Monday, January 31, 2011

Free Journal Classes

Strathmore Paper is offering a series of 3 free online journal classes to promote their new line of Visual Journals. The first workshop ended, but since the workshops are self-paced there's still plenty of time to sign up. The video and PDF instructions will be available until August for all workshops.

The first workshop with instructor Pam Carriker had over 1,000 students from around the world. The message board had lots of eye candy as students uploaded their pages. They also offered tips, techniques, and new media to play with. That's a lot of bang for your buck, and you can't go wrong with free.

Though Strathmore is sponsoring the workshops and hoping you will use their Visual Journals for your work (I'm using one of their small,3.5" x 5", journals for my Counting Blessing, and the paper is delicious to work on), there's no law that says you can't use another brand of art journal or just plain paper. Grab your journal or some paper, your favorite crayons, paints, and writing tools and jump in. Drawing, painting, and writing beats shoveling snow hands down.

The second workshop, Start Where You Are, is scheduled to begin March 1. You can sign up for all of the workshops here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Friday Five

Another snowstorm Wednesday night dumped 18 more inches of snow on top of the two feet we already had. Some thoughts about snow.

1. The only places snow should be seen are on mountain tops, picture postcards of mountain tops, and Christmas cards.

2. To all the snow lovers, too much of a good thing is not a good thing

3. When the snow is piled higher than your head, it's impossible to heave the snow on top of the snow bank without snow blowing back in your face or creating an avalanche.

4. Pointing out to me that it's a light fluffy snow to shovel is like pointing out that a dry heat climate is easier to tolerate than a hot and humid climate. 18 inches of snow is still a lot to shovel and 110 degrees F. is still pretty darn hot.

5. Bears have the good sense to sleep through the snow and cold. We should take a hint from nature.

Are you a snow lover or do you hate the snow?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Following Directions - Week 4

The last lesson of this class was to "repurpose", to add journaling and design elements to turn the old designs into a new page.

While I enjoyed the class, I'm disappointed with my final project. The gesso wash is an interesting technique and a great addition to the to the library, but for this page, I would have preferred a darker, bolder look. It's been a dark two weeks for me as I try to tame the dragon.

But, this was an assignment. Directions dutifully followed. The main purpose to learn. I have another technique to use if I choose. More importantly, to listen to my inner voice so the creation is more mine than a copy of someone else.

As the late Harry Chapin sang in Someone Keeps Calling My Name, "I may be just four fingers old, but I know what I like."

Do you have trouble asserting your own creative voice?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Counting Blessings

The teapot was the last gift she gave to her mother on Mother's Day. It was not the usual color for her mother. Her mother was fond of pink, but her mother had some blue dishes and wanted a teapot to go with them. Her mother enjoyed the teapot. Enjoyed having it on display. Her mother passed away a couple of years ago. She was having a hard time sorting through her mother's things and letting go. Her mother was her best friend. It just didn't seem right to give away all her things. The teapot caught her eye, and she thought of me. I was her mother's godchild. The color blue associated with me. She said it just seemed right for me to have the teapot. She knew her mother would have wanted it that way. So the teapot now sits in my curio cabinet. A lovely reminder of a gentle lady, and good times our families shared.

Do you have a cherished memento from a special person from your life?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

National Handwriting Day

Today is National Handwriting Day held on the birthday of John Hancock. To celebrate write out a check and flourish your signature.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Following Directions - Week 3

This week's lesson was to reuse some of the materials from last week. A graphite pencil was used for  depth on the shadows and the oil pastels were rubbed on in places for a deep color. We  also added texture to the counter spaces and added a new medium or two.

I used part of a doily and dabbed some Payne's Grey acrylic through it. It looked fine in the small space to the left of the dragon (not visible in the scan). It resembled chain mail. Didn't have the same effect in the larger spaces. Looked very much like someone had dabbed paint through a doily.

The instructor had used sequin waste and dots of paint on her example page. Rather girly and not suited to my page. I had really liked my page without the texture. It started looking too busy so I gessoed over it.  Meh. Lesson learned this week, to really go with my own gut feelings.

A small, round cap was dipped into Ziller Glossy Black ink and used as a stamp to create the dragon scales. A touch of Pearl Ex Interference Gold mixed with water and gum arabic was washed onto the scales for a bit of shine. A silver Pentel Metallic Brush was used on a few of the knight's chain mail links to bring them out. The shiny bits don't show up very well in the scan

Have you ever tried to follow someone's suggestions only to lose your own voice and direction?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Counting Blessings

Over the Christmas holiday, I made home-made pasta just like my maternal grandmother did. She used to make a pasta shape we called cappelini. They were little hats made to resemble the round, wide brimmed hats the priests wore in Rome, cappello Romano.

I remember I was 7 or 8 when she came to stay one week during the Summer to watch my brother and myself while my mother worked.  Grandma was working at the kitchen table, shaping the pasta (or maybe dusting it off) and setting it on lightly, floured cutting boards to dry. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion. The cabinet with all the glasses rattled. Grandma pulled her rosary beads from her pocket. The beads were flying through her fingers as she called down all the saints in Heaven. The brother had been playing in the garage with a can of hairspray and a match.  During the same week, or it might have been the same day, The Brother asked Grandma if he could help her make the pasta. She gave him the job of sprinkling a little bit of flour over the little hats. He must have gotten bored, or thought he could speed up the process, or the siren call to see what would happen if he touched a match near a can of hairspray was too great.  He dumped the entire 5 lb. bag of flour over the little hats and ran off. Grandma had to dust each hat individually. In any event, that was the last time Grandma ever came to stay overnight at our house. As she related to my mother, "He's a nize-ah boy, mut a somanabaitch."

I can picture the hats, but couldn't for the life of me remember how she formed them. Instead, I made a farfalle: butterflies or bow ties. I made three batches, rolling the dough out by hand. Yes, I have a pasta machine, but that became dedicated to rolling out Fimo clay. I rolled the dough as thin as I could and still it was not as thin as Grandma's. She didn't own a pasta machine either. I enlisted the aid of The Young One to help shape the pasta,  Barely through the second batch, we were pretty sick of the process. I couldn't help but think my grandmother made pasta every single week. Wednesday was pasta making day. She made batches for herself, her two daughters' families, and to give as thank you gifts to people who did favors for her. I don't ever recall seeing a box of Prince macaroni in her house.

Making home-made pasta: a bag of flour and some time and effort. Channeling Grandma and remembering her, priceless.

Do you make family recipes the way your mom or grandmother did?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sketchbook Exercise

I needed something to do where I didn't have to have a high degree of concentration. I came across this little exercise. Begin with a line drawing. Don't think about the line or where it's going. Just move your drawing tool across your page.  When you're done with the line drawing, look at the drawing at what you "see", similar to looking for objects in clouds.

I used a black Sharpie marker to make the line drawing. Then the fun part, looking for things and coloring them in with Sharpie markers. You can use whatever media you like to add color: watercolor pencils, colored pencils, water colors, markers, crayons... I like the vibrant colors of the Sharpie markers.

For those of you who read the Highlights magazine as a kid, this exercise reminded me of trying to find the hidden objects.

I don't know whether to be amused or frightened that these things live inside my head. Some of the things I saw were influenced by what was going on the day I did the drawing.

Can you find the:

Manicured hand with the tarty red nail polish - Facebook friends were talking about having manicures and pedicures

the sock - I did a load of laundry

the swan - Didn't see any on the frozen lake as I took The Eldest to work. There are dozens of swans and they must be hibernating.

the bunny

Gort's head (the robot from the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still - AMC ran the movie Friday night in honor of the 60th anniversary of the movie.)

the flamingo

the Punch and Judy looking witch with a green wart on the end of her nose

the shy girl

the skull

the leg with the fishnet stocking

the mermaid (I have a mermaid mural over the sink in the bathroom so I see this image countless times during the day)

the guitar

the fish

the smiling whale (though The Young One thought it was a smiling tube sock. Everyone's a critic)

Ink, my black cat though not rendered true to life or we'd never see his muzzle

the mouse - living in the woods, a little visitor or two has been known to come in and sometimes falls down a lally column in the basement. Usually the little critter doesn't make it out. I usually hear scratching coming from the column and Ink usually sits beside the column if there's a guest (or snack) No noises and Ink hasn't been standing guard duty.

the dog - a new friend adopted my friend, Iowa

the maraschino cherry

the bird

the hedgehog

the angry plesiosaur or dinosaur - I got some news I was not happy about

the fish - The Eldest has a betta fish and I'm wondering about its transport back to college on Monday

Did you like finding the hidden objects game when you were a kid? Do you see any other objects I might have missed?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Friday Five

This past week has been very stressful. Five things which have me breaking into the candy house and aspirin bottle to keep my sanity.

1. 5 hour wait in the hospital emergency room for admission orders. (Actually, that was pretty fast response time considering the ER was very busy)

2. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield automated telephone answering system. There is no way to override the system to speak to a live person. BC/BS are you reading this? Your system sux.

3. Going round in circles over the same issue.

4. A 4 hour wait for the hospitaler to sign the hospital discharge order. (The wait wasn't so bad as I had the Nook Color with me so spent a good portion of the time happily reading)

5. Stubborn elders, the root of the problem

Misery loves company. Have you had a stressful week this week? How do you deal with stress?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

The weather dudes have been having a field day with the forecast. Two storms merging and coming up the East Coast. The weather maps are pegging snow totals at 12 -18 inches. At 7pm, 450 school districts had already cancelled school. (It hasn't even started snowing yet). The governor declared a state of emergency and ordered all non-essential state workers to stay home. So, it's official we're having a snow day.

Tuesday, the SyFy channel ran the original Green Hornet television series marathon. I was out and running about, but the The Young One recorded the marathon for me. So, I'll be spending the bulk of my snow day watching Kato (Bruce Lee) and the Green Hornet (Van Williams). Ever notice how superheroes/crime fighters work in the newspaper industry? (Think Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Britt Reid) Cool occupations or access to information? I think that needs mulling over with some popcorn. Hope we don't lose electricity.

How do you spend a snow day?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Highly Prized

Highly Prized is the theme for this month's sketchbook challenge. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Then I saw a Dover clipart of a cat sitting on a pile of books. I love books. As a kid I spent every Saturday at the library. I usually have a book with me in the car for all the wait times. My cat, Ink, is fond of sitting on papers or on my book when I'm trying to read so I copied the drawing. Drew Ink from the back and added my new toy, Nook. Now I can carry my library with me wherever I go.

Sketched in with pencil and then went over the line with a Pigma pen. Colored pencils, Gilded book edges painted with Schminke Gold Perl watercolor,

What's your highly prized?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Following Directions - Week 2

This week's lesson is to Redirect. To take the focus from the pieces used before and to use them in a new way. We began by under journaling, that is to write thoughts down on the piece. These thoughts will be somewhat hidden by layering. Next, depth was added by using a charcoal pencil and blending with a stub trying to keep the light source coming from the same direction. A few colors of oil pastels were applied over the shadows and on the collage pieces. The colors were blended using fingers instead of the stub. The last phase was to paint a gesso wash over the entire page, removing some of the wash if things turned too white. This was to give the page cohesion.

There's some discussion going on at the Strathmore class site about doing things "right". I had started to wonder the same things as I worked on my piece, but I duct taped The Inner Critic and happily moved along. I was thinking I didn't see much depth in my piece, until I saw the scan, and I can see the knight popped off the page.

Another revelation occurred as I was working on the piece. Somewhere, I had read that creating journal pages wasn't so much about thinking things through, but following your inner voice. Things have been pretty tense this past week, and I needed some strength to get through the end of the week as I tried to tame the dragon. When I first pulled the collage bits for this piece, I thought it was just going to be some sort of fairy tale piece instead of channeling my inner resolve.

Do you work on your journal from intuition or do you consciously plan all the pieces parts?

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Friday Five

The image is a genuine Round Tuit. Have you ever wondered about the things you would do, if you got a Round Tuit? Five things I would do if I got a Round Tuit:

1. I would clean and organize the basement.

2. I would make a final color choice to paint the kitchen.

3. I would practice my German beyond, "ausgezeichnet", "wie schade", "tut mir leid", and "alles Gute zum Geburtstag."

4. I would plan a Zen garden

5. I would finish the Altered Dream Doll.

What are some things you would do, if you got a Round Tuit?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Set The Flamingos Free

If you hate snow, the threat of snow, and the four day build up of whether we will get a snowstorm or not, visit my friend, Erica's blog, On The Write Path. There's a great video that will put a smile on your face.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Following Directions

Today, I followed the directions for the Visual Journaling class. Step one was to gather collage materials. I was looking through a bag of cancelled stamps when I found an army of knights in various colors. This reminded me I had a crayon rubbing of a knight done at The Higgins Armory. Knights slay dragons so I photocopied the dragon sketch I used in Don't Tickle the Dragon and the dragon illuminated D. The exercise used torn paper "lines" so I found some tissue paper that looked nice with the knight. Then began the cutting, tearing, and pasting. It was hard to stop, but am looking forward to the layering that we will do next week.

The stopping will give me time to think about The Sketchbook Challenge January theme: Highly Prized. 

What are you working on?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Visual Journaling

Strathmore Paper is offering a series of free online workshops in journaling using their delicious Visual Journal. I received a small one in a goody bag and like it very much. It's the one I've been using for my Counting Blessings.Takes all sorts of wet media and the paper is lovely to work on.

However, I have so much art material laying about, at lot of it not used, I decided I would work with materials I already have on hand. Will cut down on cost, clutter, and I'll use up what I have and then can go buy more supplies (-:  Using mixed media techniques will get me away from the comfort of pen and ink. Hopefully, I'll expand my repertoire, or  at least have fun with the process.

 The first lesson is recycling art work, combined with collage to make something new. At first I was going to do a double spread using some snowmen from wrapping paper on one side and my angel (she was a commission for an Irish blessing) on the other side. No matter how much I arranged and rearranged items, the double spread looked better in my head so I scrapped the idea and opted for the single page.

The instructions used matte medium as a glue and also a sealer.  I usually use a nice, neat glue stick, PVA glue (like Elmer's) or my latest favorite, Yes, Paste.  I was tempted to use the paste, but decided I should follow some of the directions. Since the first page was an advertisement, I used gesso to paint over it. Photocopied Hark the Herald Angels Sing from an old piano book. Gessoed over that as I just wanted a hint of the music. The scrap box yielded tissue pape and a paper with Hershey Kisses. I photocopied the Kisses and reduced their size by 50%. The snowflakes were photocopied from a Christmas card. The edges of the music sheet were torn, and water soluble oil pastels were used to add color and bring out the deckled edge of the paper.

I thought I had learned everything about pasting in kindergarten. I actually spent more time eating the paste than gluing so discovered matte medium, dries quickly and there are lots of air bubbles. Fortunately, I was able to peel back, apply a bit of glue, press down to remove the bubbles, until the entire item was glued. The instructor used the matte medium as a sealer after she glued her pieces parts down.We were supposed to stop after making the collage, but outlaws don't always follow the rules, and since inspiration struck, I thought it best to finish the page.

The mate medium worked fine until I went to use gouache to paint the illuminated letter. The paint just beaded up as the surface was too slick for the paint to adhere. Note to self, next time use acrylic paints. A second and third coat of the gouache stuck just fine. I'm pleased with the results.

Later this week, I'll do another page following the directions.

When you take a class, do you follow the instruction or go further ahead on your own?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

One Word

New Year's the time for resolutions.I've always had good intentions when I made resolutions, but learned long ago where the road of good intentions leads. I was intrigued when I saw Sherinda's No Resolutions, Just One Word

My idea is slightly askew of the concept. My word isn't so much about an ideal to aspire to, but embracing who I am. Seems I have a knack (a gift, really) for getting into trouble without doing much of anything. All I have to do is express an opinion or give an honest answer, and the next thing I know, I'm bushwhacked. Then I'm in the position of having to defend my opinion.

My word to embrace is Outlaw. Outsider. Proud of my own road, my own compass.

What's your word?