Saturday, May 11, 2019

Dawn in the Garden

Years ago I began studying reiki and investigating alternative healing methods. One idea and image that stayed with me was the idea that energy is especially powerful at dawn and dusk. Meditating or doing reiki in a garden at either sunrise or sunset would not only have a calming and healing effect on the person, but would also help the plants grow better. The idea stayed in the back of my mind for a long time.
For my painting Dawn in the Garden, I started and stopped over a course of a few months. I did a background that was pretty, but I didn't quite know what to add to it to make it more interesting. I kept painting and adding more stencils (especially my favorite compass rose from Gwen's Ceramic Tiles club set) until eventually I was ready to add the foreground.
When I got a new shipment of StencilGirl® stencils, I knew that Carol Wiebe's Sacred Feminine angelic beings were just right for my foreground. I used black and sepia archival ink and a purple acrylic paint.
Of course the angels needed wings, so I added some Dresden wings and grunged them up with some ink.

When I lived in the country the little bunnies were always having a delicious dawn a dusk meal. They seemed to me perfect companions for the angelic beings.

First I cut them out of white paper and placed them around the canvas. I used a rabbit stencil from Tracie Lyn Huskamp. Then I sponged them on with white acrylic, but they were too sheer, so later I redid them using white crackle paint. I also added some vintage shoes from The Graphics Fairy.
I added a bunch of stencils in greens and yellows to suggest foliage, including one of my favorite stencils, Lacy Lotus by Jessica Sporn, and using circles from Carolyn Dube's Playtime StencilClub set, a sunrise/sunset with pinks, oranges and yellows.
I also added some grunged gold Dresden crowns with faux gems. I also used a black General's Scribe All pencil to add some shadows around the bunnies.

The figures weren't quite the colors I wanted, but fortunately, Gwen Lafluer's new Boho Blends worked perfectly to give the angelic figures some depth and shine. I used Wrought Iron on the far right figure, carefully masking over the shoes and bunnies with blue painter's tape.
 On the middle figure, the Cinnamon Boho Blend from the Spice Market trio was just right.
On the far left figure, the original purple was not working at all. I carefully placed the stencil back on the painting, added some VersaMark embossing ink, then sprinkled Lapis Lazuli embossing powder generously. I tapped off the excess powder, carefully poured it into the container, then zapped the figure with my heat gun.
What a huge difference! The figures were more harmonious, and had shine and depth.

The foreground still wasn't quite right, and I put the canvas away for a while. I wanted to add some flowers at the bottom of the canvas, but they just didn't come out right when I tried stenciling them with acrylic paint.

It dawned on me that some tiny flowers with the Paprika embossing powder would be just the perfect final touch! I used a flower stencil from Ann Butler's March club set for the flowers, then added a drop of gold Nuvo Drops for the centers.
Truthfully, I have never tested out the garden meditation theory...but I do aim to one day be a serene being gathering and giving energy in a garden of my own!

My StencilGirl Creative Team Debut!

My first post as an official StencilGirl® Creative Team Member debuted on May 7. I went back to my fabric designer roots for my project. (Here's the link to my debut.) The theme was "abstract" which was a bit of a work tends to be a combination of collage, faces and paper dolls, so abstract was a little out of my comfort zone.

I decided to embrace my roots and instincts, work with my favorite colors and shapes, and create giant doodle-inspired geometric painting. I pulled out a 12"x12" canvas, my drawing pencil, my favorite colors, and got to work. Here's a few how-to steps. For the full tutorial, please click on the link above.

Stencils used:
Stencil Club, March 2019, by Ann Butler, large stencil
Stencil Club, January 2019, Mash Up by Mary Beth Shaw and Seth Apter, medium stencil
Stencil Club, April 2013, Stitchery by Mary Beth Shaw, medium stencil
Grove Street by Nathalie Kalbach

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Summer of Love Envelopes and Paper Doll

The sweet little motifs in the March 2019 StencilClub designs by Ann Butler evoked images of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and propelled me back to my younger years. I remembered the special dresses and hats my mother made for me to wear on Easter, and the outfits that, later on, I made for myself to wear to school, dances, proms, and even my graduation. The stencils also reminded me that my first calling, as an artist, was fabric design. Back in the 1980s I worked as a print stylist for a fabric manufacturer in NYC's famous Garment Center. Ann's stencils reminded me of some of our patterns, which were fondly called "dumb florals" or "bread and butter" designs because they were so popular and saleable.

I happily  mixed up some '70s-inspired pastels with my acrylics and got busy making some textiley designs.
Painted and stenciled deli paper
First, I painted sheets of deli paper with the pastel colors. Once dry, I started stenciling randomly with the new set.

I had a big supply of clear mailing sleeves leftover from a recent mail art exchange, so decided to use the painted deli paper to make envelopes, and sized them to fit.
Templates for the envelope and card
The gold circles are washi tape. I miscalculated the shape of one of the flaps, and, with washi tape, added extra paper to my template so it would overlap properly.
First, with a piece of heavy watercolor paper, I made a card template slightly smaller than the sleeve. Next, I folded, measured, and cut some paper to make an envelope template. I traced around the envelope template to create the shape of the envelope on each of the five painted and stamped sheets of deli paper.

Painted and stenciled deli paper, cut and ready to fold

Pale blue embossing powder was sprinkled over the floral image, which was made by stamping VersaMark through a stencil, and on to the painted envelope
The painted and stenciled unglued envelope, ready to assemble.
On the front bottom and on the back flap, decorative edging was applied with VersaMark and gold embossing powder.

I added some magic with more stenciling, but this time, instead of paint, I used a VersaMark stamp pad and embossing powder. In addition to the March 2019 club set, I used the April 2013 Stitchery set, designed by Stencil Girl founder Mary Beth Shaw. The Stitchery set fit perfectly with my Summer of Love theme.

Five finished handmade deli paper envelopes.
I was really happy with the set of envelopes, but I had quite a few scraps left. Rather than stuffing them in my scrap box for later use, I decided to make one of my favorite "go to" things: a paper doll.

Scraps of painted deli paper were glued to heavy watercolor paper, then cut to create the doll.
Using a template, intentionally mismatched doll parts were cut for the body and limbs.
A dark edge was added by running a mini dauber and sepia Archival Ink along the edges.
Wanting to keep the same Summer of Love theme going, I searched for just the right face to evoke the era. I found a face in an ad that reminded me of Julie from The Mod Squad, a show that was the epitome of cool in its day. I carefully glued the face to some heavy watercolor paper, cut it out, and ran the sepia mini dauber around the edges.
I fashioned a Woodstock-worthy floral crown from a little piece of pink scalloped edging and added some tiny satin rosettes. Some "granny boots" from The Graphics Fairy completed her hippie look. Still, something was missing...wings!
Using a butterfly stencil from Gwen Lafluer, I applied VersaMark onto black paper, then sprinkled gold embossing powder, and zapped it with my heat gun. The final touch was adding pink circles at the edges of the wings, which I punched out from the deli paper leftover scraps.
The finished Summer of Love doll, atop a pile of matching envelopes.
Doesn't this just make you want to go home, pull out the old Simplicity patterns, play the Mamas and Papas, and watch reruns of The Mod Squad? Or at least attend the next Coachella festival?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Intention Cards

In early 2019 I was introduced to new idea in small art: Intention Cards. My friend Karen Musgrave had been making them, and we decided to trade a few. We have been cyber friends for years, first "meeting" in art quilting groups, then being part of several splinter groups that traded small art like ATCs, tags, bookmarks and prayer flags.

We decided to trade five, but made them double sided so there were 10 designs in all. There would be enough for each day of the week plus a few extra. I debated about whether to use inspirational quotes or just a word or two, and ended up keeping the words very simple. Rather than choosing a word and making art to illustrate it, I chose to make the art, then let the images inspired the words for each card.
At the top of the post, side one of the Intention Cards, and just above, the flip sides.
I used a combination of my favorite techniques: stamping, stenciling, and collage. Most of the stencils were from StencilGirl, especially from one of my favorite artists, Gwen Lafluer. I used grunge techniques that I learned during a workshop at Ink Pad NYC with the fabulous Seth Apter, and embellished many of the cards with my go-to supply: embossing powder. Vintage images from The Graphics Fairy were printed on paper and used in the collages.

I also added strips of washi tape and dots of Nuvo Drops and edged the cards with Archival Ink in sepia and/or black, using a fingertip dauber. The words were added last, hand written or hand printed. I debated whether to use pre-printed words, word stamps, word stencils...or whether to try and use perfect calligraphy, but in the end, I threw caution to the wind, grabbed an ordinary Sharpie and wrote freehand on the cards.

The idea is to place one Intention Card in your home in a room where you will glance at it several times a day, and change them daily. It is intended to be a gentle reminder. I chose reminders to be myself, to not be afraid of expressing my feelings, to notice the little things that are beautiful and often forgotten in our daily rushing. Some people choose to make their intention cards with religious quotes or universal symbols. Whether religious or not, the cards should be positive, inspirational and gentle.

I am busy making more cards to add to my collection, and hope to teach a class on Intention Cards later this year at The Ink Pad NYC.