January 31, 2017

Art Book Review & Road Test: Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough

Today I'm chatting about the art book Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough.

This post contains affiliate links (see bottom of post for explanation).
Art book, creativity, creative book, book review

I have admired Mati Rose McDonough's artwork for a while now. She has this amazing ability to create modern artworks that look like they are directly from the inner child. Like gallery-quality-kids-paintings! And it may look like an easy thing to do, until you try to do it. It is in fact, so hard to do. Personally I think she has perfected it.
Some of Mati Rose's work. Those elephants are just so wonderful.

In Daring Adventures in Paint Mati includes ideas and prompts for creating art, and shares some techniques that she uses.

She talks about ideas for getting inspired, plus where she personally pulls inspiration from. I always love to hear where other artists get their inspiration from.

There's an honest story in there about her own beginnings and feelings as an artist (and I can totally relate). 

She talks about habits and rituals and finding your own style/ voice. All important stuff. Being an artist and creating is not all about the physical act of painting or making, it's a whole jumble of feelings, life experiences and your perspective that make up the unique-you, which all comes together to make the artist that creates. She talks about finding your own unique voice: "Your voice is a mixture of all the sparkliness and grit that tells your story." I love that. 

I also love the bright colour and the beautiful photography in the book.

I think you would gain something from this book if you like the style of Mati's work, and are interested in learning about some of her techniques and how she creates her paintings.


So, here's the road test! The book goes through creating a piece of artwork, and you see how she completes each stage until the painting is finished at the end of the book. There are also other paintings in there with different techniques explained.

I chose to create my background with a few techniques Mati describes, including covering the background with some paint applications with a couple of Mati's techniques, and I also chose to do some collage with decorative paper. 
collage, mixed media, art, painting, work in progress, acrylic paints, modern
Paint, collage, then more paint

I then chose to invite collaboration (another prompt in the book). Luckily I have two little artists living in my house! "Miss 6!... I need you to draw a tiger!" We both have a thing for tigers lately.
Kid creating art, drawing, painting
In she came and sat down and boldly drew a tiger. I've said it before and I'll say it again; we need to learn from kids' fearlessness when it comes to creating art. She had no issues about taking the pencil and just drawing top & centre over my art!

I then continued with some collage and added a few more elements here and there. In the book it describes placing other elements over the top of your prepared background so I used some of the ideas in the book plus a little artistic license.

I like the previous collage element and how you can still see a glimpse of the patterned paper above the tigers head.
painting process, art, collage, mixed media, colourful art
And then the finished painting. 
A mixed media collage artwork, modern, colorful painting
kids art, drawing, modern art, art, painting, mixed media, kids drawing
Close up detail of Miss 6's tiger

I had fun with Daring Adventures in Paint and I'm sure this book will be out on my coffee table often for random perusing.

I hope you enjoyed this review & road test. Do you own or would love to own Mati's book? Or love her artwork as I do?

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

January 24, 2017

Craft Tutorial: Decorative Mosaic Heart Wall Hanging

Yay, a new DIY craft project! I was super happy with how this idea came out and hope you love it too!
Materials you'll need:

-Air dry clay
-A variety of beads including seed beads, and other decorative items to mosaic; you could use buttons, tiles, gemstones... see what your stash holds or your local craft store
-Acrylic Paint 
-Decorative Papers with small designs
-Gloss sealer/ medium (only if you're not using Mod Podge)
-Tacky Craft Glue; I use a non toxic glue called "super-tac glue". It's similar to PVA but dries a bit faster holding bigger objects like for this tutorial
-Embroidery thread in your chosen colours
-Mod Podge (Optional)

Other useful items: cutting mat, fine/ embroidery scissors, needle & thread, clay tools, scalpel or similar
Note: You make your "love" tile from a printed image so it looks a little different than the tile in the above photo. But still awesome!


Download the template here and print out at a high quality at 100% size. Cut the heart template out. Take some air dry clay and roll out to approx 5mm thickness (3/16") on your cutting mat. Place your heart template onto the clay and cut around. Smooth edges with a clay tool or your fingers. Poke a hole for hanging in the top and bottom of the heart shape with a pointy clay tool. 
Next, we are going to make some of the mosaic "tiles" with your decorative papers.
Roll out some more clay to around 4mm (3/16") thickness. Cut out little squares/ rectangles/ triangles/ odd shapes the sizes you would like your tiles. Make around half a dozen for one heart. Make a longer piece 4.5cm x 1.5cm (1 13/16 x 9/16") that you will glue the "love" type image onto. Smooth the edges and make sure they are flat. Leave the heart shape and the tiles for around 24 hours or until dry.

Now make up the tiles:

Cut out little pieces of paper slightly larger than the shapes and paste the back with Mod Podge or PVA- type glue. Press onto the shapes firmly and leave for a minute or so. Trim around the edges with some fine scissors. Paint the fronts of your "tiles" with the mod podge or gloss sealer, and paint the edges with coloured acrylic paint. Make the 'love' tile in the same way.
Take some acrylic paints and paint the heart all over, front and back. I used some bright green with touches of yellow and turquoise on this one.
I also made some polymer mosaic shapes for my heart, but you can use the paper tiles and other decorative pieces for your heart. Note: I am creating a tutorial on how to make the polymer clay tiles that will be available in the near future.
Testing out some pieces on a heart (this one features a polymer clay love tile); looking good!

We are going to put a rim of tacky glue around one side of the heart, string some beads onto some thread and start gluing them down. I chose beads that would fit onto a normal sewing needle. Keep stringing beads and gluing them down until you frame the whole outside of the heart.
Now, cover the whole inside of the heart with your tacky glue, and place your mosaic components on to your liking, leaving gaps between the decorative elements.
Once you have all the larger pieces in place, sprinkle seed beads into all the left over gaps. Careful when you are gluing and placing your pieces not to cover the two holes in the heart. Once the glue has dried sufficiently you can shake off the excess seed beads.
Thread some embroidery thread onto a needle and sew a tassel and some beads onto the bottom of the heart. I looped through the heart a few times as I liked the look of thicker cotton at the bottom. 
I looped and tied some silver thread for the top hanger, then sewed that on after I had sewed into the top of the heart and threaded some beads on.
You are done! Hang & enjoy!
I made a range of the hanging hearts that are now available in my Etsy shop. So if you'd love one made by me, head on over there to check them all out.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and please let me know if you try it out, I'd love to see your creation!

Jules :)

January 23, 2017

Book Illustration Inspiration From The Past

This post may contain affiliate links (see bottom of post for explanation).

Hello! I'm going to chat today about the inspiration that lead me to where I am today: immersed in a creative world of art and illustration.

My Nan (rest in peace) always said I'd be an illustrator. Ever since I was young she would tell people that. Even before I knew that's what I would do.

At one stage in our lives she ended up in a TAC centre (a place for road accident victims to recover) after a pretty horrible car accident. I used to visit her in my old Gemini car (that had handmade bear seat covers complete with faces and ears on the top) and hang out and draw pictures for her walls. I always drew pictures for her.
copied May Gibbs illustration by my younger self

The iconic Australian illustrator May Gibbs was one of my first illustration loves. Gumnut baby after gumnut baby I drew. I especially loved when Snugglepot & Cuddlepie ventured underwater and met Little Obelia. I remember clearly drawing Little Obelia and shading those pearls with my cherished set of 72 derwent pencils. I think if I ever got a tattoo, it would probably be a homage to May Gibbs. Probably Little Obelia!
Holly Hobbie was another fond memory. My Mum painted pictures of her and I got my hands on my Mum's imagery, I don't know if it was books or her own paintings, but I remember copying the Holly Hobbie images. I was fascinated with the detail in them.
Me and my Primary School bestie at Dromkeen

In primary school we took an excursion to Dromkeen which is a place that exhibits and houses picture book art. I distinctly remember the end of the tour where we were taken to an area that held crisp new books and I had some money so that I could buy one. I remember holding a ten dollar note in my hands. My childhood was not filled with extravagant amounts of toys and possessions, so I really valued this chance to buy a book. I remember a stack of The BFG books and that was the book I chose. This also spurred a love of Quentin Blake's illustrations. His seemingly haphazard line work is quite intentional and brings out the emotion and movement of characters. He captures personality with the free flowing lines, and lessons of studying this flow seeped in to my psyche and became part of my understanding about how shape and line can come together to form natural expression.
Quentin Blake's illustrations are full of flow, life and fun

I read The BFG book many times, to the point of it literally falling apart. We have a new copy that I am currently reading this book to my girls, but the old one is still a treasured possession. 

I also loved Dr Suess illustrations for their flowing spilling wavy look. It looks as though some of the drawings have been squeezed out of a tube, know what I mean!?

And I'm sure Golden Books were are part of many people's childhood. I had a few favourites in there, but as an adult I can't go much past the texture and detail of Richard Scarry's illustrations. I love the paint work which looks like he uses dry brushing that gives the illustrations a textural look. 

Ah, such memories. And I am grateful to all these amazing people that have inspired me along my journey. I'm sure there's more that I haven't thought of! I'll have to update this post if I do. I'd love to hear your favourites!

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

January 16, 2017

Small Hand Made Gift Cards- An Etsy Order Bonus

Hello :)

Just finished a bunch of little handmade gift cards that go into my Etsy shop orders over $20. They are painted with acrylic wash (so it looks like watercolour), block printed and paired with a cute little envelope with patterned paper inside. Oh, and glitter!
I sprinkled glitter onto the still wet ink.
The hand carved stamp they are made from.
I have beads on my desk from another project I'm working on :)

My studio may have been taken over whilst in the process of making these by two little munchkins. They are always so intrigued and wanting to join in with what I'm doing, as you can probably well imagine!

Jules :)


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