04 December 2009

Making a Scroll Book

Tonight I made a scroll book based on the description in Mary McCarthy's Making Books by Hand (p. 84). I used leftover scrap from my Gregorian chant paper, a chopstick for the dowel, and red ribbon. Took all of about 2 minutes--simple. The hardest part was figuring out that in the last step there is a typo, and a little bit of the ribbon should be glued to the outside of the scroll, not to ribbon! Either that or I got it completely wrong, but what I did seems to work.

The thing to do if I do this in a class with the kids is to have them decorate and write on the scroll first, leaving an inch undone where the scroll will go and making sure nothing hugely important is at the very edges.

I still don't know what I will put in it, since my belief in any kind of self-generated content is absolutely nil right now and even the thought completely paralyzes my brain, but at least I sat down and made something start to finish. I'm pleased about that.

02 December 2009


It's amazing how fast things can change. I look at things I made just weeks ago, and it's like someone else made them. I almost can't remember being that person.

October was great with making the holiday cards, and I learned a lot (to be noted here soon, I hope, for reference next year). Then everything seemed to pile on top of each other and I feel I've had very little time for creativity. I am putting some pressure on myself because I want to move what I make to a more personal level, and yet I am resisting that on some level, I think.

Also, I had a personal issue happen with two women whom I thought were good friends, and in the end I felt I had been presumptuous to think such a thing. More fool me. Now that has bled into my creative life and sapped my belief that I am doing something worth doing and not just pretending with all this paint and ephemera and imagery.

On the other hand, maybe I just have a cold!

I guess I trust that I will wake up tomorrow and find enjoyment in this again, and not put pressure on myself. Given that hanging over my head is the need to protest someone's parole, maybe this is a good time to retreat into process and the act of doing without thinking so much, and find healing and solace that way. Tim Holtz already has two tags posted up on his blog, so maybe I'll just do those and enjoy the process of creating rather than digging into myself for a while.

I leave in two weeks for Xmas vacation, so there's not much time anyway; then I can return in January refreshed and restored and ready to see where I go from there.

16 November 2009

Finishing Tins with Mini Scrolls

I am finally finishing up a project started a couple of months ago. One item has been done since then, but the other one gave me materials issues. These are a present for a family friend who got married earlier in the year--one for her & her husband, and a companion piece for her parents.

The bride's wedding was very elegant--colors were silver, pearl, cream--no actual color. So I did her tin with glass spheres and silver mini marbles, and the scrolls were edged with silver leafing. For her parents' piece, I wanted something with bold colors, so I thought I'd use Lava Red Roxs, iridescent glass spheres, and gold mini marbles. To my great dismay, the Lava Red Roxs were not colorfast! When I coated the whole thing in Glossy Accents to seal the mini marbles on and provide a finished look, the red ran and tinted everything a shade of orange that I did not find particularly appealing. The folks at Judikins, which makes the Roxs, were very helpful, but basically I was out of luck if I wanted to use red or pink Roxs (all other colors are apparently colorfast). So it was back to the drawing board, but I was at a loss for what to use. Then the holiday card orders went into full swing and the month of October went by just like that.

The good thing about the delay, however, is that I discovered two gels from Golden that I hadn't used before. One was the Clear Granular Gel, and the other the Extra Coarse Pumice Gel. Neat stuff! In the end, this is what I ended up doing:

--coated lid with Perfect Medium and applied a couple of layers of Frozen Opals, then filled in spaces with Kaleidoscope embossing powder; when cool, I poured a thick layer of Diamond Glaze over the entire (top of the) lid

--made a mix of Extra Coarse Pumice Gel, 22 drops Quinacridone Red Fluid Acrylic and 3 drops Quinacridone Crimson Fluid Acrylic, then applied this to the sides of the bottom and the lid

--when dry, I applied some Interference Gold (Coarse) Heavy Body Acrylic over it, leaving plenty of the underneath to show through

--I realized it was too pinkish for my taste, so I applied some Cadmium Red Medium Hue Fluid Acrylic, then another layer of the Interference Gold

--I think after that I mixed up some Interference Red Fluid Acrylic with the Cadmium Red and applied that in patches over the whole thing, sprinkling with gold mini marbles as I went

--finally I was happy with that and let it dry over night. Then I applied Diamond Glaze over the sides and stuck some iridescent glass spheres on as I went. I also used Glossy Accents (a little less runny than DG) around the edge of the lid to place the glass spheres around it.

The scrolls inside are edged with gold leafing. I think I'm almost done! Now just have to wait for it to dry so I can mail it off.

30 October 2009

Making backgrounds for a snowflake Xmas card

I didn't have the same cards that I did last year to produce a snowflake Christmas card this year, so I tried using the Creative Cards by Swarthmore that I'd picked up at Jerry's Artarama. I couldn't reproduce what I had done on the smoother cards, of course, and the ink didn't look the same either. So I ended up doing lots of paint with Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue Deep, and Titanium White. One I used bubble wrap on, but most of them I just painted.

When dry, they still seemed too dark, too bold, so I added yet another a layer, this one composed of 10 parts Titanium White, 3 parts Cobalt Blue, and 1 part Cerulean Blue Deep. I brushed some on with a paintbrush then quickly took a wipe (the Inkadinkado Crafters Cleanups) and smeared it all over the card, then waited a moment and wiped again to remove some of it. I think I finally ended up with some good backgrounds. Got messy though!

22 October 2009

Notes on Pumice & Clear Granular Gels

Just taking notes in preparation for my "Bathtime" piece as well as documenting in general. Not a terribly interesting post for anyone but me, I'm afraid . . . all products used are Golden unless otherwise specified.

Yesterday I mixed Clear Granular Gel (CGG) with heavy body Mars Black + Dioxazine Purple and painted over 1/3 of a gold gessoed mini canvas. I then mixed the Mars Black with Anthraquinone Blue and did the next third. The last bit I painted with untinted gel. Might as well not have used the purple or blue--I couldn't see any evidence of it, so use less next time (or don't bother and put it on top).

Today I painted over the untinted clear gel with fluid Carbon Black. Laying down the untinted CGG and then painting on top of it once dry is good if one wants what is underneath to peek through in places. If full coverage is desired, it's best to mix the paint in with the gel before applying. And remember that although it's named *clear* granular gel, the parts where the granules are does dry snowy white, just as Patti Brady says in her book Rethinking Acrylics.

Over the top of the two-thirds of the canvas that had been painted with tinted CGG, I first brushed fluid Interference Violet, then Interference Blue (Liquitex--Jerry's was out of the Golden). After letting that dry a few minutes, I brushed over all of it with the fluid Carbon Black that was now on the paintbrush I was using. This toned the interference back down and brought the black back up. I think this is going to work for my piece. The purple is quite purple, though; the blue is more subtle.

I also mixed some Extra Coarse Pumice Gel (ECPG) with Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) and applied to a couple of mini canvases, one that had white gesso and one that had a wash of fluid Transparent Yellow Oxide on it. It looks so cool! Putting Interference Violet over this looks pretty neat. I'm not sure about the Interference Blue, but I may not have shaken it enough before applying--it looks milky white, and I don't think it's supposed to be that way.

10 October 2009

Getting Personal & Playing

Last night around midnight I gave in to the pull I'd felt towards drawing all evening (too tired to act on it before), and I finally just sat with my journal and a Koh-i-noor Magic pencil and played. I colored on things that were already in there, and I also did some of the doodling I used to do as a child over a whole page. On yet another page I made marks on it guided by what the song I was listening to at the time was doing ("My Father's Face", by Leo Kottke). I had a great time!

One thing I found had a very interesting effect indeed was using the multicolored pencil over a stamped image (one of Stamp Zia's nudes) that had been partially painted with Micaceous Iron Oxide (Golden fluid acrylics). Great texture and look, and I discovered that when I rubbed my finger over it all, I created a glow around the figure from the pencil particles that had been deposited on the iron oxide.

Also got a very nice look rubbing the pencil over the onionskin paper. The raised veins picked up the color, and it's a more subtle effect than using ink.

02 October 2009

Book Idea for a Christmas Present; Personal Challenge

Recently I found Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists' Books, by Dorothy Simpson Krause, on the shelf at Borders and had to get it. It is beautiful, lovely, and filled with inspiration. I read it at a time that I was wondering exactly what I thought I was doing, and this helped everything to coalesce in my mind. I love books, I have always loved books, and nearly everything I have learned over the last three years is all useful in creating books. I am still going to do other things, because I don't think I'm made such that I could do only one thing, but I can embrace the idea of being a book artist.

I really liked Stepan's blog posts about their trip to the Czech Republic this summer, and along with his pictures I think they would make a beautiful book--and a great Xmas present. Been thinking about how to do it. Would love the images and words to overlap. Wouldn't it be neat to do it on glass pages, and use the nifty Keith Smith Coptic sewing to attach? I think that's beyond my abilities to execute for this Xmas though, with everything else I have to do. Maybe I could print the pictures onto canvas, or do image transfers onto Claudine's sticky back canvas (reverse before printing), and then have the text on paper? Could I use plexiglass pages instead of glass? More durable is better. Then I could put images and text on and have it all look like it's floating. Would it be too hard to read, and would that matter? Or could put the text on a translucent paper, like onionskin or vellum, and have the images printed on transparencies. Ooh, that sounds like it has possibilities. Will keep ruminating on the matter.

One of my biggest challenges is to take my art to a personal level. I still have a very large barrier between me and what I make, and I think if I can surmount that, what I make will have more power. That is going to require me to slow down my thinking a bit and also focus it more. There are just so many things I want to try! And the quote by Lily Tomlin quote about her teenage diaries that I read on Dorinda Fox's blog recently does express one of my biggest fears, I'm sorry to admit. ("What if it's boring . . . or if it's not boring, it might be too revealing, or worse, it might be too revealing and still be boring.")

13 September 2009

What do you make for someone who is grieving?

The father of a good friend recently died, on the day she was to leave and fly back home (an overseas trip). This was not unexpected, yet I had not prepared anything to give my friend that in any way acknowledged her loss. Objectively speaking, that seemed rather foolish, yet another friend reassured me that it wasn't. I guess neither of us would do well in the print media world where obituaries of famous people are on file and updated continually. Just in case.

Anyway. I bought a card at a bookstore for my friend, wondering if she would be offended or feel let down that I didn't take the time to make something personally. Two chances came and went to give her the card; I signed & addressed it before leaving to go to her house, then left it on the kitchen counter. A day or two later, I neglected to take it with me to a place where I knew I'd see her (although I did know we would not be able to speak privately). Perhaps I was purposely forgetting on some level.

So today, while walking around or driving or something, I was struck with the idea of using something I had done months ago--had stamped a sunset image on thin paper and colored it with pencils blended with mineral spirits. Didn't know what to do with it so just kept it in my box. I thought I could use that as the image on my card and combine it with something I'd read on a card in the bookstore that moved me deeply: "The world is but a resting place." (Apparently a Japanese Buddhist proverb.)

I got out my box of scrap papers and nearly immediately just went into a very focused state of being. Unusually for me, I was quite decisive, didn't need to seek anyone else's opinion or let anything sit for a few days to make sure I was happy. And I am pleased with the final result, and I hope it will contribute to some sense of peace in my friend's heart.

Details: I wrote the proverb on matte black paper with an Inkssentials opaque white pen--beautiful pen, very white. The image had been stamped with permanent ink on a thin drawing paper, colored with Derwent Inktense pencils, and blended with Gamblin mineral spirits. The image and proverb were mounted onto black sparkly paper using a Xyron. I had a piece of watercolor paper that I had sprayed with Stamp Zia spray watercolors; I cut the appropriate size and mounted it to black illustration board using 3M Super 77 multipurpose adhesive (at 5-1/2" wide, it wouldn't fit in my largest Xyron--will have to consider getting the 9" one on sale sometime). Then I ran a piece of white posterboard through the Xyron and mounted it on top of the watercolor paper, and finally I ran the black sparkle paper through the Xyron and stuck it over all. The image looked a little raw, so I used a 6B charcoal pencil and a tortillon around the edge of the paper to blend it into the black paper.

28 August 2009

A Most Productive Evening

My son and I lazed around all day, and then my daughter when she came home from school, but it paid off this evening once they were in bed. I had a few things that had arrived this week that needed putting away (Santa Claus stamp, stuff from Alpha Stamps, papers from Finchley Paper Arts, etc.), so I sat down to take care of that. I stamped in my Moleskin journal with the new stamps I'd gotten to see what they looked like and also tried one of them on red Mylar tissue with StazOn ink (looked good).

The thing I am most pleased with is that I FINALLY finished covering a Moleskin journal that I started last year sometime. I figured out that if I were careful, i could attach these exceedingly delicate laser-cut tissue peacocks (gotten at a craft store in Wickford, Essex) to something with gel medium. I did that but then didn't know where to go from there.

I tried filling in the blank area with Oriental character stamps, which was okay (but not great) until I did it with Perfect Pearls--then it was too bright and I couldn't figure out how to tone it down. I'd already decided to cover over the whole thing with magenta gauzy paper, but the PP were just too bright.

Tonight I had the brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) to blend everything together by putting a page of sequinette (sequin waste) over the cover and then putting the magenta gauze over all. And when I checked that out, I realized that even better was to cut away the sequinette from the peacock in the lower right corner of the cover, so that it could be clearly seen and the top one was more obscured. I was pleased with that.

Also, it worked great to run the sequinette through the Xyron, lay it carefully on the cover, and then lay the magenta over it--the adhesive from the Xyron came through the holes in the sequinette and grabbed the magenta. Only problem is that on the back the sequinette wrinkled a little in one area and didn't get adhesive--I used a Tombow glue stick over that spot, but I'm not sure it's going to dry clear. Will check it in the morning.

I also successfully added the string of pearls around the edge of my water nymphs piece using Ranger's Matte Accents. I am coming to adore that stuff! Hopefully this weekend I can get the glass spheres adhered, and then it will be done.

22 August 2009

Trying Something New--Matte Gel Image Transfers; Xmas Cards

All right, I am continuing to force myself to do something, anything, just don't get bogged down in choices and decisions. Thus I have two mini canvases drying now that I have followed the directions on this project from QuietFire Design to the letter (except that I had already gessoed the canvases--we'll see if that makes any difference).

When I was in England last summer, I saw some lovely 3D stickers of Oriental scenes, and I thought it would be nice to put them on small canvases and hang as a set. So I'm doing one image transfer for that project, and the other one is just a fairy on a 2x2 canvas. When it's done--if it's all right--maybe I'll hang in in Kayleigh's room, or I guess I could keep it and give it to her for a Xmas present.


I'm still trying to decide if I want to give the full court press to making Xmas cards this year (and possibly selling some of them). I'm going to have time during the day, and if I spend maybe a week being very clear with myself about the designs I'd offer, I think I could do it. Need to look into Google shops and etsy shops again since it's been a year and policies/procedures may have changed.

I do feel a distressingly familiar feeling coming up again, which is that I have all these techniques in my bag now but I don't know exactly what I want to do with them. The fact that Kayleigh lost the Bunsen burner for my mini-chemistry set is extremely annoying, because I was getting to a point where I knew what to do with it but I don't want to finish it without that, nor do I really want to spend another $16 on a replacement. Anyway, I may be coming up to a hurdle to deal with again, because I still think that much of what I do is not very personal for me. The things I've done that were it's very clear to see--the Magic challenge was definitely all me, and I was pleased with the war piece even though I wouldn't give it to anyone. But there seems to be a large gulf, or maybe more properly an abyss, that I am going to have jump sooner or later. What am I afraid of, that I have nothing interesting inside me, or that I have no taste? I *must* be willing to experiment and accept that not everything will work out. It's only by doing that I'm going to really get anywhere, and I can't give this up.

Rummikub pendant

I began by using Red Pepper and Butterscotch alcohol inks pounced on the back and sides of the tile with the Ranger felt applicator pad. I dried with a heat gun (learning not to hold the heat gun too close or it begins to melt the tile).

Then I used StazOn Jet Black to stamp the head of The Calligraphy Robe on the tile. It was much harder to see than I thought it would be--think I used too much Red Pepper. Blending Solution removed the StazOn as well as the alcohol ink, so I applied more and wiped the whole off to start again.

Starting again, I applied Butterscotch and Latte inks directly to the tile and angled it to move the inks around before they dried. Then I pounced Red Pepper on with the felt applicator. Finally I put four small drops of Butterscotch on the felt applicator and pounced those all over. I dried a little with a heat gun but am now setting it aside to dry for a bit while I work on something else. I am going to stamp the lady's head again but this time in gold ink and emboss it with mirror gold EP--so I need to make sure the EP won't stick to the alcohol ink!

A little later on . . .

Hmm, I am thinking that what I should have done was to stamp & emboss first, then apply the alcohol inks. Guess I'll try it, but I'm pretty sure this tile is headed for the bin (or my daugher's playthings).

Well, the EP did work out all right (used Ultra Detail Mirror Gold), but then when I tried to use some alcohol blending solution on a tortillon to lighten the face, I discovered that it removes EP as well--didn't expect that. I was able to restore it with some Krylon Gold Leafing Pen applied with a (different) thin tortillon. The face looks odd, though. My daughter will get to play with it after all.

11 August 2009

How to Finish the Water Nymphs Piece?

The water nymphs piece is not done. I could clearly see that when I took a picture of it. But what does it need, and where does it need it?

Maybe something more, something 3D along the lower lefthand and bottom sides. Could add necklace of small glass spheres from Alpha Stamps to main nymph? Put iridescent wash over all but nymphs, so they remain clear and glossy? Seems to need to be under some kind of layer--looks too raw to me. But I want to keep the difference of the women from the rest of the piece. Maybe put glaze over the nautilus and matte gel over the rest excepting women? Include an interference blue in the nautilus glaze?

Also could experiment with circles of white paint--it occurs to me the white of the water & foam on the nymphs isn't carried through the piece. Not sure where to put the circles, though, because I really want to preserve some of the open space between the nymphs and the cameo. Maybe larger ones over the lower area and a few smaller ones in upper area? Will have to experiment on a duplicate image.

And still would like edges to look a bit more finished. What if I glued small mosaic tiles in blue shades all along edges? That might be quite nice and actually be in keeping with the whole water theme, since I associate mosaics with baths.

31 July 2009

I Painted! It was Really Fun!

A.'s suggestion for proceeding with my water nymphs piece was to do a series of acrylic washes on the canvas rather than using a collaged paper background. I thought that sounded like fun so set to work tonight. Put the canvas on my new desk easel (I am such a sucker for new supplies!) and applied washes of Cobalt Blue/Titan Buff/Titanium White, Green Gold, Raw Sienna, and finally Quinacridone Red (all Golden Fluid Acrylics). I stayed with the same oval movement of the brush as I had with the original background of Cobalt Blue.

One of the most fun things is that once I was done with the wash, I applied the remainder to pages in my new moleskin journal (someone's suggestion for getting into art journaling--stamp ink of rubber stamps onto a journal page instead of scrap paper, dry brushes off on the pages, etc.--then you have a built-in background for journaling). They were ungessoed so will probably wrinkle, but you know what? I don't care! It was fun! I used different brushstrokes to apply the washes and enjoyed seeing how that came out. Since I am coming to this so late, I don't even know which brushstrokes I like, how they interact with each other . . . it's all so new and so thrilling to discover. Anyway, using up the leftover washes in my journal was at least as much fun as painting on the canvas itself.

I also used the leftover QuinaRed wash on a mini canvas that got assaulted during my time challenge piece and has lurked in my unfinished pile ever since. I'd tried inking it with Distress Ink first but that looked terrible (and I realize now I may not even have gessoed the canvas first), and I then ended up experimenting on it with Golden Crackle Paste. Then it was dimensional and kind of interesting in that respect, but it was also gray and thus ugly. I sprayed it with the LuminArte shimmering red spray, and that helped a little but not a lot. Painting over it with the red acrylic wash has helped to make it more interesting, and the shimmer from the LuminArte spray is still there, which is nice. I know it will go somewhere in the end; I just don't know where that is yet.

29 July 2009

Truth Project Progresses

Tonight I'm on my own as DH has left on work/family trip to England for three weeks. We're all tired and missing him, but I thought I didn't want to give in and not doing anything creative after the kids' bedtime, and I'm so glad I did something!

I have been waiting to decide how to adhere my truth quotes to the frames I made, and tonight it was so obvious that I should just use Matte Accents on the back of the frame and then lay it down on top of the quote. Voila! Worked beautifully and I did all twelve in probably twenty minutes.

Of course, after I'd done three, I realized it would have looked pretty slick to first adhere a square of acetate or clear transparency sheet first and then the quote, so it would look like glass, but that's all right. I am still pleased with what I've got, and now I'm on the last step--deciding how exactly to mount/present the darn things. If I am patient, the answer will announce itself, just as it did with attaching the paper to the frame.

I love love love having my workspace set up. I think it's only because I finally have my things out, accessible, and arranged in a logical fashion for how I work that the Matte Accents answer presented itself to me. Having my computer here is also just as wonderful as I thought it would be. For one thing, it makes it easier to do posts for this blog!

28 July 2009

Thoughts on Making my First Pendant

I have learned two important things: you can't reheat Glossy Accents with a heat gun in the hopes that it will smooth out, but you can remove the entire contents of a pendant blank and start again! I poked around the edges with the sharp pin I use to clean out the tips of glue bottles, and it all just lifted out and peeled away, even the paper I'd put on the bottom, and it was as though I'd never put anything in it.

So, what did I like and not like about my first effort? I liked the paper, but it needed something dimensional, I felt, so I sprinkled clear microbeads on the Glossy Accents when it was still wet. That didn't turn out too well. The detail of the picture disappeared, of course, so instead of seeing three red flowers one just saw three red blobs. If I'd had one of those lovely glass red roses from Alpha Stamps or something like that to add, it might have been okay, but I didn't have anything suitable. Also I think I simply put too many microbeads in.

Whether that contributed to how the Glossy Accents dried, I don't know, but it had a lumpy surface on it that was displeasing to me. (That prompted the experiment with reheating it to smooth it out. Works with beeswax--not with GA! It bubbled and probably gave off some horrible noxious gas too.)

When I started over with the newly blank pendant, this time I began with the dimensional accent rather than the paper backing. I found that one of the little armadillo charms I had fit perfectly in the bottom of the pendant, so then I just needed an appropriate background for it. Couldn't find any Texas-style paper (with all the papers I have, I couldn't believe I didn't have the right one) with bluebonnets or cacti on it, but I did eventually find the border to a punch-out card that I got in England last year looked quite nice behind it. I cut it down and adhered it to the blank with a few dots of Diamond Glaze, then I put DG all around the edges and bottom. The armadillo went in next, and out of frustration (couldn't get the tip of the DG unblocked for more than a few seconds at a time) I removed the tip and just poured DG in straight from the bottle. I had to do this carefully and slowly at first so I could prick some bubbles I saw coming out, but I think that may have worked out better than doing it from the tip since it was such a large quantity I needed. It's still drying, but it looks very smooth on top, and I think I'm going to be very satisfied with it.

Note to self: add picture once finished.

21 July 2009

More Thoughts on Moving Back In

Even after doing this for some time now (a couple of years), I still find the beginning almost paralyzes me. I have read so many magazines, looked at so many sites, thought so much about things I want to make, and yet when it comes time to actually BEGIN, I find I remember nothing about how I should start. It is one of the most courageous things I do, every time, to pick up something--a blank canvas, a piece of paper, a wood panel--and start to change it by painting, sanding, gluing, etc. Some of it is process--should I gesso first? should I use gel medium to adhere background papers? what color should I start with? It can be so overwhelming.

And part of that is in my mind about moving back in to a space somewhere in the house now that it's off the market until next spring. When I get my stuff, or at least most of it, back in and around me, will I know how to begin?

20 July 2009

Getting my Space Back!

It looks as though no one is going to buy our lovely house, so this week we will take it off the market. It will be so nice to have our house back to ourselves and not have to always be putting things away all the time! My job now is to figure out a more tasteful way to bring my supplies in from the garage and create a workspace that isn't as overwhelming as it was before we moved everything out. That space was like that famous house in California (I think) where the owner just kept on adding rooms, wings, staircases that went nowhere--I just kept getting things and having to stuff them somewhere. Of course, my husband won't want to spend any money on anything, but it's either that or I take over the dining table again, which I would really prefer not to do.

Good thing I've been spending some time thinking about how to set up a new area. I think the most important thing for me right now is to have a large, flat workspace. I think just getting a 6-ft. table and putting it in front of the dining room window, then putting the paper caddy next to it (which I may clean out a bit), the coffee table underneath the main table to stack things on again, and maybe one bookcase for magazines, books, and things I'd like to see out. The utility cart that I got from Costco will need a home, but I think I can do without the round sidetable and just put the stamps on the 6-ft. table and the bookcase. I'd love to get a rug for underneath it but suppose that can wait.

Thoughts on Christmas 2009 Gifts


Lessons Learned from Stamp Zia workshops


14 June 2009

Laid Low by a Cough

The day after my last post, I came down with a 102-degree fever that lasted only about 12 hours, but I was left with a debilitating cough. I finally went to the doctor a couple of days ago and got loaded down with medicines (he proposed I might have a mild case of whooping cough!), and things are finally improving. It's been tough, though, as I haven't had the mental energy to do anything over these last couple of weeks. Also it was the beginning of summer, and it's very challenging to do anything when both kids are home. One, yes, but not two.

Anyway, tonight I finally started the final gluing stages for my truth project. It's definitely labor-intensive, and next time I'd use slide mounts for something like this, but there is something to be said for having done everything by hand. I didn't realize what I was going to do until I was in too deep to pull back and go an easier route. I do think it will look neat when done. My quotations are already selected, and I'm going to write them on onionskin to be seen on one side, and back them with vellums for the other side. Then I will add color accents to the black-and-white paper that I'm covering all 26 frames with, and finally I will figure out how I'm going to attach them. I would still like to figure out how to do it so that it will fold up into a book, since that was my original intention, but I can't see how to do that until I have them finished in front of me ready to go. Since I got so slowed down by this illness, I won't be able to complete it before leaving for my parents' house in Kansas, which is disappointing and frustrating, but ah well.

I have also nearly finished the first project in Kelly Rae Roberts' Taking Flight book, and I'm very pleased with it. All I need are fibers for the binding, and I can't find mine in the garage (all my stuff is in boxes as our house is on the market). I may have to give in and buy more, because I want it to be done! It was hugely fun playing with oil paints (although they took nearly a week to dry in our humid climate, and I may have layered them on too thick also), and it was very rewarding to draw something for the first time. I didn't think it turned out half bad.

27 May 2009

Questions from Pam Carriker's blog, 14 May 2009

I love this lady's blog and her artwork and have really enjoyed reading her thoughts and musings. It has opened up new pathways for me and encouraged me to think about things in ways that I'm not sure would have ever occurred to me if left on my own.

In her 14 May 2009 blog entry, she lists these questions and challenges her readers to answer them for themselves (which is why I feel it's okay to list the questions and post my answers in this blog). Here goes!

Developing Your Own Voice

What are your 3 favorite colors?
Blue. Purple. Green.

What kind of architecture do you like?
This is tough--much easier to say what I don't like, which is the classic Greek style with the symmetry. Ugh. But otherwise I like everything from English cottages with thatched roofs to urban brownstones to ranch-style houses to castles. I also don't care much for things that look too modern in terms of building materials; I like the houses with limestone exteriors, an organic warm feeling. I very much like buildings that let in lots of natural light.

What 3 words describe your personality?

Self-restricted. Nurturing. Accommodating.

What is your favorite animal?

What do you collect?
Blank books. Kitchen items, especially serving. Miniatures. Books with nice covers.

What is your favorite season?
This one is also unanswerable. I like them all. Over the last few years I have come to really like winter because it's fun to wear warm clothes and snuggle up with blankets (I live in Central Texas, so this is a novelty). But I also love spring when everything leafs out, I love those fresh crisp breezes in the fall after the six-month-long baking summer here, and I love the summer and the sound of the crickets/locusts in the trees in the blazing afternoon heat--everything lazy, languid, and laid-back.

Name your favorite icons.
Now I know I've answered this, probably about a month ago. It will be fun to compare my answers later . . . I don't really have any icons.

What are your favorite mediums?
I am not sure I'm experienced enough to have an answer for this yet. Right now I'm at the point where I recognize that different mediums do different things, so I guess my favorite is whatever works for what I want to accomplish!

Having a Great Time

In my last post, I promised myself to do something creative every day, even if it just took five minutes. That has been a great thing to do! More time in my day has been spent thinking about what I'm going to do, and it is so rewarding and nourishing to grab the time to do it, whatever it is on a particular day. And on the crazy days leading up to the end of school for my son when I barely had time to breathe and remind myself of my name, let alone spend even a second not thinking about that day's task at hand, that was okay because I thought about the things I was working on and advanced them in my head. I am so glad that I have this wonderful outlet, and frankly I just feel like a kid in a candy store with wonderment at all I can do. Doesn't seem real . . .

03 May 2009

More Introspection

I feel I'm embarking upon a journey--again. These last few months have been so frustrating with everything that has gone on to get the house ready to put on the market and keep it ready to show. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to do some experimenting that I wouldn't otherwise do, but instead it feels like I packed up my creativity along with all my supplies in the cardboard boxes that are sitting out in the garage. Turns out, I guess, that I'm one of those people who has to immerse oneself, surround myself, with items, supplies, pictures, to begin. Part of what I have been thinking about the last few weeks is being okay with that. It is simply the way I am--I need to physically see the things around me. Okay.

Here are my answers to the questions on page 18 of Taking Flight, by Kelly Rae Roberts. She definitely says things in this book that I need to hear right now, and I am grateful to her for the effort that went into the creation of it.

In the depths of my heart, creative dreams are calling me to take notice. They are:
Bookmaking. I always said that all the cards I made in the year 2007 were like a workshop, gathering techniques and trying stuff out, but I was never interested in cardmaking for its own sake--I wanted the techniques to use in other things, like book covers. My imagination has grown a bit since then, but I would still like to make some books. Even just blank books for others to use would be just fine with me.

Very interested in continuing to explore the 3D mixed media world. Not sure what it holds for me, but I'm curious. I like making things that people can touch, examine closely, hold up to the light and see what reveals itself. Also want to pursue more things made on glass--that has a strong pull for me.

The one thing I never thought I could do is:
This is very easy--anything at all artistic. Never ever ever.

Here's how I can make a plan to do it:
Pledge to myself to write something or draw something every day. Doesn't have to be original--might be taking ten minutes to trace a calligraphy alphabet to help my hand get accustomed to the movements. But something, anything.

Who in my life has passion? What questions could I ask her/him about her/his story?
I could ask my friend A. more than I have about how she thinks about what she does and why she does it. I know why she does arty things rather than writing, but that's a different question than why she does arty things, period.

Could ask a family friend who is a painter. What would I ask? I guess all my questions seem to come back to how did she, or anyone, have the courage to do it and put it out there. But I think I already know the answer there. You just do it.

I feel most inspired when:
I am surrounded by images or objects that speak to me. I need that physical presence to envelop me and support me. It also helps, of course, to not have a deadline looming (must leave to pick up kids from school) or other obligations that come before this wonderful indulgence. Yes, it is apparently a need, but I do know it's an indulgence. Plenty of women do not have the luxury of time to play or even think about this stuff, nor do they have the financial ability to gather supplies. I am lucky.

01 May 2009

A Quiz, Somerset Studio May/June 2009, p. 75

What are your three favorite colors?
Green (learned to like this because so many of my aunts like it, and I make things for them).
Fourth would be purple.

What kind of architecture do you like?
I like a lot of things. The English half-timbered look with leaded glass panes is a favorite, as is the English cottage. I like the Spanish villa style and love the look of the French Quarter and the Garden District in New Orleans (pre-Katrina).

I do not like the rows of terraced Victorian houses, nor do I particularly like modern unless it's done very, very well. I don't care much for Greek or symmetry in my buildings. What I do like is warm, inviting, welcoming, cozy (of residential). I like a lot of light. I like natural materials rather than synthetic.

What are the three words that describe your personality?

What is your favorite animal?

What do you collect?
It used to be books. Sometimes I would buy a book just because I liked the cover. I also buy blank books and never write in them. Also I love to get small unique serving pieces to use for company--or just myself! Another thing I have always liked are vintage labels. It's really only recently I've given this any thought--I don't think I've ever given myself permission to collect anything before (and am not sure I have yet).

What is your favorite season?
I like them all. Each has different things to recommend it. Spring is lovely because it transforms the landscape, summer is nice because it's so relaxed, fall is great (probably my favorite, I guess) because the coolness is such a welcome relief after the heat of the five-month-long summer here in Central Texas, and the winter is fun because I like snuggling up with throw blankets and hot water bottles (remember, Central Texas, this is a novelty and doesn't last long).

Name your favorite icons.
Not even sure what is meant here. I'll substitute "images" for "icons" and answer it that way. Strong, confident women--goddess, archetype images. Images with that secret air of knowing about a mystery that no one else does. The Serena image that Stampsmith sells--something about the look on her face. I like water images--Japanese waves, still oceans, waterfalls, all of it.

26 April 2009

General Musings

Haven't done anything more on "truth" lately.

I'm still trying to finish my "time" piece; I was unhappy with the background (too much One Step Crackle in a particular spot looked milky and didn't fit in with the rest), so I sanded it down and am trying again with different media. This time I painted it with a coffee bean acrylic undercoat, then a mixture of Golden Crackle Paste tinted with Jacquard metallic pewter. It's been curing for the requisite three days (worked out perfectly since I came down with a head cold two days ago), so tomorrow I'll take a look at it and see if that will work.

Truth still seems to me like something I'd like to have that is seen differently from different angles. Question is how best to achieve it? Put something in a box and have each box decorated differently--stained with alcohol inks, tissue paper, mesh, etc.? Should one be able to lift the box or top off to see what is really inside? I think the answer to that is yes. Now, what should I have in the box??

Oooh, wouldn't it be neat to have something in the box that even when the walls are lifted away and the thing is revealed, you still can't be sure exactly what it is? Now what could I come up with for that? Perhaps that's something for another day when I have more expertise.

Now at least I have something I can go with--can get one of those square display cases at Michael's to use and alter it as necessary. Just have to figure out what to do with the sides and top--that's five things. Perhaps one should be opaque. What if have the top be opaque and the sides done with different palettes of alcohol ink? That's at least a good place to begin.

16 April 2009

(Only a Few) Quotes about Truth

This is an interesting one:

Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit. --Edward R. Murrow

That could be quite fun to put into pictorial form, although that's not really how my brain works, but it gives lots of possibilities with the light shining through obscurity. Even go literal and use a woman's full-on nude image, being covered up by things. Go political and make it a burka.

Wow, I'm finding lots of insightful quotes about truth, but nothing that sparks any kind of imagery. Most are all intellectual. I may just go back to the ideas from my last entry and work from there. I did quite like something from Virginia Woolf, who said that "if you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people". That ties in with my mirrors theme that came up last post.

Now this one from Oscar Wilde is interesting: "“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” I like the idea of masks, although of course I don't have any supplies (stamps, molds) to use for it! Of course I'd be attracted by something that requires buying more stuff! But it's also what this blog is about, since no one I know has the URL for it, unlike my family blog or Facebook account. I am truly free to write here without wondering whether someone in my family will think I'm pretentious, deluded, or just egocentric. And that seems to be true for many people on the internet, although not always to their credit.

Now this would be a fun one to do by including these words by Aldous Husley as part of the piece: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad."

Well, harrumph. I guess I'm going to have to muse on what truth means to me, but that will have to be another post.

14 April 2009

What is "Truth"?

So, A. has selected "truth" as this month's topic, and I may need to work quickly since we are halfway through April.

How does one illustrate truth? Or make a piece representing it? Could do a mirror with decorative mosaic edge. Ooh, could do a mobile with lots of glass tiles and miniature mirrors, because often truth requires finding little bits of it here and there and then piecing it together. Or along the same lines, do a puzzle (ornamental), perhaps with one piece left to put it. I am liking these ideas . . .

Let's see if I can come up with some that don't involve mirrors. Is truth something that blazes out at you, grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you, saying, "Here I am and you cannot ignore me!"? Or is it something quieter, that steals into your being and makes itself known over a period of time? As always, my question too is this: what color is truth? I don't think it's one of the primary colors--not subtle enough, not enough depth. Perhaps a blue, but why? Because of the blue in the sky, the blue of the water? Definitely not purple. Hmm, and I just contradicted myself, didn't I, since blue is a primary color. I guess I am thinking of a different kind of blue, one with clarity and depth, one with translucence.

Next thing I'll go looking for quotes again. I haven't yet used one, but I enjoy the thinking that comes along with finding them.

End of "Time"

Unfortunately, my group's get-together to show our "time" pieces had to be rescheduled . . . but the plus side of that is that I have a chance to redo what I mounted my piece on. Had a technique glitch with the DecoArt One Step Crackle; I got so frustrated that I wasn't getting the size crackle I wanted, so I poured on a huge lump of it and didn't smooth it down enough. When dry, there was surely a great big crackle in it, but it looked milky and didn't blend in with the rest of the background.

I guess I'm going to have to sand it all off and redo the layers--dark brown acrylic (and I think I'll do two coats this time instead of just one), then Tim Holtz's Brushed Pewter Distress Crackle, then a nice thick layer of the One Step Crackle. Once that's all dry, I'll use the Antiquing Solution. I also think I'll use a tack to mount the faux pendulum rather than a foam dot, which doesn't seem to be holding very well. I *will* get this right!

26 March 2009

Finally, Making Something Again!

I have had it with all my stuff being in the garage (our house is on the market for sale). This afternoon I dug around in various boxes and found my toolbox, my Distress Ink pads, my Xmas gifts of some Tim Holtz items (game spinners, sprocket gears), and a few other things. Not too much, just a few things.

Then I made a chipboard clock using some Heidi Swapp items and following the directions on Tim Holtz's blog for the last Xmas tag of 2008 (steps 16-35). It was so much fun! Took about 10 minutes, but the result looked great and I had a neat embellishment for my project. Did I mention that my group's art challenge this month is "time"?

Since I don't have a lot of room or materials available, I am going to try to keep this month's project small. I have inked up a 3x4" canvas with Dried Marigold Distress Ink, then I used one of Tim's new masks and put Vintage Photo DI over the top. Now what I want to do is use some of his new stamps in the sets that have just become available at Michaels, but I can't find my acrylic mounts. Grrr.

It feels so good to be doing something again that is creative, that has a tangible end result--I love it, love it, love it. I feel fully alive again for the first time in two months. Must remember that this is necessary and make sure that it doesn't get shut down like this (of course, we hoped our house would sell faster and our stuff would come back out sooner than it has). But this is a good feeling, a feeling of accomplishment and engagement.

11 March 2009

Quotes about Time

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking.
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older.
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
- - - Pink Floyd "Time"

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.
- - - Horace Mann
[I have always liked this because it's in one of the Laura Ingalls books. I'm not sure "like" is the right word, exactly, but I have never forgotten it.]

"Veritum dies aperit" (Time discovers the truth)
Seneca De Ira

No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
(James Baldwin (1924-1987), U.S. author. (First published 1976). "The Devil Finds Work," sect. 1, The Price Of The Ticket (1985).)

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. Louis Hector Berlioz

“Great artists treasure their time with a bitter and snarling miserliness.”
Catherine Drinker Bowen

Initial Thoughts on Time

Back to me to pick this month's challenge for our group--I went with "time". None of us seem to have any right now, so it seemed appropriate!

While at a mandatory seminar last weekend, I jotted down some notes and thoughts on the topic; here they are.

To begin, I need to decide if I'm going to look at time as neutral, as an enemy--prisoner of time, a limiter--or as positive. And personal level or society level?

Could do a family tree/genealogy theme. Or could use the fog of time that obscures things, yet sometimes it's only time that brings true clarity.

Incorporate mirrors (small ones) here and there in the piece, because you can't escape time, it is relentlessly objective, there is no appeal--it shows you what is, no escaping.

Also use an hourglass somewhere, or the shape of one? Could get the sand medium to use on part for "the sands of time" (might be too cliched). Or could do some train tracks somewhere for "the tracks of time". Maybe just do an entire piece using common cliches about time! Ha.

What are the colors of time? Browns, golden, iridescence, sand medium around edges.

What are the patterns of time? circles, spirals (use the new technique just learned with wireworking to make some--could use in the border)

Elements to use:
sepia tone
words/quote on side running off the edge

Find a quote about time--something that addresses how it imprisons and frees us at the same time.

Could do a progression--distressed at top, progressing down to pristine images--passage of time.

Could make a memento box with tiled top (and sides?)--would have to use all manufactured tiles. Idea from Mixed Media Mosaics.

Shapes of piece:
grandfather clock: a portrait rectangle with a circle hanging below it from a chain (chains of Time).
hourglass: two landscape rectangles with circle in middle
other: square on top, circle in middle, triangle on bottom (could use past, present, future in triangle)

14 February 2009

March Challenge Topics

It's my turn to come up with a topic for next month's challenge, and I think I am getting a good list together. It's a little harder since I want to find something that I can produce a finished piece on even with the limitations of our current housing situation (primarily that all my stuff is packed away in the garage in preparation for putting our house on the market!), but I don't want to do another month with me just bringing in sketches and ideas and nothing done.

So far this is what I've got:
transfer [technique challenge]
writing [incorporate somehow into final piece]
complementary colors on color wheel
tile [give everyone one to do or use however they wish]
mini canvas + easel

As I look at these, I think that faery is the one most appealing at the moment. It's whimsical, could easily be given many different interpretations, could go into literature for inspiration (A Midsummer Night's Dream!) . . . not sure how I could execute on it but it ought to be doable even with limited tools.

We'll see what else pops into my head over the next week . . .

Being Without

We have spent the last month frantically getting our house ready to go on the market. There hasn't even been headspace to think about any projects, let alone blog about them or explore them in my sketchbook. And now that we are nearly ready and the headlong rush has paused a bit, I find myself at a bit of a loss since all my stuff is packed up in the garage, waiting for a new house and space to come out. I miss all my things, my boxes of beads and charms and ink pads, and wonder how it will feel when I finally get to unpack them. Could be one month, but probably more like two or three, and more if we are unlucky. Fingers crossed for a speedy resolution to the whole process.

I'm finding that since A. and I started this monthly challenge thing, that's all I do (except for making the Christmas cards). That's okay with me right now. It's a function of how much time is available, and with a four-year-old it's still pretty limited.

This month's challenge topic is "experiments". I won't have a finished project to show since all my stuff is packed, but I did get out my new sumi painting set last Wednesday on my birthday and tried a couple of things. One thing I found out is that I had never used a brush to do calligraphy--in the past I've always used a calligraphy pen. I love the way it looks with a brush! And I will try to work that into something soon. Our showing is a week from tonight, and I'd like to do something else but am not sure what. Before all the house stuff started, I had already ordered a miniature chemistry set off of eBay and was going to make a shadowbox, but I just don't think I can do that now. It's too hard to go through boxes to get just what I need and then put it all back up again. I guess I could think it through and set it up, at least. After last month and thinking about what turns something from "craft" into "art" (not that it's important necessarily, I know), we concluded that art definitely involves the personal expression of the artist. So I have tried to think of what I could do with the background to personalize my shadowbox. Maybe use a couple of pictures--the one of my dad as a toddler being held up by his dad to press the doorbell, and print one from last summer with Daddy and Jonathan in the granary with the chemistry set in sepia tone--that might be nice.

16 January 2009

In Process with "War" Project

Last weekend I had to attend a mandatory parent seminar at my son's school, and while listening to an extremely enthusiastic person expound on the benefits of kale smoothies and hemp seeds, I started writing about the "war" challenge. Just writing out the idea I had, which was good, but not a spark, really. And then the spark came, and I couldn't write fast enough to get all the thoughts and vision in my head down on the paper. I never thought that would happen to me! And yet there I was, sitting on the third floor of the school building, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to do it. Magical.

Now I'm about a third of the way through, and as plans do, mine is changing. And also, as it usually happens, it is changing because something didn't work out like I thought it would. Turns out it's really NOT possible to collage magazine pictures onto a stretched canvas without them wrinkling . . . at least not the way I did it. But that's getting ahead of myself.

I gessoed an 18x24" stretched canvas twice, then I took strips of bleeding art tissue (Spectrum, available at Teacher Heaven and Jerry's Artarama) and added them on with matte gel medium. I did it in an abstract landscape fashion, with greens and browns at the bottom and blues with a few reds and oranges at the top. Mainly my objective was to have the sides of the frame covered, and it was an opportunity to play and experiment since my plan was to cover the front completely with magazine pictures. I was delighted with how the tissue paper turned out.

My overall idea was to put lots of pictures of the earth in beauty on the collage, following a general landscape layout--rocks and trees on the bottom, oceans and sunsets on top, mountains in the middle. That way when one first glanced at it, the impression would be one of peace and grandeur. But a second glance would reveal that in places the paint was cracking (use crackle paint); I had thought about using the peeled paint technique detailed in Christine Hellmuth's Collage Discovery Workshop in a few places, but since I've never experimented with it before I'm not going to do it for the first time on this piece. So I need to age it a little, not noticeably but somehow, in a couple of other ways. Maybe lightly sand a couple of areas, rub Distress Ink over a couple of bits.

Then what I wanted to do is to place magnifying glasses in various spots on the collage, and the picture in the magnifying glass would be one of the destruction and devastation the human race is waging on the earth--birds covered in oil from a spill, dead coral reefs, clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest, etc. I thought of tying a single metallic embroidery thread between all the glasses, partly to contribute to the misleading initial impression that it's just about the earth's beauty, but it occurs to me now that it would also bring out the theme that everything on the earth is connected, and sometimes that connection is quite fragile indeed. So maybe I will still find a way to work that in.

The reason I have stopped and haven't done anything for a couple of days now is the wrinkled pictures. It actually gave me a great idea because the wrinkles remind me of one of those relief globes, where the mountains are really raised. Would have been neat to figure out how to do that underneath and then have the pictures on top of that (although I can see that would be tough in practice because the paper wouldn't go on evenly over a raised mini-mountain). But that then led to the idea of getting some small, teeny mountains--and maybe also some forests--from somewhere like a hobby shop that sells that kind of stuff for train sets. Their mountains might be too big for my scale of picture though . . . just not sure what I want to do about this and how to work the wrinkles in. I actually kind of like the wrinkles because it's the beginning of showing that all is not perfection, but I need to make sure it looks purposeful and not just like my pictures wrinkled during the adhering process!

At any rate, I'm having quite a lot of fun with this. I was delighted to find a way to do something on war that wasn't going to be immediately depressing to look at--it can carry a message and be serious, but it's also still pleasing to the eye. Hopefully it will all work out in the end.

06 January 2009

What to Do about War

So our topic for the January challenge is "war". No limits--could be conflict on a national level such as the current Israeli/Gaza issue, internal conflict such as that between person and role (self and wife/mother), a battle such as the battle against cancer--anything viewed, I guess, as one force opposing another. That's really what war is on the simplest level--two or more forces in opposition that do not compromise and seek to gain leverage over the other(s).

My challenge especially is going to be how to approach this and make a piece that isn't troubling for me to create and that is still something I wouldn't mind having in my house (along lines of last post about what my personal criteria are for my artwork). And I do think that it would be easy to create a piece on war that is disturbing to look at and hard to make. Perhaps the real challenge is finding a way to do a piece on war that is not personally difficult to create and one that is not something the viewer wishes to turn away from upon seeing it.

Not sure yet on which level I wish to approach this. H., who came up with the topic, said she did so because of what is going on in the Isreali/Palestinian conflict at the moment. I thought of something on WWI, with the poppies and headstones of family members who fought in WWI, but as far as I know I have none and Dale has only one, and that just feels a bit pretentious or saccharine anyway. This afternoon I remembered that last summer I'd had thoughts of doing something to illustrate that continual struggle between self and wife/mother roles, so maybe I'll go back and look at that post if I can find it. The personal war--not to illustrate a resolution, just to acknowledge and give voice to the conflict itself.

I am finding it hard to think about this in a way that doesn't feel fake or self-important. Perhaps this might be a good month to do a couple of different pieces for the challenge to see how each comes out and what I think about them. I don't even know how I want to do anything yet. I could maybe use the ration book I got from Duxford last summer--do heat transfer and put multiple copies on a background . . . it just seems that what comes to mind at the moment is "clever" but not honest somehow. Will keep thinking about it and trusting that I will get through to the honesty.

02 January 2009

My Goals for Finished Pieces

The more I think about what to make for my challenge pieces with my local friend, the more I find myself thinking about what I like and do not like in my own finished pieces. Even just thinking about what I'm creating has helped me think differently about the pieces I see in a museum. I think I'm broadening my horizons!

One thing I am definitely becoming certain of is that I am firmly in the mixed-media category. Anything else would bore me, but this offers such a wide variety and the potential to keep learning new skills. I also am increasingly that I want all my pieces to have dimension to them. This began even over a year ago when I was still in my homegrown cardmaking workshop year, learning a different technique for each card I made. Just adhering something with foam tape so that it was on a different level than the rest of the piece was brilliant, I thought, and I am now finding that I am always looking for a way to add some dimension or extend something across a border.

Tonight I was contemplating the piece I'm working on for our "beginnings" challenge. It is certainly my most ambitious and I am not at all certain it's going to work out, but even if it doesn't I should learn something from it, so on at least one level it will be a success. Anyway, I realized that it is a personal requirement of mine that first and foremost, I want what I make to be pleasing to the eye. I'm not sure how to put it in any more exact terms--harmonious? pretty? [no, not that]? But some artists want their work to be disturbing on first glance, and I guess that at least at this point, I'm not one of those people. I want what I make to be something I or anyone would want to look at, something that if glanced upon on one's way from room to room, it would give a smile, a sigh of appreciation/pleasure, something like that.

Secondly, after one has simply found the viewing to be pleasing, I'd like the details of the work to be interesting for those (like myself) who find that intriguing. So there needs to be a backstory or amplification of the work that if explored is also satisfying in some way.

I still find great resistance in myself to having words on my pieces (seems way too twee), but this evening I read about Soul Soup and loved some of her poetry that is on her paintings. So maybe sometime in the next two or three months, I will add my own personal stipulation to our monthly challenge that I have to include words on my piece. It would be good for me!