Thursday, March 10, 2022

New Stencils!

I am thrilled that my newest collection of stencils debuted today! There are six stencils: one 9" x 12" (which is designed to repeat so it can be used on fabric or paper or a wall or any other large area), three 6" x 6", and two 4" x 4" designs. 




I had a blast playing with them, using brights, pastels, earth tones,  mixing and matching them.

My stencil designs usually come from doodles: doodle should be my middle name. I doodle when I’m on the phone, in a meeting, traveling, or watching television. Doodling relaxes me, and the doodles come out of my subconscious mind and are very intuitive, natural, and unplanned. I save the ones that I like best, then tuck them in my journal pocket. Later I revisit them, choosing the ones that seem most special to develop further. I photograph or scan the doodles, then adjust them on my computer, adding and subtracting details until the design feels just right.

My stencils are named for Lemuria, believed to be an ancient continent that sank thousands of years ago, lying below what now is the Hawaiian Islands. Some believe that it was a Garden of Eden, a spiritually evolved civilization where people lived in harmony with nature and the universe. Many of my stencils are derived from designs and shapes that I have been drawing—consciously and subconsciously—since I was very young.

I've even got a short video that shows the process of creating my newest goddess!

And here's samples of each new stencil. You can find them, along with my other two collections, on the StencilGirl website.

The Lemurian Poppy is the centerpiece of my third Lemurian Garden group of designs. It started as a doodle on the margin of a notepad. The flower’s center seemed very organic, and the leaves and petals seemed to vibrate with energy and movement.

I liked the Lemurian Poppy so much that I reduced the size, flipped it around, and added a small version of my Blooming Violet (from my second stencil collection) to create the Tossed Poppies. I worked for many years as a fabric designer, so I enjoy repeating designs, and made sure the Tossed Poppies repeated on the top, bottom, and sides. I visualized it used on fabric or wallpaper, or as a subtle background in paintings or crafts.

The tossed poppies was used on rusted fabric with white acrylic, on a green background with white embossing powder, and printed with white acrylic on black cardstock using a gelliplate.

Complementing the two Poppy designs is the Lemurian Vines. I wanted a rambling, all-over pattern that could unite the flowers, leaves, and shapes of both my new and old stencils, yet also stand on its own. Like the others, the Lemurian Vines started as a doodled line drawing.

Loose Mum was a doodle I made on my lunch break. Unlike the other doodles that were done on the margins of note paper, this started with a perfect circle. I created a series of circular mandala-inspired drawings by tracing a circle around a CD, then doodling, writing, or painting inside the circular shape. I scanned the drawing, reduced the size, then added and subtracted elements until the Mum came alive.

The Loose Mum is very versatile: on the left, it was stenciled in a journal then colored with Posca Markers; in the middle, orange embossing powder on a yellow cardstock; and on the right, a painting combining pastel shades of the mum with leaves from the Lemurian Poppy and Woodcut Mix.

Woodcut Mix is a combination of three designs that I had hand-carved into stamps and often used in my paper and fabric art. Over the years the stamps had gotten a bit worn out and took on a crackly, weathered look, as if they had been carved into wood. I printed them in black and white, scanned the prints, then translated the stamps to stencils. The bold and rustic shapes work well together and mix nicely with my other designs.

Swirly Square came from a doodle on a small yellow sticky note. The curlicues make it feel like a party or celebration. I envision it done in both bright colors and also in metallics, perhaps used on a card or as wrapping paper.

I hope you enjoy using my new stencils as much as I enjoyed designing them!

Friday, March 4, 2022

Beautiful Blooms Chipboard Coasters

I was recently gifted with a pack of 3-inch square chipboard pieces, and they were super cute, but I didn't quite know what to do with them. Then it occurred to me that they would make charming coasters using some of the new PaperArtsy stamps by Gwen Lafluer.  I had recently made a pretty, impressionistic journal page with the stamps over some pastel splashes of background color. So, I set about creating a similar look on the little squares.

Here's the journal page that inspired the project:

To begin, I mixed up some of my favorite colors and started painting random brushstrokes on the chipboard squares. My favorite color is yellow, so I made loose, impressionistic flowers and added a little pale aqua to suggest sky and light olive green to suggest leaves and stems. The painted squares looked pretty all by themselves, but I knew they'd also look wonderful with stamps on top.

I started with my favorite stamp from set EGL27: the mum.Here's some of the steps I took:

Once the yellow group was painted and stamped, I decided to use shades of pink, lilac, and green for the roses and other stamps in the set. Again, I painted random strokes of color, let it dry, then played with the stamps on top using black Archival Ink.


 I also added dots of color here and there with my Posca Paint Markers for some extra pizzaz.

With the base being chipboard, which is basically a pressed paper product, I was worried about what would happen with a wet drink on the squares. So, I used some gloss medium to protect the design, and after it was dry, used two layers of Versamark Ink with Seth Apter's Vintage Beeswax Embossing Powder by Emerald Creek.

The two layers of Vintage Beeswax gave a beautiful glossy finish to the coasters and enhanced the colors. I tested them out with several of my glasses, and while they're a little smaller than the average coaster, they still fit nicely. 

I am looking forward to some spring and summer dinning to show off my new creations!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Radiate Joy

How do I Radiate making art! I am the most happy, content, and fulfilled when I am in the "zone" making art. The buzz, or vibe, or as some would say, being in touch with my "muse," creates joy. Knowing that making art is exactly what I should be doing creates joy inside me, and that joy radiates into world, sending positive energy to the planet and anyone who needs it.

My favorite place to start creating joy is my art journal. It is my safe place, where sometimes I create magic, sometimes I experiment and test new stamps, stencils, paints, and inks, and often try new techniques. Some pages turn out fantastic, and I am tempted to tear them out and frame them. Others are incomplete, lackluster, and utter failures. Sometimes the pages are full of angry vents, sometimes to-do lists, and sometimes words of gratitude.

I tested EGL23 with black ink on white cardstock before using them in my journal.

Sometimes the pages are just full of color blobs and smears where I have used up leftover paint. The Radiate Joy page started as a "clean-up" page, with yellow paint smeared across a page. I decided to test some of Gwen's stamps and loved the painted page with the sepia inked stamp on top. I just kept going and stamped the whole page to create a large tweed effect. I didn't worry too much that the stamping was imperfect because I knew I would be adding other layers over it.

The square "tweedy" stamp was used all over the painted page.

I knew I needed more in the background, so I went to one of my "go-to" stencils, the Ornamental Petals Mask. I carefully taped the stencil and matching mask together, then used it twice on the page with white embossing powder to create an 8-pointed snowflake effect.

White embossing powder looked magical with the Ornamental Petals stencil and mask.

The stamped background looked pretty cool, especially with the white snowflake, but I wanted more magic and depth. What to add? The Medieval Cyrillic stencil, of course! I used it all over the page with Ranger's gold embossing powder and it really added a "wow" factor.

Above are the Medieval Cyrillic Stencil, embossing powder, and pieces of the doll.

A close-up of the stamped and stenciled page.

I used several of the stamps from Gwen's EGL23 collection. I had been playing with the stamps, adding colors with watercolor and TomBow Brush Tip Markers. I came up with a doll figure using the same geometric texture stamp and coordinated the colors with the butterfly. (I used a face from a portrait I had previously painted; I reduced the size of the 8.5" x 11" face to about 2" and printed it from my color laser jet.)

Once the "snowflake" and Cyrillic stencils were on the background, I carefully glued the figure and butterfly wings.

Almost done, but I wanted to add the words--Radiate Joy--that had come to me as I was working on the page. If I were talented at calligraphy I would have written them in gorgeous, flowing script, but that skill needs some refining! I decided to play with Gwen's Deco Alphabet stamps, EGL16, instead.

I puttered with the arrangement on a piece of deli paper and came up with the idea of stamping them in a semicircle, then stamped each letter directly on the page with black Archival Ink. I got a little overexcited and stamped JOY a few times on the bottom just for fun and visual interest.

To add extra sweetness, I stamped a little sprig of a leaf and berries from EGL17, the Tickets set. I added color and dimension to the leaves and berries with assorted Nuvo Drops.

Close-up detail of the Radiate Joy journal page


Here's a really short video I made of the whole process: 


Monday, January 24, 2022

Stenciled Self Portrait


For the latest project organized by artist Tina Walker, the StencilGirl® Self Portrait Collaboration, I couldn't wait to get started. I love portraits and self portraits and Tina's ideas always inspire me to create wonderful work.

My original idea was to build the painting around a gelliprinted photo of myself.This summer my cousin had snapped a candid photo of me on a visit to upstate New York. Using Photoshop, I applied a filter that gave it a graphic look in sharp black and whites. After printing a few copies from my laser printer, I got out my paints and made some gelliprints on deli paper. I chose the best one and glued it to my 12" x 12" canvas. Off to a good start, I thought.

A candid photo was changed to a black and white graphic image, printed, and used to create the purple gelli print on deli paper.

I have been doing a lot of collage using vintage images and flowers, so I thought that would go nicely with a self portrait.

The purple gelli print was added to the canvas, along with more collage elements. Once skin tones were added, the effect was lackluster.

The results were underwhelming to say the least. The purple face didn't mix in well with the collage elements. I decided to paint my face and see if that would help. It didn't. It was pretty hideous. So, I decided to paste some paper scraps over the face and rethink the portrait. (bottom right photo above)

An art foamie face stamp caught my eye at my favorite shop, The Ink Pad NYC. I tested it out in my art journal and really like the look, so I decided to use the idea on the collage background.

A quick journal page using an ArtFoamie stamp inspired me to continue working on the canvas.

The problem was that the stamp was way too small. So, I stamped a crisp black and white image, scanned it, sized it bigger, printed it, and tested it out on my collaged canvas.

A print of the ArtFoamie face was enlarged, trimmed, and used as the basis for a new self-portrait.

Once I had the size I wanted, I trimmed it, then glued it to the canvas.

It was time to add stencils, and what better way to express myself than by using my own StencilGirl® designs? I started by using the Lemurian Spiral from my Wyatt ATC MixUp to create the idea of a blouse, as I had done in the journal page a few nights before. I also added my 6" x 6" Lemurian Leaf as wings. I used a white embossing powder, thinking that if I added more paint the hardened embossing powder would act as a resist but still be visible.

I didn't love the white wings, nor the hard black spirals on the shoulder. So, I softened the spirals with paint to give them a muted look. I also started working on the face, hair, and eyes, adding flesh-toned paint, yellow for my hair, and yellow to one of the glasses lenses just for fun.

Softening the hard edges of the black spiral helped unite the stencils with the background. 

For the wings, I decided they needed more punch. I stenciled the Lemurian Leaf on black paper using a VersaMark clear ink and gold embossing powder. Then I cut it out and glued the wing to the right shoulder.

I didn't want to have exactly the same thing on the left, so I placed the stencil back on and used the center section of the stencil with black embossing powder. I experimented with adding elements like bingo numbers, words, and a crown as well as adding an eye to the yellow lens. I decided against the words, crown, and numbers and instead added leaves. I used olive-green acrylic paint on a vintage German-language book page with my Lemurian Leaves, and fussy cut the leaves. 

Leaves have showed up in my artwork and doodles for years and years, so they felt important. I had worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and layout designer for many years, so having text added another layer of "me-ness" to the portrait.

After much puttering with the leaves, I finally decided to put a few in my hair, a few around my neck to suggest a collar, a few floating in the background, and one on the right ear to suggest an earring.

I WAS concerned about finding the right balance on the face: somewhere between young, unlined, and beautiful versus old and haggard. I didn't want to look 20 (well, that would be great but unrealistic!) and I didn't want to look ancient like a dried apple doll. I knew I needed lines and some wrinkles and a few gray or silver hairs in the blonde. I didn't want to look too young, or heaven forbid, too old! 

Here's a few detail shots of the final version. While my self-portrait is not an exact likeness of me, it does capture my dreaminess, my love of nature, and my creative spirit.