The end of the yellow (brick) road

As we reach the close of this month, it will be time to step round to the next color in the wheel. Before we move along, I want to show you what where these adventures with yellow have taken me and what I do when art is misbehaving, uncooperative & tricksy.

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ” 

― Oscar Wilde.

As we reach the close of this month, it will be time to step round to the next color in the wheel.

Before we move along, I want to show you what where these adventures with yellow have taken me.

And I’m going to share with you what I do when art is misbehaving, uncooperative & tricksy.

Because, sometimes art needs to rest.

(just like we do).

Creative work sometimes gets weary and sluggish, uncooperative or just plain troublesome (just like we do).

Knowing when to persevere through the resistance, and when to send the art away to quiet shelf or drawer is not always an easy call to make.

Something I really like about TWELVTY’s one color a month discipline, is that at the end of the month I put away everything I’ve made. It rests until I reach the end of the twelve color cycle and then I’ll see it again with fresh eyes.

And y’know – it always looks better after a rest.

Now I want to let you into a secret….

In all the TWELVTY projects I’ve made – especially that very first 12 color art journal in 2012 – although I really enjoyed the making process, I couldn’t see the finished result as art I liked for a long while. That first book sat unlooked at on a shelf for more than a year, and only when I revisited it did I properly ‘see it’.

I’m writing this for everyone who’s making something and feeling a little underwhelmed by the results.

It might just need to rest.

As I type this to you now, my first episode of one-color-fun is closed.

I’ve a few pieces I could call ‘finished’. And then there’s a big ole heap of bits that are just beginnings – sketchy, experimental, or little scraps that may or may not find a place to belong later.

In isolation they don’t look all that, but when I see them together as a collection, experience tells me there’s potential that could emerge, only after they’ve had a rest.

Not so bad & Not so good

It was fellow artist and online friend, Tammi Salas, who introduced the idea to file away part made and unfinished art in this way:

In my studio I have two big file boxes:
One labelled “Not so Bad”.
One Labelled “Not so Good”.

messy desk 🙂

It doesn’t take a whole lot of discernment to choose which box, and it makes for an elegant solution to so many studio dilemmas and judgement calls.

This is a resting place for art that needs to recuperate from being harried and hustled, berated and bewildered.

(I’ll write more about these boxes and their contents another time).

These are the boxes I’m using now. I recently upgraded from shoeboxes and floor-heaps. Any container or flat space will work just as well.


So, all that said, here are the results of what has happened on my messy desk through this first month of TWELVTY 2020. Everything that’s yellow is here, the not so bad and the not so good (and the little bits in between).

The next color in this journey is yellow-green.
Think gold-green, avocado & olive, turtles & toads, luscious limes, chartreuse. Mmmm!


Every month this year I am making a series of pieces in just one color, so at the end of the year I can combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’m sharing my process throughout this adventure in this blog.

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free! Sign up for my newsletter to find out more and get your free TWELVTY guide ebook

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Next layers: more mark making

I simply do not distinguish between work and play.” 

― Mary Oliver.

Yester-post we looked at first layers. Now I’m building on those foundations with some variations of these themes.

These are the techniques I use in my art journals and mixed media pieces. Whatever I’m making I like to work quickly and without any planning. It’s even easier without the distraction of choosing colors to use:

The first piece I pick up + the first paint or ink that comes to hand + the first tool I grab. It always surprises me how serendipity brings new combinations of patterns together.

While color is restricted, mark making tools are not. I don’t limit myself to paint brushes and *proper* art tools (although I like using these too).

Like a lot of folk these days, I’m trying to opt out of plastic use as much as possible, but it still turns up uninvited through packaging and whatnot. We know that re-use is more efficient than recycling.

For all that is bad about plastic, the up side to its indestructible nature is it makes very durable art making tools that are easy to keep clean and seldom need replacing. I’ve had some of the stuff I use for years and you’d never know.

These are a few of my favourite mark making things:

  • A hair comb.
  • Plastic cards – old bank cards etc.
  • Bits of bubble wrap, plastic bag and packaging.
  • Plastic netting – the type you get oranges and lemons in.
  • Plastic forks, knives, spoons etc. (especially forks)
  • Old pens that have run out of ink (ball points, felt pens, markers) – and their lids for perfect little circles!
  • Knitting needles.
  • String, feathers, elastic bands.

You’ll likely see all these things (and more) come up in my process videos over the coming weeks and months, they all make their own characteristic marks, some more predictably than others.

Next layers made in Yellow for TWELVTY 2020

I’m beginning to combine these pieces now with collage, fabric and stitching, They’re evolving from scrappy bits of paper with smears of paint and scribbles into curious little pieces of art.

This heap of part done bits and pieces is on my desk right now.

Yellow in progress.

My adventures with yellow finishes at the end of the month, when I skip round to the next color in the wheel. Next post I’ll show you the *finished* {for now} stage, and explain what I mean by this too 😉


Every month this year I am making a series of pieces in just one color, so at the end of the year I can combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’m sharing my process throughout this adventure in this blog.

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free! Sign up for my newsletter to find out more and get your free TWELVTY guide ebook

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First Layers

“Start where you are, use what your have, do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

The magic of mixed media art making comes from the layers.

First layers can be marks made in paint or pen, they can be collage or textural. Sometimes the whole surface is covered, sometimes it’s just a few marks to break up that beginning expanse of nothing.

scribbles and doodles break up the space on the blank paper.

When you keep in mind that what goes down on the first layer will likely get covered up, it’s much easier to feel free to experiment.

first layers don’t need to be pretty!

I don’t strive to make something beautiful, I just play. Letting one idea feed the next and seeing where it leads.

Experiment by combining patterns of mark making on different surfaces – thin copier paper reacts very differently to paint and ink than watercolor paper, or tissue paper, or fabric. Investigate some of the infinite possibilities!

I like having a few pieces on the go at the same time. Ideas cross pollinate between them, and I can swap from one to another while the layers dry.

Crumple or fold paper so the color can seep into the creases.

Consider how many ways there are to apply color to surface. Paint brushes are just the beginning, some of my favourite tools are not conventional things you’ll find in the art supply store 😉

Watch how the first layers of the first color of Twelvty began.

First layers made in Yellow for TWELVTY 2020

Every month this year I am making a series of pieces in just one color, so at the end of the year I can combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’ll be sharing my process throughout this adventure here in this blog.

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free!
Sign up for my newsletter to find out more and get your free TWELVTY guide ebook. 

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day 12: 12 days of Twelvty

The 12 colors: 12 months project of 2017 plays back in the last 12 days of the year. Today:Yellow-Orange

Twelvty-Twelve: Yellow-Orange

The Gorgeous Golden Glow of Yellow-Orange, Ochres, Ginger, Saffron & Spice

 

“All that glitters is not gold.”
~ Shakespeare

yellow-orange in the color wheel

All through 2017 I’ve been exploring the subject of color in a year long visual adventure: one color each month. Over the last 12 days of the year I’ve shared a little insight into what I made through the year, and today we reach the end of the journey, the circle is complete.

Each month I continued adding more single color doodles and collaged ephemera to the pages to this art journal, these are the closing pages.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here: Starting out in  Yellow, then Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green, Blue and Blue-Violet, next Violet, then Red-Violet, Red then Red-Orange and finally Orange. Now we’ve arrived full circle! Yikes what a trip!! 

Wishing you a fabulously colorful new year! Much love to you X


If you’re interested in understanding more about color, get my ebook A Year full of Color as well as regular monthly updates on my latest colorful antics, delivered right to your inbox:

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Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be guarded by the deity of your choice and a small dragon.


TWELVTY is adventure you can join too.

By exploring the color wheel and each of the 12 colors, I share my creative process plus a feast of resources about color I’ve collected for you.

You’ll learn about the history of how color has been used, not just by artists, but as part of different cultures around the world. You’ll discover the meanings linked to the colors, how there are connections through the ages and around the world.

There are even playlists of songs and music relating to each of the colors! (I said it was thorough, right?)

In 2018 I’m introducing a new element to TWELVTY – a shared creative project that we’ll work on together as we traverse the color wheel.

Find out more here

penngregoryTwelvty1200x574Registration for TWELVTY 2018 is open now!
Find out more & join here

 

day 1: 12 days of Twelvty

Over the last 12 days of the year I want to show you a glimpse of this project, beginning with….

Twelvty-One: Yellow

Color is an integral part to all types of creativity, it influences our moods and emotions, it’s linked with memories. Colors have been assigned meanings and connections throughout history and around the world.  colorwheelspiral

When we tune our eyes in to notice the colors around us, life becomes brighter and more vibrant.

Through 2017 I’ve been exploring these aspects of color in a year long visual adventure: one color each month.

One part of the adventure has been the creation of a mixed media art journal. Each month I’ve added a few more pages, using just in that month’s colors.

Over the last 12 days of the year I want to show you a glimpse of this project, beginning with….

Twelvty-One: Yellow

The color of sunshine, buttercups & bananas!

 

“A picture painted in yellow always radiates spiritual warmth”
– Wassily Kandinsky

Tomorrow we’ll step around to Twelvty-Two: Yellow-Green

 


YearFullOfColorbyPennGregoryR2017_Page_01

If you’re interested in understanding more about color, get my ebook A Year full of Color as well as regular monthly updates on my latest colorful antics, delivered right to your inbox:

Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle until the spring arrives.  


Next year I’m revisiting the Twelvty project, but this time with some exciting additions! Find out more here

Registration for TWELVTY 2018 is open now!
Find out more & join here

penngregoryTwelvty1200x574

 

What 3 months of color looks like…

These are the art journal pages from the first three months of Twelvty: This is the story so far.

January: Yellow

 

When I look at these pages I’m whisked back the to adventures and explorations of the first month of this year long adventure. Using just one color brings out nuances and subtleties too quiet to hear above the sound of other colors. 

I chose yellow as a starting place in the color wheel because it is simple, it is small. 

There’s not much space or contrast in yellow – take it darker and you have shades of ochre, tan into browns. Only a smidge lighter before you hit white. No room to step either way before falling into yellow-orange or yellow-green, and they have their own months in Twevlty.

Yellow is compact with well defined parameters. 

 

February: Yellow-Green

Yellow-green: the first tertiary color we explored – and suddenly there’s a depth of tone to play with. Luscious lime to opulent olive.  Chartreuse. Char-freaking-treuse, people! 

And here’s the beginning of the “is it or isn’t it?” questions that will bob up all through this year. When does it stop being yellow and start being green? Where’s the spot in the middle? We’re navigating a continuum, there are no strict boundaries. It’s all part of the fun 😉

March: Green

Another month, another step round, deeper into greens. Each collage scrap and cut out shape here has a story and will serve to remind me of ideas that were born and then took a turn I didn’t foresee. I’m only the vehicle through which these ideas come to being, sometimes I forget this and try to control them. But, like water,  they find their own way.

 

This book is the place a leave seeds of ideas to incubate: reminders to a me-in-the-future. We’re nearing the end of a month of blue-green as I type this to you, and about to dive into the ocean of blue for May. Check back to see the cool bluey loveliness that emerges!

 


Would you like to get sporadic updates on my thoughts and drawings delivered right to your inbox? Hop onto my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up in blankets. I will bring it tea and biscuits on Wednesdays.

Happy Birthday!

(But more on that in a moment… first let me set the scene…)

I was telling you about how TWELVTY has begun to take on a life of its own. It’s just a few weeks into its year long life and it’s not going the way I imagined…

Instead of being the set of 12 individual colored months, like I first planned, TWELVTY is turning into a story made of 12 chapters. They are woven together and already I can see that taken separately they lose the essential essence of the story. The full year of color has a life the months alone can’t provide. 

To begin I wanted to make this program available to join throughout the year, but what I didn’t know then was how all-encompassing it was to become! It’s grown beyond my imaginings, and to be honest if someone was to join later in the year I don’t think they’d get the full magic of being a part of TWELVTY just by accessing the material retrospectively.

So I’ve decided to close the doors on TWELVTY at the end of this month.
No more new recruits after the end of February. 
 

But wait up! that’s not all….
Before the doors close, as today is my birthday ………

I’m going to gift 2 FREE PLACES in TWELVTY 2017 in a Prize Draw.

The prize draw runs from Friday 17th Feb for ONE WEEK.
Winners will be notified Saturday 25th February.

 

Are you someone who gets all lit up about color?
Would you love to join a tribe of creatives who are just like us?

If so, just jump on my mailing list here and
reply to the welcome email with the title “I’M IN!”
to add your name to the hat for the prize draw.

(and as a welcome, you get this little ebook all about color when you join my list)

yearfullofcolorbypenngregory_page_01

Want to find out more about what’s in TWELVTY – it’s all  over here . I also did a big ole Q&A post over here. Or ask me in the comments – I’m massively excited about this – ask me anything! (anything about TWELVTY…I don’t have answers to much else!)

I don’t know if I’ll be offering this program again. Next year has different adventures in store for me, so this could be ‘now or never’, folks! 

A Year Full of Color: Part One (& a gift)

Well hey there lovely friends! Guess what today is?  Today is the day I open the doors of my Etsy Shop!  

To celebrate it’s 10% of everything (excluding shipping) until the end of January! Use Coupon Code YELLOW10 🙂

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As the TWELVTY month of yellow draws to a close the fruit of this color’s makings will be going out into the world! If you like yellow, and you like quirky artsy things made from recycled and vintage materials then I think you’ll love what I have there!

As part of TWELVTY, my year long adventure round the color wheel a month at a time, I’ll be adding what I make in each month to the shop. (so if you’re more greeny-blue, or exclusively purple, or really just about red — there will be a month coming up just for you later in the year)

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I made this little ebook all about color if you share my fascination with color.
It’s all yours when you hop on my newsletter list here.

yearfullofcolorbypenngregory_page_01

(Your email is absolutely safe with me, I’ll just pop by and check up on it time to time, feed it some biscuits, plump up its cushions, that sort of thing.)

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Dawn

This morning I launched my newest project – a year full of color – “TWELVTY” All as scheduled, 9am my time, so the early wee hours for the cross-pond recipients.

Each month this year has it’s own color: January is yellow, and it’s flooding my thoughts.

It’s the sunrise of a new project. 

01yellow-33-copy
each month I’ll be making art in just one color for TWELVTY: yellows gathered in readiness!

The idea came to me just a couple of months ago when I was on holiday. Bumbling about taking photos… as one does.

I notice color everywhere.

I had a moment of profound realisation when I found myself taking photos of a group of tourists emerging from their (red & blue) coach, just because almost all of them seemed to be dressed to match in some shades of red & blue….

I had one of those momentsDo other people see this too? 

Like the fish who doesn’t know it’s swimming in water, my ideas have only swum in my mind, I’ve got no comparison unless I step away and try to look in from outside.

I mentioned the tourists & matching coach to someone a few days later – with gushing enthusiasm – but was met with blank nothingness. Not even the edge of a WTF? response I sometimes get when I share arty revelations like this, just a totally empty, disinterested blankness.

That was the moment I knew: I need to connect up with others who see & appreciate what I see & appreciate. My tribe. We need each other.

We need each other in a world of unknown areas of empty, disinterested blankness, a world with WTF? reactions to gushing arty revelations.

We need to reflect back to each other the magic of seeing some crazy spontaneous colour synchronicity, of seeing some beautifully matched chance happening, some little something somewhere that gets overlooked by most but makes our hearts sing just because of its orangeness, or blueness, or purpleypink, or whateverness.

I love how the idea is resonating among the folks who’ve joined already, the excitement bubbling up, and most of all the anticipation of what will emerge from this group as the year unfolds.

12in12in12

It’s going to be bright and glorious and I love it!


Want to make your 2017 brighter and more colorful?

Sign up below for more news on my doings & makings through the year, and get a lovingly hand crafted ebook all about color 

…oh, and you can join TWELVTY too !

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Be well, my friends, Much love to you all X

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(Your email is absolutely safe with me, I’ll just pop by and check up on it time to time, feed it biscuits, plump up its cushions, that sort of thing.)

The more I look…

…the more I see.

I was in London all day Saturday. A rainy grey day, the view from our second floor window crossed over a patch of garden to the grey stonework and concrete of the buildings opposite. These short December days barely get light and the wet and wind dulled out any colours.

The only life on view from up here was a solitary grey squirrel scampering along the spindly limbs of the near naked tree-tops.

But amid the gloom was the last remaining brightness of the season: with every gust of wind a few remaining golden yellow leaves danced about, tumbling, sprinkling, shining.

I was transfixed.

My mind is full of color, it is my ‘thing’.

And as I’m focussed on yellow in the prepration of the first chapter of TWELVTY I suppose it’s no wonder I was so captivated. But it made me ask myself if that’s why: would I have noticed so keenly? Would I have seen it in such glory? Would it have held that measure of magic? 

I have no control group of me, no comparison, so these questions are unanswerable

But I have come to observe that the more I actively look, the more I absorb, and the richer my life becomes. When there’s so much enjoyment available from the everyday and mundane, life is lusher and days are fuller.


 

I’m so full of ideas for TWELVTY, I’m almost bursting! so much so I’m waking up in the night and having to write stuff down. I’m literally dreaming about it! It’s filling all the corners of my mind.

yellow01.jpg

The program begins in the new year with shiny bright yellow so I’ve been warming up my drawing-and-painting-in-just-yellow vibes in readiness.

I love to use just one color (I love using ALL THE COLORS!) but one-at-a-time has a really special quality. This is one of the big things that I want to share and explore further with you.

yellow02.jpg

I’m putting together a Q&A

If you want to know more about what TWELVTY’s all about comment below to let me know 🙂

  • What would you like to know?
  • What would you like to learn?
  • What really lights you up about some colours, and not others?

Read all about TWELVTY & sign up here