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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Painting on Vintage Books: Inspirational Creationist

Inspirational Creationist: Loui Jover
Birds by Loui Jover
I was flicking through a collection of creative books when I came across an artwork which caught my eye: Birds by Loui Jover.

The Australian artist creates bold statements by using a Sumi-e ink-wash technique. The traditional technique has a fancy name but, basically, it is painting with black ink.

However, Jover reinvents the technique with his unique style and paints the black ink onto assembled pieces of vintage book paper.

The subject's eyelashes in Birds resemble feathers hence the name.

Jover inspired me to think of how the technique could be reinvented again. To achieve a similar, yet alternative, effect an image could be drawn onto scrap newspaper with a black biro pen.

Although, if trying to re-create the Sumi-e ink effect it is important to note that the paper type needs to be quite absorbent to allow for "a rich tonal range".

Jover has also been known to create Sumi-e ink-washes of famous faces such as Marylin Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.

What do you think of this artist's original approach?

Saturday, 28 January 2017

5 Things Most People Don't Know About Mindfulness: Mindfulness of the Month

Welcome to my first mindfulness of the month post of 2017! As it is the first in this series, this year, it occurred to me that maybe I should start right from the beginning with mindfulness. What actually is mindfulness?

Last year I seemed to launch straight into how to be more mindful without understanding and explaining what it really is.

So here are 5 facts about mindfulness:

Mindfulness is simply the awareness of experiences in the present moment. The modern definition of mindfulness isn't complicated but achieving it might be.

2 Unsurprisingly or not mindfulness originates from Buddhism.

3 Mindfulness and relaxation are different. They are often confused because relaxation can be a side effect of mindfulness but, whilst mindfulness is about being aware, relaxation is about being free from tension.

4 Apparently our minds can process 126 pieces of information per second! That is a lot we could be mindful about.

5 Mindfulness is the opposite of forgetfulness. We have probably all experienced being forgetful; it is when we are 'there' but 'not really there' - our minds are caught up with worries, fear, regret. Mindfulness is about bringing our attention back to the present. And during a shower may just be the best time to practise being mindful - ever finished a shower and realise you have no memory of it?

And just one to make you happy. Remember:
Every time your mind wanders and you bring it back to the present moment you are being mindful :)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Creativity Means So Much More Than Just Creating: A Painting for My Uncle

This is a story about how creativity can mean so much more than just paint on paper. But that is how it starts with a paintbrush, paints and some paper.

A while ago I reached for my paints and brushes once again but this time not just for fun, or to improve my painting skills, but to paint something for my Uncle.

My Uncle is in a nursing home and he recently lost his wife, my Auntie. I am not telling you this to get a reaction or make you feel sorry for me but because this is what inspired me to paint.

My Freesia in acrylic paints
This was and probably still is a very unsettling and confusing time for my Uncle. So I wanted to use my creativity to create something that would make him feel at home and have a sense of belonging.

A painting can brighten up a room and help to do just that. But a painting of what? Well, I love creating floral paintings and flowers bring a feeling of serenity. So I chose and painted an image of my Auntie's favourite flower, a Freesia, and that was my creation.

It was around November when I had finished and it was getting close to my Uncle's birthday. So I thought it might be nice to give him the painting as his birthday gift.

On his big day my family went to visit him and celebrate. I presented him with the flower, painted on a small canvas, and he seemed overjoyed. Just seeing the smile on his face gives me a lovely memory and I know I have used what I have been given, my creative talent, to create something wonderful for someone else.
The painting for my Uncle on his
bedroom wall

The painting now hangs on his wall brightening up his room. It makes me happy to think every time he looks at the painting it may bring some comfort to him.

The moral of this story is, even if you aren't an expert in something, use the talent you have or hobby you enjoy, find something to inspire you and make someone smile! Creativity can mean so much more than just creating or improving a skill but if you do learn along the way then that's a bonus. Take control of your creativity and use it to turn a bad situation into a good one.

Be innovative, be creative & be happy.

From flower bud to full bloom - the journey of my painting

Focus: Once I had found the right image of a single Freesia I began to sketch the outline.

Medium: I wanted it to be an impressive piece for my Uncle; acrylics provide depth and they are the medium I am most comfortable painting with so this is what I used.

I found that experimentation with mixing paint is key to finding the right colours to reflect the image; it took me a while to achieve the final colours I used. I also learnt to make enough of your chosen colours as it is difficult to mix the exact same colour again if you run out.

The transformation of my Freesia painting
Technique: When transferring the paint to the canvas I used a splodge motion to create a spottle effect and abstract appearance of the Freesia.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

2 Minute Chocolate Fondant Mug Cake

January is renowned for being cold, dull and long and sometimes we just need a bit of a pick-me-up. But we don't want to be faffing in the Kitchen for ages trying to conjour something up.

So spend less time faffing and more time snuggling up with this delicious chocolate fondant mug cake perfect for January. It is the ultimate chocolate hit which is sure to warm up your winter in minutes! Pop it all in a mug, warm it in the microwave and you have your crispy on the outside and soft on the inside winter warmer.

I can't promise it will last longer than it takes you to make it though!


For decoration:
1 square milk chocolate
Raspberries (optional)
Small meringues or whipped cream (optional)

  1. Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds (800 watts).
  2. In a mug: beat in one by one the egg, sugar, vanilla sugar (vanilla essence), melted butter and cocoa.
  3. Cook in the microwave for 1 minute (800 watts).
  4. Decorate with the square of milk chocolate, a few raspberries and either a small meringue or some whipped cream.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Help to Shape the Future of Birmingham: BBAP Review

If you have been following my blog then you'll have heard about the Birmingham Big Art Project (BBAP) before.

You may remember that 5 shortlisted artist's proposed artworks were to be on display at various Birmingham galleries and I said I would be checking them out. Well I kept my promise; I visited Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery's (BMAG) installation and I was not disappointed.

Just in case you have no clue what I am talking about let me re-cap. The BBAP is an initiative set to become an iconic, public, art statement within Birmingham's creative scene. They aim to install a public artwork by April 2018 to put Birmingham on the global map.

BBAP Exhibition Review
The display begins at one end of a corridor which is filled with creativity and inspiring artworks. As you view each piece you can't help but imagine it on a larger scale. It definitely is a project featuring some big art ideas!

Fact File 
Duration: December 10 - April 23 2017
Location: BMAG (Also on display at Eastside Projects until April 23)
BBAP Twitter: @bigartproject

Industrial Revolution by Keith Wilson

Keith Wilson's 10 year trip
First up, on the left handside, is Keith Wilson's Industrial Revolution. It is the concept of a slow moving sculpture destined to travel from one end of Eastside City Park to the other over the next 10 years - yes you heard that right, 10 years!

The train with no name
As yet untitled by Roger Hiorns
Next is Roger Hiorns' untitled proposal of a landscape of small and large engines. One of which will be a 3D scanned steam train modelled in stone and then given an exterior which resembles human skin. Hmm, I wonder why he had trouble coming up with a name for this?! Are you all aboard with Hiorns' idea?

Small Giants by Brian Griffiths

Brum all dressed up
Alternatively, Brian Griffiths claims his proposal can be "worn by the city of Birmingham and its people". He wants to work with craftspeople from the Jewellery Quarter to create a series of 'Small Giants' (bespoke jewellery pieces), available to the public and, converted into one giant sculpture for Eastside City Park.

Station Clock by Susan Phillipsz

Tick tock says Susan
Susan Phillipsz' Station Clock proposes to represent the past, present and future of Birmingham. Each of the 12 digits of this clock will reflect a musical tone created by the voices of the people of Birmingham. They will sound every 5 minutes but more quietly at night.

Blueprint for Happiness by
Heather and Ivan Morrison
A cube of happiness
Heather and Ivan Morison take the cheery approach of a cube sculpture which goes by the name of Blueprint for Happiness. The artists describe it as "the perfect colliding cuboid geometries of minerals created deep beneath the earth. Its intricate gleaming facets represent a realignment of the many layers of Birmingham's long history into a new geometry for the future."

As the exhibition ends audiences are invited to vote for their favourite proposed artwork. The public's favourite will play a huge part in the steering panel's final decision. If you're the art-y type or simply want to be part of a decision that shapes the future of your city then view these inspirational ideas in person and vote for your favourite!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Exclusive Interview: The Secret of Art as a Pastime Revealed

When it comes to art we always hear from the experts about what made them successful whilst the beginners and hobbyists get pushed into the background. But everyone starts somewhere and those are the secrets we need to know in order to be successful. And success doesn't just mean earning a living or reputation from something - success can mean finding something you enjoy.
"painting is a good way to express feelings"
In an exclusive interview Louise Hill, who has been painting as a hobby for 2 years, reveals why art as a pastime is great for expressing yourself and your feelings.

Myself (left) and Louise (right)
What inspired you to paint?
"I have been painting, in my free time, for 2 years now; I started drawing first, doing pencil sketches for about half a year and then I decided to have a go at watercolour painting.

"Scenery, watching films and things I see inspire me to paint. And painting is a good way to express feelings. I just have an urge to paint and it is a good way to express myself on paper."

Would you ever consider turning your hobby into a career?
"I did think about it. I set up my own website and got a few prints made which I tried selling on a stall. A lot of people were interested and said they would look on my website.

"Although, I enjoy doing it more as a hobby because there is less pressure. If I was pressured to make a certain amount of paintings I may not enjoy it as much and they may not turn out as well."

Which is your favourite artwork and why?
"Starry Sky on canvas is my favourite because it was my first time painting on canvas and I think you can really see the detail; the overall effect on the canvas is really good."

Starry Sky 2016
What media and techniques did you use?
"[For Starry Sky] I used watercolour paint. I just used a little bit of white watercolour paint, with no water, and dotted it on the canvas using different size brushes to create the starry sky effect.

"For the trees I used a slanted, square brush and pressed down and I think the canvas provides a textured effect which makes it look really good."

What is your advice for art beginners/hobbyists?
"Just go for it. If you feel the urge to paint then just paint something and see how it turns out.

"Don't be afraid to use other paintings for inspiration, do a few copies and make it your own."

Visit Louise's Facebook page and website to view more of her work.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Top 10 Tunes to Inspire Creativity

All the excitement of Christmas and New Year is over; the cold weather, the dark evenings, everyone trying to cut out the treats after overindulging is the reason January can feel a bit dull.

Sometimes January can make it a struggle to be creative. But, that doesn't have to be the case. With all these ways to listen to music nowadays see if turning up the tunes turns up your creativity too.

Top 10 Tunes To Inspire Creativity
From pop party classics to reggae and rap here is my pick of 10 tunes which are sure to inspire and get you feeling creative again.

1 S Club 7: Bring It All Back. Bring your creativity back with this classic party hit.
2 DNCE: Cake By The Ocean. It's hard to not be happy when there's cake involved, right?
3 Olly Murs: Deeper. Olly will launch you deep into your creativity with his upbeat tune.
4 Fun: We Are Young. A fun song if you fancy a more chilled route to creativity.
5 Cheat Codes: Let Me Hold You (Turn Me On). This tune will turn your creativity on.
6 Toploader: Dancing in the Moonlight. If you are a similar age to me then this probably brings back the happiness of your childhood memories too.
7 The Script: Hail Rain or Sunshine. A bit different from The Script's usual style, it really gives you that feel good feeling.
8 Omi: Cheerleader. This tropical tune is sure to 'cheer' you up and make you forget it's January.
9 Pitbull: Timber. It may be a bit "last year" but it's still a top party tune sure to get your mojo back.
10 Chainsmokers: Closer. Just the bass of this song will bring you 'closer' to your creativity.

Which tunes inspire you to be creative?

Friday, 6 January 2017

New Year, New Goals, New Creativity

Hello everyone; Happy New Year! In my last post, before Christmas, I said I was having a break to let my hair down and enjoy the festivities.

I now feel refreshed and have plenty of new ideas. I am back, blogging and ready to share these with you.

A new year also means lots of new creativity and new goals.

I love reading other people's New Year resolutions so I wanted to quickly share a few creative goals I have set for myself...

During 2017 I aim to improve my art skills, (considering I am not much of a reader anymore) read at least 2 books, read one magazine per month, become more mindful and visit at least 6 art galleries. I'll update you with how I get on but please feel free to share yours!

Some of these goals will influence my blog content throughout the New Year. Expect food art including yummy mug cake recipes, art-y stories and artist interviews, more mindfulness posts, reviews such as The Birmingham Big Art Project exhibtion and lots more from the world of creativity.

I hope you are looking forward to reading my posts as much as I am looking forward to creating them and I'll be back next week with the start of them! Until then keep creative guys.