DIY, embroidery and textiles, paints and pens, stuff i've made

Personalised canvas tote bag

personalised canvas toteWas binding a dozen or so journals today, for a craft market later this month; at some point the books went between boards for pressing, and waiting for the glue to dry I started on this little project. It was so much fun that the books are still in the book press, several hours later! I just decided to keep going with the canvas bag until it was done.
personalised canvas toteThese handy canvas artist’s bags were on special at work, so I bought one. They’re a good size (you can fit an A3 sketchbook into one of these, as well as lots of art supplies) with three roomy pockets, and a whole row of narrow brush or pen pockets on one side of the bag. I want to use it as my art tote when I am traveling (I am going to make more of an effort to paint, or draw, while I am out and about, than I have before now. Yeah, right.) But the bag needed some colour, I thought…all that plain canvas just begged for some paint.
personalised canvas toteI used a black Posca brush-pen to doodle the designs, then painted in with acrylics. I fooled around with glitter fabric paints, too. When the paint was dry, I loaded some flow acrylics into a gutta applicator bottle, and put in fine details like faux stitches and stems and leaf veins. (Note: want to give this a try? Everything you need for this project is available at Jackson’s Drawing Supplies)

personalised canvas toteI used the same applicator bottle to write the text on the reverse side of the bag…after trying to use a Posca marker and not getting the desired results (you can see the pink lines here and there).

personalised canvas toteThis is just going to be something that I drag around with me, getting dirty, battered, and worn, so I was just playing around with the doodles, not planning ahead, and not trying to get anything perfect…I acknowledge that my writing could have been spaced better!

personalised canvas toteI couldn’t resist giving the little painter dude an easel, a canvas, and an unimpressed nude model…and throwing in a bit of naughty humour, too.

personalised canvas toteBefore you try something similar, please note that I broke all the rules about painting on fabric with this one: I didn’t wash the bag first, and I didn’t mix textile medium with my acrylics, or use fabric paints. No idea whether it will all come off when the bag is washed, someday. I will let it dry for 24 hours, and then iron the bag underneath a layer of baking parchment, for what it’s worth, to try and heat set the paints. But it doesn’t have to last, so I don’t mind; it was just a bit of fun, and something to do while my books were in the press. ;) 

personalised canvas tote

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New print designs

Red Bird, framedIn the end, I chose not to write anything into the central panel of Red Bird…there seemed to be too many good ways to use the space, I didn’t want to cancel all other options out by picking just one. As an art print on museum grade paper, you can personalise your version of this print by writing, painting, drawing, or even stitching your own poem, quotation, name, special date, or anything else into the space. It’s a little unusual for an art print, but I kind of liked the idea of others interacting with it this way.
Better Homes & Gardens, stretched canvasRed Bird and Better Homes & Gardens, paintings from the recent exhibition The Magic Garden, are available on my Society6 page, now, as archival gicleé prints on museum-grade paper, or on stretched canvas.

 

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Pinkland + Spirographs in acrylic

caramel caravel2

Day Two of this painting. Still very much a Work In Progress. And yes, it is very pink, isn’t it? Maybe it should be called “Portuguese Arriving to Sack Electric Ladyland”. I had a lot of fun when I started, which is why so much got done in just two days. But I sort of hit a wall this afternoon, and now I don’t know what to do with it.

As usual, I like parts of what I’ve done…but not the painting as a whole. Not sure what’s bugging me about it, but I suspect the whole painting should be flipped to its mirror image, so that the boat is entering the scene from the left (forget about it, easier to paint a new painting!) Also, I think the sea should be a reddish purple (I thought of Homer’s “wine-dark sea”) and the ship should be something really goofy…not just some dwarf version of a real caravel…

…but god, I am so tired of wrestling with it—it measures 2′ x 3′ and I have been standing in front of it all day—and I don’t know if I will ever get around to making such big changes. Right now, I can’t LOOK at it any longer, I am so tired of staring at it that it all dissolves into puddles of colorful mud when I try. I think I’ll just turn it to face the wall for a while, and see what I think of it in a week or two.

caramel caravel1

I did learn something new, exciting and funky on this painting: A fine-tipped Posca paint marker (1-MR) will fit in the holes of a Spirograph! This means a lot to me. At last, I can use my Spirograph with more than black drawing pens or ballpoints! I am besotted with Posca pens, anyway, because they are water-based acrylic paint pens, and they draw a rich, opaque line, and they glide over any surface like an oil slick; knowing I can use them to draw Spirographs just means that I love them more than ever.

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A smack of jellyfish

redwork bird

As promised, here’s the finished redwork bird design from yesterday, done up as a mock kitchen journal cover using the font Asterism, and a woven fabric texture from Picmonkey, to sort of give me an idea of how it might look.

Also some very small (the size of a playing card) watercolors from this morning…just playing with ideas and stuff. I really wanted to jump-start  a big painting, but didn’t feel well…think I have picked up someone’s flu. It was bad enough to prevent me from heading in to work. So I consoled myself with these little things…they sort of serve as warm-up exercises for the large painting I had in mind; whether I use all the motifs or not is not important…what matters is that I’ve dumped my ideas somewhere for reference, and my mistakes on these teeny-tiny canvases will possibly save me from making the same ones on a larger scale in acrylics.

terrarium jelly

An idea that has been with me for a long time (too long!): a jellyfish that is also a terrarium. Because the two forms have always seemed to be crying out for each other, in my imagination.
There’s something very right about this combination.

muumuu jelly

A jellyfish like a pink silk muumuu with pleated ribbons.

crocheted jelly

Not happy with this one: Just. Too. Much.
Looks like the sort of horrible lampshade you sometimes come across at a Salvation Army shop. I like the tentacles, though.

beaded jelly

The Meh Jellyfish…every smack of jellyfish has to have one: kinda boring, lacks spark. That beaded curtain was a really lazy, unimaginative, clichéd way to finish what might have been an okay exumbrella. (That’s that outer, umbrella-looking part of the jellyfish. I looked it up just now.) Maybe if I transplanted the tentacles from the crocheted lamp jellyfish…

mangroves

One interpretation of mangroves.

Speaking of mangroves, check out my accidentally fabulous tomato plant, growing like nobody’s business in the middle of a mangrove creek! It sprouted from some kitchen scraps thrown onto a basil plant! Pretty soon it had ousted the withering basil and become the star plant on the F/V SonOfAGun.

sea tomatoes

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Rather red…

redwork bird WIP*long, happy sigh*

This Sunday was spent just the way I have fantasized about spending a Sunday for many, many weeks: no craft market, no dinner parties, no social commitments, no dramas, no urgent errands, no housekeeping. I got up at a lazy 8 a.m. and—after breakfast and getting a huge pot of coffee ready—set to work with the aim of getting one simple project done, from start to finish, in one day.

I took an idea for a new journal cover design and moved it from daydream…to doodle…to finished illustration. In these pictures it isn’t quite done…but dusk came along just as I put in the finishing touches of opaque white ink, and then it was too dark to photograph the illustration properly.

redwork bird 2This is going to be the cover fabric design for a hand bound “Recipe Journal”…the title, in handwritten Spencerian script, was supposed to go inside the empty label, but I’m glad I held off from writing straight onto the illustration…text can always be added in Photoshop, later. I think I’ll keep the label blank, so that the design can be used for other things besides a recipe notebook.

redwork bird 1I loved devoting the entire day to making something. Now it’s dark outside and my eyes are a little strained from all the fine brushwork I did, so I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening listening to music in the dark and then turn in early.

It’s been a perfect, perfect Sunday. Hope your weekend was peaceful and satisfying, too!


Process: Pencil drawing (4B), watercolours on cotton rag paper. Redwork details (I was trying to capture the feel of embroidered redwork stitches) in matte flow acrylic paint applied with a fine-tipped gutta applicator. Opaque white details (not pictured) using white ink and a mapping pen.

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Lace on the skin

A Night in MoroccoInspired by North African henna deigns, I put paint in a fine-tipped squeeze bottle and applied it to a painting of hands in exactly the same way that one would apply real henna. then I stamped the dark blue background in gold acrylics with a small hand-carved wooden printing block from India, and picked out the petal shapes in a lighter perriwinkle blue. So simple and quick, but very satisfying. I love intricate ornamental patterns. Very happy with this finished painting: romantic, feminine and it looks like lace from across the room.

All in all, a good way to have spent the day! :)

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A pigsty of one’s own

moroccan journals

What was in that candle’s light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?
Come back, my friend.
The form of our love is not a created form.
Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember when my soul
heard something from your soul.
I drank water from your spring,
and felt the current take me.

—Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Not everything about Kris’ sailing off in the general direction of Mozambique a few days ago is sad. I must admit that—for a few months, at least—it is awesome to have the entire boat to myself. Until I start to seriously miss his conversation, his tenderness, his boundless energy, his complete competence in running our household, I usually enjoy the first few weeks of living like a bachelor-slash-bohemian:

An apple, a knob of rock-hard dried bread, or a fried egg, on its own, for dinner (usually because there’s nothing else to eat…Kris did all the groceries, Kris made sure we ate healthy balanced meals, Kris made sure there was always orange juice in the fridge for my breakfast, real coffee in the pantry, bars of chocolate at the ready during my periods!) Art materials and projects spread wildly across all the tables, floors, shelves. The pile of dirty dishes in the sink gamely trying to keep up with the pile of dirty laundry in the hamper (Kris did the dishes. Kris did the laundry. Kris made sure there was always fuel for the outboard. Kris bought cat litter…Kris held my world together, and every time he goes away I realize that what I thought was the wonderful life WE’D created was really the wonderful life that my wonderful man had created FOR US. Doh!)

I stay up late, smoke too much, live on pots of coffee, rummage through the dirty laundry to recycle something to wear, sleep on a bed without sheets because they’re in the dirty pile, too, and the cat isn’t speaking to me because Kris always bought kangaroo steak for him on weekends, and I’ve got him on a Spartan diet of cat nibbles and water. But! I’m not a complete wreck…look! I am making Moroccan-inspired journals for the next ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Market…and I’ve just ordered stacks of postcards of six weird animal illustrations (four shown below) I did for the Dream Menagerie group exhibition that opens on the 20th of this month. After the show opening, I’ll have these postcard sets in my ETSY shop and at the monthly craft markets, as well. The colors are a bit over-saturated in this picture…they won’t be so harsh in printed form…part of the mysterious loss of luminance that every RGB-to-CMYK conversion entails.

Pictured below are (clockwise from top left) Coddled Salmon (he’s wearing a sweater), the Spangled Jerboa (pink desert hopping mouse with sparklies), the Pack Alpaca (for obvious reasons), and the Panzer Wombat (a.k.a. Armoured Wombat, in Galapagos tortoise shell)
animal postcards collage

So what do you think of these? Which one do you like best? (there are another two, but I’ll show you closer to the exhibition date).

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Floating gardens

[SAROUK]

We buy what we cannot control, the rugs,
rhythm-makers, containing refrains of
the oldest story: a man takes a journey.
I have no stories inside me, he says,
so travels on, to rest beneath a carpet
of blue constellations, star patterns
at the edges of disordered border walls.
At the center, a meditative medallion
makes a moving immortal-flowered ground:
to live there is to give oneself over
to greenness, redness, occasional blues,
holding those spirits of woollen dyes
rising from the knots within to breathe
against the woven, multi-colored air.

—excerpt from Figures in the Carpets by David Schloss

float (detail)

Inspired by a photograph of the small and exquisite ruins of a saint’s tomb along the banks of the Nile in Egypt. And by The Girl Who Loved The Wind. And by Persian and Indian miniatures…

Now available as a giclée print, or stretched canvas, on Society6.

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