Permission to play, with newspaper, teabags and possibly a feather

Hi there, how are you all? It’s been an exciting weekend in ‘Birdsedge’ where I live, the aptly name village where all kinds of bird related antics go on in my garden! We have had 2 very busy blackbirds preparing their nest and then rearing the chicks, using the pergola as a landing strip before jumping up into the Ivy where the nest is.


Baby no 1 found out our back door!

Being a nature geek, it’s been lovely to watch them and we have had many breeding pairs of various birds over the years here. However, it does become stressful when the babies start to fledge, not least because we have 2 cats, evil sisters who are expert hunters! Nothing gets passed them and so I have to keep a keen eye and watch for any stealth approaches!

This has happened this weekend, 2 of the babies have gone for it! The first one thought it would be a good idea to hide right outside the back door behind a plant pot! Not the best place to go as the parents wouldn’t come anywhere near, so I moved it to the back corner, and it followed dad across the drive but then took a right and went into the garage!

So off I went out again to get it out! Third time lucky and it finally followed Dad out of our garden. It was a similar story this morning with baby number 2, thankfully I saw Bluebell’s interest in a bush and knew the baby was in there, and swiftly got the cat out of the way! I don’t know how many babies are left, between 1-3 and so my protective work is not done just yet!


Can you spot baby no 2?

Anyway back to the subject in hand of this week’s Blog and I’ve decided to link it to what I’ll be talking about on the week’s Live on @psychologiesmagazine which is all about giving yourself permission to play, with resources you may not immediately think of to use as artist’s materials!

With people being on a tight budget since lock-down, spending money on creative materials is unlikely to be at the top of your list, but that doesn’t mean to say we have to park our artistic hobbies, there are other ways to ‘make’, we just need to get creative and resourceful.

By stripping away ‘normal’ artistic materials, we have to think outside the box and give ourselves permission to experiment and play. Only by trying these different things can we understand how they work and whether they are effective for the piece we want to create.

Essentially what we need to make art, are just 3 things:

  • Something to work on – i.e. a Background
  • Something to work with – i.e. Tools
  • Something to ‘paint / draw’ with – i.e. Colour

Sounds simple right? But you may feel a little lost as to how to begin, so below are some examples of the above to help get you started. Once again, it’s all about the process and having fun, NOT perfectionism! Some things will work well, others may be a disaster, but it DOESN’T MATTER, it’s like the old fairy-tale quote, sometimes you have to kiss many frogs to find your prince/ princess!

By changing up the way we experiment, we may just find a new style that we absolutely love, that we might never have discovered, if we didn’t give ourselves permission to play.

Art in its simplest form is about making marks and we can use a whole host of things to make that happen…here we go


Of course, we can use paper if we have it but why not try something different to experiment with colour and texture and possibly create a more interesting piece as a result?

Here are some examples: Old pieces of denim/ cotton, newspaper, music sheet, wallpaper, gift wrap or bags, wood, old furniture, pebbles, leaves, plant pots, crosswords, cardboard, vase, plain canvas bag, an old football, plain note book cover….

I’m sure there are many more, but these are just a sample of things that you could use to create a very cool art piece.

IMG_6051        IMG_6071

Jake’s hydrodipping pieces and the new logo for his little ‘business’!

Many people in lock-down have been doing pebble art and leaving them on walks for children to find. My son has been hydrodipping everything in site from water bottles and helmets to phone cases and pencil cases! He’s even now set up his own little personalised business! That’s going to keep him off his Xbox a bit more at least over the Summer!

Next let’s move on to Tools,

Pippa Ashworth, a famous local artist uses all kinds of things as her ‘paint-brush or pencil’ such as thistle heads, sticks and sponges to create her very unique artwork, layered with all these different types of marks.

Some of Pippa’s amazing layered pieces. check her out @doodlepip64

Here are some other options: toothbrush, kitchen roll, packaging, paper plates, cocktail sticks, feathers, grasses, fingerprints, credit cards, cling film…

All of these things create some great effects, I particularly love bubble wrap (to make walls), cling film creates good earth / field effects and old credit cards make really good lines, for things like telephone lines.

Both these pieces of mine were created using bubble wrap, cling film, the edges of credit cards and cocktails sticks!

Grasses, feathers and ferns are great to paint and then print onto the paper like the main image and below that I created yesterday!

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And finally, what could be used as ‘paint / colour’?

I think this is the trickiest part of the process to find, but I know artists such as below @sam.jackman.textiles that have created lovely things from iron water, using an eco-dying process.


Other ideas could include squeezed teabags, fruit juices, fruit printing, eggshells, sand, seeds / herbs, salt, shells masking-fluid, stewed leaves or grass…

So why not make your own list of alternative ‘art’ materials and then just have a go?

This week’s task I have set on the Live is to do just that and then try the following:

  • A piece of art with a different background material to standard paper
  • A piece that uses different ‘tools’ to paintbrushes, pencils, etc
  • A piece that uses different ‘paint / colour’ to normal
  • OR a piece that includes all of the options above.

Hopefully, this gives you permission and guidance to play and try something different. Many artists go down a particular ‘style’ route and feel as uncomfortable as those who are just beginning to try new things.

Within the art group I belong to, throughout lock-down we have set challenges and sometimes they work, and we really enjoy them but sometimes we don’t! It’s all part of the process, experimenting with new materials and techniques and keeps you interested if you feel you may have got stuck in a rut.

So please do have a go, this is great to try with the kids too as they head into ‘official’ Summer Holidays / the longest holidays in history! I’m sure we’ll all be looking for new ways to keep them entertained and searching for the new materials in the first place can be part of that too. Head out on a nature hunt for painting tools for example.

If you’d like to watch the video from this morning where I talk more about this, you can watch it here.

If you’d like to share any of your experiments, please post them on my Curious Creative Facebook page, DM me on Instagram or share on the Psychologies Connected Communities Facebook page either – I’d love to see what you come up with!

Until next time, happy playing!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x






















One Comment on “Permission to play, with newspaper, teabags and possibly a feather

  1. Pingback: 100 lessons from the land of a Creative Blogger… on my 100th Blog post!

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