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three scrapbooking classes… at the same time!

Omg, I don’t even know how it started, but I’ve been bitten by the scrapbooking bug.

Okay, rephrase, I’ve been bitten by the purchasing-loads-of-scrapbooking-stuff bug.

I already have loads of 6×6 paper pads from my art journaling – which I haven’t been doing much since meeting my SO – but I’ve recently discovered Studio Calico and Amy Tangerine.

Amy Tangerine Daybooks and a Smash pen

Next thing I find, I’ve purchased three of Amy Tangerine’s Daybooks, stickers and wood veneers (I haven’t purchased anything from Studio Calico because I missed their subscription date, I’m on their Project Life Kit waiting list – oh don’t get me started on Project Life!).

My SO didn’t help the matter much either; he whole heartedly encouraged me to purchase a scrapbooking album and full kit from a KaiserCraft store we happened to walk by.

With all this gear, I’ve also signed onto a couple of classes… ok, so it’s three – I’m so broke now…

The first one is The Curious Scrapbooker’s Field Guide by May Flaum over at Big Picture Classes. I heard this on the PaperClipping Roundtable podcast (yes, I’ve gotten into podcasts too).

It’s very much about techniques and using your existing stash of craft supplies, and not necessarily traditional scrapbooking supplies. In the current week’s lesson, we’re looking at using paint on scrapbook layouts.

Problem is, I’ve never scrapbook before, so I find that there’s some big gaping holes in my scrapbooking basics. And my pictures… they’re are a mess (organisation-wise).

Which is where the second class comes in, Stacy Julian’s Finding Photo Freedom also hosted at Big Picture Classes.

Finding Photo Freedom (previously known as Library of Memories) is an organisation system for your photos (both printed and digital) with scrapbookers in mind.

Neither classes have gone on for very long, so I can’t really write much of a review, but trying to get through two classes worth of material can be a bit mind boggling (especially if I try to do all their recommended homework as well!).

But I’m not finished yet. I also registered for {mo}tography, another class that I heard about on the PaperClipping podcast (that show is so bad for my wallet!).

This class teaches you to use your instagram photos in your scrapbooking.

Unfortunately, I thought there would be more information on the printing of photos from your phone and using them in scrapbook layouts. Instead it mainly introducing students to smart phone apps which could help you edit your photos in preparation for printing.

However for $19 I got a bit of my money’s worth from the digital fonts and templates that they give away as part of the class.

So now I have to juggle three classes’ worth of material as I navigate the treacherous waters of scrapbooking (not to mention trying to watch all the CHA 2013 videos that PaperClipping has put up – there’s 50 of them!) 

PS. In the process of writing this, I’ve also joined up as a premium member of PaperClipping.com – my justification, I need to mend those gaping holes in my knowledge! I know, I’m just bad at spending money (or not spending it).

woyww 100

Tearing myself away from my Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files audio books (read by James Marsters – *squeal*) – which I have been plugged to for the past two weeks (book 1 to 10) – I bring to you my first What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday post.

Since it is the first WOYWW post I thought I should show you my whole desk, as opposed to just what I’m working on.

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Actually thinking about it, I just realised that I’ve had previous pictures of my workdesk here.

Okay, maybe I’m just shamelessly plugging my own blog. XD

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, WOYWW is a link party for people showing off what’s on their workdesk on Wednesday (pretty obvious now that I spell it out, huh?). I suggest that everyone head over to Julia Dunnit’s blog,

Stamping Ground, to read more about it. If nothing else, the horror of showing the same project on my desk for weeks in a row would get me off my butt and doing some crafting. XD

Actually my art journaling has been going very slowly recently. In addition to my obsession with James Marster’s voice-acting abilities, I have been concentrating on mandalas instead of journal pages.

However, I’ve kept my journals opened at my workdesk in hopes that I would add bits and pieces to it as I pass by. (My workdesk is actually in my room, so it’s not like everything is hidden away in some corner of the house)

I’ve read people’s blogs where they say they could see what they want the page to look like and they work towards that. I can’t do that most of the time; I have no idea what I’m doing with a page until I’m halfway through. This may just be evidence of a lack of practice. But sometimes, sometimes I see images or colours in my mind’s eye and I know it supposed to go on the page.

The tree in the corner of the page was drawn at one such time.

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I have trouble drawing realistic looking trees, I make branches too uniformly wide and straight; a real tree is more twisty and bendy.

I’ve taken quite a number of photos from my trip to Ocean Grove over the Easter break last week, quite a number of them have trees that has a lot of character. I plan to go through them and do some in depth study of tree anatomy.

latest page

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It takes me so long to complete a page…

I took the photo using my iPhone, so please excuse the quality.

I have trouble writing irregularly but still neatly. I tried anyway and a temperamental brush helped too.

journal page - April 8, 2011

I also found these lovely scrapbook paper at a store just a few streets away – yay! – and I’ve been fighting my squeamishness at actually cutting the pretty paper for days before I finally got those pieces on the page.

Do you have trouble deconstructing existing pieces of art (even something as small as a piece of patterened paper) to incorporate into your own pages? I guess this has something to do with my insecurity, with believing that another person’s artwork was better than anything I could pull off.

But an art journal is a place me to explore techniques, to expand myself and my creativity. I should grit my teeth and let go (sounds contradictory?). But even though I can logically understand this argument, it is still a struggle for me to actually act on it, to believe in myself.

Have any of you watched Sucker Punch? It was only a “pretty movie” at best, but there was one line in it that stuck in my mind, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

That line relates to my struggles in a way; I am still trying to find out what I stand for, what I’m trying to get across. Am I creating pages to put down my own emotions and recording my own mental growth? Am I writing down words of wisdom for future generations to come? Or does it all just come down to my desire to create pretty pages to show off to the world at large?

My mind is unsure of the answer to these questions, or to what the question actually is; does it matter in the end? Or does it all relate back to what kind of person I am, what I stand for.

Perhaps the art journal is to help me figure this all out. If I let it.

goodies from ballarat

I was in Ballarat last week to see “Blood on the Southern Cross” at Sovereign Hill. Whilst there, I went to the Imagination Factory and I swear, after being in Hong Kong for so long – where scrapbooking, much less art journaling, is virtually unheard of – being in an actual physical scrapbooking store was like being in heaven.

I had quite a hard time stopping myself from spending my entire savings account on supplies. Instead, I had to content myself with buying just a couple of Tim Holtz’s Distress Inks (finally, some Tim Holtz products! I have a feeling I would be a fan), some memento dew drop inks and a Tim Holtz blending tool (I saw Samantha Kira using them a few weeks back and I’ve been itching to try those out). I also got my hands on some real scrapbooking paper, which I’m actually quite intimidated about using.

The bits that I used in the page above? It took a lot of umm’ing and ahh’ing before I got the courage to tear the bits needed from the scrapbook paper. I swear I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

This is Ballarat page I did in the

A bit more of the scrapbooking paper that I bought. I want to ask those of you who don’t own a die cutter, how you manage to cut these shapes evenly? I fold my paper into quarters and just cut one corner. But folding scrapbook paper can leave a very ugly crease. Just wondering whether anyone has a solution.

It’s not obvious in this photo, as I didn’t photograph to the edges of the page, but this layout is more “scrapbooking” than my other pages. Although I don’t like the rigid structure of scrapbooking, I think I might incorporate some of its layout elements – if only to make my pages look a little neater.

The photos on the page were printed using my PoGo printer – really happy with the way these photos came out. But I think I need to add a bit more on the page, perhaps some doodling around the edges of the photos…

convo book

Convo book, short for conversation book, may be something a lot of you already have, but may be calling it by a different name. (note: the more popular name for it would be “exchange diary”)

It is a diary of a sort, but you share it with another friend, or a group of friends. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it’s like a predecessor of an e-group/yahoo group; you write a letter (or letters) and pass the book onto the next person in the group, and they pass it to the next person.

It was something that my friends and I have been doing since high school, with some books (groups) being more successful than others. It’s normally the books between small groups of people (e.g. 2-3 people) that are the most successful; it’s easier to keep track of the book, and people are more willing to open up in their entries.

(the kind of book I used with my friends; it was pre-printed with subject titles, such as “today’s news”, “weather”, “mood”)

In the past, the convo books between my friends and I are primarily journal-based; letters to each other about events we all went to. In some of the later books, we would include a random sketch, or a ticket stub.

We stopped writing once I left to work in Hong Kong – our convo books were commentary on shared experiences as opposed to letters on missed events.

Since I’ve returned to Australia, I had re-discovered my old stash of convo books. I showed them to my friend, and we had a good giggle over the high school dramas we recorded.

My friend thought we should try resuming the exercise and the next day we went out to kikki.k and bought some really cute notebooks.

It wasn’t until a few entries into my notebook that I realise I should do an art journal page in the convo book. I won’t be doing a spread for every entry, that would just take way too long, but the occasional page would be a nice touch.

So how many people have taken part in convo books, or exchange diaries, before? I don’t mean round robin journals, but books where you have an on-going conversation with another person.

If you haven’t, why don’t you try starting one. It could be with someone you’re already really good friends with, or with someone you would want to get to know better.

Post a comment with a link of some of the entries that you’ve created.

now in australia

In fact, I’ve been in Melbourne for the past month already. However my computer only just arrived today and I’ve only just set everything up.

It was a weird sensation, being back at my parent’s house. All my high school and Uni stuff were still lying around as if none of the past six years happened. I was hit by a huge bout of nostalgia, which for me, can lead to depression. So I busied myself with rearranging my whole room and going out with friends while I waited for my boxes to arrive from Hong Kong. As my more recent possessions started to trickle in the mail, I started feeling more grounded, as if those books and art supplies acted as some kind of psychological tether.

I was especially happy when my art supplies arrived. I had rearranged the furniture in my room to fit another table, so now I have a dedicated workspace, with an even bigger desk than when I was in Hong Kong (which isn’t hard when I think I about it).

I haven’t been doing much art journaling in the past few months (although I have been doing a bit of photography) – it’s what happens when all the art stuff is packed away – but this new set up has totally got me itching to paint and doodle again.

I’ve also resumed a convo book again, which I’ll talk about next time.

watercolour exercise – trees and foliages

I’ve never been fond of watercolours, I thought watercolour paintings were boring and washed out.

It didn’t help that my first experience with the medium was with the primary-school-grade watercolour pans. The watercolours were so hard it took buckets of water to soften and even then the pigment was so washed out it was near non-existent. Is it any wonder that I run screaming the other way whenever I hear watercolours being mentioned?

Then I stumbled onto John Lovett’s site.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Does that painting look boring or washed out to you?

So after poring through all his tutorials and a myriad of YouTube videos, I succumbed and bought a set of Royal Talens’ ArtCreation Expression watercolours.

Yes, these are tubes and not watercolour pans – baby steps, baby steps.

My first few attempts at using watercolour was disastrous and was more a play of paint and colour on a page. As I wanted watercolour to be more than another medium to create colourful backgrounds, I realise that I have to practice (and practice and practice).

So here’s the result of my first exercise (taken from John Lovett’s site):

Watercolour exercise - foliage Watercolour exercise – foliage

Now I was still getting used to how watercolours change when it dries and the “painting” above looked really weird while it was still drying, so I tried again (below).

Watercolour exercise - trees Watercolour exercise – trees

As could be seen, I’m still having trouble controlling how much water to use XD

So I’ll need more practice and my next few entries will most likely record my attempts at using this medium.

mistake/fixed? – grunge wings

Unfortunately I do not have the before/after photos for comparison, but below is a page that I’ve mucked up but managed to fix through sheer perseverance.

You may need to enlarge the above picture (click on it) to see what I’m talking about, but there are two rectangles on the page, one on the top left hand corner of the page and one on the bottom right. Those are the remains of ticket stubs (I can’t even remember for what) that I stuck on the page. I found out, first hand, the reason you do not use double-sided tape to stick things you are later going to paint over; they bubble.

Not only did it bubble, but they stuck to the other side of the page and peeled off. I suddenly had two gaping white holes in my page.

My solution? Brayer over it (this was during the time when I brayered over everything. However I was careful to leave details in the background (ie. the wings) to show through.

The black-over-white text helped complete the grunge-up look.

acrylic exercises

Last week I was poring through all of Tim Gagnon’s Youtube videos on painting in acrylic.

I tried to duplicate the technique in this video, although on a much smaller scale.

I didn’t proceed through to the final step – putting the highlights into the grass – for a few reasons. The perspective in this painting was slightly different from those in the video and the depth of the foreground in this painting is shallower; the highlighted grass would seem out of place.

I really had trouble drawing the trees. The trunks never looked right to me. I would have to practice sketching more trees to get the angles right.

I also found that paint has to be fairly fluid to do straight lines. My brush and paint was too dry and I ended up with feathery lines where the paint skipped over the page. I’m most likely to going to give this another go and see whether I get better results.

I didn’t really like the way the background was going on this page, so I decided to test out Tim Gagnon’s cloud painting technique.

Whereas in the previous exercise my brush was too dry, in this exercise my brush was too wet; there was too much paint. I couldn’t get the feathering that Tim was doing in the video. I was also too impatient, I didn’t wait long enough for the paint to dry when building the opaque sections of the cloud. Instead of layering paint, I ended up pushing the paint out, making the cloud way larger than planned.

Although neither page worked out the way I expected, I felt like I’ve accomplished something. I guess figuring out how some things don’t work is also a kind of achievement.