Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trying My Hand at Oil Paints

It's been a very stressful week filled with some drama. My little fur baby and faithful companion, Isabella, is very sick and fighting to get better. She's day to I've been a little low key. As a way to occupy my mind I thought I would at least try the oil painting lesson from Misty Mawn's class this past week. We used Shiva Paintstiks to paint one of our sketches.

I had many bad attempts that I immediately tossed in the trash. It took me quite a while to understand how to blend with the stiks. I finally ended up with a painting that I was somewhat satisfied with. The top photo shows the painting that I used in a digital piece. I scanned another of my CitraSolv backgrounds, added her to it and then added some more layers in Photoshop. I wish I had the ability to do on paper what I can do in Photoshop!

Here is the original painting on watercolor paper:

I definitely want to work more with the Shiva's. After a while I began to understand where to put the dark colors before blending them; I still have a long way to go. I love the buttery softness of these paints. Most of the blending is done with your fingers and this really does help to achieve the color you want. This has been one of my favorite lessons so far. And for a little while it took my mind to a happier place.

Hopefully, Isabella will come through this sickness. Send her your good wishes!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mixing It Up

I mentioned in a previous post that I am taking Misty Mawn's portrait drawing class. This is week two and I have already learned so much. She is an awesome teacher. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with her class. This is a sketch I did from week one. I'm still learning to do the shadows and shading. That's a challenge for me. I used a model from a fashion magazine as my guide, especially for the lighting and shadow work. Of course this sketch looks nothing like the model but that just makes her uniquely mine! ;)

One of the reasons I'm so interested in these drawing classes is that I want to incorporate more of my own drawings into my art. I'm obsessed with faces so I want to learn all I can about different ways to draw and paint them. Ahh, painting them. This week in Misty's class we start painting our sketches. I haven't drawn one yet that I want to paint but I'm working on one. Watching her paintings take shape is so inspiring (and scarey)! Oh, to be able to do that. Hopefully, someday...

In the meantime, another reason I love using my own drawings is I can paint them any way I want digitally and do something like this:

This was my entry for this week's challenge at Digital Whisper. I love all the special effects I can add to my drawings. Just for fun I did a little graffiti girl:

This one incorporated one of my CitraSolv backgrounds:

And speaking of CitraSolv backgrounds, today I am the guest artist at Toni Brown's very cool blog. Thank you, Toni, for inviting me! I wrote up a little tutorial explaining how I made my CitraSolv pages. Check out her blog. It's full of great tips, techniques and inspiration.

So I'm mixing it all up: original sketches, digital art, some homemade backgrounds...just to see where it all takes me. Stay tuned! More from Misty's class will be posted soon.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blueprint: More CitraSolv Backgrounds

I have been busy making more backgrounds from the CitraSolv technique that I mentioned in my last post. I think I love this latest batch even more than the first one! I want to use some of these in my art journals as backgrounds and also experiment with painting and adding to them on canvas, fabric, etc.

What I love to do first is scan my favorite ones into Photoshop to have a "clean" version always available. Then I can have fun digitally painting a canvas. The digital piece above started out with this CitraSolv background:

The photo doesn't do it justice. The colors are gorgeous and it just looks full of texture. I think this is my favorite one so far. I added a lot of layers, images, brushes, etc. to get to the finished digital piece but I like the idea of always having this one in my archive.

Here are a few of my other favorites from this latest batch:

And there's usually a surprise or two that surfaces as I'm working through the process. While I was "painting" the pages with the CitraSolv every once in a while I'd come across a page of pure text. I usually would leave that page alone since there was no color to blend and I would just saturate the opposite page in the spread. In this instance shown below, I thought the colors around the man would blend really well and make a pretty background. I was working pretty quickly and didn't saturate the page very much. Much to my delight when I went to remove the pages, this happened:

The photo of the man transferred to the text page! How cool is that?! Evidently I left enough of an air pocket when I closed the magazine for the image to mirror itself onto the opposing page. And the fact that one eye was left with a blank circle...this all happened by chance! What are the odds of having that inkblot cover just his one eye so perfectly? I couldn't have planned it better if I'd thought of it myself.

That's what is so fun about this technique. There are so many little things you discover as you go along. I will definitely be using this guy (embellished) in more of my art.

And speaking of surprises, after I posted my last entry I heard from the folks at CitraSolv. What a wonderful group of people they are! They were so kind in commenting on my post and I was excited to learn about their website where they post the artist's results using their product.

Check out all of the info they have posted about different ways to use CitraSolv in your art. But the biggest surprise of all was this that arrived in the mail a few days later. Notice that they included a few National Geographic magazines, as well:

Thanks again to Melissa and the gang at CitraSolv. I will definitely put these products to good use! Now I don't even mind doing a little cleaning here and there... ;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Total Immersion

This is a digital piece I made that shows how I'm feeling lately: head swimming with so many ideas! I'm drowning in ideas! They're trapped in my head...I've been scribbling them all down furiously so I won't forget any but I find myself wanting to dive in head-first and do them all at once.

Then I remember my word for this year: finish! Finish the current project. I love that piece and I've got to reign myself in and focus. Maybe that should be my other word: focus! So I take a deep breath and return to the project at hand. The fabric feels good to work with, the sewing machine hums along and my mind keeps swimming.

I'm practicing my sketching again in the evenings. When hubby and I sit together and visit about our day I have my sketchbook open and I either doodle or attempt to sketch a face. Thanks to my good friend Jackie, I've signed up for Misty Mawn's awesome portrait workshop. This is the first week and I'm very excited about it. Last night I sketched this lady (I haven't finished all of the shading yet). She definitely has an attitude. I don't know where she came from but she just burst onto the page:

What I would like to learn to do is paint these sketches. That is one thing that Misty's class will cover and I am so looking forward to that lesson! I can "paint" my lady digitally, though:

I seem to be in a purple phase right now. It could have something to do with the Citrasolv backgrounds I created (see previous post). This piece has one of those backgrounds. I love the "bubbles" that the CitraSolv produces when it does it's magic! Of course then I have to add tons of layers to the piece, but you can see at the very bottom how the base page looks. Scanning those pages into Photoshop has really given my digital art a boost! They have an effect I don't think I could ever produce with paint. Yummy. I love, love, love, them.

Since all of those ideas for future projects are safely written down in my project notebook, I'm content knowing I'll get to them as soon as I finish this current project. I promise!

Credits for the top digital image: model by Latte Queen at and the birdcage by cfstock at

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dropping In

A funny thing happened on the way to working on my latest project: I got sidetracked. I have to watch that...I'm still sticking to my word of the year (remember finish?). But then I saw this art technique in the latest issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine and it wouldn't leave my head. I had to try it. Today.

You've probably seen and heard about the CitraSolv technique and how it works on pages of National Geographic magazine. I'd heard of it before and seen the awesome results that people have come up with. Something about seeing it again really made me want to try it. So after much running around hunting for a National Geographic (I finally just went and bought one), here are my results:

Do you recognize the first one? It's the background for the digital image at the top of the page. I've scanned in all of these backgrounds so I'll be able to use them over and over digitally as well as painting/collaging on the real things. I love the colors in this next one:

A very dreamy looking night scene could be made of this next one:

I put a random selection from the magazine onto the floor and just took a photo of them. Look at the variety of colors you can get. I just love this technique!

As far as I know you can only use this on National Geographic pages AND they have to be from within the last ten years. I tried a few of my fashion magazine pages but nothing happened. I'll keep experimenting but I haven't seen anybody else mention any other magazines where this works. There must be something special in the ink on these pages.

A bonus: the whole house smells like oranges now! ;) But now that the experiment is over and I have a little supply of cool backgrounds, I can get back to finishing my current project. I have to watch these interruptions. Now I'm beginning to understand why it has been so hard for me to complete some projects...

By the way, credit for all of the cute little character images goes to Granny Art.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dream: Journal Page

I've been working in my art journal today. This beautiful image is from a note card by Sabrina Ward Harrison. I transferred it onto muslin. I like the ethereal effect that image transfers have; especially when transferred to a thin material like muslin. My favorite technique for achieving this effect is the Purell hand sanitizer technique. It gives the image the dreamy look I want and it doesn't stiffen the material too much. Plus it's clean! ;)

I have a lot of layers on these pages. Lots of paint, stencils, some French text, napkins, and pens. This is something I'm challenging myself to do: layer, layer, layer! I haven't added any journaling yet. I may do this on a separate sheet of paper and then insert that into an envelope that I'll adhere to the page. Still thinking about it.

I'm not sure the page is finished yet. I may come back to it at a later time and add something else. For right now, I like it and will let it sit for awhile.

Here is a closeup of the image transfer:

Other things I'm working on: a new art quilt. This one is about the size of the fabric paper quilt but made with fabric. I'm trying some new techniques for this one: silk screening and working with deconstructing the silk screened image. This technique involves making a convex rubbing of your image onto the silk screen and printing successive images from there. I first saw this technique in Quilting Arts magazine over the summer. It's stayed on my mind and I've finally worked up the nerve to try it.

I've done a couple of runs of the silk screened image. I love the deconstructed effect. There is another technique in the follow-up issue that discussed deconstructing an image using an engraved rubbing of your image. That one will be my next try. But it will be a separate art quilt.

I'm also making more journals because I'm enrolled in a couple of very fun journaling classes right now. One is from Cristina at Roses on My Table (Journal Journey) and the other one is from Monica at Hands and Heart (Zodiac Journaling).

Lots of stuff in the works right now. And, in between all of these, I'm getting more acquainted with Photoshop CS4. I'm slowly learning my way around. If I really get stumped, I just go to my old computer where CS2 is still loaded and work on something there. But don't tell hubby. He says I should work through it. :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

FINISHED: Fabric Paper Wallhanging

I finished the fabric paper wallhanging! Yay! Here it is hanging on a wall in my living room. You can click on the photo for a larger view. The lighting isn't perfect but I wanted to get a photo of it tonight. I'll take more photos of it tomorrow in it's surroundings. I love looking at it as I sit in my favorite room!

I'm very pleased with the colors I chose as I was dying the sheets. I think they all go together beautifully. They also tie-in really well with the colors in my living room. Even hubby got excited as I was joining all of those little jump rings together. He said he couldn't visualize what I was doing as I was working on it but now he gets it! I ended up with 94 squares, all beaded, with 4 eyelets and jump rings in each square.

Here is a closeup of a few squares:

And another shot. This one is a little blurry:

It felt so good to complete this project. I knew when I started it that it would take a while. I just kept plugging along, beading the squares at night while I watched TV. That brings me to my next item.

My Word For This Year: Finished.

I've noticed the trend in a lot of my favorite blogs to select a "word for the year". I like that idea. You pick a word that you would like to focus your intentions on for the coming year. My word, as I said, is finish. That's a big one for me. And a close second would be the word believe. As in, believe you can finish what you set out to do!

It's no secret that I LOVE new projects and new challenges. I LOVE to start them. I LOVE to keep starting them... I fall a little short on the finishing part. ;) I really, really want to concentrate on that aspect this year. Involved in all of that will be my art journal. It will be my ally and my confidante through this journey. I set my intentions there... the follow-through, the finishing will be recorded there as well.

I think I'm off to a good start. I wanted to share this tonight. I'll have better photos of the entire room tomorrow and will post those soon. Right now I have to FINISH cleaning up. :)