Monday, April 28, 2014

A Documented Life - You Can Quote Me

The current (week 18 already!) prompt in The Documented Life Project is to use a quote on your page that will be an inspiration for the week. The weather here has finally changed, and winter has begun to give way to spring. The quote I chose to illustrate communicates my happiness and relief to see an end to freezing temps.  I saw my first tulips of the season this week.

The background is my usual go-to technique: a Gelli Plate print. This one was done on a textured handmade paper I had in my stash. I added some stamping to it.

The flowers were all cut freehand from scraps of various other Gelli Plate prints. I adhered them one at a time with a glue stick, then stitched around them on my machine. I also stitched around the entire page, both as decoration and to make sure everything stayed where it belonged. Here are close-ups of the very imperfect stitching. It's a good thing I like imperfection.

The lettering was done with a blue Sharpie water based poster pen. When dry, the letters were outlined with a black Pitt pen, and some simple doodling inside the letters was done with the same pen.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Keys4Art 2014, Part IV, This and That

In addition to the projects that took a day, most of a day, or more than a day, we did several "quickies," which were just as much fun and certainly added to our arsenal of techniques. We also took the time to leave the premises for a wonderful dinner complete with a view of the stunning Key Largo sunset. Here we go!

Karen showed us how to decorate silk scarves with Sharpies, stencils, and rubbing alcohol. Would you believe that this:

Turned into this:

My caption for this photo is, "Wake up! We're showing off our scarves!"

(sleepyhead me, Pat, Jen)

We traced stencils onto the silk with metallic Sharpies, then filled in and made random marks with regular old Sharpies. Wad it all up and spray with the alcohol. Pretty amazing, and oh so easy.

I showed the crew how to make felted soap, another easy project and a great gift. Here we are, getting soapy and having a good old time. So nice to be able to do wet and/or messy projects outdoors.

(Jacquie, Teri, me, Sue,  Jen, Elena)

I didn't get a shot of everyone's finished soaps, but here is the one I did as a sample.

In case you haven't seen them before, felted soaps are often sold in pricey shops for $15 and up....each! The idea behind them is that you get a soap and washcloth in one. The wool shrinks as the soap does. It's really kind of cool.

Pat did a quick tutorial on a gesso resist using gelatoes. Great fun.

Daisy shared with us two pages from her book of class samples. She has a loyal following back home that just loves to take classes with her.

I mentioned going out for dinner. Well, we ate pretty well at home too. Pat and I made salads, Elena did enchiladas, Karen cooked gumbo, and Jacquie did some awesome meatballs in homemade marinara, as well as her famous paella:

On a lovely evening we went here for drinks and dinner:

It's right on the water, and we stayed for hours, enjoying the company and the views.

 (Teri, DJ, me)

 (Teri, Pat)

 (Luca {Jacquie's son}, Jacquie)

 (Jen, Sue, Karen, Jacquie, DJ, Teri)

(Elena and Jacquie, our two fearless leaders, movers and shakers, organizers extraordinaire!)

I ordered one of the specials, hogfish. Never had it before, never even heard of it. It was delicious!

Besides the food, this is why people come to Snook's:

And every night, as the sun disappears, a bell is rung. They take their sunsets very seriously in the Keys.

One of the gifts Pat made for each of us was a little book. 

Coincidentally it contains as many pages as we had participants, which gave Jen the brilliant idea that we each write a word on a page in everyone's book to describe that person. We did that after dinner on our last night, and it was a sweet activity. Modesty prevents me from sharing with you what was said about me. Just kidding! No one had a bad word for anyone, which is why we continue to look forward to this week every year. Keys4Art......5 years and counting!

I know that Elena and Jacquie are already plotting next year's retreat, and I admit to have started thinking about what to make as gifts, what to teach, how to better pack.....Remember, it's the journey (or in this case, the anticipation) more than the destination. Okay, it's also the destination. Thanks for coming along with me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keys4Art 2014 - Alebrijes!

Teri introduced us to a Mexican folk art which results in wonderful, colorful creatures.....alebrijes. Being the super organized educator she is, Teri's workshop came complete with visuals, handouts, and a brief history.

Here is what I learned about this art form: Alebrijes (Spanish pronunciation: [aleˈβɾixes]) are brightly colored Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. In the 1930s, Linares fell very ill and while he was in bed, unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There, he saw trees, animals, rocks, clouds that suddenly turned into something strange, some kind of animals, but, unknown animals. He saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting one word, "Alebrijes". Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and paper mache and called them Alebrijes.

There was already a tradition of wood carved creatures in Mexico, and eventually there resulted in a marriage of the two arts.....traditional carvers began to paint their pieces with bright vivid colors. For our workshop we stuck to the paper mache variety.

Go, Teri! At home, she prepared our creatures with a coat of gesso so we could get right to decorating.
Here is what we were given:

I decided to paint mine black and then add patterns using paint, paint markers, and various pens (glaze, gel, souffle).

We decided to name our gators. Meet Floradora. And here are a few of her friends:

I knew just the right place for Floradora when I returned home. Here she is, happily climbing a wall with a couple of very distant relatives.

I found this photo online. What wonderful colors and designs! 

I would love to have an entire menagerie creeping and flying around my home. As long as they were just the imaginary kind, of course. A lone water bug once kept me awake in terror for an entire night. But that's a whole other story.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Documented Life - Catching Up

Last week's prompt in The Documented Life Project was to use cardboard from a food container in a creative way.  Believe it or not, my page started out virtually covered with such cardboard.

I love how a project can start off one way and then just veer off in another direction, as though the work had a mind of its own. As I said, the background began covered with pieces from several different cardboard boxes. I went over the entire page with pink and green fluid acrylics, so much of the writing (but not all) showed through the paint. I used an old credit card, scraping the paint every which way. I liked the way that looked, but couldn't help but recall a technique from an Anne Bagby workshop. So I took the mask from a Dyan Reaveley stencil (I wish more stencil companies would also include the mask, or cut out portion along with the stencil), held it down with repositionable adhesive, and covered everything else with black paint. Although much of the background and cardboard is no longer visible, it is a dramatic look that I like a lot. You can see just a little bit of the word "light" on the head. With so much black, using paint markers, metallic markers, and souffle pens seemed like the thing to do.

The page is all about my recent commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

This week's prompt is to photograph or draw a picture of our favorite shoes. I've always loved shoes, but honestly, since retiring, I'm mainly in sneakers, but that doesn't mean I don't have some beauties hiding in the closet.

I LOVE these shoes. Too bad I can barely stand, let alone walk in them. But every now and again I take them out, put them on, and parade around the apartment for a second or two. Then I sit down and continue to admire them from that far more comfortable position.

The background is torn up pattern paper, glued down, muted a bit with off white paint, then dabbed with olive and brown ink. Stencils in those same colors were added. The shoes were sketched on watercolor paper and then painted. The stitching detail was added with a black pen. Then they were carefully cut out and glued onto the background page. At that point I decided to add more stenciling in red. The lettering on the top was originally white, outlined in black, but it seemed too stark, so I toned it down with a light pink marker.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Keys 4 Art 2014, Part III (DJ Pettitt is in the house!)

Ever since I discovered the wonderful world of art journaling, book binding, and mixed media, I have wanted to take a class with DJ Pettitt. I'd look at her glorious creations online and drool. Last year that dream came true in the form of a four day workshop DJ gave at Donna Downey's studio in North Carolina. I met Elena and Jacquie there, and we had such a great time, learned so much, and enjoyed DJ, both as an artist/teacher and human being. So much so, we wanted the rest of our art sisters to have the same experience. If you follow DJ (and if you don't, you should!), you know she is a passionate and talented photographer, especially of birds, and the lure of being able to get some shots of Florida wildlife was too much for her to resist. So, DJ Pettitt is in the house! We spent the next two days with DJ, and they were wonderful! And after our workshop was over, and we went on to other art projects, DJ spent her days out and about, going to bird sanctuaries and getting those photos she wanted. Check out DJ's blog (link highlighted above) to see what she saw.

DJ brought lots of her journals and some tote bags to inspire us.

DJ is a generous, patient teacher, and she spent as much time as was necessary with each of us.

Our books consisted of two signatures, with the pages connected by fabric "hinges." In this photo, DJ is watching as a template is used to mark the holes for binding. DJ has an amazing technique for book binding that is not only beautiful to look at, and results in a very sturdy book, but is easy to do. 

We created covers, entirely out of fabric, embellished them, and then did the same for the inside covers. We also did a wrap which went around our two signatures. The hinges I mentioned were temporarily held in place with a glue stick, then sewn in place on our machines. (Helpful tip from DJ: Use Elmer's Extra Strength glue stick. It will NOT gum up your machine needle.) Some machine stitching was also added, if we wanted, to the journal pages themselves. The following photos are all of my book. Not my usual color scheme, but these are the colors I was drawn to for this project. Considering our tropical setting, fitting, I think.

Here are some of the books my friends made.

Using DJ's binding technique, the buttons on the spine are not merely decorative; they help hold the whole thing together. Look at this beautiful lineup:

If you ever get the chance to take a class with DJ, run, don't walk, to sign up. And remember, you will only add 5 pounds to your luggage if you bring along a Janome mini sewing machine. Just trying to help.