Sunday 19 June 2016

My Woodland Muse, Sketchbook Cover by Julie Ann

Hello Everyone! I still have to keep pinching myself to check that I'm not dreaming and that I'm really here at The Calico Craft Parts blog having so much fun! This is my second project and it's a very simple one. 

Do you have a Muse? A being, real or imaginary, who inspires you to create? If you do, you might find that she sometimes goes 'walkabout' and leaves you feeling uninspired! I've decided to try to evoke my muse, Daphne, by creating an image of her in her natural habitat on the front of my sketchbook!

I like to take a sketchbook with me when I walk in the woods so that I can capture the shapes of roots, leaves and branches and sometimes I hear Daphne whispering in the leaves or in the form of a little brook burbling at my side, hinting at all sorts of ideas for projects!

I wanted to evoke that woodland mood every time I opened my sketchbook for inspiration so I painted a sheet of card with a range of greens, applying the acrylic paint with a credit card and a brayer to give texture and a 'random' feel - this was my 'master board'. I stamped these trees and some script over the top, using acrylic paint rather than ink. I wanted an impression of shadows, sunlight and branches. I simply cut it to fit the front of the book and stuck it in place with a strong, white multi-purpose glue, creating a border cut from the same 'master-board'.

Now for the fun part - creating Daphne! I used one of the wood oval shapes and stuck a little hand-drawn face onto it. I used my own art-work, but an image from the internet, re-sized to fit would be just as effective - when you see your muse's face, you'll recognise her! I formed her body from two baroque decorative corners. As you can see, I snapped off the ends of the top one and added them to the skirt to give it a flare. I gave her wings - I want my Daphne to fly on the wings of pure imagination - unlike her mythological namesake who was transformed into a laurel and rooted to the ground!

 I drew her some legs and feet and positioned her little toes on the edge of one of those branches ready to take off.

Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish Daphne from the trees all around her, so it's hardly surprising that a little wren perches on her hand and a butterfly forms her sash. I didn't want to add too much colour because I wanted her to resemble the myth of Daphne, at the point of transformation by her father into a laurel as she fled Apollo's advances: I added just a hint of neutral acrylic paint and a touch of gilding paste to her wings and skirt. The suggestion of lace and buttons on the bodice of her dress is achieved with the point of a cocktail stick, dipped in white acrylic paint.

I like to add  a little extra colour with water-colour pencils once the face is in place, and a touch of fluid matt medium forms a protective glaze. To create the little wren's eye, I dipped the tip of a cocktail stick into first some white paint, carefully applied it to the little eye socket and then added some black over it. I added just a touch of brown acrylic to his body, but these shapes have such a natural, woody finish, less is more if you want to create a woodland atmosphere. I used some antlers from one of the stags to make Daphne a true Spirit of the Woods.

Daphne stands on a branch at the entrance to the forest. Scrabble letters, touched with a hint of brown acrylic and gilder's paste are strung across the branches to spell out the word FOREST. It's difficult to capture how the gilder's paste glimmers in the sunlight, but I think you might just be able to glimpse this on the right hand edge of her leafy skirt.

Thank You so much for dropping by today and meeting my Woodland Muse. I hope if you know your Muse already, you will be inspired by her and that - if not - today might be the day that you meet!

Calico Craft Parts Used
Mini Wood Shapes (oval)
Baroque Corners
Antlers from Stag
Scrabble Tiles

Julie Ann xx


  1. Daphne and her background are gorgeous! hope you keep her dry when you take her walking and sketching - whatever happened to summer?!

  2. Love this clever use of the craft parts Julie Ann xx

  3. Julie, loved your process and your Daphne surely does fly on the wings of imagination!!

  4. Daphne has Roots & Wings {+ Antlers!} as we all require...thank you so much for ushering her into my imagination. She can visit whenever she likes!

  5. Amazing Daphne! Her great natural appearance and her costume is gorgeous. The background and your story is so fun. I love the page. My muse is very whim lol. xx

  6. This is wonderful Julie Ann, I love the background and the face and legs you have created,

    Lucy x

  7. Thank you so much for the comments Helen, Brenda,Kim, Etsuko, Heather and Lucy. I really appreciate your support. Let's hope we can enjoy some more sunshine here in the UK and I can take Daphne sketching in the woods soon. xx

  8. Such an original and creative way to use those corners - your imagination takes us on such wonderful journeys. I love your forest muse and the stamped background and her beautiful gentle spirit.
    Alison x

  9. oh Julie Ann!!! You never disappoint! She is just wonderful!! Love your forest sprite- such a clever use of calico's parts!! xx