{21 Secrets} Watercolour Playground

21 Secrets
As promised, I’m back with some more of my creations from last year’s 21 Secrets workshop… today I want to share the pages I made following Tammy Garcia’s Watercolour Playground lessons.
Historically, I’m not the biggest fan of watercolour. It annoys me that you need to use certain paper to get a result. It annoys me that it reactivates if you spill something on it (and I do that a lot). Having said that, I actually really enjoyed this class. It’s quite a slow medium to work with, and as I was testing out a few new techniques, I was going extra, extra, slow… which is very therapeutic, especially if you’re a ‘mile a minute’ kind of person like me.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love rainbows? Blending all of the stripes was sooo calming but do you now what wasn’t calming? Watching the cat knock my pain water all over it, and seeing a big white splodge materialize in the middle. Grrrr. I think you can see a few of the water spots in the top corner…)
One of my usual bug bears with watercolours is that they’re just a bit wishy washy… and I have an expensive little set that I never even touch for that reason…. BUT my Crayola set (which was about £5) are so vibrant and lush that I can’t leave them alone now!
Here I went a teensy bit rogue and put my own mark on the lesson by adding lots of doodles and dots… You can’t really tell from this photo, but the white dimensional paint sucked up some of the watercolour and tinted itself – a very cool effect!
This page was a collection of all the different tips and techniques Tammy shared throughout the workshop and I’m not kidding when I say it took me FOREVER. I think I managed to watch the entire second season of Stella while I was working on it!
So what do you think? Am I a watercolour whiz now? You should definitely hop over to Daisy Yellow, Tammy’s blog. It’s filled with fabulous creative prompts, in fact, my first ever art journal page was created as a response to one of them!
Have a great weekend guys, I’ll be back soon 🙂
D x

{21 Secrets} Doodling Our Way

As you know, this year I’ve been taking part in a number of online art workshops. I haven’t really blogged about them as much as I would have liked to, but there’s no time limit, so I will keep sharing my work even after the classes have finished.
Today I wanted to talk to you about…
21 Secrets

… the course hosted by Dirty Footprints Studio, that runs from March to December.

If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know that I did this course last year too – each cycle is a different 21 artist offering 21 art journaling lessons, and it’s a HUGE bargain. The one negative I have is that you don’t get to keep the lessons. It would be great if you could download the videos or something, in case you want to have another go later on.

The lesson I started out with was Doodling Our Way, by Cathy Bluteau. Essentially it combined a bit of collage and a lot of doodling (two things that I love). This was my first attempt:


It was such a nice, relaxing process. I love being able to sit down with a a pen, a blanket and a cuppa, and just let my hand do all the work while my brain has a good old rest. I currently have another one on the go:


And even more lined up for later…

DSCN1991 DSCN1992 DSCN1993

So tell me, have you been up to anything creative recently? If you’ve been taking part in 21 Secrets, I’d love to see some of your work!

D x

P.S. I’ve just set up a Facebook page for my blog – I’d love it if you would hop over and like it, or share it with your friends!

Windows of the Soul

Has anyone else noticed how sweet the word ‘Friday’ sounds? I can’t wait to get out of the office and enjoy a little bit of this heat wave… locked in a room with lots of big windows but no air con is not bringing out the best of me!

Today I wanted to share another art journal page inspired by the Life Book course I’m taken. This page was a product of a bonus lesson from Kelly Hoernig (of the Game Board Page), called ‘Eyes Are The Windows Of The Soul’.

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the eyeball is actually made of teeny tiny scraps of paper, collaged together and painted to add extra detail.


I feel like this page is a little… naked. I’m not really a minimal journaller, I’m more of a ‘keep piling crap on there until there is literally no room for more’ kind of artist. Having said that, I enjoyed trying something a little bit new. I like that the eye really stands out (especially as it took so long to do… I think I’d be a bit miffed if it blended into the background!), and I like that I got to showcase my new favourite stencil (which is actually just a piece of lace paper).

I seem to have accumulated quite a few Life Book pages that I haven’t got round to blogging about…  I’ve also done a bunch of spreads inspired by 21 Secrets (which is on sale right now – check out the link for more info!), and made a little journal filled with juicy stuff as part of Doodle Camp 2013, so expect lots of arty goodness over the next couple of weeks!

D x


On what keeps me sane

Today’s topic for Blog Every Day in May with Rosalilium is: Fit and healthy. What do you do to stay fit or be a healthy individual. Share any tips or advice/plans to get healthier.

My answer to this is simple. I make art. I know what you’re thinking… art doesn’t make you fit. Painting will not tone your stomach. Lugging around huge boxes of art supplies might build muscle, but generally, it’s not going to make you physically fit. However, there was a six month period after finishing my A-Levels where I just didn’t do any art. I was completely burnt out, and I’d had such a horrible experience of tutors telling me my art was naff… I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. But living without creativity… that’s the most unhealthy I’ve ever felt. I was grumpy, I was unmotivated, I couldn’t focus on anything. This all changed when I finally opened up my sketchbook again.

So today I want to talk about one of my favourite things in the world, and the one thing that keeps me sane: art journaling. I have been experimenting with art journals for about four years now. The first two years don’t really count, as they were art-journals-for-ALevel-credit instead of art-journals-for-creative-fun. The third year is the year I always say I ‘started’ art journaling, and it was filled with hours of research and experimentation. Much fun was had. The fourth year I took two online workshops: 21 Secrets (hosted by Connie Hozvicka) and a free mini-course by Traci Bautista called Doodles Unleashed. And with these, I discovered that I absolutely loved learning from this online community of artists, and just letting other people inspire me. This year, I pretty much went off my head and started a bunch of online workshops, and although cramming them all in limits the ‘just me’ journaling I get done, surrounding myself with all these amazing, but oh-so-different artists is beyond inspiring.

Art journaling is just so low pressure it’s unreal. You can literally scribble on all the pages if you want to. You can glue in random receipts. You can create works of art or you can draw stick men. You can write out to do lists, you can doodle to your heart’s content or you can play around with journal prompts. The whole point is that you’re free to do whatever you want. To see a little bit of my art journaling, have a browse through the categories in the sidebar–>

D x

P.S. Seeing as I bring them into a lot of my blog posts, I thought I’d give you a summary of all the classes I’m taking part in this year, and what I think of them:

Doodles Unleashed Video Kit Club (Traci Bautista)

This art ‘kit’ includes three workshops (Inspiration+Mark Making, Girlie Glam Faces and Type+Letters) and six bonus projects. I absolutely love it. This is probably the class that has helped me discover the things I love to do in my art. Each workshop is broken down into (number) lessons and each lesson includes videos and PDF’s (which you can keep). As the workshop ran its course last year, all the lessons are self-guided. I actually prefer that as you really can just work at your own pace, there’s no pressure to keep up with everyone else. For more information, click on the link above.

Life Book (Tamara Laporte)

Life Book is a year-long art journaling course that includes one lesson per week. A number of artists have designed lessons, and all have such different styles that you really do learn a lot. Life Book also focuses on a lot of personal development exercises (which are entirely optional), I generally work through the arty parts but the meditative, self-analysing parts make me feel a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. All the videos and supporting PDF’s are downloadable, which is great as the course gets taken down at the end of the year. For information on how to register, click here. To see some the Life Book pages I’ve created so far, click Life Book in the category section of the sidebar –>

Inky Doodles (Michelle Houghton)

This was a six-week course that ran in January, and I think this was the second run of the class (it ran for the first time last summer). Unfortunately it isn’t available in a self-paced format, so if you wanted to purchase it you would have to wait for it to go live again… but once you’ve got it you have lifetime access. I did enjoy this class, but I feel that it was aimed more towards people who aren’t comfortable drawing or haven’t really grasped doodling… and as doodling is kind of my thing, I probably didn’t get as much out of it as others might. I’ve already posted about Lesson 1, Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 of Inky Doodles, I’ll share the rest with you at  a later date.

Whimsy & Wonder (Alisa Burke)

I wrote an introductory post to this class last week (click here to see it). This is a great class for those who create art on a daily basis and those who are contemplating getting back into art. I would wholeheartedly recommend this class to anyone, Alisa has a great teaching style and there’s no way you can not love her! Check out her blog for sneak peaks at her amazing artwork and other online classes.

21 Secrets (Connie Hozvicka)

This is a workshop that runs from April to December and contains 21 classes, each taught by a different artist. I took 21 Secrets last year, but I started mid way through and didn’t have much time to work through all the classes. This year I signed up the day it went live, so I won’t miss a second! There is such variety, I love it! This is probably the one workshop that has inspired me try something completely new. Sometimes these end up as failed experiments, sometimes there’s some art magic going on! The teachers and students on this course offer feedback and guidance all year round, which I love. Click the link above for info on how to register.

As you can see, I’m a busy little beaver right now. With a full-time job, an English degree and a blogging addiction you’d think I’d have enough on my plate without this self-imposed art curriculum, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything!

If you have any other art workshops, challenges, webinars etc that you’d like to recommend, feel free to leave me a comment below!

P.P.S. As someone who is pretty damn busy, I don’t have a lot of time to invest in the gym (and team sports just bring me horrific P.E. lesson flashbacks), but here are some the things I incorporate into everyday life to stay physically healthy:

– I walk everywhere (non-optional due to lack of car, but it definitely has its benefits)

– Eat breakfast every day (helps avoid headaches, snacking and humongous arguments)

– Run up the stairs instead of taking the lift (the minimum being three flights a day)

– Keep a glass of water on my desk/by my bed (as then I’ll absent-mindedly keep myself hydrated)

– Cook my own food as much as possible (so I can control what goes in)

– Dance whenever I can (even if I embarrass those around me…)

– Sleep as much as possible (this is the one I keep to least often though, no time!)

21 Secrets – Alternative Lives

‘Alternative Lives’ by Zom Osborne is another of the amazing mini-workshops offered as part of 21 Secrets.

The idea behind this class was to imagine an alternate life for yourself, using a number of writing prompts, and create a journal page based on your idea(s). I came up with a ton: a mermaid, a 1920’s flapper dancer, a Victorian psychic, a futuristic robot, a Celtic princess, an evil pirate, a Renaissance painter’s muse… and then I didn’t use a single one. I ended up choosing a vampire theme for two reasons:

–          The next blank page of my ‘altered encyclopedia’ journal was covered by image of the moon cycle.

–          On top of my pile of collage materials were a few pages from an old copy of Dracula. I took this to be a sign.

Anyway, here is my final page:

If I’m completely honest, I don’t like how this page looks. HOWEVER I had so much fun working on it. This is one of those pages that is all about the process; I really enjoyed trying to tell a story using subtle hints and symbols, and I really loved experimenting with a style so different from my own. I will definitely be using Zom’s techniques again, I just hope next time the results look a bit better!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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

21 Secrets – Intuitive Painted Layers

So this week I’ve been working on another of my ’21 Secrets’ workshops, this one was called Intuitive Painted Layers, run by Dina Wakley. This one was completely not my thing, but I pushed through anyway. I really enjoyed the process of just not thinking too much, and slapping paint across the page. Here a few details of my page in progress:

(Adding scrawly journaling in black sharpie and correction pen)

(Simple monoprints create another layer)

(My reverse stencilling required a bit of help from nail-varnish remover after I accidentally let the paint dry…)

(I used white acrylic to add definition to the images I could see in my painty layers)

And here is the final spread:

Not too sure what I think about these pages. Definitetly not ‘me’, but I sort of like that….

Hope you’ve had an awesome week!

D x

21 Secrets – JournalQuest

The next workshop on my ’21 Secrets’ list is Journal Quest by Tracie Hanson (check out her blog- she does really cool paintings). The general idea is that you create a spontaneous background and then try to find suggestions of images in the shapes you’ve created.

So here is my background:

And here is what I ‘excavated’ from it:

I found this workshop quite challenging for a number of reasons:

-I’m not used to doing double spreads. For some reason it feels quite weird after only ever doing single page pieces.

-I don’t usually do a lot of ‘painty’ work- most of my pieces have some paint but I tend to rely more on  pens, pencils and collage materials. I couldn’t restrain myself completely- I had to crack open my Papermania Metallic Markers for a bit of doodly fun.

-The painting I created was not in my usual style AT ALL. By trying to find an image in the existing shapes I had to push myself out of my comfort zone… I couldn’t just paint what I feel comfortable painting. One big difference can be seen in the eyes… I usually do really detailed over-the-top eyes on my faces but here I’ve kept them simple. Not sure how keen I am?

Although Journal Quest tested my boundaries, I think I’ll be using some of the principles of the class in future artwork. I like that it made me paint something a bit different, as sometimes I worry that my work is a bit ‘samey’. And also, it will give me purpose when attacking those pages I’ve used to clean off my palette:

These will definitely give me something to play around with over the weekend!

D x

21 Secrets – Channel It Girl (Part 3)

Hello everybody and Happy Friday to you!

Today I’d like to share my final ‘Channel It’ journal pages with you. This has been such a fun and freeing little project, it takes a surprising amount of effort to just play around, and not worry about how things turn out. I couldn’t describe any of these pages as a work of art, but who cares? I’ve really enjoyed making them!

Materials used: A variety of felt tips, a pink biro and a black fineliner pen.

I love the page on the right; I think the layering of spontaneously patterned paper, random pink and turquoise doodles and simple black doodles creates a really interesting look. I like being able to see a bit from each of the layer… stops me from feeling like I’ve ‘wasted’ anything.

Materials used: Crayola Supertip felt tip pens and a silver gel pen. These last few pages were all completed at my desk at work, so I couldn’t really use anything wet and messy.

To see my previous ‘Channel It’ pages/the process of making my ‘Channel It’ journal, click on the following links:

21 Secrets – Channel It Girl – Part 1

21 Secrets – Channel It Girl – Part 2

And that concludes my first ’21 Secrets’ workshop, keep your eyes peeled for my next one (hint: it will be ‘JournalQuest’ by Tracie Hanson and it’s gonna be AWESOME)


D x

P.S. I’m linking this post up to Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Every Day.

21 Secrets – Channel It Girl (Part 2)

Remember the little journal I made for the ‘Channel It’ class with Kelly Barton? (If no, click here) Well I’ve been enjoying filling up my (slightly eccentric) painted pages this week… what I love about this journal is that it’s lightweight (so I can carry it around everywhere with ease), it’s already ‘raggy’ looking so I can just play around and don’t have to worry about ruining a neat white sketchbook (and it doesn’t suffer too much by being at the bottom of my bag), and it challenges me; I have to try to create something with the colours and shapes already there.

A note on the text- as you’ll probably have noticed, I love adding words to my artwork. In this journal my words have come from various sources (overheard snatches of conversation, memories from dreams, song lyrics, quotes, single words that seem fitting, journalling, personal mantras… but nothing too deep!)

Without further ado, here are the pages I’ve done so far:

A combo of acrylic paint, watercolour pencil and glitter glue.

Text reads: My mascot, my everything.

A selection of pens, pencils and markers.

Text reads: A face warped by fear * doubt * mood * opinion * insecurity * worries * truth

All felt tip (occasionally blurred with water).

Text (on the left) reads: Lost for words and praying for inspiration to appear in the clouds and stars (and on the left) Part of a whole/much better together.

My new Crayola Supertips and a bit of black fineliner.

Text reads: Release your inner cool.

Felt tip, collaged paper, acrylic paint and a Papermania Metallic Marker (in gold)

Text: Various lyrics from 99 Red Balloons by Nena

Crayola Supertips, black biro and a white-out pen. The glitter glue from the following page has leaked through (on the right), but I kind of like how it looks…

Text (on the left) reads: Every rainbow has a touch of pink (and on the right) Wilderness

Felt tip, pencil crayon and glitter glue.

Text reads: Three things cannot be hidden for long: the sun, the moon and the truth (this is a slight variation on a quote from Buddha).

I only have three pages left until my ‘Channel It’ journal is completely full ( I will share these with you early next week), but I have enjoyed the process so much that I will be making another at some point soon…

Hope you’ve all had a great week,

D x

P.S. I’m linking this post up to Julie’s AJED post.