Suddenly Smitten

Golden Fairy Lantern painting yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma


Hi Everyone!  Early Spring I came across the Golden Fairy Lantern wildflower and was instantly smitten by it.  Photographing these little flowers took me on an unexpected creative journey.  I painted them, made block prints, and hand bound books. Along the way I learned a lot about trying new ways when things do not work out as expected.  I love to experiment and play, so I was completely in my element.




Golden Fairy Lantern yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



The Golden Fairy Lantern is a flower that is endemic to Northern California.  These flowers are no larger than 0.5″.  I had to play with the camera settings a LOT before I could capture a few sharp photos of this beautiful little flower.




Golden Fairy Lantern drawing yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



There are little green butterflies that I also see on the trail, the same kind that flutter around in our garden as well.  They are so sweet, I love watching them.  After coming home, I drew this picture of a butterfly with two Fairy Lantern flowers and set to painting it.




Golden Fairy Lantern painting yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



Then I ran into a little problem.  I could not paint them to my satisfaction using watercolours.   There was nothing wrong with them per se, but I was looking for something different than what I got on paper.  After painting a few flowers with unsatisfactory results, it was time to change course. 

I pulled out my markers, Inktense pencils and my FW acrylic inks.  I painted little areas on this sketch with each kind first to observe the behaviour.  I really liked the markers, but unfortunately the colours bled to the back of the paper.  So, I used the the FW inks instead.




Golden Fairy Lantern painting yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



This was one of the unsuccessful paintings.  Instead of throwing it away, I cut the part out that was alright and tried a few new things on it. It was great not to have to worry about lines and shapes here, but simply play with paint.  Then I pasted it on to one of my scrap book binding covers and it became a bookmark.




Golden Fairy Lantern painting yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



The FW inks worked a lot better for the painting, but there was something still missing.  Then I realised that I was trying very hard to copy the shadows from my reference photo and making a mess in the process. 

With “Let go, Luke” from Star Wars in my head, I put the photo away and started painting following my instincts.  It worked.




Golden Fairy Lantern painting yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



Once everything dried, I used watercolour pencils to add the details and shadows to the butterfly, and the painting was done.




Golden Fairy Lantern drawing yellow Northern California Wildflower @ by Soma



However, the idea for a block carving was already stirring in my head.  I made another line drawing in my larger sketchbook.  I spent a lot of time smoothing out those curves in the drawing.  I decided not to ink the master copy in case an accidental nudge of the hand derailed the pen from the line.  I apologise for the faded photo, I draw with a light hand.




Handmade Everyday Journals with Fairy Lanterns Lino Print @ by Soma



You know the rest.  The block was carved.  

Since I didn’t purchase sharpening supplies early,  one of my old tools had gone dull beyond sharpening and also got notched.   I decided to recreate the edge of the tool. 

I had never done this before, so of course I mucked up a few times and had to restart from the grinding-down step.  I finally found the right angle, and it clicked.  It was a long process. 




Lino print on Japanese rice paper @ by Soma



During the printing process my roller bid me adieu and applied ink unevenly on the board.  Get new roller, clean block, wait till it dries, repeat printing.

I played with printing on different kinds of paper,  both heavy paper and Japanese rice paper. 




Handmade Everyday Journals @ by Soma



I made bullet journals with the print on the cover.   I am using the blue journal for my Japanese studies.  A few of the others have also found new homes.  The journals are available in my shop.



Printing And Bookbinding – A Perfect Pair

You can read about the carving and book binding here. 






As I get bored very easily when working on repetitive things, I very rarely work on multiple things with the  exact same picture.   However, I was smitten by these little flowers and I delved more and more into the world of creativity centering around them.  Each one was different enough and they tossed me a few challenges along the way.  It was fun to play along.

I hope you will also find something that piques your interest, and try something new and fun!

Until next time,


I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.   They are always a source of new inspirations.  Please pay them a visit.



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Polar bear watercolour painting @ by Soma


Polar Bear Svalbard watercolour painting @ by Soma


Hi Everyone!   Not being able to go outside much during March through October, my atelier becomes my playground.  Recent days have shown me that I feel most comfortable in uncharted waters, creating new things.  I have been experimenting and working my way forward. The Girl and Her Cat are also making their way through The North to the harbour for their journey onward.



Hand binding my sketchbooks



Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



One of the recent finishes was me rebinding six of my sketchbooks.   I don’t care for ring-bound or vinyl-covered books.   Since I am a book binder, I got to work.




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



You know my weakness toward this moss-green colour.   That sketchbook is still mostly new, but the blue-grey one is completely full.




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



It has my sketches, notes, and  paint recipes, just to name a few.  Some of the drawings, like this one of my beloved kitty, are very personal to me.




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



I absolutely LOVE these two colours.   A lot of my paintings have a mix of them, often as backgrounds.   The green sketchbook is new, the blue is a playground.




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



I try out new colours and techniques in the blue one.  Seeing this painting reminds me of that wonderful December evening when I was painting it surrounded by my loved ones.  




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



The original book came with a vinyl cover, which is not my favourite.  It was also really hard to keep flat, making it difficult to draw or paint in it.  The book was from a well-known company,  but I was disappointed with the binding.

I started systematically disassembling the book with a pair of scissors and a knife.   I find cloth-bound books to be very special.  I bound this one with black cloth.




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



I took all the original stitches out and restitched the book. It stays completely flat now, while I draw or paint in it.  My dear husband also loved the newly bound book.  As the original book was a gift from him, it was good to see that smile on his face.  I did talk to him before ripping the book apart!




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



At 9in x 12in, this is the largest book I have bound until today.   Fabric used for book covers is specially lined.  I made this book cloth at home using one of my favourite  fabrics.  I am actually looking forward to making more custom ones.

Pocket-sized cloth-bound books made by me are available in my shop




Hand bound sketchbook @ by Soma



I use this sketchook for architecture drawings.   I thought a book cover with clocks would be perfect, as stories often live on though architecture, making them timeless.  This is a drawing that I couldn’t bring myself to touch for a while, but I think it’s time to continue the journey of this painting again.



My sketchbooks have been there for me through the happiest and saddest of my days.  So, it’s no wonder that I want to wrap my ink-and-paper friends in lovely covers.  My sketchbooks always seem to take me where I need to go instead of where I want to go.  That is how The Girl and Her Cat came into my life.



Distant Pages


The two of them are now collecting a few more stories from the distant and enigmatic lands of The North before they head off on a new adventure.  This particular blue book is one of my big favourites.  I mixed mythology and my own travels to create brand-new stories.


Please click on the image thumbnails to see the pictures and read about their wanderings –




Angel of The Night



Hel the angel of the night watercolour painting @ by Soma



I was inspired to paint her from the story of mythological Hel.  However, I always love a little twist.  The Girl and Her Cat met this much-misunderstood gentle angel.  They also learned that she is the one who sets the souls as stars in the sky.  That way no one is ever truly forgotten.


The Benevolent One





This mighty dragon likes to help lost seamen.  I think most dragons are quite benevolent.   Not at all how the books describe them.  How about you? 



The Solitary Sentinel



Polar Bear Svalbard watercolour painting @ by Soma



Of all the paintings in this book, this one best embodies my short time in Svalbard.  I love how they are amicably curious and not threatened by each others’ presence.

I love to travel to new places and experience the diversity of our planet.

In the words of Lord Byron –

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar;
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.



A Page with all the paintings from the Distant Pages book



Until next time,



I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please pay a visit to some of them.




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