Painting Gum Blossoms – Sharing My ProcessĀ 

I got chatting with a fellow artist friend, Lynette K, the other day about sharing the creative process. She asked me if I’d ever made videos of me working (I haven’t, I’m not comfortable with the idea), as she was considering sharing her own. 

Check out her funky art here, it’s very cool.

I did say to her that I had thought of sharing the process here on the blog and she told me it was something she’d like to see…. I hope you all find it interesting too!

First things first, a support to paint on.

I chose a canvas for this demonstration, but I more often work on paper, which I prime first using Art Spectrum transparent gesso, also known as pastel primer. It’s gritty and provides a good grip on any type of paper.

Next I need a subject matter! Sometimes I work from life, but more often from photographs. My process takes time, and it’s easier to have a static, unchanging subject.

I chose this photo of gum blossom that I took on a walk in my local park.

The first step is to draw the outline of the gum blossom. I usually use pencil or biro to do this. Pencil works fine, but the biro is waterproof and doesn’t smudge as much, especially on paper.

Next comes the masking fluid. Again I use the Art Spectrum brand, mainly because I go through a lot of it and they’re one of the few brands who sell it in big bottles.

I carefully paint the masking fluid over the subject matter, leaving only the background exposed.

A word of warning, this stuff really clogs up brushes, so don’t use your best ones for this!

Next I dip the brush in the masking fluid and flick drops of it onto the background. 

The very first time I did this was because of an accident! Some drops of masking fluid fell where I didn’t want them because I’d loaded my brush too much. You pretty much can’t remove it when it’s wet as it will just smear, so I decided to go with it and created more spatters in my background. It turned out so well it’s become an integral part of my style.

Then I leave it to dry. It takes anything up to a few hours to dry depending on thickness and temperature, and it absolutely must be completely dry for the next step.

All dry and now it’s time to paint the background. I use acrylic ink for my backgrounds as they have very vibrant and rich colours that contrast beautifully with the softer feel of the watercolour pencils I use for the subject.

I use several different brands of ink including Art Spectrum, Daler Rowney, Liquitex, Windsor & Newton and Derivan Matisse, this way I get a wider variety of colours for blending.

Once the background is painted it also needs to dry completely, which also takes a while. I can get impatient with this process and have to force myself to leave it alone. As a consequence I sometimes lose my muse and I always have a pile of UFOs in the studio. (Unfinished objects!)

When it has dried completely the masking fluid gets peeled or rubbed off. If I’m using paper, this is where the primer becomes crucial. I’ve found that without it the paper often tears, especially if the masking fluid is thicker, and there’s nothing more frustrating!

Then I start building up layers of watercolour pencil to draw my flowers.

Once I’m happy with the pencil layers I brush them with water to blend the colours.

Sometimes I go over them again with another layer once dry, to add more depth.

My favourite watercolour pencils are Derwent, especially the Inktense range, but I also use Faber Castell Albrecht Durer.

Finally I outline the flowers. 

Generally when I paint on canvas I use ink, sometimes a felt tip pen. On paper I mostly use a black pencil.

I have often been asked why I use thick black outlines in my work and I think it goes back over twenty years ago, to when I majored in printmaking at University. 

I primarily did reduction linocuts then, and my final layer was always a black outline. It feels somehow more “finished” to me!

My greatest inspiration back then was the work of Australian artist Margaret Preston…. this is one oh her works from 1925:

And so my gum blossom painting is complete. I hope you enjoyed reading about my process!

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Feathery Decor

Sometimes I have no idea where my brain gets inspiration from! These feathery wall plaques are one of those times!!!

They started life as pages from a “kaleidoscope” colouring in book.

I spent a couple of happy hours with my textas and coloured the patterns in.

Once they were filled in I glued them to a piece of thick cardboard from a grocery box.

A layer of Mod Podge over the top to seal them, then once they were dry I cut them out with a Stanley knife.

Next I got a bunch of pretty dyed feathers I’ve had stashed in the studio for I don’t know how long, and hot glued them to the back of the cardboard.

And they were ready to hang on the wall!

They’re kinda funky?!

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Thread Wrapped BraceletsĀ 

I don’t do a lot of embroidery, but when I found a massive bag of embroidery threads for $4 at the op shop, I wasn’t going to leave them there!

Some months ago I bought some small 12cm embroidery hoops with the idea of making them into bracelets. I started painting them but sort of lost inspiration.

So they sat in a cupboard all that time, until I thought “aha!” I could wrap them in the embroidery thread and make stripy bangles!

 No mystery with this project, just some fabric glue on the inside of the bangle and start winding thread around. Glue the end down when you want to switch colours, and when you get all the way around.

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Rose Decoupage Box

When I came across these books on roses in the op shop, I thought the pictures could be good for decoupage.

So I cut some some pictures out to decoupage a box for some of my knowledge cards.

If there’s one thing you’re probably coming to understand about me, it’s that I’m slightly obsessive and love collecting things. One of those things is Tarot/Oracle/Knowledge cards, and for that I like pretty boxes to put them in. 

My beloved Mod Podge and a brush and I set to gluing the roses onto the box.

When it was covered inside and out I gave it a few more coats of matte Mod Podge and let it dry.

Perfect for my Goddess Knowledge Cards!

It fits in nicely with my collection!

Yes, I know, that is quite a collection šŸ˜†

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Decoupage Wall Planters

With four cats in the house, three of whom are indoors only, houseplants can take a real battering.

So I try to put my plants out of reach of paws and teeth, not an easy feat with such agile kitties! I decided I wanted to get some wall planters, but I was astounded by how ugly they are! Unless you have fistfuls of cash, then they get, well slightly more attractive.

Pretty blah, I think you’ll agree. But have I ever settled for blah? I think not!

My old standby, decoupage, saves the day again.

I decided to use fabric not paper, given there’s a good chance the decoupage would get wet.

Three different types of fabric here – Japanese lawn, cotton quilting fabric and some polyester/elastane that was cut from a dress that was too long.

Lots of Mod Podge required for these!

The Japanese lawn was the easiest to apply and the poly blend the hardest…,

But the end results looked pretty fab…

And safe from chewing, furry little rascals!

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Moroccan Inspired Plate

I love Moroccan tiles and patterns so when I was wondering what sort of design to draw on the edge of some white plates I picked up for a few dollars in the bargain bin at spotlight, I started toying with some Morrocan-y sorts of patterns.

Then (in my usual fashion) I launched in and started drawing!

I had a second, smaller (bread and butter) plate and decided to do a more organic leaf pattern on that one.

Perfect for a plate of nibbles and a glass of wine on a fine nearly-Spring day!

And if you’re wondering what I’m watching here, it’s Netflix’s new series of The Worst Witch. I read these books as a child (and still have them) then as a teenager I watched the TV show. I was really hesitant that they would butcher the new series, but it’s fantastic!!!! 

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Air Plant Wall GarlandĀ 

So today I was in Bunnings and couldn’t help but succumb to the Air Plant trend!

I bought two little air plants that grow pretty pink flowers. I got home and thought “how the heck am I going to display these little cuties?”

There I was sitting in my studio when I saw these cute twig balls I picked up in the op shop a while bag with no real idea what I was going to do with them.

Light bulb moment! I could make a wall hanging or garland with the balls and stick the air plants to the wicker spheres!

10 minutes with some string, a needle and a dab of glue from my glue gun and I had a string of wicker balls.

A couple more dabs of glue and the air plants were attached!

It looks fantastic! If I don’t manage to kill these little plants with my brown thumbs I might add some more to some of the other spheres.

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