Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

“There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all” 

"In My Life" - John Lennon

Of late, the Full Moon has been my time of introspection. Urged on by the changing of the seasons, so it was again this month. The feeling of melancholy surrounds me as I see the leaves change colour and begin their spiral dance to the earth. And the progression continues with change as the only constant.

I have mentioned how much the Artistcellar Labyrinth series has inspired my work. Believing in Synchronicity, they came to me just when I needed them most. This time my chosen stencil to work with was Gonzaga. I love the clean straight lines. It would be a superb counterpoint for the elements I collected for the collage.

A new medium for me is the Deco Art Media Crackle Paste. Application is easy and all that is needed is a palette knife and patience to allow for an adequate drying time. I picked a piece of copper metallic writing paper for my substrate. As I spread the paste through the stencil I wondered how it would hold up. Would this technique be its demise? It’s an interesting process to watch. The thickness of application varies the size of the eggshell cracks. And like magic…there they were. I pulled the stencil away from the paper and started my clean-up. I’m happy to report, as with all Artistcellar products, cleaning was easy and the stencil held up beautifully. Quality, quality, quality!

Hearing “In My Life” on the radio brought back so many wonderful memories from a time before email. It’s no secret that I am a passionate lover of the written word. Letters, postcards…anything in the mail is nourishment for my Muse! I relish the anticipation as much as the delivery. Just to see an address in a familiar hand is uplifting. I wanted my theme for the collage to be the art of correspondence.

I admit I find it difficult to meditate. So many ideas, so many images interrupt what should be a place of quiet and wonder. By using the labyrinth as the focal part of my work, I am getting closer to quieting my mind. The Labyrinth pulls together my random thoughts. So the work you see here is an attempt at stream of consciousness meditation, for lack of a better phrase.

It was time to complete the collage. Drawing from my Book of Backgrounds (aka the Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal) I selected other stencil designs I created: Halftone Dots, Seafoam, and Open Works from the Blocks series. Placing the images went smoothly…as if they knew where they should “live”. I allowed myself to feel, and to journey looking back at what once was with a definite optimistic view of the future. I recognize that accepting change is an integral part of the progression.

In my life all these places had their moments. And for that I am grateful.

MATERIALS USED:

Shameless Plug: The Labyrinth Series in addition to other works incorporating Artistcellar Stencils will be on exhibit at the Oyster Mill Playhouse, Camp Hill, PA November 4 through November 20, 2016

IN FINDING THE MOON

“Don’t think. FEEL! It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!”   -Bruce Lee – “Enter The Dragon” 

The Artistcellar Labyrinth series holds great inspiration for me. The variety of designs is an encouragement to slow down and listen, and to allow their voice to guide you. Or in the words of Bruce Lee, “Don’t think. FEEL!”

So it was, during the last full Moon, with my Strathmore Journal in hand, that I started my next design. I chose the Anasazi stencil. My heart was telling me it was the right one to use.

I stenciled directly on to the page in my Journal with Dye-Na-Flow Midnight Blue. By drying between applications I was able to produce a dappled effect of varying shades. Once the base was complete I layered lunar inspired colours of metallic acrylic. Warm highlights were added to accent and compliment the cool.

It is wonderful to experience the positive aspects of the full Moon by revising goals and setting intentions. Because of this powerful lunar energy, meditation is encouraged. I find just looking at the Moon introduces calm and stillness to what is usually a frenetic life. Mindfulness is highlighted. It is the perfect time to seek the benefit of walking a Labyrinth.

It was my time to put the work together. I’ve mentioned that I am compiling a great collection of images in my journal and from there I chose a watercolour swatch in shades of indigo. I also selected the Open Work stencil from the new Artistcellar Blocks series.  It has become one of my favourites!

The Bruce Lee Estate recently released a series of his 1968 pocket notebooks.  He filled them in neatly written script noting appointment details, affirmations, and his philosophy on life. They are inspirational. Reading through them, you can’t help but see how his life and work were intertwined…the fluid with the sharp, the public with the personal, and the strong with the sensitive. But above all, he had the power to still the mind and allow his spirit to soar. He found the compliment in opposites. 

I kept his quote foremost in thoughts while working and allowed the collage to build itself. I wasn’t thinking of technique but rather was permitting the elements to find their own home. I allowed myself just to feel. When my collage was finished, I knew I had discovered a place of deep stillness. And once there I too did not will miss all that heavenly glory.

MATERIALS USED

Until next time, visit my blog! 

Sisterhood of the Muse

"You can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow." – Janis Joplin

I was just a kid, making my bed and listening to the radio on a Saturday morning. The opening notes of a song caught my ear, but it was when I heard the raspy, passion filled voice, I knew I was experiencing something exceptional. At the time I didn’t know who was singing, and I didn’t know the name of the song. But the vocalists’ raw emotion, the way she held a note…releasing it at just the perfect moment...captivated me.  The song was “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company. The mesmeric voice belonged to Janis Joplin. The memory of the first time I heard her sing will forever stay with me.

We all know her story…leaving Port Arthur, Texas to discover who she was as a woman and an artist, of her addictions and her need for pushing the limits of her rock-and-roll lifestyle.  But rather than dwell on the tragic I want to celebrate all that was triumphant.

As a confirmed letter writer myself, I loved reading Janis’ correspondence to friends and family. This Janis is the one that inspired me through my awkward (are they ever anything but!) teens and into my twenties. Janis kicked open the door for women in the arts. She showed us anything is possible if we follow our dreams to our authentic self. Her drive to succeed on her own terms…caressing the vulnerable and the beautiful…lead to many mishaps but also to great discoveries.

The quote is a favourite of mine. Before words like “mindfulness” became part of the lexicon, Janis was already a believer. As I’ve recently been working with the wonderful Artistcellar Labyrinth series, my heart and my work have found a brilliant resting place in being fully present and not destroying my “now”.

The newest member of the Artistcellar family is Blocks. I couldn’t wait to start creating! The variety within the four piece set is excellent. I was especially drawn to the Open Work and Cross T designs. I wanted to give my work a 1960’s vibe so I chose to stencil with the colours of the era: hot pink, purple, acid green. It was fun to dab my acrylics through the stencil and see the combinations. I even stenciled a single colour knowing I could add it to my art. As with all of the Artistcellar products, clean up was a snap leaving the stencils in perfect condition.

I enjoyed building the collage. I wanted to give the work a vintage feel and started with a tintype background. I added the layers including the stenciled images, newspaper clippings, date stamps, painted dryer sheets, and finally the image of Janis. I chose this particular photo because she looked fearless, happy and ready to take on her next adventure.

It is easy to be drawn to the heart-rending story of a creative who died before their time. But if there is one thing I’ve gained from following Janis’ much too short career it is this: Be true to yourself, as a woman and an artist, and you will find authenticity waiting to be discovered in that special piece of your heart.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: BLOCKS - Open Work, Cross T
  • PLAID FOLKART METALLIC ACRYLICS: Aquamarine, Champaign, Antique Gold, Amethyst, Plum, Rose Shimmer, Metallic Rose, Emerald Green, Peridot, Blue Topaz
  • PLAID ACRYLICS: Sunflower, Brilliant Pure Orange
  • REEVES ACRYLICS: Rose Red
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS
  • STRATHMORE Mixed-Media Visual Journal 300 Series- 5.5" x 8.5"
  • DIGITAL IMAGES – Purchased & Created

 

 

"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 aire 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.

MATERIALS USED:

 

"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.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR SEAFOAM STENCIL
  • ARTISTCELLAR HALFTONE DOTS SERIES STENCILS
  • 100% SILK CHIFFON SCARF
  • REACTIVE DYES: CORAL, YELLOW, ORANGE
  • WOOD BLOCKS
  • STRING
  • ROYAL LANGNICKEL WATERCOLOURS – FLAT & PEARLESCENT
  • REEVES METALLIC ACRYLIC: GOLD, BRONZE
  • PLAID FOLK ART METALLIC ACRYLICS:ROYAL GOLD, AQUAMARINE, AMETHYST,
    PLUM, ROSE, CHAMPAGNE
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • FLAT PAINTBRUSH
  • RUBBER CEMENT & ERASER
  • DIGITAL IMAGES

“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?

MATERIALS USED

  • MINERAL PAPER
  • ARTISTCELLAR SEAFOAM STENCIL
  • ELMER’S RUBBER CEMENT
  • RUBBER CEMENT ERASER
  • ROYAL LANGNICKEL WATERCOLOURS
  • PLAID FOLK ART METALLIC ACRYLICS
    • ROYAL GOLD
    • AQUAMARINE
    • AMETHYST
    • PLUM
    • ROSE
    • CHAMPAGNE
  • DIGITAL IMAGES
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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 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 traveled 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. I have been hearing 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!

MATERIALS USED

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