Inspired by | …

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: WIDN

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

Hi there! It’s the 10th! Which today for the first time in almost 5 years (!) unfortunately means that there is no Inspired by post…

The reason is that my friend Riikka and I have teamed up with someone special to create with something in particular. But the ‘something’ isn’t here just yet… So stay tuned for that post later this month!

In the meantime we’ve decided to share what’s going on/what we’re working on…

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: WIDN

WIDN
What I’m doing now is obvious… I’m writing to you!

It’s part of my admin day. On Mondays I’m usually tackling boring computer stuff, e-mail, invoices, receipts and such.

So it’s not the most creative workday of the week to share with you, but it is reality!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: WIDN

I taught two super fun Gelli printing workshops yesterday at the Handlettering Academy organised by Creative Xperience.

I still had to unpack all of the workshop stuff this morning and clean the used Gelli plates, brayers and painty stencils.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: WIDN

These brayers (now all clean!) were kindly lent out to me by the fab Esther of Artchicks Studio!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: WIDN

I was hoping to have some time left to play… But I haven’t gotten around to that yet. So I’m going to leave you with some of the examples I had prepared for yesterday’s workshops instead:

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: WIDN

You can read about Riikka’s current goings-on at Paperiliitin. And remember that we’ll be back later this month with a real Inspired by project!

Enjoy your day!

Inspired by | La La Land

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha ValkIt’s the 10th and I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by to share!

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.

As we were preparing this in the month of the Academy Awards, the theme almost had to be another film… And what better film than:

La La Land

I’m going to keep it short this time… I was so excited to see this film and luckily for me, it did not disappoint! It was total bliss from start to finish. And I seriously wanted to (tap) dance all the way to the car when it was done.

City of Stars

I’ve listened to the soundtrack on and off ever since. The songs are real ear worms: I could not get rid of them, even if I wanted to. So when it came to my project, I knew I wanted to do something with the lyrics and preferably a mono print.

I got the idea to look into the galaxy painting trend from the stars and the planetarium in the movie. I’ve wanted to try this for a while now and I found a great step-by-step watercolour tutorial by Gaby Friedman, that I just followed.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

I had two test runs: one in a journal to test the watercolour technique and then another one to test the Gelli printing.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

Then I made the mistake of changing my paper. I used a mixed media paper for my test print but it buckled heavily. I decided to use a watercolour paper for my second ‘real’ print instead.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

The result was stunning, but… the paper ripped badly when I removed the masking tape that was supposed to keep the border around the print nice and crisp.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

So I went back to mixed media paper and did a third print. Which didn’t turn out bad, but I kind off liked the second print better. Oh well…

Handlettering

I left the handlettering for the next day. And because I had let it percolate for a bit, I decided not to use the lyrics, but to go with the ‘ear worm’. I used all three prints and my test page to play around a bit.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: La La Land

Conclusion

This was a fun exercise! I loved playing with watercolour again!! I also knew this already, but sometimes it’s good to take breaks and think about things for a while instead of getting it over and done with. I’m happy with my results!

Now head over to Riikka. I can’t wait to see what she has come up with!!

Inspired by | Abeltje

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha ValkIt’s cold! But it’s also the 10th…  So I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by to share!

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.

This time the theme is a book. But not just any book, it’s a classic Dutch children’s book:

Abeltje

The book is written by Annie M.G. Schmidt and published in 1953. It was her first complete novel.

I grew up reading Annie M.G. Schmidt and I think I’ve read most of her children’s books and stories. My absolute favourites are the ones that are illustrated by Fiep Westendorp, but those weren’t available in Riikka’s local Finnish library, so we went with Abeltje instead.

According to Wikipedia the book about the lift boy who flies around the world in a department store lift is translated into Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish. Not in English, but there’s a plot summary on the Abeltje Wikipedia page in English.

Abeltje is one of the few Schmidt books that I do not own. I have memories of it being read to me in first grade and I always thought I had read it myself later on, but… now that I’ve re-read it, I’m not so sure anymore. Most of the story surprisingly didn’t ring a bell at all!

I’ve also never watched more than a few snippets of the film that was made in the nineties.

To me it was like reading a new book. A book that was already ‘old’ when I first learned to read… And it’s mind blowing to find out that this 64 year old book isn’t dated.

I’m curious to read what Riikka has to say about this, as I think she has read to book to her kids. There is of course mention of phones and typewriters, instead of cellphones and computers, but I’m pretty sure kids still know what they are and it didn’t seem like the story took place more than half a century ago. Not to me, anyway!

The book

A sure sign that the book is still popular among kids, after all these years, is that all copies were checked out each time I went to the library. I even tried reserving it, without any luck. So I went to the thrift store to find one. And… I did!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

It was an oooooold yellowed paperback, but the cover looks pretty cool and there are black and white illustrations inside by Wim Bijmoer.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

And just in case I wasn’t aware, the former owner wrote on the first page that Abeltje is the first of two books. The second one is ‘De A van Abeltje’, but there are also editions where the two books were published in one volume. I’m not sure if Riikka read either one or both, but I haven’t read the second book.

A paragraph

This book is another mammoth… Which means that you can easily have a years worth of inspiration from just one page of this book: there are the characters, the clothes with shiny buttons, sequins and ostrich feathers, the department store with all kinds of merchandise, the adventures in different countries, the singing, the rabbit…

I just didn’t know where to start!

So I decided to start with one sentence or paragraph.

I opened the book to a random page. This is where it landed:

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

And luckily for me, there, between the words ‘Toen werden…’ and ‘… wat een grote!’ were all the words I needed to create this:

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

It isn’t the best illustration ever… But I had fun creating it and in the end that’s all that matters!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Abeltje

Now hop on over to Riikka’s blog Paperiliitin to find out what she thought of Abeltje and of course to see what she created!

Have a wonderful day!

Inspired by | Tea

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

Hi! It’s the 10th again… Time for another Inspired by!

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.

This month’s theme is a beverage we both love and drink everyday:

Tea

I don’t remember how I came up with this month’s theme exactly, but if I have to take a guess, I think I had either tea packaging, a tea story or tea dyeing in mind and as Riikka and I are both tea drinkers, it just made sense!

Riikka sent me tea, called Lumi-kellot, which Google Translate tells me are snowdrops. At first glance I thought it would be a winter tea, flavoured with cinnamon or apple or berries, but it isn’t. It’s banana tea!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Tea

Anyway: I really wanted to try tea dyeing, because I had never done it before. Well, I have… I’ve used tea splatter in workshops by the fabulous Finnabair, but that’s about it.

I grabbed some watercolour paper and I chose four teas from my stash that I thought would make different tints of colour: the black banana tea, a Christmas tea that I hoped would make the paper turn pink, nettle tea and remnant of rose green tea. Then I put the kettle on and the experimenting began!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Tea

I flooded, submerged, steeped and double steeped the paper and I dripped tea onto it. I even attempted ‘watercolouring’!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Tea

The black banana tea worked the best and it turned the paper a lovely tea colour. The Christmas tea didn’t turn the paper pink, but a nice lighter tea colour and the flowers and other stuff in there made nice marks on the paper.

The nettle tea turned the paper a beautiful soft green and the rose green tea just gave the paper a faint yellow colour. I think that I could have gotten more colour out of that one if I would’ve had more tea leaves.

marshavalk_inspiredby_tea-1-2

ATC’s

So… my take on the theme was mostly tea dyeing and then I thought: oh, but I also have to make something!

I’ve drawn as a pastime over the holidays, because it was something I could do in the company of others and I could easily stick a couple of pens, a pencil and some paper in my purse.

I also already made some tea inspired prints in November, so kind off inspired by that I created a couple of fun ATC’s with the tea dyed watercolour paper.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Tea

Conclusion

Tea dyeing is as fun as I guessed it would be. I’m inspired to try other dye methods too, but maybe I should wait for Spring or Summer to experiment more.

marshavalk_inspiredby_tea-5

I used up some watercolour paper that was collecting dust in my craft space. It’s too textured for my taste and it was hard to draw the tea cups on, because of the bumps. But… I went with it. I also used coloured pencils, which I hardly ever do and I even broke out my sewing machine, which I don’t use that often any more!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Tea

This was a good experiment and a good exercise in looking what I have on hand and using stuff I usually don’t give a second glance. I call it a win-win!

Now, let’s take a look at what my awesome friend has created. Visit Riikka here: Paperiliitin!

Edit: I’ve created an Inspired by | Tea board on Pinterest, if you would like to see more tea inspiration!

Inspired by | A Song Playing on the Radio

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

It’s the 10th! Only 14 days until Christmas! And… I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by to share!

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.

This time we chose a music theme and it’s kind of vague, but it makes sense to us:

A song playing on the radio

I was thinking of the Top 2000 when I came up with this month’s theme. It’s a popular annual event on one of the Dutch public radio stations, where they play 2000 songs from Christmas until New Year’s Eve. The songs are chosen by the public. This year’s list isn’t published yet.

The idea was that you have all these songs and because they are of all times, you are bound to hear ones that spark memories or that mean something to you.

In my case, I don’t need the Top 2000 to spark ideas or memories. I can just turn on the radio and many random songs will make me think of something specific.

It’s harder when you know you have to create something with that story or memory though!

It took me about half an hour of listening to the radio to find a song I could work with. And I didn’t even have to hear the song I chose.

I heard someone request ‘It’s on you’ by M.C. Sar and The Real McCoy and I was immediately brought back to the dance floor of the disco where my friends and I spent our Saturday nights. The radio DJ didn’t play it, but he played other songs related to that same time, so I went with it anyway.

I totally get why the DJ chose to play other songs instead. ‘It’s on you’ was a huge hit in the Netherlands in 1990 and I remember I loved it, but when you hear it now… It’s sooooo nineties!

Awkward

The song hit number 3 in the Dutch Top 40 by the end of September 1990. I was 16, turning 17 in October. Being 16 is hard for anyone. I was in my pre-exam year and I had tons and tons of homework. I still have the school planner to prove it.

It’s also the year I stopped journaling. Which is a shame, because I would have liked to read a bit about what was going on. I know that my grandmother died in August of that year and that I must have been grieving hard.

Things were changing fast, school demanded a lot of time, I had a job at a supermarket on the weekends and on Saturday night me and my friends hung out together. I don’t think we could afford going to the disco every weekend, but we tried to go at least every other week.

At first I thought I would scrapbook for this month’s Inspired by, but then the things that came up seemed raw, so I turned to an art journal spread instead:

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: A Song on the Radio

I started with a black gesso-ed page. I have a stack of inky paper towels sitting on a shelve because my friend Birgit told me they’re a fun supply to use. The colours remind me of disco lights. So I decided use them. They represent the fun times and the dark purples represent the sad things.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: A Song on the Radio

I wrote part of the lyrics with a purple metallic gel pen along the edges of the paper towel collage. The little collage pieces on top are a jeans label from that time. There is some stamping and scribbling on the spread too, but it’s hardly visible.

Conclusion

Wow… The thing about this that has struck me most is: I didn’t realize I didn’t journal in 1990. Not that I ever go back to read any of my journals, but it’s telling that the one I want to read doesn’t exist. I hit something with this song, that I didn’t realize was there. Interesting!

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: A Song Playing on the Radio

The colours and texture on this page are stunning. I don’t think the photos do it justice. I’m really pleased with how the paper towel collage pieces look. It’s something I will definitely try again!

Now… I’ve kept you for far too long! Hop on over to Paperiliitin, to see what Riikka has come up with!

Edit: I forgot to tell you about Marit Barentsen’s annual Top 2000 blog party. If you like the idea of creating to music, then I encourage you to check it out. Everyone is welcome to play along!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Inspired by | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Inspired by: a monthly creative blog series by Riikka Kovasin and Marsha ValkIt’s the 10th! That can only mean one thing: I’ve got a new instalment of Inspired by to share!

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.

If you have been following us for a while, this month’s theme should not come as a surprise… It’s a film, it’s directed by Tim Burton… It’s…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The film is based on a trilogy by Ransom Riggs, though from what I understand, there are a few differences. I haven’t read the books, but now that I’ve seen the film, they’re at the top of my reading list!

I very much enjoyed the film. When I look at the trailer now, I can see that I was focused on understanding and following the story. I’m usually all about the visuals, but not this time. There was just too much to wrap my head around!

I always think it’s funny to see the same items and themes re-appearing in each theme Riikka and I choose for Inspired by.

This time it was ‘time’, which also was a big theme in Alice Through the Looking Glass and it seems that no Inspired by is complete without a ship this year! We’ve also seen birds before and photos and maps…

missperegrineshomeforpeculiarchildren

Source: FoxMovies.com

Whilst browsing the website of the film, I found out that Miss Peregrine’s house is not a set, but an actual castle in Brasschaat, Belgium.

My dad used to live in that town and because the castle is located off the main road through the town, it’s likely that we drove past it many times. I don’t believe it’s visible from the street though, but it’s still cool to know that I’ve been that close to it!

It was also fun to learn that Peregrine refers to a peregrine falcon. My surname is Valk, which is Dutch for falcon.

Peculiar photographs

I had no idea what it all meant. Did I want to do something with the bird? Did I want to do something with transformation? The peculiarities as superpowers? With the bird’s eye view… the photos, the maps, the vintage…

I wished I had old photos that I could use. You know: peculiar ones. I also thought about WOII and that time period or if I could think of anything with a house like that.

I went through a basket of ephemera to look for an old map and I think that made me think of my art journals.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I must have mentioned them here a million times before: I started my first art journal in an old book that I found at the local thrift store. It’s a 1930ies book with photos.

In that first book they’ve all disappeared behind a layer of gesso. Luckily I hunted down a second copy of the same vintage book (because I loved the paper so much) and there are still some photos left in that one.

The photos are silly. I haven’t read the book, but it’s a young adult book about a group of girls and boys that are making a film and they dress up in costumes for it.

The project

I found two photos that were usable. I decided I wanted to place them behind squares of plexiglass and then I went from there: I added alcohol inks, marked with Posca markers and stamped with StazOn ink, inspired by what I learned from Azoline at a workshop last April.

The stamps are from different sets by Azoline, Birgit and Zorotte for Carabelle Studio.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

I used this piece to try stuff and then I repeated what worked on the other two.

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

You can’t really see them, but I’ve also added some small round stickers because I remembered that Jake’s grandfather had used them to mark the location of the time loops on his maps.

Conclusion

There is so much more to this film that I could have explored. I could have gone in deeper, I could have made it more personal by exploring some of my own peculiarities. But the timing was off and all I really wanted to do is to get out of my head and just make ‘something’.

Somehow we always choose the most complex themes when there is too little time to really explore them… The result is fun nonetheless.

The outcome does remind me of the collages I did in September. Maybe I was unconsciously continuing where I had left off, maybe it’s the format (size is also about the same) or maybe this is just my style, right now. Who knows!

The piece with the red alcohol ink is my favourite. I was hesitant to use red because I was afraid it would turn out looking like blood. I really like the look of the plexiglass. This is something that I want to explore further.

But let’s not keep you any longer! Riikka wants to show us what she’s created too. You can visit her on her blog Paperiliitin. I can’t wait to see what she’s come up with!