Starting anew in 2017: finding momentum

Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve updated and I finally got the energy and drive to update today. So massive massive update ahead, but also lots of photos to feast on.

My current status is that I’m officially unemployed for the past 3 months (wow how time flies). I should saw that I’ve been busy looking for a job, but that’s a lie because the time just consists of a lot of waiting. What this means for my art and creativity though is that my life currently consists of no structure, like I’m bobbing along in the great big sea. Since starting blogging, I found that my most productive creative days happen when I’m busy with other tasks, so I am now consciously aware that having momentum allows me to flourish best. Spending 3 months without any sense of structure and time though… not a good environment to be doing art.

Perhaps it’s the idea of a new year, or perhaps it represents the start of a new life as I leave my undergraduate life behind, this year, I’m finding it easier to start something new (fingers crossed I don’t jinx it). Not just something new, but starting anew, as I try for a past me that have disappeared into the wind in the past few years.

I’m taking up planning again, like those student handbooks that you are forced to buy when you are in school. I have to confess that I used to love them though, and each year my handbook get filled up with reminders and homework and crossing outs. It’s nothing fancy of course, but it didn’t matter because it’s functional. I’ve tried to use planners again during my university days, spending the time and effort to search for planners that would suit my needs AND look pretty. It’s not that much of a lost cause, but often times I find myself not using them, and when I try to pick them up again, I found that I actually didn’t like to use them. This time though, I’m heavily inspired by videos of bullet journals I seen (particularly this and this) so I decided to go simple. I had a B5 binder notebook that I used for German note taking so I decided to use that. And with some new inserts, my planner is thus born. What I loved about this (and probably why it worked so well for me), is that I can just throw papers away if I did something wrong or if I didn’t like it, which frees me from a lot of the stress and pressure I put on myself.

There are tabs that came with the notebook that I used to keep section separate, but the main tab that consist of everything to do with planning is a mishmash of things that goes by chronological order (of when I started the page, not so much what’s on it). I found that it doesn’t bother me so much, and it’s actually kind of nice to be flipping the pages back and forth, rather than just staying on one spread for the week and never needing to move away. It’s adds to the illusion of doing something too, because most days I don’t need to spend too much time writing in the planner. A few photos of how my journal looks:

These quotes used to hang on my wall, but I’ve stopped paying attention to them and one could only feature one at a time so I stuck them into my planner instead
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Daily log page where I write down the things I need to do/plans for the day. I don’t use it as often as I should, but when I do it works fabulously to keep me on my (self-designated) tasks
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This gratitude page started out from a monthly challenge prompt and I’ve kept it to see where it would take me. I’m reading a book called “The Happiness Project” which mentioned that gratitude can make one feel happier
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My Habit Tracker page, which is the page I used the most often and turn to the most

I’ve also started a page on tracking my habits and I’m enjoying it so far. I have unfortunately gained (more than) a few bad habits and lost a few good ones, so I’m trying to get back on track by making them visible, and having a chart to mark off each day allows me to track my progress, and reminds me each day of what I have to do the next day/week/month/whatever. Some habits are easier to get back into than others though, like remembering to put apply face cream in the mornings and nights, and others doesn’t seem to get done at all (the habit that read “Post on My Craft Diary once a week” has been there since January). Yet others seem to have mixed success that I can’t seem to achieve consistently, like sleeping early or bathing early. Nonetheless, keeping track of my habits works for me so it’s something I’m sticking with.

A lot of my drive in picking up new habits come from the first piece of artwork I did this year. It’s a reflective piece, in which I think about the things I want to achieve in my life, and the things I want to keep out. It’s almost like my resolutions for the year? Though I’m not sure if it can really be considered resolutions because they are just big and broad aims I have while I’ve distilled them into workable actions that are manifested in my habit tracker. The piece if now hanging on my wall though, and it makes me happy to just look at the piece on the wall, if only because of the colour. Here’s how the piece looks on the wall:

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And here’s how it looks at the background stage plus some details on the layers. As usual, you can click to view an enlarged image.

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collage, paint and drawings

paint, stenciling, drawing, paint splatters

collage, paint, stencilling with gold paint

I may not be doing a lot of art, but it has not been completely bare these past few months. I did go on a few shopping sprees, so I have quite a few additions to my supplies. They’re mostly utilitarian though (like 3 different type of glues or blade refills), though there are some new yummy supplies that I’ve bought to keep that creative spark (mostly the inexpensive stuff like new pens or ink colours). I finally finally bought the set of paper bead roller that I’ve been eyeing ever since this video came out and it makes paper bead making so much easier. I promptly broke in the new tool by making beads out of scrap pieces of paper that has been lying around for years – that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone 😉 Here’s a look at the bead making process:

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Drying the beads after glazing

I’m also trying to reacquaint myself with the Jennibellie’s Journal Workshop community, and have been chatting with the creative peeps there occasionally. I may be very much out of it but it nice to have a place where I can just drop by, some place familiar where I feel comfortable, and Journal Workshop is just the place for those moments. I participated in the last art swap too, and I think it’s been almost two years since I last did an art swap. We made some paper flowers for the swap and I really liked how these turned out, with the embellishments and all. Hopefully my swap partner would like them!

My main project now is my Japan travel journal, which I started in December and then stopped because I got busy during the holidays (Christmas & Chinese New Year). I started picking it up again a couple of days back, and then somehow fiddled with a camera and video setup. In a stroke of brilliance, I found a set up that works, and doesn’t take too much time to set up, though the setup is rather amusing.

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I use a short table as a temporary work for this project, because I bring out a lot of materials that wouldn’t fit on my usual workspace. You can’t see in this photo, but surrounding this table is an arc of supplies and things I would need for the travel journal, with just an empty space in the middle where I can sit down. Because my craft room is also my bedroom, I used my bed to help in the camera setup, and added cardboard boxes and even my pillow to prop up the selfie stick to a appropriate height. Nothing fancy, so hopefully this means that I might take more videos in the future! I also posted a video of a short flipthrough of the parts I worked on these few days on my instagram which you can view below:

A post shared by Wenyi (@nocloudypooh) on

As you can see, I usually go off on a tangent while I do things, even when I have definite plans. But it’s not a bad thing, because it usually end up being productive, like a new burst of energy to do things. While editing this post, the tangent brought me to create a stamp with the My Craft Diary logo, and it’s pretty easy to add to the images, so that’s a success. *Does happy dance* Have been wanting to do this for a while, but I was finding it a drag to learn how to do it. I did it on Photoshop before, but gimp is a little different and I’m not particularly familiar with the programme, so Google was the best way to go. I think that’s all the updates I have for this post, and hopefully, this marks the start of the habit to post on the blog once a week. Thanks for stopping by.

Back to beginnings: uncomplicated journal pages

I have been playing a little more these past few days, and managed to get a page done everyday for the past three days in my Midori traveller’s notebook, an accomplishment in recent months! Well, I say I managed to get the pages done, but it’s more like the pages got done on their own, because they took little planning on my part. Take a look at them first:

journal page

These are all very quick pages that are slapped together. I mentioned that I didn’t plan for them, because I didn’t plan through the art process and did not envision how the final page would look like. They are all “in the moment” pages, representing my thought process or what I was doing at the moment I create these pages. It’s organic, and uncomplicated, and it reminds me of the early beginnings when I started out art journaling, and my pages are just a slap-down mish-mash of things. Of course I would say that my pages now are more “sophisticated”, in the sense that I relate to the content more and it holds more meaning to me (in the past, my pages are just random things created for the sake of creating).

More about each of the pages:

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You’ve seen this page in the previous ponderings post. I had the quote in mind, and that photo was lying around, an extra I accidentally printed. More than just a random photo, the photo really epitomises that quote, because it was taken during my Japan trip, and I actually didn’t like one of the dishes in the photo. It was one of the few pictures I had of that meal and by lack of choice I had to choose it to put inside my travel journal. You noticed that the lettering didn’t come out exactly centred in the last line, and I added the little heart to balance it out. I use hearts a lot to embellish or fill up empty spaces because they work really well most of the time!

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I was playing with a new Crafter’s Workshop stencils along with some Distress inks yesterday. The plan was to try around blending the various colours and using all of the colours at least once, while trying out all the images in the stencil. At the end of it I filled up a whole A4 sheet of cardstock and was very happy, until I realised that there was one colour I didn’t touch at all. So I though I would do that in the traveller’s notebook since the A4 paper is all filled up already. Unfortunately, kraft coloured paper isn’t too kind to light colours (it was peacock feathers), and the feather imprint was barely visible on the page. So I did the old school approach of tracing the stencil image with a pen, which ending up popping the image much better. I choose orange because it’s a contrasting colour to blue. The rest of the page was just random doodlings and me writing my thoughts about the supplies I’m using. Green was chosen for no other reason than I haven’t use the markers I chose in a long time.

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Today I was playing with tags. I have a whole bunch of painted ones sitting in a small drawer, mostly painted from leftover paints and what not. Among them were tags that I do not like for one reason or another, either the colour or the boldness, so they have been sitting around for the longest time as I don’t feel inclined to use them. So I decided that I will try to make them nicer and grabbed some stamps and gesso. Mostly I toned down the colours with gesso, and then did some subtle stampings. It kind of worked, since it improved from the original state, but I’m still not too thrilled with the results. In a random moment while thinking of Julie’s art journal pages, I grabbed a pigment marker and doodled on the purple tag you see at the top. I’m not the best doodler, so I kind of ran out of ideas to doodle. In a serendipitous moment when I turned the doodled tag around, I realised that it actually looked really cool, and reminded me of a namecard. So I went ahead and did two more in truly a namecard style, and I really liked how it turns out! Which is pretty amazing, because I picked the tags I liked the least to doodle on, and just a simple segment of doodles transformed them into something cool looking. I believe I have now found the solution to utilising the many tags that I have stashed in my drawer!

Another thing I would like to mention common in all three pages is my handwriting. I will confess that I don’t think my handwriting is ugly, though some days are worse than others. BUT when it comes to writing with markers, I find that I generally don’t really like how they look, because that’s when I try to do some fancy joined-lettering in an attempt to make it look nice and just ending up botching up the whole thing. In these three pages, I consciously tried not to do that, though it was simply because it’s easier to write them as I would normally (I don’t have to think much), rather than me wanting to not ruin the page. If you are like me, my advice is to just go with your own handwriting! Unless of course you have mastered some sort of fancy lettering, than please ignore me.

Hope you enjoyed this look at my recent pages. It’s nice to have something to share again. 🙂

November’s Instagram 2015

Here’s another sharing of my monthly craft related instagram posts! I didn’t do any sharing on for the months of September and October because there wasn’t any to share, or I ended up sharing the photos on the blog. You can find the previous instagram sharing here.

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A small stamp carved out of a flag eraser. Was feeling restless so just did something randomly without any planning and ended up with a wonky grid design. I printed the stamp onto my art journal as an all over pattern to see how it looks, as inspired by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

I seemed to have lost the original photo for the above post from my phone, so putting in an embedded photo from Instagram. This was a whimsical art piece, inspired by one of Jennibellie’s old videos, whose image was floating in my mind for the longest time. I stamped the “hair” using a round found object, then sketched in the face with colour pencils and randomly filled the hair circles with colour. The funny thing about this happened the next day when I looked at it, and I realised that the colours I picked for the hair was almost exactly the colours of the Tsum Tsum game title screen, and that the face strongly reminds me of buddha. Odd combination, but this sudden realisation made the work more significant for me.

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This is an art journal page insert made from a TCW + Balzer designs stencil called “Funky Tags”. I stenciled the shapes onto some painted patterned paper, cut them out and then arrange them in this pattern. This was a result of me getting excited that TCW followed me on Instagram, and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer herself commented on my previous flag eraser stamp post. I am also proud to say that this photo is also featured on Julie’s monthly newsletter from her blog Balzer designs. Such a pleasant surprise!

That’s all for last month’s instagram photos! That’s quite a lot considering the 2 weeks of deadlines and preparations of exams in school. I guess that’s also why I share more because each completed work is something I really like when I specially take the time out to work on them or when they are much needed break from everything else. Thanks for stopping by!

More Mobile Art

Scrolling through my phone gallery and found more mobile art that I drew/doodled in the past couple of months. Just like the last ones I posted, these were drawn on my mobile phone using the Sketchbook app and I feel like I ought to have a new section just on mobile art (seriously considering)! Most of them I did while I was bored or really restless so there isn’t any theme here except that I was trying to go for a background pattern kind of look.

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I didn’t mark the photos with “My Craft Diary”, though lately I have been rather forgetful at doing that. A lot of people do mark their photos with their name or logo or something, but I do wonder if there is really a need to do so. Hmm. Anyway, these are unmarked because I’m allowing them to be used freely! So you can save them and do something with them, but be sure to let me know what you did with them in the comments below!! I have the tendency to use my mobile drawings as my Whatsapp background picture but of course there are other uses for them I imagine. And another hint: rotate the image! I tried rotating earlier and they just look so different that way.

Lastly, a quote I wrote out as well, attempting rainbow colour shifting digitally. This was first seen (and inspired by) Motivational Monday from Amy Tangerine. Not a fantastic attempt, but it’s kind of cool. I think.

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Quote is by Paulo Coelho.

Ponderings: In love with astrophotography

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My amateur astrophotography of the night sky in month of April at the equator. Photo is edited to maximise contrast. You might need to click to see more details and increase screen brightness a little :p

So I really really really couldn’t restrain myself. You know those moment which makes you want to squeal and jump and exclaim and in awe all at the same time? That’s what astrophotography does to me sometimes, especially when the colours call out to me like a piece of art.

Astronomony Photo of the Day has been my homepage for quite some time now, though I don’t always have the time to look at the photo and captions in detail when I open my internet browser. I also have the habit of not closing my browser, but just letting my computer go to sleep, so there are days where I miss APOD completely. But this APOD is so amazing I really wanted to share it! (Click the link, I swear you will not regret it!!)

It’s been a long time since I have carefully looked at the sky. We have been having haze here for more than a month, and it has been hazy every night, blocking out the dim light of the stars. It’s just such a waste and pity because Saturn is in the sky at night, but it’s hard to spot it in the haze. Looking at the photos make me miss stargazing. I’m just an amateur stargazer or astronomer if you would, and I don’t own any telescopes. I am lucky however, that my school organises mass stargazing sessions with telescopes so at least I get the opportunity to stargaze with telescopes every now and then. One day, I hope to travel to some place and really stargaze, in a place where there is minimal light pollution.

I am thinking of using photos from APOD for personal projects, which doesn’t infringe the copyright. I’m not too sure what yet, but I’m saving this photo for the squealy feeling it gives me (and I probably need a better word for that). You can find more APOD photos here, just remember to check the usage rights if you are planning to use them in any projects. I shall not be held liable for any misuse!

Inspired by Jane Davenport

Art Journal page inspired by Jane Davenport
Art Journal page inspired by Jane Davenport

As crafters, we are always inspired by something or someone. For me, most of my creative inspiration comes from YouTube, in which I curate my subscription to follow people who constantly inspire me. I think that is very important, because when you are in need of a creative fix, you won’t be stuck watching videos that don’t engage with the creative part of your mind. Even though I believe that it’s good to have more and varied sources of inspiration (following people with different artistic style and yet still calls out to you for example), I also believe it is equally important to simplify: Don’t just mindlessly absorb everything, but pick only those you really enjoy.

Sometimes though I don’t get enough creative fix from my subscription, because I’m devouring content faster than new content uploads. Hence I would browse the home page, where YouTube selects recommended video based on your video watching history. Watching some of this recommended videos once in a while can a rather refreshing change and might also expose you to new channels that you might want to subscribe.

Today’s post in all about being inspired by Jane Davenport. I do enjoy her style quite a bit, which is beautiful but she is not someone I follow because she’s a art supply junkie, and her method of using many different specific art supplies don’t really resonate with me because I don’t have half the things she uses. But nevertheless, watching her videos once in a while is still enjoyable and rewarding.

This is the video that I was inspired by, in which Jane Davenport uses inktense and gesso to create soft pastel looking yet bright colours. My entire page is done using the particular technique, using mostly my inktense blocks and watercolour pencils. I find that the Inktense blocks gives brighter and more intense colours when mixed with gesso, while watercolour pencils are much lighter and more pastel-y. It could be the amount of pigment that is applied to the page though, because my watercolour pencils are the normal craft grade ones from Staedtler. But other wise, the outcome is rather similar. (Compare the clouds which were done with Inktense, and the blue lines on the dress which were done with watercolour pencils.)

I used the same technique with my Neocolor II crayons as well just to see how the colours will look and how they compare with these two watersoluble medias. The results are pretty similar as well. Moral of the story is this: try new techniques you learn with a variety of similar mediums! (In this case, it would be watersoluble media.)

Rethinking your supplies

If you have noticed through this blog, watercolour is one of the most go-to medium I use, because it’s quick to set up and easy to clean up. All I need to do it to open the lid to my pan watercolours, uncap my water brush and voila, I can do whatever I want. And to clean up, I just need to scribble off the paint on my waterbrush somewhere and then leave the watercolour pans to dry.

I own a basic set of Reeves’ watercolour, with just 12 colours. Which doesn’t really matter to me because I can mix my own colours, and I’m getting better at mixing the colours I want. (It’s also a good way to force myself to learn colour mixing through trial and error and practicing.) But recently, I’ve been getting into a dilemma, for while I can mix almost any colours under the sun with my watercolours, I am unable mix every shade under the sun. I find that with my set of watercolours, I am unable to mix bright colours, something that I am rather attracted to right now from other artists such as Amy Tangerine and Wilna Furstenberg. I really tried, but I can’t seem to mix the bright colours that would resonate with my heart. Both of them uses pan watercolour too, and judging from the pictures I see of their watercolour, their pans originally comes in those bright colours. And so, these couple of days I have been contemplating getting a set of watercolour that has these bright colours and wondering where best to get them.

But earlier today, I had a serendipitous moment. I pulled out my incomplete scrapbook page from last week (I often leave them half complete when I feel like things are not going smoothly or when I get tired), and was intending to work on the title. It’s the last element to be added to my page, and I was contemplating between hand stitching or watercolour scripting but decided on watercolour in the end because as I said above, it’s a lot easier and more convenient. It’s a nice pastel paper from one of Dear Lizzy’s old collection, and I wanted a colour that would match it.

And so I set about mixing a teal green like colour between my blues and greens, but again, couldn’t get the right shade I want. Feeling frustrated and puzzled, I thought to myself why it is so difficult to mix a teal with my watercolours when I don’t have that much of a problem with my inktense blocks? And *ding* there comes my serendipitous moment – I can mix bright colours with my inktense!! It’s so simple I’m hitting my head as to why I didn’t think of it earlier. And so, I took out my inktense block and started mixing, and the title was done just a little while after it.

So learn from my mistake! The point here is, I guess, to have a better grasp of your supply, and that’s it’s always ok to mix supplies around. In this case, watercolours and inktense are both wet media that can work together or in place of each other. And thus lesson learnt now! That there are other medias that I already own that allows me to mix my bright colours. And also feeling happy now that I can do that. ^^

Ponderings: Mood change

It’s funny how our emotions can change in a matter of minutes isn’t it? One minute I will feeling happy topped with all the inner squeals and next minute I find myself filling low and empty all over again. When people ask if I like dawn or dusk better, I like to reply dusk, because I like to end the day on a high note than to start the day on one, because there is a lot of time and opportunities after dawn for things to screw up the day.

I had intended to post this traveller’s notebook spread on Instagram, but had scrolled through my Instagram feed first. Ever since I’ve been adding people within my social circle on Instagram, I’ve found myself much more self conscious of the things I’ve posted because people I know would see them. Silly I know, but I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m completely comfortable with sharing my true self with the people I know than the strangers I don’t. 

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A spread from my Midori Traveller's notebook. Each page are done on separate days.

The spread features heavily on watercolour scripting and I’m proud to say that I have reached the stage of liking the way I script my phrases after the down beginner’s phase where things don’t turn out the way you imagined it. I attempted a rainbow hue on the right page.. only to find out after I’ve started that I’ve begun with the wrong colour. But I made it work around the idea by following the colour wheel. Pleased to day that the colour transition improved as I scripted too so that’s definitely a new skill to add to my watercolour scripting.

Talking about crafting and colours made me spirits lift again. I find it odd how my emotions change so easily, but I’m not complaining, as long as I still have something to depend on to lift myself up again. Does crafting means more to you than just crafting too?