Themes for art trades are a double-edged sword—they can spark creativity or they can squelch it. For me, they are often too narrow and specific and make me feel boxed in. When the idea of doing 4” square art pieces with no theme was posted to heARTist Trading, I felt like I had been released from the box. I toyed with the ideas of needle-felting, “scrappy” fabric, watercolor, collage and even a small paper doll sized to fit a 4” square. At the moment, I have some serious space and time constraints, and my sewing machine is packed up, so I decided to go with my latest loves—layering vintage photos in Photoshop and combining the Photoshop work with stamping, stenciling, chalk, inks and/or colored pencil.Thanks to the abundance of Graphics Fairy free digital vintage images available, I had a great time puttering and tweaking in Photoshop, trying out different layers, brushes and filters. For “Helen” (otherwise known as my mother) I used a pink mum, decoratively scrolled sheet music, an aged promissory note, and a photo booth snapshot of Helen from the 1940s. After laser printing my Photoshop creation on cardstock, I applied an assortment of stamps with white printmaking ink, and then aged it with Ranger Distress ink and spots of chalk for color accent.
The second piece, “Soap,” shows my love of vintage typography and romantic flowers. I layered both sides of an advertising card (one side with a rose and the other with the typography) in Photoshop and laser printed the finished work on cardstock. I was particularly drawn to the advertising card because the soap manufacturer was in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where, in the 1980s, I spend many hours as a textile print stylist “striking-off” new designs for Leon B. Rosenblatt Textiles.
I used white paint on a variety of stamps—among them two of my favorite: a paisley and a fish—purchased at a Tibetan store in New York’s East Village. After the paint dried, I aged it with a brown liquid chalk ink and Ranger Distress ink. The finishing touch was a strip of my favorite sheer lace from M and J Trim.