Monday, November 1, 2010

a fresh start

fall is always a time of introspection for me. the one festival i do every year is in mid-september. once it is done, i always feel a little lost. i spend the summers working hard to create the art i sell in my booth, and after it is done, i always spend a lot of time recharging and thinking about what direction i will go in the coming months. one of the things i decided this year is that this blog is important to me. i know it has been quite a while (over a year, in fact!) since i've written, and i have resolved to be a better blogger. i have lots of ideas for things to write about, but sometimes i need a little push, so i decided to sign up for a blogging workshop for the month of november at Sunday Afternoon Housewife. i think that daily prompts might be just what i need to make this blog a daily habit instead of an afterthought!

today's prompt involved looking at other artsy crafty blogs and deciding what i like or didn't like about them. i looked at a few new ones with my morning coffee and i am getting a bit of an idea of what i'd like my blog to be. i would like to talk about a couple of blogs that i really enjoy.

first, i'd like to talk about my favorite art blog. ebeckartist is written by my friend elizabeth. we met years ago online, as we are both mothers of twins. in fact, we were both members of an email loop, with a bunch of other mothers of twins. caring for twin babies is about as difficult as it sounds, and no one gets that as much as another mother of twins. this group was very important to my sanity during my childrens' early childhood. i love elizabeth's blog. it is a fun mix of art, family, and inspiration. i love reading about her life, seeing the art she is doing, and i love her wit. reading her blog inspires me to get in the studio and create! i highly recommend it :)

one of the assignments for today's prompt was to look at several new (to me) art blogs. i looked at a few random ones and then decided to look up the blogs of several specific artists whose art i admired or had some sort of connection to. i recently participated in an art card swap for cloth paper scissors magazine. contributors to the magazine were asked to send in a winter/holiday themed art card for their special "gifts" issue. (i wrote my first article for the magazine this year, which appeared in the july/august issue). those cards appear in an excellent article about turning art cards into greeting cards. i recieved my card in the mail last week! it was created by artist leilani pierson, whose work and articles i have admired for years, so i decided to look up her blog. Studio Gypsy is a lovely mix of photography, poetry, and, of course, art! i will be adding it to my "to read" list for sure!

i am really looking forward to developing my blog further! writing has always been a passion of mine, before i ever even considered being an artist, and i am very excited to explore combining my two loves!

Monday, October 5, 2009

HGTV glitch

Due to last minute scheduling changes, the episode of HGTV's "That's Clever" that I will appear in will not be airing on October 8. It won't be any time during October or November, I was told to check with them late in November to see if it has been rescheduled. I handed out an awful lot of postcards at the Cooper Young Festival a few weeks ago, I am sorry if you tried to watch it and it wasn't there! As soon as I find out when the show will be airing, I will definitely post the date! Thanks!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

yay me!

I know I was going to make the next six posts about my little panel paintings, but I haven't finished the rest of them and right now I've moved on to medium and large paintings for the upcoming festival, so I will have to get back to those later.

I just wanted to take a minute to do a post on my recent accomplishment. I entered a piece in the Cloth Paper Scissors magazine 2010 calendar contest in February. In May, I found that my entry had been chosen to be in the calendar! Well, a couple of weeks ago, the calendars came in! It is absolutely beautiful!

I feel very honored and proud to be a part of this calendar. It is the first time I have ever submitted anything to an art magazine and to be chosen as one of the thirteen artists whose work appears in the calendar makes me so happy. If you want to purchase a copy, the calandar's cover links to the magazine's shop, where you can purchase it. The other pic is a detail shot of my piece from the magazine's blog, it links to the post it appeared in.

The theme of the calendar is "Life is Like a Box of...." and my piece is called "Life is like a Box of Wine Corks". It measures 12X12 and is an assemblage done inside an actual box. I had a lot of fun doing this piece, and it turned out to be very meaningful to me, many of the events depicted are from my life.

Also, Cloth Paper Scissors is a great magazine. Lots of great art and fun projects to do. I highly recommend it, it is my favorite magazine.

If anyone sees this calendar for sale anywhere, I would love to hear about it! I've checked every bookstore I have been to lately, as they are beginning to get the 2010 calendars, but I haven't spotted it anywhere!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Panel 3 - Experimenting With a New Surface

The piece I will talk about today is called "Mount Vesuvius". Earlier in the summer, I discovered a new writer, David Gibbins. His books are of the archaeology adventure variety (I love those types of books). My favorite of his books is set partially in Pompeii and Herculaneum, both of which were destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. This book has inspired several paintings, of which is this one.

This panel was one of the black gessoed ones. (see previous post) I had just finished the book (The Lost Tomb) and knew right away that I wanted to paint an erupting Vesuvius. I decided to use a crackle paste background. I had only ever used crackle paste on canvas, and when you use it on a flexible surface like canvas or paper, you have to cover it with medium after it has been painted or run the risk of some of the pieces popping off. On a rigid substrate like my little panels, it is supposed to be more stable. Once I spread the crackle paste on with an adhesive spreader from the hardware store, I took large foam letter stamps and stamped the Roman number for "79" (the year Vesuvius erupted) along the edge, creating a deep texture in the wet paste. After the crackle paste was dry, I painted it in layers with reds and oranges and other fiery colors, using watered down washes to emphasize the texture. Then I found a nice, clear photograph of Mount Vesuvius on the internet. I resized it to fit my painting, printed it out on cardstock and carefully cut Mount Vesuvius out of the picture, leaving a paper stencil of the profile of the volcano. I placed this on the painted background and carefully spread coarse molding paste over the paper,and right over the texture of the stamped numbers, then carefully lifted the paper, leaving a perfect Mount Vesuvius made of coarse molding paste. While the paste was dry but still soft, I scratched a hint of tiny houses between the volcano and the sea. Once the textured volcano was dry, I painted it with washes of various shades of brown and I painted the sea with washes of deep purple and blue. Then, once that was dry, I used a tiny bit of black on a dry brush to pick up the texture, and smudged it with a paper towel, to give everything the look of being covered in soot. Using a little more black paint, I filled in the smoke, and last I used a bit of crimson mixed with self leveling gel to add the glossy lava.

I felt like all of the different texture mediums I used worked well on the boards. I was able to leave the crackle paste uncoated and none of the pieces ever loosened while I was working on it, not even a little (unlike using it on canvas)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Panel 2 - Experimenting with a new surface

The title of the piece I will talk about today is "A Difficult Repair". The new shiny copper gear sits alone in the corner, trying to figure out exactly where he will fit in this complex collection of old rusty and bronze gears.

This panel was one of the black gessoed ones. (see previous post) I didn't have a clear idea of where I was going when I began this one, so I painted a wash of yellow paint over the black gesso and sprinkled four different types of salt over the wet paint. Once it was dry, i scrubbed all of the salt away and was left with a nicely speckled surface. The wet paint collects around the edges of the salt to create the speckles. I usually work on many paintings simultaneously, setting one aside to dry while i work on the next, because almost all of the art I do is done in layers. So, while I liked the speckled background, I wasn't really getting much inspiration for where to go next. After a couple of days of looking at it, I still wasn't getting anything, so I decided to cover it up. I had a piece of vintage dress pattern paper I had used to remove excess gesso on a piece a few days earlier. I do this a lot, instead of dabbing the excess paint off with paper towels, I will use a piece of found paper, which I then hang up to dry to use in another piece later. The random paint or gesso adds interest and texture and a delicious randomness that isn't possible to duplicate with a brush. Anyway, I glued this piece of gessoed tissue to the panel, letting wrinkles form wherever they wanted. The original texture is visible in a couple of places where there is no gesso. Once this layer was dry, I decided the piece was a little bright for my tastes so I painted a glaze of burnt umber light and GAC 100 medium over the whole thing. The paint collected around the wrinkles and gave the piece a wonderfully aged feel.

After the background was done, I searched through my found objects and came up blank. I didn't have enough of anything flat enough to glue down to fill the piece, and I really wanted to use gears. (I love gears!) I remembered buying a package of die-cut chipboard gears at our local paper arts store, Eclectica. I searched these down (I am really disorganized) and decided I wanted to rust them. The metal paints I use are fairly unpredictable, and a lot of times the absorbancy of the surface affects how the paint responds, so i took my selection of gears and prepared them all in different ways. One group I gessoed with black gesso, one group I sealed with matte medium, and one group I left unsealed. I painted them all with iron paint, and once that was dry, the rusting solution. The all rusted beautifully, but I don't really think all my prep work sealing them made much of a difference in this case. I took a few more gears and painted them with blackened bronze paint. Last, i took one lone gear and covered it with fine garnet gel to give it a little texture. Once that was dry, I copper-leafed it and the texture showed up beautifully under the copper.

I arranged the gears on the panel until I had them the way I wanted. I had layered them in three levels, so I took off the top two layers and glued the bottom layer of gears on with craft glue. Normally I glue everything on with gel medium, but it was so much easier to use the craft glue than a brush because it is very important not to get the gel on the rusted surface, it changes the appearance pretty dramatically. Once that layer was glued on, I weighted it with a heavy book and left it to dry. I repeated this step with the second and third layers of gears and it was done!

I could have done this piece on stretched canvas, but I found it was easier to glue the thick chipboard to a flat panel rather than the giving surface of canvas. It was also easier to weight down durning drying.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Experimenting with a new surface

Most of the art I do is on stretched canvas. I love the look of thick gallery wrapped canvases, they look kind of like boxes hanging on the wall. A few weeks ago, I realized my supply of smaller canvases was dwindling rapidly. This is the time of the year I am working on art for my booth at the Cooper Young Festival, and I always try to do lots of small, affordable pieces for people looking for gifts or a nice memento of their day. I am trying to cut costs, so I started looking around my studio for alternatives to canvas. I was seriously considering doing a few pieces on watercolor paper, but I really didn't want to do that, because then you get into issues like frames and packaging. You can't just plop a stack of pieces on paper on a table, they have to be packaged. Mats, cellophane, things like that. I like to keep that end of things pretty simple.
While I was digging through shelves and cabinets (looking for something, but I didn't really know what) I ran across a big stack of Masonite rectangles. My husband brought these home for me from work. They were dismantling a shelving unit and they used these 4.25 inch X 9.75 inch rectangles for shelf dividers. At the time, I didn't really know what I would do with them but, of course, I can't throw anything out. Now I wish I had taken the dozens and dozens he ended up throwing away instead of 20-30 I kept.
I took six of them and sanded them lightly. I thought 6 would be a nice number to try out a variety of techniques and see how they worked out without expending a TON of energy. They take a bit of prep work and I didn't want to spend a big chunk of my art time on prep. After a light sanding, I painted each board, front, back and sides, with gesso. Three with white gesso, three with black. Then I sanded them and used another coat of gesso on the front, and sanded them again. Then they were ready to paint on!

My next few posts, I will talk about these six pieces. I will start now with my favorite of the pieces, called "What Could Go Wrong?" I bought a few hot air balloon collage sheets from an awesome shop on etsy, Paper Street Digital Collage Sheets, and there was a picture of a little guy in a balloon basket that I absolutely loved. I printed him out on heavy cardstock and found a balloon for him. I layered thick coats of very textured paint with thin watery coats of gesso, sanding after each coat of gesso. The result was an extremely smooth surface to glue my papers to with the appearance of complex texture. After the painting was done, the papers glued, the edges trimmed, and the sides painted, I propped it up and lived with it for a few days. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to attach the balloon to the basket with. I had always used India ink to draw them in on balloon pieces I've done in the past, but i haven't always been entirely happy with the results. Finally I settled on wire. I have been doing a bit of experimentation with wire and jewelry for fun, and I thought this would be a good way to include it in my art. I took two small pieces of tin copper wire, created secure loops at either end, then hammered them flat. I used carpet tacks (I love their irregular tiny black heads!) through the loops, pounded right into the Masonite, to attach the wires.

This piece made me a fan of panels. I love having a silky smooth surface to work on and I was able to use attachment options not really possible with stretched canvas. The panels can be framed or a sawtooth hanger glued to the back.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

best laid plans

one of my new years resolutions was to blog more regularly. here it is, feb. 7, and i am doing my first post of the new year. ah, well, better late than never!

christmas was really busy for me. i decided a couple of weeks before christmas that i was going to make gifts for most of my family. i did seven (!) medium sized canvases in the last two weeks before christmas. i finished five of them on christmas eve, which is the day they were given. with all that was going on, i didn't photograph them first, so photos will have to wait until i make it over to my sisters' houses and my moms house with my camera!

one thing i decided i HAD to do was make something for my children. they each have a couple of my paintings, but i had never made one specifically for them, which is crazy because they are my biggest fans. so, i made them each a 12 X12, completely taylored to them, to give to them on the winter solstice (that is when our family exchanges gifts and have since they were born)

my daughter is owl obsessed. she has half a dozen owl shirts, a couple of owl bags, books about owls, owl figurines, owl notebooks, owl converse all stars, if it has an owl on it, she has to have it. so i made her an owl collage. i don't usually do "cute" but i had a lot of fun making this one. i have tons of bright printed art papers from collage packs i bought for the more muted papers. i mean TONS. i thought that it would be perfect for chessie's owls AND it would use LOTS of it up.

So, i spent a couple of days drawing and cutting and edging each little piece with black, then glueing everything down. It turned out really well, and my daughter LOVED it. she especially liked the fact that each owl was looking a different direction.

when i was making this, i cut out three too many owls, so i made a little set which will be posted on etsy pretty soon.

a few days before i started on these projects, tony had some time to kill and went in a thrift store to look around. he didn't find much, but he ran across a big box of antique player piano rolls. he bought a couple and when he brought them home for me, i made him go back and get the whole box because i love them so much. they are each in a box and the spindles they are on are awesome. the paper itself is all yellowed and crumbly and the lyrics to the song are printed along the left hand side in a kind of ghostly faded green, and the ones that have dates on them date to the early 1900's. my son was fascinated. he spent about an hour carefully looking at each one, so i told him to pick one out. he loves old stuff, just like me. so when it came time to make his gift, i used some of my favorite old treasures, and i just HAD to use some of the player piano paper since he liked it so much. he is a great piano player, so the theme fit perfectly. here is the final piece, which is just full of old things!

i have to say, i was pleased with the end result, and it made me really happy to see my eleven year olds so excited to get a painting from me, made just for them.

every year i say i'm not going to stress myself out by making gifts. and every year, i do just that. but when my family and friends open the gifts that i make, it is their reaction that makes it worth it for me.