Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

“I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life. All mystery and magic.” - Houdini

Do you believe in magic? Are you intrigued as I am by stage magicians? Even if I know the secret to the trick, I still relish the performance. Mystery and magic. I can’t get enough of it.

For my next Artistcellar project I wanted to experiment with a supply I haven’t used in a long time. I have always liked adding embossing powders to my art. There is something about the transformation from powder to a liquid metal effect that I find sublime. I recently purchased a set of Seth Apter’s Baked Texture Embossing powders. With names like Chunky Rust, and Vintage Beeswax I couldn’t wait to create with them.

My other recent obsession is image transfers. I have been attaching images to an array of papers. The results widely vary. But when they work, it’s like holding a bit of magic in your hand. Most of my transfers have been produced from photocopies of engravings. The lines hold well to the substrate. I wanted to try a halftone photo. I decided to try my luck with a photo of a woman in a top hat I saw in a book. Because I wanted a transparent finish I transferred the photo to a tea bag. After a bit of soaking and rubbing, I was pleased with the results.

Using an old library book cover for the substrate I began the collage. I glued a piece of joss paper to the cover and layered the image transfer on top. While it was drying, I covered a selection of papers with embossing ink using my Open Work stencil from the Blocks series. I especially liked the colour and texture I got from the Ancient Amber powder on the tea bag. I also tried the powders on a piece of parchment paper. As the powder set, they lifted from the paper and I glued them to the design as free standing jewels. I liked the old carnival poster effect of the piece. I completed the work with tissue paper from my last project, a bit of French newspaper I covered with Vintage Beeswax powder, and papers infused with real beeswax.

 

Every time I create I dive into all that is magical and mysterious. The magic has been the discovery of a new way to use a supply. The mystery often times is just the process of creation. My hope is that you follow your inspired heart. It can guide you to places and people who will forever enchant your life.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: HALFTONE DOTS, BLOCK SERIES (Open Work)
  • HANDCUT DIAMOND STENCIL
  • PLAID ACRYLICS: Sunflower, Inca Gold
  • DECOART: Sunny Day, Blue Harbor, Sea Glass, Desert Turquoise
  • DYLUSIONS PAINT: Vibrant Turquoise, Cut Grass, Fresh Lime, London Blue, Crushed Grape, Squeezed Orange, Bubblegum Pink, Postbox Red
  • DINA WAKLEY ACRYLICS: Blushing
  • REEVES: Bronze, Gold
  • SETH APTER - EMERALD CREEK EMBOSSING POWDER (Ancient Amber, Chunky Rust, Vintage Beeswax, Patina Oxide)
  • STAMPENDOUS CLEAR EMBOSSING INK
  • LIQUITEX MATTE MEDIUM
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • PAINTER’S TAPE
  • HEAT GUN
  • TISSUE PAPER
  • JOSS PAPER
  • WAX INFUSED PAPER
  • VINTAGE FRENCH NEWSPAPER
  • LASER PHOTOCOPY  
  • HARDBACK BOOK COVER

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." - Frank Zappa

I always smile when I read this Zappa quote. When I was in Art School, as much as our instructors encouraged following our creative voice, they equally stressed the importance of sales. After all, a starving artist in a garret sounds romantic, but creativity has a difficult time thriving when you’re faced with a lack of income.

I have been working on a series of Prayer Flags using the Artistcellar Tibet Series for inspiration. They will be on exhibit at WITF-TV, our local PBS channel in Harrisburg, PA. This is my second set. The first sold at an exhibition last year. Although the new set is in the spirit of the old, I found my colour choices and positions of the stencils were evolving. As you use your Artistcellar stencils you too will discover how they inspire your work. When masking a stencil here or there, you can change the feel of your design, always creating something fresh and new.

Recently a friend gifted me with a beautifully wrapped wind chime. The deep purple tissue paper she used has a wonderful sheen and light texture. I knew it would find its way into my art. While working on the flags, I found it hard to just wash all the luscious paint off my stencils. Instead, in celebration of Earth Day, I used my purple tissue as a blotter. What better way to “Reuse & Recycle”?

When I was finished stenciling my flag, I transferred the paint to the paper. The tissue took the acrylics well and soon I had two gorgeous paint covered sheets. But this is just the beginning. The paper will be a central part of a project I will write about in the coming weeks.

Have you ever tried using up your paint on paper this way? Not only “saving” your acrylic it’s a great way to extend the life of your stencil…to have positive and negative images at your fingertips.

I suppose Frank Zappa was right. As artists we can make something from nothing.  And here’s hoping you have future sales to boot!

 MATERIALS USED: 

This week I'm bringing you a project that takes a page out of one of my sketchbooks and puts it up on the wall. I am still loving the faces I created in my little Moleskine I shared a few weeks ago. I didn't want them to just stay in the book, I wanted them to break out and decorate my wall! I chose one of my favorites and... follow along!  

Here are the supplies I am using:

After the GAC-100 dries add a layer of gesso and use the Dots stencil to create texture in the wet gesso. Let dry.

Next comes a layer of acrylic paint. I used a Lemon yellow and a lime color. 

Let's bring out the pattern by using the dot stencil with a Ruby red and a Night blue paint. I really like how the colors blend and contrast with each other. Tada!! This is the background.

I prepped the chipboard with a layer of gesso on two sides (it keeps the chipboard flat). Using a blue and a red paint with the Tracks and Open Work stencils add a few layers to make a quick background. 

Looking at my original I took a pencil and sketched a similar face.

Use acrylic paints to paint in the face and outline in black. Final touches and more texture done with my favorite drawing pencil. 

After I am happy with the way it looks it's time to cut it out! Don't you just love how the stencil designs peek out?!

I used gel medium to attach the chipboard piece to the substrate and left it to dry overnight with a layer of books on top to help it dry flat.

After a coat of black paint around the edges to finish it off it's time for a coat of glossy sealer. 

She looks great and I think she will look even better on my wall with a few of her sisters to join her. Better get to work!! Have a creative week!

 

“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

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 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 sprayed 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.

WE RISE TOGETHER

“You will rise by lifting others.” - Robert G. Ingersoll

When times are bleak we seize the smallest glimmer of hope wherever we can encounter it. I find myself in the midst of such times. For me, turning to my Art is a way of trying to make sense of what is clearly chaos.

I started my journey in Art as a printmaker. The mechanics of cutting a woodblock or prepping a stone always fills me with the comforting feeling of whispered anticipation. Working with the Speedball Lino Cutter and Speedycarve block was like visiting an old friend. And the timing couldn’t be better.

I drew simple butterfly shapes on to the Speedyblock as I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to carve. I must say, it was like pushing a warm knife through butter. Now that I am familiar with the block, I am looking forward to using it again on more finely detailed work. I tried both a conventional stamp pad and acrylic paint to print the image. Both were successful, but I preferred the acrylic paint finish. When dried, I coloured the butterflies using Twinkling H20 watercolours. I love their shimmer and rich hue…keeping true colour even when dry.

I love the variety and durability of the Artistcellar stencils. Adding to my Strathmore Journal, I grabbed the Halftone Dots and Seafoam stencils. I wanted to create a feeling of randomness. I allowed the stencils to drop to the paper without positioning them. My selection of acrylics was as accidental.

When all of the elements were complete, I scanned and began the final composition.

It is impossible to ignore the events surrounding us. The implications are global. But through it all, my spirit is renewed.  Each time I see a new group of concerned individuals lifting their voices in unison, I know we are seizing the essence of what makes us truly American. Like soaring butterflies, our differences are celebrated. And we will only rise when we support and lift each other.

MATERIALS USED:

Hello, hello! It’s good to have you back on the blog! Thank you for being here.

Today, I am sharing some stepped out photos of a handmade greeting card with a special message just for YOU!

The supplies I used are as follows:

Step 1: Dab some Dina Wakley Lime paint through the Halftone Dots Shadow stencil.

Step 2: Add some Dina Wakley Ruby paint through the Halftone Dots Midtone 2 stencil.

Step 3: Add Dina Wakley Sky paint through the Halftone Dots Shadow stencil.

Step 4: Add some Dina Wakley Lemon paint to your palette. Use up some of the extra Lime, Sky, and Ruby paint and create concentric circles on the front of your card.

Step 5: Scrape some Dina Wakley Lemon paint over the back of the card and on the front around your concentric circles.

Note: This Dina Wakley paint was such a pleasure to spread with a plastic card. You know how I wrote earlier that this stuff glides like “buttah”? Well, here’s where you can really get that joyful experience.

Step 6: Using Dye-Na- Flow liquid color, paint a word of your choice in the center of the concentric circles.

Keep playing with the Dye-Na- Flow to add lines, borders, and other embellishments.

Step 7: Here’s how things are looking so far after doing some doodling with black ballpoint pen:

And here’s the special message I want you to receive: Believe You Are Loved.

Step 8: Mail your handmade greeting card to a friend or loved one who may need to hear this special message today!

Notes: I know I am not the best designer. My circles were not spaced correctly, my art is a little messy, and my lettering skills could use improvement. However, I don’t let this stop me from using my creativity and my whole heart. I encourage you to let go of any perfectionist ideas you hold about how your art should look. The recipient of your lovely card will not give two hoots about perfection. What matters most is what comes from your heart!

Many Blessings and Happy Creating to You!
-Briana of OrangeSpiralArts.com

“ALL JOURNEYS BEGIN BY LEAVING ONE PLACE TO VENTURE TO ANOTHER.” – Ellis Island

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 favorite Artistcellar products, the Halftone Dots stencils. 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.

MATERIALS USED:

Hello again!

How long has it been since you played with Shrink Film? I found a few packages in my stash and decided to play. I had never tried to shrink an entire sheet before so I decided to try that and see if the result could be used as book covers. I was not disappointed!

Here is my supply list for this project:

  • Shrink Film (regular ol' clear stuff)
  • Cheap-o craft paints (but any water-based acrylic will work)
  • Halftone Dots Stencils (I just used the two largest dot sizes)
  • Cosmetic sponge
  • Hole punch (3/16 size)
  • Basic Bookbinding supplies for the Coptic Binding Stitch

Cover one side of the shrink film with one color of dots. When that is dry cover the other side with dots in a complementary color. Repeat this on another sheet of Shrink Film. Using a hold punch punch the holes where your binding will be. Remember to punch the holes BEFORE you shrink!

Now it is time to shrink the film in your oven per the instructions on the package. It will take less than 5 minutes and it is so cool to watch!!

Cool under a heavy, flat weight for a few minute to make sure it ends up flat.

The results will not be consistent from one sheet to another and the edges most likely will not be square but that was okay with me. Time to assemble the book!

I will not include a full tutorial on preparing a book block or the coptic stitch because there are a multitude of them all over the internet that explain things much better than I could. So I encourage you to search it out and watch a few videos.

Ta Da! The final book is fun and whimsical. I like the dimension that results from having the dots on both sides of the film. It makes a cool layering effect. The color of the paint became rich and dark after shrinking and has a cool texture to it. There is a little flaking as it is just cheap craft paint so I think a light layer of a spray sealer would help. I want to try this with more quality acrylics (like Dina Wakley's paints) to see if they end up having a different texture after shrinking. 

Shrink film and stencils are a match made in heaven!

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 will  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 of 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 needed was some 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 of the cradle of 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 Acrylic kept their incredible shimmer, which is sometimes lost on other substrates. If you haven’t tried this paper...you must! The results are delicious!

It has been a brilliant education getting familiar with all the products Artistcellar has to 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 is one to encourage 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?

MATERIALS:

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
DecoArt Metallic Acrylic paint: Teal, Amethyst, Plum
Reeves Metallic Rose Red, Copper, Silver
Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic: Moon Violet, Waterfall Green, Galactic Blue, Velvet Violet

Lisa here...

Congratulations to all of the Stencil Winners! I really wish we could send every one of you a set of stencils, but alas, staying in business might be a better option :-) I really appreciate every one of your comments, and I know the design team really enjoyed the feedback! So thank you. All the winners have been contacted and stencils have left the building. Congratulations to:

  • Angela G.
  • Jill C.
  • Felicia A.
  • JoAnne R.
  • Terri W.
  • Lisa Z.
  • Valerie

I hope you have fun with  your stencils, and be sure to share!

I have one last project for you, using the Artistcellar Halftone Dots series. It was born out of necessity, and out of a day of cleaning the studio. I found some Christmas themed coasters, the ones you find at the dollar spot at Target. Well, we couldn't have that! I decided to grunge them up a bit.

I started by taping them all together in a row (I had six of them) with some blue Painter's tape, on the backside. You can sorta see the edges below.

I used Dina Wakley's Media Paints in Turquoise and Lemon to cover the base. The used various contrasting colors through the different sized Halftone Dots Stencils, layering them messily. I made sure to stencil over the edges of the coasters onto the one next to it, so it looked like there was no edge. (Bonus! When you are bored, you can pretend they are a little puzzle and put them back together again.)

To continue the circle theme, I dipped the edge of a cardboard tube (in several sizes) in more paint of various colors, and stamped circles, again over the edges of the coasters. Lastly, I used my Fineline Applicator with black fluid acrylics, and "scribble wrote" marks all over them. Once they were dry, I separated them, and gave them several coats of DecoArt Media Satin Varnish.

 Viola! I now have a brand new set of COOL coasters for summer time and those sweaty water glasses!

 

 

 

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