Monday, January 19, 2015

DLP 2015 Weeks 2 and 3

I returned last week from a wonderful mini vacation in South Florida (more on that another time), so had some Documented Life to catch up on. Week 2 (still dealing with the overall January theme of facing the blank page) was using gesso, with a prompt of "the beginning is always today."

The gesso I used is colored, from an Australian company, Derivan Matisse. The figure was done by scraping light olive green through a stencil. Once dry, I repositioned the stencil over top and used paint and two other stencils right over the gesso. By the way, they call it "background paint," but the small print clearly identifies it as gesso.

The other area I used this product was on the cornflowers (close-up below). This time, I applied terracotta on silhouette stamps. Caution: when you use gesso with your stencils and stamps, please wash it off immediately after use. Wet gesso comes off easily; dry, not so much.

Week 3 is all about the color wheel, and the prompt is a Georgia O'Keefe quote, which you will see clearly on my pages. First step, to get a whole bunch of color onto my pages. For this I used stencils, lots and lots of stencils. I just kept layering them, using colors, sometimes going dark over light, sometimes the other way around, which resulted in this riot of color.

Now comes the part where a little bravery (and faith in the technique) might help. I learned this in a workshop with Anne Bagby. After spending the better part of a day creating bold and beautiful designs, we used a mask and covered all but a part with dark paint. For this spread, I used clear embossing ink on some solid stamps, then heat set clear embossing powder. The embossed areas resist the next this case, black paint. There is a lot of glare on the photo, so it looks grayish, but trust me, it is very very black. After the application, the paint wiped off the embossed areas easily with a barely damp paper towel.

Last step, adding the quote, which I did with some of my favorite pens for writing over dark paint: Sharpie poster paint water based paint markers, Molotow high-solid paint markers, and Posca paint markers.

I wish I could have taken a better picture, minus the glare (I tried many times), because the bright colors against the very dark background just pop so beautifully, but you get the idea.

As always, looking forward to the next challenge. Thank you, Art to the 5th ladies!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Documented Life Project, 2015

Yes, I'm still alive. Now that we got that out of the way, I am looking forward to more art, possibly even more blogging, and in general, a more purposeful life in 2015. I'll let you know how that goes.

For 2015 the DLP group suggested using Dyan Reaveley's Dylusions journal (the large one). I have used it, like it a lot, so bought a new one and did the cover ages ago.

Stencils. Lots and lots of stencils. I only have about a million, so really should use them more often.

Each month has a theme, and each week, within that theme will be a technique and a prompt. I'm liking this process a lot. And it works well for beginners and old pros as well.

January theme: facing the blank page.
Week one technique: using book pages
Week one prompt: be your own goalkeeper

I tore up a variety of book pages for my collage and covered them with a wash of blue and green acrylics. Most everything else on the spread was done with stencils and masks. The joyful figure is a Sue Pelletiere stencil, and the sentiment is from a Jessica Sporn stencil. On the facing page, the words (my three words for the year) were traced from a Tim Holtz alphabet stencil and filled in with a black marker. The cornflowers are masks from a Michelle Ward stencil. I laid them over the painted page and then sprayed over everything with a darker blue spray. I still have one or two sprays that haven't completely clogged up, so I'm using them as fast as I can.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Art Is You, 2014

Here I am, once again in shock that it has been over a month since I've posted. Don't have any reasons that make sense to me; I guess I just have to accept that like so many of my blogger friends, I'm just not a three times a week blogger any more. Or at the moment. But enough of that. I am here and ready to share a bit of my experiences at Art Is You, 2014, in Stamford Connecticut.

I love AIY; I've attended for the last three years, and this was definitely the best so far. I registered for five classes and I loved all five. I'm usually pleased with my choices, but there are often one or two classes I like less than the others. On the way home my friend and travelmate Cheryl asked me which was my favorite and I honestly couldn't answer. To borrow a phrase from The Last Crusade, I chose wisely.

Day 1, Rethinking Dinner with the talented and fun Cheryl Strait. As promised, I will never look at dinnerware in the same way. We used spoons and forks to create jewelry, and I had a blast pounding, sawing, filing, drilling and torching.

 Cheryl was VERY generous with her time and her tools. I'd never used a jeweler's saw before, and it was easier than I thought it would be.

Our class kit consisted of what we'd need to make earrings and a bracelet or two.

I sawed off the handle of the spoon to use on the bracelet. The earrings feature the tines of the fork. The round pieces started as chunky buttons that I pounded the @*%! out of.

The next day I changed gears totally. The class was called Soft Sculpture Puppets with Lisa Lichtenfels. Ordinarily I have no interest in dolls or puppets, but I have always been fascinated by soft sculpture pieces and jumped at the chance to learn how it's done. Lisa is very famous in this world (I didn't know that when I signed up), and aside from being talented, she is a lovely human and an excellent teacher. Check out one of her sample pieces, Albert Einstein.

 Two other samples which demonstrated how to create an old and a young face.

Pretty amazing. Here is my sweet old-ish lady.

Lisa guided us through the process step by step. It certainly isn't easy, but it sure was fun.

We used pins....lots and lots of pins....and fiberfill to form the features. At this stage it is just plain frightening.

Once we began the sewing and removed the pins the heads looked much less creepy.

The addition of the puppet body and hair made all the difference. Now, I very much doubt I will be attempting this again, but just in case, our class kit included a DVD with every step explained in full.

Day 3 was Sacred Hearts with Lesley Venable. I was so looking forward to this class and it didn't disappoint. I got to solder all day! What's not to love?

Day 4, Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves with Andrea DeMeng. This was my second, and I'm sure not my last class with Andrea. I love her style, and her teaching is on point. She is so organized and her suggestions are spot on. We did fairly large collages and everyone did an outstanding job. Here is my....well, not a gypsy, no tramp, not a thief.....I believe what I have here is royalty.

The last day, Embedded Heart Shrine with Laurie Mika. My third class with Laurie. You think I like her? Nope. LOVE her! I know I can (and sometimes do) work with polymer clay at home on my own. But I just love her projects and the energy in her classrooms. 

 The coolest thing about the hangs on a hook in the niche and can be removed to wear as a pendant. Laurie even provided the chain for us to use.

One last thing about AIY, and another reason I feel this year was the best. Every attendee receives a handmade name tag (which is really like a little purse to hang around your neck, with room enough for a hotel key card). We were encouraged to make charms as a trade, and by the end of the week, the lanyard was completely covered with charms from art friends new and old. It's now hanging in my studio right above my computer, along with those from 2012 and 2013 to remind me always of wonderful times with my "tribe."


Many thanks to Sallianne McClelland & Ellen Legare, the extraordinary organizers of this event. They get us, and know how to create an environment that nurtures us. See you in 2015 ladies!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another Sewing Project

Last month my pals Cheryl, Pat, and Marsha trekked with me to Brenna's lovely home a little ways north of me for a fabulous afternoon of learning what Brenna knew about Shibori dying. It involves folding, twisting, tying, sewing, and clipping fabric in various ways. Brenna didn't have the traditionally used indigo, but we dyed lots of fabric with good old Rit dye. What to do with all that beautifully colored cloth......

I decided to make an apron. It just seemed like the best use of the fabric even though a) I seldom actually remember to put on an apron and b) if the project turned out well, I doubted I'd want to dirty said apron. But I proceded anyway.

It all got solidified when I was watching a PBS station and saw a quilting technique that looked super easy. The teacher was none other than Donna Dewberry, who rose to fame and fortune with her techniques for painting with acrylics. I had no idea she also quilted. I also have no idea if her method is the usual way to crazy quilt or something of her own design. All I can tell you is that the only skills involved are the ability to fold a piece of fabric in half and sew in a (relatively) straight line. If you're curious, I suggest a Google search, as seeing Donna demonstrate is much better than me trying to explain it.

The skirt of the apron is a little shorter than I would have liked, but I ran out of fabric. the binding, the piece that goes around the neck, and the apron ties were sewn from some batik fabric I already had, but everything on the skirt and the flower embellishment on the top was done with the Shibori dyed fabric. Thanks, Brenna!

Other details: The top is plain lightweight canvas (or maybe it's called duck cloth??), which I colored with fluid acrylics and then used a Jessica Sporn stencil (from Stencil Girl) for a tone on tone look. I printed "art saves lives" with my favorite alphabet stamp set (a VERY old discontinued Tim Holtz set, by Junkitz), using permanent ink.

I recently discovered that my good old (and cheap) sewing machine came with a free motion foot and a plastic thingamabob to cover the feed dogs. Hence, my free motion stitching on the skirt. And by free, I mean random and haphazard and not following any sort of pattern.

I didn't use any pattern for the apron; I just looked at the aprons I own and more or less followed the shape of each piece. It took me a couple of days, was a lot of fun, but would I do it again? Probably not. But I sure might incorporate some of the skills involved in making journal covers, pillows, a tote bag.....who knows what else. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Documented Life -- What's Black and White?

The latest prompt in The Documented Life Project, that's what. And it coincided with the very happy rediscovery of my favorite hand carved stamps that went missing sometime in April.

They are very simple,  but can be used in so many ways, singly or in combination, depending on their orientation.

I stamped several sheets of white paper, using an india ink stamp pad, then cut the pages into 1" strips.

The strips were then cut into 1" squares.

I played around with their placement, and finally settled on the above design.

The silhouette was done with a Dyan Reaveley stencil (by Ranger) in black acrylic paint. One of the things I like most about silhouette stencils, as opposed to stamps,  is that you can use it on either side, so your silhouette can face in the direction you want.

I finished it off with an outline of white machine stitching. I'm toying with the idea of adding one pop of color, maybe a red hat, but haven't made up my mind. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Documented Life - 4 Weeks in a Flash

While I've been keeping up with my Documented Life Project prompts, I've been neglecting this blog. So, here we go, the last four weeks in a flash......

Week 32, use a fortune cookie. I know I have an envelope of them somewhere, but couldn't find it, so faked it with a download. My total inspiration for this was a workshop given by DLP administrator Roben-Marie Smith. I used the insides of security envelopes and gelli print scraps, and a whole lot of doodling.

Week 33, use the underpaper (you know, the paper under your work that collects all the inks, paints and sprays). In my case, the underpaper is the deli wrap paper I used to blot off excess paint on my gelli prints. Over top, some stamping, lettering, doodling, and stitching.

Week 34, use numbers in some way to indicate how the week went. This one really speaks for itself. All in all, a pretty good week.

Week 35, draw, paint, sketch, photograph, alter a face. In other words, do something to get a face on the page. No mention of stencil, but that is exactly what I used.....a very cool one from Artistcellar, which is actually a stencil and mask in one. I started out with a background which was created during a wonderful stencil workshop I took a couple of weeks ago with Michelle Ward. (Haven't blogged about it yet. Like I said before....poor neglected blog). It was the red rosin paper used to protect the table, and while cleaning up, I just had to cut out the section by my seat. This page started out completely covered with this paper. I placed the mask section on the right hand side and covered everything else with black paint. Then I used the stencil section to trace the smaller face on whatever was left of the paint smeared red rosin paper. It was cut out and glued to the left hand side of the page. Some faux stitching and writing with a white pen finished it off.

I know many of you signed up for the DLP. Are you still doing it? 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Very Happy Mailbox..... a mailbox full of mail art. In case you don't know, mail art is a decorated envelope, package or postcard, the point being that the container is the art, and there may or may not be anything inside. For the past few years, one of my groups, Blissfully Art Journaling (this links to the yahoo group, and we also have a Facebook page) has had a mail art swap going on during the summer months. Everyone who signed up had about two months to send mail art to everyone else on the list. I recently received my last piece, and decided it was time to do something with it all. Not to mention the nearly 30 pieces I received last year and still had languishing in a folder. Not to mention also, all the random mail art I've gotten from various friends over the years.

My inspiration for creating my mail art journal came from two sources. One, a workshop by one of the Documented Life Project administrators, Roben-Marie Smith. Click HERE to learn more about it. It spurred me on to get all this yummy mail into a book, and was well worth the cost. I used one of Roben-Marie's techniques for getting all my mail onto pages, but my binding method came out of classes I've taken with the wonderful DJ Pettitt

The outside of my book:

Just about everything I used to decorate the covers came from my art pals....bits of ephemera, text papers, random scraps, stamped images....all included inside the envelopes.

Inside, you can see how I was able to attach multiple envelopes and postcards on each page by stacking them and using my sewing machine to stitch them in place. I love that each piece can be turned, as often the backs are just as beautiful as the fronts.

The pages are hinged together with strips of fabric that I printed with my Gelli Plate.

Here are just a few of the pages:

The buttons on the spine are not merely decorative. They are what hold the signatures in place. Thank you for this awesome technique, DJ!!

For my fellow mail art lovers, I hope this inspires you to get your mail art out of the closet and into a book.