11 December 2008

Turning out the Christmas Cards

I've been consumed the last month or so working on Xmas cards. Am trying to be healthier about it than last year, and thus am enjoying the whole process more and not driving myself nuts by taking all the fun out of it. Some card designs I've made ten of and others only one, and you know what--that's no big deal! Last year I required myself to make five to six of each design, but then I also was following directions for each different one then, and this year I'm trying to stick with what I've been doing lately and just seeing what develops. It's still hard, but I'm having fun, and what I'm producing is okay even though I didn't know how it was going to end up when I began.

Lately I've been going over the Tim Holtz 12 Tags of Christmas from both 2007 and 2008 obsessively, trying to hone in on techniques that I can and want to use. I loved his Day 8 tag from last year and made a bunch of those this year. Then I wasn't sure what to do with them so set them aside for a few days. Finally I thought of using some of the really twee paper I had from a Christmas paper collection I'd bought my first year when I didn't know any better, cutting a panel to use as background, and sanding it to get the right distressed look to tie everything together plus obscure the tweeness of the paper at the same time. Doing that turned some of the most boring paper into some of my favorite! I love love love the sanded-paper look and want to go around sanding everything now.

Also pleased with myself because I figured out how to put the tag on the card so that it could be easily removed to use as a bookmark (as per a friend's request who wanted to buy some from me). You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find directions to do such a thing! I found plenty of entries for crafters selling cards with removable bookmarks, but some were perforated and the rest didn't share how they'd accomplished such a thing. For this novice that was a little discouraging. So I'm telling what I did to create a removable tag on a card:
--decided where on the card I wanted the tag to lay
--placed a strip of double-sided tape ON THE CARD (not the tag) where the tag should go
--placed a slightly larger strip of removable tape on top of the double-sided strip, with the removable tape sticky-side UP
Then the tag can be placed on the strip of removable tape and pulled off at will. Really not so hard, but boy was I pleased with myself to come up with that! (Full confession: the first time I placed the tape strips on the back of the tag rather than on the card. Ah well.)

22 November 2008

Thoughts on "Beginnings" of All Kinds

Our challenge topic for November/December is "beginnings", put forth by myself. We are taking two months to do it with all the holidays, Thanksgiving travel, etc. I am making lots of Xmas cards and trying not to stress myself out too much. My mind keeps saying that I "should" be doing lots of things, but I try to cut that off right away and just enjoy playing around with different things.

I am amazed at how fast the transition has been for me from following very detailed instructions to create a clearly defined end result to just playing around and seeing where it takes me. Really, I thought that would be much harder for me to do! I think that all the projects and reading I've done have really paid off, which is how I typically do things--immerse myself in information for a while, then I surface and start synthesizing what I've learned to execute it in my own way. From somewhere I have gained a lot of confidence that I didn't have just a few months ago.

One of the things I did that has produced some lovely embellishments to use on my Xmas cards was to make some monoprints with alcohol inks on glossy white paper (I think I used red pepper, oregano, and the gold metallic mixative). I thought they might work as background panels for something else, but they didn't, so I then put some gold peel-off stickers I got in England last summer on them. They looked nice but like stickers put on paper (which they were, of course!), so I put Glossy Accents over the exposed parts, and they really look quite nice now.

With all the coupons Michael's has been handing out the last few weeks, I've been adding some neat things to my inventory. One is the Sophisticated Finishes Patina set, which I'm dying to play with but may not get to until after the holidays (sob). An idea for one of next year's Xmas cards is to cut a big Xmas tree with upturned corners, patina it, and punch holes to hang little ornaments from on tiny jump rings. Or, maybe, just do the tree as is once it's patina'd--embellish it by putting a star on top or something.

Anyway, about beginnings:
--One idea would be to do a collage with many different images of beginnings on it--January calendar, blank book (3D element), wedding ring or announcement, graduation picture, clock or timepiece of some sort, etc. This could be good practice for identifying a focal element and arranging different items, and it would be fun to use the different media for blending things together, especially now that I have the encaustic medium.
--I really like the idea that a beginning is also an ending and have found it very hard, in fact, to separate beginning from ending when thinking about this challenge. It would be another mixed-media piece, but maybe I could fashion a Mobius strip out of something, perhaps with words or a quote written along it?
--I also thought of doing a sunrise somehow, maybe in Art Deco fashion and tearing strips of paper to serve as the sunrise. This would be a landscape-oriented piece.
--I could make it personal and do a collage of beginnings for me: first house I remember, anything else significant. Must admit this seems the least interesting of all so far though.
--Some artistic representation of the beginning of a fractal--see quotes below. Now that could be quite fun!

Quotes about beginnings that might be interesting to muse over:
--The beginnings of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. ~ Kate Chopin
--"In my beginning is my end." ~ T.S. Eliot
--"Play is the beginning of knowledge." George Dorsey
--"Solitude is the beginning of all freedom." William Orville Douglas
--"At the earliest drawings of the fractal curve, few clues to the underlying mathematical structure will be seen." Ian Malcolm

29 October 2008

Birthday presents

My friend A.'s birthday was last week, and I had quite a good time making her presents. The funny thing was that her card ended up being a wall hanging . . . couldn't figure out how to make it a card. My husband helped with suggestions on placements of the shards of mirror styrene; I ended up with an abstract easel supporting the sunflower collage. It worked out beautifully to stamp the design on acetate, color with alcohol inks, then use a Xyron to mount it on sunburst gold paper I got in England earlier this summer. I used foam tape to create depth among the background panel, styrene shards, and sunflower collage. This is one of my favorite things I've made!

I did also make a set of wine charms for A. These are done on 1x1" Stampbord using punched squares of paper and Liquid Laminate. Then I paint the edges with Liquid Leafing, punch a hole with my Crop-a-Dile, insert an eyelet, then add a jump ring and earring with suitable beads on it that complement the design while also maintaining a consistent look through the whole set.

16 October 2008

Making progress on magic grimoire

Tonight I made good progress on my grimoire that I'm doing for this month's challenge with A. I decided to go with the idea mentioned in a previous blog entry about illustrating the seven black arts banned in the Renaissance. That means I need to produce seven illustrations, then seven panels for the opposite side, and figure out how to attach the seven pieces of bookboard together.

So far I've completed the panels for hydromancy, aeromancy, and geomancy. My favorite so far is geomancy (I will put up pictures in a later post when the whole thing is complete), which funnily enough was the first one I did. I hope it's not all downhill from there!

What I did tonight were more new things for me. I couldn't find a drawing of any flames or fire that I liked, so I had to draw it by hand myself--horrors! Never done that before, but I prefer my rendition to anything else I've seen. I used white transfer paper, which I'd never used before, and wow! the possibilities THAT opens up are huge. Anyway, I ended up cutting a reverse mask (I guess that's what it's called) so that I could pretend it was a stencil. I used it to apply copper embossing paste from Dreamweavers to cardstock, and once it dries I will apply glue from the Palette gluepad, followed by variegated red leafing. I think it's going to look great! When it's complete, I'll cut it out and plan to mount it on a background sheet of either glitter black, black bumps, or black velvet. Don't think I can decide until the leafing has been applied and I see how that looks.

I also started work on the panel for nigromancy, for which I'm using the Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous circles stamp. I made about five different versions using different inks and embossing powders, then cut out bits of one and bits of another to layer over a base image. I'd like to figure out how to attach some of them so that the circles will actually spin around--maybe just a straight pin? It looks good, though, at least tonight. Hopefully in the morning I'll still be as pleased!

Flower Fairy card with new technique

For my cousin's birthday card, I used a technique I had read about in the May/June 2008 issue of Rubber Stamp Madness and hadn't gotten a chance to try out yet.

I took a Flower Fairy outline peel-off sticker that I'd gotten in England this summer and turned it so the sticky side was up. Then I used a small paintbrush to apply dry chalks where desired (I mainly used my shimmer chalk set). Once I'd applied chalk everywhere I wished, I brushed the entire surface with Perfect Pearls (Blush, then Perfect Gold). To finish, I did corners and applied to paper and card as shown.

The whole thing didn't take long, and it came out quite nice as a birthday card for a four-year-old.

01 October 2008

More thoughts on harmony; "magic" challenge

Harmony could be as simple as showing opposites that come together. It's things that are in tune with each other (there's that auditory component again!), or that complement each other. It's a feeling of rightness of place, that things are as they are supposed to be. Maybe I could do something with the Arched Glass stamp? That conveys a feeling of harmony.

Now, for my thoughts on the "magic" challenge. I decided that I want to do a book, and I think it will be an accordion book so that it will fall open like a pack of cards. There are two kinds of magic--the magician's kind, where things appear that weren't there before, or that were there and then disappear on a second look, and the "real" magic that transforms things, that brings a sense of wonder and awe and amazement, the beautiful things that seem too good to be true and thus we call them "magical". I guess there's a third kind, the magick of witches and wizards, potions and spells, fairies and elves.

I'd like to mix all of these things into one. The book will have seven panels joined together with something flexible (maybe tied onto skewers?), so that if I want to, one side could read "MAGIC" using the middle five panels, and then that would give me one additional panel at both the start and end to decorate.

Possible things to use: the frozen opals from Suze Weinberg's store. Glamour Dust. Holographic embossing powder. Pop-up or covered items. Watermarks.

A few hours later:
I Googled "magic" and took a look at the Wikipedia entry, and I came across an intriguing idea. It's a little more formal than I had been thinking, but it might be a neat challenge in and of itself. In the Renaissance period, there were seven prohibited black arts, which fits in nicely with my idea of having 7 panels in my accordion book. I could use each panel to illustrate a different black art (nigromancy, geomancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, chiromancy, and scapulimancy). That appeals to me . . .

Nigromancy--blackness. Maybe with some image in holographic EP? Skull from Mexican rubber stamp set?
Geomancy--use map, either image transfer or stamp, as background, then something on top.
Hydromancy--maybe build on last month's water challenge and put some water image behind a glass side (2x2"). That should be flat enough to work in a book format.
Aeromancy--this one is tough. I have a cloud Stampscapes stamp, perhaps work that in somehow.
For pyromancy, it would be neat to draw flames somehow and then put copper foil on them.
Chiromancy is palmistry--good opportunity for an image transfer. Key lines are heart line, head line, life line.
Scapulimancy--this is challenging--divination by way of the shoulder blades. That requires some thought.

30 September 2008

"Water" Challenge Final Result

Late last week I finished my water challenge pieces. Originally I intended for the two to be one--I was going to have the glass slides hanging down from the canvas--but that didn't seem to work. I think if the canvas had been larger it would have been all right, but it was too small to support three. Going on the premise that sometimes one has to be ruthless and jettison one's favorite thing (advice from writing class in college), I pulled the slides out completely and made them their own piece.

Much to my surprise, I have to say I'm really pleased. It's a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Here were some of my musings when I was contemplating having words on the piece:

Lifting us up
     Carrying us along
Rhythmic waves
Motion and complete stillness
Our beginning
     Somehow we recognize this
     deep inside
     Utter peacefulness
     Deep calm
Best when the sun shines
     Thousands of tiny mirrors

29 September 2008

What does "harmony" mean to me?

I checked this morning on Mixed Media Monday to see what this week's challenge was, and it's "harmony". (My jaw dropped when I noticed that before noon there were already 24 responses. How does anyone do that so quickly?)

So I am considering whether I can produce anything for this and trying to think about what harmony means to me. With so much interest in music, I have to say that the first thing I think of is audible harmony, but I don't really know what I could do with that. Perhaps my challenge is to figure out how to represent aural harmony in a different medium?

When I think of harmony, I think of different things coming together and finding some common ground. Rather like the saying about the whole being more than the sum of its parts. How could I represent that? Maybe go back to the prism idea, showing how all the different colors become one.

Or, perhaps, harmony means peace. I could make something that just feels peaceful, like coming home. The opposite of dissonance. That makes me think of strings vibrating, as on a harp or any stringed instrument. Could I use that imagery in combination with colors? Definitely vertical strings, not horizontal.

As I write this, I find I am thinking only of colors, since sounds are not an option (lack of ability to make my own chimes!). No images are presenting themselves. Interesting. I wonder why not?

Harmony. Also speaks to what my yoga teacher said this morning--we are all happiest when we are doing what we are meant to do. Find what you are meant to do, and do it. That is harmony, being at one with the universe. So I could do something involving an image of someone or something doing exactly what it's meant to do, fulfilling its purpose. There's no greater harmony than that.

I shall have to think about this some more!

28 September 2008

15 September 2008

Well, I got started on my piece and am very pleased so far, but then I got sidetracked with the preparations for the surprise baby shower I hosted last Saturday. I think sometimes I avoid doing something creative (procrastinate) because of what I have mentioned before—it’s all great in theory, but I’m committing myself once I actually start, choosing a path and thus shutting off all the other potentialities. But I have started my water challenge, now it’s just finishing it that will be the challenge!

I do find that I have a lot more confidence about this piece than I have any other original item I’ve done so far. It has been a leap of faith for me to do what I have done so far and trust that the piece will reveal itself to me as I go; very different than following instructions for a project and knowing at the beginning what the end result will be. But it’s exciting! I did spend the first week of this month just thinking about the piece, and that was very useful. It prepared me so that when I went to my studio area one evening, I knew I was ready to make a start. I still don’t know how it’s going to end, but I knew to begin, and that was something.

One thing I find interesting is that for all my thoughts on words and the enjoyment I get from other’s collage pieces, I am really resistant to putting words on my own pieces. Seems it will lessen them somehow, make them less serious, I don’t know exactly what it is. So I may, if I have time, make multiple items (perhaps meant to be hung in a group) and use words on some but not on others. But it’s a funny prejudice I’ve discovered, especially since I like it in others’ work.

31 August 2008

This is harder than I thought it might be to keep an art blog going while in real life rather than on holiday at my in-laws. I knew it would be tougher, but I didn’t realize quite so much! Of course, I did also have my parents visiting for a total of about two weeks, a baby shower at my house, and my cousin had her second baby, so I guess there have been more than the usual number of distractions. At least I am writing now!

Tonight I gave A. our first challenge, and by 30 September we will share our creations. The challenge is “water”. Once I settled on it, I tried really hard not to think about it, but now I can let myself toy with ideas. Here are some off the top of my head:

--glass paints on a bud vase
--bring out the idea mentioned earlier in this blog on the dolphins
--do something with some of the sea rocks and shells I brought back—use Dimensional Magic somehow to simulate water?
--shades of blue keep occurring, for obvious reasons—do another shrine like one for Danny—liked the teeny vase painted with blue glass paint
--try blue alcohol ink on acetate to see how that looks, then maybe use as an overlay on something

Perhaps I should think about how water makes me feel. More than anything, it makes me feel calm inside, serene, still, at peace, connected to the earth in a larger way . . . even the stormy water does that, enhances that connection and being caught up with something larger than oneself. I like the rhythm of the sound of the waves. It does also make me think of Kayleigh’s birth. There is a sense of weightlessness, fluidity, gracefulness. I do not find water threatening or dangerous, I find it welcoming. I like the sense of translucence associated with water. Also I like the freedom that seems to come with vacationing by water—appearances are less important, everything is more relaxed and laid back, meals and bedtimes come at all times—I guess it’s a sense that time is looser by the water.

Could try something on the glass tags from Stampington. Or instead do something on microscope slides—maybe a mosaic-style broken-up picture, using about five slides of different shapes? Hmmm, that’s intriguing. Place those five on a background to create the whole piece. I like the idea of having them in one of those frames like I have in the bathroom (can’t recall the name just now—floating?). Or take a picture of water, or poster, put slides on top of some parts, none connecting, and use those to do the mosaic-style piece? Maybe, thinking big, get a poster of water on a beach, then do slides to place on top of various parts of the picture . . . I like that too.

Could find a poem or words about water that I like, then do an accordion-style piece.

Along those lines, I like the Andre Gide quote used by Melody M. Nunez on p. 23 of Transparent Art: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Could write my own haiku to go along with the piece, rather than using someone else’s words. Form is five-seven-five syllables.

I wonder: can the mica tiles be colored with anything? That might be interesting.

Also had thoughts of stitching onto the background, rather like water would run off from something. Use light blue metallic thread, maybe a few crystals here and there. Another thing is that I have always loved the way the sunlight shimmers on the water, if I could work that in somehow.

Could do multiple things to show (Dad’s card of sailboat could be one). Many small treatments rather than one great thing.

Okay, that’s enough brainstorming for one night.

11 August 2008

Remember this from Suze Weinberg’s July newsletter:

--Push out the die cut shape from the papers (shown at R)... (there are a few different triangular bead shapes)
--Roll it on anything cylindrical (a pencil, etc), pull it off and glue the tiny end of the paper bead to the now rolled bead. The size of the cylinder determines the size of the bead center.
--Hold with tweezers & roll the Beadle in melted Clear UTEE in The Melting Pot. Never panic....A heat gun can always be used to smooth out any rough edges.
--BTW: if you prefer....you can take the paper bead, coat it with clear embossing ink, dip it into Clear UTEE powder & heat with a heat gun !

Jewelry Idea from Suze Easter Update 2008 newsletter:

"No Glass is needed in this new technique !
--Work on Craft Sheet. Melt Clear UTEE then add 1 drop of To Dye For & stir in color slowly.
--Insert paper image into Memory Frame. Yes it will be a bit loose in there. Be sure frame is laying flat on work surface.
--Pour UTEE into frame to fill. Looks like colored glass when finished. Embellish frame with rhinestones!
I used our sterling silver jewelry bales (attached with Loctite Brush On Super Glue) to attach the extra hanging bale on the bottom of the green frame."

27 July 2008

Need to think about what projects to tackle upon arriving home—

9 August—need baby book for Joanna, tin for Danny
6 August—need baby book for Jen?

22 August—must have finished birthday card for Mom

Start producing Xmas cards!

29 August—must have finished anything for Mom to take back

On plane, try to write out steps for Danny’s tin.

Get 1” square punch.

Re seascape item: use Opalite Sterling Frost to do small shells, starfish.

Start working on steps for sea piece.

Make Japanese card for Irene.

Look up Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi (p. 45 Mixed Media Collage).

Really like the layout pp. 50-51 MMC.

Look up a book by Joanne Mattera on using encaustic—The Art of Encaustic Painting.

25 July 2008

In water piece—or any piece—apply paint thickly and use palette knife to make rough swirls—indicate unsettledness, roiling, turbulence. Gradually change to perfectly smooth to indicate area of serenity, calm, peacefulness, tranquillity.

Idea: collage of the 9th Street house in Wichita Falls.

Notes from Duxford and Tiger Moth flight: Dale said his favorite part was the takeoff. He loved the uninhibited view of the fields and meadows below him and mentioned that he could see Saffron Walden.

24 July 2008

Some thoughts for what to do with Danny’s notes before his wedding—try using it in a mint tin assemblage as per CDW p. 85. Could paint the tin chocolate brown and Tiffany blue—try the peeled paint technique for both (pp. 100-1) colors. Use the notes as the liner for the main part of the tin.

Elements could include a key, as the notes are a key to his thinking. Fit some of the ribbon in somehow. Any other things—seed packets, small dried flowers, miniature paddle in honor of the gondola ride (or mini gondola!).

What to put on the cover? A pic of just Danny—have something of Joanna on the inside, since she was on his mind when he wrote those lines on the notepad. Maybe put a marble inside, to highlight or magnify something? Look for a wedding charm for the inner lid, or maybe my wild woman button.

Maybe, on the inside put a film strip length and put mini pictures from the photographer in the spaces. Put in either vertically on either inner lid or tin, or horizontally running across both.

Maybe add one of my little bottles with the wedding date and names in it? Or one of the silver capsule holders. (Paint bottle Tiffany blue glass paint.)

Could cut memo lines in half and extend across both inner lid and tin.

Think about what I’m trying to convey with the piece. As Rita said, it’s a glimpse inside his mind on one of the most special days of his life. Glimpse inside, revealing something hidden, providing insight, looking through or behind a veil (string up a veil that can be pushed aside to reveal the contents. Could do on wire, sew a little bit of tulle (from wedding aisle?). Or look for dollhouse curtain. Possibly a small doll’s bridal veil? Hate to use Barbie, ugh, but something like that.) I could call the piece “Behind the Veil” (not beyond).

Find image/background of brain diagram? Might be too obvious, that.

20 July 2008

Thoughts on the “foggy” challenge: I thought of the fog of memory and how people can suddenly pop out of one’s mind when if asked an hour before you wouldn’t have recalled anything about them.

So I thought about having a piece that had a foggy look all over but with faces emerging at certain points between the clouds (use Stampscapes clouds stamp recently purchased?). Not clearly defined, maybe some kind of transfer. Or transparencies.

Have to think about how to make it interesting and also how to make it pretty, or at least not dull.

I did have the idea of having the faces appearing in a circle on the piece.

Maybe the idea with “foggy” is that all the images should be obscured in some way, as though there was a fog or haze or veil in the way. Encaustic? Vellum? Angel hair? Nothing too hard, like metal or wire mesh. Fog is soft, no hard edges, can’t be contained in a form.

NOTE: for dolphin/sea piece, try using heat-transfer method to put a celestial map in the sky (p. 18 Collage Discovery Workshop).

Apply transparent colors on top of each other.

NOTE: try using Cobalt Blue first then Turquoise Phthalo on top for ocean (pp. 22-23 Collage D. Wkshop).

NOTE: try using a combing tool to make waves in the paint (p. 26 CDW).

NOTE: sprinkle sand or crushed shells onto the paint?

Something to try: apply plain white vinegar to copper sheeting.

Something to try in the right piece would be to use incense sticks, either tied together or just glued in place, to frame an element (p. 60 CDW).

15 July 2008

Today Joy, Brian, and I took the kids on the train to Southend. It was fine but not terribly exciting for me until I realized the tide had gone out—a lot—and that I ought to be able to get tons of seashells out there. Oh I had fun squelching around in the mud and found lots of pretty or interesting things to boot. The first “seashell” I picked up was still in use by its owner! A little “foot” was sticking out but pulled back in quickly. We saw lots of crabs scurrying about. And I didn’t know things grew into clamshells—other shells, snails, etc. They are a work of collage all by themselves!

At Clacton the rocks I found most of that appealed to me were white, but today at Southend it was black ones. I found lots that had a deep rich hue and nice shapes with a flat surface. Now to think what to do with them.

Would like to try Opalite inkpads on them to see if they work on rock. Could make some sets with Celtic or Mexican small stamps and use as wine charms? Have to be small rocks for that, or padded on bottom. Would need to write up a small card (find those recipe cards I got for Joy & Brian a long time ago) noting source of stones and then brief description of symbols on them.

I’ll keep exploring what I like about them, and that will help me find out what to do with them.

NOTE: challenges this week from sites are “let’s have tea” and “foggy”.

19 July 2008

Woke up this morning ten to five and foolishly went into kitchen for more water. It was so bright I couldn’t go back to sleep properly. Kept having dozy dreams, many of which were about things I want to make.

I’m still thinking about my ocean piece. Saw good idea somewhere in which the artist had used glass pebbles (like my flat-sided marbles I got at the Moon Marble Company) along the ocean bed. Good idea! Could use different sizes and mix of blue, green, clear.

Also had some ideas about those dolphin peel-off stickers I like so much and some ideas for a mixed-media piece on it. I just need to do some of these things and see how they turn out. Anyway, I was thinking of something in an L shape, and then something bridging the space between to represent water, and then the dolphins leaping above the “water”, behind it (use a mesh?), and below it so they are completely underwater.

Not sure what the “L” is made of—two pieces of wood? Two canvases attached somehow? Maybe get sheet of playwood (or big canvas or foamboard) in square or rectangular shape, then fasten canvases onto that for 3D effect. Mesh could go over canvases, and then it’s easy to fasten things behind the canvas onto the backing plywood.

Would like to work into the background images of those old maps with sea monsters lurking in the waves, and images of ships, compasses, maybe constellations in the sky.

Do something to the mesh so it’s shimmery, sparkly, but not too obvious.

Maybe paint warm colors above mesh (on both backing and top of left canvas) as sunset, or if want cooler colors then stick to light blue and clouds. Not a stormy look, though.

Carry what’s done on canvas across to backing board too. Experiment with Glamour Dust—use in constellations, possibly.

11 July 2008

Or maybe the thing to do is make a piece and then make up a story for whom it belongs to or where it belongs. Although if I could do that, I guess I wouldn’t need the story at all. . . .

Notes to self:
--use a bleach pen
--gold gesso
--get some Frisket

Idea: Collage with pictures of bread, old-fashioned ovens, wheat growing in a field, cheesecloth [use pics of my bread]. Sprinkle salt, use eggshells.

College with bouquet garni bag, herbs dried and fresh, seed packets, smoke swirls (for aroma), pots (big ones, like for soup), pictures and layouts of herb gardens. Sprinkle salt on part of it.

Mica idea—glue down in one corner and cover up with gold or copper flakes (p. 97 A. Cartwright book).

Conflict of being parent/wife—incredible heart, hope, love, but with a cage around it, or part of it; maybe use wire to anchor it down. Something that conveys the spilling over of so much love and emotion but the constraints of responsibility and duty enclosing, surrounding, encaging.

--Scott Davis Jones (gallery)

13 July 2008

Kayleigh and I went to the seaside today at Clacton-on-Sea. At the beach she helped me wash lots of rocks, and I wrapped up the parettiest ones in plastic to bring home.

My thought is to use them in some kind of dump art project, but I’m not sure what to do with the rest of it. Maybe I could print out 1 or 2 of the photos I took of Kayleigh today and use them as the backdrop. Should I try painting the sky a la Angela Cartwright? Maybe I could use a waves texture plate on just part of the picture—combination of water and sky to blend the picture together a little.

What else could I try? Could have the pic and rocks be only the top part and have the bottom (1/3) be what’s under the ground, flotsam and jetsam, gems hidden in the earth (use Rox recently gotten), a sea monster in its den, “hot lava” as it reminds me of Kayleigh and it’s like the burning love for one’s children; something that indicates or represents ineffable mysteries, things that are hidden.

Just now we passed some fields—cows, cows, cows, then bunnies. Must have been at least 30 of them. I know they are a nuisance to farmers, but they sure were cute.

8 July 2008

Oh, I am delighted! Just made Jonathan’s bday card, and with being here in England rather than at home, I was limited in my choice of materials. That can be a good thing!

I started with a pre-folded blank black card that I got yesterday in Wickford. On top I taped a piece of sequinette (sequin waste) and applied Perfect Medium through it. Then I removed the sequinette and brushed on Rust Perfect Pearls.

From a paper of Egyptian panels I cut one out, edged it with black market but decided that wasn’t enough, so edged it with gold Krylon. Mounted with foam tape in upper middle. Along bottom I put a strip of Egyptian adhesive ribbon. Looked good but too raw, so I rubbed some Distress Ink tea dye over the panel and ribbon, and that did the trick. It looks great—even Dale said so with enthusiasm in his voice.

On the inside I put a cartouche, cut out from paper and also edged with gold Krylon, in which I will write “Happy Birthday” in hieroglyphics (if I can find them on the web).

Another technique that interests me is art quilts, and, along related lines, inchies! The idea of taking tiny little perfect things and incorporating them into a larger whole is appealing. What about using inchies to do a mosaic design?

10 July 2008

Here’s something to try—so right now I create for a specific person or specific location, but I’d like to move away from that limitation, free myself. An interim step, and one that would use both my imagination and my writing skills, would be to create either a character or a setting and sketch it briefly, say one to two paragraphs, no more. Then I could always attach that to the back of the completed piece.

I like this idea more and more. This way I could end up with multiple pieces for the same character in many circumstances, have stuff for a whole set of people with a whole mythology around it, supporting and cradling the art and bearing its weight up to the surface.

1 July 2008, on plane to England

Notes on Somerset Studio Gallery Summer ‘08:

p. 32 “I think my luck stems from my ability to search and find items I can build a story on.”
Good idea—start with an object and build a narrative around it. Create something that fits into the narrative and uses the object. Put the story on the back.

Xmas ornaments p. 38
Sandwich two images back to back and enclose between glass slides. Wrap with silver tape and apply Stickles over the tape. Wrap with wire to form a hangar. Attach wire with beads to bottom.

p. 52 “Legend”
Attach smaller canvas with hinges to a larger one. Add a handle. Hang two tags from bottom.

p. 58 Create a collage like this using Kayleigh’s face. Handtint the photo.

p. 73 I’m really interesting in trying the encaustic medium. Must ask Joy if she has any—she always mentions encaustic. Try it on Claybord. Can buy from rfpaints.com and at Jerry’s Artarama.

Maybe a biweekly challenge is the thing to suggest to A. Alternate picking the theme.

Really like using miniatures on a large canvas—see “Enchanted Garden” p. 77

29 June 2008

I am thinking of suggesting to A. that we do one challenge a week. That might be a bit ambitious, though. Perhaps just for a month? Or lengthen the time to one every two or three weeks, or once a month?

AB p. 49 I love this quote by Stephen DeStaelder: “Artists don’t work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.”

AB p. 17 “random ideas and fancies . . . just enjoy the process of creating”

p. 22 me
p. 24 me
zoronaland.blogspot.com keep an eye on this

I find it scary to not have a plan, to not have detailed instructions for a project from beginning to end, to just let things happen as you go along feels like a recipe for disaster, for failure, for producing garbage. Maybe what it is is that I don’t trust myself to come up with something nice?

Frankly the chutzpah of having a blog, of thinking there is anything I have to say that anyone would find useful to hear, is an uncomfortable though. Who do I think I am, pretending to such heights? Yet if I heard a friend say that, I’d be all over it to persuade them otherwise—so why can I not apply that to myself? I am out of the habit of thinking I owe myself anything—everything I do is accompanied by guilt—if I’m playing with art, not baking bread, always the choices. The tradeoffs are tough. It’s strange for me to follow my emotions and instincts—again, scary, this lack of structure and no clear destination.

I’ve always been fascinated by, drawn to, intrigued by . . . maps, collage pictures, children’s illustrations, bare trees (no leaves) . . . but I’ve never followed something to find out where it’s going, not given myself permission to do so, it feels pretentious somehow.

Another thing I’ve always liked are the doodling, intricate patterns—I used to fill up whole pages with them. Can I use that somehow?

Tell A. to look at thepastoraldollmaker.blogspot.com.

Basically, who do I think I am, that I could do something others would like?

Having a blog keeps you accountable, AB p. 80.


NOTE: put RSS on blog

“a surface designer”—yes, AB p. 100
“blogging helps keep connected to myself and to my art”
“the ME that was put away a long time ago, and the one that I am now reclaiming as my own” AB p. 101

Note: AB refers to the summer edition of Artful Blogging.

27 June 2008

Tonight I went to my friend A.’s for a pleasant evening of talk and showing our latest creations to each other. I took all the things I mentioned in my last entry, and she showed me how her latest piece has evolved. I could sit and talk all day sharing ideas and suggesting different approaches to things with someone.

She mentioned something that I ended up doing—just smushing the image I’d made of the seashells into the embossing paste before it dried. I hadn’t thought of that, although that’s what she thought I was saying, but I liked it a lot so I did it tonight when I used her brass stencil to make four shadow squares. Then I think when it dries, I’ll use Diamond Glaze to adhere the square + seashell image to a slide, then I can edge that with a Krylon pen, fasten them in a vertical line with beads, and Bob’s your uncle and the thing’s done.

One thing I am finding about this blog is that it’s the most positive experience I’ve ever had with keeping a diary or journal. It’s all positive and full of hope, opportunity, potential—others have always been outlets for negative emotions, but this is curiously uplifting.

Something else to add to my likes list: the way color gets refracted (wrong word?) through facets. I guess just facets themselves are neat; there’s a vague vision of an Escher print involving facets. I’ve always liked the drawings in science books of a single stream of light going into a prism and coming out the other side in 7 different bands of color that fan outwards. Also the way wine in a Waterford cut-glass wineglass looks, or Scotch in a cutglass cocktail glass. Love the way it’s almost like a mosaic, I guess, in that the image is broken up but tantalizingly still there, so that if you looked at it slyly out of the corner of your eye you could see the thing in its entirety.

Another medium I like—mosaics, tiles. Especially the ones done with tiles that have been cut, so they are similarly sized, and form a picture, or even just an archway or some other decorative element.

25 June 2008, later

A catalog of what I’ve done since I came home last Thursday afternoon:

--partially decorated one moleskin notebook and figured out, finally, how to adhere the delicate laser-cut Chinese peacocks and butterflies I got from the craft shop in Wickford last summer—not sure how I’m going to finish the cover though, but maybe A. will have some ideas tomorrow evening

--decorated another moleskin notebook with paper that I like, a green river scene rather Shakespearean in feel—this is a self-indulgent project because I just like the paper and have no desire to do anything to it, nor am I going to make myself do so! Got glue on the inside back cover that showed, so tonight I had to glue a further bit over the flap to hide that, but I’m pleased I did so because I think it looks good and I got to use more of the paper. It’s funny how following the path of cleaning up after one’s accidents often leads you to places you could have never arrived at intentionally if you’d planned it out.

--Used a template from Memory Depot to make four little trifold gift enclosures. One is on embossed silver paper and needs no further decoration; two are on black cardstock; one is on pink cardstock. Now I can muse on how to decorate the black cardstock and the pink. I think I will use a black one to enlose the glass bee marbles for Brian, so perhaps bees and flowers somehow, or just bees; maybe tall grass with bees among the grasses . . . Pink stumps me. I’ll sleep on it. But these will be fun little things to decorate and try out techniques on.

--Tonight I generally followed instructions on a MagentaStyle project. I stamped the seashells with clear embossing ink on white cardstock and embossed with Ranger Seafoam White. I did this twice. Then I colored one set of seashells (four on a stamp) with Twinkling H2Os in Sky Blue and Moss Agate and the other set with English Lavender and Blushing Rose (with a small touch of Moss Agate on each one since I started to dab that on the second set before I remembered that I wanted to try another color combination on that set—accidents again). Now I want to put them behind slides, but alas, my 2” square Memory Glass is frosted, and I want clear. Perhaps tomorrow I can grab some. Then I must decide how to edge them (frames? Foil tape? Silver best choice, right?) and whether to add any hangars to them, or attach all to one thing (or to each other) for hanging.

I guess that’s not too bad for five days. It’s been fun.

25 June 2008

Other things I like, that maybe I can figure out how to work into my art: rain, rainstorms, the brightness of things after a rainstorm, being cozy inside when it’s raining outside. I like twilight and I like midnight with lots of stars in the sky. I like campfires outside and I like candles inside. Did I say earlier that I like bare trees? I like water—oceans of it and rivers flowing by. I love the sound of the waves and watching them come in from the deep ocean. I like the way liquids look in a clear glass with light behind them.

A good idea from Claudine Hellmuth is to look at pieces of art that speak to me and analyze them. What first catches my attention—images, colors, placements? Why is the image successful? Note the colors used to get an idea of the color palette the artist used. This would be a good thing to do while in England.

Placement ideas to remember:
For high energy, make focus go from lower left to upper right (try positioning a stamp at an angle).
Use a primary color for focal point of composition.

24 June 2008

Today I did some mildly interesting things. One was that I learned about using alcohol inks on acetate panels—apply with a blender pen filled with the alcohol blending solution. And you have to dedicate a blender pen to this use. I’m going to have to get another one so I can do that. I had just dripped colors straight onto the panel, but I don’t like the look around the edges of the drip—too hard for my tastes. (I was doing this on a sunflower collage stamp.) So that’s good to know.

I also got paper today that I’d had in mind for endpapers on a book—but I love it and haven’t used it yet—so I got a new piece (saving my old ones for endpapers when I get around to it). One of the moleskin notebooks I got was marred on the front, so it needed to be covered rather than just decorated. So I used the paper on the cover and think it’s going to turn out well. Right now it’s drying under my book press boards, and tomorrow afternoon I’ll trim down the edges and see how it all looks.

Sitting at my art area and looking around at my stuff, I did feel the familiar paralysis coming over me again. Maybe I need to go back and do some more projects again, where I’m following other people’s instructions. As I do those things, maybe inspiration will strike. I have ideas, half-formed, but when I try to take action—which means deciding what kind of inkpad to use and then what color, and what to stamp on, I just feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. But then, this is part of why I think this activity is good for me—because I’m forced to make a decision and go with it. I have always hated cutting off options by making decisions, and I think that’s not really a healthy habit. I need to just stamp on something, and if I can’t use it immediately, then it will come in handy sometime in the future. Just DO something!

23 June 2008

So, what to write about today? One of the things I’ve learned recently from all the reading I’ve been doing in various magazines (lots of Somerset ones plus a few others) is the basic concept of beginning with a color palette in mind. I didn’t know that was how real artists thought! But I understand why, and I can see how it will help the various elements flow together coherently in a piece. I just find it so hard to take the time to make those decisions before beginning the hands-on part—the planning is so hard! I want to stamp, and cut, and emboss, and have it just work!

Maybe one thing I will try while on my month-long visit to my in-laws is to design one piece a day in my notebook. I won’t be able to do it, since all my stuff will be at home, but it would be good to force my mind to think this way, to make these decisions. I could easily see it coming up with three different variations, which would be great. The hard thing, though, is that many times it really does happen on the fly—I see that something is needed, so I go through my scrap box and happen across just the right paper, with just the right texture—I couldn’t have planned that, because I didn’t know it would be just right until I saw it. Hmmm. How to strike a balance here is the question. And of course I need to recognize that the more I begin things with a color palette in mind, the easier it will become. Right now this is just an education process of familiarizing myself with the color wheel and what approach to take to achieve a certain mood.

21 June 2008

Thinking of starting a blog

Creating an art blog--sounds pretentious.  Sounds dangerous.  It seems it's been so long since I indulged in thoughts that were just mine and not about work, my husband, my children, my house . . . even when I do, I feel guilty.  Always there are other things I "should" be doing, and even though I give the advice to others all the time that it should throw up a red flag if you hear yourself saying "should", I find that I don't really have any idea how to do that myself.  I don't give myself permission to do that.  For me, it seems a character flaw to do something for myself rather than spending all day, every day, doing something for everyone else.

Do I have the luxury of stopping to think about these acts of creation?  Isn't it terribly self-indulgent?  And yet my husband has no problem saying "I want this" and making it happen.  Why can't I do that?  Two things seem to be coming together here--I just read The Pull of the Moon, by Elizabeth Berg, and I saw the title "Confessions of a Reluctant Blogger" online for the next issue of Artful Blogging.

It has been such a revelation to me that I can do anything at all worth looking at. I was nearly 37 years old when I found out that I could in fact make “crafty” things that I thought were of acceptable quality and looked “handmade” rather than “homemade”. Never in my life did I think I had any skill or talent for that whatsover. But I can read, and I can follow instructions, and I am meticulous with my craftsmanship—and over time, I am finding, just as with anything else, when exposed to something constantly, you learn how to do it yourself. It’s not a mystery after all. And now I am lost with delight in all the things that surround me at my area—the beautiful colors in the inkpads, the beads in my bead boxes, the marker sets, the colored pencils, and the beautiful artwork on the rubber stamps. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming that I have gotten so many things so fast, in less than two years, but it’s so exciting to me that I can make something worthwhile. It’s still quite a step from following instructions in a book or recreating something in a magazine to designing my own ideas, but this year I have started to do that, and I find that they are actually not bad.

The hard part is that to design something myself requires some personal involvement. I have to think about things I haven’t thought about in years. I have to express an opinion of my own—do I like it, all by myself? Not would my mother approve, or what would my husband say, but do I like it? That’s a scary question to answer, and I hate it that it is so. On the other hand, at least I’m discovering that at 38 and not 68. I guess I have always sought someone else’s approval, never brave enough to say with any degree of truth, I like that, and I don’t give a shit if no one else does.

And yet here I am, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of a highly esteemed honors undergraduate program, unable to do this? Oh no, that won’t do. No matter how hard this is, I am going to do it and do it well.

Figuring out what I like

So, what am I finding that calls to me? Collage images, always. Old-fashioned advertisements, like seed packets covers, ads from old papers. Maps I have always loved, especially the ones with dragons drawn in the seas. It turns out I really like architectural elements and images, and I love the stamps of women’s faces—the elegant, mysterious ones. I love the illuminated alphabets—the intricate detail and the sometimes fanciful illustrations. Children’s alphabet tiles I also like (even as a child I loved the Edward Gorey alphabet and had a poster of it hanging in my bedroom).

I like glass—slides, vases. I like the Krylon leafing markers. Printed vellums are beautiful—many, many papers out there are beautiful. I love the way fluid chalk looks on cardstock—warmer than permanent ink. I love nearly all the metal embellishments—pictures frames, bards, charms, beads, bookplates—all of them!

One of my biggest struggles is that it’s so hard for me not to line things up perfectly, to chase after symmetry, because the things I love are off-center, overlapping, running off the edge, yet it’s so hard for me to do that myself. I need to relax, loosen up. Have I always been like this?