Thursday, February 28

Life Book Week 9: Be Happy

"Be Happy" - Mixed Media, 9x12"

I cannot believe that it has been nine weeks of Life Book already!! I only have two assignments that I'm not 'up to date' with, but those are just waiting for the proper inspiration to proceed. I have learnt so many new, amazing techniques already and I cannot wait to apply them to my art work (some I already have!), and to practice and make them better and work perfect for me. I very much enjoy seeing everyone else's take on certain exercises and techniques.

This week was a very fun one, and I think it turned out quite well. As always, what I "did" is a secret ;) With my very neutral background of black and white (with touch of blue edging on the end), I wanted my girl to be vibrant - I was listening to Katy why not blue hair? And, if you have not already noticed the trend - I like my paintings of girls to have rosy cheeks. I think it makes them look 'vibrant in life' - flushed from having so much fun...and I've always had rosy, rosy cheeks - so I like translating that into my artwork. It links it to myself just that little bit more.

Materials used: magazine clipping, stamps, black ink, neocolour II crayons, gesso, FC Pitt big brush pens, aquamarkers, inktense pencils, watercolour paper.

Monday, February 25

DIY Stencil Tutorial

It is so much fun to use stencils in mixed media. Often they can create a sense of rhythm in a piece with their repeating patterns, add texture, and just add a soft extra layer of interest. They are definitely addictive to use!  Since I don't live near art supply stores who sell them, lately I have taken to making my own. It's super easy, it allows me to create the perfect stencil for my art. First I create and bring up a pattern in photoshop. You could just draw it out as well, but this particular pattern is a little more on the geometric side, and a little less on the flowing side, so I want my lines to be more perfect. 

Once I'm happy, I print out my paper on heavy cardstock. 

Now the time consuming part comes in. I grab my xacto blade - and it is a lot easier if your blade is sharp. Mine wasn't so much - it's years old, so this task was a little more tedious than it needed to be :)

One by one, I cut out the sections. One important fact to remember about making stencils is that all your remaining parts have to be connected in some way - or else they won't hold together as a stencil.

Annnddd...all done!

I do a quick spray with my mists to be sure it turns out as I want on some paper scraps. I like it, so the last step is to "enforce" the stencil.

Applying a coat of gel medium, or even some acrylic paint will make your stencil withstand the 'abuse' it is going to get when you start using it. It is made of cardstock, so repeated exposures to water will just end up with a worn and torn stencil...and after all that time cutting it, you want to make it last a little bit longer than that. A coating of gel medium (heavy, soft - any sort will work!) will allow it to have a longer life. It might not last as long as a purchased plastic stencil, but it will last way longer than a non-protected stencil.

Here's another one I made, a chevron print stencil. I'm saving the zig-zag strips for misting, and for my gelli plate as well! And here is that particular stencil in action:

I hope you all enjoy some stencil making!! xo!

Friday, February 22

Mini Cactus

I purchased a little mini cactus that I saw in the store last week. When I saw it I immediately thought of all the cacti that my grandmother always kept as I was growing up. At her old farm house, she has a little 'nook' that had tons of plants growing, and there was a fair number of cacti. 

Thursday, February 21

Life Book Week 8

This week for my Life Book online mixed media art course, Jane Davenport was teaching the lesson. I love, love her work and I have been waiting for this lesson since I had signed up - and I think in the near future I will be signing up for some of her offerings as well! She taught a beautiful lesson called "unstumpification", and I'm afraid that is all I can say. 

I used modelling paste around the head of the girl, it almost gives her a 'mane' like a lion, and nothing is braver than a lion ;)

I struggled a bit on the hands - hands have always been an issue for me, and usually I find a 'work around', but the placement of the hands in this piece drew extra attention to them - and I wanted my girl to look ready to seize the day and have her arms up in a carefree way. With so much detail to her face and body, I knew I had to pay the same amount to her hands....and this exercise is all about braveness! So, after some 'fiddling' with my drawing, I got the hands looking reasonable. The shading after definitely helped to define them a lot more too.

Wednesday, February 20

Mixed Media Original: Bunny Love

"Bunny Love" - Original Mixed Media Painting on 10x12" stretched canvas.
Available for sale.
I had this sketch of a painting that I made this past week, and with a couple days off this week (after a weekend of night shifts), I used that sketch to create some dimensional art. I had most of the elements planned out, but after actually applying layers and colours things got changed around a little bit - which is okay. It's all part of the process, and with a sketch it's nice to see how my art is developed from the initial idea to the final product. 

This is the initial layer of everything below. I did collaged pattern paper and washi tape as a base, and then created my own stencil of a bunny to be able to precisely apply modelling paste to create a dimensional rabbit. This allowed me to get harder edges around the rabbit, and to not get modelling paste everywhere else. I placed the stencil I made form a drawing, and the used a palette knife to apply the modelling paste, and then lifted the stencil. Next, I used a damp brush to "smooth" things down, and fit any areas of concern (this got rid of the "granular" texture of the paste, but kept the 'uneveness' and some ridges that I like). I also used the damp brush to shape the ears more, and make eyes and a nose. I use a damp / wet brush because the modelling paste won't stick to this, and I can move the paste around without "picking any up" from the brush.   You know the brush isn't damp enough if you are picking up paste with it. I applied my first layers of paint. 

Here the paint is quite developed. I added colours, lifted colours and really just tried to build up my rabbit with layers of colour as well. I used some 3d paint to add "dots" along some of the edges. I add some journalling (a first for me, usually I don't include 'personal writing'...but the way this is incorporated, no one will know but me what it all really said in the beginning :)

I keep repeating the process of adding colours, and lifting colours. I want some of the original patterned paper to show though in the sky and in the grass regions. I work on the rabbit more, adding a heart and building up more layers of paint. I use a stamp that I made myself, specifically for this painting, to add texture. I also add some flowers. I add a layer of very watered down burnt sienna, mixed with some glazing medium to tone down the colours a little bit (and allow the rabbit to stand out more).

I stencil a white chevron print in the sky (I love chevron, and made the stencil for this painting). And continue to add details, and finally add the lettering. 

After a final coat of gel medium, and then acrylic varnish, the painting is complete! 

You can purchase this painting, "Bunny Love" at my online shop. :)

Materials: canvas, patterned paper, washi tape, modelling paste, acrylic paints, vellum stickers, coffee filters, sharpie pen, rubbing alcohol, homemade stencil, homemade stamp, homemade spray mists, lettering stickers, paper ruffles, 3d paint, word stickers, faber-castel artist pens, archival ink, rub-ons, gold paint, dress pattern paper, dollie cardstock, 

Tuesday, February 19

DIY: Spray Mist Ink Tutorial

 For the online course I am taking, one of the assignments called for spray mists or inks. The use of them in the assignment was pretty critical (I could complete it without them, but it just wouldn't be the same process at all). And, they are awesome for mixed media art in general. Since I don't live near a craft store that supplies them, and I'm too 'antsy' to purchase some and wait for them in the mail, I thought I would make some! There are many spray ink / mist tutorials online, and they are all a little different and call for multiple items. As everyone knows, all recipes (art or otherwise) often work for some and not for others, and so we all have to tweak a little to get what we want. 

All four of my inks above have been created in a sort-of-different way. I started with the same base for all of them: 50/50 water / alcohol (the 70% rubbing alcohol). I have been working with rubbing alcohol in my art for about a year now, and I like that it dries super quick. And I like how often it will dry with a crisp edge if it was quite a pool of alcohol. What I didn't like, is that it does have the ability to take away the layers below - which can be used in a positive way for subtraction techniques that I have applied to other art - but for the purpose that I want these sprays to be used I don't want that so much. I also wasn't a huge fan of the smell of rubbing alcohol. So I diluted with water - to lessen the lifting effect and the smell. 50/50 is a very vague eye-guesstimate. By no means did I perfectly measure everything. I just used dollar store mini spray bottles too...nothing fancy.

The colours are all created as follows. Please note, that the amount of colour that I added is based on how 'strong' you want your colour. Since there is not measurement for the liquids, this is another guesstimate: add some colour until you think it's good then spray: if too light = add more colour. If too stong = add more water / alcohol.

For the pink-purple: I used a heavy body golden paint (Yes yes, I know they say don't and that it will clog it). But here's what I did: on a plate, I took my paint, and took some of the alcohol / water mix, and used a brush to dilute and smooth out everything into almost a light cream texture. Yes, it may settle. But, there are no "clumps" of paint. If you just added the paint to the mix and shook the bottle, then you might have some clumps. I also added a tiny bit of acrylic shimmer medium to create a shimmer mist. So far, I have had no clogging problems with the heavy body paint (I don't know if it's the alcohol or the fact that I thinned it out before hand).

For the yellow: I used yellow acrylic ink, and a light yellow acrylic soft body paint. I didn't have to pre-dilute any, and just added and shook. 

For the green / teal: I used green and blue acrylic ink. Add and shake. You have to add quite a bit to get a bold colour. 

For the blue: I used soft body paint and ink, with tiny bit of heavy body. 

A helpful note while creating these spray mists: have a piece of heavy paper (I used watercolour paper), and stencils on hand to spray and test the inks, and see how well they work with the stencils. 

And, a very important note: since these inks were made with acrylic "ingredients" - they are not water-soluble like most of the inks out there. Meaning, you can paint over them and everything and they will not smudge!!! Happy dance!!!

Monday, February 18

February Freebie

Last week was quite busy, and I wasn't able to properly wish all you lovelies a Happy Valentine's Day! To celebrate, I've created this little birdie based on one of my sketches to download and use in your scrap-booking projects, Project Life, your Smash* books, your desktop and just to have and enjoy, print and share. To save her to your computer, Right Click on the image, and then click "Open in New Window". This will open the high-resolution copy of this bird. Then you can Right click, again, and click on "Save Image As...". For mac users, this might be a little different.

Just some fine print, you may use it to your hearts content in personal work, but it is not to be distributed for sale, or used in items distributed for sale. You may share this link to share it with others - Share some Love :)

Friday, February 15

Soaking Up The Winter Sunshine

Oreo has been taking advantage of all the sunshine this week after all the snow storming the past couple weeks. It's pretty cute, this is sunlight coming from the window in our front door, and as the sun moves and projects light in different spots on the carpet, he rolls and moves with it. Our own personal feline sundial, hehe.

Thursday, February 14

My Creative Space: Lifebook Progress

Here is a progress picture of my Week 5 for my online Lifebook class. This particular project is taking a longer time, there is more to it, and I have been mulling over many, many aspects of it. But there is where it stands now. 

I really love how there are so many delicate layers of colours over my initially collaged pieces. You really see all the details once you look closer.

I love how the map peeks through, and the colours in the map work wonderfully with the over all scheme.

So far I have used: map pieces, dress pattern pieces, collaged papers, acrylic paint and ink, stencilling and aquamarkers.

Wednesday, February 13

Inside My Sketchbook

Just a peek inside my sketchbook. The great thing about sketchbooks is that nothing in there is 'set-in-stone'. It's a place to experiment, explore and often revisit.  Sometimes I'll go back pages and doodle and sketch in areas that are white on pages that were just 'experiments' or over things I've already done...for example, the landscape I made above with some new markers provided the perfect space to draw an owl of the professor variety :)

Above is a page from one of the online courses that I'm taking, a sort of warm up / exercise to get the creative brain rolling, or to try and get yourself out of a creative rut. I enjoyed it a lot, and made it my own by adding additional doodle later on :)

And be sure to check out my contest for a free art print in my previous blog post!

Tuesday, February 12

Seven Spectacular Years!

Today marks my seventh year anniversary selling on Etsy, and creating my colourful watercolour trees. I know! Seven years! It's hard to believe myself that I have been creating and collecting those trees and designs for that long. I remember when I started,  Etsy was a baby! I never thought, seven years ago, that I would still be creating and sharing my artwork with everyone. And I have everyone to thanks! So...

...To celebrate this wonderful event, I am having a giveaway! Leave a comment below, and you will be entered to win an art print of your choice. You can choose any from my online store. This contest is open to everyone! I will post the winners next Tuesday using the random number generator, so you have until then to enter! :) If you are not signed in to leave a comment, no problem - but please leave some way of contacting you if you win - or at least a first name and last initial :)

And here's the winner!!

Congratulations amalasyura!! I will be contacting you for your print choice and shipping information! :) 

Thank you to everyone who entered and to all your continuing support! :)

Monday, February 11

Cardinal Watercolor

I left you with the above picture last week, and today I give you another update:

It's almost done. There are just the details left, and I've been mulling over how I want to go about them: dark outlines? White outlines? Both? Neither? ..... as you can tell I have much to think about still. 

Friday, February 8

Oreo's New Sleeping Spot

Turns out Oreo has a new sleeping / hiding spot. I caught him the other day in the dryer cuddled into all the newly clean laundry. I guess we're going to have to be extra careful to close the dryer door again after opening it to take something out. :)

Thursday, February 7

Life Update

Cardinal watercolour I'm working on
Life has been picking up a lot since the beginning of January, where I was able to slum around for a couple weeks after all the holiday rush. I was given a part-time contract at my work (as an x-ray technologist), until July. I have begun working at the main hospital site, and I am now on a full shift rotation, including night shifts. I didn't think I would like these that much at first, being used to only working days. But after working a week of them, I don't mind at all. My most productive time during the day, is during the day. So, I was getting so much more done before work (11pm-7am shift), than I would typically get done after a day shift. In the end, it was so nice to wake up, sit with some coffee and work throughout the day on my art, watch a movie in the evening, and then go into work.

Since I'm working at the main hospital, I've had to take some courses in order to perform tasks special to this site that the other two hospital sites (where I still work) did not require. I completed and passed a course to administer IVs in patients who require them for our CT scans, and I have start two online courses: the 3rd component of the CT courses, and a course on contrast injection, also related to CT.

It has been snowing and blowing like crazy on and off (with an odd couple days of rain). Where I live has been holding up quite well to it's name, "The Snowbelt". Luckily, despite horrible drives to work (luckily the main hospital is a very, very short drive away - so another blessing), it also means it's officially snowboarding season. Trying to get up is hard - with work, and poor road conditions, but I have been on the hills twice with all this beauitful and fluffy snow (and a third time, after some rain where it was icy and not so nice).

I have been trying to remain creative despite all this, and the few days that I have been snowed in have definitly allowed me to do this. I am working steadily away at my Lifebook course, and numerous other online art courses have tempted me - but I just don't have the time to do these other courses along with this one, and still do artwork on my own. My mixed media art is starting to slowly morph into a style that I feel represents me, in a couple more months I hope it turns into a style that can be identified amoung all the different pieces. I am steadily working in my sketchbook, and painting away. I aquired another wedding invitation comission, and was given almost free liscence to design as I wish, so this had lead me down some different creative roads that I am exporing as I experiment with merging my watercolour art and digitial work together. I have a tendency to start art, and then leave it sitting for ages - so there is always something I can work on in my studio if I don't have a new and fresh idea.

In conclusion, let's just say...I won't be bored anytime soon :)

Tuesday, February 5

Pet Update: Vesuvius

I hadn't shared pictures of Vesuvius, my crown tail betta fish, in a long while and thought you should all have an update with him. :)

He is doing very well in his fishtank, which now has a lovely heater since the winter nights are chilly. His fins have grown out so nice and long, and he even developed some more teal shimmer on some of them. 

He loves to come up for food, and follow your finger...but once I pick up a camera he goes and tries to hide. I guess he has turned a little camera shy in the past few months. Which, in turn, makes it very difficult for me to share nice picture. I'll be all focused, and then he will dart away. 

Vesuvius will just be over 6 months old now. I will have to try and get better photos of him one day during his feeding time...maybe I can trick the camera on him :)