Sunday 18 June 2017

In the Artist's Studio, a home for brushes by Julie Ann

Hello Everyone! Mondays at Calico are my favourite day of the week these days and today I'm sharing an idea for keeping my favourite brushes in one place on my art table. Please follow me as we step into the studio of Leonardo, the creative cat. He's allowing us a sneaky peek of a special commission...

for his illustrious patron, Lady Ava, the Owl and her little daughter, Luna.

 I'm always finding that my fine brushes and tiny, stencil brushes have slipped down deep in the container behind the larger brushes and brayers - just when I need them quickly. It struck me that if I used one of the  Calico Block Style, wide houses minus the roof, I could create them the perfect home, their own mini studio, where I would always be able to find them!

You can quickly transform Calico house kits with either Gesso and Paint, or the design paper of your choice.

I like to create my own papers, using paints, stamps, stencils and mark making. For this project I chose a stamp with a dictionary definition of 'Artist' on it. For smooth results, I stick the paper with a regular gel matte medium and run a sponge wall-paper roller over it to ensure that there are no air bubbles.

If you cut to just a little wider than the house kit pieces, you can file away excess paper with a nail file, or sand-paper glued to a coffee stirrer. Always make sure your paper is firmly fixed and absolutely dry before sanding the edges.

When my background is in place, I can experiment with faces I've drawn,matching them up to different bodies - I love this part, as my imagination really starts to spark. Placing Leonardo's head on this rather jaunty Elizabethan gentleman's body instantly suggested to me an artist surveying his subject. All he needed was a paintbrush sketched in!

This combination suggested a reason for the commission - a mother and daughter portrait!

I decided to give my brush studio some legs from these letter beads, filling in the holes either side with pearls.

As the project progresses, I like to fix it together temporarily to see how the colours and elements are working together. The mini doors and windows from the sheet on my table looked so effective just as they were and they blended so well with Leonardo's doublet that I decided to keep the natural wood.

Even though, Leonardo is but a cat, his artistry gives him wings! I gave his little MDF wing the Renaissance look with just a spot of gilding and some thick gold embossing along the edge.

I wonder if Ava is happy with the likeness Leonardo created? I'm hoping that the inspirational messages will encourage me to spread my own wings artistically and to find new stories to tell! Have a wonderful creative time of arty adventures until we meet again, here at Calico in 2 weeks' time!

Calico Craft Parts used in this Project
Block Style Wide House, medium
Sheet of Tiny MDF Windows and Doors
Sheet of MDF Wings, style 1


  1. Love your brush pot, Leonardo and his subjects are great!

  2. A wonderful piece of art Julie Ann and such a great idea for your brushes! Love it! x

  3. I love to read your stories Julie, they always takes me to special places and stories of the past. Your Leonardo, reminding me so much of the big Rembrandt ,is such one figure, taking me to paintings and stories read !! Such a wonderful and artistic home for your tiny brushes !!
    Dorthe xxx

  4. Thank You so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely comments, Helen, Jennie and Dorthe. xxx

  5. My owl loving jaw dropped! I need one of these and love it to bits! You always take my breath with your wondrous creations! Hugs, Autumn

  6. Such a clever idea to use one of those houses as an art studio storage container... and who else to grace the front than feline Leonardo. What a splendid doublet (exactly what I had to avoid having to make for my tavern dolls!). I love that you left the doors and windows in the original wood - I think they look fabulous against the many-layered background papers. Wonderful!
    Alison x

  7. Thank You so much, Alison. I don't think I'd care to make a doublet like that either! Where would you begin? I think what you did with the tavern dolls was amazing, though! xx

  8. This is fabulous, Julie Ann, I love Leonardo Cat, what an imaginative idea for brushes!

    Lucy x