Monday, 30 January 2012

Chinese New Year celebrations, London 2012

Yesterday I took myself up to London yesterday to see the Chinese New Year celebrations... my lord it was absolutely packed everywhere I went! Trafalgar Square had crowds 8 deep on the pavements above the square, and you couldn't get down inside the square for love nor money. Nor could I really see anything via the big screens they had each side of the stage, so I gave up and went up into Chinatown itself.

 This is Rupert Street, packed but festooned with paper lanterns from one side of the street to the other - in fact most streets around Chinatown had similar displays.
And here's the entrance to Gerrard Street with its gate - and more lanterns strung across side to side. It must have taken them days to put them all up!

Here it was just as busy, but I did manage to get some great pics and video of one of the dragon dances there - I was in the right place at the right time as the security staff and marshalls accompanying the dragons did a 'Moses' act and parted the crowds so the dancers could cross to the other side of Newport Place - and I found myself right at the front and got some great footage of the dragons going right past directly in front of me!

I have been saying for years that I'd like to go up to London for the celebrations but until now had never gotten around to it, but it was certainly worth it, altho my nerve did break after about 3 hours from all the crowds and pushing and shoving, so I chickened out and headed home.

But not until I'd been over into Covent Garden and watched some street theatre - these guys have balls lol... this one had two children standing in front of him (not mine, so I cropped them out lol) and he was holding a fake sword to their throats - but his facial expression had me in stitches. He'd pose for pictures, then dismiss the people being photographed with him, then would toss the sword onto the ground in front of another likely punter for them to return it to him - and the poses would start all over again.
And as for this guy - he must have been so cramped up sat under this table, with just his head sticking up out of the wicker basket - he had his hands inside the furry 'paws' and every now and then would pat the table or try to itch his nose - I just hope he had a 'minder' watching over him to make sure that nobody took advantage of him, cos I guess it would take forever to get out from under all that!

And of course, no trip to the West End of London would be complete without a trip to Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for some sheets of speciality handmade paper, no idea yet what I am going to do with them but that's not the point... I can start planning can't I...

Friday, 27 January 2012

Out of the frying pan...

Couldn't resist calling my page this, it's done (or at least as done as I want it to be for now) so here are some pics of it. Apologies for the pics in advance, since getting my new laptop running 64-bit Windows 7, I've discovered that my photo-editing software MGI Photosuite, and my graphics package Windows Draw are both far too old to be able to run on this operating system - so I am playing around with what I have got and trying to download new software which *is* supported and *will* run under 64-bit Windows 7... so far MS Publisher seems to be kinda doing what I want it to do, but it's just not the same as the software I've been using since forever grrr...

Out of the frying pan... and into the fire, the journaling reads. Because that's kinda how I feel, having jumped straight into this without really knowing what I am doing. But then this is a journey of discovery, and the whole point of the exercise is to try out new things and not be scared by them.

Hopefully I'll look back on this page in a few months/years time and think "Girl what on EARTH were you doing!" but for now I'm actually kinda happy with this page.

And like it says: Who will judge? Only me...


And that lovely phrase came from my days on the newsgroup rec.crafts.textiles.quilting, only there it was there are no quilt police, but it means exactly the same thing - if YOU like what YOU have done then you have succeeded - nobody else matters, this is YOUR artwork and YOUR journey. After all, this is a journal, and the definition in Merriam-Webster's dictionary says: "Journal - a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use".

So I will continue to throw ink and paint and rubber-stamps at my pages, and make a complete mess everywhere ('altered' armchair anyone? that blue overspray effect could really catch on...) and I will enjoy myself as I do it.

Thought I'd better stick a couple of pics of what I'd written cos it's a bit hard to read on the main pic, these are certainly preconceptions in my world and I have to learn how to live with them. Or more to the point, learn how to get around them. Nobody said this was going to be an easy ride!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

UKS Art Journey

So whilst I'm getting all creative and throwing paint around and spraying colourwash everywhere, it does of course occur to me that I don't really have a clear idea of what I'm doing (or why lol)... Luckily those jolly nice girls over on UKScrappers have come to my rescue - well not just me, everyone on UKS is welcome to join in... but guided by the lovely Leanne and friends we are being guided step by step on how to create our own art journals. Each week there's going to be a "Research" prompt followed by an "Action" prompt, all cunningly presented in a handy PDF format. The first week covered making your own journals, couple of great ideas there, but I already have an A5 book I want to use, so have skipped that (altho thats not to say I won't have a go another time!)

This week was all about preconceptions and colour, including a great article by Claire Vickery from Creative Moments (who has just about convinced me to throw out my Hobbycraft acrylic paints and sell my soul for a set of Claudine Hellmuth acrylic paints instead...) all about the different types of mediums we can use in our art journals; acrylic paints, watercolour paints, colour mists/sprays, pan pastels, inkpads, crackle paint and distress stains, watercolour pencils and crayons, oil pastels - goodness me is there anything we can't use?

So today, whilst waiting on my calendar pages to dry, I dug my A5 journal out and sat and thought for a while. Some of my preconceptions are "am I ready for this?" and "can I do this?" so whilst having fun spraying my colourwash inks in shades of blue I was thinking about the other colours, and wanted a go with the red and orange sprays... so a firey page somehow sprung into life... I think the journaling will be "out of the frying pan into the fire" or something like that...

I've used Red Pepper, Sunset Orange and Butterscotch sprays on this, tilting the page to let it run down (or up) so it looks like a burning fire. It's hard to take a good picture of with flash, 'cos as well as colourwash sprays I had a go with Perfect Pearls Heirloom Gold as well, and it reflects the flash really well lol... around the edge I've stamped a couple of Dylusions stamps, coloured one with a white Posca pen and stamped the other using Barn Door Distress Ink... so this is now drying before I go wild and start writing on it!

Art Journaling (or getting well messy...)

Got home from work on Friday afternoon, in the rain, rather cold, tired and shivery so stuck the kettle on for a cuppa, and then another... by the time my fella arrived at 8pm I was fast asleep on the sofa... woke up feeling so yuck he forbade me from going down t'pub to see East of Java... no fair cos they are a really good band, but to be honest I really wasn't up for it...

Saturday I should have gone to an all day crop, was especially looking forward to it as it was finishing at 7pm rather than 5, so an extra couple of hours to work, but when I woke up I had very little voice and couldn't stop sneezing - who gets ill on the weekend? There should be a law against it!

So I've spent the weekend slouched in front of the laptop playing online backgammon, and watching crafting videos and the Kate Crane DVD's I got for Christmas, and eventually plucked up the strength to have a play over on my craft table... I had already made a start on my art journal calendar a few weeks back but hadn't got very far with it, just gesso'd the pages and then put a base coat of blue and white acrylic paint on them. So far so good. I'm using cheapo Hobbycraft acrylic paints 'cos at £2.59 in their sale they were just too good to resist. They are a little thick to spread, but as I'm no expert I'm happy to play around with them for now.

So yesterday I decided to go a bit mad. NO change there, I hear you say... well I dug out my Adirondack Colourwash sprays and slapped on my latex gloves and got busy... all 3 shades of blue... even had a go at spraying thru an alphabet stencil.... and shock horror, I didn't like it... it was far too dark. So I left it to dry whilst I made yet another cup of tea and played some more online backgammon.

When I came back to have another look, I decided everything needed lightening up, so grabbed a bottle of pearlescent acrylic paint in a very pale blue, and covered the whole of both pages, using an old creditcard (sacrilege!) to spread the paint very thin. You can still see the stencilling thru it, but now its all a pale pearlescent blue.

Still not that keen, so it was back out with the colourwash sprays and a few very light applications of each of the blues, and I'm happy. For now. Stuck it to one side to play with something else. Tomorrow is another day - I'm thinking stamping with distress inks and Stazon, making little marks in acrylic paint with bottle tops and that creditcard, mebbe even some bubblewrap (hang on, I've got a clear stamp of bubblewrap - that'll do...)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Welcome to 2012!

OK, so I kinda drifted off again at the end of 2011, but hey whats new... I'll have a good sort out of pics to upload over the weekend whilst I'm trying to finish my current project and make a start on my art journal calendar pages for January. Yup, I'm moving into art journalling, it looks a whole bunch of fun and as my fella bought me Kate Crane's DVD's for Christmas I'm all inspired to get paints inks and sprays out and get all messy!

So for 2012 I'm going to hold back on the monthly swaps and instead concentrate on working on things for me - I have loads of scrapbook pages I want to do, lots of projects I want to have a go at and lots of craft-related sorting out and tidying up to achieve - this year i *will* sort my clear stamps out into some sort of order, mainly because I can't get any more packs into the box and they are in danger of getting seriously squished!

The weightwatchers is still going great guns - just before Christmas I'd actually hit 3 stone lost, but then it kinda went back up a bit, and down a bitm and up a bit etc... so now all the festivities are over and the year has started proper, I can really get focussed and get back onto properly tracking my meals and watching what I eat. Especially as I'm being taken away in May by my friend Tim - so I could do with looking a lot neater and trimmer by then!