What’s with the French and 1 April, the day when school children go around pasting paper fish on the backs of the unsuspecting and yell “Poisson d’avril !”. No one knows for sure but there are plenty of adorable, probably not-entirely true theories behind the tradition.
One comes from the fact that back in the day the new year began around the first of April. That changed in 1564 when King Charles IX took France into the modern world by adopting the Gregorian calendar and a new year beginning with January. This caused understandable confusion and frustration. (Think about it. As it is, Daylight Savings Time throws me off for weeks. Imagine shifting a whole season.) The response was to jokingly continue to celebrate the beginning of the new year on 1 April with gag gifts of fake fish.
Okay, but why fish? It may have been connected to Lent which often fell about this time of year. Meat was forbidden and fish was a big treat, ergo giving someone a fake fish was hilarious. (Don’t ask me, I don’t understand pranks at the best of times.) It is more likely to be linked to the fact that fishing [read more]
One of the questions I am asked the most often is where do I get my bird images. Well, I do actively search them out and then some just find me but yes, I have a lot of birds. So here are a few to share and add to your collage, art journals, altered books, or other mixed media work. To use these, click on an image for a larger resolution, then right click and copy. You can then add it to an editing program such as Paint. (I use Word. Even though it is not a visual platform per se, I am used to it.) You may want to resize these, make them larger or smaller. Happy Making!
Recently I made an altered book layout using mix-and-match, contrasting backgrounds for a sort of torn wallpaper look. (The video is below.) You can use the techniques shown – rough tearing papers and layering them – using any papers that you have such as sheet music, varied text, junk mail, magazine pages, and almost anything in between.
But if anyone would like to have these images, which are from Goldsmith’s Animated Nature, the 1876 edition, either for a similar background or any other project, I have added these high-res scans for you to use. Simply click on any image to get a larger version, then right click and copy the image into an editing program such as Paint. (I use Word. While it is not traditionally used for photo editing, it works for me and I am used to it.) Please note, you may want to resize this and make the page and images smaller. [read more]
I love to travel and I love to keep journals, so whether it is Paris or Mississippi, Italy or North Carolina, I always keep an illustrated travel diary. Well, none of us are going anywhere for awhile but we can still use this time to explore other places and work in our sketchbook travel diaries, which is why I am delighted that Sketching Spain has asked to me to help get out the word about their virtual travel adventure art courses.
Normally, Sketching Spain hosts in-person tours but there’s nothing normal about now so they came up with two online courses to fuel your imagination and wanderlust as well as really up your travel and journal game. Your instructors are Danny, who introduces you to the culture, food, wine, and history of Barcelona while Judith shows a wide variety of techniques for filling your art journal even if you are an absolute beginner.
They also offer All About Vino, a crash course on Spanish wines and art classes that guide you in creating a hybrid illustrated travel/wine sketchbook.
To find out more, click on this link to go to Sketching Spain: Barcelona. Or [read more]
The Girl’s Own Paper was a periodical published in Britain from 1880 until 1956. I really enjoy the older versions for their plates and engravings that I use a lot in my altered books and art journals. They also have some writing that is as ridiculous as it is humourless: sanctimonious advice to young women about the quality of the verses, suggestions for becoming lace menders or lady’s maids, and serialised stories that were meant to be uplifting but today seem terrifying in their narrow expectation for the female half of the species.
Here are a few plates for you. Click on any image for a larger version then right click, copy, and put into an editing program. Paint is a good one although I also use Word (because I am used to it). Below is a video flipthrough of some of the prettier (and cheesier) selections from the book. Let me know if you have any questions and please get back to me and let me know what you [read more]
Below are some scans of vintage British wildflowers from The Concise British Flora In Colour by W.Keble Martin. I use the originals pages of these all the time in my altered books, art journals, and other collage and paper-based mixed media projects, and now you can, too. Just click on any of the images below for a larger version then right-click and copy it into your editing program of choice: I use Paint but Word is also handy.
While they are endless ways to use pages as beautiful as these, but if you are looking for further inspiration or just need some book-arts-eye-candy to get you warmed up, here is a video sharing some of my go-to methods, including:
- Printing on tracing paper
- Making borders
- Anchoring pages
- As collage elements
I would love to hear how your ideas and how you are going to use these, so please keep in touch or let me know if you have any questions. (If the darn comments aren’t working, send me an [read more]
One of my favourite times of the year is autumn and one of my favourite ways to hold onto the beauty and mystery that the season holds is to make ecoprints, steaming leaves I have foraged on my hikes into paper that I then make into cards, framed prints, or book covers. Dying with plants is an inexact science but I have been doing this one for years and here’s hoping that some of these pointers will steer you in the right direction with your attempts. So here is video that is short but will hopefully give a visual of some of the more hard to visualise parts about making your own ecoprints.
If you (like me) enjoy a tutorial that is printed as well as the video, here is a post to get you started:
Ecoprinting with Autumn Leaves
To see an older video that also has lots of fun details, here you [read more]
I sell quite a bit of vintage paper from my studio, from letterpress text to handwritten letters to just plain old antique book pages. Sometimes the happy new owner of these pages is off and running with using it her work but other times I get emails saying that it is beautiful but what do I do next? Can I really use it in my pages?
The answer is, you bet. Let me show you some of the ways you can incorporate old papers into your work. As usual, I am going to show most of these methods using my altered book but remember, you can do the same in your art journals, junk journals, collage, or any other mixed media project.
- Full page coverage. Using handwritten documents or letters is one of my favourite go-to ways to start a layout. It is fun and atmospheric and allows your focal points to shine, all at the same time.
- A variation on the full page cover is to mix and match it with the original underpage. I like to rough tear a letter in an irregular way and then glue it to the base so that you can see some layer. [read more]
This video is the first in a series on keeping a stay at home travel journal because just because we are not traveling these days doesn’t mean that we can’t keep a creative, cool record of our days, especially these crazy days. I want to start by talking about supplies, the tools that I carry with me to work on my illustrated journals, on the road and at home.
When I first discovered illustrated journal keeping I was told that the first, number one rule was – never go anywhere without your portable art kit on you. If you do this, if you are ready to work at any time. I am rarely without my supplies which means I can make pages in coffee shops, dr’s offices, parks, wherever I find myself. So let me introduce you to my portable art studio.
- Waterbrushes (I use Pentel)
- Variety of fineliner pens
- White gel pen
- Bamboo dip pen
- Scissors (mine are Cutter Bee)
- Pencil sharpener
- Portable watercolour kit
- Bag with pockets
Here are the links to some of the items I rely on. Note, I am not paid by any of these companies.
LIHIT Lab bags
Gallo Watercolour kit
Derwent Inktense Sticks
Please join me for lots of layers, paper scraps, water soluble techniques, blending, smudging, colour, and some tips on composition as we go through the process of creating an art journal page.
My art journal is where I can do anything I want. I don’t have to ask if it will sell or even express my Greatest Creative Vision. It is just for the heck of it and it is a great joy to just play around with bits of whatever. And stuff. Today I am going to explain some of the whys and ways I choose what goes on a page and what comes after that.
While almost everything on this page is from the scrap pile, I do use Derwent Chunky Graphite Sticks to pull it together at the end. (I use these A LOT.) You can find them here:
I also use a Caran d’Ache Technalo watersoluble graphite pencil. See them here:
Please subscribe to my online newsletter (on any blog page here) to receive a twice monthly missive with free tutorials, downloads, pep talks, and other whatnot in your inbox. Feel free to leave me a comment or let me know if you have any questions I [read more]