Saturday, December 15, 2012

The road back from ugly.

Creativity experiment, days 24-34

When last we saw the train wreck of my 40 day experiment, I had all but covered the first three weeks of work.

Day 24: 
Added a wash of titan buff all over the whole thing to obliterate it even further.  Forgot to take a picture of the whole piece, but here's a close up that highlights a tiny bit of text that says "We have stupid".  Love that little bit.

 Day 25:
Time to build up some new layers.
 Glued on a big piece of painted tissue paper

Day 26: Glued on another big piece of painted tissue paper

Day 27: Painted around the orange tissue paper with a wash in a similar tint.  I didn't mean for it to drip down the edge of the blue tissue, but it looks kind of cool.

Day 28: Glued on some tissue paper that had been previously stamped with black circles.

Day 29:  covered that whole upper right corner with a very watered down raw umber.

Day 30: painted big circles with a heavy bodied raw umber

At this point I'm getting really happy again.  I like where it's going.
Time to mess it up!

Day 31:
Rubbed some neutral colored paint inside and around the circles.
Not sure this was a good move.

Day 32:
Rubbed some white paint inside and around some circles.
Definitely not a good move

Day 33:
Use my hand-carved circle stamp to add marks in light brown paint.

Day 34:
Gotta get rid of that white.  Used some watered down acrylics in the original colors to blend that white into the body of the painting.  Then got a little wild and crazy and did a second thing in the same day.  I sprayed some brownish ink in the upper right hand corner and let it drip.

This morning, Max (age 11) came and sat on the art room couch.  He noticed this painting for the first time in 34 days and said "Oh my god, that's beautiful!  When you're done can I have it?"

I think it's finally coming together.
Less than a week to go!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two cool things

While I'm busy composing artful blog posts in my head, I'm taking a moment to share two things you might like.

Cool thing #1:
Shannon is hosting her awesome post card swap again.
I participated in the first 2 and really enjoyed them.
Sign up by January 11th.
Mail your cards by February 8th.
Click the icon for the details.

Cool Thing #2
Derrick, at "I Still Write" is giving away some lovely stationary for you letter writers out there.
You need to send him a letter to enter, and he must get it by December 24th.
He is a faithful correspondent, frequent host of cool giveaways, and all around good guy.
Click the picture to learn more.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creativity experiment, days 16-23

My paper bag canvas for the 40 day creativity experiment is going from bad to worse, but I'm trusting the process and faithfully adding layers every day.  It can be really hard to walk away from it when I hate what I've added.  I want to cover the whole thing up to try and fix it, but my personal spin on this project was about restraint.  Do one thing and walk away.  Don't judge, don't fret, just take it one layer at a time.

Day 16: I added torn pieces of painted tissue paper
Here's a closeup of the tissue - painted with watered down golden fluid acrylics.  I love how they stay semi-transparent.

Day 17:   I cut circles out of clear contact paper to act as a mask, and painted some gesso around them.  the contact paper is still in place in this picture

Day 18: used pan pastels to add the orangey color.  The contact paper has been peeled off to reveal the painting below.

Day 19:  cut more contact paper circles, laid them in different places (overlapping the other circles), and painted gesso around the edges. 
Day 20:  add the teal paint and freak out over how bright it is.

Day 21: lightly cover with gesso using a foam roller.

Day 22: watered down that same teal paint and let it drip.

Day 23: grabbed my brayer and titan buff paint and rolled all over it.

Good gravy, it's ugly at the moment.
But each day I've tried something different and learned a little about how colors and materials interact.  And there are interesting small bits with a lot of depth and texture.
From here I think I will keep toning it down and making it more neutral so I can build back up in a more purposeful way.  I'm going to have to start thinking about composition and focal points (eek!) 
I still have more than two weeks to work on it and I'm starting to have a few ideas of where it might end up.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I knew, even as I was writing it, that today's to-do list was absurd.

I was awake at 5:30, enjoying the silent house.  Basking in the weird blue glow of my light therapy box - savoring my coffee and cats and dreaming of the day ahead.
I started jotting down all the ideas that were floating around.
Onto two pages.


So what's the first project I conquered?
One that wasn't even on my list of course.
 As I was thinking of the types of gift tags I wanted to make, I thought it would be nice to have some marbled paper in Christmas colors.  It doesn't take much arm-twisting to get me to marble papers.  I spent a pleasant meditative hour making papers like this one:
 and this one:
 and this one:

And then I decided I might want to do some stamping on my gift tags, but I don't have any Christmas stamps, so I decided I'd better make some.
( you may have noticed THAT wasn't on my list either)
But now I have two new stamps.

So let's look at which list items I did accomplish.
I painted a ton of tissue paper.
I lay it on big sheets of freezer paper and it works really well - doesn't move around or tear.
But it takes forever to dry.
So this is what the dining room looked like for most of the day:

And now I have a stack of luscious tissue.  I love the way the Golden fluid acrylics look on tissue.  They are translucent, and almost glow, and the wrinkles in the wet tissue make all these cool variations in color.  The tissues look great in collage.

Now it's about 10:00AM and it's time to tackle the Christmas present for my swap partner in my "Super Mail Artists" group.  I have a dozen or so little mail art related packages wrapped and packed in a larger box and ready to go out tomorrow.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time decorating the box.
It was one of those sturdy boxes with a lid that are sold for photo storage.

Side one:
Side two:
(notice how I used my new papers?)

side three:

side four:
(my new stamp!)

The whole thing is so awesome, I'm tempted to mail it to myself.

So when that's finished it's 12:30.
Lunch break, followed by a trip to the library, haircuts for me and Max, spray painting some clothespins, laundry (ongoing), and not going to the gym. I even managed to shower.

I also went out and cut a bunch of greens from the yard and made my window boxes festive:

and I wrapped all the little presents for the SMA Christmas present while we had our traditional Sunday night family movie night.  (Disney's classic 1965 live action feature "That Darn Cat")
Plus it was indoor s'mores night.

But wait, sometime after the haircuts but before dinner/movie/s'mores, I started making tags.  
I decided all the new marbled paper wasn't going to work for this purpose.  The red paint came out looking very pink.  It looks great until you put it up against something red.
So I switched gears and decided to try the polymer clay ornaments that have been on my "try this" list since summer.
I tied them to simple tags made of cardstock and washi tape.  I can put them on a package, and then the recipient can pull off the cardstock and have a keepsake ornament.

Then, since I hadn't used my new snowflake stamp yet, I made some more tags.
All they need are ribbons.

and while the red and green washi tape was out, I made some quick tiny tags.
I think red and green baker's twine will look nice in these, no?

I didn't get to any of the bookbinding or sewing stuff I wanted to do today. No progress on the commission for my sister. No catching up on correspondence.  
(I'm such a slacker.) 
But I did add another layer to the 40 day experiment.
And I drew the winner for the Mail Me Some Art giveaway.
And posted the last of the swap items for the year on MMSA.
And wrote this post.

Not bad for a single day.
I'm off to bed.
Something tells me I'm not getting up in 5 hours to go to the gym.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


At the last minute I decided to join

The theme of the swap was "empowerment."
Here are the postcards I made.

The images come from the 1949 edition of "Every Woman's Standard Medical Guide."

It's easy to laugh at the absurdity of these captions, but I think it's important to stop once in a while and reflect on how much has changed in such a short time.  This isn't ancient history, this was the reality for so many people we know directly.  Who do you know who was raised during these times?  Your mother? Your grandmother? Perhaps you yourself.

 Having grown up in the "Free To Be You and Me" 70s it's easy for me to take my rights and freedoms for granted.  I have never felt oppressed or limited in my options.

The funny thing about this book is that I believe it was intended as a source of empowerment.  
As it says above, we women are assets even in the halls of Congress. Imagine that!
(Just make sure you're married while you do "a man's job.")

I am thankful to the generations of women who fought and resisted and paved the way for the life I lead now.  I am reminded to not become complacent as our current and future generations continue to work for equity. Perhaps the 2012 edition of "Our bodies, Ourselves" will look quaint and outdated to our future granddaughters.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Creativity experiment: days 9-15

I continued the 40 Day Creativity Experiment this week by adding one layer per day to my humble paper bag canvas.
(You can see days 1-8 here.)

This challenge is going to be harder than I thought.  How can I possibly keep adding to a single piece for this many days?  I got to a point this week where I was starting to like it but then it started feeling precious, and I was afraid to mess it up.  I took a deep breath and reminded myself that it's just craft paint on a grocery bag, and since I've documented every step of the way, I could easily recreate the parts I liked at a later date.

So here we go with this week's progress.
When last you saw this painting, it looked like this:

Day 9:  I used some copper paint to stencil more circles, slightly off center to the gessoed circles.
 The photo makes it look kind of orange.  Here's a detail shot:  it's a nice shimmery copper paint.

Day 10: scribbled some brown circles with oil pastel

Day 11:  rubbed some brown paint over the areas of text to obscure them more.

Day 12: flung some burnt umber paint all over it.

Day 13: even though I kind of liked where this was going, I realized I would never make it to 40 days unless I added more layers.  Radical layers.   I rolled on some gesso with a brayer to push back some of the bright spots.

Day 14:  I stamped various size circles in teal paint and then sprayed water on them to make them drip a little.

Day 15:  I tore strips of a paper lunch bag and glued them down

And that's where it stands as of right now.
I really don't have any kind of plan here, but I've got 25 more days to figure something out.