Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fear of Blank Pages and My New Journal

Breaking in a new journal is hard...all those blank pages staring back at you, daring you to do something, and your inner critic saying "don't mess it up! Be brilliant! No smears, nothing sloppy, nothing trite!"

To overcome the dreaded blank journal page, I made my previous journal with colored cardstock, which helped a little. For my latest journal, I went a step further, using some delicious commercial scrapbooking paper and some painted deli paper instead of blank pages.

Randomly painted colorful deli paper was used for the journal pages.
Two thin sheets of painted deli paper were put back to back and glued
together with matte medium to form each page.

Commercial printed paper and painted deli paper covered the
folder cardboard, and signatures of colorful paper were sewn in
to each fold.

For the journal cover, heavy cardboard was covered with my
own fabric, which I designed and was printed on cotton by Spoonflower.
Pieces of commercial scrapbook paper was cut to size for
some of the journal pages.

The unfinished journal, with both commercial paper and
painted deli paper.The tied signature pages are visible.
Once the journal was done, I still stared at the pages and thought "oh, this is too pretty to mess up!" But I pressed ahead and worked on the page anyway.

First completed  page of the new journal

I used a beautiful photo of a poppy--one of my favorite flowers--that was torn from a Spring fashion catalogue. It went nicely with the pink painted deli paper background. In my stash, I found a little bottle of Lumiere acrylic paint, so I used it with some stencils to add texture.

Then I added words that popped into my head. I am always thinking about art--designing some new project in my head, or doodling, or scribbling down ideas or taking a photo of something that inspires me, so I wrote those thoughts.

Some of the pink painted deli paper shows through, which is much more interesting than the standard white page.

After the first journal page was done, I was on a roll, so I also finished part of a shared "hands" project. Originally we were going to start painting or drawing on a hand shape, then mail it around and each person would add a little bit...kind of like a chain letter. However, one of the participants decided to make a book, so I took her blank hand shape, and used it like a little journal page, applying stamps, stencils and words randomly to the front and back.

Palm of hand, with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamp and
Artistcellar stencils

Front of hand, with stamps, stencils, paint and markers.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Gothic Arch Duo

About a year ago I ordered a bunch of items from Retro Café Art. Some I used right away, some I tucked into my art stash. Yesterday I had some time on my hands and no deadlines to meet, so I played around with a couple of the large chipboard gothic arches.

The shape seemed so lovely that I didn't quite know where to start, my inner critic didn't want me to make a mistake. But, I just decided to start anywhere, thinking I could always paint or collage over them if they ended up really ugly. I started with a collage base of favorite items: text. I used some French script, vintage newsprint, and snippets from a Chinese newspaper.

A famous American scientist stamp was recently gifted to me, so that went on top of the text. My Artistcellar stencil collection is always handy, so I pulled out some favorites: the harlequin, a little flower, garden gate, and inspirational words. I found a tiny bottle of my favorite old go-to paint, Lumiere, in a beautiful turquoise, which I used along with some chalk inks and markers. The woman on the right is part of a vintage Sunmaid raisin ad--thank you Susan Morgan Hoth for your gift of vintage magazines.

The edges were finished by running them over an Adirondack sepia ink pad, and the hinge was created with silk jewelry cord and square decorative brads. Hinges are always tricky for me--they need to be strong, they need to be able to work without being too stiff or too floppy. This hinging method was not perfect, but was satisfactory. Sometimes I use fine ball-chain link, sometimes pretty ribbon, and sometimes actual hardware hinges.

The piece is simply art therapy--no hidden meaning, no deep message, just me messing around with art supplies on a Saturday afternoon.  I had been saving the gothic arches for the right day, the right moment, the right inspiration. They seemed to want to want to be part of something important and meaningful, and maybe with the next attempt I will use some kind of cherished photo or keepsake.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Woven and Burned Paper ATCs, With a Quilterly Influence

Woven paper was the challenge in a recent Paper Traders yahoo group exchange. We were to make ATCs that included some degree of paper that had been woven. It could be a little section, or it could be the whole piece. The theme seemed a natural fit for me: I have tons of paper scraps, and I love weaving. The challenge for me was that ATCs are really small--only 2.5" x 3.5"--so weaving little teeny strips, without a loom for support, was a little tricky.

Woven ATCs using paper scraps, washi tape, lace and fabric scraps.
These used several sentimental scraps, so were kept for my own collection.

I rifled through my boxes and bins looking for thin, pretty strips of paper that were too pretty to throw away, and gathered them together. I used pieces of commercial paper as well as pieces from edges of paintings and painted paper. First, I arranged them in stripes, trying to alternate light and dark, and fat and thin pieces. As I went along, I incorporated washi tape and newsprint and fabric scraps to make it a little more interesting.

A little tape held the paper "weft" fairly secure at one end, but putting in the "warp", and then trying to glue it all down without knocking it all out of alignment, was really challenging. When I finished, I had five little woven pieces. They were cute, but cute wasn't enough. And I don't really "do" cute. So, I asked myself the eternal question: "What next?" They seemed to need a center piece, so I auditioned birds, butterflies, famous quotes and flowers. It all seemed so boring.

So, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone and tried something I had not done in years: intentional burning. Using a permanent black ink pad, I printed some of my favorite Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps on a cream "linen" paper. When dry, I cut them out, leaving about a 1/2" edge. Next, I carefully burned the edges. I worked at my kitchen sink, with the water gently running, and blew out the flame or wet it when it was burned to my liking. 
These three woven paper ATCs were traded.

The little geometric burned prints gave the woven backgrounds some oomph, and once the burned pieces were dry and cool, I glued them to the woven bases. The finishing touch was running a sepia stamp pad along the edges of the ATC base to give it an aged look.

The response from members of my art exchange was that they looked like mini quilts. I thought: "Quilts? That was not at all what I had in mind. They were not supposed to be teeny little quilts." But their quiltiness should not have been a surprise. I am a quilt lover and collector, a former art-quilter (retired from that art form due to shoulder injuries) and a former textile designer. So, quilts must be so much a part of my history and my makeup that the quilt style just bubbled to the surface. And it makes me wonder...hmmm, how WOULD this design look as a gigantic quilt?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Just Mixed Media...and Me

Two page spread of my handmade journals in the premier issue of Just Mixed Media
A few months ago I submitted some photos to the editor at Scott Publications, with the hope that they might be included in a new magazine they were putting together. I sort of forgot about it, until I saw a Facebook post from Sheri Welser about her artwork being included in the magazine. I was at work and couldn't rush to my mailbox to see if by some miracle any of my artwork was included in Just Mixed Media.

 I saw, on the right side of the page Sheri photographed, a little edge of the next page that had a partial sentence: "Linda Ed..." and "Faux Ra.." and realized that my Faux Raku container was on the page beside Sheri's work. Some crazy happy dancing occurred in the aisle of my office.

When I got home and found the new issue in my mailbox, I flipped through it and found that they had not only included my Faux Raku piece, but a full page of my folding ATC paper doll. I flipped through and found a double spread of my handmade journals and journal pages. Wow! Even more happy dancing, but this time the whole family danced. My husband wanted to buy 100 copies and send them to everyone he knew. (I nixed that number, but did order a few extras for my archives of course.)

A few years ago I was creating fiber art almost exclusively. I still love it, but stitching and cutting through layers of fabric, batting, and backing is a "no-no" with my neck and shoulder injuries, so I switched to mixed media, working mostly with paper and paint. In some ways it was easier--painting on paper is much easier, and less complicated--than trying to get original designs onto fabric. And paper is soooo much easier to cut. And it is much faster to create artwork with paper--no pins, no basting, no stitching required.

The learning curve was a little steep. There were so many new techniques and new products to explore. All kinds of new (new to me) blogs and websites and articles to read.

It had been a few years since any of my work was published, and I was getting a little discouraged, so being part of Just Mixed Media was a good boost to my mental health.

Hopefully I am on a roll. Not that I create art with the intent to be published--I don't. I create because there is an energy in me that wants to be let out, a need to make art and express myself. I don't aim to see artwork; it is almost always too personal to part with. I like to write about it and share photos on my blog or other electronic outlets. But is sure is nice to see my work in print.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Will They Remember Me in 100 Years?

Journal Page, February 13, 2016
A few weekends ago I purchased something I swore I never would: somebody else's paper. A big, fat, gorgeous 12"x12" pad of delicious India-inspired thick paper. Since much of my career was spent as a textile designer, I shied away from purchasing commercial paper, preferring to either print my own designs or paint the paper myself.

I decided not to save the pad of paper, tuck it in a closet, forget I have it, and find it a year from now. Or two years. So, I have been making a lot of small mixed media items with it. The leftover torn and cut pieces became this page. The center figure is not anyone I am related to, nor anyone famous as far as I know. It got me wondering who she was, and also what would become of my own photos. Will someone pick up an album 100 years from now and wonder about me, or my child, or my husband?

It also made me wonder about past lives. Was I a Gibson Girl like her? I have an affinity for clothing of the turn of the century, and a feeling of belonging in old New York, a feeling that I may have been around for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I get panic attacks from extreme heat, which kind of makes me wonder why.
Journal Page, February 7, 2016

Here is the journal page I made last weekend, using earth tones and sepia shades...kind of a different palate for me, but one I do love. Part of the journaling process is pushing through and doing something that might be uncomfortable, and learning to live with mistakes.

The page was really pretty before I added the stamps and writing, but once they were there, there was no turning back since I used ink that was NOT water based. The stamp color wasn't quite right for the background, and the shapes were all wrong--too bold for the subtleness of the background. The beauty of journaling is that it doesn't matter since I am not selling it or submitting it for publication.

The olive green strip at the bottom is a soy batik I made years ago. the map-like card in the top middle was a gift from another artist, as was the stamp and small tag. The swirly and cross shaped stamps were hand carved a few years ago onto an art gum eraser.

Here are the two journal pages side by side...I kind of like the way they look together. The contrast of the soft greens and soft pinks hint at spring.