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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“What would happen if…” – Daniel Keyes

Have you ever wondered "what would happen if"…and if you did, where did your thoughts take you?

As PBS has launched the Great American Read, I decided to revisit my favourite book, Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” a tale of what would happen if intelligence could be altered through surgery. I am captivated by the creative process. I enjoy seeing the preliminary drafts of a work as much as the final piece. Keyes’ “Algernon, Charlie and I – A Writer’s Journey” not only described his method of fiction writing but the inspiration for “Flowers”. I was in bibliophile paradise!

Motivated by my stack of hardback book covers I decided to choose a light coloured cover for my next project. Inspired by the story I made my own inkblot on tissue paper. Once glued to the board the rest of the elements fell into place. The bottom image transfer was copied from a 1950’s post card. Bit and pieces of paper were added building up the layers. I glued dried hydrangea petals across the composition.

Artistcellar stencils have a great selection of designs in their collection. I chose one from the Labyrinth Series. The Chartres stencil was a perfect fit. The maze like pattern not only added an interesting design, but enhanced a key component of the story.

To brighten the composition I added acrylics using only a portion of the Infra stencil. Again, with just a bit of painter’s tape as a mask you can achieve the look you are after. However you chose to use them, they are never damaged and clean-up is a snap….the essential quality I look for in stencils.

Hopefully my collage will give you a hint of what “Flowers for Algernon” is all about without giving too much away. If you aren’t familiar with the story perhaps this post will spark your interest. With a bit of luck it will also inspire you to explore your passions and journey to what would happen if…

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: QUASICRYSTALS (Infra), LABYRINTH SERIES (Chartres)
  • HANDCUT DIAMOND STENCIL
  • HIGGINS BLACK MAGIC DRAWING INK
  • DECOART: Blue Harbor
  • DYLUSIONS PAINT: Crushed Grape, Squeezed Orange, Bubblegum Pink
  • DYLUSIONS SPRAY: Bubblegum Pink
  • REEVES: Bronze, Gold
  • LIQUITEX MATTE MEDIUM
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • PAINTER’S TAPE
  • TISSUE PAPER
  • WAX INFUSED PAPER
  • LASER PHOTOCOPY  
  • FLOWER PETALS
  • HARDBACK BOOK COVER

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” - Kurt Vonnegut

A collection of miniatures in a variety of media will soon grace the walls of a local gallery. The trend of purchasing small works is gaining in popularity and can be found in both home and office settings. I find viewing miniatures a fantastic way to slow down and to make time to enjoy what surrounds me…to enjoy the little things in life.

“Excellent!” I thought when I heard about the exhibit. I instantly reached for my Artistcellar Pocket Stencils. I primed a 4” x 4” canvas panel with a mixture of gesso and Sunflower yellow acrylics and stenciled on metallic gold diamond shapes. I wanted a warm background on which to build the work.

Once dried, I added the word “CREATE” from the Creative Words Pocket Stencil Series. And what a wonderful word it is…bursting with the spirit of the exhibition. The rest of the design easily fell into place. The Dragonfly stencil from the Traditional Japanese Series is the perfect complement in essence and size. I masked out two of the insects and began stenciling in a variety of colours.

I immediately think of a piece of visual art when I hear the word Create. But as we all know, there is so much more to the meaning of this word. For the wordsmiths among us I rubber stamped text to a piece of tea stained tissue paper and attached it with matte medium. The transparent appearance was just what I was after. I finished this part of the collage with a gold foil border.

The wonderful advantage of creating with Artistcellar stencils is that it is easy to mask out just what you need. The stencil designs inspire you to make your work truly your own. This is one reason I love using the Infra stencil from the Quasicrystals Series. The random dots I chose finished the piece and added the perfect amount of extra colour.

Do you take the time to appreciate the small things in life?  I hope my miniature encourages the observer to take the time to stop and enjoy the moment. Hopefully they will create and share, by image or word, the meaningful little things of their life.

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“It’s what we call a dolce pazzia…a sweet madness. Once you feel it, you will never want to leave”. – "Juliet" by Anne Fortier

Travel and romance. To me the words are synonymous. I have wanted to use the photo of the woman with the dreamy expression from my collection of Victorian postcards in a project. At last I found a place she might call home.

I will soon be facilitating a collage workshop at a local library. We will use discarded book covers as a substrate.  I was given a deep blue cover to see how it would inspire my work. The map of the romantic city of Venice from the Old World Maps series was perfect for what I had in mind. I started the project by stenciling in a subdued colour palette of blues and aqua to allow the rest of the collage elements to pop. This is another reason why I love the Artistcellar collection of stencils. They can be bold and the focal point of your work. Or they can be subtle, but just as vital to your art. The inside book cover was smooth and didn’t drink up the acrylics. As I had hoped, there was very little shift in colour.

I have been experimenting lately with transfers on various types of paper. This time I transferred the photocopy of the woman and added it to a blank shipping tag covered with a layer of gesso. I was pleased with the finish and the way the colour complimented the background. I surrounded the tag with textured paper I received from the Netherlands in a paper swap. The gold foil was reclaimed from greeting cards. Cherry tree twigs blown into the yard with the last storm, wrapped in tea stained gauze, became part of the collage. It’s great that with this type of work trash can become a real treasure!

I usually have tiny jewelry tags on my table when I am working. They are a great place to try techniques or to deposit left over paint. I chose a few from this collection. After masking out parts of the Playful Pods and Quasicrystals stencils, I added glittering dots of colour to the design.

I am captivated by the woman’s wistful smile. Could she be thinking of a journey in the making? Or is she returning to her dolce pazzia…the sweet madness of a certain time and place?

We are fortunate that creating Art allows us the freedom to follow our inspiration wherever it may lead. The door is open just waiting for our ideas to burst through. Who is your muse today?

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"Life is a minestrone
Served up with Parmesan cheese
Death is a cold Lasagna
Suspended in deep freeze. -10cc – Eric Stewart, Lol Creme

Who doesn’t like soup? Warm, comforting, encouraging you to release your creativity with each new recipe, it is just the thing to lift my spirits. And as we trudge through more cold and snowy winter weather the smiling woman in the vintage ad carrying home her paper bag of Campbell’s soup and an article in a local magazine inspired me.

I have participated in a charity postcard exchange for the last several years. I knew my mind was set on the image I wanted to use for my next design. If you are like me, you know when an art supply is “just right”. The incredible range of Artistcellar stencils always help me find precisely what I am looking for in minutes. Spreading out my stencils, my eye was drawn to the Quasicrystals and Blocks Series. Yes…they were “just right”.

The card came together fairly quickly. I lightly coated a postcard size piece of cover stock with gesso. Using my sponge with the most texture, I applied several shades of Dylusion Paint. Working wet on wet I sponged the wonderful Dylusion Ink Spray to build the background. I wanted to create a sensation of warmth and happiness. Using the Dylusion products never disappoint. The colours are as rich and vibrant dry as they are wet. Again…they were “just right”.

Cutting out the image of the woman from the ad, I glued it to the card.

A local monthly magazine runs the most amazing food column. The recipes are carefully thought out which makes them easy to successfully replicate. This month paid homage to a rich and robust Minestrone, one of my all-time favourites. Reading through the ingredients, an old song came to mind…"Life is a Minestrone". I cut out sections of the recipe to surround our shopper.

I completed the postcard with a spray of colour in the shape of Quasicrystals Infra. Adding balance to the design, I stenciled Open Work Blocks in metallic gold.

Returning to my inspiration, I believe our lives always revolve around choosing a little bit of this, maybe a tad of that. We make the best of what we have on hand. But I am convinced that with a dollop of creativity and a dash of invention our lives can be as truly nourishing as a simmering Minestrone.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: QUASICRYSTALS (Infra), BLOCKS (Open Work)
  • LIQUITEX WHITE ACRYLIC GESSO
  • LIQUITEX MATTE MEDIUM
  • SCOTCH SCRAPBOOKERS GLUE
  • DYLUSION PAINT: Squeezed Orange, Bubble Gum, Vibrant Turquoise, Fresh Lime
  • DYLUSION INK SPRAY: Bubble Gum
  • DINA WAKLEY MEDIA: Blushing
  • PLAID: Sunflower
  • DECO ART: Blue Harbor
  • REEVES: Gold                                                                        
  • PRO ART BRUSH: 1” Bristle
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • 130 LB COVER STOCK
  • VINTAGE ADVERTISEMENT IMAGE
  • RECIPE FROM A MAGAZINE

“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!

MATERIALS USED:

If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You’ that will be enough.” – Eckhart Tolle

Looking out over our frost kissed lawn has been a not so gentle reminder that Winter is on the way. But rather than curse the cold, I embraced the sparkle and shine as inspiration for my next Design Team project.

Working with my favourite substrate, Illustration Board, I covered the surface with a smooth coat of gesso. The next layer added was an article about the Dada Movement printed on slightly yellowed newsprint paper. There was a little bit of bleed when I covered the print with Matte Medium. I liked the way the ink became bolder in certain areas as it dried. Looking for a bit of texture, I mopped on white gesso with a rough natural sponge. My board took on a white, frosty appearance … exactly as I had hoped it would. Slow to dry completely, I left it out overnight and in the morning I was ready to begin.

I wanted the look of lace for my background. Artistcellar’s Quasicrystal stencil Quasi, was perfect. I applied the pattern with Champagne metallic acrylic. Combined with the white gesso, it gave me the nostalgic effect I was after.

I’ve had the image of the two women kicking around my scrap box for some time, and I knew this was the perfect setting for them. I only wish I knew who they were and the reason for the photo. They do look happy to be sharing time together. Perhaps I could create an interesting history for them with the elements I had at hand.

I surrounded the ladies with beeswax infused art paper, rubber stamped waxed paper, coffee stained gauze, and more homemade Washi tape, inspired by the Halftone Dots and Quasicrystals Infra stencils.

I have been winterizing the flower beds around the house and salvaged a few dried hydrangea blossoms. The colour was perfect and the petals held up well when glued to the board. My finishing touch was the series of jewelry tags, covered in liquid acrylic and a few Halftone Dots.

As the seasons blend one into the other, I know I am guilty of allowing the daily mechanics of “life” to dull the sparkle and shine of living life mindfully. With the celebration of Thanksgiving I am reminded that a simple “Thank You” has the all the magical sparkle we need.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: QUASICRYSTALS (Quasi & Infra), HALFTONE DOTS
  • INKADINKADO RUBBER STAMP: Moth
  • LIQUITEX WHITE ACRYLIC GESSO
  • LIQUITEX MATTE MEDIUM
  • MEMENTO DYE INK: Tuxedo Black
  • DYLUSION PAINT: Squeezed Orange
  • PLAID: Champagne, Sahara Gold                                      
  • DALER-ROMNEY: Acrylic Ink Velvet Violet
  • DALER-ROMNEY: Liquid Acrylic Galactic Blue
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • JEWELRY TAGS
  • BEES WAX INFUSED BROWN, ART PAPER, & DOILY
  • COFFEE STAINED GAUZE
  • SURGICAL TAPE
  • DRIED HYDRANGEA PETALS
  • STORE TRADING STAMP
  • VINTAGE IMAGE
  • ILLUSTRATION BOARD

Words matter, and the right words matter most of all. In the end they’re all that remain of us.” – John Birmingham

I relish layering in artwork…colour on texture on paper on ink on paint. You never know what the outcome will be, but the journey can be enough. And as much as I love surprises in the visual arts, I also love words. They too can carry you on an elaborate voyage of discovery…with twists and turns as you search for just the right word.

For my next project I primed illustration board with gesso and attached an old dictionary page. When dry, I covered the center with a mixture of Splendid Gold acrylic that I thinned with glazing liquid. I surrounded the gold with Bubble Gum Dylusion Spray that I brushed on. The spray colours are great and hold their hue regardless of the surface they are painted on, or how they are applied. I wouldn’t be without them. My next step was to rubber stamp. I chose both a typewriter and calligraphic stamp and a dye ink to minimize bleed.

Some time ago I added Quentin Matsys’ painting “The Money Changer and His Wife” to my collection of paper bits and pieces. It was in a newspaper and I really liked the saturated colour on the newsprint. I chose to use only the woman and her open book in the collage.

With such a variety of designs it is can be a challenge to choose just one Artistcellar stencil. I decided to start with the Quilt. This stencil comes in two sizes, which allows so much freedom when planning your work. The Pocket Stencil was the perfect size for my collage, and what a wonderful foil for Quasicrystal Infra. Large or small, Artistcellar stencils are instrumental when you are looking to give your work a unique edge. You’ll always find just the right one for your project. I continued layering the stencils, with the final image as you see here, surrounding the woman with letters and words. Will she find the right ones to narrate her story?

Finding just the “right one”…be it an image, a colour, or a word can be perplexing. But what a marvelous feeling of accomplishment when you do! And sharing the right word layered with the right sentiment is an incredible way to immortalize the sweet story of our lives.

MATERIALS USED:

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” ― Oscar Wilde

Colour surrounds us. It can lift our spirits, enhance a mood, or simply help us to express a feeling without words. For my next Artistcellar project, I decided to use a limited palette of colours I find comforting and see where it would lead me.

I began by covering the illustration board with a light coat of gesso. Once dried, I mixed the Dylusion Squeezed Orange Paint with an equal part of Glazing Liquid leaving the acrylic semi-transparent. I wasn’t very careful when painting over the gesso and let the brush strokes overlap. I was pleased with the texture left behind.

While the board was drying I looked through my collection of ephemera. I have an assortment of old magazines, as I am sure most mixed-media artists do. I ripped out a page from “True Story” published in the 1920’s. The charming text read similar to most of the romances of the period, peppered with lots of “Darlings…” and “longing looks”. I liked the fragility of the vintage paper and the way it was so easy, although not very predictable, to tear.

Next I chose a scrap of Joss Paper. Burned in traditional Chinese ceremonies during special holidays and funerals, the bamboo paper is just delicate enough to hold a layer of foil. I love seeing it in collage work. It really adds a bit of luster and texture. I glued it, and the magazine clipping, to the board with my gloss medium. I also had a few scraps of the yellow round Joss Paper and added it to the design.

Some time ago I experimented with beeswax and a selection of different types of paper. The image I chose for the top of my work was from this session. I’m sure you know this woman’s face well, as it has been added to projects by an array of artists. With her silent gaze I liked the way it mirrored the text. The beeswax gave my stamped paper just the right amount of translucency and a torn edge with a bit of roughness.

I finished the work with my Artistcellar Quasicrystals Stencils. They were perfect in size and design, as I have come to expect from all Artistcellar products. No matter what the project, Artistcellar never lets you down. You will always find just the right stencil to allow your creative spirit to fly. I first stenciled Quasi in gold and then added Infra in a selection of other warm colours from the Dylusion Paint series.

We artists use colour as a language. What part of the spectrum speaks to you…and how do you communicate the poetry of your soul?

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“Postman’s bag is always heavy because it carries the life itself: It carries all the sorrows and all the joys, all the worries and all the hopes!”― Mehmet Murat ildan

Have you ever waited for the postman to arrive? I am sure you have, if you are like me. And do you ever wonder what is in their mailbag? Of course there are bills, and junk mail, which can be a treasure trove for collage artists. But do you ever wonder about the other mail…the messages of delight or passion or longing? And is there still room for them in the age of texts and email?

I recently received a nice collection of acrylics from Artistcellar. They were new to me and I couldn’t wait to give them a go. The Dylusion Paint series is blendable and quick drying, manufactured with journaling in mind. The colours are vivid in the wide mouth tubs. I wondered if they would keep this wonderful quality once applied to my substrate.

I decided to work on illustration board. Rather than prep with gesso, I simply lightly sanded the surface and applied the Squeezed Orange Paint. Coverage was quick and easy, although it didn’t dry quite as fast as I thought it would. But sure enough, the orange kept its vibrant glow after drying. I next stenciled with Quasi from the Artistcellar Quasicrystals Series using the Dylusion Spray in Bubble Gum Pink. Although you can still see the stencil if you look closely, the Paint absorbed the colour. Not what I had in mind for this project, but a finish to keep in mind for the future.

I wanted to put the rest of the colours through their paces, so I sponged them randomly through my Diamond stencil. With the open stencil area it was easy to see how they performed. Again, as with the Squeezed Orange paint, I am pleased to say Vibrant Turquoise, Fresh Lime, and London Blue were easy to work with and held the brilliant colour you can see in the tubs…even after layering paint on paint.

With the background finished I continued by attaching a vintage photo I found in an old magazine. The postage stamps and Priority label just seemed to fit so well with our postman. I found a rubber stamp with beautiful calligraphy. Could the message on the stamp be from a letter in his mailbag? Why not? I inked the stamp with Vibrant Turquoise Paint and stamped on to very fine tissue paper, then attached with matte medium to the board. The final touch was to stencil the Infra image in gold.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic, but seeing the postman with his mailbag does pull at the heart strings. And yes, I believe there is a place for "real" mail in the age of texts and email. My question is this: Is there someone who would love receiving a real letter from you? And would decorating it with your stunning art bring joy to you both? Many believe that letters mingle souls. I know I do.

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