Grow Your Wings and Take Flight

The past couple of weeks I have been watching videos from the Woman Unleashed free online retreat. The videos include workshops by some of my favourite artists including Flora Bowley, Shiloh Sophia, Whitney Freya, and Tamara Laporte. This cute little bird was what I created from Tamara’s workshop Taking Flight. I added the words grow your wings and take flight to remind me that sometimes I should be brave and take chances, that taking a leap of faith might lead to new and exciting things.

If you want to join this free online event, click here to learn more about it and to register. The videos are all available to watch until mid-July.

Dragonfly Mixed Media Canvas

At the moment we are in the process of redecorating our living room and I decided it would be nice to have some new art to hang on the walls. I love dragonflies and had fun creating this mixed media canvas.

For the background I adhered a page torn from an old book of piano music to the canvas, then used paints, inks, and stencils on top to add marks and texture. Dragonflies, in nature, often have vibrant, jewel-like colours, and the canvas lent itself to lavish embellishing with buttons, lace, and jewels.

I added natural elements of burlap and pressed flowers, ferns, and leaves.

The dragonfly’s wings are adorned with pearls and seed beads to add a little bit of sparkle.

 

May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with fairies and talk to the moon.
                                                                                                               author unknown

Garden Journal

There is still lots of colour in our autumn garden. Taking pride of place is the pretty cosmos, which is flowering after many of the other plants have finished. The weather is still warm and sunny, although we had a cyclone sweep through the country the day before Easter. It caused much destruction, with trees uprooted all over the town, including, sadly, our own lime tree, which we planted about ten years ago. In its place we have planted a bay tree, which we had growing in a pot, but it should do much better now it is in the ground.

I have planted a Camelia sinensis to have a go at growing my own tea! From the one plant you can make green tea, black tea, or oolong tea, depending on how the leaves and buds are processed.

The winter vegetable garden is planted with broccoli, cauliflowers, cabbages, lettuces, spinach, kale, and silverbeet. I still have leek seedlings to go in. I haven’t tried growing leeks before, so it will be interesting to see how they do.

These are my garden journal pages for March and April.

A book I have enjoyed reading this month is A Cottage and Three Acres by Colette O’Neill. Thirteen years ago Colette left behind her life in London to begin a new life in Ireland. She bought an old cottage with three acres of bare, wet, rushy land and set about transforming it into a beautiful, lush, permaculture garden, planting thousands of trees, as well as herbs, vegetables, and even a fairy wood. The book tells the story of what one woman with a dream can achieve on her own, and how a woman’s love of nature and incredible affinity with Mother Earth was able to heal, in her words, “Some of the saddest looking land I had ever walked upon.” Colette truly is an inspiration and I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of gardening, and of nature.

Colette has thousands of pictures of her garden and cottage on her website bealtainecottage.com and hundreds of videos on YouTube. Her book can be purchased through her website, and she is happy to sign it for you!

In Celebration of World Book Day

To celebrate World Book Day this coming Sunday, my novel, Scrappy Cupcake Angels, book one in the Wattle Lane novels, will be available as a free ebook download on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk for five days, from April 23rd until April 27th.

When Angeline opens the door to her scrapbooking shop for the first time, she hopes to encourage the residents of her small New Zealand town to explore their creativity and capture memories.

As Grace works on a scrapbook for her mother who has dementia, she wonders if it will help her mother cling to her last memories. Tegan scraps her travel photos with an insatiable wanderlust while contemplating where her heart truly belongs. As Jodi creates beautiful layouts of her daughter, she questions whether any of her efforts will help mend her broken family. Kayla finds it easiest to express herself through her art, but secretly speculates whether she will ever gain the confidence to realise her dreams.

As Angeline opens her home and her heart to her new friends, only time will tell if the Scrappy Cupcake Angels can help her overcome her own greatest fear and fulfil a lifelong dream.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

You can learn more about World Book Day here.

Happy reading everyone!

Owl Journal Page

This owl journal page was inspired by a recent Kelly Rae Unscripted video. I love watching Kelly Rae’s weekly painting videos and get lots of ideas for techniques I can incorporate into my own art.

First I painted the background, then stenciled on a pattern with ink. The tree was collaged with pages torn from an old magazine, then painted over with inks and granulation medium. I sketched the owls on to the page, cut out feathers from scrapbook papers and glued them down with Mod Podge. The leaves are cut out from scrapbook papers and outlined with ink. I used coloured pens for outlining, inks for shading, and paint pens for the moon and moonlight.

 

Fly Free

I created this canvas panel using the acrylic photo transfer technique. It is the first time I have attempted this technique. I used a photograph that Nick had taken of a monarch butterfly for the centre image, then added paint and mixed media elements around it. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, but I definitely need some more practice. I rubbed a little too hard and removed some of the image, but I like how it has a dream-like quality. I added a few cineraria and feverfew flowers from my garden to tie in with the nature theme of the piece.

Garden Journal

It has been a busy month in the garden, in these last weeks of summer, with our vegetable garden cropping abundantly. We have been picking salad greens, beetroot, spring onions, tomatoes, basil, beans, cucumbers, cabbages, zucchinis, and strawberries. I was worried last month that we weren’t going to get many tomatoes as they were small and the birds were eating them as soon as they ripened. But what they lacked in size, they have more than made up for in quantity, and after one week of pecking, the birds have left them alone – not sure why, they must have found something tastier to eat elsewhere. I have made several batches of pasta sauce, bottled enough beetroot to last through the year, frozen loads of beans, dried herbs for use in body care products and for herbal teas, pressed flowers to use in my art, and had a go at eco-dying with plants.

These are my garden journal pages from last month and from this month.

garden journal

garden journal

garden journal

garden journal

I wanted to share with you a lovely book that I got for Christmas –  Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden and Your Life by Stephanie Rose. Stephanie is a master gardener who became interested in gardening after a debilitating illness. She writes the blog Garden Therapy where she shares garden-related projects from making your own herbal skincare products, to growing food, recipes, and crafts. The book has fun projects to make, season by season. It has lovely pictures and is chock full of inspiration. Some of the projects I am looking forward to trying are homemade seed paper, teapot planters,  terrarium ornaments, and a bug hotel.

Garden Made by Stephanie Rose

Wishing you all a happy day in your garden!

 

Finn

We recently celebrated Finn’s third birthday with a trip to one of his favourite river spots, where he loves to run, explore, swim and chase sticks. I made this scrapbook page for his album, which is filling up fast.

Here are some close-ups of the details.

I love to layer papers.

finn4

The burlap gives it a natural feel.

finn6

I used collage elements and did some chalking through stencils.

Washi tape and ribbon co-ordinate with the colour theme of water and nature.

This pretty sticker was from Graphic 45’s Botanical Tea collection.

finn5

 

My 2017 Planner

My 2017 Planner

I have always been a list maker. Each morning I write a list of things I want to achieve that day. Sometimes I write it out the night before so that I can go to sleep without going over in my mind what I need to do the next day. At the end of the day I take pleasure in crossing off the tasks I have completed and feel a sense of achievement if I have managed to accomplish them all.

This year I decided that, instead of having lists lying around the house, I would make a planner where I could keep everything organised in a fun, creative way. Although there are lots of lovely planners you can buy, I decided to use a recipe journal I have had for a few years, but never used. I think I bought it because it was purple, my favourite colour, but I have another lovely recipe folder that I have been using, so this one has been stashed away in a cupboard until now.

recipe-journal

I decorated the front with scrapbook papers and a small tag, and I also decorated the back and inside cover.

Planner

The journal has six dividers so I have 2 months for each divider and use word stickers for the months.

Planner

On the inside of the divider I glued small calendar pages so I can see the dates at a glance.

Planner

I use a page for each week and write down important dates, what I’m reading, art and craft projects I’m working on, and weekly menus. At the top I attach a stack of To Do notelets with a paper clip so that at the end of each day I can transfer any tasks I haven’t completed to a new list and throw the old one away.

Planner

The paper clips are also handy for keeping snippets I have clipped from magazines or junk mail, of things I want to remember or look up on the Internet. I attach the weekly menu to the page with washi tape so that I can easily take it off at the end of the week if I want to, and in its place I put pictures for art inspiration that I have cut out of catalogues or magazines.

Planner

Plastic sleeves provide a place for photos taken during the week.

Planner

I set the pages up a month at a time so I can easily write out my lists each day, and then when I have time I can add embellishments like stickers, decorative tape, and pressed flowers from my garden. I find it is a fun and creative place to keep things organised – everything together all in one place. It is like a planner, journal, and scrapbook all in one.

Christmas Cornucopias

Originally posted on www.wattlelane.wordpress.com.

Christmas cornucopiaCornucopia ornaments were popular in the Victorian era when Christmas decorations were often handmade. The cornucopias were lavishly embellished using decorative papers and leftover scraps of ribbon, fabric and lace. The ornaments were made in the shape of a cone and were filled with flowers, fruit, nuts, candy, and small gifts.

Christmas cornucopias

These ornaments are easy to make and fun to embellish. Simply use a plate to draw a large circle onto a sheet of cardstock – I used heavy scrapbook paper. Cut out the circle, then cut the circle in half. This will make two ornaments. Fold each half circle into a cone shape and use double sided tape to stick it down. Punch a hole through each side and thread through a ribbon for hanging. Then decorate it however you like, using ribbons, lace, trims and pictures.

Christmas cornucopia

Christmas cornucopia

In my novel, Christmas in Wattle Lane, Neave makes cornucopias to hang on her tree for a vintage-themed Christmas. If you’re in a festive mood and like to read Christmas novels like I do at this time of the year, Christmas in Wattle Lane is available as an ebook and a paperback from Amazon.com.

Christmas in Wattle Lane

Amazon.com

Garden Journal November

Garden Journal November

The month began with the wisteria in bloom over our front porch, dripping cascades of white blossom. It makes a lovely display, but is over in such a short time, lasting barely more than three weeks. With November being a windy month, the path beneath soon became a carpet of white petals while the tree filled out with dense, lush green foliage.

wisteria

On one of our walks with Finn last year, we collected seed pods from wild sweet peas we found growing along a walking track. I planted a few along our side fence, with a trellis behind for support. They are the most beautiful shade of deep magenta and have flowered profusely throughout November.

sweet peas

The larkspur in our front garden self-seeded from last year and have come up in lovely shades of blue and purple.

larkspur

I grew violas from a packet of seeds and planted them around the garden and in pots.

violas

The strawberries are cropping abundantly now the warmer weather has arrived. We are enjoying them for breakfast and desserts. One of my favourite recipes to use them in is strawberry shortcake. Yum!

strawberries

I have been drying lemon balm to use in herbal infusions over the winter. Lemon balm is a calming herb. It also has anti-viral properties, and can soothe an upset stomach.

lemon balm

Curious Finn!

Pages from my garden journal.

garden journal

garden journal

I pressed a few of the sweet pea flowers and have left a space on the journal page to put one when they are ready.

garden journal

I hope you have a happy day in your garden!

 

Keep Your Face To The Sunshine

Pictures of sunflowers always make me feel cheerful and remind me that summer is on its way (at least, here in the Southern hemisphere). Even in winter, the sight of a sunflower image can lift the spirits and conjure up feelings of warmth and happiness.

I made this small mixed-media canvas using papers from Rosie’s Studio handmade paper scrap pack. The quote and the sunflower images are from Graphic 45’s Time to Flourish collection. I used acrylic paints and inks, and added a piece of burlap and a small metal trinket.

Here are some close-up views.

Have a sunshine-filled day!

Garden Journal October

I love the month of October in the garden when there is a sudden surge of spring growth and new life bursts forth. At the moment our garden is filled with the divine scent of orange and grapefruit blossom, which is especially strong at night time. Most of the seedlings I raised in the greenhouse have been transplanted into the vegetable beds. The bean plants are climbing up their strings, and the strawberry plants are covered in flowers.

Poppies are blooming in the front garden.

poppies

The foxgloves I planted last year are producing tall spires of pretty cream bell-shaped flowers.

foxgloves

Finn loves to doze on the sunny bench seat outside the studio.

I planted pots of mustard and cress to cut for use in sandwiches and salads.

mustard and cress

These are the October pages from my garden journal.

garden jouranl

garden journal

The card lifts up to reveal the cupcake recipe beneath.

garden journal

I hope, wherever you are, there is something blooming in your garden.

Halloween Book Deal

Where the Moths Dance

My young adult novel, Where the Moths Dance, is on sale at Amazon.com for one week only. From October 26th until November 2nd, Amazon.com customers in the U.S. can pick up a copy of the Kindle ebook for $1.99. A perfect read for Halloween!

Sixteen-year-old Jessie Hale lives in the caretaker’s cottage at the bottom of Gum Tree Hill Cemetery. She feels more comfortable surrounded by the dead than the living, and the graveyard is her sanctuary, a place to escape from her troubled home life and from her mother’s despicable boyfriend, Conrad.

Elliott Rossi has found a way to come back from the dead. He needs to warn Jessie about a demon who can also access the living world and has his new prey firmly in his grasp.

When Jessie learns who has become the demon’s latest victim, she must enlist the help of her friends to battle the evil that has invaded her sanctuary, turning her life upside down and threatening to destroy everything she cares about.

Then there is the small matter of falling in love with a dead boy.

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

We have had a lovely lot of limes from our tree over the last couple of months and I have been trying to come up with different ways to use them. I adore the smell of limes. It always reminds me of a lime pudding that we used to have when I was a child. I made these lime and blueberry cupcakes as an indulgent treat to have with a cup of tea (or coffee). It is a quick and easy recipe to make.

Ingredients

150g butter or non-dairy spread
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
150g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 cup blueberries

To make

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line muffin trays with paper cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Add the sifted flour and baking powder and mix to combine. Stir in the grated lime zest and juice, followed by the blueberries.

Divide the mixture between the paper cases. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then ice with lime frosting. Sprinkle a little grated lime zest on top of each cake.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Lime Frosting

60g softened butter or non-dairy spread
250g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix to a spreadable consistency. Spread or pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

Guardian Angel

Originally posted on my Wattle Lane blog http://www.wattlelane.wordpress.com

Angeline Dunwich, one of the characters in my Wattle Lane novels, is obsessed with angels. Her little home above the shop is full of angel figurines, angel art, and angel collectibles. She makes paper angels to display in the window of Wattle Lane Keepsakes, and she firmly believes that our lives can be touched by angels. In book three, Christmas in Wattle Lane, the reason for her obsession is revealed.

I, too, love angels. I love the idea of celestial beings watching over us and guiding us through difficult periods of our lives. When I was young, I used to see an old woman sitting on the end of my bed, knitting. I don’t recall if she ever spoke to me, but I do remember that I wasn’t afraid of her. I like to think that she was my guardian angel watching over me, perhaps an ancestor.

For this art journal spread I used scrapbook papers and acrylic paints for the collaged background, and I added a piece of old sheet music and a metal embellishment. I used coloured pencils and ink for the angel, with pressed flowers and tiny pearls on her dress. Her wings are made from a vintage lace doily.

angel

Here is a close-up view of the details.

Book Review: The Edge of the Earth

the-edge-of-the-earth

I don’t usually read historical novels, but I was eager to read The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz because I have always had a fascination for lighthouses, and the cover of this book drew me to it immediately.

The book tells the story of Trudy, a young woman who abandons the life that is expected of her, to marry Oskar, a man who is ambitious and determined to invent something that will bring him fame and fortune. Keen for adventure, Trudy leaves her comfortable life behind to accompany her husband to a remote island off the coast of California where he has taken a job as assistant lighthouse keeper. There, Trudy must learn to adapt to a difficult life on the island, which is home to only one other family, and which feels like living on the edge of the earth. While struggling to maintain a relationship with her increasingly distant husband, her life suddenly becomes more interesting when she discovers something hiding among the rocks, and she sets out to uncover the mystery surrounding the strange presence.

I loved the atmospheric setting of the story, and the depiction of life as it would have been for lighthouse keepers at the end of the nineteenth century. A wonderful story with interesting characters and richly detailed writing that draws you along to a climactic ending.

~  ~  ~

A few years ago Nick and I visited Castle Point Lighthouse on the Wairarapa Coast of New Zealand. Although we weren’t able to go inside, it was a wonderful experience to walk up to it and explore around it. The lighthouse was built in 1913 and was one of the last attended lighthouses to be built in New Zealand. It became fully automated in 1988 and the lighthouse keeper was withdrawn. Although we set off to drive there early in the morning, unfortunately we got there too late to see the light shining.

These are some photos that Nick took of the lighthouse.

Castle Point Lighthouse

Castle Point Lighthouse

Castle Point Lighthouse

Castle Point Lighthouse

We saw many fur seals basking on the rocks surrounding the lighthouse.

fur seals

One day I hope to return and see the light shining.

In My Studio

This is what has been happening in my studio lately.

A whimsical page in my art journal.

Believe art journal page

A project from Danielle Donaldson’s video Watercolor Illustrations

and one from her book Creative Girl.

Patchwork cushions made from the little packets of fabric remnants I bought at a craft fair a few weeks ago.

patchwork cushions

Writing Update:
I have finished the first draft of The Air That I Breathe. It feels good to finally have the story out of my head and in the computer. Lots of work still to do, but I am looking forward to working some more with the characters I have come to know so well.

Books by my Favourite Mixed-Media Artists

 

As a book lover and a crafter, I have quite a large collection of art and craft books on my bookshelves. I love browsing through them. Each one provides me with inspiration for my own craft projects, as well as teaching me new techniques. These are a few books by my favourite mixed-media artists.

Mixed-Media Girls with Suzi Blu: Drawing, Painting, and Fanciful Adornments From Start to Finish

Mixed-Media Girls

www.suzibluart.com

Suzi Blu was the first mixed-media artist I ever discovered. I fell in love with her charming mixed-media girls and her gypsy boho style of art. When her book came out I immediately bought it, keen to learn her techniques and to see more of her lovely creations. It was her book that provided inspiration for my first foray into the world of mixed-media art. She also introduced me to the wonderful world of art journaling. I took one of her art journaling courses and discovered a whole new way of expressing myself creatively. She has many videos on YouTube and offers lots of courses on her website.

Mixed-Media Girls with Suzi Blu includes instructions for drawing and shading a pretty face and folk art body, lots of step by step projects, and a gallery of artwork by her students. It also comes with a bonus DVD on which Suzi guides you through drawing, painting, and finishing one of her mixed-media girls, presented in her fun, quirky style.

Creative Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life by Danielle Donaldson

Creative Girl

danielledonaldson.com

This is the book that began my love of watercolour painting. Danielle Donaldson paints lovely whimsical watercolour illustrations and her distinctive style of art includes a range of mixed-media elements. Her book teaches basic watercolour techniques and fun ways to incorporate mixed-media elements such as stitching, collage, and layering, into your projects to tell visual stories. At the back of the book there is a small gallery of some of Danielle’s work.

Collage Couture: Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art by Julie Nutting

Collage Couture

julienuttingdesigns.blogspot.com

As a young child I loved playing with paper dolls and was so excited whenever I received a new one for my birthday or Christmas. I would spend hours cutting out the clothes, folding the paper tabs over the cardboard dolls, and making up stories for them to act out. I still have all of the paper dolls from my childhood and take them out every now and then when I am feeling nostalgic! Naturally I was thrilled to discover Julie Nutting’s two books, Collage Couture: Techniques  for Creating Fashionable Art, and Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls. It was a chance for me to rediscover those magical childhood memories, and to combine two of my favourite things, paper dolls and pretty scrapbook papers.

Collage Couture: Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art teaches you how to sketch fashion figures and create stylish dresses  from patterned papers, and it has step-by-step projects for creating mixed-media backgrounds for the dolls. Great fun!

Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls: Design, Collage, Cut & Play by Julie Nutting

Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls

Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls has five paper dolls from around the world, each with their own little story and a page of clothes in their own style, which can be photocopied or scanned and cut out.  There is also a template for designing your own paper doll, and step-by-step projects for building mixed-media backgrounds and settings for the dolls.

Taking Flight: Inspiration & Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings
by Kelly Rae Roberts

Taking Flight: Inspiration & Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings

www.kellyraeroberts.com

It was through this book that I first discovered Kelly Rae Roberts. In Taking Flight, Kelly Rae shares her personal journey towards becoming a full-time artist and inspires you to rediscover your dreams and live a more creative life. She shows you through step-by-step projects how to create mixed-media backgrounds, using collage and other techniques, and how to draw and paint faces. As well as teaching through her own recognizable style, the book also includes techniques from contributing artists, which Kelly Rae incorporates into her projects. At the end of each chapter is an interview with the contributing artist.

Layered, Tattered & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop by Ruth Rae

Layered, Tattered & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop

ruthrae.blogspot.com

As well as having a love of scrapbook papers and embellishments, I also adore fabrics, lace, beads and buttons. This book indulges my love of all those things. Layered, tattered & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop by Ruth Rae is full of inspiring small projects with step-by-step instructions for making fabric cards, books, journals and albums, art dolls, wall art, and much, much more. The book explores a range of sewing techniques combined with collage, photo transfers, dyeing and staining fabric, using wire, and more. At the back of the book there are pattern templates for some of the projects. A lovely book for anyone interested in fabric art.

In my studio

My small studio in our garden warms quickly once the sun comes out and it is a pleasure to go out there on these cold winter days and lose myself in creative bliss.

I painted a couple more watercolour flowers for my garden journal, but after a few days my flower a day project gave way to some mixed-media painting on canvases. I will definitely be painting more watercolour flowers in the spring when our garden starts blooming with the seeds we saved and planted from last year – poppies, larkspur, snapdragons and foxgloves.

cornflowers

busy lizzies

Although I enjoy trying new things, I always seem to return to mixed-media. I just love being able to combine all my favourite things – paints and inks and scrapbook papers and fibres and fabrics and embellishments and collage and texture – together in one piece.

butterfly

Last weekend I went to a local fair where crafters were selling their unwanted supplies at bargain prices. I got some lovely fabrics, fibres, tapes, a broken string of beads and a mini kraft album, all for next to nothing. I think the fair was a great idea to give crafters a chance to have a clear out of their stash. One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure!

This month I signed up for Kelly Rae Unscripted with Kelly Rae Roberts. It is weekly painting videos of Kelly Rae painting in her studio. Each video is between one and three hours long and is unedited, showing her painting process from beginning to end as she creates a new mixed-media piece each week. She has a wonderful studio space in an old repurposed high school in Portland, Oregon. Sometimes she has her English bulldog, Lulu Butter Butter Bean, in the studio with her, and sometimes she has a guest painting alongside her. The videos are fun to watch. I am learning a lot of different techniques and getting loads of inspiration. Click here to learn more about Kelly Rae Unscripted, and here for Kelly Rae’s website.

Kelly Rae Roberts

For those of you who are wondering about my next book, there is also lots of writing going on. An update about that soon.