Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

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 really like my Strathmore Visual Journal. The spiral binding allows me to place the book flat on my work surface. This makes anything I want to do to 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 heavy body acrylic paint in Lemon. 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 the ephemera and texture techniques I wished to add.  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:

A DAY AT 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 traveler. 

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. I love it!

But what is the Beach without the Ocean? Part of the charm of eating at Nathan’s is feeling the grit of the sandy sidewalk under your feet and the 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.

But what is Nathan’s 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 may be times we seem to go off track. But I firmly believe our collective soul thrives on compassionately embracing ideas that are different. And most of all offering a warm welcome to those who want to make this Nation their own.

MATERIALS USED:

Today I bring you part two of my project using the Quilt Series Stencils. I ended my last post by showing you that I had just started adding my stitches to my piece of canvas. 

I ended up concentrating on one of the stencil designs and really took my time adding more and more stitching details to the original design. I used regular embroidery thread in a variegated color scheme as well as black, white and ecru. I stuck with the basic stitches I am familiar with, running stitch, back-stitch and Xs.

After I had filled our my design to my liking I decided I would turn this into the cover for a fabric book where I plan to paint, collage and stitch on the pages. I plan on making it full of texture and color. 

After cutting my cover to size I also cut some batting (to thicken the cover) as well as fabric for the inside of my book to the same size. The fabric I pulled from my stash includes ticking, canvas, white broadcloth and gray felt. The ticking ended up as the inside layer of my cover with the batting sewn between it and my painted canvas.

It's a little wonky and certainly not perfect but I am so so happy with how it is coming along. The stitching makes me slow down, relax and it's nice to just let something evolve as I add a bit to it each evening.

I'll be back next time with a finished book filled with chunky texture, luscious color and more stencils!

Hello my Lovelies! I am totally scatter brained! I recently realized that I lost a day at some point this week! So here I am working leisurely on this week's blog post thinking I was a day ahead of schedule than "splat" reality throws a curveball at me! Sorry Lisa! I was playing with a canvas and my 12" x 12" Water and Coral Series stencils.

My plan is to keep doing layers of color until I like what I see. I had company in  town and I gave a piece of art off my wall and I now have a space to fill so I am making this all for me. I will give an update on my next blog post as to how it turned out.

Because I wanted to have a actual completed piece for you I promptly took out my journal and decided I would have some fun play time. After doing the faces of February I realized that I am pretty much stuck in a rut as far as what the faces I usually make look like so I have been working on changing that and trying to evolve my style a bit.

If you are familiar with what I normally do you will notice I tried to make her eyes further apart and to put less detail in the nose, I want to kind of "rough up" the look and get to refining later.

I started by doing a very rough sketch of my girl holding her kitty with my Generals Scribe-all in black. I then activated the pencil with water and started adding Dina Wakley  paint willy-nilly until I got the face colored in nice. I did a color wash background using more watered down paint in multiple layers. Then went back in with Cheddar and Fuchsia and the Japanese Geometric stencils thinking it would give me the feel I wanted but It didn't groove with me so I went in with Gesso through the 12" x 12" Sea Foam from the Water Series and realized the sentiment I wanted to record in my journal. "Why can't I just live in a bubble with my cat" which I wrote using a nib pen wth my Dyna-flow in Turquoise. For the last touch I used my white gel pen to add little scribbly bits here and there until I was happy!

I love doing these fun journal entries and exploring my style! 

Big Hugs and Mushy Stuff!

Shana Banana

The new Quilt Series stencils have been a source of great inspiration for me. After my last project, where I worked with paint in my art journal, I decided to get my SEW on and grabbed some fabric and embroidery thread. Since I am more of a tortoise than a hare when it comes to hand sewing (okay okay, really ANY sewing) I am only sharing the first half of the project this week. 

Here's what I used:

First step was painting my canvas. I sprayed my canvas with water so when I brushed on the paint it would apply smoothly and blend well. I also made sure I used a wet brush and brushed the paint on the canvas with circular motions. I was going for a wash of color as opposed to thick layers because I wanted to fabric to stay pliable.

When the canvas was dry I placed my two stencils down and did a layer of gesso and then, when dry, a layer of Penny.

Now comes the sewing!! So far I have chosen a variegated embroidery thread and sewed around the edges of the stencil with a back stitch. When I add more stitches I'll be thinking about what I would add if this was a drawing or painting. My needle and thread will act as my pencil or paintbrush. I am enjoying the handiwork and I find myself relaxing as I work. It's nice to unplug, slow down and make progress stitch by stitch.

 

Will it be a book cover? A wall hanging? Check back next time to find out!

Happy creating!

Happy Friday!

Today I'm super excited to do a project with the brand new Quilt series stencils! I have both the 6 x 6 and the pocket set, so I got to work creating a little art journal page with them. 

Now I KNOW I want to experiment with the stencils using them to create artistic quilts, (and how fun would it be to sun dye fabric with Dye-Na-Flow ink?!) but for now I wanted to figure out a way to use the stencils in a totally off the wall way. 

So... I made a lotus!

To begin, I sprayed the art journal page with some Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in "Verdigris". I just wanted to get some color on the page -- once I sprayed it, I set the book aside and grabbed a loose piece of watercolor paper. I had already used this paper to doodle on, so I turned it over and started spraying the "Star Flower" stencil with Lindy's Stamp Gang spray in "Ponderosa Pines Olive". I gave it a quick dry with the heat gun and then used scissors to cut out the flower petals. 

Then, I used a hot glue gun to glue the petals down and add a stem. I wanted more color on the page, so I used the pocket stencils with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in "Tarnished Silver" as well as Dye-Na-Flow in Turquoise and Dylusions spray in "Crushed Grape". I also added some black acrylic for more contrast and a Uniball Signo UM-153 pen to add the quote!

I hope you have fun playing with these new stencils! I am already brimming with ideas, they are so versatile and I haven't seen anything like them before! 

Don't you just love the designs of the new stencils?! I have long admired quilters and the artistry they accomplish with fabric and thread. My husband's maternal grandmother was an accomplished quilter and I remember being amazed and humbled when watching her work and seeing her numerous finished creations. She was an artist through and through.

To me, quilting is very American. I know that quilting was around before our country was formed but history shows us it flourished after the arrival of the English and Dutch settlers. Taking fabric and piecing it together in new ways brings art to a utilitarian item and don't you think it has so much symbolism? A quilt can bring comfort, security and peace. It's texture can be warm and cozy. All the seemingly different fabrics brought together with many little stitches become a finished item that seems filled with history, stories and love.

Another thing that's been on my mind lately is my Dad. He passed a little over 4 years ago. He loved this country and considered himself a patriot. He loved, supported and was ready to defend his COUNTRY. He wanted this land to be a place his posterity could flourish in and be able to feel comfort, security and peace. Now, I'm not going to wax political on you. I just want to share what I created in my art journal this week as I needed to express some positive feelings.

Here are the supplies I used:

  • Ohio Star and Star Flower from the Quilts series stencils (6x6) 
  • Ripples stencil from the Water Series (12x12)
  • Dina Wakley Acrylic Paints
  • Gesso
  • White and Black acrylic paint pens

I started with a page in my journal that already had black and blue paint which I added red to.

I then used the Ohio Star and Star Flower stencils with gesso to create the background. When the gesso dried I added "stitches" with a black acrylic paint pen.

After sketching out where I wanted the face to go I added a layer with blue paint and the Ripples stencil so my face would have a subtle texture behind it.

Using gesso I created an underpainting for my face. When that was dry I built layers with the acrylics to create the face. I wanted both light and dark to show across the face.

A final quilt stencil layer on top of the face and a few words and I am happy with the results. I like how the quilt imagery adds a feeling of comfort and order. The bold quilt pattern contrasts with the painterly quality of the face which is partially hidden in the shadows but is emerging to the light.

I will leave you with this definition:

Patriot (noun)

    1. A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
    2. person who regards himself or herself as defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.

Today I wanted to just sit and play and explore with my art supplies. Using watercolor paper, stencils, watercolor and acrylics I explored color and played with the paint on the page. I love to work in this intuitive way and just let the art "be". Whatever wants to show up, I welcome it! Today, a "moonflower" appeared. I call it a moonflower because to me, it fits. 

I hope you will enjoy the little video I created for you!

Supplies Used:

So as I said in my last post I have been taking part in a Faces of February challenge, I have been making a face everyday, using different mediums or styles. So that being said, this post is not about a face I did! lol! because I have to plan these out a bit I just wanted to play and do a bit of playing with stencils and paint today!

I started by getting out my Gesso and covering something I didn't care for in my Strathmore Journal. I completely covered my pages in layers of color using multiple stencils, (here is the list: Playful Pods, Japanese Geometric, Traditional Japanese, Halftone Dots, Marked Series and Steampunk, I thinks that's all of them!) and Dina Wakley Acrylic paints.

I grabbed my Generals Scribe-all pencil and made some simple scribbly sketchy flowers on the pages. I then used gesso to outline them.

I grabbed more of the Dina Wakley paint and mixed it with some gesso and made some beautiful blendy loveliness around the flowers.

After that I just went willy nilly, grabbing more paint, some pens and the generals pencils to play until I was done having having fun! The last thing I did was add some simple silhouettes of a fairie and random bugs and some purposely sloppily written "It doesnt have to be fancy to be fun"

This process is by no means something that I created but it is a wonderful way to play with my supplies and make something that I enjoy looking at! Here's the video: 

 

Big hugs and Mushy stuff!

Shana Banana

Today I wanted to challenge myself in two different ways -- I wanted to paint a boy (something I don't often do) and I also wanted to use totally new colors for the portrait. Eee!

I started with an 8" x 10" canvas and a graphite pencil. I used a sketch of my own from about a year ago as my reference. For the background, I also used a 12" x 12" Artistcellar Sacred Geometry Sri Yantra stencil.

 Once I finished with the sketching, I brushed on a layer of clear gesso.

For the portrait colors I used Dina Wakely Acrylic, "Blushing" and "Umber" mixed with DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics in "Titanium White". I brushed on layers to capture shading until I reached a point I was happy with. 

For extra background elements I used 12" x 12" Artistcellar Water Series in "Sea Foam" and "Ripples" with DecoArt Media Mister in Primary Cyan and then I added in more color with Dina Wakely's "Ocean", "Fuchsia", and "Blackberry Violet".

To finish off his shirt, I used Dina Wakely's "Evergreen" with some white acrylic for the stripes. 

This week, I discovered that it is really fun to go back to old sketches and drawings and bring them into the now. I changed a few things here and there, but mostly kept true to the style of past me.

I hope I have inspired you to go back and rediscover some of your old work! How will you incorporate it into the now?

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