28 November 2010

Activities over Thanksgiving week

Must admit I am tired tonight, but a very good kind of tired.  It was lovely to have my parents here and to host Thanksgiving dinner, but goodness I never seem to get a chance to really take a moment and just chill.  The first two days when the kids were still in school I did manage to find some time to work on a few journal pages, and then this afternoon when my daughter was at a birthday party, I went to a coffeehouse and did some more.

One beautiful thing that happened the week prior to Thanksgiving is that my cousin, who lives about 15 minutes away from me, had her third daughter.  I got to hold her from the time she was 10 hours old until she was 12 hours old--nearly made me want a third one of my own!  Such sweet little warm bundles.  The parents loved having her at the birthing center (same place I had my daughter and they had their second one as well) as they were back home within nine hours of her birth.

These are activities from Liz Lamoreux's new book Inner Excavations that I won from Shona Cole's recent giveaway.  I had tremendous fun doing them.

After reading much encouragement from so many different books, and from having fun playing on the mini Buddha board that my mom got for our house this last week, I am determined to try to learn to draw, at least a little bit.  This afternoon I used my new charcoal pencils and drew a tree and a face.  I feel that they are recognizable as such and therefore a success!

Others are just works in progress--although "work" is a grandiose title that's perhaps not quite warranted here.  Last week I used my recent Groupon for Jerry's Artaram and got a small bottle of Liquitex gesso for my portable art bag, so today I experimented with taping off a portion of a page with artist's tape, then gessoing & painting the page before removing the tape.

I will say that I am having huge rewarding pleasure doing these and finding that though I have no idea what's coming, the process allows me to do things that simply wouldn't happen if I were doing a Project or making a Gift, if you know what I mean.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful week, whether it was Thanksgiving for you or not!

20 November 2010

More Holiday Cards

 This afternoon has been quite fruitful--I knocked out a bunch of cards and am pleased with the results.  They are pretty simple, but I really don't think a holiday card is required to be too complicated.  My thought is that the right colors (red, green, gold for sure) are needed, and something sparkly to catch the light so that you notice it up on the mantle over the fire, or in the hanging card holder by the door, or wherever you put your cards.

The backgrounds I made myself, although not the way I originally intended to do!  Thursday night I made up a packet of gelatin, following the instructions to simply substitute water for the fruit juice called for on the packet.  I must have done something wrong because I think there was too much water--at any rate, when I pulled it out of the fridge Friday morning, it hadn't set.  I tried to use it anyway but it was just a horrible mess.

Undaunted, I switched to doing credit card backgrounds as mentioned in an earlier post.  I used a mixture of different paints--Lumiere for the gold, some Folk Art craft paints, and some Golden fluid acrylics.  Boy could I tell the difference!  The Folk Art seems to suck up all the light and is quite dull.  For my purposes it turned out all right because it was a good foil for the metallic paint and accents, but definitely not thrilled about it.

The glitter along the edge of the painted panel (acrylic paper pad) is Stickles; it's not yet dry in the photo.  Gotta love Stickles!  Luckily from years past I have a large assortment and was able to find the right mixture for each card (I used Holly, Candy Cane, Gold, and Xmas Red).

From the picture of everything I did today, you can see I also got a few gift tags made.  Tomorrow I will cut some tags from Xmas paper to fit in the little bags, and then they will go on wrapped packages under the tree with the "To/From" info on the tag inside the bag.

19 November 2010

Inspired by Liz Lamoreux

Self-portrait reflected from car window
I made a special trip down to the mailbox this afternoon to see if the book I won from Shona Cole's giveaway last week had arrived, and it had!  Joy of joys!  Only about half an hour remained before I had to walk down the street again, albeit a little farther, to meet my daughter at the bus stop.  I read the first chapter carefully, and then I turned the pages a little faster, feasting on the glorious images, the gentle words, and the overall atmosphere of the whole thing.  I will read each page slowly and give it the attention it deserves, but I couldn't help myself today.  I never have been one of those people who don't read ahead until they've actually done the exercise.  Simply not possible for me!

So, it was time to go, and inspired by Liz's book, I grabbed my camera to take with me for the journey down the street (rather than taking my iPod to play Solitaire whilst waiting).  Come with me . . .

The lantana flowers have long gone from the bush in the front garden and turned into berries.

A vigorous and optimistic snail is making his way up our garage door.  Not sure what he thinks he's going to find there that's worth the trip!

I was struck by two things on my way down to the bus stop.  One was how many empty spaces there were, waiting for children and adults alike to come home and fill them with their presence . . . 

. . . and also how even so close to midwinter there are still flowers about here in Central Texas.

I appreciated the things that my neighbors do to make our daily life beautiful.

And at the end of the street I was rewarded by the sight of my first-grader exiting the bus doors. 

I wanted to take a picture of her lovely face but got the forced smile, so I asked her to think about our new little cousin Penelope who was born two days ago, and I was rewarded with this.

Then as we reached our house and were about to go inside, I looked up into the sky and saw two contrails in the deep blueness.  I must remember to look up more often.

15 November 2010

Wooden Tree Ornament

A couple of weeks ago I got a wooden ornament from Archiver's, and today I finally had a go at decorating it.

I began by stamping my Eclectic Omnibus wooden stamp in Archival Ink--Sepia on all sides.

Then I inked the ornament with Distress Ink--Fired Brick, using the tool and foam pad.

After that, I used my Tim Holtz Fabulous Flourish stamp with Brilliance--Gamma Green ink and covered the ornament with flourishes.  This required multiple stampings; just one didn't cover the whole thing.

At this point I assembled the ornament.  Then I used Stickles Xmas Red to add dots of sparkle within the ornament, and Stickles Cinnamon along the edges.  I thought about using Distress Stickles but decided I wanted more sparkle.

The only other thing I might do is to go over some of the flourish with a sparkly green gel pen . . . I'll have to see what it looks like once the Stickles are dry.

It was fun!

14 November 2010

Credit Card Backgrounds on Journal Pages (unfinished)

For my playtime this last Friday (sitting in the hallway during my son's taekwondo class), I thought I'd play a bit with the credit card background technique that quirky artist suggested last week.  It really couldn't be simpler to squeeze a line of paint onto a page and then drag it down with a credit card!  The hardest thing for me was finding some scrap paper to put underneath the page to catch the excess around the edges.  I ended up using paper towels from the girls' bathroom.  Even though the paint was just Liquitex acrylic tubes that came with a tabletop easel w/drawer that I got last year, the color is still vivid and fun.  Making sure to really scrape the paint down so that there's no thickness left on the page meant that the pages don't stick together.  I *love* the way the water droplets affect the page--they look ghostly, ethereal, fairy-like.

The blue-green page is done in the Canson XL Mix Media notebook, and the yellow one is in the Strathmore Visual Journal--Mixed Media notebook.

A couple of weeks ago, while my mom was visiting, I got some heirloom apples from Central Market--first time I've seen them there.  They were really delicious--seemed to have more of the essence of apple, somehow.  I went back for more and picked up a couple of their handouts because I liked the way they looked.  They were getting wrinkled and damaged in my bag, though, so I decided to just go ahead and put one of them on the cover of my Moleskin journal (too pretty to hide away on the inside).  I'll put paint and other stuff on top of it when I get a chance, but at least I got the page itself on.  Used Mod Podge since that's what I carry out with me, and applied it quite thinly with a palette knife.  It makes me want to eat an apple just looking at it!

09 November 2010

Journal Pages

So today I thought I had this lovely morning + early afternoon to do arty things, and then I ended up doing necessary household stuff (although I did get my most recent post up as a reward to myself just before dashing out of the house).  
packing tape transfer from a catalog
Finally mid-afternoon I had 45 minutes to myself while my daughter was in her ballet class, so I worked on a few more journal pages.

Mainly I had some little circles I'd punched out from a magazine ad--I just loved the shade of orange it was--and I needed to do something with them before they got lost or thrown away.  

Then I did things here and there to other pages as I could, nothing fancy since I didn't have a lot of time.  

It felt good to get lost that way for a little while in all the rush of the day.

"Courage" Portfolio Cover and Small Notebook

Well, so much for my attempt at posting once a day this month (much less doing something artsy each day and writing about it!)--but I'm not unhappy or disappointed.  I'm proud of myself for that!

My mom was visiting for five days (whirlwind trip that included attending an outdoor performance of Hamlet under an oak tree on the edge of a graveyard as well as the opening night of La Traviata), and trying to fit all the other stuff in simply wasn't going to happen.  But I did feel that I was creative every day--on both Thursday and Friday we played our duets together (Mom on tenor recorder, me on a folk harp), and on Wednesday and Sunday I prepared nice meals for us to share.  Sunday evening, her last night, I made risotto with carnaroli rice and fresh parsley & dill, topped with roast chicken and drizzled with an aged balsamic sauce.  One of my favorite dishes--visually appealing, healthy, and delicious.  Then today I had to spend a lot of time doing finances with my husband; not any fun, but necessary, unfortunately.

So I am going to post up about a couple of notebooks that I made at the beginning of the summer for my cousin who was both turning 18 and graduating from high school.  She has had a difficult childhood and IMO never got the support she needed from either her parents or the school system, and it's a testament to her strong will that she is still here, frankly.  But I find it difficult to talk to her (always hear in my head how stupid I sound trying to talk to a teenager when I'm forty with two kids) in person, so I tried to put all my feelings, hopes, and emotions into what I made for her.

As always, I didn't have enough time, so they aren't very complicated.  The saving grace is that everything was done by my own hands--at least I hope I can lean on that :-).

For one item, I made a portfolio cover (inside it holds manga illustration pads, since she is writing cartoons but has others do the illustrations), and the bookplate design I crafted in Photoshop Elements.  I used scans from some old diary pages of hers and then wrote "COURAGE" over the top.  The cover is painted with Lumiere paints, and I affixed a great multitude of carefully selected talismans and embellishments to the book rings.

I also made a smaller notebook that would be easier to shove in a backpack.  It has painted grungeboard covers (I mixed up a custom shade of purple--her favorite color, again using Lumiere paints), and for the little special touch, I put some origami paper behind the keyhole decoration.

My hope is that she spent time at some point looking at all these things and knowing that I made it for her.  I haven't heard from her about them, but my guess is that 20 years down the road she'll say something about it.  It's okay that she hasn't said anything, too.  I probably wouldn't have at that age either, and anyway, that's not why I made them--to hear a response.  I made them because I needed to give them to her, end of story.