Inspired by | Volume 1 – 2018: Chasing away the gloom

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: December Reflections and Gentle January

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Hi there! It still isn’t the 10th… But I do have the January instalment of the ‘new’ Inspired by for you!

Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. As I explained in this post, we’re no longer deciding on a theme beforehand, and we’re also not creating something with that theme or thing in mind anymore.

From now on, each month, we’ll share our personal sources of inspiration with you (and each other) from the past month.

I decided to make a list because I’m finally getting my mojo back and I found I got excited and inspired by a lot of things. Which feels good, so good!

And it’s a long list… So let’s dive right in!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: December Reflections and Gentle January

Susannah Conway inspires me to keep looking. Even if the weather seems too gloomy and too dark to take photographs (I like).

Susannah hosted the photo-a-day project ‘December Reflections‘ in December and to create a soft(er) landing, she’s currently hosting ‘Gentle January‘.

I can’t seem to manage to take daily photos because December was so busy (and January appears to continue in the same fashion), but projects like this always help me see things in a different light.

Just this week I spotted a particular door on my way home from the gym and some things about the graveyard in my neighbourhood that I haven’t noticed before. At the very least it makes running errands a lot more enjoyable!

Xanthe Berkeley continues to inspire me to keep trying to catch stuff on video.

I’m not very successful at staying on the bandwagon yet, and I’m also not taking the time to edit the footage very often. But I’m determined to really make this happen at some point in 2018. Sooner rather than later!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Frottage

Max Ernst. A visit to the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, Germany at the beginning of December turned out to be a massive influence on my work the rest of the month. And I don’t think its impact is over just yet.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Frottage

Max Ernst developed frottage (a rubbing technique) in 1925, and there was a wall full of his frottage artworks on display.

I tried my hand at crayon rubbings for my January n*Studio Creative Squad post.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Frottage

I also looked into how I could best present the rubbings, which prompted me to look into frames and mats.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Pastels

Mystele Kirkeeng inspired me to put some pastels on my Christmas wishlist. She also continues to prompt me to create crazy backgrounds and to draw girls.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Lykke Moodstore

Lykke Moodstore inspired me to buy an Araucaria which then led me to change all the plant pots in the house!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Carve December

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and lots of people that followed along with her Carve December challenge inspired me to carve two stamps.

Those stamps (and a couple of others that I’d carved before) found their way into my Gelli Arts video.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Gelli Arts

Lou Ann Gleason of Gelli Arts inspired me to try Gelli printing on transparencies for my January Gelli Arts video.

It was so much fun!!! And in the process, I discovered a technique that I will show in my February video for Gelli Arts.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Serious Request

Babette Schrijft and all of her Dutch handletter pals who raised money for the Red Cross with their Serious Lettering!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Central Park Apeldoorn

They not only inspired me to give generously during the annual 3FM Serious Request fundraising event but also to visit the Glass House in Apeldoorn and explore the city.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Makelight

Emily Quinton (Makelight) inspired me to create a flat lay with some of the German cookies and yummy chocolates we bought for the holidays.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Recipes

Allerhande inspired me to pick up meal planning and cooking again. This is a magazine that is published by Albert Heijn, a Dutch supermarket chain.

Having braces installed unfortunately has meant that I had to radically change my eating habits in 2017. And frankly that I lost my appetite… It’s not back yet, but at least I’m making an effort again!

And last but c e r t a i n l y not least: Creative JumpStart 2018

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Creative JumpStart 2018

I thought about how I could follow along with CJS2018 and make it work for me.

I figured I was more likely to keep up with it if I could work in a small journal. I settled on a passport-sized Traveler’s Notebook insert.

Which is a lot smaller than I usually work on/in. But it seems to do the trick because I’m now creating on a (semi-)daily basis!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Creative JumpStart 2018

I love Creative JumpStart so much!

You never know what the featured teacher is going to show that day and what materials you are going to use. I’m going from acrylic paint to Pan Pastels, to crayons, to watercolours and back to acrylic paints again.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Creative JumpStart 2018

I’m taking the time each day to learn, to try and to figure out what I like and what I don’t like about the lessons, the materials and the techniques.

If you want to follow along with what I do: I tend to share my results in my Instagram Stories.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by - January 2018: Creative JumpStart 2018

And… If you want in on Creative JumpStart 2018: it’s not too late to join us! There is plenty of time to catch up!

Go to Nathalie Kalbach’s website (affiliate link) to find out more and to register!

That’s a wrap!

That’s it for this month’s Inspired by!

Don’t forget to stop by Riikka’s blog Paperiliitin and read what has been on her mind in the past month.

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I.

On the 10th of each month, we share what inspired us that month with you and each other.

It can be anything from a person, a film, a book, a painting, to an item, something found in nature or in the city, a colour scheme or some materials we bought or discovered.

We will also share how the source of inspiration affects our work. Consider it as a window into our creative minds!

Advertisements

Inspired by | Changing things up for 2018

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Hi there! It isn’t the 10th today… but I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by for you!

The theme this time is…

There is no theme

My dear friend Riikka and I have been doing Inspired by for years now.

Inspired by was our excuse to play, to explore, to try out things, to work on something personal that didn’t have to follow any rules or fixed formats, products or materials (unless we explicitly chose it ourselves). And we did!

It helped us grow. I learned a lot. I saw, read and heard things I would never have encountered if it hadn’t been for Riikka and Inspired by. I’m super grateful for this!

But we’ve changed. The things we do have changed. Our work has changed.

And it’s time to take the next step. It’s time to not play together anymore for the sake of playing. It’s time for each of us to pay attention, to really pay close attention to what it is that peaks our personal interests.

It’s time to chase our own curiosity!

Let me explain

What I mean by that is: when something really catches my eye (on the internet, on TV, in a museum or on the street) or it keeps coming up (in multiple places), the healthy thing for my inspiration is to follow the thread and see where it takes me.

I do not want to have to say to myself over and over again: ‘There is no time for that now, just snap a photo!’ Or: ‘Put it on your to-do list.’

But that’s precisely what I did. Instead of trying to weave in the things that caught my attention as much as I could, I was storing them away for another day. And another week. And another month…

You can fill in what happened next because you’ve seen and read it right here on my blog: all of my creative drive got sucked out of me.

Creativity and inspiration just do not work that way!

The solution

I started to make changes from (I guess) September of last year forward.

One of the changes is that Riikka and I have decided that we’re no longer picking a theme for the month. And we’re not going to create something with the same thing in mind anymore.

Instead, we’re each going to keep a record of what inspires us personally, and we’re going to share that with you and each other on the 10th of the month.

This means it’s likely we’re still going to talk about films, books, paintings, items, colours, materials and more. I’m also confident we’re still going to share how we infuse these things in our work. But the sources of inspiration will be our personal ones, and the focus isn’t going to be on creating a project anymore.

We’re super excited about this, and we hope you are too!

Be sure to check out what Riikka has to say about it on her blog Paperiliitin.

Take care and have a wonderful week!

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We used to decide on a theme (and that theme could be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we would create something with that theme or thing in mind.

But from now on we’re going to share sources of inspiration with you and each other on the 10th of each month.

Inspired by | Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Stenen Matras // art journal page

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Hi there! It’s the 10th today, and I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by for you!

The theme this time is… Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Stenen Matras

Het stenen matras

I read the Dutch translation, which I found in my local library. As the English title suggests, there are nine stories in the book. The first three stories are connected, and that confused me, as I was expecting stories, and then it seemed like I was reading chapters instead.

I’m not a massive fan of bundled stories. I prefer a longer, more in-depth story that I can’t wait to get back to when I have more time to read. With stories, you have to start over again and again and again.

I didn’t like all of the stories in this book, but I did enjoy most of them. The characters are dark, strange, evil, revengeful and a bit crazy.

Whilst I was reading, I kept seeing scenes that made me wish I was an illustrator: the indigo and emerald bees of Alphinland in the first story, the twins in the third story or the contents of a storage facility in the fifth one.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Stenen Matras // art journal page

The project

The bees kept popping back into my head, so I decided to try and draw those. Which was even harder than I imagined, but it was nevertheless a fun exercise.

I used Derwent Inktense pencils to sketch and colour with. They are water-soluble, but permanent once dry, so I could work in several layers.

I also used red watercolour for the background, a black permanent fineliner for the outlines and a white Stabilo All to write.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Stenen Matras // art journal page

I finish the page with gold and bronze ink splatters. They represent the tears of the lady that is connected to the long black hair.

Conclusion

It took a long time before I felt like this page was presentable. Watercolour skills have been on my wishlist for far too long. Drawing skills too ;-). Maybe that’s something I can work on in the new year.

Of course, I’m also bothered by the colours of the bees in the middle panel. The blue one should have been green and vice versa. But I realised too late, and because I sketched with coloured pencils, there was no turning back. Which is fine. Life is too short to fret over sketchbook pages!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Stenen Matras // art journal page

Be sure to check out what Riikka has made this month on her blog Paperiliitin. I’ve already seen a glimpse, and I love it!

Take care and have a wonderful week!

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th when we show you and each other our creations.

Inspired by | Warmth

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Hi there! It’s the 10th today, and I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by for you! This time we chose a word for the theme…

Warmth

The days are getting shorter and shorter now, I’ve already started wearing cardigans and sweaters, and I’ll have to bring out the knitted scarves and gloves soon too.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m not a huge fan of winter or gloomy autumn weather. I don’t care about the cold, but I do mind the days in which it feels like dawn all day long.

We’ve had days like that this week in fact, and I’ll just have to get used to it again, but it’s still a bit frustrating especially when you really need to photograph or film something.

The word

Warmth – when Riikka suggested it as a theme, it immediately made me think of ‘hygge’.

I don’t know if it’s still as big of a ‘thing’ as last year. I haven’t felt the need to read any of the books about it because I think I already get the concept.

It’s very similar to Dutch ‘gezelligheid’ (though not entirely the same), and I totally need lots of it to get through the winter months.

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

I even made a mini book about it once, long before I had ever heard of the term ‘hygge’.

Old-school scrapbooking

I’ve had a look in the blog archives to see if there is a post I could link to, but… it seems I’ve never shared it here. I think it must have been a design team project (for Piens Atelier) that was exclusive to the DT blog.

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

It’s oooooold. I made it in December 2007! But the funny thing is that although I maybe would not use the exact same supplies, I could still make a very similar book today. It’s actually one of the very few scrapbook projects I’ve made that doesn’t feel super dated!

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

All of the small pleasures I feature in the mini book are still valid too, though I’m sorry to admit that I’ve gone a bit off chocolate ever since I’ve had my braces installed…

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Marsha Valk Inspired by: Warmth // Mini book 2007

Conclusion

Sometimes I’m tempted to just throw all of my old scrapbook projects away. I’ve gotten rid of some already. You know: the ones that I didn’t like in the first place.

Honestly: it would be okay if I chucked the lot because most of the pages and projects are documented in photos anyway. But for some reason I still hold on to many of them, and this mini book is one of the few that I really like.

It was created at a time when I was only a couple months into blogging. Receiving product to create with was brand new to me. I wasn’t drowning in supplies yet and I was super stoked to get a pizza box full of new scrapbook goodies in the mail. It made me feel so inspired!

I also remember being really pleased with the photos I took. I didn’t own a DSLR, no iPhone: my compact camera was my best friend, and I carried it everywhere. I took photographing (and memory keeping) seriously. Eager to learn and get better at it.

That all seems so long ago now.

Nowadays I have several good cameras to photograph with, but I mostly use my phone. I still enjoy shooting photos, but I’m not taking memory keeping seriously at all.

I seem to be more interested in random things that just catch my eye, and most photographs I take are work-related. I haven’t scrapbooked in a long time, though I do enjoy composing digital photo books.

It will be interesting to see where I’m going next. What will change and what will stay the same? Will I still enjoy the same small pleasures in 10 years? Will I still love photographing more than anything else? And what will be the primary device to shoot with?!!

We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we!

Before you go: be sure to check out Riikka’s Inspired by post for this month on her blog Paperiliitin!

Take care, make things ‘hygge’ and have a wonderful week!

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th when we show you and each other our creations.

Inspired by | Masking Tape

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Hi there! It’s the 10th today, and I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by for you! The theme this time is…

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Masking Tape

Masking Tape

Who doesn’t love washi tape?! The idea for this theme came about a couple of months ago when Riikka sent me a set of beautiful washi tapes on behalf of Tapegarden. Tapegarden (or Teippitarha) is a Finnish online store that offers a wide variety of tapes, stationery and planner goods.

The Japanese masking tapes are by far my favourites. I love both the quality and the designs of these tapes. The first washi tape I acquired in 2009/2010 was a (crazy expensive!) set by Kamoi, and I still have some of these rolls!

As it turns out Kamoi and mt – masking tape is the same thing. On the mt website, it says that Kamoi started out as a fly catch paper manufacturer in 1923. They didn’t start making paper adhesive tape, like sealing tape and industrial masking tape until the 1960s.

The tape we know as washi tape (washi means ‘Japanese paper’) was first created in 2008. Apparently, three women wrote a book that showed creative use of industrial masking tape and that inspired Kamoi to develop colourful masking tape.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Masking Tape

My collection

Can you believe washi tape is only 9 years old?

The photo above shows my washi tape in spring 2013. The collection soon grew out of this cute house shelf, and I moved it into a big drawer in my Ikea Moppe unit.

And that’s where it stayed until I thoroughly Marie Kondoed my craft room and donated a massive amount of craft supplies to a local school earlier this year.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Masking Tape

I’ve kept only the ones that I love and more importantly that haven’t lost their adhesive power (even after years and years).

I use washi tape all the time, but mostly for gift wrapping, to hang things or to temporarily stick something down. Sometimes a stray piece of tape shows up in an art journal spread, but it honestly isn’t the first thing I grab when it comes to art journaling.

I am however not afraid to use up an entire roll on something silly like masking off my Gelli plate.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Masking Tape

The project

When it came down to creating with washi tape, several ideas came to mind, and none of them seemed right. I’m unfortunately stuck in a major creative rut, and I feel terribly recalcitrant every time I *have* to create something. Even if it’s for Inspired by!

I know you can’t tell, but it took me ages to come up with this idea. And then I had the idea (of a hand-lettered and washi tape embellished quote), but could not come up with a text to write. Everything seemed so mundane and meaningless!

So I decided to make it as low key as possible. I grabbed grid paper from my Filofax planner to write on, and I just took text from the back of a magazine:

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Masking Tape

At least this line isn’t meaningless! (Translation: ‘Climate suffers under cheap meat’)

Then I took a news headline (Translation: ‘Now it’s upon the political groups’) and I hand-lettered that:

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Masking Tape

Conclusion

I really, really love the way the washi tape borders turned out. It was a bit of a faff, the cutting of the tape, but I think it was worth it. Even for a creative exercise like this! I also practised my hand-lettering, which was awesome. Let’s not waste any more words on my creative rut. I hope it blows over soon!

Check out what Riikka has made this month on her blog Paperiliitin. I can’t wait to see!

Take care and have a wonderful week!

Please note that though I received masking tape from Tapegarden, most of the tape shown was bought by me over the years and I will not benefit from any sales generated by the links!

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th when we show you and each other our creations.

Inspired by | Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk

Can you believe it’s September already? It’s been raining cats and dogs over here, so it honestly feels like Autumn too. I’m hopeful though that there are still some days to come with enough dry spells to enjoy a cup of tea in the yard with a bit of journaling or reading on the side.

So today’s the 10th, and that means Riikka and I have a new Inspired by to share with you! This time the theme is:

Marsha Valk | Nathalie Kalbach Artful Adventures book

Artful Adventures in Mixed Media by Nathalie Kalbach

As you may know, Nathalie is a friend, and I did not buy this book. Receiving it was one of the perks of being part of her Creative Squad, but I’m sure you know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it.

Artful Adventures in Mixed Media (aff. link) is a book full of stories, prompts, tips, instructions as well as mixed media techniques to get the creative juices flowing.

This book can not only help you get an enormous amount of creative inspiration and mojo out of your next vacation/trip, it also encourages you to explore nature, your neighbourhood and it gives helpful pointers on what to look for in museums and galleries.

Nat also shares about being inspired by books and movies, extraordinary people and artistic friends.

The book covers all the things Riikka and I regularly do here with Inspired by, and more: It’s is very much about Nat’s journey into art, and she shares a lot about who and what inspires her personally.

I especially enjoyed reading about her travels and looking at her personal photos.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

Taking notes

I found the book incredibly inspiring, and I read it like a textbook, taking notes from the first to the last page.

You can really get a lot out of it if you decide to go deep. I plan to work my way through the assignments in the book, starting with chapter one.

I created a new Pinterest board especially for Artful Adventures, bought a small Traveler’s Notebook and gathered supplies for art making on the go (that I’ve yet to use off the premises, but… at least it’s ready to go!).

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

My first focus is on my own neighbourhood and the city I live in.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

Following the prompts in the book, I created a checklist of things I want to see and do, that I now carry with me in the new notebook that lives in my purse.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

I’m also taking note of events that are happening in the city.

Not that I didn’t do that before, but there are plenty of annual events that we always intend to go to, but in the end never attend because of life, laundry or another lame excuse…

The fact is that if you don’t make time for adventures, they just won’t happen!

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

I’m also embarrassed to say that Amersfoort is a beautiful old city and I’ve hardly visited any of the major tourist attractions in all the years I’ve lived here.

I haven’t even been to all the local museums yet. It’s ridiculous! But I’m doing everything to correct that!

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

The result

I don’t have anything to show you except photos. Ironically I haven’t felt like creating anything for weeks now… I seem to be far more interested in being outside in nature, out and about in the city and visiting museums. Which is exactly what Nat suggests in the book, and I trust that the creating will follow eventually.

Marsha Valk | Inspired By: Artful Adventures in Mixed Media

So… whilst I’m exploring the city, you can have a look at what inspiration Riikka picked up on her family trip to London.

Or you can go here to Nat’s blog, where I shared what I created after an Artful Adventure in Amsterdam last month!

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha Valk Inspired by is a blog series by my friend Riikka and I. We decide on a theme (and that theme can be anything from a film, a book, a painting, to an item, colour scheme or material), and then we create something with that theme or thing in mind.

We keep what we’re making a secret until reveal day on the 10th when we show you and each other our creations.