Monday, October 31, 2011

Rosa "Blessings"

Sometimes things just fall into place, and then there are times when nothing seems to fit right.  For years I've been pursuing certain elements of my life that have felt a bit "against the grain".  Working in a corporate environment is one of them.  It has never bought the best out in me, but I did it because it was what was in front of me, it was the natural next step in the long line of expected steps. It was considered a path to independence and financial security. 

Years ago when I was making my choice about what to pursue at college I was steered strongly away from art toward business.  That's fine, I never regretted having the skills I have, especially now, but I have wasted  many years yearning to be my creative self, a yearning that would never be silenced. Fortunately, I never let go of that artistic woman, but I did hide her in a closet, bringing her out only when I was alone. 

When I was in my 20's and 30's I used to sneak off to late night art classes without anyone knowing.  I bought and stashed heaps of art books in my office and spent hours pouring through them.  It was easier back then, I was single and lived alone.  I had a room in my house that was kind of hidden away.  Visitors rarely became curious about it, preferring to assume that it were a store room or the like, when really if they ever ventured to open that door they would have caught a glimpse into the world of a woman they knew nothing was my studio.

Today, I bask happily and proudly in the label of "artist"or "creative".  It doesn't matter what they call me, it's who I am, and I am only just emerging into the full light of day.  My hubby is so proud of me and everything I produce. In fact, he directs anyone who cares to listen to him toward my blog.  He's been hatching a plot to turn our spare room into an art studio for me and his ideas are glorious. (Maybe he's just sick of the clutter on the dining room table?)  Of course it'll take some time to evolve, but I love that he is as enthusiastic about my artistic pursuits as I am.

I'm so blessed that he loves and honors my creative woman.  It hasn't always been like that.  I've been in toxic, superficial relationships that have taken me years to extricate from. I've been humiliated and demeaned because of my "arty-side", and dismissed and marginalized as a "flake".  Well, the "flake" part can sometimes be true, but the rest is just ignorance. 

Today, I can feel my light shining and I love "who I am", especially when I am honoring my true artistic self. I'm just a better person all around.  Sure, there are plenty of ups and downs and sometimes my focus on art can be very tiresome to the people around me.  But just as I love each member of my family and friends for their uniqueness and potential, so they love me.  I wish I had come into this strength 40 years ago, but it doesn't matter, I'm here now!.

So to honor this wonderful place I'm in today, I did a page in my journal called "Rosa Blessings", or "The Blessing Rose". I don't know anything about Roses, just that you have to prune them.  This little beauty came from one of my gardening books, and that's what it was called..."Blessings".   It's a further study of both  watercolor pencils and ink shading techniques that I'm trying to master.  The rose was washed with W&N Artists Watercolor in "Quinacridone Magenta", then enhanced with Derwent Inktense Watercolor Pencil, and finished off with ink. But once I put the white highlights on I felt it was too intense, so I scribbled over the white gel pen with a watercolor pencil in "Fucia".  It toned it down nicely.

And a little confession to leave you with.  When the page was finished, I discovered that I drawn it upside down in my sketchbook.  Silly me!!

Thanks for checking in. xx

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cupcake Heaven

One of the places I get inspiration to play around with my art is from cook books.  I don't usually do so well drawing the platters of food, because much like my cooking, they turn out a hot mess.  (Not really, I love to cook!!) Cookbooks are often filled with beautiful photos of produce and places, especially if they're books abut a particular cuisine like Italian or Thai.  To be honest, one of my goals in life is to publish a cookbook where instead of photo's, it's filled with watercolor paintings of the food and produce.  (I'm sure there is an abundance of illustrated cookbooks out there already.)

So, my daughter has her 6th birthday coming up next month and we've been pouring through cake books for ideas.  She's got a thing for cupcakes this year, which is fine by me.  I love these little luscious bite sized cakes that are piled high with colorful, yummy toppings.  So, naturally, as part the fun we decided to draw some of them. It took her five minutes to decide that instead of drawing any from the book, she was going to create her own, and of course, this lead from markers to paint to glitter and beyond.  I'm still trying to clean up the glitter from all the nooks and crannies of the kitchen floor and benches, but her pictures are wild. 

This little page was inspired by a gorgeous cookbook my sister gave me last Christmas called "Cupcake Heaven". It's by Susannah Blake, with stunning photo's by Martin Brigdale.  It's jammed packed full of delicious and beautiful cupcake ideas, but is a bit light on the kids stuff.  I hate to say it, but it's going to be hard to beat the vibrancy and ease of buying them pre made from the supermarket...(~grimace~).  Still, it's a month before her birthday and I hold to the grandest of intentions, but unfortunately a Domestic Goddess I'm not.

So, this exercise was the perfect vehicle for my continued exploration into watercolor pencils.  I've had a rather strained relationship with WC Pencils over the years, and I've finally discovered that they are one of the best mediums for a sketchbook or journal. Once I discovered how to master these beasts, I've been going crazy with them. I'm astounded at how well they behave, and discovering Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils has helped.  The inky, saturated color that comes from them is just beautiful, and yes, you can expect to see more of my watercolor pencil pages in the future.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fun Times Ahead

What a wonderful week this is shaping up to be.  I'm one of those people who never win anything, and this week found me a winner at Inspiration Avenue's blog party.  I was lucky enough to be drawn for prize #6 of their gorgeous offering and will be the honored recipient of a beautiful photographic print by "Pics by Shel". Thank you so much Shel, I am thrilled and can't wait to see this beautiful pic in the flesh. This little weekly challenge is a wonderful way to explore the vast array of art and mixed media technique, so if you can, pop on over and join in.


I also have some exciting news on the workshop front.  Barbara at has invited me to run two online workshops as part of the workshop offerings.  This wonderful site is jam packed full of creative supplies, workshops, and tutorials.  Many of my very favorite artists offer online workshops through this site and I am deeply honored to be a part of their lineup.  Barbara has asked me to put together a 3-4 week workshop using watercolor pencils and a 3-4 week workshop using my very favorite Twinkling H2O's.


As many of you know, I am an avid user of water soluble crayons, but have recently been awakened to the beauty of watercolor pencils as well, thanks to Cathy Johnson. Since taking Cathy's mini-class on watercolor pencils, I have been immersed in using them for so many of my sketchbook pages and projects.  Barbara has asked me to show you some of my own techniques and projects using watercolor pencils and I can't wait to get started.


My second offering through will be using Twinkling H2O's.  These spectacular little pots of glimmering watercolors are vastly underestimated.  They are easy to use and the results are always stunning.  They are hugely popular with stampers and scrap-bookers, but I use them for more traditional watercolor painting and artistic journaling.  In fact, the banner to my blog was done using Twinkling H2O's.  In this workshop I will show you how to get the best from your Twinks, along with some wonderful projects using them on black as well as white backgrounds, and for making greeting cards and sketchbook pages POP.  So stay tuned for more announcements of when these workshops will be open for registration.


In the meantime, I thought I would show you another of my sketchbook pages using a combination of watercolor pencil and black and white ink. This is a " Lychnis Flos-Jovis" flower done from one of my many botanical guides. I recently bought a book by Claudia Nice called "Painting with Watercolor, Pen & Ink".   Claudia is a master at this technique and pays special attention to the shading, texture, and highlighting gained from the effective use of ink over watercolor.  Her work is luscious and awe-inspiring and her book is a very easy-to-read, practical approach to mastering these mediums.  Expect to see more of my pages using some of her wonderful ink techniques as I journey through yet another learning stage.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sketchbook Project 2012

I've just put the finishing touches on my contribution to the Art House Coop's 2012 Sketchbook Project. What a wonderful journey it's been.  When I first received my book in the mail I had very definite ideas about how I was going to approach my theme "A Path Through The Trees".  Every page was going to be filled with a path of some kind.  But after a while I gave myself over to the creative process and let the interpretation and my journey in general lead me down the path to a very different interpretation.   So rather than each page being filled with a picture of a path winding through trees and the like, I decided to approach it from the perspective of where this path leads.

I started out in a forest, then the path lead me to the ocean, then through a garden, and finally me! It was a fun process and I especially enjoyed transforming the standard issue sketchbook into a book filled with black pages and luminescent colors.  I used a combination of my treasured Twinkling H2O's, Lumiere Metallic Acrylic Paint, and Neocolor II's.  I was thrilled with the results, and it was so much fun trying out new and different techniques and subjects along the way.  I learnt a lot, and now there is a little piece of my art journey forever being held in this wonderful library. And, because I am of Australian origin, not only will my book travel around the US, it will also be going Down Under as part of the World Tour.  So if you're lucky enough to live somewhere along the tour route and you'd like to take a look at my book in 'the flesh', please ask to see it using my full name....Dion Fowler, NOT Dion Dior!! 

Thanks for checking in. xx

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn View

I was recently the recipient of an ROAK.  For those of you who don't know what this is, it's a Random Act Of Kindness.  To say I was moved by this kindness was an understatement.  It made me think about the challenges we face in this world and the cynicism and competitiveness that seems to have crept into our everyday life.  It wasn't the gift that astounded me, although it was wonderfully generous and very thoughtful, but rather the giver.  A person whom I have not met, who lives half a world away from me, and who chose to encourage my art and creativity simply because they liked it. 

There was no agenda, just an opportunity for this person to give...and they took it.  Imagine a world filled with people like this.  What if every person on the planet did something random and kind for someone else?  What if this ROAK was meaningful to the recipient, and dignified in a way that they did not make the recipient feel pitied, inferior or needy?  What if these gifts were not public statements about the giver, but anonymous or quiet gestures of generosity and love?  What a beautiful world this would be.

It has had a profound affect on our family, maybe because this kind of thing is so rare.  Both my husband and I have been moved to pay this kindness forward and we have had a wonderful time discussing it with our daughter.  We've decided that we're going to look for more opportunities to pass on an ROAK to others.  We want these ROAK's to be simple, quiet and NOT self-promotional.  In as many cases as possible, we want them to be anonymous, and most definitely dignified and meaningful for the recipients.

The only part of this whole thing that makes me sad is it made me realize that I haven't been doing enough of this kind of thing. So to the person who touched my life with a simple and quiet ROAK I want you to know that you are indeed a special person, I am profoundly grateful to you, and you should know that the world is a much more beautiful place with you in it.

Thank you. xxx

Monday, October 17, 2011

On the Wings of Inspiration

Inspiration Avenue is having a blog party this week.  It's simply too delicious to resist taking part.  There are loads of giveaways all weeks and they even have some wonderful freebies for you to try. This wonderful blog has been active for over three years, and their sole purpose is to help encourage and inspire creative pursuits.

The spirit of the party is all about our wings of inspiration, so I stared thinking about where I get my wings.  I get them from the brilliance of an early morning sunrise; the hush of a sultry summer afternoon, the soft breathing of my child asleep in his crib, the twinkle in my husbands eye, the colors of a summer garden, the distant buzz of a lawn mower, the gentle lapping of the ocean on the shore, and the glistening of the sun on the surface of a lake.


So many things give me creative wings and therefore the courage to try new things. Other artists give me ideas to try out, authors sometimes give my art a voice, teachers give me the courage to grow, and nature gives me subjects to interpret. That was very much the case with these pages thanks to Aesop and Helen Ward.

So after a crazy couple of weeks of hospital visits, bake sales, and piano lessons I needed to shut myself off from everything (well, almost) and paint. So I took my inspiration once again from children's books and decided to ride on the wings of a dragon fly, then the wings of a moth.  These little gems were done with my 5yo from one of her favorite books "An Anthology of Aesop's Animal Fables" illustrated by Helen Ward. Helen's realistic illustrations and incredible detail and shading are spectacular.  We played around with different colors and my daughter didn't like Helen's hairy moth, so her's became a butterfly. I found myself following Helen's shading detail pretty closely and it has really helped me understand that the movements of the pen strokes can effect the entire dimension of the subject. These are further studies in watercolor pencil using Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. I'm loving the way they are behaving, thanks to the tutelage of Cathy Johnson.

Once my daughter and I completed our pictures, I could then face the mountains of laundry waiting for me and prepare myself for yet more trips to the hospital and a week full of field trips and pumpkin carving.

Thanks for checking in. xx