Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This And That

In between classes I've managed to do a few artsy things on my own.  Without further ado, here are some of them:

Michele of Little Bird Creations hosts ATC swaps, and I've enjoyed participating in them.  The current one has a circus theme, and did I ever have fun with that!

I started with this image.

And a sheet of circus acrobat images I found on the internet.  A lot of coloring and fussy cutting later.....

Doing multiples for a swap can be boring, so I like to keep to the same design but change things up enough to keep my this case, coloring each clown individually and differently, and using different acrobat images.
Over at the Everything Wendy Vecchi group, the monthly challenge is to use Wendy's embossing paste, but mix it with something else.  Since I belong to a birthday card club that sends 4x4 cards, I did my challenge piece in that format.



I mixed gold embossing paste with some green paint for the flowers (one of Wendy's stencils).  It didn't do much to change the paste, so I went a bit bolder on the swirls and dots (a Crafter's Workshop stencil) and star (a Tim Holtz stencil).  For those I mixed white embossing paste with a little Silks acrylic glaze in pomegranate.  The Wendy stamp I used is the small weed from her Botanical Art set.
I saw some absolutely gorgeous roll up brush holders at that Jane LaFazio watercolor class I wrote about recently.  They were made of fabric printed with Jane's gorgeous designs, and sewn together by a professional.  Like I said (twice), gorgeous.  I didn't buy one, because what I really wanted to do was see if I could make one myself.  Also, Jane's were sized for the water brushes she uses, and I wanted one large enough to accomodate some of my taller brushes as well.
I stamped some plain fabric with my own carved stamps, using archival inks (mainly the new colors under Wendy's name), because they are permanent.  I wouldn't want a still wet brush to muck up the stamping. 
 The outside:
The inside:

Rolled up, ready for travel:
I'm not saying mine is anywhere as beautiful as Jane's, but it is mine, and that makes me proud. I was happy enough to make another, this one for Teri's birthday.

Last of all, I recently received my friend Jen's field journal.  She calls it the Sisterhood of the Traveling Beaches, and everyone is to do a beach themed spread.  I've spent many a vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and that's what I recall here:
I hope you enjoyed my little potpourri of projects.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I already knew that Doreen Kassel was a gifted polymer clay artist, but last weekend I discovered that she is also very skilled at working with pastels.  I took a fun class with her at Michele's Little Bird Creations studio.  I have some pastels, rarely use them, and have never had any instruction in their use, so I was pretty impressed with what I did.

Pat and I sat together (what else is new?) and shared our pastels.  We used all sorts, crayon style, stick, pan, pencil, and according to Doreen, the softer the better.  How did we apply them?  Pretty much direct to paper and then moving them around with our fingers.

Doreen did a lot of demonstrations.  Very good for a class of newbies to this medium.

Two smallish practice pieces:


After our lunch break I felt confident enough to try two larger pieces.


As you can see, Doreen likes to add some text, cut or torn from magazines.  I like that too!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Four Seasons -- Botanical Garden Style

Not long ago, I read an article written by one of my art idols, Lynne Perrella.  She wrote about a visit she and her husband made to the New York Botanical Garden (yes, the word Garden is NOT pluralized) to see an incredible exhibit.

Contemporary artist Philip Haas has rendered three dimensional representations of the work of Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.  Arcimboldo painted portraits in which all the features are plant material corresponding to each season.  Haas' work is amazing.....fifteen feet tall, and made of painted fiberglass.

I quickly organized a mini road trip with Pat and Teri, and we had a wonderful day; first our visit to the Garden, and then, a great lunch at Roberto's in the Little Italy of the Bronx, followed by shopping for food items up and down Arthur Avenue.

First of all, here's a look at Arcimboldo's four seasons.

And now, what we saw at the Garden.
Summer and spring facing one another.
 Below, winter, an old man.

Summer, a young man, full of the bounty of the season, fresh fruit and vegetables.


Spring, a youthful boy, comprised of 80 varieties of flowers.

Autumn is a mature man, comprised of the nuts, gourds, and grapes of the fall harvest.

We did a bit of walking, and at every turn there was something beautiful to photograph.

The Four Seasons remains on exhibit until October 27.  If you live anywhere near NYC, try and get there (we used 1/2 price Groupons to get in; check and see if they're still available), and by all means, make a day of it and include a visit to Little Italy.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bunny Girl

This past Sunday I took a wonderful class at Michele's Little Bird Creations studio.  Honestly, when I signed up I thought I'd just enjoy hanging with my buds Pat and Teri, and never expected to love it so much.  After all, I am not much of a doll person.  But under Joanna Pierotti's instruction, I really did fall in love with my bunny girl.  What, you might be wondering, is a bunny girl?  She's a small (about 6" tall) bisque doll with a bunny ear hat on her head.  I didn't think to take a picture of how she looked when we started, but bisqueware is ceramic that has only been fired once, and has no glaze on it.  Joanna taught us her techniques for painting and glazing her so she looks like she just came out of a kiln.  And then we dressed her.

Here is how mine looked after the painting and glazing, before her arms were attached, her wings created, or her clothing put together.

Here is Teri's doll at the same point.
I believe this one is Kelly's.  Some clever person figured out that our detail brushes fit into the openings for the arms, and that made it very easy to hold the dolls while painting and glazing.
We used bits of fabric, lace, hankies, ribbon, layer upon layer, to form the outfits.
Here is mine, followed by Teri's and Pat's.

Although we all started out with the same doll, the way we painted and dressed them gave each a distinct personality.  We used plain old acrylic paints, and Joanna demoed her painting techniques, including how to paint the delicate roses on the bunny hat.  Painting the details of the face took a steady hand and a tiny brush.
I added a few things and took more pictures when I got home.

And then, in my box of miniature items, I found the perfect place for my bunny girl to live.
I made a very girly, adorable doll!  Who'd a thunk it?????



Monday, September 9, 2013

Watercolor Weekend

Another weekend, another fabulous art experience at my good friend Michele's art studio.  This time, all the way from San Diego, the multi talented Jane LaFazio led us through two days of drawing, watercoloring, and stamp making.  Yes, I know.  I am fortunate.  And supremely grateful.

I took a machine felting class with Jane at CREATE in July (I'll eventually get a blogpost up on that), so I already knew what a great teacher she is.  And I've wanted to improve my watercoloring skills for some time.  The perfect class for me!

We each received a muslin bag and a tag from Jane.....and made by Jane!

Jane's philosophy is fairly simple:  really look at what you're sketching, and draw what you see.  We began with flowers; each of us selected a bloom, took it to our tables and began by doing a quick and loose drawing with pencil.  Then going in and refining with detail, and finally going over the lines with ink.

I broke in my new watercolor journal.


We used fine or superfine Pitt pens.
Jane didn't specify any paticular brand of watercolors; she did say that even an inexpensive child's set would be fine.  I used the Sakura Koi set I already had, and a waterbrush.
When we drew, we were aiming for realism, but when we began to color, Jane encouraged us to change things up if we wanted to, and mix colors instead of relying on the premixed colors in our sets.
This is what my page looked like at the end of day one.
Throughout the day, Jane would often gather us together so she could demonstrate a particular technique.

On Sunday,  we started off with a review of everyone's work.  Look at these pages.  I won't tell you who, but some were done by people with absolutely no experience in sketching or watercoloring.

Then Jane showed us some of her journal pages, and talked about how to look at our drawings from the previous day, and create stylized versions of them.

If you look at the top right of Jane's page in the photo right above, you'll see the stylized versions of the center part of the flower.  What we would do with these new sketches is carve stamps.
All of the blades for carving are stored inside the handle. 
This is a page I did to illustrate the process.
This sketch was inspired by the center of the aster.
And it became this stamp.
This one came from the bud on the hibiscus.
And it became this stamp.
One of the petals of the hibiscus inspired this styized version.
Too many lines;  I simplified it for the stamp.
The stamps themselves.

Another technique was to stamp on tissue paper, cut it out and add it to a page with matte medium.  I added the bud stamp to my first page.

If all that wasn't enough, we also cut stamps from fun foam.  I'd previously done this using a die and my Vagabond, but this time we were cutting freehand or from a tracing.  This stamp was done by simply tracing an actual oak leaf on the foam.
The foam has adhesive on one side, so we attached the stamps to a piece of acetate.
This is the page that evolved from that stamp.

The darkest leaf was done with one of the new Ranger archival inks, but the rest were done with my watercolors.  The writing around the leaves is mostly just repeating color words, but I think it's a good design element.
We ended the day, and the weekend with a review.  We each held up our work and talked a bit about what we'd done.

Two fantastic days!  What's better than making art?  Making art with great friends and a wonderful teacher.  Massive thanks to Jane, and to Michele for bringing her to New York.