Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's an ATC?

For many of you artists out there, you know exactly what it is.

ATC stands for Artist Trading Card. I don't know who invented it, but I'm guessing it was a very generous artist. You see, Artist Trading Cards are small works of art, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" (the size of a playing card). The idea is to make a small piece of art and trade it with another artist. No money changes hands. You are giving your art to another, but then you are getting one of theirs in return.

Sometimes they are traded in organized swaps. If a dozen artists say they're going to trade, then you need to make a dozen ATCs to have to trade.

Sometimes you trade in person, and sometimes you trade through the mail. You may not ever meet the artist, but it sure is fun when you receive that package in the mail and you know it's someone's wonderful art. An artist may choose to be a host or hostess of a swap. Usually that means that all of the ATCs will be mailed to her home. She then splits them up so everyone gets one of each, and mails them back to each artist with the postage they have provided. At the Wellington Art Society, we go out to dinner together to swap. We get an idea of how many people are coming, and then we email everyone so they know how many to make. There are about 20 of us in the group who make ATCs, and 8-12 will participate in any given swap. Our latest swap/dinner was held at I'm Greek Today in Royal Palm Beach.

We choose a theme for our swaps. This time, the theme was Dreams.

Sometimes ATCs are interactive. They have some movement, an insert, a puzzle. This next one shows someone dreaming of inner peace.

This one uses a song lyric as inspiration. Who can remember The Eurhythmics singing "Sweet Dreams are Made of This" back in the 80's? I brought it forward to this decade and crafted the latest trendy treat, a cupcake.

This artist looked into the meanings of dreams. That generated a lively conversation over dinner.

Who hasn't at one time dreamed of flying?

We haven't picked the theme for our next dinner yet. Do you have any suggestions?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Plein Air Painting

We seemed to have skipped our Winter here in Florida. Day after day it's sunny and mild. What's an adventurous artist to do? Go outside with your paints and do a little plein air painting. Plein air is simply a French term that means art outdoors. We're lucky enough to have preserves tucked in every area in Palm Beach County. In September last year, the City of Wellington opened up the Wellington Environmental Preserve at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades Habitat. Now, that's a mouthful. Consequently, everyone just calls it Section 24, which is what it was called for decades when it was an undeveloped piece of land on the west side of Wellington.

Four of us brought our chairs, easels or tables, paints, brushes, and canvases, and set out to paint what we saw. We are trained painters, not-so-trained painters, acrylic painters, and a watercolorist.

As you can see, we all came up with different paintings, yet we were all looking at the same view. I'm glad we didn't have the same results!

Tony created this with acrylics.

I also used acrylics, and infused some brighter colors to exaggerate what I was seeing.

Bobbin used watercolors.

Linda painted with acrylics, mostly using her palette knife.

If you'd like to visit Section 24 for your own plain air painting, photography, birdwatching or hiking, you can find it by traveling west on Southern Blvd. After the Binks Forest traffic light, continue west to your first left. Take that left, which is Flying Cow Road. Travel 3 1/2 miles south to the northern entrance of the preserve. There is also a southern entrance, but there are no restroom facilities there. It is a .8 mile walk over two boardwalks to the trellis area where we pitched our chairs and easels. For a 1 mile walk, you can visit and climb the observation tower. Since this area was reclaimed, it needs time for the planted trees to grow. It is already populated by quite a few species of birds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspired by: Jill Berry

I recently purchased Jill Berry's book called Personal Geographies. Jill creates art that is like a map of her experiences. She uses different style maps, creating them completely from scratch or altering photos using Photoshop. Each map tells a story about some part of her life.

I became interested in her art when I stumbled on her blog. She's generous with her experience, often posting directions to artwork she has created. She posted a little tutorial about making a cover for a book, and inserting two signatures of pages for the book. She did a simple painting on the cover of beach dunes and the sky. Well, being quite the beach girl myself, this caught my eye, and I knew I had to make my very own beach book.

Here is the painted cover and some closeups.

You take the mid-point of the cover and fold that in half. Then re-open it. Take the mid-point of each half and fold those in half. They create the front and back covers, and they are now two-sided covers, instead of the inside being white.

I folded paper to make two 5-sheet signatures. Five sheets folded in half make 20 pages, so this is a 40-page book.

The signatures are stitched in. I used embroidery floss, but I think next time I'll use waxed thread. I had trouble with the threads coming apart and stitching through the middle of one. I also didn't quite understand how to put two signatures in, so I struggled, and made up my own technique.

While I was at it, I painted another cover, that is ready to become a book.

I realize this wasn't really a Jill Berry map project, but that will be my next adventure. If you'd like to read Jill's blog that is devoted to maps, you can see it here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I think we've all been experiencing a mild Winter, up until about this week when finally some areas received snow. We get our share of cold days, but this year we've had about ... 2. That's it. Two days. One of them was exactly a week ago, but then each day we warm up, warmer and warmer, until another cold front comes in. Yesterday we broke records -- it hit 87 degrees. Today we got a cold front and it was 63 in the morning. That's about what it's like for us in Florida.

Did you know that we grow our backyard vegetable gardens the opposite time than the rest of the country? Being a Florida native, I hadn't really put that together. We can't grow a lot in the summer, unless you really work it, because it's too hot and buggy. We have to grow our vegetables from October through May.

Since we finished our pool in the backyard, we needed to plant new sod to cover the dirt yard from having 6 months of trucks driving back there. We planned a vegetable garden in the dirt, surrounded it with wood, and planted the sod around that. We put the seeds in a little before Christmas. We actually could have done it sooner, but that's how it worked for us.

This is our garden after about a month:

And this is it today:

So far, we've eaten and given away a ton of bibb lettuce, spinach, and mesclun mix. Recently we've gotten a few red and green peppers, and soon we'll have tomatoes. We've also planted corn, sunflowers, green beans, and snap peas.

We're loving making salads every day. I picked up a cookbook from the library that has some great, simple, salad dressings, and I've tried a few of them. It's called "Young and Hungry" by Dave Lieberman. He's a young bachelor who's all about making simple meals using fresh ingredients. The perfect book for someone with a garden in the backyard or a farmer's market down the street.

Here's a lunch I made one day using one of his dressings:

I don't remember all the cheeses that I used, but I have cucumber with cheese and fig jam, some Spanish Manchego cheese (love that! especially when it's aged and crumbly), roast chicken, sliced capiccolo and prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and fresh rosemary.

Are you enjoying your weather? Maybe you'll get to start your garden a little early this year.