All posts by lindywhitton

These are the things that excite me : well chosen words, vibrant colours that sing of summer , the compelling rhythm of nature's patterns, blank pages pregnant with possibilities. These are the things that I love: my family, creating, painting, writing, laughing, being.

How to make a gift box from recycled card.

As promised here is a quick “how to” guide for making the dragonfly gift box featured in last weeks post. Although I’m making it to hold a small purse you can use this method to make a box to fit any size gift.

Materials

  • A sheet of waste card
  • A straight edged ruler
  • A pencil
  • a craft knife
  • double sided glue tape
  • a cutting board
  • a gift to wrap
  • an embossing tool or pair of scissors

 

Step 1 -measure the gift thickness

Place the gift on the sheet of card with a bit of space around the top and sides and a space the same size plus and extra 1/3rd at the bottom. Measure the thickness of the gift and add 0.5 cm to the measurement. The purse is 2cm thick so I add 0.5cm to give me 2.5cm.  Now I draw a line 2.5cm from the edge of the sheet from just above the top of the purse to just below the bottom of the purse. This will form the side of my box.

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Step 2

Now I continue the line to the bottom of my sheet making-Side A. Next I draw a line on the other side from the top to bottom of my sheet and another line 2.5 cm from it.This will make the other side of the box- Side B. To make the bottom side of the box I draw 2 lines 2.5cm apart just below the bottom of the purse.

Now I measure from the top of the sheet to the first line below the purse. I note the measurement and then draw a line the same distance from the second line below the purse. Draw another line 2.5cm distance from this. Now you have the top side of your box.

The last line to draw is the edge of the box flap which can be whatever size you like. I like to use 1/3rd of the box size for the flap.

 

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Step 3

Cut along the outside line of Side A. Now score along each pencil line with an embossing tool  or ,as I’m doing here, a closed pair of scissors. You just want to use enough pressure to dent the card. Lastly cut out the 2 small squares and the sides of the flap as  shown.

 

Step 4

Once you have the template cut out carefully bend and crease along each pencil line.

 

Step 5

Fold in the side flaps. Cut a piece of double sided tape just smaller than the side flaps and stick a piece to the outside of the two top side flaps  Don’t stick any to the top flap.

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Step 6

Now is the time to decorate the outside  with stamps or other designs. It’s much easier with a flat template than once the box is taped together.

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Step 7

Remove the cover tape and firmly press the bottom side flaps to the taped top side flaps. Use your fingers to firmly press the flaps together by putting one hand inside the box and applying pressure from the outside.

 

Step 8

Put your gift in the box and secure. Here I’ve punched two holes in the flap and the box and threaded hemp cord through to keep the lid closed. You could simply wrap ribbon or string a couple of times around the box to tie the flap closed. You could also get a bit fancier and use sealing wax and a stamp – but I prefer to use a method that doesn’t destroy the box flap when the gift is opened- that way the box can be recycled again.

 

You can have a load of fun using  left over bits of card and decorative odds and ends to make  any size gift box. Some things I’m thinking of using on upcoming boxes are seed pods and  buttons as closures – I’ll glue on and then attach a loop to the flap by tying through a single hole punch and  have a loop closure. I also like the idea of using gum leaves to print  the boxes.

I’d love you to share a photo of your own gift box ideas. Happy recycling!

 

Cleaning day in the studio.

I’m a bit of a slob when it comes to cleaning my pastels. On Saturday I was doing a little painting and pulled out a brown stick of pastel, swiped on a good solid swathe only to find it was really a deep, luscious red!

With that little bit of motivation a grabbed a rag and started cleaning- now I have a box of glowing pastel sticks sitting on a new bed of rice ( brown of course!) The rice keeps the sticks clean as they roll around and rub against the grains – polenta is even better but I’d eaten it all!

Home – Photography 101

The BookshelfHome is family and this family bookcase tells the story of those who live in my home. Our individual and collective interests sit side by side on the simple white shelves.

On the top shelf  lie the heavy tomes of architecture – an absorbing passion of the Writer. 

The next shelf holds art catalogues, travel stories and some language dictionaries – the Writer and I travel every year, love seeing great art and have taught ourselves some French and Italian. The Writer says he’s speaks 4 languages, English, French, Italian and fluent gibberish!

In the corner is the little ceramic cat that our then 12 year old son choose as a souvenir in France where he befriended many a cat – enticing them into our holiday homes with scraps of ham and saucers of milk. At 20 he rescued a kitten that had been dumped and she’s become a loved family member.

Then there’s the shelf with the speakers – our home is filled with music from the moment the Writer gets up to the moment he goes to bed. We have R & B, classic, baroque, rock and jazz – and a library of 4000+ CDs to choose from. He carefully curates a sound track for all our holidays and particular songs are irrevocably linked to certain places and bring back sharp and clear memories every time I hear them.

Then there are the family photos of parents and grandparents no longer with us – their memories cherished, stories told and lives remembered.

Also a  few simple ornaments that bring back memories of far away destinations.

Stashed on the bottom shelf is a collection of classic reads enjoyed by us all- Wodehouse and Christie. Some of these have been read and reread over the years. We’ve spent many a night chuckling over a Bertie and Jeeves video or guessing “who dunnit”as we watched Poirot unfold the clues.

A few tubes of paint hint at my passion for painting.

A trio of games are the flow over from a huge stash of boardgames  which are the glue that bonds our family together in difficult times, when we need to destress or to celebrate someones achievments. The eldest son owns many of these – he eschews spending money on frivolities but feels games are a basic necessity of life.

So there you have it – my home on the shelves of a bookcase!

 

 

The art behind a handmade bag.

I make bags much the same way as I paint a picture. Something will catch my eye, a shape will stick in my mind, a fabric pattern will pop out from all the others and I start thinking how I might use that idea to sew a functional piece of art – and what could be more useful, decorative and functional than a bag!

Just like a painting I get to make all sorts of decisions that will influence the final outcome. Will the bag be large or small, will the patterned fabric dominate or just add a highlight, will it be big, bold and bright or more elegant and subdued.

I like to paint fast. I try to be expressive and gestural in my approach. I value simplicity of design over fussiness . Just as I  want a painting to come together and tell a story so I want my bags to tell their own story , to insist on going to the market and being filled with winter pears , to sashay into the evening accompanied by a little black dress, to be slung over a shoulder and take a ride on a scooter.

There are lots of little details and flourishes that will lift a painting out of the ordinary and give it that extra something that makes you want to live with it on your walls for years to come. I like to add small details to my bags to finish them off. I might use strips of the main patterned fabric to trim pockets and isolate a graphic element in a small square against a plain fabric background just like a painting in a frame.

 

Sometimes a bag design will develop purely to showcase a fabric like this little tote with 3 “windows” I made just to frame a hand printed penguin on a mustard linen. I liked the result so much I’ve started using it to frame Japanese kimono fabrics .

I love hand printed fabric and make my own stamps to add a touch of whimsy to otherwise plain bags. I often”frame” them on squares of fabric which I attach to flaps, pockets and backs.

The other way by bag making is like my painting is that I have an overall design idea, an artistic concept and I start. I don’t always get it right first time, I may botch up something and then learn from that. I often measure with my eye not a tape measure! I make changes on the fly! No  two bags are ever the same – I  would get bored with that. I could always streamline my process and make a lot more bags a lot more efficiently but I just don’t want to. When I sit down to sew I look through my fabric stash to see what excites me today -then I choose a design idea to rework or try something new . Just like painting I want to be inspired, to try new techniques to challenge myself and hopefully make a thing of humble and useful beauty in the process.

You can check out my other bags at my Etsy shop.

The art of recycled packaging.

I love a beautifully packaged gift but I hate the waste of paper and card it generates so I had a bit of a dilemma when I decided I would like to package some of the handmade items I sell in my Etsy shop. It wasn’t just the aesthetics I was after it was also something sturdy enough to keep items in good shape while making their way around the world to their new owners.

My solution was to use scrap cardboard used in packaging disposable items from my workplace. The card is a really good thickness and size with a white side and a natural cardboard side. The sheets have no writing and a great for making all sorts of packaging.

 

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Because I use various handmade stamp designs to print on my fabric bags and cushion covers I decided to coordinate  the packaging by using the same stamps on the boxes and envelopes . I also do a range of hand painted cushion covers and I draw a mini design to match on the cardboard wraps.

… and then I thought why not make little folded cards for my earrings using the same dragonfly stamp.

 

I also made an early decision to keep any branding to a bare minimum and never tape closed a box. I’ve come up with some creative ways to fasten boxes and envelopes so that the recipient can recycle the already recycled gift box or envelope to pack their own gifts.

As time goes on I’m finding more and more ways to fold and fashion minimalist yet stylish recycled packaging. Packaging can be art too!

Stay tuned for an easy to follow demo on how to make the dragonfly box. I’ve got it in the pipeline for next week.

Light and Shadow – beach painting.

I love this little beach in the south of Tasmania – Drip beach seems such a humdrum name for such a gem of a place ! I painted this over the weekend and tried my hand at a time lapse video which I’m trying to edit to post on YouTube this week. Apparantly it’s very simple – I’ve heard that before! Actually I’ve already downloaded some software and done the time lapse bit but the music soundtrack didn’t appear to “stick” and it’s a silent movie – will have another Google and see if there’s a fix for that before I post it.

I also did a full length video of the process – the painting took an hour so not sure if anyone will ever want to sit through that. And I learned that I like to chew my cud whilst painting – who knew! So from now on I’ll have to mindful of all my little painting foibles and do a bit of editing before I hit record. I still have to do the voice over so that might have to wait till later for it’s first night release – so hold off on the popcorn and choc top ice cream till further notice!

Given all the delays that are bound to happen as I navigate the technological maze ahead I thought I’d just throw up a quick still demo here. Apologies for the photos which are not my usual quality – I took some stills from the video and didn’t realise they would be so low res.

Sketching up

Just a few simple charcoal lines to block in the basic shapes of tree line, beach and rocks. There’s no real detail and the rocks will change as I go on.

Full Sketch (28-02-2016 5-32 PM)

The sky

Here I just layer in loosely some soft pinks and yellows near the tree line and then some light blues at the top of the sky . I run the blues over the pinks and yellows and then with the side of my finger blend the colours together to cover the reddish background colour. I don’t really want the backgrund to show through here but it will give a bit of an underglow to the sky.

Next I go back in with the same colours and lay a light layer down to bring back the luminosity to the sky. The crystal structure of the pastels allows the light to bounce off them but not if they’re all pushed into the paper. That’s why I go back again to get a looser layer on top – I want that light and luminosity back again!

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The trees

Now I start to block in the tree shapes starting with some deep dark blues along the beach edge . I follow with some lighter greens , golds and siennas. I work the whole area going back and forth until I have a good balance of dark shadows and sunlit areas. I will come back later and adjust. I also add a sliver of sand at the base of the headland.

 

The Water

Using a light blue similar to the sky value I start laying in the water. I pop in sonme of the tree colours from the headland as reflections and then just smooth them a little with the side of my finger. I let some of the back ground colour show through the water.

I add deeper, darker colors for the water in shadow at the beach edge along with some darker blues.

Reflections2 (28-02-2016 9-51 PM)

 

The beach

Now I want to get the beach established which I do by laying in strokes of purples for the shadowed sand and pinks where the sunlight finds it’s way through the dense trees. I add some sienna next to the dark water where the sun is shining and the contrast really helps to add a bit of zing to this area.

Beach 3 (28-02-2016 9-53 PM)

 

Back to the water

In with some deeper blues, a few rocks and some white foam around the rocks. I also start some dark shadows in the rocky area.

rocks start (28-02-2016 11-06 PM)

Now for the rocks

With a deep purple I block in the shadows and then use a cream colour for the brightest highlight on the rocks. Then I can start modelling the rocks using mid value oranges, golds and greys. I then come back in with blues and browns in the shadows until I have the rock shapes defined.

 

A final round up

I go back over the painting adding a little here and subtracting a little there. I tidy up the rock shapes, add some grey tree trunks amongst the foilage, refine the pebbly area next to the rocks and the painting is done.

Light and Shadow

 

You can also watch a time lapse video or the full narrated 30 minute video.

 

To paraphrase Kermit – “It’s not easy painting green”

I’ve been doing a lot of commission paintings lately of wonderful, verdant landscapes. Forests, mountainsides covered with pines, flowering grassy meadows, homes set in expanses of green, green lawns  surrounded by stately trees.

It’s just not that easy to paint a subject with such a lot of green. You can fill the canvas or paper with swathes of lush shades of green – your trees can look just like trees, the grasses fresh and bright but somehow it just fails to look natural. Why is that when nature is so full of greens and they all look very natural???

I don’t really know the answer to that but I do know that there are ways to help avoid the “unnatural” greens.

Never use a green straight out of the tube – it’s a real killer 

  • mix your greens from blues and yellows
  • add a very little red, sienna , umber or  ochre for a more natural green
  • don’t over mix on the palette – let the colours mix on the paper/canvas
  •  here’s a good video on mixing greens

 

Underpaint with red or orange

  • adds a bit of a zing where the complimentary colour shows through the green
  • if you’re painting with pastels choose a red or sienna coloured paper

 

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Underpainting with red

 

Break up the green area

  • use wildflowers and weeds to add splashes of colour to meadows and lawns
  • use different textures with brushes, fingers, palette knife – more interesting that flat expanses of green
  • use several different greens to paint a single area

 

Don’t use green at all!

  • as long as you use the right tonal value it will read as “green”
  • mix it up with blues, yellows, oranges, ochres, reds all making up the impression of vegetation that you would normally think of as green

     

 

 

Use interesting darks in the shadow areas

  • try blues, purples ,violets, dark browns and deep reds instead of dark green
  • this is your opportunity to inject a bit of extra contrasting colour to break up the expanse of green so go for it!

 

Next time you’re faced with an expanse of green try a few of these techniques.

 

 

Moving on

My last post wasn’t very positive –  it was positively negative. I’ve lost a lot of reference photos but I’ve decided I just need to get over it and get painting. So here’s my latest.

 

I enjoyed painting a flower portrait for a change. There’s so much complexity and symmetry in floral subjects so they lend themselves to detailed paintings which can be very therapeutic – here I am in charge of my subject, studying detail and recording what I see. I can also be a bit looser in the background – mixing colours on the canvas, suggesting with a hint of pink and green that there are other proteas in the garden. I can take control , no passing clouds to change the landscape form, no scrambling to finish before the light changes.

Today that’s what I needed – a sense of order restored!

No more pictures

The Windows 10 debacle has left me in despair. Thousands of photos from years of travel have all gone. I backed them up before deleting Windows 10 and when I went to copy them back the files were there. I copied all my backup files back to the laptop but when I checked tonight my main photo files weren’t there. The external hard drive doesn’t have them either – just a series of corrupt files.

Years of photos of Tasmania – all gone! France and Italy – all gone! New Zealand – a few left. USA – maybe 20% left.

I feel totally gutted. I want to wail and cry and bang my fists against the wall. I know they’re only digital images – it’s not like I’ve lost an arm , a friend, a family member. But it feels a bit that way. All those images carefully framed , pored over, painted from – all gone.

I’m going to bed and I just might not get up tomorrow!

 

Emotography week 6 Heart Song

 

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Heart Song

Surf washes in on silver sand

blood pounds as I leap the gaps of  lichen covered rocks

the sea breeze races in hurling stinging sand against my skin

I taste salt in the air

I feel alive

heart sings!

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The Bay of Fires on Tasmania’s east coast remains one of my favourite places to visit, photograph and paint. The colours are so  vibrant – orange lichens on steely grey rocks and that clear turquoise water lapping the silver beaches. Memories are locked into this landscape and each painting embeds those memories deeper in my soul.