Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

“Digging through my roots to understand the way my branches grew.”― Saleem Haddad

Are you like me…a collector of stories? Do tales of our immigrant past captivate you as they do me? Currently on my bookstand is “Three Minutes in Poland”. The author, Glenn Kurtz, discovered a family home movie filmed in 1938. This began a search to uncover the lost history of the town and people of Nasielsk. I can’t put the book down, and it certainly has influenced my muse for the next project.

I decided to once again create a design inspired by the fabric flags I purchased, this time using just two.  After attaching the flags to my poster board I lightly sanded them. The flags have a canvas texture and the sanding enhanced the weave. I sponged acrylics starting at the bottom and working to the top creating a tranquil evening sky.

The rubber stamp has been in my collection for quite a while. I inked it up with black acrylic paint and repeated the image several times across the flags. I liked the grainy finish which added texture to the composition.

Taking inspiration from the stamp design I added colour by stenciling Artistcellar’s Infra and Highlight Halftone Dots.

The bottoms of the flags are covered with wax infused tissue paper. Reminiscent of the stories told to me, the words create a cadence all their own. I intend to frame the flags and attach beads and charms to the cords…a few that were even passed on to me.

There is so much to learn from recollections shared by family members. Bittersweet memories passed on to me by my grandmother of her youth in Poland are an integral part of my “root system”. And this foundation allowed my branches to search for their perfect evening sky.

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“Open to me, so that I may open. Provide me with your inspiration. So that I may see mine.” – Rumi

I believe in Synchronicity. I believe you get what you need when you need it most. I enjoy creating prayer flags and decided to continue the series. I knew I was on the right path when the Rumi quote crossed my Twitter feed. It was what I needed when I needed it.

This flag is larger in size than the others in the series. I knew the Artistcellar 12” x 12” Sanskrit Om was perfect for this design. Om is a “seed” mantra and is related to the Third Eye the Sixth chakra. Exploring this chakra, your energy to "see" clearly is heightened. The Third Eye renews our ability to view the world and ourselves with hope for the possibilities of life. Most importantly, your Third Eye is the window to experiencing the feelings of others from their perspective…to revive our ability to empathize with those we meet.

To keep the fabric taut while I worked I covered my poster board with a light coat of spray adhesive and positioned the flag. The weight of the fabric is great and shows the stenciling to its best advantage. I chose colours that symbolize the feeling of serenity and are uplifting to me. Once Om was dried I continued with the rest of the design.

Another advantage of working with Artistcellar stencils is the variety of sizes available. The bottom of the flag is filled with two sizes of the Seafoam stencil. I have been creating collage art on rocks, most recently at my local library. The shape of the stencil reminded me of those rocks and the inspiring quotes our group added to each one. The Halftone Dots added a punch of colour.

Now that the flag is complete it will hang with the others as a daily reminder of the spirit of Om. May we all be open to each other and share what inspires us most.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: SANSKRIT OM, HALFTONE DOTS, SEAFOAM
  • DECOART: Splendid Gold, Blue Harbor
  • DINA WAKLEY MEDIA ACRYLIC: Blushing
  • PLAID: Color Shift Blue Violet Flash, Calypso Sky
  • DYLUSIONS PAINT: Vibrant Turquoise, Cut Grass, Fresh Lime, London Blue, Crushed Grape, Squeezed Orange, Bubblegum Pink
  • REEVES: Bronze, Gold
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • PAINTERS TAPE
  • POSTER BOARD
  • ELMERS SPRAY ADHESIVE
  • 7 oz. COTTON DUCK FLAG: 18” X 28”

I am back this week to share a more in depth look at how I created the book I shared last time. The book structure is a combination of an accordion book with three-hole pamphlet stitched signatures.

Let's get started!

To start I used a 8.5"x17" piece of kraft colored cardstock and accordion folded it to have three "mountains" and two "valleys". If I measure from the left to the right there is a fold approximately at 1.5", 5", 8.5", 12" and 15.5". Finally I trim down the height of my book from 8.5" to 5". These dimensions will change if you are making a book to fit in a box. Just measure the inside dimensions of the box and decrease it by a quarter or half inch to give some wiggle room for your finished book.

Now is the time to decorate the cover! My first layer is dry-brushing white paint onto the cardstock. Dry-brushing is exactly what it says, using a DRY brush to loosely apply paint to the surface. This is a great way to add texture. Here is a short clip of me showing this technique:

On one side I used an old hotel key card to scrape thin layers of paint swatches across the surface. I then use the Quasi stencil to add more color and texture. The other side of the paper gets a few layers with the Halftone Dots Shadow stencil and one layer with the Quasi stencil

As a finishing touch I glue down (with matte medium) a few pieces of torn gel printed deli papers from my stash. 

Now it is time to create the inside pages! For this I gathers some old dictionary papers, vintage magazine papers, book pages, old photocopies from previous art projects. Just a variety of paper ephemera. These particular papers I have previously colored with acrylic inks. I was very inspired by Rae Missigman's techniques when she creates her signatures for her Pocket Journals. To find out what size I need to make the inside pages I measure my book at the section I will sew the papers onto and find my pages should be about 5x7 inches or smaller. to fit into the area. The following video shows how I tear down the papers to the size I want and then how I organize them into signatures, which is a group of sheets folded down the middle. 

The last step is to sew! 

I used black waxed linen thread and an embroidery-type needle with a larger eye. If you don't have waxed linen thread then use what you have! Embroidery floss works great! The wax just helps the knots to stay in place. I have even heard of people using dental floss too! This last video shows the entire sewing process from piercing the holes (with a small awl, you could also use a push pin) to stitching all three signatures with a final look at the finished project at the end. The video is 7 minutes long because I chose not to fast-forward it because sometimes seeing things in "real-time" helps create better understanding. 

I hope this inspires you to create your own!

“I’ve learned that home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” – Cecelia Ahern

Have you ever been driving down a street and wondered…Who lives in a house like this? It may not be the largest or the most attractive, but there is something about it that catches your eye. That’s how I feel about a local apartment house with the chic name Stonehurst Court. 

In my last post I mentioned recycling tissue paper to mop up paint from your stencils. Using the tissue I covered with acrylic, I created the mini canvas you see here.  I love the freedom of this technique. You never know how much of the paint will transfer. The results are unexpected and can be a great inspiration. I still have quite a lot of paper left. I will be using it for a community project in a few weeks.

One of my favourite Artistcellar stencils is the Halftone Dots Series. With just a bit of painter’s tape you can mask off just what you need to enhance your design. Inspired by the many steps leading to Stonehurst Court’s front door the largest dots, Shadow, take center stage on my canvas. As the building is surrounded by bushes and plants, I completed the design by tearing off organic sections of the tissue and layering with matte medium. The Playful Pods shimmering in gold added just the effect I was after.

Who lives in a house like this? I like to think people who are adventurous and like to create the feeling of home wherever the put down roots. Is there a certain place that inspires you? I hope you will try the tissue paper technique and have as much fun with it as I did.

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“My soul is fed with a needle and thread.”

Are you creatively drawn to the textile arts? Are you inspired by paper patterns and the hum of a sewing machine? Although my sewing skills are those of an enthusiastic amateur, I am fascinated by factory production, present and past.

A local public library and art center are partners in a bimonthly open exhibit. The next theme is “Machines”. I have been sorting through my ephemera as well as trying new techniques with images transfers. Everything I needed for my next Artistcellar project just seemed to fall into place…the perfect stencils, a vintage image of women in a factory, all the colours of the rainbow. I was set to begin.

I covered my illustration board with a light coat of gesso giving it a quick sanding when dry. I built up the warm background colour with both a textured natural sponge and brush using Lemon, Sunny Day and Sunflower acrylics.

My image transfer experimentation has included a variety of papers for the base. Some results have been more successful than others. The Dover image I chose for this project worked better than I could have imagined.  It held up to burnishing and repeated applications of water and sponging. The fine lines of the ladies dresses remained as did details on the machines. I attached the transfer to the board with matte medium surrounding the factory workers with bits of the pattern paper.

Using the Artistcellar Steampunk Apparatus stencil was a perfect fit. Just as the gears in a machine are the framework that makes all parts move in unison, so too is this stencil. The Blocks, Halftone Dots, and Quasicrystals stencils added just the pop of colour I wanted, visually depicting the cacophony that factory work can be.

As in the illustration, the ladies all in a row are the genesis of the creative process. Their dedicated and in the past very dangerous work make available the very supplies we need to allow our creativity to fly. And fly it will…if not on fabric then on paper.



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“As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.” – Charlie Chaplin

Valentine’s Day has arrived, flinging open the door to love. But when jotting down names on your Valentine card list, did you add yourself?

An article published in a local holistic magazine titled “Self-Love” caught my eye. Drawn from the wisdom of Charlie Chaplin, the article was inspiring as well as thought provoking. So often we think of others and their needs before our own. Shouldn’t self-love, or if you prefer to call it self-care, be part of our daily nurturing practice? Isn’t getting to know our authentic selves the best gift we can give to others? What is wrong with falling in love with ourselves?

I have once again decided to study Tarot. I have added Tarot to my “when I have the time” list for many years. Taking the lead from the article, I decided to make a journal as a gift…and maybe a physical prompt…for myself.

I really love the small journals currently on sale. This little book manufactured by C.R. Gibson and is similar to others I have altered. For me, journaling is more about note taking, list making and snippet saving. Similar to the other journals, the book has small folder attached to the back cover. It’s perfect for hiding away little bits of ephemera.

The cover is dusky blue faux leather. I lightly sanded it and the applied a thin coat of gesso. When dried I attached a piece of rubber stamped tea stained paper with matte medium. I have been experimenting with a variety of stamp inks, dyes and paper. I decided against using the paper covered in wax as I wanted to try hand colouring the image.

My choice of stencils was an easy one. I masked out part of Steampunk Lace stencil. It fit perfectly at the corner of the cover. Echoing the Tarot card, The Wheel of Fortune, it will be a constant reminder of karma and the fluidity of life. I built the colour with layers of Dylusions Paints and Spray using brushes, a sponge and paper towels.

Surrounding the stencil and stamped image with swabbed and splattered paint, I was nearly finished. I added the words “Carpe Diem” created from the same paper as the woman’s face. I coloured the woman’s eye and lips with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist and a brush, giving the image a bit of shine.

This Valentine’s Day…and every day of the year…be kind and loving to yourself. It’s the best way to share and honor your own truth and live authentically. Simply fall in love with you!  

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This week's project is inspired by a mantra that I have been saying to my elementary students more and more in art class. 

Progress, not Perfection

The younger students are still filled with the wonders of being creative and don't get hung up on perfection. They are excited to try new things and love their results no matter what. I have noticed that starting in 3rd and 4th grade the doubts start creeping in and they are more and more unwilling to take risks and do something they don't already know how to do. There is much discussion on having a mindset that allows them to grow and that making mistakes is part of that growth. I try to make my classroom a space where they don't feel like I am constantly judging or comparing them to their classmates. I found myself repeating "Progress, not Perfection" over and over throughout the day and found most students began to relax and feel proud of the work they are doing right now. 

How true this is for all of us. The act of creation does come with feelings of vulnerability and when we start to compare our NOW with others' NOW it can be daunting. When my students see my project examples they proclaim that they want their art to have that same quality. I remind them that I have been creating for over 30 years and if they put the time in to work on their craft they will improve but they do not need to be perfect now. I want them to try their best and make it their goal to have each project improve in some way from the previous one. 

I wanted to make this mantra into a permanent art piece to hang in my classroom so my students (and myself!) can be reminded that progress is the goal right now, not perfection. 

I found a canvas in my studio that had a start of a background made from various printed papers. I don't care too much for the prints now but the subtle texture from the papers will be a nice foundation. 

Using light molding paste, a palette knife, the Shadow halftone dots stencil and the X's from the Marked series I created a raised pattern around the outside perimeter of the canvas. 

While that dried I pulled out my collection of chipboard letters (from my scrapbookin' days!) and spelled out my mantra. When the molding paste was dry I used regular gel matte medium to glue the letters in place in the center-ish of my canvas.  I carefully flipped my canvas face down on my non-stick craft mat and placed heavy beanbags in the center and edges of the canvas to make sure the surface was flat to the table to as the gel medium dries everything stays flat.

When I was sure everything was dry it was time to give the entire surface a coat of paint and I chose Night from Dina Wakley Media. Again, wait for paint to dry. I then used a piece of sandpaper (a fine-ish grit) to sand off the paint from the surface of the letters and some from the perimeter of the canvas where I put the modeling paste with the stencils. This step really helps the raised surfaces stand out from the background. 

After brushing off the dust from the sanding I used Ocean and Evergreen paints to give some color to the canvas but not the lettering. As a finishing touch I painted the outside edges of the canvas red. 

Ta-Da! I love the way it turned out and look forward to displaying it in my classroom.

Have a creative week!

 

“Many people think that patience is a sign of weakness. I think this is a mistake. It is anger that is a sign of weakness, whereas patience is a sign of strength.” -  Dalai Lama

Life of late has taken a turn in a not so wonderful direction. I appreciate we are often challenged by circumstances beyond our control. I am also aware that with Life’s every twist and turn there is something to learn. I think the lesson for me, here and now, is Patience.

Last year I created a series of Prayer Flags. They still fly on the pergola. Seeing them inspires me to embrace serenity mindfully. And their comforting cues usually do the job. I wanted to add another chiffon flag. This time I wanted to feature the virtue of Patience.

Finding solace in Art, it was a relief to gather up my supplies gets started. The first step was to prep the cardboard base. Because of the weight of the chiffon, just a light coat of repositional adhesive was needed. I rolled the fabric on to the cardboard and smoothed out the few air bubbles I found. I started work with a new stencil series recently added to my collection: Artistcellar Steampunk! It was the perfect choice…a pattern of gears and dials reminded me of clocks and the need to allow life to unfold at its own pace. Not mine.

I placed the Apparatus stencil on an angle and when dried flipped it to continue the pattern across the flag. The Steampunk Lace stencil fell beautifully into place just above the border. If you are like me, you find that certain stencils quickly become favourites. They are the ones that allow your creativity to fly. The Steampunk Series certainly falls into this category for me. And even with the many cut outs, the stencils cleaned up in a flash, not requiring me to exercise patience.  I have found that Artistcellar stencils are sturdy enough to take frequent applications of paint and cleanings. This is so important to me. I gravitate to supplies that I don’t have to baby. They let me to focus on the creation of my work.

I have also been falling in love with the Ranger series of Dylusions Paints. If you haven’t tried them, you don’t know what you’re missing. The tubs have a wide mouth which makes it easy to dip in your brush, or as in my case, a natural sponge. But what I love the most is the way they hold the vibrant colour, even on something as sheer as chiffon. I can’t wait to see my flag flying next to the Prayer Flags. But that requires patience.

I threw caution to the wind for the rest of the design and added the colours and stencils as they came to hand. The final piece of the design was the word that inspired it all: Patience. It was now ready to sew on to the dowel and add a string.

I take refuge in the fact that all things pass…the great, the good, as well as the dreadful. And I hope my gentle reminder floating from the pergola brings comfort on the days when the strength of patience is truly what I need.

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Hello beautiful souls,

Have you ever dug through things you've made and decided they needed a makeover? That is what I did with one of my older coffee cup and coffee bead glass art frames I made awhile back. I decided this piece needed to be refreshed.  I took out a piece of watercolor paper and made some measurements to make sure I covered the right area for inside of the frame's view.

Next I did a layer of watercolors and shimmer water colors.

I wanted to do something super simple and liked the way the half-tone dots stencils stacked and looked like gobstoppers with their layers.  I picked this shape for my frame since I wanted to repeat the dots like on the coffee cup. I also chose the same colors along with a few extras for the design. First I used the largest sized dot stencil and did my layer of lime green.

I didn't want to waste my extra paint so I used a smaller watercolor piece to use up the extra and save for another project.  Next I did aqua with the next smaller dot stencil.

Then dark violet with the next smallest.

I finished with the smallest dot stencil and magenta dots.

A simple enough design, but a little something to spruce up the old frame design. Here is the finished frame.

There were just a few rays of sunlight left so I ran outside to catch them before the sun went down.

What pieces of your art have you re-made into new works?

Love, light, and art,

xoxo Genea

“Hold the Vision. Trust the Process.”

The final days of preparation for gift giving are upon us! Is there a person in your life that needs a little boost to their creativity? I love to purchase blank Journals. I have faith they will find a home at just the right time, for the just right person. And in my collection was a little dusky blue book. This could be that special place for a friend to keep her hopes, visions…and gardening notes.

After giving the journal a light sanding, I brushed on several layers of gesso. I wanted a base of white with a bit of the dusky blue cover showing through. My next step when dry was to squeeze Rubber Cement through the “Create” Creative Words Pocket Stencil. I have found that using a scrap of illustration board gives the best coverage…smooth, few bubbles, and little bleeding under the stencil.

Building up the layers of acrylic paint was fun. I usually use a Natural Sponge when I work. I have several in different sizes and textures. I love the ease of application they provide. It’s always great to see how various acrylics react when encountering the roughness of the sponge.

I started by removing the “Create” stencil and lightly applying a coat of Dylusion Vibrant Turquoise over the rubber cement. Giving the paint time to dry, I looked through my stencils and chose the Playful Pods Series. The book will serve as a gardening creative journal, so the pods rolling across the cover was perfect.

I am in love with the Dylusion Spray Ink. Bubble Gum shade is the best around…vibrant and rich. I sprayed the front and back covers with the ink and continued building layers with complimentary acrylic colours. The next addition to the design was the Playful Pods stencils and another Creative Word: “Trust”. There are many reasons to love Artistcellar stencils, but for me it’s the flexibility. With so many sizes to choose from, you will always find the perfect stencil to allow your creativity to soar.

Because the journal will be thrown into a handbag or the back pocket of a pair of jeans, I wanted to keep the surface as flat as possible. The final addition was an image of the Mona Lisa. I covered it in matte medium and dropped in slivers of copper threads while it was still wet. The edges are concealed with Artistcellar-inspired handmade Washi Tape. The result was just as I had hope…a bit of texture, but not the bulk.

And finally, my moment of truth…the removal of the rubber cement. Although the waiting tests my patience, I am happy to say it was worth it…”Create” looks every bit as inspiring as the peaceful smile of Mona Lisa.

Be it with stencils and paint or the cultivation of blooming plants, trusting and enjoying the process is the first step in holding on to our artistic vision and creating the world we imagine.

All the best to you and yours for the Holidays and the New Year!

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