etc., this aspect of life with illness should be accommodated. She said she would speak to the powers that be, and hopefully we will get there in the end! In preparation for the Skype call, I laid out a lot of stuff around my studio to show her. This is a montage of the photos I took of it all.

Photo Montage

That’s all the art for this week.

Today we went out for lunch and I was so impressed with the way that my chicken chorizo dish was served that I had to photograph it!

Chicken Dinner at the Devon Dumpling 6-12-16

My dessert was equally beautifully presented, but I was so eager to tuck into it that I completely forgot to photograph it.

Last week I did some more cooking, and got very excited by Jamie Oliver’s pork meatballs that he presented on his “Jamie’s Super Foods” programme, so I jotted down the recipe and made it. Full of wholesome ingredients, it was absolutely delicious and definitely one to make again!

Jamie Oliver's Pork Meatballs 30-11-16

There are red onions and apples in the gravy, amongst other things, and there is added fibre and goodness in the meatballs in the form of cannelloni beans. A good, wholesome winter warmer!

For ages I have been meaning to photograph the teddies in the window, and today I finally got round to it. Every day my hubby puts them out so they can look up and down the street, and passers by often look up and smile at them! He can’t remember why he suddenly started doing this, but it’s become a daily ritual for him and it gives people a lot of pleasure!

01 Teddies in the Window Front View

Phoebe’s operation went really well and the vet ended up removing a total of five teeth. She must have been in quite a bit of discomfort with them as they were not in a good state. The poor little thing had been confined to the bathroom all th previous night with the special non-absorbent litter in the tray, in order to get a urine sample, but she didn’t oblige – she spent the night crying and trying to get out! When she got to the vet’s apparently she produced a lake, after all that time, so they were able to get their sample! She was a bit disoriented when she got home but soon found her feet, and for the past few days she’s been extra clingy and affectionate, and very, very glad to be home, and presumably in a lot less pain now those rotten teeth have gone. She has slept a lot more than usual – she must have been exhausted by her ordeal!

Finally, as I was going to bed last night, I saw that both kitties had cuddled up together on my hubby’s chair. Two tight little balls. They so rarely touch each other, let alone sleep together! Amazing what a bit of cold weather will do.

Strange Bedfellows 5-12-16

Have a really creative week, everyone, and happy WOYWW.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mamhead Album and WOYWW 391

For the first time for goodness knows how long, I managed to spend a couple of hours in my studio yesterday evening. I took the photos for WOYWW then, because I shall be busy today and might not get time.

I have been getting increasingly frustrated at not having any time or energy to use my beautiful room so grabbed the opportunity after we’d had an early supper as my hubby was going out.

I am continuing work on the two identical mini-albums I started some time ago, after we went with some friends to the beautiful Mamhead Woods near Exeter. Tonight I assembled most of the pages with photos on them.

The first picture shows one of the Zentangle tracing pages being made. I had to think long and hard about how to do this – there is a photo overlaid with a piece of parchment paper on which I have traced the outlines and filled them with Zentangles, so that the photo shows through. I thought that if I bound these layers as separate pages in the binding, it would be much more difficult to line up the tracing exactly over the photo, so I decided to make the layers up as a single page, but then the join would show, as I am going to use a concealed binding system. In the end, I used a very narrow strip of extra-sticky double sided tape to attach the parchment paper to the photo beneath, and I think the result is satisfactory.

13 Making the Traced Pages

As you can see, I was working on my light panel. This enabled me to line everything up accurately, and also to stick the photos to the cardstock which forms the base of each page. On top of the light panel I have got a translucent cutting mat which is ideal for this sort of thing.

I assembled all the pages by running my ATG glue gun around the edges of each cardstock page, and then placing the untrimmed photo face down on the light panel, and lowering the glued page down onto it, carefully lining it up with the edges of the photo. The light shining through from below made this much easier. I then turned the whole thing over and trimmed off the excess with a knife and ruler, and again, the light panel enabled me to see the edge of the page through the photograph so that I could cut it accurately – this was much more clean and tidy than trying to trim off the excess with scissors.

Here are the small photos, trimmed to size. I had printed them out several to a single sheet of paper, sizing and arranging them with my desktop publishing software (Serif PagePlus).

14 Small Photos Trimmed to Size

They will be stuck down onto some sort of background sheet adhered to the page base.

Here are the completed photo pages, including a map of the woods. There is room on some of these for text or mixed media to be added.

15 Photo Pages Made

The traced pages. All the photos were manipulated in some way – posterised, desaturated, made into negatives, sepia-coloured, etc. – using my photo editing software (Serif PhotoPlus).

16 Traced Pages Made

On the traced ones on the right (not the Zentangle ones on the left) I shall probably add some paint – maybe a little colour, or some metallic paints.

Here are the two Zentangle pages.

17 First Zentangle Page

18 Second Zentangle Page

I selected some backgrounds from my backgrounds folder which I thought I might use in this project. Plenty to choose from, and I’m not sure what I shall use yet.

19 A Selection of Backgrounds

My 12 x 12 “mask-and-spray” sheets done with my Infusions paints, and the leaves and flowers that were created during the masking process. I shall definitely be using some of these. I had thought of using some of these papers as end-papers in the albums but have yet to decide.

20 Infusions Backgrounds and Cut-Outs

Finally, a selection of texture-makers – a Fiskar’s Texture Plate, a Tim Holtz embossing folder and a baking texture maker, all in woodgrain or leaf patterns – the Fiskar’s one has a woodgrain pattern on the reverse. I might create some backgrounds using these, or strips of card to embellish various pages.

21 A Selection of Texture Makers

Lots of planning to do, but once I’ve got the pages sorted, I can begin to think how the albums will come together. I have downloaded some lovely quotes from the Internet about trees and woods which I shall incorporate.

One exciting piece of news – I have been approached by one of the people who run the Inspire health forum which I belong to, who wants to do something to feature the artists among their many hundreds of members. The whole forum is vast, with boards relating to pretty well every medical condition under the sun, and quite a few members belong to several boards, as do I (stomas, general cancer, colo-rectal cancer, cardiac, M.E., and gastro-intestinal – although these days I’m really only active on the stoma and cancer boards). Some time ago a group of us were asking if we could have a board dedicated to art because of its tremendous therapeutic value in a number of medical conditions but our request fell on deaf ears, but now something seems to be happening, and it’s rather exciting. Tomorrow I am going to Skype the lady who has approached me (she is in the USA) so that we can chat a bit about why my art is important to me, and to discuss one or two pieces that I have done that have had particular significance for me. This will be a lot easier to do now I’ve got the iPad Pro (I set up Skype on it yesterday) – lugging a laptop around the studio wouldn’t be much fun! As we are Skyping, I will be able to show her my studio “live” and some of my work. This was a great incentive for me to tidy it up a bit yesterday!

More good news – I weigh myself on Tuesdays, and I can now celebrate having lost 3 stone (42 pounds) since I started the 5:2 diet 2 1/2 years ago. I have really lost this weight in 18 months, because I don’t really count the whole of last year, when I was advised to stop dieting while my cancer was being dealt with – I worked it out recently and I only lost 1 lb last year! Still, I suppose it was a step in the right direction!

Wishing all my fellow WOYWW-ers a happy WOYWW and a creative and productive week ahead.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

St Luke’s Church, Torquay–A Feast of Victorian Gothic Revival

This morning I went with my hubby to a service at St. Luke’s Church in Torquay. He knew the church, and had told me it was lovely inside, but deliberately didn’t tell me too much because he wanted it to be as much as a surprise to me as it had been to him when he first saw it.

As soon as I went in, my jaw dropped and I was blown away! He and I are both suckers for Victorian Gothic Revival, and this was a wonderful example.

The church is Victorian, completed in the 1860s with lavish wall paintings which were restored and embellished during the 1960s after a fire.

Here is a view of the chancel.

01 Chancel

Note the beautiful Victorian tiled floor.

Detail of the reredos.

02 Reredos Detail

This depiction of the Last Supper is in relief and the table projects enough to cast a shadow.

Wall stencilling on the left hand side.

03 Wall Stencilling

Detail of stencilling.

04 Wall Stencilling Detail

To right and left of the altar are four roundels with raised marble frames, depicting the four Gospel writers – in this case, St. Mark. I love the painted lilies to the left as well.

05 Gospel Writer Wall Painting

Above the stencilling there are a number of wall paintings depicting angels and other Biblical characters and scenes, and the whole thing is peppered with Biblical quotes and exhortations to worship, often on ribbons carried by angels. When the restoration was done, the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik was still topical, so the artist also depicted this!

06 Sputnik

Moving to the right side of the chancel, you can see one of the beautiful brass candelabra. Also in more detail on this picture is the absolutely gorgeous riotous vine complete with golden bunches of grapes that meanders across the wall between the windows, above the altar.

07 Brass Candelabra

Here are the beautiful organ pipes, painted and decorated with bands of colour.

08 Painted Organ Pipes

09 Painted Organ Pipes Detail

To the right of the organ is a wall plaque in memory of a chorister which I found particularly attractive.

10 Chorister Memorial Wall Plaque

Before moving on from the chancel, just look up at the magnificent roof!

11 Chancel Roof

The whole thing glows and sparkles with the addition of lavish amounts of gold.

Beside the lectern is another memorial plaque with a most attractive gold mosaic background.

12 Memorial Wall Plaque with Gold Mosaic

The main body of the church is somewhat plainer, but the side aisle roofs are painted, and the glorious red pillars – deliciously Victorian!

13 Pillars and Side Aisle

14 Side Aisle Roof

The smaller organ pipes, situated by the lectern and behind the organ console are arranged in a glass case so that they can be seen, along with their mechanism.

15 Small Organ Pipes

An example of several wall paintings for the children. These ones are over the exit.

16 Wall Paintings for Children

(These pictures of St. Luke’s are the first I’ve taken with my new iPad Pro. I am very impressed with the quality of the camera. I did not use the flash, and learned “on the hoof” how to work it, discovering along the way a powerful zoom, and also a “burst” facility – keep your finger on the button and it takes continuous shots in quick succession. It must also feature an anti-shake device because they came out remarkably clear despite my being unable to hold the device really steady, especially when in zoom mode, holding it high up.)

Some time ago we visited Knightshayes Court near Tiverton in Devon, owned by the National Trust, which is also decorated in this wonderful style with loads of wall paintings. I was so inspired by the decorations in this country house that I tried my hand at reproducing something in the same style in our previous house.

Lobby Mural 1

This mural was in the entrance lobby and was the first thing you saw when you came in the front door, and if you look carefully you can see it extends across the door that leads into the house proper. The pillars, arches and ceiling cornices are all trompe l’oeil – the wall is flat.

Lobby Mural 2

Lobby Ceiling

One of several panels I painted on the lower part of the wall.

Lobby Wall Panel

As you can imagine, I was sad to leave all this behind when we moved, but I was assured by the new tenants that they loved it and would not paint it out!

Although I am no longer able to paint on such a large scale as this, looking at the detail of the St. Luke’s paintings this morning, I got a huge amount of inspiration and am keen to try my hand at painting in the Neo-Gothic style but on a smaller scale. A while back I started working on some Gothic stencil designs to cut with my Cougar cutting machine, and I am sure I could combine these with some painting in this highly decorative style which is quintessentially English and endlessly intriguing. As my hubby and I are always saying about the embellishments in Victorian architecture, “They didn’t have to do that… but isn’t it great that they did!”

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

WOYWW 390 An Alternative “Desk,” Mandalas and More Gold

Nothing to show my fellow deskers in the studio dept. this week because nothing has gone on in there except adding to the tip. I’ve been really busy. Today, I decamped into the kitchen and have been cooking most of the day. I love getting stuck in in my lovely kitchen. Here’s what I’ve been up to. Sorry it’s a bit long, but just flip through the photos!

General view:

01 General View

Preparing the pastry for two quiches and some mince pies:

08 Preparing the Pastry

One quiche pastry ready for blind baking. The foil is to stop the pastry rising. It’s resting on my favourite recipe book, which I had for a 21st birthday present!

02 Quiche Ready for Blind Baking

Making the first batch of mince pies.

03 Making Mince Pies

The filling for the quiches, made with onion, yellow pepper, diced sweet potatoes (some roasted in sesame oil, the rest softened in the microwave), garlic, herbs, seasoning, cooked in olive oil. Once cooked, I added some grated cheddar cheese.

04 Sweet Potato Filling for Quiches

Steaming some beetroots ready for the freezer.

05 Steaming Beetroot

A nice big batch of butternut squash soup being cooked – with onions, carrots, yellow pepper, garlic, herbs, broccoli stalks that I’ve been saving and freezing, vegetable stock.

06 Cooking the Butternut Squash Soup

Preparing supper in advance – a lump of lamb’s liver and bacon casserole defrosting, and some potatoes and carrots ready to cook. I steamed sprouts and sliced courgette with sage in the steamer part, over the other vegetables. Four veges cooked on one ring!

07 Supper Being Prepared in Advance

The blind pastry cases for the quiches, cooked and ready for filling.

09 Quiche Pastry Cooked

Two batches of mince pies and two quiches ready for the oven. The filling was spooned into the pastry cases, and a “custard” made with eggs and milk, herbs and seasoning poured over, with a final sprinkling of grated cheddar on top.

10 Mince Pies and Quiches Ready for the Oven

The butternut squash soup, liquidised. You can see the blender jug on the left.

11 Butternut Squash Soup

The fruits of my labours today: butternut squash soup, two sweet potato quiches, two dozen mince pies and some steamed and peeled beetroot. All freezer fodder for now!

12 The Fruits of Today's Labours

The Before photo (chaos!):

13 Before

and After!

14 After

I like the final clearing up, when you end up with a nice clean tidy kitchen again – a sense of satisfaction of a job completed, and lots of nice nosh to enjoy in the coming weeks!

Art Projects – iPad Pro, using PaintStorm and Procreate apps

I’ve been working on another mandala and this time I’ve put some “gold” in the centre rather than a Zengem, since I’m on a gold roll at the moment. I went a bit mad with this one because I started with a canvas on PaintStorm that was much too big, so I shall never be able to print this out at full size! It’s very intricate-looking at a smaller scale. Here’s the outline:

Lotus Mandala Outline

and here’s the colouring I’ve done so far – note the touches of “gold”:

Lotus Mandala Colour WIP

I’ve done a bit more gold for my Bible study group visuals too – this is the final one for last week’s session, not done in time for the last WOYWW:

Menorah Decorations

and here’s the finished visual, showing how I used this image:

05 The Menorah Decorations

For this week’s session, these are the drawings I have done:

Golden Altar of Incense Colour

Veil Pillars


Golden Altar of Incense and Veil

I’ve still got quite a bit of work to do to finish preparing the session by Friday!

Shoshi Health Update

I’ve got my 6-monthly oncology appointment tomorrow morning. I’m not worried, as the latest CT scan came back clear of cancer, and I’m sure the appointment will be fine – just a chat about how I’m getting on. I shall tell her about my hernia (Miss Piggy) and the support garment that is coming, and also about the clots on my lungs but she may already know about this, as my surgeon, who ordered the CT scan, has probably shared the results with the MDT (multi-disciplinary team) who have overseen my care since my diagnosis back in January last year.

I lost another pound this week – if I lose one more pound, I will have lost a total of 3 stone (42 lb) in 2 1/2 years – not that I really count last year because I lost a huge amount in hospital and then put it all on again, having to abandon my diet while undergoing surgery and treatment, and ended up only losing 1 lb last year! Ideally I’d like to lose another stone, but it’s coming off very slowly these days and that may be a bit optimistic!

Kitty Health Update

Phoebe and N Drooping 11-10-13

Phoebe has got to go in to the vet sometime in the next week or two to have some teeth extracted – they’ve put this off for some time until her epilepsy was stabilised. They reduced the dose of her epilepsy meds recently and her liver function has improved which is good – they take regular bloods to check on her general health, in order to balance therapeutic levels against adverse side effects. She will have to stay in overnight when she has her operation and it’s going to be very strange without her here! Hope she doesn’t get too stressed… Both kitties are eating quite well these day (little and often – it’s like having kittens in the house again) and both have gained weight and seem very well. They are 16 and 13 respectively. Both are on medication permanently and have to be fed separately because Beatrice is on a special diet. Life is complicated Chez Shosh!

Sorry I didn’t visit many of you last week, and those I did, were rather late! It may be the same again this week as I’ve got a lot on and not a lot of time to do it.

Happy WOYWW everyone.