Monday, 18 September 2017

Doctor's Orders: Yet Another Bloody Art Haul

Oh heck, I've had a LOT lately haven't I?! This is only a small haul and it comes from Amazon UK and from Art From The Heart, which is Mrs Reaveley's shop in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. First time I've used them so this is also a mini-review of Art From The Heart too, I guess.

The Amazon horde isn't very exciting - it's just a jar of Ranger embossing powder (which I didn't bother photographing) in Wendy Vecchi's Tree Branch shade of tan. I've not even photo'd it. Why? It's not new - I have a few jars in stock already, but as with any other discontinued colour that I'm fond of, I stockpile when I see it on sale, as you never know when it will be the final jar in the world! The corresponding Archival Ink in Tree Branch is also apparently long gone, but the re-inkers are relatively easy to get so you can make a pad with a customisable felt ink pad, of course. 

My other Amazon item was a set of Ranger Dylusions Journal Inserts (BUY NOW USA, UK) for the Large Creative Journal. This is a pack of 12 extra pages for the Large Creative Journal - 6 in the standard cream mixed-media paper that we all adore, and 3 of each black paper (the same as in the black square journal) and 3 of kraft process paper - they do use actual unbleached kraft process paper for this stock, and I love that. Same as in the Dina Wakley Media Journal. There are "kraft paper" stocks out there from various craft companies that are really manilla or otherwise that have been dyed to resemble genuine kraft process stock - so it's nice to see Ranger are behaving! I would like a Dylusions journal in kraft paper as I've enjoyed using it in Mrs Wakley's Media Journal - it can take many layers of paint and it copes well with weight too. Doesn't take dyes very well, as it's a bit less porous, but it's a fantastic stock to work on.

My Art From The Heart haul is much better for many reasons! For those who don't know, about 16 years ago, to my knowledge, and I'm sorry if I'm a bit wrong on the dates, Dyan Reaveley went into business running a craft supplies store in her hometown of Harrogate, and running art journalling and mixed media workshops. Over the years, she launched a line of Dylusions dyes made in the UK and sold only at her shop - Art From The Heart - time went by and Stampers Anonymous launched a range of stamps using her designs, and she started demonstrating products for Ranger, clearly catching someone's eye, as Ranger took all of her products in-house and took over the Dylusions brand, selling worldwide. It does mean if you look at her 2010-2011 blog posts from her ledger (an old finance ledger she'd gotten hold of and altered to make an art journal - the size of the pages and their binding as signatures ultimately inspired the Large Creative Journal), you'll see inks in her line called Aubergine and Peridot etc, but when Ranger took over, she rejigged which colours were in the line, and changed almost all of the names to make them 'of a type'. First time I've ever shopped direct with Art From The Heart but they are one of very few ways to buy Dina Wakley and Wendy Vecchi products, other than using Amazon UK or Amazon USA, and I have found that even Amazon doesn't get each new release of colours for quite some time - so I went direct.

First cab off the rank is the packaging - under the layers of bubblewrap I found this beautiful package - nice to see attention to detail and a bit of customer care - it's nicer opening something that feels like a gift isn't it?

Next up are the Dina Wakley Media Media Heavy Body Acrylic Paints. I've never tried these before, and I've really obtained them both out of curiosity myself and because folk had asked me about them. There is now quite a range of colours, including metallics and iridescent colours. They are now sold in both 1 US fl. oz. (just shy of 30mL) and 2 US fl. oz. (just shy of 60mL) sizes - the former are in squeeze-bottles and the latter in tubes. Even the tubes are a fair bit smaller than the typical 75mL paint tubes one get acrylic in for fine art, but price-wise they aren't too bad. Using the Art From The Heart prices, you'd be paying in the UK a very similar price to Dylusions acrylic paint on a price per mL basis: Distress Paint is a lot more costly, so keep that in mind! I went with the smaller pack size as I don't know if I like them yet, basically. I did swatch out the 3 colours that I got - Night (a dark blue that is almost black but not quite BUY NOW USA, UK), Blackberry (a bright violet BUY NOW USA, UK) and Rosy (looks pink in the photos on their website, but it's actually a very subtle and pretty rose-gold with an iridescence to it BUY NOW USA, UK). From seeing Dina's videos, I'd thought they looked much less viscous than CRYLA paints, but when I swatched them out, they held their shape completely for >2h and dried in a raised shape, which was really cool. As per any other craft product, you don't get the pigment information (I wish the craft industry would at least put it on their websites, for both safety, allergy and so as to open their market to artists a bit more. If you think about the Prima and Jane Davenport watercolours, they're virtually identical - I'm sure they both use the same base bought from the same company (which I think is in South Korea) and have custom pigment blends added to it to make their paints - but Jane gives pigment information on hers which makes them infinitely easier to mix and to use in replicating tutorials. Not all "warm blue" paints are remotely similar so you can't just pick anything and expect the same results - especially in watercolour - but as Prima don't mention their pigments (but they tell me they have considered doing so), they will always been the "worse" one of the two, in spite of being largely identical. You also don't get any lightfastness information and I find that pretty important to have. Even if pigmentation and lightfastness are only on a downloadable PDF on their websites, it's really good to have.

I got the Ranger Dylusions set of acrylic paint pens (BUY NOW USA, UK) - I already have the black and white set, but the coloured set that came out in January I've wanted for ages! The colours are Postbox Red (which I have in the acrylic paint already), Squeezed Orange, Lemon Zest, Cut Grass (which I also have the paint of), London Blue and Crushed Grape. I have got the orange, yellow, blue and purple in the spray inks too. I love the colours and hope they're going to release more or the range in this format as they're great for fine detail. If you've ever had any issues using them, watch this video from Dyan as it really helps!

I also got these two Dylusions acrylic paints - Laidback Lilac (BUY NOW USA, UK) and Mushy Peas (BUY NOW USA, UK). Why these colours? The soft furnishings in my front parlour are those colours (and a warm goldenrod type yellow too), and they're from the Summer 2017 release, which also includes Rose Quartz (a very soft pastel pink), Peony Blush (a kind of pastel cerise), Vanilla Custard (a pastel yellow-cream) and Periwinkle Blue (another pastel-y colour but darker - just has that kind of look to it - it reminds me of how blue chalk looks I guess!). They're a really nice release and open up the range to those who like softer "baby" colours. Mushy peas, are, for the benefit of my American visitors are peas soaked with bicarbonate and then boiled to shit - they end up this kind of colour (unless you buy the tinned ones which are almost florescent green!). I love the viscosity of these paints and that I can build up body as well as paint super-thin layers with a blending foam tool.

Scribblings in my Dina Wakley Media Journal

I've been dipping in and out of this journal - not really making layouts sensu stricto but using it more like a sketchbook of sorts, but including in that, collage, acrylic, watercolour, sewing etc. For the uninitiated, the journal is comprised of 4 signatures, each of which has pages in "watercolour paper", burlap, thin canvas and a thick kraft process paper. The "watercolour paper" is variously described by Ranger/Dina as "handmade cotton rag" watercolour paper and watercolour paper that "contains some cotton", so I'm still unsure as to what it really is and it sure doesn't feel or work like any watercolour paper I've ever known, but I do like it for mixed media and acrylic painting. Ranger's marketing has not helped and I know of lot of fine-art watercolourists have felt let down by it - myself included - but I make use of things and seldom bin anything, so I decided to use it for something today! 

NB: the intention of these two pieces is as part of my roadtesting of the journal - how well it copes with thick, dimensional acrylic vs retarded, watered acrylic. They're really just backgrounds that I will ultimately add to and/or work over.

Abstract Blurred African Landscape (through the eyes of a cheetah) (acrylic on paper)
Ok caveat - this is about as authentically African as an Arbroath smokey, and it's probably ecologically bollocks too, as I've put the cheetah in the wrong landscape but who cares! I wanted to show something ultra-basic and simple, and loosely inspired by African artwork, specifically acacia trees on the African savannah, which appear in a lot of work by South African artists. I then wanted to blur it and add movement, as though seen by a fast-moving cheetah or a person in a car, whatever.


Ranger Dina Wakley Media Journal (BUY NOW USA, UK)
(I used one of the righthand pages, and a "watercolour" page specifically - no preparation e.g. gesso was used)

Daler and Rowney CRYLA artists' acrylic paints in:
   Titanium White (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PW6 Titanium White]
   Ultramarine Violet (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PV15 Ultramarine Violet]
   Rowney Emerald (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PW6 Titanium White, PG7 Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), PY3 Hansa Yellow 10G]
   Golden Yellow (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PY73 Arylide Yellow GX, PO62 Benzimidazolone Orange H5G]
   Quinacridone Burnt Orange (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PR206 Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet]
   Quinacridone Yellow Red (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PR209 Quinacridone Red]

Golden Artist Colors Universal Acrylic Polymer (GAC-100) (BUY NOW USA, UK)
(you could use any fluid, retarding acrylic medium really)

3/4" Golden Taklon paintbrush
(I used one that cost less than £0.30 from a cheap multipack - it doesn't need to be anything special!)

Plastic plates/bowls to mix the paints

Container of water to wash the brush, and a supply of paper towel or a rag to clean/dry it on.

STEP 1: CRYLA paints are very heavy-body and need to be thinned for a technique like this, so I put out each colour pace white into separate containers and squirted over a little GAC-100 and then mixed it in to make a texture more like a fluid acrylic. I did this such that I still had about 25% of the paint of each colour in the original format, so I could mix them to vary thickness when painting. I did not add any GAC-100 to the Titanium White.

STEP 2: With my brush wet, I picked up some Ultramarine Purple and applied a basic and rough sky. I then used Quinacridone Burnt Orange to produce a tree trunk and branches, and some soil, which I then overlaid (the soil) with Golden Yellow and Quinacridone Yellow Red. I worked as much as possible in only horizontal or vertical stripes and did not mix colours in advance, I let things blend on the page. I then added Rowney Emerald to make the foliage of the acacia, using the brush vertical to pounce the colour onto the page. I added a little Golden Yellow in places to add interest. 

STEP 3: Using side-blending (i.e. half the brush covered in Titanium White, the other half in a colour), I blended "light" into every shape, coming from the top left of the page. I then continued this with white "motion blur" across the page, letting it take up colour with it. Wash the brush immediately! Allow the page to dry for about 1h before closing the journal - the paints will be touch-dry in that time but will need 48h to cure fully before you can apply any media over the top.

A Tribute To Mrs Wakley (acrylic on canvas) NB: just a background, not a finished work!
Whilst Dina Wakley's aesthetic is quite far from mine, I really admire her use of colour and bold, vibrant, geometric patterns combined with scribble and perfect imperfections. I wanted to capture a little bit of this on a canvas page in my journal - the page is unfinished, I'm not sure what I'll do with it thus far! I picked the orange and violet paints as they reminded me a bit of her Cheddar and Blackberry paints (I don't currently have any of Dina's paints).


Ranger Dina Wakley Media Journal (BUY NOW USA, UK)
(I used one of the righthand pages, and a canvas page specifically - no preparation e.g. gesso was used)

Plaid Folklore Heart Layering Stencils (BUY NOW USA, UK)
(this set include grid and heart stencils and a heart mask - you will need just the heart stencil and grid stencil for this project)

Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Bubble Layering Stencil (BUY NOW USA, UK)

Daler and Rowney CRYLA artists' acrylic paints in:
   Titanium White (BUY NOW USA, UK)
   Ultramarine Violet (BUY NOW USA, UK)
   Cadmium Orange (BUY NOW USA, UK)
(pigment information can be found for these paints in the supplies list for the above project)

Palette Knife

3/4" Gold Taklon paintbrush
(I used one that cost less than £0.30 from a cheap multipack - it doesn't need to be anything special!)

Container of water to wash the brush and a damp rag to clean the palette knife.

STEP 1: I started top-right using the grid stencil and my palette knife loaded half with Ultramarine Violet and half with Titanium White so that I could get a fade/blend. I covered the stencil really thick as CRYLA has enough body to act like a texture paste and I wanted dimension.

STEP 2: I hung the heart stencil off the page and painted it in with a brush using side-blending (see above technique) with Titanium White and Cadmium Orange just to create some texture and depth. I then washed the brush immediately.

STEP 3: Using the bubble stencil, I applied some violet then white then orange paint, using my palette knife just like in Step 1 but with a bit less height to it.

STEP 4: Leave to dry. As the paint is thick and CRYLA takes about 1-2h to dry and this height fully, leave it open for that time then allow 48h to cure before painting etc over it.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

30 songs meme

I don't as a rule post memes but I liked this one - I saw it on Twitter but couldn't be arsed to post daily so here goes:

1) "Silhouette In Red" (Bohlen) sung by Bonnie Tyler.
2) "Zeven Briefen Heb Ik Jou Geschrijven" (Stein/Jass) sung by Arne Jansen ("I have written you 7 letters" - Dutch version of "7 Tears Are Flowing To The River").
3) "All Summer Long" sung by Kid Rock.
4) "Eli, The Barrowboy" by The Decemberists.
5) "Monkey Man" by Amy Winehouse.
6) "Wig Wam Bam" by The Sweet.
7) "China in your Hand" by T'Pau.
8) "Minnie The Moocher" by Cab Calloway.
9) "Hello Dolly!" by Carol Channing.
10) "Sometimes" by Fascinating Aida.
11) "This Ain't The Hokey Cokey Anymore" by Fascinating Aida.
12) "Heaven is a Place On Earth" by Belinda Carlisle.
13) "The Banner Man" by Blue Mink.
14) "A Song For Tom" by Fascinating Aida.
15) "Smells Like Teen Spirit" cover by Tori Amos.
16) "Hi Ho Silver Lining" by Jeff Beck.
17) "Dammit Janet" from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (traditionally I sing Janet and my friend's Mum sings Brad...)
18) "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" by Middle of the Road.
19) "Les Amants D'un Jour" by Edith Piaf.
20) "We Both Go Down Together" by The Decemberists.
21) "Annie's Song" by John Denver.
22) "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.
23) "L'un Vers L'autre" by Frances Ruffelle.
24) "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul and Mary.
25) "I'm The Last Of The Red-Hot Mamas" by Sophie Tucker.
26) "Boulder to Birmingham" by Emmylou Harris.
27) "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera" by Keith West.
28) "Delta Dawn" by Tanya Tucker.
29) "Who's sorry now?" by Connie Francis.
30) "I'm Still Here" by Elaine Stritch

Tiptoe through the tulips - acrylic on burlap

No, dear readers, I am not going to inflict upon you the true horror that was Tiny Tim. I'm instead going to inflict upon you the true horror of a little scribbling I did in my Dina Wakley Media Journal on Saturday night just before bed. I wanted to use one of the burlap pages and I had seen a pretty burlap painting of some waterlilies that Dina had painted last month, and it inspired me a lot - mostly the colours - to try painting on burlap again. As it was close to bedtime, this really IS just a sketch!

"Tiptoe Through The Tulips" (acrylic on burlap)


Ranger Dina Wakley Media Journal (BUY NOW USA, UK)
(I used a righthand burlap page - you will want to put some plastic or acetate under it as paint will go through, but that could also make a cool grid-like background on the next page if you want)

Daler and Rowney CRYLA acrylic paints in:
   Titanium White (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PW6 Titanium White]
   Quinacridone Deep Purple (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PR122 Quinacridone Red]
   Permanent Violet (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PR122 Quinacridone Red and PV23 Dioxazine Violet]
   Yellow Green (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PY74LF Arylide Yellow 5GX (lightfast version), PW6 Titanium White, PG17 Chromic oxide]
   Cadmium Yellow (BUY NOW USA, UK) [PY35 Cadmium zinc sulfide]

3/4" Golden Taklon paintbrush
(these are cheap - don't use costly brushes for acrylic painting, no need!)

Water and a damp rag to clean brush


STEP 1: I sketched a couple of vague tulip-flower shapes (or maybe they are poppies?) with a wet brush and the Titanium White and then filled it in with the same colour blended with both of the purples, to give light at the top and shade at he bottom. A little yellow at the very bottom of each flower created brown, which helped with shading. 

STEP 2: I sketched the stems and leaves in white again (I didn't bother to clean my brush at all during this painting, so some purple carried over), and then overlaid them with green and yellow. I also added some "ground" by just mixing all the colours ad hoc below the stems.

At each step, I roughly cleaned my brush on the edges of the burlap, to give it some shade.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon (just) in the summertime...

I've had someone complain me typeface (it int a font - "font" is the variants of a given typeface, such as emboldening, italicising, underlining, strikingthrough and changing size - the "typeface" sensu stricto is the actual design of each letter, thus the named thing, like "Times New Roman" or "Dingbats" or whatever) doesn't register right on their machine - it's just bog-standard typewriter typeface "Courier", which may be switched to "Courier New" on some systems - nowt fancy. I've never had anyone flag this before and if you've issues, do let me know. It should display as a basic typewriter font. I picked "Courier" as it's a default-install on most operating systems and it looks fine for me on Windows (Chrome), MacOS Sierra (Chrome and Safari), iOS (Chrome) and on Ubuntu Xenial Xerus (Chrome) - so if you've issues, let me know in the comments which Operating System (e.g. Mac OS) and version (e.g. Sierra) and which browser (e.g. Chrome) you're using and I'll try and figure out what's wrong - if anything - at my end.

Saturday was a wash-out for me - it pissed it down all the livelong day and I got so wet going to and from the supermarket (I had to do something whilst me gesso dried!) that I had to change me nethergarments! I spent the rest of the day crafting, arting and eating too much lasagne and chips whilst watching "Casualty" and struggling to find any decent films to watch.

Today (Sunday) was a glorious sunny day. It didn't yet have that cold sting you get on a sunny, clear autumn day, but it did look like one of those days. I'm looking forward to journalling the start of autumn in my new seasonal art journal - but not the one I see out of my window - the glorious New England autumn or fall - I want to see gourds, pumpkins, Indian corn and maple leaves. When I was a little boy, I loved doing jigsaw puzzles (simpler times!) and my favourites were a trio of 500-piece puzzles of the cheap kind where every 500-piece by that company has identical cuts so the pieces are the same shape between sets. I had one of a lake somewhere I guess in Canada or maybe northern Vermont - beautiful buildings and pine trees and a mountain ridge behind them. One was of a farm in Vermont with a falu-red barn and fall foliage and the third was a river I guess in New England with a BLAZE of colour from maple trees along the far bank each a different shade of red, orange, brown, crimson and so on - it was magnificent. So magnificent and wanting to journal that kind of scene was what gave me the idea for said journal, which is going to be titled "Just Seasons Out Of Time" - a lyric from Rod McKuen's English version ("Seasons in the Sun") of Jacques Brel's "Le Moribund" ("the dying man") - although most people know the later lyrics by Terry Jacks, which were a bit more cheerful! The original French version was very sardonic and really about a man dying telling all his friends/family that he knew what bad things they'd done behind his back and that he ultimately wished them well - Brel's original chorus translates into English as:

I want you to laugh, I want you to dance; I want you to have fun like a fool; I want you to laugh, I want you to dance; When they put me in that hole. 

So, in my new seasonal art journal (a Dylusions Creative Journal brackets Large - I did want a Large Flip but they're a bugger to get hold of even in the USA), I'm devoting a signature to each month of the year, and once it's full, I'll start another - so hopefully I'll have a few years worth of journalling. I'm not doing each signature in date order - so if I want to do First Day of Autumn (Friday 22nd September 2017) before International Day of Peace (Thursday 21st September 2017) and Hallowe'en (Tuesday 31st October 2017) before Diwali (Thursday 19th October), I jolly well will. I may even do a Hallowe'en page in December if I want to, I just need to put it into the right signature of the journal. Some of you will have noted I've included Diwali (the Hindu festival of light) - now, before you start yelling "cultural appropriation" - not quite - note as follows:

  1. I'm an Atheist slash Humanist nowadays, but respectful of religions and people's choice to believe whatever they want, as long as it doesn't physically or emotionally inflict harm on others. I was raised in a very multicultural community - though we would have never called it that - on a council estate full of 'overspill' from big-city slum clearances and other people the government just didn't have room for anywhere else. At my infant school* we learned all about Easter and Christmas and Diwali and Holi and Ramadan and Eade and Yom Kipur and Hanukkah and so on and so forth - we learned about them all in equal-measure (it was a non-denominational school) and none were more important than the others - including Christmas - and we celebrated them all each year, enjoying making oil lamps for Diwali and eating the foods for each culture. I can remember Sikh and Hindu kids and a few with Rastafarian parents, but I don't remember any Jewish or Muslim children, but we still learned about their culture - this has caused a lot of surprise now to my Iraqi graduate student when walking into my office mid-Ramadan, I put my coffee and lunch behind my computer so as not to make her fasting any harder: she was amazed not only that I would do that out of respect but that I even knew what Ramadan was, let alone knowing the stories behind it.

  2. I don't celebrate Christmas and haven't this century. It's a normal non-work day for me. People do give me gifts if they want to, and that's nice and I don't refuse them, but I don't give Christmas presents. I give Yuletide gifts (the pagan/Norse midwinter festival - this year Thursday 21st December 2017) each year to a very small number of belovèd friends. I basically chose this festival as it makes more sense to me than most of the others and I do very much believe in following the seasons, eating seasonal food and listening to Jörð or Gaia or whatever you want to call the natural rhythms of Earth and the signs that she/it gives us and that we live our lives by (or perhaps should). Given I don't do Christmas, including it my art journal is just a celebration of other peoples' views on the month of December and they're welcome to them - similarly, I will celebrate those of numerous cultures - not every single one of course but a good selection and park of this particular art journal is not just about art, but about learning a few things myself about each religion.
[* in the UK "in my day" you attended Nursery School (optional, ages 3-4), Infant School (compulsory, ages 4-7), Junior School (compulsory, ages 7-11) and Senior School (compulsory ages 11-16) and then often a college (which could be a Sixth Form within a Senior School) from 16-18 to do either A-levels or vocational qualifications but you could leave school at 16 without any qualifications if you wanted to]

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Journalling background - Kinky Boots Girl 2 - using Dylusions mica sprays

A few days ago, I did a Warhol-inspired acrylic paint layout in my large Dylusions Creative Journal, which I had painted with black gesso first, and on which I'd used the mid-1960s girl stencil from the Andy Skinner Vogue stencil-and-mask set. Today, I was itching to try out my new Dylusions Square Black Journal and what better products to use with it than the Dylusions Mica Sprays?

The pages are 8" by 8" (20.3cm by 20.3 cm), which is a lovely size and perfect for this layout as it's based on a 6" by 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm) square. I did it slightly differently this time as rather than creating a set of acrylic squares over black gesso and then stencilling in the girls in black gesso over it, I'm masking out the girl and reserving the black of the background. My original idea was to leave the edges of the page as a black border but of course, being a messy slut, I had to cover up some splashes and so on with more mica, but it looks fab and still works as an obvious border.


Ranger Dylusions Creative Journal, Square, Black [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
(you could use the Square Standard colour [BUY NOW: USA, UK] and just give it a coat of black gesso - I personally recommend the DecoArt Black Gesso [BUY NOW: USA, UK], personally, as it gives a lovely, flat, matte, even surface that is perfect - or you could use any of the Large [BUY NOW: USA, UK] or Large Flip [BUY NOW: USA, UK] journals, coat them with black gesso and just work in the middle of a page)

Ranger Dylusions Mica Sprays Set [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
(if you have any of the other mica spray sets, you could use those instead just as easily - Tim Holtz [BUY NOW: USA, UK], Dina Wakley [BUY NOW: USA, UK], Wendy Vecchi [BUY NOW: USA, UK] - or of course any other mica-based sprays. You need ones that are a colourless matrix with coloured mica, otherwise it will be too opaque really - the Distress Spray Stains in metallic colours could work I guess)

Ranger Non-Stick Craft Sheet [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
(you could just work on the table or over old newspaper or whatever, but I find the Ranger sheet cleans up SO easy!)

DecoArt Andy Skinner 'Vogue' stencil and mask set (6" by 6") [BUY NOW: USA, UK]
(you need to use the mask for the mid-1960s girl in boots and a mini-dress for this project and don't need the stencils or the girl in the mid-1950s dress or the speech bubble)

Ruler (12")

Pencil (HB or H, not a B)

Post-It Notes or Post-It Tape
(these are used for masking and you need quite a lot of them - but don't worry, just buy huge packs whenever you see them on offer - never pay full price!)

A sheet of scratch cardstock (A4 or US Letter) 
(this is for masking the opposite page of the journal and for priming your sprays on)

Kitchen roll (kitchen paper/paper towel)
(this is optional but saves time - you could also use a heat tool but I don't like to use them for spray techniques as I find natural drying gives more texture and depth)

STEP 1: I measured in 1" away from the edge of each side of a right-hand page in the journal and drew lines to make a 6" square in the middle of the page, with a 1" gap around each side. This is super-easy as it's an 8" by 8" page, of course. If you're working in the larger journals, just place it in the middle in each direction.

STEP 2: I measured out 2" intervals along each edge and drew a small line and then joined it all up to make a set of 2" by 2" square, nine in toto.

STEP 3: To best arrange our colours, you need them to not result in any 2 adjacent squares having the same colour and this is how to do it - the numbers are just "Colour 1", "Colour 2" etc:
This is of course only one of several ways one can arrange one's colours, but it's important to work this out in advance.

STEP 4: Place your Kinky Boots Girl mask over the right-most column of squares and then use Post-It Notes or Tape to mask around each "Colour 1" square of the grid so that you don't cross-contaminate the colours. In doing this, you'll cover up the top 2/3rds of the mask and the Post-Its will hold her in place pretty well. Cover up the whole rest of the page, including the edges. Lay your sheet of scratch cardstock over the opposite page (I forgot to do this!).

STEP 5: Pick your first colour - mine was Bubblegum Pink - and shake it really well to fully suspend the mica. You must store all mica and pigment sprays horizontally and never, ever vertically as that can cause blockage of the dip-tube and knacker your spray. Prime the spray by releasing a few squirts onto your scratch stock, then spray from about 6" away into each of your squares - I did about 2-3 sprays onto each square.

STEP 6: You can either let this air-dry for about 30 minutes, or you could heat-set it, or you could roll a kitchen roll across the page after the first 5 minutes and get pretty good results - I did this page with a mix of the latter and air-drying to give each colour a slightly different texture.

STEP 7: Remove all the Post-It masking and discard them (don't dispose, just put them in a pile - don't try and re-use as they won't stick too well) - be VERY careful as the Post-It glue gets a bit stronger when wet and you can exfoliate the black pages of the journal (which are not as hard-wearing as the cream ones) if you're not gentle!

STEP 8: Put the girl back into position (you can see the right place from the masked out feet!) and repeat Steps 4 - 7, masking off everything except the "Colour 2" squares. My Colour 2 was Vibrant Turquoise. After repeating Step 7, repeat this whole process again for the final colour - I used Crushed Grape. 

STEP 9: To make the border, once the whole thing is dry, mask the entire 6" by 6" grid area with Post-It notes and as you do so, note on them with a pencil which colour is in which edge-most square. For example based on which colours I used and the grid shown in Step 3, my top row was pink, turquoise, purple. Now work out which order to spray your border in - you can use my layout below if it helps. Spray the border with just one squirt of each spray on each edge next to each grid-square, allowing them to overlap. I found working from 8-10" away helped this. Don't forget to give the nozzles of each spray a quick wipe with a damp paper towel or a babywipe before you put them away, horizontally, of course! Just leave it dry et voilà!

How I arranged my grid (emboldened text) and border (standard text) using Bubblegum Pink, Vibrant Turquoise and Crushed Grape mica sprays


As I dried each colour in the grid part of the design in different ways I got different textures. Bubblegum Pink was left for 1h to dry; Vibrant Turquoise was left for 20 minutes then dried with kitchen roll and Crushed Grape was left 5 minutes then dried with kitchen roll.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Doctor's Orders: Art Haul!

I've been a bit naughty but hey, it's all a business expense so I can share more cool techniques and stuff with you. I've got another 1-2 instalments from this set of orders still to come, but all of this little lot came from Amazon UK and is all from Ranger or from Stampers Anonymous.

Dylusions Mica Sprays - BUY NOW USA or UK

Dina Wakley Mica Sprays - BUY NOW USA or UK

These are 2 of the 4 sets of Ranger Mica Sprays that were launched last year, if memory serves. They did a set for each of the 4 signature designers - Dyan Reaveley, Tim Holtz, Dina Wakley and Wendy Vecchi. I didn't get all of them because 1) the colours in the Tim Holtz set don't appeal to me and 2) the Wendy Vecchi one I DO love, but I can wait and have it next, as I just had to have Dina's beautiful colours, and Dyan's were pretty much a given as I love her inks. I don't actually have many of Dina's products - just the Media Journal, which has grown on me. It has a mix of kraft paper, burlap, canvas and "watercolour paper" stocks - I have to admit, the "watercolour paper" really isn't one. It soaks in water like a sponge and when I decided to really try it out with an abstract forest, I had to wet it 4 times over before I could do a wet-into-wet wash on it. I spoke to Dina on Twitter (@dinawakley) about it and she was really helpful - she told me quite honestly that the vendor in India sold the stock as "watercolour paper" so that was what Ranger called it - she admitted it was "not for the purists". It IS a nice stock - soft and almost silky - and it takes weight well, so I've been using it for collage pages thus far and I'll be showing you in a video soon! So these sprays are my 2nd Dina Wakley procurement - and my 3rd (coming next week I hope!) is some of her paints. I don't usually buy craft acrylics as I have really heavy body, high pigment load CRYLA, which I can dilute into various acrylic media to make fluid acrylics etc. I have a small number of DecoArt and Distress fluid acrylics, but more for use as comparison tools when reviewing other products. HOLD THAT THOUGHT, it will come back to it! These sprays - which I've not even taken out of the packet yet - are in three AMAZING colours from Dina's range - Evergreen, Lapis and Ruby - and I just loved the tone and depth of them. The other pack are Dyan's colours - Bubblegum Pink, Vibrant Turquoise and Crushed Grape. Like all mica-based products, they are iridescent and look best on a black background - again HOLD THAT THOUGHT - several people have asked me to do a Colour Chemistry episode on how iridescent products work - if you want to see one, drop me a comment down below this post! Can't wait to use them!

Ranger Frosted Crystal Embossing Powder - BUY NOW USA or UK

As any of you living outside of the USA will know, finding brick-and-mortar stores that stock Ranger products are pretty hard. The main chain art-craft store in the UK only stocks a tiny number of products - about 12 Distress Inks from the first few releases, Archival Ink in Jet Black and a few of Tim's other Ranger items, as a rule. That's really it. So when I first started exploring mixed media and card making and so on, I was really let down by the quality of the embossing powders you could get in the shops in the UK versus what you could see on YouTube. Eventually I waited an age for an order from the USA to come that had the Ranger Embossing Powders, mostly from Wendy Vecchi's line, which are the most glorious, bright, smooth, opaque colours one could wish for. I've seen all sorts of videos of mixing embossing powders and dabbled myself, but the one basic I didn't have was Ranger's Frosted Crystal from the Antiquities line, which  - it is a clear powder but gives a roughened finish that takes paint well, and, if you overheat it, you get a white-ish translucent matte look. Sounds cool huh? I know you can also cut it with Wendy's powders to mattify them, which would be useful.

I have used a fair few tags lately so I did a re-stock - but I picked the wrong size! These Size 12 Ranger Dylusions tags are made of Dyan's usual mixed-media stock and are HUGE compared to my usual Size 10s - they are 5 1/8" by 10 1/2" (13.0cm by 26.7cm) - almost as long as the pages on the large Dylusions Creative Journal. I love the surface of these tags, they take ink and paint really well and I have wanted to be able to buy this stock in 500-sheet US Letter-sized reams in this cream colour for YEARS - sadly Ranger only sell it in packs of 10, so it would cost me like $100 to get the ream I want and that's just bonkers - so, for now, these size 12 tags will do the job as they're quite economical.

Dylusions Size 12 tags - BUY NOW USA or UK

Red rubber stamps are a big favourite of mine - I'm actually a bit unloving of photopolymer (but silicone's fine), as it never sticks back on the bloody plastic film properly and I honestly prefer how red rubber looks with most inks. I don't have many alphabet sets - only a circus-y one and a few very small calligraphy ones that are meant for cardmaking - and this set by Ranger's Dylysions range really stood out to me, it's called Dyan's Alphabet as it's based on letters from Dyan's journals and I do love her aesthetic. I'm not very confident with drawing letters, so these will be a big help in getting more writing into my mixed-media work. They have a great texture that makes the ink a bit more haphazard and make them look imperfect.

Dylusions Dyan's Alphabet - BUY NOW USA or UK

I've resolved to do more seasonal layouts and cards. For a very long time, I've not really bought seasonal stamps and papers too much as you don't really use them very often. It has meant I've loved a huge range of products that I've not been able to use or buy. SO I've decided if I start making seasonal art journal layouts, as well as cards, I can almost justifying things. Here are my first two! They're by Stampers Anonymous, whose products I just adore. They are both from Tim Holtz's line and the first is called Day Of The Dead and features a Catrina and Catrin in two sizes. Not a lot of "Tim's" products are remotely original - he's just very good at finding things, and the Catrina is from a piece of Mexican decor I've found a lot of images of online, and the Catrin is much the same - neither are original designs.

Stamper's Anonymous - Day Of The Dead Stamps BUY NOW USA or UK

The second set is called Regions Beyond and is a Hallowe'en set, also nothing original, containing various sentiments, a skull a cross bones, a raven, an owl, a house and an old ledger-y-thing.

Stamper's Anonymous - Regions Beyond Stamps - BUY NOW USA or UK

I also got on the same theme this Cobwebs stencil from Dylysions - it fits the large journal perfectly. Now I've really started to get into techniques using them, I've started to really like stencils. Versatile and SO cheap!

Dylusions Cobwebs Stencil - BUY NOW USA or UK
[NB: the USA link above is for a smaller size]

Remember those mica sprays? I've fancied a Dylusions black journal for AGES and I have loved the square format as I've got a thing about symmetrical work and have often drawn a square in the middle of a large journal page and blacked the rest out - kind of like in my recent Warhol-meets-Honour-Blackman layout. The paper in this journal is lovely and the cover is great too - I want to use it to work more with pigment inks and paints as I don't use them enough.

Dylusions Creative Journal Black Square - BUY NOW USA or UK

Now technically this arrived on Wednesday but I thought I'd mention it. I use cheap-and-cheerful Daler and Rowney Simply white gesso for canvases and I do find it needs a few coats when doing crafting that needs a nice clean, solid look. I use DecoArt Black gesso too, and I like it a lot - but I've never tried clear gesso. I tend to go for economy in gesso and I don't honestly think there is much difference between brands pace viscosity, of course. This clear gesso is from the Art Basics line from the Finnabair brand at Prima Marketing Ltd (the people who make those lovely watercolours we all go mad for in crafting) - it was pretty economical - 8.5 US fl. oz., which is about 250mL - for about £10. I've applied it once to a journal page covered in patterned paper but I've not yet painted on it - I'll talk about how that goes at a later date!

Finnabair Art Basics Clear Gesso - BUY NOW USA or UK

These arrived today - and remember what I said about my not really buying craft acrylics? The thing is, I do love some of the Dylusions colours, and I wanted to try a few, so I've got here Grass Green and Postbox Red (and two more colours are following, which are more pastel), which I want for a specific Christmas-related project. I was quite surprised when these arrived at just how small they are - I'm sure they look bigger in Dyan's videos or maybe she has tiny hands? Acrylic takes ages to use up, so I'm not too worried about value for money, and to be honest, acrylic "goes funny" after 3+ years - sometimes it splits from the binder, which is no big deal, you can just mix it in, but sometimes it curdles and then you can't really fix it. So whilst I buy many things in bulk, the only acrylic I buy in bulk is CRYLA Titanium White as white always gets used up first. These tubs contain about 60mL which is less than the standard 75mL tube acrylics for fine art tend to come in. How does that work out cost wise? These pots sell for about £4.99 in the UK, so let's call it £0.08/mL - if you compare a fine-art pro acrylic could be £10 for 75mL, thus £0.13/mL, whereas DecoArt Fluid Acrylics are £3.95 for 30mL, thus £0.13/mL - same kind of price as a pro acrylic. As such, Dylusions aren't expensive really and are quite economical for the amount that you get, versus other craft acrylics on the market, and they have a BEAUTIFUL texture and dry so flat.

Dylusions Paints in Cut Grass (BUY NOW USA or UK) and Postbox Red (BUY NOW USA or UK)

I also wanted the Carved Pumpkin Distress Spray Stain for a while now and I thought it might be cool for a Hallowe'en layout. I don't have many Distress Spray Stains - just the metallic 3, the Picket Fence (white) and the Picked Raspberry (cerise).

Distress Spray Stain in Carved Pumpkin (BUY NOW USA or UK)