Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Treat and a Tute

Today's wishcasting question from Jamie was "What treat do you wish for?" Well, I wish I could learn some new effects in Photoshop. I love the possibilities for printing out my art onto fabric, canvas, etc. and embellishing it even more. But I want to learn some new techniques and not have to spend ANY money. That would be a super treat for me.

Today I found just the tutorial. It was free and it was from an amazing artist. It's so nice to see artists who share their work freely in hopes that you'll learn something. Often, they won't even ask for a link back or a mention. I always try to mention where I learned something so I can keep passing on what the artist is teaching.

This tutorial was from Pareerica (Flickr name). It's called the Manga Doll Tutorial. I LOVE that look of the big eyes, the exaggerated features of the face. It's sort of creepy-cool and right now I really love the possibilities that this look can bring.

I made the piece at the top of the page for this week's challenge at Digital Whisper. The challenge was to use the raven in a piece. I call mine Black Magic. The witchy woman started out as a mannequin. I found her at Fontplaydotcom's Flickr site. Here is how the lady at the top of the page started out:

How cool is that?! The manga doll tutorial took a little practice but this was my first attempt. I really like how she turned out.

Rubyblossom is another fantastic artist who has tons of free images, backgrounds, etc. for you to use in your art. She does ask for a link back to her site, but who wouldn't give credit to such a generous spirit? So check out her albums. They are pure eye candy.

So, yes, I felt like a kid getting a special treat today when I happened upon these sites. Wishes really do come true! ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saying Yes To...

On Jamie Ridler's website she has a wonderful weekly feature that she calls Wishcasting Wednesday. The idea is you respond to her prompt on your blog and then place your blog's link in the comment section of her blog. People then read what you wish for and leave you a comment that says, "As (your name) wishes for herself, so I wish for her too." How cool is that?

The topic for this week was "What do you wish to say yes to?" That's a great one! After a very tough week physically and emotionally, I thought I'd reply here. So, I wish to say yes to...

Taking better care of myself
Not giving my energy to negative people
Having more compassion for those I don't understand
Showing my friends how much they mean to me
Supporting my family more with positive thoughts and actions
Healing my heart

What a great exercise to participate in. Jamie has a fantastic website full of inspiration. While I'm not one to join a lot of challenges publicly, I do enjoy participating in them. This one, in particular, struck home for me. By the way, do you know what the last week's subject was? "What do you wish to let go?" Considering my recent post on that very subject, I'd say that's just another example of serendipity at work again!

My aunt passed away Friday. She was my Dad's youngest sister. She had led a very hard life and made some bad choices along the way. She hadn't really kept in touch with the family much but Dad always seemed to keep tabs on her. During the last few years she had reconciled with her daughter who was able to arrange for her care. I'm sure she was thankful for the love and forgiveness her daughter gave to her in her final years.

When Dad told me she had died I just thought about how even those whom we don't understand need to know they can always come home. I hope my own siblings always feel they can come to me for anything. I plan to make that very clear to them immediately! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Fear

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of only standing still.
-- Chinese Prover

I just realized that this piece and the previous one that I posted are very similar. The girl with the outstretched arms seems to be calling to me. I'm exploring this in my art journal,too. I didn't intentionally set out to create two such similar pieces. The Muse is at work...

I loved the look of this water/sky background. Tuesday I participated in a Webinar on Photoshop actions. I always thought they were too complex to try. I probably will never have the expertise to create my own but I was thrilled to learn that there are tons available on the internet free for downloading. I am so new with this tool that I had to manually write down how to download and then use them. But the results are worth the extra time. I used this image of the dock going out into the water and hit the "play" button on the action. After prompts to adjust certain settings and choose different themes I ended up with the background I wanted. I added the girl later and that's when I realized that I'd just used a similar motif.

So I'm thinking about the young girl in the first piece and the older one in this piece and what my Muse is telling me. Don't be afraid to let go ... have no fear ... these are big issues for me and I wrestle with different fears all of the time. I'm deliberately stopping myself when I hear the words, "I'm afraid..." in my head. Stop! I'm so accustomed to writing things off out of fear and I guess I've finally gotten tired of it.

I am expanding my art, my knowledge, my circle of friends...and I want to keep growing in all of those areas. If I fear anything, it would be as the proverb says: be afraid of standing still. I think I've done that too long!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Hauntings

OK, I admit I'm in the ghoulish mood. It could be because most of the art sites I belong to are issuing "haunted" challenges. So I thought I'd take care of two of these in one post. The top one is from my friend Kimmie's Ning site at Digital Whisper. This week's challenge was the theme spooky and we were given just the image of the graveyard in muted tones. I lightened it up a little, added some blues, purples and greens, which I liked much better. Then I found my ghostly images in my archives. These were regular photos that I changed using the Invert command. Love the look of them!

This last one I made today just because...just because! I was still in the mood to create something dark. There are so many different images layered onto this one that I lost count. After looking at it awhile I called it "Atonement":

I am trying to learn the gradient map tool in Photoshop (with limited success). I still can't get the effects I want even following the directions in the tutorials! Experiments are fun, though, because you end up with things like this! ;) I like the colors and effects I ended up with here. Next time I need to write them down so I'll remember how to duplicate them.

I made three new sheets of fabric paper today and have now beaded 18 squares for my wall hanging. I won't tell you how many squares I figured that I need for that thing. Hint: over 100. Meanwhile I crank out the sheets, decorate them, cut them and bead them...the beat goes on. Will post some of my prettiest squares soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Letting Go

When I set out to make this digital piece, I was thinking about how much I miss my Mom and my bout with grief. It's a long journey that I'm working through in my journals and my art. Today I came upon this poem that really spoke to me. It's not about grief, specifically, but about letting go of the past. It made me feel a little better and I love the words:

You Must Let It Go

You cannot erase the past; you must let it go.
You cannot change yesterday; you must accept the lessons learned.
You cannot stop time or stand still in a world racing around in circles,
you must dance with the wind and sing with the songs that are playing.
Let whatever mistakes you have made remain in the shadows of time gone by,
and let love be the answer to the mysteries of life.

~~ Author Unknown ~~

Friday, October 16, 2009

Abstract Painting or Fabric Paper?

Here's a new take on the fabric paper. I covered the entire sheet of muslin with magazine images. I chose images with lots of color and interesting shapes. Then I covered the entire sheet in white tissue paper. When it dried the tissue paper really stood out as a white film over the entire sheet so I tried to figure a way to color it, while still leaving some of the magazine images showing through.

The top image doesn't show much of the magazine pages but I like the color blocking. I used a lot of water soluble oil pastels for color. I rubbed them in really good and then used a brush dipped in water to work them in further. Then I just barely spritzed some Adirondack Color Wash on certain spots. I love this paper. It's almost like an abstract painting just as it is!

Here is the second sheet using the magazine paper:

You can see that more of the images from the magazines are visible in this one. I don't like the dark middle, though. As soon as it dries I am going to cover it with something. Those were circles from the magazine and I wasn't too happy with them after I colored them so I'll just glue something else there.

To color this one I used the same things as above but added Metallic Gold and Bronze Lumiere paints. I love the shimmer that they give. I also spritzed on some Turquoise fabric dye. I like this sheet, too, and will cut it up to use in other projects after I figure out what I'm going to do with the middle.

I originally made these sheets way back when I did my first batch of fabric paper for the fat book swap. What I had failed to do then was add the top layer of tissue paper. I really didn't like the plastic feel of the sheets and I almost threw them out. But I held on to them thinking I'd be able to use them for something.

So I pulled them out yesterday and decided I'd try to add the tissue paper now. The sheet is much softer and very pliable. Now, to fix that middle spot and these will be ready to go!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Fabric Paper And An Embellishment

I've been furiously making sheets of fabric paper for the wallhanging I'll eventually start to put together. I decided the squares will be 3" x 3". Here is a sample of a square that has yet to have the eyelets added. This was from a sheet I posted earlier. I added some Gold Spray Webbing to it (love that stuff!) and thought some bronze beads would look nice.

I like how you can see part of the actual muslin peeking through the darker areas of dye. The stamped images are actually stamped onto sewing pattern tissue and then adhered to the muslin. That sewing pattern tissue just disappears once you wet it. I love the look and the texture! Gives me more ideas to use with my stamps in future sheets.

Now for the new sheets: These were still wet when I photographed them. This first one has some words and images all cut out from one tablet of scrapbook paper. I sprayed it with the Adirondack Spray Dyes in Butterscotch, Wild Plum and then some Walnut Ink:

Here's a second sheet using the same things:

And here is a raw sheet I just made before adding any color to it. I'll let it dry overnight:

All of the sheets I make from now on will eventually be cut down to 3" x 3" squares and embellished before adding the eyelets and wire to assemble the wallhanging. I bought two more huge bottles of Sobo glue and a bunch more muslin. Will keep you posted as the design changes.

Other things in the works: more journal pages, sketches and a few Halloween projects. Now back to work...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Playing With Fabric Paper!

I've been playing with fabric paper again! This is a photo of my first batch that I colored yesterday using spray inks. I belong to the Mixed Media Art Friends Yahoo Group, hosted by Belinda Spiwak. We are doing a book study on Kelli Perkins' book, Stitch Alchemy. This is an awesome book for techniques to use on your base fabric paper. I first learned about how to make fabric paper through the artist Beryl Taylor. Kelli takes the basics and goes a step further, adding different techniques and embellishments. I've made three sample sheets so far. Here is what the base looks like after it has dried and before you start coloring or embellishing:

It's just plain, cheap muslin with snippets of wrapping paper, tissue paper, wallpaper border, scrapbook paper glued down (tons of a Sobo glue/water mixture to really saturate the cloth and the papers). Then a layer of tissue paper over top of all of it. I used strips of plain white tissue paper to cover this piece. Then you let it dry completely. I waited overnight. Then comes the fun part. Embellishing! I used Adirondack Spray Inks in Butterscotch and Wild Plum, along with a couple of swipes from some pigment ink pads in various shades of pink. Here's the result:

I made this next piece much larger. You can see the various patterned tissue papers used here along with the other papers. I also used some tissue paper from some old sewing patterns that I then stamped onto:

Here is the fabric paper with the Butterscotch and Wild Plum colors sprayed on. The plum photographed more of a red color, for some reason. But it is actually more of a purple color.

This piece isn't finished yet. I'm still looking for some more embellishment. Kelli's book is a treasure trove of ideas. Think: beads, collage, oil pastels, etc. for further embellishing!

So what do you do with this? Anything you want! I can see uses in collage, art quilts, mixed media painting, just to name a few off the top of my head. I'm going to make a big batch of it using the same color family (yet to be decided). The book features this really cool (but small) wallhanging that has the fabric paper cut into squares, collaged with fabric circles, stitched around all four sides and then has eyelets along the top, bottom and side borders. The eyelets have jump rings in them and they connect the squares together. My idea is to do that type of thing on a much larger scale.

I'm pulling together the papers today to use for the base. I want to make a nice wallhanging (about 36" wide) for the stairway wall (two-stories high and BARE right now). So I need to make a huge batch of the base fabric paper and get it to drying. I can decide on my color scheme when it comes time to paint the fabric. I also need to figure out how big I want the squares to be. I bought a Crop-A-Dile (on the advice of Zinnia from Hands and Heart) to help with the eyelets.

So, big plans in the works. Always keeping a few projects going makes me feel energized! On today's schedule: getting more sheets made so they can dry overnight and starting on Lesson 2 of LK Ludwig's photo journaling class. Now I'm off to play!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hold Fast Your Dreams: A Journal Spread

I completed the first assignment of LK Ludwig's Point and Shoot Journaling Class. Ideally, you will use photos that you have shot for your journal. Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot to choose from since I really haven't taken that many pictures in my life.

I do have a lot of photos from the family gatherings, etc. But they aren't what I want to put into my art journal. So, until I shoot some of my own, I'm using images I've got saved in my archive. These are images from free image sites that spoke to me at the time and were saved for the purpose of using in my art. With that said, I completed the assignment.

The whole journal entry is centered around a poem by Louise Driscoll called, "Hold Fast Your Dreams". I had read about this poem on another site somewhere and looked it up. This page shows the first verse written out both behind the photo and onto the photo:

This next page uses the images of the girl with the pinwheel (echoed in the previous photo). I chose these images to remind me to re-discover my inner child and chase my dreams. Also, to explore that "secret spot" mentioned in the poem. I like the mood of these two photos; kind of magical, misty and dreamy.

I painted up the background for these two pages with that misty, magical feeling in mind. I love purple and violet and turquoise together so I just threw some paint on, added some metallic gold for accents and a little bit of texture with the snippets of mesh.

While these aren't pretty pages they are pages that reflect my mood and my dreams right now. I think that is what I'm getting out of this class: authentic journaling of your dreams, goals, wishes or whatever it is you are feeling when you sit down with your journal.

I do plan on getting out and taking my own photos. But I didn't want the lack of pertinent images to hold me back from starting. I'll search through my personal photos and may find some that I want to journal about in future lessons. For right now, though, I've started and I love it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Serendipity Strikes Again


And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

-- Anais Nin

I found this poem on a great poetry website. I go through spells where I read a lot of poetry, write some poetry and just get immersed in it for awhile. This poem stuck with me and the images just came together pretty quickly for this digital piece. Lately I find that poetry has been very inspirational for my art and my journaling.

Now for the serendipity part! I mentioned in my last post about how I love journal prompts and wanted to get serious again about my art journal. I think there's a lot of material that can be sorted through in a journal that can be used to express myself further in my art.

So after writing that last post I did some blog hopping on my favorite blogs (see sidebar). I found a wonderful Point & Shoot photo journaling class on LK Ludwig's blog. If you aren't familiar with her work, she is a very talented and inspirational photographer, author and journaler. She has written some awesome books on art journaling and keeping a journal (I have them all). I was thrilled to see that she had just now started this class (October 1). Coincidence? I think NOT!

Serendipity further at work: I was browsing through a thrift shop a couple of weeks ago and I came upon a blank, hand-made journal, filled with the nicest watercolor paper, just waiting to be filled! Here is my little gem:

And look at this binding! This little jewel was less than $1.

It has tons of paper just inviting me to come and play!

I had to use my palette knives to hold the pages down so you could see them. This is so cool! Now I have my ready-made journal and a brand new class to guide me through.

The class focuses on taking your own photos to use in your art and journaling. We already have our first photo assignment. I am just amazed at how the Universe pays attention when you even whisper that you'd like to explore something... Try it! It works!! This has all fallen into place just within the last couple of weeks!

I'll post some pages along the way as I fill them. Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forever Young

I was inspired by Zinnia in her weekly journal prompts to create a journal page around a song that gets you moving, makes you happy, etc. This is not technically a journal page but I thought a digital journal page would work for me right now. After I made this sketch, every time I looked at it I kept thinking the words young, young at heart, freedom of youth, etc. and all of the emotions that go along with that.

So Zinnia's prompt kept stewing in the back of my mind. And then the song came to me: Rod Stewart's, "Forever Young". I have always loved that song. It just makes me happy and brightens my mood instantly. So if I did make a tangible journal page it would include all of these elements.

I love journal prompts. Kimmie has some awesome journal prompts on her Healing Art Journal page. I find that when I don't journal my thoughts or feelings I can start to feel the blahs set in. So I'm really trying to keep at it either digitally or in my Moleskine on a semi-regular basis. I am almost finished with the de-cluttering and reorganizing of my studio space. Hopefully I'll finish it up by this weekend and be back at work in there very soon. My fingers are itching to get covered in ink, paint, paper, glue... all of it!