Sunday, 29 April 2012

Zentangle Drawing Zentangle Drawing Zentangle!

I’ve been Zentangling again! I thought it would be fun to draw a hand Zentangling, and ended up drawing a Zentangle hand drawing another Zentangle hand drawing a Zentangle!! Enough Zentangles for you? Hope you enjoy my latest piece of Zentangle Art.

10 Zentangle Drawing Zentangle Drawing Zentangle

Thursday, 26 April 2012

High Cross House

Today my hubby took me on one of his Magical Mystery Tours – I love those! He took me to High Cross House in Dartington, one of the National Trust’s latest acquisitions. We have driven past it so many times over the years and have often yearned to go in, so it’s great that it is now open to the public. It’s a fine example of Modernist Architecture, a style we both admire with its clean lines, white walls with the odd splash of colour, flat planes, curved walls, and lots of glass. This house has many different levels and several outside balconies to catch the best of the sun.

As usual, the full collection of photos can be seen in my Photobucket album, but here’s a sample.

Here are a couple of views of the exterior of this interesting house. It must have seemed revolutionary when it was first built.

I particularly like this little corner, where blue and white walls abut, with their sharp rectangles, flat planes and regimented windows, offset by the natural form of the young maple tree.

I love texture! I couldn’t resist these two tree trunks. Look at that “crackle glaze” effect in the second one! Yummy.

Inside, the house is sparsely furnished with the few remaining original pieces, but apparently the National Trust will be sourcing additional items from the period. Meanwhile, it is easy to see the clean lines of the architecture. Most of the internal walls are white, with the addition of an occasional dramatic slab of blue or yellow. Lots of interesting shapes are created with the angle of the staircase, the presence of the odd curving wall, and the play of light and shade, and the spaces between the structures.

The dining room has windows on two sides. The furniture with its simple lines, is original, and the chairs are beautifully sprung, being made of tubular steel and covered with laced leather.

Several steps lead down into the sitting room which is a very light, airy room with large windows and very clean lines. Again, there are original tubular chairs which are probably a lot more comfortable than they look!

Look at the detail in this marble slab above the fireplace.

A view of the dining room, up the steps from the sitting room.

The study, with its window around the curved corner, is the site of a display of 20th century ceramics, including pieces by Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, and to my delight, Marianne de Trey – years ago I bought a whole set of her “Pattern 1” stoneware pottery, and I had the great privilege of meeting this wonderful lady on more than one occasion – the latest being a couple of years ago at a friend’s wedding. She is now in her 90s.

The staircase is characteristically simple, with a plain polished wood bannister, and it rises between the curved wall on one side and the dramatic splash of yellow on the other.

The room at the top has access to an open balcony with wonderful views over the garden and beyond. There are balconies on several levels of the house, to catch the sun at different times of the day. This is a very common feature in houses built in the Modernist style.

I love the play of light and shade, and the shapes formed by the different planes of wall and ceiling. This house is far from a boring white box!

This photo is an inspiration for an abstract zentangle.

In two of the upstairs rooms we found artists’ studios, but unfortunately no artists! One creates astonishingly rich couture pieces from vintage and recycled textiles and glories in the name “Get Clobbered”!

Also featured was the work of an artist who seemed to be specialising in the basic shape of the female torso and embellishing it – I thought these pictures were particularly inspiring from the Zentangle point of view!

Finally we found the work of an artist working with pencil line – much of his work seemed to consist of texture formed by letters written and over-written in a most intriguing way.

The National Trust have restored this house with a light touch, retaining its air of wonderful serenity. The rooms are beautifully proportioned, and it is very quiet. Despite the lack of space, they have managed to squeeze in their obligatory restaurant and shop – small they may be, but in two adjoining rooms, you can look at the shop items while you eat your soup and cake! The items for sale are quite limited, but chosen with care to reflect the era of the house. As well as the normal tables, they have created deep windowsills where you can sit and eat your meal, and look out over the garden.

Altogether, another wonderful outing courtesy of my star-studded hubby! He’s been wanting to take me there for ages, and it’s not too far from where we live. As usual I came back stimulated and full of inspiration!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Well, what’s on YOUR workdesk this Wednesday? Hop over to Julia’s blog (see WOYWW link in my sidebar) to join in the world’s biggest nosey fest and see how messy we all are in our creativity.

First of all, thank you so much, everyone who left such lovely comments on my blog last week, about my Venetian mask zentangle. I’ve never had so many “Wow’s” in my life!! I haven’t done any serious zentangling since finishing that project, but I’ve done a few sketches in my Art Journal (yet to be photographed).

As for this week, I’m afraid not much has changed on my desk apart from the absence of the mask picture which has now winged it’s way to Spyder who is giving it a good home!

The reason for the absence of change on my desk is because I’ve been doing things away from the desk (i.e. mostly on the recliner…) – I’ve done quite a lot more of my knitting, so I thought I’d show you that this week. I am now up beyond the armholes on the front, and it’s coming on well.

Here’s another view of it. You can see that I have started the patterned yoke section a few inches above the armholes.

Here’s a close-up of the hem.

I thought you might like to see what the reverse side looks like – when working with two colours I always weave in the inactive yarn with every stitch so there’s less to catch on the inside – I hate those long strands you get on the inside of machine knitted garments. The whole thing will look better once it’s completed and blocked.


Also on my desk you will notice my everlasting Choc-a-Bloc project and the little bowl of mint imperials (sorry, air dry pebbles lol!) – I am still waiting for my clay extruder to come, after which I should be able to get on. Also this week I’ve been continuing to work on the video of the making of this project.

Not much else has been going on except for a bit more clearing in my ARTHaven. This week I got all my huge sheets of mounting board down from the top shelf, and put my big self-healing cutting mat on the floor and cut them all down to a manageable size, and they are now stacked up with my other card and paper ready for use.

Here’s hoping you all have a fulfilling and creative week with lots to show us next time! Happy WOYWW, everybody.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


What’s on YOUR workdesk this Wednesday? To show the world, hop over to Julia’s blog (click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar) and the Queen of Desks will enable you to join the happy throng!

On my desk this week:

Slow progress is being made on my Choc-a-Bloc mixed media project. In the black bowl you can see the little pebbles I’ve made from Fimo air-dry clay (packet on right hand side of desk). These haven’t taken long to dry as most of them are very small, but I’m leaving them another few days just to make sure the big ones are thoroughly dried through.

At the back of the desk, on the left, you can see my Polyfilla One Fill which I have used to fill the spaces on the choccie box insert to make the panel, together with my new large tub of gesso. On the right are some of my Golden products – gel medium, gesso and some GAC-100 polymer which I am going to use to make up some acrylic glaze, and also as a sealant between the various layers once I get painting on the Choc-a-Bloc project. Just in front of those you can see a plastic wallet with pens in it – these are the new archival black pens I bought at the art shop last week for my Zentangling.

At Spyder’s request, I have put in the latest Zentangle – a drawing I have done from a photo she kindly sent me of the beautiful Venetian Carnival mask she put on her WOYWW post a couple of weeks ago. This is actually a smaller-than-original print I’ve made, and mounted in black, ready to send this lovely lady as a thank you for letting me loose on her gorgeous mask! Here’s a photo of the original Zentangle so you can see the detail closer up:

I have done a separate post on it. I have been delighted with everyone’s response to this – quite overwhelming in fact! Everyone has been so kind.

I cut the black mount for Spyder from black card, using Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine. First time I’ve used her for ages and she was very pleased to have the dust blown off her and get her teeth (tooth, actually!) into something again!

Also last week, I had a lovely card from a very poorly friend and her mum. At the end of last year she asked me to help her with some alphabet album pages her mum had bought but couldn’t use because they were in a file format for a cutting machine (which she doesn’t have) and asked me to convert them to pdf for her. Not having the correct software for doing this, and deciding anyway that they were pretty inaccurately drawn, I redrew the whole lot from A-Z! I really enjoyed doing it and certainly wasn’t looking for any reward for helping two special ladies, but her mum made me this beautiful easel card with so many of her skills evident in it – beautiful decoupage etc., and also a generous voucher for anything I want to get from Joanna Sheen’s online shop! I am so thrilled! Here’s a photo montage I created in Serif PhotoPlus, of the pictures I took as I opened the unexpected parcel.

Wasn’t that a simply lovely gift?

Hope you all have a happy WOYWW, and a creative and fulfilling week to follow.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Venetian Mask Zentangle

A couple of weeks ago, when I visited Spyder’s blog for our WOYWW blog hop (What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday), I saw the photo she posted of the beautiful Venetian mask she has. As soon as I saw it, I thought “Zentangle!!” Have a look at it in her blog post and you’ll see what I mean. I immediately contacted her and asked her permission to download the photo so I could do a drawing of it, and she went the extra mile and emailed me all the photos she’d taken of it. I was able to do a drawing from one of them.

This is the biggest piece of zentangle art I have done to date. The initial drawing was the most time-consuming, as I wanted it to be as close as possible to the original, and getting the shape and proportions exactly right took a lot of measuring and marking key points.

Filling it in with tangles was where the fun began! I think the result is striking and original – I love these masks – and I hope she is pleased with it. Thank you Spyder!

02 Venetian Carnival Mask

I designed the text based on Italian Renaissance handwriting for this drawing, and deliberately made it look worn.

Before I started the drawing, I did a Google image search for the Carnival of Venice and there are lots of pictures of all the beautiful costumes and masks. Lots of artistic inspiration here! It must be wonderful to be there in person, seeing all the exotic costumes and soaking up the unique atmosphere.

A note about paper. When I first started zentangling, I was putting all my drawings in an Art Journal. I am now only using this for sketching new ideas and noting down step-outs for patterns, because the paper is cream-coloured and I have been having some problems photographing the drawings. A while back, I bought a large pack of cheap white card from our local copy shop, thinking it would be good for all sorts of projects, but it doesn’t fold well repeatedly, so is no good for pop-ups and other construction work, and Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, has turned up her nose at it and won’t cut it well, so it was relegated to making card bases with – it’s great for matting and layering onto, and it seems to take distress inks quite well. I decided to try drawing on it and it’s a positive dream – it’s a gorgeous bright white with a silky smooth finish, and the pens just glide over it with no bleeding and I love the results! It also feels nice and substantial.

Eventually I shall probably create an album (or maybe several albums of different sizes) with pages made from this card, and bound with my Cinch binder. The paper looks great matted onto black, or with a narrow black mat onto more white, as in this card that I made from my “Here’s Lookin’ at You” zentangle.

02 Here's Looking Zentangle Thank You Card

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I’ve done it, I’ve done it, I’ve done it!!!

At last I’ve got my blog background how I want it (till I change my mind lol!) – to get rid of the dark layer over the background, all I did was change the template from “Picture Window” to “Simple.” I’m not sure why they put that dark layer over that particular template – it certainly had me scratching my head, if not tearing my hair.

Anyway, I think I’m happy with it now – we’ll have to see how it goes, and whether I get any negative feedback – or should I say constructive criticism?

Thank you to everyone who has helped me with this, in particular Rachel and Wendy.

I hope all my followers and visitors enjoy my blog’s new look. Thanks for your patience while it was in a state of flux.


Well hello again everyone – it’s Wednesday again, and that’s Desk Day!! Julia over on the Stamping Ground organises us week by week and we show off our messy (or otherwise) work desks for the world to see – click on the link in my sidebar to join in the fun.

My “Choc-a-bloc” mixed media project is progressing slowly. The first choccie box insert has now had its depressions between the projections filled with Polyfilla One Fill and it’s been in the airing cupboard all week! It’s had its first coat of gesso. The one on the left is ready to be filled with Polyfilla when I get time, and meanwhile it’s sitting on top of my hand-made paper from last week, and my Indian flowers. I have got a clay extruder coming from Ebay, and when this arrives I will be able to pipe some stems onto the project and really start to develop the piece.

Busy day today – we went into town this morning and went to the art shop where my hubby bought my birthday present (I’ve got to wait a while for it!) – he’s giving me a set of Derwent Inktense pencils – these are totally awesome! There will be more on this in due course. I also bought some nice heavy paper for mixed media work, and on the right of the desk you can see the new pens I bought for my Zentangling, together with a lovely fat 8B soft pencil for shading, and just beyond them, some cheapie little rollers and sponge applicators for my mixed media work. I bought a nice big tub of gesso too – less expensive than my Golden gesso. (That’s the tub that looks like ice cream lol!) Just beside that, the small white objects are some old fridge magnets that I’ve painted with gesso and which I will Zentangle eventually.

Finally, on the left, propped up, is my latest sheet of Zentangles – I’ve done a separate post about these. I am very pleased with how they are going!

I haven’t put my knitting on my desk this week because it looks pretty much the same as last week, only a bit longer!

The main thing I’ve done this week is revamp my blog background, which I hope you all like! It’s still a work in progress – see the post I did yesterday on it – and hopefully soon it will be as I want it.

Happy WOYWW everyone, and thanks to everyone who visited me last week – I hope to visit a few more people this week.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

New Blog Background–Work in Progress!

Thanks to my friends Wendy and Rachel, I have now been able to get my newly designed blog background and header to work. It’s still a work in progress and I apologise if some of the headings aren’t yet that easy to read – for some reason the background is coming out much darker than my original design – it’s as if a dark semi-transparent layer comes down over it immediately after you open the blog. Hopefully we will iron out this small difficulty and you will soon see it as it should be.

Details of the Design

The header consists of a montage of photos (from left to right) of some knitting I did ages ago (now awaiting unravelling and knitting up again) – Kaffe Fasset style in yellows and purples. I love that tunic top, but unfortunately it is now too small for me, but one day it will be knitted again in all its former glory!

In the middle is a snippet of an interesting rock formation at the Bullring in Oban.

On the right is my first piece of hand-made paper made from recycled paper towels (kitchen roll), distress inks, DIY glimmer mist and gilding flakes.

The butterfly is an image I had on my computer, and the flowers are photos I took of several hibiscus flowers I made last year according to Penny Duncan’s cut file of the hibiscus flower – I extracted them from the background and they are now useful as digital elements in my projects.

I did the design of the whole blog background in a combination of Serif CraftArtist Platinum and Serif PhotoPlus, and the faux embroidered border along the bottom of the header was an element from CraftArtist. The montages were done by using different blending modes and transparency settings.

The main body of the blog consists of photographs I took last year of some ancient parish records dating back to the 1600s, from which I have created some vintage backgrounds. You can see some of them on this project – the book-style card I made for my mother’s 90th birthday last year.

Top left is a photo I took of some honeycomb, with a bee on it, and underneath this, and on the right as well, are some photos of a wonderful old cracked pot I photographed years ago when I got my first digital camera.

At the bottom on the left is a photograph of a beautiful wall that I photographed at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire when we were on holiday there several years ago.

I have also made a texture overlay of this.

Bottom right (but not really visible, I’m afraid, as it seems to be a bit cut off!) is a photo of a glorious Norfolk split flint wall. (I also made a texture overlay of this one.)

I love taking photos of walls, tiles, textures…

On both sides, I have added to the montage some of my recent digital backgrounds created from a still-life painting in oils.

Unfortunately, while the dark layer is still over the background, these are not visible.

I think this new blog background expresses far better the sort of person I am than the previous one, which I chose when I first started my blog. The new background incorporates my love of colour and texture, and photographing such things, and also some of the creativity I enjoy. It’s been a long hard slog to get it up and running, and hopefully over the next few days we’ll iron out the final niggles and you’ll see it in all its glory!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Six New Zentangles

Today I drew six small zentangles, each approximately 3 inches square. Rather than drawing them in my Art Journal, this time I did them on bright white card. I have quite a large supply of this, which I bought in a local copy shop, and it turned out to be hopeless for what I wanted it for – it does not fold well because it becomes weak, and it does not cut well with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine. However, it is lovely and smooth, and I thought I’d try drawing on it, and it was sheer pleasure!

After rapidly drawing my “string” (the basic shape of the tangle) for each one, and beginning to work on them, sometimes the pattern, as it developed, would suggest something to me, which then became the title of the piece. In some cases I deliberately pursued this title. What I love about these basic square zentangles is that they draw themselves – at the beginning one does not have a plan, and one has no idea how they will turn out.

Here is the sheet of six zentangles.

01 Six Zentangles 8-4-12

Here they are, one by one. The first one is entitled “Patchwork Quilt.”

02 Patchwork Quilt

“Garden of Delight.”

03 Garden of Delight

“Ocean.” The prow of a ship on the ocean waves, with the ocean bed below. Note the suggestion of twisting ropes, the fishing net, the ship’s wheel and other features!

04 Ocean

“Bird.” Wings, song, and a nestful of eggs!

05 Bird

Untitled Abstract. No title suggested itself to me as I drew this one.

06 Untitled

“Purse.” Jewelled and fringed purse to hold all my worldly wealth?

07 Purse

Hope you enjoy my latest designs.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Seale Hayne Outing

Seale Hayne used to be an agricultural college, and since it closed, the beautiful buildings have been taken over by Dame Hannah Rogers School for children with disabilities, and a variety of other uses too – it is quite a centre for the arts these days, and also they have a very nice cafe there.

My hubby asked if I’d like to go out today, and he drove me up there. We wandered around the beautiful buildings and visited the art gallery and various other nooks and crannies, and ended up in the cafe having tea and home made cake – delicious!

Here are some of the photos of our day. (The full set is in my Photobucket album here.)

This is the main entrance into the courtyard. I love the rounded stone arches and mullioned windows throughout the building.

Inside the main building we found a corridor with some very interesting wall lights – I am noticing Zentangles everywhere these days! This is one of four different designs:

Wandering outside again, we found some animal enclosures; they have chickens and ducks, rabbits, goats and sheep. Here are some of the ducks.

Lovely hygienic habits ducks have, don’t they!!

They had several seats dotted around the grounds, made out of enormous pieces of driftwood, which I found most intriguing.

There are several interesting archways linking various parts of the building.

Back inside again, we found this display of masks in one corridor.

Nearby was a small vintage-style sewing room

I certainly agree with that sentiment!

Then on to the Art Gallery. Gorgeous stuff in here!

Here are some small canvases embellished with what looked like small polymer clay tiles, and tiny beads. I fell in love with these!

This was a display of incredible free-form pewter vessels which had obviously been poured in molten form over a bowl.

They reminded me of some similar objects that a mixed-media artist friend of mine made (we own one) – she used hand-made paper formed from dyed silk tops. This is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and have various ideas, which do not include molten metal, though! I particularly like the one lined with gold.

There were several fabric clocks on display, including this one:

Really funky and fun!

More art to inspire my zentangling:

We then discovered a quilting department, with a shop selling loads of beautiful fabrics and equipment, and a quilting workshop beyond with a display of quilts. I am not into quilting myself, but always enjoy the fruits of other people’s labours! Look at these gorgeous fabrics…

and threads…

They also had an intriguing thing they called a “jelly roll” – seemingly a collection of strips of fabric which had been rolled together to form this beautiful object.

The trouble is, I would never want to use it! I’d have to have one for use, and one for stroking – like my gorgeous Tattered Time paper stack!

After we’d had our tea, we left, and stopped on the drive so that I could photograph this incredible structure we’d spotted on the way in – a display of huge butterflies all made of CDs!!

The backs were all silver, of course. People are so imaginative… I’m always wondering what to do with old CDs!

On our way home, my hubby stopped the car so I could take some photos of the lambs in a field – there were lots of them, and they were all skipping about and playing, and leaping in the air with all four feet off the ground! I love to see this.

There were wild flowers everywhere – the daffodils are still out, and there were lots of primroses, and the May blossom is starting already. I adore the spring, and it was so nice to be able to have an outing and enjoy it all, even though the sun wasn’t shining and it was rather grey.

Altogether a lovely day, thanks to my wonderful hubby.

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