Monday, April 20, 2015


Sometimes, You Just Have To Do It Your Own Way  Art Journal Page

©2015 Tracey Hewitt
There’s been a lot going on here over the past week. Most dramatically, a shed fire. Another one. It’s been a while since the hay shed went up in flames – seven years, I think – but, surely one shed fire in a lifetime is enough for anyone – right? Maybe not. This one had no hay in it… but it did have an old Toyota, a ride on lawnmower, and a few other very useful bits and pieces; as well as a tractor parked right beside it. Not anymore. That thing’s now a pile of molten metal and ash.
However, my precious daughter-in-law and granddaughter, who were the only ones around for quite a distance when they noticed they had an ENORMOUS campfire - and no marshmallows - are safe and unharmed. Their house, which was closer than any of us would have liked to the fire, is also safe and sound. Bullet dodged, fire out, and heavy sighs of relief heaved.
 
The fire has nothing to do with the next thing on the agenda - but everything to do with this journal page - which is teaching another round of ArtJournaling classes, which might be some of the best fun it's possible to have! The page you see here is the result of some preparation sample and demo pieces for the classes. It also started with some writing about that fire. This is what is so transformative about the Art Journaling process (well, really about any creative process, but I love art journaling, because it truly is accessible to anyone). You can write out your worries and your woes, get lots of crap off your chest, and proceed to obliterate it with funky colours, patterns and scribbles, transforming that icky experience completely. You can still see snippets of the writing in odd places, which ultimately become just another layer of line and form.
 

Detail:  Sometimes, You Just Have To Do It Your Own Way

This was put together using mostly spray inks, stencils, and a mask I cut based on a photo of Keelan on his wedding day, as he was walking toward the altar. (Or, to be more precise, the gate and arch set up in front of the garden bed in our backyard for the ceremony.)
 
The stencil had been cut, waiting to be used for a while, and I grabbed it without thinking too much - just needed to get the page done, and I was keen to see how this mask would come up. It morphed from an account of  blazing destruction; to cool, strong colours carrying a great sense of independence and hope for the future. I don’t know about you, but that feels pretty transformative to me.                                                                                                                                                                            

Friday, April 10, 2015

Grow

Grow  -  Art Journal Page

©2015 Tracey Hewitt
I'm wracking my brain trying to remember a quote about trees - knowing when to rest and lay dormant, and when to burst into magnificent flower and all that poetic stuff. Essentially, it's about how we need times of fallow to rest and regroup and build strength readying ourselves for the moment when we flower magnificently. Or something along those lines.

This art journal page is partly about such a notion. It was an odd page for a long time; when I'm splashing around paint and ink and generally making a mess, I hate to waste pigment - so there's always a page or two in the journal with smears and splotches where I've wiped off a stencil, or used up a brush, cleaned off a stamp, or tested a new art supply. These pages often have a few interesting areas in them, but can get overly busy to do much more with. I've been admiring this technique of over painting large areas of a page, leaving bits of those busy pages showing through, and decided this would be a good page to try this on.

Not much thought went into this - a quick outline with a China Marker, and on with a layer of black gesso. That looked OK, but it needed a little bit of something else. So, the ever trusty White Sharpie Poster Paint Marker to the rescue! Outlining this growing little plant was a good start... but it still wanted something more...

I started to write around the edges, and began with the first word that came into my head. Grow. the rest goes like this:

Grow she said...
Grow and stretch and expand and discover the amazing things you can do with this wondrous  life you've been given.
Open up, take deep breaths and inhale possibility.
Let go of the thoughts and beliefs that hold you back.
You were sent here to shine
So be free
Be bold
Be brave and find your wings and fly.
Grow.
So the world can have the very best of you.
Everyone's waiting.

Then off I went to chase the horse out of the garden (they love to eat my palm trees - go figure!), forgetting all about the words that found their way onto the page.

Fast forward a few days. Reading this again, I love these words. They are my prayer for you - for all of us. The last line - "Everyone's Waiting" - were stuck on the end because there was a small space that needed filling Now, that lines feels the most powerful.

Let's not keep everyone waiting any longer. Let's grow, shall we?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Try Something New

video

What does it say about your personality when you have an idea to try something you know bugger all about, and think "I can't do this, but I'm doing it anyway?" I don't know, either, but here are the results! For a long time, I have thought that adding a few videos of works unfolding and techniques in action might be fun for me, and interesting for you. I have a lot to learn, and will possibly need to relocate to an area where I can access a much bigger Internet data quota (apologies to the Aussie Government, but this NBN thing isn't working out so well for us out here), which isn't such a realistic idea. I think there is a lot of research and education in my immediate future if I'm to follow this notion any further. 

However... this was fun for me, and I hope you find the video a little bit interesting. It's a time lapse look at creating a background with tissue paper on canvas for a mixed media work. The background was done without any firm idea of what the focal point might be. That realisation came a little later.


Small Wonders 

©2015 Tracey Hewitt  Watercolour and mixed media on canvas


After the addition of some acrylic paints to introduce a little colour, it occurred to me that this would be the perfect background for another challenge I'd been hankering to take on. A photo of our Granddaughter, Payton, in a rare moment of stillness, had been whispering it's longing to be drawn or painted for a couple of months. For someone who, a few years ago, wouldn't even attempt to draw a face or human form, because "that's not my thing, I just can't do them"; I'm pretty excited to have captured a resemblance to a human being, much less enough of a resemblance to a particular human for her parents to know she was the model!

 Her features were sketched in, with Derwent Graphitint pencils. These babies might be my favourite art supply. (Even as I type that, a hundred other little special art supplies are clamouring in my mind to be named favourites, as well!) These pencils - as the name suggests - are much like a graphite pencil, with the added appeal of a range of beautiful, subtle colours, as well as being water soluble. They're not as intense as some of the other water soluble pencils out there, so the results are soft and delicious. A little watercolour for the pink in her dress and lips, a few touches of inky black for details, and she was done.

That little butterfly she's so intently looking at? That is a perfect example of the glorious serendipity of layering materials and media. It wasn't until after I'd drawn Payton in, that I noticed that little butterfly on an underlying layer of tissue paper, perfectly placed to seem to be sitting on her hand, and the focus of her rapt attention. Sometimes, there are forces at work when we create that simply cannot be explained. Happens to me all the time. And, it's the best feeling. 



Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Watery Challenge

Have you ever really thought about how remarkable water is? Being a farmers wife, I’ve always known how important it is - without water there is no life. So, it’s utterly essential. But, I have to confess, it wasn't until I started this Photo A Day Challenge with ABC Open that I’ve ever explored just what water is really capable of. Never really spent much time contemplating the many possible faces, facets and characters of water.



It can be peaceful, serene and soothing; as it appears here at sunset over Bell Lagoon Dam. This dam has featured here before - it is frequently the home to a pair of black swans, a pod of pelicans, or a raft of ducks - do yourself a favour and do a google search for the names of groups of things - fascinating stuff! Did you know that a group of Owls is called a Parliament? 



Water can also be dynamic and exciting - filling a balloon with water and bursting it, trying to catch the explosion of water, requires a very willing, waterproof helper; at least 6 water filled balloons ready to go; a camera set on continuous shooting and a good dash of persistence. The result, though, when you finally nail it, is thrilling. Or is that just because it started to thunder and pour rain right as we stuck the pin in the last full balloon, thus adding to the sense of urgency?





Water can also gush, as it does here, out of the hose off the water tanker that my baby (OK..so he's 23, but still, he's my baby!) uses when he’s spraying crops. He’s not into wasting water though, and this is just the bit of water held in the hose after the taps are turned off. I had to be really quick to catch this one - though he did kindly help me out by pressing down quickly on the hose to push the last bit out in a gush.


All this attention to water has reminded me of the importance of attention, of noticing, of really seeing. It’s also given my creativity a much needed kick in the butt. Spending a little time each day contemplating how to make something as mundane as water coming out of a hose look interesting and visually appealing, while at the same time considering the technical requirements of actually getting the photo, has been surprisingly challenging and stimulating. 



The biggest challenge so far though, was “A fish swimming in water”. I have no fish. I live a long way from anyone with fish. Short of dumping a frozen fillet of flounder into a bucket of water, I was stumped. I was discussing my dilemma with my girls (they’re my sons wives, technically, but they’re still ‘my’ girls) and Leah quickly had a solution. Little Payton has a pair of floaties with an inflatable fish on top - terrible floaties for a small person, but you can cut the fish off, and send him swimming! Crisis averted. Not sure it will win any prizes for creative photography…but it kind of makes me smile.

There’s still a few days to go - and a quick look at the topics for each day reveal some more challenges ahead. Do you suppose cleaning the shower counts as “water sports”?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

 
I've just made a disturbing discovery. Sometime last year, in the middle of some epic convivial confusion, the email address used for receiving notification of your comments here was closed and I neglected to change it in the bowels of the settings here. So... Some of you have made lovely comments here, and it would appear you have been ignored! My most sincere apologies! I love to receive comments here. That glitch is all fixed up now, and I promise if you use your precious time to comment here, that I will respond!
 

 
For the month of February, I've accepted a photo-a-day challenge, run by Lisa Clarke from ABC Open. The theme is - can you guess?
Water.
That's a fun one. Lots of scope for getting that camera off auto and testing out what it can really do.
This was day two's challenge - Water Coming Out Of A Tap. This was taken with a really fast shutter speed to freeze the movement of the water as it shot out of my garden tap.
What's great about a challenge like this, is that it stretches you - makes you look at things closely; differently - and kick starts that creativity that may have become a little sluggish. ABC Open is great for that. They have projects on the go all the time - writing, photography and video - from all over Australia. You can get inspired by other peoples efforts, or jump up and create your own. Go check it out.
 
 Right now, I'm off for a walk to take today's photo - A River. Luckily, there's one a hundred yards or so from our back door, so locating it wont be a problem. Coming up with a creative way to take a picture of it, however, may be another matter, but, I'm up for the challenge.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Tale of Three Art Journal Pages

Just One Heart Art Journal Page
© 2014 Tracey Hewitt
One way and another, the art has been struggling for attention lately. What with plotting ways to spoil a new grandbaby, end of financial year, and a tiny change in our farm business structure (how is it that a tiny change necessitates a thousand phone calls, pieces of paper, and forms to fill in? It will forever remain a mystery...) just to name a few; the time available for creativity has been limited.
 
There are, thankfully, Art Journals. Smeared with paint, spattered with ink, heavy with bits and bobs glued in, and carrying no pressure to come up with anything special - just to pick up a brush, pencil or scrap of paper and slap something on a page. Aaahh.... balm for a careworn soul.
 
As I'm writing this, looking at Just One Heart up there, I realise there should be a comma after the word blooming. Oops! (As a self confessed grammar Nazi, that's going to bug me quite a bit!) The page was created with Dylusions Ink sprays, assorted stencils, a few bits of paper, coloured pencils, stamps and marker pens. The Art of Whimsical Lettering by Joanne Sharp delivered the inspiration to have a crack at some fancy lettering - which was tremendous fun!
 
Worry Art Journal Page
© 2014 Tracey Hewitt

So much fun, in fact, that there was more on the next journal page. Worry is a Misuse of your Imagination. I need this tattooed inside my eyelids! Not only a misuse, but probably a terrible waste of imagination as well. Constructed in a quite similar fashion to the first page, with acrylic paints instead of ink sprays, and a hand cut stencil. Manilla folders are infinitely more interesting used to cut a stencil than they could ever hope to be in my office.
 
Ink Calf Art Journal Page
© 2014 Tracey Hewitt

As life's path seemed to be walking me more and more towards cows and tractors (which I shouldn't complain about - that enterprise kind of keep us fed and clothed), and further away from the studio, I engaged that imagination, and decided to try bringing the farm to the journal. This little guy is brushed in Sumi ink (my current infatuation) over a stencilled, ink sprayed, and scrap paper collaged background. He's funky, but I think I love him.
 
 
A little story, for your information: I often add links to products, books, artists, places - pretty much anything that I think is great. Only because I use it, love it, just plain cannot live without it; and to make it easier for you to find more info about the things I'm waffling on about. No one pays me to give them a plug - it's all about the love!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making Friends with Muriel - The Joy and Wonder of Art Journals

Making Friends With Muriel; Art Journal Page
©2014 Tracey Hewitt
Let me introduce you to Muriel. I think she is in fact a little older than she looks; and she is the face belonging to the voice inside my head. Some people would call her the "Inner Critic", there are probably a hundred titles we could give her. Please tell me you have one too? You know, the voice that tells you how much you suck; that you're too fat, too skinny, too loud, too.... you can fill in the space. That ever present nagging that you're not enough of the good stuff and too much of the not good stuff. A little while ago, she was getting real loud. It was time to deal with her. It started with some writing, and at some point, I burst out laughing, because I realised that she reminded me of my high school Home Economics teacher. This woman had a most unfortunate voice, and was possibly the most negative human being I had encountered in my fourteen or so years. She would hawk up some spit onto her fingers to wipe chalk from the blackboard, and, most unfortunately, would swipe her finger through one cake batter after another in the Home Ec kitchen, suck it off, and move on to the next bowl, until she had tasted them all - never washing that finger off. And yes, she probably had spat on it to clean the blackboard first. Toss in sarcastic and a tiny bit mean, and (not that I consider this a character flaw, but it affected my opinion of her back then) sorrowfully dowdy and dull.

But, back to Muriel. It was time, as I said, to put her in her place. A quick sketch with a water brush filled with Sumi Ink (which might just be the best fun you can have with any drawing instrument on earth), and suddenly, she was getting a makeover. Sparkly turquoise glasses, bright pink lips and a big, fat piece of my mind! Who knew that could be so much fun?

Again, I was reminded of the power of art. To start with a topic, subject or feeling that has negative aspects; express it with colour and movement, and through the process transform it completely. The great thing about it is this - it happens every time.

Muriel will forever live in my head, and sometimes, she has some useful stuff to offer - like "For heaven's sake, get OFF Facebook and DO something!" But, when she's being a cow; thinking about this journal page makes me smile, and quietly ignore her and get on with shooting for stars and aiming for awesome. (Neither of which I accomplish, but I figure it's good to set your sights high!)