Sunday, May 24, 2015

Just Be

At a recent Ink Pad-sponsored Julie Fei-Fan Balzer art class, some of the attendees were talking about an online course they were taking. I don't have time for online classes since I work full time, but one of the aspects of the class that struck me was that you choose one word each year as your special word.

That got me thinking about what word, of all the endless possibilities in the English language, I would choose. After a day or two of mulling it over, I chose the word BE.

Simple, right? Two letters, one syllable, no real hidden meaning or nuances. But as an introvert, a Virgo perfectionist, a wife and mother and career woman who squeezes art in whenever there is a free 10 minute window, BE means more than it appears to.

Be still. Be comfortable with yourself. Stop competing, judging, going, moving, striving. Get comfortable in your own skin. Stop beating yourself up and measuring achievements and failures.

I happened to pick up a couple new art/craft/mixed media items at the Balzer workshop--a stamp of a crazy little girl and some of Julie's new woodcut stamps.

Here's how this page came together:
1-the background is a digital collage that I did from a photo of my Rumi Valentine page. I flipped and repeated the background image, using Quark and Photoshop, and printed it out on ordinary paper.
2-the center section is made of recycled tea bags that were overprinted with stamps using a white stamp pad
3-I stamped the little girl on deli paper, then cut it out carefully, and used a glue stick to adhere it to the page
4-I put a strip of commercial beige paper with vintage handwriting on it
5-I cut out a rectangle of a Balzer woodcut stamp and placed it below the girl. At first I was going to have her standing on it, but then I decided that she would be more magical if she floated above it
6-I added words with my Dina Wakley empowerment words, which came with some face stamps I purchased about a year ago. I also added words with mini alphabet stamps

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Throat Chakra Journal Page

When a new box of art supplies I recently ordered arrived, the first thing I wanted to use were the new Artistcellar chakra stencils. They still have the little ATC-sized chakras stencils too, but some of the fine detail is hard to get (if you are a messy, loose-handed artist like me!)

Well, I am a little rusty on my symbolism, and pulled out the first one that caught my eye, a pretty triangle/heart combination. After I looked up what it symbolized I should not have been surprised--it is the throat chakra symbol.

For at least the past 20 years, that has been the chakra that I needed to work on. Why? Panic disorder overwhelmed me back in about 1992 and I got to the point where I couldn't even speak. I had agoraphobia also. I suffered from frequent sore throats, and even had a barium x-ray to see what was wrong.

 Finding my voice, using my voice, getting over the fear of speaking, and even being able to actually speak took a long time and a lot of work.

Although I had a problem using my voice, I did express myself through art and writing, and also began to study reiki as part of my healing process. So, 20 years later the throat chakra is still the one that calls to me from a pile of stencils.

I used a painted deli paper background on the journal page...something that I learned about (and love) from taking a recent Julie Fei-Fan Balzer class. I chose to use one of my painted papers that had a lot of turquoise; blue is the color of the throat chakra. I used an ordinary pen to trace the shape, then filled in with lime green marker and lime silk acrylic paint. Why lime? Well, I love it, but also, it is the color of the heart chakra.

After the chakra design was done, it seemed that the page needed more, so I added some words that felt appropriate using little alphabet stamps and Dina Wakely empowerment words, applied with a black archival ink stamp pad. Last, I added little dots of turquoise lumiere paint. I always seem to put dots in my journal pages...why, I don't know. They probably symbolize something, so if you know, leave me a comment please.

For the extroverts of the world, this the reason I repeated the word "brave" many times: it takes an enormous amount of energy and focus and bravery to beat panic disorder, and to learn to speak up without stuttering, stumbling, opening your mouth and having no sound come out, or worse--crying.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Morgan Silks Journal Page

My friend Susan Morgan Hoth makes fabulous, hand painted, one of a kind silk scarves. A few months ago I treated myself to two...and they are gorgeous.

They came wrapped in tissue, with a little card that had a miniature printout of the design. I saved the cards in my art box, of course.

I used one of them in a recent journal page. It was the perfect centerpiece on a pastel page made from collaged painted deli paper, painted newsprint, vintage flowers, vintage newsprint and printmaking scraps.

On the white border around Sue's paper print of the design I put some words in very pale pink: "listen to that little voice inside your head whispering the truth whispering the way" The words were inspired by the GooGoo Dolls song, Truth is a Whisper. I liked the pale pink for the words because it is so soft and subtle, like a whisper.

Here's me in my office chair, wearing the fabulous scarf as a luck charm on the day I had to do a PowerPoint presentation in front of a room full of department heads, doctors, head nurses and other bigwigs. Since I am pretty much an introvert who would prefer to sit in the corner, undisturbed, and paint, draw, design or write, I definitely needed the lucky scarf to boost my confidence. I did make it through the PowerPoint without tripping, drooling, saying ummm errr hmmm too much, so it was a success, I guess. But I would much rather be behind the computer designing and writing the PowerPoint than presenting it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Journal Therapy

After a very intense week at work, and a really, really long and good sleep, some time to just putter in my art journal was most needed today.

I randomly chose some scraps from leftover projects: splatter painted paper from a (paper traders yahoo group) PaperTraders ATC house project, some of my own textile designs (scanned and laser printed, then over printed with stamps and white printmaking paint), printed teabags and painted deli paper from a Julie Fei-Fan Balzer class.

I used a glue stick and matte medium to adhere the various papers around the edges. Next I chose a big colorful ad from a Corcoran real estate booklet as a center spread in my journal--a luxury apartment that bears absolutely no resemblance to my apartment at all. I glued it on with a heavy matte medium to make sure the heavy Corcoran ad stuck.

Next steps: some green accent stripes, a green splatter newsprint circle, and a tea bag, printed with a geometric Balzer stamp and a white stamp pad.

Final step: I used a new Artistcellar stencil to put some flower shapes on the page. They were randomly placed and I applied white printmaking paint using both a small makeup sponge and my finger. I was tempted to write on it, but sometimes colors and shapes are enough, so I quilt while I was ahead. Well, I also couldn't find the pen I wanted, or just the right word stamps and stencils so I decided to leave the page wordless...well, not exactly wordless since there are words in the Corcoran ad and in the newsprint, but wordless in that I didn't add any meaningful, heartfelt words to the page.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Painting on Newsprint and Jane Davenport Face Stencils

The latest challenge from the Paper Traders Yahoo group that I belong to is to use newsprint as a background, then add paint or other elements. These pieces are unfinished, and will be 5x7 when I trim then down.
After using matte medium to adhere sections of the New York Sunday Times and strips of painted deli paper to recycled cardboard, I traced my artistcellar Jane Davenport face stencils with a black sharpie onto the newsprint. Next, I added Dina Wakley white gesso in the face and randomly in the background.
After it was dry, I added stars with my Jill K. Berry stencils using pastel brush-tipped markers.  It needed a little more oomph, so I added my newly acquired Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps using a black ink pad. A little extra color was added here and there with markers, pale Tim Holtz distress stain and a lime silk acrylic glaze. 
Two of these will be traded with Paper Traders, one will become a thank you card for a friend who got me tickets to see Eric Clapton at Madison Square Garden this weekend (!!!!) and one I will keep. Now I just have to decide who gets which one.
If you think this design looks familiar, you're right. I used the Jane Davenport stencil for one of my Artiscellar Friday posts last fall, and liked it so much it became my facebook photo.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deli Paper Freedom & My Junque Journal

When I signed up for a class with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, one of the items on the "to bring" list was painted deli paper. I was clueless, so I emailed Julie and found out where to buy it. She sent me a link, and it was shipped, from Amazon, quickly. It came in a larger box that had two pretty large boxes of deli paper in it. I was pretty clueless about what the deli paper would be used for, and what kind of paint to use on it.

I experimented with a couple kinds of paint, and found it took acrylic well. I had a box in my closet full of assorted bottles of acrylic paint that I had inherited from my sister in law, so I started experimenting. I also liked Lumiere paint on the deli paper. I also liked the smears of paint on the newsprint that I used to cover my work surface.

orange pocket folder, covered with painted deli paper,
painted newsprint, washi tape and printmaking experiment

Remember those days in elementary school when the art teacher would come, and a half hour later everyone has paintings drying all over the floor and counters? Big brush strokes of bold color on cheap paper? Yeah, I was right back there. The deli paper dried quickly, and many had a see-through quality. They were so lightweight and colorful and fun.

painted deli paper page from "junque journal"

Rather than purchasing expensive canvas and doing what I would hope would be a masterpiece, painting on the deli paper was very freeing and therapeutic. The deli paper also takes stamps well, and you can layer it too.

I decided to use the paper to spruce up the inside of my junque journal that I made in Julie's class. I applied the deli paper pretty randomly, tearing it with a metal edged ruler, and didn't worry about precision or right angles. The junque journal is the perfect place to make a mess, glue in not quite perfect designs, and experiment without worrying about any kind of self-judgment. I include a few pocket folders that are great for tucking in notes, sketches, ideas and instructions. Deli paper is my new "go-to" surface to paint on. It is inexpensive, light, flexible, and unpretentious. And great fun.

orange pocket folder covered with painted deli paper

Monday, April 20, 2015

Black Butterflies with Stencils, Stamps and Vintage Collage

Butterflies are popular image, symbolizing freedom, beauty, fine weather, release of emotion and much more. Even the word is beautiful--Papillion in French, mariposa in Spanish and Kamama in Cherokee.

Many people use butterfly images with light pastels and girly colors. These ATCs are unusually dark. After several hours of experimentation with various paints, stamps and printed images, and having no success with my butterfly ATCs, I decided to try using a black butterfly stamp over an existing background.

I started with a digital collage that I made in Photoshop using Graphics Fairy vintage advertising images. Using white printmaking paint, I sponged through various stencils to give the collage another dimension.

After the white paint had dried, I used a black Stazon ink with commercial square stamp of a butterfly and vintage French images. Since the stamp had a black border around it, I used two different washi tapes to hide the horizontal lines, which also unified the design. The washi butterfly tape repeated the theme, and the airmail tape repeated the French postal elements from the stamp. The white printmaking paint under the black stamp gave the cards a texture that isn't visible in the photo, but adds another dimension of visual interest.

These three ATCS will be traded with the Yahoo group Paper Traders. I made a total of six--I usually make extra ATCs, and keep the one that is my very favorite and also the ones that didn't come out quite right.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Balzer Junkie and Junque Journals at the Ink Pad

A couple weeks ago I took a class at the Ink Pad with Julie Fei Fan Balzer. What a dynamo! With some people, I kind of wonder how they got so well known or why they have a big following. Or why they have a line of products on the market.

 After taking a class with Julie, the answer is: because she deserves it. She is really funny, really talented, and a very good teacher. I am now officially a "Julie Junkie."

We made "Junque Journals" took all day, but is usually a two-day class, so she packed a lot of info into one lesson.

I couldn't resist buying a couple of her new stamp designs, which I used in this little piece above, which I will soon be adding to my junque journal.

The thing that kept me, for many years, from doing journal pages was the blank white page. Or the expensive blank white watercolor paper. I felt like I had to do something deserving of the high quality paper or the beautifully bound journal.

So, it was very freeing to make a journal out of junk. We used paper that was lying around our "stash", unfinished paintings, designs that weren't quite right, and quite a few file folders. Yup, those manila ones that are in every office. Here's a few photos of the journal I made...I must confess, I don't love the cover. But that's okay. I will probably be more apt to use it than one that is beautiful. I do love the ribbon though. I went minimalistic and used some Artistcellar stencils on a plain black gessoed background.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tea Bag and Vintage Photo ATCs

For several years, I have been experimenting with using dried, empty tea bags in my art. I used to print on them using stamps and white printmaking paint, but decided to see how using stencils would work with the white paint and teabags. The short story—great!

I started with some ATC blanks—I like the Art Canvas ATCs from USArtquest, which are lightweight and strong. I coated each blank with matte medium and gently placed the teabag on top. I pulled the bags carefully around the edges of the card, folding the corners so there would be no lumps or puckers, and wrapping them around the back.

The color of the teabags varies according to brewing time and type of tea. Ordinary tea gives a nice warm brown, and I love the Yogi tea called Muscle Recovery, which gives a pretty yellowish color. There are often happy accidents with staining on the folds that gives interesting texture to the bags.

I added an extra layer of matte medium on top of the bags—I was afraid that the wet paint might cause the bags to “grow” while I was stenciling, but the top coat of matte medium prevented any puckering or growth.

I tested three stencils: Balzer Flower Piecing, Balzer Deco Doily and Crafters Workshop Mini Damask. Two of three worked well, but the mini damask was so delicate that the thick white paint smeared and blobbed—most likely the fault of the sloppy artist more than the stencil. I wiped off the excess paint off the card and moved ahead anyway.

On the flower piecing card, I added a small vintage photo of my mother that had been output on printable cotton, and surrounded it with lyrics from of John Lennon’s “Instant Karma.”

For the doily stenciled ATC, I used the same photo and more Instant Karma lyrics, but arranged differently. For the ATC with the smeared stencil, I adhered a small image of my parent’s wedding photo (December 1945) with matte medium. The photo had been output in sepia tones on Extravorganza printable silk and was very delicate and sheer. I added a piece of lace at the bottom, and with a silver mini brad, attached a cross and an appropriate quote on love from a Yogi Tea hangtag.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Explore Hidden Corners

Creating unplanned collages in a journal is a practice that is good for the soul, and something that I need to make time for daily. It is very freeing to just grab four or five unrelated papers and randomlyusing matte mediumglue them onto a blank page. You never know where it will lead, how it will turn out, and what thoughts and emotions it will evoke.

I rummaged through my scrap box and chose a few background papers, and selected a couple others for a possible central figure. Step one has a section of a magazine ad and some vintage paper that had accidentally been sprayed with lime and turquoise Dylusions ink while working on another project. At the top, I added a piece from a magazine story on decorating and fabrics.

I love butterflies, so the central figure is a royalty free butterfly from The Graphics Fairy. The page began to feel like I had opened an old trunk in the attic of grandma’s farmhouse, so I added a lacey Victorian effect with white printmaking paint through an old Crafters Workshop stencil. To add to the old attic feeling, I dabbed on antique linen Distress Stain, which enhanced the aged appearance of the newsprint.

Thinking of old houses and attics, the words “explore hidden corners” popped into my head, so I used tiny alphabet stamps with a black archival ink pad to write the phrase. Next, using a Pocket Stencil, I added the word SEEK in two places using a fine black pen, gray Tombow brush tip marker, pencil and white Signo pen. One of the SEEKs changed color from light to dark, and the other faded from dark at the top to light on the bottom.

The final touches were some white dots, some black and white random triangle created with the Harlequin stencil, and a strip of butterfly washi tape on the bottom.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Stuff Your Stuff ATCs for Paper Traders

The latest Paper Traders Yahoo group challenge was called My Stuff Your Stuff. We each stuffed a business sized white envelope with ephemera, mailed them to our partners, and made two atcs using their stuff, which we then mailed back to our partner.

My partner was Nancy, and she sent me some beautiful papers, vintage images, lace, old game parts and some circus themed items.

Here are the two atcs I made with her goodies.

I used her papers for the background on "imagine" but aged it with a distress stain. Next, I stamped sepia distress ink on with a favorite swirly stamp, and a little fleur de lis stamp. After it dried, I added gold paint through a harlequin stencil, and gold dimensional paint dots. The edges were aged slightly with a brown chalk ink stamp pad rubbed gently along the edge.

The baseball themed card started with some fancy paper that came in my surprise package. I added strips horizontally and vertically of two other papers. The central figure was cut carefully from a postage stamp. Again I used the harlequin stencil, but just a few to suggest a baseball diamond. They were done with a pencil outline and filled in with a gray TomBow marker. The words were cut from some play money, just added for visual interest.

Faux Raku Recycled Jar

Recycled Body Butter skin cream containers make great homes for little art supplies. The large size from the Body Shop made a great home for my teeny alphabet stamps—I had about four sets in various fonts that fit nicely into the beige plastic jar.

At first I just taped the stamp label to the top of the jar…but it looked sooo ugly on my art shelf. I recently decided the time had come to kick it up a notch. Using a generous amount of matte medium as an adhesive, I started by gluing a pretty beige and white  vintage papercompliments of my friend Susan Morgan Hothonto the jar’s lid, side and bottom. Pretty, but once it dried—lumpy. Maybe I hurried, maybe I used too much matte medium, or maybe the paper was too thick and stiff.
Instead of ripping it off, I decided to try and camouflage it with Dina Wakely Crackle Paste. I selected the Garden Gate stencil, applied the paste, and waited a couple hours. It was worth the wait. When the paste dried on the jar, the effect reminded me of raku pottery. I rubbed on some antique linen Distress Stain and brown chalk ink to enhance the crackle.

 I wasn’t sure about the treatment of the side of the lid. It would have been awkward to stencil it with the crackle paste, and might have worn off over time from twisting and handling.

A light bulb went off in my head—washi tape would do the trick—and what could be more perfect than alphabet washi tape? I wouldn’t need a label because the alphabet tape would remind me of the alphabet blocks inside the jar. The tape was just the right width to fit on the lid's side, and should also be durable.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Retro Modern Woman carries a wonderful selection of Jane Davenport face stencils. A lot of people—artists and non-artists alike—are uncomfortable drawing faces, and using one of Jane’s stencils is a good way to get over the “fear of faces.”
This journal page began with the Jane stencil called “side.” I used a fine black pen to trace it onto my light blue cardstock journal page. The stencil allows the hat/hair and clothing choices up to the artist.
I decided to start the design by stenciling a soft collar on the woman, and used the Balzer Deco Doily stencil and a white paint marker for a soft, turn-of-the-20th century lace collar effect.

The next issue was the top of the head—hair or hat? I was thinking about the contrast between what is on the outside of a person and what is on the inside, and tried a steampunk lace stencil to imply a brain churning with ideas.

She began to look like a weird retro sci-fi woman. I added color to the face and head with the white paint pen and brush tipped markers. To further illustrate the sci-fi idea, I added gears from the steampunk pocket stencils, and a few shapes from the Garden Gate stencil.

The last addition was words—small words, printed on Avery clear mailing labels were added, along with the inspirational pocket stencil word BELIEVE. Last, I hand-wrote the word “dream” on the right side of the page. My aim was to illustrate the many women—past and present—who are stronger and smarter on the inside than the soft, feminine façade the world sees at a quick glance.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Splatter-Technique House-Shaped ATCs

The PaperTraders Yahoo trade group never seems to run out of good ideas and new ideas. One of their newest challenges was to make house-shaped ATCs using the splatter technique. For a sloppy artist like me who is often making splattery messes, it seemed a natural fit.

Splattering on purpose instead of accidentally had me going back to my early FIT days when I was studying Textile Design, and I took a class called "Painted Wovens." We had to paint very precise stripes, then, at a perfect 90 degree angle, splatter areas carefully to create the same visual effect as a woven plaid would.

I rummaged around in my bin of brushes, and found that--luckily--I still had my Lactona brand toothbrush, which creates a very delicate splatter.

I splattered a variety of papers, including vintage magazine print, glossy fashion magazines, and painted watercolor paper.

I went online and found some cute houses, shrunk them to 2.5" x 3.5", and cut them to use the parts as templates. Next, I cut pieces of the splattered paper and fiddled with them until I got an arrangement I liked. the details were added with white and colored pens, cherry Ricola wrappers were cut to give the little red flowers, and on some I used a mini-brad as a doorknob. I also added, for visual interest, some inspirational words that had been printed on Avery clear mailing labels and some dots, made by punching out little circles of splattered paper.

I made five, kept two (usually I make extra, then keep my very favorite and the one that I think is the worst), and have three ready to trade once the partners are announced.

"The Bridge" ATC Dolls

This summer, there was a new TV series called “The Bridge” that premiered on FX in July. Somehow my local deli ended up—in August—having coffee sleeves advertising the show. I loved the graphics, and the faces reminded me of Starsky & Hutch, from the 1970s TV show. I collected a few of the sleeves and tucked them in my art bin.

This fall, we had an Artistcellar ATC trade through Facebook. I was a little ATC stenciling maniac one Saturday, and made about 40 different ATCs. I traded five and tucked the rest into my art bin for future use. I used many stencils, including the Harlequin, Sunny Compass Rose, Mini Chakras, and pocket stencil words.

 On a recent day off, I pulled out my art bin and rediscovered the unfinished Artistcellar ATCs, a bunch of other unfinished work, and the coffee sleeves, so I decided to combine them.

First, I carefully cut the coffee sleeve so each face was separate. I used pieces from the backside of the coffee sleeve to create necks, and glued them to the faces with matte medium. I added a little packing tape on the back for extra strength. Next, I trimmed the faces down, but left the orange road to suggest a beret. That looked a little strange, so I decided to go really strange, and added crazy hats.

I called the face with the moustache “Starsky,” and gave him a body from one of the extra Artistcellar ATCs that I didn't trade in the facebook exchange. The ATC was created with a Photoshop collage of Graphics Fairy butterflies, which was printed on cardstock. I overprinted it with pocket stencil inspirational words, and flipped the stencils over to create a word shadow in a different color. The head was out of proportion to the body, so I went with the weirdness and gave him tiny child-sized vintage arms and legs from Graphics Fairy royalty free images, printed on cardstock and attached with mini brads.


Doll number two was, naturally, christened “Hutch.” He was awarded a crown, Graphics Fairy vintage child paper doll legs, and arms from a Disney prince. The body was a leftover ATC from a 1960s themed trade—it has a graphic image from a concert poster and a few of the lyrics from the folk/rock anthem “Woodstock” that were combined in Photoshop. Both ATC bodies were edged with brown chalk ink to give a vintage effect.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Journal Collage with Thermofax

Unplanned collaging in your journal is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing. By letting yourself be totally instinctive, you lubricate your brain and “prime the well” of creativity.

Many writers follow the steps in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, and write morning pages to prime their creative well. Artists often follow her process, but do artwork in a journal daily, sometimes in combination with writing. Although I must confess I don’t work in my journal every day because of time constraints, I DO do something artistic or creative daily, even if it is just a doodle while I am on the phone or in a meeting.

One of my journals is just stuffed with little doodled sketches I have done over the years. I often flip through the doodle journal when I am looking for inspiration, and I have translated a lot of my doodles into bigger projects.

One of the doodle shapes that keeps coming up is a swirly twirly heart. A few years ago I sent some of my designs to fiber artist Lynn Krawczyk (yes, the very same person who has a collection of four Artistcellar stencils!), who turned them into thermofax screens. It is very cool to be able to print your own designs on paper and fabric. The screens print very evenly, and even a sloppy artist who is always hurrying (who me?!) can successfully use them. You can read more about thermofax in Lynn’s Esty shop or on her website.

If you want to see some of my other thermofax experiments, check my blog--there are several posts with thermofax work, or click here for a direct link about my thermofax fun.

On this page, using matte medium, I collaged a bunch of unrelated paper pieces—a food receipt, magazine pages, and leftover design scraps.  The word BOOK was from a magazine advertisement; I liked it because it reminded me how much I love to read.

As a central focus, I added an imperfect thermofax print. I printed it with turquoise screen printing ink, and while it was wet, sprinkled embossing powder on top of the paint, then heated it. The heart shape looked okay, but there were some accidental sprinkles on the bottom of the heart that looked smeary. Still, I liked the heart’s color and shape and decided to use it in the collage anyway.

I decided to add some subtle stencils to the page. I used sections of the Flower Piecing stencil here and there with a fine black pen and white signo pen. Next, to camouflage the smeared thermofax heart, I added black dots with a fat sharpie marker around the edge, then added some gradations of white over the smears with my Faber-Castell: Stampers Big White Brush Pen. Last, I took some black and white washi tape, cut it into thin strips, and added them around the word book and above the heart.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love According to Rumi

The minute I opened my jar of Dina Wakely Crackle Paste, I knew wanted to use it for a Valentine’s Day project. Somehow I felt that it would work well in a heart shape with pink shades, and represent how the human heart stays whole and strong even though it may have cracks and scars from a lifetime of emotion.

I tested the paste on several kinds of paper—it worked great on cardboard, cardstock and heavy colored paper, especially black. On shiny surfaces, it cracked and peeled off. When I tried it on red tissue paper, it shriveled the paper too much. For this piece, I selected a small piece of heavy orange paper, and, after taping the corners down, pulled the crackle paste through a harlequin stencil using a big plastic flat-edged spatula.

Some of the paste leaked under the stencil…mostly due to the fact that I was hurrying. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough time—I hurry because I am excited and impatient when I am in the “art zone.” Once the paste dried, it didn’t matter—the smears added to the textured effect. I decided to cut it into a heart shape.


For the background, I used Derwent blocks in shades of pink, red and orange on a white journal page. After smearing the color with a very wet paintbrush and mushing it around, I added some white Crayola slick stix to soften it in the center.


The paper I used was a little too thin—next time I would use a true watercolor paper so it didn’t buckle. I considered ironing the page, but was afraid that the I would lose the design and it would bleed off like when you iron the wax out of batik. I did hurry the drying along with a blowdryer, which helped flatten it a bit.

Once the background was dry, I added a variety of stenciled images with a Faber-Castell white PITT pen. The effect was soft and watery, which was just what I wanted. I used the chakra pocket stencils, mini damask, the edge of the Balzer deco doily stencil and sections of the garden gate.


Next, I “auditioned” the orange crackle heart on the page to see if I liked it, and to see where I wanted to glue it. After deciding on placement, I added some brown chalk ink to the heart edges to age it, and smeared a bit lightly over the stencil to add to the aging and enhance the crackle. I also tore the background page out of the spiral journal, trimmed the torn edge away and added a strip of solid orange paper on the side.

A favorite Rumi quote seemed to be just the right words for the page.  After I selected the types sizes and fonts I wanted, I printed the Rumi quote out on Avery clear mailing labels and applied them to my page.

My thought for Valentine’s Day is that everyone should celebrate self-love, and not be afraid to chase their dream, go after what they love, and follow the little voice in their head that is whispering the way.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dina Wakely Faces ATCs for Roses on my Table

When I saw the theme for the February Roses on my Table ATC trade, it was right up my alley. I love faces of all kinds. The face seems to be my "go to" ideas. I have all kinds and sizes of face stamps, face stencils, vintage photos of odd looking people and many self portraits.

The problem for this trade was...which kind of face? Since an ATC is only 2.5" x 3.5", that limited the field. There was also a time factor...I only had a week to do it, and with a full time job (and you thought maybe I was a full-time artist?) there was a time crunch.

I settled on my Dina Wakely stamps. For the background, I used the stamp with Stazon ink on vintage newspaper prints for some, and a white painted background for some others. I used white paint and a white paint pen in the background and gave it a grungy, aged effect. On the ones with the whiteish paint background, I used a Retro Café Arts Tree of Life stencil with a pencil, then filled in color with pastel TomBow brush tipped markers. I added words that had been printed on clear Avery mailing labels, and edged them with distress ink.

Year of the Cat Journal Page

2015 will be the year of the sheep, not the Year of the Cat. But somehow the song by Al Stewart—a hit way back in 1976—keeps running through my head. There is so much beautiful imagery in the song, but my favorite line is: "She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a watercolour in the rain..." I kept wanting to try and illustrate it. It took three tries until I got something I liked.


I started the page with Derwent blocks on Coquille watercolor paper, and using both a koi watercolor brush and a traditional sable brush, added color and water until I got something soft and dreamy. I left white space where I wanted the figure to go.


From a fashion magazine, I chose a photo of a model in a silky slip dress, carefully cut out the figure, and used matte medium to adhere it to the page. That dress had a black and white diamond pattern, so I tried whiting it out with a white Crayola water soluble Slick Stix. It didn't cover as opaquely as I wanted, so I carefully painted over the dress with white gesso.


Then it seemed that the white dress was too stark, so I gently added a touch of color on top of the gessoed dress with Derwent blocks in shades of orange and pink.


The song also refers to "...the blue tiled walls near the market stalls..." so I wanted to add a suggestion of tile—not necessarily blue tiles, but a feeling of tiles—without competing with the subtlety of the watercolor and dress. With a Faber-Castell: Stampers Big White Brush Pen, I used sections of the Balzer Design Flower Piecing and Doily stencils in just a few places. The edge of the Doily stencil in the top left corner hints at the sun. The subtlety of the white brush pen over the watercolor background was just what I wanted, and kept the feeling of watercolors in the rain.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Random Instinctive Journal Collage

Some days, I have an idea of a design or art piece that I want to work on. When I am doing work for my Friday blogposts, I have to remember to stop myself and take a few shots as things develop so I can write about the stages of development and choices I make.

Other days I just want to go with my instincts and do some random collage work in my journal, without stopping to think about it or document the process. On this page that I made a few days ago, I just grabbed some papers and magazine photos, rummaged through my boxes of ephemera, and started gluing. I used the method I learned this summer in Kelly Kilmer's class at the Ink Pad.

The background is a vintage ad for Corona typewriters, compliments of Susan Morgan Hoth, who has an Esty shop called LaVogue where she sells vintage items. She was kind enough to send me a bunch of imperfect pages that were not in condition to sell, but perfect for collage.

The polka-dot washi tape came on a package from another artist, and I saved it for a rainy day. I wrote words with a sharpie that came to me as I was working on the page. The high-fashion polka dot coat made me think of individuality and speaking your mind, either through words or through art, in contrast to the shy woman in the kimono. I stamped a Chinese word, fortunate, with black ink and added a few words with a white signo pen.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Things Light and Airy


The Artistcellar Cathedral stencil series makes me want to hop on a plane and run away to Europe. The Amiens stencil is especially lovely. I wanted to use it the minute I opened the package. It seemed so soft and lovely, so I chose a very pale, buttery yellow acrylic paint, and carefully sponged it on to a journal page to test it.   

The rest of the page cried out for stencils, so I selected the Balzar Flower Piecing stencil, and added it at the bottom in the same pale yellow.


The page looked so light and refreshing, like lemonade on a summer’s day. But…of course I wanted to add more elements.

Butterflies seemed perfect, so I chose some Graphics Fairy royalty free vintage images, carefully cut them, and applied them to the page with matte medium

To accent the airy feel, I added some strips of my own paper, designed in Photoshop.  I scanned a design, made with hand-carved stamps that had green ink applied on yellow paper. When the green ink dried, I stamped white printmaking paint on top, using the same stamp design. The stamp on the top right was the one I used for this project since it had a lot of texture.  

Last, I added inspirational pocket stencil words with brown chalk ink, and a few small inspirational words scattered around the page. The small words were printed on Avery clear mailing labels, using an old typewriter-style font, then peeled off, cut to size, and applied to the page.