Friday, October 31, 2008

Some Things I am Working On

Somehow October has gone by and I never made an October desktop; I used September's for two months. No wonder I never know what day it is! I have worked a little bit ahead of time this month - I have November's desktop done and I love it. Putting up a new desktop is almost as rewarding and refreshing as rearranging a room's furniture.

I am also finishing up some swaps that I am involved in - whimsical houses and a partner swap.

I am sending my Mom a package with some hard crossword puzzles, pencils and Yahtzee score cards, so I decided to make her an ATC too. She loves Arby's roast beef sandwich so I transferred a sandwich and the logo to a background of scrapbook paper. I then cut out words that represented our couple of days together and collaged them onto the ATC. I cut the words from a game I purchased at Goodwill in Lansing yesterday. I hope she likes it. Earlier in the year I made her a postcard and sent it through the mail, but she never received it. One employee of the post office said maybe it was just too cute and someone decided to keep it. I did not find that funny.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I've had this blog for a little over a month and I've already been tagged. The fun thing is that I am being tagged by a very new friend from Australia. Thanks, Brenda. The first time I visited her site, I realized that we are friends in more ways than one. We both belong to the Yahoo! group, arttechniques, and both participated in a fat book with 120 people total. We also have both taken a class with Paulette Insall.

I have to post the rules and list 6 things about myself that you don't know, which shouldn't be that hard as most of you probably know nothing about me. But how to choose six things:

1. In my youth I won trophies in pool (billiards), bowling and golf.

2. I once made my living pumping gas (back in the day before self service).

3. I am addicted to apples with peanut butter (The apples have to be crisp and slightly tart and the peanut butter has to be creamy Jif.)

4. I once lived on a private island with a very wealthy family as a governess to their two young children.

5. When I was young, I went to school to be a welder. Unfortunately, the school was in Florida and with all that leather on, I passed out all the time and couldn't finish the class.

6. I lived in Phoenix for a short time (I got married there.) with a car that had no air and a black interior. I kept oven mitts in my glove box and sometimes had to wear them to drive home from work.

Now I am supposed to tag six people. I subscribe to 165 blogs, so this is going to be very difficult. So here they are:

1. Julie, at The Land of Lost Luggage.
2. Patricia, at The Unfinished Flower.
3. Suzanne, at Studio Suzanne.
4. Lia, at Art Junk Girl.
5. Karen, at Beelieve.
6. Missy, at In a Shabby Kind of Way.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travel and Weather

I drove to the UP to visit my Mother for a couple of days. She turned 84 on Friday. Driving up was an adventure - pouring rain, hail, sunshine. In Michigan (probably this saying is popular in other places as well) we have a saying, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute."

For an 84 year old, my Mom sure is a lively one. For my one full day there, she and my sister who lives with her had the day planned out and we filled it. We began with breakfast at home at 8:30. We then drove into town and filled up the tank and began our adventure. First stop Hope House in St. Ignace. This is a second hand store that is huge and very well organized. Their pricing is "donation". I worry that they don't always get what they are worth. At any rate, I filled up two bags - I bought lovely lace, both a border and lots of applique pieces; a few scratched LPs that I am planning to gesso and paint over; a handball racquet that I am planning to sand, gesso and paint; several plastic metric tape measures; a Scrabble junior game with lovely cardboard letters that I will use to "write" on my mixed media pieces; a couple of old calendars with beautiful pictures; a latch hook rug design book with lovely patterns; an old cupcake pan that I will use for a palette, and a few books. I will definitely go back there next time I am "home". I gave them $20, which seemed to be a big surprise to them. I definitely got my money's worth.

Next stop, the library, where we picked out a few large print books for Mom. We then drove to Hessel and picked up another sister who took us to a second hand store in Cedarville. This is a very small store/food pantry that is mostly clothes. I did find a deviled egg plate that looked like a paint palette to me and another cupcake pan. We took that sister back to Hessel (she has a sick cat and didn't want to leave her too long) and drove to the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) to a huge Goodwill store. What a disappointment!! All of us are familiar with the Goodwill stores down near my house and over in the southwest corner of Michigan, where they are very clean and organized and very reasonably priced. The store in the Soo was way overpriced - their used books were $3 and $4 dollars. I found some cute little stamps in there, but they were as expensive as they are at Michael's. My sister found a used jacket that was priced at $19.99, about three times as much as it would be at any other Goodwill store I have ever visited. And maybe the worst thing about the store, was that the clothes were soiled - they hadn't even bothered to clean them before putting price tags on them.

I appreciate the Goodwill store in Lansing even more than I did before.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Expect the Unexpected Part 2

I drove into town yesterday to go to Discount Tire to have my tires rotated and balanced. However, I had three (yes, three!) bald tires. So instead of a free service that I would wait patiently for while listening to random songs on my iPod, I spent nearly $400 on tires. Yes, I have a small car and the tires are small. I suppose it could be worse. BUT, I can't help but think of how many and what kind of art supplies I could have purchased for that amount of money.

I did draw another face yesterday while the baby napped. It is not exactly like the one I used as a model, but I like how it turned out. This is modeled after a rather famous picture, a print of which is hanging in the basement bathroom of my husband's brother's house in Maple City. I don't think I captured the slant of the head quite right, but it is more practice which is just what I need. I am thinking that I may print one of these faces out (enlarging it in Photoshop first) and try to transfer it to a canvas with transfer paper so that I could make a large collaged and painted version. I really need some free time to try all the things I want to do, but that isn't happening right now, so I have to use the time I have now and be happy with what I can get done.

I also tried the Saran Wrap background technique for a swap I am involved in. I am supposed to make ten 6 x 8 pieces. I was all ready to try it last evening when I discovered I had used up all of my good watercolor paper on my 120 4 x 4s for the Fat (Obese) Book swap I was involved in earlier. I did have some 6 x 6 watercolor paper so I tried it on that just to get a sample. I just love it. For now it is my favorite background technique and it is so simple. For complete instructions and a look at some really fabulous examples visit Susan Chong's blog. She also did a stamp on hers, but it is fabulous even without that last step.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ATCs and Faces

I am still trying to draw a face each day, but some days I just don't get a chance to step foot into my art room. I am still trying to get some color into the sketches I am doing, but I find that pencil still shows through and sometimes the pictures looked better before I tried to color them. Today's face is colored with colored pencils and her face is a little yellow since I didn't really have a realistic flesh color to use - the black was too black, the olive was too green, and this was obviously too yellow.

The baby was up on and off most of the night the night before last, so was difficult during the day yesterday. She was a bit feverish and very needy. She did finally crash in the late afternoon and I was called from my art room to take a few pix. She had been playing at the end of the sofa hugging her big bear when suddenly she became very quiet. All you could see of her were her legs sticking out.

I also finished the two ATCs in the round robin I was involved in and got them in the mail.

The one above arrived with the lovely silvery background. I added the woman's face stamp and the decorative edge stamp and then collaged the word "dream" onto the bottom corner.

This one arrived with the background and the collaged cook and recipe info. My contribution is the image transfer of the soup and tomatoes.

I went to the Leslie post office this time instead of the Pleasant Lake office and what a difference - the woman was pleasant, efficient, and helpful. I was afraid that kind of service was a thing of the past. At the Pleasant Lake office, I usually have to wait at the counter while listening to the employees gabbing in the back, get an unsmiling face of a person who acts like I am interrupting their day, have an employee ask if New Mexico is in the United States (she was not joking!), you get the picture.....

I am also involved in an ATC swap in the arttechniquesatc Yahoo! group. The theme is "metal". Over the course of the couple of weeks that I was brainstorming what to do with metal, I felt that this was going to be very difficult and then I found these little metal flowers with raised stickers on the back at the dollar store. And dictionary pages area always good backgrounds. I think I wish I had rotated the page a bit before attaching it, but overall I am pleased with how it turned out. As a finishing touch I stamped with an iridescent copper liquid acrylic using a bottle cap and then ran a brick red distressing ink around the edge. That, too, went out in yesterday's mail.

For the rest of this week, DD works and so not much art will be done, but I have Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off. It is my Mom's 84th birthday on Friday, so I am driving north to see her for a couple of days, but should still have a couple of days in my art room to do more of the ATCs I am working on for swaps.

Most of the 120 4 x 4 fat book pages have been received by now and I absolutely can't wait to get my copy in the mail. There are so many techniques that I not only have not tried, but have never even heard of...oh, the possibilities.

Meanwhile, this morning I am driving into town to have my tires rotated and balanced before making the trip north. I seem to have at least one tire that is feeling "wobbly" when I drive. I hope to also have time to run into a store and find a couple of small spray bottles to use for the ten 6 x 8 saran wrap techniques that I am supposed to swap by November 10.

Lots to do. Meanwhile don't forget to live in the moment.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time Flies.....

Do you have those times in your life where suddenly you realize that it is much later in the year than it seems it should be? It is already past the middle of October and I still have the September desktop that I made in late August on my computer as my wallpaper. What's up with that?

Today is my first day off to spend in my art room in 12 days and I hardly know where to begin. I have sketched the face for the day and am quite happy with it. I think I am getting better. I know that sketching is messy, and so I have to figure out how to get the outlines of these pieces onto my canvases so that I can make them come to life with paints and collage. I am thinking I can maybe do a graphite transfer and just draw over the important lines before painting them. Guess the only way I will know if this will work is to try it. Maybe later in the week.

So far today besides drawing a face, I have done my part on the two round robin ATCs that I have to mail out tomorrow. I won't show them now in case either of the others reads my blog, but I will take pictures and show them when I know they have received them.

I have also made my ATC for a swap with the theme of "metal" and am quite happy about how it turned out. Now I just have to finish the whimsy houses, the elephants, the people, and 25 pages for a winter-themed skinny book. But before I finish those, I have to do ten 6 x 8 saran wrap techniques for a swap that is due November 6.

I have also found a good use for the "antique" box I found at a garage sale this past summer. It is a great place to store my paints, and I think I can rearrange it (take out some of the paints and add some gel medium and brushes, etc.) and just take it along when I go to play with other artists.

Meanwhile I am planning a trip to the far north (St. Ignace) for my Mom's 84th birthday next weekend. While I don't especially enjoy the drive (4 hours on the expressway), I am planning to go up on Sunday morning when most of the traffic should be on the southbound lanes. My visit will surely be pleasant with lots of cribbage, laughter, crossword puzzles, good food, and Yahtzee.

Bye for now and don't forget to live in the moment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Class Results

I had a great experience in the collage class and the second day was as interesting as the first. I really learned a lot, not only from the instructor, but from the others in the class. I shared a table with Juanita Bitonti, an extraordinarily talented silversmith. She crafts beautiful jewelry and is featured in several area galleries. She is also a very talented artist. Her collages were really well thought out and were not at all at a beginner level.

She and I shared a table with Jack and Ann (also in the collage class) and had a bowl of rice topped with an egg, vegetables and teriyaki chicken for lunch today. YUMMY!

I left early because the baby had been up frequently overnight and Papa was alone with her for the day. She is 1 year old and is really busy.

This is my collage that I think is finished.

This is another that needs more work, but so far I am liking it.

I used one of the artist boards as a comparison for image transfer. I need to add a Con-tact paper transfer, a packing tape transfer, an ironed on transfer. It seems like there more, but I am at a loss just this minute. I made notes on it next to each transfer so that I will have a good comparison to see how each method works. The only difference with these ones is that in the class I only had access to liquid gel medium. I use soft gel at home. I don't think that will make much of a difference, but it should be noted. I like each of the transfers shown at the left and none of them was too difficult. However, the Elmer's Squeeze & Caulk needs more time to set than any other method I have tried.

I received the two round robin ATCs this week, so on Saturday when I have the day off, I need to do my part and get them back in the mail. I am also participating in a round robin ephemera/paper swap and am anxiously awaiting my turn.

I haven't drawn a new face for the past couple of days, but hope to get another one drawn today or tomorrow. I need to learn how to shade them so that they have more depth. That is my next skill to learn.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Art Collage Class

I am taking a 2-day collage class with Karen Izenberg at Hollander's in Ann Arbor. Today was the first day and I am loving it. There are six women and one man in the class. They all have very varied backgrounds and levels of experience.

I began the class by beginning backgrounds on four pieces. On the first I started with a layer of acrylic paint and then painted a glaze over it. The second piece was a pulled paper technique that I then glazed and am now placing images over that will be collaged when I am happy with the placement. I have chosen "eyes" as my theme. I have placed some eyes and words associated with eyes onto it and also cut out a pair of binoculars and made an obelisk with an eye on it. The eyes near the upper right corner are supposed to be over the eyes on the piece of torn paper. Somehow before I took the picture, I must have bumped the piece and knocked the eyes askew. I also did a venetian plaster piece and made designs in it and left it to dry. The last background I did was a "vaseline as resist" background. Today I made a transfer using Elmer's Squeeze & Caulk on another piece of board and liked how it turned out.

It was a long day and I am pooped, but looking forward to another day tomorrow.

I did not draw a face today and probably will not tomorrow either. I will resume that once I am done with the class.

Hollander's is in Kerrytown in a building that houses several shops and eateries. Today I ate at the Monahan's, a lovely fish place with lots of fresh fish, which they are happy to prepare for you in paper so that all you have to do is take it home and put it in the oven. I was "bad". I had fish & chips. I try not to eat fried food, but this was really good (and you can't always choose healthy choices). Tomorrow I am going to try the one right across from them; I am going to have a bowl of rice topped with an egg and teriyaki chicken.

Until tomorrow, don't forget to live in the moment!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mini Vacation and More Art

Saturday morning DH and I threw some clothes in a bag and headed to the Leelanau Peninsula to stay the weekend with his brother. It was just what the doctor ordered. We spent the first evening on the beach and roasted hot dogs on a bonfire. We told jokes and he and his siblings talked about their remembrances from their childhood. It was an extremely pleasant evening.

On Sunday, we took the hosts out to breakfast and then they dropped me off at my brother's widow's house. She and I talked and cried and had a great visit. Then we walked the beach for awhile before she took me back.

While I was away I drew a few more faces in my face journal. I am quite pleased with two of them. One is a profile and the other is a 15/16 face. I think they really look like people, however, they are somewhat flat. I need to learn about shading to make them more realistic.

Before we left I worked some more on my canvas. I think I like it. I added another couple of layers of paint overlapping the girl and her background.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Treasures and Snail Mail

Today I went with my friend, Nancy, to a very interesting place called ScrapBox in Ann Arbor. There was a wide variety of "stuff" there. Much of it I didn't immediately see a use for, but maybe after some thought I would buy other things, too. The trip was somewhat of a rush job. I had to be home by 12:30 to babysit so my daughter could go to work. I spent about $10 and got lots of interesting things.

Then when I got home I found that I had received a letter from an online friend, Debbie, with some punchinella and some corrugated cardboard. So nice to get mail that isn't either a bill or addressed to resident.

I drew a face last evening and another one before I left to shop today. I am not particularly pleased with either one, but they are not totally awful either. This is after all my practice. Drawing faces is hard, but I am determined to keep at it. My 5 year old granddaughter says that maybe tomorrow after kindergarten she will pose for me so that I can try to draw her. I think that would be really good practice and a lot of fun - if she can sit still that long.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Collage and ATCs

Yesterday I tried to do a self portrait. While I would not say it was successful, it certainly is more like me than the young blond chick I've been using for my photo. I sat in front of the mirrors in my bathroom and drew what I saw. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to look back and forth while drawing and studying.

As for the Paulette Insall class canvas, I have added to her "blouse" and "skirt" with pages from a book entitled "New Voices in American Poetry 1976" that I found at the used book store earlier this week. I've changed her lipstick color to copper and lengthened her hair. I am planning to add another layer of stamping including overlapping with the painted and collaged piece. I will not get any painting done today or for the next several days.

My next day off is Saturday and I hope to finish that piece then. Meanwhile I need to decide what I am going to do with the smaller canvas. I am seriously considering printing out one of my faces on Great White paper and trying a transfer. I am feeling more confident with this idea since I tried it yesterday on an ATC that had been covered in scrapbook paper. The transfer really worked well.

I am working on several ATC swaps. I have included a picture of one of my whimsical houses that needs two more before being mailed. Yesterday I mailed out my whimsical, funky faces ATCs. I wish I had taken pictures to show them. They were definitely funky. I can't wait to see what I get in return. I am also including a picture of the cute little elephant that I transferred to an ATC using Great White paper. The ATC is not yet finished, but I was so pleased with the transfer, I wanted to show it to those of you who are wondering (as I was) whether or not it was worth trying to track down some of this paper. It is made by International Paper.

Bye for now and don't forget to live in the moment.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Full Face and Focal Point for Insall Class

Today's drawing attempt is a full face. According to my friend Debbie, full faces are the most difficult and I think she is right. It is difficult to get the shading right. Also the eyes always seem too big for the face, but since the eyes are the focal point of a face (at least to me), I can work with that. I think I want to try a 3/4 face tomorrow and I certainly need to work on a self portrait so that my avatar doesn't have shoulder length blonde hair. I have really short hair and it is reddish brown with a smattering of gray.

I have also gotten very brave and decided to paint a face onto my background in Paulette Insall's class. This is particularly scary because I like the background so much and I am afraid I am going to totally screw it up. I needed to remind myself that this is a learning experience and there will be many more canvases to paint and if I am ever going to get the inner critic to stop whining at me, I have to take more risks in the name of fun and learning. So far, I like what I've done, but I need more layers. I am going to try to mix a little bit darker paint today to shade the face a bit and I am planning to make her lipstick more coral.

I also need to extend her "blouse" and add the beginnings of either a skirt or pants to the bottom. I think I will do a glaze over them to bring them into the background. I must be careful not to obscure the poem too much. It is right for this pic as it talks about looking at purple skies.

Planning to put my whimsical faces ATCs in the mail today and finish my whimsical houses. I also signed up for a winter skinny book today, but the deadline isn't until January 31, which gives me lots of time to think and develop an idea for these.

For now don't forget to live in the moment and have fun!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Faces Sketchbook

I found this sketchbook at a second hand store for $.99. I bought it, but hadn't really thought about what I would use it for. I have decided to use it to practice faces in. My goal is to be able to make realistic faces. From there I think I will be more comfortable making whimsical faces. I do like the pretty, pretty girl faces and the elfin faces, but I think I need to get perspective right first before I break the rules.

Here is my first face in the book. I hadn't attempted a profile before, but wanted to be able to do one. I think this may be easier than a head-on view of the face. I don't have to worry about lining up the eyes this way. LOL

I attempted to add hair, but am not happy with it yet. My daughter thinks this is a woman of color, and I can see that may be true. Perhaps I will do her hair with some kind of flower behind her ear like an island girl. If I can get the hair to work, I will post it later.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Current Art

I am currently working on several projects on canvas and am working on several ATC swaps. I find that I work best in large blocks of time. I generally forget to eat or do any of life's "necessities" when I am working.

These two are my first two canvases from my online class with Paulette Insall. The focus is on making organic backgrounds - layer, layer, layer. I am loving the class. If you are thinking about taking a class, this woman is really good at what she does. The class was very reasonably priced and has good quality videos weekly. There is also a chat once a week. The people in the class are friendly and supportive. I have found it to be a wonderful experience.

My "studio" is in serious need of cleaning and rearranging in order that I can find things easily and be more productive. It never stays ordered for long. By its very nature mixed media art is messy and the more you have at hand the more creative you can become. My pet peeve is thinking of just the perfect thing to use at a given moment when working on a project and not being able to put my hands on it quickly.

I am trying to keep an art journal, too. I find it difficult to keep up with it because I am so involved in my daily "written" journal that I started on the first of January. I have not missed a day yet and am determined to get through December 31. I think next year, I will incorporate art into my daily journal so that it is a log and an artistic journey.