May 30, 2017

Out & About: Too Many Words Local Art Sculpture

A small group of local artists working under the name Too Many Words created a sculpture out of old books in a local park recently. We didn't see the artists creating it, which they did during our busy local farmers market as a performance art piece in strange anonymous green suits, though we were happy the sculpture was left in the park for a week or so so we had a chance to explore it.

Approaching the sculpture

All of the books used were deemed unsaleable or unwanted and collected from the local library and an op shop. It's interesting, as I'm sure one persons opinion of unsaleable might differ from the next persons. 

The sculpture was intended to make us think about consumerism, and what happens to our stuff when it's no longer wanted.

I couldn't help thinking that each and every book used here was written by someone and at one stage that project (writing a book) would have consumed a lot of their time and creative energy and been something of great importance to them. So really, so much time and history within each building block (book) of the sculpture.

The page corners gently flapped in the breeze as we wondered around it. 

The inside floor of the sculpture was covered in maps.

The girls thought it was a wonderful cubby house and place to play! They were very interested in it and explored the space looking thoroughly at all the details, and reading some of the words.

So many words by Too Many Words...

I love the fact that their are local artists out there creating thought provoking art to enrich our experience and local town. It satisfies me to show this type of thing to my kids and then listen to the thoughts that evolve from that and discuss what we think it means.

You can read more about the idea behind the sculpture & the art performance here and see the artists in their strange green suits.

You can catch the art collective Too Many Words on Facebook too.

Jules :)

May 25, 2017

Sewing Project: Decorative Hand Towels

I've migrated to the sewing room of late. I have sewn these decorated hand towels that were a quick and easy craft project to do.

Any place in my home that I can tweak to be a bit more colourful makes me happier. Just drying my hands on a decorated hand towel makes that everyday action just a little special, I think. And when many of my projects take a long time to complete, having something that is quick and easy to do is always a winner. You can whip up some of these then spend the rest of the day lounging around guilt- free in the knowledge that you have achieved something! That's my philosophy anyway!

home decor, DIY, sewing project, colourful

I bought 4 coloured hand towels and then used fabrics I already had to make a panels for the towels for decoration. I just went through my fabrics and matched up prints I thought looked good against the towel colours. 

You don't need much fabric, so this is a good stash- busting sewing project to make.

I measured the size of the panels I wanted, then added seam allowance all around, then folded the seam allowance under and ironed them flat. My panels were all different widths because I'm a bit lazy and haphazard when it comes to craft projects sometimes! But you can be more precise if you want.

I then pinned them in place and top stitched around them, sewing close to the edges.

Trim your ends and you're done!

Such an easy quick project, and then you have some super cute towels to brighten up your day when you dry your hands. (Would make a pretty cool house warming present for a fellow colour lover too.)

I love this fabric, I actually found it in an op- shop

This photo makes me think I could do this to bath towels too...

Make everyday tasks beautiful ;)

So that's it from my sewing room for now! I hope you like my decorated hand towels sewing project.

Jules :)

May 22, 2017

Creative Life Round Up

This post is one of those bits-n-pieces blog posts. Here's me and my girls before a recent outing :)

Did you know it took about 30 photos to get a decent one!? Kids! They get a camera lens in front of them and they go silly.

My girls made me some flowers for Mother's Day this year.. I'm happy they won't be dying any time soon!

Something I'm working on at the moment (one of the many hundreds of things) is a mixed media painting for the MATS online illustration class I'm taking. (Read about my journey so far here.) The first task was that I had to gather some bits and pieces before I started the artwork. 

As it happens, my eldest is currently doing mixed media art in her art enrichment program at school (a program where kids showing talent get to do extra specialised art classes- she's so excited she got to go!). She had a sick day last week and we did mixed media art together in the studio. I have to be careful not to make sick days too much fun! (The iPad is definitely off limits.)

Her work so far. This is a background she made and she wants to draw and paint a portrait of me over the top. 

Now for some creativity in the kitchen. Last week one of the mornings I was up super early making seed balls (my own recipe), banana bread breakfast muffins, peeling a pomegranate, popping out our homemade fruit juice gummy lollies and picking oranges from the backyard. And incase all that makes you feel guilty, that is definitely not a standard morning. I do try to get up earlier usually to squeeze in an extra hour or so tasks before the kids rise, but many days I keep hitting that snooze button until the very last minute!

These seed balls I made up was from frustration of never having the ingredients for particular bliss ball recipes. This one is totally customisable to what I have in the pantry, and is nut free so school safe. And yummy :) I just have to be careful not to snack on them all day.

I hope you enjoyed that round up. I'll be back soon with more fun stuff for you.

Jules :)

May 18, 2017

The Making of an Illustrated Children's Picture Book: Part 1

Hello :)

I've been a bit quiet overall, in my shop and social media. I have been working on a couple of illustration jobs, and whilst I'd like to say I have been updating my shop and prolifically making art and updating my social media frequently as well, I've had to admit I am not superwoman and am letting go of the expectation to try and squeeze everything in. (But that nagging feeling that I should be able to fit it all in is still there!)

But when I put too much on my plate I freeze and become overwhelmed and have the tendency to procrastinate. So I am taking a break from a few aspects of my business so I can put more of my efforts into some illustration work (and a commission I have too) for a while. But I will keep blogging!

Playing around with style for a new book

One of the illustration jobs I'm working on is a new children's picture book! Yay! And people seem so interested in the process that I thought I would share a bit of it here on the blog.

Here's how it happens (for me).

After receiving the story, I will read it a few times and daydream. I will often make scribbles right on the sides of the manuscript.

I will enter a period of constantly thinking about it, so even whilst I'm doing the dishes, or going to sleep for the night, my mind will be churning and turning over ideas.

I purchase a sketchbook solely for the job, to keep all of my work and sketches and ideas together. Even if I happen to do sketches on loose bits of paper when the urge strikes and I don't have my book with me, I will glue them in later to keep it all organised and in the one place.

My first work comes in the form of research and preliminary character sketches and ideas. They will often go through a period of transformation, due to me changing aspects until I'm happy, or with the publishers/ authors input and suggestions. Sometimes the characters evolve quite a bit through this process. I will do pencil drawings, and usually get out the paints & coloured pencils too to start playing around with final rendering style ideas.

This particular book's characters are mainly clouds, which are tricky and ever-changing evolving forms, that play with light and colour. They are not solid objects that you can predict where the light falls, and their form changes depending on how much water they're holding, or what time of day it is, or how windy it is. So a character that changes all the time... challenging!

Because my work is usually quite conceptual, verging on the abstract and intuitive (not realistic) style, I felt the need to study some clouds. I looked at real clouds, photos of clouds, and illustrations and traditional paintings of clouds. I studied how they block the light, where the light comes through, and their form. I looked at how they have soft fluffy edges, and then sometimes they have sharp edges.

A cloud study. In particular, I want to capture light and luminosity in the illustrations for this children's book

I want my illustrations to look arty and sketchy. I think there's lots of potential for beautiful textural art whilst playing around with rain, sunsets, wind, and light. 

The next step after both I and the publisher are happy enough with the preliminary sketches, is to decide which text goes on what pages. Picture books are usually 32 pages, or else in multiples of four due to the manufacturing process of a book. You have to allow for a title page and imprint page and all that, if you pick up a picture book you can count how they're in multiples of four, some finish on the very last page, others a couple before. Every book is different. Some imprint pages are on the back side of the endpapers, some are not. (The endpapers are those decorative pages at the front and end of a book that are usually a different type of paper. We're talking hardcover books here, and the endpapers are in addition to the 32 pages.) We also have to choose the size of a book. Children's picture book sizes are as varied and different as people are! 

A few quick storyboard sketches (what's with that mans hand!? Can you see it!? Lol)

Once those things are decided it's time to storyboard the thing out. I choose to go pretty rough at this stage, some go surprisingly detailed (those dedicated souls). I think if you go too detailed at this stage it can be a waste of time in case there are a lot of changes to be made (such as text being shunted around to different pages & illustration concepts needing to be redrawn). This is where each page is sketched out, with its corresponding text. 

I also include my thoughts or notes alongside the storyboard roughs too. I don't like to add a lot of thoughts there though, as I think it's good for people to see it first with their own thoughts untainted by my thoughts and then we can talk about all our thoughts together later on. So many thoughts :)
More detail will be added in final roughs when the storyboard is approved

After the storyboard is finished, it's submitted for approval, and here's where sometimes a lot of changes and back and forth-ing happens. This is the stage I'm at at the moment. I've done the storyboarding for all of the pages, and have a meeting lined up to go over it all. 

Once the storyboard is all approved and everyone is happy, it's time to go onto the final roughs where I can add in lots more detail. For instance, in the above picture I have just represented where houses will be, they yet don't have any individuality or detail, but that will come in the final rough.

There are so many decisions along the way for a picture book, it's like a choose-your-own-adventure with a zillion different options at each stage. Does the text overlay the illustrations? How much white space is in the book? Is the text on white space? Are there illustrations on every page? Are the illustrations in vignettes? What style will the illustrations be? Will they be digital or traditionally drawn? Realistic or stylised? And so on and so on...

And each publisher and author and illustrator combo have different ways of working too. Sometimes the author doesn't have a lot of input, sometimes they do. 

If you have any questions I'd love to hear them in the comments & I hope you enjoyed part 1 of making an illustrated children's picture book.

May 15, 2017

3 Creative Illustrated Children's Books

It's been a while since I blogged some kids books. I love Children's picture books with eye catching and beautiful illustrations. Here are three that have crossed paths with me recently. (I will always collect children's picture books, I did before I had kids and will continue to do so after they have grown up I'm sure!)

This post contains affiliate links. See bottom of post for explanation.

Wild by Emily Hughes is an engaging, short story that provoked a lot of thought within me, about children's "wildness" and their love of imaginary play.

The illustrations are beautiful- they have so much detail and the pencil work gives the illustrations depth and texture.

Wild by Emily Hughes

I asked Miss 6 what she likes about the book (because she has read it numerous times), and she simply stated "I just like it." I think it appeals to her imagination. That imagination that tells her she really is a wild animal! Miss 6 was misbehaving a little yesterday whilst out. I knew it was trouble to tell her that I think she had gone wild like the girl in the book, but I couldn't help myself. Growling, snarling and running around ensued. My fault! But how lovely to be a kid and enter into this imaginary world at the drop of a hat.

Wild is about a girl who is found in the forest, and brought into a home. It doesn't work out in the end, because this girl cannot be tamed. So you can see why kids would love it! Fun.

You can see why I love these illustrations, they are amazing

(I also found this fantastic link where Emily explains the process behind making this picture book.)

The next book is Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. 

The book is a mini life story about the late French born artist Louise Bourgeois. This book has beautiful illustrations and talks of Louise's childhood and the source of her inspiration to become an artist (hint: her weaving mother was a big influence). This book might appeal to kids that are deeply interested in art. I feel that kids that own this book would get something new out of it every time they read it, and also as they get older and reread it again, too.

Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

It appeals to me because I love teaching my kids about different artists. How they are different, how they all have their own ideas, their different personalities and ways in which they work. 

The illustrations do this memoir of an artist justice. How tricky it would be as an illustrator to represent the sensibilities of another artist. I think that Isabelle has done a fantastic job.

Talking of books about famous artists, the next book is The Iridescence of Birds. This book also talks about an artists upbringing: Henri Matisse. 

The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan Illustrated by Hadley Hooper

With insights into the elements that made up Henri Matisse's childhood, why would he not become an artist? 

I get so much inspiration from Henri Matisse's art, and as a creative family, it's important to me to introduce my kids to some of the great influential artists. Matisse of course being one of them.

I like how the illustrations emulate some of his paper cut work & colours of his artwork, with their bold shapes, and they also have that textural quality which comes from the block printing which is part of the illustration technique used for these images. Another worthy addition to our children's picture book library.

I hope you enjoyed those three Children's book reviews. I am currently working on illustrations for a children's book, so I am very much immersed in the picture book world at the moment, and my radar's set to high when any quality children's books come my way.

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.

May 10, 2017

New Art: Large Modern Acrylic Painting

Hi there creativity lovers :)

I have some personal art to show you today. I recently finished a large (for me) painting that had been ongoing for quite a while. 

Original artwork, acrylic paining, art for sale

It was a bit hard to capture the colours in a front-on photo. I totally blame our gloomy Autumn (feels like winter). I will actually need to scan this painting to get a good representation. I will update the post when I get the painting back from the exhibition. The angled shots give a better representation of it's colour and depth.

Canvas Painting

So I took lots of angled pics to get a more correct representation of how it looks. 

This painting has history. It was one painting, then I got sick of it and painted over it, then I tired of that one, and painted over it again.  

home decor, wall art, original art

original bird painting

I took some close up angles to capture some of the texture of the paint, which you can usually only view in real life.

It's now hanging up at the Warragul train station where they're having a bit of a group exhibition for a week. It opens today (10am Wednesday 10th May 2017) and will also be running when a steam train comes through the station this Saturday. 

The train arrives at 10.10am and departs at 11.10am then again at 4.12pm and departing at 4.40pm. Here's the link to the times incase they change. Fun to take kids along to check it out. (Or train crazy older folk like my Dad!)

The painting is titled "A New Day" and is for sale. It measures 35.5 x 35.5" and it's $500 AUD + shipping  SOLD. Contact me directly if you'd like to view or purchase (my email is in the sidebar.)

Choo choo!

Jules :)

May 05, 2017

Some Ceramics Inspiration


Yesterday saw me going into one of my daughter's art class in school, not to show or help or anything, but to be one of the students. How lucky am I!?

They are working with clay at the moment, and they're making clay birds. I don't have any photos to show you yet, unfortunately, but they will come I'm sure! I'm going to sit in the class and refresh myself on some joining and constructing techniques. With the kids! I really love sculpting with clay and in my earlier years I nearly started a diploma in ceramics, right after I'd finished my diploma in illustration. But, fate did not dictate that I attend, but never say never. Maybe one day. Maybe I can become a ceramic artist! Haha. I have a very short attention span :)

For now I want to show you some images of some ceramic work that inspires me.

Jenny Orchard's work is amazing. I was stopped in my tracks when I came across this photo on her instagram. I just cannot tell you how much I love her work.

These crazy, colour loaded works, with a 'bits n pieces' look really appeal to me. Fantastical creatures, that look like they've been born straight from her imagination with perfect translation on the journey from mind to reality. 

Wonderful, crazy fantastical ceramic creatures

I am also a fan of Cathy Kiffney's beautiful colourful ceramic work. They have such a naive folk art quality to them which appeals to me. I love her work! How nice would a cluster of these ceramic birds look on a wall?

You can find Cathy's Etsy shop here

And Nathalie Lete turns anything into the art equivalent of gold that she touches. Just like Kaffe Fassett, this lady is multi talented and I just don't know how she creates so much work. She's amazing.

So can you see a common theme here for my ceramic inspiration? There's that handmade quality, that shows some roughness and naivety; bold colours, quirkiness and maximalist decoration. Yes! I wonder what sort of clay work I will produce. I'm so excited.

For now I'll keep collecting inspiration over on Pinterest. I just created a clay board to keep all my inspiration in one place.

See you soon,

Jules :)


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