Saturday, January 24, 2015

It Takes Courage...Oh, the Irony!

"It Takes Courage"
9"x12"
I created this painting this afternoon, trying to make up for a piece I made yesterday that felt like a dismal failure.  I knew I liked my idea, but I was unhappy with yesterday's results, so I bit the bullet and started all over again from scratch. 
My building blocks for this painting were:
1. this favorite quotation from e.e.cummings that I have saved in one of my many notebooks:  "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are,"
2. a butterfly stamp that inspired the ones on my painting,
3. the work of Cindy Wunsch, published in Cloth Paper Scissors in their November/December 2011 issue.  I like her mixed-media background, large undetailed central image, and stamped poetry across the page.

Here is the piece I did yesterday: 
I liked the background, and a few of the small butterflies came out nicely, but the shapes and markings on the large butterflies looked much too artificial and forced.  I am really working on painting and drawing with a lighter hand, and it's not easy for me!

I call "courage" ironic in my blog post title, because I was so sure that I would mess up this second effort, that I took a photo of my background before I began, just in case I completely ruined my painting and had nothing good to show for it!
But I guess I should give myself some "courage credits" for digging in and trying again.  I am much happier with my results this time!  The stylized butterflies look more "clean," simple, and purposeful to me than in yesterday's piece.
Have you grown up and become who you really are?  I like to think I'm on my way...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pumped Up Planner Pages

I have always been a paper-planner girl.  Ever since my days of carrying an assignment book around in my high school backpack, I have put pen to paper to create lists, schedules, and reminders to keep life running as smoothly as possible.  I love my iPhone for making calls, taking photos, and updating Facebook, but I'll just never be an Evernote girl!

Until I read The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole, it never occurred to me to beautify my planner pages or make them anything other than plain and utilitarian.  In one of her projects, Shona guides us through the process of creating beautiful backgrounds and art action plans in the form of lists or calendars, using stamps, oil pastels, punches, and printed words to decorate the pages.

From there, I watched online as Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and Effy Wild created gorgeous daily art journal entries.  Then along came The Documented Life Project, integrating art journaling techniques with a daily planner.  I also watched as a number of the bloggers I read and follow created their own self-designed planner pages to sell in their Etsy shops. 
Finally, I began a Pinterest board called Daily/Weekly Plan Books, and pinned all sorts of fun and gorgeous planner pages in Martha Stewart binders, Filofax and Hobonichi planners, Moleskine journals, and Erin Condren Life Planners.

I made my first effort to beautify my planner pages as I was getting ready for 2014, when I added washi tape and stickers to brighten up the pages.  I didn't change the way I used the book, though, so I ended with my same old scrawl and cross outs surrounded by pretty tapes and stickers.  Not much to look at by the end of the year.
This year, after soaking in the inspiration from my pin board, I'm off to a better start.  I still need my planner to function as a workhorse...I need it for my week's menu plan, doctor's appointments, and things my girls need to take to school with them.  But I am using stickers and sticky notes to record some of these things, and using open spaces for pretty tapes, interesting quotes, and brief notes about the day.
It is still an all-utilitarian planner for me, because I can't afford to give up that functionality.  But it has color and interest that makes me smile when I look back over the pages, and enough information to serve as almost a little diary of some of my days.
See the flowing-haired woman on her stationary bike up there?  I typed "woman riding stationary bike" into Yahoo Images to get a reference picture to sketch for my spin class appointment.
The next time I went to spin class (above), I drew my water bottle resting on the handlebars!  It's kind of fun to look back over my pages and see the little sketches and other "fancies" that brighten up the pages.
When the week begins, my planner is a plain and lonely-looking space:
Sometime next week, I'll show you what this week's spread ends up looking like once it's gotten full use!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Success! (Another Pieced Paper Collage)

In my last post, I showed you my first attempt at a pieced paper botanical collage, using the design and technique presented by Susan Black in a 2013 Cloth Paper Scissors article.

I commented that I looked forward to trying the technique again, using my own design, so that my final result will feel less forced and more original.

Success!
I designed my own piece, using drawings of seed heads and dragonflies from 20 Ways to Draw a Tree by Eloise Renouf as reference pieces.
I also chose my papers more carefully for this piece, being certain that they all appealed to me individually and in concert with one another, and that they felt balanced on the page.
Finally, I did not include any handwritten element.  As much as I like to include printed words in my collages, I'm not "there yet" on incorporating my own lettering and enjoying the results.
With those changes from my dress rehearsal attempt, I created a piece that I really enjoy! 

Caatje mentioned in her comment on the last post that "often our opinion of our work is not so much about the work itself, but about how we felt when we made it."  How true!  Making my first piece I was focused on following the instructional steps and using Susan's design, which probably led to my feeling that the final result looks forced.  On this piece, I was excited to create my own design and make the project "my own," and it feels much more natural and original.  

I am encouraged to continue creating these pieced paper collages on coffee-wash backgrounds!