PEP tangles - my Zentangle Inspired Art blog

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Principles of Design & CAS

I have been thinking about "design principles" for some time but somehow there has always been a block to my understanding how to apply them in card making, so much so that over the last couple of years making a card has become a source of frustration for me - a card taking me a week or so to construct & much of it ending in the recycling. I've kept going, knowing deep down it was something to do with understanding design that was the block, for I could not let go of my NEED to create, but I'd approach making a card for someone with a sense of dread. A couple of years ago I took a design course specifically for card makers but somehow I wasn't ready to understand although I believe it laid a foundation so that concepts such as the Rule of Thirds weren't completely new to me. Learning is very much a cumulative process & we cannot predict how or from where the brain will absorb information. Sometimes it needs to be given the same information but presented in a slightly different format for understanding to be gained.

"Clean And Simple" or CAS has been totally outside my comfort zone, mainly I think, because I didn't understand what it entailed & I couldn't see what lay behind all that uncluttered space. However, when I saw that My Creative Classroom (MCC) was offering a Clean and Simple Card Workshop with the focus being on how to apply design principles it seemed an opportunity, not only to further my understanding of design, but also of CAS. I was explaining CAS to my husband when he remarked how sensible it would be to see design principles utilised in a clear uncluttered format & how that might facilitate learning.

The following are what I created for the 'homework' challenges set during the course.

Focal Point
Stamps: Chocolate Baroque Big Flowers & Celebration Words
Inks: Distress Inks, & Markers (Walnut Stain & Barn Door)
Die: Spellbinders Shapeabilities Framed Tags 3  Other: Lace & Gem

Single Line
Stamps: Penny Black Paisley Outline & Words Express
Inks: Emboss Tinted Stamp Pad with Steward Gill Ultrafine Clear Embossing Powder; VersaFine Majestic Blue
Die: Spellbinders Shapeabilities Framed Tags 3  Other: Floral Ribbon

Stamp: Penny Black Words Express  Inks: Distress Inks (Walnut Stain & Dried Marigold)
  Dies: Spellbinders Nestabilites  Standard Circles Small &  Splendid Circles
Other: Joanna Sheen Paper, Sizzix Embossing Folder, Woodware Butterfly Punch & Stickles Glitter Glue

Stamps: Penny Black Air Mail  Inks: VersaFine Onyx Black
Die: Sizzix Tim Holtz Alterations Tiny Tabs & Tags
Other: Winsor & Newton Pan Watercolours, Salt, Derwent Coloursoft Pencils & Ribbon
Inspiration: Diana Nguyen - Yours Truly

Ink: Pine Needles Distress Ink
Dies: Sizzix Tim Holtz Alterations Tattered Florals, Spellbinders Nestabilities Splendid Circles
Other: Woodware Flower Punch, Stickles Glitter glue, Ribbon & Gem
Inspiration: Jane - Purplejet Loves Crafts

Stamp: Chocolate Baroque Clear Fancy Flourishes
Inks: Emboss Tinted Stamp Pad with Stewart Gill Ultrafine Embossing Powder
Die: Spellbinders Shapeabilities Ironwork Motifs
Other: Woodware Butterflies, Inverse Corner & Corner Rounder Punches; Gems

I thought I would write of my own difficulties with design in case it might help someone else. I'm not saying that I have arrived at a magic formula for making a card: I still need to consolidate the principles I've been learning through working with them practically. However, I now feel that I am able to move forwards & approach making a card without it being the burden it had become for I have something concrete with which to work instead of reinventing the wheel every time.  I'm really surprised by how I can appreciate CAS cards now & I know that the principles that underpin their success are also at work in product/technique based cards which catch my attention.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Friday, 14 February 2014

Double Heart Triskele With Favourite Tool(s)

I subscribe to Jason Bellchamber's You Tube Channel where he gives tutorials on how to draw Celtic Knots. What I find particularly interesting about his videos is that he also talks about the history behind a particular pattern & what it might have been used for. Some time ago I saw his Double Heart Triskele videos (One, Two & Three) & decided that I'd try using the pattern for a Valentine's card. This is what evolved as I worked with it.

front of card
angled view to show contrast between metallic pen work,
satin gold cardstock & matt black panel
close-up in lamplight showing shimmer of  metallic
pen work &  fussy cut detail 
inside of card

Sakura Metallic Gelly Roll pens were used in black & gold for drawing the knot which was then carefully cut out & mounted on a piece of satin gold cardstock slightly smaller than the outer border of the knot, this was then mounted on black cardstock before placing on a white card blank. The inside is simply a piece of black cardstock mounted on satin gold cardstock before the card blank.

Whilst I was working on this - particularly the fussy cutting - I was reminded of Brenda's 5th Blogaversary celebration with her challenge to make a project using a favourite tool. My very favourite tool is a pair of scissors, specifically the EK Success Cutter Bee Scissors. I tried many scissors before I found a pair that was both sharp & fine enough to cut intricate detail in awkward places. In fact I really want to get a second pair to have as a spare, but they are not easy to find in the UK. If I were to be allowed an additional item it would be my embossing tool(s), particularly the fine one which I use to smooth down the cut edges. I enable my embossing tools to run smoothly along any edges by dipping them in Perga Soft. 

Congratulations Brenda & thank you for setting such a thought-provoking challenge - I really had to think about the one item that I am not without & that accompanies me wherever I go. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Art Journal - Adding Acrylic Colour

As I mentioned in my previous post I have never used acrylics before & working with them has proved very very different to the pencils, inks & watercolours that I am more familiar with. The most difficult aspect for me has been the quick drying & permanent nature of the acrylics medium - once it's down & dry there is absolutely no shifting it!!
acrylics colour chart

I had no idea how matte medium, the pen work & my specific acrylic colours would react to one another on the substrate I was using so I made a colour chart incorporating the different aspects before I even started painting. I knew that some colours were more opaque than others but didnt know how visible my my pen work would be so I included a column to show that as well. The columns are as follows:
  • 1st - one coat acrylic; 
  • 2nd - one coat matte medium followed by one coat acrylic;
  • 3rd - pen work coated by matte medium & then one coat acrylic;
  • 4th - two coats acrylic.

I decided that with the colours I have it would be best to stick to an analogous colour scheme running from the reds through to the greens. However, much of my painting was a matter of trial & error &  I ended up applying many coats of colour in places - either to darken or to obscure a colour. When I had finished my layers of green for example, despite my adding yellow to the blue-green, it just didn't look right. 
outside of journal with green leaves

There was nothing for it but to try adding layers of brown - finally it looked OK. At that stage  I decided  I would have to define my pen work by going over it all (except for the quote) again. I'm actually rather thrilled with the result. I have a few patchy areas where I'd applied insufficient matte medium or the acrylic pooled & dried but now I know to be mindful such things in the future. My attitude to this whole project was that it had to be a learning experience not a work of perfection.  
outside of journal, after applying brown layers & redefining pen work
flap closed
flap open
close-up showing part of shaped edge

Although I had a rough idea of the range of colours I was going to use on the inside I found I was again  making decisions as to what to put where as I went along. At one point my husband, seeing the length of time it took me, suggested I think of the monks who in times gone by would sit for hours creating illuminated books.
inside with flap open 
carpet page
close-up showing detail of carpet page centre

For those interested this is the text that I used

And then, from the way it is built it does not stare with newness; it is not new in any way that is disquieting to the eye; it is neither raw nor callow. On the contrary, it almost gives the impression of a comfortable maturity of something like a couple of hundred years….. But it is designed and built in the thorough and honest spirit of the good work of old days, and the body of it, so fashioned and reared, has, as it were, taken to itself the soul of a more ancient dwelling-place. The house is not in any way a copy of any old building, though it embodies the general characteristics of the older structures of its own district….. the whole house, has that quality – the most valuable to my thinking that a house or any part of it can possess - of conducing to repose and serenity of mind. In some mysterious way it is imbued with an expression of cheerful, kindly welcome, of restfulness to mind and body, of abounding satisfaction to eye and brain…..  
 Gertrude Jekyll writing of the house she commissioned Edwin Lutyens to build for her.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Art Journalling & Acrylics Work in Progress

Many months ago (June last year) I enrolled in a Mini Online Workshop run by Valerie Sjodin focussing upon Embellishing Edges & Fitting Text into Shapes; this was a 'taster' for her series of online workshops, the first 3 of which were launched at the end of December 2013. Valerie introduces these on her blog HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE

As I've neither used acrylics nor done any art journalling before I was rather intimidated by the 16 page size of the journal Valerie suggested making. So, I decided to work round that by creating a smaller journal from a sheet of 10 x 7 inch watercolour paper. For copyright reasons I'm not detailing Valerie's techniques or materials information.

fold over format open prior to completing internal pen work
flap closed
flap open
internal pen work
the outside with both flaps extended & lying flat

I was thinking about the kind of home I'm hoping for when we sell our house & was struck by how Gertrude Jekyll writing of the house she commissioned Edwin Lutyens to build for her reflects my own hopes for a Victorian or Edwardian property retaining some of the original period features. So, that formed part of my design together with references to the Celtic & Anglo-Saxon art I find not only delights but provides me with inspiration for drawing (the internal pattern is somewhat in the manner of a carpet page). "THE ART OF CREATION" wording has a double meaning: firstly, my belief that Creation is God's artwork; & secondly that artwork is an act of creation/creating.

Quite frankly I was astonished at what I was able to draw & how it flowed from looking at the centuries old artwork that I find thrills me. I've not thought of myself as an art journaller but this freedom to draw & create with colours using patterns that suggest themselves is something quite new to me.  I'm not a planner - I have to start & then the pen & my mind will start providing suggestions.

In my next post I'll show some of my experimenting with acrylic colours ………….

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year Tangles

Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone.

Favourite Tangles on my PEP tangles blog.