Monday, 31 October 2016

A breath of woodland air

It's time for the October Clarity Challenge. And I'm loading it on the last day again! I could try to pretend that I'll do it earlier next month, but it's unlikely. Things tend to get left until they're the most urgent thing at the moment!

The theme is "Circles or Squares."

This idea developed in three stages. I wanted to do something dimensional, so decided on a square canvas, with square frames layered up and extending out from the sides. I even bought a set of square nesting dies to make it, which have proven very useful already.

When I received the gorgeous Clarity Club stencil this month, a set of beautifully delicate trees, I had the idea for a woodland theme, using that and other tree stamps and stencils. 

Finally, at my shamanic bodywork session I drew the forest card, which said "breathe", and gave me my focus.

I started with an 8x8 canvas board. I applied grunge paste through the new stencil, forming a tree up one side and leaves across the centre.

I added more branches across the top, with the same stencil, then individual leaves in the bottom left, using the maple leaves stencil. The only picture at this stage was all blurry!

Once the paste was dry, I spritzed with scattered straw distress ink. Then, replacing the stencils, I added colour with distress inks and stencil brushes.

It was a bit challenging to work out which leaves, and which way round, I'd used at the bottom. This is an Autumnal woodland, so lots of warm colours. I used aged mahogany, spiced marmalade, brushed corduroy and crushed olive.

Before I finished, I decided that the background was too yellow, so painted it with a cream acrylic paint - fiddly, but glad I did it. I also edged the canvas with potting soil archival ink.

For the squares to layer up, I made a series of frames, cutting Centura Pearl card with all the nesting dies together. I wanted the sturdiness of the card, but not the shine, so used the reverse.

I painted the frames with acrylic paint. I used hey pesto and claret, with touches of other colours applied through punchinella - so there are a few circles snuck in as well!

Then to make the patterns and images to be framed.

The main one uses the birch trees stencil, which I love. I started with antique linen ink, brushed over the whole card, then added the stencil and brushed over with mowed lawn, crushed olive, and a touch of pine needles. I darkened the trees with brushed corduroy.

Looking good, but again I changed my mind and decided it was too bright, so added walnut stain over the green later on.

For one of the other panels, I used a tree stamp. I started with brushed corduroy over the card, then inked up the stamp with distress markers in different colours, and stamped three times.

The back tree is second generation.

Very pretty, but too pale, so I added more trees behind, so it's more of a wood, and used the other tree in the set and third generation stamping to fill in the background. I used the side of the tall tree to add bushes at the front. I also went back over the background trees to darken then, which involved masking the front trees - they're not the easiest shape to cut out!

Mounted behind a frame, here's the finished panel.

Next a tiny panel, using the birth trees stencil again, but darker colours - walnut stain trees with aged mahogany between.

Being so small, the branches were a little unclear, so I added detail with the fine nib of a distress marker.

Another small panel, this time using one of the maple leaves. 

This has a crushed olive background, with detail from punchinella, and the leaf is brushed corduroy.

For the other panels, I used acetate rather than card, so the squares behind would show through.

For the word, I used my word chain stamps. I used letters from Brilliant, beauty, truth and love to make the word breathe. Stazon black ink so it is nice and crisp on the acetate.

One of my Clarity Club stamps, the ivy leaves, came out next. I stamped onto acetate using olive stazon, and also with versa mark then embossed in green.

I coloured in from the back with glass paints.

I was going to add white glass paint behind, which is opaque, but my pot is so old it's gone off. So I used white gesso, it took 3 layers.

I also pressed versa mark through the trees stencil and heat embossed in bronze. It was a lovely image, but didn't fit with the rest very well, so I didn't use it, although you can see it on some of the layouts below.

With all the panels mounted in frames, time to arrange on the canvas. I had a plan up front, but when I tried it, I didn't like it. It felt too cluttered, no room to breathe at all! 

So I had a play around.

This was a second attempt, still too busy.

My options were constrained as there was an area of texture paste at the top I wasn't happy with and needed to disguise or hide.

In the end I went with a simple option, not using all the panels I'd made (but keeping my favourites!) which feels much more open and spacious.

To mount, I raided my daughter's craft stash for black fun foam. I cut this to size with the dies to raise up the frames, without obscuring the acetate. Where squares overlapped, I used extra layers to build up and support the non overlapping parts.

I have put a hanging ring on the back, but don't have anywhere on the wall to hang for good photos. So I had to improvise a stand, to avoid bending the bottom square, while I propped it up in the kitchen, where the light is best, to take these shots.

My warm, autumnal, woodland reminder to create space and breathe.


  1. Hi Lucinda, I love your compilation - lots to look at here! Thank you for continuing to support the Clarity challenge and best wishes. ;~}

    1. Thanks Shelagh. I love the Clarity challenge - without a deadline I rarely do things, and I always have such fun coming up with and making my entries.

  2. Very nice lot work gone into this love all the different ways you have got your square good luck in the clarity challenge x

    1. Thank you. I like to make sure I've got the theme well covered! I think (hope!) the repeating shape gives the whole some cohesion.

  3. Wow - that's dedication, so much work involved, but worth all the effort. It's a wonderful piece of artwork. I'm glad you finished in time Lucinda and managed to enter this month's Clarity Challenge.
    Wishing you luck x

    1. Thank you - and would you believe, I actually finished last night, apart from a bit of sticking it all together. Maybe I make more work for myself than I need to, but there are so many techniques to play with, I can't pick just one! And I like mixing and matching, to my eye it gives texture (and hopefully doesn't just look a mish mash!)

  4. Another great piece from you Lucinda. Glad you made it this month. Good luck!x

    1. Thanks Angela. I had time to spare! And I made my first canvas on my own too!


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