September Newsletter

 
 

Hi there, and welcome to the September edition of my Imaginarium!

I hope that my newsletters took your mind away from all the horrors 2020 threw onto our heads. This year has been terrible. But we’re creative folk, we tend to be more resilient, and we find ways to improve our dire situations. Enough with the doom and gloom, let’s jump right into it.

My exhibition is also coming to an end this month, and if you haven’t had a look yet, you’ll have until 22 September (Central African Time). This exhibition was the first of many I’ll be doing, and it’ll be part of a design package available on my website. So, if you are struggling to get gallery representation, you can exhibit online in my gallery. If you’re interested in learning more, drop me a mail, and we can get chatting.

In the meantime, you can scan the QR code in the image below to give my exhibition another browse:

Now for some DIY

This is something I’ve been dying to try for ever: making my own quill pen. There is something wonderfully magical about a hand-written letter and the idea that you used an elegant pen instead of humble old Ball Point, makes it so much more special. Over the years I’ve collected a few feathers, and I have the perfect one for the task ahead.

All you’ll need is a sharp knife, a large feather of your choice and some ink. It is important to understand the mechanisms of a fountain pen before making a quill. While it may be as simple as just dipping the feather into some ink and writing, you’ll find it difficult to control the flow and amount of ink that lands on the paper. 

A fountain pen consists of a reservoir, to store the ink, a feed, which is a tube with three channels running down its side, a metal nib for writing and a collector just below the nib that regulates the flow of ink.

Quills work on a similar principle, but much more simplistic. Feathers have hollow shafts that will replace the reservoir and feed part of the pen. If you look closely at a fountain pen, you’ll see that the nib splits open if you apply light pressure to it, this gives the lettering that beautiful thick and thin lines in calligraphy.

This effect can be achieved with a quill pen if you cut it just right. I’ve made an instructional template to guide you through the process, and you can download it here:

How to make your own Quill Pen

 

Now that I have my quill pen, I just have to learn calligraphy! Here is an excellent place to start:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXp_-n0x9yg

Seeing that next month is Halloween, let’s get into the erm, spirit of things. (#iregretnothing) with the cabinet of curiosity. What is a cabinet of curiosity, actually?

Throughout history, man’s fascination with death led to macabre collections of specimens deemed as unusual or curious. It probably has to do with our innate fascination with collecting things. Nowadays we have less creepy things to keep in our drawers, but before time as we know it, stones, skulls, animal hides and sticks were most likely the preferred brand.

As humans became more sophisticated and developed a need to record findings, books were made containing anatomical, and botanical diagrams with information about the specimens. Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’ Historia Naturale is the perfect example of journaling this information. He was known as an apothecary and dedicated an entire room, to his work. The Smithsonian Museum digitised Ferrante’s journals, and you can view it here:

https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/183177#page/5/mode/1up

A cabinet of curiosity was a sort of permanent exhibition and comprised mainly of artificialia, naturalia, exotica and scientifica. Artificialia were mostly antiques or artworks, some of which were artificially modified. A perfect example would be clay sculptures from ancient civilizations. Naturalia included creatures with deformities, such as two-headed cow foetuses. It was also the stuff made of nightmares: questionable finds such as the Fiji Mermaid, Chimera or other creatures from folklore. Exotica was reserved for plants and animals that were considered exotic, such as taxidermied birds from unknown parts of the world. Scientifica was more in line with technology or medicines, but with artistic flair. Instruments such as the celestial globe were functional as well as work of art. Each of the biological specimens was preserved in jars or set behind glass in viewing cabinets.

While the practice has gone out of fashion, you can still have a glimpse at them here:

https://listverse.com/2016/07/25/10-marvelous-cabinets-of-curiosities/

Over the years I’ve collected a modest amount of curiosities, all of them small enough to fit in a vintage suitcase. My collection comprises of a few moths, a hatchling skeleton (my saddest find), a bee-like beetle, interesting stones, twigs, leaves and enough feathers to build a giant bird. One day I’ll arrange them and label them properly in glass display.

Are you a collector of something weird and wonderful?

With October approaching, it’s time to dust off the pen and ink supplies again. Inktober is the only time I use ink of any kind in my artworks, and it’s been a tremendous help in improving my pen skills. When I joined the challenge a couple of years ago, I merely doodled on my hands with my favourite pens, but over the years I’ve become more ambitious, ranging from leaves to postcard-sized artworks. This year I’m upscaling to A5 and adding more detail. #nopressure! Needless to say, I’ll be participating in Jake Parker’s annual October ink-fest and Drawlloween as well. But I’m planning to add my spin on it with Ink’oween. My secret weapon for getting through Inktober is to get a head-start by subscribing to the official newsletter, which means I get the prompt list early, with enough time to do another challenge like Mab Graves’ Drawlloween Club.

If you’re keen on joining in on the ink fun, you can subscribe to Jake’s newsletter here:

https://inktober.com/emaillist

He has some amazing resources to help you improve your inking skills.

For my challenge, I’ve dubbed Ink’oween, I’ve chosen 13 Halloween-related prompts, which I will use to replace 13 of the Inktober prompts with. Therefore, I’ll be drawing 18 artworks from the official Inktober prompt list and 13 of my own. I’ll be using #inkoween as a tag and if you’re participating, it would be glorious if you could use it as well.

Download my Ink’oween prompt list here.

Thank you for reading my little newsletter. I sincerely hope it has been helpful and inspirational to you.

I’ve kept this edition concise because I have so much planned for next month, that I hardly know where to start. It will be filled to the brim with all things Halloween! I’ll share amazing crafts, recipes, my top picks for films and so much more!

Until then, have a spectacular September!

Lisa

August Newsletter

 
 

Hi there,

Welcome to the August edition of my Imaginarium! I’m going full Goth with everything black: ebony, crow, midnight, ink, raven, oil, onyx, pitch, jet black, obsidian, coal, metal, and the darker-than-your-soul Black 3.0. I’m also looking into ways to further your art career with some helpful resources.

There isn’t a guaranteed formula to follow when it comes to being a successful artist. A portion of it is hard work, while the rest is loads of planning and a dash of luck. Sometimes it seems that it’s all about hitting the right trends at precisely the right time and how much money you have to invest in it. There are numerous courses to help you manage your art business, but unfortunately, they cost money and time. But on the upside, there are plenty of free resources that help immensely, and by applying yourself bit-by-bit, you can manage a fairly decent career.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have mentors, and not many people are willing to share their secrets. It’s only natural to look to other artists who managed to grow their careers and try to learn a few tips from them. I’ve come across a few of them who do not shy away from helping other artists, and their insights have been life-saving. I’ve rounded up my top picks:

https://www.theartistnextlevel.com/

https://beautifulbizarre.net/mentorme/

https://www.artworkarchive.com/

https://rafiandklee.com/videos-and-more/

If you’re looking for places to sell your art, the best place to start is with local markets or art fairs. You could also enter art competitions, but success isn’t always guaranteed. Keep an eye out for art competitions and open calls for exhibitions, and you never know which one can open the right doors for you.

Marketing also plays a significant role in promoting your art and investing in a professionally designed website or online portfolio will help you establish your brand as an artist. By knowing how SEO and Google Adwords work, is also beneficial once you start to market your art seriously. If you are in the market for a website, I highly recommend o5 Webdesign and Auxilium Haus.

https://www.o5webdesign.com/

https://auxiliumhaus.com/

Brushing up on business 101 is also a great way to boost your entrepreneurial skills:

https://www.udemy.com/

https://www.oxfordhomestudy.com/courses/business-studies-online/free-business-course-online

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/money-management/free-courses

Don’t forget to have fun with it. Your art career is an extension of your soul and something that should bring you endless joy. It’s important to remember to take it easy occasionally and to feed your creativity with things that you enjoy. Just for fun, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can sharpen your magic skills by enrolling at Hogwarts:

http://www.hogwartsishere.com/

If you need an amazing soundtrack to go with your studies, I highly recommend Miracle Forest:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC96hMEDl5yguAbHVmF1WvnA

Don’t you hate it when your favourite black clothes start to fade into that horrible brownish-charcoal oblivion? Black never seems dark enough, and I continuously find myself painting more layers on an artwork or increasing the contrast and shadows in Photoshop. Scientists discovered the blackest shade: Vantablack. It’s so dark, absorbing 99.995% of light, giving the object covered by it the appearance of a gaping hole. But it’s quite fragile and impractical for everyday use. There’s also an issue with acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor, who bought the patent and therefore no one else is allowed to paint with the pigment. This, of course, sparked outrage and prompted a bitter feud between himself and fellow British artist Stuart Semple. You can read more about the fantastic Vantablack and the dispute between the two rivals here:

https://www.dezeen.com/2019/09/24/blackest-black-mit-material-news-vantablack/

In short, Stuart made new colours that he banned Anish from using, and the fight continued. What does this mean for those of us who want to use the blackest shade on the market? Even if we get our hands on Vantablack, lawsuits will prevent us from using it and chances are that it’ll ruin our artworks are rather significantly. Then Stuart made Black V1.0. Sure, it’s not as dark as its predecessor, but it came pretty close at 98 – 99% light absorption. And the best part: its non-toxic, acrylic, smells like cherries and can be used as regular paint. It’s also not too expensive. He’s since perfected the formula with Black 2.0 and recently Black 3.0. Finally, a shade as dark as my soul! Check it out for yourself, and let me know if you’d use 3.0 or any of your projects. But be aware, due to its high light absorption, there is a fire risk:

https://culturehustle.com/collections/black/products/black-3-0-the-worlds-blackest-black-acrylic-paint-150ml

 

When it comes to illustration, it’s apparent that I prefer graphite pencils, sure, they might not be as dark as charcoal, but I love their simplicity, and I don’t like getting my hands full of charcoal smears. To achieve a decent shade of dark contrast, I use the HB 0.5 leads in my mechanical pencil. I opt for the H leads when I want to create lighter and more delicate lines. My mechanical pencil does all the darkest parts in my drawings, and for larger areas, I go in with my Derwent 3B pencil. When I paint with black, I use it straight from the tube, unless I’m mixing different colours.

One thing I’d love to try is drawing on a black canvas, which is readily available at art shops, and the effect of creating something that contrasted is breathtaking. Have you ever tried drawing or painting on a black canvas or paper? If not, here are some great tutorials to get you started:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8E9ZU7VGeE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klWXHq7vOn8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z350mfBU7PQ

Black clothing is just as versatile when it comes to making art: it doesn’t show the paint as much. But there is one huge drawback: pet hair! I look like a walking fur coat thanks to my cat, and she prefers lounging on my darker clothes. I go through lint rollers like you cannot believe. But stop wearing black? Never! Finding black garments in a country that is known for vibrant and sunny colours is not easy, I still get weird looks in certain areas when I venture out, so I’ve opted for lighter colours such as greys and dark blues when I need to blend in. If you’re someone who loves a darker aesthetic, check out these stores for some inspiration:

https://us.killstar.com/?redirect=true

http://www.deviantsouth.co.za/117-shirts-tops

https://www.darkfashionclothing.com/

https://www.thedarkstore.com/en/

If you know of any places that sell unusual black wares and attire, please let me know!

One thing I don’t see often is black flowers, and they’re not as well-known. I scoured the net for some beautifully dark plants:

• Queen of the Night Tulip: They bloom in spring and are more of a velvety purple than black. They’re not too hard to maintain and can withstand colder climates. https://www.gardenia.net/plant/tulipa-queen-of-night-single-late-tulip

• Hellebore: They’re poisonous, which adds to their mystery, but they’re evergreen and will grace your garden all-year-round. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/hellebore/growing-hellebores.htm

• Bat Orchid: An exotic orchid that resembles a bat in motion is perfect for any garden. They do require extra love and care, but the result is spectacular. https://www.easytogrowbulbs.com/collections/tacca

• Black Pansy: Not only are they easy to grow, but they are also edible. https://www.clickandgrow.com/blogs/news/the-wonderful-world-of-black-pansies

• Cranesbill Geranium: Also known as Black Widow Geranium grows in dark, damp spots. http://www.plantgenesis.co.uk/geranium-phaeum-black-widow-dusky-cranesbill-hardy-perennial-seeds-c2x19127609

• Spanish Moss: Although its seen as a hindrance, it adds an eerie beauty to any tree it grows upon. It makes the perfect indoor hanging plant. https://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-spanish-moss/

• Black Beauty Elderberry: With its dark leaves, it adds just the right kind of vibe to a garden, even though the flowers are pink. https://plantaddicts.com/black-beauty-elderberry

There are so many more that I haven’t mentioned above, but these are my top picks.

Looking for bio-degradable and environmentally friendly supplies can be arduous and expensive. But it doesn’t hurt to experiment at home with ingredients you might already have. I’ve started by making my ink from a few simple elements to practice calligraphy and ink drawing.

Download My Ink Recipe Here

Not sure which shade of black to choose for the day? You can download the perfect reading companion here, with the names of various shades of black:

Download The Shades of Black Bookmark Here

Thank you for reading and please share with your art-minded friends. They can also subscribe to my newsletter here:

https://tinyletter.com/LisaNightshade

Until next month, have a perfect August!

Lisa

 

Flower Decay

Flower Decay

Simple wildflowers and garden weeds are in my opinion just as breathtaking as any rose or designer boutonniere. You’ll find them growing happily among my succulents and geraniums and I treasure them equally. Outdated telephone books are crammed with dried flowers and leaves and envelopes burst at the seams with feathers and twigs. These are my tiny treasures. I love nature in all its uncomplicatedness. It doesn’t have to be flashy, it should just exist.

Flower Decay is a eulogy in paint of one of the flowers in my decaying posy. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out, so I decided to paint one of them instead. Not all of them looked withered enough, except for one pink little Daisy. The texture seemed soft, but was brittle and easily crumbled upon touch. Preserving it seemed an impossible task, so I decided to paint it instead.

It is a simple speed-painting of the decayed flower and a tree branch floating on a blank canvas. I didn’t capture too much detail and focused instead on the colours. Because I usually work in greyscale, it felt important to me to capture the feeling of the colours of the flower in this state of decay, rather than focusing on form.

I’m not one for drawing or painting conventional beauty; I find beauty in decomposition moving and profound. Just as the seasons change, so do all living things transform throughout their fleeting existence.

”Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider, is chaos to the fly” – Morticia Addams

July Newsletter

 
 

Hi there,

Welcome to my July Imaginarium!

If you’re not quite sure how to create an invoice for your art, look no further, I’ve got a template and some tips to help you. Also in this edition are my trusty DIY’s and amazing internet finds.

Without further ado, let’s get creative!

If you’re posting your art online, you’ll probably wonder if anyone can steal your images and sell them behind your back. Online theft happens much too often to unsuspecting artists, the legal costs can be exorbitant, and the process excruciatingly long. The best way to avoid online theft, it not to post anything, which kind of defeats the object. You could paste watermarks all over your image, but criminals can find ways to remove them. The other option is to post smaller images, to make it nearly impossible for them to enlarge it. The best way to do that is to add your art into a mock-up such as on a wall, surrounded by furniture.

There are a few Apps out there when it comes to showcasing your art on virtual walls. Some are free, while others have a monthly subscription. It works very well to see how your art will look in someone’s living room, or in a frame. But all of them are modern-looking and I haven’t found one with a Victorian flair. So I made my own template.

If you’re a Photoshop user, this template will be so much fun to work with. It’s fully customizable and you can move objects around to suit your ideal Victorian setting. You don’t have to install a new font, I’ve kept it simple with dear old Calibri. The wall, frames, floor and chair are all smart objects and you can scale them, change their colour or adjust their shapes if you want to.

If you don’t have Photoshop, I’ve made a Microsoft Word version as well. It’s a bit more limited, but you can still use it fairly well. The only snag is saving the image. You’ll have to either export it as a PDF file or print a screenshot onto an editing app on your computer / laptop. I’ve also included additional walls and chairs in various colours for you to replace the existing ones. This is the first time I’ve made a wall art template this format, so please let me know how it turned out.

Get Your Template Here

If you’re already selling your art, you’ll probably have an existing Invoicing structure. Whether it be an invoicing program, template or a mere note in a journal. This is such a small piece of admin often overlooked. Admittedly, I scrambled to get an invoice ready when I made my first sale. It was a crude invoice modelled from a sundry slip I saw in my admin job long ago. I’ve since fine-tuned the layout and the result is a simple design with all the relevant information. It might not auto-calculate the amounts, but it works brilliantly for simplistic invoicing.

Sending an invoice to your collector/buyer is not only to keep a record for your sales, it is also to add authenticity to the purchase. Your buyer would most likely want to submit the document for insurance or tax purposes.

You don’t need a complicated layout, as long as you have all the important information on it, you should be fine:

• Order number (if applicable)
• The name and contact details of the buyer
• The name of the artist or an identifying image such as a logo
• The title of the artwork
• Information about the artwork such as date, materials, dimensions
• The price of the artwork
• Additional costs such as delivery or import taxes
• Payment method and whether the payment has been made
• Terms and conditions (if applicable) which could include use and care, special instructions, cancellation policies, delivery and custom duty information
• The artist’s contact details

Usually, I send the invoice after the sale is made, unless the collector wishes to have it before hand, as a pro-forma. Most of them don’t want an invoice, but I keep one filed just in case. If you ae in need of an invoice, or want to update your existing one, you can download my template:

Invoice Template

 

When it comes to recycling, I’m always on the look-out for interesting ways to reuse old packaging. Sometimes it doesn’t work out quite as well, and all my recycling dreams go to bust. I don’t use a lot of plastic products, and I normally find ways to recycle them wherever possible. One thing I have in abundance is cardboard. With most of my homeware packed away in boxes, I have no shortage of cardboard. Once a year I get fed-up with all the clutter and the purge commences in a week-long cleaning spree. But before I send everything to the recyclers, I have a few cereal boxes that are practically begging me to use then in a DIY project.

The most obvious way to reuse a box is for storage, but how could I make it interesting? I fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole and found an interesting triangular pencil case that seemed pretty straightforward to make. My paintbrush holder is quite old, and small, so this box will be the perfect size to store my brushes in.

All you’ll need is a standard cereal box to or similar cardboard, a punch, scissors, a rope or piece of string thin enough to fit through the punch holes, a pencil and ruler. You could adorn your triangle box with wrapping paper, or spray paint or you could add decorative elements to it to make it look less recycled, and a bit more expensive.

Get The Instructions Here

 

Another little recycling DIY that I found very handy is a mini dustpan to catch eraser dust. My desk and its surrounds are constantly strewn with eraser dust. Instead of dragging out the big cleaning machines, or battling the broom, I turned to art supply stores for a nifty solution. Yes you get eraser shaving collectors and table brushes, but buying that seemed so unnecessary and I thought about how could make one from a plastic bottle instead.

All you’ll need for this DIY is a box cutter or sharp knife (please be careful not to cut yourself) and a standard plastic milk bottle. You’ll have to disinfect the bottle beforehand. Once you’ve got everything, you can use the instructions to make a mini dustpan. For the broom part, you can use an old toothbrush.

Get The Instructions Here

 

Thank you for reading and please share with your art-minded friends and loved ones. They can also subscribe to my newsletter here:

https://tinyletter.com/LisaNightshade

In next month’s edition, I’m covering my favourite colour: black. From clothes, to gardening, and even to ink.

Until next month, have a super-awesome July!

Lisa

 

Violín del Diablo

Violín del Diablo

The Devil’s violin is the embodiment of Mozart’s Requiem Lacrimosa. A haunting piece of music that he allegedly never completed. It is believed that he only finished the first couple of bars of Lacrimosa on his deathbed, while the rest is thought to be completed posthumously. It’s a dark, funeral-inspiring composition that’s been heard in countless films: The lament of life. 

This piece of eerie music is the perfect inspiration for a drawing, which is what lead me to the idea for Violin del Diablo. String instruments are synonymous with mystery and melancholy, and some of them are unusual, with the most primal sounds. The violin is more light and airy, compared to the deep tones of a cello. Then, of course, you get the hurdy-gurdy, bowed lyre, and my absolute favourite: the nyckelharpa. Its ghostly notes reach deep within the confines of your soul. In this illustration, however, I opted for a violin. 

Instead of playing the instrument, the arms become the instrument. Disembodied hands play it with a bow carved from bone, and the Lacrimosa plays through it. The strings are nothing but the blood running down the arm. My drawing reflects the incompleteness of the music, starting with definite lines and dark shading that fades into a slight afterthought. The cuts symbolize how time runs out from the moment we are born to our last breath. Life is a precious song that we play, and once it’s done, there’s no replay. 

The title refers to the idea that the Devil could play such an instrument designed to torture His captives. I can imagine tears streaming down His face as He plays the lament of the human’s soul. Even in horror, there is poetry.

 

Listen to the composition here to get the whole picture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1-TrAvp_xs

 

“If you want to interpret a flower, you can mimic it,

and it will be everybody’s flower, banal, without interest.

Or on the contrary, if you put the beauty of that flower

and the emotions it evokes into your dead body,

the flower that you create will be true and unique,

and the public will be moved.”

– Kazuo Ohno