Monday, December 27, 2010

January Challenge

I've discovered that my friend Joyce loves ATCs and mixed media as much as I do. She's also a book-buyer, and has a great collection of art books, a lot of which we have the same. Do you ever feel like you buy art technique books but you never seem to make anything from them? I read them, and pore over them, but don't always try the techniques. Well one of them that I've been reading over and over is The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole.

(obviously I grabbed this photo from Amazon. I don't know how to get the "look inside" logo off of it)

I'm taking the plunge -- Joyce and I will be doing the project on page 87 -- The Butterfly Reminder. We won't talk about it, we'll just do the projects separately and see how we each modify or interpret it.

Would you like to join in on our challenge? We're giving ourselves a February 1st deadline, and we'll post our photos here. If you make a page 87 project, send me your photos. I'd love to see them.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas ATCs

I just did a fun swap with my Artist Trading Card group. The theme this month was Holiday, of course. I love getting groups of ATCs, because you see how many ways people can interpret a theme. I thought it was interesting how little we used traditional green and red. Since blue is my favorite color, I really like the blue cards.

I think it's funny how many of the Florida girls use snow themes in their art. I guess we really covet what we can't have. I'm sure some of you up north have already had your fill of snow!

The card on the left is the one I made. I used my favorite background technique lately -- Golden acrylic paints on canvas paper. I do a whole sheet of 16" x 20" paper, then when the paint dries, I cut it into 30 ATCs. I added Sharpie poster paint pen doodles, and lastly, the stick-on jewels. I love that you don't have to put a tiny dab of glue on them anymore. Stick-on's wonderful.

Here are a few more that I did -- I guess the better ones were chosen by everyone in the group. I think one of these sort of looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Have you done any Christmas art? I'd love to see it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's Christmas Cookie Time

It's been a different kind of Christmas season for me this year. We're in the middle of a home renovation that is now at the CHAOS stage. After adding on, the workers are now inside the house tearing apart the kitchen. I'm leap-frogging our possessions from room to room as I'm clearing out closets and all our kitchen cabinets. We officially switched to paper plates and microwave dinners. I also have two rooms' worth of furniture stuck in my living room. Because of this, we've done not a stitch of Christmas decorating. No tree, no outdoor lights, no holiday plates to eat from or Santa mugs for hot chocolate.

In the midst of all this, my Dad went into the hospital the week after Thanksgiving. I've driven the 2+ hours north to Cocoa Beach twice, with the last visit a 7-day stay where I parked myself in his hospital room. To cut to the ending, he's gotten much better, they've cured his ailments, but he's struggling to walk after being in a hospital bed for 18 days. I would too, and he's 91! Anyway, my brother and sister and I are taking turns being with him, and I'm back now with my family for a bit. Hey, my daughter's a Santa believer, so we need to do at least a little bit of Christmas!

I knew just what would make it feel like Christmas -- baking Christmas cookies. So before my latest trip to Cocoa Beach, my neighbor and I got together and I made two of my mom's traditional recipes -- Spritz Cookies and Velvet Cookies. They're both made with a cookie press (I got a fancy electric one quite a few years back), and we cranked out quite a few hundred.

In our family, the white ones were always flowers, with a lemon flavor; the pink ones were hearts with a peppermint flavor. Those are from the Spritz recipe. The green ones were Christmas trees and we used the Velvet Cookies recipe. Oh man, those cookies taste so good! The recipe has peanut butter and a little bit of almond extract. Instead of white sugar, there's confectioner's sugar, which gives it that velvet feeling. Here's the recipe you can try, and maybe the craziness of your holiday season can feel a little better when you get in the kitchen and do some baking. This is a fun one to do with the kids because they love to decorate them with sprinkles.

Velvet Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
green food coloring
colored sprinkles

1. Cream the shortening, butter, sugar, and peanut butter, until fluffy.
2. Stir in the egg and extracts.
3. Gradually add dry ingredients to the mixture.
4. Add green food coloring, as desired.
5. Fill a cookie press with dough.
6. Form into desired shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Decorate with colored sprinkles.
8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.
9. Cool on wire racks.
10. Store in tightly sealed containers for 1-2 weeks.

New Painting

I did some painting recently, and boy was it fun to get back into it. I started three paintings and finished one. I like to paint canvases flat on a table instead of an easel. I get a few going so if I get stuck I can work on another one then go back again. The one I finished was the largest one -- I think it is 24" x 30". I'm entering it in an exhibit that will be at the new City of Wellington Village Hall. They've just built a new municipal complex, and they've asked the members of the Wellington Art Society to fill it with art. We have about 85 members, and we received 105 submissions! I'm the president of the group, so I was really proud of how the members responded. My painting will be considered for final judging. All the paintings will go up December 31 for their grand opening.

This photo is pretty good, although I think the colors are a little altered. I call the painting "And Then --". It tells the story of a woman who is running away. She's running from her past life, but she's running toward her future, which will be filled with art.

I love to add words to art, especially an entire story. I'll post more photos when I finish the other two paintings.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Favorite Color

It's probably not a secret, but I love blue and all its shades. Over time, I've gotten away from so many blue accessories in my home. I embrace many more colors now. But if you analyzed my wardrobe, you'd see I have a lot of blue -- royal and turquoise being my most prized. So here's my latest necklace creation using all those wonderful colors. It's my first free-form bead weaving necklace since I learned the technique in Beverly Gilbert's class. You can check out my previous post and the necklace I created here.

I started with one of her bead soups, a mixture of blue, green, and purple beads.

I strung four interconnected rows, then started building the focal piece.

I added a chain at the end to make it easy to fasten. Here's the final necklace.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hand-painted Artist Trading Cards

I'm loving using big, 16" x 20" canvas paper for painting. I splash colors, wait a bit to dry, and splash some more. I'm using acrylic paints with my brushes, my hand, fingers. It's a fun way to paint. I've discovered that a sheet of paper that size can then be cut into 30 Artist Trading Cards (2 1/2" x 3 1/2").

After the initial painting, I cut the paper into the cards. Then I add more paint. I use Sharpie paint pens (these are water-based) to write words and add extra lines and dots to the cards. These pens are great for adding a quick border to the card. On the back, I use a rubber stamp for my name, or just sign it with a pen.

I gave out most of these ATCs back in October when I was in Portland at Art & Soul. I have a few extra -- email me if you'd like to trade.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handmade Zine

I recently completed my first issue of a zine. A zine is a handmade, self-published magazine. I've been admiring others' zines and really wanted to challenge myself to make my own, and here it is.

My little magazine is 9" x 5 1/2", and is 100% made by me. I call it Paint/Paste, because I focus on my favorite painting and collage techniques. I created the cover using heavy weight paper that I painted with watered-down acrylics. Each cover is painted differently, and I included the paint color names in the inside back cover in case you're curious of what I used.

Inside is 20 pages of mixed media techniques. I have a how-to article on creating your own painted papers that you can use in your art. I even included examples of the papers, and an Artist Trading Card made using the papers.

The theme of this issue is Words, and I give techniques for finding your own words to use in your art, and what to do with them once you've found them.
I talk about how to leave your mark on your art, and which tools are my favorite for making those marks.

I made 20 copies of this zine, 10 of which were included in a swap. I'm selling the other 10 in my Etsy shop. I'll post one copy at a time, and when that one sells, I'll post another one. You can see my Etsy shop here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Halloween -- and Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog to celebrate my 100th post. I pulled a name from the comments, and the winner of my giveaway necklace is ... Kristin! You can check out Kristen's great blog here. For all others who commented, I'll be emailing you something special as well.

I made two groups of artist trading cards (ATCs) with a Halloween theme recently. One is for a trade group at the store Everything Scrapbook and Stamps in Lake Worth and the other was for the Portland Art & Soul Retreat I went to at the beginning of October. ATCs are mini works of art that you make with the sole purpose of trading them with other artists. I enjoy the challenge of making something small and of making art with a theme. And I really like the growing collection I have of others' ATCs.

The first group are the ATCs I made for the swap group in Lake Worth (just down the road from where I live). I used color copies of a vintage postcard. Here's the original postcard.

I love the saying "What the (devil) is the matter with the lampposts?" Now this postcard is from around 1910 and was mailed to my great-uncle in Oregon. I really don't know what that statement means. Is he drunk? Has he tilted all the lampposts? I love that he's smoking a cigarette. At the time, it probably didn't mean that he was decadent or anything, they probably just added that in the picture out of habit. I think that's funny. Anyway, I cut out the devil picture and glued it to some Halloween-themed scrapbook paper. I used an embossing pen to draw vertical lines, then heat-embossed silver powder. I wrote down the side "Beware the devil inside -- he likes to play!" I think they turned out quite nice.

The next group of ATCs were for Portland. For these, I painted on a 16" x 20" piece of canvas paper. After it dried, I was able to cut it into 30 ATCs. I added the words and some embellishment later with Sharpie poster paint pens. I have some extra ATCs, so if you'd like to do a trade with me (for an ATC or any other small art item), please drop me a line.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Golden Raspberry

I recently made this necklace with Beverly Gilbert's Golden Raspberry bead soup. I added a few glass beads to the mix, and made it a three-strand necklace. When attaching the strands to a 3-strand magnetic clasp, I purposely didn't match up the strands so that it would give a twisted look. When you wear the necklace, it appears like it's one long strand that has been twisted around your neck a couple times. This mix of beads has a lot of shiny gold seed beads, so the necklace is quite stunning and really catches the light. You can now see this necklace for sale at my Etsy Shop.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Home Renovation

I've been kind of quite about this, I guess because I don't want to jinx it, but our family is in the midst of a house renovation. It took us about 3 years to get a builder for it. I know, crazy in this economy, right? I can't tell you how many builders spend over an hour talking with us, only to never call us back with a quote. We finally got a good one, and it started over the summer. We're adding a couple bedrooms, and deleting one to expand the family room.

Here's a photo when we were dismantling the patio screen in the backyard.

Here's the start of the addition. You've got to have the concrete blocks in hurricane-prone Florida.

Here is it with a roof. Since this photo, the exterior has been painted, and the interior walls are up and painted. We're just waiting now for the electricity to be turned on.

Since we're tearing down a wall inside, I thought my son Michael would enjoy drawing a big picture on it before it goes. He's made hundreds of drawings in his life, mostly of elaborate creatures, gods and goddesses, or animals. Here he is drawing his "Warrior King," floor-to-ceiling.

I'm doing the painting, with my color choices. He wanted to see how I'd interpret it.

And here's the final, complete with its name in some made-up foreign language.

Michael with his masterpiece. Isn't it great? It will be up only a short time, or maybe longer if we get a few more days of no one showing up to work on the addition. I guess that's all part of renovation work. For now, we're loving having this great painting on our wall.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Portland Art and Soul Art Book Class

I was lucky enough to take a class with Leighanna Light at the Art and Soul Retreat in Portland, Oregon last week. The class was The Construction of an Art Book. We made it out of long strips of canvas that we folded to make book pages. Leighanna taught us great collage techniques -- painting, distressing, using copper patina on canvas (who knew you could do that?), attaching rivets, gluing and painting great papers. The class was informative, but then we were left to do our own playing. It was a fun group of women, from all over. I was surprised to find that there were a few others from Florida in the class! Here are some of the creations from the ladies in the class:

And this is the book that I made: