Friday, May 31, 2013

New Things

I've been working on a variety of small things this week.  Above are two little gift books, 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches each.  The covers are watercolor paper painted with acrylics and spray inks.

I sent in my first entries to Mail Me Some Art, an ongoing mail art exchange run by Karen Isaacson in MA.  These three are for the upcoming Orange exchange.  Incoming entries are posted on the MMSA blog as they're received, so there's always new stuff to look at there.  Karen is one of several artists I've met online recently who are running in the same class and blog circles as I am.  I'm loving making new connections through mixed media art.

Tomorrow I'm going to begin Tammy Garcia's 2013 Index Card a Day challenge, where for the months of June and July, every day, I'll create art on an index card.  Actually, I'm using some cool recycled cardstock that I've had for eons (since 1992), which I've hand cut down to 4 x 5-1/2 inches.  The max size for the challenge is 4 x 6.

As planned, I worked on several of my recent Gelli prints this week, but nothing to show.  I added just one element to two prints, and I removed paint from four of them.  In Carla Sonheim's class she shows how to remove fresh paint from watercolor paper by running the print under water in the sink and rubbing paint off with your hand.  I discovered for myself this week that with a bit of elbow grease you can also get well-dried paint off a print, using a sponge scrubber, wet/dry sand paper and/or even a copper pot scrubber.  The result is a more distressed look.  The four prints that I scrubbed in this way had had too much paint on in their final layer and I wanted to remove some of it to give them a more ethereal look.  I already know that I rarely like the first print off from the plate when I'm printing (vastly preferring ghost prints), so in the future I'll know I can use the kitchen sink method to remove some of that initial layer before adding more layers of paint to the print.

Despite all the things I've been working on lately, it still feels to me like I'm dragging my butt in the studio much of the time.  I'm looking at the ICAD challenge as a way to use a lot of techniques in a short period of time on a small, seemingly insignificant level, to jumpstart my creative energy.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Less IS More

These are four keepers from another set of Gelli prints I made over the weekend, following Carla Sonheim's online class last week.  I've done very little to these, actually I haven't gone beyond the first step in creating them, and I'm satisfied that they're "done" just the way they are.

I played around previously with the prints I made earlier last week, took them to step 2 and occasionally step 3 in the layering process, but realized just how quickly they became overworked and unfixable.  I still have a few original prints that I plan to do maybe just one thing more on before I let them be.  Perhaps I'll do that today.

Yesterday I mostly tinkered around in the studio, did a few small things but read, mostly.  Like a lot of other places right now, spring has temporarily gone back in the direction of winter before (hopefully, soon) moving on to summer.  Although for the last few years on the North Coast our June's have been dreary enough to be called Junuary and we haven't had real summers until late-July to September, if at all.  We'll see what this year brings.                                  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Who Is That Girl?

...I know this is probably a portrait of someone, but I didn't create it.  And I'm not sure who the artist is. 

Nevertheless I loved it, and that mass of dark hair could easily have been mine before I started graying.

And it makes such a wonderful journal page.  So here it is.

Yesterday I caught up on outgoing mail art.  Later today I'll watch Carla's last (day 5) video lesson and tinker around with my prints from earlier this week.  Or not.  We'll see.

Carla had a great blog post yesterday about all the things you can do with art that doesn't make the cut.  I feel heartened to know that even she gets only one, two or possibly three decent pieces out of each series of eight that she prints.

As with everything else at this point, it's the process, the play, the fun, that counts.  And I've been having that in spades.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Step Two Second Set

I began adding shapes to these prints yesterday, per Carla's second video lesson.  Decided to begin on the second set of original prints so I could experiment and work out a few bugs before I tackle the first set, which is a bit more dear to me.

These are okay, kind of a jumble, I think.  I was going to title this post "Meh" but decided I liked them slightly more than that.

It's great fun at any rate.  Caution, though ~ be careful how long you leave cardstock on a wet Gelli plate.  You'll pretty much have to scrub the plate in the sink with running water if you leave the cardstock on too long.  At least that was my experience.  Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First Step Second Set

Today, I'll do more work on these prints and some yesterday.  I haven't watched Carla's second video lesson yet, but will, shortly, once I'm fully awake and into Wednesday.  I had an enormous number of hits here yesterday, about five times normal.  Thanks to all who visited and to those who commented.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Step One

These are works in progress ~ one set of eight Gelli prints made in Carla Sonheim's class yesterday.

I absolutely love doing more with less.  Even though I have invested in some new supplies and media recently, I'm all for going back to my what I can with what I have, right where I am.

I'll post a second set of prints tomorrow.  And tomorrow afternoon, following Wednesday's video lesson, I'll do the next step on some or all of these pieces.  I have to say, though, that many of these could conceivably stand just as they are.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Paper Collage 2

A couple more paper collages from last week.   I'm also including Gelli printed papers among my stash, some of which I've been overprinting with additional techniques.

I had an enjoyable weekend doing virtually nothing, nothing creative anyway.  Spent nearly the entire day yesterday reading the NY Times ~ what a luxurious treat that was (politics and playing to the wealthy aside).

Carla Sonheim's Gelli Printing Class starts today, so I'll be printing a lot this coming week.  I'll also be catching up on mail art, hopefully beginning to work in my new art journal, and making my tri-weekly jaunt in to Eureka tomorrow. 

Sounds like a lot -- I'll get done what I get done.  I've slowed down recently, taking things at a virtual snail's pace until my next burst of energy.

Hope you have a good week.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fresh Start

I finished creating my new art journal yesterday.  Yes, I've created other new art journals recently with intentions to fill them...but I loved working in Little Gems so much that I created something similar to work in now.  The new journal (working title Little Gems Too) is 9 x 7 inches, filled with three signatures of Gelli plate offprints.

I built this journal from scratch.  The boards and spine were formerly pieces of a checkers game board, the cover paper was Gelli printed some time ago, and the inside liner paper was printed on Thursday (front half in photo above).

I used the Double X binding stitch -- ideal for three signatures and relatively easy to do.

This is Little Gems completely filled -- I'm still posting journal pages from this. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Paper Collage

I mentioned recently that I've been working with Jane Davies' DVD, Scribble Collage.  I spent a few days last week painting papers, and earlier this week I made eight small collage studies using those papers.  The collages are 7-1/2 x 11 inches, on 140# watercolor paper.

The studies aren't finished pieces, they're just play.  Seeing how papers work together, experimenting with collage structures.

The only caveat to what I've learned from Jane about painting papers is that sumi ink is still ink.  She'd said it dries like acrylic, but it doesn't.  The ink rewetted when I glued those papers down with matte gel medium, and there are ink smudges on the background paper.  Once I realized this, I tossed out those few sheets of paper where I'd used sumi ink.  Next time I try that technique, I'll use watered-down acrylic ink.  (Note: a dear reader informed me that some sumi inks these days have shellac in them, rendering them waterproof.  Clearly, mine did not.)

new painted papers

On today's agenda ~ fire up my Gelli plate.  I'm also in the process of building another book to house Gelli offprint pages for a new art journal.  I loved the one I finished recently (from which I've been posting pages lately) and want another one like it.  Of course, none of the empty-but-waiting newly altered book covers will work for the pages I want to use.  So I'm making a book from scratch which will have a hard spine (which means, I think, that it will be a case bound book), but the signatures will be stitched onto the spine, which is not typical of case bound books.

I realized recently that the best way for me to tackle new creative areas is to move around between things.  I always think I want to move completely through something, like try everything I want to from a new book or DVD before moving on to something else.  But it doesn't work that way in my reality.  I'll get pulled off to something else before I go back to the original thing.  But then it's like going back with fresh eyes, and I see that I've progressed when I pick up the first thing again.  Which is a good thing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thai Cuisine

Today is the reveal for Fiberactions' latest challenge, to use at least three colors of foods from your kitchen.
On the menu at Rose Cottage, Thai Cuisine ~ eggplant, basil and pepper.  Quilt is 18 inches square, all hand dyed and printed fabrics (cotton, rayon and vintage linen).

This is a woven quilt ~ 12 strips horizontally and 12 strips vertically woven together.  The woven strips were fused to muslin foundation cloth, that was placed over batting and backing, and then machine quilted.  I had wanted to hand quilt this one, but I knew before I even began that my hands/wrists would not hold out.  So machine quilted it was.

The short story about having these ingredients readily available is that I've been cooking Thai for myself at home.  I recently got Buddha's Table from Amazon, and I love all the dishes I've made from the book.  There's absolutely no place to get authentic Thai food on the North Coast, but now I can do it at home.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Paper World

I've been making collage papers this week, working with Jane Davies' Scribble Collage DVD at home.  The first part of the DVD is all about printing and painting paper and the last part is about how to construct a collage painting the way Jane does it.  I'm especially jazzed about the second part because I'm in awe of her work.  If you read her blog, she has tutorials there as well as brief weekly videos showing her process.  I can't say enough good things about Jane or her work.  (She also unknowingly got me into Postcrossing and the Letter Writers Alliance, which got me into Mail Art.)

In addition to using drawing paper to print/paint on, I'm also using deli paper for the first time.  I love this stuff -- it's translucent, stronger than tissue paper, and holds paint really well.

Later this month I'll be taking Carla Sonheim's Gelli Printing online class.  Carla's work with the Gelli plate is really different from anything else out there.  I'm looking forward to doing more and new things with the plate.

For those of you who are interested, Gelli Arts' LARGE 12x14 inch plate is now available through the usual outlets...or will be soon.  I bought mine last week from Blue Moon Scrapbooking, which offers free shipping on orders over $50 -- meaning the Gelli Plate had free shipping, a savings of nearly $25 over buying it directly from Gelli Arts.  Thank you, Dotti, for the referral.

This Saturday, NorBAG member and book-artist-extraordinaire Ellen Golla will be teaching a workshop on paste paper painting.  I've only paste painted paper once before, on my own, so I'm excited to be taking Ellen's class.  Her paste papers are the best I've seen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Journal

I bound a new journal this weekend, one that I altered and partially recovered a couple weeks ago.  This book is the one on the left in the last photo below.  This journal is 10 x 9.5 inches (width by height) and houses three signatures of four folios.  I used four different good heavyweight papers, so there's not much to see inside yet.  Triple chain binding stitch.

I had originally recovered only the inner and outer spines...but I thought the cover was boring without new covers.  So last week I recovered inside and out with old printed pages.

The rest of this batch of covers is waiting patiently for innards.  I'll get to them at some point.  I think I'm moving in the direction of working in several different journals at the same time, with different themes or color schemes. The latest journal will house collages and journal pages in neutral colors ~ that much I know for sure.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Designing Women

Speaking of women...I have wonderful gifts available for Mother's Day in my Textile Shop (photo below).  Check them out.  And have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Learning Curve

These are images of my completed first two projects from Dina Wakley's Art Journal Freedom.  If you have her book, you'll notice my work here looks a lot like hers.  What better way to learn is there, than emulation?  Many painters learn their art by copying works of the Masters.  Anyhow, I'm learning a lot of new techniques and it's fun to try new things, new styles, different ways to work with media.

The first piece is on 12x12 inch canvas board.  One of the cool things I learned here is scraping acrylic paint on gessoed canvas, lifting paint off through a stencil, and placing that same paint elsewhere on the canvas using the stencil.  I also built a piece of watercolor paper with glued-on pieces of newsprint and old book pages, then cut that sheet up and stitched around the edges.  What this collage says is, "My challenges in life have shifted ~ from emotional survival to creative expression.  And my inner needs and desires have become rich and deep."
The second piece is in a watercolor journal, the same journal I started a while back with backgrounds.  New page, new techniques.  I spritzed ink through a stencil on the background and let that dry.  Meanwhile, on small pieces of the spray-dyed background sheets I did about 10 days ago, I made tiny collages.  Stamped images are from Stampotique. What this piece says is, "Better off alone...making my own music."  Which totally defines my life.
Below are just some of the rubber stamps I purchased recently, these from Zettiology and CatsLifePress.  I wanted to show you how I'm working with unmounted rubber stamps ~ which are cheaper to buy, easier to store, and IMO make better images than wood mounted stamps.

All the mixed media supplies shops these days are selling 8-1/2x11 sheets of sticky-backed cling mount to use with stamps.  That stuff comes either 1/6 or 1/8 inch thick and costs about $5 per sheet.  After mounting your stamp on that, you've got to put the entire thing on a small piece of acrylic in order to use the stamp.  After some personal experience using clear stamps on acrylic blocks, I've found that to be a cumbersome hassle.  Most of the commercial cling mount (as opposed to the clear) stamps can be used without an acrylic block (they're made and marketed to be used with one), but they're a bit thin to get a good grip on.

You likely already know that I look for alternative ways to do things. What I'm doing with my unmounted rubber stamps is this ~ I use double-sided sticky carpet tape, available in rolls at the hardware store for less than the cost of one sheet of cling mount and with enough tape for possibly a lifetime of use.  I tape the stamp on one side, and for the cushion side I'm using 3/16 inch craft foam (the medium-thick stuff) that I buy at Michaels for $.99 per 8-1/2x11 sheet.  Then I imprint an image from the now-mounted stamp on card stock, and when that's dry, I glue it to the stamp with acrylic medium.  You don't want to use actual glue here, because it's water soluble.  Acrylic medium (gel or regular) is permanent once it's dry.  Viola, a stamp you can easily impress because of the give of the craft foam, weighs practically nothing and takes up very little room in storage, and doesn't have to be mounted on an acrylic block to use.

A word about purchased rubber stamp images ~ you want to buy from "angel" companies.  Those are companies that allow their images to be used copyright free on your personal artwork AND artwork for sale, as long as the images are stamped and not mechanically reproduced.  All the links above are angel businesses.