Thursday, 8 June 2017

Second Wind–First Part

WOYWW visitors – please see previous post.

I know this was supposed to be the year of the UFOs (UnFinished Objects) and that I wasn’t supposed to be starting any new projects until I’d made good headway on completing ones I’d already started, but sometimes the creative urge just grabs one, and one has to give in!

I have just finished listening to the audiobook version of Dick Francis’ novel Second Wind, in which a meteorologist flies through the eye of a hurricane. Apparently after the complete calm of the eye of the storm, when the second half of the circular weather pattern passes over, this is known as the “second wind” and it can be even more destructive, finishing off anything left after the destruction of the first.

This captured my imagination, and I thought I would like to make a little album just with a series of simple brush-stroke illustrations in an attempt to capture it. In my stash I have quite a few folded sheets of hand-made paper which I think were the covers of some wedding service sheets that I picked up after a service. I tore them in half horizontally against a ruler so that I could mimic the existing deckle edge of this gorgeous natural-coloured and textured paper.

01 Tearing the Pages to Size

02 One Page Folded

I did some experiments because I knew it was likely to be highly porous, and I didn’t want any bleed-through.

03 Prepping the Samples with Substrates

04 Samples

With just one coat of clear gesso, there was still considerable bleed-through, but with a second coat, this seemed to solve the problem, especially if I dried the piece fairly quickly with my heat gun and didn’t leave it sitting around saturated for too long. I also tried Finnabair 3-D matte transparent gel medium, some professional artists’ fixative in an aerosol can provided by my hubby, my own casein-based manual pump fixative, and some Rustoleum Crystal Clear sealant spray, also in an aerosol can (that stuff stinks!). This was the only other substrate that allowed no penetration, so I decided on two coats of clear gesso, which is a lot more user-friendly.

All substrates allowed the application of water-based paints/inks without beading, and in every case it was possible to reactivate the paint with water after drying. The clear gesso gives quite a tooth, but since the paper is textured anyway, I didn’t think this mattered.

It was important that the chosen substrate was transparent, as I didn’t want to cover the fibrous texture of the paper, or its natural, undyed colour.

As for the painting, I did a series of test pieces on scrap printer paper, which buckles horribly when wet, and does not allow one to blend the watercolours after they have been applied, but it was just to give me an idea of the sort of thing I wanted to paint. I used watercolours, and towards the end, added some Distress Stains.

05 Sample Paintings on Scrap Copy Paper

06 Samples Laid Out

Once they were done, I wasn’t very pleased with them, and decided that less was more, and that once I began on the hand-made paper, I would keep the brush strokes to a minimum, and try to simplify the designs.

I have chosen a limited palette: black, yellow and orange, and little touches of purple. I decided to use the Distress Stains exclusively in the end, as the colours are more intense. The colours I chose were Black Soot, Mustard Seed, Wild Honey, and Dusty Concord. I smeared these onto my craft sheet and picked them up with a brush – for the detail I used several sizes of smaller round brushes, and for the black swirls, a large fan brush, wetting the brush a little first.

Here are the pages in order. They show first of all a peaceful scene, and then the arrival of the hurricane, the first wind of which increases in size and strength.

09 Page 1

10 Psges 2 and 3

11 Page 4

12 Page 5

13 Page 6 and 7

The first wind then begins to diminish as we approach the eye of the storm.

14 Page 8

15 Page 9

For the eye of the storm, I made this picture the only double page spread of the album. This illustration is not only the physical centre of the book, but is also the focal point of the concept.

16 Centre Fold - Pages 10 and 11 - Eye of Storm

The following pages show the arrival of the second wind, its development and its diminution.

17 Page 12

18 Page 13

19 Pages 14 and 15

20 Page 16

22 Pages 18 and 19

The final picture shows the emergence once again of a peaceful scene in the aftermath of the hurricane.

23 Page 20

Watch this space for further progress on this little book. I intend to add some more detail, maybe in the form of small amounts of acrylics, including some spattering, and possibly some touches of gold, using embossing, foiling, gilding flakes or gilding wax, and maybe some archival marker pen.

For the binding I am planning on my first attempt at a Coptic binding, using undyed waxed linen thread, and using some sort of boards for the front and back cover.

I have been thinking about “second wind” in the context of my own life. It’s funny how while its primary meaning is something destructive and terrifying, this expression usually means something quite positive when used in a metaphorical sense. Since my cancer, which necessitated the removal of my entire colon which was already diseased with ulcerative colitis, I have definitely come into my “second wind” in a positive sense, and am enjoying many activities I thought were lost to me, and many new ones besides. The negative aspect of my second wind struck me early this year when I had a blockage and was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery. The eye of the storm was the whole of 2016 when I was pretty well, and I thought that was the end of it, not realising that the second wind was just around the corner.

Cancer very often leaves a swathe of destruction in its path, both physical and emotional, and yes, there has been destruction in my case, but what remains has enabled me to rebuild my life from the ruins, and what I now have is very much better than what I had before. While I was going through the thick of it, somehow, at the centre, I always had my own personal “eye of the storm” where I had peace and joy, and remained positive. I hope my little album in some way depicts this journey, as well as illustrating the terrible beauty of one of the most destructive weather events on earth.


  1. I'm highly impressed with what you've accomplished so far with this little book and enjoyed reading where the ideas came from. I understand your thoughts about the 'Second Wind' I think my mum has it. She had bowel cancer some years ago but always stayed positive and it is her 89th birthday this month so I think it must have worked. Have a great week and happy crafting, Angela xXx

  2. WOW. And all from reading a book, that got this idea in your head, that you went with and made such an awesome little booklet of your own, with all the trials and experimentation, that you then applied to your own series of events in your life, all from reading a book. AWESOME!!!! Thanks for sharing, Lindart #41

  3. I like that hand made paper very much Shoshi! Did you make it yourself? I has a lovely texture to it. And I love your storm paintings - they're just wonderful! Health wise you've been through such a hard time but I'm glad you've come through it all and that life is much better for you now.

  4. This is going to be gorgeous this little book when completed the love and care you already have put into it... I too understand your thoughts on second wind being positive does really work and helps us get through such difficult times... Thank you for sharing with us... Have a happy week ahead... May #13


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