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.