Monday, November 27, 2006

Fly Free

Birds are a tremendously popular image nowadays; from nest to egg to tiny songbird or mischievous crow, birds have great appeal. They are beautiful in voice and body, adventurous and resilient, silly and serious. Of course, I am particularly attracted to birds in hats. After all, everyone knows that the perfect hat is an essential addition to a smart-looking wardrobe.

This a tag I created for a tag swap. The little bird stamp is from Kodomo Inc and I just love it! Just a simple bit of art to grace today's blog entry...I'm crazy busy with art teaching tonight, tomorrow and next week so not much time for chit-chat or "free play" art. However, after next Monday, I'll be free to fly off on my own tangents! Can't wait! My journal is calling!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Behold Bright Hope

"In this world, darkness is plentiful - war, poverty, sickness, hunger, hate, death. Sometimes...nay, inevitably, our life paths will take an unhappy turn. The road will become gloomy & sad. Don't let the dark consume you, child! Look up, up, up and the night clouds will part. A brilliant moon hangs in a sky strewn with innumerable pinpricks of starlight. Take these heavenly wonders as reminders that no matter the depth of the dark, light waits beyond. Trust in this & you can endure and conquer."

This the "journal page" I created on the 8 by 10-inch canvas board that I featured in my background tutorial (entry "Art's Foundation.") I did darken the final background just a touch more so it would have more blue than green. I created a little owl gal similiar to this in a previous journal page and just had to create another. I guess this would also serve as my entry for the ArtWords topic, "birds."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Be Rare

This is an art journal entry I created today in a local coffeehouse. I go journaling "out on the town" with my dear friend, muse, and art partner, Ellen, every couple of weeks. It is a time of great conversation, excited sharing of our most recent art adventures and planning & scheming about future collaborations. I recommend that everyone try art journaling out in the world. It offers fantastic lessons in supply, space, and time limitations as well a new and different environment to inspire journal entries.

This is perhaps my favorite journal entry to date. I walked out the door this morning with a head, a background, and a color scheme in mind. She turned out just as I envisioned her. Don't 'cha love it when that happens? And even more delightful, I finally have a direction for a book I've been planning on a make-believe circus family. Yes! It only goes to show that inspiration will strike when it is meant to if you are patient and faithful to your original vision.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Art's Foundation

I get asked a lot how I do my backgrounds for my journaling and I must say I never think about it too much. I just layer, layer, layer and work over the paper or canvas until I end up with something that satisfies me. I typically don't proceed in an extremely predictable manner; as soon as I think I've discovered my "signature technique," I change things up and develop another look. I do, however, go through periods of time where I do stick with a fairly regimented method and so I thought I would break down this particular technique for you all. I am currently using this technique on canvas board; lighterweight foundations would buckle badly under all the moisture. Secondly, I am NOT priming the canvas with gesso so the colors can really get into the grooves of the canvas.

Step One: Wash the canvas with 3 acrylic paints mixed with water to a runny consistency. I like to apply the colors just touching and then tilt the board to help the paint run together in places. Let this dry or encourage the drying process with a heat gun. Once dry, seal with one application of mat medium. Let dry again.

Step Two: This is basically a repeat of Step One, using the same colors but in a slightly thicker consistency. I try not to cover up any particularly interesting patterns that have started to appear. Let this layer dry just a bit and wipe off some excess. This is not an exact science. Relinquish some control and let the background tell you where it needs some help and where it is coming along splendidly. Once you wipe off some, let it dry completely and repeat with the mat medium. These repeated layers of mat medium help gradually fill in the tooth of the canvas board so I have an easier time writing on it later.

Step Three: Lightly sponge on the same acrylic paints, adding some more intense areas of color. Work a section at a time and blend gently as you go. I typically load up three makeup sponges with wet paint and hold them all at once in my left hand between my fingers. Then I can work faster, changing out colors as I need to blend the colors together. Once the paint dries, I also sponge in some dye inks that are similiar to the paint colors I have chosen. Inks are transparent so they will accent the colors but allow the layers to show through. I let this dry and add yet another layer of mat medium.

Step Four: Here I add in some torn bits of a complimentary tissue with decoupage glue. I LOVE tissue and use it in almost everything I do. Since I finish off the back of my canvas panels as well, I wrap the tissue around to the back just a little. I'll cover up the ends with a piece of decorative paper when the piece is completely finished. Let this dry completely before you move on. If you rush things, the tissue will bubble up as you apply moisture over the top.
You can choose a tissue that clashes with the background, blends in or lends itself to the future subject matter of the piece. Add mat medium again and let dry.

Step Five: Wash around the edges of the canvas with a darker color (contrasting or complimentary) and wipe off the excess. Finish off with a final layer of mat medium. Note that mat medium is not intended as a final sealer (or so the bottle says). I simply use it to turn the canvas into a more suitable writing surface since I like to use colored pencils, markers, and crayons in my journaling and canvas is a lot bumpier than the usual watercolor paper I use in my regular journals.

Here's an "oops!" that happened with this piece. The dark color I chose for the edges completely stained my tissue into oblivion. See the dark blue beneath? To "fix", I simply layered on more of the same tissue. This gave it even more depth and I liked the result. If something happens like this, don't panic! All is not lost! Take a minute and think about what you can do to bring the look back in line with your original vision. Or the "oops!" may turn into a "whoo hoo!" and your background technique will metamorphize yet again. This phenomenon of welcoming the "mistakes" as delightful accidents makes the creation of backgrounds an ever-evolving process.

In a couple of days, I will post the "journal page" that I created on top of this particular background.

Friday, November 17, 2006


"Unfurl those wings, sweetness and test the air. A cool breeze is blowing, a soft, uplifting current waiting for you. Yes, the weight of the world is pressing down upon your soul. Yes, those personal demons can be tricky. There are many struggles in all our lives - this is oh so true. But no matter how heavy your heart, your spirit can fly. A deep breath, a glowing sunset, a bird in her nest, babies beneath her feathered breast...each little treasure discovered is a bit of hope uncovered. Each new look at the everyday reveals miracles and joy and beauty, simple but glorious things that lighten the load. Now stretch for the stars, dear one, and let your worries drop away, scattered in the wind. Like the universe, your potential knows no bounds, no bars, no barriers, if only, if only, you believe."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fall Fancies

Autumn has hit California's northernmost coast in all its windy and rainy glory. While I enjoy the lazy luxury of summer, I love these cozy days inside, listening to the rain upon the roof and the mating symphonies of the tree frogs that gather on my back patio and the adjacent cow pasture. I love skeletal trees and the last, tired leaves that scatter with the arrival of wild, twisting breezes. The winter storms aren't yet raging in off of Humboldt Bay, those often scary meteorlogical events that make both windows and power shudder. Winter also brings the inevitable holiday chaos and so autumn is the calm before. It brings the year's impending end into focus and the new year's arrival to mind. My art seems to flow more easily in autumn. I settle into the inviting warmth of my little studio, both comforted and inspired by the weather that blows beyond my apartment's threshold.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Still Here... post and art coming soon. It seems like an eternity since I've posted...uh, OK, it has been an eternity but time just seems to slip through my fingers like sand between parenting and art teaching and the health stuff. However, my art life has been full and rich in my absence from blogging so I'll get some things scanned in the next couple of days and create a more elaborate post. I also have a digital camera now (thanks Josh!) and that will make posting art soooo much easier!
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