Sunday, March 29, 2009

Altered Book post 1

I am participating in an altered book collaboration with 5 other artists and our first exchange is coming up April 18. Each artist chooses a book to alter, sets the subject of the book, and completes 3 spreads before the first exchange. Each spread covers both the right and left hand pages when the book is opened. At each exchange we will come home with another artist's book and have a few weeks to complete 3 spreads in that book... and it goes on until each artist has done 3 spreads in each book. This is the first altered book for all of the artists involved. I'm excited to see all the work in all the books!

I chose a book by Claudia Bepko and JoAnne Krestan entitled Singing at the Top of Our Lungs which I found at my local Women In Need store for 50 cents. The authors studied the various ways women have created their own lives. The title is derived from one of their study participants who related that she loved to sing as a child but gave it up when she married. Why? Nobody made her do that but for some reason she stopped singing at the top of her lungs. She's singing again!
This is my first 2 page spread on my topic "Women & Creativity". To get the gist of the creativity part of this spread you need see the text on the bottom of the right-hand page. Here it is: "We hoped that we were creating the potential for a different story to emerge, one that could shed some light on the ways women struggle to define their own lives."
I have to agree with the book in many areas. Almost all women I know admit to having struggled to define their own life. It isn't [necessarily] because others are defining it for us but that we are so torn by so many good options (homemaking, mothering, working, hobbies, volunteering, grandparenting). Conflicted is the term I would use. It takes creativity to make choices and keep all these parts of our lives in proper balance. I hope my daughters and grand-daughters can make the very best choices for their lives and be happy with the life they define for themselves. I hope they sing at the top of their lungs!
I chose to use photos I took of Kiera and Kalista (2 of my 4 grand-daughters) at wonderful playground in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I was intrigued by the beautiful mosaic "pond" and the poem on it's wall. A group of people took the time to address the active needs of children in such a beautiful and creative way. The words of the poem remind me to slow down and admire the butterflies, dragonflies, lady bugs, and the other fun stuff of life that children see. I extended the images beyond the photo with water soluble crayons - such fun! I can't wait to see what my Neocolor II crayons do on art paper! Enjoy!
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New mixed media painting

I've been puttering on this for the past week after the transfer I posted on March 20. I've got plenty left to do but I've been finding the creative process sluggish & challenging lately. I blame it on all the numbers I've had to look at over the past 10 days - yuck!

I hope to finish this over the next few days and when I do, you'll see it here again.
p.s. for those that know Chuck - mum's the word until the big bday is over - thanks! You might also take a minute to compare this photo to Erin's baby pics - it's uncanny how alike their mouths are!
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tulip collage... done

I have learned a lot from this collage because I've basically done it over about 4 times. Collage is so flexible and that makes it really easy to take a 'do over'. Here are some other things I've learned while re-re-redoing this project:
  • Acrylic paint application - FAR different than watercolor and there are pluses and minuses. They really can't be compared to each other in my mind. Kinda like comparing really good automotive paint to really good makeup - the applications are just too different to make it worthwhile.
  • Acrylic mediums... part way through this project I learned that I should be using soft gel MATTE medium to attach collage papers rather than soft gel GLOSS medium. That's because the gloss medium is, you guessed it, glossy!
  • Paper weight... I used good quality sketch paper on this project and I've been fighting that from the outset. The smooth lines on the teapot, vase, and the apple are way too noticeable for my liking. Lighter paper - even 20 bond paper would have been a better choice in that regard. Archival quality doesn't matter because collage papers are sealed by the acrylic paint on top and are attached with more acrylic medium to the support.
  • Support - I used a stretched canvas support that I had on hand. The upside of that is that, if you a like the piece, you don't have to frame it... a little black paint on the edges is all that is needed. The downside is that, if you like only part of the piece, you can't cut the bad parts out and keep the good as easily as on other supports like watercolor paper, mat board, or illustration board.

I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was decent until late last night when it started to snow - 31 centimetres before it stopped. Enough said. Cheers...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Transfer with heat...

I'm having fun playing with transfers again. Here's how the steps to this one went.

Photo 1 - Prepare watercolor support and transfer image
  • This time I started out with a bit of prepainting on the 140 lb watercolor painting. I wanted a bit of color beneath this transfer. Once that's dry, I determined the exact placement for the transfer. A few pencil marks for guides is a good idea.
  • I put a single layer of Golden Soft Matte Medium over the area receiving the transfer AND over the image. [Cross-directional strokes will result in a nice linen/woven affect.
  • Once both dry I aligned the transfer atop the support and lightly secure it (a bit of tape holds it temporarily)

Photo 2 - Image transfer

  • With my preheated Versa Tool, I carefully and thoroughly heat the paper back of the transfer with a circular motion. The heat melts the two layers of medium together, fusing the ink into the surface of the watercolor paper.

Photo 3 - Removing the paper backing to reveal the transfer

  • The back of the support can now be carefully wet and the paper will roll off to reveal the transfer underneath. This takes old fashioned elbow grease. Roll your finger back and forth until a bit of paper grabs on and begins a roll.
  • Wet and roll, wet and roll. The key factor to get the paper rolled of with no tearing is to wait for the transfer to cool completely.

I've had a couple of great results with this method and frankly, I plan to stick with it. Enjoy!

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Monday, March 16, 2009

price wars

Limited art time again today as I spend some time in preparation for a meeting later this week.

I'm focused on one product in this particular update - Golden's Gesso in white. I called around to the local art stores and my fav on-line. I asked for a price for the 32oz size. Here are the results:

Swinton's $33.25 -10% student discount
Colors $36.40 -10% student discount
Mona Lisa $33.45 FT students get 10% off
Kensington $41.50 -10% for student discount
Inglewood $41.81 -20% which is an ongoing discount on all Golden product (even special order)
Michael's $49.99 -40% one item coupon.
Curry's $27.95

After all that calculating your best bets for gesso in Calgary are Swinton's at $30, Michael's (with coupon of course). If you have the patience for mail order, Curry's is a good price too. Retweet this

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tissue paper painting

The sky is the limit when it comes to collage paper. One of the interesting things I've done recently (again, in class) involves very thin tissue paper and it makes a really pretty, unique pattern. It's so fragile just a drop of water will dissolve it so care must be taken in preparing it. Finished paper is shown in photo to left.

To get around that problem you can use these steps:
1. Scrunch the tissue and then flatten it out onto a plastic surface but leave some interesting hills and valleys for the paint to run into/out of.

2. Mist with water lightly to help the paint to spread on the tissue.

3. I pre-blended two acrylic colors in squirt bottles - golden fluids indian yellow and quinacridone burnt sienna. I dropped this paint onto the damp paper and misted to increase the paint spread here and there (see photo). Do not move the paint around with a brush or you'll be ripping the paper. It's fragile.

4. Keep some white areas if that's what you need for your collage - don't wet the tissue quite as much and keep some higher scrunch peaks.

5. Leave it alone until completely dry. The back of the paper will be shiny in places as more medium will settle and dry against the plastic.

6. To attach to collage cut the piece to size, apply the medium/glue to the support and lightly, gently press the tissue onto the surface and smooth gently. Once dry I coated it lightly with medium so that it didn't dissolve when I over painted on it.


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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Last figure class

Figure drawing was a lot of fun this year! Our last class was yesterday. Wow that went by quickly! I thought I'd include a few photos of yesterday's work here with a short description of what we were trying to accomplish with each photo...

1. Warm up... using the side of a 1" piece of dry media [charcoal or conte], capture the general mass of the figure shape and add in the most important/descriptive lines - 20/30 seconds

2. Still warming up with the same method but now we're up to a minute. It's still not enough time to "see" and convert the information to paper. But it's a bit more descriptive. Sharon's reminding us to look for the musical/graceful/interesting lines. We're also supposed to be getting hands and feet onto these quick sketches - yikes, I can't move THAT fast!

3. More time now... although I can't remember exactly how long these ones were. I've switched to charcoal and I'm liking that better.

4. Still more time [I'm wishing I'd jotted it down, oops] - I think these might have been 3 minutes??? I'm having better luck with the extra time.

5. Switch to painting but using a similar method. Block in with one wash for first 10-20 seconds and then define further with a second color. I could have used less water and more pigment - these are faint. These were more difficult poses with limbs crossing, etc.

6. We switched to a heavier paper. I used some cheap watercolor paper and struggled with it from the get go. This is the only longer [10 min] pose that I did that turned even a teensy bit. I think I captured the light and shadow reasonably well. I struggled with the shape of the leg that was foreshortened [pointed directly at me]

I hope you enjoyed this little walk through a figure drawing class.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Poncho people sketch

Today was busy. This morning I attended my workout and pool session. This afternoon I allowed myself a bit of art time.
  1. I ordered some paint and a small set of caran d'ache water soluble crayons to add to my collection.
  2. Called my mom to solicit a creative "sampler" for my altered book project. Got some great ideas just by talking it over from another creative angle. Always helpful and fun.
  3. Then I dug through some old sewing stuff hoping to find some remnants from my previous creative activities that I might use in my altered book project. Found them.
  4. Made some paper which I may use in my tulip project. Time will tell.
  5. Spent 10 minutes tidying up in my art room and found this little watercolor sketch from April 30, 2008. Bonus! That day Sharon asked the students to lay down several small adjoining wet washes in various colors in our sketchbooks. Then we looked for people shapes in our "blobs" and I saw these South America figures. A few defining marks for hats, legs and poncho trim and I had this fun little watercolor sketch. It definitely demonstrated how simple marks can be figures.
All in all, a good day... I enjoyed it and I hope you had a good one too! Retweet this

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New collage start

I've started a new self-portrait style collage. I learned quite a bit from Ann Baldwin's DVD "Telling Stories With Collage and Paint". One of the things she says is that it is usually best NOT to lay down your most important image first. Immediately after saying that she does exactly the opposite, as I've done here. At least she had a plan before she dove in. Me? Not so much.
I began this by covering a piece of illustration board with gesso. Once dry I drizzled ultramarine blue and quinacridone burnt orange vertically down the surface and sprayed water to join up the paint drips.

After that dried I attempted an image transfer using Golden softgel gloss. It was about 50% successful but I decided to go ahead with a further step. I coated an identical transfer and the surface again and after they were dry I carefully laid the new image atop the previous transfer. I taped it securely in place before I used my Walnut Hollow Versa-tool to melt the image onto the surface. Once cool I wet the paper backing and simply rolled the paper off the image. I've only done this a few times but every time it gives me a very good image with just enough raggedy edges to make it interesting.

I used some Golden light molding paste over a box stencil to add the texture to the right of my shoulder. Then I painted into and around the image to bring it to life a bit. I like it so far. I'm going to be working on this again in class tomorrow to see if I can get a few more steps down the path on this collage.

I hope you are enjoying your Sunday... Retweet this

Friday, March 6, 2009


Back to the tulips today and I'm feeling good about where this is going. I definitely like the color with the warm dominating. I like my apple better but the reflection on the vase isn't right somehow. So, I'll rest this up against the wall so my mind can mull it over for a while.
We're off to see Australia tonight. I wish it were the real thing but, alas, just the movie. Still, it'll be fun. Cheers! Retweet this

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Golden Products - a few learnings

I'm shopping around for a few golden fluid acrylic colors that I've seen used in class or on a DVD recently as well as a good price on Golden's soft gel gloss medium (lots of transfers in my future ;). I've checked at a few stores: Michael's, Mona Lisa's, Opus & Curry's online and I thought I would provide the results for those of you that are interested in such things. You'll need to double click on the photo above to open it up large enough to read.

The result of the bit of study I did on this today is that Curry's prices are best overall. Obviously I didn't look everywhere but who can? It's time consuming. The one exception that I've found so far concerns the soft gel medium. It appears that Mona Lisa's price $32.45 for a 64 oz jar is the clear winner in this category (all others are quite a bit higher per ounce). Another surprise is Michael's price - $29.95 for the 16 ounce jar. With the standard 40% off coupon you come out just a few bucks more per ounce than Mona Lisa's larger jar. [By the way, shipping is free on Curry's orders over $35]

Happy shopping to my Calgary art buddies... apologies for inflicting this on the rest of you.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Collage tulips...

When it comes to art, Grandma's old adage "a job begun is a job half done" is just WRONG! Sorry, Grandma... I've got a decent start on this 16"x20" piece but I have a long way to go to completion. I did a background in acrylic before I began laying collage elements. Now I've done a bit more painting and I will most likely continue that cycle a few more times... lots of fun. It's puttery though. Tomorrow I'm setting up another piece because I need to have more than one thing going... my brain needs to mull things over between sessions. Figuring out the next steps takes a while. Enjoy! Retweet this