Sunday 12 March 2017

Welcome home

Its been a long time, old friend, I hadn't forgotten you completely and I wondered how we could make up and start again on our friendship.  Oh I haven't got anything to say, I'm not really making anything to share, I haven't been well .... excuses all of them, apart from I needed a break to deal with some stuff and sort my head a bit.

But in the end its just a case of opening up the page, flexing your fingers and start typing isn't it?.

But what to type?

Well I've had thoughts and ideas and I have been making, but what I do know is, that I wanted to change the blog slightly into a writing one that ruminates on stuff as well as show cases stuff that I'm making on (I like the word stuff, its so useful for when your brain can't quite drag out the word you really want and most people get "stuff". they have stuff, we all have stuff, its a good word stuff). I like writing, so the blog seemed a good place to practice that writing

So this weekend has been (and still is) my birthday weekend, It isn't quite the half century, but lets just say this time in 12 months it will be. Time to take stock.

How did I get to be this age?  Where has the last the 49 years gone?  What on earth have I achieved in those years?  Well I have a good education, I have a good job (even though the commuting kills me), I have a nice house(that desperately needs cleaning and some TLC in the decorating area)  and I've been married for 23 year's this year (on the whole its been good, hasn't been easy, no marriage is and on occasions its been at the big crossroads point of the Clash song) . I don't have kids (one of the biggest failings in  my life) but I do have a cat.

But all those are external things that visually demonstrate who we are.  Internally, well lets jut say sometime I feel like a swan, elegant on the outside but paddling my legs like hell to keep afloat.  Poor self worth, low self love and depression have been a big part of my life. Its an ongoing battle to gag those little voices and put them back in the black box marked do not open. But sometimes those crafty escapologists get out and have a riot and one hell of a party in my brain.  I wouldn't mind but they leave the mess for me to sort out and it can be draining.

But I'm getting better at sorting it out, I don't sit in a heap surround by the fallout of that good time , despairing on where to start clearing it all up.  I calmly guide them into their box and lock them in, find the bin bags and start putting the rubbish they've left behind in.  As I'm doing it I remind myself that there are lots of people who like, love and care about me, that I'm very good at my job, that I'm clever and very creative, that I'm caring and loving, that I'm funny and thoughtful, that I have a loud raucous dirty laugh and that when I smile my face lights up.

And I think about what makes me happy, the need for quiet (hard when you are married to a massive music fan who has very different tastes to you), being outside in the sunshine, listening to the rain softly coming down,listening to the birds singing and welcoming a new day, seeing things, experiencing things,  whether that be art, nature or new cities to explore, eating good food, being by the sea, train journeys, good coffee, going to the cinema and the theatre, chilling with friends, getting and giving hugs, cooking for friends, watching rugby and shouting at the TV, rest and sleep in fresh bedlinen, sewing, crocheting, getting messy with paper and paint, photography.  

Doing these things starts filling up the happiness batteries, gives me energy, reminds me that I'm a good person and not the useless, worthless, pointless person those escapologists enjoy telling me that I am. I'm getting stronger at shrugging and saying whatever, that's your opinion, not mine and I choose not to listen to you.

But as I said its an ongoing battle, because sometime those batteries are a bit empty and that's when you need those around you who love you, who care for you, who'll put am arm around you and give you a hug (I think hugs should be on the NHS) and say you are alright, you are good, you are loved, I want you in my life because you make my life better, stay with me, connect with me, be with me, you aren't alone.

And I think that understanding comes with age, when you are facing less years on the planet than you have spent, you start to think about the important stuff, the stuff and things (another good word)  that really matter.

So this year I am determined not to "waste" my free time waiting for others, I will have my own life, I will own my life and take responsibility for it.  I will share that life with others that I like and love who want to be with me, but I'm not waiting for you to make it complete.    I will do things and this year so far I've been to the cinema more times than I did the whole of last year! there are more theatre and cinema trips booked, weekends away booked, music festivals booked, art exhibitions to book, rugby to watch, lunch dates booked with friends.

I'm doing things, I'm living, I've not been dragged into the box marked do not open, sitting in the corner curled up head in hands thinking I'm worthless, useless, pointless.

Can't promise all the posts will be this heavy, there will hopefully be funny ones and crafty ones, because hey, all those things rants, humour, creativity make me  the person I am.


Saturday 17 September 2016

Handmade Fair Day one

Gosh, well after months of making stock and a frenzied fortnight putting into frames, designing stand, painting furniture, getting packing staff and admin I've finally made it the Handmade Fair. There nothing like jumping in at the deep end with your first fair / show with a big one like this!

For those of you who follow me on Instagram (jlmyhill) you'll have seen what my stand looks like, simple, understated, muted vintage shabby style with just a hint of soft green in the bunting and the cute little cupboard I distressed.

After setting up in 30 degree heat in a marquee on Thursday, Friday was rain and more rain.  So lots of wellies and waterproofs of all conceivable style! It did finally brighten up late afternoon, typical English weather!

I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone I spoke to yesterday, who said how lovely my artwork was, it's was lovely to see the happy smiles on people's faces as they looked at the pieces on display, seeing all the layers of paper, paint, ink and distressing topped with photographs or my log cabin linen squares with vintage lace, buttons and linen thread.

Once I get home, I'll start adding photos of the unsold pieces here and on my Etsy shop (link on the left), but if you spoke to me at the show and wished you'd made a purchase and didn't and would like to know, drop me an email and let's talk!

Day two, here I come!


Monday 9 May 2016

More Gelli!

So still in that Gelli vibe, I saw that the PaperArtsy challenge was mono printing, obviously meant I had to have another play.

Still enjoying the taking the "plate to the to the surface" I started with a square of paper that had some text paper glued on.  First  a layer of French Roast rolled on and using Taupe I started adding some blocks of colour.

I just kept building up the blocks leaving white space around the edge with Taupe, Cinnamon  and Chalk and a little bit of Pewter. 

The new little mini stencils from Thats Crafty git pergectly on the Gelli Plate, so I used the small circle one to add some layers of shapes on toop of the blocks.

I added some stamping in Coffee Archival from the HotPicks plate 1605, sanded and knocked back a bit with Chalk to soften everything 

And finally added one of my image transfers of a faded decaying tulip. I edged the tulip with a graphite pencil to frame it.

Finished piece, I like the juxtaposition of the squares and grid against the circles.  Plus the pop of burgundy from the tulip draws your eye in to the focal point.

Again this will be for sale in my Etsy shop, framed at £45.00 (plus pnp) or unframed at £25 (plus pnp).

Sunday 8 May 2016

It must be jelly 'cos jam don't ...

So the other week I went to Hope and Elvis (run by the lovely Louise) on the Wellbeck Estate near Workshop.  Oh I love going to workshops at Hope and Elvis, they are havens of peace and tranquillity, full of lovely like minded fun, artistic and creative people. Louise and the artists who run workshops are so generous with providing materials for you to play with, its always fun rummaging through paper bits, fabric bits, lace bits, threads and buttons ....

 I'm renowned for getting my head down, completely in the zone, only surfacing for the delicious lunch created by Maggie. Intense days but so inspiring.

So the latest workshop was on mono printing with Gelli plates with the gorgeous Letitia known as Mrs Bertimus.  Now I've used Gelli plates before, but always taken the fabric or the paper to the plate.  This time we took the plate to the fabric or paper and used like a stamp. Letitia showed us how to add paint to the Gelli plate, how to square of the paint with a rag, add marks to the paint that would be transferred, using stuff to act as resist on the which ever surface you were using and much more.

So I worked on some fabric and a strip of lining paper that I'd glued various bits of paper ephemera on (still haven't quite worked out how I want to use this) .  I decided on a colour palette (greys, browns and white and a touch of olive green) ) and got stuck in creating a master board of colour in a 50's Festival of Britain style.

I didn't really do a lot of mark making preferring to use the small 5x3" Gelli plate as a print block (using a small roller to spread the paint on the block) and randomly placing and overlaying colour to create depth. I also used some stencils with the Gelli plate (stencil on plate and rolling paint over, removing stencil and printing) to get more layers.

Once I was happy with it (always a hard call, when do you stop?) I had to have a think what to do with it.  Very early on in the morning I'd drawn a flower shape on some paper as a potential stamp, so decided to use some kids craft foam to make a stamp.  Collaged some paper and fabric bits on the lower half stamped, my flower, waited for it to all dry and bit and then added some free motion embroidery to emphasise the flower and added the stalk.

By this time I was mentally knackered and as I had a 2 hour drive home , decided to call it a day.

The next day (I'd sensibly booked the day off)  I added some more hand stitching and buttons to complete the picture.

I really love this way of using the Gelli plate to create subtle layers of colour and I learnt how to do free motion embroidery, so it was a win win day all round!

So this picture is for sale in my Etsy shop (theshabbydandelion)  £45.00 plus pnp.


Sunday 1 May 2016

That inner critic has been mighty loud recently.

I think all artists suffer from "I'm no good, all my art is rubbish, I'm not creative, it isn't good enough" Sometimes you can tell that inner critic to "go away" and sometime you listen to it and say "you're right, I am rubbish, I'll just hide in this corner and never create anything again".

Inner critic smirks and ticks you off the to do list of "must make people feel rubbish about themselves".

Well inner critic I'm coming out of the corner and you can go take a running jump as they say.

I have been steadily (actually you might say manically) collecting old vintage fabrics especially linen, cotton and lace. I'm quite happy sitting there with my seam ripper taking the lace off old tablecloths, placements and antimacassars, smoothing it out and rolling it up gently and placing in my wicker basket (the image wouldn't look out of place in Simple Things magazine). 

And every time I buy some more, my husband looks at me (in that way all long suffering craft spouses do) and says "are you going to use it?"

Well husband I have!

As Maria would say, just a few of my favourite things:  distressed paper, paint (PaperArtsy), stamping (PaperArtsy), ink, lace, linen, muslin, photographs and stitches. 

So the finished piece is 30x21 cm in a wooden frame and its for sale, £45.00 plus post and packing.  Email me if you are interested. 


Monday 21 March 2016

Don't knock it until you see it.

This weekend we were in Paris to watch the rugby (we won, it was cold). But we had a few hours to kill on the Sunday before our Eurostar home.  I had suggested visiting a flea market to browse for some treasures but we overslept after the very late night on Saturday, so plan B was needed.  

After browsing the trusty Internet (search phrase: what to do in Paris in three hours) came up with Musee de l'Orangerie.

Oh boy what a gem, no long queues like the Louvre, not a lot of people, so you didn't fell crammed in shuffling past the art as if you were on a conveyor belt.

Now I thought I wasn't a fan of Monet, too populist, everyone said how much they loved the Impressionists (I know art snob) and when I last saw the Water Lillies in London I thought yeah, impressive scale but ....

But seeing them in their true home and being able to really see them was just amazing.  Yes the scale and size of the eight hangings are, well,  I just stood there in awe if I'm honest with a little grin on my face.  

And yes you have to look at them from a distance to see everything merge together to create the whole, but what blew me away was when I looked closely and saw the texture, the brush strokes and the build up of layers to create that blurry mass of water.

Seeing real art (as opposed to the stuff I create) in the flesh so to speak can't be beat; postcards, posters, photo's just don't do it justice, its flat and lifeless.  As Monet himself said he wanted people to feel immersed in water and for me being able to get immersed in the art and see (or attempt to see) how the they created their art, the techniques, the composition, the creative process as well as the finished article is why I love looking at and creating art.


Sunday 13 March 2016

She had wings ...

... but sometimes she was scared to use them.

 Since doing the CHSI Stitches I've been having anxiety dreams virtually every night.  The dreams are full on, fast paced, technicolour Hollywood couldn't make up this storyline of jumbled together action and images. They are waking me up (or it could be the cough lingering on my chest and / or he sinuses lingering in my head) and I lay there with a what the  .... was that all about???????

So here is my take on an art doll, she isn't funky or quirky or arty, she hasn't got riot girl striped legs or punky hair who glares at you on the bus with bright red lipstick and Goth girl heavy Kohl make-up .  No, she is a shy shabby style peg doll, who takes the window seat on the bus, takes out her crochet, lays it in her lap and stares out of the window dreaming about what ifs. 

Lots of layers of PaperArtsy paint and paper on the heart, sanding and scratching and flicking to get the distress look.  The wings are a MDF butterfly, crackle glazed, distressed and stamped.

Her dress is a piece of muslin stamped with various PaperArtsy A6 plates, her hair is some thin linen floss and her arms are rusty wire. 

As she gets off the bus at her stop, he swings her basket of crochet, gives a tiny skip and a flap of her wings and although its a bit scary not walking on the ground, she smiles to herself as it feels good and exciting to take that step and try out the what ifs.