Monday, September 30, 2013

Gone Painting

Acrylics on 6x6-inch gallery wrap canvas
I'm taking a week off - maybe two - from the blog to try and stir up some painting madness in anticipation of my upcoming show.  I hang this coming Sunday and the official "opening" is the following Friday.  I have a lot of work to do but we'll see how far I get...wish me luck!

Friday, September 27, 2013

In the Garden of the Mystic

Finally it's Friday!  Here's another set of pages from my "Scraps" journal: more flowers and a feather for some variety...enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Soft Giraffe & A Single Candle

So far, this is my absolute favorite spread in my illustration-only journal.  Everything here just works for me: the pairing of quote with illustration, the expressions, the characters themselves.  These two pages make me smile and I hope that they bring some light to your day as well.  Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Many Faces of Shakespeare

Today I'd like to share some of the Shakespeare caricatures created by my art students at Laurel Tree Charter School.  I think they are simply delightful and I am so proud of their work!  I teach mixed age group classes with students from 4th grade up through high school.


We began by discussing exactly what caricature is and how it differs from a traditional cartoon.  Then we all looked at a large, black and white portrait of Shakespeare and tried to find those features that we could exaggerate and still draw a picture that was recognizable as the Bard.  The kids pointed out his enormous forehead, his fancy collar, the bags under his eyes, and his funny facial hair.

Some of the students were worried about drawing faces but I assured them that caricatures are supposed to be silly.  After that brief instruction I turned them loose and wow!  These kids absolutely shined!  I love how each child put their own spin on his or her caricature and yet each portrait evokes the recognizable essence of Shakespeare's face.  Remember there was no technical instruction on drawing faces.  I gave them a picture to look at for reference and asked them to jump right in!  Sometimes it is best to just encourage a leap of faith...


These portraits will eventually be attached to the cover of the students' Shakespeare journals.  One group is studying A Midsummer Night's Dream and the other group is immersed in Macbeth.  My job in the next couple of months is to lead these kids through art activities that complement and supplement their study of these plays.  I think we're off to a stellar start!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Process of "Scraps"

On Wednesday's post, Krissy commented:
I love these scrap pages, too, and I want to start a scraps journal to play in. Can you help me with the procedures of how to make these pages? Do you gesso the pages first and then collage scraps of paper on before you apply all the paint and doodling?


I began with a handmade journal made partly with 140lb cold press watercolor paper and partly with Gelli plate prints on cardstock.  This gives me a white surface to work with or pre-painted pages if I'm feeling sort of stymied by the blank page.  (Thick, good quality paper is really important.)

I scrape on layer after layer of acrylic craft paint with a palette knife without gessoing first.  The palette knife creates thin, grungy layers that dry fast.  Occasionally, I will glue down a piece of collage material first but looking back at my pages, I see that I've only done this maybe 5% of the time.  Mostly, I just start in with the paint layers and keep going until I get a blend of colors and marks that I like.  This is an extremely forgiving process; don't like a layer?  Just keep going and your "oops" will disappear.  All the paint layers end up creating thick, almost leathery (and very durable) pages so there's no need to gesso first (if your paper is thick and sturdy to begin with.)  Also, somewhere in between the layers, I'll add strips of washi tape.  Sometimes I cover those pieces of tape completely with more paint but usually, I try to leave just a bit poking through to the surface.

Next, I typically work back and forth between stencilling and mark-making.  Again if something happens that I dislike, I can come in again with paint and palette knife to fix the page.  Don't have a palette knife?  Old credit cards work too.

Once I achieve a background that I like, I sort through my scraps box and pick some pieces of paper to collage.  I may add some more tape and even a little more scraped paint to tie things together.

At this point, sometimes I choose to leave things alone and move forward, especially if the page already feels busy.  However, I have been finishing most of the pages off with sumi ink flower sketches that I sometimes color with gouache, pencils, and paint markers (only because I want to practice this skill set and not because I think the pages really need to be "finished.")  This mostly a wordless journal but every once in a while I add a phrase clipped from a magazine.

The most important things to remember about this "Scraps" journal are the following:
1) I work a little bit here and there, not in marathon sessions.  These pages represent the sum total of many moments stolen from many days.

2) I just use whatever materials & tools are within reach.  (Just get started!)

3) I don't date anything.  For me, dating pages anchors them in a specific time and adds a formality I am trying to avoid.  This journal is just a playground, open for business whenever I wish.

4) I don't work in a linear fashion.  I just open up to a set of pages and start!  Again, I am trying to promote randomness and spontaneity.

5) The pages DO NOT have to have a finishing focal point!  Maybe you just want to use up scraps of paper cluttering the studio or maybe you want to swatch some new colors of paint or play with a tool...in order to get the most out of this type of journal, it has to be all about the process!

6) Don't feel that you have to work in "steps."  Try to aim for fluid movement back and forth between techniques and materials.  Think of this as a freestyle art dance where you can repeat steps and/or make up new ones as you go along.  Just keep dancing as long as the page calls to you...


Adapt this process to your own needs and desires.  Don't have a bound journal waiting in the wings?  Work on loose pages and bind them later (or not).  Don't want to paint?  Then collage more...it is your playground so make of it what you will!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Playing Continues

The reveal of my "Scraps" journal continues today...not much to say about these pages except that I continue to practice playing and letting go of the outcome.  If you look at any of my previous journal work, you'll see that this journal has a much looser feel.  The bright, bold colors are still there as are the layers of patterns and marks but overall, the creation of this journal comes from a much more relaxed place of my heart...maybe it's a little corner of my soul that I am trying nurture and protect right now when it seems everything else is dissolving into the scary unknown.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wee Ones

Here's another spread from my "illustration-only" journal I began back in mid-July...just playing around here creating little characters and creatures...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Flowers Everywhere

The experimentation with sumi ink flower sketches on top of my colorful, multi-layered backgrounds continues.  In fact, I've started "finishing off" most of the pages in this journal with flower paintings.  There's no real rhyme or reason for this except that the flower portraits are making me happy and in the end, that's really the only thing that matters.

Some days I work on creating the backgrounds, a little scrape of paint here and there along with some collage, washi tape, stamping, and mark-making.  It can take me all day to finish a couple of pages as my "sit down" time in the studio is limited nowadays to stolen moments throughout the day.  Once the backgrounds reach a point that I consider "done," I make a quick sketch with the sumi ink, let it dry, and then color with pencils, gouache, paint pens, and/or watercolor.  It is a very peaceful process and much needed with all the other chaos in my life right now.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Journaling Freedom

In this, my "Scraps" journal, I've been experimenting with adding some loose sumi ink drawings on top of my vibrant backgrounds.  Sometimes I color the resulting sketches with paint pens and pencils and sometimes I leave the doodles alone.  I keep my brush nice and loose and if a sketch doesn't quite work out I either wipe it off (if it hasn't yet dried) or just paint over it.  Loving the freedom of this journal!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No Words Necessary

This is one of those spreads in my "Scraps" journal that seems very minimal and yet feels very "done" to me.  Not every journal page needs to say something profound in words; for me, this page captures a lovely feeling of calm, a moment of pain-free creating and joyful art play.

See that scrap of colorful watercolor paper with its swirling yellow, splashes of purple, and drops of aqua?  That was sent to me by the lovely Tammy of Daisy Yellow.  In fact, Tammy has sent me a couple of envelopes full of vibrant handpainted paper bits and I have gleefully incorporated those pieces of painted paper perfection into the pages of this journal.  I love how a little scrap of paper can become a focal point for a page...no words necessary.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thomas Soared & Mama Ogre's Enthusiasm

A little bit of humor for your Labor Day Monday...hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend!
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