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Monthly Archives: February 2011

>From Start to Finish

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Sometimes art takes a long time to be created.  I drew this bird of paradise twenty years ago while finishing my undergraduate degree.  It is soft pastel on Mi-Tientes paper.  I still can remember the piles of pastel dust that formed on the easel as I worked.  Having a toddler at the time, I was concerned about her safety, and so the pastels went away.

bird of paradise drawing one

Two months ago, while cleaning in the studio, I came across the original drawing, as well as some photographs I’d taken of it at the time.  Since I’ve been working with machine embroidery on photo transfer, I decided to revisit the image.

20040101_21 

I printed out the picture onto Avery transfer paper, after flipping it in my paint program so that it was a mirror image.  I ironed it onto some white twill that I got at Dharma Trading Company, and backed that with several sheets of interfacing designed for machine embroidery.  Here you can see the piece in process.

bird of paradise embroidery 1

The piece, stitching complete.

 bird of paradise I detail two

A detail of the stitching.  You really can see the bird in the flower in this segment. 

I chose to finish this piece differently than the small water tower pieces, and chose some fabric from my stash to sew borders onto the piece.  Then  I stretched that over a 12” x 14” pre-stretched canvas I bought at Dick Blick.  I preferred to use a pre-stretched canvas because the fabric on the piece would be protected from any acids in the stretcher bars.  If I used plain stretcher bars I would seal them first.

 bird of paradise I

The finished piece, available in my Etsy shop

I once told a friend that time is never wasted making something we love.  This certainly was true for this piece.  Even though I never exhibited the original, it still makes me happy to see it and has inspired several pieces over the years.

 

>Tutorial : Our (Green)House

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Last year I made a set of house collages using materials at hand rather than going out and buying new supplies.  Granted, I spent many of the years between 2000-2006 making many “Mr. Toad” (wild ride) trips to Columbus to acquire supplies, so my studio is as well stocked as a small art supply store, but I didn’t look any further than the recycling bin for the base of this project.  (One admission: the frames and spray adhesive needed to be purchased new, and I had to make color copies of my family photos to do this project).

To make your own house collage, you will need:

1 cereal box, emptied and flattened

Gesso and acrylic paint (the $0.89 bottles work just as well as the fancy art store brands for this project)

Paint brushes, water cups, rags for cleanup, putty knife

Template (see sidebar or download the house template here)

XActo, or other craft knife

Scrapbook paper, preferably solid or tone on tone (12” x 12” sheet, plus smaller pieces of other paper, or pre-paint your own paper )

Color copies of family photos, landscapes, whatever catches your eye.  You can also get some great images for collage at ArtChix Studio .

Found objects (I’ve used things like bottle caps, doily pieces, embroidered appliques and small rubber animals)

Acrylic gel medium

Rubber stamps, stencils, bubble wrap, sequin waste, anything that will make a repeating pattern on your base

Dollar store picture frame (with glass) approximately 8” x 10”

Spray adhesive

Pencil or other marking tool, masking tape

1.  First, paint your flattened cereal box with the gesso, letting each side dry completely before adding the first coat of paint.  Let each layer dry, adding texture and details using rubber stamps, stencils, or sequin waste.  I paint both sides on my cereal boxes, using different colors on each side so I have more choices when creating my design.  Waiting for the pieces to dry takes patience, but end result of the funky layers makes the process worth it.  Don’t worry if some of the original cereal box ends up showing through, that just contributes to the charm of the project (or maybe the Lucky Charm; sorry, couldn’t resist).

house collage paint and embellish

2. When you are happy with the way your cereal box looks, trace the house template onto it, and cut out, using the craft knife or a sturdy pair of scissors.

3.  Cut a smaller triangle out of the opposite color/side of the cereal box, and place in the gable, for contrast.

house collage choosing elements

Here you can see the various images I could choose from.  I love making copies of old artwork and resizing the image to fit these little collages.  It really expands my options.

4.  Choose your images and arrange them onto the house.  When you get an arrangement that pleases you, glue the components down using the acrylic medium.  I press larger pieces down using a heavy object such as a big jar of acrylic medium or fabric paint.  Let dry.

house collage arranging elements

Here I chose a piece of paper I had painted last summer using a fish design that I turned into a silkscreen.

house collage gluing the elements

Gluing the elements using the gel medium and the putty knife.

house collage with embellishments

I found some commercial embroidered appliques to add to the image.  I really like how it appears that my daughter is studying her garden.

5. Measure the inside perimeter of your picture frame.  Cut a piece from the 12” x 12” scrapbook paper to fit the area.  Don’t worry if it’s a little larger than your measurement.  It’s easier to trim excess paper than make a piece that is too small fit correctly.

6. Mask off the frame using the masking tape.  Clean the glass in the frame and let dry.  Then spray the glass with the adhesive and stick  the scrapbook paper in place, using a bone folder or old gift card to smooth out any bubbles.  If there is too much paper, try sliding the excess under the edges of the frame with the gift card, then trim any leftover.  Let dry.

7.  Using a putty knife, slather the back of the house with a layer of gel medium (I use  Golden’s Extra Heavy Gel on my pieces.  It’s very thick and stays where I put it).  You will have some ooze, so put a lighter coat near the edges than in the middle.

8.  Place the house, gel side down, centered on the scrapbook paper in the picture frame.  Weigh down with heavy jars as needed.  Let dry.

house collage pressing the collage

 

9. Remove weights and voila!  Hang your beautiful collage in its new home.

house collage on the frame too

This is a great way to make a simple piece of artwork for your home or office.  Use copies of pecial photos and give as gifts.  The possibilities are endless.  To see some of the work I’ve made using this method, look at my Etsy shop.  Have fun!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in collage, house, ideas, inspiration, mixed media, play, tutorial

 

>When I Wrote This

>I was listening to the Traveling Wilburys a lot when I took these.  And reading Heyden Hererra’s biography of Frida Kahlo.  So, on a chilly March day, with nothing to do with a bored toddler and a few props from the local Woolworth’s, some photos were born.
deva birthday 2011 two
Here I took a full shot of Deva, wrapped in a simple lace scarf with kitschy fake flowers in her hair.  I was really into the idea of shrines and altarpieces at the time.
deva birthday 2011 one
I added another lace scarf and a length of gold lame to this one.  She was a very patient model, and took direction so well.
deva birthday 2011 four
Here I felt a little funny about doing all these Catholic images (my husband is Jewish), so I wrapped her in his tallis.  My mother-in-law said she looked like a little old lady in this one.
deva birthday 2011 three
And my favorite, with real gerbera daisies from Kroger’s. 
There is a website where people re-create childhood photos of themselves.  Today (February 20th) my favorite model turns 25.  I wonder if she’d be up to a re-shoot?

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2011 in family, flowers, play

 

>Friday Flowers

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One subject which often appears in artwork is the humble flower.  From the old Dutch masters to Georgia O’Keeffe and more, many artists have  chosen to recreate flowers in paint, clay and fabric.

Over the past twenty years I have created many floral pieces as well.  here is a small sampling.

anthurium painting one

 Anthurium 1989  Acrylic on canvas.  30” x 40”

flowers for keiko 72 full

Flowers for Keiko 2004  7” x 9”  Machine embroidery, machine quilted.

Flowers for Angie 72 full

Flowers for Angie 2006  24” x 18”  Hand quilted, machine quilted, embellished with beads, sequins and mirrors.

20100226_09

Tulip Time 2010 6” x 6”  Machine applique.

August 2002 full view

August 2002 Journal Quilt Project, handmade felt, machine embroidery, 3D appliques, shisha mirror embroidery.

hollyhock page for fabric

Hollyhock Journal Page 2009  11” x 8.5”  India ink, watercolor, paint pen and found quote

floral medley complete

Floral Medley 2010  24” x 40” Applique, found objects, machine embroidery, machine quilted.

bird of paradise drawing two

Bird of Paradise 1989 22” x 30”  Dry pastel on paper.  This image is reversed from the original so that I could make a photo transfer with it.

bird of paradise embroidery 1

Bird of Paradise II (Study in Orange and Green) 2011 8.5” x 11” Machine embroidery on cotton twill. 

No matter how many times I revisit floral imagery, I always find something new to marvel at.  Do you have any favorite subjects that you return to again and again?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in art quilt, flowers, machine embroidery

 

>The Mother and Child Reunion

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My children have always made art with me.  I couldn’t imagine not creating when they were small, and so they always had some variation of art supply, and close supervision as we worked side by side.  It helped keep me sane during those demanding toddler years and helped give them a leg up when it came to making art for school.  I never held back on what supply they could use, I just made sure it was a child safe alternative (adhesives) or I did part of their work myself (cutting). 

My youngest is soon to be 12, and he shares my studio with me.  We do the occasional show together and we brainstorm ideas for our work.  It’s really nice to have an art buddy so close at hand!

izzy creating

His favorite medium is polymer clay.  He’s sold many pieces and has even taken a few commissions.

izzy art

You can see some of his older work in the background, while his newer work is in the foreground.

We bounce ideas off each other, and take inspiration from each other’s work.  Recently I created this sea scene:

octopus garden complete two

Octopus’ Garden 2011  Machine embroidery with Kreinik threads, machine pieced and machine appliqued.  I still need to measure it, but it’s around 36” x 36”

We have an upcoming show opportunity, with parameters of no larger than 5 inches in any direction.  Izzy chose to make his own coral reef.

Coral reef 300

Izzy Stern  Coral Reef  2011 5” x 5”

Coral reef detail 300

Detail of the sculpture.  He was very concerned that the colors be accurate.  I love the eel peeking out from behind the fronds, and you can see the tentacles of the octopus that is hiding behind the anemone.

This is one of his most ambitious pieces to date.  I am really excited to see where he goes next!

It’s funny to see how you influence your children, or friends, or other people in your life, even if you don’t realize you are.  Sometimes a little encouragement and belief in their abilities can go a long way.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in art quilt, family, sculpture, sea life

 

>One of My Favorite Days and People

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I can’t remember ever not liking February.  Probably because it is so short.  February has the best birthstone (amethyst) and of course there’s Valentine’s Day, with the pink and red and lace and chocolate and hearts!

This year I made some of my own valentines to give out:

valentines in color one

FInished valentines made with Portfolio Oil Pastels on a base of painted, silkscreened and stenciled oaktag.  The drawings were made with India ink.

valentines detail one

A detail of what the blank cards looked like.  You can really see the detail of the silkscreen in this shot.  One of these days I will figure out how to make an image of the wonderful paint scribblings left on my art table.

valentines two

A whole batch of the cards awaiting decorating.

Many of my favorite people were born in February as well.  (With lots of birthday parties and cake! Cake and chocolate, yay!).  My most favorite February person is my Grandpa, who was born today (February 14).  He was a designer at General Motors, and would bring home lunchboxes full of the Prismacolor pencils he used at his job for us to play with. 

grandpa in fishing hat

He also had a good sense of humor.  When he retired, he decided to let his beard grow, and told me he was going to let it grow long enough to tie around his head.

grandpa and shep reading the paper

He also loved his dogs.  Here he is at our house in Michigan, reading the paper with Shep on the sofa next to him and our dog Laddie at his feet.

And my Grandpa loved me so much that when I fell in love with the treasure chest he’d made for himself, he made me one as well.

grandpas treasure chest one

I took this photo when I was 19 and in my “arty photo” phase.  🙂  My Grandpa gave me his love of art and his fun sense of humor, and yes, occasionally his gruff demeanor.  Today would’ve been his 110th birthday.

Sometimes the best gifts are the intangible ones, though I wouldn’t trade anything for my treasure chest.  What gifts have your loved ones given you?

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in inspiration

 

>You’re My Inspiration

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I was recently watching an episode of The Avengers on Netflix.  In this episode, high ranking members of the English military were given a child’s ball which had a hallucinogenic effect on them.  The sets of the playroom they saw while under the influence were graphic and colorful.  I used to watch The Avengers with my dad, and clearly, when looking at my work, I can see the influence of colors from tv shows such as this and Batman, as well as others (Laugh In, anyone?).

But one of the most obvious influences on my choice of colors and occasional fantastic imagery is the wonderful Peter Max.  His bold colorful images and detail filled work made my heart sing.  Imagine my surprise when I read in the 10th Anniversary issue of Veg News that he had been approached to create the Yellow Submarine film, but had turned it down.  The director hired another artist to work in Mr. Max’s style.  That explained so much about that movie.

I went searching for images to share with you and found this wonderful cake , inspired by the movie.  I think I know what I’m making for my birthday in April 😉

And now, some Yellow Submarine inspired artwork, from my work in a Moleskine Cahier notebook:

sketchbook project inside front cover

Pen and ink.

sketchbook project spread one

Collage from an old AAA travel guide, india ink, rubber stamp, acrylic and gouache.

sketchbook project spread one detail

Detail.

sketchbook project spread two

View out the submarine’s porthole.

sketchbook project july one

I decided to colorize this one.  I used Inktense pencils by Derwent.

sketchbook project july two

Here you can see the detail of the pencil lines from the coloring.  I used to hate those, I wanted the image as smooth as possible, but as I’ve grown as an artist I can see the value in letting the process be seen in the lines.  If I did want this image more smooth, I could take a wet watercolor brush into it and dissolve the colors.  I may try that with a future iteration of this piece, drawn with a waterproof pen.  (I used a Pilot V7 on this one, and they most definitely aren’t waterproof).

sketchbook project july three

Then I imagined the submarine and the views from it as a necklace, with a sea urchin as a background.

sketchbook project july four

Most of the time I freehand the drawings, but for this one I used a light pencil sketch first.  You can see the faint lines if you look closely.  If I were doing this for reproduction, I would use a non-photo blue pencil next time.

sketchbook project july five

These are what I imagine the really deep sea submarines would look like.  Or perhaps the fish have evolved to take on some of the characteristics of the submarines they see daily.

sketchbook project july six

I had a lot of fun with the scales on this one. 🙂

What inspires you?  Are there images or colors you can trace directly to an outside influence? Or is your inspiration more subtle?  It’s always interesting to hear how other artists get their ideas.  How do you work?  Feel free to download the free worksheet from the sidebar and go wild!

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in ideas, inspiration, play