Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Are Your Days Filled with Sunshine?

"Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows
Everything that's wonderful is what I feel when we're together…" 
Lesley Gore/Marvin Hamlisch, Composer

And who said crayons are just for kids?

Included in my most recent box of delight from Artistcellar was a set of Tim Holtz Distress Crayons.  And with names like Peacock Feathers, Twisted Citron, and especially Mermaid Lagoon I couldn’t wait to start using them.

I have long been a fan of the Tim Holtz line of Distress Inks. I love the wide range of colours and the deliciously descriptive names. The quality is always consistently high and I expected the same from the new line of Crayons. I was not disappointed.

Of late, I have been working with my metallic acrylics or watercolours. Receiving the Crayons was a good excuse to bring out the Distress Inks once again. Opening the box I keep them in was like opening a door and visiting with an old friend. The Tim Holtz line was my first purchase when I ventured into Mixed-Media. And what an adventure it has been!

A new addition to my supplies is a Strathmore Mixed-Media Journal – 300 Series. The compact size is perfect for working with my Artistcellar stencils. I am now well on my way to building a library of background images…all easy to find and in one place! Now if only I could get a Mineral Paper spiral bound notebook. That would be Nirvana!

I started my work on Strathmore Watercolour Artist Trading Cards. I chose to keep the colours warm and bright. I covered the card with a wash of Tim Holtz Spiced Marmalade Ink and flat Royal Langnickel watercolours using my Sakura Koi Waterbrush.  The waterbrush is a great tool to have in your collection. It saves time, can be taken on the road if you are an en plein air artist, and can give you everything from a swath of colour to a thin line. It’s great!

With Journal in hand I chose my favourite Artcellar stencil series: Halftone Dots and Seafoam. I wasn’t sure which applicator would best compliment the crayons. I applied the colour with a natural sponge, cosmetic sponge and the Tim Holtz Blending Tool. The crayons are soft and it’s easy to transfer colour to your applicator.  When pushed through the stencil the natural sponge gave a spotty textured effect. The Blending Tool and cosmetic sponge were equally successful, giving me the soft gradated look I was after…all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

Getting out my Distress Inks was truly like visiting an old friend and reminiscing about happy times past at the start of my Mixed-Media journey.  This explains my choice of using this fashion photo from a 1950’s collage sheet. The women look so joyful…sharing a secret, spending time together, and capturing a moment that will stay with them forever. I am sure you have similar memories. Aren't we shaped and molded by the memories we hold closest to our hearts? And the friendships nurtured through the years are always the sweetest…like sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.












STRATHMORE 400 Series Watercolor Artist Trading Cards


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Are You A Canvas?

 “Fashion is Art and You are the Canvas!” – Velvet Paper

Fashion truly is Art! From Haute Couture to Prêt-à-Porter the designer escorts us through their passionate journey.  Colour, form, and pattern: our shared tools of the trade inspire them to make their concepts tangible. And how heartening it is to be wrapped in someone’s dream!

When my Artistcellar box arrived in the mail I couldn’t wait to experiment with the Marked Series Stencils. With circles, X’s, and an interlocked ladder the graphic feel made me think of Mid-Century Modern art and interior design. And I was in luck: my Artistcellar treasure trove also contained Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink Ink Spray and Dina Wakley Lemon and Lime acrylics. The stencil pattern and my acrylic colours were perfect for taking me back to the time of Bakelite telephones and the Camel cigarette man wafting smoke rings across Times Square from his billboard.

I wanted to start with the background. I went to a new page in my Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal. The ladder stencil and Dina’s Lemon acrylic came first. Slowly, I built up the layers using each stencil in the collection and a variety of acrylics. Then came time to throw caution to the wind! I grabbed my Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink ink and sprayed away. I loved the hot pink colour, mopped up a bit with my sponge and pushed it through the stencil. I really was pleased with the effect and will be adding it to my favored techniques. I completed the background with Punchinella, Artistcellar Halftone Dots Stencils and metallic acrylic.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the fact that the Artistcellar stencils hold up to anything I throw at, or push through them. Clean up leaves them in perfect condition ready for my next project.

Now that I had my background ready, and my colours were just as vibrant as they were wet, I knew the focal point needed to be just as bold. I am a great fan of black and white fashion photography of the 1950’s. I chose a photo of a woman, head titled back, with eyes slightly closed. What was she dreaming about… Perhaps a great adventure? And who would accompany her? And most of all, what clothing would she pack! I thought of the Bakelite phone…and the phone book she would peruse. To the left of the work you will see a page which I infused with bee’s wax.

This is what I love about Art. We have countless ways to express what comes from deep within us. With so many tools at our disposal we are only limited by our imaginations. By sharing what is essential to us we give it life, and hopefully nurture the spark in others. 

So the next time you put on that favourite piece of clothing, just think…you are the canvas helping to make a designers soul immortal!


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Rest, Rejuvenate...COLOUR!!!

As Summer comes to an end, what better way is there to beat the heat, to rest and relax than to colour? And to celebrate, today is National Colouring Book Day!

As Artists, wasn't your first step in free expression aided by rough newsprint pages printed with line drawings? And I'm sure you'll never forget the heavenly scent wafted from a freshly opened box of Crayola crayons!

Why not host a party...or join one in your area? The National Colouring Book Day website has a multitude of parties listed!

Grab those pencils and paper. Meet up with friends. Enjoy a day of relaxation and rejuvenation. Colour!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Do You "See"?

"Photography helps people to see." – Berenice Abbott
Do you “see”? Do you mindfully take time to appreciate the glorious sights that surround you? Do you find similarities in beliefs and dreams reflected where you least expect them?

The incredible photographic work of Berenice Abbott is without a doubt thought-provoking. And while I agree that photography helps you to see, I also think music, literature, painting, printmaking, drawing, and in my case collage, also encourages introspection.

My passion for New York runs deep. While many people find rejuvenation rambling through the countryside, the sound of my heels clicking a staccato rhythm on the sidewalk sets my soul on fire. And if I can’t physically be in New York, Berenice Abbott’s dramatic black and white photos are a passport not only to my hometown, but to another time.

Looking at Abbott’s catalogue housed at New York Public Library, I decided to work with a photo of a Manhattan courtyard on laundry day taken in the 1930’s. The realist in me knows doing laundry in the tenements was a back-breaking job at best. But the romantic in me yearns for the days of seeing clothes strung on a line, the patterns and colours enhanced by the sun and wind.

I knew I needed a background as dramatic as the photo. I chose a handmade scarf completed at a workshop I attended at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. The silk chiffon was accordion folded, secured with wooden blocks, drizzled with reactive dyes and steamed in the microwave to set the colour. It was the first time I tried this technique and I was extremely pleased with the results.

The warm tones of coral, orange and yellow were the perfect framework for the cool palette I chose when using Artistcellar’s Seafoam stencil. The foamy look of the stencil merged perfectly with my wash day theme. And that’s what I love about the Artistcellar products. The only limit to their use is your imagination. With a swash of watercolour, a splash of acrylics and Artistcellar Halftone Dots, my background was nearly complete.

But something was missing. Looking at the patterns formed by the laundry I wondered what stories they had to tell. Life was challenging, but still there was hope. I wondered about the letters sent home to family and friends…some who would be making the journey soon and others would only experience Die Goldene Medina through their eyes. So I added the text in Chinese, Italian, and French.

The Arts are a mirror by which we see a reflection of ourselves and each other. A photo, a painting, a bit of prose...they all help us to truly see that hopes and dreams are passions we all share.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Leaving One Place To Venture To Another...

 And so began the journey for so many of our ancestors. For me, it’s always all about the story. I am fascinated by the motives behind a person making the decision to depart the land of their birth. What made them head off to begin life afresh in a distant country? Did they ultimately fulfill their dreams? Was the move as successful as they hoped? Given the chance, would they complete the journey again?

Ellis Island was, and is, part of the fabric of our family. So many of the stories passed on to me by my Grandmother certainly were the catalyst of my interest in all things relating to immigration, especially at the turn of the Century.

America. Die Goldene Medina. The Golden Land. A land of opportunity for everyone. A place like no other where every dream, every wish, could and would come true. Looking at the photo of an Italian woman taken as she waited at Ellis Island, I wondered about her story.
I have been using my Strathmore Mixed Media Journal quite a bit lately. With 140lb vellum finish paper that is acid free, it is quite a help in building a portfolio of backgrounds that I can use for future projects.

For this piece, I started with the Artistcellar Seafoam stencil and my water colours. I wanted the overall appearance to be bright and “golden” so I limited the pallet to tints of yellow, magenta and orange. I allowed the pattern of the stencil to dictate where the colours would fall, as well as where to use the flat or pearlescent paints. When dried, I stenciled using one of my all-time favourite Artistcellar products, the Halftone Dots stencil. This time I reached for my metallic acrylics and layered complimentary colours.  Again when dried, I finished the background with my Punchinella and metallic acrylic.

I assembled my images…the photo of the lady from Italy, a postcard of Ellis Island, a map and airship from the Lunagirl Moonbeams collection of collage sheets.  The last element was a clever bit of repurposing: an artist friend sent me a dryer sheet she used to mop up paint. I loved the rough edges of the sheet and the lovely texture. I am a believer in Synchronicity and her generous contribution was flawless! Just the colour I needed to tie everything together. The timing was perfect!

Looking at my finished work, I wondered, did the Italian woman find her “Golden Land”? What became of her life? I hope she did find all she wished for.

I feel fortunate, as I am sure many of you do, to be an Artist. Our work and imagination can take us wherever we wish to travel.  Art allows us the opportunity of self-expression and experimentation. Our Art allows us to venture to our golden land where dreams can come true.










Sunday, 26 June 2016

Shall I Tell You About My Life...

Man of the World - Conventional/Digital Collage
"Shall I tell you about my life
They say I'm a man of the world..."
Peter Green 

How do you share your deepest feelings? Do you ever use your Art to tell someone about your Life?

June's Lunagirl Moonbeam challenge is all about Fathers and Brothers. As with all Lunagirl Collage Sheets, sometimes it is difficult to settle on just one image. But for me, the J. C. Leyendecker image from the "SharpDressed Man" sheet whisked me away on my journey. It was easy finding just the perfect complimenting backdrop...the Lunagirl Maps Sheet. I loved the look of the an open book.

Who could this man be? What was he reading? Why does he look so serious? Could he be planning a great adventure or contemplating voyages of the past?

Working on the piece my thoughts were drawn to an early Fleetwood Mac tune, written by Peter Green in 1969. A melancholy song, it is about a man who has everything he desires except the true love of a partner. At the time, Peter was fighting his own demons. And, as is the case with many artists, he let us witness a glimpse of his struggle by opening his heart through his work.

Supporting the digital aspect of the collage is a selection of stencilled conventional elements from my collection. As it is an introspective piece I added the Moon...the symbol of the soul, the capacity for reflection and renewal and the cadence of time.

Do you ever open your Book of Life sharing with us your voyages of the soul? Does your Art allow us a fleeting glimpse of your world?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

But Is It Art?

BUT IS IT ART? Digital Collage
 “I have never been able to understand the artist whose image never changes”
-Lee Krasner, Abstract Expressionist Painter

When I feel adrift, I return to Art History. There I find comfort and direction. Reading Lee Krasner’s quote started me thinking about the evolution of our work.

Do you ever review your body of work? Do you find you can re-experience a particular time in your life just by looking at your colour selection, composition and the materials you chose? Art journaling clearly gives us a sense of time and place.  And I feel work beyond journaling can take you on a similar voyage.

Usually when I begin to work I have an inkling of where my journey will take me. But this time I really didn’t have a finished piece of work in mind, so I decided to let my supplies influence my direction. Building on my last Artistcellar piece I wanted to continue exploring the use of Rubber Cement as a resist. Last time I chose a heavy watercolour paper. I now went to the extreme…my cherished smooth and silky Mineral Paper. I was excited to see if the new substrate would enhance the resist.

Using the Artistcellar Seafoam stencil I once again applied Rubber Cement. But this time instead of using my fingers for a mottled finish, I brushed the cement in an even layer through the stencil and allowed it to dry overnight. Removing the stencil was easy, the clean-up quick, leaving it in pristine condition.

Punchinella, circular and hand cut stencils at the ready, I covered the Mineral Paper. I used both a dry brush and wash technique of various watercolours. When dried I added the metallic acrylics. I varied the density and disregarded the placement of the rubber cement.

The final step was the removal of the resist. The Mineral Paper held the cement in place which made it a little difficult to remove. What simply peeled off the watercolour paper held fast this time. But with a little perseverance, all cement was removed and I was left with an interesting array of colour and form. As with past projects, the Mineral Paper held up beautifully. No tearing or buckling. The paper is just fantastic and a MUST for any artist.

The final pattern reminded me of the post-War Abstract Expressionism movement…and I knew what I need to add to complete the image. Some time ago I purchased a fashion photo of a woman in a lovely flower print dress and hat. From her pose she could easily be gazing at an interesting piece of art. Could she be wondering…Is it Art? What do you suppose her answer would be?

When you view your work can you see a shift in perception? Do innovative and interesting influences appear over time? What images are constant…giving you a secure base to allow you to dream and experiment. And do you ever wonder, looking at the world around you…Is it Art?









Sunday, 19 June 2016

Speaking Your Language!

Cut. Tear. Paste. Glue. Assemblage. Found Objects. Vintage. Paper. Image. Ephemera. Dada.

Are these words part of your daily vocabulary? Do you get all weak in the knees when you discover vintage newspapers and letters? When in public, do you collect "found objects" in parking lots, along curbs, in shopping carts...knowing you WILL be able to incorporate them in a piece of work?

Then you, my friend, share the love of Collage and our secret language!

The National Collage Society formed to promote and support the art of Collage. Based in Ohio, their exhibits are a showcase of international art, receiving entries from the US and abroad. And each month the Society spotlights a member artist. I was thrilled to find I was selected for the month of May. To view my feature please visit here

To find out more about the Society and to become a member, please visit.

After all, it's wonderful meeting people who speak your language!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Where Is Your Art Taking YOU? All On Board the Train!

Wouldn't you know we're riding on the Marrakesh Express
Wouldn't you know we're riding on the Marrakesh Express
They’re taking me to Marrakesh
All on board the train, all on board the train
All on board – Graham Nash
We are in a cycle of dark dreary days filled with rain and humidity. Not the most advantageous to inspire creativity on these late Spring days. I needed an escape!  I wanted the sun! I wanted warmth! I wanted exotic locations! With a bit of imagination and the best tools at my disposal I magically escaped the monotonous and travelled into a world of colour and exploration.

Opening the box from Artistcellar that arrived at my door was like grabbing my passport and getting on board to an exciting journey! Included with the supplies was the CHRIS COZEN - PLAYFUL PODS SERIES stencils. As with all of the Artistcellar stencils, they are made to last and perform perfectly with a variety of media. Clean up is quick and easy, leaving the stencil in like-new condition. Lately I have heard a lot about the use of Rubber Cement. It seems to be the “go to” everyone is discussing…from Google+ Communities to Workshop details that land in my Inbox.

I selected the Bodacious Pods stencil from the series. They reminded me so much of Moroccan pouffes…the lovely Ottoman footstools that take lounging to the pinnacle of relaxation.  In my collection is an exquisite image of Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee’s "Leila", which I purchased on a Digital Collage Sheet. The woman, painted in the Oriental style, at last found a home.

My idea was to give the art a rough, almost sun worn finish similar to the buildings I photographed in Marrakesh. I chose a heavy watercolour paper for the substrate.  I dabbed the rubber cement through the stencil with my fingers…varying the amount from thick to thin, hoping this application would produce a mottled effect when covered with paint.

The rubber cement dried relatively quickly, even for impatient me. As an impulse buy, I recently purchased  pearlescent watercolours. I go weak in the knees for anything with a shimmer, and the selection of colours looked scrumptious. I covered the paper with a wash. I chose all the gorgeous Bohemian colours available on my pallet: Hot Pink, Vermilion Orange, Cyan Blue, Turquoise and Bright Violet! I blended the colours using a tool new to me… The SAKURA KOI WATERBRUSH. If you haven’t tried it you must! The brush is made of flexible nylon fibers that are fed with water from a refillable reservoir. When I was finished blending, the paper was once again set out to dry.

With my fingers and an eraser I removed the rubber cement. The result was as I had hoped…patchy, worn, sun-kissed, with a dazzling shimmer…just as I remember my travels in Morocco.  It would be the perfect home for Leila. I scanned the altered paper and revised the image of the woman. I wanted to keep as much of the paper without further alteration, so I only added Graham Nash’s lyrics…the inspiration for the piece…surrounding her.

Art, I am sure you will agree, can take us to the places as far and as wide as our imagination. With the proper tools at our fingertips we can re-experience the wonders of travels past. Or we can dream of places we’ve yet to see.  Either way, won’t you join me? All on board the train, all on board the train!


Friday, 3 June 2016

The Mystery That Awaits You?

Is there someone special waiting for you in your cards? Tarot and the mysteries of fortune-telling is stirring my interest of late. And I seem to be finding images and references everywhere I look!

The Gecko Galz challenge this month is "Man O Man". Looking through the collage sheets in their collection I settled on the loving couple They are young and in love...the perfect time to be surrounded with music, an inspiring landscape, and the hope their future is written in the stars.

Below you will find a FREE Digistamp compliments of the Galz. With her pensive she hoping someone will be waiting for her? You can grant her wish when you add her to your art!

What is the mystery that awaits you? Will you find that special someone in the stars?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Want To Get Your Creative Pulse Racing?

Although it's not quite Summer, a hint of quiet anticipation is stirring in the air. The joy of longer days stretching ahead promise time for activities we planned to do "when we get around" to them. Mentally we prepare for the elusive three R's: Rest, Relaxation and Rejuvenation. And what better way to begin the journey than by taking your Pulse?

Mixed Media Artist, Designer, Instructor, and Author Seth Apter has embarked on the sixth edition “The Pulse”. Published each Wednesday, the collaborative project is a showcase designed to "introduce you to new artists, help you get to know familiar faces even more, further your own artistic expression, and allow you access into the creative hearts and minds of a very talented crew of individuals."*

The question posed this time was: What is the one technique or tool that you cannot live without? 

My response focused on technique. I am delighted to say my collage of woven paper "Pulp" is included in the collection. For me, it's all about the story and the process of weaving the paper is not only meditative. I find just as our unique family histories interlace to form something new, so does this technique.

So as Spring transforms into Summer why not start your own tradition of Rest, Relaxation and Rejuvenation by visiting Seth’s Blog, The Altered Page? Reintroduce the spirit of creativity into your work not only with “The Pulse” but with Seth’s posts on a variety of topics and techniques. They will certainly get your creative pulse racing!
*Quote taken directly from "The Pulse"

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Inscribe Your Story Across The Sky!

THE STAR  - Conventional & Digital Collage
 The Self Is Born in the Stars – Carl Jung

I’ve always been interested in Tarot. The cards intrigue me…not so much as a tool for fortune-telling, but more of a way of discovering what is happening in the present and how it can shape the future. I am by no means an experienced reader. But I do find comfort in handling the cards and finding my part of the story in the symbols.

As with many of us, my life has been quite hectic of late. And I find Time seems to be moving at an accelerated rate. I’ve been told that life gives you what you need if you are receptive. And what I need is time to stop and reflect.

Looking through my collection of Tarot cards, I was drawn to The Star card. Stars are visible in the Universe because they are cradled in darkness. So too, we shine when we have been through a difficult time and come through with strength and faith in ourselves.  I decided to use the card as the basis for my work using the Artistcellar stencils.

The Star Card is aligned to the Crown Chakra. I started the collage using Prismacolor pencils on rough drawing paper and the Crown Chakra stencil. When finished I built the collage around the stencil drawing. The vintage images of the Marseilles Tarot, the palmistry hand, and the night sky fell into place.

I can’t get away from the Mineral paper. It is wonderfully adaptable to any media. My acrylic paint using the Halftone Dots stencils stayed as vibrant dried as they did wet. The Pearlescent Liquid Acrylics kept their incredible shimmer, which is sometimes lost on other substrates. If you haven’t tried this must! The results are delicious!
It has been a brilliant education getting familiar with all the products Artistcellar has on offer. I have tried techniques that are new to me, and hopefully will stir your interest as well.  This brings me back to The Star card.

The card is one of personal transformation, new ideas, and opportunities. The thirst for new journeys can be of a physical or spiritual nature. But above all The Star encourages you to have faith and believe in yourself.

And what better way to be true to yourself than to write your own story across the sky?

Artistcellar Halftone Dots Series Stencils
Artistcellar Stencils: Pocket Stencils – CHAKRAS – Crown
Hand cut stencils
Mineral Paper
Vintage Images Tarot Card, Palmistry
Drawing paper
Prismacolor Coloured Pencils