AA316 – Assignment 1

So that time seems to have crept up on me out of nowhere… assignment time! One thing that I do like about Open University TMA’s (or Tutor Marked Assignments) is that you always get a choice between questions… sometimes both questions are a bit on the awful side, but there’s always one you’d prefer to do.

This assignment is a ‘close reading’ task, and I have the choice between focussing on a passage from Northanger Abbey or from Jane Eyre. These are the questions:

[Northanger Abbey]

How does the passage employ language and narrative techniques to produce its meanings and effects? Briefly consider how the passage relates to the novel’s wider themes, especially love.


[Jane Eyre]

How does the passage employ language and narrative techniques to produce its meanings and effects? Briefly consider how the passage relates to the novel’s wider themes, especially the Gothic.

Which question would you have gone for?

I picked Jane Eyre, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s one of my favourite books ever. Secondly, I think I’d have more to say about the Gothic in Jane Eyre, than the love in Northanger Abbey. Thirdly, it’s a more interesting extract.

Anyway, I should probably get back to it now… I’ll let you know how it goes!

D x


Quirky Challenge: Autumn Colours

Do you remember the ‘Little Monsters’ doodle I shared a while ago? Well I linked it up to the Quirky Crafts Challenge Blog, and guess what?? I won!! I can’t believe a little drawing I did at while I was on the phone at work actually won something!

The best part is that they gave me an opportunity to be a Guest Designer for an upcoming challenge… that challenge went live on Monday. The prompt was to create ‘anything but a card’ using ‘autumn colours’.

Here’s my piece:

I was too over excited to stop in between layers and take photos, but here’s a general breakdown of what I did:

  1. I coated a [size] sheet of acrylic paper in paint, sticking to ‘autumn colours’ of oranges and pinky-reds. I then spritzed some gold paint over the surface to give it a bit of shimmer.
  2. I printed out and coloured in the Prissy Poinsetta digital stamp, designed by Robyn’s Fetish. I used the acrylic I had left over from the first step, and went over the outlines in metallic marker. These were then (painstakingly) cut out and glued to the background.
  3. Using a piece of plastic grill, I smooshed on some more acrylic paint (in a muted brown colour) using my fingers, this gave the whole thing a lot more texture… the photo doesn’t really do it justice.
  4. I knew I wanted a face in there, but I was wary about drawing straight onto the background, as I would no doubt need to do some rubbing out at some point… so I sketched my face onto a sheet of tracing paper and then transferred it onto the sheet. I must have Jane Austin on the brain because she turned out looking quite like Elizabeth Bennett. I filled in the figure using cream house paint (leaving the lips to paint free to make good use of the underlying colours), which added more texture. I started to like how sinister she was looking… must be the spirit of Halloween creeping in!
  5. I added finishing touches to her hair and face using felt-tip pens, which were then blended using a waterbrush.

Whaddya think? Please consider dropping by and taking part in this challenge!

See you soon!

D x

Fall Fearless and Fly – Challenge 2

So it’s time for the second ‘Fall Fearless and Fly’ art cleanse prompt, here it is:

Headline Prompt: Taking a Chance: When did you take a chance or a leap of faith? How did it turn out? What did you learn?
Color Prompt: What color do you like least? Use it!
Quote Prompt: “Don’t refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase — that’s what wild geese are for.” Anonymous

And here is what I created:

It took me a while to decide what colour I like the least… usually I would say orange, but lately I’ve been using that one quite a lot. I had a flick through some old work and found one colour seemed to be quite underused… brown. So I started off my page in brown acrylic:

I pretty much hated the results, but I forced myself to keep going. I decided to ‘take a chance’ and cover my page in sprayed paint. Usually I find drips a bit stressful, as they stop me from having any control, but here I think the purple and gold helped to break up the horrible brown mess. I also used a handmade stamp to create pattern across the page:

I did a bit of journaling underneath the top layers, but the gist of what is written can be seen in the title (which is also my response to the headline prompt). I also wrote the out the quote in brown felt tip around the edges of the spread. Because the underlying paint was a very similar shade to the marker, it has a ghostly effect… I like it (but it doesn’t really show up in photos).

I chopped in half a magazine ad I found for the DVD re-release of Casablanca (the ultimate homage to love and risk), and stuck it in with masking tape. Another ‘risk’ as you have limited control as to how neat it looks:

And here is my final page:

I’ve realised a couple of things since I started the ‘Fall Fearless and Fly’ challenge:

–       I like to be in control of my creations, but if I’m going to stick to all of the prompts, then I have to. It’s very freeing.

–       I never use images from magazines anymore! I’d forgotten the satisfaction you feel when you find a word or photo that adds the perfect finishing touch to your page.

–       Seeing the different things people create following the same guidelines is amazing. Looking through the links left on the page (link at the top) leave me feeling so inspired! In fact, I’m gonna go have a perusal now…

D x

Inspiration Photos – Sugar Skulls

So the monthly art journal theme on Wild Soul Arts is ‘Sugar Skulls’. I’ve seen these a lot in other people’s artwork, and they can be absolutely stunning. As much as I really wanted to try my own I wasn’t too sure where to start, so I decided to go on a little quest for inspiration. Luckily, as the October is the month of worldwide Halloween obsession, this wasn’t too hard to find… Here are some of my inspiration photos, that will probably creep into my art at some point. I hope they inspire you to create something festive too!

Some of these are definitely less sugary than others, but I had so much fun on my little treasure hunt, I don’t even care! Have a great weekend guys, hopefully I’ll be back soon with some art based on these photos!

D x

P.S. Because I just can’t resist sharing a few more…


The L-Shaped Room

The L-Shaped Room is another of my bargain car-boot buys that I’ve had kicking around for a while; I’m not ashamed to admit that I picked it for the purple and red cover…

My other favourite thing about the book were the collection of dysfunctional (but varied) characters. These varied from jazz playing giant to feral actors, spinster Aunts to hoarding seamstresses, anti-Semitic PR execs to drunken landladies…. something for all tastes it would seem…

There were, however, quite a few bits of the book that I struggled with. I found some of the attitudes towards abortion and pregnancy a bit uncomfortable… this probably has more to do with the social norms of 1960 (when the novel was written) than the personal views of the author, but still… the DIY abortion methods and boozing while pregnant made me feel a bit uneasy. The racism and extreme homophobia wasn’t that much fun either. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive?

Lynne Reid Banks has a narrative voice that is SO easy to read despite the less than savoury subject matter, which is what compelled me to keep reading (as even the supposedly happy-sappy-lovey-dovey bits were on the grim side…) I don’t doubt that the gritty view of unmarried pregnancy is exactly what Banks was trying to project, I just have to be honest; it really wasn’t my cup of tea. However if you’re into social realism, you’d love it- the historical aspects of the novel are fascinating, if slightly horrible.

More soon,

D x

21 Secrets – Taming the Critic (Part 1)

So I’m back with another update from my ’21 Secrets’ adventure… this time I’ve been working on ‘Taming the Critic’ run by the amazinf Diana Trout.

The idea behind this workshop is to let your hands play without any input from your brain…. to just let your creativity run wild without any expectations. I wasn’t sure I’d like working this way, but I think it has been my favourite of all the workshops so far…

I then covered up the whole page (which was a wrench as I loved some of the underlying shapes and colours)- I never use gesso because I don’t really like it (don’t shoot me!). I prefer house paint. I also scratched into the wet paint with a coffee stirrer, which not only added a cool (if weird) texture, but also allowed a bit of colour from the collage pieces to poke through:

A layer of very watery acrylic (not in love with this bit…):

Now for the good stuff! I recently bought myself a little treat in the form of a charcoal sketching set, so I thought I’d test it out here. I didn’t really think about what I was drawing (but I must have had the most recent Quirky Crafts challenge in my head, as I managed to incorporate each element- a magical creature, stars, silver and glitter). I love the effect created by smudging charcoal across a colourful, textured background… this photo really doesn’t do it justice! I then decided to bled the charcoal witch using acrylic paint, which I think made her much more solid-looking:

Finally, I added a couple of finishing touches: silver gel pens in the eyes and stars and a quote written out in glitter glue (which says “Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes be just an illusion” – Javan):

I got so over excited by the whole process that I ended up making a batch of backgrounds using Diana’s method:


I’ll be back soon with some more arty bits based on ‘Taming the Critic’. Have a great week!

D x

Art Journal Inspirations – Effy Wild!

One thing that I get asked about A LOT is where I find my inspiration… how do I decide what to draw? There are so many things in this world that inspire me, if I were to include all of them here this post would take me days to write…. but I will share one with you right now.

Looking at the work of other artists is one of my favourite ways to find inspiration, or learn about methods and techniques I could try. Sometimes looking at the art of others will inspire me to use a particular colour, or an unusual tool, or maybe encourage me to try to draw something I would usually. But occasionally, other artist’s will inspire a complete piece of work. Here’s an example of an art journal page I created this week:

(Materials used: acrylic paint, black Sharpie, Paintastics brush pens and Papermania gold marker)

This piece, regretfully, did not spring out of my mind spontaneously, it was inspired by the fabulous Effy Wild… check out this video:

A lot of people harp on a lot about being completely original… but if you have to force it then it’s really no fun. Sometimes trying things others have tried is a great way to get yourself out of a creative rut. So if, like me, you ever feel a bit stuck, look through pictures on Flickr or Pinterest, search for painting videos on Youtube, read a new blog or two…. OR join Effy’s amaaazing artist’s network: Wild Soul Arts.

Hope you’ve all had a great week!

D x

P.S. Effy is also hosting a GIGANTIC giveaway to celebrate the opening of Wild Soul Arts. Click here for more information.