Google+ LISTENING TO THE SQUEAK INSIDE art by Kirstin McCulloch of LilliBean Designs: January 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

☆ From Beginning to End: The Journey of a Journal Page [GREATEST HITS]

I hope you are enjoying my Greatest Hits series! This is because I am taking January off + I am currently reading a book, sleeping on the couch, swimming at the pool, or painting in the studio....

These are the posts that have inspired, helped, motivated + encouraged my readers. How do I know this?

Because you told me. In emails, comments or links.


I am often curious when I see finished journal pages, about how they were constructed, the process behind the finished painting.

And I have often thought I should share with everyone the process behind my journal page - I have been asked once or twice to do this.

Usually, I am totally wrapped up in the process myself that I take a photo of the first step + then forget about it until I am almost finished.

This is the journal page that I shared with you here + I managed to get a few pics while I was painting it.  {sorry for the load time! There are quite a few photos!!}

Usually my journal pages start with a problem I am working on, a much needed rant, or a observation.

I scribble my immediate + uncensored thoughts down. Don't worry most of it will be covered up later! So be honest. 

I covered my scribble with water soluble crayons (I use a mixture of Derwent Aquatones + Caran d'Ache NeoColor II. I prefer the later because they seem to dissolve better the Aquatones can look a bit scratchy.)

Next I added some papers from my scrap draw (this grows bigger daily!!), some mulberry paper left over from our wedding 6 years ago, and some washi style tape. 

I had some ink out from another project, so I added this and with a straw blew it around the page. I love this effect! 

I gessoed a rough face + neck + added the flower + the three red strips on the right hand side.

At this stage I don't worry about being precise with the head. It will come together later.

I added detail to the face - at the moment I use a lot of blues in my faces instead of dark browns + black. 

More detail in the face

I've started the eyes in this photo - I love painting eyes. They are my absolute favourite thing in the world to paint.

I have finished they eyes, added more detail to the lips + I decided that she needed a smattering of freckles. 

I finished by adding the words with white paint + outlined with black marker. Added some purple to her hair + a bit of detail on the flower. 

So if you haven't tried art journalling before, I can absolutely recommend it. There are absolutely no rules + just go with your heart.

I always feel like I have had a major battle after finishing a journal page. I have ink all over me, gel medium stuck all over my hands, paint all over my new nail polish. I love it. LOVE. IT. 

What is your favourite part of art journalling? I would love it if you shared your experiences with me!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

☆ My Creative Process [Summer of Greatest Hits]

I hope you are enjoying my Greatest Hits series! This is because I am taking January off + I am currently reading a book, sleeping on the couch, swimming at the pool, or painting in the studio....

These are the posts that have inspired, helped, motivated + encouraged my readers. How do I know this?

Because you told me. In emails, comments or links.

☆ ☆ 

Catching Mermaids
Creativity + the process of creating is a very personal experience. 

And I don't believe there is one right way to create. 

Your process will be different to mine, and different again to the next persons. 

When I believed that I wasn't good enough to be an artist, I was fascinated to read about artist's + their creative process.

I was hoping that one of their stories would trigger a creative response in me. That theirs would be the way, that would allow me to tap into my creativity once again.

What I didn't realise until much later, was that my creative process, would be so individualised to me, that in reading others stories, although there were super inspiring, they wouldn't help me to unlock my creativity. 

They did however keep sparking something inside me that would eventually grow into LilliBean Designs. And it helped me realise that:

Inspiration is every where, and can strike at anytime.

My muses are absolutely my three girls. Their imagination sparks mine all the time. But there are other inspirations, books are another huge inspiration for me, music lyrics, a pattern on the wall from the tree outside, fashion magazines, kids books, manga, a half over heard conversation, a shape of a leaf.

Anything is open to interpretation. 

Princess + the Pea
To capture these wisps of creativity, I have learnt to keep notebooks laying around the house, in my purse, in the car....

{My name is Kirstin + I have a stationary addiction}

But it means that I will never again have an awesome idea, but forget about it in the rush of life.

So, when Bean said off hand one day, 'mama, I am going to get my fishing rod + catch a mermaid.' I wrote it down + the painting above was born.

Most of the time I have an image in my head that I want to paint. I can't see all the details, but the figure, the surround, the general placement of items. Like the 'Princess + the Pea' painting I did earlier this year. This painting I knew from the very start how it would look.

But it took years before I had the confidence or the skill to attempt this painting! 

There are times when I play in my art journal, that I haven't a clue what I am going to create. I just jump in + play. 

Like everyone, I have periods of down time, when I am feeling uninspired, feeling blocked or needing to recharge.

I have learnt to give myself permission to have a break. To sit on the couch + read a good book. To watch a movie. Or watch six seasons of Supernatural back to back. 

Sometimes though, the block is stubborn + I need to actively re-inspire myself. 

In the end, my creative process is different for each painting.

But the one thing that is common to every single painting?

Showing up.

Coming into the studio every day, opening up a fresh page + laying down some paint.

What about you? What is key in your creative processes? I would love to hear your stories.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

☆ Winter Princess: From Conception to Completion [Greatest Hits]

I hope you are enjoying my Greatest Hits series! This is because I am taking January off + I am currently reading a book, sleeping on the couch, swimming at the pool, or painting in the studio....

These are the posts that have inspired, helped, motivated + encouraged my readers. How do I know this?

Because you told me. In emails, comments or links.

☆ ☆ 

This painting is one I have been thinking about for a while now, (you may have seen the beginning + in progress shots over on Instagram or Facebook over the weekend), and my inspiration this time came from author Kristen Ashley.

It is no secret that I am a huge romance novel junkie. HUGE. (I totally blame my 94 year old nan for this addiction - it was mills + boon over the summer holidays at her house when I was 14!! I was an impressionable teen!! - I have no responsibility for this....)

And it shouldn't be a huge surprise that the genre I am particularly fond of is the paranormal/ fantasy one.

Hello. Mermaids? Princesses? Stag Girls? Yup reading is a huge source of inspiration for me...

Anyway, I was reading Kristen Ashley's Fantasyland series + there was a passage that described the heroine from the first book and as soon as I read it I knew I had to paint it.

So this is the beginning of the 'Winter Princess' painting (not to be confused with, by the way, the Frozen princess Elsa, who Bean excitedly asked me if I was painting for her....)

This was the third/ fourth sketch I did.
 It took a while + some awkward selfies (did you see them on Facebook?) to get the pose right... 
Here I have transferred it onto my gesso panel, using carbon paper from the newsagents. I haven't been able to find graphite transfer paper here, but to be honest that carbon paper works well enough.
I don't often start with the back ground, but I wanted to start with the elements in the background first
Which as always lasted a whole five minutes before I was compelled to start her face..
And Yah - my favourite part her eyes..
And this is when my brain shut down. Being it was close to 1am,  I couldn't make any more decisions, so I have decided to leave it for the night. 

☆ ☆ 
This week,  I started off spending some time finishing off the back ground, adding some more detail. But looking at it now I will probably need to go back to it in the final stages. I think this is why I don't normally background first. I often change my mind + then I am left with no paint the right colour + white patches to fill...

I thought I would start painting her dress an shimmery blue, using an iridescent medium, but I wasn't happy with the colour, with the way I couldn't add shading. The light blue would lift off when I added darker colours + tried to blend them. It became a streaky ugly grey mess.


I abandoned the dress for the moment + I then decided to address something that was frustrating me.

I wasn't happy with the placement of her hands, it seemed too false. Forced. So I took more ridiculous selfies (Yah for cameras on computers!) + changed the hand placement.

I am beyond frustrated with this Winter Princess at this stage, so I mixed a new dress colour (making sure I have heaps of it and won't run out - haven't we have all been there, done that before!)

And again, I am frustrated with the shading - truly frustrated. Because I am working on board instead of paper, I have to adapt a bit - and look at her boobs! Holy cow what is going on there??

So, I left her for a few days. And did some research. I needed a reference for the highlights, rather than winging it like I normally do.

Obviously this Winter Princess is a demanding sort, and wants everything done properly. (And yes I realise right about now, I am slightly mad. Or weird. Or both.)

Working on her again,  I finally like where the shading was going, I felt like I had finally conquered the dress, but the hands were again not making sense to me.

Not only did her hands seem huge, but I was irritated with the pose.


So after I gessoed over the hands (again!), I dug out my props (much better that the water bottle I was using before!) + took some more selfies.

And this is where I finished off last night.

☆ ☆ 

Instead of packing for our weekend away, I holed up in the studio + painted. And even though she has frustrated me all week, I am happy with how I have left her.

Well worth the slight panic + craziness, of packing girls weekend away with my babies.

I don't know why I thought I was over the hurdles with my winter princess painting.

I suspect that by now you are bored of reading about this painting - I know I am becoming impatiant with her.

As we were away last weekend + have spent the majority of this week catching up, I haven't had a huge amount of time to spend on her, but yesterday I had a cancellation + could spend some quality time on her, so I decided to takle her hair.

But true to form, she wasn't going to make that easy.

I finished the changes to her hands - I like these much more that before.

When I started with the bottome layer of white, I hadn't cleaned my brush properly so streaks of aqua came through, and that inspired me to add aqua to her hair in later layers.

Using a combination of white, black, aqua, raw sienna + titan buff, I finished one side of the hair.

The 'ugly' phase of her hair.

After about four hours, this is her hair almost finished.

Since I had the aqua out I finished the details on her earrings.

I liked the eyes originally, but I kept playing with them + stuffed them. But the best thing about acrylics is you can just paint over them again...

Today, I managed to start on the crown.

And this is where I left it for now. I am hoping that tomorrow night, I will have a large chunk of time to finish her off, but more than likely I will be changing her again - there is something bugging me about the sticks in her arms....

I was thinking of changing them to lily's or something...

I think I am in danger of never finishing this painting!!

☆ ☆ 

Well.... This Winter Princess has certainly made me work for the final painting. I realised today that in between Life Book projects + other bits + pieces, that this painting has taken almost the entire month.

But now she is done + I am a little sad, that I will no longer have her on my table. 

So I started late last week on her icicle crown 

Which is studded with odd shaped aquamarine gems...

Woo hoo! Crown finished. (And surprisingly her crown didn't give me too much grief!)

This is where I left the branches in her arms, but I hated these. (Oh + arn't we surprised by that??)

So I ignored them, yeah, yeah I was procrastinating, and finished the trim on her dress.

I realised I only had the sticks + her hands to finish of so I pulled on my big girl pants + tackled them next.

{Branches close up}

And here is a close up of her finished hands.

I mentioned in part one that she was inspired by a passage in a Kristen Ashley novel called 'Wildest Dreams' + I thought I would include  a little of the passage that set this whole painting in motion.

"My white-blonde hair was a mass of long, thick twists that were pulled off my forehead somehow but hung down my back, chest and shoulders. I had shimmering pink on my cheeks, a gloss of pink on my lips, an iridescent blue on my eyelids, a dark blue rimming my eyes and a sparkle of pearlescent white around my temples [...]
I was wearing a crown[...] And it looked like icicles shooting up and slightly out, crusted with glinting diamonds and sprinkled with glimmering aquamarines."
Kristen Ashley 'Wildest Dreams'

So the final, final reveal - The Winter Princess

The Winter Princess acrylic on panel
The Winter Princess
acrylic on wood panel
30 x 40 cm
$200 - contact me for details
So there she is, my most frustrating painting for 2014. But also the one that I am most proud of!!

What do you do when a painting frustrates you so much that you just want to give up? I would love to here what you do!
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