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!

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 | @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 | @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 |

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 | @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 | @rrreow

Pink Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | @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 | @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!

Art101 Challenge – Find Your Way

Find Your Way | @rrreow

So we’re 3 days into the Art101 Challenge! My dear artist friends have been creating up a storm and so have I! As you may be aware, my goal is to do 30 paintings and I am well on my way by having completed 6 (SIX!!) pieces already. I guess I should set myself goals more often, it obviously works for me!

To see all pieces I’ve completed recently (not just as part of the challenge) have a look at my gallery. I will share my favourites in this post and tell you a bit more about them.

Be Still And Listen

Be Still And Listen | mixed media in A4 art journal | @rrreow
mixed media in A4 journal

I finally got around to doing Alena Hennesey‘s lesson on Life Book 2014 (you can still sign up by the way!). I love love love her gentle nature! She just oozes calm and I think I was able to tap into that a bit when I created the above piece in my A4 journal.

I’m really trying to push myself lately to try new things, tap into my inner subconscious creativity, let things flow freely. I find it SO SO hard though! I actually bought myself a scented candle so that before I start doing art I can just take a moment to ground, become still and take in the quiet. It’s something I really need in my life.

Pink Hills

Pink Hills | mixed media in A5 art journal | @rrreow
mixed media in A5 journal

I think the above was heavily influenced by looking at all Alena’s yummy art, but somehow it also came from within. I made a sketch for this when I was feeling very upset and angry and I think I needed hills, mountains and trees to help calm down. It was a very intuitive piece and I love it, not even so much for the result as for what I feel is a new freedom in experimenting with shapes, colours and more abstract concepts.

Find Your Way

Find Your Way | mixed media on 8x8 canvas board | @rrreow
mixed media on 8×8 canvas board

This piece is very meaningful to me. The words came from an interview with Flora Bowley in which she reiterated the importance to ‘do the work to find your way’. That resonated with me SO MUCH, because that is where I feel I am right now on my journey. I am putting in the work so that I will become a better artist, so that I am following my own path, developing my own style. I am trusting that I can find my own way and that it will be the right way for me. It’s exciting and scary!

Let me know which one is your favourite & why?

Trust {it will come} – Art Journal Video

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Video by @rrreow

I’m so excited to share a new art video with you all! I really want to create at least one art video a month, but I’ve been struggling to do it because it’s just so time consuming. But hey, tell you a secret, I’ve noticed that I’m getting faster at doing them. Who knew, practice makes me perfect speedy!

Watch me create a happy cheerful art journal page!

There are two specific reasons I’m so excited about this journal page.

ONE I received an email the other day from the lovely Lisa at Artist Cellar telling me I had won a giveaway for a set of stencils!! I love free stuff as much as the rest of us, but omg I WON something (I never win anything, not even at the funfair!) and I won STENCILS!!! I was literally jumping up and down. I think Andrew (my husband) really didn’t understand why I was getting so excited about this, but please tell me you understand. Art supplies are totally worth getting excited about lol!

So you can see me using these stencils in the video. They’re a joy to work with. Very sturdy and I just adore the patterns. I love stencils that can add texture to my backgrounds without being too much someone else’s style. It makes them really versatile.

TWO I actually really like this page! I’m getting to a point where I’m starting to enjoy my own art more and more. Big departure for me as my inner critic used to go completely rampant (before creating, during, after, in between, while I was asleep etc). I was trying to just be quick & free and it WORKED.

For me the meaning of the quote is that I need to trust that things will come along (not that trust will come, but you could read it that way if it resonates better with you!). I find it so hard to trust that my journey is ‘right’ and that I will get the ‘results’ I want. I’m always doubting and doubting some more. So I need to trust that things will come as long as I work hard, and they will come at the right time, and they will be in line with what I need. TRUST.

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page | @rrreow

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page detail | @rrreow

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page detail | @rrreow

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page detail | @rrreow

Supply List

Dylusions Spray Inks (yellow, orange & red), Golden Fluid Acrylics (yellow & orange), Blick matte acrylics (yellow), Americana craft paint (red), Golden gesso, Artist Cellar Quasi stencil, Sharpie paint marker (black), Uni Posca paint marker (white), walnut ink, stamp ink pads (brown & black), letter stamps

What have you been journalling lately?

This Week In The Studio – playing like a child

This Week In The Studio

This Week In The Studio (TWITS, teehee!) is an ongoing series in which I share what I’ve been working on recently and give you a sneak peek into my process and works-in-progress. Click here to view all posts in this series.

Jupiter, my recently turned 3-year-old, likes to be involved with doing art because it’s what he sees me doing. However, I find it VERY hard to let go and let him be messy. We have carpeted floors, I’m sure you understand =p I’m just not ready for the randomness of painting with him. The other day I tried and I ended up putting it all away again after 5 minutes.

Then I had a brainwave… I knew he liked using my brayers, so I could get out my Gelli plate and do some prints with him. BINGO!! Super awesome idea and it worked a TREAT! The bonus is that it’s a much more targeted painting exercise so a lot less mess and it also seems to hold Jupiter’s attention for much longer.

Jupiter using the brayer on the Gelli plate

Now I’ve created a monster though, he wants to do this at EVERY opportunity!! I’m getting loads of Gelli prints out of it.

Jupiter using the brayer on the Gelli plate

Look at him! He’s so into it! Love a toddler’s total commitment to what they’re doing. Don’t ask me to do art with Zephyr though (he’s 11 months) =p

In the studio I’ve been working on a number of 8×8 canvas boards. I’m loving working on canvas, the texture is so nice and it lends itself really well to creating washes and rubbing paint over it to make interesting layers.

I’m experimenting with a shabby/grungy style in an attempt to develop my own techniques and preferences a bit. Up till now I’ve done a lot of online classes and tutorials. This has been great from the point of view of getting started, not having a fear of the blank page and adding skills to my arsenal, but right now I feel like I’m very ready to take that next step and start working on my own stuff without a blueprint or following someone else’s idea.

You Cannot Fail You Can Only Learn - mixed media on canvas board - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens

^ You Cannot Fail, You Can Only Learn. I was walking along near Charing Cross Road the other day where there are tons of second hand book shops and this shop had boxes outside with every book for £1! So I picked up a music dictionary and used it in this piece. Loving it!

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens

^ Bonded By History. This piece was inspired by something a friend of mine was telling me. You can view step-by-step pictures and more information about supplies used in this post.

Embrace Your Fear - mixed media on canvas board - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens

^ Embrace Your Fear. The grungy shabby backgrounds I was creating called for some contrast and what better than the red from Little Red Riding Hood?

What have you been up to this week in your studio?

Start To Finish – bonded by history

Start To Finish Blog Series

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you what I did in each step. Please drop me a line or a comment if you decide to follow along and don’t mind sharing, as I’d love to see! Click here to view all posts in this series.

When I was having dinner with my friend Ed the other day, he was talking about his school days and said he and his friends from that time in his life were ‘bonded by history’. I promptly got out my phone, apologised for being anti-social, and made a note of that phrase as it spoke to me so much! I knew I wanted to create a painting that incorporated that quote.

I’ve created a few paintings lately in a grungy/shabby style and have been dying to share with you all the progress on one of these paintings! A quick note: on the other paintings in this style I did the background first and then painted the figure on top. In this one I drew the girls first and created the background around it. This makes the sketching easier, but in hindsight I actually prefer the first method because everything is integrated better. Ah well, live and learn! Either technique has its pros and cons, you just have to find what works best for you.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens I sketched two cute girlies on my canvas board (8×8).

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Adding colour to the faces and hair with Caran d’Ache watersoluble crayons. The irises in the eyes are done with sparkly Stewart Gill fabric paints.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens I cut this shapes of the dresses out of paper and put alternate stripes of washi tape on them.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Added some grunge to the dresses with walnut ink spray and brown acrylic glaze. Adding background elements by using Tim Holtz distress stains, metallic paints and more glazes of brown and off-white acrylic paint.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Added some brighter geometric elements to the background with stencils.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens For the final steps I muted the background elements by adding more glazes and metallic paint. I added lace ribbon sprayed with walnut ink around the border and finally I stamped the words in the middle.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this little painting take shape! If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like this, please don’t hesitate to sign up to my newsletter (it’s over there —-> in the sidebar, you may need to scroll up)

This Week In The Studio – pushing my boundaries & playing

This Week In The Studio

This Week In The Studio (TWITS, teehee!) is an ongoing series in which I share what I’ve been working on recently and give you a sneak peek into my process and works-in-progress. Click here to view all posts in this series.

Recently the theme of my work has been to push my boundaries. I am trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone. I have pushed through years of creating work I didn’t like and now that I’m finally creating paintings I like, I want to keep learning, keep growing, trying things, not be afraid to experiment!

I still very much feel like I’m finding my own voice, my own ‘style’, and in order to do that I just have to create, create & create!


^ Playing with paint. Choosing colours and doing everything loosely and without thinking (well, trying to anyway!!).


^ This was a Life Book 2014 lesson taught by Traci Bautista. It is about being in the moment. Again playing, being free, not thinking too much and working fast. I absolutely LOVED the techniques I learned with this and it was also very satisfying to do. It’s a direction I very much want to go in but I’m meeting some resistance from my thinking mind. I’m definitely going to incorporate these techniques into more work.



^ Two progress shots where I’m trying to achieve a similar effect as in this painting from the other week. I’m loving the whole grungy, shabby feel of this. I’m doing lots of smearing with paint, using glazes and metallics.

My computer kind of imploded yesterday, the operating system just went completely kaput. I may have lost all my files. Having to breathe deeply and accept this and move on (or if files can be recovered, which I’ll know tomorrow, it’ll be expensive, in which case I’ll have to accept that!). I go between wanting to swear/have a tantrum and feeling like I should use this as an opportunity for growth. Definitely a big challenge whichever way I look at it! Anyway, because I couldn’t do the computery things I had planned (writing this blog post, submitting some art, adding some links to my blog) I finished the painting above.

I will try to post pictures of the finished piece later this week. I really want to explore this shabby style more and experiment with different techniques and materials. The above painting is on canvas board which is so lovely to work on. Next time I do a painting like that I will either do a tutorial video or step-by-step photos as I’d love to share these techniques with you!

What have you been working on this week?

Butterfly Whispers – Permission to Grow and Learn

I’ve been excited about doing a new art video for a while now, so on Tuesday I sat down to create a new art journal spread and recorded the process to share with you. Voila, here it is, I hope you like it!

By doing so I’ve realised something. I find it hard to create when I’m feeling watched (i.e. recording myself). Recently I’ve been working in my art journal with such freedom and wild abandon. I work quickly, intuitively, grab colours, don’t stop to think. I wanted to share this intuitive, fast paced process with you. However, when recording I feel inhibited, not free, I get stuck in a ‘what to do’ or ‘what to do next’ thought. My mind is partly on the painting, and partly on the camera, how much battery life, is the angle right, is the lighting OK? I cannot immerse myself and lose myself into the painting.

The next thought in my mind is self-critical. Why can’t I just be myself on film. Why can’t I share what I want to share. Why can’t I get ‘in the zone’? Then I started thinking that this process is like any, I haven’t done it much before so it requires practice. My first video is not going to be the best super amazingly awesome one. Neither is the second. But it’s never going to get better unless I keep doing it!

I was encountering some harsh self-criticism while working on this spread. The proportions on the face were off. She looks weird. Then I took a step back and tried to look at it critically. Not in a ‘I’ve made a bad art piece, I suck’ way, but in a ‘how could this be improved, why am I not enjoying it as much as I could?’ way. And I realised that the placement of the nose and mouth is slightly lower than ideal. Aha!! Lightbulb moment. Wow!!

It transformed my experience of the piece. I know what to change next time (or what to do if I were to want to create a similar face – after all, if it’s on purpose then I can call it style! =p ) and in the meantime I can enjoy the piece for what it is. I love learning lessons like these through process!

Thank you for reading & watching! Share with me the lessons you’ve learned through your art recently lovely you!





Materials used:
2B pencil
2B graphite crayon
Scrapbook paper
Caran d’Ache Neocolor II
Dylusions spray inks
Craft paint
Matte medium
Posca paint pen (white)
Sharpie paint pen (black)
Blending stump
Stamps (border, music & butterflies)
Crown punch

Breaking Free Out Of My Comfort Zone

I wanted something different the other day. There was this little 8 x 8″ canvas I knew I had lying around with a painting on it that I did back in the early days of my art endeavours. I really didn’t like it (although I guess it has its place in my history), so I decided to paint over it.

2008-05(May)-I-Do1Look at the bride, she looks angry! And the poor groom, he looks a bit intimidated!

I started with a layer of gesso which felt calming and freeing. I have trouble letting go of things, so this was a small leap of faith. Going against the fear of maybe regretting it later.

Then I started working really fast. Intuitive, spraying, brayering, smearing. I even used my fingers! That’s something I never do. I went for colours I usually don’t reach for. I’m usually going for turquoise, pink, yellow. But I was splodging on the brown, cream, red and some metallics. Loving the grunge and shabbiness!

Let me tell you it was like being FREE. No expectations because I wasn’t creating something I’d created before. It was purely intuitive.

I went back to what I knew and painted a whimsy figure, but with a shabby shabby dress. It was challenging because at this point I had a clearer idea of the look I was trying to achieve, where I wanted the painting to go. So it was nice to know that I actually have the knowledge of the techniques to create these effects!


The dress was done by tearing up bits of scrapbook paper, gluing them down and then adding burnt umber with lots of glazing liquid to give a shabby and aged look. I dabbed it a lot with kitchen paper to make sure there was no smoothness from the brushstrokes. Then I finished by randomly spraying some walnut ink. I outlined the figure with a charcoal pencil and smudged it.


I added on metallic paints, smearing them around, blotting with kitchen roll. Then I took a piece of lace ribbon, sprayed it with walnut ink and tied it around the edge of the canvas. The quote I came up with myself and is to remind us that we are stronger than we think and there is a wealth of strength within us. I love the effect of using different fonts for each letter. It gives it a quirky touch and it’s fun to select the letters.

I am IN LOVE with this little painting! I’m usually pretty hard on myself when it comes to the things I’ve created, so this is very welcome. I’m welcoming the self-acceptance here!

Next time I do a painting in this shabby intuitive style I’ll take step by step pics as I’d love to show you how to create these effects. They’re pretty simple but have complex looking results.


The original painting is for sale and you can find prints of it in my Etsy shop.

Quick shout out and thank you to my awesome friend Tam who was the first person to buy this print (my first sale, yay! A first sale is a very special feeling!). Go take her courses, join her network, buy her art, be her friend, she is made of fluffy lovely awesomeness!