Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

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.

MATERIALS USED:

 

Hello Lovelies! I hope your summer has been filled with fun, good food and ART! I also hope you get a chance to "get away" even if it is in your own town. :)

The project I am bringing to you today is one of my favorites. I have had this idea rattling around in the right side of my brain for awhile now.

If you could flip through my sketchbooks you might see a reoccurring theme. Houses. I think every artist has symbols, images, etc. that mean something extra special to them. One of mine is houses. Growing up my family moved often. In fact, I realized recently that I have moved, on average, every 3-5 years my entire life. That is many many houses. One house that has remained constant is my grandparents' farmhouse in Idaho. It is one of my very favorite places on the planet. If you want to read how my very favorite place influences my creativity you can read a blog post I wrote a couple years ago. http://smilingeyestudio.blogspot.com/2014/07/thoughts-on-creative-process.html

So, continuing this thought process about home. What does home mean to you? What function does a home have? I am sure it can mean different things at different times of our lives. These are the questions that were going though my mind as I created this series.

I started with three wooden house forms I found at my local craft store and my first layer was GAC-100 by Golden. It is a multi-purpose acrylic polymer that seals the grain of the wood. (Another option for this is clear gesso or you can go rogue and just start painting!)

Using a selection of Dina Wakley acrylic paints I painted each side a different color. Using the same colors on each house will help them have continuity. 

Then I grabbed my palette knife, Deco Art Media Crackle paste and the larger Halftone Dots Stencil and applied a medium to heavy layer to each side of the houses. (Tip: The thicker the paste the bigger the cracks.) Some sides were just the dots and others were solid crackle paste. When the paste was dry I went all ooooh and aaaaah at the delicious texture that I saw.

The next layers were paints (same as before) and dictionary pages. I only glued the paper to a few sides of each house. Again, using the same ephemera on each ties them together. (Kinda like Project Runway when they have a group of designers design a mini collection. The successful groups have a common element that appears on each of the designs, whether it is color, pattern, etc.)

At this point I found a quote I liked and also sketched out some imagery I wanted to paint onto the house blocks. When I looked at the super awesome bumpy surface from the crackle paste I knew it would be a smidge difficult to paint details. So I grabbed my favorite sanding blocks and went to town sanding all sides of the houses. Dust was flying and the result was AWESOME! 

All the divine cracks stayed but the overall surface was more flat and so so smoooooth. A bonus was the distressed look I got from the paint partially sanding off too.

Now that my surface was ready I started painting!

I felt the sides needed something snazzy so I picked out my favorite stencil from the Cathedral Series and it was perfect. 

I also used gold paint to add details and the shimmer shine just tied everything together. 

The result is a whimsical house set that makes me smile. Mission accomplished!

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Oooo!!! I am so glad to be back home with all my art supplies! Oh... and... um... I missed my husband too. Tee Hee!

I love my acrylic paints, all brands regardless of viscosity. The problem is they are not very compact when flying so I settled for my watercolors while I was in Wisconsin visiting. I also missed all my wonderful stencils! They make it easy to add interest to a page either as a focal point or a background.

For this weeks blog piece I decided to get my inspiration from my Artful Journeys prompts #199 Polkadot and #205 Rockabilly. Not only did it save me some time trying to figure out what to paint, it also gave me a reason to paint a face!

I started by getting one of my mixed media journals and sketching out my Rockabilly girl using my Generals Scribe all pencil.

I love this pencil because it is water soluble to I can use it in a variety of ways, I can use it as I have here, with watercolors for shading or with other mixed media blended with light color acrylics to add contrast and shadows.

I then used acrylics to paint the background and the face. To really make her pop I used the largest "Shadow" Dot Halftone Dot Series stencils to add the pattern to the back ground.

I continued to paint the girl and realized the background was a bit blah.

Yea... blah.

So to remedy the blah-ness of it I went in with all but the smallest of the set of the Halftone dots, adding blue and white.

I think that little bit of added color from the stencil made her pop and made the background more interesting to look at with out taking away from the page.

I missed my stencils so much while I was gone!

Big hugs and Mushy stuff!

Watch the video to see my full process!

 

Save

"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

Good day Artistcellar fans! How are you doing?

Do you feel like a little art journaling session is in order?

Grab your favorite supplies: a mixed media art journal, Artistcellar stencils, a few markers, acrylic paint, a brush, a jar of water, and the Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle set.

Today I’m playing with the Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle Pencils. I used one pencil in particular from the set-the 8B, along with the included paintbrush.

Let’s begin!

First, scribble some lines through the openings of a stencil. I used the Tracks Stencil from the Marked Series.

Tip: Blot with a paper towel before removing the stencil.

Remove the stencil to see the design.

To continue with the art journal pages, I used a stencil from the Halftone Dots series and some turquoise paint.

TIP: To get more on your background, clean the stencil with a baby wipe on the blank side of your page spread.

Now it’s time to add some journaling. I am a big believer in the power of writing, and I also love how handwriting looks in an art journal. What’s fun about the Faber-Castell Graphite Aquarelle pencils, is that you can easily blend out some of your words so it’s illegible to other people.

To make the writing even more difficult to read, I made a line grid over the words and added more water with the paintbrush.

Use markers to add patterns or anything else you want to include on your pages.

For me, this page spread is complete. I love creating backgrounds while playing and experimenting with art supplies!

Thanks for reading this post!

Blessings to you,

Briana

PS For more mixed media art ideas and inspiration, visit me at OrangeSpiralArts.com

Hello again!

Since my last project I have discovered -- the gel printing plate! I know, I know... where have I been right? So I started this one with a gel print with some Artistcellar stencils! I used the Halftone Dots Series, Sacred Geometry 2 and the Diamond series with DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics in Payne's Grey, Dina Wakely's Turquoise acrylic paint, Golden High Flow in Indigo and Green Gold, and Americana Multi-Surface Acrylic in Deep Turquoise. 

Once the gel print was dry, I taped off the edges with blue painter's tape and then added a wash of watercolor over the print with a koi waterbrush. Then, I cut out a silhouette from a magazine and traced around it with a Scribe-All pencil

Next, I used some black gesso and covered everything that wasn't in the silhouette... and added some drips of Golden's green gold and a little bit of Dylusions paint in "cut grass". 

To finish it off, I brushed some liquid glass over the silhouette because I wanted it to be glossy!

That's it! It was a very easy -- but very fun project and I really like the results.​