Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pray Love Dream

With 2016 still unwritten, just into the month of January, I got thinking about where I am and what I want. Really want. I know what I don’t want: a show, a gallery, a gig teaching online, or an Esty shop. My artwork is too personal to sell. I do give it away to people that I know will appreciate it, but I really have trouble parting with original work. It usually comes out of a place deep inside me, and has a lot of meaning. It is like giving birth. Each piece of art, each journal page is special, different, and definitely not perfect. I also don’t have time to make a bunch of little items just to sell. They would have to be good enough that someone would buy then, but not so good that they were too special to part with.
As a child I dreamed not of being famous, being the next Picasso or Monet. I dreamed of being a commercial artist. I dreamed of seeing my designs printed on walls and cloth and brochures and posters. And that is what I have been. Over the years I have been a textile designer and print stylist, and then newspaper and magazine layout artist.
A couple weekends ago I asked myself “what do you really want?” I meant art-wise. Of course I want world peace. I want the sick healed, the hungry fed, the lost found. So, I made a list in my journal of what I want, then I painted on top of it with my new watercolor set. Just a little color to pretty up the white page. Just enough to enhance, but not enough to cover the words. I said them aloud. I prayed on it.
A couple days later my name was on the short list of finalists for the Cloth Paper Scissors “design your own stencil” contest. With luck, my design, and stencil, will be in the May/June issue. I felt like my prayer had been answered. I know not everything people pray for happens. But this time, I really felt the universe was answering my call.
So, later in the weekend I finished an unfinished page. It started with a Jane Davenport stencil (called the ¾ stencil) that I tested out using an ordinary ballpoint pen on a white page. It was blah. So, I added some watercolor. And a little more. Then some colored pencil and some scribbles with marker. It started to shape up. Still, it was missing something, so I added words. First I added the big ones. Then I filled in with thoughts about going after your dreams, about how saying them out loud and writing them down helps make them real. I wrote about failing and not being afraid to fail.
As a little kid I dreamed of being an artist. That dream was not supported by my parents. After I got a degree in another field, I went back to school and did what I REALLY wanted to do. I knew couldn’t spend my life in the wrong field, wondering what if I went New York, what if I had tried to have an art career. So, I listened to my inner voice—not my inner critic—and never looked back.

Monday, January 18, 2016

"You Can't Always Be Pretty" Paper Doll

Paper doll with Dina Wakley stamp head
The head of this doll had been sitting around in my doll part box for months...maybe years. Of the set of four Dina Wakley heads that I purchased at the Ink Pad, it was the one that I used the least. There were two problems: the expression looked really sad, and when I stamped it onto yellow cardstock, the face image came out sketchy and uneven. Last night I challenged myself to use up some items that had been hanging around the doll box and make a new piece out of them.

The dress/body had been cut from a stamping experiment that was unsuccessful. It was blurry, and the splashed on paint didn't work with the purple ink and light green cardstock. I dressed it up a little with some punched out flowers, and attached them with mini brads. The legs are from a 1960s "go-go girl" paper doll, and I added a curlicue stamp to the bottom of the legs to give a look of boots. The arms are from a Victorian child paper doll, and are a little too short and fat to go with the long thin legs, but since people often have their limbs out of proportion, it seemed okay.

The "fix" for the face was easy, and I should have thought of it ages ago--I simply went over the sketchy parts and darkened it with a marker. The arms got a partial stencil to simulate a "sleeve" of tattoos. The doll seems to say, "I am not beautiful, I am unique and interesting." She looks like an urban hipster intellectual who shops in thrift stores and spends her money--instead of on clothes--on books...and probably art supplies. She is the anti-fashion doll, and is a reminder that it is okay to be serious and that you don't always have to be perky and smiling.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Journal Collage with Random Elements

Journal Spread using mail art and random elements from my art stash
Artists collect, reuse and recycle. For many, their studios are full of boxes and bins and shelves of  tidbits that are too interesting to throw away, but somehow have not yet found a place in their art.

These two journal pages use up the outside of an envelope that arrived from New Zealand, a face that started with a stamp, and vintage paper doll parts from the Graphics Fairy. I added doodles, washi tape and marker.

There is no hidden meaning. The white writing on the black background are words that came to me after I finished gluing the big face to the page; they are what she might say or what people might say about her for having a big head and tiny arms and legs. Around the head are words that were printed on silk. The words go alphabetically from A-Z and are leftover from a project that I did about two years ago about ABCs of Life for an artist.

Making these pages did not make too much of a dent in my hoard of arty bits and pieces. I still find myself buying new supplies. Some women can't resist shoes, some are always trying new recipies, some can't walk by the makeup counter without buying something new. My addiction is art...but it keeps me sane and happy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hands Project

Finished right hand
Several years ago I traded small artwork regularly with a small group of artists. With life and career changes, we have not been in regular touch, but recently my friend Karen suggested an art trade based on our own hands.

The concept was to make a left hand that would be a shared project, and mailed around, with each person adding something to it, then mailing to the next person, then back to the original artist. For the right side, we would make three finished hands and mail them to each participant.
The hard part was deciding how to decorate my hands…bright and wild and graphic? Soft and subtle and girly? Earth tones? What kind of base? Textured or smooth?
I decided to go with some of my favorite colors and techniques, so I traced my hand on some hot press watercolor paper and got to work. I was thinking of two things: the henna hands that are painted on women from India for special occasions, and my favorite color (well, one of my favorite colors) turquoise.  For the shared project, I started with a stencil that was similar to the Indian henna designs and used molding paste through it to get texture and dimension. I painted it about ¾ with a light turquoise acrylic paint.
three finished hands
The idea for making the right hands did not come as easily. First, I set about covering the hot press watercolor paper with tea bags that I had dyed a delicious yellow, using skins from fresh turmeric, and then printed with assorted stamps using white printmaking paint. I experimented in my journal first, and it is a good thing I did: the UHU glue stick changed the color of the yellow to an orangey shade….whoops! I tried using gel medium, and that worked fine, with no color shift. The tea bags were smaller than the hand, so I had to piece them together and overlap, which left lines where I didn’t really want them.

Rather than try to disguise the join marks, I opted to enhance them. With the Japanese pottery technique called kintsugi/kintsukuroi, where broken items are mended by using gold to fill the cracks, thus enhancing the item’s beauty, I tried a twist on the method. Using painter’s tape, I carefully taped above and below the join mark, leaving it exposed. Then I painted the line turquoise, let it dry, and removed the tape. The blue line was a little too stark, so I used a white pen and added dots on the blue line.
Using the same stencil that I used on the left hand, along with part of an Artistcellar lace doily stencil, I applied copper InkaGold paint with a cosmetic sponge, then carefully removed the stencil. Voila, faux henna!
Each artist will add something to the left hand
The next addition was words, small words from Dina Wakely stamps, and my own words applied using tiny wooden alphabet stamps and a henna colored ink pad. The large, inspirational words are from Artistcellar’s pocketstencils. I outlined the word with a black ink pen, then carefully sponged chalk ink through the stencil. For the fingernails, a cheery sun spiral mini stamp, and just for fun and texture, a few copper-colored square metal brads. The finishing touch was edging the whole hand with a sepia ink.



Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wondering About Life and the Road Not Taken

"Wondering" journal page with words added
The recent holidays were kind of a dry spell artistically. My few journal pages that I had time for looked blah. Looked safe. Looked okay. But they lacked the spark, the feeling that you get in a creative moment, or creative streak, when you feel inspired, when you try new things, when experiments work beautifully and even the messes are kind of good.

A few new supplies from The Ink Pad were just what I needed to kick-start my 2016 art journaling. Some Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps caught my eye, so they came home with me. A stamp of eyes from a famous painting spoke to me, and they too came home. Some paint, some stamp pads and a new white signo pen, and I was revved up and ready to experiment.

I started by testing the stamps on brown paper bags to see how they looked, and rotating them to form patterns--well, I am, at heart, a textile designer so making repeating patterns is second nature. The Balzer stamps are kind of like what I would carve if I had time, a big studio, and an undamaged shoulder. And of course skill at detailed carving...which I kind of don't have.

I ended up with 4 or 5 new pages in my journal. On the last page, I combined a stamp of the eyes, and added part of a Jane Davenport stencil for the rest of the face. I pulled out my watercolors and randomly added color. At the bottom, I used leftover strips of painted deli paper and some of the experiments with the new Balzer stamps, along with some recycled washi tape (from an envelope).

"Wondering" before the words were added
I thought I was done, but the page seemed to be missing something. The next day I added words that came to me as I looked at the page. It made me wonder what my life would have been like if, at any point, I had taken an different fork in the road. I realized that I probably would have ended up at the same place. Art, and wanting to be an artist--more than  anything--drove me. New York was like a magnet, and I couldn't imaging living anywhere else. I couldn't live with myself if I had never tried to be an artist, and never come to New York.

Probably some details would have been different. I might have gone to a different college. I might have taken different classes, had different teachers, different friends. But the big things I needed to do, the big life lessons that needed to be learned and experience...I am guessing would have been the same. We don't get a do over in life. In art, sometimes. The beauty of doing digital design is that you can save something, duplicate it, and then experiment of the copy. If you don't like it, you can delete it. Life has no command Z. Journaling is more like life--you can paste over, repaint, cut out something you don't like, even cut up the whole design. But you still never get back to the blank page exactly as it was. It stops some people from experimenting. Sometimes it stops me, but when something is really important, when an idea is really driving me, I work through the fear of failure and push ahead.

New stamps that sparked my creativity

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Previous New Years have been filled with grand plans. With a lot of uncertainty looming ahead for 2016, I decided not to go crazy trying to plan, but I did give some thought to my word of the year. There is an online, inspirational, year-long art series that many mixed media artists take and one of the elements is to decide on one word that will represent what you want to focus on in the calendar year.

Due to time constraints, I am not taking the online course, but last year I did embrace the one word aspect of the course. Last year my word was "BE". It reminded me to just be me, do my own thing, not worry about judging myself or being judged or doing any judging. It reminded me that just existing is enough, reminded me to be calm.

After some thought, I settled on the word "BREATHE" for 2016. Breathing is usually overlooked. It is automatic and for the most part, involuntary. But the right kind of breathing can be calming and healing, so that is why I chose it. There are some things in my life that I can't control. The company I work for is undergoing a major restructuring. People are retiring, leaving for greener pastures, and wondering if they will be transferred or their jobs phased out. There are some family health issues that I have no control over. I just have to wait and see what happens for both these major issues.

What I CAN do is breathe. Of course I will do my best to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and do art. But even if I feel I am exhausted or stressed, I will always have enough energy to breathe through it all.

As a secondary symbol for 2016, I chose the color pink to go with my word breathe. I love pink. It is girly and happy and pretty and hopeful, and the two seemed to go together. My first journal page of 2016 isn't the most fabulous art I have ever done. But, it served it's got me rolling for 2016, it solidified my focus, and it is an expression of myself that was done to just let out feelings and emotion and thoughts and help me accept that not everything I do is beautiful or perfect, and that's okay.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Vintage Textile Design and Early New Year's Resolutions

Last week we purchased a new item--a shelf unit with bins for my art supplies. They were really taking over the house, piled on the dining table (making it unusable for anything but art) and piled in corners in ugly plastic bins and cardboard boxes.

In the process of getting my supplies arranged just the way I want them, I have been forced to sort through several years' accumulation of papers and paper scraps. While I was rummaging around for papers to use on today's journal page, I found some magazine pages with gorgeous antique textile designs. I knew immediately that I had to use them.

Two things occurred to me as I was working on the page: 1) why save things for "someday"? why not use them NOW. So maybe it will be an early New Year's Resolution to stop saving beautiful things--art, paper, jewelry, clothing, food--for a special time and make NOW the special time. 2) I realized that no matter what else I do, I am a textile designer at heart. I can't seem to make a design without wanting to put it into repeat, visualizing how it would look on cloth or clothing, and imagining various color combinations for the design. Of course I love to paint, to sew, to draw, to weave, to write, to be creative in almost any way. But fabric design? That is a deep, integral part of me that feels right and good so maybe that's the second New Year's resolution--follow that path again in my art.

For this collage, along with the reprint of the vintage textile designs, I used assorted commercial and original paper, painted newsprint, washi tape (recycled from an envelope seal) a white signo pen, and some Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

International Mail Art Journal Collage

Journal collage page using mostly recycled pieces
from mail-art packages and ephemera.
Sometimes I lament the fact that I don't have the time or space to do big, "important" art work. With full time job and a small apartment, my work has to stay small and flat, and be completed fairly quickly. So, being part of mail art exchanges of small items like ATC, tags, and postcards with other artists, and working in my journal are pretty much all I do, other than the commercial art that I do at work.

There are quite a few positive aspects of exchanging artwork: first, you receive some gorgeous small pieces in the mail. Additionally, you learn new techniques, "meet" new cyber friends, and accumulate a lot of interesting tidbits and ephemera. Those tidbits are papers or fibers that are tucked into a package or wrapped around the artwork that comes in the mail, as well as international stamps and gorgeous mail art envelopes.

Today's collage uses mostly items that came in the mail from people in the yahoo group Paper Traders. (Here's a link to their blog.) The top right corner was part of a hand-decorated envelope from an artist in Northern Ireland, the clock and French butterfly napkin were tucked in with ATCs. The checkerboard tape was recycled from an envelope. On the bottom right is a corner of an envelope, with the cancelled stamps from Australia.

The ticket in the center was from a recent event at work--everyone who came received a ticket, which was entered into a raffle to win exciting prizes...well, maybe not so exciting...they were tee shirts and umbrellas, but at least the prizes were useful.

Following the Kelly Kilmer collage technique, I added a stencil, using one of my favorites from Artistcellar. I added the little dots in the center with a marker. The last step was my addition of washi tape and hand written words that popped into my head as I was working on the collage.

Here's a few other journal collages made from mail art and ephemera that was tucked into envelopes form other small art traders.
Mail-art envelope on bottom of collage, including
Maya Angelou stamp; vintage ephemera mainspring
envelope; doodles, stamping and vintage royalty free images.

Paris-inspired napkin section, stencils, stamping,
stamp from Australian envelope indicating
photographs inside.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ricola Wrapper Nesting Doll ATCs

The wrappers on Ricola candies are almost too pretty to throw away. The little delicate flowers on the original flavor remind me of edelweiss and the Sound of Music. The cherries on the cherry flavored Ricola are even more striking. So, I started saving them and incorporating them into my ATCs.

When Paper Traders yahoo group announced a nesting doll swap, it seemed a perfect fit for me. I love dolls, especially traditional Russian nesting dolls. I set about cutting and pasting to create a unique and original design.

I combined an original design of my own, a tile design (you can see the fabric I made from my tile design here) with some gingham paper and a zetti-ish diamond pattern.

The cherry Ricola wrapper had a nice color and feel to it, so I made sure to use it in the biggest doll and also in the background, near the hidden quote.

Here are links to some of my other ATCs than incorporate the Ricola wrappers:
Splatter House ATCs
Fly Free ATC

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Metal and Paper ATCs

Printed tea bag background, copper mesh,
brass mesh, copper foil, metal brads, turquoise
scrapbook paper. Number is cut from Lumiere painted,
heat-distressed Tyvek.
The Paper Traders yahoo group is celebrating their 10th anniversary. So, the latest exchange will be ATCs that include the number 10, and also include tin or some other kind of metal, since tin is the traditional 10th anniversary gift.

I decided to go bold for this project. Sometimes I feel subtle. Sometimes I like girly, lacey, pink themes. But sometimes I like to go bold and graphic and simple. Lacking a fancy machine for embossing metal, or tools to weld little pieces, the only way to really incorporate metal into my atcs was to use big chunky sections.

Using heavy gel medium, I adhered the number to the rusted heart. The number 10 was carefully cut from a piece of painted Tyvek. I used Lumiere acrylic paint and heat distressed it with a hot iron.

The background is my old favorite: printed teabags. The strips of copper and brass mesh were attached with mini brads in metallic colors. The mesh is sewable, but sadly, I discovered that my sewing machine was broken. The broken sewing machine forced me to think of another solution, and the metal brads not only kept the metal on the card, but also added some texture and visual interest.

The little copper strip on the bottom is a stick on tape made of real copper; I found it at the Ink Pad. The turquoise strip is scrapbooking paper that I was gifted with from one of my art friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Try Something New, But Do What You Do

The doll body is from a vintage thread advertisement.
Dina Wakley stamp head, stencils, washi tape,
watercolor, acrylic paint, marker, glue stick.
The art and craft worlds are full of gorgeous magazines and books, many touting the latest gizmo and technique, bombarding you with offers for in-person on online classes where you can learn to use all the new products and techniques. Hot new artists come and go, and electronic media, with the multitude of posts and tweets and websites and blogs, can be overwhelming.

Being part of some online art/craft communities keeps me connected, and making small art pieces and trading with other artists keeps me sane and gives me exposure to new ideas.

The question is, where do you draw the line between trying a new technique and product and ignoring it and staying true to your own style? Well, it seems to be a pretty wavy line, and varies with the expansion of--or shrinking of--my time and budget.

When in doubt, I pull out my little journal and collage a page, pull out my favorite art supplies and get to work doing what I DO know. I recently started puttering with some molding paste, stencils and acrylic paint, trying to understand an artist that my group was doing an homage to. I just couldn't wrap my head around the project. Not that it was outside my comfort zone entirely, but there was a fine balance of texture and monochromatic color, mixed with a suggestion of steampunk, that wasn't working for me.

Artistcellar stencils, molding paste on deli
paper, chalk inks, newsprint, and colored cardstock.
So, I quit. I pulled out my journal and did a few pages. I used the soft colors and paste and stencils in my own way, which was much better for my mental health than attempting to imitate another artist. My chalk inks and favorite colors, combined with some cool Artistcellar stencils, deli paper and newsprint felt, felt healthier than me doing an imitation of somebody else.

Vintage advertising paper doll parts from the Graphics Fairy, with stenciled deli and scrapbook paper, a partial cover from a freebie magazine, accented with an old favorite stencil (plastic rectangles from on old touch tone phone!) made me feel like me, made me feel lighter and happier. It made me remember that my journal is a place to try new things, perhaps to fail, to take something that looks like a mess, cut it or rip it and make something new. It is a place to hone my techniques, and to write.

So, I wrote the words that popped into my head. Maybe they were inspired by the antique body with the oversized Dina Wakley stamp I used for a head. It looked a little freaky, but it looked a little cool. So, "fly your freak flag" popped into my head. The words remind me to be true to myself, not to try to imitate someone else.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Beauty is Relative

What is beauty? If you are selling beauty, that is especially an important question. It varies from day to day, year to year, culture to culture. On one of my daily dog walks, I picked up a brochure from a small local beauty salon that uses only organic products. The top right image is from that brochure, and it got me thinking about why the model has super pale skin and lips and very dark eyebrows. The flowers in the hair made sense, but the pale, elongated face didn't, at least to me.

I started this unplanned journal page with a strip of painted paper that had the two black Dina Wakley face stamps, and using a glue stick, adhered it to the bottom of the page. At the top of the page, I used a tea bag that had been stamped with white paint. The center strip is one of my fabric designs, but printed on paper. I added a few small torn strips of antique music, a snipped with a book page number and some Chinese newsprint.

The central figure, the organic model, reminded me of a geisha, so I used an Artistcellar stencil at the top with a purple VersaMagic chalk ink to play up the Japanese undertone. The purple dots were added with marker, and  the words about beauty were added with a fine line black gel pen.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Unplanned Stamping

Usually my work table is covered with bright color splashes. Today, for unknown reasons, I was in a sepiaish, black and white, earth tones mood. I started puttering around yesterday, using assorted favorite stamps with white printmaking paint, and printing a bunch of teabags for future use.

Some of the smaller teabags were printed using a Julie Fei-Fan Balzer geometric stamp. Once dry, I adhered them to ATC blanks with a gluestick. My favorite whimsical girl stamp called to me today, and I used her on top of the printed teabags. I added some tiny words that I had previously output from a laser printer onto clear Avery mailing labels. I made a total of seven ATCs, each a little different. The one above will be traded in the October Paper Traders Winner Take All, where group members submit any type of ATC...the group leader pulls a name randomly and that person wins all the cards for the month.

I used up the leftover white paint from my ATC-making by painting broad, uneven strokes onto a black page in my journal. Once dry, I used an assortment of Julie's stamps with the little girl, which became today's journal page. The photo is a little blurry, but I liked the way it came out. It was totally unplanned. I really was just cleaning my brush on the black page. One thought led to another, and I started grabbing stamps and printing, and the page just emerged. Sometimes art is planned, sketched, thought out, and measured. Sometimes, as with this page, it just flows out unplanned.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Halloween Bad Boy ATC

A Dover royalty free image of a vintage Halloween wizard was the inspiration for my series of Halloween 2015 ATCs. This one was my favorite of the four I made, and will trade with the Yahoo Paper Traders group.
The background on the right is from some wrapping paper with Day of the Dead skulls that I received as a gift from a fellow artist. The little boy reminded me of one of those little guys who pretends to be sweet when adults are around, but is really a little terror to all the other kids, so it seemed appropriate to have the skull lurking in the background to really scare him.
The orangey, flowered background is a collage I created in Photoshop using Day of the Dead skulls (which are partially hidden) and traditional flowers used for Day of the Dead. On top, I stamped a variety of images using white printmaking paint. The final touch was some scary words that were stamped on using tiny alphabet stamps and a black ink pad.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Art in a Small Space

Back in the old days, there was a big studio in the country filled with sunlight and beautiful shelves teeming with art supplies, books, magazines, fabric and recycled materials waiting to become some kind of art. It was even pretty well organized. There was a sink for messy projects, a nice Mac computer, scanner and camera. Nearby there was a lovely deck for working outdoors in the sunshine, and I could experiment with—wearing a mask of course—some of the really smelly products.
Life changed, and now we’re in a midtown New York apartment, and my space is limited. Accordingly, my design scale has been downsized too. A chronic shoulder problem made me shift from art quilting to working on paper—using soft supplies like paint, stamps and stencils. Repetitive stitching, free-motion quilting and cutting through layers of fabric and batting with a rotary cutter are out of the question. And of course using NevrDull or CitraSolv and melting painted Tyvek is out of the question.
I have become a pretty faithful art journalist. I’ve been making, and working in, these really cool art journals that I learned about in a Kelly Kilmer class. They have accordion fold signature pages, so a lot of artwork can be packed into a little book. Best of all, they don’t take up much space.
I also make and trade ATCs and other small paper items. My closet and shelves have clothes and accessories, but only the things I really use…the iffy items…have been purged to make way for art supplies.
Did I mention I am also working 9-5, five days a week…which is really 8 to 6 when you figure in travel time? I really like my job, it is creative and fun, but of course I live for my personal art time on evenings and weekends. I have even started painting on my lunch hour, which creates a nice break in the day. On the weekends, the half-round table in the living/dining/office room become my little studio space.
The homage to Diebenkorn journal page made me think about someday having a big studio again and how magical it would be to work on huge canvases. The “Ugly” page used up some ephemera that was just…ugly…but somehow it worked, and made me realize the ugly is a relative term. The Victorian vintage winged angel was leftover from making ATCs a few weeks ago. But it made me wonder…is someone/something listening to our prayers, watching over us? On the last journal page I used scraps from the ephemera box, and added a royalty free Dover clip art image that I printed and transferred with the packing tape method.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jane Davenport Inspired Paper Dolls

Artistcellar's Jane Davenport Face Stencil with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps, shrunk to doll size
The other day on my lunch hour, which has now become--after quickly scarfing down my mid-day meal--my art hour, I realized that my love of making quirky grown up paper dolls was not unrelated to my love of faces. In fact, it suddenly made complete sense.

I had been studying Jane Davenport's Whimsical Faces DVD and teaching myself her method of painting faces on my lunch hour. It occurred to me that I could take the paintings, shrink them down to the size of the doll head on my template, and really kick my dolls up a notch. I had been using a variety of faces--some from magazines, some from my own small drawings, and some from vintage royalty free clipart.

This face is from my own design, based on Jane Davenport's method
I also decided to try making my own template for the body parts. I found the vintage paper dolls a little sexist, with ridiculously tiny waists and contemporary templates rather blah. My own template is a work in progress.

The papers are my own design. I printed my doll template on cardstock, back to back with my paper/fabric designs. The butterfly wings, shoes and crown are royalty free images from The Graphics Fairy.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Flower Fairies and Abstract Art

The Yahoo group Paper Traders is having two art exchanges that are very different, but both called to me. One is a Flower Fairy themed ATC trade. I started with some Graphics Fairy royalty free vintage images. Some I combined in Photoshop and printed ATC sized, others I printed individually and used for backgrounds or "fancy cut" and layered onto my ATC blank. One requirement was to add something dimensional, so each has a vintage paper sticker that I was gifted with along with my favorite sheer lace. Below are the six I made; I traded the top three and kept the bottom three.
The other trade was a 4" x 6" (postcard size) abstract art challenge. I used watercolor pencils, colored pencil and Derwent watercolor blocks on cardstock. I used mostly my left hand (I am right handed) to give both my brain and my hand a rest. I also gave the pieces a slightly different vibe, since I made the strokes sometimes from top left to bottom right...with the right hand my strokes would have been in the opposite direction.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Reiki Master Said to Go Home and Paint Yellow

Embracing yellow, musing about ideas running through the inside of the brain, experimenting. That’s what is going on during my lunch hour. Trying to learn how to make drawings and paintings of people look kind of realistic by using Jane Davenport’s techniques, and trying to make them kind of pretty but unique, quirky and interesting.
This piece started out as a randomly painted piece of deli paper…mostly yellow acrylic with strokes of red, orange and white. Twelve years ago, when I was having some serious health issues, I went for reiki treatments since conventional medicine wasn't helping much.  My reiki master told me to “go home and paint yellow.” I did go home and paint yellow then, and found it very freeing and healing.
I never forgot about the simple truth of the reiki master giving me "permission" to use my favorite color. I had been trying to stay away from colors right out of the tube, trying to be more urban and sophisticated in my color choices. I later realized, in the line made famous by Popeye, that "I yam what I yam" and that I should embrace my artistic instincts. Once again, I am following her instructions and using lots of yellow.

First, I sketched a face outline using an Artistcellar JaneDavenport face stencil and a prismacolor pencil. Next, following the advice on Jane's DVD about Whimsical Faces, I painted the face with a flesh-tone acrylic and added some pinks on the cheekbone and lips.
Then I brightened up the features with more pronounced cheeks, lips and eyes and added white accent strokes and added flowing lines to indicate hair. I debated about stopping here, but decided to push on and see what developed.
I wanted to make the hair more interesting so I painted it white and added some dots—somehow I always feel inclined to add dots. I also am inclined to make swirly spiral lines. These shapes probably have some deep-rooted psychological meaning, but I have no idea what it would be. Again, I considered stopping at this point, but felt the need to push on and fill in the empty spaces.
The piece called out for words, so I used the negative space between the hair to write—first with a pencil and then with a sharpie—the thoughts that were going through my mind. Random thoughts…some big, some small. Some heavy, some light. Things I wonder about daily and wonder about occasionally. And mostly things that have no answer.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Drawing with Jane Davenport

Jane Davenport has a wonderful CD about how to draw whimsical portraits. I first became aware of her work when I tried out some of the stencils she created for Artistcellar. They were really fun and easy to use.
I am all about recycling and downsizing and trying NOT to purchase too many unnecessary art supplies. Kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it? With my art addiction, supplies are always necessary. But I try not to splurge on every new tool or supply that catches my eye. However, I DO love faces. And looking at my published work…well, it is pretty much all faces.
Back in the 80s I took a class in pastel portraits where I learned the basic mathematics of drawing a face and how to mix the pastel colors to get a nice flesh-tone. But, Jane’s faces were so enticing that I decided to break down and order the DVD from Cloth Paper Scissors so that I could learn her secrets. 
Jane’s step-by-step DVD kicked my face drawing talents up a notch. I learned how to do “pretty” which was a big change—I usually have abstract or ugly or disturbed looking faces…and I probably will return to doing weird faces, but I may be using Jane’s method—which is practically foolproof.
In the first photo, I drew the basic shapes with colored pencil, then used a flesh-colored acrylic over it.
In the second, I added more detail and lines with colored pencil.
The final photo has more color, blending, and white accents. A few strokes of Tim Holtz’s distress stain in antique linen, with a couple strokes of white gesso was all I needed to give a blonde hair effect. I think she looks a little like Morgan Fairchild, but my daughter says she resembles Elsa from Frozen.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Turning Marker Doodles into Stenciled Crackle Paste ATCs

The background for these ATCs started out as a random art therapy drawing one evening. As my husband watched TV, I sat next to him with a sketchbook full of thick white paper, my collection of TomBow brush tipped markers, a koi paintbrush and jar of water.

First, I made random doodles with some of my favorite shades of blue and green. Next I added a little more color and more doodles, and then added water with the koi brush to make the colors bleed together. 

Pretty, and if it were a silk scarf, I would surely have worn it. But since it was paper, what was I to do with it?
My new motto, learned from Kelly Kilmer, is “when in doubt, add a stencil or a stamp.” So I took a gorgeous Retro Café Art large flourish stencil and pushed white Crackle Paste through it. I was impatient, so I used some small Artistcellar stencils with crackle paste to fill in the empty spaces, being careful not to smear the flourish section—the mini virtue Tudor Rose hope pocket stencil worked with the flourish stencil perfectly.
When it dried and the solid white paste turned to a nice crackled design, I loved it, but still…what was I going to do with it?
The idea lightbulb went off inside my brain…ATCs, of course! So, using an Artiscellar pocket stencil as a template, I selected the areas I liked best, traced around the template, and made six colorful, textural ATCs. After I cut them out, I glued them to an ATC blank with rubber cement. The final touch was edging them with some purple Ranger Archival Ink.