02 November 2012

My blog has moved

Thanks to anyone who comes here--my blog and all entries have moved over to my new website.  Please come say hi to me in my new Studio!

24 September 2012

"Idea of a Leaf"

Idea of a Leaf

Last week while walking home from the bus stop, my third-grade daughter stopped and backtracked to pick up a leaf lying on the sidewalk.  She thought it was beautiful and unusual, and I agreed with her.

The leaf sat on our piano for most of the week, refusing to leave my mind.  Eventually I started playing with the ideas presented to me by the humble leaf.

The original inspiration
At the top of this entry is one version, done on a wood panel with India inks, Derwent Watercolour pencils, and Golden fluid acrylics.  It started off with just India inks added to an unprimed wood panel (Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India inks, specifically).

India inks only (no acrylics yet) with a few touches of watercolour pencil for definition

My palette of fluid acrylics
As I was painting it, I was struck by how much the patterns of color on the leaf resembled those of a butterfly.  Maybe I will explore that a little bit in another study.

I am not entirely certain this one is done--the leaf seems it might need a little something more, although right now I am not sure what--and I am going to let it take up occupation of the dining room with me for a while until I know for sure one way or the other.

15 September 2012

Reorganization as a sign of respect

Recently my husband went back to England (where he's from) to attend the Paralympics, and I took the opportunity offered by his absence to go through everything I have arty and reorganize.  There was too much stuff piled on top of other stuff, and I hated it and I felt bad about it, ashamed that it was such a shambles.

So I used his man-cave (filled with musical instruments) and the hallways and got everything out--because you can't reorganize until you know what you have and how much you have of it.

Probably I should have taken some in-process pictures, but frankly I am glad I didn't.  Mentally I was finished with the project about four days before I was done in reality.  It was good that I knew in my heart that if you just put one thing away and then another thing, eventually it's all gone, because it was certainly overwhelming at many points.

Especially when I was going through all the little treasures that I have saved and saved (although very rarely actually used) and trying to sort them into meaningful groups that could be put away in a useful manner for finding and using.

Part of what took so long too was reintegrating all the things I used to truck around with me to use while waiting during kids' activities.  Our schedules have changed and I no longer have to occupy myself for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at a time--but that meant all the duplicate supplies had to be dealt with.

I am happy to say that I am very pleased with the end result, though, and I feel proud of what I do and where I do it.  Given all that I have learned and thought about over the past year and the workshops I've taken (free online Strathmore ones, Julie Prichard & Chris Cozen's ones over at The Land of Lost Luggage), I did the following:

--got rid of the substandard supplies I have that have been replaced with better quality items

--set things out so that basic media can be reached from where I sit (paintbrushes, mark-makers, ink pads, adhesives and acrylic mediums, pencils, pastels, etc.)

--got all substrates together in a single place--I am NOT buying any more for a while!

--acquired a Billy bookcase from Ikea and placed it in front of an unused door in the hallway, just outside the utility room where the rest of my supplies are (things that are used for a particular need--book sewing frame, Vagabond die-cut machine, book cloth, paper pads), and put my personal library there as well as displayed some of the things I have made

I also touched every single piece of paper I own and regrouped and refiled it.  That was a serious pain.

When I was done with it all, I made diagrams of what is where, and next week I will make it pretty and place it somewhere close at hand.

I have reorganized before, but never to this extent.  It was good as always to be reminded of what I have, and it was really the first time that I had a feel for how I might use things (like papers I have painted myself, images I've collected, etc.) and thus where I should put them for best access.

To close, I would explain the title of this post.  In England this summer I saw The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, at the end of a library row, and it seemed to me that I was meant to check it out, that it was impossible to walk by it, that doing so would be a huge cosmic mistake.  So many artists I read interviews with mention this book, and although I am not religious at all, I felt that surely what has helped so many disparate artists (successful enough to be interviewed!) find their way with confidence surely couldn't hurt me.  I read it through beginning to end, and I tried the morning pages a couple of times to see what that was going to be like, but I knew I could not start in earnest until school had started for the children.

Then after getting home from holiday, I realized that I could not devote myself fully to this exploration of my self with all these things at home that were screaming at me to be done, rolls of book cloth piled onto of wood panels next to untidy stacks of magazines covered up by sheets of paper.  So I spent a couple of weeks getting things organized in my physical presence so that I could then truly take the time needed to explore mentally.  I needed the headspace for this, and that was how I got it.  I felt that setting up my studio and storage areas (spent less than $400 for additional items) was a sign of respect for my efforts of creativity and a sign to all, my family and myself as well as anyone who walks in through the front door, that said efforts deserve this attention.

21 August 2012

It's not much but it is better than nothing

So here is an interesting situation--
just spent 45 minutes, close to an hour--WASTING MY TIME
clicking around on old links in my bookmarks
checking to see if anyone had posted any new & interesting blog posts
looking at stuff other people have made or are selling
thinking about CRAP I ought to do
like clean up my bookmark links
when what I really wanted to do was play with stuff (or maybe go to bed)

If I wanted to play, why didn't I?  Partly because I hate to get interrupted
partly because doing stuff in the evening
gets me energized and then it's too
hard--even harder than usual--
to go to sleep
partly, I am sure, because it's a habit

So I am calling BULLSHIT on that
don't care what time it is
even if I do nothing but write this
at least I am breaking a pattern, for one night, and doing something

Ink added post-writing with Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India inks.  And hey--it turns out that the Stabilo pens are not waterproof.  Must remember that for the future!  And I do indeed feel better and more at rest for having done something.

Sorry the pic is so small (was taken with iPhone and uploaded using the iPhone Blogger app, and that doesn't appear to include a larger version other than the thumbnail)--the writing on the journal page is what is transcribed above the image in this blog post.

16 August 2012

From Crate and Barrel tissue paper, an enamelled cover paper

Another experiment inspired by Ms. Hall's Embroidered Books

I started with one piece of tissue paper from Crate and Barrel, covered it with Adirondack Red Pepper paint from the Ranger dabber (hoping it was heat-fixable paint since I had no Stewart Gill Byzantia nor anywhere close to acquire some from), sprinkled with Pine Needles Distress Embossing Powder, and heated.

I tried to then cover with UTEE but it wouldn't stick, so I had to brush it off, use a Boss Gloss dabber to put a layer of embossing ink over the papper, then I added UTEE again and heated. It wasn't a full covering but turns out I like the look.

It still needed something, so I added some Antique Gold Rub 'n Buff with my finger. That provided some much needed light and set off the red paint and melted EP nicely.

I plan to just use PVA to turn this into a book cover. Seems pretty sturdy at this point.

Handmade paper, Golden airbrush paint, and Prismacolor pencils

The Billericay library had a fantastic item I was able to check out while there earlier this month--Embroidered Books, by Isobel Hall. I made a bunch of notes from it and did this fun little thing while my son is playing Axis and Allies with his friend this afternoon.

To strengthen and reduce the porousness of the handmade paper I made many months ago, I painted it with Golden Airbrush paint (Phthalo Green Blue Shade)--Ms. Hall had suggested Procion silk dye, but I don't have any of that. After drying, I used Jet Black Archival Ink to stamp a Magenta image. Then I colored the image with Prismacolor pencils (canary yellow, Spanish orange, orange, yellowed orange, yellow ochre, carmine red, and grass green), finishing up with a burnishing pencil. I added Glossy Accents over the center flower--it's not dry yet in the picture.

This medallion would look nice on the cover of a small notebook, methinks. I like the look of the stamped ink and the colored pencils on the hamdmade paper.

14 July 2012

Travel journal for cousin

My cousin is taking her three girls to Prague & the Czech Republic for a month this summer.  Her husband is Czech, but he will not be there until the second half of the trip.  So my cousin will go over with her sister and her dad for a week, then they leave and she will go out to the countryside to stay with her in-laws for a week before her husband arrives.

This might be challenging for her since she speaks only English, her mother-in-law speaks some English, her father-in-law speaks Czech and German but no English.  I hope the week is not too long for her!

I offered to make a travel journal as a gift for her.  She is far too busy to deal with baby books and other stuff like that (she is pregnant with her fourth child, due in October), and I thought it might be nice for them to have this remembrance of this trip since it's such a long one.  I also thought it might be a nice way to keep the older two girls occupied sometimes when they can add their own drawings and writing to the book (ages 7 and 3-soon-to-be-4-next month).  For that reason as well as that my cousin likes strong, bright colors, I made the journal vibrant and fun.

The cover is made from grungepaper dyed with Fired Brick Distress Stain.  I used kraft cardstock for inner liner, although I didn't do it quite right as by the end I was in a hurry, so I sewed the third of the three signatures outside the liner.  Oops!  Ah well.

The signatures were made from the following card stock colors, obtained from Archiver's:  lemon bliss, scarlet, orange slice, berry, and neutral ivory.

I added a couple of envelopes in as a place to stuff those things that one just doesn't have time to deal with in the moment but doesn't want to throw away.

I also included decorative stubs between nearly every page in each signature to allow for the travel ephemera that is part of what makes books like these so special (receipts, tickets, drawings done by the kids, brochures, pictures, etc.).

In the end I was happy with the journal.  It should be sturdy enough for the job and fun for both my cousin & her daughters to write/draw in.  Now I just have to hope that they actually find time to use it!

24 May 2012

Leftover paint

One of the things I have been working on this year is to stop thinking so much and DO more.  So I finally did something in one of the journals I made in Julie's Super Nova Journaling online workshop last year when I had leftover paint from another project.  I took an image that was on one of the collaged, painted-over pages and did it big over the spread.  Quite frankly I was surprised with how well it turned out.  I also tried to pick up some of the patterning on the underlying page and incorporated that in the border.

20 May 2012

Travel journal finished

I love my finished Park City travel journal.  The grungeboard cover is pretty amazing, and I'll be making more portable workhorse journals with it.

After hoarding some of the Tim Holtz filmstrip ribbon for probably a couple of years now, I finally used some of it as decoration on the front cover.  Prints were the index prints of my "roll"; I still had to trim them down even from that small size.  But the effort was well worth it.  I adhered the pics to the filmstrip with Glossy Accents, and I used the Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher to staple the completed ribbon onto the front cover.

Even though it's been only three months since the trip, I already like looking back through it at receipts and images.  Must remember that I like finding items/stickers during the trip and using them to fasten things in my journal.

All the workshops I've been doing lately have really freed me up to do things.  Anything.  Everything. I am happy with this year!

Courage--April 2012

The last two or three weeks have seen me busy but not with too terribly much to actually show for it, at least not yet.  I've started on the Texture Town online workshop (Xmas present) by Julie Prichard and Chris Cozen, and I confess to my great surprise that they tricked me into shading!  Never knew I could do that.  That's one of the nice things I find about their workshops is that I often end up doing something I wouldn't have done on my own.  And that, I suppose, is the point.

I've signed up for another online workshop that I am pretty excited about--the first online one that Squam has done, apparently.  Going to a retreat in person is just out of the question for me at this point, as my husband would have to take vacation from work to look after the kids, and my parents aren't close enough to come babysit.  Plus I like to be here when they visit!  But Alena Hennessey's topics sound important to me, and I want to do it.

It will be a great thing for me to wind the spring up with--once the school year ends on 30 May, my time won't be solely my own anymore.  We are traveling a great deal this summer to avoid spending much time here in Central Texas, where it was truly awful last year, so it will be Houston for a week (not any temperature change but at least a chance of scenery & routine for both me and the kids), three weeks in Kansas at my parents' in the country, then three and a half weeks in England and Wales to stay with family and go to the Olympics and a Welsh farmhouse holiday.  When we come back to Texas, there are only two weeks until school starts up again on 27 August.

And of course, once the kids go back to school, it's time for me to start my holiday card business up.  Hopefully this year will be the one where I am a little more organized and efficient.  I'd really like to finish making all cards by the end of October!  (At the latest, by Thanksgiving, which is probably more realistic.)

A couple of weeks ago I had the idea that I could get one or two of my aunties to hold a trunk show for me--have a selection of completed cards and order forms, and they could get some friends over, and we'd have a little cocktail party and order fest.  Then I undercut myself wondering if I'd get any orders, if I got them how crazy would it be to deliver them, could I have any cards ready in time . . . argh. Mostly I think I just ought to make the leap and do it.  I'd also have some gift tags to show and I would love to have my Xmas book that keeps everything in one place done to offer in two versions--a fancy binding version that would be mega-expensive, and a spiral-bound version.

But if I'm going to do that, I really ought to have it designed before the summer begins.  And I ought to have a website that people can visit to find out more "about the artist", 'cause people dig that stuff.  But that also sounds like someone (me!) just putting up barriers that don't have to be so.  Where has the courage of my convictions gone?

[forgotten to publish when written!]

14 March 2012

Too drained for anything but a tag

Towards the end of the afternoon I tried to get going on making boards for a book, but I realized that I just didn't have the oomph to do it.  (Of course, I knew that I'm going out of town tomorrow with the kids for a couple of days, plus it was going to be time to fix dinner within two hours . . . I'm sure that knowledge contributed.)

Instead I decided to mess around with a stamp I got from Alpha Stamps for $0.99 yesterday.  The stamp impression was done with Ranger Archival Green ink on a white tag, and then I used Distress Inks in Evergreen Bough, Forest Moss, and Bundled Sage.  The Forest Moss had gone on a bit strong, so I sprinkled water over the tag to mottle the surface and then wiped it off after a few seconds.  After that I grabbed a 7gypsies Conservatory moth stamp and dotted it around with Distress Forest Moss ink.

One of the moths I stamped going the wrong way (should have had it pointing down instead of up), so I needed to obscure it with something.  I had some self-adhesive crystals from a previous project in my drawer, so I put some of those around in a couple of places.

I used Prismacolor pencils smudged with a tortillon on the stamp itself to highlight the woman & her robes, the tree trunks, and the border.

Finally, I added a wire-edged ribbon embellished with a Trinkette, an emerald crystal on a pin, and a large circle bead.  [And about 30 minutes after posting this entry, I decided the really final touch would be a quick spritz of my new Perfect Pearls Biscotti Mist to add some shimmer onto the tag itself.]

It's nothing to write home about really, but it was fun and I like all the greens--must have been inspired by all the springtime things I have been reading about the last few days.

Sunday afternoon

I did this a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post it, apparently.  Can't imagine how that happened!  Ha.

upper right corner (Dremel)
This was just for fun on a Sunday afternoon--nothing serious and playing around with something new.  I believe this was one of the first projects in Flavors for Mixed Media, but I combined techniques from this one and a later one.  It's done on two Claybord panels with NO PAINT.
mountain lines done with knife blade

First I made various marks in the clay surface with my Scratchbord knife and my Dremel tool with a couple of different attachments.  I think then I rubbed soft pastels into different parts of the boards and fixed them by applying gel medium over the top.  After that, I added more shading & depth of color with oil pastels.
deep gouges made with Dremel
(kind of on accident but it worked okay)
It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.  I like the grid layout and plan to use that more often.

25 February 2012

Deer Valley travel journal 2012

Grungepaper cover
I got my travel journal done tonight, much to my great satisfaction.  Putting it together was very much a last-minute affair, and I was sewing the binding in the car on the way to the airport, but it got finished before we arrived at the parking lot.

Ribbon binding of 3 signatures

In desperation I had purchased an Amy Tangerine travel journal at Archiver's in the morning of the day we left, but when I got home & opened it I could already see the stitching coming apart.  Not impressed with that.

Close-up of center bead
and braiding
I ripped the stitches out of the binding and used all the inserts that had been there along with sheets from Archiver's that I had (8.5x11" in colors of something like Polar Ice and Natural Cream).  The recent publication of Pages inspired the binding, although I had to modify it a little to suit my project.  I love the ribbon I used, which I'd gotten to make bookmarks as gifts for those who bought my holiday cards last year, and the bead is a Trinkette from Michaels.

Title page (on kraft
paper in case the Distress
Stains didn't set

For the cover, I used a sheet of Grungepaper that I colored with Distress Stains and then set with my heat gun.  No time for stamping or other decoration!  I ran the top of a trail map my husband had brought me from an earlier trip this year through my Xyron and adhered it to the cover, then I stapled the acetate cover piece from the aforementioned Amy Tangerine journal over that.  (I had to cut it in half; the back part is on my back cover.)

After coming home, I did
take time to draw the
little vases I bought
I guess it really should have been my "Park City travel journal 2012" since I didn't actually ski this year, but oh well.

Opening page, including
small circular Zentangle
(I think I used the wine
bottle base to draw
the circle)
Using the inserts from the store-bought journal worked out quite well.  I had great places to attach things like lift tickets and menus to, and they provided an eclectic element of fun to the overall look.  That will be a great way to use up further scraps from my paper pile.  And not just in travel journals but for my holiday books as well.  Must remember this.

Plenty of blogs occupy my reading list, and while I do honor the effort that others put into creating a remembrance after the actual event is over, I have come to the conclusion that said approach will just not work for me.  Once it's over, I am ready to move on to a new project.  Tonight I was happy to insert all my ephemera into the journal, and I do still plan to print out a few photos and include them as well, but otherwise I am DONE.  No going back and drawing fancy borders, decorating pages, etc.  If I didn't get to it on the trip, it's not going to be in the journal.
One of my daughter's
contributions to the
trip journal

I love the pictures that my daughter included on the pages (there is another one besides the one pictured here).  In years to come it will be so sweet to page through and see her recording of her trip.