Thursday, March 27, 2008

Artists and Poets Self Portrait Challenge, me at 44.99999?

Note: This is also my submission for Illustration Friday for April 25, 2008! I should have made a new entry but of course didn't think of it until after I submitted the link to this one.

Well, this month's challenge in the ZNE Artists and Poets group was to do a self-portrait and use a few words to describe yourself. Hmmm... I started out with the idea that I would do an actual, look-in-the-mirror self portrait. Ugh. I couldn't bear it. I'm in such a state about my looks lately. So my next bright idea was to do a self portrait that would portray how I think I look. You know that mythical self image you have that is always cracked when you see how you really look in the Christmas photo your Aunt Millie took when you weren't ready?

So I started on the painting and along the way it morphed into this sad-faced girl with the beginnings of jowls. Then my tiny little poem came to me and I realized that I was still in the state of mind so beautifully described by Paisley here. I had the plan, heck it was practically a credo, to "live fast and die young." My mother died when she was just 41 years old and because of that I always had the fear that I would go the same route. (It was a great relief to turn 42.) Maybe conviction is a better word than fear. I think subconsiously I always thought I wouldn't be around to get old - so why prepare for it?

What that looked like was no sunscreen, lots of alcohol, no exercise routine to speak of, many late nights, chronic sleep deprivation (hey, that's still true!), more alcohol, no savings, fantastic - but fattening and rich - food from fabulous restaurants (hence the no savings part!), lots of laughing, and hundreds of fun memories.

Tomorrow I turn 45. My hair is going gray fast. My skin's dryness factor has doubled in the past year. Stupid, stupid hormones are making my face break out (I'm a little bitter about this part). I'm beginning to see wrinkles - wrinkles! - on my face and neck (I refuse to talk about the Creeping Jowl Syndrome.). My body has apparently lost the ability to burn calories without assistance and I had to get tri-focals this year. Gah!

On the other hand, when I look at my life at 45, I see that I have so, so much. Just having a wonderful husband and daughter and a fulfilling art habit are so much more than I ever dreamed of having. It's a beautiful life and I am so grateful now that I didn't die young. But I'm still not reconciled to the wrinkle thing...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Art Crusade #18 - Fun With Rubber in Room 206!

If you're a little like me and you need a kick in is the a** to get yourself to try new things, then Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press Street Team Art Crusades are for you! Hmm...Henceforth to be known as The Art Crusade. (I say a little like me because if you were just like me you'd need 2 kicks in the a**!) I have found them to be so fun and such a good incentive to step out of my box. Click on the button above to check it out!

This month, as I mentioned before, the challenge was to create your own stamps and stencils. Well, since the beginning of the month when I wrote that, it's been changed to just create your own stamps and April will be create your own stencils. And what do I say to that??? Yippee!!! Because of the change, I felt like I really had to try my hand at making a stamp. I was very reluctant. I'm not sure why, maybe I thought it would be too hard and I would get a terrible result. Well, I'm here to tell you, it is not too hard and it is a heckuva lot of fun!

Last night I went to the Room 206 3rd Friday art party; termed this month, "Fun with Rubber!" (If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will!) Liisa very generously went down to Daniel Smith and picked up some rubber and Speedball blades for everyone to use. (unfortunately they don't offer these items online, only in-store. But they are a great source for paint - their store brand rivals just about any other brand)

Here is what I did:

Here's how I did it:

First, I just tried out a little design. That's where I got the star stamp. I wanted to so something simple that I could draw right on the rubber without worrying about messing up. Then I took the little Speedball cutter and just cut out the outline of the star. I was going to gouge out all around the star, but went I took out the first line that I cut I decided I would like lines radiating out from the star.

Next was the hard part. I wanted to do something else, something bigger. But I didn't have any bright ideas. My original plan had been to print out some of my photoshop brushes that I really like - but I ran out of time. So I started leafing through my art journal and found this page:

(Note the note to myself at the top. Cuter than a squid? He still thinks that's a great compliment. I started this journal in March of 2006 right after I first read True Colors.)

At first I was just going to wimp out and do one bird, but then everyone at the table said they loved the look of the 3 birds standing on each other, so I decided to be brave. I pulled out a piece of card stock and started drawing and eventually ended up with this - in pencil:

Then I thought, "Well how am I going to get that on the rubber?" I had read the transfer instructions but I didn't have a copier handy and I always have difficulties with transfers anyway. I decided to try it the old fashioned way. I drew over the regular pencil with a charcoal pencil, flipped the image over onto the rubber and then rubbed the back of it with a bone folder thingy that Liisa had handy. Wow. When I lifted the paper there was a perfect transfer! (not only that, I think I could have just transferred the pencil - a few pencil lines showed up where I had missed with the charcoal)

Then I went to town with the cutters! I first outlined it shallowly with the small blade and then took out the in between parts with a larger blade. Liisa recommended I just cut off the bits I didn't need entirely to save myself the headache of trying to scoop it all out. Fine tuning it probably took the longest time. I kept inking it and stamping to see if my shaving was deep enough. I probably ended up doing that ten times. Little high spots kept popping up. (no pun intended there)

All in all, I was extraordinarily pleased with the results of this endeavor and I brought home a huge block of rubber so that I could make more. (More! More! More!)

Thank you Michelle!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fab Finds Tuesday - and Blogs that do the work for you...

I know, it would sound so much better if it were Fab Finds Friday - but I didn't want to wait!
100 Great Etsy Artists
First, today I got an email from a fellow indie public, Land of Etsy group member announcing a blog post. I get 900 of these a day because I keep forgetting to change my mail preferences. Usually, I read down the subject list and don't really read very many of them. There's just not enough time in the day to go explore everybody's 10% off sale, you know? (Sorry Land of Etsy-ers, there's just not. I wish there was.) Anyway, I read about every 7th email. Today was my lucky day! I read an email from Anne/lovestreams. The blog post she was announcing is a list of 100 great Etsy artists that she admires. It is an amazing post. She has included the banner and 3 thumbnails of every artist (that's 400 images!), plus a link to each person's etsy store. This was truly a labor of love. She has only included painters, mixed media, and illustrators in this batch (there's more to come!?) and I love just about every artist she listed. Click here to see who she picked.

(One of my favorite Etsy sellers is included in the 100 Artists, Art & Ghosts, this is one of my favorite pieces. It's called "Mushroom Door.")

note: while writing this post, I decided to buy it! Whoo hoo!

Beehive Kitchenware

This store has the best stuff for your house! I'm in love with so much of it I can't possibly post all the pictures. Here are two of my current crushes:

Go look! I challenge you not to find something you want there!


Okay, that's supposed to be a diaper bag - but if it were mine I'd use it for everything! This place has a myriad of colorful, animal-rific products; bags, diaperbags, wall hangings, storage boxes...I love it! It's not cheap, though. Too bad for me, but maybe not for you?


Most of you have probably been here or know about it, but it's fun to look around. I have the link keyed to go to the most popular Art items, but there are a bunch of categories to peruse.

The Cutting Edge

If you, like me, love great paper products (and I'm sure that you do!), you will absolutely adore this Etsy store! She makes the most ordinary things look extraordinary.
One of the super cute tags in this Etsy store:


This person finds stuff from sources all over the web. Fab stuff like these (click on the picture or here for the store) from an Etsy store called Monarch Monograms:

Have fun looking!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Journals, Crusades, Junk, and Journals - Hold On To Your Hats! It's a Long One!

I can't believe it has been almost 2 weeks since I last posted. Well, it has been hectic here. Sickness (2), birthday parties (4), doctor appointments (multiple), deadlines (2 - that I, sort of, made)...I could go on and on. Yawn........I'm boring myself.

In any case - I'm back in the land of the blogging! I've got a lot of sharing to do, you'd better go get some hot cocoa...

Well, after all the sickness that swept through our house over the last month, I managed to catch up enough to only be a week behind. Whew! These first pics are of a journal I made for a swap in ZNE's Artists and Poets group. I was lucky enough to draw the name of my blog-friend Gina! Then it turned out that I was more nervous making something for someone I know!

(Front Cover, Gina's Journal)
I started out with the idea of making something entirely different than the end product. Light colors, more whimsical, more modern, lots of hand drawing and painting. Basically the opposite of what I ended up with. How did that happen? Well, when I went looking for a suitable paper to serve as the base for the cover I couldn't find what I wanted. While looking I found this beautiful Mulberry paper (the photos really don't do justice to the beauty of the color) and awesome Japanese paper and I fell in love. I bought them and then everything just went on from there.
I didn't want to impose too much personality onto the journal. The purpose of this project was to make something that people could really use to write poetry or try out art journalling. I decided it would be best to keep it fairly simple and let Gina make it her own.
Inside, I affixed a small-ish mulberry paper envelope in a dusky blue-green to the first page and stuffed it full of paper ephemera. I attached the cute, metal flower to the flap to give it a little more interest.
I included a telephoto shot of the pseudo knot I used in the binding. I wouldn't really consider it a knot. I just wound the strands of cording back through themselves and then tied the single knot that you see on the left to join the two strands. The green bead is a handmade, glass bead from Africa. The two hematite-gray beads are Czech glass.
For the inside pages I used a mixture of heavy, white, watercolor paper; thick,cream cardstock; and patterned scrapbooking cardstock in shades of blue, green, and brown. I inserted some images and phrases in a few pages throughout the book.
(above left, close-up of pseudo-knot; below, overview of pages)
On the inside of the front cover, I printed out the following poem by Cautrell:
Statement of Purpose

I do the work because I want to.
I do the work because I like to.
I do the work because I know how.
I do the work to explore myself.
I the work to engage others with thought, word, and deed.
I do the work because I have something to say.
I do the work because I have seen something beautiful.
I do the work because I have seen something ugly.
I do the work to be the kind of person I want to be.
I do the work to earn money.
I do the work to stay when I must go.
- Cautrell
I have always loved that. It seems to me to be a near-perfect recitation of an artist's motivations. After I took this picture, I also affixed an image to the inside of the front cover - in the upper right corner, it seemed a little bare in the picture. - Then I forgot to take another picture of it!

Inside the back cover I affixed a stamped, green, cardstock library card holder and filled it with more paper ephemera and two sheets of hole reinforcers - one of which was inked in coordinating colors. The quote on the inside of the back cover is that lovely one from Emile Zola, "There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman."
The paper I used on the inside of the front cover is from Gail's Shabby Cottage Studio store and the paper on the inside of the back cover is one of the free collage papers included inside an issue of Somerset Studio. Additionally, the small bird on the back cover, below, is also from a Somerset Studio free collage paper. The quote on the back cover reads, "Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance." It is uncredited there, but it is from Carl Sandberg.
Speaking of journalling - boy did I fail at Art Crusade # 17! The assignment was to create a "journal kit" or portable toolbox for journalling that would include all sorts of things you find necessary to visual journalling. It would be something you could easily carry around that would make it easier to do journal pages whenever the inspiration strikes. Well, I got off to a good start. I bought doubles of a couple of pen colors that I can't live without; Picked out my favorite colors of mini inkpads; bought a second pair of mini, microtip scissors; picked out the most useful of my smaller stamps; filled an envelope with bits of paper ephemera; and started painting black gesso on a thrift store box that was the perfect size to fit in my handbag. Then I decided to put everything into the box to see how much room I had for the ephemera-filled envelope I was affixing to underside of the lid. Here's what I got:
Notice anything wrong with these pictures? Like...the lid won't close and the pens are too long? Well, I had to abandon it in order to finish Gina's journal, but I'll go back to it and probably figure something out in a new, longer, box.
On the other hand, I've already started on Crusade #18:
We are to "build our own tool" for this crusade; Either a stamp or a stencil (or both). Well, I was fooling around and made a butterfly stencil. It's pretty rudimentary, but I like how it turned out. I used some chalk ink on a make-up sponge to dab color inside the stencil.

When I go for 3rd Friday (if I can, DH has been sick), I will see if Liisa will help me carve a stamp. She has made several that I know if and of always insists that it's really easy.
Lastly, I thought I would share pictures of some of my latest junking finds. Despite everything else going on, we've managed to hit a few of the regular places and I found some great things. Particularly the metal countertop cabinet - it pretty much matches the other two medical cabinets we have. The handle on it is a little earlier, and possibly a replacement handle.

This gorgeous red handbag I picked up at our local flea market from a woman who used to have a store called Fritzi Ritz - isn't that a great name? I didn't realize it was her until she told me who to make the check out to (of course I didn't bring enough cash). I used to get vintage handbags from her all the time - at the very least I probably bought ten handbags from her store! I decided I must have been meant to get this bag.

I got these for my DH on Craigslist. He likes to store art and vintage bike parts in vintage suitcases. He probably already has 15 and they are all chock full of stuff. I would have saved these for Father's Day, but our house is so small there is absolutely nowhere to hide them!

Lastly, I got all these great goodies at various places. (there's a couple more things, but I started putting stuff away before I remembered to take a pic.) Everything is for a future assemblage piece - except the shoes. Those I'm giving to Judy Wilkenfeld of Red Velvet Creations for her upcoming project. If you haven't visited her blog yet - go, go, go! She does the most phenomenal work. I may have used up all the usual superlatives in describing what she does, so I'll just promise you that you will not be sorry you went over there to take a look.

In closing, and speaking of journals, I was brainstorming ideas for my Etsy for Autism contest piece and I did this in my art journal:
I think something of this nature will be perfect for the project. I will do something like this on a small canvas and also add the phrase, "Childhood is a journey, not a race." I will post it here, of course, when I finish it. When the Etsy for Autism group's contest goes live, we will have a treasury named Etsy for Autism posted for your viewing pleasure beginning April 1st. It is a contest in that the item with the most views wins the contest. Don't let that stop you from buying something you want on the first day, though! The main purpose of the contest is to raise money for Autism Speaks. The head of the study that Rexy is in, Geraldine Dawson, has actually been hired as the Chief Scientific Officer for Autism Speaks. They will be doing more research into causes, therapies, etc. I will be reminding you about the contest as we get closer to it.

Whew! That was a lot! Of course there's more, but geez! I can't imagine this post being any longer.
I'm glad to be back.