Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Creative Mischief Making

Last week my friend Manon and I spent some time together
while our little ones were having a play date.
We shared our hopes, dreams and plans for the year - also the usual challenges around being a mom, being a creative and remaining focused and business minded about our creative mediums.
Manon's medium is shoes, you see?
I know - very exciting, very unique, right!?
She'll be joining me for a morning session in the studio shortly.
Who knows what mischief we might make!
But I'm positive that it may involve this ...

...and this...

...and this...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

An Adventure into Hobbit Country

I've mentioned previously that we had just returned from 6 days of peaceful solitude.
Here, you won't be surprised to cross paths with Bilbo Baggins on one of your forest walks.
“There is something about it that opens no door to words.”
These are John Steinbeck's words to describe Deer Isle in Maine. 
It fits this magical place perfectly.
Lakenvlei Forest Lodge.

We watched the light change the hues of the landscape hour after hour.
The horses and ponies popped in daily for apples and carrots.
If you ignored them, they would assertively knock on the wooden front steps with their hooves.
The chef's sons and some of the other guests joined us for cycle rides through the pine forests at dusk.
We went rowing in search of freshwater otters and waterbirds everyday.
Marketed as a flyfishing destination, this place has so much more to offer.
I can see an art retreat happening here.
Anyone interested?
Let me hear your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mix it Up and make it Fresh - A Diary and Visual Journal Combo

Since my school days, finding the right diary for the new year is a search that I take on with great excitement and anticipation.  
I'm a bit loopy that way.  I just love, love, love paper.  
I can't help it.  And I can't explain it.  That's just me. 
The smell of a fresh book  - written or unwritten - just gets me inspired.  
Once I've found it - the fussing begins.  
I collage in it, I sketch in it, I stick all sorts of ephemera into it.  
At school, I made collage covers for my diaries.  
Finding the right images took me hours and hours.  
And I loved searching through stacks of colourful magazines for them.

A few years ago we spent the entire month of December exploring beautiful Brazil.  
I loved all the amazing stationery boutiques in Rio.  
It was in one of those shops that I found one of my most treasured diaries - a delicious fluorescent pink folder with ring-bound pages. I still have it today.  
For the past couple of years my diary of choice has been the A6 page-a-day Moleskine.  I adore Moleskine diaries!  
Plus, you get to customize your diary by adding templates - see the link here.

Halfway through 2014 I discovered The Documented Life Project.  
5 US based friends came up with the brilliant idea to transform their Moleskine diary pages into visual journal pages by providing free weekly prompts and demos on each of their blogs.  
If you find colour and image inspiring, then this approach will transform your weekly planning from an energy sapping admin task into stellar levels of inspiration!  
It definitely did so for me.
Plus, you get to combine your weekly planning with visual journaling - which is a great timesaver!  
And if you're not a Moleskine fan - any diary or journal you have can do the job!
The project is free.  To join, just click on this link - The Documented Life Project 2015.

Here's a peek of my diary pages for the 1st week of 2015, using 70 year old book paper:

I added an extra fold-in page using washi tape. 
Then I tore and collaged the book paper randomly on my page. 
I put down blobs of red acrylic paint and spread it over the page using an old credit card. 
After the paint had dried, I tore off some of the pieces of book paper which left some interesting stenciled shapes and textures.

I traced a fashion figure from a magazine using carbon paper, then drew over the carbon lines with a blue gel pen to make it more visible.
The head and hair was my own sketch that I added to the figure.
If you're not a confident drawer - just trace the entire figure, head and hair shape from a magazine.
Using white gesso (white acrylic paint will also do), I painted around the figure to lighten the background around the figure.
I looked for magazine images that had red and green colour combinations, cut rounded shapes from these and pasted them to create a frame around the figure.
I used a Caran D'ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayon to add flesh colour and blue shading to the arms and face, but oil pastels should give you a similar effect.
I used a waterbased paint pen in lime green for the hair, but lime green acrylic paint should do the trick too.
I did the lettering using a Pentel watercolour brush filled with blue acrylic ink.
For the final touches, I went over the round shapes in the border as well as the lines of the figure drawing using a blue gel pen.
The negative space between the figure and the border will be used to write down notes and a review of the week.
Hope you're inspired to make your mark!
The key is to have fun and play - it is good for you!

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Visual Journals got some Press!

I am elated to share this news! Drum roll please...!

A prominent South African magazine, Lééf (an Afrikaans word meaning "to live life to the full"), contacted me to write an article about my visual journals and the practice of keeping a visual journal.
Spending time with the magazine's editorial team was a wonderful experience and I was inspired by their enthusiasm.

The concept of keeping a visual journal as an effective tool for maintaining emotional and spiritual well-being and nurturing creativity is still relatively unknown over here, you see.
Although information and awareness about it is slowly expanding.
Of course I'm doing my bit too - whether people want to know about it or not!
As a passionate visual journalist it is impossible NOT to talk about it!
I am so excited that this opportunity came along because it allowed me to get the word out on a much grander scale.

The article is currently featured in the January 2015 issue.

You can view it at 50 seconds in the attached magazine flip video.
 Alternatively you can download the digital issue on Zinnio.com or on iTunes.  
It is available in Afrikaans only.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Series of Serious Festivities!

First and foremost - let me wish you a wonderful, creative 2015!  
      One that is glistening with Hope.

I have just returned from 6 days of peace and quiet in a remote wilderness area about 2 hours' drive from where we live. Prior to that, our house had been a beehive of festivities from the beginning of November right through to the end of December.  Yup, our "Maison Majorelle" became a little function venue of sorts!  We were hosting parties from week to week for anything between 12 and 22 people.  In addition to this, our band, Jazz & the Gypsies, also got to play one gig to a full house of 110 guests all dressed up as gypsies!  It was such a thrill!

Here's a condensed list of all the awesome 12-plus festivities that we got to host: 
Jazz and the Gypsies Show
My Sister-in-Law's Baby Shower
My Mom's 70th Birthday Party
Van Wyk/Burger Clans Get-together
My Daughter Angeli's 4th Birthday Party
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day

This of course excludes the casual dinners, lunches and breakfasts with family and friends that dropped in or came for a sleepover.  So needless to say - there was absolutely zero time for making art.  With art supplies, that is.  But with each upcoming party I approached my home like a canvas - the themes, the colours, making vignettes to tell a story - each celebration became a collection of 3D installations and mixed media collages. 

So wrapping up 2014 is taking me a bit longer than usual because I only managed to catch my breath during our recent 6 days away. And I could not have survived this season without the help of my amazing sister, my incredible mom, my long suffering husband and my brother-in-law who is passionate about cooking!  After putting so much time and energy into each event, I do have the need to reminisce and share the joy through some pictures.  

                We got to play gypsy jazz to a fabulous audience and a full house ...

Then we celebrated baby Jenna Mari's expected arrival in French Vintage style ...

                     And then my beautiful, precious mom turned 70 ...

The Van Wyk (my maiden name) and Burger clans have been trying to get together for almost 2 years.  The long wait, during which some of us had to face life threatening adversity, made for a festive celebration of love, joy and hope.  Our own little thanksgiving.

Then my sweet Angeli turned 4 on a rainy day and we had to move the 
      party-in-the-forest and 10 very busy little creatures indoors ...

              Then Christmas Eve arrived and we were joined by family from as far
                    afield as South Korea.  Newborn baby Jenna was the guest of honour.  

      Christmas Day was a relaxed affair - we had naps, played guitar, read and lazed in the                           
             pool.  Such special times where we made a series of precious memories!