A plan, two things & a video.


About a new art journal

Giddy excitement. When I started this new (oooh new!!) art journal I decided to make the whole book the subject of a big time lapse experiment. There’s nothing like a new book to fill me with BIG intentions.

Plan: I’ll play first thing every morning and record what happens, then edit it all into a video for (mostly my own) amusement.

Reality: It’s been some mornings, but if I aim for all I’ll hit some. If I aim for some I might not hit many at all, the book will sink under a pile of other stuff, I won’t remember the plan. I know me. I know how this plays out.

Thing # 1

If there’s one thing I consistently am, it’s inconsistent. Just the act of making a plan triggers the part of my brain that prevents me doing the thing, no matter how much I enjoy thinging that kinda thing.

Is this massively incompatible with daily life? Abso-total-lutely it is. Jeepers yes. It’s really inconvenient and a battle I fight with myself all the time.

Thing # 2

If I let thing #1 stand in my way, it will destroy my creativity, and I’ll achieve nothing.

So in order to outwit myself I’ve put together the video of the first few pages. It’s not (yet) the epic project I first envisaged, and it might never be. But for now it is this, and this is a thing. If I’m quick, I’ll have done this before I realise I’ve fallen into my on trap. Sneaky? darned right I am.


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Stitching together 100 days


This week we reached the end of the #100dayproject. Every day for over 3 months I posted my daily doodles to Instagram. Yikes!

Sometimes just photos, but for the most part, I shared little 30 second or so time lapse videos.

This is an art journal I’ve been doodling back and forth through for a long time. Every day I’d find a page that wanted something new, different colors or just had a space to fill. I’d scribble down words that caught my attention in a podcast or song lyrics, I’d sketch and play and add bits of scraps of stuff from my desk.

There are no rules in a book like this, nothing can go *wrong*. It’s all subject to change, it’s all ephemeral.

Over the weeks and months these pages changed beyond recognition. This is a snapshot into the evolution.

Evolving ideas

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The Spiral Path of Words & Color continued


Ink Dyed Paper: 5 Top Tips

The methods for ink dying paper are as simple or complex as you want to make them.

When I started out I used a shallow plastic tray and layered pieces of of paper. Each layer had splashes and squirts of ink between. Then I left them to absorb the liquid. I experimented with scraps of paper, envelopes, book pages…

early ink dying: recycled envelopes, printer paper, tissue paper, book pages.

Essentially that hasn’t changed much, only now I’m devouring entire books and working on a glass topped table so I can heap the inky pages directly on there. I just scaled the process up!

Trial & Error.

I cannot overstate how much it’s trial and error process. It’s the only way I work: unscientific, intuitive, learning as I make it up as I go along.

For every gloriously bespeckled rainbow I make there are blurry messes, torn pieces (wet paper is so fragile) and muddy overworked colors. But that’s how we learn, right?

Five Top Tips to Paper Dying.

These are the five main things I’m learning through my paper dying experiments:

  1. Ink can be brushed on, dripped on, poured on, splashed, sprayed, squirted or flicked onto paper (wet or dry) with any manner of implements. It’s all A LOT of fun. There are NO wrong ways.
  2. Different types of paper will take up ink differently. Right now I’m using almost exclusively old book pages and sheet music (ranging from circa 1920’s to 1970’s), the paper from each book has it’s own distinctive foibles.
  3. The type and dilution of the ink both make a difference. It’s not just the intensity of the color, but how much it soaks in. Quicker or slower drying time effects the tide marks it leaves, the surface finish too (less water can dry with ink with dusty pigment traces, or a sheeny finish, or a distinctive layer of shape as well as color). All of these permutations have a beauty of their own.
  4. Sometimes the pages stick to each other as they dry, especially at the edges. Gently brushing the stuck bits with water then leaving them a while usually resolves this. I found some inks are stickier than others – they work just fine but need diluting more – which leads me to…
  5. More layers with more diluted ink work best of all. It’s the soaking of the water that creates the best patterns as it carries the pigment through the paper fibres. It’s the layers that make for the most intricate effects. Already dyed paper, left to dry then splashed, dripped and dunked in water or ink, can come to life in all manner of ways. Sometimes pigments reactivate or react. Things like this can happen…

Happy Accidents.

I’ve been leaving batches of papers to soak together, letting more magic happen as color seeps through the pages to the layers below. By arranging them haphazardly so one piece part covers the next it encourages the seepage patterns to happen more.

Unplanned is the overarching theme.

After some hours of marinading, sometimes I’ll turn the whole pile upside down after a while so the moisture seeps back (carrying the color) back the other way. Peeling apart the layers and adding more pigment, or just turning them so the pieces in the middle get some air to dry.

Wet paper wrinkles and the lines that form become channels for the color to settle. Stripes and fabulous organic patterns like an animal print appear.

organic patterns in ink and water

Lately I’ve taken to layering in stencils and texture plates between the papers to pick up extra patterning. plastic and bubble wrap works well, as does fabric, yarns and fibres (which of course soak up some of the color, transferring their own distinctive prints)

paper dyed with stencil layers

Next time: what becomes of these papers?

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Un-hibernation


Gradually I’m recombobulating after an unplanned summer-long sabbatical.

 

It all began with slipping away from social media, from blogging, and from the digital mayhem of click-baity distraction.

Then it spilled over into my creative practice, as I set down one project after another, anything creative that felt more should do than a giddy-excited-to-play.

It was the accumulated exhaustion of someone who’s spent a life time rushing and bustling and keeping too may plans spinning. Driven by poorly reasoned logic, no time to question my motives.

The only kind of making that lit up my heart was sewing, so that’s what I did, day after day, until the lull passed.

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This is a wall hanging I began making years ago. On and off I’ll pick it up, spend my spare time stitching away, then it goes back in a box and sits for a while longer.

This was the only creative outlet that’s sparked anything in my soul of late.


Then, as suddenly as all the ideas dried up, one at a time, they began to sneak back. 

Beginning with some new textile projects and spilling into a bundle of new art journal/sketchbook ideas, it feels like that part of me that thrives on making and doing has come back to life. As the un-hibernation process is picking up momentum, one idea is feeding into the next. I’m feeling more like me again.

A little bit of what’s on my creative horizon!

 

In my latest newsletter (going out later today) I share more about getting through these lumpy few weeks of  un-creativity; what’s on the horizon for my next projects. And you can be first to see my latest flip-though video of the project that set off all that’s going on now. Yay!

If you haven’t already, hop aboard the news-list here

How much is enough?


How much time do you spend weaving between polarities?

Along the wiggling line of progress,  between way too much and barely enough.

It’s not just me, is it?

At the end of last year I committed to a daily drawing practice: every day I’d work on improving my observation, coordination, imagination. Every day I’d give myself at least 5 minutes or so of drawing, not much more.

Just enough to open the flow of ideas at the start of the morning, to build on the muscle memory of drawing, to break through the first layer of inertia. 

 

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I really wanted to practice the drawings I find difficult, but to begin I was happy with doodles to see what emerged.

 

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I told  folk about this BIG plan of mine, I wanted the accountability. (I might have told you too.)

 

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Just like the morning pages practice, the regular journaling habits, the daily yoga and meditation time, and all those wholesome promises I make myself…

 

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I wonder to myself: is it the making of the promises, in and of itself, that makes me rebel?

 

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“Who am I to tell me what to do??” 

 

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In the attempt to outwit my own ridiculous self sabotaging mind games, I ended up bending, breaking and rewriting every aspect of the plan:

Daily? nope. Drawing? meh, kinda, more splashing around in the shallow end of my abilities.

 

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But what did emerge instead was the beginning of some compassion for myself.

 

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What if sloshing watercolor about, writing seemingly meaningless words, letting patterns fall through my hand was enough?

 

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What if I was still creating, still making, still bringing out ideas into the open. What if that was enough?

What if my obstinance and non compliance to my own self-set challenge wasn’t just the precursor to another ‘Fk this, I can’t do it’ and instead I just kept moving, kept making, kept playing.

 

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And free from the berating inner monologue, occasional actual sketching would take place.

 

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In the spaces in between, I can see, this is a part of my process I need to work through, not against, not in spite of, but with. With an understanding that only I can afford to myself.

So page by page, I’ll continue.  Do you have a daily creative practice? I’d love to know what shape it takes.


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Parallel Progress


 

If there’s one thing that keeps my creative imagination alight, its progressing a few pieces in parallel.

 

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Sometimes a piece has to sit and dry, or sometimes it needs just simply to sit.

It might be in (one of) the ugly phases, uncooperative, or just tired and needing a rest.

 

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Ideas need to incubate, assimilate, to marinate in wet paint or to settle amid the layers of thought processes and ideas.

 

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Among these layers of color and pattern are layers of construction and deconstruction.

Themes emerge and submerge, continually spiralling around, cross pollinating each other as they go.

 

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Time finds their place, turning in turns they cycle into their next phase.

(I often feel like I’m on the outside looking in while this happens)

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These images are snapshots of the paintings I’m making for the 100 day project. You can see them develop day by day in little time-lapse snippets over in Instagram #100LayersByMixy 

These little videos, in turn, are combining into longer video stories.

The first is out there in the youtubes already, but for exclusive first viewings you’ll need to clickety-hop aboard my email list right here:

 

100 Days, 3 Whys.


The 100 Day Project  begins again on April 3rdare you in?

You can find out all about it at  the100dayproject.org, or watch a Q&A about it  here 


By the time I noticed the hashtag #the100dayproject that kept bobbing up in my Instagram feed last summer, it was already well under way. I was intrigued by the challenge: a creative act every day for 100 days. Right away I wanted in,  I was late to the party and my 100 days weren’t consecutive, but I saw it through and I learned a lot along the way.

In 2017  I made a little drawing every day for 100 days, inspired by the photos in my phone.

I take pictures obsessively wherever I go, so I had a gazillion or so images of places and things, textures and colors, interesting patterns and reflections, little memories and captured moments of my days. I collect these images for inspiration, but to be honest with you this was the first time I really made a concerted effort to use them.

Every day for 100 days I rummaged through this collection, picked one out, and made a drawing based on what I found. Sometimes it was close to a copy of the image, sometimes just a shape or outline inspired my imagination to take off some place else.

This year I’m doing something new.

canvas

These arrived yesterday. 5 big canvases, still wrapped up and I’m itching to begin painting….  

My 3 Whys

There are three big reasons why I chose this project for myself

  1. I love working small. Tiny, itsy little & weeny are the scale I default to.  These canvases are 30 x 24 inches. Not enormous – but way bigger than I usually work. I’m curious how it will be working BIG for a change.
  2. Canvas. Historically I haven’t got on so well with canvas. Is it the texture? I don’t know.  If I’m going to find out,  I need a project that corners me into using these. Another direction away from my comfort zone.
  3. 100 days! Seriously, a HUNDRED days! It’s longer than it sounds, and it sounds a long time! I plan to pace myself. This challenge will be finding balance, I’m prone to haring or tortoising and not so much in the middle. I want to learn to meet myself in the middle.

 

As we get closer to the start date my ideas are solidifying, I’ll tell you more about my project tomorrow.

 

What is your creative stretch? Do you want to step outside of your usual practice and explore new territory?

Are you joining the 100 day project? I’d love to know what you plan to make and do. Let’s meet up in Instagram and we can cheer each other along as we go 🙂


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12 Reasons


I have to impose strict ‘signing up to’ rules on myself, before I skit off in a giddy rush, happily clicking on any promise of more color and fun and artsy inspiration in my life… but resources and time are finite, right?

So I don’t expect any different from you.

 

But here’s the thing, guys, I don’t want you to miss out on TWELVTY 2018. I’m not sure if I’ll run TWELVTY next year, it takes all year and whole load of prepping for, so this could be a now or never moment!

 

Here are 12 reasons why this is a chance you don’t want to miss:

  1. We focus on a single color over three weeks, and we explore all the aspects of this color – so you have a wealth of content and information to choose from, but you’re not obliged in any way to ‘do it all’! You take the parts that interest you, and the rest you can leave, for another time, or just leave them!
  2. Unlike other creative courses, you don’t get specific assignments; instead you get a framework and guides to use in your usual creative projects, so you can integrate what we explore in TWELVTY into your usual creative practice.
  3. I ran TWELVTY for the first time last year, and over half of last years group have rejoined for a second trip around the color wheel!
  4. This year it’s way more polished, I’ve tweaked the format and got two creative projects lined up that will run all through the year that I encourage you join in as well.
  5. I reduced the price from last year! – even though the previous group all said it was great value, I don’t want anyone to miss out because of the cost. It’s just £97 for the full year, with an option to pay in 3 instalments. Just click here!
  6. We’re a small group, so your voice will be heard. You can feel totally cool with sharing photos of what you find and make, and you can feel totally cool if you prefer to watch and learn from the sidelines. There’s no pressure.
  7. The time commitment is flexible: I send you the content at the start of each color segment, and share my process in the creative project the following week. It’s your’s to go through in your own time. If you have 2-3 hours a week you could easily fit TWELVTY into your schedule!
  8. We have a private Facebook group, so if social media is your jam then you can use this platform to get to know artists and creative folk from around the world. I’ve made some of my best friends through groups like this.
  9. You’ll build on the knowledge you already have about color, its use, symbolism and its history, and develop a collection of resources that you can keep forever, and keep coming back to.
  10. There’s no better way to hone a craft or creative skill than to restrict the color you use. It stretches the imagination way beyond it’s usual edges!
  11. TWELVTY is what you make it, but it’s much more than just color! We explore connections and develop a deeper understanding of our creative process as we go. (This is my third time of a year long color project: I’m still learning, and I enjoy it more every time.)
  12. Actively noticing the color around us hones our focus. The world is so busy, the days and weeks and months slip by. This is a way to slow down the pace and properly see the beauty that is everywhere when we learn how to see it.

 

So guys – we begin the introduction on Monday!

Are you in?

 

Join the adventure here!


Meanwhile, you can always keep up with my colorful antics by signing up to my newsletter. It’s monthly right now, but I’m switching that up to weekly next month.

a braid of ideas


A three ply art project in the making:

This is my Inktober inspired Sketchbook Project for Twelvty 2018: Three ideas smooshed together between the covers of a 5 x 7 inch book which will be the springboard into a new adventure for next year.

 

……..this is a story that began in July……..

Part One: The Sketchbook Project

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The Sketchbook Project is just as the name suggests. It’s a collaborative art project, and it’s enormous. It’s 36,130 artists’ books contributed by creative people from 135+ countries over 11 years. In 2018 it will contain at least one more, and that will be my one. 

My book arrived in the mail on Monday 31 July, straight away I set to work on doodling a first page with my initial thoughts and ideas:

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Contented that I’d made my first mark, I set the book aside while I waited for the ideas to formulate. Then I got sick, and was away from my life for a while. The up-side to hospital-strength pain relief is that although I wasn’t able to create anything for a while, the visual ideas flooding my brain were far beyond what my usual imagination can conjure, and I’ve still got a solid grasp on what I saw inside my head.

Yes, they were colourful. (more on that in part three).

………. now let’s fast forward to September……….

 

Part two: Inktober

Inktober is an annual ink drawing challenge held online every October. Again, the clue is in the title.

I was dithering as to whether I’d participate this year, historically I’ve been rubbish at commitment. Is this a good reason not to play along? That’s what I was pondering on n off through September.

Until I hit upon the way my three ideas perfectly fit together. 

Ink drawings are the scaffolding for the content of my sketchbook project – the top layer of which I’ll explain in part three  – combining to make real what my muddled little opiated brain saw in hospital. And leading me into a project I’m planning for 2018!

“OHMYGOSH IT’S LOOKING A LOT LIKE A PLAN OF ACTION”

 

…………. now fast forward to October 1st……..

Today began page one of the sketchbook, #inktober doodle number one, a commentary on my thought process as the project reveals itself to me. It’s all quite meta. 
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(you can see daily progress here on Instagram…. )

Black and white drawings are all well and good, as they form the scaffolding for the content of my sketchbook, but in order for it to be ‘me’ it needs some color, right? Of course it does.

……. Which brings me to ……

Part three: TWELVTY 2018

Twelvty is the environment in which almost all my art has evolved this year:  With each month a new color – as conveniently there are 12 colors in the color wheel if you count the tertiaries (which are by far my favs) – this perfectly fits one year.

complementary colors: opposites in the color wheel
complementary colors: opposites in the color wheel

An aspect of this color wheel journey I’ve enjoyed exploring more deeply this year is the ways that each color fits in amid its neighbours; how they interact. How they dance.

I’ve developed a real fascination with balancing the pairs and groups of colors – the complementaries, the triadic groups…

This is something I intend to explore more thoroughly in a second variation of Twelvty in 2018.

This is also the way I plan to add color to the Inktober doodlings in the sketchbook project book.

 

The Plan:

So there we have it: The doodles and drawings of Inktober will form the structure of my vision for the sketchbook.

In November I’ll add the colours, which will be the pairs and threesomes of color theory illustrating the beauty of the color wheel.

This in turn will be the visualisation of a new program all about color balancing for the new year.

YIKES!

 

I’ll tell you more about these 2018 incarnations of Twelvty at a future date. Meanwhile I’ve got important doodles to do!

Be sure to get on my mailing list if you’re even a little bit interested in finding out more about TWELVTY 2018 cos there’ll be special deals for folks on my list!

My Indigo June


Twelve Colors in Twelve Months: 2017 is my year full of color. I called it Twelvty. Because that’s just the way my mind works… and because I like made up words.

Each month I take another step around the color wheel, and focus on making art in just this color.

I like the liminal places – like dawn and dusk – neither one nor the other – just on that tipping edge in between. So naturally, I’m especially drawn to the tertiary colors (which is great – there are six –  so every other month I’m back into one of my favourite color zones).

 

Last month’s color was blue-violet: the moody-mauvy, midnight-indigo, and the fragrant bluebell & lavender space in the spectrum.

Last month also marked the half way point through the year, which is a place I like to step back and reflect.

These are some thoughts on the story so far.

 

Each month, along with its own color, has its own flavour, it’s own particular energy. It moves in its own speed, and I’m coming to realise, this is something over which I have next to no control.

Each month as I focus my creativity in the current color, I’m learning to bide quietly and see what comes out. To begin, I thought this was from the associations each color invites, but now I’m  seeing it’s also from the cumulative volume of spirit this entire investigation is amassing. 

The power of a single pointed focus in color is in its absolute simplicity.

Restricting the dither attached to one choice frees up space to play with the others, and to maximise them beyond the usual stopping point: tone and shade, materials and media, size and shape. Or then stripping it all back to its origin: just pure color. 

 

 

I’m  compiling an art journal of my ideas and experiments as I move through the year. It’s a re-purposed world atlas (cos this is an adventure – it seemed fitting). Each month’s has about 4 pages of playing space, and at the midway point this book is bulging with inspiration, expectation, and possibilities.

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Would you like to see this month’s pages?

If you enjoyed that, you can see the previous month’s pages here

 


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