Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

This week I want to share with you what I created with the collage papers I created from my last blog post. Remember these?

Here's what I used:

One more thing before we start. I don't have any process photos (GASP! I know!). I was going along with the creative flow and didn't even realize until I was finished, dagnabbit. But, on the other hand, I do have 12 finished faces to show you!

My process is as follows: In my little Moleskine I pre-gessoed a bunch of pages so the page is ready to go when I am. I decided I wanted to fill this book with faces but before I draw the faces I add a few layers of color onto my page with paint and stencils. Using a foam wedge makeup sponges makes this process easy. While those layers dried I went in with my paint pen (black or white) and drew faces on a few of the pages. (Nope, no pencil first! Just go for it! To make it even more fun I used a continuous line on some of them.) For the other pages I cut face-like shapes from my homemade collage paper and glued them down with matte medium. To review: On some pages I drew a face directly on the stencil decorated background and on others I drew a face on top on collage paper that was cut to a face-like shape and then glued in the book.

Oh look! I do have a process shot! LUCKY!

This shows some stencil layers and collage paper cut to a face-like shape.

Now I just use my imagination and paint the faces fabulous colors remembering to use complementary colors to help make things POP! Don't layer your paint on too thick since you want the underlayer texture created by the stencils to still peek through.

I also add a layer of paint to the backgrounds in some places to make things interesting.

Final steps happen when all the paint is dry. I take my extra-fine black paint pen and trace over my drawing lines again. This smooths the edges of the features and lends it a finished look. I also take my 9xxb drawing pencil to create value and texture.

I'm in love! We'll see how many faces I create with this style/technique before I change it up. I already have plans to make even more of my own collage papers.

Happy creating!

“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 symbolizes 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-realization. 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:

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

Do you have a secret you would like to share? Is it something no one knows about you? Do you have a sincere spirit of inquiry, a sense of curiosity about life? Does it lead you to unexpected discoveries?

Keeping with playing card Art Journaling 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.

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.

As I already had the backs complete 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 colors 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 inquiry. You may even find a new kind of happiness waiting for you!

MATERIALS USED:

“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. I know some people like to cover the images on the playing cards completely. I like to allow the flavor of the card to show through where possible. To complete this series I highlighted portions of the back design with Distress Crayons and Crackle Paste. They are now safely tucked away in my binder.

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:

“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 and they were back to perfect condition.

The cards are now part of my new journal project, 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 we hold dear. Right now. Right here.

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:

WHAT'S YOUR BAG?

"Hey man, what’s your bag?" Couldn’t help but think of this relic of the Sixties when I discovered the theme of a French Mail Art Call was to recycle paper bags. As it happened, I was on my way home from one of my favourite restaurants, Neato Burrito, with my mission style burrito safely tucked away in a brown paper bag.

As you can gather by the name, Neato Burrito has a definite retro vibe. Now with several locations...and I’ve visited them all...you create your burrito by choosing from a delicious assortment of tortillas, rice, beans, meats, salsas and vegetables.  Their jalapeno feta salsa is to die for and was just the inspiration I needed! I also wanted to have fun and there’s no better way for me than to dive into conventional collage work. I love being a recycler of images from a past age. Guess that’s my bag.

I started the project by deconstructing the paper bag at the seams. I liked the printed messages and did my best to keep them as part of my finished envelope. The brown paper was the perfect background for Artistcellar Halftone Dots Series. Stenciling with the largest dots first I changed colours as I progressed through the series. The Artistcellar Traditional Japanese Series is wonderful when you are looking for a pop of colour to accent your work. I picked the Cherry Blossom stencil to do just that.

As many collage artists know, the most wonderful ephemera are gifted to us through the US Postal Service. A gem recently dropped in my mailbox courtesy of a local gas station chain. The image of the woman on the front of the brochure was crying out for a new home...and I had just the place for her! The pinup style illustration fit perfectly with the layout I had in mind. And I liked the feeling of continuity...mail that came to me is now part of a recycled piece to be sent abroad.

When you visit the restaurant it’s great to see the selected vintage advertising that deftly crosses several decades. Motivated by the Neato Burrito experience I rummaged through the classified sections of magazines of the era. Happy with what I found, I surrounded the woman with a plethora of choices. Isn’t that what advertising is all about?

And here you have the final product, just waiting to be addressed, stamped and sent off to France. As they say, everything old is new again...so, I put the question to you: What’s your bag?

MATERIALS USED

  • ARTISTCELLAR Halftone Dots Series, Traditional Japanese Series
  • DECOART Sea Glass, Dazzling Champagne Gold
  • CRAFTSMART Sea Mist Pearl
  • PLAID Sunflower, Pure Orange, Metallic Bright Red, Rose, & Amethyst
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • VINTAGE & CONTEMPORARY EPHEMERA, STANDARD MAIL, PAPER BAG, VINTAGE MAGAZINES

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” – Mohsin Hamid

An artist whose work I respect, Seth Apter, recently shared a heartfelt post on his Blog. Seth described a project initiated by several artists, all using the same motto, with the objective of bringing a sense of peace and unity to what has been an extremely chaotic time. By celebrating our diversity through creative endeavors, the #artistforlove movement called for the creation of art as a way to start a conversation and begin collectively healing. Through his work Seth is participating in the process for the restoration of support, acceptance, respect, and love by creating and sharing a lovely poster.

Inspired by the movement and the contributing artists, I decided to take part. As much as I find #artistsforlove an honorable undertaking, I’d like to go one step further. For me, finding a path back to acceptance, respect and a sense of normality begins with a single word: Empathy.

We are different, our outlook molded by our unique life experiences. But rather than the celebration of our unique gifts, our diversity has been manipulated to divide us. This is something I will not tolerate.

It is true that our reaction to what has played out before us has often become heated. But then again, isn’t this to be expected when discussing something about which we are passionate? Empathy encourages us to step back, calm down, and see the other point of view…to find another echoed within ourselves.

One thing I do know for sure, through travel and living in a variety of cities in the US and abroad, one thing is constant. We all want the same thing. We all want meaningful work that provides a good life for ourselves and our families. We all want a peaceful environment in which to thrive.  And together we can work towards making this a reality. Working at odds in counterproductive and will not benefit anyone.  I stand by our Nation’s motto E Pluribus Unum - "out of many, one". I am proud of the rich tapestry of traditions that make us who we are as Americans.

I began the collage with calligraphy enhanced with Twinkling H20s from the Summer Fun collection. The colours are luminous and rich. They went on smoothly using my Koi Water Brush – another of my now “go to” supplies.

The stencils used are the Artistcellar Traditional Japanese Series. I layered Dina Wakley Media Heavy Body Acrylic paint in Lapis, Ocean, Sky, and Elephant. I wondered how the stencil would perform during clean-up since each layer of acrylic was completely dry between applications. Of course, they worked perfectly…clean and back to pristine condition in a matter of minutes! As the work is my invitation to others to participate I pulled all my elements together and built the final art using a postcard as substrate.

Our world is changing. There is no doubt about it. Will you reach out through your work with the #artistsforlove and #artistsforempathy movements?  We all need to take that first step… to begin the conversation, to throw open the door to Empathy… to search for, and find the echo of another person within ourselves. It is only then that we can rediscover our common ground.

MATERIALS USED:

“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

"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.

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