Monday, December 29, 2008

Pitt Pen Variation on the Prairie Fire Theme

I've recently been greatly inspired by artist Pam Carriker. I discovered her blog earlier this month. When she wrote about her new Pitt Pens and posted a video demonstration I was curious. I remembered I'd purchased a similar set several months ago thinking they would be useful for value studies, but I had never gone very far with them. More often my art is very spontaneous. That's not a big deal when working on paper that can be cropped to improve a composition. But as I work on stretched canvases, I don't have that "luxury". It's frustrating to realize that once again I've put the focal area of a painting right in the bulls-eye zone of the canvas. Not cool. So - I'm trying to plan better.
Pam's post was timely because the technique is very quiet and relaxing for me. It was mental therapy for me while I rested my body during my recent illness. I will continue to do this sort of thing in the coming days as my stamina and health improve.
I've been using the Pitt brush markers on Strathmore Bristol smooth that I cut into ATC's. After lightly sketching outline strokes with graphite, I follow through with the Pitt brush pens starting with the lightest shade and progressing to black. I added accents with white charcoal pencil and black gel pen.
Be sure to check out Pam's blog to see her amazing work!
Do you have any forgotten treasures in your art supplies?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Variations on a Theme - Photoshop Play

It's nice to have quiet activities to occupy myself with while recouperating from a prolonged respiratory virus. Even though I am longing to paint on canvas, it can become a very physical activity. Instead, I've been going through digital files looking for reference photos. I found myself drawn to images of our Prairie Fire Crabapple blossoms. Tonight I played with Photoshop Elements and applied various filters to this image. Then I put the variations together in this collage.

Late December Views 2008

The weather provided much drama this Christmas week. Here's a glimpse of some of the variety of moods it provided.

On Sunday, blowing snow and frigid temperatures set up the atmosphere for this dramatic sight.

Later in the week I looked out the window to see this welcome visitor in our crabapple tree.

It was then that I turned to see this gorgeous Iowa sunset.

Yesterday the temperature rose well above freezing and fog formed over the land adding an air of mystery to the landscape.

The world appearred to go only as far as my own back yard.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas to my faithful readers. I'm grateful for you. I'm grateful for your encouraging comments.

At Christmas, many of us take time out to consider what we believe is the greatest gift of all. His name is Jesus.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (New Living Translation)

The traditions of Christmas point to a King born in a stable. We hear of angels announcing His birth to humble shepards. They sang “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Jesus grew into a man who loved the outcast and brought hope to the hopeless. He spoke Truth.

When He was 33 years old, Jesus was put to death when those in power were threatened by this man. But Jesus was not just man, He was God. In three days He arose from the grave.

Jesus has many gifts for those who believe in Him. Eternal life is one of them. He also gives the gift the angels sang of. Peace on Earth. We tend to think of this peace as an absence of war, an ideal world. But there is peace on earth today. It is in the hearts of those who believe in Jesus and have asked Him to forgive their sins and to live in their hearts.

"Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. " Philippians 4:6-7 (Contemporary English Version)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sneak Peak Revealed

I planned to post sooner, but I've been exhausted as I battle the crud that decided to take over my respiratory system. It's been several weeks since I've felt "good", and I was being treated, but things went downhill earlier this week. Well, the meds are working on me & I'm going uphill. I hope things stay moving that way.
I'm behind on ALL my Christmas projects, but that's OK. I've learned over the years that it's better to take it easy & let things slide to let myself get better.
One project that was put off was working on some Christmas ornaments. I was inspired by an article in the Des Moines Register a few weeks ago. In my last post I showed a sneak peak of my experimentation with my own take on the project.
There were correct guesses that I was making ornaments. Although the inspiration project used glass ornaments, I didn't like the quality of the ornaments I found at the local hobby store. However, they had very nice quality acrylic ornaments that I purchased. The color is applied to the inside of the ornament. I used gold Pearl-Ex powder that was adhered to a thin layer of tacky acrylic coating. I added drops of pearl effect air brush paints and swirled them around. The ornament was left upside down to dry. The original directions coated the inside of the ornament with thinned craft glue which was left to dry until tacky. They only used different colors of Pearl Ex pigments to color the inside. You'll want to wait for it to dry thoroughly before reinserting the hanger. Here are some great instructions I found on the Jacquard site.

This ornament was a challenge to photograph. The surface is very reflective. I took shots near a window that have several reflections. I also used my home-made photo "booth" where I can control the light better, but I still had problems with that set up. I finally settled on nesting the ornament in a silk hydrangea for fun which is the first shot in this post.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quantum of Solace ATC

Here's another example of an ATC that sat unfinished for months. This one took a drastic turn last night when I decided the abstract landscape that was made with leftovers off my palette just wasn't coming together for me. SO - I covered it up with the Golden Crackle Paste that has been unopened on my art table since this summer. Tonight I saw hints of blue-green showed up here & there now that it was dry. A nice delicate crackle pattern had formed.

On a whim, I decided to try a transfer technique. I pressed a piece of ordinary clear packing tape on a laser printout of our local movie listing. Since we recently saw Quantum of Solace, that's what I selected to transfer. This is TOTALLY easy! After applying the tape to the paper, I rubbed it to make sure it was firmly adhered. Next I ran water over the paper and rubbed it off until all that remained was the tape with the words transferred to it. I couldn't believe how easy it was.
So now I had a theme for my ATC. I loved Casino Royale. James Bond's world is shaken to the core at the end of the movie. Then Quantum of Solace takes up where CR left off. 007 is all tough on the outside, but you know his heart has been torn to pieces.
Golden Crackle Paste gave me the perfect ground to represent his fractured world. I used chalk, graphite & charcoal pencils to render the heart. A bit of toning was done with conte pencil. After a quick spray of fixative, I used matte varnish to adhere the transfer and seal the card.

Here's a sneak peak of another project that I started tonight. Can you guess what I'm making?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let There Be Peace

I hadn't planned on posting today. But then I read Michelle Ward's post. I followed her link to hear Bing Crosby & David Bowie sing of the Little Drummer Boy & Peace on Earth. If you haven't ever seen Michelle's blog, you've got to check it out. She's incredibly talented.
Michelle's post did to me what usually happens the first time I really hear "Silent Night" each year. That's when I really miss my maternal Grandpa. When my Mom's side of the family gathered together each year for Christmas we created many special memories. One of my favorites was when the gathering was at my family's home. While the last of the dinner preparations were happening in the kitchen, I would play the piano where many members of the family gathered around to sing. I connect Grandpa with Silent Night and those times around the piano.
Grandpa got colon cancer in the 70's. His last Christmas in 1979, Grandpa sang "Let There Be Peace On Earth" as a solo at midnight mass. Since then, that song has been an anthem for our family.
So now I come back to Michelle's post. She reminded me of the dream of a dying man. Peace on Earth. "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Abstract ATC

Here's an ATC that I started several months ago. As I've mentioned before, I use up acrylic paint left on my palette by applying it to canvas or paper. Most often I use ATC sized paper. I don't remember how I applied the paint to this paper, but it must have been with a broad palette knife or some other flat object. The paint was fairly viscous, so it left pull marks. I love the serendipity of this process. I thought the texture that was left in the paint was very interesting. It made me think of leafless trees.

I set it aside and have considered it from time to time. I thought about collaging a word or phrase on it, but rejected that because I didn't want to cover up the texture. It needed more color contrast to make the texture more apparent. I used pastel & colored pencils and distress ink to accomplish that & now consider it complete.

My husband sees grasses. What do you see?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wild Sweet Orange

A few weeks ago the local supermarket had TAZO teas on sale, so I decided to try a couple boxes. Wild Sweet Orange tea inspired this ATC I created using Primacolor pencils, Turpenoid (for blending the cp's), gesso, pastel pencil, Ranger Distress Ink, Staz-On Ink & Golden Gloss Soft Gel.
The orange circles were drawn with colored pencil & blended with Turpenoid. The circles were stamped with found objects.
I've made a couple additions to my Etsy shop. Thanks for checking it out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sneak Peak & Giveaway Alert

FYI - I've been making Christmas cards and here's a sneak peak. Sorry, this is all you get for now because I have it on good authority that family visit my blog. I found the box of folded card stock & envelopes at Joannes along with the coordinating stack of papers. I thought this would go much quicker than it has, but I am over half way thru the 60 cards in the pack. Yes, I said 60! What can I say except Hubby & I come from very large families.

As an update to my last post, I went back to Borders Bookstore yesterday & they have Susan Tuttle's book, Exhibition 36 on the shelf (In fact, there were FOUR copies which means they expect it to be popular). I sat down in the cafe to peruse the pages and was thrilled with what I saw. When I read Brandie Butcher Isley's submission, I had tears in my eyes. First, because I am overjoyed for my friend. Secondly, because her art moves me. Brandie's art reaches the part of my heart that treasures my ancestors who have gone before me, and helps me to better appreciate the family that is still with us.
I had forgotten that Paulette Insall was also included in this book. She generously shared many details of her beautiful techniques.
As I leafed through the book I started to wonder if Susan had left herself out, but she has some very inspiring how-to details that I am anxious to try. There is SO much more in this book than I hoped for, and I anticipate taking many hours to study the other artists she has featured that I am so far unfamiliar with.
Well, if you haven't stopped by Susan's blog yet, be sure you do to see how you can participate in her give away.
And as if that wasn't enough, here's another generous artist who is having 29 Days of Giveaway. (Chrysti has gorgeous altered photos.) It just so happens that today's giveaway is Susan Tuttle's book. There's an interesting interview with Susan on today's post at Chrysti's blog.
Well, I better get back to the cards. Do you make cards, have photo cards printed, make a newsletter, and/or have some other traditional holiday correspondence?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Exhibition 36

Susan Tuttle's new mixed media book, Exhibition 36, just became available. I've been following Susan's blog for quite a while and I'm drawn to her gentle, emotional images. In addition, I've been especially interested in the book because one of the artists she features is my talented friend Brandie from Little Pieces of Art. I checked out the local bookstore, but they didn't have any copies (even though their computer said it was "likely in stock"), so I checked it out on Amazon. Did you know that you can see actual pages of some books on Amazon? Well, it was quite thrilling to see Brandie's pages had been selected for their teaser.
So, now I just have to get my own copy.
I'll be getting it one way or the other. Maybe I'll be the winner of a give-away that Susan is holding on her blog, Ilka's Attic. Go check it out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

November 27th is Thanksgiving this year.

It's also my in-law's 61st anniversary. That's WAY cool! Hubby & I have known each other 30 years. I hope we are blessed with long lives & make it to our 61st anniversary and beyond.

November 27, 2006 was the day my Dad moved on to Heaven. I've been thinking about him more lately. He enjoyed observing jet trails in the sky. While we worked on our house project, there were many times I saw jet trails glittering in the sky as the sun was dropping toward the horizon. I think of Dad every time I see them.

So, I was thinking of my parents tonight on the eve of Thanksgiving. They gave us a loving home on the farm. Mom taught me so many things that I easily take for granted... sewing, embroidery, cooking, gardening. Dad taught us to appreciate nature and how to fish. He encouraged my singing. Together they taught us the value of love, faith, community, service, sacrifice and hard work. Mom continues to encourage me with love and support.

I give thanks to the Lord for giving me such parents and such a home. I also give Him thanks for helping us persevere on our house project and keeping us safe. Hubby placed the last siding and trim today.
The above image is my parents in the early 50's before Dad left to serve for 1 year in the Korean Conflict. The house is where Dad was born and where I grew up. The collage was formed in Photoshop Elements.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter ArtFest AEDM2008

We had too much going on today to try get new photos of our exhibit at Chocolaterie Stam. I didn't use flash because of glass on our framed art. I knew I'd get a lot of reflections. So... here are some of the shots I took.

It was gently snowing yesterday. You could hear Christmas music outdoors. Giant lighted snowflakes lined the street.
Inside Stam, there was a lot of seating around cafe tables and on vintage sofas and rockers. Friends gathered to enjoy coffee, chocolate, and gelato. It was a wonderful setting for our art.

I enjoyed seeing friends and acquaintances who were making the circuit of shops hosting artists.
Later in the afternoon, I made my way to see some of the other artists. At Gallery 319, a basket weaver was making friendship knots to demonstrate a simple weaving techniques. She was handing them out to visitors, and I have one tucked in my sketchbook now.

As for our house project, Hubby and I took advantage of the warmer tempature (50's) that melted away yesterday's snow. He finished trim work on the front while I did touch up painting. All that is left for the front is to install the storm door and garage lights. We won't be installing the new garage door ourselves. The back of the garage has a little more work left. We are expecting some mild weather this week, and hope to complete the job.
I'm letting my latest painting sit tonight. We're watching the latest installment of "24" tonight.

WIP Tribute to Grandma AEDM2008

As for AEDM, I'm posting as often as my energy allows, but I do get some art in every day. It could be the doodles that I put in the margins of my sudoku puzzle book. Most nights I work on a puzzle for a while to help me wind down when I go to bed.

On Thursday I took two paintings to Chocolaterie Stam for the Holiday open house and art walk this weekend. Our group, Artists of the Heart, put together a very nice collection of paintings. It was fun catching up with each other and friends who came out to see the show today. I enjoyed gelato & chai. I took pictures, but I'm not happy with my results. I should have had the camera in a different mode.

I've had a canvas painted with grey gesso and a glaze of neutral green for a few months. There really was nothing in mind when I started preparing the canvas. The other day I decided to used up the blue and white paint left on my palette from Winterscape. I "sponged" it on with a piece of mesh from a discarded shower puff. The paint was very juicy and dried with a slightly distressed texture. I still didn't have a project in mind for the canvas, but the next day I knew what the subject would be.

Grandma. I've wanted to do something with a photo taken on her wedding day in October 1930. We had a special relationship, and I miss her very much. She's been gone four years today. I'll tell you more about her in a future post. For now, I leave you with the work in progress.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winterscape I AEDM2008

After contemplating adding some wildlife to the foreground, I decided to go with the atmospheric mood that developed during my first session on this painting. I think all the critters are hunkered down after a heavy snowstorm that hit the high country. I developed the mountains in the background and the snow-covered rocks in the foreground. After a bit of tweaking here & there, I decided to be done with this landscape. I really surprised myself, because this painting crept out of my imagination and the memories of the trips to Colorado the past few years. The process was a dance between the intuitiveness that comes from letting the memories flow and the voice that kept reminding me of composition, value & such. When I haven't painted for a while, I start to get nervous that I won't be able to make another painting that I'm happy with. That the last painting that I was pleased with was just a fluke.
I'm not saying that I'm completely happy with any of my work, but I can see that I have been making progress. And I don't think a painting must be perfect to be enjoyable.
I took the photo this evening & the lighting wasn't optimal. But I've got to get it in the frame I selected after work and take it to Chocolaterie Stam in Ames on Thursday. This weekend the downtown Ames merchants are having their Christmas shopping season kickoff. There will be special events all weekend. On Saturday afternoon, there will be an artist walk with the opportunity to meet artists in many of the shops. My painting group will be at Chocolaterie Stam. Yum! Good friends, art & European chocolate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New at Swinging Bridge Studio AEDM2008

Friday afternoon I took several jewelry items and fantasy icicles to Swinging Bridge Studio. I found a nice lighted tree at Target that I used to display the icicles, and angel and crystal pendant necklaces. The photo really doesn't do justice to how cute it turned out. The silver chains sparkle like tinsel on the tree.

You can see my paintings in the background. I'm so happy the studio has given me a wonderful spot close to the front. If you live in or are traveling thru central Iowa, stop in Story City. It's right on I-35.
I've added a couple items to my Etsy store.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Winter Landscape & Snowman Earrings AEDM2008

This is a quick post before I leave for the office. Yes, I do have a nice part-time job.

As promised, here's the landscape I started last night. I think I'll tweak it a bit tonight. It's acrylic on canvas (11 x 14).

Also posted are a pair of the new earrrings I made last night using glass pearls. I hope to get them in my Etsy store tonight.

Have a blessed day.

Give Thanks Card AEDM 2008

Even though I've been doing many artistic things, I haven't managed to post for several days. The weekend was very busy. One thing I spent time on was putting together kits to make greeting cards with women from my church on Monday night. In my last post I showed one of the cards I designed. This is the second card. It is embellished with punched leaves and flowers. Thankfully, dear Hubby offered to help punch the flowers. My hands and arms had had enough after doing all the leaves for both cards. Have you ever used one of those hand-held punches? They aren't so bad with text weight paper, but card stock is a real bear to punch. Before I was done making kits, I was ruing my decision to have so many elements on my cards.

BUT - it turned out to be worth all the effort. We had lots of fun Monday night. We started assembling the card shown here. It was fun to see that most of the women expressed their creativity by assembling them differently from my example. I showed them how to make a simple stitched binding that held a single insert in the cards.

On Sunday, Hubby took me to the Two Rivers Art Expo in Des Moines. My dear friend Brandie Isley had a booth & Hubby bought me one of her prints, "Arm in Arm We Face the Day". He also treated me to a print by Bekah Ash, whose work I have admired for a long time. I placed the prints so I can glance at them from my desk. Once I frame them, they'll have new homes, but I want to keep them where I can be inspired.

Earlier today I sketched an idea for a fun painting featuring a snowman, but once I laid in the background of the painting, I changed my mind about the subject. Instead it became a winter landscape inspired by my memories of our trip through Colorado on Amtrak last winter. I'm not sure if it's done yet, but I'll be sure to post it soon.

But snowmen were not forsaken, because I made several pair of snowman earrings tonight before I started painting. I'll be taking some to Swinging Bridge Studio in Story City on Friday, and hope to get some in my Etsy shop, too. Two pair of snowman earrings I posted earlier have been spoken for. Already in my Etsy shop are Swarovski crystal trees. They are emerald green, but I also have clear crystal trees available, too.

Last night I worked on building more layers of texture and color on a canvas I started a few months ago. I had a concept in mind while I painted last night, but when I looked at the canvas this morning, I realized the color was different from what I had in my head. I often forget the slight shift of color as acrylic dries. I'd been working with watercolor lately. It's the opposite of acrylic, drying lighter than it appears wet. Anyway, when I looked at the canvas tonight, I think I'll be going in a different direction with it. I may need to make some skins. I flipped through some of my clip art books for inspiration.

I promise to take some pictures of what I've been working on, but I just wanted to get a new post up. Now it's time to get some sleep.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Watercolor Pumpkins - AEDM 2008

Next week I'll be co-leading a group making greeting cards. I designed two Autumn cards, and Sonia designed two Christmas cards. Because each woman will make all four cards and time is limited, I'm painting all the stamped images for the kits. I like this coloring book type of painting. It relaxes me.
I tried different inks for stamping the image, but have settled on the Colorbox Chalk Chestnut Roan. The paper is 90# Fabriano cold press. It's a good quality product that works well for this type of thing. It's sturdy, but torn edges are manageable when that look is desired.
I like to use my Van Gogh watercolors for crafting. They are a nice student grade paint. I save my artist grade paints for paintings.
Later, I'll show the other card we'll be making.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bird of Paradise WIP

This is a painting I started nearly 2 years ago just a couple weeks after my Dad passed away. Instead of wallowing in my grief, I went to my art table and started this painting based on a photo & study I had done earlier that year. I had just started working in acrylic that fall and was making the adjustments of transitioning from traditional watercolor.

The reference photo had a very busy background and I didn't know what to do next. So I just painted it white and have had it on display at home ever since. I'd like to complete some unfinished works. I think it will help me move on with new ideas that are brewing.

The AEDM challenge spurred me on to make progress on this painting. Tonight I played with a photo of the painting in Photoshop Elements. I used the magic wand tool to select background area and fill it with different colors. I eventually came up with some layer filters to create the image I'm posting. I think I'll attempt to paint a background based on this.

Or I could play some more and come up with another plan. This is the first time I've worked on a painting like this. I learned a few things tonight. And no paint was wasted in the process.

Thanks to Leah for leading the AEDM challenge.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Art Every Day Month & House Update

We've completed the east end of the house! Hubby took some shots with me wa-a-a-ay up by the peak as I was touching up the paint. Yesterday a friend helped up make more progress. The big job he helped on was getting the old front door out and getting our new door in. It was too dark for pictures last night and I forgot to take some today.

This morning I dragged my weary body out of bed and went to church. Two or three Sundays each month I sing with our worship band. It's a blessing to be able to be involved in music ministry. I love it! In addition to our mid-week practice, we always rehearse before Sunday School. I usually get some breakfast during the Sunday School hour before heading back for our worship service.

Today I went to Panera for a pink ribbon bagel (scrumptious) and a cup of tea. My body was really aching from all the time spent working on the house this past week. I decided to sketch my cup of tea while I sat there. When it was time to leave, I realized that my pain level had decreased significantly while I was sketching. Sure, I'd taken some ibuprofen, but I think the process of making art contributed to my improved sense of well-being. That's a lesson for me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

House UPdate

The weather has been gorgeous. It's officially Indian Summer weather. We took some time off work and the surge has been on to get the siding project done.

We will complete the east end today and proceed to the upper part of our garage.

I painted nearly 60 planks this week. We usually place the freshly painted planks on the unused section of scaffold - but it is being used for its intended purpose right now. I spent most of the afternoon up there yesterday handing off tools to Hubby as he worked from the ladders on either side of the scaffold. While he was cutting the next boards, I was either touching up paint or sketching!

I got to place a few nails with the air nailer. oo-oo-oo

We put a bowl of candy out front because all the little beggers started coming around while we were still working. Their little "twick or tweat" voices sounded so CUTE!

Canadian geese come honking overhead each evening. I can hear them from so far away & suddenly they are overhead.

I signed on for the Art Every Day project & hope to be posting daily this month.
That's why I added the new link over to the right. Time to get back up on the scaffolding....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Black & White & Red All Over!

Remember that silly riddle from days gone by:


This fun charm bracelet is my answer to the riddle.
I started with a sterling silver chain, and added
lampwork (American artist made) and Swarovski crystals.

It's a classic color combination. Maybe it's your school colors.

So.... what else is black & white & red all over?
A newspaper or(hold your nose for this one) skunk road kill

Do you have another answer to the riddle?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Too Busy To Blog

YIKES! It's been a month since my last blog entry. Some of the things I've done include selling jewelry at a wine & art fest, demonstrating watercolor painting at Swinging Bridge Studio, designing cards for an upcoming activity at church, and working on the house project. This past week I made the jewelry shown in this post using some of the beads I found at the Treasures show I attended in Des Moines a couple weeks ago.
Chris made the polymer clay focal I used for the necklace. Her beads are fantastic. I was thinking about making something for breast cancer awareness when I picked up the bead. This past weekend I found out there will be a fundraiser for a family friend who is being treated for breast cancer. So this necklace and earrings are being donated to the cause. If you are interested in purchasing this set, contact me.

I found some really cute lampwork pumpkins & snowmen to make earrings. I plan to take them to Swinging Bridge Studio, but you can contact me if you are interested in them. I could not resist the lampwork snow-person faces. I think they look like girls. They were created by Jimmye.
I hope to get some new items in my Etsy store this week. The weather forecast is favorable for us to get more work done on our siding project, so that is our priority. We're starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel.