December 31, 2016

Let's Bring on The New Year!

2017: Bring it on!
I'm going to work, work, work!

Things I am aiming to improve or work on:

-Be more organised. I am planning out ALL of my projects for 2017 with a set schedule. I am currently searching for a big yearly wall planner that doesn't look all office- like. If someone knows of one, please let me know!

-Finish some damn art and projects! I have a lot of those pieces that are in-between the excitement stage of starting or finishing a painting. For me, it's hard to keep going because I get a new shiny bright idea and want to move onto the next thing. I need to stay focussed! And when a piece is half finished it doesn't look much good. Because it's not finished! I have to remind myself that that is the reason why, and not because it's a failed piece. Over this  break I have picked a few old pieces up and finished them. My studio is smelling of varnish :) We also finished a couple of mosaic projects that I started ages ago with the kids.
-Stress less. I am a big stresser! I need to chill out and go with the flow more. I think being more organised and structured with my work will help, as I will not have to worry about how much I can get done. I need to enjoy my work more and realise I can only get done what I can get done in a day. And take breaks. Breaks are the best refreshers.

-I would like to say I will stick to a regular sketch book session and get back into exercise (I did start yoga again at the end of 2016), but whoa, one thing at a time! We'll see! (This year we have finally talked the Mr. Man into getting a pooch that will need to be walked.)

-My areas of focus this year are: improving my illustration skills through a MATS course that I'm currently taking (blog post coming soon), stick with creative blogging & tutorials, creating ranges of jewellery, and create lots and lots of art.
Creating some pendants for jewellery

-I'd also like to spend less time on social media (using that time to make art instead). I would still like to post as much as I do on Instagram and Facebook, but I check too frequently and then fall down the rabbit hole of scrolling through posts and then before I know it a half hour has passed. So, less frequent checking.
A pile of artwork on my desk.. some need finishing!

-I'm going to be cleaner! I don't really like cleaning but have realised a cleaner house and studio means my head is clearer to focus on creating art. I feel frustrated if I have house-y tasks hanging over my head.

I think these are attainable goals for the new year. I'm not a big fan of resolutions but for now I'm feeling the excitement of beginning a new year and am going to use that excitement to make some changes that I'm motivated to make.

I'll let you know how I go!!

Here's hoping 2017 is the best yet and you're motivated & excited too.

And apologies for the overuse of exclamation marks in this post!!

Jules :)

December 22, 2016

Merry Christmas!

As we lead up to the silly season we wish everyone happy and safe holidays from all of us here in the Madden household!
How many decorations can you add to a reindeer!?
Christmas in Australia is more about sunscreen than snow!

I sincerely thank everyone who has visited me here on my craft/ art blog, and my loyal followers who are always cheering me on.

I look forward to sharing more art, crafts, and creativity in the new year. 

Merry Christmas!

Jules :)

December 19, 2016

Christmas Present Wrapping Inspiration

If you're a little like me, you've probably left wrapping presents until the last minute! I asked a couple of arty friends for photos, plus gathered some extra inspiration online. 
I think what works is a combination of pretty papers, ribbons/ ties, nice gift tags and some extra decorations. Handmade tags and papers always get a big extra tick from me!
Add some sparkles with glitter or sequins.
I love the eclectic look of this bowerbird style of wrapping by Deb Dorgan
Colourful little gifts with paper designed by Leah Bartholomew
I love the bauble- adding idea by Tijana and the hand painted cards.
Local artist Helen Timbury uses her excess printed papers as wrapping. I love this eco idea and the colour.
Don't lick this paper... even though it looks good enough to eat. Via Laura Blythman
Simple but effective. I like the pine fronds touch. Found at Rachel Pearce
Can you go wrong with a dala horse? Via Veronika Marshall

I hope you enjoyed that line up.

And I hope your Christmas tasks are running to schedule! This week we will be making some gingerbread, a few other dishes for Christmas day, and I will be slowing down with my work and enjoying ourselves a bit. 

Hopefully the ideas have inspired you a little if you feel like getting a bit creative wrapping those last minute pressies.

Jules :)

December 15, 2016

Some Photos From Our Backyard

The other evening it was lovely and warm so we thought we'd hang around in the backyard and I took some photos. We went inside when the mozzies started coming out. (They love me and Miss 8.)
Apparently my mosaic doggy was thirsty and needed a drink :)
A pond and water feature that the Mr created. Habitat, for frogs!
This froglet was tiny!
The backyard is pretty much the Mr's project and he has planted Australian natives throughout. We get all kinds of wildlife including parrots. We get rosellas, king parrots and the awesome and prehistoric sounding black cockatoos. One day I might be able to get a photo of these birds!

My favourite angle of the house & future fire pit area.
I love the fluffy looking Acacia Cog plants.
This is the area of garden that I take over and I've put in some non- native plants. This is the kids area. It has their cubby house which you can see in more detail in this blog post.
As the sun was setting it really brought out the colour of these magnificent Kangaroo Paw flowers. They really grow like crazy in Gippsland. They are taller than me.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some photos of around our backyard. Rest assured it's not all pretty! We are on an acre and are in the process of tackling some majorly big weeds!

Jules :)

December 09, 2016

How Kids Art Has Inspired Me

In the past I used to do very tight illustrations- most of my colours were in the lines, things tended to be outlined and I went through a lot of tiny little brushes.
Kids Art
Of course, over the years my art and illustration style has evolved, but I think creating art with kids and watching my kids creating art has definitely influenced my style.
Kids Art: big sweeping lines- no fear here.
More kids art: you can feel there's no delicate work here, just bold pasting of shapes and mark making, especially that big swirl up the side.

When Miss 8 was just a bub and starting to pick up some crayons and make marks on paper, I joined her. What liberation! I still remember this very first time we did this together, and I discovered a freedom of creating I had lost a very long time ago!
A Painting by Miss 6

It was so much fun! We scribbled and made a big mess! We splodged together and splattered together.  Don't get me started on how fun play dough is!

I enjoyed it so much I started to bring more of a loose style and painterly strokes into my artworks.
More bold mark-making - From Miss 8 last year

I still try to be conscious of the fact that sometimes due to my illustration background I tend to get too rigid; stuck in a small place within the painting with my concentration mode set to high. I have to consciously break away from that and spiral outwards. Shake off the feelings of seriousness and remember to loosen up and bring that playful element back into the act of creating art.

Watching kids create is wonderful. Their unexpected lines and mark making can never be predicted and always surprises me. You almost get a glimpse into the way they perceive their world.
Some amazing line work -5 years

I feel a tinge of sadness when kids get a bit older and they feel frustration and disappointment with their work because they're trying to create something that looks good. When it doesn't turn out the way they want they criticise themselves and feel that they "can't do art". I'd love to delve a bit deeper into that topic in a future post.
Their influence is evident in this section of one of my paintings.

So I have my kids to thank for the evolution of my art and where it is today. I have learned so much from just watching them create, and I expect many more years of learning from these wonderful teachers yet.

Jules :)

December 05, 2016

DIY Christmas Craft: Paper Mache Lady Ornament


I'm back with another free Christmas DIY craft tutorial for you all. We are getting so Christmas-y around here!
 Gather your supplies:

-Plain Paper
-Scrapbook or Decorative Papers
-Acrylic Paints & Water Based Gloss Sealer
-PVA Glue
-Craft Glue
-Fancy Wool & Threads
-Decorative Trim
-Mini Pom Poms (I cut mine off those pom pom strands you can buy)


-Paint brushes
-Greylead Pencil
-Large Wool Needle
-Drill with 3.5mm (.1378") drill bit
Download and print out your template at 100%. Download the template here. Cut out the template and trace around the cardboard. Cut it out then paper mache the first layer, front and back, with torn pieces of newspaper using PVA diluted with a little bit of water. Do a second layer of paper mache with white paper, so you can see what you've already done. Let dry.
Take your decorative papers and cut a dress a little larger than the body shape. Round the neckline with scissors and glue it on using PVA. I always paint PVA onto the back of the paper and then press the paper onto the shape. If you paint the PVA onto the body first, your paper is likely to wrinkle.) Cut a curved smaller piece of paper for the bottom of the dress and glue in place. Apply some firm pressure to the papers to help them stick in place. Let dry.

Once dry, turn your piece over and trim the excess paper away using your scalpel.
Next, transfer your arm shapes onto your lady using your template. (Rub grey lead pencil over the back of the template, then place directly onto the lady and trace over the lines which will transfer the drawing.) Paint the arms white at first. Then once dry, paint the arms and the head skin colour. I used white with a smidge of yellow and red added. 
Once this is dry, you can transfer the facial features and hairline to the shape using the same method as when you transferred the arms. Carefully paint in the features using a midtone colour, then use a darker colour, such as black, and a tiny paintbrush to paint the eyes, nose and mouth, and the lines in the hair. Dilute a bit of this darker paint with water and paint around the arms a little to make them stand out. 

Paint the sides & back of the ornament with your choice of colour, and then once that's dry seal your piece front & back with a water based sealer.
Take your drill and drill holes in the top of the ornament, and along the dots at the bottom using your template as a guide. You may need to clean up some of the holes a bit with your scalpel. Cut your fancy wool or threads into 6 1/2" (16cm) lengths. You'll need 3-4 lengths per hole, depending on how thick your threads are. Double over a selection of  3-4 threads and poke the folded bits through from the front to the back and hook the ends into the loop and pull tight. In one of the photos above I used a piece of cotton threaded onto a wool needle to get through the hole and then used that thread to pull the lengths through. Fill all the holes with threads and then trim to 2" (5cm).
Lastly, Pull a doubled over and knotted length of thread through the top hole for the hanger, and glue your two pom pom buns onto the sides of the head using craft glue. Glue your fancy trim onto the neckline and the bottom of the dress... and you're done!
I hope you enjoyed that tutorial. Let me know if you make one! She looks quite happy on our tree :)

Jules x

December 01, 2016

Craft Collaboration Announcement

I have an announcement to make :)

Over the next few months I am creating some DIY craft tutorials for Alisa Burke's blog. You can find my first one, a Christmas Owl Ornament here.
Here's an ornament with one of my cards.

I am working on more tutorials, which is why I said in my previous post that my studio had been turned into a shrine of glitter and pom poms! And all that pretty crafty stuff that you always want to buy and then it just sits there on the shelf making you feel like the biggest craft supply hoarder ever. But now I'm actually using the hoarded supplies!
I have found that I really enjoy making up tutorials, and dreaming up original ideas for them. I have a few more planned out and I keep scribbling ideas down on scraps of paper all over the house and then consequently loosing those pieces of paper ;)

So that's my announcement. I'm pretty excited to be featured on Alisa's blog as I've been a reader for a while now and am in awe of her productivity, energy & talent.

Jules x


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