Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: My Year to FACE IT!

My elderberry syrup failed me this holiday season, leaving me with a sinus infection over Christmas and plenty of time to rest and consider the upcoming year. 

That was my silver lining for spending over a week feeling sick and tired!

I read an essay by Julia Roberts (not that Julia Roberts) entitled, "Be the Mother of Reinvention" in the book Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty, edited by Ronnie Sellers.  In Roberts' chapter, she suggests having an unpregnancy--nine months to give birth to a new you, and to a life that fills you with "curiosity, excitement, and energy that can only be achieved from a true sense of purpose and a giddy enthusiasm."  Just as a woman's life changes dramatically during the 40 weeks of a pregnancy, a woman's life can change in equally dramatic, though completely different ways, during the 40 weeks of an unpregnancy

I was intrigued by Roberts' nine-month model for success, transformation, and reinvention!

Right after reading the essay, I discovered a half-price opportunity to sign up for the online art course entitled Radiant: Faces, offered by Effie Wild.  It was pretty uncanny: a drawing class with nine teachers, nine styles, nine characters. 
I decided right then that in place of a Word for the Year, as I have done in the past, I would have a nine-month artistic journey to learn how to draw radiant faces.
2015 will be my year to FACE IT!
(In my head, the phrase ABOUT FACE comes to mind about equally, so that might end up being how I think about my focus.)
I have already watched a valuable lesson from Effie about using a notebook to get the most out of the online art courses that I take.  The photo above shows my chosen notebook.  It has a gorgeous aboriginal design on the cover, and was a gift from Australia brought to me by my niece-in-law.  The first several pages of the book contain images and messages from the various family members who celebrated New Year's Eve 2013 with me, when I received the book, and the rest of the book will contain my notes and sketches from the 18 lessons of Radiant: Faces

The following pages from my art journal have nothing to do with the class, since I haven't begun the lessons yet, but they are two little ladies I drew using ideas and images from my Drawing board on Pinterest, which has been a helpful drawing resource in these, my pre-instruction days!
I have already begun to watch Jane Davenport's workshop in the Radiant: Faces class, and am willing myself to not feel intimidated before I've even begun.  I have nine months for this journey, and can't wait to see where I am, come October!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rubber Cement Resist: Gift Tags and Greeting Cards

Once I tried the rubber cement resist technique, it was hard to stop.  My mom had the idea of creating gift tags with the approach, and I tried it on some folded blank cards that I had in my crafting stash, and I had a chance to see how it looks on a smaller substrate.
First, I t ried some folded gift cards, using the same approach I used on larger watercolor paper:  painter's tape around the sides, multiples layers of watercolor paint and rubber cement as a resist. 
I think the results are pretty, and worth the effort.
For the gift tags, I used regular shipping tags as a template, and cut them from watercolor paper.
I was feeling more impatient for this project and left less drying time, so you will notice a bit more smudging of the colors.  And I completely forgot to lay down the painter's tape along the edges, so that changes the finished look as well.  I think they still look pretty, though.  Maybe a little more "edgy" than your standard gift tags.

Do you still need some creative cards or tags for Christmas?  There might be just enough time to give this fun rubber cement technique a try before the holiday is upon us!

Merry Christmas to all!  I look forward to seeing you after the holiday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Good Advice from Dina Wakley

Isn't it great when someone offers a piece of advice that is SO obvious and SO logical that you should have been doing it all along, but you needed to hear it in THAT MOMENT to really hear it for the first time?

I read an excerpt from Art Journal Courage by Dina Wakley in the Create Mixed Media eNewsletter about taking the leap to draw in your art journal by starting with simple shapes: circles, petals, leaves, hearts, stars.  "Get your hand in the habit of moving and making marks on your page," she writes. "You're not making a masterpiece here, you're practicing your drawing on a journal page."
If I want to start including personal drawings on my journal pages, rather than my usual "go-to" collage approach, then I am going to have to pick up my pencil, pen, or paint brush and start making marks on the page!

Obvious.  Logical.  And something I have NOT been doing!
So I used the background pages I have been painting, and drew a leafy vine with a black Stabilo pencil (which I didn't even realize I had, and completely love using!)
I used a mix of acrylic and watercolor paint on my leaves, and wet the Stabilo lines with just a little bit of water to darken and solidify them.  When I finished, I realized how perfect the design of a little plant and the sentiment "hold on to life" were for that day.  My girls were watching "Wall E," where a little tiny plant growing out of an old shoe holds promise for new life on a dying planet, and calls people back home to Earth to start their world anew.  And in the midst of some troubling medical information that sent me reeling into "worst case scenario land," those words carried a special encouragement for me.
Sometimes it really helps to hear the obvious.  If I'm going to draw, I need to pick up a pencil and put it down on the page.  I need to move it around.  I need to go to the next page and move it around some more.  "You're not making a masterpiece here, you're practicing your drawing on a journal page."  Thank you for the reminder, Dina!  My little leafy vine is a lot more satisfying than a painted page with nothing on it!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Painted Papers: Rubber Cement Resist

One of the first posts I pinned to my "Painting Inspirations, Tutorials, and Projects" Pinterest board was an abstract watercolor tutorial from Grow Creative.  I have been wanting to try Elise's technique for months, and now that I've done it, I don't think I can stop!
The results are absolutely beautiful, and their map-like-qualities appeal greatly to the arty cartophile in me!  (I am borrowing the term "arty cartophile" from Jill K. Berry and her book Personal Geographies, which I was inspired to pull off the bookshelf after creating these rubber cement resist watercolor paintings.)

I followed Elise's technique pretty much exactly, so you can read her blog post for her directions, but I also took photos of each step of the process as I carried it out, so I thought I would share them with you here:

First, I used blue painter's tape to secure my 9x12 cold-press watercolor paper to a piece of palette paper on my work space.  (I tried low-tack artist's tape first, and too much watercolor paint seeped underneath it.  The blue painter's tape left a gorgeous crisp edge.)
Next, I dribbled rubber cement over the watercolor paper.  There is no planning, just random dripping in all different directions.
Then, I spent a little time with my embossing tool, speeding up the drying process for the rubber cement.  This is not a task for the impatient!  I get into a kind of trance, watching the rubber cement boil, bubble, pop, and dry.
Once the rubber cement is dry, the paper is ready for its first application of watercolor paint.  For this particular piece, I used Reeves tube watercolors in "Lemon Yellow."
In some of my first pieces, I did a watercolor wash across the entire paper.  For the example photographed here, I applied this first layer of watercolor in just some portions of the paper, leaving other parts white.
The drying process for the watercolor paint is much faster than for the rubber cement!
Now technically, you are supposed to apply more rubber cement, but I actually forgot, and put on a different color of watercolor.  This time is was Reeves tube paint in basic "orange."  I supplemented with another shade of orange from a set of pan watercolors.
I used the orange paint to fill in some of those white spaces I left when I applied the Lemon Yellow.
 After a bit more drying with the heating tool, I applied more random rubber cement.
More drying--which meant more time mesmerized by bubbling rubber cement.  
At this point it was time for my final color--Reeves tube watercolor in "Magenta."  Gorgeous!
After one final drying session with the embossing tool, I was ready to pull back the painter's tape and enjoy the crisp edge along the perimeter of my watercolor paper.
The next step is to use the pads of my fingers to rub away all of the rubber cement that has been resisting various layers of watercolor paint.  The rubber cement comes away in balls and crumbs, and leaves behind the wonderful pathways that give the art such a map-like quality.
When all the rubber cement has been rubbed away...voila!
Now, I think this piece looks beautiful, and am tempted to leave it as it is, but there is a final step that makes it look even more beautiful.  Using a fine-tipped black Sharpie pen, I outline various pathways around the piece.  (I tried Microns, but the "tooth" of the watercolor paper really does them in.)  I start with all of the white pathways, and usually move on to the secondary colors, like yellow in this piece.
When I was finished deciding which areas to outline in black, I had my finished piece:
 I think I could sit around and look at it all day!  I really love the results of this technique.
 What do you think?
This was my fourth 9x12 art piece using the rubber cement resist technique.  Here are the earlier ones I created:
 These first two have a similar color combination, with more "lake blue" in the first one.
I like how they look when I photograph them without the white perimeter:
I'm showing these in backwards order, because this last one I am showing you is the first one I tried.  Instead of using rubber cement, I used Art Maskoid, which is the same as frisket.  But my bottle was almost completely dried up so I was kind of smearing sticky frisket across the page.  At first, I thought the result looked kind of terrible, but it has grown on me, and looks like a map of some archipelago far out in the ocean.  (You can also see how the artist's tape didn't give as clean of an edge as the painter's tape does.)
Stay tuned, because in an upcoming post I will share some pretty cards I have made using this same rubber cement resist technique! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Painted Journal Pages

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been playing around with paint up in my art room over the past week or two.  I was re-reading through books like Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough and Painted Pages by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, and there was no way I could look through all those photos and techniques, and not pick up some painting tools of my own!
To get myself back into the painting "groove," I pulled out the tried and true tools for making colorful background pages in a journal that was not in the least intended for wet media:  a 5x7 notebook with thin brown kraft-paper by Paperchase.  First came the bubble wrap, with some scallops and swirls with a paintbrush:
On another page, I played around with a brayer and different colored craft paints, and then it got the bubble wrap treatment, too:
Then I used a fabric doily as a stencil for this page:
I scratched into my layered acrylic paints on the page, which is something I never thought I liked the look of, but I kind of do like it here:
I love making circles (maybe a little too much) with milk bottle lids:
And there is always the trusty outdated credit card for making straight lines and grid lines on the page:
After using a brayer to apply some paint layers to this page, I used one of my favorite stencils to create the top border:
And, of course, a page with sewing pattern scraps adhered with gel medium:
I decided to try a "poor man's gelli print" on a couple of pages by applying paint over a stencil onto a plastic placemat using a sponge applicator:
It's definitely not perfect, but it was fun to try.  (And it led me to put a Gelli plate on my last-minute Christmas wish list!)
Finally, I used that same sponge applicator to make some solid circles on a multi-layered background:
I may have gotten just a little too carried away, because all the paint build-up on my notebook's spiral binding is making it virtually impossible to get the book closed again, especially the thick cardboard cover!

Without a lot of coaxing, this is about as far as I can get it closed:
That's a task for another day; right now I need it open anyway!
Probably even prettier than the pages themselves are the palette papers I placed underneath my notebook to set out all my paint for brayering, dabbing, and mixing!
Initially, after watching some videos by Roben-Marie Smith and her Art to the 5th cohort, I thought I might use these pages as the basis for a Documented Life 2015 project.  Now I am thinking I would like to use them as the backgrounds for some drawings and paintings, and I'm gathering ideas for what those might look like in my sketchbook.
I'll keep you posted!
Come back by soon, because I will be showing you a very cool painting effect using rubber cement, watercolors, and a black Sharpie fine-tip pen!