Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's official!

I'm going back to school at the Academy of Art University. for a second BA. I couldn't be more excited. I start in two weeks. I'll be taking my classes online so I can still do the mom thing and continue working from home. Everything fell into place to easily and quickly, it just blows my mind. I'm currently enrolled under Illustration, Graphic Arts but the pure Graphic Arts program looks super appealing - I am also dying to take a half a dozen classes in Fine Arts including a book making class and jewelry making! I wish I could go to school forever!

Yesterday, I ordered my class supplies from Utrecht Art. The class materials list is already in the Utrecht system so you don't have to hunt around for everything. I checked over at Dick Blick just to see if the prices where OK and surprisingly, they were comparable or less with the AAU student discount and the awesome Fall sale they have going on right now. I am SOOOOOOOO excited to get everything! I was "required" to order some items that I have been coveting for months. Prismacolor Premiers and Verithins pencils. and Caran d' Ache NEOCOLOR II Watersoluble pastels.
I am enrolled in 2 classes- Analysis of Form and Materials, Tools and Comping Techniques. They sent me a stack of DVD's which include all of my tutorials. I watched a few Modules and the projects look so fun! I am feeling a whole lot of gratitude right now (and a chunk of fear too - you know -the whole "what if?" song and dance.) My husband has been incredibly supportive, as has my family and friends.

On another note, both of my kids will be starting school in the next couple of weeks. Aidan is going to Kindergarten and Eva starts preschool. There are no more babies in our house. I'm grateful that the diapers are a thing of the past, but I miss the baby smell (and the lack of the word "no!") Lots of exciting things on the horizon. The trick is enjoying it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Artful Day

My house is a mess but I had an amazing Saturday making art. My dear friend, Miss Maggie (back from a 5 week holiday) came over and we spent the entire afternoon in the studio. Since neither of us had finished our Organic Background projects from our class with Paulette Insall last May, we decided to tackle the daunting task. We both loved the class but with each layer, we became less pleased with our projects. I imagine part of the problem was that, compared to Paulette's example piece, ours were a lot more "chaotic". Anyhow, on the last lesson we were supposed to add a focal point but neither of us could commit to an image so our paintings sat in the studio all summer - half naked.

Yesterday, we decided to shed our expectations and inhibitions and just do whatever we felt like doing while catching up on the details of summer. It was really wonderful! By the end of the day we had all 3 kids in the studio with us. They were painting clay beads we had made a few months earlier while Maggie and I transformed our pieces into something we could connect with.

I found a captivating picture of Yosemite in a 1936 Sunset magazine that I cut out and adhered to the right side with matte medium. I found another picture in a 1952 issue of National Geographic that I adhered to the left. I connected the two with acrylic paint and pen I covered the pink and green base I had created in the class with layers of blue, white, pink and purple, using the spray bottle technique with each layer to achieve some dimension and movement. I left the clouds make from sheet music alone since they worked with my over all design. I then found an old image of a small plane and a horse which I adhered with matte gel. I added photos of my family to give the collage life. Maggie was embossing right next to me and some of the opalescent embossing powder floated onto my picture. This was the perfect finishing touch. The end result was NOTHING like I expected nor what we learned in class, but I connected with the piece which is what I feel an artist needs to do to feel really satisfied with their work. Just my humble opinion.

Later in the evening, I finished my UGRA meet-up invites using the papers I made the night before. I covered postcard sized junk mail with several coats of gesso on each size. while they were drying, I cut the pages I had made the evening before into 3 x 2 squares. I adhered four squares to each post card then stamped and embossed UGRA across the front. I love the urban edge of these.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Background Technique

I'm hostessing an UGRA gathering in September. I'll be leading a project for some really amazing artist, so I've been working on the invitations to start things off right. Last night I pulled out some watercolor paper and started playing
I combined a number of techniques to achieve the final look. The first was a background technique I stumbled onto at Technique Tuesday:
Materials List:
  • Canvas, or Watercolor Paper
  • White Gesso
  • 3 Acrylic Paint Colors
  • Paint Tray or Wells
  • Spray Bottle w/Water
  • 2” Bristle Brush
  • Assorted Script and/or Design Rubber Stamps
  • Heat Gun (Optional)
  • Water down the acrylic paints: approx. 1 part paint, to 3 parts water.
  • Set your darkest paint color aside, do not use it until step 4.
(Note: I use inexpensive acrylic craft paints that have been watered down to about 1 part paint to 3 parts water. Once I have nearly empty bottles, I just add water to the bottle and shake it up. If you're starting with a fresh bottle and there is obviously no room for water, use a watercolor pan and put a pea sized blob of paint in a paint well and then add water. For those of you who are thrifty...this makes a bottle of paint last a LONG time!!)

Let’s Play!:
  1. Give your canvas a generous coat of white gesso. Allow to dry. (Note: I speed dry this with my heat gun or a hairdryer)
  2. Give the canvas (or paper) a wash with a single color of paint. (Note: I start with a wash of yellow because it is a light- you should start with the lightest color in your palette and work towards the darkest). Allow to dry.
  3. Brush a second color of paint around the edges of the canvas. Do not cover the entire canvas, leave some of the base color peeking through. Allow to dry. (Note: Cheap brushes are great for this because they give texture to the thinned paint)
  4. Apply a thin layer of your darkest color over the entire canvas. DO NOT DRY THIS!!! Using the water bottle, spritz over portions of your canvas. Let the water sit for a few minutes, then blot off the excess paint.
  5. Brush your favorite rubber stamps with a layer of gesso and randomly stamp it on the canvas. Allow to dry.
  6. Choose one of your 3 paint colors, and brush a light wash of it over your stamping. (Note: If you’d like the stamping to stand out more, then skip this step and leave it white.)

Paulette Install also taught this method in her Organic Backgrounds class with some variation. The effect is really unique. After I did steps 1 thru 4, I played with some more paint. I added additional layers of color and repeated step 4 over and over again. Once I worked my background to the pattern and colors I wanted, I stamped with gesso but I did it differently with each piece.

On one , I stamped an angel image all over the page and after a few moments, wiped the images to give them a ghostly look. Then I did step six. This was my husbands favorite piece.

On another, I stamped a paisley image all over the page and let it dry. Then I cut up bits of fibers and sprinkled them around the page. I melted white candle wax and dripped it on top of the fibers to adhere them. I dripped additional puddles of wax and sprinkled lime glitter over them. I love the texture!
With the 3rd page, I used the paisley stamp again but I poured a glitter embossing powder on top and then hit it with the heat gun. I LOVE this page - the glitter plays off the assorted colors and gives the page a lot of movement. (photo at the top of the page)

These are the paper towels I used to blot the excess paint after spritzing. Aren't they pretty? I use Viva which are super strong. I will try to think of some way to use these in some other project.

I will be cutting these pages into squares and mounting them onto recycled junk mail for the UGRA invites. I'll post the finished card when it is done!

I've finished a few UGRA projects lately. Here are some pics of the overall project, some of the other artist's and my contributions.

This project is entitled "It's my story and I'm sticking with it" - each person creates a mini album with their story and a visual depiction to follow.

The pieces above and below were the work of a very talented artist in UGRA. She is amazing!

The pics below are of my entry...

The project below is a garden themed explosion book. It was such a FUN project to work on because I've seen the recipients garden and it is truly an oasis.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recipe for Turp Paper

A fellow UGRA-ite sent out some information on Turp paper today. I had to google it to found out what the fuss was about. I stumbled onto Sally Turlington's blog and was enchanted. Wow - this is a pretty amazing technique. I'll be heading over to whole foods later today to pick up some Citrasolv and will post my pictures when I've tried my hand at this fascinating new technique. Take a look at some of Sally's work:

And here are a few page's by Jennifer Rowland:

A little about Turp Paper (written by Sally):

This technique is done using pages from National Geographic magazine and Citrasolv or turpentine. I recommend Citrasolve only because it has slightly less toxic fumes than turpentine. Both solvents work equally well. Citrasolv is a cleaner and degreaser that you can find in many grocery stores, especially whole food stores. It is a natural product that smells intensely strong of orange.

Here is Sally's process:
1. Work outdoors on a plastic drop cloth as the process is very messy and the fumes are quite toxic. Pour the Citrasolv or turpentine into a container.
2. Starting at the front of the National Geographic magazine and using a big paintbrush or sponge brush, paint a very generous amount of Citrasov or turpentine on both sides of the pages. The pages with lots of colored ink are the best.
3. Continue turning the pages and painting both sides of every page throughout the whole book. When you are done, the National Geographic will be very wet.
4. Let the wet book sit closed several hours but don’t let it start drying because the pages will stick together.
5. After a little while, start from the front of the book and peel apart the pages. If you like what you see, tear those pages out of the book. If not, close the pages again. Continue checking the pages every so often.
6. You can mash on the closed book or twist it slightly to help manipulate the mingling of inks. You might even add more turpentine or Citrasolv to some of the pages that seem too dry. (Sometimes the pages at the very front and back of the magazine don’t work well. Maybe there is a different kind of paper or ink on those pages.)
7. Also, great patterns can be made on the pages by blotting or swiping with a crumpled paper towel directly on the wet page or through a stencil or piece of punchinella (sequin waste). Or try drawing with a stylus or stamping with a rubber stamp or other item with a raised pattern. (Remember to rinse your stamp off right away afterwards.)
8. Eventually, you will tear out every page or spread, and let it dry completely. The longer you can let the pages cure outside after drying, the more the smell of the solvent will evaporate. My pages eventually lost all their odor. “The resultant paper is rich with color and has the look of a National Geographic page!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wow - what a ride!

The last six weeks have been incredible - I've had the pleasure of teaching my favorite activity to incredibly talented children, my in-laws came for a wonderful visit, I sold button blooms at the De Anza Flea (twice), Aidan attending 3 weeks of summer camp, I enjoyed the company of some of my local UGRA fellows at an amazing luncheon and I got some super quality time with my family. Here are a few photos showing the recent "Art" in my life...

This is an "Under the Sea" Project I did with the Pre-K kids. We painted fabric banners, decorated card stock fish, cut them out and glued them to the banner with pop dots to give the banner dimension.

I taught card making to the 1st - 2nd and the 3rd - 6th grade girls. Each girl (60+ students in all) received a class kit with the materials to make a dress card and a purse card. The templates for these cards are on my web site.

Sample cards with minimal embellishment.

The banner project was extraordinarily successful. I taught this to the 1st -2nd grade girls and I was astonished at the ingenuity. They painted and embellished their banners in ways I had not even thought of. They were fearless in their experimentation and their creative process was a truly beautiful thing to watch.

This is a paper bag book I did with the 3rd - 6th grade girls. They absolutely loved this project and their finished albums where darling!

Aye Carumba! The Ugra projects started piling up on my desk because I did not have much time to play while prepping for the classes.

This paper doll project started by Corvus was so fun to work on! My husband and I caught up on few Tivo'd Law and Order's after the kids went to bed one night while I worked on my doll. Tim said, "I'm getting the biggest kick out of watching you work on that doll. You are so happy! It's great!". It was true. My spirit dances when I drift into my creative space.

This is Corvus' doll. I just love the funky and edgy feel of hers!

This is the talented Sharla's doll who I had the pleasure of meeting in person a few weeks ago at the local UGRA's play date. Turns out we had met before in an entirely different context at an Autism Education Workshop where I was a vendor selling customized PECS boards and she was an Autism educator attendee. Life is full of connections if we open our eyes to them. I think her doll is wonderful with all of it's tiny details. I had a hard time committing to my final design because both of their dolls were so gorgeous!

My doll's face came from an Aug. 15, 1943 edition of life magazine. I adorned the coat with rhinestone buttons that match her broach and shoes. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the players create!
I also was very busy making button blooms for the July and August De Anza Flea Markets. They were SOOOOOOOOOO much fun and super validating! The July 5th flea market was pretty slow due to the holiday but nearly everyone who stopped at our booth left with a bloom.
I brought mostly arrangements for sale but learned that many of the customers would have liked to have purchased the blooms by the stem so they could put them in their own pots and vases.I shared a booth with my friend Linda who I met through Aidan's pre-school. She sold these fabulous kid activity kits at fantastic prices - Our booth was bursting with color!

For the August flea market I decided to diversify and created "Goodie Bags", "Card Kits" and "Collage It!' kits.
I thought the booth was even cuter for this flea market and I doubled my profits.
The highlight of the day was when Tim and Eva popped in to say hello and Tim told me how impressed and proud of me he was.

I wanted a couple of examples of things you could create with the goodie bags so I asked two fabulously gifted artists, Loretta and Bonnie (both from UGRA) to take bags and make something for me to display

This gorgeous wall hanging was created by Loretta,

and this beautiful mini album was created by Bonnie! I am so honored to know such talented individuals.

I also had the honor of technically assisting my dear, dear, dear friend, Nancy with a letter of interest for an exciting opportunity. It is an incredibly creative and humorous response to a job post I was so pleased to hear (but not surprised) they contacted her for an interview! You have to check it out - be sure to go to the bottom of the page where she shows before and after pictures - it is a crack up!

After this lengthy tidal wave of activity, my office was a complete disaster so last weekend I dedicated an entire day to getting organized and I am ready to get back to the business of creating.

When one room gets clean, another usually acquires the mess. Such is the case with my studio. It is ridiculously cluttered with the odds and ends leftover from the class kits, flea market and a number of unfinished projects which I WILL COMPLETE as soon as I get caught up with life.

While I did not have much time to work on "my art", I did try to dedicate a little time to my art journal each night before I fell asleep. Here are a few doodle pages I tinkered in with my prismacolor markers.

Other highlights of the last 6 weeks include swimming at the club, lots of Yoga, quality time with my family and a week long visit with Nana and Papa (Tim's parents) which was fantastic!

I had the pleasure of taking Suzanne (Nana) to 2 Yoga classes and the week following my mom joined me in a class! It was a very busy time and I will avoid that kind of over scheduling in the future but I have to say that I am so very blessed to have such a full life filled with so many gifts and loved ones.