How to set up your art space for mixed media and art journaling

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My top 5 tips for organizing your art space and having a great setup. Watch the short video below or read the transcript underneath.

Tip 1. A Tidy Start

Clutter kills creativity. OK maybe not, but a clutter of art supplies when I start makes me feel overwhelmed with too many choices. A clean desk means I can start with a sense of calm and go from there.

Tip 2. Workspace Aplenty

I’m sure lots of you can relate to having only a small space to work in. It’s important to have more surface than just what you need for your journal or substrate. That way you can have the materials you’re working with around you. Set up a foldable table if possible.

Tip 3. Get Organized

Everything should have its own place. It will help you find this quickly and also makes tidying up much easier.

Tip 4. Quick Access

When it’s hidden away, I don’t use it and forget I have it. All my favourite art supplies are within arms reach and visible. That way I can quickly grab what I need without having to get up. It really helps me stay in the creative flow.

Tip 5. Get Rid Of It!

If you don’t use it, lose it! It clutters up your art space and makes you feel like you ‘should’ use it. If you don’t use or enjoy certain supplies, get rid of them (Freecycle, charity shop, arty friends) and make space for things you DO like.

The Duality of Life – Mixed Media Workshop & Giveaway!

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Read full course description and register for instant access

Scroll down to enter the giveaway.

Exploring Our Feelings

I’ve been on this journey lately (maybe all my life, but I just didn’t know it yet?! Lol) to incorporate ALL the feelings into my life, not just the ‘nice’ or socially approved ones. I really need that, and from looking at my kids and wanting the best for them: I think the whole world needs that.

We have these feelings whether we like them or not and it’s our job to give them space, let them exist and let them teach us. And preferably not bash people over the head when we’re really angry, if you know what I’m saying (but not suppress the anger! Because I think it’s the suppression of feelings that makes you feel like bashing people. I’m being funny but I hope you get what I’m saying).

So, this was the starting point when I developed my new mixed media workshop The Duality Of Life. It’s a mini course that teaches you straightforward mixed media techniques, but also explores more deeply the conflicting feelings that are inside us and encourages you to allow them room to breathe.

I’m very excited about sharing this with you and I hope you will enjoy learning the techniques and it will be a truly enriching experience for you!

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What This Course Will Do For You

Techniques you will learn

  • working with a variety of art supplies
  • creating a textured background
  • sketching & shading a front facing portrait

Concepts we will explore

  • finding harmony in conflicting emotions
  • exploring your inner emotional landscape
  • embracing imperfection & finding joy in the process

What is included

  • one hour of detailed video footage with voiceover
  • in-depth PDF walkthrough with photos
  • printable template of the face
  • supply list with suggestions for alternatives
  • all materials are downloadable and yours to keep
  • no time limit: access course at any time & work at your own pace
  • access to Facebook group to share work & get feedback
  • automatic instant access upon payment & signup

Click here to read the full course description, download the supply list and register for instant access

Giveaway

Celebrating the launch of a new workshop wouldn’t be complete without a giveaway!! One lucky person will win a spot on The Duality of Life!

To enter please:
1. sign up to my newsletter (opens in a new window)
2. leave a comment telling me what it would mean to you to take this course

Bonus Entries
For bonus entries please SHARE this post publicly on your social media (use the ‘Share this’ buttons below this post). One entry per unique share. Make sure you let me know in the comments where I can find your share links!

Giveaway closes at 11.59pm UK time on Sunday 5 July. If the winner has already purchased the course they will be entitled to a refund or they can gift their place.

Register now for instant access to all course materials

Art Journaling In The Woods On a Camping Holiday

So this weekend just gone we went on an adventure! Andrew won a photo competition for Eco Camp UK which meant we got to stay for free at one of their camps for the weekend.

As you may know I’m preparing for being a guest teacher on Art Journal Summer School, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test drive the supply list (toiletry bag with limited art supplies – you can download the list here!) and do some art journaling while camping!

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Now I have to be honest with you, in the past I have found it hard to enjoy art journaling on holiday. I always take the materials with me, but I have a hard time choosing supplies (so I take too many and end up using none!) and then find it hard to enjoy making art. I think it’s about working in random/confined spaces and having to put things away again after a session.

So the challenge was to pack only the things on the supply list (I almost succeeded… I put in one extra ink spray and roll of washi tape… but that was it I promise!) and then to find the time to art journal and actually enjoy it!

Well I can say I truly succeeded!

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I think the difference this time was that I was more relaxed due to the limited supplies. Using a toiletry bag is super portable which is very convenient! I sat at a picnic table and at a certain point I also journaled while sitting on a picnic chair (no table).

You do have to adjust your expectations slightly. I’m usually very much into acrylic paints, but that’s harder when you only have a small water container (pro tip! Use an empty drink bottle with a wide neck for your paint water. I used a Fruit Shoot bottle). A water brush is definitely very useful, I use a Pentel Aquabrush.

As I was getting out my charcoal pencil for sketching I had a brainwave and decided I could use charcoal from the campfire!! I was feeling super authentic at this point haha. It also made me realise why we buy charcoal as an art supply, as it’s way more concentrated and easy to work with than charcoal from the fire.

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I’m feeling super heartened and inspired by this experience. I now can’t wait to take my little stress free bag of art supplies with me everywhere! Next up I think I’m going to try some places closer to home like the local park and a café.

If you’d like to learn to make beautiful pages with a limited number of art supplies, then I think you will like Art Journal Summer School. Early bird price is on until 31 May! The pages I showed you in this post use similar techniques and supplies as what you will be learning about in my lesson.

Live Like It’s Your Last Day

Welcome to episode 4 of Art Play Relay. This month I’m finishing the painting that Juna started last month!

The Videos

My video:

Juna’s video:


You can read Juna’s blogpost about her process here.

People are posting amazing work in response to this project and doing collaborative artwork. If you’d like to be involved, you still can! Join the Facebook group here to see the artwork, find a buddy and post your work.

The quote for this artwork is:

Live like it’s your last day

Supply List

  • Golden high flow acrylics
  • Stabilo All pencils (or regular pencils)
  • Gel pens
  • Paint pens
  • Stamps
  • Gesso

Thought Process

Juna’s painting was so lovely and looked so ‘finished’ in a way, it was hard to know what I wanted to do. I approached it intuitively, and just grabbed supplies that felt ‘right’. This as opposed to thinking in advance what I wanted the page to look like and then just executing the idea step-by-step.

The circular sun shape with fluorescent paint is coming up often in my work recently. I really felt like I wanted the sun to be at the top of the painting, rather than the bottom. I then started pondering the quote itself. It felt like a sad quote, but also something filled with possibility. It reminded me of the circle of life. I also thought that your last day would be a good day to nurture the child inside you, rather than a day filled with heavy obligation.

So I started with a child’s face and as I was doing that I had the idea to represent the different generations. I gave them roots to the ground. The coloured pencils I used give it a very ethereal look because you can see the blue background shining through.

The roots felt grounding and the sun felt uplifting, but I also wanted to represent the sadness of dying. That is where the yellow drips came in.

As a final step I felt the figures needed something extra (because of their colouring/translucency they recede into the background a lot) so I picked three symbols to represent their place in life. A star feels new and bright for the youngest, a sun for the constant figure a mother is and a crown for the wisdom of the elder generation.

Why Do I Create Art?

why-do-i-create-art[image by Fré Sonneveld]

The simple (and slightly vague) answer is, because it fills my soul. I can’t not create art. I live a full life raising two kids and running a business so it often happens that I can’t create art for a few days. When that happens I just don’t feel quite right, I start getting frustrated and I just feel that pull of needing to create!

I guess that all sounds lovely and divinely inspired, but I want to level with you:

It hasn’t always been this way for me

For years I dabbled with art, stopping and starting, struggling to find a groove, not finding it to be that amazing creative holy grail that I thought it would be. I looked at other people creating their amazing art in their own unique style and it felt SO FAR REMOVED from my reality. It was pretty disheartening.

I kept coming back to it though. There was an attraction to art and to creating art that I couldn’t deny, but I had to do some work on coming to it from the right place, even though at first I didn’t even realise I was coming to it from the wrong place. That ‘place’ I am talking about is how you approach making art in your mind and in your heart.

And I’ll tell you a secret:

It has nothing to do with whether you can or can’t draw

I didn’t fully grasp until the beginning of 2014, when I picked ‘journey’ as my word of the year, that I had been approaching art in a results focussed way, rather than as a process. I wanted to create certain paintings, inspired by what I loved seeing other artists create. I thought the joy was in the completed piece, in the end result. I never thought about how I wanted the creating process to feel or whether that could be something enjoyable too.

Or I thought it was one of those elusive things reserved for other people. They know how to enjoy creating art, but I don’t. Or I attached it to skill: I will start enjoying creating art when I can draw a photo realistic portrait.

I started focussing more on the process. What did I like doing, what materials did I enjoy using, what was it I needed to let go of, what was it I needed to invite more of into my heart & mind? The biggest change that this brought was the realisation that what other people do or like or use does NOT have to be same same as me.

That realisation set me free

I admit that I still get tripped up with this sometimes. I look at the work of artists I admire and I start thinking that because I LOVE their work, somehow my art needs to be like theirs.

It doesn’t.

Asking myself what I like doing and the other questions above, has been transformational. Your answers will probably be completely different from mine: CELEBRATE THAT!

Get to know your own unique loveable fallible quirky amazing self

I realised my passion is doing faces. I don’t like ‘colouring in’ (illustration-type work). I ADORE acrylics but I don’t care as much for watersoluble media. I need(ed) to let go of perfection and the wish for my art to look like other people’s art. I needed to invite more trust in, that my work is just right, right now.

Reading back what I’ve written above makes me feel so excited and amazed that I’ve come so far! It also makes me hopeful that if you are on any stage along a similar journey that you will find reading my story helpful and it will help you be a happier person and artist!

Why do YOU create art?

Let me know in the comments below.

Art Journal & Tutorial Videos

It feels like when I do a lot of one thing, something else gets left behind! My focus these days has been on creating videos, which means I haven’t been blogging a lot. A few weeks ago I blogged a lot, which meant I wasn’t doing as much art. It’s hard to fit in all the things I want to do, because I want to do so much! I absolutely love being on this creative journey and all that goes with it: creating art, blogging, making videos, art supply shopping (..I think I have a slight addiction), connecting with other artistic people online. It’s awesome!

So in this post I bring you my most recent videos!

Every time I create a video I learn more about how to do this well. How to edit, what works, what doesn’t, what I need to be aware of when talking on camera. It’s a fun learning experience!

I’d love to know what you like when you watch an art video. Short or long? Talking or no talking? On screen text or no text?

Life Book 2014 Round Up – The Year So Far

This year I’m participating in Life Book 2014, a year long art course run by my dear friend Tamara Laporte over at Willowing. It’s a fantastic course that has new content every week throughout the year with both lessons by Tam herself and quite a few guest teachers. It’s basically a fun filled art party with plenty to learn, experiment and get inspired by. You can still sign up!

As we’re now halfway through the year I thought I’d show you the pieces I’ve completed so far!

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Journey – mixed media on watercolour paper – week 1 lesson by Tamara Laporte

Process | mixed media in A5 journal, from Micki Wilde Life Book 2014 lesson
Process – mixed media in A5 journal – week 2 lesson by Micki Wilde

Creativity & Play | based on a Life Book lesson by Carla Sonheim
Creativity & Play – mixed media on A6 cards – week 3 lesson by Carla Sonheim

Truth & Beauty | mixed media in A5 journal, from Kelly Hoernig Life Book 2014 lesson
Truth & Beauty – mixed media in A5 journal – week 4 lesson by Kelly Hoernig

Sweet Like Cotton Candy | mixed media on watercolor paper Life Book lesson by Marieke Blokland
Sweet Like Cotton Candy – mixed media on watercolour paper – week 5 lesson by Marieke Blokland

Be Present | mixed media in art journal based on a Life Book lesson by Tamara Laporte
Be Present – mixed media in A4 journal – week 6 lesson by Tamara Laporte

Authenticity | mixed media in art journal based on a Life Book lesson by Tamara Laporte
Authenticity – mixed media in A4 journal – week 6 lesson by Tamara Laporte

Ink Spray Study | mixed media on watercolour paper based on a Life Book lesson by Tamara Laporte
Ink Spray Study – mixed media on watercolour paper – week 6 lesson by Tamara Laporte

Be Still And Listen | mixed media in A4 art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow
Be Still And Listen – mixed media in A4 journal – week 8 lesson by Alena Hennessy

Quirky Animal Totem (unfinished) | mixed media on watercolour paper based on a Life Book lesson by Tamara Laporte
Animal Totem (unfinished) – mixed media on watercolour paper – week 15 lesson by Tamara Laporte

In The Moment | mixed media in A4 journal based on a Life Book lesson by Traci Bautista
In The Moment – mixed media in A4 journal – week 16 lesson by Traci Bautista

Just Breathe | mixed media in A4 art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow
Just Breathe – mixed media in A4 journal – week 19 lesson by Danielle Daniel

What Is The Worst That Could Happen? | mixed media on watercolour paper based on a LIfe Book lesson by Effy Wild
What Is The Worst That Could Happen? – mixed media on watercolour paper – week 25 lesson by Effy Wild

It’s great fun to take on someone else’s style for a bit, learn new techniques and just see what emerges. What I have found interesting is that sometimes I really enjoy someone’s art or the result of their lesson, but I don’t enjoy doing it (as was the case with the quirky animal totem – it was too illustratory for my liking). I’ve discovered I love painting faces and I also love trying a more intuitive style.

Some of my favourites are Journey, the ink spray ones, Be Still and Listen and the final one. Which one is your favourite?

What Makes You Come Alive? Go Do It!!

I’ve been having some major learning experiences lately with regards to listening to my inner voice. However, it’s funny, I tend to reach certain conclusions about things, like major lightbulb AHA! moments, and then as life goes on I completely forget them and start making the same mistakes again! So then I have to become conscious of what I’m doing again, to get more in line with my true self aaand the circle continues. Hopefully at some point something will stick, right? So, my recent learnings, let me share them with you!

One of the MAIN things I’ve learned these past months is that when it comes to anything you do creatively (painting, blogging etc) you need to do what makes YOUR heart sing. Not what you think other people want to see, what you think you should (such a dirty word!) do or what your parents want you to do. The quickest way to burnout and not feeling enthusiastic is doing stuff that isn’t true to what your inner wisdom is telling you is RIGHT for you. Do what YOU want and your passion and enthusiasm will be infectious and people will be interested because YOU’RE interested (and therefore interesting).

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.Howard Thurman | www.iris-impressions.com

Last week I was in such a dark mood. I wasn’t feeling any of my paintings. I spent a lot of time doing social networking stuff and watching TV shows because something was stopping me from getting into the studio. (To be fair though, I was rewatching Dollhouse, which is very very worth every minute spent on it lol) Every time I sat down to work on my paintings I just ended up sitting and staring into space, or telling myself it wasn’t any good, or that I couldn’t come up with the right ideas.

Until I realised that I was expecting myself to create other people’s art! I was berating myself for the fact that my intuitive paintings didn’t look more like Flora Bowley’s work. I thought MY intuitive paintings should look like SOMEONE ELSE’S otherwise they wouldn’t be intuitive enough… BATSHIT INSANE RIGHT?!!! Seriously, looking back on it it’s so obvious where the flaw in my thinking is, but these thoughts really go through my head when I’ve inadvertently given myself over to my inner critical voice.

And then this happened:

Scared Inside | mixed media intuitive painting on 12 x 10" canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Scared Inside – mixed media on 12 x 10″ canvas board

I gave myself permission to DO MY OWN THING. I’m sure you can still see other people’s influences there, but I wasn’t actively trying to make it look like anything, apart from what was already inside me. I also gave myself permission to make similar shapes to ones I’d already done in previous work. I tend to tell myself that I can’t do the same thing twice or I ‘won’t be original’. It’s not like the masters ever worked with the same themes or imagery..oh wait.. Again with the crazy inner voice!

Part of the ‘problem’ is that there is so much amazing work out there being created by so many amazing people. I love looking at the stuff my artist friends create or things on Pinterest. It’s absolutely inspiring and makes me want to get into the studio (and when I start thinking “I’ll never be as good as…” I quickly try and shoo that voice away!). Where it goes wrong though is when I think ‘Wow what they do is amazing, I must want to do that too’. That’s where there is a really fine line between being inspired by what other people do (totally awesome!) and wanting your work to look like theirs and trying to achieve that (not so fulfilling).

I’ve realised that “What I like” and “What I like doing” don’t have to be the same thing!

What makes you come alive? Let me know and then GO DO IT!!

WIPs And An Interview

I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes work the past week. Tweaking my website, social networks and most excitingly: working on an awesome PDF project which I will be releasing within the next month or so. I’m super excited to share it with you, but I want it to be the best I can make it, so I’m not rushing it. I have this tendency to always want to do things quickly and yesterday NOW, so this is a bit of a learning experience, but it’s good.

In some exciting news, Kim from Craft Create Connect interviewed me on her blog! Feeling super excited (OK maybe I need a synonym for excited to stop overusing it?!!) and also honoured. So go check it out. You can read a bit more about me, the why behind my art and what motivates me.

I showed you some canvases I was working on in my previous post. These are intuitive paintings so there is no set goal or outcome, I don’t know when they will be finished (in some way they might never be finished!) until I call them finished. Here is some more progress on these two.

Green Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Pink Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I’ve been struggling with this process majorly. They sat untouched for about a week, until I felt the drive to go back to them and I did something simple but amazing: put some noise cancelling headphones on and played music. MAJOR IMPACT YOU GUYS!! The music was both inspiring and also kept me away from getting too much into my head with thinking ‘what to do next’ or ‘this isn’t very good’ and other inhibiting thoughts like that. I even did some dance moves. Don’t tell anyone.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll have already seen some progress on this girl & unicorn journal spread. I’m pretty much done but just need to work on the background now and maybe some text. I went from loving the sketch, to feeling doubtful about the initial painting, to loving it again now. Curious to see where this one will end up.

Girl & Unicorn WIP | mixed media in art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

What have you been working on this week? I’d love to see! Comment below (you can use the comment luv under the text box to show me your latest post) or tag me on Facebook or Instagram to show me!

Sit With The Quiet

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

You guys, I just had a bit of an epiphany!

I’ve been diving into intuitive painting this past week. As a perfectionist control-freak this is HARD and super scary. But I’m doing it, because I feel ready and I want to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I noticed whenever I did art I’d find it difficult to deal with that feeling of ‘not knowing what to do next’. This would lead to a lot of negative feelings, so I devised a way of working where I would plan my paintings in advance with a sketch and a colour palette. With the initial background stage I’m quite free & loose, but once that is done I will sketch something and from there on I pretty much follow a plan. It works quite well for me, I feel comfortable and the process is enjoyable. This is how I usually work.

BUT BUT BUT as you know, I’ve been falling in love with beautiful abstract-y intuitive paintings. I wanted to try that! Talk about an arena where you NEVER know what comes next, because there is no planned outcome at all.

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I’m working on 4 paintings at the same time at the moment, and I noticed I was coming up against a lot of this ‘not knowing what to do next’. And I was feeling crappy about it. And I was feeling negative. And I was feeling that maybe this intuitive painting is not for me, maybe I’m just not one for tapping into my intuition, maybe it just doesn’t really ‘flow’ for me the way it does for others.

That’s when I had my moment of clarity… It’s OK not to know what to do next. I am so afraid of the quiet, so afraid of sitting without doing something… actually so afraid of truly connecting with the current moment, especially if that current moment consists of quiet… But the quiet can be listened to, I can be with it, and it will last a little while or a long time AND THAT IS OK.

Sit With The Quiet | Blog Post About Intuitive Painting | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

It’s kind of like when you’re with someone you don’t know very well, and silence feels SO uncomfortable that you feel you need to fill every little gap, and that’s how I’d been approaching my painting. WHOA, major realisation time! Now all of a sudden it’s like I’ve given myself permission to sit with the quiet. So I sat with the quiet… and I felt a new sense of allowance, of peace and of trust.

I urge you, next time you create and you feel uncomfortable or lost, sit with the quiet. (And then come and tell me about it afterwards!)