April 23, 2017

Some Sketch Book/ Art Journal Images

This post may contain affiliate links (see bottom of post for explanation).

I have been making more of an effort lately to do regular artwork in my sketch book. Thought I would show a few pages that I've been working on recently. You may have seen some of these already if you follow me on instagram or facebook.

These pages are still in progress

The above art journal pages are a work in progress. I used the book Botanicum as the inspiration. If I see photos or images that inspire me I use the colours and shapes as rough guides for my line work or style of painting. I don't directly copy, but I find elements within the image to inspire the direction I take. I may use some shapes, patterns or colours to influence my work.

Botanicum has really nice colour palettes and interesting shapes to explore

Processes I like to use when working in my art journal or sketch book are colour washes (using them like watercolours) with acrylic paints, using my prismacolor pencils, collage with decorative papers or previously painted paper or sketches (even failed prints can become material for collaging), thick paint overlaying thin washes, and also the use of different mediums mixed in with acrylic paint. Paint pens are also a new found love and are lots of fun.

I also like playing with hand drawn & painted type in my sketch books.

I can get as strange as I want in my sketch book. The beauty (I've said it before and I'll say it again) of the sketch book/ art journal is that there is no pressure. It doesn't matter if the work doesn't turn out how you want it too. You're creating this for no one and no one has to see it if you don't want them to!

A lot of spots and dashes and repetitive lines are making their way into my art lately

I love sketch books/ art journals as they are so portable. You can make up a bag of supplies and take them with you when you go out. I usually just take my coloured pencils and my sketch book; although I'm working out how to make my acrylic paints more portable! I'm thinking a small sealable jar (for water), a paint palette with a lid (possibly a small flat plastic container) and some extra smaller tubes of my favourite colours that can live in a devoted bag, a couple of brushes in a tin and a rag or tissue for drying them. I need to get organised! I really miss my acrylics when I take my sketch book out. 

My favourite all time sketch books are the Moleskine brand. Not because they seem to be the 'in thing'... but because of their paper quality, the way the pages lay out flat to create in, and the way the pages hold up to layers of paint without buckling too much. I love the smooth surface too, I don't really like paper texture when I'm creating, or paper that is too absorbent, but that is just my personal preference.

I hope you enjoyed my sketch book round up! I really do want to make more of an effort to be more regular with creating art in my art journals. 

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

April 19, 2017

Home Decorating Books: Homespun style & Absolutely Beautiful Things

*This post contains affiliate links (see bottom of post for explanation).

I have recently come across two amazing home decorating books that celebrate the quirky, colourful & eclectic style.

Things that stand out for me with decorating books are lots + lots of beautiful photos. I don't think digital sites like Pinterest or e books can ever replace holding a real book, but due to the fact that we have zillions of images online whenever we want them, books really have to stand out and be something special to warrant buying them. I think. And these two books fit the bill.

Home decorating book, home decor, eclectic style book, creative book

The first one is Homespun Style.

The first sentence in this book says "If you are crazy about colour, fascinated by craft and would rather paint a junk-store chair than buy a new one, then you will love homespun style." I've got my hand up!

The pictures in this book are gorgeous. I said to the husband-man whilst flicking through this book, "How 'me' is this book? Look at it... look!" He was like, "that's nice, dear." (Most husbands just don't get it, do they? Just like they don't understand cushions. But we know right? And if you're a guy reading this and you understand cushions, then please explain their awesomeness to my husband.)

This book is about styling unique, colourful, creative spaces within the home. It celebrates second hand flea market furniture, and the upcycled. There are beautiful, simple creative ideas for decorating your home, that don't require a tonne of skill. Think strips of fabric hanging from a pendant light, bunting hanging up, coloured painted upcycled frames, pretty dresses hanging on quirky op shop hangers & gorgeous wallpaper patches and patterned fabrics adorning every nook and cranny.

You can get crafty with lots of ideas for creating things for your home, but the book doesn't expect that you are crafty. You can always seek pieces out from other creative people. Ahem :)

Sometimes I pick up home decorating books and feel there are not enough pictures (as I mentioned before), but this isn't one of those books. It has the perfect balance of words and pictures. After all- books about home decorating are about creating visually pleasing spaces; so you need lots of juicy photos! And all those pics satisfy the colour loving maximalist in me.

I love that creative spaces such as sewing areas have been included in the book

It's just yum! I love this book!

Another book I have discovered is Anna Spiro's Absolutely Beautiful Things.

Home decorating, home decor, eclectic, colorful, colourful, creative

The author Anna Spiro stole my heart when she mentioned at the start of the book that she loves mismatched clashing items, and that she's a maximalist that loves layering and colour, mixing the old and the new, the expensive and the cheap. Seriously, could she be any more seducing!? :)

She shares her design tips, and her process of creating decorated spaces.

The photos are luscious and colourful and just beautiful and totally my style.

There's lots of inspiration for decorating your home in this eclectic colourful style if that's your thing, in both of these books.

Absolutely Beautiful Things

I love these two home decorating books because they celebrate individuality, creativity, and colour. They both promote the idea of using your intuition for decorating your home, not some rule book. I think if you collect items that you really love, you are not going to go wrong.

Anna Spiro also mentions that there is no rule book (yes!), and if there was she'd break all the rules anyway (double yes!)  I love that.

You just have to have fun with it.

So all the digital images in the world will never replace holding a real book and feeling the pages for me. I seem to slow down when I hold a book, and take the time to drink it in. Along with my tea :)

After reading these two books I'm definitely inspired and feeling the urge to buzz around the house rearranging spaces. I always go in cycles; sometimes I'm in a painting cycle.. sometimes a home decorating cycle.. gardening (although I'm struggling to find the time for gardening lately). I am in a home decorating phase at the moment, so I've come across these two gorgeous books at just the right time.

Do you love the creative, eclectic, colourful handmade decorating look too, or is this a bit out there for you? I often have people who come in to my house and say they wish they could be as bold in their own homes. I say, if you want to decorate your home with an eclectic, quirky & colourful style, just do it!

You can find these two books here: Homespun Style & Absolutely Beautiful Things.

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

April 16, 2017

Happy Easter! Creativity in The Madden Household

This Easter we decided to get all creative with a craft project that saw us painting wooden eggs, baking bunny cookies and making an Easter themed table centrepiece. 

Here are our gluten, dairy, grain & refined sugar free (but delicious) bunny cookies. Our bunny cookie cutter was from the gorgeous toy shop Epoche, and we used this recipe to make the bunnies.

I didn't spend more than $10 putting this centrepiece together. The table "runner" is actually a scarf. The greenery is from the garden in jars with scrap book paper and tied around with pink string.

I asked Miss S for a few bunnies from her collection, and used some decorative ceramic pieces and other bits and pieces from my collection.

There are some little pink decorative pebbles that I already had in my craft supply stash. And the pom pom seemed to ask to be put in the mix :)

The decorative hanging eggs were from the dollar store. I love mixing in cheap things, with nicer pieces.

Happy family memories in the making...

Here is the Easter craft component: wooden eggs that we painted. We bought the plain wooden eggs from Winterwood Toys (which is a felt & craft supply store). They took us 3-4 painting sessions to complete. When we'd finished painting them we added some glue and glitter. We love using glitter in our craft projects!

The painted eggs looked right at home when they joined our table centrepiece.

Then, because I had used some candy covered chocolate eggs in the display, it was just a little too tempting for the kids! (I didn't tell them, as I was hoping they wouldn't realise. These kids can sniff out sugar a mile away!)

Lots of bunnies to play with...

Which egg to eat? So hard to choose!

In the afternoon the sun started streaming through the windows & the table display putting beautiful light through the decorations so I just had to take some more photos. Can you spot the tiny opportunistic spider on it's web!? Our display is living!

So that wraps up our creative Easter.

I hope you have a lovely, creative & safe Easter with friends & family.

Jules :)

Thanks to Arhaus for suggesting I come up with a creative table setting. I loved the idea so I did it!

April 14, 2017

Getting Inspired by Kids Films

Kids art. Love it!

Miss I was watching Moana for about the zillionth time, and she was drawing as she watched it.

I loved her pencil drawing so much, I scanned it into my computer, enlarged it and printed it out. I coloured it in directly onto the printout, with my prismacolor pencils, then used acrylic paints & medium to give it some more colour.

painting, drawing, colorful art, colourful art

The creature in the middle is a cat mermaid. The little lines down the right hand side bottom are apparently shrimp. 

I think the clouds in the top right are drawn from the lava creature that is at the end of the movie. There are a few spooky parts in the movie for young kids; but overall we are totally in love with this film. Have you seen it yet? 

I love the crab, the character design of him, the way he talks, all the sparkly collected things he has on his back. My girls crack up when he says that he ate his own Grandma, and it took a week because she was absolutely humungous! Kids movies are so fantastic these days. I think they put lots of adult humour in there for keeping the parents entertained too. 

The realm of the monsters was my favourite part due to the colour and seaweedy shapes covering underwater structures. They look like quirky sculptures. The crab I love lives down there in the realm of the monsters. Moana is definitely a creative film. (I tried to find a brighter picture of the realm, but this is all I found. Still very beautiful.)

I just love how this story is about a strong female figure with a leadership role in her community, and she doesn't even fall in love! Love is great n all, but most female characters in disney movies end up swooning over some guy, right!? So refreshing.

I'll leave you today with a quote. So simple & beautiful.

Have a great weekend!

Jules :)

April 11, 2017

Upcycled Rug Hooking Project + Free Rug Hooking Pattern

Yay for finished projects!

I am notorious for starting craft projects and not finishing them. So I feel a little proud when I actually do finish something!

I discovered and fell in love with the craft known as rug hooking not too long ago, and decided to trial my own project.

I love colour and texture, and this craft combines those two loves. Not only do you get beautiful nuances of colour (especially when you use mottled or patterned fabric), but the texture of the little bumps of fabric is something I fell in love with when I first discovered this craft.

I made this project to be a wall hanging. I sewed a thin piece of dowel to the back near the top. I placed it a little bit down so I could hide the wall hook when hanging. The stiffness of the hooked rug means that the top of the rug stays up and doesn't sag.

I didn't have the correct tools or supplies, but I tend to make things up as I go, and overcome problems one at a time. I think any project is doable; you just need to break it all up into baby steps.

I used second hand scrap fabrics. I found my favourite fabric to use for this project was jersey fabric; the stuff t-shirts and leggings are usually made of. It's forgiving, it cuts up well, and it doesn't fray. It's made from our old clothes. They live on! Traditionally, wool is used for rug hooking projects, but you can really use whatever fabrics you like. Have a play and see what your favourite is. I found some fabrics really hard to pull through the hessian.

I have made a free rug hooking pattern for this project, so if you like it, you can make one of your own! Read on for the instructions.


I used some ordinary hessian from the fabric store; but if you can find some loose weave hessian I think that would be a lot easier to work with.

I used a crochet hook, but there are special rug hooks available that are dedicated for the task. Some people use latch hooks but for this small scale I couldn't get the hang of using one.

I cut my strips of fabric in about 1cm (3/8") widths. Experiment before starting with the width of strip you'd like to use, and what you feel comfortable hooking through the hessian that you have. Larger holes in your hessian will mean you can use wider strips and fill the space faster. I do however like the detail the small strips give in this project.

You don't have to use the colours I have used either. Use what you have. I chose to do a pale background with darker motifs, but you could switch that and do a dark background with lighter motifs. Keep in mind contrast; if colours are two similar next to each other, the elements of the design may not stand out.

Each square represents 2". Finished project measures 16 x 14 1/2". 
Leave 2" of hessian all around the edge of project. 

Enlarge the pattern by drawing up 2" squares on a big sheet of paper and drawing the shapes in. You can then place your hessian onto your drawn pattern and hold up to a window and mark the shapes with a black felt tip pen. (You won't see any pen marks on the finished piece.) Draw in the edge lines too.

Leave two inches of hessian all around the edge of your project, and zig zag around them with a sewing machine to prevent fraying.

Decide on your colours and cut some strips. I just cut as I needed them.

Here's my basic instructions on how to rug hook.

You stick your hook into the hessian and pull up loops. You can wriggle your hook around a bit when it's in the hessian to make the hole bigger for extra ease when pulling fabric strip through. You want to pull your loops up to a similar height (1) . In this project mine poke up from the hessian about 1/4". You start and end a strip with the ends poking up the top, not left dangling underneath (2). The fabric underneath is laying flat against the hessian, not in loops (3). 

You want to kid of twist your hook in the direction of that first arrow so you are pulling slack from the working end of the fabric strip (1). If you just pull straight up you will be pulling from both sides and you may pull out or alter the height your previous stitch (2). Once you start hooking you will get the hang of this. If you make a loop too big you can just pull the working end a little so it matches the height of the previous stitches.

If you make any mistakes you can just pull them out.

What the hooked rug looks like underneath. 

You don't need to pull loops through every hole in the hessian, otherwise they will be too tightly placed together. You want them close enough so that the hessian is covered, but not packed too tightly. My stitches are approx 5 to an inch for this project. Again, it will depend on the thickness of your fabric, the width of your strips, and the size of the weave in your hessian.

I worked in patches or flowing lines. It reminds me of those drawings you did in school where you traced your hand and then continued to draw lines around and around until all the lines fill the page :)

I didn't use a frame or anything, but yours may turn out less wonky if you use something to hold it taught while you work. (I think there's charm in wonky work!)

Once the project is finished, fold under the edges and stitch in place with a needle and thread. Sew your dowel to the back and attach a hanger to the dowel.

I attached a hanging hook to the dowel

Done! Yay! Superstar!

If you have any trouble or questions please let me know and I can clarify steps or add in extra tips.

I hung it up in our upstairs living area, above an artwork by Miss S. 

I hope you enjoyed my rug hooking adventure.

Jules :)
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