Friday, March 22, 2013

Photography Friday and a blog break

Time for another Photography Friday. Peek through my smart phone camera app with me and see a (small!) sample of the photographs I took in the past two weeks.

We had two whole sunny warm days of spring. Two whole days! I saw butterflies and all! Really I did!

Nothing beats a chocolate muffin and a caramel macchiato...

...except a cute kitty of course, blurry, but cute! ;-)

The Book Formerly Known as ROD Square while it was still in the making.

Oh, the joy of a full worktable and a sketchbook! I'm sure you can relate.

Um...yeah...did I mention those two days of spring already? After that we had this...

....and this....

....and this....

....and this too. Lots of snow and full blown winter!

The snow disappeared, but winter stayed. By the way, doesn't this look just like the cabin of some hermit?

New snow has been predicted already. Winter likes it here this year! I'm the only one left on the island happy about it.

Oh...and I've become obsessed with patterns. Will tell you all about that later!

And now I have to say goodbye to you for a while, because I'm going to have myself a little vacation. Ten days of freedom, yay! Four days will be spent here and six will be spent on a neighboring island where I have rented the tiniest studio. If the pictures can be believed it has the weirdest bed ever, so I just had to stay there (it had nothing to do with the last minute prices or anything, of course not). You can see some pictures here.

I guess you can tell how much I love the island life by the fact that I'm even vacationing on one, but I suppose the one and only bad thing about living here is that I can never go here on vacation, haha. It's impossible to be an anonymous tourist in your own town.

I'll be taking my 'real' camera with me on this trip and plan to make this entire vacation all about photography exploration. So no special journal or anything like that. Just photographs, long hikes and some nice books (I'm taking Isabel Allende and Haruki Murakami with me as travel companions).

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend for now and a Happy Easter for later and see you around the beginning of April. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to share by then!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Use your sketchbook for all it's worth!

Every once in a while I like to show random sketchbook pages from my Studio Book and my Out of the Studio Book (yes, one lives in the studio and one lives outside of it, go figure). These are my workhorses, my notebooks, my try out pages and the holdalls for leftover stuff and random things.

I think it's important to show these pages so people realize that not all spreads in a sketchbook should be masterpieces and that it's perfectly okay to have ugly pages with just scribbles or notes on them. A sketchbook is an instrument, a tool, it's not a pretty art book.

So here's another selection from my two big sketchbooks, some are nice, some are just rubbish. But all of them were useful to me at the time (and some still are).

What happens when you spray felt tip pens with water. / Questions I wanted to ponder about concerning my artsy endeavours.

The first ribbon drawing I tried. / Bad sketches from The Dark Knight on tv.

The notebook paper with the ribbon drawing idea on it. / Trying out some oil pastels and taking notes about them.

Planning the ROD Square cover and airing some frustration. / My Sketchbook Challenge contribution.

Pan Pastel information and trying some spray inks. / Notes on the Sketchbook Challenge.

Trying to save an abstract drawing gone wrong by planting a flower garden over it with paint markers.

Some quick notes and a girl in ballpoint pen. / My printer ran out of ink while printing, so I pasted the pictures in here.

Simple line drawings coloured in with gouache. The ultimate relaxation.

Now the last picture I'm just including because it made me laugh. While I was taking the photograph of the above spread my assistant felt the need to jump right on top of it. The funny part was that he did it at the exact moment I clicked so I didn't see him do it. Imagine my surprise when I looked up and there was a cat on top of my book! This shows that cats are faster than the eye!

I hope you liked this peek in my sketchbooks and that it inspires you to really use your own sketchbooks for other things than just trying to make pretty pages. Use them for practice, for notes, for scribbling, for everything. Use them for all they're worth!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy Wednesday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ferry Art

Living on an island comes with strange things attached to it. One being of course that you are away from the main land in a very literal sense. To get anywhere takes at least the ferry ride that lasts an hour and a half. This means you don't just go somewhere on a whim, because anywhere you go will take a bigger part of day (that is if you want to return on the same day), you need to plan this stuff.

Where I used to leave my hometown practically every day just to get to work or for other things like socializing or shopping or whatever, now it's not uncommon to not leave the island for weeks at a time. You just don't get around to it. If you work full time the thought of spending the weekend traveling is not so appealing really (or maybe that's just me). I'd rather go on hikes and work in my studio or read a good book (or all three) than take a ferry at 7 am to get somewhere.

But I have to admit that even this island dweller gets restless after staying here too long without interruption and that's when I leave for a while to go see the big wide world. Sometimes this happens automatically because I have a meeting somewhere for work, sometimes it's to visit family or friends, sometimes it's to go on a vacation and sometimes it's just for a day to go shopping or visit a museum.

One good thing about taking the ferry to the main land is that you have at least three hours per trip with your hands free to do whatever you want. I usually take a book, a notebook, a small sketchbook and some simple art supplies. (Then again I take those things everywhere, so nothing special really!)

Last week I went shopping in Harlingen, the town where the ferry connects to the main land. And I really felt like playing in my small sketchbook. Today you see the results of a small box of watercolour and a drawing pen during one trip. Keeping thing simple can be really fun sometimes. It's just playful nonsense and who doesn't enjoy a bit of that every once in a while?

Hope you enjoyed this peek in my ferry art and wishing you a wonderful and artsy week!

Friday, March 15, 2013

How Caatje got her journal mojo back

You all may remember that a few weeks ago I talked about the struggles I had with my journaling in the White Book. If not, you can read about it here. Well, I'm happy to inform you that I'm back on track and having a blast in my journal again! Phew, what a relieve!

I guess from the title you are now hoping that I have some magic formula as to how I achieved this, but I'm afraid I only have one advise to give you: keep struggling until the struggle is over. That's pretty much what happened with me.

Let's look at this spread first to give a little clue about how it happened (although I don't really have a clue, haha).

The page on the left I already showed you in my aforementioned post. It was me trying to find my style by emulating other people's. In this case I was leaning a bit towards Kelly Kilmer and trying to mix it with my own old style as done in the altered atlases. I liked the page well enough, but something about the process wasn't right yet.

Then later I did the page on the right. And the opposite happened, which was really weird. I'm not too crazy about how the page looks, but the process was all me and it was a lot of fun to make. That gave me hope somehow that things would turn out alright.

I think the key was that I used my own photographs and ephemera from my everyday life instead of from magazines, the poem for instance, which was posted on my online reading group. In my former journals the most personal element was the writing. I did add my own photographs from time to time, but mostly it was magazine images and postcards and such. That was okay, I loved working that way and the writing still made the pages me.

I guess this just set me on the right track. I knew then it was important to use my own elements, my own imagery and somehow mix it with the wonderful ready made stuff that I have like washi tapes and scrapbook stickers. I love using all the things that are available in art stores and in magazines and I don't want to stop using them in my journals.

And then I remembered how I had explored this new style of filling a spread in my Quinn Book. You can see some of those pages here. The point was to use this ready made stuff like stencils and rub-ons in an unusual way. And somehow things just clicked. I can't explain it any other way. 

So here are some of my latest journal spreads from the White Book. I'm showing you both the full spread as the separate pages, because I'm only doing one page at a time right now, not full spreads.

You can see familiar elements returning like my dashed lines, lots of little stickers and the use of washi tape. But as a whole I fill up a page more and I use pretty papers as a background together with watercolour. I think I'm actually sort of turning into an artsy scrapbooker! I don't mind, I love the look of these pages and what's more important: they are totally me and it feels really good to make them. They fulfill my need to make attractive layouts as I did in the Moon Journal for instance, but without the tons of writing (which I now do in a separate writing journal).

As soon as I have explored this new approach a bit further and find a bit more of a routine in my journaling I will definitely show you some step by step pages so you can see how they come together. For now I'm just happy experimenting and trying out things and seeing where I can take this.

I hope you like these pages as much as I do and I also hope I gave you some inspiration to keep going at it when things aren't going well at all. It will all work out in the end, keep trying. And remember that feeling good about the process is far more important than the end result.

Wishing you a wonderful and artsy weekend!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Book Formerly Known As ROD Square

Before I even begin with this blogpost I just want to give a shout out to all the new people who came to my blog because of the glimpse on Dispatch from LA (see my previous post). Welcome to Caatje's Artsy Stuff and thank you for sending me your love and/or becoming a member. You all made me very happy. I felt like a regular superstar for a few days, haha! I hope you will enjoy coming back here from time to time. I'd love to see you!

Also thanks to all those who already came to visit me, because without you I never would have had the nerve to even approach Mary Ann. You all make this blogging experience a wonderful one through your continuous support. I love you, my blogsy people!

Now...let's get back to regular business, shall we, on to the artsy stuff!

If you have a very good memory you may remember that last year I spent some time trying to put together a square shaped journal in the Remains of the Day Style (if you don't know what that is just click on the label on the sidebar). I had it all figured out. I was going to decorate this entire journal and then put it together and use it just to add some writing. Well...that just didn't work out.
I started a few spreads and I even liked them, but it just didn't feel right to sort of complete the visual aspect of an entire journal before I started writing in it. The process wasn't what I had envisioned somehow. And when something doesn't feel right, just gets puts aside and postponed, and that's exactly what happened with ROD Square. Yup, that's what I was going to call this gorgeous book I had planned: ROD Square.

So over the past months the paper pages I had made for this book just sort of lay about in either my studio or my sewing room staring at me with reproach and I just didn't know what to do with them.

Now it so happens that one of my goals for this new artistic year was to do some new things with fabric and fiber and such and what better way to start than with a journal cover? And that's when things just came together. I was going to use the base pages that I had intended for ROD Square to make a brand new journal with a special cover. I took out the pages I had already prepared (those will probably never be used for anything) and I got out some gorgeous fabrics, some ribbon and some beads. And today I'm showing you what happened next:

It's the Book Formerly Known As ROD Square! That's really what I'm calling it. Hey, if Prince can do it, so can I! The cover is made from taffeta and damask fabrics which are both just gorgeous. Between the fabrics is a layer of batting to give it a bit more oomph. 

The spine of the book has a ribbon attached to it and the book closes with the same kind of ribbon as well. I appliqued circles of damask on the covers and went around the circles with another stitched circle to make the batting sit more tightly. I wanted to do this with a quilting foot, but I couldn't get the damn thing to work right, so I just did it with a regular foot. Oh well.  I guess this free motion stitching will be another learning experience for the future.

To add some more luxury to the whole thing I surrounded the circles with beads. It was my first time beading to fabric ever! A huge learning experience as well and a test in patience. It's far from perfect, but I do like the final effect of the beads. And I have new found respect for all you beaders out there.

So here's the book standing up from both sides: 

And here are some glimpses of the pages. The book has 120 pages (counting both sides) and consists fully of  strips of double sided scrapbook paper that were machine stitched into signatures and then hand sewn into the cover. Aren't those patterns just gorgeous? It's all K&C paper, for those of you who care about that kind of stuff. 

This last photo is to show you the inside cover, which is just damask. I didn't think it needed any more adding to it. The papers are dramatic enough. 

And there you have it. That's how ROD Square was saved from eternal shame and became a rather chic book if I do say so myself. It will probably be a while before I use it, but it is definitely destined to become one of my future journals and I'm sure it will then be filled to the brim with good stuff after all.  A happy ending for all concerned. ;-)

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Yay, I'm on Dispatch from LA!

One of my favorite bloggers from the get go is Mary Ann Moss. You may know her from one of her online classes or from her life loving spirit which she shares with us on Dispatch from LA, where she also posts her gorgeous journals and sketchbooks. I like her attitude on life and she seems to share my love for enjoying books and quiet creative time. This is a woman who knows how to enjoy herself and I respect that trait more than anything in another person.

For a while now Mary Ann has been doing these profiles, she calls them glimpses, on other artsy people to show the world where they live and work and she asked her readers if they would like to contribute. Well duh! So after some back and forth of dozens and dozens (did I say dozens already?) pictures, today 'my' post went up!

The photographs are mine, but all the prettifying and lettering and making it all look gorgeous, well that's Mary Ann's doing. I swear when I first saw it I almost became jealous of myself. Who is that person and why is she so lucky to live in such a beautiful place? ;-)

I'm very proud that Mary Ann allowed me a spot on her blog (it's kind of like your idol is letting you in her private home, haha). You can see the full post here, so head on over and while you're there check out the rest of her blog. A warning though: she's addictive!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Photography Friday

Here's another Photography Friday. Let me take you on a little tour of the past few weeks as seen through my smart phone lens.

Picking out fabrics for a journal cover. Swoon!

Winter made the ponds overflow....

... and also many a forest road.

Things that wash up on the beach remain a constant fascination to me.

As do these marks left by trucks and jeeps.

A perfect fern leaf. Wouldn't this make an amazing stencil?

A sweet coworker gifted me this gorgeous (used!) roll of wallpaper.

Nature created a skating rink.

My assistant teaching me that sleep trumps beading (it does!).

Forest roads never seem to bore me.


Driftwood forming an abstract sculpture.

Cute new washi tapes came with a cute card.

Yes! I found my journaling mojo! Will tell you all about it next week.

Two donkeys enjoying the first sunshine we had in ages.

And that's all I have for you today. Well, I took about 300 more pictures, but lets not overdo it shall we?

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy weekend!