January 23, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 18

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Art samples, Beginner's art, Collage, Soul Journal, Techniques (art) tagged at 10:16 pm by amateur-in-art

Yay! I finally have a page I like, out of this “collage potpourri.” And as I’ve said before, I’ve been liking the process on these prompts, just not my outcomes. Until now!

As before, Sarah gave us a list of things to do – we just had to mix up the list so we didn’t do them in the same order. (You can view the prep work for this page, here.)

Here’s what I did.

1) Write the alphabet quick and angry. I had trouble with this, because the rough texture of my page made it hard to write quickly. If I couldn’t write quickly, I found my letters didn’t have as much “anger” to them. Of course, I had to use red for the anger part.

2) Add something metal. I had some jewelry embellishments that were silver diamonds, relatively small, so I put a few of those on the page. I used a big blob of jewelry glue, which seeped out around the edges (and I left it there) because only a tiny part of the embellishment actually made contact with the paper, so I figured I needed to go heavy on the glue to make it stick. I thought this would be interesting, adding the metal this early in the process.


3) Add a wash of color. I chose a “sunny disposition” yellow. I thought it would make a nice contrast to my “angry” letters. I’m running out of colors that I haven’t used before. And those that I haven’t used, are generally going to be colors I don’t like. Which, I guess, is just another way to “stretch my boundaries.” Yellow, in this case, is fine. It is still within my “comfort palette.” I tend to avoid purple and orange, more than any others. I think that might also be part of why sometimes in the end I don’t like some of my pages. I used a color I normally wouldn’t use, because part of the instructions say “use a color you haven’t used yet” – and so that’s what I get. I’m not complaining, mind you. It is “good for me” the same way eating my broccoli is good for me. It’s just that sometimes I would choose different colors if I could.

When I did this wash of paint, it was weird how my stamped-on page number on the left page stayed fairly intact, while the one on my right page ran into obscurity. I used the same stamp pad on them both. Guess I still haven’t found that “permanent” ink, yet. This time it didn’t bother me too much that it ran, though. It just gave it another small punch of color.

4) Next was another magazine stencil.


original image

I used green calligraphy ink on this one. I think it is absolutely hilarious how they both ended up with such wavy, curly hair!! Obviously, I have not yet mastered the art of impeccable stenciling, with crisp lines. I’m not sure where I went wrong, because I thought I was being very careful, and the original image is on slick paper, so it wasn’t like it bled through or anything. I still like the way it turned out, but it was kind of funny when I peeled it up and saw the result!


Then, I just couldn’t resist using the back side of the stencil, too – I love that there is a “chain” running down the back of the man. (Wonder if that’s how he feels?) I pasted my stencil down on the opposite page, face down. It sort of matches the outline on the right page, in terms of positioning.

5) Next, dry brush. I did this technique better, this time, probably because I changed brushes from what I have used before, and made sure my brush really was pretty dry, even with paint on it. Again, difficulty using a color I haven’t used, but I ended up with a kind of watermelon-pink color. It was interesting to see how this worked out with the metal embellishments. It actually had the effect of making them look almost clear, as if you were looking through them to see the paint strokes below them – even though they were actually on top. This aspect doesn’t translate well to pictures.

6) Use something unusual as a stamp. My fascination with coasters from the dollar bins at Michael’s continues! This time it was a felt coaster, with a great cut-out design!


Instead of using ink, I used paint and spread it on the coaster, then stamped it and rolled over it with a round-handled paintbrush to get an even impression on the page. I still had some paint left on it, so I made another impression on the left page without “re-inking”, but it turned out more spotty. (I was going to wash off the coaster to re-use, but I set it aside and let it dry. It still looks great – so maybe I will use the painted coaster itself in some future project!)


7) Write a list of things you did today. I used a magenta watercolor pencil. The color goes nicely with the other colors I have going on here, and it also provides just a hint of text. It’s easy to not-notice that it is there (below).

8 ) Gesso out a part of your page. Add more things on top of it.

I decided to use some of my gray gesso here. And I just randomly put some on the lower left corner. After it dried, I used some Pastelo chalk to make scribbles. Sprayed with fixitive. (It’s still smeary. Need some fixitive lessons, too, I guess.)

Then glued on some foam hearts. I figured as long as it was a couple, I’d go with the romance theme. After they dried, I grabbed a hold of the corner of one of the hearts and tore it up from the page – and hoped it would either not tear straight or easy, or maybe pull up a part of the page with it – but as it was, it just tore as a regular “broken heart” image – which was fine, but a little too cliche for my taste at this time – and so I glued it back down next to where it came from.

I found a “Lover” tag in a box of clearance-priced tags I picked up at Michael’s and made that the finishing touch on the right page.

(sorry for the wonky angle)

I really like this one – not just visually, but also because once I had the image of the couple on both the left and right pages, with the underlying “angry” alphabet and everything that came since then – I kept thinking the page was a story about a couple in trouble. Was he feeling “chained” to her? They loved each other, once. But he broke her heart, and found another lover. Or something like that. I liked that the page turned into a story, instead of “just” “random” art.

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© amateur-in-art, 2009


January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Posted in Art, Beginner's art tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:00 am by amateur-in-art


January 18, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 17

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Beginner's art, Collage, Learning art, Soul Journal at 1:54 am by amateur-in-art

You can see the prep work for today’s page here.

Today’s assignment is more college potpourri.

1) I started with a wash of paint, and laid it on with a little more color on my right page than the left. Drat! I forgot that the page numbers I wrote on prep day were not permanent.
2) Next, sew an item. I used embroidery thread to sew on a button. I painted on the back of it where the thread was on my upcoming page for the next Day using gel medium to seal, so it would not come unfrayed.

3) Trace your hand. I used my handy-dandy new permanent markers on this one. And I wore a latex glove. Boy am I glad. There was a lot of ink on it. (and the glove actually looks pretty cool. I think I will save it and use it in something. I’m not sure how many times I traced my hand – but probably about 12 or more.

4) Use a crayon. I chose red. My paper had some great grid-like texture to it, plus w/the gesso on the pages, this actually ended up giving not only a nice tone and color, but really showing up the texture in places, too.

Here’s what it looked like after I did the steps above.


Because of the hard edges on the strips of paper that were my base and background, some of the lines of my hands got really straight in places.

5) Next, add meaningful words.

6) Blob on acrylic paint. I used droplets straight out of the bottle.


I like the way this is looking.

After blobbing or dropleting, we were to close our book and let the paint squish on both pages. I decided to go it one better and put a weight on my book and also wait five minutes. That, I think, was a mistake, because the paint actually pulled paper off of the opposing page when I opened it back up.

7) Paint with a fork. This, I liked!


The big white rectangle in the middle of the left page is one of the places where the paper pulled up during the paint squishing. The white stripe near the middle of the book on the page on the right is just a heavier area of “fork painting.” I don’t really care for the blob-squish look – I liked the droplets much better. But onward I go.

8 ) Fill the pages with numbers. I used typewriter-style stamps with dark brown ink. I used numbers 1-5 on the left page, and 6-0 on the right page.


I liked this OK, but felt like it was now too cluttered. I wanted to keep up the number theme, and decided to use bright color and big numbers to punch it up. I chose 3 and 4 since these were pages 3 and 4 of this series.


Except now my brain sees that as “34” not 3 and 4, and it is just too LOUD.

Thus began my quest to tone it down. So here’s what I did next.

I had been wanting to try the “bubble wrap” technique of painting, so figured this would be a good time to try. I used a foam brush to spread the paint on the bubble wrap – and this worked very very well. The foam brush is perfect for this, because it hits only the upraised bubbles, and doesn’t get lots of paint down in the in-between-bubble space. It is very subtle just about everywhere except on the big numbers, where you can see the bubbles pretty well. They look a lot like just more of the number-stamps, almost, because they are about the same size.


Well, I’m still not liking this. I used another color on bubble wrap again, thought it was an olive color but turned out to be a pretty bright yellow-green. Then I took a couple of flourish stamps and stamped in a couple of different colors, a dark blue and a dark purple. Then I dabbled white paint using my fingertips (latex glove) on the left page, and did a little more fork painting on the right page. I still wasn’t happy, and so I did one more wash over it all – a big mistake. My pigment ink had not dried, and the number stamps, though I used a dye ink, were not permanent. So everything went mushy then. The interesting thing, though, was that even though my (stamping) inks started running – the wash process at this point actually brought out a lot more things up from the background. Like some of my words became more visible. So did my handprints.

My final addition was a scrap of punched foam. I put it under the button, so it sort of looks like a weird ribbon or something.


I have to say I like the process on all of this – but I sure haven’t been very pleased with the outcomes on either today’s work or yesterday’s. Of course, it is mostly all my own fault, because I think what is causing a lot of the problem is the whole permanent vs. wash of paint issue. The good news is I’m learning that many things I thought were permanent are not – but at least I am learning and will know for future. It was also a good thing to learn that a wash can also bring out things up from the background. And, I guess I finally got what I was wanting in at least one regard – my big giant numbers have now nearly faded into obscurity.

As a background, I like this page. I suspect I will probably come back to it at another time and make something out of it. But right now – I feel like I have overkilled it at least three times – so I need to walk away from it, for now. I must admit I don’t care for it much, as an end result.

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

January 11, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 16

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Art samples, Beginner's art, Learning art, Soul Journal, Techniques (art) tagged , at 5:57 pm by amateur-in-art

OK. I’m warning you. Today it is going to get very ugly, very fast.

Sarah gave us a list of different things to do, with the instruction that we were to do them in a different order than the one she had listed. My first step was to use a little bit of masking tape.

Next, I wrote adjectives.


I don’t know why, but a few political words showed up. Maybe it is just “the season.” I also decided to be weird and use a few color words, but write them in different colors than the words they represented. (Like writing the word “red” in green, for instance.) I deliberately avoided (for the most part) writing on my coasters, which are the circles.

Here’s where things began to unravel. Or get messy. Even ugly.

Now, Sarah warned us to use permanent markers. So the fault is entirely my own. I was using markers from Le Plume. I got some of these some time back, because I had heard how wonderful they were. How versatile. How you could use them on rubber stamps. The colors were bright and varied. A brush-like tip or fine line. On and on. How wonderful. And, for their price (over $20 for about a 12-pack) – they should be pretty wonderful. Well, in my enthusiasm, I didn’t read or double check to see if these markers were permanent. I just naively assumed they were. I mean, if you were using them to rubber stamp with, sure, they might be easy to wash off while still wet, but surely they’d dry permanent, right? WRONG!!!!!

Once I realized they were not permanent, I tried to come up with alternative ways around the problem. First, I sprayed my pages with fixative. Like you are supposed to use on pastels and charcoal. Nope, no good. It still comes off on my hand when damp. OK. So I’ll try my old stand-by (because I’ve never had much luck w/fixative anyway, even when using it on pastels, etc.) – which is hair spray. Surely that’ll give it enough of a coat that it will seal it and I can then paint on top or etc. No. Guess again. Alright, well, I found to my surprise at my art store that gesso even comes in clear – so I bought some of that to try. I dabbed it on the page numbers in the corner – and all I got was smeary. So – it was clear by now, that I was sunk. So – I just valiantly went forward, even though I knew this page spread was now doomed.

Ick! Here’s what happened next. This is my “wash of paint.” I used a small brush, and a hot-pink watercolor. I hoped that maybe small brush + watercolor would mean less smearing, but it was all a lost cause anyway.


You can also see my step #4, which was to use pencil. I used a regular pencil and drew squiggles around the edges of the two pages.

Here’s the rest of the steps I did:

#5 – write a list somewhere using your non-dominant hand

How hilarious. You really can’t see it very well, but I wrote with a regular ink pen on the right side of the left page. It is completely illegible. I decided the horrible writing fit in just fine with all of the other chaos that was happening on these pages. I liked this idea, though. I could see filling a whole page with writing from my non-dominant hand. Cool!

#6 – dry brush

I chose to do this on only one of the pages – the right one, and used a yellow ochre kind of color. This was actually pretty tricky to do, because I needed to keep my brush dry – but it was getting muddy from all the markers running. I didn’t want to ruin my paint by dipping in for more, when everything was bleeding like this. I just made sure to brush my brush on a paper towel to get rid of any “contaminants” before going in for more paint.


This is what it looked like after I did all but the last step, which was the magazine stencil. In the picture above, in addition to the dry brushing on the right hand page, I’ve also done some small splatters on the left, in yellow and black, which are just barely visible here. I couldn’t get too carried away with the splatters, because my workspace is very small, so I had to make sure all the splatters stayed on or very very close to the book. “Controlled splattering” is not the easiest thing to do! I also made some random markings with an ink pen, which also really don’t show up much.

Now on to the fun part! The magazine stencil! I deliberately knew I wanted to keep this for my “last thing” to do on this page. Here’s a picture of the woman I cut out for this piece.


And almost just as cool – look at what it looks like from the opposite side! I like this almost as much! – And it gives me great ideas for other future methods. Cut out a picture on one side – but use the opposite side to paste down, instead. Sort of a “picture within picture” technique!


I moved my stencil-woman around several places on my pages, and decided to have her leaping from one page to the other.


Doesn’t she look great, just as she is, on top of all of the chaos I’ve created?

I really was tempted to just paste her on, as-is, and omit the stenciling technique. But that’s not what this exercise is about, so onward I went! I knew that I would have some difficulties with this, because of the hinge in between pages, and also the raised surface of the coasters. But I also felt like I really didn’t have anything to lose, since I had already made a mess of everything to start with!

So here’s what it looked like in the end.


I didn’t feel like there was quite enough definition in the lines around the stencil, so after it dried, I went back and used a fine line Sharpie to outline the stencil, on the inside. It is subtle, but I think it made an important difference and strengthened the outline of the orange.

Well, I think, in hindsight (it always takes me a few days to post, after I’ve done the art work) – this may not be as “ugly” as I first assumed. Messy, yes. Chaotic, yes. Not what I was hoping for? Yes again. But I think in the end it is OK.

And I’m ready for next time. I went out and bought some permanent markers, so I can paint away, without the worry and grief of having “runny” words!

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

January 10, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 15

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Beginner's art, Soul Journal tagged at 12:12 am by amateur-in-art

All that was really on tap for today was just prepping a few pages. (Sarah shows a lot of things from Day 14 wrap-up – scroll to the bottom of her entry for prep instructions).

We were to prep a total of 6 pages (3 sets of 2-page spreads).

On my first pair of pages, I had these fabulous thick-paper coasters that I found in the dollar bins at Micheal’s. They were a bit thicker than I thought they were in the package, but I like their look and knew I would have to use them in something.


I stuck these on my pages and covered w/gesso, and because I wanted to be sure that the images on the coasters came through, I blotted them with a paper towel. Because they were a firm surface – look at the cool dotted pattern I got from the paper towel! I’ve loved the dot-pattern in my paper towels and kept thinking of how I could get it into my art – voila!


Here’s what I ended up for this 2-page spread. Green on left, red on right.


OK. Now on to the next pair of pages. I used cut strips of paper – one was a kind of gray/purple color, the other was sort of an orangy-pink. This is what it looked like after I gessoed it.


And here’s the final pair of pages. Just some text and math equations – I ended up using some sort of religious treatise along with a math textbook – and had to laugh at the irony. Religion and math are both equally mysterious to me! The thin-line stamp is another dollar-item from Michael’s!


OK. All prepped and ready to go!

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

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