Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Beautiful Mess

Creativity needs to flow -and if it doesn't, you will have to get it moving.
The book: Mess, The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes from Kari Smith was for me the urge to get something going. And trying to loose my sense of perfectionism. The title really says it all!

On this page an old German vintage picture of a  beach was meant to be altered. Just a tiny bit. The assignment was to erase something. Boy, did I erase something! I erased almost everything. The picture was full of people in the see, little houses on the beach, big buildings in the sea. Not a beach that I would like to be. So I started to erase. And kept erasing. The only things left are the beach, sea, sky, dunes and those two figures in the foreground. A little bit of gesso and watercolor crayons did the magic.

One of my favorite assignments was on this page. Take a lot of little paper strips, add glue to the page, drop the paper strips in the wet glue from a distance.
Simple and messy. Just what I needed.

First I did one side of the spread with cut paper strips. Then I used the little circles from my puncher for the other side of the spread.
This simple act brings back childhood feelings of pleasure, fun and wonder. And the more mess you create, the better you will feel. Well, that is the way it works for me... :-)

This book is a relief to work in. You can do a scribble for 10 seconds, or take some more time for other assignments. Don't want to play with paints? Choose another spread and just find an assignment that you like. No need to start at page 1 and advance to the next page!

Want to get rid of a creativity block too? You can find the book here:
This is my favorite online bookstore because I don't have to worry about the shipping costs and/or order costs. Simple because you only pay for the books that you order - they have worldwide free shipping and no order costs.
Do you also like to play this way?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Be Happy

Some good advice, captured on video.

To view the complete video, click this link:

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sometimes, you just need to let go of everything nice and beautiful and create a mess before you are able to create at all!
That was my idea when I lost my mojo and was unable to express any creativity. I came across the book "Mess" by Keri Smith and ordered it from the Bookdepository.
The idea behind the book is that you are not only allowed, but encourage d to make a mess of the book itself.
I started going to the pages and found this assignment: Fill in this 5 inch square by using all of the colours you have on hand.
That was an easy one! I just had taken out a tin with loads of pencils and started doodling in colour! The workspace became a beautiful mess as well. :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More pages from The Little Red Book (part 6)

Working in a little book definitely has its advantages! Paint seems to dry quicker and the page is filled up quite easily with images, collage papers and stamps. But what I do like most of working in this little book is the freedom of expressing myself.
Normally I work in an altered book with a theme and want to express all kind of related thoughts and ideas about the theme in that one book. Sometimes that takes a bit of thinking and planning. In this Little Red Book there is no story line, no common theme. One page does not have to match the other page. I do not work in one style throughout the book. I just take each page as it comes and do whatever fits my mood. Don't you just love this kind of freedom? Well, I do!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Little Red Book (part 5)

Finally Spring has arrived - temperatures are rising and nature is waking up. The weeds in the garden take advantage of my waking up way too slowly from my winter sleep, and they start thriving already. The birds eagerly wait every morning for me to feed them. They have important things to do, gathering materials for their new nests.
The doves are courting, making moves with their heads, trying to please their partner. Swans and geese are flying over in pairs, falling in love the way only they can do. Buds from plants are growing and starting to change to the brightest green,  ready to burst open. In short: life is starting up again.
Everything moves so quickly. Time seems so precious in spring and is moving forward quickly. It's hard to keep up and I feel the need to hasten my pace or I will fall behind. Luckily I have this art journal to express my thoughts and feelings - a way of capturing time and catch phrases before they are erased by the hectics of this beautiful month.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

An Invitation to Join a Mother's Day Mail Art Project

What do you get when you move an American artist to Europe? Not just Europe like 'chic Paris' or 'fashionable Milan', 'ancient Rome' or even 'wild and modern Amsterdam' but to just a small city in Germany? Well, with a bit of luck you might end up with a fun and expressive artist like TJ!

I met TJ in the ABEurope group and ever since she discovered blogging, she has been sharing all her fun, succesful (been published, been on a London show) and not so successful stories (like making hundreds of inchies which should have been square but weren't - inventing the new word ninchies - meaning non-inchies) with us. And I should not forget to mention her Pretzel obsession - that quirky German influence on her art.

Anyway, TJ has been asked to do a window display in a local store for Mother's Day. Since Mail Art is one of her specialities, she came up with the idea of stringing a collection of postcards from all over the world across the shop windows. Which means she needs loads of mail art and is inviting everyone to submit a handmade postcard themed 'Mother".

The only rule is that the cards need to be handmade (any size will do) and arrive through the post like any other regular postcard. Also leave some room at the top of the card, because holes will be punched to weave a ribbon through. You can send the card anonymously or with a special message. 

This is not a swap, where you will receive mail art in return, but pictures of the display will be posted on TJ's blog and you'll enjoy the gratification of participating in an international art project - and helping out an artist with way too many fun ideas as well!

This is the link to TJ's blog with all the information you will need, in this post you will also find the snail mail address to send your card to:

The deadline to receive cards is Friday April 9 (2010). Generally speaking, postcards from the US can take a week to 9 days to be delivered, so please keep that in mind!

Want to do something different? Want to have a chance at fame (well, at least in Germany)? Want to impress the Germans with your art? Want to join an international art project? Then just jump in and get going!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Little Red Book (part 4)

More pages from the little Red Book, and these are not even the last ones! This little book is a joy to work in. I like the small pages and the idea that you do not need much time to finish a page.
Normally I like to work with a cohesive spread, but in this book I have let go most of the 'rules' (as if there were any, ├╝berhaupt) and elements I like to work with.
The only thing that is consistent throughout the book are the use of words.But even the words on the pages don't make up the complete story.
Some stories have no start and no ending - you just plunge into it and follow along. Or better still: make up your own story and fill in the blanks with your own imagination.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Little Red Book (part 3)

Two more pages from the little Red Book that I use like an art journal. I made the pages completely random, and kept it quite simple. Often it is no more than one sentence and some colour.

It is nice to work without overthinking the page. Normally I don't start with an idea of how the page will end, in this little book the words are often more important. And I tend to work quickly here, which is very nice for a change! Sometimes I come back to a page and don't like it at all. Then out comes the gesso and paint and I just start over again. Kind of free-style journaling!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The not so Nice and Neat part

For the ABEurope Group I taped 2 movies about different techniques I like to use. One of the members commented on my box of water soluble crayons: neatly organised and not one of them was broken. She uploaded a picture of her broken crayons to the group's website. To give her, and the other member who watched the video, a real and honest view of my workspace, I took this picture. My box of crayons was definitly Nice and Neat, but that is just to counter balance the Not So Nice And Neat Worktable. LOL!

The video is zoomed in on a part of my table which I clear before taping. To make a good impression. Well, so far for this good impression. This is the real deal, girl!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Little Red Book (part 2)

As promised, a few more pages from the Little Red Book, a small altered art journal. In this little book I work occasionally, pages are made in random order. Because of the size I like to work quick, don't overthink and just paint, stamp and collage my thoughts and ideas.
The butterfly effect: when one butterfly moves his wings, the air is set in motion and in the end would be able to cause a storm somewhere else on earth. This theory was stated by Edward Lorenz in 1961. I am not sure that butterflies can do that - the air that we move would be causing storms everywhere on the earth!
I do believe though that small acts, can change the world we live in. For better or for worse...
Things change when you say 'yes' instead of 'no'. When you do one thing, instead of the opposite.
I may doubt the theory, but understand that one little thing can change everything.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winner of the One World One Heart Blog Give Away

There were 269 comments left on my blog for the post of the Give Away for the One World One Heart action. I had the Random Generator at calculate a winner for the two little books. The number that was generated was 146. Trying to count down the list, the number was matched with Marie S. She posted this:
Congratulations Marie! I will email you (found the email address already) and ask you for your snail mail address. Thanks to all the bloggers that participated in this event! Can you believe that over a thousand bloggers joined in? Wow, very impressive!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Kuler Game of Colours

I can't believe that many creatives don't know this colourful website yet! I am talking about the Kuler website.
In case you want to jump over right away, here is the link:
Since mentioning the website in one of my earlier posts ( ) I received a few questions about how the site works.

First of all, it is free for anyone to use: no restrictions, no hidden costs, no nagging for contributions! This is a website for creative people where you can browse colour combinations, save the ones you like, create combinations according to the colour wheel rules, or, and this is the best part: create colour combinations from your own pictures (stored on your PC) or from the best photographs on Flickr.
I think I have your attention now!

To get an idea of how the website works, this video will show you some of the many possibilities:

To help you understand how you can bring the Kuler colours into your own Photoshop or Photoshop Elements program, I have written a short guide. You can download this guide in PDF format for free from this link:

In this guide I also refer to the template that I made as a sort of inspiration reminder. It looks like this when you fill it up with the colours from the Kuler site:
The photograph is the image that I used on the Kuler site to extract a colour combintaion from. It is a photograph of hand dyed yarn from Scotland that I weaved in a little swatch. I loved these warm colours so much and wondered which colours would be found by Kuler.

If you want to make inspiration cards like this, you can download my template for free from this link:
It is a psd file (photoshop file) that you can open in Photoshop (Elements) and fill with the colours and pictures that you have found with Kuler.

If you want to save the colour combinations, you will have to sign up - again, for free. If you already have an Adobe ID, use this login name and password. You can browse the collection of colour combinations and save them in your own account. There are so many of them, that you will never find them again a few days later.

Here is the one I made today from a picture of three little books that I made for a swap.
OK, don't say that I did not warn you, but believe me, Kuler is highly addictive... So don't blame me for any burnt dinners, forgotten tasks, and missing kids! :D

Monday, January 25, 2010

One World One Heart

A few weeks ago I read about this event: One World, One Heart. An effort to try to connect bloggers from all around the world. And make some friends along the way as well.
One of the requirements to enter the event is to offer a blog giveaway, preferably handmade. So I found these 2 little books I made a while ago and since they are so small and wonderful - and handmade - I thought that they would appeal to a lot of people.

The books are very small! The size is 10.5 by 11 centimeters. One cover has only book linen, the other one is also decorated with book paper printed with the autographs of famous artists of the past. The books are filled with strong pastepapers which I also made, every page is unique. The backside of each paper has been lightly washed with acrylic paint. You can draw, collage, paint (acrylics), stamp and journal in these little books.

The only thing you have to do to get a chance to win these little books, is to leave a comment on this entry of this blog. Don't forget to leave your name and blog address or your email address.

If you leave your email address, be sensible and write it down in separate words. Don't use the @ sign so that bots can't find your address and use it for spam! So instead of, use: me at gmail dot com.

The event will run until February 15th, and I will use a random generator to draw the winner. The winner will be announced on this blog, and I will contact you. Either by visiting your blog and commenting on your last entry, or using your email address.
This little pair of books will then be sent to you - worldwide - wherever you live. So join in the fun and leave a comment!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Little Red Book (part 1)

I can't resist wired little books - they are just begging to be altered, aren't they? This one was given out as a free gift by the post office. The papers were thin, but I glued several together so that they were thick and would not wrinkle.

Then I started painting the pages with the last paint on the palette left over from other projects. To be honest, I had no clue in what direction I wanted to go with this little book. Then I started to work on the cover, and wrote a message in the layer of gesso that I laid down first. From that moment on I knew that this was going to be a kind of journaling altered book.

I liked the idea of adding text to a page with a personal meaning to me, but not obvious for the reader. Leaving the reader the freedom to add his own meaning and interpertation to the page, the words and the images. While altering other books, I sometimes cut out a line of text. Something that triggered a memory, or a wise saying.

Or I tried finding poetry in a piece of torn text: found poetry. Like in this page (above) which I tore from an old book about a woman growing up in the previous century. The lines say:

I would
beneath an umbrella
the whole world

A little poem made up from almost one sentence alone. I like simplicity...

And sometimes I started with just glueing in images that I altered a bit and as serendipity occurred, within a day or so I would find a line of text that would just fit in.
Easy and simple. Not too much thinking. That is how I like it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trail of Inspiration

This week I was challenged in a class on Inspiration to draw inspiration from a Beatrix Potter image. I did not grow up with these drawings, so the stories are not familiar to me. What struck me the most was the detailing and the amount of work in these paintings.

My first thought was: water colours (the paint, you know)  and soft tones. It had been a while since I used water colour paints and I wanted to get started again with them! Even though I am not an experienced painter and certainly don't apply these classic rules, like you cannot use white opaque paint in a water colour...!

The mice in the drawing made me think of something I did years ago: making finger prints (with ink or paint on paper) and drawing a long tail and ears, eyes, add some whiskers, and there you have it: a little mouse!
With an inkpad I tried to make the prints - felt a bit like a criminal - but the ink did not transfer very well. So after three attempts - they looked more like cats than mice anyway - I stopped.

Then came the thought: I have water colour brushes in Photoshop, how can I use these in combination with photographs? I started stamping the marks of the brush down in Photoshop. Soon it resembled a sort of 'photo mask' and I put a picture of my daughter's dog in it.
What a coincidence: I took the picture the day the dog learned to swim in the river - again that water connection!

The next idea was developed when I came across the artwork of Stephanie Levy. She uses black to make line art illustrations of interiors and colours them in with paint. She then adds patterened papers as a simple collage. Very clean and modern.

This reminded me of the spread I did in Julie's Altered Book about Historical colours. For her book I made a drawing of a French antique chair and outlined it in markers in a suitable colour.
So some decorating magazines came out and I started to trace lamps and chairs. Using coloured or black thin markers to outline them, filling in the colours with water colour paint.

I can understand why Stephanie likes to make this kind of work, it is fun and quick to work with. And I would love to experiment with pictures of my own interior! Well, only the nice pieces of course. On the other hand, I can just leave out the cracks and the dust bunnies!

The water colour inspiration trail did not come to an end yet. The next idea that turned up was painting swatches with water colour and tearing them in simple shapes, like petals, to use in collages or turn them into an illustration. Maybe have these tall childlike flowers reaching out to the sun? (I must be longing for spring).
Or I could use tissue paper and paint those - that would crumple up the paper and make a nice texture too.

So this is just an example of how one image can trigger the imagination and inspiration, if you just try looking behind the image itself. Even when that image has no special meaning to you.
I think that concentrating on inspiration these last few weeks made me so much more aware of how the things I encounter in everyday life can trigger so many new ideas.
And all I need now is the time to try them all out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rainbow Colours

I was looking for different objects around the house to photograph. The idea was to use objects in the colours of the rainbow. I did not have to look far: high up on the last shelf were some boxes with embridery floss that I have there for years - the dust on the lid poved it.
The colours in one of these boxes were somehow ordered in a rainbow sort of way: nice picture!

Then I selected some of thethreads and took seperate pictures, then placed them in one image. Maybe I should make a round shape with them? It will resemble a rainbow even better then.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Colour Combinations from Photographs

At the moment I am using photographs literally as inspiration for colour combinations. One of the easiest ways to do that is with the Kuler website:

You can let the website do it for you, but to be honest, I'd rather help the software to adjust it to the colours I like.

After working with these images of winter, I needed pictures with warmer colours:

Can you resist colours like this? Not me!
And a landscape photograph of Scotland in the autumn gave these colours to play with:

It is a highly addictive game to find these colours in your own photographs. But it is inspiring, so what other excuse do you need?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a very happy New Year filled with the good things of life!