Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Are You A Work in Progress?

“There is a distinct kind of Magic in the iridescence of a Dragonfly’s wing.”

The Dog Days of Summer are already here. I can’t help but feel as the mercurial sizzling days slip through our fingers it is a gentle reminder to be mindful and savor every moment.

A few months ago I created a prayer flag inspired by the new Artistcellar Tibet Series Stencils. As luck would have it I purchased enough chiffon to make four flags. This is the second in my series and I decided to feature the Lotus.
Once again I began by spraying a light coat of repositionable adhesive to a large piece of cardboard. I rested the chiffon with as few wrinkles as I could manage to the sticky surface. I was then ready to start stenciling. Keeping the colours to shades of pink and cream I wanted my lotus to embody the qualities of devotion and purity.

To me the Dragonfly is not only a perfect match for the Lotus, but symbolises the exquisiteness of the season. I have loved Dragonflies endlessly. Not only are they a wonder to witness in the air, but my thoughts drift back to peaceful childhood summer mornings spent at a local creek with a friend.
Dragonflies represent transformation. They guide our spiritual and emotional quest of self-realisation. To see a dragonfly in flight is to grasp the magical possibilities of freedom. But to be truly free, we need to accept our unique selves. And I suppose that makes us all works in progress.

The Artistcellar stencils provide a great array of options. I selected the Petite Pods from the Playful Pods series to add to the flag. The image was perfect and continued the theme. I have long been fascinated by the iridescent colour released from dragonfly wings. So inspired I completed the design with dots of glimmering acrylics. It now flies next to the Buddha Eyes flag on the pergola.

Artistcellar stencils are inspirational. I am always discovering something new when I begin to work. The images allow me to explore and express my creativity. They encourage me to design with the same freedom we feel when seeing the shimmering flight of a dragonfly. By permitting my creativity to unfold my desire is to delve deeper, discover my unique self, always knowing I will forever be a work in progress.

MATERIALS USED:

Monday, 10 July 2017

What's Your Secret?

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.” Bryant H. McGill

Do you have a secret you would like to share? Do you possess an interesting quality waiting to be discovered? Do you have a sincere spirit of enquiry, a sense of curiosity about life? Does it lead you to unexpected discoveries? Do share...
Continuing the playing card Art Journaling Project I produced another set to add to my collection. Much of the materials used to create “A Holy Curiosity” collection found its way as a base for the new cards. I’m a great believer in the motto that too much of a good thing can be wonderful. How about you?

Working commercially for so many years, my art is usually much “cleaner”. I’ve long been curious about how it would feel to throw caution to the wind and let the paint fall where it may. The compact size of the cards have “given me permission” to explore and discover my messy side.

With the backs completed from the previous project I set out to begin the face design. The Curious Possibility clings by Tim Holtz feature in this set as well. But added to the images are lovely rubber stamps I purchased from Leavenworth Jackson in California. The company truly has an outstanding collection.

Building the layers on the face was enjoyable. The Artistcellar Blocks series stencils were a lovely counterpoint to the Halftone Dots series. As with all Artistcellar products the quality allows you to focus on creating your work, not worrying about damaging the stencils. I have used a variety of media and the stencils always wash up easily, making them ready for my next project.

Distress Crayons are wonderful to work with. The colours in the set I have are bright and stay true when applied to the substrate. The feel is soft, smooth, and luxurious. Subtle touches of crayon completed the work.

I hope you will give Journaling on cards a try. You may discover, as I have, the joys of following your messy, succulent spirit of enquiry. You may even find a new kind of happiness waiting for you!

MATERIALS USED:

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Celebrate Your Wonderful Day!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_gratitude
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_gratitude
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/melody_beattie.html
 "This is a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before."  — Maya Angelou 
A purple finch is eating at the feeder near my studio window. He doesn’t seem to mind the melody of the wind chimes as the soothing breeze plays their song. The afternoon is unusually quiet.  The day is perfect for celebrating the Summer Solstice.

Slowing down allows me the opportunity to be fully in the moment.  Even if we have the best of intentions, so often we are distracted by the commotion of daily life. But it is when coming back to center that I experience what truly makes me grateful. And this is when creativity envelopes me like the soothing sounds of the wind chimes and lets my heart sing.

A few months ago I facilitated a journaling workshop at my local library.  We each altered a 3.5” x 5.5” notebook.  Our objective was to create a Gratitude Journal…a special book to keep with us throughout the year. The art produced was delightfully unique. The evening filled with laughter. The more we spoke the more we realised how often we each experience fleeting moments of bliss. Now we had somewhere to keep them safe.

Here is my journal. I began by stenciling the cover with Artistcellar’s Ocean Waves from the Traditional Japanese Series. I covered the back and spine with acrylic paint.  I then added bits of ephemera: a page from an old dictionary, postage stamps, trading stamps, a leaf from a poinsettia and images I found pleasing. Keeping watch at the back of the book, I stenciled the word I am most grateful for: Create. The Artistcellar Creative Words Pocket Stencil was perfect. I wanted the journal to feel “special”.  I added a flower, altered tags, and keys to unlock my spirit of gratitude.

My Journal is filling up with all sorts of bits and pieces captured from my day…from simple observations to newspaper (yes, I still read them) clippings and ideas for new work. But all in all, I can’t help feeling a sense of wonder in the fact that joy is the essence of gratitude. And revelling in each new day is an adventure in itself.

As we change Seasons I ask you…what unlocks the joy in your life for which you are truly grateful?

MATERIALS USED
ARTISTCELLAR Stencils: TRADITIONAL JAPANESE SERIES - Ocean Waves
Liquitex Matte Medium
Liquitex Gesso
Liquitex Texture Gel Glass Beads
Golden Glazing Fluid
Avery Glue Stic
Plaid: Aquamarine, Blue Sapphire, Amethyst, Blue Pearl, Perfect Purple, Royal Gold, Plum
DecoArt: Splendid Gold, Peacock Pearl
Dylusion Spray: Bubble Gum Pink
Natural Sponge
Paper Towels
db editions Journal 3.5” x 5.5”

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_gratitude

Thursday, 8 June 2017

What are YOU Curious About?

“Never lose a holy curiosity.” -  Albert Einstein
Have you tried Art Journaling on playing cards? I enjoyed it so much I decided to continue with the project. I suppose my curiosity got the better of me.

Inspired by the saying “In The Moment” I found printed in a catalogue I made it my goal. I prepped the cards by lightly sanding them and then giving them a coat of gesso. I placed all of the cards face up on my table and began randomly layering acrylic paint. Whatever colours came to hand I used. Once dried, I flipped to the back and began working. I love the new Tibet Series by Artistcellar. I wanted to incorporate the Eternal Knot stencil in some way. Although too large to completely fit on a playing card, when dropped here and there on the cards the stencil certainly added interest.

It’s been a long time since I looked through my collection of rubber stamps and clings. The Curious Possibility clings by Tim Holtz was just perfect for what I had in mind! Combined with a few images I had in my collection I got just the right Victorian vibe I wanted. 

Many artists like to cover the images printed on the playing cards completely. I like to allow the flavor of the card to show through where possible, lending interest additional design elements.

To complete this series I highlighted portions of the back design with Tim Holtz Distress Crayons and DecoArt Crackle Paste. 
 
One word of advice: I used my heat tool to get the layers to dry faster. I believe I got a little too close as one of the cards “popped” and buckled. My guess is the plastic coating just didn’t like the heat.

As artists curiosity is the force that inspires us to create new work. Journaling was always a bit of a mystery to me. I suppose for me it’s “in the cards” using this technique. My question to you: What are you curious about?

MATERIALS USED:
STANDARD PLAYING CARDS
ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: Tibet Series, Traditional Japanese Series, Marked Series, Block Series, Halftone Dots Series, Sea Foam
TIM HOLTZ VISUAL ARTISTRY CURIOUS POSSIBILITY Rubber Stamps
STUDIO G Alphabet Rubber Stamps
HAND CUT STENCIL: Diamonds
PUNCHINELLA
ELMER’S RUBBER CEMENT
LIQUITEX WHITE ACRYLIC GESSO
LIQUITEX MATTER MEDIUM
DECOART Crackle Paste
MEMENTO DYE INK Tuxedo Black
PLAID ACRYLICS: Blue Sapphire, Amethyst, Blue Pearl, Pure Orange, Perfect Purple, Violet Pansy, Sunflower, Metallic Rose, Bright Red, Aquamarine, Pure Gold, Plum
DECOART: Splendid Gold, Sunny Day
DINA WAKLEY: Lime
NATURAL SPONGE
SANDPAPER
TIM HOLTZ DISTRESS CRAYONS
DYLUSION SPRAY: Bubble Gum
POCKET PAGE PROTECTOR
VARIOUS EPHEMERA: Paper, Rubber Stamps, Dover Publications Images, Rub-On Lettering

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Where Do You Find Serenity?



“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.Gautama Buddha
Could anything be more uplifting than seeing a row of decorated flags floating in the Spring breeze? I have long been captivated by the dynamics of fabric and wind. I get the same feeling of bliss seeing laundry hanging on a clothesline as I do when dancing with veils. The graceful movement of soft cloth echoing the direction of a breeze is meditative for me…a way to slow down and become mindful.

Traditionally Tibetans believe in the power of decorated Prayer Flags. By hanging the flags along mountain tops in the Himalayas the prayers and mantras are blown by the wind to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The wishes are not carried to the gods, but instead benefit all who are embraced by the wind. Subject to the elements, the Flags symbolically become part of the Universe, fading over time. New flags are hung beside the old; a sign of the ever changing wheel of life.

Inspired by the new Artistcellar Tibet Series I was ready to craft my own flag, the first of four I hope to create. As it is the colour of Air and Clouds I purchased white chiffon fabric. It is quite transparent and will easily float when caught by the wind.

To keep the fabric from slipping when stenciling, I used an old screen printing trick and spayed a light coat of repositionable adhesive to a large piece of cardboard. It made acrylic application easy and if luck was with me I was hoping to remove the cloth with little damage.  The top of the flag was the perfect spot for the Buddha Eyes, also known as the Wisdom Eyes, stencil. I chose shades of blue acrylic paint…the colours of sky and space…and a wonderful way to show the Lord’s existence around us. 

Spring has certainly arrived with flowers blooming in their beds. It is here in the garden that I find complete serenity. Our bearded irises are now gloriously cloaked in a vast spectrum of lavender to deep purple. They share the garden, living side by side with pansies of yellow, orange, and violet. They, like the Flags, will eventually become part of the Universe as their blooms fade and die. Hoping to hold the memory of this moment, I stenciled the bottom half of the flag inspired by the flowers. The perfect stencil for a kaleidoscope of colour is the Halftone Dots series. Layered, they recreated the riot of colour on display in the garden.

Once dried, it was time for the moment of truth: the removal of the fabric from the cardboard. Just as I had hoped, it peeled off easily with very little distortion. I wasn’t sure if the acrylics would stiffen the chiffon. I am happy to say it was anything but. Even with multiple layers of paint, the finish is muted and sheer, almost dreamlike. And best of all, hanging from a dowel rod finished with wooden end caps, the stenciling on both sides is equally as nice.

Of all the wonderfully creative benefits Artistcellar products have to offer I especially love the way they encourage me to think, slow down, and become mindful. Now more than ever we need to surround ourselves with empathy, strength, peace, and above all wisdom. My hope is that wherever you may be, may the wind caress you and the serenity of my garden encircles you.

MATERIALS USED:
ARTISTCELLAR: TIBET SERIES STENCIL (Buddha Eyes), HALFTONE DOTS (Highlight, Midtone, Midtone 2, Shadow)
HAND CUT STENCIL: Diamonds
PUNCHINELLA
CHIFFON FABRIC – White
DARICE CRAFTWOOD BALL & DOWEL
BEST TEST REPOSITIONAL ADHESIVE
CARDBOARD
PLAID ACRYLICS: Blue Sapphire, Amethyst, Blue Pearl, Pure Orange, Perfect Purple. Violet Pansy, Sunflower, Metallic Rose, Bright Red, Aquamarine, Or Royal, Plum
DECOART: Splendid Gold
DINA WAKLEY: Lime

Monday, 15 May 2017

Right Now. Right Here.

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. 
Making your unknown known is the important thing.”-Georgia O’Keeffe

Do you journal? Or are you like me, jotting thoughts and sayings on random bits of paper? I have often purchased beautiful journals fulling intending to fill them. I just never do. I don’t know if it is the fear of the blank page, or what seems like the vast the number of pages that puts me off. But whatever the reason, there they sit, on my bookshelf, spotless as the day I purchased them.

Some time ago I bought a pack of inexpensive Ace playing cards. The flying biplane on the backs won me over! Who wouldn’t want to fly off to a new adventure in that wonderful plane? It was then I decided to use them as a journal. With a deck of 52, completing one card a week didn’t seem beyond the realm of possibilities. To kick off my venture I knew the best place to start was with the Artistcellar Pocket Stencil series Creative Words: Believe, Trust, Seek, and my favourite, Create.

Have you ever noticed the lovely sayings tucked away on the inserts of your Artistcellar Stencils? To me the stencils alone are creative cake…the inspirational quotes are the icing. Creative Words were just that…the catalyst I needed.

The playing cards have a plastic finish. To allow the media to attach, I sanded the cards and applied a quick layer of gesso. I didn’t want to totally cover the suits and numbers, so I removed some of it with a paper towel. On my work table, I assembled my stencils, acrylics and stamps. I wanted to have a bit of fun and see where my journey would take me. I revisited an old technique: applying rubber cement through the SEEK stencil. I tried a new idea as well: dabbing Dye-Na-Flow colour through the TRUST stencil. When dried I positioned the cards in a row and completed the backs. Though not identical, they have the same “feel”…a record of a time and place.

In the end I was happy with the results. Best of all, the stencils stood up to everything I threw at them. Clean up was a snap with stencils back to perfect condition. The cards are now part of my new journal, safely tucked away in a pocket page protector in a three ring binder.

Time seems to be racing by for me. Is it the same for you? Journaling is a wonderful way of capturing the essence of who we are. The perfect journal format is whatever suits you best. We owe it to ourselves to take the time to make our unknown known. Not only to ourselves, but sharing it those in our life. Right now. Right here.
 

MATERIALS USED

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Restoring the Balance...

“Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”
“Big Yellow Taxi” - Joni Mitchell
Why is that song stuck in my head? Like me, have you ever wondered how a fragment of a melody started what seems like a never-ending loop in your brain?  Did a memory trigger the earworm? Perhaps it was a date? I started working on my latest collage on Earth Day…so it’s no wonder Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” became my musical imagery repetition inspiration.

And here my collage begins. I love my Strathmore Visual Journal. The spiral binding allows me to place the book flat on my work surface. This makes experimenting on the page easy. There’s no holding back a cover or other pages getting in the way.  It’s such a time saver, especially when working entirely conventionally.

The collage began with a discarded page from a dictionary I found in my box of unbound books pages.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the listing included the word “taxi”.  I attached the page to the Journal using matte medium…a quick coat to the paper and back of the dictionary page.

When dried, I started the work from the outside in. I painted the border of the page with Dina Wakley Lemon heavy body acrylic paint. For the center I mixed Dina Wakley Ruby and Lemon and created a glaze using the Golden Glazing Fluid. It’s a great product. The Fluid allows you to hold vibrant colour, yet produce a lovey transparent effect.

Now it was time for the part I love best…the stenciling. I started with the Artistcellar Blocks Series-Open Work which mirrored the checker board pattern on the taxi perfectly. I wanted an organic shape to compliment the patterns I created on the page. Artistcellar Playful Pod’s Petite Pods fit the bill. It complimented the design just as I had hoped.

I’ve rediscovered how much I enjoy using Dylusion Sprays. I have to admit Bubble Gum Pink is my favourite. The pop of colour is exciting, especially as the hue stays true…no fading when dry.

All that was left was to add the ephemera and texture techniques. It’s been fun working with Seth Apter’s “low-tech” materials. In this piece I created the textured lines with corrugated board and gesso. I had a piece of anaglypta wallpaper. The flower pattern worked well with the gesso technique…subtle but effective. I even added a few words from transfer lettering I had in my collection. From a selection of old newspapers I found the headline: "Restoring the Balance". Perfect.

As collage and mixed media artists we embrace the mantra of reuse and recycle.  For us everything old is new again. In our work, our life, the environment: Aren’t we all trying to restore the balance? And often balance is not perfection. “Give me spots on my apples, But leave me the birds and the bees.” Let’s hope it’s not too late.

MATERIALS USED:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Libraries - Sharing the Passion of Learning

The Journey From There To Here  - Collage
Is there anywhere more wonderful than a Library? From expansive to diminutive all share the passion and joy of learning.

If you are in the Carlisle, PA area please stop by the Bosler Library on West High Street near Dickinson College. Carlisle Arts Learning Center (CALC) exhibits member's works at the Main Entrance. This month I am taking part.

To read more about the beautiful Bosler Library and the exhibit, please visit this link:
EXHIBITS AT BOSLER

My Grandfather pictured in the collage was a great lover of Libraries and Museums. He and my Mom spent wonderful hours together discovering the joys that were there for the taking. My Mom passed this passion on to me. Libraries helped to shape my life. They give my artist's soul wings! Visit your local Library today!

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Microcosm That is Nathan's

"Coney Island is and always will be 'the people's playground.' It's a place where people of all backgrounds come to have a good time." Harold Feinstein, Photographer

It could be the incredible weather. Eighty degrees in April?! Really? Or maybe it was the Pink Full Moon. Or maybe I was just hungry. Nevertheless, my thoughts were drawing me to Coney Island. And one of my favourite places was, and still is, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.

Established in 1916, immigrants Nathan and Ida Handwerker spent their life savings of $300 to pursue the American dream. Still standing on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Brooklyn, Nathan’s was always a great stop on the way home from a day at the Beach. The huge white sign with the “Nathan’s” green script is forever a welcome mat to every Beach weary traveller.

I found a great vintage photo taken in 1947 of a hungry crowd waiting to be served. And there in the foreground was the object of their affection…the famous Nathan’s hot dogs and buns marking time on the rolling grill.

Grabbing my Strathmore Visual Journal I started the design. I brayered layers of acrylic paint on to the stock. I wanted colours that screamed beach, summer, and joy so I selected hues of yellow, orange, red and pink. I especially love the Dylusions sprays. Bubble Gum Pink is outstanding. It really gave the background the pop of colour it needed. But rather than spray it on to the paper, I sprayed my palette, coated the brayer and rolled it on to the surface. The hot pink colour stays true even when dried. What's not to love?

You can never have the Beach without the Ocean. Part of the charm of eating at Nathan’s is feeling the gritty, sandy sidewalk under your feet and the sea salt in the air. That is why the Artistcellar Water Series is the perfect complement for my composition. I chose to use the 12” x12” Surf stencil. The movement of the stencil is a wonderful counterbalance to the straight brayered patches of colour. 

In addition to my Visual Journal I also have a digital counterpart. From this collection I chose two watercolour versions of the Artistcellar Halftone Dots Series. Stenciled on to Mineral Paper the samples had just the quality I was looking for to complete the work.

You can't have the complete Nathan’s experience without people. With a bit of digital manipulation the image was ready to become part of the final composition.

And that’s what I love about Art. Even though I couldn’t be at Nathan’s physically, by working on the collage I was able to travel through time and visit a location near and dear to my heart. It allowed me to remember an exceptional, blissful time with my family.

But Nathan’s isn’t just somewhere to eat. For me it is the embodiment of all that is truly American: our spirit of entrepreneurship, our willingness to hope for a better future, a place where young and old, rich and poor can mingle. In essence, it is a microcosm of the tolerant and diverse city I am proud to call my home. 

As a Nation there are times we seem to go off track. But I firmly believe our collective soul thrives on compassionately embracing ideas that are different.

Above all else, I am confident our willingness to offer a warm welcome to those who want to make this Nation their own will never waver. It will always be what makes us quintessentially American.

MATERIALS USED IN THIS COLLAGE: