Thursday, 17 May 2012

Bunting: Part 1

As part of the Diamond Festival (Hartlepool's Diamond Jubilee celebration weekend) our gang at work are putting on exciting events and also creating some really awesome kitschy bunting. It's inspired by the 1950s (and obviously the Queen) but strays away from the traditional red, white and blue. At first I thought the idea was a bit odd, given that people will be thinking union jack over that weekend but today as we ran our first couple of sessions printing it I totally started digging the vibe.

Because we didn't have a huge amount of attendees I got the chance to print a few (or else we'll never have enough to fill the bunting!) and also make some Jubilee themed stamps for others to use because a lot of our bunting had been based on 50s geometric prints and not a huge amount had the queen in it haha!

I really love these stamps and they are so easy (and cheap) to make and so effective! I'll probably stick a tutorial up once I buy myself some of the foam we use! My favourites are the Queen's head and the Cadillac (although the photo is blurry o.<). You see what I mean about the colour scheme but I seriously want some of this in my bedroom! All we used was acrylic paint (the cheaper stuff from the works), handmade stamps from the foam and fabric pens. I might give making my own bunting a go at this rate because I am loving it!

Also will people please remind me to stop taking pictures on my scummy, scummy floor! Such a bad backdrop!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Thrifty Finds: Knick Knacks

Hey what happened to Creative Tuesday!? Hopefully I might have something to share tomorrow but I wasn't so great over the weekend (my immune system seriously bloooows) so I didn't manage to get anything done and since then I've been busy at work...I know, I know, excuses, excuses. Oh well! I thought I'd share a few new (and one or two old) of my thrifted tackiness. I love everything kitsch and weird I can find in charity shops, boot sales etc especially travel know those horribly tacky things people brought back in the 50s-70s when they started to head abroad? Love them!

Price: £1.99
Shop: Barnardos Hartlepool
This is a pretty recent purchase. It was a little steep for what it was but the mark on the bottom (which I forgot to photograph!) explained the pricing more or less. Still I love the psychedelic pattern and the creepy stoned bird. Even better when I looked at it this time I realised this particular range is called I thought it said something like Gamine. Classic name. I don't use it for it's proposed purpose of storing sauce (that's what a ketchup bottle is for) but rather for my fiddly, small earrings.

Here is somemore Gaytime pottery. That bird needs some serious rehab.

 Price: 90p
Shop: RSPCA Hartlepool
90p?! 90p?! What can you buy these days for that much?! I should say this set of five glasses has pretty much no use at all. They are the size of shot glasses but have little handles (so they look like teeny tiny pint glasses) with different animals on each. There are blue rabbits, green cats, yellow elephants, pink bears and off green ducks...It was a totally random find and when I brought it home my parents thought I'd lost it...but come on, for 90p you can't be robbed! I of course like the cats the best. 
Price: £1
Shop: Arthritis Research Sunderland
This is one of my favourite holiday souvenirs, although it doesn't photograph well being cast in metal and all. It's very kitsch, though I have no idea of it's age at all. Still it was hard to pass up at that price! This is also a care of perseverance paying off. This particularly shop almost never has anything in and I am continually disappointed by the weird mix of funeral flowers, Primark tees and sparse shelves...but every now and then you find a gem!
Price: £1.50
Shop: Barnardos Hartlepool
I saw this as a display piece long before I actually bought it. The design made me think 1950s, as did the lovely gradient colour work but it has no marks on it whatsoever. It's just a clay vase and I probably spent too much on it but I really liked it...I'm still convinced they saw me looking at it for a price and then stuck one on knowing I would come back (since I'm a regular there!)
Price: €5 (roughly around £3 at the time)
Shop: French Antique Market
This badgers head is a real oldie. I bought him way back in my teen years at a French market, back in the days when the Euro was way different than the Pound (whereas now it's almost the same). I love this guy but he sat for about 10 years in a bag under my bed. It wasn't until we moved here that my dad stuck him up on the wall for me. Sometimes he wears a cat masquerade mask from Venice but not at the moment. I must admit he's in a pretty terrible condition and could do with a deep clean but I love his manic  expression and somewhat wonky face...reminds me of myself!
And finally Missy wanted in on the action! And got a flash in her face for her troubles...sorry Miss!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Collections: Children's Books

In honour of Children's Book Week I thought I'd share a teeny portion of one of my largest collections...children's books! You might think that most of these have survived from when I was a child but you'd be wrong. I started collecting kids books in a big way when I was at university. I was doing a kids book illustration module and happened upon a huuuge amount of ex-library books that were between 10-30p and went a little mad buying them up haha. I'd collected in dribs and drabs before that but this is what really set me to it.
This is my recent haul from the Hartlepool Hospice shop Encore. They have a really big selection there and they are usually 50p or below. There were several cat themed ones including Grumpy Cat, Slinky Malinki and Who Will Play With Me? I particularly like Who Will Play With Me? Which is a weird combination book that has two stories that meet in the middle (one about a cat, one about a boy) which require you to flip the book. 

Anyway I'll run through a small selection of my favorites. To be fair I don't generally buy kids books unless there is something about them that I like but it'd be a realllly long post if I wanted to talk about them all!

Title: Wild Animals
Author/Illustrator: Brian Wildsmith
This is a real oldie and I'm pretty sure this was a book my mam bought because she liked it. It's ex-library, as a lot of our books were when we were kids and it remains awesome. Wildsmith has this vibrant paint style that looks like a child's painting...if a child was reallly good. Story wise there really isn't any, it's just what you call different groups of animals but I remember spending hours staring at the images and trying to duplicate the style when I was little.
Title: Lost and Found
Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
When I was at university a lot of people had a huge love for this guy and I never really got it. I think it was only when I saw the short animation of Lost and Found that I really grew to love the simplicity of his books and style and understand why kids are so mad about Mr Jeffers.

Title: Storyland
Author/Illustrator: Various
I bought this book at a second hand market for 50p. I don't often go to markets because I don't really like haggling and as such probably end up paying premium...that and I prefer the warmth of a charity shop! It's a gorgeous book from 1960 with the most amazing colourful selection of illustrations. Some day I'd love to make some jewellry and t-shirts with them on because I love them that much. In terms of story I haven't actually read any but the short ones yet but they seem pretty old school and classic on that front!

Title: What-A-Mess and the Cat-Next-Door
Author/Illustrator: Frank Muir
All of us loved What-A-Mess in my family but oddly we only kept one book and they are really hard to come by these days...I think they are all out of print sadly. That said I think I've bought a few second hand since then. The appeal of What-A-Mess lay a little in the hapless main character and her antics (I think it was a she) but mostly in the lovely, complex illustrations. They always had so much going on with a huge cast of characters on every page and it was really fun trying to spot everything that was happening in them.

Title: A House is a House for Me
Author: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Betty Fraser
This is probably my favorite kids book of all time. A combination of rhyming words that teach us about how pretty much everything is a house for something combined with beautifully complicated and interesting illustrations made me adore this book as a child. It also has an Alice in Wonderland spread in it...what's not to love?!

Title: Can't You Sleep Little Bear?
Author: Martin Waddell
Illustrator: Barbara Firth
I remember this book from when I was very young but this isn't my original copy of it, rather it's a copy I picked up in a charity shop for not very much. It's a lovely story and appealed to me when I was a child because I was such a terrible sleeper and terrified of the dark. I'm still a terrible sleeper but the dark doesn't bother me!

Title: Tale of a One-Way Street
Author: Joan Aiken
Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski
This book is full of beautiful illustrations but is a more recent purchase. However I do have another book called 'A Necklace of Raindrops' that is by Joan Aiken and illustrated in the same style by Jan Pienkowski (of Meg and Mog fame) which I adored as a child. I've used Pienkowski's illustrations in these books many a time when teaching classes on silohuette art. Despite being silohuettes they are always complicated, magical and set on cleverly colourful backdrops. I have to say I prefer these to Meg and Mog, although maybe I liked Meg and Mog more when I was young!

Okay that was a loooong post but I thought it was appropriate to share a wee bit of my collection this week of all weeks!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Where The Wild Things Where

It's a sad day for children's book lovers everywhere because Maurice Sendak, the legend behind the book Where the Wild Things Are has passed away. He changed the face of children's illustration and storytelling, created hauntingly beautiful images that spoke of imagination, dreams and oddness and generally contributed a huge amount to the world in general. The world was a better place for his creations and I hope he knew that before the end. Rest in Peace Maurice Sendak.

On a happier note it's Children's Book Week so a perfect time to celebrate his life and work. Later on in the week I'll be posting up a peek into a few of my favorites from my vast collection. Also apologies for the mass posting today! I am sure I will behave from now on!

A Little Tuesday Fun

Okay so I already posted once about being all creative but here's something that required more focus than creativity! I was in Hobbycraft over the weekend aghast at the price of craft equipment when I spotted this little gem in the clearance bin. I bought it more for the little plastic nib which I thought I could use with ink but the picture was so wonderfully tacky and reminded me of psychadelic dungeons and dragons..or the Lord of the Rings cartoon movie that came out in that era! Sadly I didn't take a picture before I scratched off all the silver but I did have fun doing it whilst watching Over the Hedge (Bruce Willis=Racoon=Winning Movie) on Sunday so I borrowed an image from another blog just to give you an idea of how it started. This guy is so going in a frame on my wall!

Also can I just apologize for the scummy, messy carpet in the photos. Yes that is my bedroom. Yes it needs a hoover badly. Yes I am a slob. Nuff said.

Creative Tuesdays: Unfinished Work

You're probably wondering why I chose Tuesday as a day to showcase my recent creative pursuits...I find that Tuesday is kind of my dip in the week. I often don't work on Fridays so it's kind of my midweek and its always been a day I've sort of why not make it into a positive! It's also a good time to showcase anything that I've been up to over the weekend without there being a mad rush to get it done for the Monday. Hey it makes sense in my head!

At the moment I'm in the process of digging out my room and generally reorganizing. This is kind of a necessity since I've been so heavy handed with my thrifting lately that I need to make extra room for it all! In the process I've had a mass exodus of my artwork that has gathered since collage a lot of years ago. Amongst this, much of which I threw out (hey, more reason to make more!) I found a fair few illustrations I'd started in my period of sparse employment from graduating to starting my current job.

I've always had a real problem with starting illustrations but losing interest about 70% of the way through...the way I draw is generally pretty labour intensive so that final slog can be hard unless you are super excited about what you're doing. So I found several pieces that I thought...hmmm...I should really finish these. Some are short graphic stories that are half done, some are just one off illustrations and I'm aiming to get them all finished. It's also a good excuse to get back into my illustration more without having that difficult blank page syndrome.

These are the illustrations that I'm looking to finish. You'll notice that one is already coloured, that's because I forgot to take the group shot until I had completed one of them...doh!

I also forgot to scan in the original and ended up photographing it when I'd already started blocking in the tin man. The image was somewhat drawn out (the main characters) but I hadn't added the priest/other mourners and given that I liked the main cast I decided to go without. I should explain I made this image when one of the last munchkin actors died. The idea was that the old somewhat haggard cast would attend the funeral.

Today I thought I'd finished. The colours are just done with felttip pens (primarily Faber-Castell Artist Brush  Pens). Me and colour have an odd relationship. Because I have primarily worked in black and white I'm not great at applying it. This might explain why I forgot to colour the coffin and Dorothy's skin. Doh!

So I tried adding those colours with photoshop but I'm not sure it really works. I might go back in at some point and add it in by hand but I'm relatively happy with the outcome considering how lacks I've been with my art of late. Not sure what I'll tackle next but I'm sure I'll enjoy the challenge!

Monday, 7 May 2012

5 Monday Must Haves: Rainbow

Okay so must have is perhaps a tad misleading but they are definitely at the top of my list!
Also have you ever noticed there are the same number of letters in rainbow as there are colours in a rainbow? Pretty cool!

This rainbow umbrella from Amazon
Imagine on the rainiest, dullest of days having this to shelter under! Admittedly I have an umbrella with a cats face on but I could always switch it up.

This Rainbow bag from Whatever Comics
I always found Rainbow a little creepy because of the weird homosexual foursome vibe between the three puppets and the presenter guy but the child drawing style and bright colours make up for those latent feelings.

This rainbow dress by Flour Clothing
Sadly it's vintage and no longer available but I found the photo on Seesaw Designs blog so I can dream of someday finding one in a charity shop somewhere!

This amazing bird flying over a rainbow necklace from Mixko which sadly is no longer trading. 
I love the rain cloud could wear them both for maximum weather effect!

This bright necklace full of fun toys from Stars and Sprites
Loving this over the top accessory and you would never get bored because you could just play around with the charms on your neck!