Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blog Give-away, with a Catch

My friend Kathy Schmidt, who is often an inspiration to me, has  proposed a Pay It Forward challenge and I am going to join her.

Pay It Forward 2014

I will send a small piece of artwork, sometime in 2014, to the first 10 people who comment on this, saying they are in. In return, you must post this on your Facebook page or blog, and send a piece of artwork to 10 people. You don't send to me, unless I comment on your post as you have done on mine.

It may be something quite small, like a postcard or trading card size. Or you may send a piece as large as you like. The only rules are: 

1. You must post a Pay it Forward on your own Facebook page and/or blog
2. You must send a a piece of artwork during the year, to the first 10 people who say they are in. 
3. And you must send me a link to your post.

Remember, you must tell me you are in! Any other comment doesn't count. I will need your address, so send by email, so it's private.

Doesn't this sound like fun? Are you in? 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Another Dark Angel

With my mojo back, I headed off to my studio Monday night with a spring in my step, no dread. I thought to make this painted piece larger but decided to just leave as it and quilt it. This has been mounted on a 16" x 20" painted canvas. It will be shown at my show in April at ClaySpace and if it doesn't sell, I'll use it for the pop-up gallery show in August. Feels good to be working toward a goal.

This is the third in my Glimpses of the Dark Angel series. Seemed appropriate considering my battle of late to stay creative. It will be interesting to see how my small mounted pieces will be received. Meeting with Ken tonight before sculpture class to finalize the plans for April. This should help my mood too. I am always good when I have deadlines. How about you?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Small Art to the Rescue

I have been struggling with focus and the downward pull of our extremely bitter cold winter. I decided to go back to making small art each morning while my oat meal is cooking. That means I have less than 8 minutes to create something out of my box of scraps. I have chosen to use 3 x 5 inch cards this time.  First, I have to say how disappointed I am with the Oxford blank 3 x 5 cards that I purchased. They are not much thicker than a regular piece of paper making them just about useless for my purposes. I am pushing forward anyway. Creating the collage made me want to do something else. I've been thinking about Valentine's Day so I created two ATCs! I felt my creative mojo coming back. The ATCs came together quickly and I had fun making them. Relief!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stairs to No Where

I pass by this house on my way to ClaySpace. I find myself making up stories about why the occupants have stairs that go no where. It also makes me think of a quilt I saw at International Quilt Festival-Chicago in 2007 (I think, I'm terrible with dates). The maker, Lucie Summers (of the U.K.), took photos of the houses in her town where she had lived her entire life and "made up silly stories about the occupants"- "She won 1.7 million on the the lottery last year and didn't tell her husband. He thinks she got a raise at MacDonald's." Each statement was a complete fabrication, except for the house her brother lived in. She covered the fabrics with white paint to produce a worn-out vintage feel. I thought it was wonderful and yet I watched people quickly pass it by. Isn't it funny how some things stick with us? I have always thought it would be fun to make a quilt like Lucie's. What quilt has stuck with you? Do you have any interesting houses in your life?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My ABCs of Life

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
― Mae West

Not long along I came across someone's ABCs of life. Her ABCs didn't work for me so I decided to create one of my own. This was done fast and dirty. I wanted to capture quickly what I thought for each letter. I have been studying xeriscape (gardening in ways that eliminate or reduce the need for irrigation- I have a very dry yard) so I will admit being quite pleased that it took me no time at all or "cheating" like she did by using "eXtend" for her x. Now I want to create this so it it pretty. Notecards might be a possibility too. What would your ABCs of life be?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Too Many Ideas

There are too many ideas and things and people. Too many directions to go. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a manageable size. - Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation: The Shooting Script

I was flipping through an old journal and came across Charlie Kaufman's quote and my thought on having too many ideas. This seemed perfect for this collage so I wrote the quote on the side and moved the shell buttons to the top. It's mounted on canvas. I am happy! Another collage done and ready for a new home. Of course, it is titled "Too Many Ideas," some that definitely influenced its creation.

Several people wrote me to ask about my torso (you touched my heart). If you look closely at the photo you can see it. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when the kiln was opened and my torso was there intact.  I so admire potters, they have so little control because of all the variables- firings, glazes, interaction with other pieces, etc. This was true for me too. I purchased a matte black glaze which ended up being shiny and slightly green. I am now working on expoxing the pieces together- crow and wings. I promise to share the piece when she is complete. I also strongly encourage you to explore an art form that is unfamiliar to you. You learn more than you can imagine and I promise you, it will open your world and your art.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Collage and the Moondance Diner

When nothing goes right, go left. -unknown

Yesterday I spent two wonderful hours at the Moondance Diner in Westmont with five art teachers eating powdered sugar covered French toast topped with bananas, strawberries and kiwis. I was invited to join the group for an adventure of conducting art pop-ups next summer. Between the conversation, sugar and coffee, I was truly on a nice high. Anyway, I was bouncing ideas around until late into the night and well into my dreams. This also meant I struggled with making my Monday night collage. I just wasn't happy or focused. Of course, in the light of a new day, the collage does not look as bad as it did last night.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Learning, Exhaustion, Excitement

Tuesday I spent nearly twelve hours learning how to operate the gas kiln at ClaySpace. That is how long the process took. I learned so much that I could feel my brain expanding.  It was also a day of camaraderie-hanging out with Jon, Ken and Theresa.

Jon Pacheco making adjustments to the flue 
I enjoyed watching the flames change color which is also an indicator  of what is happening inside. I still can't get over that the kiln reached 2345 degrees. I could still feel the intense heat when I placed my hand near the door last night. We wont be opening the doors of the kiln until Friday night so that we are absolutely certain things have cooled off.

Ken Maloney checking the cones
I was exhausted by the time I got home but far too excited to get a decent night's sleep. Twelve hour days are not a easy as they once were not too long ago.

It is also so wonderful to be supported by such caring people. I don't have a ceramics background but am never made to feel stupid by my questions or lack of experience. Everyone should be so blessed.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sculpture and Collage

Last night I helped load "Don," the gas kiln at ClaySpace. My torso is finally going to be fired! I am so excited. Today I will be spending the entire day at ClaySpace learning all about firing in a gas kiln, playing with clay and hanging out with some truly incredible people. I won't be able to see my torso again until Friday when the kiln will be cool enough to open. I must trust the kiln gods to protect her and everything else in the kiln. I purchased a matte black glaze and have no idea if or how it will ultimately look. For me, it is like being a kid again on Christmas Eve.

Once all the pieces are out, I will have to work on putting the white crow that sits on the shoulders together. Since some broke the crow, this will present another interesting challenge/experience for me. I will need to also attach the wings I made. I view all of this as a learning experience. And while I would hate for anything bad to happen, I know that I can make it. Hopefully my next piece will be even better.

For my second collage, I painted tissue paper and interfacing and added them to a commercial Ricky Tims fabric and topped it with a piece of paper. I mounted the collage on a black painted canvas. Definitely want to continue playing in this direction. The collage is 7" w x 5" h and mounted on a 8" x 10" canvas. I like the juxtaposition of the shiny black background and the collage. My youngest son does not. He thinks it should be matte. It was fun! I already know what I will be doing next Monday night.

Off to learn and play! Make it a great day!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Altering Papers

I got several emails asking me how I alter paper to use in my collages so over the weekend I played with some of my favorite techniques.

Altering magazine pages is fun and you never fully know what results you will achieve. Remember that the paper needs to be fairly saturated with color and a heavy weight. The first two are from a page torn out of an old National Geographic. The first one I used 100 grit sandpaper on it to remove some of the green. I could now go back with paint if I wanted to change it some more.

The second one (from the same page) was rubbed lightly with Nevr-Dull. I find that dark colors almost always turn a shade of orange. Remember to wear gloves when using Nevr-Dull to protect your hands. I find Nevr-Dull at my local Ace Hardware where they keep polishes. A little goes a long way!

Continuing to play with Nevr-Dull, I placed different papers onto different things with texture then gently rubbed with the Nevr-Dull. I love the textures that can be created by placing the paper over different things-stencils, plastic cross stitch sheets, sequin waste, texture plates, etc.

For the next piece of paper, I simply crumbled it in my hand then rubbed copper fabric paint on a make-up sponge. The paint stuck to the crumbled part but not the paper.

And finally one of my favorites, using old coffee grounds and coffee filters. Coffee grounds are mixed with the polymer medium in its own container. The mixture is brushed on and allowed to dry. Instant gratification!

Hope this answers your questions and helps you jumpstart a new creative journey. If you have any questions, let me know. Happy creating!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jonathan Talbot's Collage Technique

Jonathan Talbot is an American collage artist, painter, and printmaker. He is also the creator of an innovative collage technique that eliminates liquid adhesives from the collage process. His book Collage: A New Approach was published in 2001.

I will try my best to simply describe the process for you. Paper is coated on both sides with Polymer Medium Gloss by Golden Paints. The image side needs to have two to three coats of polymer. The back only one. I dry mine on an old window screen and if in a hurry, I use a hair dryer. After the papers are dry, using a release paper (the paper leftover from postage stamps or address labels) the paper is adhered using a Tack iron- so the release paper is between the Tack iron and the surface you are tacking down. Polymer medium is applied after every stage/layer of tacking. When your collage is complete, you seal it with varnish.

My "Love" collage is made up of altered papers, a coffee filter with coffee grounds and polymer medium (too much fun) and tissue paper. The love and heart were printed with a laser printer (can't use an inkjet) on HP Presentation Paper soft gloss. Jonathan Talbot sells acrylic transfer papers to use instead of the HP presentation paper. The HP paper can be difficult to find sometimes. I ordered mine online after searching all the big box office supply stores in my area.

Love was printed reversed. Applied as described above then a wet wash cloth was used to soak it. Rubbing gently in a circular motion until the backing of the paper starts to rub off. Once the paper is off it is important to quickly dry with a paper towel and apply a coat of polymer medium. If you don't do this quickly, you get white streaks from the little bits of paper bloom that doesn't come off.

Jonathan's technique is a fun and interesting way to create a collage. Please let me know if you have any questions. I especially want to know if anyone gives this form of collage a try. Happy creating!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Collage Reveal- One

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.  - C.S. Lewis 

In reviewing my journal to revisit what I enjoyed doing last year, I came across the time when I made small pieces of art- cards, collages, ATCs. These were created while my steel cut oatmeal was cooking for breakfast. I had 8 minutes. This occurred after Barbara and I had a day of making things so my dining room was all set up to go. Unfortunately, it couldn't stay that was and my attempts at putting the oatmeal on the stove and going to my studio meant I had a lot of burnt oatmeal so the practice became a great memory.

Well, I have decided to revisit this practice because it helped to to overcome thinking too much. I know myself so doing this on a daily basis was not going to happen so I have committed to Monday nights (reveal on Tuesday) and I am giving myself no more than an hour. Pieces can be create using any medium that inspires me at the appointed time and any size that I think I can finish in the allotted time. Want to join me?

Treasures of the Heart was created using the heat seal iron method by coating collage papers with matte medium. It is approx. 3.5" w by 4.5" h. This collage also makes me feel less guilty about having all the supplies and not using them! A win-win. Are you revisiting any creative endeavor from your past?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rubbed Elbow with Happiness

Sometimes, our thoughts turn back toward a corner in a forest, or the end of a bank, or an orchard powdered with flowers, seen but a single time on some gay day, yet remaining in our hearts and leaving in soul and body an unappeased desire which is not to be forgotten, a feeling we have just rubbed elbows with happiness. 
                                                                       - Guy de Maupassant

On Saturday, my grandson Tyler turned one year old so we celebrated. Children make life interesting but they also show us how quickly time passes. Having Tyler in my life reminds me to take care of myself and helps me continue my path of keeping life simpler. He is a joy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sometimes You Just Can't Win It All

People keep asking me for sketchbooks instead of journals so I went on a search. I live to serve! I was excited to find blank composition notebooks on Amazon. Not so happy with the $5.95 price tag but it's still doable. I ordered one to check it out. Cover is thinner than the lined composition books and the paper quality isn't bad. I was happy until I realized that it is larger than the ruled composition book which means I cannot use the journal covers I have already created. So you can't win them all but you can come close!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

More Weeding and Memories

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. —William Morris

I'm trying. Last year I spent the first day of the year deep cleaning my studio, this year I spent the day deep cleaning and ruthlessly clearing my office/paper and paint studio. My recycling bin is over-flowing-gone are multiple copies of magazines where I have either published articles or my quilts can be found. Gone are certificates, letters, out dated stuff, etc. To my surprise, I came across this note from Roxanne McElroy. Roxanne wrote this note while we were eating dinner in Sue Bailey's fabulous kitchen in her wonderful bed and breakfast in Bay City, Texas.  This was after a long day of Roxanne teaching a workshop on hand quilting at Sue's quilt shop. Sue had invited me for a visit. Roxanne and I bonded. Every time she would see me, her hug would take me off my feet. She was a tall woman nearly 6 feet tall. I learned to brace myself. When she died in April 1997 at the age of 50, the shock of it left me numb. I still use my Roxanne thimble so I think of her often. She was a kind and funny woman. So for now, the note stays in my filing cabinet.

On a happier note, cleaning out also means that I am going to be giving some blog give-aways soon!  I have no need for two copies of the DVDs Why Quilts Matter: History, Art and Politics or Los hilos de la vida (Threads of Life). I am sure as I finish cleaning and clearing today, I will come across some more things. This feels good! Doing any weeding yourself?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Thing Leads to Another Which Creates a Perfect Day

Maybe the faster life goes, art is a way of stopping time just for a little while." Dixie Blackwell president of the Allegan Community Players

I felt a strong unexplainable need to go outside last night and so shortly after midnight I braved the cold and snow. It was so incredibly quiet and the snow sparkled from the light of the street light across the street.  I stood under my locust tree looking up into the falling snow and thanked the universe for the lessons learned in 2013. Then I asked for kindness for my dad who is slowly dying and expressed appreciation for the people in my life who love and support me. It felt good.

Yesterday I decided to tackle the pile of National Geographic magazines that were taking up space on a shelf in the basement. I had meant to go through them quickly but articles and images caught my eye then suddenly I remembered that one of the small art exchange themes was "ransom notes." I thought I was done creating ransom note but Linda Edkins Wyatt loved my ATC ransom notes and wanted to give it a try. How could I deny her? They are fun to create. Seeing the
words "an 800 lb gorilla" set me off in the direction of finding words to write them. Luck would have it that I actually found two "an 800 lb gorilla"! Rejoice. Soon my dining room table (and the floor) were covered with words.  Before I knew it hours had passed and two ransom notes (4.25" w x 5.5" h) had been created. Our April exchange has been completed.

"Indigo"is our theme for June so I gathered up paper that had indigo in it. Off to create a collage. Several years ago, I took a heat seal iron method of collage from Laura Lein-Svencner. I have played around with the method but have never dedicated any serious time to it. One of those things where I simply have not made the time. It seemed the perfect way to go with the materials I had on hand plus I got to play with Nevr-Dull a polish that does fun things to paper. My collage is not completed yet, but I am happy with its beginnings. It was created on a 8" x 10" canvas so it won't be part of the indigo small art exchange. It does give me an opportunity to explore the theme and create in a technique that I find interesting.

Spending the last day of the year doing a little cleaning out and making art was perfect. I even made fresh cod with roasted acorn squash and kale topped with a roasted red pepper sauce for dinner. Like I said, "perfect."

So here is my wish for the new year-

To a world that needs it, may the new year bring peace.
To spirits that long for it, may the new year bring hope.
To hearts of all people, may the new year bring love, gentle grace and a creative spirit.

Happy New Year!