Saturday, March 26, 2016

She Always Knew She Could Fly Doll and Scribe-Muse Journal Page

She Always Knew She Could Fly
This little paper doll's body was made with a Retro CafĂ© Art template and commercial scrapbook paper. I had already used the doll for my Empowerment Paper Doll a while back, but I cleverly saved the paper it was punched out from, and used it as a template, carefully tracing the shapes onto some pretty pink scrapbooking paper.

The skirt is a little piece of a paper towel that had been used to wipe up the overflow from some spray dyes. A section of paper towel, about five or six inches long by three inches tall, was gathered at the top, then tied to the back. It is secured with a paper flower cut with a punch and a floral mini-brad center. The wings were stamped on white paper. The shoes and crown are Graphics Fairy royalty free images, printed on cardstock, and the face is mine--from my kindergarten photo. The background is painted deli paper.

It reminded me of the innocence of childhood, before there was anyone telling you what you could and couldn't do, believing anything is possible, exploring the world. The crown represents the feeling of magic, of believing you have special talents, and the wings represent the freedom to fly and soar and be your best self.
I was the scribe, I was the muse journal page exploring past lives
In a similar vein, I have been thinking of past lives, what I would have been, and who I would have been there with. Of course there is no way to prove my theory, but I have always felt a connection to Illuminated Manuscripts and wondered if I were one of the monks or scribes that helped create some of the beautifully illustrated pages. This journal page is the beginning of my exploration of that thought. The doll parts, face and butterfly wings are from the Graphics Fairy. The crown/halo didn't work out the way I intended. It is a piece of a pink Gelli Print on deli paper, done with a lacy stencil. Journals are the place to allow yourself to be imperfect. The page is not exactly what I visualized, but I hope to do a series of paintings in this theme on my upcoming art "stay-cation."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Journaling, Deli Paper and Gelli Plates

If I love art journaling, does that make me a journalist? Is there a special name for someone who combines their artistic experiments and random thoughts in a journal? Jane Davenport coined the terms Artomology and Artomologist. Mostly I love art, but I also love to write. Sometimes I get so busy doing art that I forget to post to my blog. And sometimes I get immersed in writing and forget to paint.

Glancing through my newest journal, I realized I was waaay behind in posts. So, here are a bunch of photos of what I have been doing over the last few weeks. Topping of the list of what I have been doing lately is that I took a great course at the Ink Pad with Julie Balzer. (Here's the link to my blogpost and photos of the art I made in the all-day workshop.) So many people in the class loved printing with Gelli Plates that I broke down and bought one. I didn't go all "cray-cray" as Julie would say...I just got a little one for about 10 bucks. I have been playing with it with mixed results. Mostly the prints are sloppy because I am sloppy. Kind people say I have a loose hand, and I deeply admire people with great control and the ability to make fine, detailed paintings and drawings. But, in the spirit of embracing my own skills, I need to let go of the need for control and perfection and roll with my sloppy side.

These journal pages use a lot of Artistcellar stencils, especially Jane Davenport's faces, some of my favorite Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps, markers, inks, acrylic paint, newsprint and paper scraps. The group of ATCs were made using the Ink Pad's exclusive NYC stencils, designed by Michelle Ward.

I created a little pocket to tuck in small items that I want to be sure to use in future journal pages.

Experiments with deli prints, stencils and stamps
Experiments (on left) with tweaking my handwriting, and (on right) with layering deli paper and gelli prints
ATCs created with layering gelli prints, acrylic paint, papers and
Michelle Ward's NYC stencils, exclusive to The Ink Pad
Collage of candle packaging and Artistcellar's small and large chakra stencils
Unfinished journal pages. Orange tabs of deli paper were added to
handmade journal for strength and stability.
Journal collage with random thoughts and random elements
Experimental page using Jane Davenport's tilted up stencil, Artistcellar
pocket stencil flower, chalk, white pen and washi tape on black cardstock
Experimental page with stamped eyes, Jane Davenport face stencil,
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer stamps and random thoughts

Thursday, March 10, 2016

And the Winner of the Sacred Geometry 2 Stencils is...

...tada, drumroll...Congratulations to Shay Stone, who is the lucky winner! Shay was very excited to find out that she had won the set of 4 Artistcellar Sacred Geometry 2 stencils, and I hope she has great fun playing with them. I wish there could have been more winners.

So, here are the experiments I did in my journal with the new stencil set. Some of the effects were interesting, so I may explore them further. I especially like the rainbow/flower effect with the little white spirals. I used a white Signo pen--my very favorite white writing instrument. You can also see the notes I scribbled--and that I wasn't all that impressed with the idea of deli paper 60s flowers. But after the lightbulb went off in my head late one night, I made the idea work. If you missed my Flower Power Shoebox, just click the link.

Quick sketches with Tombow brush tipped markers and a white signo pen

White ink and white signo pen on red paper, over-stamped with a black lace style stamp

Multicolored soft inks stamped through stencil,
with black lines and stream of consciousness words

Bottom corner was stenciled with turquoise acrylic on deli paper
 and added to journal page of random collage elements 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Flower Power Box

About a year ago, I developed a love for painting, stamping and stenciling on deli paper when I took a course with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer at the Ink Pad in New York City. Deli paper is thin, inexpensive, strong, and layers beautifully. It also dries amazingly fast.

A mixture of acrylic paint and molding paste worked great when I printed the Artistcellar Sacred Geometry 2 stencils on both heavy watercolor paper and lightweight deli paper. My particular favorite of the new stencil set is the Seed of Life stencil. I made print after print with my new stencils in my favorite shades of aqua, ended up with a big pile of beautiful geometric designs, and then asked myself: “What the heck are you going to do with these prints now?”

Seed of Life stencil, printed on deli paper with acrylic paint and molding paste
 The answer came to me late that night as I was lying in bed—the Seed of Life medallions looked like the geometric flowers that were so popular in the late 60s and early 70s! Songs about going to San Francisco and wearing a flower in my hair, and flower children in the park on a rainy day ran through my head. I knew just what to do, and could hardly wait for morning to get back to my art table.

Part of the printed Seed of Life stencil was cut away
to create a flower shape

As I sipped my morning coffee, I cut away parts of the round stencil prints to turn them into flowers, still humming the Summer of Love songs. I decided to use the flowers to beautify an old, beat-up shoe box that had been home to my marker collection.

I love newsprint as a background, so I grabbed my husband’s New York Times (after he read it of course!) and adhered the newsprint to the box top with matte medium. I gave the whole box a coat of white gesso and mended a few tears on the box corners before I started.

Shoebox top covered with newsprint
Once it was dryish, I auditioned the flower heads on the shoebox top until I got an arrangement that I liked, then used a UHU gluestick to secure them. I loved the way the newsprint showed through the unpainted sections of the flowers. For the sides, instead of covering the whole thing with newsprint, I kept the white background of the box and glued torn horizontal strips of newsprint to create a stripe, and then glued a flower on each side. Extra newsprint may have made the bottom just a little too thick, and the box top might not have fit the box bottom quite right.

I looked at the newsprint and flower covered box and it occurred to me that something was missing. The box bottom and box top still didn't quite say Flower Power. It looked a little dull. A lightbulb went off in my head. That missing "something" was music. I couldn’t make the box sing or play, but I could add song lyrics. So, I pulled out my mini alphabet stamps and my black archival ink, and let the song lyrics flow as I hummed the tunes and stamped the words that I remembered.

I added Artistcellar pocket stencil inspirational words on three sides of the box using the same pale aqua acrylic/molding paste blend, and a large flower head to the fourth side.

I intentionally used a mix of alphabet font styles and
also mixed upper and lower case to make the box more whimsical.

The finished Flower Power box top

Short side of the box, with lyrics from "Sunshine Superman"

Finished box side
 Now my markers have a new, happy much better than a beat-up old shoebox!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Working in a Series: 6x6x6 With Julie Balzer at the Ink Pad

Yesterday, I was in art heaven at a Julie Fei-Fan Balzer workshop, sponsored by The Ink Pad, which was held at the Westbeth community art center in New York's West Village. What could be better than an entire day being creative, playing with paints, stamps, stencils and collage? And of course, being surrounded by like-minded artists is inspiring, with the exchange of ideas and tips.
I didn't know what to expect, all I knew was that we were to bring six pieces of 6" x 6" watercolor paper and a whole bunch of art supplies. We all showed up looking like we were about to take a flight to Paris, with rolling suitcases full of paint brushes and supplies rather than clothing and accessories ... but just in case we needed that one special item that was accidentally left home, we had to bring almost everything, right?
Unlike many classes where the instructor shows you a finished product and says: "This is what you will have at the end of the class," Julie purposely did not bring samples so we would create without a plan or vision in mind.
This piece was held out, and did not get the final layer of paint, stencils and stamps.
We worked in layers, having no idea what was coming next, working on all six at the same time. Well, I am a notorious over-achiever, so I worked on nine. After about the third step of the lesson, I decided I liked one of the pieces too much to go on, so I tucked it in my bag. I often wonder "what if" so I held it out to compare to the finished pieces and see which I liked more.
Julie is a terrific instructor. She is really funny and fun-loving, but also serious and real, and is able to be direct, in control, non-judgmental, and make everyone feel special and talented.
I used my favorite acrylic paint colors, some of my favorite stamps--commercial ones and hand-carved originals too. I also used some of my favorite stencils, mostly from Artistcellar. After the painting was done, we added collage materials. I had all kinds of papers, including some imperfect vintage magazine pages gifted to me from Susan Morgan Hoth.
I was deeply engrossed in my own process, but at one point, I looked at what the woman across the table from me was doing and saw an awesome stencil, which really called my name. I loooove urban industrial design, especially NYC manhole covers, doorknobs, and architectural grill work.  The manhole cover stencil she had used was from a set of designs by Michelle Ward, which are exclusive to the Ink Pad. Fortunately the Ink Pad had a mini shop set up and I ran across the room and snagged a set.
My last layer uses Michelle's stencils. It was late in the day, I was a little tired, and my artwork was a little damp (even after blasting it with a heat gun) so a few of the images came out imperfect, but the workshop was all about allowing yourself to be imperfect and pushing ahead anyway.
In the photo of the nine pieces, the one in the center is the piece that I held out and tucked in my bag. It is very "me" and a little too safe, a little too much of what I usually do. The eight pieces that have additional paint, stamps and  Michelle's stencils are a less safe, less predictable, but still have my style and feel.
In case anyone is wondering why I chose the words that are in to collages, especially the Heinz Baked Beans, it was pretty random. I like to use text--especially in foreign languages and assorted fonts--as a design element. I was tearing some of the vintage magazine ads and that text was the size and style that felt right at the moment. Not that I don't like Heinz Baked Beans...they were a staple of my childhood diet...but now my taste buds prefer the organic, homemade varieties.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sacred Geometry Chakra Mandala...and a Blog Hop Too!

One of the first things I thought of when I unwrapped my package of Artistcellar Sacred Geometry 2 Stencils was—wow, these would make great mandalas! A few years ago I did “lunch time mandalas” where I took a CD, traced around it with a pencil, and filled in the circle with color and shapes. Some of the designs became fabric, which I used in art quilts, and some were used for other fiber art creations.

I experimented with all four Sacred Geometry stencils in my journal, trying soft inks, graphic black on white, assorted colored markers, and white inks on red paper. I tried them with acrylic paint beautiful scrapbooking paper, and on thin deli paper. The results were good, but not inspired.
Then I noticed a pretty piece of paper that had been hanging around my art bin for a while. I had painted some watercolor paper a soft pink, and then printed a circle texture over it using white printmaking paint and bubble wrap.
I liked it, but didn’t know what to do next. It sat in the box for about a year. Inspired by the Sacred Geometry 2 stencils, I decided to try using a round, flat stencil brush, and pounced my favorite shade of turquoise (I mixed white acrylic with turquoise Dina Wakley acrylic) through a sacred geometry stencil. It looked pretty good, but I put it to the side to dry and thought “what next?”

I used the same turquoise shade and printed several stencils on white cardstock. I was wishing that the stencils had a positive/negative image, but since they didn't, I flipped the wet stencils over and used them to get the opposite image, carefully pressing the wet stencil down on the paper with a paper towel.

I got a little creatively reckless and began overprinting stenciled images with different colors, and then I got even more reckless and began printing one stencil over another. I ended up with a whole bunch of multicolored pastel prints.

I also incorporated my Artistcellar mini chakra pocket stencils here and there. Again I thought “what next?”

The lightbulb went off in my head, and I realized two things: the mini chakras could go in a circle on top of the pink and aqua bubble wrap/stenciled paper, so I carefully used a blue mini ink pad to apply color through each small stencil. I did not measure, I just “eyeballed” the placement of the chakra stencils.

I decided that the multi-colored/multi-stenciled paper prints would make a good background. For many years I sewed and made art quilts, so cutting the paper into 3” squares seemed like a natural next step. I pulled out my green cutting mat, ancient long metal ruler (that I purchased in 1978!) and an exacto knife, then sliced the multicolored printed papers up carefully.
This paper print uses most of the set of 4 Sacred Geometry 2 stencils,
as well as the Chakra pocket stencils.

The sliced printed paper using multicolor prints of
Sacred Geometry 2 with Chakra pocket stencils.

I chose the squares I liked best, arranged them as a border, alternating lights and darks and varying the color, then carefully taped them together on the back.

Before adhering the center piece to the border, I “aged” the edges using a combination of sepia Adirondack ink and a brown chalk ink. The 12” x 12” piece is currently hanging on my living room wall, above my art table, and it is a constant reminder to me to remember to regularly slow down, breathe, meditate, and rest.

Here's the really cool thing: if you leave a comment on this page of my blog, you might just win a free set of stencils. All you have to do is leave your name and a comment. Easy peasy!

And please visit all the other artists who are part of the Artistcellar Blog Hop celebrating the release of their new stencil series: Sacred Geometry 2. You can leave a comment on their blogs for a chance to win the free, they are all awesome artists and worth a looksee.

February 29th - Lisa Cousineau/Artistcellar
 March 1st - Stephanie Gagos 
March 2nd - Lisa Chin

 March 3rd - me!
March 4th - Sarah Trumpp
March 5th - Effy Wild
March 6th - Guadalupe Brizuela Cabal