Sunday, August 26, 2012

Four new postcards swaps

I've finally updated the Mail Me Some Art site with four fabulous new postcard swaps for the month of September.

Join one, join them all!

The first swap is a "school memories" theme and you've got two whole weeks to make your art and mail it to me.

The other swap themes this month are "getting to know you", "fall", and "black and white"

Get all the details at Mail Me Some Art
and help spread the word.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How it all started in the kitchen

I'm hosting a "kitchen" post card swap over at Mail Me Some Art.  The idea was to find something in your kitchen and use it to make a piece of art.

Here are some examples of what I made:

And since most of these marks were made with un-traditional tools, and since Lynn was asking me questions about backgrounds, I took some pictures of the stages along the way.

I started without a plan, as usual.  
The first thing I did was dip-dye some paper towels with diluted food coloring.  I folded up the towels in a variety of crazy ways (no fancy origami - just random folds) and dipped the corners in various colors.
When unfolded, it looks like this.
I made a bazillion.  And since they are two-ply paper towels, you pull them apart when dry and now you have two bazillion.
Then I took my new favorite mystery tool and stamped all over tissue paper.  
(Gina tells me this is a whisk and that her mother used it to beat eggs.  She wins the prize.  Maybe I'll send her scrambled eggs.)
And I took a cool patterned styro-foam meat tray and rolled paint on it with a brayer and stamped it on cheap printer paper.

THEN, I grabbed some 9"x12" sheets of water color paper, this awesome spatula, and my liquid watercolors (which I have poured into spray bottles) and made three layers using my spatula as a stencil.  I started with my lightest color, yellow, then switched to orange, then fuschia:
 same idea, different color palette:
 I gathered the various types of papers I'd made in similar color schemes:
 I grabbed the mod podge and started layering:
 and layering some more:
 and adding in some mesh vegetable bags in different colors:
 and finally, when all that was dry, I cut the page into four postcards:
 I decided they needed a little more embellishing.
I found this tube of weird stuff called "texture magic" that I'd found at the job lot store for a buck.  I think you're supposed to use it with stencils on your walls.  It's kind of thick, like toothpaste.
I squeezed it over the spatula and smooshed it into all the little holes with my fingers:
 This is what the finished cards look like (I also used blue dimensional stuff):

 I decided to add black accents to my orangey cards.  I like making marks with this silicone basting brush:
 More spatula stencil marks - this time using spray inks:
 This one was rapidly becoming a hot mess.  It's got a ridiculous amount of layers trying to compensate for the parts gone wrong.  I didn't have any orange dimensional paint, but I added some orange acrylic to some modeling paste and used a different (non-kitchen-related) stencil with that.

This was not my most popular theme over at MMSA, but clearly, as the picker of the themes, this is one I adore.  I love the challenge that comes with making art with non-art materials.

You can see some other great examples of kitchen art from the swap here and here

Cracking myself up


Having some fun with my new photo albums.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Daisy Yellow art journal prompt cards

When Tammy asked me if I would “test drive” her new art journal prompt cards I jumped at the chance.  One, because Tammy is full of good ideas and I’m always delighted to participate in her adventures, and Two, because I just don’t use my journal as much as I’d like and this seemed like a good motivator.

 You can check out Tammy’s full description of the cards here, but I’ll give you the quick synopsis.  Each card is a Bingo board and contains 24 different words (and a wild card.)  To use the card you mix and match one word from each column and let those words inspire your journal page.  She sent me 5 cards (for a total of 120 different words).  If I was better at math I could tell you how many possible combinations those five cards provide.  Suffice it to say, it’s a lot.

plus, they are really beautiful and lovely to touch and she sent them to me in this sweet little origami envelope.

You could use these a lot of different ways.  You could just read the words and pick the ones that speak to you.  Or you could use dice to select your words as Tammy suggests, or you could choose one pair or coordinates, such as B5 and then use the word found in that square from five different cards.  

 I liked the idea of having the words chosen randomly and since I didn’t have dice I used scraps of paper numbered 1-5.  I tossed them in a cup and without looking, pulled out a number to correspond to column “B”.  I threw the number back in the cup, pulled out another number for column “I” – etc.

here are the words I came up with:

Here’s the page that came out of it:

I immediately interpreted “fall” as the season rather than what happens after you trip on your shoelace.  Fall is a tricky season for me. It starts out so crisp and clear and colorful. I have never lost my association of “back to school” and so fall always feels like a time of new beginnings. I find myself energized by new ideas, and the world seems full of promise. But then…. we change the damn clocks and it gets so dark, so early, and my mood and energy plummet. Sometimes to the point of depression. And so while I’m starting to get excited about a new school year and the cooler night-time temperatures and changing leaves, I am also starting to dread what comes next. The gray starts to creep in by late October, and unless I work very hard and take appropriate measures, it will move in as a permanent resident until April.

I started my page with a collage of black/white/gray papers.
I rolled on a light coat of gesso.
I wrote about the false promise of fall and all that comes next with a fine point pen.
I glued down some translucent yellow papers in the middle of the page  
I got out my black ink and cool little bamboo dip pen and wrote some larger words around the perimeter.
and then stamped charcoal inkpad over my stencil of bare branches.
(forgot to take a picture)
I continued to smudge the inkpad around the center of the page, leaving only a small triangle of hope.

I wasn’t expecting to get so emotionally dark when I sat down with the cards, but it was very therapeutic and I guess that’s what journaling is all about.

But since that page was so bleak, I decided to take another stab at it using a different bingo card.

this time the words I got were:

None of these words were really speaking to me and I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with this.  I wandered over to my bookshelf to try and find an old book that might have some images of desks.  Instead I found this rather large book I got at the library book sale called “Water Atlas of the United States”.  I bought it because it had some cool maps in it.  As I thumbed through it, it occurred to me that instead of pulling the maps out, I could just use this book as an art journal.  I could choose to incorporate the map and text, or I could just cover it up.  Either way, the size of the book is so different from anything I’ve used before (the spine is 9 inches high and the pages are 13 inches wide.  when opened it creates a 26 inch spread) that I felt compelled to use it.
I grabbed the book and opened it up on my art table, contemplating how I could turn it into something about desks.  Jake (a.k.a. Mr Helpful) immediately jumped up and stretched himself across the full 26 inches.  Naturally I had to take a picture.   
And then I realized how many other pictures I have of Jake on top of this work-table.  And couldn’t this table just as easily be called a desk?

and so this page was born:
"my favorite desk accessory"
Instructions:  Open book, cover map and text with gesso
 add many many layers of paint using a plastic card, fingers, stencils, and stamps.   
Twist some string, drag it through black paint, press it around the edges as a border.  Decide this does not look as cool as you’d hoped. Find the funny “Velcro” hair curler laying around, dip in white paint and twist in a circle on the page.  
 Love the way this looks and make a bunch more twists.  Print and glue pictures of Jake on the desk. (no, no, no, silly! don't glue them on the desk....glue them on the page!) Add a few other images of things you might use at a desk. Stamp some text. Crack self up.  Look forward to using the prompt cards again as soon as possible.
Like maybe tomorrow.
As soon as I wake up.

Thanks so much, Tammy for sending me these beautiful samples.  I had so much fun playing with them and would  recommend them to anyone who is stuck for ideas, or who just likes to play with words.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vacation treasures

One of the things vacation means to me is new thrift stores to explore.  Check out this bounty of art-making goodness I came home with.

Two rolling pins that I will turn into custom rolling stamps with the aid of some adhesive craft foam:

Three wonderful books to cut apart: Atlas of Human Anatomy from 1942, Atlas of the Mouth from 1952 (full of creepy dental pictures) and a cub scout handbook from 1971 (Ric says it's the same edition he used back in the day)

I nearly squealed out loud when I found this.  A 1939 year book from Pasadena Junior College.

just look at all those faces begging for captions!

This box of "Challenging Mazes" from 1944 has so many cool graphics to incorporate into collages.

I don't think these funny printing blocks are particularly old, but they were cheap and interesting.

I'm not sure what this kitchen gadget is supposed to be used for, but it makes the coolest stamp.  I think it's my new favorite mark making tool.  Prepare yourselves for circles on everything.

I found this 1930s puzzle at the Salvation Army for a few bucks and planned to use the box and pieces for mail art, assuming it was in terrible shape.  I took it home and couldn't resist trying to build the puzzle.  Turns out not a single piece is missing and the pieces are so beautiful and unusual that I think I may have to hang onto it.

I found a few great children's books.  "Stubby" was printed in 1963 and my niece said she wanted to see me to make art from it.  (challenge accepted!) Ric says he learned to tell time from this book from 1957.  I think he meant when he was a kid, and not just then in the junk store while he was reading it.  The book in the foreground is an Arithmetic book from 1838.  It's in horrible shape but the pages are soooo cool.

Thank goodness Ric and I are married and live in the same house or it might have come to blows over who gets to buy this gem;  A dozen educational filmstrips from the 40's.  He has a special scanner that will digitize each image.  He intends to incorporate them into short films.  I will print them and use them so many different ways...

And finally.......the score of a lifetime:
 Three old photo albums, full of pictures.

When I saw the $24 price tag I almost walked away, considering it too expensive for a single album.  But then I looked closer and saw the price was for all three albums and I had to grab them.

  The pictures seem to span about 50 years, starting in the early 1900s, with most of the pictures taken in the 30s and 40s like this one of Bea and Ruth from '36.

I really wish I knew the story behind the caption of this next picture.  It reads "Patricia and Husband" which wouldn't be so weird if Patricia wasn't the bride.  There are pictures of Patricia throughout the album, from childhood and into adulthood.  She was clearly family.  They couldn't remember her husband's name?  Or was he such a jerk he didn't warrant a name? But if he was the husband best forgotten, why put the picture in the album in the first place?  I can't stop thinking about them. (plus I love the expression on the face of the little girl.  She looks like she knows something.  Perhaps she could see the future of this ill-fated union.)

 It was a wonderful vacation and it's good to be home.
I've spent the day getting reacquainted with my studio and finding room for my new treasures.