Saturday, April 22, 2017

World Earth Day 2017

World Earth day today......

Here is my contribution for today's thought.  The world is in turmoil and on the brink of utter madness. I think enough the meantime "life" goes on.....

There are more examples of World Earthday prints further down the here to view post and slideshow

Abattoir Bressuire
 Sketching and Improvement

Last year I promised myself that I would do more sketching and develop sketch books that I could be proud of.  I also joined a few of the Craftsy sketching courses run by various artists (see here) which helped me so much to see things so differently…and I think that I have made great moves forward now. What do you think?

Here are a few of my latest all now done in one of my homemade sketchbooks.

Theatre Bressuire

Bisschopsmolen, Maastricht
Although I love painting loosely and printing in an almost abstract way I do love the working out and the “maths” of architectural drawing and adding colour. Although I regard myself a real beginner on perspective but love it when it works.

I am trying to be more disciplined in both regularity of drawing and in using my sketchbooks correctly

I also visited Maastricht, the oldest city in Holland, a couple of weeks ago and was completely blown away.  It was beautiful.  Artsy, quirky, old, interesting, colourful…I loved it.  Holland is very much bicycle culture and that was very apparent as soon as I crossed the border and drove along the river Maas.  Bikes everywhere...very daunting at first but eventually I even cycled into town with my daughter on the last day too.. Great fun!
Bonnefantum Art Museum

There was so much to see and experience, that a few days was certainly not enough time to absorb it all.  I will be back.

Matisse Museum
On my way there I stayed in a small town in northern France,  Le Cateau-Cambr├ęsis on the Belgian border that houses the Museum and Gallery of Henri Matisse...WOW  what an experience.  I loved it.  So inspirational.  Well worth the visit

I even had time to sketch in the garden too!

Everyday in March Portrait sketching group

In March I also signed up to the Everyday in March group...mainly because the theme was portraits and each day you were given a type of person to paint....i.e.  scientist, male, female, male movie star, leader etc.  

I think its a bit like learning perspective...its such a thrill to get a likeness.  Oh what fun...Just my kind of thing (at that time) I did as many as I possibly could.  I think that I reached 20....

If you have never joined a group like this I thoroughly recommend it.  Its a great motivator and fun too, with the added bonus, that you learn something everyday. 

Thats pretty much it for now..other to say that Arty our lovely cat is now growing up and moulting madly to get ready for the summer and is having great fun with the appearance of lots of lizards and mice...

He's the best ever addition to Bandouille...

More again soon


Friday, February 17, 2017

Hip Op and moving forward

Bandouille Lake 2017

Moving forward…and yes at a rate now too.

Its February already and I did have so many plans to write this sooner.  But old habits die hard.

The weather has been extraordinary.

I'm typing this after a day reaching 18 degrees???? But we have had lovely frosty days too.  But nothing like the snow and Ice that we used to get.

After my second hip op in November I am back on track and have been in the garden trying to catch up with raking up the leaves and generally tidying up.  Great (hopefully) for building up the muscle again.  I have also been in the Studio (and kitchen) doing lots of Gel Press Prints.  I had a fabulous run on those and got some great results too.

I have a Gel Plate workshop planned beginning of March and the ideas are racing! 

These three rectangular images were created using the largest  plate by Gel Press.  12 x 14 inch

Summer Days
Heron Haven - Bandouille

And then……I officially discovered "real" Collagraph printing.

I entered a challenge in January for fun - as I do - and the photo did not inspire me to paint it.  So I thought I would make a collagraph plate and see how that panned out.  Oh boy did I have fun.  I combined the technique with Gel printing and watercolour and this was my final entry to which a gained 4th place.  Seriously...I was thrilled!  Well who else is going to blow my trumpet? 

Of course I have made collagraphs before and used them in my Gel prints.

But when a few wonderful artists work popped up in my Pinterest feed I have been hooked ever since, wanting to know everything there is to know about collagaphing. I then realised how little I knew of this absorbing art  form.

So I have been researching and playing….of course!

In the meantime checkout Sarah Ross Thompson, Sue Brown and Hester Stolly Cox to name but a few.  Checkout Collagraph on Pinterest too and see what wonders you will get.

The beauty for me at the moment is that it is another tool from which to produce something unique.  

These artists above have spent a long time honing their craft and I do not wish to imagine that I can do what they do because I am not that far down that road - yet.  

With Pasta Maker
But I am using Collagraph techniques to create within my realms of knowledge in watercolour, collage, gel printing etc and enjoying the experimenting. I have also realised that this is a great way for any artist in any medium to get to know their subject.  As they have to create what they want to do in such intimate detail to create a plate.  By the time they have pulled a few prints every line, every edge is known to the artist.

I have just experimented with a Pasta Maker and also bought an old mangle with intent on converting it to a press.  We shall see! In the meantime I am using my body and my hands to press into the plates.  Fun!

If you  want to know more and get fantastic support and guidance join the Collagraph Worldwide FB group.  I have learnt so much from them and am truly inspired

Any of the above techniques can be learned at one of our standard holidays. 

We also have tutored holidays. 

Please enquire.  Our 2017 Art Holidays at Bandouille calendar is now open.

Please visit for all the details.

More coming up very soon.

Bix xx

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