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.