Saturday, January 31, 2015

Last Day of January

 January is probably my least favorite month of the year and it always seemed soooo loooong.  Between the end of the holiday festivities and the beginning of the frigid winter weather, January always seemed so bleak and unending.  But the days, weeks and months seem to be passing more quickly than ever, and here it is, January 31st already!  Where did the month go?

I've managed to continue with my art journaling and have the next entry here.  In this exercise, I painted with watercolor paints and then lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the wet paint, welcoming crinkles and wrinkles.  When the paint dried and I peeled off the wrap, I added a little tree in the resulting lines.  Then I added the words "bloom where you are planted," and embellished with some stenciling and shading.  The left side is blank so I can write a little critique of this process/piece.

The watercolor/plastic wrap is very easy and produces an interesting effect.  I enjoyed the process and wonder how (or even if) it would work on fabric.  I like the happy accidents that occur (I didn't intend to draw a tree - it just looked like a tree, and the quote fit right in there among the rocks and roots).  I'd like to do exercises like this more often.

The last two exercises sparked the urge to get out some fabrics with high contrasts and start a new piece!  Here is a little sneak peek, below.   I'm trying to make this a quick exercise, not a long drawn-out, laborious creation, so I hope I can put a little more time into it in the next week or two.  Maybe a good approach would be to use the journaling as a warm up, then do a little stitching on this piece.

I recently read about a new book titled The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity by Carrie Bloomston, and was lucky enough to find it on the New shelf at the library.  I've only read the first 3 or 4 ways, and so far some of it is a repeat of many of these books on creativity, with suggestions like set aside time, set aside a place, be generous with your materials, take a class, that kind of thing.  But I could probably use a little pep talk, and the author is very encouraging and positive and the book is full of great inspirational quotes.  So why not?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

But maybe not as bad as predicted!  And since we had enough advance warning of the storm, I was able to prepare yesterday by picking up extra supplies like milk and drinking water and cleaning the house (just in case...).  But we still have electricity, heat, and running water (hooray!), so now there's nothing to do but wait for the storm to blow itself away, while reading and catching up on homey tasks and naps!

Speaking of catching up, in the past couple of weeks, I have continued to do pages in the art journal I started last January and have now finished the first chapter!  (Woo hoo!  It only took me a year!)  The page below is a collage of paint, paper, fabric, and stamps in my favorite color.  I didn't realize it while I was doing it, but it ended up looking like a very abstract seascape, which reminded me of one of my favorite songs by John Denver, Singing Skies and Dancing Waters, so I wrote those words on the page with a gel pen.

The next assignment was to begin with the complement of your favorite color, the one opposite on the color wheel, which is sort of an orange-red.  I intended this to be more of a pale peach, but it came out a true orange red, which does contrast nicely with the aqua.  The whole point of using complimentary colors is the contrast, which really shows up on the page below.  It brought to mind the Dr. Seuss quote so I added it in.

 I haven't selected artistic goals for this year;  last year I kind of scaled back on both goals and blog posts, and I have a feeling this year is going to be the same (just too much going on with the family that requires more of my time and energy).  But looking back on last year's goals, I did manage to achieve most of them.  I created the 3 pieces I intended to create, although I did not use any fabric printed with my new Epson printer, which was one of the goals.  But one of the pieces I made this year (the "Tuscan Window") has become one of my all-time favorites (it now hangs in our dining area) and I had another piece ("Mother Nature's Summer Tunic")  juried into the Summer ARTiculated show at Concordia College last July.  I didn't spend 5 minutes a day journaling or sketching - just can't seem to get in the habit.  But I still resolve to be more playful with materials and more process-oriented, to search for my personal artistic voice using both words and images, and to accentuate the positive in all areas of my life.  I have two more pieces to create for my FANE shows this year, and intend to get through the exercises in Pam Carricker's book!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Play Day

Last January, I began going through Pam Carriker's book, above, for a quick 30-day journaling experience.  In reality, I did the first few exercises, which included making my own little journal (which was more complicated than you might think and ended up being smaller than I would have liked) and a few experiments with design basics.  Honestly, the first few exercises were not very inspiring for me but since I had resolved to try this, I pushed myself to do it by the book.  But of course, I lost interest, got involved in other projects and things I was more interested in, and never got through the 30 days! 

So after all the Christmas wrapping paper, bows and New Year's eve party paraphernalia were stashed away and that worktable downstairs (which had become the wrapping station and party snack center) was all clean again, I dug the book out and started anew for the new year.

I recently saw a very cool tutorial on using resists with stamps and watercolor effects, so that was in the back of my mind when I started the next exercise, which was analogous colors, something I enjoy working with.  I tried not to overthink anything, but quickly drew some designs and words across the page with white crayon, then took some water-soluble crayons and drew some wavy lines across them, then blended them with water.  Here's the resulting journal page:

I was itching to do a few on fabric, so I pulled a couple of small pieces of washed white cotton fabric from my stash and got out my stamps and bottle of Batik-Ez.  For my first attempt, I tried a somewhat small, detailed stamp, painting the Batik-Ez on with a foam brush.  After it dried, I used the Caran D'Ache neo-color crayons to add blues and greens.  I blended these with water, let it dry, and heat-set it with an iron.

While that was drying, I started a second fabric piece below.  This time, I decided to put down a wash of yellow Setacolor paints before using the resist, so that the resisted areas would be yellow instead of white.  I also used a larger stamp, which I dipped directly into the resist.

After the resist dried, I sponged on blue paint.

Here's what the fabric looked like after all the paint was applied and dry.  I was going for more of a blue and yellow contrast look, but the Setacolor paints I used are transparent, so the yellow showed through and created shades of green.

After I washed out the resist, more of the yellow showed through to look like this:

The smaller, first piece looked like this:

I have some new fabrics with interesting textures now, but the results were not completely what I hoped.  The smaller, more detailed stamp did not leave a clear resisted impression on the fabric of the first piece, and the Caran D'Ache crayons are not as permanent as the paints, so a lot washed out, even after heat setting.  The results are a very subtle design.

With the larger stamp, the results were a little better, but the stamp still blurred in places (maybe because the resist was smudged by the sponge when I added the paint?) and the transparent colors blended, which was not really the look I was going for.

But I had a fun morning playing with my art supplies, I have some unique fabrics to use in new projects, and I have some additional experience to draw on when doing surface design resists in the future.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year Exercises

In addition to getting back to the gym for the new year, I've been doing a little artistic exercise as well.  The FANE group is experimenting with 3-D art in the form of blocks (apparently, the people who created the gelli plate are now selling similar but larger blocks).  At our meeting last month, our inspiring and always-on-the-cutting-edge leader Jane Davila brought a bunch of these blocks she made by slicing up a piece of lumber 1 3/4 inches square.  We each took one or two to decorate in some creative mixed-media way.  

I needed a theme to help me approach this and went with "color opposites" using fabric.  I went through my stash and pulled out scraps that I thought would work, then painted, fused, stitched and cut to get pieces that looked like this:

In doing this exercise, I discovered a few things.  First, I don't often choose color opposites in my work.  I find the contrast to be too jarring - I like analogous and blended colors.  But using opposite colors definitely makes things stand out, as you can see from the squares above.  I tend to use variations on red and green a lot, including shades from deep jewel tones of ruby and emerald all the way to pale spring greens and pinks.  But I also really liked the yellow and purple combinations here - they really said "spring" to me.  The most challenging color combo for me to work with was orange and blue.  Another thing I discovered - I don't like working with squares!  Especially in such a small size, the rigid sides seemed so unnatural to me.  I definitely prefer more organic shapes.  But one thing that was nice about the cube idea is that it got me thinking how the sides all relate to each other, almost like a series in miniature.

Here are the finished cubes:

I'll keep one for myself and swap one at the meeting tonight.  How have you started off the new year?

P.S.:  Want to see more really cool cubes?  Go to the FANE blog.  You'll be amazed!