Friday, 18 July 2008

Well, life took over for a little while... my little hum drum life momentarily went Shazam! with the arrival of a single gorgeous red rose complete with lovely vase and box of chocolates from a secret admirer! Oh my, wasn't I on tenterhooks for a while, since the note said I would be getting a letter "soon"... I waited... and waited... but so far my admirer is remaining hidden.

In the meantime I have discovered the perfect pen for me to write on my art journal painted pages :

It's by Rotring in case you can't see the name clearly - the only downside is it comes just in black - but it writes smoothly, clearly and no smudge that I could tell on acrylics - perfect!

I had to work quite a bit with my excitement over the secret admirer... so I created this little bookmark. It has Eckhart Tolle on it and Mingyur Rinpoche. Mingyur Rinpoche is an amazing young Tibetan lama who comes from a famous family of teachers. So I guess everyone would have been expecting him to develop smoothly into this calm, peaceful person himself. Instead, as a young boy up to about the age of 13 he was a nervous wreck, tortured by an anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Finally he went into a traditional 3 year retreat, and nearly had what he has re-named a "nervous break-through". Thankfully his efforts at using what he'd learnt in order not to crash totally were successful, and now he wants to pass his insights on to the world. This is all so inspiring for me, as I am a pretty nervous person too. I have found it nearly impossible to meditate until I came across the inspiration of these amazing teachers. My little sign saying "presence" seems to do the job quite well of at least reminding me when I've flown off even if I don't actually sink into full presence... I wanted to make something which reflected my environment as well as my inspiration, so the backgrounds are mainly from Cafe leaflets (you can guess which one, right? I think they're big enough not to get free advertising here!) and from a local bookshop. And the card I made it on? Handy cardboard supplied with certain forms that are used at work. Sometimes once they've been completed and handed to me the cardboard is still inside so.... I use them for art!!

This time it's all blurry because the gel medium I used was a bit too thick... still I quite like it.

Here's the shrine box so far. It's sloooooow I know. That's because I have this perfectionist side and I get downcast when reality doesn't match up, and I go and sulk for a while... for instance, I did all the pearls, background paint, even the tiny seed syllable done by hand... but then when I tried to glue all that into the box I didn't do it carefully enough and as you can see it didn't come out straight. I didn't have the heart to do it all again, and anyway I thought that living with slightly imperfect art is actually good for me. Gives ME permission to be "slightly imperfect" (very imperfect) ;-)

I'm also working on an art prompt from Milliande's site. We each supplied a photo of a corner of our house, were paired up with someone else and did artwork inspired by the other person's photo. Mine will be like a sort of mini-book just consisting of two joined boards, I'll show them once they're ready and posted to my group.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Transfer jubilation and other small things

After many abortive attempts to do photo transfers using acetate - such as this one here:

I FINALLY have some transfer bliss (if nothing else, I am very stubborn) - such as this other one here!!

For me, doing transfers is very much like cooking. What I mean is, my mum used to tell me that making pancakes was simplicity itself: You just throw in a dash of this a dash of that, whoosh it up, and Voila! I remember the first time I tried I just got this messy ball of gloop in the pan, rather like my first attempt at transferring a photo. So I went to the London Graphic Centre thinking that the many Art Gurus there (it's a shop, but still..) would know all about gel medium and using it to transfer photos and my problems would all be solved. Not so! I found out to my distress that no one there had ever even heard of the technique. I hunted high and low on the internet for the secret to the darned thing, and although there were hints here and there nothing that really nailed it definitively. Until... I found the Holy Grail. And rather like the Holy Grail, you will have to find it yourself as I was searching so randomly, and got so excited when I found it, that I have no idea any more which of the many art sites I found it was.
In any case, the whole thing boils down to the fact that you have to burnish very thoroughly (I used a supermarket plastic card) and carefully, and then you have to put something quite heavy on it, and then leave it for at least 15 minutes to dry. Do NOT believe the sites that tell you you don't have to wait and can just pull the acetate up straight away - it ISN'T TRUE!!!!!!

As you can see from the latest success it still isn't that great, but from seeing other art online I suspect it's nearly the best it can get. Not perfect, but sort of adds to the charm. Be also aware that black ink can mystifyingly turn extremely green afterwards. Probably some of whatever bit of the ink makes it black, stays on the acetate leaving the bits that make it green. I'm so scientific, huh?!

Apart from that, my life is catapulting into such celestial realms of extreme insanity (eg, Them, not Me) that my art projects are progressing very slowly - but surely.

I started off thinking that it would be nice to do the background of the matchbox shrine in a shimmering turquoisey colour, and wouldn't it be nice to do that with Byzantia. Hah! It would, if I didn't suspect that the vagaries of my career might lead me to be playing the spoons under Hungerford Bridge next week for some soup pennies, and Byzantia didn't cost £4.70 for a very small, if lovely, pot. My practical side also told me that lovely as shimmery turquoise could be, it could draw attention away from the detail of Tara herself - which sort of would defeat the purpose if the star of the show doesn't get noticed. So.... instead I mixed this rather gorgeous corally pink, like so:

Well, erm SORT of like so - in actual fact my camera doesn't capture the colour that well. Imagine it a lighter, coralier pink please ;-)

I'm quite happy about the way the TAM syllable came out. In my mind I had all sorts of ideas of making a stamp for it or cutting it out from green paper - but the hard reality for me was that with such a tiny space the only thing for it was to do the best I could with a very fine paint brush.

But have not yet started the painstaking task of applying the small pearls, which astonishingly have no sticky stuff behind them - not enough to be useful anyway - and so will have to be glued individually grrrr. But very pretty. At least I bought them!

The other highlight of the week is I've decided to buy myself photoshop, which I hope will allow me to do weird and wonderful things like making mirror images of Tibetan texts so that I can do magical things with them and transfering with acetates, and yet still have the words going the right way when I apply them to paper. It's sunday evening so I must get ready for the next lunatic onslaught next week....

Truth to say, it's only my spiritual paths, Art and Eckhart Tolle which are keeping me from being tied up with all the other loons around me, so if you too feel that life is getting TOO MUCH for you, then head over to watch Eckhart chat with Oprah as part of studying his new book "A new earth" here. Or do it anyway. It will build up your withstanding lunacy muscles for when you need them. You need to register before you can listen, but it's all free and very quick and simple.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


Well, I went completely "red shoes" over the weekend with the art... I had to tear myself away and hurl myself into bed so's to get up the next morning. So I've had to give myself a little rest... but not totally. I'm making the first tentative little steps into a sneaky side-project which will be a little matchbox shrine to the Tibetan Buddhist deity Tara. She has a reputation for being able to solve the impossible, and since Tibetan buddhism is my main path and I have one or two nearly impossible things that need solving I thought one of these shrines would be cool to make. Here's the beginnings of it... (wish I could take better photos!!) but I think it'll be a bit of a long project as I don't yet have time to get some of the things I want to put in, like pearl stickers and sparkly gold paper. I'm also thinking of making a rubber stamp for the seed-syllable "TAM"... the cover will close at the side with button and loop eventually. I'm scratching my head over that one, eyelets seem rather big to use but just making a hole with a needle doesn't seem secure enough. If anyone has any ideas do tell me please!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Today's main adventure was creating my own art paper for the first time, thanks to the inspiration of the marvellous ihanna who you should check out right now.

She explains about using crayons to make rubbings onto paper. I tried, using an Indian carved wood table top, plain white paper and one colour. Pretty, but a little boring:

so then I cut paper from a saved Starbucks bag and used pink, red, yellow and gold all together one on top of the other, which I thought was very pretty (and used, torn up into smaller peices, in my art journal) :

Sorry if the pics don't come out too well, like I say I'm very new to all this ;-)... but give it a try. It really does look nice. And of course there's nothing special about the brown paper I used, if anything packing paper might be even nicer because if I remember right it has a slight ribbing pattern in it. Enjoy!

I join the throng

I was massively anti-art until a short while ago, and have now swung the other way. I've started keeping an art journal and am enjoying it so much it's becoming an obsession! I've been inspired by so many blogs and seen how great it can be to share experiences, that I've finally decided to overcome my technical handicaps (this is all new to me) and keep a blog on my journey into art. I'm hoping that other beginning artists might get something useful from reading about my experiments, successes, failures and I'm also hoping that any artists that browse here might have useful advice for me.

Why Messyboxbliss? Because when I get into the swing of doing my art I am fantastically messy and form a sort of huge chaotic nest of torn paper, bits of dried Golden gel medium, broken crayons, print outs, ruined palettes etc around wherever I happen to be sitting. Sometimes I look up and think of getting a cup of tea or something, see how difficult it would be to climb out and over all that and decide just to keep going...

Box because my living space is all higgledy piggledy and about the most direct opposite of a nice ordered IKEA type space that you could imagine. Most of my art supplies are kept in old cigar boxes of different shapes and sizes rather than in sensible drawers... because I love cigar boxes.
And actually although I've always aspired to being tidy and organised and tell myself thousands of reasons why it would be so much better, more comfortable etc etc in reality I feel far more at home with in my chaotic nest.

Bliss because I want to discover more and more what that means for me. So far it mainly means art, and I hope that following one will expand into new other areas so that I get more happiness in my life. I would never have believed in that as a possibility until I saw the power of art at first hand. A colleague at work used to paint pictures of her old home, which no longer existed for various political reasons, from memory. From there she was inspired to go back to her homeland and not only recreate her home in real life from sourced original materials, but also regenenerate the entire community in that area, which is very poor indeed. Thanks to having witnessed what she created I never doubt the power of art and creativity now.