Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Traci Bunker's 30 Days of Get Your Art On

I just decided to jump into Traci Bunker's "30 Days of Get Your Art On" challenge. To see more about this challenge, that starts September 1st, please click on Traci's button on this blog. Traci is a multi-media and fiber artist who has written two books that I love: Print and Stamp Lab and The Art Journal Workshop. I've been neglecting my blogs (one about artist cards and this one) but I am going to to get back to it with Traci's 30 day as impetus. So, what are you waiting for...get your art on along with me!
30 Days of Get Your Art On

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Emotional Weather Journal Cover

Emotional Weather Journal Cover

9"X12" watercolor paper, map, cloud drawing, cloud stamp, Sharpie pen,
clear embossing powder, acrylic paint, Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils.
Journal stamp ( Stamper's Anonymous).  Laminated for journal cover.

The first in a recent series of busy images.  Once you start stamping with that little cloud stamp...oh well.  In person this page is really sparkly with embossing and metallic markers.  Got a stack of 300 pound watercolor paper (Strathmore's "classroom pack") and had the above journal cover, watercolor stack and cardboard back (came with stack) bound with a spiral binding at Kinkos.  Just 5.00 including the lamination. I far prefer (at this point, anyway) a spiral binding so the journal easily lies flat.  Cool to easily make my own journal with my choice of cover and paper.    

The Wild Journey

The Wild Journey

Golden acrylic paint and soft gel medium, hand prints, EK Success rub-on letters,
metallic markers, Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils

The power of art making, collage layering and journaling moves me once again.  As it often happens this page was an accident.  I had left over blue acrylic paint on my pallet, so I painted this page.  I had the impulse to make hand prints in the paint, so I did.  I later added a torn paper border and used soft gel medium to preserve the hand prints (I just dabbed the medium onto the white created by my hands).  I added rub-on stickers I happened to pick up at Big Lots.  A travel theme.  The statement "Born to Explore the road less traveled, the wild Journey of a lifetime, far away from home" happened, seemly, by accident as well.  But when I read it I recognized my life as a wanderer and artist.  Tears were shed.  

Somehow, being "born to" explore and journey gives me a warm feeling.  One can embrace one's destiny, once realized, as opposed to feeling anxious about not living a "normal" life (whatever that is).  I like that the right hand (connected to the left, logical hemisphere) has the compass that is labeled in a familiar way.  The left hand (connected to the right, intuitive hemisphere) has an unlabeled compass--since the right brain connects to symbols, not words.

Divine Dictation

Divine Dictation

9" X 12" watercolor paper, altered photo, angel stamp (Stamper's Anonymous),
 curly border stamp (Stampabilities), Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils.

I was reading that terrific book, "The Creative Edge", by Mary Todd Beam, and thinking about the artist's responsibility to make visible the invisible, so to speak.  I've been thinking about the role of the artist for some time.  Years ago, in art school studying Oriental Art History, I ran across the idea that, in ancient times in Japan, the artist's task was to bring the beauty of nature to those absorbed in more mundane work.  I still believe in that purpose of art and art making.  Now I am looking at other artist's tasks.  

Connecting to the "Great Creative" (Julia Cameron's description) happens automatically when engaged in the creative process.  In creating art that connects to spirit (however you see him, her, or it) artists bring forth messages from the unseen realms. These messages, I think, nurture not only the artist but others who have the chance to view such art.  I don't think it matters if the artist or the viewer consciously understands what the work "means".  There is a message passed from the symbolic aspect of the artwork to the symbolic realm within the viewer as well as the artist.  I like the idea of the artist being a conduit, of sorts.  I feel humbled to be able to occasionally take "divine dictation".

Joseph Campbell said it more eloquently:

"Their task (creative artists), therefore, is to communicate directly from one inward world to another, in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered: not a mere statement for the information or persuasion of the brain, but an effective communication across the void of space and time from one center of consciousness to another".

Friday, May 20, 2011

Step 8: Dear S.

Step 8: Dear S.
K & Company scrapbook paper "Life's Journey".
  Collaged photographs, stamps and printer copies
of clips from calendars and scrapbook paper.

My friend S. had been there for me for eight years.  We met when our sons were both in 2nd grade.  They became best friends, and so did we.  She has made art with me, read tarot cards, attended meditation sessions, helped me move quite a number of times, painted apartments, taken me to and from car repair shops and in general watched me struggle as an artist and single mom.   She had been family to me.

We share these things: creative drive (I am an artist, she a writer), the desire for meaningful work, a raised Christan, now Buddhist, philosophical perspective, mama bear protection of our GT sons, a wish to improve the world through teaching, and the choice to move far away from the place we grew up, each by ourselves many years ago, to make a life and remake ourselves in Colorado.

We certainly went through a period in our friendship when the ice began to get thin.  Maybe the 8th move?  The 5th request for car assistance? Not sure, but the emails got briefer and the meetings for coffee less frequent (she often has to buy).  So now we are in a pattern of closeness alternating with distance.  She tells me life has taught her patience.  She means her sons, and also me.

Now she and I meet for coffee, when time allows, and I regale her with the funny and sometimes sad stories of my very own human circumstances.  She still mostly pays for coffee but I repay her in novel fodder.  It makes me laugh, and sometimes cry, think one of my claims to fame in this life is to appear as part of a composite character in the books written by my writer friends.
My ebb and flow in my friendship with S makes me look at my struggles with debt, under employment and over spending.  And just the starving artist cliche that I've unreeled as my life.  I've just started looking at this in terms of the 12 Step's 8th Step.  This is making amends to those who have been hurt by my struggles with dependence and Independence.
Recovery means telling the truth about how badly I've run my financial life.  Recovery means making amends to those I've hurt.  Recovery means being a better mom to my wonderful son.  Recovery could mean actually marketing and selling my artwork, getting a job that pays me what I deserve, spending more wisely, saving and paying my bills on time.   

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Art Journal Cover: "Time for Art"

"Time for Art" Journal Cover

Made this cover for my journal in my "Nourishing Your Creativity Through Visual Journaling" workshop, through the local free school, Colorado Free University.  I sanded and gessoed the "off the shelf" journal (Office Depot), using clear gesso.  I then added torn scrapbook paper (Tim Holtz and misc.) using Weldbond white glue which seems to keep it stuck down.  I embossed the clock with wings stamp and the words "Art" and "Journal".  Edges all sanded and inked--which helps to unify the finished piece.  I used a marker to add the hands to the top, center clock.  I realized that I unconsciously chose the time 3:00, which is the time that most school children get out of school for the day.  The time when you time becomes your own.  My time for art.

Today in my "Impressions of the Gardens" class at the Denver Botanic Gardens the 5 woman beginning that 6 week class talked about how art had been dropped out of their lives when jobs and other demands led them away from art making.  To me art is a food group--necessary to my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.  I love this class, as well, because truly seeing nature, in order to render it in a pleasing way with pencil and paint, is nourishing as well.

Collaborative Collage 2, Phase 2

Collaborative Collage 2, Phase 2

Mel started this one with a wonderful collection of vintage emphemera.  I sanded the heck out it, added "take notice" stamps, gauze stamp (Stampers Anonymous), cancelled stamp embossing (white), clock image, pussy willow bunch from an emphemera pack.  I slightly burned the map using a heat gun.  Liquid embossing (Plaid) on music notes (lower right) and pussy willow buds.  Next the collage goes to Lisa.  Sorry guys--I scanned the phase one in too small a size (I guess that's what happened) so it is too blurred to post here.  Great blocks of subtle color and pattern, suffice to say.  

Follow Your Art (Envelope)

Collaborative Collage Protective Envelope

I've been having so much fun altering envelopes for Artist Card swaps and the Collaborative Collages.  This one has torn paper, a bunch of stamped images along with embossing (halo around crow) and handwriting (I can't say "calligraphy" because my handwriting doesn't look finished to me).  I am going to make a stamp out of the phrase "Follow Your Art" because that so describes my artistic process.  As I said to a recent participant in my Visual Journaling workshop:  "You don't need to know what you are going to do next--the art will tell you".

Collaborative Collage: "Pop Love" Phases One - Four

"Pop Love" Phase One (above)

Newspaper/TV Guide clips and packing tape transfers (Katie picture and crossword puzzle); clips from scrapbook paper (Tim Holtz and misc.)

"Pop Love" Phase Two

Lisa added in Phase 2: "I used gel medium on the whole surface in a 'burnished texture' with my fingers, then I dry-brushed it with gesso for a foggy 'dream like' atmosphere, then I used a white gel pen on the butterfly/the word 'dream' and a few accents, and finally I dusted areas with a very fine, iridescent glitter (that reminded me of 'fairy dust')".

"Pop Love" Phase Three

Mel added a rose postage stamp, scalloped borders, accent to wings and filigree stickers.
Pop Love (Confection) Phase 4 (above)

There were only supposed to be three phases (this is my first collaborative collage) but I could not resist altering the collage further.  I sanded the edges and added red and white embossed stamped images.  It ended up very "busy" but somehow I like it.  I like all the layers and how they interact and the look that everything is covered with confectioner's sugar.  It is very shiny and rich.  I think the collage should now be called "Confection".  I'm sending it around again with the Collaborative Collage 2, in case anyone else wants to add and edit.
I must say that this kind of collaboration sure triggers my control issues. Everyone's vision and formula for "collage" is so different! Mel is into the vintage emphemera; I like an aged look and like to use rubber stamps, sanding and other distressing. Lisa seems sensitive to surface textures and theme.
I've just finished phase 2 of Collaborative Collage2 and am feeling a little anxious about sanding the heck out of a bunch of Mel's vintage emphemera. I'm noticing that I need to be more sensitive about contrast in my pieces and to having more variation in color value. But I am sending it off soonish.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Altered Book Collage, First Pages

Before I Die (left page)
Miles to Go (right page)

I lucked upon an over sized journal style book that was remaindered at Borders for just 4.99 (The Greatest Adventures of Indiana Jones).  These two pages are actually parts of the last two page spread at the end of the book.  So far the images that seem to reoccur are: flight/birds/keys/doors.  I like that the last page says "Miles to Fly" and "Doors yet to Open".  The first two pages say "Enjoy This Brief Journey".  I love the idea of an altered book/journal being a "Journey" and a "Door". 

I first gessoed all the pages and then did a wash of acrylic paint. I like the look of an old wall.  Then I added printed and clipped copies of images from books, magazines, online "news" and ad clips.  Also clips from maps and a crow stamp from and ranger ink.

The left page references and uses images from Candy Chang's "Before I die" project in New Orleans.  For this project Candy used chalk-board paint and stencils to create a place for people to write their statements about the things they want to do in life before they die. 

I teach my student to set goals in life in order to keep themselves motivated and more unstoppable, so Candy's project seems like a really positive and life changing installation.  She talks about taking a boarded up buildings and making it into an opportunity for positive personal reflection.  Every morning the chalk board is wiped clean so new people can write statements, or those that live in the neighborhood can write new statements.

I found out about this project through the Milliande Woman's Art Community at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Packing Tape Collage

Clear packing tape, newspaper
and magazine clips, acrylic paint, dymo tape.

"Still Life with Rain"
Clear packing tape, newspaper and magazine
clips, metallic marker, pattern tape.

I just made these two small collages--and it was such great fun!  The collage layers were created with layer upon layer of packing tape with transferred images from newspapers and magazines.  I started with images of swimmers from the Sunday paper because I loved the blue of the water and the swimmers extended arms and fingers.  All you can now see is one of the swimmers faces to the right side of "Still life with Rain". 

This is such a quick and fun process--just rub down the clear packing tape on images and textures you want, then run warm water on the back and rub off the paper.  The ink will adhere to the tape and, with the newspaper images the tape will stay sticky enough to just stick it to your support surface.

The second easy technique I used was simply using the clear packing tape to tape down torn pieces of newspaper and other clips.  Kind of great to work without liquid adhesives.  I do not recommend cats on the worktable, however, as the packing tape is eager to include any flying hair in the artwork.

The "Stay" collage was the second one, and, as you can see, it is looser and more playful.  It was such fun to just lay hands on scraps of text and color and use them for either transfers or for patches of color and texture taped on with the packing tape. I just love how shiny the finished product is and how the layers of tape themselves create interest and depth.  I was working playing card/artist card size but can't wait to try this out larger--maybe with larger sticky-back sheets.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Collaborative Collage: "Pop Love" Phase One

"Pop Love" Phase One
Packing tape transfer of images from the TV guide,
Valentine week. Tim Holtz scrapbook paper plus
unidentified Michael's scrapbook paper. Glue stick.

I am very excited to begin a Collaborative Collage process with my friends Lisa Kastello (Northern Illinois Art Educator and artist) and Mel Jones Bushner Kolstad (Wisconsin artist, crafter, creative blogger and teacher). I proposed the collaborative collage after Mel gave me the inspiration with a facebook link. Bought the illustration board, but then was not sure how to start. I often have a "too many ideas" problem and sometimes get overwhelmed. Easy Girl.

I had the TV guide from the Sunday paper lying on my craft table and was intrigued by an retro artsy picture of Katy Perry. I'm not usually a "pink" person but decided to start with a packing tape transfer of the image.
For those of you who haven't tried this technique--very fast and easy. Just choose an image or text (newspaper is great) and put clear packing tape over the part you want. Soak it in water, rub off the paper. The ink adheres to the tape, creating an interesting transparent and ghostly image.

I'm mailing the 8" x 10" collage to Lisa today and can't wait to see the next developments. In our round-robin the first person starts the collage and theme, the second person adds layers and their own style and the third person finishes the collage as only they can. Then the third person starts a new collage and sends it to the next person. I like that we get to take turns creating the beginning, middle and end of each collage.