Friday 26 June 2015

Friday Faces - Fabric and Fairy-tales!

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven! I'm linking up to Kim Dellow's 'Show Your Face' again today! I do look forward to this weekly challenge on Kim's blog. Not only does it provide lots of portrait inspiration from Kim and the contributors, but it has also started me on a kind of portrait journey! Do hop over to Kim's blog here and take a look at what she's been up to this week and then why not create a face of your own?
About two or three years ago, when I was first fascinated by the world of craft blogs and just dipping a toe in the crafty waters, I discovered a tutorial on how to print vintage photos onto fabric. I had a go at this and made some cushions featuring vintage images, but sadly I took no photos in those days and the cushions have long since worn out! A thought came to me this week - why not scan sketches of your own into the computer, print them onto fabric and create with them?

I had a go with this 'green doodle' on lining fabric! You iron an A4 sized piece of fabric onto Freezer paper and then carefully trim the edges so that any threads can't tangle in the printer and then print in the usual way. I then iron my pieces of fabric to try to fix the ink because I like to paint over the fabric with a glaze both to improve the look and to prevent the edges from fraying.

I think I might use the green faces on a mini quilt, but for today's project I decided to use this lady created with Portfolio pastels and based on seventeenth century miniature. I printed out two because I might use some embroidery stitches on the other one some time.

I die-cut her into an oval shape, which was easy to do, as the freezer paper backing ensured a clean cut. As you can see I was over-enthusiastic with the iron, so the fabric is a little scorched! I wasn't too concerned about this, as I was intending to paint over her in places anyway!

I had a little 5"/5" canvas so I arranged lots of embellishments and laces from my stash on it. There's some stencilling with Grunge Paste; a Tim Holtz bit of die-cutting left over from another project and a beautiful Sandra Evertson Relics and Artifacts hand. As I played with the bits and pieces, I slipped the key into the hand and the story of this canvas sprang into my mind! The young lady in the portrait is the heroine from the story of Bluebeard's castle. 

My next step was to make up sprays of diluted PaperArtsy Fresco paint and put the little fabric picture to one side as I applied them.

For the last six years I have tutored students in English Literature and one of my favourite texts has been Angela Carter's re-telling of Perrault's fairy tales in 'The Bloody Chamber'. In Carter's version of the tale, the young lady is rescued from the evil Marquis by her mother arriving in the nick of time. Feminine curiosity is not punished but shown to be part of life's experience, and the young woman learns that marriage should be for love and not money or escape.

I did some alterations to the little picture, mixing Frescos with Fabric Medium to give her a little more of a Perrault fairy-tale heroine appearance. She now has a little lace hat and veil and she has perhaps arrived at Bluebeard's castle after her marriage ceremony. The hand holds the key to the forbidden chamber in the castle, which will be forever stained with red after she has disobeyed her husband and unlocked its secrets. Thanks to Carter's wonderful imagination, this story is given new meaning in her collection because the heroine's curiosity and rebellious streak saves her from the fate of Bluebeard's previous wives. The butterfly symbolises freedom as well as the concept of Bluebeard collecting wives like beautiful butterflies.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by Magpieheaven today and looking at my Friday Face, which this week is a Fabric Fairy Tale. I hope you'll be linking up a face to Kim's blog too!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Brown and Crackle - Dreaming with the Dragons!

Hello and welcome to Magpieheaven, where it's not only time to dream with the Dragons; but also my turn to set the recipe for this fortnight! I've chosen brown and crackle. If you pop over to the Dragons Dream TIO here, you will see the great inspiration from the team!  At this time of year I love to visit beautiful old gardens, to sit in the sun and enjoy the roses and the honeysuckle and to imagine the Lords and Ladies, maid-servants, butlers and grooms whose footsteps once rang out over the cobbled courtyards. Usually there's an old, sun-baked wall all crackled and pitted by time, encrusted with moss and touched with the tendrils of clematis, ivy and ancient vines. This is what I wanted to evoke in my tag!

I began by just brayering a jumbo tag with some Cheesecake Fresco paint by PaperArtsy and some Taupe.

In places I added splodges of Chocolate Pudding. Sad to say, I didn't photograph the next stages of the process because I got very carried away and very messy! I squeezed Grunge Paste tinted with a little Brown Shed Fresco through a brick stencil and then, when this was dry, I applied Crackle Glaze over the areas of dark paint, not worrying too much if it went over onto my bricks. Keeping it thin was my main concern! I had two little die-cut arches made from card and I painted these with more Brown Shed, added a layer of Crackle Glaze and then, when this was dry, painted over them with Cheesecake. I also wanted to play with adding some fabric pieces to the tag, so I think I'll show you the finished tag and take you through some of the details.

As you can see I highlighted my background bricks with Treasure Golds and stamped the medieval text from a PaperArtsy mini in places, using paint rather than ink. There's a fair sprinkling of Frantage in Aged Copper too!

The ivy leaves (from a PaperArtsy Ink and the Dog plate) around the arched windows were stamped using Toad Hall, onto card painted with Toffee Fresco and they were then cut out and edged with green Frantage and Treasure Gold. On the lower window, I painted some lining fabric with Smurf Fresco mixed with a little Ranger Fabric Medium and I then stamped the script over with Stazon.

I hope you can see the crackly texture of my background and the different layers and colours. The face is one that I drew myself and scanned and printed onto fabric. I did this by ironing a piece of lining fabric onto some A4 Freezer paper and then running it through the printer. I touched up the face a little with some more Frescos once it was fixed in place and added dimension with some pearl pen blobs and a little lace. I wanted to create the impression of this lady of the manor materialising from the bricks of the old wall.

The sentiment is from an Ink and the Dog plate and the flower is an Eclectica one by Darcy Wilkinson. It's embossed half with clear and half with white embossing powder on toffee tinted card with touches of London Bus and spatters of gold UTEE.

I like to use heavy gel medium to stick down wisps of lace. Then when it's dry I rub over a little Treasure Gold to accentuate the texture. Here you can see that I dry-brushed the edges of my arched window with some Toffee Fresco and doodled just the hint of a vine over the crackle. I liked the way that the card ivy leaves looked almost as if they were made from metal with the addition of the Treasure Gold and Frantage.
Thank you so much for looking at my Dragons Dream tag today. Please do link up, if you can. Remember to use at least one real stamp on your tag; some crackle and the colour brown.

Friday 19 June 2015

Show Your Face, Emily!

Welcome to Magpieheaven, where it's time to show another face - well, quite a few faces - for the wonderful Kim Dellow's Show Your Face, Art it Friday. Kim's blog has been such a source of inspiration for me since I linked up nervously with my first face. Now I so look forward to Fridays when anyone interested in creating a portrait can browse all the wonderful art, courtesy of Kim and the other contributors and share any faces that they might have been working on. Today I have another journal spread. Because it's particularly on a feminine theme, I'd also like to link to my other favourite blog spot at the moment, Art Journal Journey, where they are looking at the theme of Masculine and Feminine all this month.

Last week Kim had this brilliant idea for a warm up. You paint squares of colour on a journal page and then doodle a different little face in each square. I couldn't wait to have a go and this is what I came up with. I love doodling, so I ended up not with just a different face in each square; but faces all around too!

I thought how each of these faces, sketched onto Inktense water-colour pencil 'windows' in a fine-liner might have a story to tell. I was reminded of a book I read back in the 'eighties called 'The Mad Woman in the Attic', the two authors explored the idea that women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often felt their stories were just not important enough to tell, that their lives would not interest readers or that for them to write about violence or passion would be just too shocking for audiences to take! Women writers would often keep their identities secret, assume male names or names that did not particularly give a clue to any gender. It is sad not to be able to be open about who or what you are, but writing under another name or staying anonymous could be liberating too! This reminded me of a poem by Emily Dickinson that made me think about identity and how it can restrict you. I began to scribble it around my little pictures.

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody too?
Then there's a pair of us,
Don't tell.
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody
How public,
Like a frog,
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
 Emily Dickinson with her reclusive life wrote some very beautiful and penetrating poetry even though she would have hated to have to be in the public eye and there will always be a sense of mystery around her.

For the facing page I decided to attempt a portrait of Emily Dickinson herself, using a base of PaperArtsy Frescos in Blush and Nougat with a layer of Inktense and some collaged lace.

I wanted the page to have an ethereal quality, so I used some Chalk Fresco over the lace and stamped the feathers from a Lynne Perrella stamp set in white, Taupe and Smurf.

I gave the Belle of Amherst a little white embossed crown and stamped lightly with Chalk Fresco using a Sara Nauman stamp with the word 'Images' on it.

I liked the way that the white paint on the stamp made the blue Inktense seem like a ghostly writing over the dress. In Emily's portrait photo there is a kind of intense yet unworldly vivacity about her and I wanted the colours and images to evoke this. There is a quality in her poetry that is hard to define - simplicity of diction coupled with complexity of thought, everyday imagery that makes us see the world around us with sharper vision.

Hope is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops at all -

And - sweetest in the Gale - is heard
And sore must be the Storm -
That could abash the little bird -
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never in Extremity -
It asked a crumb - of me.

Thank you so much for stopping by today and pausing for a moment to look at portraits of women. I hope that you will have a wonderful weekend with lots of opportunities for creative self-expression.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Unruly Paper Arts - The Great Outdoors!

Welcome to Magpieheaven. Over at Unruly Paper Arts this month our Readers' Art Quest Challenge is to create something on the theme of The Great Outdoors! If you check out the link you will see the prompt, the colours and the Design Team's great inspiration. There's a super surprise pack of goodies to be won courtesy of Unruly Paper Arts so please link up your projects on this theme, which is actually based on unusual public holidays! We would love to see what you come up with!
Our weather in the UK has not been the best for spending time in the Great Outdoors, but after a thunderstorm yesterday and a grey start this morning, the afternoon turned out to be warm and sunny and Mr Magpie and I spent an afternoon in our 'Great Outdoors', which is a local park with a stretch of river where we've seen kingfishers and woods full of wonderful, old trees, I have created a simple card, which evokes an afternoon in the great outdoors to me! These days I try find ways to create texture on cards without making them too bulky for postage.

This background I created by brayering with PaperArtsy Fresco paints in Tangerine Twist, Hey Pesto and Smurf. I then used a Stencil Girl stencil of a wood with birds, a Lin Brown leaf stencil by Electica at PaperArtsy and a Clearsnaps mask of a birch wood with some Dreamweavers' stencil brushes with a small quantity of Chalk Fresco. For the little birds, I stencilled in Inky pool and then shifted the stencil just slightly over to one side and stencilled again in Smurf so as to give the birds and the trees dimension.
 I stamped a leaf from Darcy's Eclectica collection in Guacamole and some Lin Brown swirls in Antarctic and I now had a master-board, which I could cut up into sections. I was pleased with the way that the stencils and paint colours and the brayering conveyed the texture of bark. 

I arranged these on a Kraft card blank, decorating the spaces between with some Sage and Hey Pesto Fresco used with sequin waste as a stencil.

The sentiment 'Live in the Sunshine' by Artistic Outpost is stamped onto painted card in Wendy Vecchi Geranium Archival ink and clear embossed.

A quick and simple card, which should fit easily into an envelope for mailing. I do hope that you have been able to spend some time in the Great Outdoors yourself this weekend and that you will find some time to create a celebration of this lovely theme and link it up Here. Meanwhile I will leave the last word on The Great Outdoors to Wordsworth!

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
                    William Wordsworth.

Friday 12 June 2015

Show Your Face and Art Journal Journey!

Welcome to Magpieheaven, where I'm linking up to two blogs today! First it's Kim Dellow's 'Show Your Face', where Kim gives us the opportunity to see the faces she has been creating and to link up our own experiments in creating portraits each week. I've been having so much fun, challenging myself to create new faces each week and I've been so inspired by what Kim and the other artists have been creating. Please do take a look here and prepare to be inspired! I also decided to link up with Art Journal Journey because this month the theme is 'Masculine and Feminine' and my faces are in my art journal as well as being the male and female components of a famous literary duo!

I began by resting two sketches I had done in Portfolio pastels in the pages of an old copy of Pride and Prejudice on my art journal and drawing around them

This was so that I could gauge where to have my texture on the background of my journal pages.

I then added Grunge Paste tinted with Fresco paints and pushed through stencils to create the impression of an outdoor setting.

I also added some lace and some netting to this page...

and a stamped and die-cut fabric leaf to this one.

Now I played around with positioning painted, curled paper strips made from the text of the novel before removing them, putting them somewhere safe and spraying both pages with diluted South Pacific Fresco paint.

I now stuck down the faces and the curls of paper and did some painting and doodling to integrate the faces into the pages.

Some Treasure Gold and a Tim Holtz sentiment stamped onto Chatsworth paper with curled corners were added to this side, before I added finishing touches with Fresco Finish paints in Chalk, Brown Shed and Jade.

So who are my famous literary couple, the epitome of the essential Male/Female conflict that has come to be the template for virtually every subsequent romantic novel? Mr Darcy and...

Elizabeth Bennett!

Elizabeth challenges the ideals of what it was to be feminine in the early nineteenth century, when she arrives at the Bingley's home with her 'petticoat six inches in mud' looking 'almost wild' with her hair 'so untidy'! Mrs Hurst and Caroline Bingley can't wait for her to leave the room so that they might make 'catty' remarks about her! Yet it is Elizabeth who wins the heart of the dashing Mr Darcy. Just like Benedick and Beatrice in Shakespeare's 'Much ado about Nothing' the combative couple become increasingly drawn to each other and love blossoms between the prejudiced male and the proud female!

Thank you for stopping by Magpieheaven today and taking a look at my interpretation of

'Pride and Prejudice' - Darcy and Elizabeth -Male and Female - the inspiration for my project this Friday.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Green and a Quotation - Dragons Dream TIO

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Where does the time go? Here we are at June 10th and it's The Dragon's Dream TIO once again. This fortnight it's the amazing Gabrielle's turn to choose the theme and she has come up with something perfect for early summer, although it doesn't feel very summery where I am! I've just had to imagine sun-dappled woods for Green and a Quotation. Please do hop across to The Dragons Dream here to see the other wonderful tags on display. 
I knew straight away the quotation I wanted to use. It is from Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken': Two roads diverged in a wood and I/ I took the one less traveled...  Although Frost describes the wood in his poem as 'Yellow', he does say the path is grassy, so I always imagine him making his decision in one of those green woods where the sun creates golden beams across the path. It's the kind of woodland where the light plays tricks on our eyes and we could just imagine the woodland flowers to have faces and the leaves seem whisper to us, influencing us as to which path to take!

I began with a jumbo tag and lots of different Fresco Finish greens!

There's Honeydew, Sage, Limelight, Hey pesto, Guacamole, Green Olives and the new PaperArtsy Fresco Jade from Jofy's Limited Collection. I built up a background of different stencils, including my favourite Lin Brown leafy one; some sequin waste; a butterfly mask I won in a draw on the lovely Lesley Ebdon's blog and  some Grunge Paste tinted with Guacamole pushed through a honeycomb stencil.

I stamped the moths from PaperArtsy Urban Snapshots in Jade and then clear embossed them so that they glistened. When my tag was complete, I edged their wings with Classic Treasure Gold.

My friend, Lucy shared some leather off-cuts with me and I die-cut them and used these for the petals on my forest flowers. I gave them a thin layer of Little Black Dress before applying Crackle Glaze, allowing to dry and then giving them a good, thick coat of Fresco Sage. You can probably just make out the Lynne Perrella script stamped in Hint of Mint.

I aged two little wooden frames from The Works, using Prima Crackle Paste, Treasure Gold in Sapphire, Green Amber and Aquamarine and some rusting powder.

The flower faces are re-sized print-outs of faces that suggest not Green Men, but Green Women to me! Maybe they are tree sprites who keep the woodland safe and secret.

Frantage in copper and aged green, a shrink plastic die-cut leaf and some hemp cord coloured with Guacamole Fresco provide the finishing touches. I do hope that whatever roads you take this fortnight, whether they be well-worn paths or less travelled ways, you will find time to link up with the Dragons TIO. Our rules are simple! Just decorate a tag of any size; make sure that your main colour is green and that you include a quotation and at least one stamp and then link up. You might become one of our Dreamboat 3 or a Guest Designer. Have a lovely creative week!

Friday 5 June 2015

Time to Show Your Face!

Hello and welcome to Magpieheaven. You probably know by now that I've been linking up each week with the wonderful Kim Dellow's 'Show Your Face' blog on Fridays. Kim would like us to feel free to experiment with creating faces and then share what we come up with here. Please do hop across to see the inspiring work Kim has been creating and take a peek at the amazing work of the other participants. 
Last week I created a male face, that of the Elizabethan dramatist, Christopher or 'Kit' Marlowe. This week I challenged myself to turn him into a peg doll. But first, because I like to make these dolls double-sided, I decided to reference Marlowe's most famous lines on the reverse side to the poet...
Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

The sketch was to have been Helen of Troy, but the doll had a will of her own! She turned into something much more pastoral for some reason and the whole project changed direction. Perhaps it was because I was drawing in a page from a recipe book about the simple delights of home-made bread? My husband was tutoring in the room where my art materials are, and, because I didn't like to interrupt the lesson and I happened to be in the kitchen, I ripped the first page out of a cookery book! When he had finished the tutorial, I coloured her using Portfolio Pastels. Above is a scan of what I later reduced digitally to use on my peg doll.

I used some napkin tissue as a background for her head and painted the peg with PaperArtsy Frescos in Antarctic, Blue Oyster and Smurf, but she was destined to be a country lass - far too fresh-faced and contented for Helen of Troy.

Now Marlowe in pastoral mood seemed more appropriate...

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields...

And I will make thee beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;

I had to create an Elizabethan body for the reverse side too! Here is Kit in doublet and hose declaiming his verses!

And a close-up of the face with what my son describes as 'Kit hair'!

The lacy trim on both dolls is stamped on with a Crafty Individuals stamp and some Southern Seas Fresco paint. I am undecided at the moment whether to include any text on the dolls - what do you think? Thank you so much for stopping by Magpieheaven. Please check out Kim's blog to see what she and the other artists have been creating and do, if you can, link up a face of your own too. Meanwhile I will leave it to Helen who became Phyllis ...

And Kit who became Corydon to wish you a sunny day full of roses, birdsong and pastoral delights!