Monday, 24 April 2017

Calico Cat at Calico Craft Parts Blog

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. I'm having fun with creating a rather elegant cat character over at Calico Craft Parts today.


Please pop across here if you would like to see more. Calico also have some amazingly detailed new craft parts available including beautiful doors and windows, which you can check out here. Have a creative week! 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Owl and The Pussycat

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Once again I've neglected my blog rather, so today I decided to create a post about a little diptych I recently finished.



I had some little MDF house shapes going spare and I had been playing with sketching a cat - something I'd not properly attempted before! Here is my original drawing...


 I played around with the size and shape. I knew I wanted to enhance my kitty, give him or her more character and a body and a costume! When I first draw a character I like to keep the gender fluid, giving them a costume and a identity with each new project. An Etsy customer had asked me if I ever included owls in my work and this also had inspired me to play with owl characters a while back. 


Wonderful memories of seeing owls, their wings touched by moonlight, came back to me as I researched these magnificent creatures. Owls, Pussycats - well, I just had to create an Owl and the Pussycat diptych!



For the last 3 summers, I've participated in wonderful classes on line, run by the gifted teacher and artist Mary Jane Chadbourne. The techniques I've learned from her and the inspiration she provides have influenced my work so much. She always assures her students that the project itself will tell us exactly what it wants to look like As I worked, the Owl became a Duke - Owlsino and the Pussycat Meowlia.


Was it in the back of my mind that my son gifted me a ticket for Twelfth Night on Mother's Day and that we'll be going to see it next week? I really don't know because it was just as if the Owl and the Pussycat told me their own story and I had very little say in the matter!



Owlsino told me how desperately in love he had been with the Lady Owlivia, from an ancient avian family. He thought he would die for love! He took on a young page who he intended to send to his 'Lady's' house with messages of love. Little did he know that the young cat he sent to plead with the indifferent Owlivia was Meowlia - a Pussycat incognito, searching for her brother who had been lost at sea. She fell hopelessly in love with him - an owl who would normally keep her well at wing's length, while his beloved Owlivia fell in love with Meowlia instead of him! The Lady Owlivia kept in her household a clown by the name of Feste, but in reality, both Owlsino  and Meowlia - and even the Lady Owlivia and her rather pompous steward, Miauwlio - were to become fools for Love - not understanding their true feelings, not seeing themselves or others for who they really were!



Happily, for most of the characters in Shakespeare's version of this comedy, all is resolved. And I suspect that my Owl and Pussycat too were able to work at that rather unconventional partnership, discovering eventually that Cupid's arrows don't always fall where we expect them to. Sadly, the same was not true for Edward Lear, the creator of the original Owl and Pussycat. He had an unhappy love life, falling into intense and unrequited passions. As a child I loved his nonsense verse, his tales of fantasy characters like 'Pobbles' with no toes and 'Jumblies' who sailed away in a sieve. He too travelled to distant lands, sketching flora and fauna with incredible skill. Musically gifted, amusing and imaginative, he was ashamed of his epilepsy and, although he had many social acquaintances, the romantic union enjoyed by The Owl and the Pussycat always seemed to evade him.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing my little diptych today. There is a link to my Etsy shop at the top of this blog in the right hand margin. I will be adding diptychs and pins on the theme of owls, pussycats and fantasy lands over the coming weeks, so do check out the shop if you can. Meanwhile, may all your dreams come true and may your days be filled with love and creativity.

Namaste - Calico Craft Parts Shrine

Hello Everyone from Magpieheaven! I'm so sorry that I forgot to blog my project at Calico Craft Parts this week! Here is a little peek. If you haven't already checked it out at Calico and you have time, please pop across. My memory has been like a sieve lately!


In an effort to be a better blogger I'm probably going to be blogging again later today with a new project for my Etsy shop. Thank you so much to my Followers and Friends for the support you give. Have a lovely spring day, full of peace.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Spring Forward at Calico Craft Parts!

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. I have a studio - at last! Much as I miss her, I'm very happy for our daughter, Matilda as she starts life in a new home with a lovely partner. Luckily for me, she is living only 10 minutes' from our home and her room has become my creative space!


I created this little shrine for Calico Craft Parts blog as my first project in my new space. If you would like to find out more about how I created it and my inspiration, the project is here.


Wherever you create, I hope your creativity is blossoming with the Springtime!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Doors, Windows and Architecture for PaperArtsy

Hello and Welcome again to Magpieheaven. Tonight I'm lucky enough to be over on the PaperArtsy blog sharing a post about Doors and Windows into the Past. Please join me there if you would like to see this project in a little more detail.


 I do hope you'll also be inspired to join in the Challenge and that you will create something on the theme. If you do, why not link up your own project for a chance to win a prize of £50.00 of PaperArtsy products? Wishing you Good Fortune, creativity and joy!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Wearable Art for Calico Craft Parts Blog

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Do you ever feel as if you could do with a friend perched in your hat or on your scarf, whispering words of wisdom to you? You might like to meet my friend Felicia, the wearable Barn Owl! She is making an appearance over on the Calico Craft Parts blog today! Please pop across and meet her if you have the chance.


Have a lovely, creative day wherever you are.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Very Modern Mid-Century Tea Time with Relics and Artifacts!

Hello Everyone and Welcome to Magpieheaven! Over at the Relics and Artifacts Tribe there's a fun challenge taking place - Mid Century Modern! It was certainly a challenge for me because I tend to associate Relics and Artifacts with either mysteriously beautiful antiques with a story to tell, or the vibrant folk art of Mexico. I wanted to keep up that New Year Resolution to blog more and to participate in some challenges, though, so I put on my Mid Century thinking cap with its geometric patterns and journeyed back to the 1950s!


Once I had researched - lots of fun on Pinterest - I gathered colours with what I thought had a 'Mid Century' mood. I grabbed some Harlequin napkins; a stencil and some musical manuscript paper, along with a few scraps of tea-bags - I was ready to paint and collage!


I used acrylics diluted with glazing fluid to paint over my collage so that the torn scraps would be visible. To create the blocks of colour, I used masking tape to help me keep to really straight lines.


Building up layers with collage, paint and stencils, reminded me of tattered posters after a carnival.


Now it was time to add the Relics and Artifacts to the composition. I wanted to carry through that Harlequin/Pierrot Mid Century style mood, so I grabbed the masking tape again for an asymmetrical look to the ex-voto flaming heart.


The Mid Century I recall from my childhood was a time of such hope and excitement as we embraced the 'Modern' and looked to Science and Technology to re-build our world torn apart by 2 World Wars. Yet there was fear too, at what the Modern World might do to itself with the Nuclear threat. Influenced by the exquisite Picasso drawings that I love, I added the pure white wing of Peace to my canvas. 


I leave the interpretation of the face to the viewer. Is it the Moon glimmering over Venice at Carnival time? Is it a Pierrot behind an enigmatic mask, the wing a fluttering white lace ruff; or is it the Spirit of Uncertainty, half facing the 'Brave New World' and half completely blank as to what the future might hold.


On a less serious note the colours of my canvas reminded me of my china collection, which I seldom use, so I thought it was time for a Very Mid Century Modern Tea Party!



Now all we need are some little Harlequin cakes with pastel icing and some Batten berg with its pink and blue squares of sponge cake and bright yellow icing! Have a lovely creative weekend and a great week! 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Mossycoat - Infusions Challenge at PaperArtsy

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Do you ever start working on a project, have no idea where you're going and find that the substrate and the materials speak to you? This doesn't always happen. Often I start with an idea of what I want my final piece to look like, but this time my project dictated the story! Over at PaperArtsy all this fortnight the topic is Paint with Infusions. These little bottles of coloured grains are so much fun to use and working with them really does remind me of casting magic spells with colour! Over on the blog you'll see all kinds of projects, videos and tutorials to help. I just had fun experimenting and story-telling.




For this mini hemp-wrapped 'canvas', I applied Emerald Isle, Royal Blood and Sage Infusions over stencilled script in Fresco Snowflake and sprayed with diluted Fluid Matte Medium. There's some stained and frayed, wide linen ribbon just above the Relics and Artifacts heart. I dripped Ice Resin over the heart and into the well at the centre to create the impression of clear forest, spring water, adding some clear, glass-bead gell.



The canvas fits into the palm of my hand like a little book. I knew that I wanted to play with Relics and Artifacts on this piece, but before I added them, the colours and initial texture of the canvas recalled rich, green moss deep in the forest and I knew the direction this project would take. Some gold embossing reminded me of golden threads and the story of Mossycoat.



Mossy Coat lived with her widowed mother in a cottage, deep in the dark woods. Like a wild flower, hidden among the ferns, she lived her peaceful life. Until the Hawker came by the cottage, selling his wares and asking for her hand in marriage. Little Mossycoat didn't want to spend her days tramping the world with the Hawker. She wanted to marry for love. Here is my miniature portrait of young, Mossycoat.




Her mother instructed her to tell the Hawker she would marry him only if he brought her a gown of fine white silk that was an exact fit. Meanwhile she continued to spin a coat for her daughter with magic woven into its fibres.



When the Hawker returned with the perfect dress, Mossycoat's mother sent him away. Now he must fashion her a gown the colour of all the birds of the air. Still she worked at her spinning. When he returned with this dress he was sent away again - this time to create slippers of silver for the young girl's tiny feet. When the Hawker returned triumphant with the silver shoes, he was sent away and told to come back tomorrow for his bride. But the Widow had been working on a magic coat of moss, woven with threads of pure gold that would take Mossycoat anywhere she wanted by wishing.



Through the Forest she flew to the Prince's grand palace, where she became a scullery maid, working among the pots and pans and where the servants mocked her. But she used her treasured mossy coat to conjure the white gown and slippers and wore them to the Ball where she captured the Prince's heart. He could think of nobody, but the mysterious young woman in the silk dress with her dainty, silver feet. When she made a second appearance at court in her bird gown, he tried to take her hand to prevent her escape, but she fled, leaving behind one silver slipper!



Of course the Prince tries the slipper on every beautiful young lady's foot until he has almost given up hope of finding his Love. In despair he takes the slipper to the kitchen and Mossy Coat comes forward to slip her tiny foot neatly into the silver shoe.



 Let's hope the match is a happy one - if not Mossy Coat can always wrap herself in velvety moss and fly away silently back to the Forest! Thank You for stopping by taking a look at my little project. I hope you find some time yourself to play with Infusions, to discover their magic and to link your work to the PaperArtsy Challenge! Have a wonderful, creative week.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Animal Enchantments at Calico Craft Parts Blog

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Today I'm delighted to be back at Calico Craft Parts with a peek inside Ava the owl's box of enchantment...


and a new friend to introduce to you. Please, if you have time, I'd love you to join me at Calico to find out more.


Have a lovely week, wherever you are and whatever you're doing!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Mail Art duo - More Fun with Masking at PaperArtsy!

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven! I discovered to my great surprise that the PaperArtsy masking challenge is still up and running! If you haven't done so already, please do head over to the PaperArtsy blog and catch up with all the beautiful work there - and there's still 4 days left for you to be inspired and link up your own art! A few days ago I played with masking using a manilla tag and a punched stamp shape on some old plain white envelopes.



This carnival-themed envelope will soon be on its way to my oldest friend, Judith. Having started creating mail art using a mixture of painting with a brayer, stamping and stencilling, layering and adding my own art and collage, I couldn't stop: maybe it was a little hint of spring in the air! 



Still on the theme of carnivals, I tried putting down a few layers and then masking before adding yet more. This gave a slightly different effect to masking from the start and creating white areas.



On this envelope I used the wonderful long Sara Nauman handwriting stamp from ESN10. This stamp works really well when you stamp with paint, but always remember to clean your stamp thoroughly and immediately with this technique. I like to rub away layers with baby wipes and to create a dreamy, smudgy effect.



Just a hint of sunshine over the last few days inspired me to think ahead to long summer days and the romance between Bottom the Weaver and Titania, Queen of the Fairies in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Puck, the mischievous sprite uses the juice from a tiny flower called 'Love in Idleness' to place the self-important Bottom and the proud Titania under a love spell. On my envelope Bottom, bedecked with flowers, wears his ass's head and Titania's fairy crown has been replaced with a clown's hat - all will end happily, with the correct couples together again and harmony restored!



I returned to masking off areas of white space on this envelope, which includes a couple of little owls performing a card trick! Somehow - wise as she is - the little clown owl on the left has managed to transform her assistant into the Queen of Hearts!This challenge has spurred me on to try using some of the masking products out there, but for now it's been fun using these simple techniques and seeing what effects I can achieve with them. It's been a great opportunity to play with different combinations of Fresco paint colours too and to re-visit creating backgrounds using lids dipped into little pools of paint. I love the effect of this kind of mark-making around the mask.



I have a little 'stash' of hand-drawn images scanned into my computer, which I re-size digitally and then re-colour with water-colour pencils. The hearts are drawn onto book text, cut out and then coloured with water-colour pencils.
Thank You so much for stopping by Magpieheaven and looking at my mail art. I do hope you've joined in with the PaperArtsy challenge, or that you will have time to do so in the next few days and that your week will be happy and creative!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Masquerade! Joining in the masking fun at PaperArtsy!

Hello and Welcome! I'm trying to be a better blogger than last year so today here I am at Magpieheaven sharing some mail art I've created to send to an old and special friend I was re-united with on Facebook. Over at the PaperArtsy blog here there's such an inspiring challenge going on. I've enjoyed looking at all the contributions from the Guest Designers and those playing along so much that I decided to do some masking of my own! It's ages since I joined a challenge in Blogland and I've had lots of fun using this theme to inspire my own project!



Masking is great technique for Mail Art. I remember seeing the incredible Darcy Wilkinson once demonstrate at Ally Pally. She transformed cheap white envelopes into little works of art in no time, creating masks from everyday bits and bobs and lots and lots of layers of Fresco paints! It was time to brighten up the grey days with another go at her techniques!



My masks were a mini manilla tag, a stamp shape punched from scrap paper and some strips of torn masking tape. I used a brayer to apply layers of Frescos and I also stippled with Baby wipes. There's some stencilling on there and some stamping with paint. The stamp shape and the strips of tape were applied during the process so that different layers could be masked and would show through. I also carefully wiped away layers in places to reveal what lay beneath as I went along. I lost track of all the colours I used, but there was Tango, Red Bus, Brown Shed, Inky Pool and Yellow Submarine layered over opaques like Mermaid, Blush and Taupe.



I had some collage images I wanted to add to complete the picture! Not only was the envelope all about 'masking' - my friendly tiger and his lovely assistant are also 'maskers'. I think they're off to provide the entertainment at a grand Venetian ball!


 You can see what was left when I took away the masks. I added some detail to the tag and gave it to the Masquerading tiger to hold. Once I had outlined my tiger and his little companion in 6B pencil and fine-liner they stepped out from the background. You might have noticed that I've added some Sara Nauman stars stamped several times in paint onto my background. The butterflies - a symbol of good fortune to Venetians - are punched from scraps of paper and Vintage Playing cards.


Nothing is wasted with this technique. I've used the tiny tag with its many layers and punched butterflies from the scrap paper for the stamp space.


Thank You so much for stopping by today. Traditionally it is carnival time in Venice - or it was a little earlier in the month - so this was the perfect time to play with masks! I hope you'll check out the PaperArtsy challenge and maybe have a go yourself. There's a generous £50.00 voucher for PaperArtsy goodies to be won in the draw. Have a lovely, creative week.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Owl ATC Box

Hello from Magpieheaven. Tomorrow is St Valentine's Day, but I'm afraid I'm not really sharing a very traditional Valentine make over at Calico Craft Parts! I do think it's just a little bit romantic so please pop across if you would like to see more.


Meanwhile, may tomorrow and all your days be full of love and creativity.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Capture Life's Moments!

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Back in January I resolved to write more blog posts - oh dear - I haven't done so well yet. Never mind, today I put fingers to keyboard here at Magpieheaven, just for fun and I'm sharing some pieces I created for a very special class! 



 I'm celebrating a lovely on line workshop I participated in last Summer. Saints, Sinners and Shrines, Alternatives to honouring the Divine within was part of the Artful Gathering collection of classes, taught by the inspiring and talented Mary Jane Chadbourne. I always learn so much from Mary Jane's classes. She creates a very special place for her students in which they can learn new techniques and gain in confidence and inspiration not only from her expertise and talent, but from generous and gifted class-mates too. I find that the inspiration from these classes stays with me throughout the year, enabling me to go on creating long after the close of the class.




We discovered the serenity of religious retablos and the fun and exuberance of Mexican Day of the Dead! I purchased one of Mary Jane's MDF retablos, beautifully made by her husband, but a pattern was included in the class, so I was able to add to my collection.



 The piece below, which I created most recently  is something of a 'What if...' One night as I lay awake, I thought about anthropomorphic animals. So often we see ourselves in animals and animals in ourselves. The shrines and Retablos we created in class were sometimes inspired by Renaissance paintings of beautiful, regal women - and some class-mates did create shrines and retablos honouring pets. What, I wondered, if I combined animal and human? What might a wise Renaissance owl look like? I started with this sketch in ink and water-colour on the pages of a vintage copy of 'The Natural History of Selbourne'.



I paired her head with that of a little girl's body in a Renaissance study and added some finishing touches. Meet Ava, the wise Owl, accomplished in Poetry, Music and Science - a true Renaissance bird-woman! I had lots of fun crackling and ageing the MDF frame.




Her wings and the tiny owl flying out of the picture are from Calico Craft Parts. The little rose is created from a mould I made myself and some paper clay painted with PaperArtsy Fresco paint in London Bus, Blood Orange and Brown Shed and touched with some Treasure Gold.



For the background on this and the first retablo, I created a 'Master-board'. I took a sheet of thick, drawing paper and painted, stencilled and stamped layers on it and then cut shapes from it as required. I still have some left for future projects like ATCs and greetings cards.



The Tim Holtz word band reads 'Capture Life's Moments' - something that I suspect Ava aims to do as she flutters out into the night. Thank You so much for stopping by my blog today. I've really enjoyed sharing these makes from Mary Jane's Summer Workshop on this rather cold and wintry day. February always makes me think that Spring is not so far away, though. Have a great creative week wherever you are and whatever the weather.