How I Started My Art Journal

Art journals are becoming increasingly popular and some people out there make them look like an entire masterpiece; it wasn't long before I developed journal envy and wanted to start my own. I've always been a bit of a collector or scrap papers and textures, anything like paper bags, wrapping paper, pretty envelopes, I have a little drawer where I keep stuff like that for scrapbooking and collaging and it's all helped me to kickstart my own art journal.

I started by gathering some inspiration from YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram to see what sort of layouts caught my eye then I set to work creating my own. The book I use is from Tangible Stationery and it's a hardback notebook, not a proper sketchbook or anything but I found it to be far too nice to use just as a notebook. Whilst the pages could perhaps do with being a little thicker for art journal purposes, I can't fault the lovely, strong binding and the elastic band that keeps the book closed when it's not in use. Not the brands fault mind, it is after all meant to be a notebook but I'm so pleased I decided to go ahead and use this as a creative journal because it's starting to look wonderful.

To support the thin pages a little more, the collaging and layering of scrap papers to make the pages feel a lot more creative really helps, especially when writing or painting directly onto the pages, it stops things from being seen on the other side and just makes everything a little more sturdy. This in time will also bulk the book up which I think always makes sketchbooks look even more enticing, like they're oozing with arty goodness.

I tend to try and use a glue stick rather than PVA glue for a couple of reasons, the first being that it doesn't soak the pages and make them ripple like PVA does and the second, from the research I've done Pritt Stick are vegan friendly - if you want to read more about my recent realisations surrounding art materials and being vegan, you can here but to cut a long one short, I am now being a lot more mindful when it comes to buying new art supplies.

I'd love for my art journal to eventually be crammed with all sorts of experiments, including song lyrics and quotes, scribbles and playing about with mediums, perhaps some photos here and there and also some animal studies which really help me to learn at the same time. I did foxes on my very first page and learnt so many interesting facts whilst trying to find some little captions to add to my drawings.

Arranging things has always been something I really enjoy so on top of art journalling being fun, I've found that there is nothing I love more at the moment than settling down with it at my desk in complete silence, no technology, just the steam from a near by cup of tea and I feel so chilled out filling another spread of pretty art. This is such a great motivator too when it comes to trying new things and becoming a lot more laid back when creating.

Let me know if you have an art journal - I'd love to see it!

Thanks for reading,

Painting With Coffee

A lot of the time art materials can be rather expensive, especially when you just want to try something out without knowing whether or not you'll get on with it. From experience as an artist, I've never clicked with every single medium I've picked up. I despise pastels and oil paints but get on much better with pens, pencils, watercolours and acrylics.

Recently however I've been attempting to experiment a lot more and try new things; an investment I'd like to get my hands on at some point would be a block printing kit so I can make my own stamps then from those make wrapping paper and lots of other things. I went to get one from Hobbycraft a couple of weeks back and about fell over when I saw a basic kit was £30. Not cool.

I didn't get one, but it made me go home and think about how I could just go even further back to basics and try something that couldn't be more inexpensive. Coffee! My Dad actually used to encourage me to use tea and coffee in my artwork when I was at school. He was the one who taught me how to make aged looking paper (although he was the one who burnt the edges for me with a match!) and I remember using it a couple of times at Sixth Form but it stopped there. I didn't think to make a little dish of coffee water up to see where it would take me.

I remember when I was at uni our tutors sent us to Leicester Market and told us to experiment. We literally sat amongst the stalls for an entire day and were encouraged to use some fruits from the vendors as art materials. This was all well until the artwork went mouldy over the next few days because it was planted into your head that squishing raspberries into your sketchbook was a fantastic idea and it really put me off creating art with food ever again...not that I enjoyed it much anyway! But you shouldn't have any issues with coffee, as long as there's no milk or anything like that involved. All I did was sprinkle some coffee into an old washed out hummous tub (I recycle these for mixing paint - eco thinking!) and decided to revisit a doodle from my art journal which was a pouncing fox.

I found that I could get a few different shades of brown just from the one medium and it felt really satisfying just sticking to one colour and seeing what I could create with it. I used my coffee mix on watercolour paper and it behaved more or less exactly the same as watercolours. It was easy to blend, dried fairly quickly so layering was a dream and I was able to just keep everything nice and loose, relaxed and fun. I'd love to keep up with this and see what else I could paint, I'm thinking hedgehogs, bunnies, birds...lots of different wildlife characters because I think the shades would work wonderfully to create a really rustic feel. I'd definitely recommend giving this a go because it's cheap, the smell is so relaxing whilst you paint and it's a great way to just do some laid back experimenting for your art journal.

Thanks for reading!

Vegan Art Materials

There I was, on YouTube trying to find some visual podcast style content to listen to whilst I did some work and I stumbled across a video named 'vegan art supplies'. Up until this point it had never really crossed my mind that art supplies couldn't be vegan friendly, so I watched with interest and when it finished I found myself wondering how I had never thought about it before.

Truth be told, this vegan lifestyle has been a journey, not something that you easily just snap into and since starting out myself I have found out and educated myself on lots of things other than just food along the way. Of course, I think everyone initially starts with changing the food and then everyone is different regarding how far they take things. Rather than put people off by saying this, I hope it brings some kind of comfort and support instead and lessen the pressure for people who are wanting to make the transition but are worried about things being difficult. Little at a time, is the best bit of advice I could ever give and I've never met a vegan who regrets their decision to stop exploiting animals. I may meet someone in the future but for now that has been my experience and it's not all about being perfect.

I've checked through a lot of my art supplies and realised the Winsor and Newton inks I've newly discovered this year are full of shellac, so these are something I messed up on and didn't realise weren't vegan friendly. It's a little confusing too because from what I'm finding online, there are two different ranges of the inks and one is vegan friendly whilst the other isn't, but there is nothing on the packaging to tell me which is which. My silver, gold and white don't have the 'contains shellec' writing on the box yet my pink, blue and purple confusing. I'll use up my products but won't be repurchasing them once they run out and certainly won't be expanding my colour collection as I first anticipated. As far as I'm aware, my Winsor and Newton acrylic paints are okay bar two colours which I don't actually own, so I think these are safe. Luckily I use watercolours by Daley Rowney which I also believe are okay for vegans but I'll be doing some further research into them too. I'm a huge fan of Copic Markers and they're my go to most of the time; again from what I can find they should be suitable but I'm still looking into this further.

Point is, I own a couple of things that didn't even cross my mind when it came to being cruelty free and vegan and also being an artist. The last thing I should do though is beat myself up about it and focus in on how I messed up especially with buying the inks because as I mentioned, this is a journey and mistakes are always going to happen. What's important is the intention to always be better and to learn from the mistakes that are made.

Of course everyone's lifestyles are different and opinions vary, so some people might not have a problem with art supplies containing animal by products. This post is just me and I feel like I'd like to help and protect animals as much as possible so unfortunately, even if I really like a product, if it's not vegan friendly I won't be repurchasing it. Art supplies and vegan put together is something I'm very new to and I have no shame in admitting that it was only very recently that it even crossed my mind, but I intend to be better and work on myself as a vegan which I think is a much more positive way of thinking and also encouraging to others who may be considering it. This post here by Vegan Womble is also a fantastic source of research if you wish to delve a little deeper into the world of vegan art supplies.

Thanks for reading,

Peppermint Grove*

Anyone who's a regular in these parts will know I'm a HUGE fan of candles, wax melts, diffusers and nice smelling houses in general. Nothing makes me feel more at home and at ease than when my home smells clean, fresh and cosy. 

Peppermint Grove* got in touch and asked if I'd like to try out some of their products which have just launched here in the UK. An Australian brand at heart, these guys have been branching out all over the world and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of their beautifully packaged smellies and to see what I thought for myself.

This whole experience was so magical to me because I have without a doubt never had such a beautiful looking and smelling set of candles and diffusers to make my entire home smell like heaven. Unboxing these items was also an experience like no other. Each candle felt like Christmas and the brand even engraved the lids with my name which is a service they also offer on their website when buying a candle. Stunningly put together in their own box and to match the theme of the scent, wonderful pastel shades compliment the incredibly delicate and classy image of the products. The lids have a metal finish to them and complete the glass jars perfectly.

The candles themselves come in two different sizes at the moment and even the smallest one is a very decent size and should burn for 20 hours. If diffusers are more your thing, I personally think they look really pretty and they're effective without having to burn anything. Something I have noticed about other diffuser brands is how fast the oil seems to disappear, but I can hand on heart say my Peppermint Grove diffuser has been out for three weeks now and it doesn't look like even a centimetre has gone from the bottle. At £24.95 and lasting approximately six months, I think the diffusers are excellent value for money and they come in loads of different scents too, all presented in the same highly polished glass bottles with a sturdy gift box.

Included in my samples to try were a hand cream and a bar of soap and let me tell you, just having the soap on the side in my bathroom fills the whole space with this lovely fresh, super comforting scent. Everyone who has been in my bathroom has asked after what the 'lovely smell' is and I get excited every time to tell them all about Peppermint Grove. Better yet, their products are cruelty free with no animal derived ingredients, making them vegan friendly too which as you can imagine, makes me incredibly happy!

These would make the most perfect gifts for any candle lover, I know I was beyond ecstatic unwrapping mine and I even gifted one to my Mum who's reaction was priceless. She also has her diffuser out in the hallway at home and it smells divine, a vanilla caramel scent - it's like walking into a fudge shop! They're also super special both in appearance and quality, so if you have a wedding gift you're looking for or fancy treating your other half (or even yourself, why not?) to something fancy, this is truly a brand I cannot recommend enough.

Thanks for reading!

*These products were gifted to me by Peppermint Grove to review on my blog, all opinions are my own*

Brushbox Review

I've been trying out a new subscription box over the last few weeks from the brilliant service that is Brushbox*. Amidst everything else we have to remember as responsible adults, replacing a toothbrush should happen every 2-3 months and I know for sure I haven't been as on it as I should be. You should also replace a toothbrush if you've been poorly, again something else I didn't know! The guys over at Brushbox put together a kit for you every two months and you can choose whether you'd like just a toothbrush and toothpaste, or the whole sha-bang such as a tongue cleaning and floss. I went for a brush, paste and tongue cleaner because all of these items are cruelty free and vegan. The floss contains beeswax right now but after speaking to the brand, they're reworking their formula so that very soon their entire range will be vegan friendly.

I also opted for the bamboo toothbrush, the more eco friendly option and this is super comfortable to hold whilst also being gentle enough on my sensitive gums. The box itself comes presented very neatly with little compartments for each item and enough of a supply to last you two months. Also a huge bonus is it's letterbox friendly, so no need to worry about being home to take your delivery!

If you'd like to try our Brushbox for yourself, they've very generously given me a 50% off code for my wonderful readers which is ELLIS50. I don't earn anything from this code, it's just a little gift from them to you!

Thanks for reading!

Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Inks Review

*Disclaimer Update*
Since posting this review I have learnt that the pink and purple inks contain shellac, which makes them not cruelty free and not vegan. I will not continue to buy these products and will certainly going forward be a lot more mindful when it comes to buying art supplies.

I can't tell you how often I've walked past these adorable little bottles in my go-to art shops and wondered if I'd ever have an excuse to buy them. Usually I see them in The Range and I think more than anything I'm drawn in by the cute size of the bottles and how much they look like little potions.

A few weeks ago I got a bottle of my black Indian ink out that I've had since university and it wasn't a posh brand by any means, but I had loads left so thought I'd do some experimenting. I started to mess about doing some text and instantly recognised that this was something I wanted to practice and improve on. Then it struck me, that I finally had a reason to grab some teeny tiny, posh looking inks from the art shop and start a collection.

I usually hop into The Range for art supplies because most things are really cheap and these bottles were only £2.99 each so ya know...I picked up three! I went for gold, Carmine and Violet which are all so beautiful and rich that I can't wait to get some more on my next visit. Being so affordable, they're definitely something I can build on easily and hopefully have lots of colours in no time. I've been using a paintbrush so far and will be experimenting with pens in the future (and when I find a calligraphy pen!) but I really love how the brush collects a stock of ink within the bristles and you can keep going without having to re-dip into the ink too much.

I didn't realise just how striking the pigments would be within each of the shades I chose, even the gold was beautiful and glistening when it caught the light and I didn't expect it to have such a kick to it. I know these inks will go a really long way because I used hardly any and barely had to refill my brush bristles just to write a couple of words with each colour so overall I'm really impressed with them.

I can't wait to get my hands on some more inks from the collection; I'd love to get the silver next as they'd sold out when I made my first purchases, along with a nice blue, green or even yellow! Let me know if you've ever tried inks before and how you find working with them :)

Thanks for reading,

Popular Posts