Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Something fun and easy...

This is a quick post to remind everyone that you don't have to be an artist to make art. I am reading Angela Cartwright's book Mixed Emulsions and it reminded me of some of my photos that could be altered. I do love vintage photos and like to search the antique mall or the flea market for special ones. I even have great family photos that I alter and color. This was a photo that I got at the antique mall and I think she will do nicely for this project.

I never use my original photograph for any art project. I took this photo and had it enlarged on the copier, to keep the sepia tone have your copy made on a color copier. If you are coloring or altering a black and white photo, you can use a black and white copier. Personal preference.

All it took was several regular color pencils and two gel pens and several very light layers of coloring to come up with special skills, just my choice of colors and a light touch.

As you can see, when I had the enlargement made they were able to copy the entire mat that was used on the original photo. This gives you lots of room for decorating with gel pens, stickers, bling, or whatever you choose.

There are lots of ways to use photographs in your art. Since I am not really a scrapper or a stamper, this is how I usually use my photos. This could now be pasted to a canvas or other support and have room for more altering. The possibilities are endless.

I have also been making lots of little hearts, so keep checking in for a Valentine's giveaway.

That's all for now, take care and stay warm and safe.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What's happening in my world

Well, it's only been two days since the completion of DH's holistic gallstone treatment, but he is already feeling so much better that I can barely keep up with him. Thanks again for all your well wishes. He seems to be feeling better each day, so yesterday we went to a national cat show that was held locally. We went mostly to see if there were any breeders of Korats, but there were none. However, we did stop in the adoption area, sponsored by the local SPCA and saw these little darlings...

I immediately got a bit teary eyed and wanted to adopt all four of them, but since DH is our feline expert, he was able to reign me in a bit. We had already agreed that we aren't quite ready to take on the responsibility of new kitties yet, so we walked around at the show, watched some of the judging and then decided to head back out into the frenzied world of Saturday traffic.

Our electric blanket went on the fritz, so here was a perfect excuse to head to the mall. In an effort to get a bit more exercise, we parked further away then we usually do and then had to really truck it, because it was cold. In addition to sneaking in extra activity, we are going on a no sugar, no flour plan, which I have mentioned on my other blog. It's something we have both wanted to do, and there is no time like the present.

We saw these guys while we were out, also. They were crazy mall parking lot birds. I am not a big fan of birds, but even I have to admit that they are pretty.

In addition to browsing the health food stores, buying blankets and coming back to cook a yummy, healthy stir fry, I found a bit of time for some drawing. These are still following a Valentine's day theme and are my usual 9 x 12 size.

This first one is just a crazy drawing that just really has no explanation or expectation, but was done with valentine hearts in mind.

The inspiration for this is, oddly enough, that crazy scene from The Green Mile, where the bees come out of the mouth of the gentle giant. I wanted to convey her declaration of love in somewhat the same way. I know it's sort of out there, but that was what I was trying to suggest.

Well, that's all for today. Thanks for all the sweet comments on my new hair cut. Here's wishing all of you a great upcoming week and wishing that you all could hear the really beautiful electric guitar that is being played by hubby from the room directly below me, as I blog.

I told you he felt better. Take care, y'all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Layers keep you warmer...

I have heard it said, that layers keep us warmer when it is chilly. It is still sort of cold, so I thought I would add some

I decided yesterday to call my stylist for an appointment and she had a cancellation for this morning. I have been wearing the other style for several years and I want to let my length grow out. I felt that I needed more defined layers to help make the transition. I am moving toward this same cut, but shoulder length. It will take a while, but I think I will like it.

That's really all for today, except for a quick update on DH. He has been doing a gallbladder/liver flush all week and is having positive results. He has been on a apple juice and water fast since Monday and can eat again tomorrow. He has been a good little soldier, so I'm off to the store to make sure he has some yummy fruit and veggies with which to gently break this fast.

Take care and have a great day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let's all have a big heart...

Well, it is not quite Valentine's Day, but I thought I would do my part to get us in the mood for the upcoming holiday. I have been collecting heart shaped objects for a long time and didn't realize it, until one day it just dawned on me, "wow, I have lots of hearts". So I thought I would dig some of them out and see what I could come up with. I probably have lots more than this, but it's a start.

This first photo is what I think I will use as a banner for the next several weeks. This shot includes polymer clay hearts that I have made, heart shaped pearls strung on elastic for a super easy bracelet, a large heart shaped wooden bead...just to name a few. If you need somewhere to store your hearts until the big day, use a hand painted, heart shaped box.

Clicking on the photos will give you a up close view

Here is one of the hearts that I did this weekend. I love jewelry that has some heft to it, so this polymer clay piece really fits the bill. The front is two layers on one side. That left room for my watch face and made extra crevices for holding paint for an aged look. I did my usual texturing with whatever tool is within reach on my work table. The designs for the white strips of clay are based on the coiling technique that we use in wire work. My hubby likes the little red heart I made for the center of the watch.

You may know that after baking a piece, I like to use dark paint to fill in the texture spots and lines and then when it has dried I sand off some of the paint with automobile wet/dry sandpaper. All the books say you should start out with the heavier grit paper when sanding polymer clay pieces to prepare for buffing, but I have found that isn't really necessary when sanding off paint. I go directly to a fine grit paper, say 400 or 1000, and sand at my sink and use a repurposed bowl filled with water. Since you are actually only sanding paint and not the clay, it is not really necessary to use a strainer for this process. The sanding process helped age the watch, also, so that was a plus.

I often forget to show the back of a piece, so this shows one of my favorite ways to make a bail, or clay ring that will be large enough to hold the cording you choose.

I tend to work a lot looser in clay, and don't strive for perfection. For this bail, I simply rolled out a strip of matching clay and cut it to size with a Nublade. (These blades are great for straight line cutting with one press into the clay, they are now made for clay artists, but their origin is that of a laboratory tissue blade. Note, when new they are extremely sharp, beware!)

After cutting a strip of clay I place one end of the strip on the back of the cured piece, then form a loop that will be large enough to accommodate the cord that you will be using and use a small tool to press the other end onto the piece. If desired, you can place a wooden dowel of sorts (tooth pick, end of paint brush, skewer) through the loop to make sure it does not collapse on itself. I then rebake the entire piece (with dowel in place) for an additional ten minutes. This step can be done after you age the piece or before, it is up to you.

Well, that's all for today. I would like to thank everyone for their well wishes for my hubby. After extensive research, he has decided not to have surgery, but to take an alternate, more holistic route for his gallstones. If it is as effective as he thinks it will be, it should do the trick. Thanks again for all your love and prayers.

Have a great day and enjoy the rest of your week

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside

I know that seven degrees isn't that cold for some of you, but here it's pretty doggone cold. Cold enough that I had to change out of my pj's and slippers to blog. Now that's cold. Anyway, I did a couple crazy things (art wise, that is) this week.

I combined polymer clay with color copies of my recent ATC's to get some unusual pendants. I like to string a clunky bead on plain black cording for a simple, but funky necklace. If you are trying to showcase your jewelry and not your newest wrinkles, a long black cord draws the eye to the jewelry first. Then after seeing such fun jewelry, folks won't even see any of your self thought imperfections.

The piece on the right is 1.5" x 2". I used aqua, black and white clay and marbled it together. I rolled it out on the largest pasta setting and cut a rectangle slightly larger than the color copy. This way after placing the copy (face up) on the base, I had a border of sorts, on which to place the frame. To make the frame, I cut strips from the same marbled clay,then angled the ends of them like a regular picture frame is and placed them around the image, on the edge of the base clay. After baking this entire thing in the toaster oven for about 15 minutes, I made a matching bail and baked it onto the back. (You must bake the bail before you go on to the next step. You can skip the polymer clay bail, if you are going to drill a hole or glue on a bail.) I placed the framed piece on a small jar lid -to keep it level, because of the bail on the back- and put a small spoonful of UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) granules into the opening of the frame. You may have to very gently brush away any stray granules, then carefully place back in the oven at 250 degrees until the UTEE melts and takes on the appearance of glass in a frame.

The image took on quite a bit of the aqua color of the clay after the UTEE melted, so for the piece on the left, I made sure to put a piece of white clay where the image would lay. Also for this piece, I made it more free form without using the pasta machine, I also made small balls from the clay and placed them next to the image to draw your eye to the center of the piece.

This last one is a much simpler design, I took a previously baked polymer clay pendant, turned it over and painted an edge of green to match her eyes. I used the pendant as a guide to cut the color copy to size. I think I used YES paste to glue down the image. Since even previously made polymer clay pieces can be re-baked, I took liquid clay and made little dots around the image and popped her back in the oven for about 10 minutes. After it cooled completely, I painted the dots gold, and when they were dry, I added some black paint to these dots of clay. Sort of like a frame, huh? Cute and it's reversible.

I suppose you know by now, that I like to use "frames" to direct the eye. I call it framing, but that's probably not the actual term. I just like to keep certain parts of my art contained, so you see the main image first, then you step out of the frame and look at the rest. That's why we put a split rail fence around our house after fixing it up, I felt like it was a work of art that needed a frame.

Anyway, here is the other thing I worked on this week. You may remember that I did a drawing of a bird in a cage earlier this month. That got me to thinking that I wanted to do a bird in a cage in polymer clay.

This was the first one, and I liked it pretty well.

This next one is a bit more elaborate and I changed my cage some. I learned several other things when doing this technique. The bird is completely encased in the cage with no way out. If anyone is interested, I will make some more and show you step by step how this is done.

I do want to mention that we found out yesterday, that DH, (Darling Husband) has a hiatal hernia and gallstones and will be probably be speaking to a surgeon. He wants to research alternatives to surgery, so we will can stay informed as to all our options. Any thoughts?

I guess that's all for now, so take care and brrrr...go get something warm to drink.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ahhh Springtime...

OK, so that's stretching it, but on my trip to the copy shop today, I stopped by Michael's and picked up a bunch of silk forsythia to brighten my kitchen. I love this jar and think it looks good with yellow flowers, but I just couldn't wait until spring. You might notice that I placed some wayward blooms on the table for a more natural look.

This arrangement, combined with my gnome, makes for a breath of springtime. The artwork on my brick wall is by a local artist that I just love.

That's it for now, I'm off to the studio to see what I can make from copies of my atc faces. I am thinking pendants, but we'll see.

We'll talk soon. Take care.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's next week...

Wow, time is already flying by. Another Sunday is upon us. No matter if you consider Sunday the weekend, or the first day of the week, time is marching on.

I thought I might touch some more on Artist Trading Cards (ATC). There is actually quite a bit of history on these works of art. Some say that ATC's are the modern day version of miniature paintings of the past. The invention of the camera certainly changed the need for small portraits. Whatever the reasons, ATC are popular ways to create and obtain original works of art.

The main rules of ATC's are simple. The size is that of a traditional trading card....think baseball, football, Beatles cards.... 2.5" x 3.5". They are for trading only. If you want to sell them, you are supposed to call them ACEO's, Art Card Editions and Originals...same card, different name.

I was going to post pictures of all of the ones that I have created, but I can't find them, I guess they are stored away somewhere. Here are a few that I have posted in the past.

I mostly draw mine, like this series called Sprites

Here I drew my images onto paper then tore them down to size and pasted them on black ATC sized card stock.

There are lots of artists that used mixed media in the creation of their art, and that certainly spills over into their ATC's, here is my version of mixed media miniatures...

I used stickers, polymer clay charms, a design cut from a fancy shopping bag and some words clipped from a newspaper article.

I'm not one for lace and such in my art, but I tried here in Meet Rose. I do have lots of beads on hand, so she wears a band of seed pearls for adornment in addition to a piece of lace cut from a strip and hand colored with markers to match the background.

The background for this ATC was created by placing watercolors randomly on a piece of 140# watercolor paper. You can buy pre-cut papers for ATCS, you can cut your own to size. You can also repurpose your art by taking a drawing that you weren't happy with and cut it to ATC size and add little bits of ephemera.

Here are three that I cut from a drawing that never did much for me, but it just might be the workings of some ATC's...

These last ones were done using an interesting technique. I chose various faces from a fashion magazine or catalog, lightly applied white gesso and them embellished them with paint markers, before gluing them to my card. I used YES paste as it handles thin paper quite nicely without causing any rippling.

This is a great way to get started on faces if you aren't happy with the level of your portrait drawing skills. You, of course, cannot claim someone else's image as your own, as I know you never would. Just remember about copyright infringements when using art other than your own in mixed media pieces. When you are done looking at mine, why not pop over to Flicker and look at some great ATC's from artists from all over.

While drawing this weekend, I happened upon a piece of conditioned Cernit in my pencil drawer and played with it while watching the tube. This is the result of that mindless kneading and rolling. A little doll pendant (about 3") that I baked and then painted several times, sanding each layer after it was dry to get an aged look.

That's all for now. I hope, this week, to be doing the seemingly constant cleaning and reorganizing that all artists have to do, so I may be back later with some wonder that I have gleefully uncovered from it's hiding place. If not, I will certainly create something fun and hopefully blog worthy.

Take care as you get ready for the new week. Stay healthy, happy and creative. Until then...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some ATC's

I haven't drawn anything for two days and I am really feeling it. Whew... wait, wait, ...ok, I'm past it now. That was a close one. To get myself past the early stages of withdrawal, (groan) I am posting a page of ATC's that I did in December. I am so taken with the faces that some of my favorite artists use when drawing, that I have been reaching outside my little box and trying to go in a different direction.

I decided to take one basic face shape, quite different from the oval shape that I usually do, and see how many different people would emerge. I penciled in a grid of ATC sized blocks and just started drawing them one by one. This was done before I received my new flesh tone Copics, so I used the white of the paper for most of my highlights. Here is what I came up with:

I took the photo of it, in this fashion, to show you that I have room to grid off "inchies" along the side and bottom and that I still had room to make a test mark when needed. I don't know if that's how others do ATCs, or not. If this is the hard way, feel free to let me know how you do them.

I thought about zooming in on each of them and posting them separately, but I felt that seemed like overkill. If there are any that you want me to re-post in that manner, let me know. I did try to make the picture large enough to click in on them to get a closer look.

After a quick trip to the mall today for necessities (bloomies and thocks) we came home and had a very nice green salad with turkey, egg, grapes and strawberries tossed together. It is one of my favorite meals, but salad makes me so cold. To combat that I heated up some green beans.

I always watch the tube while I cook and today I went with the Weather Channel. Yikes, seems like rain and snow and all kinds of falling weather are in store for most of us. With that in mind, try to stay warm and dry and hopefully you won't lose power, so you can surf the net and stay on top of all the cool things that are going on in blog land.

Take care and have fun. I must, must, must find something to draw!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A couple of new things...

First off, I want to whine a bit. While eating dinner Sunday, I chomped down on the inside of my mouth. It then, of course, swelled up just enough for me to bite down on the same place twice more. Grr... I took it easy after that and have had to swish with salt water and be extra careful. It is still quite bothersome and not healed yet.

The real reason for today's post is to show what I've been working on. The first is a drawing that came to me while watching a disaster type show on the Discovery channel, called Destroyed In Seconds. It was showing skydivers and such, and storm chasers and tornadoes, so I thought I would combine the two and came up with this.

I know that it is crazy to think that a group of skydivers could drop into a disaster area, during the storm, to try to help...but that's what art is all about. We can make all kinds of things happen!

This next shot is the polymer clay that I worked on yesterday. I did another version, much smaller this time, of a seahorse pendant.

I also started a piece, made from black polymer clay with lots of glitter kneaded in, that I embedded watch parts into and then cured. After the first baking, I covered the watch parts with UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) and put it back in the oven, at the same temperature to melt and to hopefully give a resin or glasslike appearance. I highlighted the edges in copper paint pen, but still haven't decided how I will use it. I'm thinking about a really junky, metal chain with funky things on it, keys, etc. to follow through on that Mad Max/Thunder Dome kind of look, which I think is so cool.

Well, that's all for now. Remember to tell the ones you love, how special they are to you. Take care.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Let's draw and color...

As you know, drawing and coloring isn't just for kids. How would we have any comics, cartoons, manga, or any art for that matter, if we didn't color and draw?

I remember as a child, I had one younger friend that I hesitated to make play dates with because all she wanted to do was color. I realize now, that I like to draw my own images and then color. That is probably what I was trying to express as a ten year old, but didn't realized how to make my self understood. This leads me to lots of other thoughts about listening to the words of children, but I just won't go there now. Anyway, here are the two things I have drawn this week.

The Guitar, is for my hubby and is pretty straight forward.

I was going for a somewhat realistic rendering of his guitar, but since I just couldn't get the strings to cooperate, I just let the flower power kick in and altered it a bit.

By the way, almost all of my drawings are done on a pad that is 9" x 12". One of my friends, who does mostly ATC's is sometimes surprised when she sees my art in person, because she "sees" everything ATC size.

This next one was prompted by seeing a bird in a cage in a documentary type movie about something....duh, I guess everything is about something. Anyhoo, I can't decide if it is finished. The shapes around the cage were originally to be a stained glass window, but as I started filling in the bird, I thought I might use pale colors and make it into a wispy scarf type covering for the cage, then I stepped back to look again and am unsure if I want to add any more color at all. I need another set of eyes. Tell me what you think. No, really, I can take it. What do you think?

That's all for now, I just can't seem to think of anything interesting to say. I'll be back soon with more art and observations and amusements. Until then, feel free to click on the pictures to see a larger version and give me your thoughts. Take care and hugs.