Magical City Colouring Book

My husband picked me up a Lizzie Mary Cullen ‘Magical City’ colouring book for next to nothing in a charity shop the other day, with only three out of 70 designs lightly coloured in by the previous owner. I’d never thought about colouring in city-scapes before, but I’ve made a start on going over the three half-heartedly-done (by my standards) designs in my own rather more heavy-handed style.

I’d already finished re-colouring the first one (of London’s Baker Street) before I realised I should probably have taken a picture of it before I began, as well as after… Oh well… Oops! At least I took pics of the other two to compare…

Anyway, here is a little gallery of the book cover as well as my before and after colouring in shots (minus the one I forgot). It turns out I’m really happy with my second-hand colouring in as well as with my otherwise pristine second hand colouring in book – definitely something creative to smile about this week, and for the month ahead at least! 🙂

Trent’s Weekly Smile

Escapist Colouring Club

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Experimenting with Movement

So Fandango’s One Word Challenge today is ‘Movement’, and I decided to go out for a walk with my camera to see if I could capture any movement – it still feels odd having spent years teaching myself how not to have camera shake or fuzzy movement, to then deliberately create it in a shot. I was initially thinking people, or cars, or buses zooming along the road. But it’s hot and sunny and bright and not really long exposure weather, and anyway as I’ve never really got the hang of sucessfully using my ND filter I gave up on that idea.

Instead I went for a walk in the local woods, where there’s always a bit of shade to be had, lots of dark and light, and played about for a bit experimenting in taking oddly moving pictures of trees – obviously the trees don’t move, but with the right settings a bit of camera trickery can provide the motion! Aperture priority, aperture closed down ( experimenting with different levels), ISO fixed at 160 (lowest my camera can do), and plenty of deliberate camera movement on my part.

To start with I tried my usual zoom bursts, holding the camera steady and zooming the lens from wide to tele, but they looked quite boring; then I tried holding the lens steady and moving the camera instead; then moving the entire camera and lens in a circle; then up and down; then back and forth; and finally in any odd shape I fancied. Overall I tried minimal abstraction (so the grass and trees are still reasonably recognisable), maximum abstraction (where it’s all just random green fuzz) and an in between, neither-one-nor-the-other kind of melting-forest dream-state effect.

I took loads, so here are some of my favourites in all three categories:

Slight movement…

Melting Forest…

Completely abstract…

So altogether I’ve ended up with some very different views of my usual walk through the woods, and perhaps cheekily have also created a rather different take on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge prompt of ‘View’ – what fun I’ve had with this today! 🙂

Comfort Colouring

Over the last couple of months, while due to ongoing digestive issues I’ve been trying to fix my lifelong habit of emotional eating, I’ve tried distracting myself with colouring something in instead of eating whenever I get stressed. It’s kind of working, my comfort colouring – well, most of the time anyway. So as a result I’ve been doing loads of bits and pieces of colouring in lately, mostly with gel pens or using both pens and pencils in the same design, but to ring the changes I’ve again gone back to the old school staple of using basic coloured pencils. I do tend to love the bright, strong confident colour tones created by using relatively heavy pressure on the page rather than the quieter almost pastel shades achieved by using gentler, softer strokes – hope you like them too! 🙂

Mix and Match Media

I decided to mix and match gel pens with coloured pencils in colouring in this circular design – I first used a metallic gold gel pen to create an outline framework, then continued with gel pens for the smaller fiddly bits. I chose coloured pencils to fill in the larger inner areas, then finished off with gel pens again around the border 🙂

Escapist Colouring Club

Fiddly but Fun

One of the benefits for me of colouring in with gel pens rather than coloured pencils is that I can colour all the really fiddly, finicky little designs that my well-used pencil points always find so frustrating to fill in. I’ve looked at this particular mandala design so many times and have resisted starting it, knowing that it would take some time to do – but here it is completed, and I’m really delighted with the way it’s turned out 🙂

Escapist Colouring Club

Art Class in School

Fandango’s One Word Challenge prompt word of ‘silkscreen’ today immediately takes me straight back to high school art class, nearly 40 years ago. As well as focusing on understanding (and practising) the basics of drawing and painting we also experimented with lots of other techniques for creating art, some of which I haven’t thought about for years.

I remember early on we were introduced to lino block printing, where we each carved out (with various-sized special little tools) our favoured design on our little rectangle of lino block – carved in reverse, of course. I chose a capital letter ‘R’, decorated with patterns all around like the grand initial letters in old manuscripts. Once all our carving was done we carefully rolled coloured ink onto the surface of the block before up-ending it onto paper and printing countless versions of our chosen design.

Then once we’d taken the block printing as far as we could (with one block there are only so many options to experiment with) we used plasticine to build a little sealed wall around the edge of our lino blocks, and filled them with plaster of paris and left them to set to create an image in relief, which we then painted to keep along with our many prints. Such a lot from one little rectangle of lino block though… 🙂

And then of course later on there was the screen-printing and memories of the taut silkscreen frame used – I can still hear the strident sound of the squeegee pulling the ink purposefully across the surface of the screen, a bit like a muffled zip-wire sound cut short – vvvvt. There was a knack to getting it just right – not too fast, not too slow, not too much pressure, not too little – and then the moment of anticipation as you lift the screen off and remove whatever ink-blocking template used undereath to reveal the final result.

And for me, the result was always a little bit disappointing. I mean, effectively it did exactly what it was supposed to do – sharp lines, strong colour, vibrant solid shapes – but personally I found it all too formulaic. I do appreciate we were schoolkids so our designs were inevitably simple, and that more complex designs could be created by using multiple templates and different colours of ink to build up clearly differentiated layers.

But still… for such a laborious process where the purpose was to create easily replicated sharp-edged identical images, I found that promise a little lacklustre. We screen-printed both onto paper and onto cloth, so I could definitely see how using this process for printing multiple T shirts with exactly the same design would make sense, or multiple identical paper posters, but somehow it just didn’t catch my creative imagination at the time…

But batik – now that lit a creative spark in me! Batik basically uses hot wax painted free-hand onto cotton fabric with a tjanting tool and being left to set hard before dying the cloth in a cold water dye bath. Once this is done, the wax is removed and the cloth is boil-washed to remove all remaining traces of wax. It’s a little like tie-dying but using wax instead of string to create areas of dyed and undyed cloth. You can then repeat the process as many times as you like, building up layers of colour and shape.

Each individual piece of batik is unique, and because the chosen design is painted on free-hand you can change your mind creatively in the middle of applying the wax so there’s always an element of uncertainty in outcome of the process, which is probably the thing that really appeals to me – I like not knowing exactly what I’m going to end up with. Aaahhh… the memories… what fun I had… 🙂