Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Jingle Hells and New Year Resolutions

Well!!!  All the hellish things that CAN happen, DID happen, so they went into my diary, which I hope I can still find in 11 months' time to remind me what NOT to do next Christmas...  I wonder if any of these resonate with you too...
My book pages are from Sizzix  Day of the Dead Sugar skull book die:
I covered the outside (front is right, back is left in all photos) with fibre paste, then Lindy's Moonshadows.  I liked that too much to do more, apart from a bit of blood on the teeth, and filling the eye sockets with Seth Apter's Splatter die - look at all the speech bubbles that have dropped out - too many conversations about what to do, what to get... 
Turn the page, and it's all about the menu - peoples' allergies, splatter die illustrating someone's leaky gut (ugh TMI ) The stress of making sure everyone's dietary fads are met!!!
Whilst here in Middle Earth, it's summer.  And summer means BBQs morning, noon and night, so where are those mammoth steaks?  Pictograph & mammoth stamps from Third Stone stamps were heat embossed on the right, and hints of them rushing around on the left.

One thing I DO remember from Christmas Past, is that every kids toy needs batteries.  But these days, a packet of AAs just doesn't do it 😰  You have to have square ones, rectangular ones, small round flat ones, large round flat ones, ones that slide in one way only, ones that burst in to flame while in use, ones that won't come out if you put them in wrongly... Last year Santa swapped Rudolph's 9-lived ever-red-y nose for a Li-ion battery-powered GPS.
Guess what?
Yep, absolute disaster!!!  And Seth's got a stencil for that too!!!

From battery-powered toys, to other favourite choices by those who do not live fulltime with Little Darlings:
Washi tape holds flaps over the eye sockets, more Christmas wrapping paper as the base, and I'm starting to use Grumbacher's 531 transparentizer with some paints to make layers of background.  And more of Seth's stamps texturizing.  The idea of layers of paint, stencils, stamps creating intricate backgrounds is something he teaches in his Card Play DVD.  Though I've done too few layers on these pages - Christmas rush!
Maybe some fond rellie will think we need an SPCA Rescue pet - a feral Wharf cat perhaps.  Or a sword fighter outfit.  Some other weapons to break a little girl's leg. musical toys that play LOUD...
On this spread you can see the difference between straight paint round the edge, and paint with 531 glazing medium added (green - the stencil was blue, and done before the glaze)

And who do buys these sooo-inappropriate toys?  The Grannies, the uncles, and... The Aunties!
They have to be invited, but oh my!  Opiniated, insist their view the only view, won't see your migraines coming on or that you're worn down to the bone...
Van Dyk Brown is not particularly transparent, but with 531 added it comes up rather a nice sepia - as if those Aunties belonged in a misty time gone by (with flowersoft lavendar in their smellers).  In reality, it's The Clash Of The Umbrellas
More of Seth's stamps, and the Aunties fighting with their umbrellas are Sizzix La Catrina die.
Pages, pages... how to become a book?  I'm playing with running a thread round each one, then plaiting them... it's a WIP, as there are more horrors to diarise.

Stamp credits next page: Oasispalms,  nevermore from Silver Crow Creations, more stamps & stencils from Seth (Story, star, "what will happen", Now is the time).  Outer spread below, Barbed wire with crow from Things to Alter, skull dies Sizzix 

And why do we do it all, put ourselves through such agony?  Look back to "The Reason For The Season", groan at today's madness, and wonder if we've missed the plot.

Merry Creepmas and  Highly Creative New Year to everyone.
But wait... you've all been so busy doing the Christmas-Hannukah thing, you've not been creating darkly - there's still a few hours for the post-celebration depression to be creArted out of your system and entered here for a chance to win some Grumbacher goodies.  And come back tomorrow to see who's helping us kick off 2017 big time!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

More webs a-tangling, and a spider in a peach tree.

Well, I finally managed to retrieve my Grumbacher palette knives - I think the frogs eventually found more fun climbing the cherry trees overhead, as the cherries are ripening beautifully at last.
And I started using them, the biggest ones are great for slathering stuff through stencils over large areas, but I also had fun using them with their water-miscible oil paints.  Being me, a palette knife risks being not only a tool, but a part of my "stash".  But these are still too good to use, so I grabbed an old worn small-bladed one, cut 2 of the blade shape of the big one and glued to each side of the small blade.  The original trowel blade is at the top, the small one with one piece of matboard so far:
Knowing I wanted to do some stringing webbing, I used the crop-o-dile to cut nicks all round the cardboard (and tested the Original discreetly as you can see near the handle, for future reference).  I then started collaging painting and stamping both sides.  The "back" side also got strips of ribbon, washi tape, diecut skulls, stamps from Seth Apter, and the stamp phrase from Rubber Dance being heat embossed.
 This picture of the "front" side is at an unfinished stage, and my camera files AND paint edit programmes are all being as glitchy as me lately, so I can't even enhance the one pic I took of the front side progress.  But there are collaged elements, diecut offcuts, more of Seth's stamps and more paint.

 I added this chippie skull from Things To Alter after giving it a glaze (not a wash) using Grumbacher's Gel 531 Transparentizer, with a drop of van dyk brown acrylic paint.
I've been playing round with the Gel 531 medium quite a bit, and there'll be more in another post this month, but look at the different it makes to a very opaque colour, compared with adding water for a wash.  After stamping in Indian ink another Seth Apter stamp on a white ATC card, I painted the stripe down the middle in undiluted van dyk brown acrylic paint.  Being a very opaque paint, you cannot see the stamp underneath.  Dipped the brush briefly in water to do the wash top-right, then with a fresh brush mixed some Gel 531 transparentizer with a drop of the paint to do bottom-left area.  With the glaze you get a fuller sense of the colour, and the under-stamping seems to stand out better too.  After it dried, I inked up the worm and bee stamps (viva las vegas stamps perhaps) with indian ink again, and "framed" the card.

  The glaze stood out far better on the skull than a wash would have, without reducing the impact of the cut detailing.
The skull was glued over the collage with a couple of small peacock feathers as vestigial ears, the centre line of each feather crossing the eye sockets.  A mohair yarn was wrapped between the notches I had cut on the outside edges, criss-crossing the front of the blade only, like a spider's web.  I wrapped (covered) a wire, mixing a multi-colour yarn with another intermittent-bubble yarn, then coiled the whole lot, and glued round the outside edge of the blade.  Just because I wanted to.

After sending you off to hunt for Christmas decorations in Shelob's lair a few days back, there had to be a spider here too.  This came from Eye Connect Crafts, was painted with mica washes then wrapped.  The weird peacocky bit IS vestigial feathers off a peacock, still on the skin.  Limbs are attached with brads, so they can crawl further up to its web :)
Below it are some prunings from my blackboy peach tree and some uneaten bones, webbed (wrapped) around the handle.

Still on yet more medication myself after/with a bout of not-whooping cough, my camera is struggling to make sense of what I see, and can only give me this as an overall picture of a (faked/enhanced) Altered Grumbacher Palette Knife: 

If you're not dying from spider bites during decoration-retrieval, we challenge you to web up your weird, link your creations here.. and be in for a chance to win goodies from this month's sponsor, Grumbacher  

Merry Christmas 👼

Monday, December 19, 2016

Red Against the World

CT Nan today with a mixed emotions canvas.  It is the holiday season and to some it is bringing extreme joy and for many others it can be causing pain and turmoil.  So using my Grumbacher acrylic paints and Transparentizer along with the Art Sherpa's guidance on Youtube, I painted a canvas showing Red Riding Hood as she looks into the dark woods with a strong wind blowing against her back pushing her along toward a destiny that she may dread but does not back down from.

Maybe Krampus is waiting around the bend instead of the wolf?  Maybe a reoccurring nightmare that plaques her?  But she chooses to face it in her heels (my kind of gal!) so I think she has the guts to defeat whatever the enemy might be!

Still lots and lots of time to play this month!  Another winner will be chosen for the Grumbacher supplies so grab your paper and markers or paint and get messy and inky whatever it takes to get an entry into the frog!  Be on the lookout for a close friend of his to make an appearance in about a week!  That is a friendly shout out or warning...even we don't know which one it is!

Merry Creepmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dark places hide decorations

And where decorations relate to last year's Christmas, that have lain undisturbed for 11 months, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be dust... and SPIDERS!!! Possibly Shelob herself, as immortalised in Hobbit lore

Shelob has such a fearsome reputation among the orcs that few venture into her caverns under the mountains. And when they do, they make sure they bear “gifts” for her. And lest she come out and ravage other spiders’ territories, they too send her regular “tributes”. Bilbo was a hobbit who, in innocent ignorance, not only found his way into her clutches, but also got away. Later he floated his mates away from the goblins in barrels. Perhaps he had seen the spider tributes coming in to Shelob, not understanding the significance, but used the idea to make good his goblin escape.

Being a Middle Earthian myself, the idea of "innocent virgins" being sent to their doom, overlaying Bilbo & Frodo's escapes from Shelob, and Bilbo’s escape from the Goblintown, had obviously been in my subconscious came up pretty quickly, so I started auditioning ideas: a tangle of spiderweb that glows in the dark? Nope.  But there was some black&grey velveteen drifting round, I was checking through stamps I had from Smeared Ink - Rick St Denis images - insect & creepy stamps had just arrived from ButterSideDown. Then there was that soooo cute dolly border from Lost Coast just waaiting for re-use…

The background just fell in to place: Paint the sides of the canvas, glue in a piece of seascape scrapbooking paper, add another piece of it border-punched, drape the velveteen. I used double-sided tape to hold it in places until the gel medium dried. The corner folds were perfect for “lurkers”. The henge and portal stamps were just about the right width for the space, so they got painted up using Silks glazes and some Jacquard Interference paint.

Then it was back to those dollies again.

Paint the poker chips to disguise them sortof - Gold - All creatures like Gold. Stamp the centre of the web onto the scrabble tiles. Letters were chosen with intent! Glue scrabble tiles to the poker chips. Stamp a row of dollies with indian ink on sickly green thick paper and choose which ones to sacrifice. They needed to be sitting down, “drugged” with spider venom, of course, before being wrapped in spider web. That meant some geometry involved, which I haven’t perfected still: I inked up only part of the web stamp with Stazon, stamped onto acetate, cut and formed them into cones with a bit of overlap. I thought gel medium would hold the cut edges, but either I was impatient and took the clamps off too soon, or it was never going to work. E6000 did though. How to hold the cones onto the poker chips? Jacquard 3D Lumiere would fill any gaps as well, so out with the copper & red. If you are going to do this, know that you have to hold the cone and poker chip together for the same time as a tv program runs between 2 sets of ad breaks for the glueyness to work.

I really wanted to use the shrunken head, sunken in the deep seas (river?) So it was stamped with Stazon onto a poker chip and tucked in a corner.

Then the dollies went on – and pretty much hid him!
Spiders – some painted with Jacquard interference paints – Essential! Populate the waters (stamped critturs), tuck those eyes back in the folds of velveteen, all ready for you to enjoy.

But if you've not already got your decorations out of storage, pleeeeeease BE CAREFUL!

8x10 canvas on deep box frame.
Hand, eyes & most spiders from Silver Crow Creations
web: Third Stone RS.
Dolls Border: Lost Coast Designs.
Sea creatures & shrunken head: ButterSideDown Stamps.
Portal & stones: Rick St Denis, rubberized by Smeared Ink

Jacquard 3D Lumiere paint for Tribute cones, Silks Glazes and Jacquard Interference paints on henges & portal, & spiders
Fiskars border punch for waves (scrapbooking paper).
Fabric is a panne velvet-type fabric.

Since there's a Crittur Party going on over at Lost Coast Designs, this has been entered in that challenge.
And of course, though it's busying up to Christmas, Evil Froggy needs feeding, so link your creepmas, weird (no element of cute!) here for the chance to win goodies from Grumbacher.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Winner November & Just when you thought the world was over..

Today we are pleased to announce the Winner for the November 2016 Challenge....

Sue with Day of the Dead
Please email us at
to arrange your prize!

The DiD team had a fabulous chance to get a 
sponsor like Grumbacher to support our
alternative challenge. I got some delicious Water Mixable Oil paints.

The thing is: I don't draw ... BUT I do color and enjoy trying
different coloring mediums.... so I took a big stamp,
stamped the image and started coloring, 
and here's how that AJ page turned out.

Very much a learning process, but very enjoyable one, :=D

Let us see your offbeat, oddly weird and darker makes, projects, art. Everything Odd, 
Weird, Alternate, Gothic, Halloween, Steampunk, Haunting, Macabre 
and much more is welcome to be linked HERE.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December, Santa, and Grumbacher

Merry Creepmas or Christmas or Happy Holidays from all of us at Dream in Darkness, where it is Halloween all the time!  To help us get our bad Santa on, we have Grumbacher back to sponsor us for December!  Yep, that means another chance to win some Grumbacher's products to play with so don't waste a merry minute start creating!

CT Nan had a run in with the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Art Sherpa at the same time!  Nothing but good I mean wicked goodness could come from that meeting!  
But some Grumbacher Acrylic paints and gesso did have a part in it!

Somebody seems to be considering what they want for a snack and it ain't Doritos so......I would sleep with those windows locked and stay out of dark streets if I were you to keep from being that little bit that hits the spot!

CT Anne ...

is suffering, badly.  She's not sure if she will ever recover from all that pink we inflicted on her!  For almost 2 weeks she has been coughing, coughing, coughing.  It totally wrecked her holiday, and she is dreading having to go back to work on Monday.  The doctor said "whooping cough", dispensed antibiotics and said the bugs would be "live" another 5 days.  YOU are safe, they're not e-bugs!!!!
 A 12"x12" paper, with added texture from Seth Apter stamps and stencils.  Digistamps: the sick boy is Bloobel and the closet monster (used twice) is a Rick St Denis
So please, from the bottom of my lungs, no more cute faces, no more pink, bring on Creepmas!!!
5 days later, update:  the nurse rang, it's not whooping cough!  No idea what, so beware!  It may be an e-bug after all, so girly stuff is AT YOUR PERIL!!!!

CT Kim

Postcards using Academy Acrylics by Grumbacher, Mixing White, Process Magenta & Yellow and Grumbacher Red

CT Granne making a set of ATC's using 
Grumbacher's fab oil paints to make a background. 
Hmmm, looks like the Zombies are awake and after YOU!!!

We know when you've been naughty; we know when you've been nice!  So forget about Santa's list and enter the challenge so you don't get on OUR list which is oh so much worse!  That pesky Frog is wearing a Santa hat so you figure it out~

Monday, November 21, 2016

You Looking at Me?

Well, CT Nan saying hi and introducing a couple of wary "friends" who don't quiet seem to trust each other not one single bit!  Grumbacher is our fantastic sponsor this month and also next month and I used their awesome water mixable oil paints called Max.  I used a 4 x 4 homemade canvas made for me by my dad which made me smile.  The Art Sherpa, Cinnamon Cooney, on Youtube did this type of painting with acrylics and it was so fab I decided to try with the oils.  Check her out and subscribe; it is a fun and weirdly wonderful channel!

And yes my spider has 3 eyes and was supposed to have more (they do in real life I think?) but I ran out of room.  They are eyeing each other closely to see who blinks first but I think that they will become great pals by the end of the day!

Plenty of time to get your entries in to the Frog and then we can run over to your blog and pop in for a visit to leave you some love!  Remember, Grumbacher paints are up for the winner of November and December and they are sooo much fun to play with!
See ya soon if you get busy right now!

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Halloween's over for another year, the witches are mostly out on the land,S harvesting strange herbs.  That means fewer broomsticks in the skies
 Jumping over the moon?

Oh yes, pigs can fly or at least the ones bred in the UK

Of course this was all started by having Grumbacher as our sponsor this month, and Naughty Nan forwarding 3 tubes of water-soluble oil paints amongst other goodies!  When they say say wash up in soapy water, they mean SOAPY water - they're still oil-based after all.
I have never used oil paints. In my librarian days  I’d been around fine art books aplenty, and in the “olden days” oil paint was pretty much the only thing around for artists to use.  As a “fibre artist” I’m also familiar with plant dyes.  And they're all "demanding" and smelly, or poisonous, to work with.  So when I discovered mixed media, I embraced acrylics paint with joy.  Now I’ve been given oil paints, albeit water-soluble, to try out.  In one of those cheapo shops I found another brand, so I grabbed a box of them, and they’re just like cheapo acrylic paint tubes – even I can tell the difference!  The cheapos have already separated, with a layer of binders/whatever at the top before you finally get some pigmented stuff out.  Take a swipe with both brands on the palette knife, and the cheapo goes on erratically, runs out sooner, and when you do some sgraffito, the cheapos don’t show it where the colour density is thin.  Try blending 2 similar colours from each brand, the cheapos go mud, Grumbacher creates a new colour.  I played with just how one can move the good stuff round, blend it into still-damp gesso (oops, thought it was dry!) .  Totally new product, and I’m enjoying the  play-experiment time.  Meantime I’m also enjoying the different consistency from acrylic paint.  Adding water is also fun with the Grumbacher, hopeless with the cheapo stuff.  So here are the tombstones, using only Grumbacher:
Then I dry-brushed some iridescent pearl acrylic over the bat body.  Tsk tsk - acrylic over oils which is the right way with house paints, but a no-no here.

Oh No!  One of the flying Piggies must have come afoul of some witch, hungry for bacon and leg roast!
In one small snap you can see almost all the ways I physically "texturised" the canvas.
A stencil with matt gel medium straight onto the canvas before any colour was used.  Various acrylic paints drizzled, sprayed, water-spritzed.  Die-cut trees given texture by applying Grumbacher's water-soluble oil paint, as are the mdf tombstones.  The witches broomsticks are blackboy peach prunings, with ends splintered.  Elsewhere stamps inked with Stazon went on.
I managed to re-capture my Grumbacher palette knives from the frogs long enough to enjoy the large sweeps with the big one to get the gel medium through the small gaps of the stencil, and playing with the oilpaint textures with another.  But as soon as my back was turned... I tracked the painty smears through the house, outside, but lost them somewhere under the borage plants.

Splatter Proof die - Seth Apter-The Altered Page / Spellbinders
Treeline die - Sizzix
Tombstones (mdf) - retrocafeart
Skull flourish corner - Creative Embellishments
flying pigs - Things To Alter
Wicked Witch feet under house - viva las vegas stamps (heat embossed)
Ink splatter - Cherry Pie Arts
Spinners set: Numbers spin because it looked like star constellations and their "gps" co-ordinates), Faded fragments set: Star, Screen print - Seth Apter-The Altered Page or Impression Obsession
Sept 2016 boho stencil - Stencil Girl Club
And of course, trawl the Grumbacher site, explore the whole range, the inspiration and the tutorials

Meantime Evil Froggy is being run ragged even though 31DoH is over - keep your off-beat, dark, weird makes coming here - remember, no cute wide-eyed girlies being sweet - the world is swamped with opportunities elsewhere for that!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Time for October's Winner!

Thanks again for all the participation last month; we all saw and appreciated and were inspired by all the fantastic projects entered! 
And now without delay the winner is


Please email us your mailing info to
    with the information to receive your winnings!

CT Nan here with a delayed reveal of the outside of my book of potions and goodies all painted up with Grumbacher Max water mixables oil paints.  I stamped Tim Holtz's Halloween set with white ink that let some of the dark red paint seep through it in places.  A book binding from some Halloween paper and a vintage digital image from my Etsy store.  I added some Derwent water color pencils then went over them with a wet paint brush to the edges of the paper and the image.

 Please forgive the pink watermark, dear CT Anne! I have temporarily lost my white watermark...honest!  Please get those entries in for some fabulous Grumbacher Max water mixable oil paints and a secret happy!  The winner of November and December will receive winnings from Grumbacher, our fabulous sponsor this month!

Link Up with the Frogster HERE and share your wicked makes!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's November and Grumbacher is Here to Sponsor Us!

Thanks to all who visited and commented on our projects for the 31 Days of Halloween!  We had a blast and enjoyed every spine tingling moment of it!  Now we are all a tingle over our brand new sponsor for November and December!  Grumbacher has given the team some wonderful paints and supplies to work and play with and that means that the winner of November and the winner of December's challenges will also receive Grumbacher goodies to play with!

Since 1905, Grumbacher has been a brand trusted by students, professors, art conservationists, and professional artists throughout the US.  Max Grumbacher established his company’s humble beginnings by hand making brushes at his kitchen table in New York City.  By the 1960s Grumbacher became an art materials empire offering artists nearly every supply imaginable. Today, the Grumbacher brand is owned by Chartpak, Inc., a creative products company committed to adhering to the impeccable standards set by Max Grumbacher.  Chartpak Inc. welcomes the responsibility for ensuring Grumbacher’s continued legacy as an American tradition. We lead the way by setting strict standards of exemplary quality and consistent performance for our materials. Our standards of quality and excellence have resulted in the Grumbacher brand becoming an American tradition.
We take great satisfaction in knowing that artists trust our brand when creating their artwork. Our multi-media products, educational services, and online artists’ community (thalo) exemplify Grumbacher’s commitment to growing and adapting to the ever-changing environment of the fine and graphic art industries.
We take pride in being an American art material manufacturer and a leader in the industry.

Now it is time for us to show you the fun we have had trying the some fabulous new products to us and some more traditional ones!  We want to start out with CT Granne's amazing utterly fabulous painting using the Grumbacher Max Oil Paints that are easily cleaned with water so no horrid fumes while working with it!

CT Nan did an 11 x14 canvas titled "Rivers of Tears and Tornado of Emotions" also using the wonderfully easy to work with Max Oil Paints by Grumbacher!

CT Kim is bringing us...

a snippet stolen from Evil Frogster's mangy claws...

CT Anne... is still suffering from all that pink, and Evil Froggy is having trouble getting her Grumbacher palette knives back from the real frogs.  He may have the bigger motorcycle, but those bigger palette knives are fantastic at spreading petrol through their engines in a hurry!

We hope you will check out the links to Grumbacher and see the vast array of supplies that they carry!  And of course, we want to see what you have to inspire us with this month!  As usual, the theme in "Anything Goes" just no cute but show us your oddities, weird stuff, dark, goth, steampunk, oh my, all the alternatives that are out there!  And remember we so accept 100% digital works, also!  But the catch is you have to enter to win.....not a real big catch but a necessary one!  The winner of each month will receive Grumbacher  supplies fresh from the store!  So once Evil Froggy is back with his accomplice CT Anne, we are going to let him handle all his inbox entries...sooooo, it is up to you now!