Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Supermoons and Sketching

I normally love this time of the year - Autumn - where the long summer days shorten and you can feel a slight chill in the air with the onset of darker evenings, leaves falling, bonfires and seasonal soups with stoves and fires lit.

Sadly, it seems it has gone straight from 37 degrees to 4 degrees 

No warning! 

Just straight from shorts and t-shirts to woolly jumpers and boots. Which acutally suits my wardrobe nicely.

But with the winter days coming towards us at a rapid rate we are given natures best gifts of stunning visions.   

Online Sketching Classes

As many of you know I have signed up with and joined sketching classes with Marc Taro Holmes, Stephanie Bower, Shari Blaukopf and more recently James Richards.  I love these online classes as I feel that I am having one to one tuiton with each of the tutors. They are all very concise in their delivery and generous in the advice that they give out especially if you have a specific question.  Well worth paying for and not expensive.  Look out for regular special offers on all their courses covering a huge range of creative subjects.

Here are a few examples of my recent sketching work after learning from the above tutors.

Bressuire Mairie

Exercise from Stephanie Bower Perspective class

Perspective Exercise

Bressuire Theatre
Early morning sun - Bandouille

The Gite - Bandouille

The barn - Bandouille

Early morning sun - Bandouille

Le Verger de sculpture - Bressuire

Bandouille Lake

Arty Pants

From the kitchen                             Making walnut ink

As our walnut tree released some of its load last week I thought that I would take advantage and try and make walnut ink.

Something that I have thought to do for a long time.

First I gathered some walnuts.  But its not the fruit that interests me at this point.  Its the husks.  I collected all I could find.  The green, brown, fresh and dried up versions.

I then topped up the saucepan with enough water to cover.  The logic to me was, the more water the lighter the colour.

I put a lid on the pan and simmered for a couple of hours, pressing and stirring the husks a few times in between. Always checking there was enough liquid in the pan.  If not I topped it up with hot water.

Left to cool.

Walnut Ink
I strained the "black mush" through a fine strainer pressing it every so often. And left it to drip till it dripped no more.

Put the pulp aside.

I did get quite a good pass, but wanted the colour to be darker. I collected some more husks added that to the walnut pulp and set to simmer again using the ink that I had already produced.

This was the result. The amount is less than I got from the first run but its more concentrated in colour which is what I wanted..

Add a splash of alcohol to preserve it
Walnut Ink example

Here is an example of the colour just daubed on watercolour paper. Its fun to try something like this and to use natural elements from your surroundings.  I love the colour sepia and this is perfect.

Bixxy's bestest Tomato Soup 

Getting ready for the Draw in Stitch workshop tomorrow so prepping our lunch today! 

Homemade tomato soup. Yum!

Just roasting off vine tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, onions, head of garlic till soft and a tiny bit charred!

When done, add 1.5 litres of vegetable stock to a large saucepan, add the vegtables, teaspoon of fennel seeds, cover and simmer gently for 45 mins.

Using a hand blender, blend till smooth adding more liquid if you want too and a handful of basil. Season.

I like to have this sit overnight to develop the flavours and warm up and serve the following day.

If you like it creamier you can use some creme fraiche and mix it in or serve separately with toasted seeds and chorizo, and feta cheese...with of course some french bread!

Thats it for now as the sun is out.

Till next time


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Autumn at Bandouille

Autumn - from Spring.....where has that time gone....and so much has happened!

Yes, again my blogging skills have lapsed, but all the better to play catchup.

The 2016 Art Holiday season  was packed with fun and wonderful paintings from both Tutors and guests. 

Sadly because of the work that this entails I felt that I had to resign from my role as Creative Designer from the Gel Press Team to give 100% to the holidays.  I throughly enjoyed the short time I had with them and the people I met through them too.  But I am following their progress avidly on their facebook page Gel Press Junkies

No doubt now that the Autumn has arrived I will be printing madly again.

The tutors we had this year were  Stephie Butler, Eugen Chisnicean, Joanne Boon Thomas and Jane Minter and they left their mark as usual by thrilling us all with their wonderful skills.

Stephie Butler
Stephie Butler
Here are examples of some of their work some of which we now have hanging on our walls at Bandouille

Eugen Chisnicean

Joanne Boon Thomas
Joanne Boon Thomas

Jane Minter

Of course all of our guest produced lovely works too and many of these can be found on our Facebook page .

Just select the album you wish to view and browse.  If you see any photo you would like to use as reference you may do so.

We announced earlier in the year that this year would possibly be our last at Bandouille.  I am pleased now to say that it wont be and business will continue as usual next year although we will be reducing the amount of weeks and tutors that we normally have.  So please be sure to check our website for available dates.  Or if you have a date in mind please contact us as none of the calendar is set in stone.

Also if you wish to bring a group let us know as we can organise group rates, pick ups and dietary requirements, which we do as standard.

The standard holidays essentially means that there will be no guest tutor and you are free to paint what you like with my guidance if required.  We will also go out visiting sites to either sketch, photograph or just enjoy.

Also the holidays are not restricted to Painting. Crafting, yoga, anything in fact if you need a venue for your groups.  Please enquire.

Arty is now just over 1 year old and is thriving in our environment and could not be a more delightful feline companion.  I shall leave you with a few pics of him too!  

With that said I will leave you for now and continue again in the next couple days upodating you on other things that I have done in the last 5 months.

A bientot

Bix x

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Blog Hop Fathers Day - Paper or Cloth?

Fathers day is rapidly approaching and I have here a little project you can do for  your dear ol dad.

Welcome to our "Just For Him" blog hop with Gel Press™!  Please take time to hop through all the great blogs of our designers for inspiration.  Go back to the Gel Press Blog Hop and leave a comment as to which blog project gave you the most inspiration!  We will draw a random winner from the comments to win a prize from Gel Press™

You will find links to all the projects below

This  also includes a perfect project for kids too. At home or at school.

The point of this post is what you can do with your Gel Press™ Prints.  They are so versatile that they can be used for any project requiring printed papers - or even cloth.

This is the first time that I have used my Gel Press™ plates as a platform for printing fabric, but what a lovely experience it was.

I used the large format Gel Press™ plate 12 x 14 as it suited my needs perfectly and I needed to cover a large area.

I used an old white cotton shirt of mine to test the method.  And was very pleased with the results.

FABRIC BOWTIE with Gel Press™ 

CLICKHERE for both the pattern and how to tie the bow tie - please refer to this for the instructions for cutting out and construction

Always be sure to comment, and thank the originator of a project or photo....without these generous people (us included) these projects and tutorials  wouldn't circulate like they now do! 


12" x 14" Gel Press™ large format plate
Old white cotton shirt
Acrylic Paints
Stencils and stamps
Card and Paper stock

With your chosen colours brayer paints evenly and lightly and include stamps or stencils to lay down pattern.  Carefully place your fabric over the plate and smooth firmly but gently making sure you don't disturb the fabric.  Peel off carefully.  Leave to dry!

I ws thrilled with the result and immediately pulled a ghost print above the original, in case I needed it. (Now saved for future use)  I also repeated the process over the rest of the shirt in other colours.  Again, saved for future use. Go to the site and proceed to print out the pattern layout and cut out the pieces.  I deliberately made it half the length for this exercise.  You would need two neck extensions for a "real" neck......

I then pressed each piece and ironed on the interfacing to the relevant sections and sewed together following the instructions.

This can of course be made as a tiable bowtie or a static bow with adjustable straps.  

I am really happy with the results....Now to make it more special!

Take a piece of A4 white card fold in half. Open, cut approx 4 cms down the middle and turn the collar 3/4 way own.  Cut 3cm  towards right from centre and 3cm on the other side, so it looks like photo A.  Turn up corners of first fold.  Draw line down centre from neckline (optional) for shirt opening.  For waistcoat chose complimentary print to bowtie.  Fold to fit front across shoulders and stick down.  Lapels could be cut also.  Trim to fit when dry.  Add 3 buttons to the front and hey are done!  Fix the Bowtie to the card so that it can be removed easily.

You could of course do the same process for making a standard tie. 

Here I created a very simple card using a Gel Press™ print for an Origami paper tie that I glued to the front of the card.  Simple but effective!  Doing a fabric one would be just as fun!

Here are three more shirts, (short sleeved) made by using the Origami techniques that I found whilst surfing Pinterest (as you do)! Pinterest links to Origami models

Each of these have additional features like the pocket or turned up sleeves.  Use your imagination.  They can be opened to reveal a message or gift, or stuck to a card.  Lets see what you come up with!
There are so many wonderful techniques out there but ONLY your printed design makes it unique.

I hope you have enjoyed this feature visiting all the creative design teams items and we look forward to hearing your comments and seeing who will be this months winner!

Want a bonus chance to win a prize from Gel Press™?  Between now and Father's Day (June 19, 2016) create your own "Just For Him" project and post it on our Facebook page Gel Press Junkies!  Everyone that plays along will be entered in a drawing as well.  Yes, we would love you to use a Gel Press™ in your entry- but you don't have to! Just make a fabulous project featuring Fathers Day and post it!  Maybe you will win a Gel Press™! 
To Qualify for the drawing: 
1) You may enter a maximum of 3 times with individual projects.
2) You must by 18 years old.
3) You must live in the USA.
4) Mentioning other products or other companies in your post disqualifies your project.

See you again next month

Bixxy xx

Please Hop to the next blog hop post via these links....

Back to to Gel Press Blog 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Concertina Style Sketchbook

I am using my Gel Press™ prints for the covers of this concertina style sketchbook.  After an enormously inspirational day last week holding a Draw with Stitch workshop here at Bandouille with the lovely Jenny Harris last week my ideas are spiralling. 

The idea is based on Free motion stitching and the prints are perfect for this technique as the acrylic paint has given each print the stability to withstand the needles going through and added to that after the page has been glued to the backing card it is further stabilized!
Please click here to view the video slideshow

After I chose my base paper Gel Press™ prints I then embellished them by glueing on the two birds and embroidered around a similar flower from another print, cut it out and glued it on. I finished these off by sewing in Free motion around each element.

Select some card

Glue prints to the card after embellishment.  Here I have used another set of prints

You can add a pocket with clear acetate on outside back to collect bits of memorablia

The buttons and beads just added a bit of fun and the elastic holds the pages together when not in use.  The ends of the elastic are hidden by the first page of the sketchbook and will be glued into place also

Glue to pages onto the prepared card and fold over the edges neatly and also glue into place

Glue the embellished page to the front page of the book taking care to line it up and then glue the back to the back page.

Go as far as you want!

I hope you enjoyed this little project and will try this yourselves......

See you again soon

Bixxy x

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sketching in Lanzerote April 2016

Just a quick post to show that I still paint!  Of course that is something that I would never give up.

Having just been to Lanzerote I brought my faithful paints and brushes with me together with a couple sketchbooks.

I am still at a loss though with sketchbooks and will finally decide on the right one for me!  But at the moment just have some basic watercolour ones and a couple cartiridge paper ones which I like the effect of but not the buckling of the paper when wet.  I am also in the process of making my own sketchbooks, but that will have to be another post in the near future!

So here are some of my sketches.

The aim was no longer than 20 minutes and try and get some different heights going to exercise my perspective lessons.

Also bear in mind I was painting by the pool and the beach only in a I didnt want to hang around cooking only one side of me!!!!

Having just joined on a online perspective sketching course with Stephanie Bower (Craftsy - great value) I was determined to test some theories and was pleased with the results.

These are by no means works of art that are wall worthy or sale-able but did what they needed to do and that was to give me more confidence in recording what I was seeing and having a "reasonable" entry in my sketchbook.

All advice received gratefully on urban sketching and keeping a "good" sketchbook.  Its what I am striving towards, so that when I finally do more travelling I can record in fab detail the things that stir me!

So if you you didn't know we do Art Holidays visit and book a week with us where we can go out sketching and come back to do the painting from the sketch in the afternoon.

We still have places left on Jane Minters workshop which I am really looking forward to this year so contact me now if you want to reserve a place.   You wont be disappointed!

Till nextime


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

World Earth Day with Gel Press

Welcome to the Gel Press Earth Day Blog Hop!

We want to encourage you to reuse and recycle with Gel Press.  Have you thought of making Gel Press Prints on old maps?  What about old Christmas cards or even magazines? 

Hop around and see what our designers have come up with for this hop.  We will be giving away a prize again for the comments on the Gel Press Blog listing what your favorite project was and why. 

Enter by going to all of the blogs listed and linked below.  Leave a comment on the Gel Press Blog telling us your favourite project. 

We will accept comments from April 20th - April 24th.    

The winner will be announced April 25th  on Gel Press Junkies FB page !  Good Luck!

****Please note that the prize is only valid for US residents at this stage***  Sorry!  But this doesn't stop everyone else joining in and commenting

Here is a Step by Step to show what I did to achieve this look and more!

8 inch Round Gel Press Plate                                                  SLIDESHOW BELOW
Acrylic Paints
Torn Paper
Images for decoupage
Assorted pens for embellishing

***Top Tip***  
If you don't know where you are going with a project,  I like to do good quality photocopies of the base print that I like and keep some spares so that I can try different effects on each of them. Its also useful to have so you can create different things for different occasions. Each will still be unique.  This is also useful if something you are trying fails.   You will always have another at hand to do it again.

First select the plate you wish to use

I then printed off a design for under the first layer of paint (have more ready, just in case!!!!!)

I then spread the paint with the brayer making sure that this coat was thin and transparent

Next I lined up my prepared sheet of paper and made my pull. Wipe any areas of paint to expose more of the layer underneath 

I then add the stencil hearts all around the circle.  I prefer this method on the plate as the pull wont be so dense and it will have more texture to it.

I made my pull!

Tweak any changes you want to make whilst paint is wet maybe to reveal more of the writing beneath

I then added a decoupaged endangered Green Cheek Parrot on tissue and added the lettering via the computer as I was not sure if I want to make this permanent or not.  Remember you are in control!

Here is a slideshow of the others prints created from this session.  Some are finished and some are not and will be saved for a future occasion.  Click on the first image to activate slideshow

Please feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions you may have.
I hope that you enjoyed this blog entry and not its time to visit the others.  Just click on the links below and it should take you to where you need to go.

Till next time

Bixxy x

Gel Press
Bix(you are here),