October 30, 2016

Illustration Friday Topic: Stripes

Been a while since I've participated in an Illustration Friday topic, which is a weekly prompt for creating art set out every Friday.

This week's topic was Stripes. I did a quick sketch in my sketch book.  A nice way to spend some time on a Sunday!
Moleskines are my favourite! (This link is an affiliate link- which means if you purchase through that link I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I have linked to the sketchbook I personally use, the size is portable but still with enough space to create.) 

There are a multitude of reasons why I love using Moleskine brand; sounds like a future blog post! :)

This illustration was created using lyra pencil (another growing studio-staple), acrylic paints + medium and collage.

Jules :)

October 28, 2016

Book Review: Care Packages

How many times do I say I love books!?

Today I am sharing with you a lovely book 'Care Packages' by Michelle Makintosh.
Care Packages

At first I thought this book was all about ideas for gift wrapping, but it's more than that. Care Packages first came about during World War I, where various charities and women's groups were set up to make care and comfort packages that were sent out to soldiers. The packages consisted of useful items or things that were considered luxury at the time.

Fast forward a bit and you can imagine that a care package would be a great thing to send to someone today if they're doing it a bit tough, or even thoughtful packages to let someone know you love them, or in times of celebration.

In today's fast-paced world this is a nice sentiment. To stop and think and take a bit of time to create a package for someone perhaps with no more excuse than "just because." And when they look this cute, well...
And I also think you can use the book for great gift wrapping ideas!

Care Packages is available for purchase here.

Jules x

I hope you enjoyed this review. Have a book you think I'd be interested in reviewing? let me know!

October 25, 2016

Painting Sections

I have been working on finishing a few paintings this week.

I often think of paintings as like a complex version of a choose-your-own-adventure. At every second there is a decision to make; make a line (thick, thin, fast, careful, transparent...), paint over an element, select a colour from hundreds of colours... the options and possibilities are endless.

And then sometimes I find myself looking at sections of my paintings and think that they could make new paintings in their own right.

An art friend recently brought up this subject unprompted and told me that artists have done this in the past, selling a reproduction of a section of the original painting alongside its master as it's own proud artwork.

I never knew!

Here are a few visuals of a few sections I caught. No whole artworks here.

I hope you enjoyed zoning in with me.
Jules :)

October 20, 2016


A thought for the day, arising from the Greek word 'meraki'.
I've recently said goodbye to a few original paintings. This word & meaning above is so relevant to how I paint, and how I feel when I'm creating. I think it also extends to when I'm packaging my pieces up to send them off to their new homes too. Here are some ones that have recently flown the nest! 
Lagoon Dreaming
Fox Mosaic
Succulent Painting on plaster panel

A good excuse to paint some more, perhaps?

Jules :)

October 17, 2016

Christmas Count Down with Free Narwhal Ornament Tutorial!

The creative folk over at Paperless Post have informed me it's less than 100 days until Christmas (in fact 68 sleeps at the time of writing this post) and they have prompted me to share here on my blog what I am most excited about for the upcoming festive season.
A crazy wreath from last year :)

I've got to say, I think since having kids (6 & 8), the excitement in their eyes, voices and actions (think jumping up and down and running excitedly about) when it comes to this time of year is infectious and a joy to watch. Their Christmas lists have already been written, and we are starting to ooh & ahh over the glittering decorations appearing in the shops. (Do they come out earlier and earlier every year!?) I can't wait until we can go and see Christmas lights together, even though in Australia it's a bit of a silly tradition considering it's the middle of summer and it's so late before it gets dark! (Don't even get me started on Santa's inappropriate clothing choices for when he visits Oz :-) )

And being the crafty sort that I am, I think it's the decorations, the crafty project possibilities, the beautiful wrapping paper designs, window displays... is what excites me second to seeing my kids so excited about it all! Our tree is always an eclectic mix of decorations acquired over the years, ones that kids have made, tree lights, and yes, even daggy tinsel! I love the cheesy decorations! I love the mismatched look of it all, and not being fussy about how the tree looks, which means we all just get to let loose decorating it together, and it's important to the kids to feel a part of it and use their own creativity when decorating the tree. (I'm glad the kids are old enough now to help with this. I do remember one particular year that involved a certain child of mine trying to eat baubles which resulted in a mess of bauble shards and blood..)

And in the theme of decorations and all things pretty regarding Christmas... I have come up with a free craft/ sewing tutorial for you to make! It's a Narhwal Christmas Ornament for your tree, Yay!
You will need:
1. Stuffing of choice
2. Felt in dark and light grey
3. Fine glitter
4. Polymer Clay (I used Sculpey brand)
5. White Acrylic Paint
6. Scraps of felt/ beads/ buttons/ sequins for decoration
7. Fancy Thread for hanging the narwhal
8. Embroidery floss in your desired colours
You will also need scissors, pins, beading needle, sewing needle, paintbrush & oven for baking the clay.

Instructions (Please read through pattern thoroughly before beginning):

Start by downloading and printing out the PDF pattern template at 100%. Cut out your pattern pieces and lay them on your felt and draw around with a pen, I find a biro works well for this. Mark the two eyes, the hanger position, fin positions, and the centre front of the belly pattern piece. Don't transfer the decoration circle guides onto the felt, you can make this up as you go along later. When you're sewing your pieces up, make sure the side you've drawn the pen on is on the inside of your piece. Cut out your shapes carefully.
Cut a decent length of your hanging thread and sew up from the wrong side and back through the top and tie a knot underneath to secure. Trim the excess.
Sew two beads on for the eyes where you marked previously on the right side of the top body piece. Now get creative and sew all kinds of bits and pieces onto your narwhal. I've used these cute little mini buttons I had in my stash, sequins, beads & felt. You can sew yours how ever you like, get creative here :)
One of the above photos shows a narwhal horn! We are going to make one of those now. Grab a little blob of your polymer clay and roll out into a thin sausage shape. Press it thinner right in the centre as shown and then double it up on itself and gently twist together.
Make your horn about 3.5cm (1 1/4" approx) with a flat knobbly bit at the end. This knobbly bit will hold the horn in place when it's sewn so it can't be pulled out.
Bake your horn according to manufacturers instructions on your packet of clay. Once cool, paint in white acrylic paint, and whilst still wet, roll in the fine glitter and leave to dry. (Your narhwal will not be magical until it has a glittering horn, FYI.)
Once the horn is dry you can take your dark grey piece and fold in half and start to sew up the top of the head. I have just used an overcast stitch. (That's a fancy name for just sewing the two pieces together.)

Once you get near the end of the front of the head, hold the horn in place and stitch around it firmly. That little knobbly piece at the end will hold it in place once sewn.

Now grab your fins and sew a dark piece to a light piece around the two curved edges. Repeat for the other fin making sure you have mirror image fins and not two fins facing the same way.
Continue sewing around your narwhal placing the fins into position as you go, slightly angling them backwards towards the tail fin, and securing them with a pin. Once you have nearly sewn up your shape, fill with stuffing, leaving the tail fin unstuffed, and close the hole with your thread and secure and hide the end.
Tips: I use two strands of embroidery thread for sewing. When the end of a piece of embroidery thread is nearing, I fasten a few times on the inside of the narwhal. Then I thread & knot up a new piece and start sewing from the wrong side so the new knot is positioned on the inside of the shape. As you are sewing around your shape make sure intermittently that the pieces are all matching up and you are not stretching one tighter than the other. 

And most importantly, have fun whilst making your narwhal friend! I would love to see your photos!
Miss 6 called ours "Hawthorn", because it rhymes with 'horn'. :)

I really hope you enjoy the tutorial & that you are starting to get excited about Christmas too! Making this tutorial certainly has me a little bit excited now (but we have some birthdays to get through soon first!)

Jules :)

October 05, 2016

2017 Calendars

It's the time when the 2017 calendars are starting to appear on the shelves. Here are some of my fave picks.
This folk desk calendar from Rifle Paper Co. They can do no wrong.

Excited to see that Geninne Zlatkis (affiliate link*) has a calendar for next year
This calendar by Angie Spurgeon. So cute!
This Emily Sutton calendar. Looks very creative.
Papio Press Rainforest Calendar. Very design-y.

Inaluxe Calendar. Always comes through with the goods.
Quill & Fox Greenhouses Calendar. Sweet and lovely.
Mushroom Medley Jill Bliss Calendar. Crazy creative, I like!

I hope you enjoyed that line up. So hard to choose! I always like to buy a pretty calendar each year and put it in pride of place to have something beautiful and ever changing.

Jules :)

*Affiliate links help me earn small commissions on certain products (at no extra cost to you). Perhaps I can buy some new paintbrushes! You can be confident that I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

October 01, 2016

Living a Creative Life

I get comments all the time about how it's great that I am living a creative life & that my kids will have wonderful memories of all the things we do. Which is nice, so I thank people for that! :)

I do get the feeling that some of these people want more creativity in their lives but can't fit it in, or don't know how to do it. And I think it's a shame if people want to be more creative but feel they can't be because they don't have a specific talent. Or any talent, I hear people say. Gasp! I don't believe that for a second! And anyway, who cares? If you want to do it, do it for the pure enjoyment of it, not because you're going to produce some fantastical product at the end of it.

I'm going to share with you the things I do to live that creative life.
My definition of having a creative life is more than literally sitting down and painting pictures. I think that creativity comes in many forms. I'm pretty much obsessed with living this sort of life, and even though I don't always find the time to make art, I invite creativity into my life via constant creative thoughts, always thinking of creative things to do and inviting them in when the inspiration strikes.

I surround myself with so many inspirations and projects so that I have something creative to think about, work on, or look at, everywhere I turn. I just try to cram lots of it into my life! I have a patchwork rug half-finished on my couch, alongside my rug hooking project; creative books & magazines on my coffee table, and colourful quirky decorations and artwork throughout my house.

In daily life there are chances to be creative, even when I'm busy looking after children or the house and I can't seem to find the time to actually get into my studio and work on my own projects. I do a bit of cooking and I'm always looking for something different to make. (I like that weird healthy food, you know, the recipes where you hide avocado in the cupcake icing?)
Cooking is creating something

I think that even mindful observing can be creative. My artist's goggles are always on. I could be driving down the street and see the sun shining on a beautiful plant with dark storm clouds behind it. I love that colour contrast! I feel like I'm being creative when I'm just mindfully observing beauty. In extension to that, I also feel gardening can be very creative.
Gardening is like 'painting' with plants :)

Sometimes the kids and I make artworks together. Usually if I'm in the studio they get intrigued by what I'm doing and want to join in. There is nothing more freeing than making art with kids. They know how to enjoy it. They don't always get frustrated with trying to produce something that looks fantastic. (I think this starts to creep in with age!)

I love to play around with photography even though I don't consider myself very good at it. It's looking at the world from a different perspective, and seeing the beauty and 'framable' opportunities all around. 
I feel creative when taking photos. I'm always looking for a nice little composition. Or creating one.

I've tried knitting, crocheting, weaving, needlework, stamping, playing guitar & ukulele, cement sculpting, clay work, jewellery making, sewing, mosaicing & I love home decorating. I'm like a hoarder of skills! There's also writing, poetry, art journalling, cake decorating, fancy hair styles, day dreaming, arranging feathers and sticks creatively in the park...

Just keeping my mind and heart open to different ways to be creative keeps me connected to it all. Whatever you tend to, grows.
Ok, so here I'm actually painting :)

Here are some of the ways I add creativity to my life:

Playing in my sketch book.

Reading inspiring/ crafty/ arty/ creative magazines & blogs.

Watching DIY or home decorating shows.

Decorating my home. Rearranging objects.
Shopping to collect supplies. That's a fun part of the creative life!

Dressing creatively. Most of my clothes are colourful.

Making a yummy recipe from scratch and then putting it on fancy plates with some flowers on the table.

Listening to creative podcasts whilst vacuuming. (Don't waste that time!)

Getting onto Pinterest. I could not imagine my life without it! In the past I would have to go to libraries to find pictures and inspiration. Now, thousands of images, and fuel for inspiration is at my fingertips.

Watching youtube tutorials. I can't believe the amount of free tutorials available online. I taught myself to circular knit once, just through online tutorials.

Getting creative with hairstyles, mostly on my kids, my hair is too short and thin!

Watching inspiring movies and listening to music.
Crochet. Or decorate.

And at the end of the day, I also give living a creative life priority. I make time for it, even if it means letting the housework slip a bit. And if it's a very busy day I try to fit in at least one little creative task like taking some photos.

And if it's a really, really busy day, just being surrounded by all my colour and projects and wandering creative thoughts makes me feel like I'm still living that creative life. And I know I'll get around to working on a creative project again soon.

How about you? Do you live the creative life?

Jules :)


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