Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shared Hands Project

An arty friend suggested that three of us do a fun mixed media project last fall. The idea was to make four hands--three right hands (we would each get one of the right) and one left hand, that would be the shared art project. We were to each add something to the hand then mail it back to the originator.

I traced my hands onto hot pressed watercolor paper and made three similar right ones and one left.

Click here for the link to my post about the start of the project, which I posted on January 9.

My artistic influence was the beautiful east Indian henna "tattoos" that are painted on women's hands for special occasions. I tried to create that effect with the stencils and colors I chose.

For the left, I used a stencil with molding paste, and after it dried, painted it partially with my favorite shade of turquoise acrylic. The stencil was one that I had used on the other three. I popped it in the mail and wondered how it would look when it was returned. I eagerly waited for the mailman to bring me the other people's art, and for my final, finished left hand to arrive. It was a loooong wait.

One of the artists decided to make a book of hands as the shared project, and made us each individual clay hands with an east Indian influence. The other artist made each of us a small art quilt of her hand, that is absolutely gorgeous and intricately made. There was a bit of confusion about who should mail what to whom and when.

There were holiday and health delays, but yesterday the finished left hand arrived, and I love it!

The left hand was done collaboratively by three artists; the right hand is one of three similar I kept for myself.
I love the way the paints and inks ran and created a marbled effect, and also the index finger that goes from blue to white with random dots, and ends in a pink nail. The font on the word Bloom is so pretty, as is the hand lettering on Joy. On the right, I used square mini-brads for texture. My art friends adhered dimensional stars which add a subtle texture to the turquoise hand.

I also couldn't resist drawing and painting and stenciling and stamping on both sides of the "hand book" pages that I made for my friend Karen. She traced her hand on some heavy watercolor paper and mailed it to me.  I used some of my favorite Artistcellar stencils and stamps from Ink Pad NYC and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

Top of Karen's left "book hand", which was unplanned and instinctively stamped, stenciled and painted.
This was the unfinished left hand that was mailed out.

These are the three right hands. Artistcellar pocket stencil words were used.

Reverse side (palm) of Karen's "hand book" page.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Art, the Meditation Egg, and the Letting Go Weekend

A few weeks ago I went to a weekend-long seminar called "The Letting Go Weekend" in upstate New York with my brother. I did not have any idea about what to expect, and quite frankly, wasn't sure I wanted to spill out my inner fears with a bunch of total strangers. But, he had been to a previous seminar and found it really healing and revealing, so I gave it a try.

Sketch of my Meditation Egg journal notes

I arrived on a Friday night after a loooong Amtrak ride. I did a lot of writing in my journal, a little sketching (in public...not an easy thing for me to do) and a lot of listening to music on the way.

The retreat was held in an old nunnery, and I didn't even have any of that old knee-jerk reaction about feeling dirty or shamed or guilty.

This is where the seminar was held.
Over the three days of the seminar (Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday) I did manage to have a lot of insight, and even though there are five years between us, and some other siblings before, after, and between us, there were a lot of shared memories to explore and validate. And the other people were interesting and supportive and not at all scary. I took a lot of notes and did a lot of sketches and doodles as I listened and explored and interacted.

Here's me, walking the meditation circle high on a hill in my hometown...
a perfect ending to a weekend of introspection.
One noticeable difference after the Letting Go Weekend is that I feel less compelled to make art, less driven, less frantic. It is probably a good thing, and means that I released some anger that had been pent up for years. I know that anger is often a driving force that makes me want to paint, draw and create. I am sure I will still make plenty of art, but it will probably be different. I will just have to wait and see, won't I?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Abstract Sunflower ATCs

Sunflower ATCs should be easy, right? So why did I struggle with making them? I wanted to stay away from cliches, and decided to go abstract...maybe I should have just gotten out my paints and done cutsie little yellow petals with brown centers and called it a day. But I love abstract work, so I sat down at my art table and got to work.

Abstract Sunflower ATCs
First, I started by pulling out my gelli plate, brayers and yellow and magenta acrylic paint. Using various Artistcellar and other stencils, I made about 50 prints on deli paper. They were hideous. Colors too bright, prints too sloppy.

So next I tried layering them onto various papers that I had prepared with a white gesso surface. Some improvement, but still not great.

The next step was stamping some "petals" over the top using sepia archival ink and white printmaking paint on two different Julie Fei Fan Balzer stamps. Better, but not great still. I added a spiral center in sepia and black with an old Retro Cafe Arts stencil, then used a black stamp pad around the edges of the ATCs.

I set the ATCs in my unfinished art box thinking an idea would come to me to improve them. Then I went away for a long weekend to something called "The Letting Go Weekend" in upstate New York. My brother had a lot of insight from going to a previous weekend retreat, so I gave it a try. It was pretty healing and illuminating. I did quite a lot of journaling during the event and feel less stressed, even less compulsive about needing to make art--although I am not entirely sure if that is a good thing or not.

This weekend I decided to finish the ATCs and meet the trade deadline so I added some words with tiny round alphabet stamps and called it a day. So, they aren't the best art I ever made. I don't love them, but like the name of the weekend retreat, I am learning to "let go," move on, and accept that I am not perfect and will not always love my work but I can just meet the deadline and move on. AND maybe somebody will think the ATCs are terrific, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?