30 January 2012

Stagnation, then inspiration

So I did not seem to get too much done this week.  I ended up spending one entire evening helping my son with his algebra homework, and I also battled the Evil Fairy that says what in the hell are you thinking, why are you bothering, how can you think this is contributing anything positive, and furthermore you are Wasting Your Time and should be doing Something Else. 

Towards the end of the week, in preparation for a birthday lunch for a good friend, I did get inspired to make this bookmark.  In doing so, I remembered how much I truly love stitching on paper.  I hope to explore that a little more in the next few months.  It is time-consuming . . . but what a sense of accomplishment!

Detail of center of bookmark
In making this, I used an ornare stencil I had gotten in England a few years ago.  I poked the design using my parchment craft tools into a strip of sticky-back canvas, and after doing so realized I could see the design only on the back and not through the canvas.  Oh well, it was still enough to do the job; I just had to make sure that I went up through the new hole on the wrong side and went back in through the previous stitch on the canvas side.  (Before doing the stitching, I had sprayed the canvas with Stamp Zia spray watercolors & heat-set them with a heat gun.)  When I was done, it was difficult to remove the backing, as expected.  I ended up cutting away the backing with small scissors, and that seemed to do the trick.  

Detail of bottom of bookmark
I layered the canvas onto green Colorbok pearlescent paper, then onto a special glittery paper (again acquired in England a few years ago) that picked up the glitter in the embroidery thread I'd used, and finally onto another piece of Colorbok pearlescent paper that I'd punched the corners with the Deco punch from We R Memory Keepers.

I enjoyed doing the stitching and found that as I went along I was more willing to poke my needle in the right place to achieve the look I wanted rather than sticking to the pre-poked holes.  That was kind of new for me, and it produced a surprising confidence.  I liked that.

Now the picture to the left is where my week 3 of the Traci Bautista Strathmore course is at the moment.  I tell you what, in my crunchy town of Austin, it is impossible to find a plastic vegetable basket anywhere!  The only place I haven't checked is Fiesta, but everywhere else has had their produce department scrutinized by me in the last week.  I ended up acquiring some new stencils from the wall stenciling section at Michael's, and I am pretty happy with them.  The next step with this is to add a head + shoulders, and I think I need to practice that a bit before doing anything I am committed to here.  Plus I noticed in the video that Traci used the Low Viscosity Gesso by Matisse Derivan, which I am sure is available at my local Jerry's Artarama, and so now course I feel I must have that or nothing else will do.  Part of Traci's entire theme was that you use what's at hand, but I am afraid that just goes in one ear and out the other with me.  The materials you use make a difference to the outcome of the finished product--and I learned that the hard way.

Something I did today on a lovely but kind of cool Sunday afternoon was to try some journaling lines out of Quinn MacDonald's book Raw Art Journaling.  First I did them in the Long Tall Sally book that I made from Julie Prichard's Super Nova Art Journaling online class.  I decided that I did not like the thickness of the marker tip I had used, I did not like the way some of my lines had too much amplitude, and I also did not like the way the GellyRoll and Souffle pens worked over the paint and the marker.  

Moving on, I used a different--thinner--pen and did lines on only part of a spread out of another journal made from the Super Nova Art Journaling class.  I liked these a lot better.  Next time I would do the "confetti" at the line intersections with brighter colors, I think but this has its own subdued beauty.

So . . . what am I doing to do in the coming week?  I have a couple of days that are busy with things, so I won't have too much extended free time then, plus our housekeeper comes another day and I try to stay out of her way (plus I am kind of uncomfortable working with anyone else around).  

But I think one of my highest priorities is completing the damn caterpillar stitch that I avoided last week and also finish my Traci piece.  Strathmore starts up the next workshop in March, so I need to get this one under my belt before the next one commences.  I loved Traci's videos and advice and workshop, because it was simply not possible to recreate what she did--you *had* to do your own thing.  No one else has done that as effectively as she did.  

I would like to do a quick encaustic mixed media piece from an article on the Daniel Smith site.  Seems I could get it done in a day if I were focused.

Finally, I need to start planning and executing my travel journal for our Presidents' Day ski trip.  It's not very far away, and I would really like to do something special this year.

So it's good to have documented what I did this week and also put down my starting thoughts for the upcoming week.  It helps me get focused once the morning responsibilities are taken care of (kids off to school and myself fed and coffee-d), and it sure helps me get going.  One of the hardest things to do is not check on blogs or news sites, and having a clear objective makes that a lot easier to put off until lunchtime/breaktime/etc.

Week 3 with Traci Bautista

The journey matters
Morning (originally meant to be "morning comes" but no room)

All words from Ursula K. Le Guin quotes at robertgenn.com.

Pens were Sharpie chisel tip (orange), Sharpie fine point (purple), and a giant Magnum 44 (red).

With the first additions of paint, I used (Golden Fluid Acrylics) Permanent Green Light, Jenkins Green, and Hansa Yellow Medium.  I ended up with areas that are too dark, but now I am learning that just provides an opportunity in later layers to add white or light paint to brighten up those areas--and that in fact, it is GOOD to make areas like that in the beginning stages in order to have something interesting to work on in later stages.

I did get further than this . . . but not much.  Completion will come in later posts.  But it was a good beginning.

22 January 2012

A good week

Well, it has been a good week.  Fun, creative, and productive.  I am proud of myself for doing what I said I would do--got "in the studio" by 8:30 a.m., which also stopped me from going back to bed and wasting the day.  I also managed to avoid floundering about what I wanted to do, thanks to all the thinking I did in the last couple of weeks about what I hope to achieve this year.  I've got goals!  :-)  

These first pics are of the little book I cut pages for last week, mentioned in my last blog post.  I made covers for it from white presentation board.  So far I have decorated only the front of the front cover, but I was pleased with it.  The tree is from a KaiserCraft wood piece (used as a mask), and the rest of the materials used include Adirondack Color Washes, thin Prismacolor markers,  Distress Ink pads, and Sharpie poster paint markers.

I love trees, with or without leaves
Last night while occupying myself in the lobby of the Brushy Creek Community Center during the kids' taekwondo classes, I put myself to work using some of the doodle ideas from Traci's Strathmore workshop on one of the inside pages.  It was fun!  I mainly used a Micron pen, but there are a few bits of a blue Sharpie poster paint marker as well.  Adding the border transformed the page, and also I noticed again how extremely useful Zentangling has been for helping me doodle.  I do remember that I used to *love* to doodle when I was in high school and would draw loads and loads of different sizes of circles on pages . . . need to get back to that.

Doodle close-up
Another thing I am really quite pleased with is that I did something new this week:  carved my own stamp!  Traci Bautista's Strathmore workshop had me thinking about this yet again, as I have many times before, and then when I was wandering around Jerry's Artarama early last week I noticed that they had a new kit by Speedball for stamp carving.  Clearly a sign that I was meant to get it and do it!  It is one more way for me to make my art my own.  The kit came with a small piece of pink rubber block, a knife handle and two tips, and tracing paper.  I searched my drawers of stuff for a suitable image and ended up using the top of the palm tree from the Mexican loteria cards (#51).  Traced, transferred, and carved.  It was so much easier than I expected it would be!  I added the lines within the design myself.  It may not look like much to anyone else, but I love it.

On Friday I finally made a decision about what kind of book to make. One of my goals this year is to become much more familiar and practiced with different book structures. Often I get bogged down in aspects of that which I think I "should" do . . . so this time I decided that my goal was simply to practice the book form, and thus I wasn't going to add pressure to myself to embellish or create the perfect cover at the same time.   Voila--unblocked.

I measured and cut boards, sanded the edges, and cut paper from a beautiful sheet I'd gotten from Hollander's a couple of years ago.  I have found that I have an unsettling & probably unhealthy urge to hoard supplies for the "perfect" use, but I am coming to realize there is no such thing.  So with nary a qualm I pulled out the paper and cut it up for this project.  (With some of the scraps I even made a smaller book.)  I did not yet get to the point of punching holes in the signatures or the covers; that will come this week.

Small boards (3-1/2" square) covered
with scrap from the big notebook
My plan is to do my first caterpillar stitch.  It's not exactly clear to me how one attaches the signatures, since normally one works up from the back cover and this caterpillar appears to go the opposite way, but it did occur to me yesterday that I can do the cover stitching, and when I get to the signatures, I can just turn the whole thing 180 degrees so that I feel I am adding signatures from the back cover to the front.  Hopefully that will work.

The little book came out quite cute.  As the covers are 3-1/2" square, I cut the pages to be 3-1/4" square.  I used many different shades of Archiver's card stock that I thought would look good with the book cover:  kraft, cabernet, pomegranate splash, pastel yellow, carob cream, neutral tan, pear crush, natural, cream white, sugar cream, and fudge cover.  The point was for this to be quick and easy (and not lay around half-finished for weeks or months), so I used my new Cinch 2 that I got in a great post-Thanksgiving Day sale.  Worked great!

Finally, at the weekend I came across the site of Marilyn Scott-Waters, and from it I did the following little cover for a 5x8" ruled pad.  It was easy and took all of about 10 minutes to do, and it gave me some great ideas for making my own.  Plus it is something my daughter will like and also something she can help me do.

Front cover, added to a 5x8"
lined notepad from Office Depot
The inside has a pocket;
I covered up the Office Depot logo
as best I could with lace tape

So upcoming this week I seem to have lots of social engagements and not that many days of uninterrupted creative time.  Thus I am setting goals that I think I can accomplish without pressurizing myself:  do the last week of Traci Bautista's workshop, and complete the caterpillar book.  Ought to be able to get my head around that!

15 January 2012

Week 2 of Traci Bautista's Strathmore workshop

This time I did my first go in the Strathmore Visual Journal (9x12", Bristol) before moving on to the 18x24" Strathmore Mixed Media paper.

For both pieces I used the following:
tube watercolors--Royal Talens ArtCreation (Cobalt Blue, Violet, Scarlet, and Vermilion)
watercolor crayons--Caran d'Ache (Sapphire Blue, Turquoise)
watercolor pencils--Derwent (Ultramarine)
liquid watercolor spray--StampZia Chroma Spray (Cherry)
acrylic ink--Daler Rowney FW (Process Magenta)
acrylic paint--Golden Fluid Acrylics (Titanium White)
gel sticks--Faber-Castell

When I did the second side of the Mixed Media paper, I switched to the new SoHo tube watercolors from Jerry's Artarama: alizarin crimson, permanent rose, cobalt blue, and then I tried to make a violet by mixing some cadmium red into the cobalt blue. Actually that did not work so well! I ended up using ultramarine blue with cadmium red. Also used a bit of New Gamboge Yellow.

Of course, I was so excited to have some time to myself this afternoon (on a Sunday when the family is home!!) that I cut up the 18x24" mixed media sheet before taking pictures of the second side.  Duh.  But I don't think that matters, now that I write about it, because the whole point of the exercise was to decorate a whole sheet at once that was going to get cut up into smaller pieces.  Well I tell you, what I got out of this single sheet was amazing.  Got the Vagabond up & running and cut the following:

four baroque shapes for a mini-book (later cut covers out of white presentation board) attached with book rings . . .

some large tags . . .

some regular rectangles that I can use as either card panels or book pages . . .

and with the leftovers I also cut a small tag, a couple of reinforcements, a little picture tab, and many, many inchies!

Second go at week 1

Golden Fluid Acrylics used:
Titanium White
Hansa Yellow Light
Green Gold
Pyrrole Red
Quin Violet + Quin Red
Quin Crimson
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalo Turquois

Unfortunately I have made no further progress on this in a week as I am doing it along with my 12-year-old son, and we haven't been able to find any time to work on it together.  Thus I am posting it now and will show it again once it's finished.

I will say that I like this one much, much better than the first one. The colors are brighter and I have more solid areas of color that will provide a good foundation for doodling in the later steps.

06 January 2012

End result from week 1

First page done from week 1 of
Traci Bautista's Strathmore online workshop
Here is the final result of my first go at Traci Bautista's week 1 of her online Strathmore Artist Papers workshop.  It is a very multilayered approach and thus one that is challenging for me since I always feel the person demonstrating really does have some kind of plan in their mind that they simply don't know how to articulate--whereas I just plain lack a plan, period!  But in my new spirit of "focus" and attempt to bring a little more discipline (in a good way) to my creative endeavors, I took notes on what I was doing as I went along about what I liked and what I didn't.

I always have a tendency to head straight for detail right from the get-go.  I need to be aware of that so I can consciously back off of it.  Starting with bigger, more separate, large areas of color in the initial steps would be a good idea.  Also I think my color palette, while not horrible, could have been better chosen if I wanted something more vibrant.  On the other hand, what I did choose turned out to be pleasing, and I like the area of light I managed to preserve on the right-hand side of the page.

Other things I observed was that I really liked blending the Shiva oil sticks on top of the acrylic paint, but I didn't really get what the oil pastels were supposed to add or how to use them for any useful effect.

One of the last things done was to use a fluorescent Sharpie poster-paint pen.  I used pink since my daughter had it and I didn't have any fluorescent ones.  I was very impressed indeed with how it brightened up the whole page.  I especially liked using it to put dots on top of lines.

My favorite bit!
Doing two or three layers of masking/stenciling at the beginning allowed for some really neat effects, like the 3-leafed image at left.  It's a broken-off bit of a Kaiser woodcraft flourish that got outlined with India ink in a later step.  I like the glow it has about it.

Notice the (very) subtle outlining of the leaves?
Done with a yellow ShinHan marker.
This is another part of the page that I particularly like.  I didn't have Copic markers so used the ShinHan set I'd gotten on special at Jerry's Artarama some time ago.  It was pretty amazing to see the leaf pattern come out in the design when I outlined them with the marker.  I don't think anyone would realize the marker was there if they weren't scrutinizing it--but if I hadn't done it, these would have remained very much in the background rather than coming up to the mid ground.

I like the white lines I added with a
Uniball Signo marker.
Now this is not from the page the other three images are from.  Traci suggests having a extra piece of paper or other journal available to do ghost stampings on to clean off stencils/masks after using them on the main page--that way no pigment gets wasted, and one has another page already started.  I like the way this one is going because I've got more contrast.  What I liked about this part of it is the white lines I drew in the "v" section of the stencil design.  Doodling is not something that seems to come very naturally to me, but having realized I could do this--draw graduated lines to increase the interest of the pattern--was quite fun!

02 January 2012

Starting on Traci Bautista's Strathmore online workshop--week 1

While my husband took the kids to see The Adventures of Tintin this afternoon, I got stuck in to week 1 of the online Strathmore workshop by Traci Bautista. This is what I have so far:

It is a lot different from hers in that the colors seem more muted, possibly because I have more of a analogous color scheme and have not done the contrasting bold colors that she uses.

I hope that I might find time to do this again this week (once I finish this effort, of course!), thinking about what I liked and didn't about this go. One thing I noticed is that I have fewer shapes and a lot more lines than Traci does. Do I like that, or should I work on adding blocks of color and closed outlines? Another run at this would take me further towards answering that question.

I'd also like to try with something more like her color palette to see if I like what results from it.  Maybe this is just the way I roll at this time.

The light blue oil pastel in the upper left corner is something I particularly like, as is the masked 3-leaf shape just below the center (outlined with India ink).  I need to remember next time to leave more lighter areas the first couple of times around with the spray bottles.

Also, I think I'd like to work a little bigger, although I suppose the drawback there is it would take longer. This felt cramped to me--I had more I wanted to do!  And it's a Strathmore Visual Journal Bristol Smooth 9x12" notebook.  12x18" definitely sounds better.

Something else I need to give some thought to is what symbols or shapes I want to use.  Traci uses circles & ovals in the demo video--should I try that, or something else?  How about rectangles & squares, some overlapping?  Or leaves, as here?

One final thing I want to note that I have learned so far is that I need to not start out too detailed.  I am rushing the end . . . never a good idea!  I think that's because I am a little worried about how it's going to turn out, which is another reason I really want to make time to do another one this week.  I need practice trusting that it will all come together in the end.  And if it doesn't (perish the thought), then I need to know that so I can address it.

Frankly, in general this seems a little busy to me.  I am interested to see what it looks like once I've gone through all her steps.  Hers certainly came together, so I am hopeful about mine.