Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gone Squirrely!

Yes, I've finally gone over the edge now with the "doodling" stuff! Actually the squirrel on the left is the first example I did for the Kent State University (Kent, Ohio, USA) Centennial Squirrel contest. (click on the picture to see more detail). I'm co-chair of this project and we are "unveiling" them tomorrow at a town and gown breakfast. We needed one sample that gives the people in attendance an idea of some of the things that can be done with these squirrels for the contest. They are created initially in a nice weight, black resin and if you're not of a mind to do some art on one, you could also just dress them up. Or do nothing and just put him on your desk as is.
If you're not familiar with KSU - we have tons of black squirrels all around the campus. They aren't our official mascot, that's "Flash" a golden eagle, but our little furry squirrels are near and dear to everyone's hearts. These replicas (designed by David Knox of our Tuscarawrus campus) are being sold in an 8" size and also in a whopping 30" size! Our hope is to hold a friendly, viewer's choice competition in October 2009 for both sizes. And there will be lots of fabulous prizes too! More info on that to be announced soon!
We have tons of artists around the Kent State campuses and the greater community and also many alums all around the country who might also want to get into the action. If you're interested, go check out the KSU Centennial Web site and click on the link for the Squirrels. It may not be active until the week of Sept. 29 though, as the site is currently being built, but there's lots of Centennial stuff to check out in the meantime. Hope some of my artiste friends in Ohio (and elsewhere) will want to join us for this fun competition.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Fall List

I love Fall. The cooler weather, the crisp nights, the awe inspiring colors of the trees and most of all, I love, love, love - HALLOWEEN! Especially the witches! But Fall for me brings a long list of projects I need to complete before the first Saturday in December (Dec. 6 this year).
That is the date that, with my dear friend, Dawn Burrows, we hold our annual Christmas Open House. So all fall we are both in "full production mode", designing and creating new items to sell at the open house. Right now I'm working on Santas. I found a pattern I really love for a German Santa at the Country Cupboard in Berlin, OH (right in the heart of Amish country). It is made with a wool coat and hat/hood, trimmed with faux fur. He is holding a bag of polymer clay "oranges" and a sprig of evergreen topped with a tiny, red, glass bead. See what you think. Right now all my energy goes into the stock for the open house, but right after Dec. 6, any of the extras I make will be posted to my Etsy shop.

Check out these pics. The bodies with heads are done and awaiting clothes and beards, so they are all lined up on my table and they are STARING at me! It really is an odd feeling to look over and see all of them...."sew faster! we need clothes! no gifts for you, you bad girl!"

I finished one and took it to Dawn's to do a cat test. Two years ago I made the mistake of using wool from a friend of a friend, who had sheep, for the Santa's beards. The cats ripped off beards and scattered the Santas from one end of the house to the other! And other people who bought them had similar situations with their pets too. It had to be that the wool beard material hadn't been cleaned enough (it looked and smelled fine to ME) to get a scent out that only another animal could smell. I replaced beards on a number of Santas that year. Now I cat test if I'm using anything that hasn't been commercially processed. This year's Santa sports a curly, silky beard of Border Leicester wool and I just love how it looks. The cat's sniffed it once and walked away, so we're good to go!

I've been hitting all the rummage sales buying up old coats and skirts, then cutting them up and felting them for the Santa's coats and hoods. So far I'll have some in dk. red, dk. green, gold, brown and maybe some in a cream too. I'd still like to find a nice medium or country blue too.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rainbow Swirls - Hand Dyed Paper

Finally! I managed to work out the details and technique to something that I can consistently reproduce and have begun selling this beautiful, rainbow swirled paper in my Etsy shop! It's been a long haul and one of the biggest lessons was figuring out that not all glossy cardstocks are created equal. After much trial and error I've found a brand that lets me turn out some of the most vivid and luscious colors you'll find. I've packaged them in packs of 5 sheets - 8-1/2" x 11" as that seems to be the most frequently requested size. Check it out. And let me know what you think. I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this paper! And if you buy some, I'd REALLY love to see what you do with it! I think it will be great in cards, ATC's,
journals, book covers, scrapbooking, you name it. Now if only I can bring myself to cut into it!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Weekend Painting Job

I've been wanting to try my hand at these little landscapes taught by Karyn Gartel for some time. A friend took her class and was kind enough to show me how to do it too. They were a lot of fun and I love how they are so whimsical and folk artsy. I was most amazed that you could actually paint on canvas using the inexpensive sort of craft acrylic paint you buy at the hobby stores. I notice now that I'm seeing both the day and night versions side by side, that I made a few errors - the hills in the night one are brighter and lighter in color than the daytime one and it really should be the other way around, shouldn't it? Maybe I should go back in and paint a big cloud obscuring the sun! And don't tell, but I have my light source coming from the left on the day time piece, but my shadows for the trees and houses go the opposite direction! Duh! I don't care. I'm still happy with them as I've never painted on real canvases before and now, having done this, I'm not so intimidated so may try some other things later on. If you'd like to see Karyn Gartel's site and the classes she offers, check out her workshop blog.

Bandana Prints

These were a natural next step with the "doodling" I've been doing for
some time now. Saw the technique online at: PearlEsq a blog by Robin Beam, who is the
education director for Ranger Industries. I guess I'm behind the times because she has been doing this for some time now it appears! Oh well, better late than never! I've been having fun with this technique making backgrounds for cards, etc. and even did an envelope on a momentary whim last week. I love sending a little bit of art in the mail to perk up someone's day. Just wish I had more time for that! The technique in a shortened version is:

1. rub Distress Ink pads (or any dye ink pads) on a teflon sheet - don't overlap colors or they will muddy

2. spritz inked sheet with water - pretty heavily

3. drag a piece of watercolor paper through the wet dye once, then dab here and there into remaining wet dye to cover entire piece (easier to work with 1/4 sheets or so) of w/c paper

4. I found you can go back direct to paper with the ink pads adding a dab of ink here and there, then spritz the area with some more water to make it run and blend with the existing colors.

5. set aside to dry and do some more backgrounds

6. when background is dry (can speed with heat gun), stamp flourishes or any stamps you want to fill in a random pattern. Robin recommends the black acrylic paint dabber by Ranger. I tried it and preferred the Stazon black pad for clear, crisper images.

7. high light here and there alongside the stamped black images using a good, opaque, white pen. Here again, I prefer the Signo pen, but my friend Dawn let me try her new Extra fine white waterproof Sharpie marker and it is pretty great too!

8. I added some random dots here and there, but that is just me and I never know when to stop doodling!

Thanks Robin for another great technique!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sally Jean Style

I seem to be in a "learn the styles of others" phase. We had a play night recently and a good friend showed us how to make the most wonderful "Sally Jean Alexander" style altered pages. What fun! I love the way these come out and think its a combination of subtle, toned down color on the page plus only black and white or sepia imagery. And then the thing that really pops it off the page is the use of charcoal pencils to outline the images and sort of grunge it up here and there. I did this piece first and since, have done a bunch of ATC's too - which I promptly traded away to my friends in the Art Gang Ohio group this last weekend!

Attempt at acrylic painting

Well, I went and fell in love with Misty Mawn's style
of painting and am trying my hand at it. Not the greatest initial results, but I'm progressing a bit. This is my third one. I think what I love most about her style is the ghostly, eerie skin tones and for some reason I just cannot seem to get them right. Since taking a class with her anytime soon is out of the question financially, I'll just continue to muddle through. It is fun to do though. The background of this piece started out as a great collaged background paper that my friend, Lill Mederak created and traded with me a couple months ago. Thanks Lill!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

ATC's for Lill

This is the second set of ATC's I've exchanged with Lill Mederak in Canada. I waited to post these until I knew she'd have received her package so as not to spoil the fun. I do love this little format - both for it's ease and quickness to complete and for it's tradeability too. I just organized all my ATC's in a three ring notebook with those clear vinyl baseball card sleeves and arranged them in groups - lots of eraser carved ones from my early days with the Carving Consortium and then later groups in various swaps. I also have enough from a few dear friends to make a whole page of work by that one artist, which is fun to see. My style has certainly changed and I think, improved too, over the years.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dyed Papers

My latest creations. Dyed papers. Aren't they 'purty'? Lots of fun too. And the pictures don't do them justice really. I am doing some more experimenting, but if all goes well will be offering these for sale on my etsy site. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tribal Inspiration

Isn't it fun to get inspiration for something you love to do from the most unexpected places? I was recently looking at some lamp worked beads on line and came across some that are done using various aboriginal designs. No - I'm NOT going to try my hand at lampworking on top of everything else I can't seem to say no to! But the swirls and circles and undulating snake-like shapes really spoke to me so I just had to doodle with them. Here's my first attempt. This was done on white watercolor paper using the Faber Castell Pitt Artist pens in both the brush size and the S size for the tinier detail stuff. I think I'll have to play more with these sort of designs and I think I really want to try doing it on top of some of my hand dyed watercolor paper too.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Been Doodling Some More...

As you might know, I've been doodling for a year or more now and always on the lookout for more "patterns" to use. So when the "Zentangles" Web site became popular a couple months ago, I started playing with some of the shapes and patterns I found there.

I decided I needed (I'll admit to being a bit obsessive and detail-oriented!) a "library" of patterns I like to use repeatedly when doing my doodling in journals and ATC's etc. I did these little rounded-corner squares in my journal and thought you might enjoy seeing them too to give you some additional patterns to use as you do your own doodling.

Those Zentangle people are right - doodling is so relaxing and "zen" like. I lose all track of time when doing these repetitive, mindless patterns.

I've also been experimenting with a variety of pens to see what I like best. My favorite is the Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen with a very fine needle tip. But alas, it isn't permanent, so when I want to have permanency for either archival purposes or because I'm going to add color over the patterns I've drawn, I have to use something with waterproof ink.

My favorite in the permanent category is the Staedtler .01 Permanent pen. It actually comes in some other sizes too finer and broader both if you want a variety. These are a little pricey though and for me not terribly easy to find.

And a friend, Colleen, who works for Faber Castell here in Ohio, gave me some of their permanent ink pens to try. The Pitt Artist pen by Faber Castell is the nicest in my opinion. Good permanent, black India ink in an "S" size works well for these doodles, but was a tiny bit too broad for me because I tend to have a heavy hand and they are felt tipped so they sort of smoosh out a bit and get even broader than designed.

But, good news!, Colleen recently told me that they have a brand new pen coming out very soon and it is available in an even finer tip! She let me write with her one and only sample and it will be a great substitute for the harder to find and more expensive Staedtler pen. Can't wait till they're on the market!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Art from the Heart - New Book - and a chance to win!

If you haven't already heard about this awesome opportunity, it's not too late!

Artist, Catherine Matthews-Scanlon is giving away two copies of her new book, Art from the Heart and YOU could be the lucky winner. But you only have one day yet to enter the drawing so don't delay!

If you are interested in winning a copy, all you have to do is post about her give away on your blog and you'll be entered to win one of the two copies of this new book, which by all accounts sounds like it will be a huge hit! You'll also need to post a comment on Catherine's blog so she knows you're playing along and should be entered into the drawing. She'll be checking your blog to be sure you've posted about the book and giveaway.

Aren't artists fun people?! And so smart too! Best of luck with your book Catherine!