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Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Monthly tutorial: St David’s Day

For those of you not from Wales you still may have heard of St David’s Day but not know much about it. Saint David’s Day is the feast of Saint David, patron Saint of Wales, and is celebrated on the 1st March as this is the day he’s said to have died in 589 AD. Today we mark the occasion in different ways, including wearing our national emblems the leek and the daffodil. Schools often hold concerts and special assemblies and I remember being so excited to wear my traditional Welsh lady outfit to school. As this special day is coming up soon, I’m dedicating this month’s creative tutorial to it and will be showing you how to make a decorative pinwheel daffodil. I got the idea from when I helped out at a children’s summer art school where we made paper summer flowers and have adapted it to fit this specific occasion.

Decorative Pinwheel Daffodils

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You will need:

  • Light yellow thick paper
  • Darker yellow (or orange) thick paper
  • A yellow or orange button
  • A split pin
  • Glue
  • Glue dots (or strong double-sided tape)
  • Thick craft wire
  • Any tape (I used masking tape)
  • Green beads (optional)
  • Green floral tape (optional)

Start by cutting out two squares from your papers. I cut mine to 10x10cm but you can make them larger or smaller depending on how big you want your pinwheel.

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Draw a line from corner to corner on each piece of paper and mark 2cm from the centre on each line.

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Cut from the edge up to the 2cm mark and stick the lighter paper on to the darker paper using glue dots.

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Now you need to start folding your edges over. Start at the top and alternate. You need to bend to the right and stick the end with a glue dot until you have the shape below.

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Make a hole through your pin wheel and secure with a split pin.

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Take your wire and cut to the desired length. You can get coloured wire or you can jazz up plain wire by wrapping floral tape around it and adding some beads. Leave a little of the end unwrapped so you can push it into the ground. Attach to the back of your pinwheel using tape.

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Use all purpose glue to attach your button to cover the split pin. This step is optional but I like the look it gives.

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These pinwheels are decorative so don’t spin, but they look beautiful placed in plant pots. You can get creative with your pinwheels and add glitter glue or use any colour paper you want. All the materials used for this tutorial are available in Hobbycraft.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

Floral inspiration

 

Last week I brought you a review of the wonderful temporary exhibition currently at The National Museum & Art Gallery in Cardiff: ‘Nature’s Song; Chinese Bird and Flower Paintings‘. Feeling inspired by the experience I decided to have a rummage around the internet to find other appreciators of this delicate art genre, who have created work reminiscent of the traditional style. I unearthed some superb examples (please visit artist online gallery for full-size images) here are my top 3…

1‘Chinese Hibiscus’ by Nikole Lowe of Nikole Lowe Paintings on Etsy.

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I love the delicacy of this piece, something which was really evident in the original 16th century work on display at the exhibition. What makes this piece really special is the fact that Nikole has used Chinese paints on rice paper, in a nod to tradition. Her Etsy shop is full of must-see original paintings, mostly dedicated to this particular style. You’ll even find an adult colouring book and an interesting video of Nikole at work.

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2I came across Claudia Hahn’s work on Deviantart and was mesmerised by her bright and soulful depictions of nature. Her gallery is bursting with inspiring artwork, including this Peony painting done entirely with beetroot juice and tea!

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3I love how Etsy shop owner Vartus Varadian has utilised her talent as a form of meditation (she describes how she took up Chinese brush painting in response to illness) as well as making this art form accessible to all. Her work is available in card form, is affordable, and is a joy to look at.

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Recently I joined an art group run by Mind,  and decided it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with my own Chinese art-inspired piece. I often use photographs as a reference, but with such a limited slot of time this proved to be an exercise in improvisation as well as observation. Having completed the base drawing and graphite sections during the session, I applied colour from memory later on, using Inktense watercolour pencils. In my initial review of these pencils I was impressed with the delivery of the promised colour intensity, but it took this small painting to really make me realise that these pencils really come into their own when diluted.

 

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With Mother’s day around the corner, I thought it would be a nice idea to turn my little drawing/painting into a card, and here’s what I came up with…

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Monthly tutorial: Scrap daffodil brooch

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Here in Cymru we’re celebrating Saint David’s Day, so as promised I’m bringing you a special Saint David’s Day tutorial. Today I’m going to show you how to make a unique daffodil brooch, using just scraps of fabric and a brooch back.

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  • Yellow/orange/green fabric scraps
  • Matching cotton
  • A small sewing needle
  • A brooch back (You can find these in Hobbycraft, independent craft shops and on Amazon)
  • Fabric scissors

If using thin fabric:

  • Iron-on interfacing (available in craft/sewing shops and online)
  • Iron on adhesive (Therm-o-web, fuse-a-web etc, again available in craft/sewing shops and online)

method

 

 

 

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Start by drawing out your templates. The template for the centre of your daffodil (the spiky part) should be around double the width of the bottom of your petal template, as shown in the diagram. The good thing about this project is that you don’t have to obsess too much about measurements. The template for the centre of my daffodil was approx. 7.5cm width and 6cm in height. My petals were approx. 3.5cm in width with a peak of around 5.5cm. The leaf can bee free-hand.

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Cut your template pieces out.

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With pencil or fabric marker/chalk draw around each template and cut the shapes out. You will need to cut 10 petals, 4 leaves, and 2 centres.

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If you’re using a very ‘sturdy’ material which will hold shape well (such as felt sheets) you can skip this and the next step. If you’re using up your cotton scraps as I am, you’ll need to draw around your templates and cut out the same amount as in the previous step. Interfacing will make your fabric much more sturdy. Be sure to read the pack, as some interfacing is sew-on.

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Draw around your templates and cut out 2 leaves, 1 centre, 5 petals, and follow the instructions on the iron-on adhesive pack to stick all your pieces together, until you’re left with 5 complete petals, 2 leaves, and one centre. Don’t worry too much about precision, as we’ll be trimming the uneven edges before moving on to the next step. (NB: be very careful not to melt iron-on adhesive on to your iron! – I learnt the hard way a few years ago)

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Once you’ve trimmed any uneven edges, bring the two sides on the base of the petal together, one slightly overlapping the other, to form a slight trumpet shape.

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Sew a few little stitches to secure. Do this for all of your petals.

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Now for the centre of your daffodil. Slightly over-lap one side, and secure with a pin. Use matching cotton to sew along the edge.

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Once you’ve got you tube shape, pinch the bottom part of the tube together and secure with a few stitches.

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Now we need to attach the petals to the centre. This can be a bit tricky, so I recommend using the shortest needle you can, and allow yourself more cotton than you actually need, just to allow you some ‘manoeuvre’ space. You’re just putting  a few stitches through your petal and centre, up along the line where you’ve stitched your petal sides together.

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Repeat the above step until all of your petals are attached.

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Now our flower is complete, it’s time to work on the leaves. Just to get the leaves in the position you want, put a simple cross stitch in the centre of your crossed-over leaves.

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Take your brooch back and attach it securely to your leaves.

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Attach your flower to your leaves. You can use this step to make your brooch back even more stable; sew carefully through the centre of your daffodil, going in and out of the brooch holes each time.

 

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Finding inspiration

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I have two ‘go-to’ ways of working, but I find the easiest and most relaxed to be working from a photograph. By working this way you don’t have to worry about changes in light, or changes in position, and are free to re-visit your piece at a pace to suit you.

There are many websites offering royalty-free images (some you pay for, others you don’t) but inspiration for your work can be found in unexpected places. The other week I visited a garden centre, which always offers a huge range of sometimes unusual, stunning flowers and plants. Build yourself a collection of photographs you’ve taken and store them in a file that you can revisit when in need of a quick reference image. This can save huge amounts of time searching for reference images on the internet. My own file has grown over the years and is organised into sections for easy navigation, including ‘plants & flowers’ ‘people’ ‘places’ and more.

Inspired by my recent trip I decided to create a painting that centred around a floral theme, using my favourite variety: the daffodil.

‘I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.’

Williams Wordsworth, 1802

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Five fabulous florals to check out (click title to open new window):

The Last Flowers by TanyaShatseva

Alice and the Flowers by thedancingemu

When Flowers Dream by Puimun

Withered Flowers Illustration by Urielstempest

Watercolor Flower 4 by faegirlmara

 

Treetorial

via Daily Prompt: Paint

Like art tutorials? Follow my blog for a monthly ‘how-to’. You can discover more lessons in ‘Accurate drawing for beginners‘ and ‘Painting clouds with oil paints‘.

 

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‘The Magic Forest’ Hanna-Mae Williams

 

Welcome to August’s tutorial! This month I’ll be showing you how to paint background trees using water-mixable (or regular if you prefer) oil paints.

You will need:

  • Oil paints in various shades of brown  (I used burnt sienna, raw umber, and burnt umber) white, yellow ochre, crimson, and sap green
  • Liquin original
  • paint brushes (including one flat)
  • paper or canvas suitable for oil paints
  • paint brush cleaner
  • paint palette

 

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Step 1

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Mix burnt sienna, some burnt umber, and a small amount of Liquin to get a medium brown.

Step 2

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Paint a general tree shape – straight and flaring slightly at the bottom. Don’t be afraid to apply the paint thickly, this will add to the texture we’re looking for (see picture below). This is also why it’s important not to over-do the liquin – you need only enough to slightly lubricate the paint but retain the thickness.

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Step 3

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Tidy up the edges of your tree using a smaller brush, but don’t be too worried about lumps and bumps. Real trees are never perfectly straight! Again, don’t be afraid to add quite a lot to your brush (see below) this will help with texture.

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Step 4

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Now we’ll be using the flat brush to add white (zinc white is less intense than titanium white, which is preferable right now as we want the white to blend a bit with the brown). Use a dry brush (no thinners etc from now on) and lightly dab on the left of the tree and drag across. Do this all the way down your tree.

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Step 5

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With a small, clean brush loaded with white, now’s the time to add the real highlights. Dab white (avoiding merging with the brown) over the marks you’ve already made.

Step 6

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Using your darkest brown (raw umber) and using a clean, dry brush, dab this colour near the roots, up the left, and between the gaps all the way up your tree. Don’t worry too much about colours merging.

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Step 7

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Now’s the time to use the more interesting colours. It may seem a little unusual, but if you truly observe nature you’ll notice the unexpected variety of colours! Using the same brush as in step 6, take a small amount of ochre and dab lightly up the right side of the tree, towards the centre (see below). Unlike with the browns, a more light-handed approach is needed with these more vibrant colours. The aim is to make them blend in naturally, rather than to stand out.  

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Step 8

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Dab the crimson around the root area and up the left hand side of the tree, partly covering some of the darker areas. You just want to give a hint of red.

Step 9

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As with the crimson, the green should be subtle. Think of where you would find moss growing on a tree and lightly dab these areas.

And there you have it – how to paint background trees using oils!

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Having trouble getting your brushes fully clean? No problem, read my review on the best brush cleaners out there! Monthly Review – Paintbrush cleaners

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