WOYWW ~ Citra Solv Art – Top 7 Preparation Tips

It’s What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday and I’m particularly happy to share my desk (floor) this week since I’ve been promising this for more than a month!  This is just a taster of what is strewn all over my floor and table. I’ll post more detailed examples in a future post.

Citra Solv ArtI’ve been itching to have a go at some Citra Solv art and after a few false starts I finally got my chance to try it out today. Hoorah!

It wasn’t quite as straight forward as I thought it would be, however, so I’d thought I write this post in order to help anyone else who wants to give this technique a go.


Here are my Top 7 preparation tips for Citra Solv Art:

1.  Use the right Citrasolv product!

As I explained in this earlier post, Mixed Media and Ink, you need to buy the concentrate and not the spray product. The first video tutorial I watched said to use the spray so I bought that but it doesn’t work. Nor do the other citrus type cleaners I tried.

2.  Use The Right Paper

There are loads of examples around of people experimenting with papers and magazines and, whilst some have found items other than National Geographic Magazines to work, my experiments on anything else failed. The general consensus seems to be that the Citra Solv art technique works best on Nat Geo Mags from the 1970′s onwards and so far that seems to be the case.

3.  Keep It Simple

In my first post on this method, Getting ready for Citra Solv I explained how I was going to experiment with:

  • bubble wrap
  • cling film
  • string
  • masks
  • stencils
  • keys

That simply didn’t happen as I found the process trickier than it looked in the video. I would recommend getting some decent results with Citra Solv on its own before you get fancy!

4.  Work In A Well Ventilated Space

Be warned. Citra Solv has a really strong, although not unpleasant, smell. I’m not sure if it’s toxic. Hopefully not as it’s marketed as a natural cleaning product. I’ve been working in the attic which has no opening windows and although I went through a period of sneezing, I seem to be otherwise unharmed!

However, given the strength and pungence of  the odour, I might try the next batch in the garage with the doors open which brings me to my next tip . . .

5.  Prepare For A Mess

This process is messy . . . very messy. I had covered my table with old book pages but the Citra Solv leaked through, even though I was trying to get by with using a small amount. I needed to add another 4 layers of paper to keep the table clean.

6.  Wear Gloves

On some pages the ink doesn’t dissolve well so you need to use your fingers to move the Citra Solv around. Wearing gloves saves you from a whole lot of hand washing later.

7.  Prepare More Space Than You Think You Need To Dry The Pages

I thought having my large table covered with paper would be sufficient when it came to laying the pages down to dry. It wasn’t and I had to rush around trying to find suitable paper with which to cover the floor. Not recommended!

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As I write this post my Citra Solv art is drying. Some pages are really luscious and others a bit disappointing. It’s definitely a fun technique though and I’ll be playing with it some more.  I’ll take some photographs and add them and what I learned from this experiment in a future post. If you don’t want to miss the results please subscribe to my list, otherwise check back here in a few days.


WOYWW ~ Mixed Media and Ink

The last few days I’ve been back in the attic after a couple of weeks away having fun at the Commonwealth Games and visiting friends “up North”.  I’ve been making the most of a drop in temperature and my first port of call was to get stuck in with the Citra Solv as mentioned in my last What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday post. Alas, it was not to be. It seems I’ve bought the wrong type of Citra Solv which ends up making the pages greasy and not moving any ink. Grrrrrr! So I’ve got another order in. Hopefully it will arrive faster than the last one and I’ll have a report for you by next Wednesday.

Returning to my game of adding something to every board in my Pinterest account I decided to focus on Mixed Media next.

Sometime back I found a tutorial by Sabine Belz called Abstract Acrylic Painting Spackling and Ink which looked good fun so I decided to have a go at that. The tutorial is in German so I took my best guess at to what she’s actually doing.

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First I took an old painting I picked up from the dump

Mixed media and ink 1

and covered it with ‘all purpose filler’ mixed with PVA glue.

Mixed Media and Ink 2


It didn’t turn out as planned as the “canvas” is one of those printed on plastic ones so is very stretchy. I intended to make the surface smooth but went for textured instead when I quickly saw that smooth just wasn’t going to happen. As the filler dried it cracked giving a nice crackle effect so I lightly sanded it to get rid of the worst knobbly bits and went with it.


I added inks, water and tissue paper.

Mixed medi and ink 3

Then I used a palette knife to add texture paste mixed with a little bit of ink.

I felt I ended up with too much colour on the finished piece so added a bit more texture paste with my finger and tried to blend it in with a bit of water.

Mixed media and ink

The biggest difference between my attempt and the one in the video is that everything was drying almost as soon as it was added to the canvas where as Sabine Belz seem to have more time to work with the materials. The sun’s come out again and it’s very, very hot in the attic. Maybe I need to add more water next time.

I’m not sure how much I like the finished product but I definitely loved the process and will give it another go some time. I might add some glass beads medium to the inked stripe to make it shine a bit. It will be going on my Mixed Media Pinterest board either way. So all in all I’d say that was a success!

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If you’d like to join in with What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday click the link to find out how. Post your own work or take a look and see what other artists/makers are up to.


Beach Business

Beach BusinessSo here I am, lying on the beach after returning from a lovely few days staying with new friends and old on the Yorkshire coast. Which followed spending a fun few days with a friend in Glasgow which came after spending time with family and friends on the west coast of Scotland scattered with a few trips to the Commonwealth Games. And I think to myself . . . in the immortal words of Louis Armstrong . . . What a wonderful world!

I see again . . . it is the simple things that make me happy – spending time with friends and family, exploring new places, listening to the waves and I wonder . . . how do I create a business that is not separate from this or one that doesn’t “interfere” with this other life?

So I take the “I” out of the equation and trust that a business is already being created. As I lie here enjoying the simple pleasures, the universe is in motion.

. . . . . .

In the note pad I have with me I have questions written down that I “need” to answer. They are about the nature of my business, the details, numbers, my motivation etc. And I will answer them as best I can with what I know now, not attached to getting them “right” and with a sense of curiosity as to how this will unfold.

The questions are the first exercise in a big website overhaul I’m undertaking. It feels long overdue so when an opportunity arose to work with someone who’s a master at such things, I jumped at it.

My hope for the project is that I will be able to create a space where all the bits I’ve been dabbling in can hang out together in a way that “works”.

I’ve tried the conventional wisdom of keeping different businesses separate but I found I just jumped from coaching, to art and back again. And that is not my life. It is not nicely compartmentalised – family here, business there, travel here, art there, coaching somewhere else. It is all one experience, all one me.

. . . . . .

I’ll get stuck into the questions soon but first there is time for just one more swim.

WOYWW ~ Getting Ready For Citra Solv

Citra Solv Art Experiment 1It’s another What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday and before I get into this post I just want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who leaves comments on my blog. It’s fun and inspiring reading about your experiences and I appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment.

So . . . another week has passed with not much to show for it – at least in the arty craft sense.

I’ve been busy with other things though – lovely friends visiting for a long weekend, a trip the to the hair dressers which pretty much wiped out a whole afternoon and a ‘Get It Done Fun Day’ on Friday. So all in all it’s been an excellent week just not much making going on. That’s about to change . . .


My workdesk  is now set up for the great Citra Solv experiment.

I came across the technique a few weeks ago and then found some National Geographic magazines (a vital ingredient) at the market on Sunday so I knew I just had to give it a go. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can view some examples of it on my Citra Solv Art Pinterest board. Basically you use the Citra Solv, which is an eco friendly cleaner, to alter the pages of National Geographic magazines.

Yesterday I tried out the method with a similar cleaning product I happen to have called ‘Zest It’. That’s what you can see in the picture. It didn’t work, however, so last night I ordered some Citra Solv from the net and I’m now eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

I’m so excited in fact that I couldn’t sleep last night.  At 2.00 a.m. I gave up trying and instead watched every video I could find on the technique (at least the altered paper part of it). Armed with that knowledge I’m ready to go and for round 1 I’m going to experiment with:

  • bubble wrap
  • cling film
  • string
  • masks
  • stencils
  • keys

. . . and anything else I think might “work”.

Now I need to find something fun to do while I’m waiting for the great Citra Solv experiment to begin!



Pinterest Rejigging Brings Relief

stay openA few weeks a go I made up a game for myself of trying to create something pinnable for each of my Pinterest boards. This was partly to narrow down my focus of what to make and also to do something potentially businessy that I actually enjoy. However, I’d set up my Pinterest accounts according to the common wisdom of what “works” from a commercial perspective.

This meant that, earlier in the year I set up a new account specifically for my coaching business and kept it separate from my personal one. However, I’ve been finding it too much work to manage and I wasn’t enjoying pinning to my business account as it was starting to feel a bit contrived . So I’ve decided to ignore the popular wisdom and go back to doing what I was doing originally and just have the one account.

Last Friday I started the process of consolidation, taking the best from my Flow Coaching account and moving it across to my personal one. As soon as I did this I felt a huge sense of relief.  Now I’m back to just being me, posting what I think is helpful or interesting to my clients and the stuff I personally like and find inspiring all in one place. It’s not singularly focused and from a business prospective some might say it’s messy but it’s an authentic reflection of where I am and so takes less effort and I’m happy with that.

Using Pinterest both for my own pleasure and as a business tool is fun again and now I can get back to playing my game of trying to create something to post on each of my boards.

To that end I decided to tackle the Citra Solv art board today. Citra Solv  is an American eco cleaning product which when applied to National Geographic magazines, creates interesting altered pages. (Visit my Citra Solv Pinterest board for some examples.)

At the weekend I found some National Geographic magazines at the Sunday market so since then I’ve been itching to give the technique a go. However, I don’t actually have any Citra Solv, but I do have something similar called Zest It . I thought I’d try using that since it sounds like it’s a very similar product but, sadly, it didn’t work. It just made the paper greasy and did nothing to the ink so I’m going to order some Citra Solv from the internet and try again another day.

Now I just need to decide which board I’ll tackle instead. Hmmmm . . .

Oh yeah . . . and if you’re keen to find out what I do with the Citra Solv once it arrives and you’re not already signed up to receive my updates, you can do so in the right hand column – under “Don’t Miss Out”. It would be great to have you follow along!