Sunday, 5 June 2016

My Reality - Julie Ann Lee

Hello Julie Ann here! I'm happy and excited to be introducing my first blog post as a member of the Calico Craft Parts Design Team. Zuzu and her very talented 'teamies' have made me feel so welcome, and what an honour it is to be given an opportunity to work with these beautifully crafted art parts! My first project is inspired by some Calico birds and beasts and the artist and icon - Frida Kahlo! Looking at the magnificent Calico Stags and Running Buck, I was reminded of a portrait of Frida's called 'The Wounded Deer', which you can read about here.

Frida once said 'I never paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality', so in this little 5" x 5" reversed canvas I've de-constructed some Calico creatures - I promise no wildlife was actually harmed in the process - and I've made a Frida style reality!

In Frida's self-portrait a woman and a deer merge to form a strange hybrid within a mysterious forest - majestic, yet vulnerable and in pain. Much as I understand Frida's desire to express her mental and physical agony through Art, I wanted something more playful so I focused on the grace and the freedom of the Deer before it becomes the hunter's prey.

I used the antlers from the Stag, style 9; an oval from the mini wood shapes and the body of a Running Buck along with some acrylic paints and some water-colour pencils to create a Frida/Deer!

My canvas started out like this, with plaster wrap moulded to form tree trunks and roots. I gave the whole canvas a coat of Gesso, allowing the plaster wrap to dry for around 24 hours before applying the Gesso. It's very important when working with reversed canvases to prime the inside section with Gesso too, as this will not have been prepared.

I went to town with layering all kinds of media over my canvas once the Gesso dried. I sprayed with diluted acrylics in shades of blues and greens; added gold crackle and gilding paste and did some mark making to suggest trees and leaves. My background inside the canvas is created using a mask and acrylic paint on tissue, which I attached using Fluid Matte Medium. The birds, both around the frame and inside the canvas, are from a sheet of mini Garden Birds decorated with bright colours to make them more exotic; but Calico also produce a sheet of exotic birds.The Calico Craft Parts take acrylic paint really well and it's a joy to paint on them.

In my miniature portrait of Frida, she looks over her shoulder, sensitive to any unusual sounds. Sorry, and it did feel a bit cruel doing this, but I snapped off those antlers from Stag, Style 9, covering the Running Buck's head with the oval to form Frida's face. I was surprised at how easy it was to adapt the art parts and how cleanly you can make a break without spoiling the look of your 'hybrid' creature! There's part of a vine flourish used inside the canvas too!

To create more of a 'forest floor' feel, I added some moss to the grass taken from 
Stag Style 9...

 and created little letter tiles using a mini stamp set, adding Frida's words, 'My Reality'.

I had so much fun creating this project. It involved lots of snapping and sticking which Calico Craft Parts stood up to brilliantly. There is such a variety of flora and fauna on offer from Calico Craft Parts I hope I've triggered some ideas of mythical creatures or alternative realities for you to explore. Have a wonderful, creative day, 
 Julie Ann x.
Running Buck, style 7, smallest size
Stag Style 9, smallest size
Mini Wood Shapes, Garden Birds
Mini Wood Plaques Ovals
Vine Flourish


  1. Oh yes Julie , there are really so very many wonderful parts to fall in love with, over at Calico Craft , and your Frida inspired canvas is showing wonderfully how to mix and match them all.
    I love your fantasy , and your always amazing stories, and this one takes me long inside mind`s nooks and crannies ,where all can happen,- and makes me poems on. xxx

  2. Inspired and inspiring, Julie Ann - again you draw us into the world of the creation, firing the imagination and bringing that glorious textured woodland glade singing into life. I love your reworked Stag. It's always wonderful to enter your reality!
    Alison x

  3. It is wonderful hearing your process to create this imaginative and gorgeous piece! xo

  4. Welcome Julie Ann - this is gorgeous! as always, love the story that goes with it.

  5. Awww I love the process Julie! You really to this to a wonderfully imagined story! The frame re-do I really love seeing!

  6. Just left a long comment and it seems to have evaporated. I think that this is a wonderful piece Julie Ann. All the anxiety, fragility and vulnerability is cleverly transformed into an exciting and beautiful world of magic. You are so clever to encapsulate all these fabulous elements together and allow us into your fantasy world. Congrats on joining the design team, they are very lucky to have you. Xx

  7. I just love everything you create Julie Lee! I already knew this was beautiful at first sight on Facebook. And then to read your meanings behind the work step by step... well.. it is priceless! Thank you for sharing! Love B:)

  8. Congratulations Julie Ann, what a fabulous piece of artwork. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was your work. You have such a unique style which I admire enormously along with your story telling, you have such an incredible way of with words. x

  9. Calico is lucky to have you Julie Ann, this first piece is so inspiring, arty fun and imaginative, love it to pieces!!

  10. Beautifully crafted! Congratulations to you!

  11. So beautiful and inspiring Julie Ann! I love your Frida! xxx

  12. What a great interpretation of the Frida/Deer theme, Julie! And I love the texture and colours on that frame! xx

  13. Thank You so much for these lovely supportive comments on my first design post with the Calico Craft Parts team. I really appreciate your kindness and am looking forward to completing the next project!:)

  14. Absolutely brilliant Julie Ann! Chrisx

  15. This is wonderful Julie Ann, I love your frida face complete with iconic eyebrows! Love the way you did the magical trees in the background,

    Lucy x