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.

starsky and hutch final tweaked

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.

Twirly Heart 3x3lowrz

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.

orange 1

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.

orange on pink

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 CafĂ© 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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Most Unusual Hendrick's Gin Man

Hendrick's Gin has a really quirky ad campaign going on. I recognized the royalty free antique image that they used as the base of the ad since I had used it in some of my previous artwork.

I spotted the black and white ad in a magazine and saved it in my collage box. On Saturday, I decided it was time to see what I could do with it.

I added some color with brush tipped Tombow markers, a strip of vintage newsprint with spray paint on it, washi tape, a mini top hat and little vintage male paper doll legs. (royalty free Graphics Fairy images)

The orange and purple strips are from some paper scraps--I tried to make some art in the style of Jeanne Williamson, who is known for her work with construction fence.

It called out for some Artistcellar mini steampunk gears from their pocket stencil series. I used Inka Gold creamy paint, which goes on very smoothly and perfectly through a stencil, even for a sloppy artist who is super impatient and always hurrying.

Last but not least, I added words with mismatched mini alphabet blocks that seemed to express the mood of the quirky man.

According to the Graphics Fairy, the "graphic is from an 1880’s wholesale Pharmacy Catalog, for some Eye Guards /Goggles, to be warn while driving, bicycling etc."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Constructing a New Art Journal

8-book open
This summer, I learned how to make a fabulous folding journal when I took a class at the Ink Pad with Kelly Kilmer. That beloved journal is almost full, so I decided to pull out Kelly's instructions and make myself a new one. This time, I decided to use recycled cardboard. I had been saving cereal, pizza and cracker boxes with an idea of up-cycling them into a journal.

After some deliberation, I settled on using some of my original fabric on the exterior. Here is the design I started with, which I uploaded to the Spoonflower website and translated onto 100% cotton fabric. I painted the design with watercolors and watercolor pencils.

ny floralpink roses web

I measured the pieces carefully, and then glued it to my cover fabric with matte medium. On the corners  I added some Aileen’s extra thick glue. The fabric was a little bulky, so it was tricky to get the corners to be precise. (My first journal had a rice paper cover, which was much easier to manipulate, yet strong and durable.)

3-book cover open standing

I discovered that the cereal boxes were pretty flimsy, so I cut another front, back and spine and glued it to the first set, which doubled the thickness. I glued the printed areas together so that the cereal and pizza designs didn't show through my fabric.

After the exterior was dry, I added an inside page, also made from my own design. Here is the original mandala that I made as a lunchtime relaxation exercise, and the textile design that I created from it and printed on paper.

My mandala series was done by tracing around a CD, then drawing inside the circle randomly with pencil. I filled in color with brush tipped markers and colored pencils. The mandala was scanned, reduced, then stepped and repeated in my QuarkXPress design and Photoshop programs to create the paper.

orange.leaf.mandala small web
orange mandala floral web
6-book inside w signatures

I only had blue cardstock on hand for the pages, but since I usually collage over the page anyway, the color didn’t matter much. I folded them into “signatures,” put in holes with an awl and sewed them into the book with waxed linen thread.

5-tying signatures

I couldn’t just leave a blank journal lying around…so I filled the first page with a printout of one of my self-portraits, and added newsprint, an Artistcellar pocket stencil word (of course I chose the very appropriate word CREATE!), a star from the Jill K. Berry Sunny Compass Rose stencil and added some dots with a white signo pen, black marker and pink paint marker.

pg 1 finished

This journal is not as precise as the first one I made, one side is about 1/8” bigger than the others, the corners are not quite square, I measured wrong so that the inside pages were too long and had to be trimmed, but I am pretty happy with it anyway. With my original fabric on the cover, and original paper on the inside cover, and a few new journal pages completed, it really says “me.” I made sure I used it right away; I have a couple beautiful journals on my shelf that are just too gorgeous to use, and I wanted to make sure that this wasn't turned into an art object, but something I would use and love every day.

7-book final