Monday, 16 May 2016

Handpainted Fauxdori Traveller's Notebook: Starry Night

Do you ever have those ideas? The ones that kick around in your head for ages. The ones that keep circling back around to tickle your brain every so often. Bouncing around in your creative noggin like a pin ball?

For what feels like an age (months certainly, maybe more than a year), this idea has occasionally tripped its way across my creative mindscape. Sometimes quiet, like a field mouse. Other times as stompy as a herd of cranky elephants.

Inspired by the beautiful work of Monique Vanmeulebrouk over at Morgan le Fae's Trinkets I wanted to paint one of my blank Fauxdori notebooks with a custom painting.

The painting that really spoke to me is one of my favourite works of art. Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night".

There's just something about this painting that draws me in. I love the colour, the swooping lines, the moody tone. Just everything about it makes me smile. It was a no-brainer as a choice.

So, that was the big idea: A Van Gogh inspired "Starry Night" fauxdori cover.

The problem was, I don't have much confidence in my painting abilities. As much as I love messing about with paints and pastels and coloured pencils and collage, I don't really think I'm much of an artist. This challenge seemed much too "arty" for me to even attempt. So, as often happens when we let our pesky practical brains get in the way of our creative spirit, I didn't do it.

Why? I guess fear, mostly. Fear that the end product wouldn't match up with what my brain imagined. Fear I couldn't do it made me not even begin to try. How crazy is that?

Well, the idea wouldn't sit still and it once again reared it's troublesome head during the week. This time though, I was ready for it. Instead of thinking about how I couldn't possibly do it, I starting thinking about how I might be able to do it. A couple of YouTube videos (on how to copy art work) later and I had a plan.

I had a spare block of time on  Sunday so I just dragged out the art supplies and dove right in.

First, I printed a copy of the painting off the internet (at a similar size to the Fauxdori cover I'd made). Once I had that printed I divided it up into 16 equal rectangles (with some judicious paper folding) then marked out the lines with a black pen. This gave me a starting point for reference of what went where.

Once I'd done that I marked an identical grid on the leather with some brown pastel then drew in the main elements of the painting. At this point I hadn't intended blogging about it so didn't take any photos. Then I decided maybe I would so I took a couple of photos along the process.

When I'd finished marking out the design. I began painting. First with the background colours (blues ranging from dark to light):

Once I'd done the background blues I moved on the foreground features, the dark elements (are these trees? I'm never certain), the fields and houses, the moon and stars:

From there is was just a case of building the layers of paint up, trying to mirror the colours, without being too pernickety about the exact placement of the brush strokes (Van Gogh I am not!).  It really seemed to be starting to come together at this point - maybe there was hope for the idea yet?

Finally came the black outlines and details. This is where I actually began to think this could be something I'd be proud to take out of the house.

And then...voila! All finished. I had to stop myself from adding more to it because I think I could have plodded on forever making tiny adjustments. There comes a point where you have to call it done, I suppose.

An agonising wait for the paint to dry overnight meant I didn't get elastics into it until this morning. I'm happy to say it's all finished how though and is gracing my current collection of moleskine cahiers as my planner/journal this morning.

Every time I look at this notebook it makes me happy. It makes me happy because it's a representation of what I can do if I let go of the fear of messing up and just enjoy the process. It makes me happy because it's a little patch of colourful/swirly goodness that cheers my heart. It makes me happy because, well, it's a traveller's notebook, and they pretty much always make me happy.

Lesson of the weekend - sometimes you just have to be brave and dive right it.

What have you been putting off? What idea is stomping through your creative subconscious? Why not give it some air time, you might surprise yourself. I did.