Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Sew a Button On It" Self Portrait ATCs

When I saw the theme for a new Paper Traders ATC trade, I thought it was right up my alley. I love buttons, I love sewing, I love ATCs and I love painting. In addition to requiring a button on the atc, another requirement was to use a paper collage background. No problem...collage is my middle name. So, I got to work trying to make the vision in my mind translate into something real. I pictured something soft and romantic, like Sugar Lump Studios, with my favorite lace, maybe some tea bags and delicate stenciling. Something like I did on my blogpost about Faux Lace from Recycled Tea Bags.

First, I took some pretty paper, cut and ripped it into strips, and made a striped background. Next, I used my favorite new Nat Kalbach art foamie positive negative stamps over it with white printmaking paint. It was "meh." I tried lace. No good. Hideous in fact. I auditioned paper doll parts on top. No good.

The next day I was rifling through my paper scraps and found my old art business cards (as opposed to my 9-5-what I get paid to do business cards) with an old address that made them unusable. I have a little logo made of an altered self portrait with one of my fabric designs in the background. I decided to chop up the cards, and the small logo art looked just right on the striped and stamped background.

My worktable (also known as the living room table during the week) with the unfinished ATCs
I added some orange paper from an envelope someone had recently sent me, plopped on a few buttons, stitched them on with orange thread, and ran a brown chalk ink pad around the edges for a finished look. Done. Very far from the soft, romantic, lacy cards that I thought I was going to create, but still very "me"...literally, since the mini portrait IS me. Here is the link to my post called Fuscia Zetti Self Portrait, where you can see the oil painting that I used to make the design that ended up on my art business cards.

Three "sew a button on it" self portrait ATCs. I kept the middle one for myself.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Crazy Messy Faces with Jane Davenport Stencils

Jane Green, finished. mixed media journal page
Above is the finished journal page I named Jane Green. Jane, for the Jane Davenport stencil that I used as a guideline for the face, and Green because I got all sloppy and messy and the skintone accidentally turned greenish. 

Jane Green finished looks completely different than the unfinished, fairly neat drawing below, done the day before. 

I lightly sketched, with a pencil, the facial features, then hand-drew the lines for the hair, neck, swirls and checkerboard. The drawing was started one evening as I sat beside my husband and quietly drew while he was watching a TV show. I felt pretty calm and just wanted to relax with some art supplies and see what emerged.

Jane Green unfinished
The next day, I let loose with the wet paints and the design turned into something unexpected. I ended up painting over areas I didn't like with gesso, and smearing some of the colors together and getting muddy.

There is a big Jane Davenport fan base on Instagram and Facebook. I am a big fan too. But where I go with her products is pretty unlike what most fans do. I seldom have an adorable mermaid or a doe-eyed child. Mostly I end up with crazy looking females. Hmmm...what would Freud say?

Below is another journal page, using a different Jane Davenport stencil. Lots of scribbling, painting over, mixing of medias. I glued a strip of scrapbook paper over the forehead to break up the design, but wasn't sure if I liked it. It was sort of '80s Flashdance meets '60s hippie. I stepped back and decided it was too busy, and went to bed.

Jane Black, unfinished
The next day, I looked at the page and thought, "What was I thinking? This is busy, what a mess!" So, I grabbed black gesso and knocked back the purple in the background. I had to stop myself from painting over the whole page and covering the face. It's still kind of a mess, but it is done--at least for now. I named her Jane Black: Jane for the Jane Davenport stencil, and Black for the background gesso.
Jane Black, finished
When it comes to drawing, I can be pretty neat. Aided by a computer, I can be rather precise. Never reaching the perfection that my Virgo brain seeks, but lines are reasonably straight and if I am trying to do a repeating design, I can figure out the math and make it work.

Sometimes my brain needs to work on something orderly and neat to calm it down. But sometimes a design that starts out neatly drawn ends up a hot mess. And sometimes that hot mess is gorgeous. Mostly I end up gessoing over hot messes or cutting them up into ATCs.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Doodling and Corporate Layoffs

Sometimes I don't even know I'm doodling. I will be talking on the phone, or in a meeting, and when I look down at my desk, or at the pad in my lap, doodles are everywhere. They show up on the edges of meeting notes, on the backs of flyers, on the top of striped legal pads.

They are subconscious marks and designs that, for reasons unknown to me, pop out of my brain, travel down my arm to my hand, and end up on the paper.

I have begun saving and scanning some of the doodles and using them in my artwork.

This journal page started as a doodle--I spent a lot of time on the phone recently because the company I work for suddenly laid off 70 people--and a very dear friend was one of them. Notice the dollar sign that is coming out of the right eye.

I scanned the design and glued it into the journal that I keep on my desk. I also keep some simple art supplies in my office, which I use on my lunch hour to help decompress.

Over the course of a couple of days, I added color, then stencils and stamps.

After I glued a printout of the design into my journal, I used water-soluble oil pastels to add color. My lunch hour was over, so I put it away until the next day.

The next day I pulled out my art supply bin and played with some favorite items: a new stencil by Seth Apter, which I found at a great little store called The Ink Pad, went on the neck to simulate a tattoo. I had a lot of bubble wrap hanging around my office, so I filled in big blank spaces with bubble wrap dots. I pressed a black stamp pad on the bubble wrap, then flipped the inky wrap over and gently pressed it to the paper.

I also added more of the flourish stencil around the page, and used black markers--both thick and thin--to add some extra doodles and detail.

This may not be the best artwork I have ever made. However, it was extremely therapeutic. I was able to let out my frustration with "big brother" and the corporate axe that fell all around me in a safe, creative way.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Courage and Memories

 Life got in the way of blogging. Holidays got in the way of blogging. Work got in the way of blogging. Art and journaling got me through the holidays and life's curve balls. In August, our beloved fur baby Coco, aka Coconut Jenkins Wyatt, got sick. Had to be rushed to the Animal Medical Center hospital. He was treated (fluid drawn off sac around his heart) and they said to bring him back in three months for a checkup. In about a month we were back. More treatment, seemed okay. Then he had a seizure. Again rushed to AMC. Then he got sick again, this time the fluid was around his lungs. We couldn't touch his tummy, couldn't put a coat on him. Couldn't bathe him. Then he wasn't the same, got sicker every day. Wouldn't eat his favorite foods. The day after Christmas, we took him to AMC. He crossed the rainbow bridge. Somehow that week I managed to get to work and push my way through the loss. Concentrating on work was better than walking around the apartment crying. Every little thing was a trigger for crying and feeling the loss.

Journal memory written on December 30 after meeting a little girl on the 6 train
It was the Friday before New Year's Eve, a little after five, Coco had died just after midnight three days before. I was riding the 6 train home from work. A mother with a baby boy in a carriage (not a folding stroller, so they must have been from out of town) and a little girl about four got on the train and sat next to me. The girl was wiggly and jiggly and even with my headset on and iPhone music cranked up I could hear the mother asking her repeatedly (and patiently) to sit down, to turn around. After a few stops she was still wiggly, so instead of playing a new game of FreeCell, and grooving to my oldies, I went to my photo album and clicked on pictures a four-year old might like: paper dolls with wings, handmade sock monkeys, some of my more whimsical art and craft creations, and the occasional silly Barkpost dog doing silly human things. We didn't say anything to each other, just looked at photos together.

After a while the little girl--who interestingly looked a lot like me at four--pointed to a picture of Coco, so I made it larger for her to see. She bent over and kissed the screen and smiled at me. My heart melted. I felt like she was a little messenger from Heaven telling Coco that he was loved and remembered.

With all that happened in 2016--the changes at work, family health issues, the loss of Coco, the social and political climate in the country--I chose the word "courage" for my 2017 word of the year. I know I will need it and I hope I will find it when needed.

Courage journal page, with Dina Wakley face stamp and Artistcellar Om stencil.