June 30, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 21 plus – Secret Superhero

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Art samples, Beginner's art, Soul Journal tagged , at 9:27 pm by amateur-in-art

On Day 21, Sarah gave us two options. A scribble misfit character or a “secret superhero.” I really enjoyed doing the misfit exercise, so I thought I’d try my hand at the secret superhero, too. I have to say that artistically, I’m much more disappointed with this outcome than I was with the misfit. My scribble character turned out kind of weird, and the end result is “only OK” – but hey, that’s alright. I still like the exercise, and there are parts of my end result that I like.

Once again, I started with a scribble on the right hand page, then played with the scribbles in my mind until I started to see a character. I saw a small head, what looked like a fist in the air, and some flowing capes. In the end, after I traced it and gave it firmer edges, it ended up looking kind of like a grasshopper or insect head, on sort of a fish-like body, with a cape.


It is a weird scribble-character. But I knew from the very beginning, though, that I wanted my “secret super hero” to be my Right Brain. I’ve been reading some lately about left/right brain stuff, and realize I am way way WAY too left-brained. Left brain is logic, order, linear, and yes/no. Right brain is creative, carefree, and amorphous.

Given their characteristics, then, I think these two pages turned out about right. I really like my brick building on the left. And I like its simplicity. I did this probably a week or so ago, and am just now getting around to posting – I had forgotten that I wrote on the door “No solicitors or new ideas!” That made me laugh. I even put a little lock on the door! I made the address 123 because anything else would be too creative for my left brain and it would want that logical sequence.

Although I’d prefer to have a different-looking character for my right brain superhero, I like the overall feel of these two pages, and I think the free form, color, and just general weirdness of my right brain character does a pretty good job of summing up what the right brain “looks like” in a metaphorical sense. I really enjoyed this scribble prompt – but have to admit I like my “misfit” results better than my superhero. But a good time had by all, nevertheless. Both really kind of helped “stretch” me – and that’s a good thing!

P.S. I realized just now as I am posting that Sarah’s original prompt was for a “sad superhero” instead of “secret superhero.” Oh well. I like having a secret superhero. It works for me!

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

April 19, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 20 – Bookmark

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art journals, Art samples, Beginner's art, Collage, Learning art, Rubber stamping, Soul Journal tagged at 9:37 pm by amateur-in-art

Also as part of Day 20, we are to make a bookmark. In the original Soul Journal, the bookmark was part of a swap, but that was many months ago, and I’m not sure I’d want to give away mine anyway (it has its flaws, but it’s mine).

Actually, I ended up with two bookmarks. The first one I started by doing a photocopy transfer using acetone (fingernail polish remover). I had already torn up my photocopies of Day 6 and so I did the photocopy transfer using strips from that page.


It is a really simple technique. Just lay the photocopy face-down on the page, dab the back of it with acetone, burnish – and there’s your transfer! You can see the area where I transferred the orange/yellow panel with a pattern just above it in this picture. Here’s a picture of the final version, below.


I didn’t like the “stripe” that showed up in the middle of my tag. It is some sort of aberration in the paper or something, I think. Maybe it has to do with how they were manufactured. Overall I like this tag, but clearly it needs more work and is just a beginning. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go to next with it, so I just tossed it aside and started afresh.

This time, I took torn bits from Day 18 and covered a tag. I used the stamp that is my avatar (the half-face of a woman) but because the surface was uneven, it did not stamp well.


Undaunted, I pressed on. I had just seen some fabulous new stamps from Tim Holtz at the store, and knew I wanted to use the flying bird image and the “Soul/Journey” phrase on my new bookmark!


I decided to give embossing a shot. I had gotten a heat tool and some embossing powder a little while back and had not tried it yet. This was all new to me, but since I had already made one mistake I wasn’t happy with, I figured I had nothing left to lose. So I did that, and although the image turned out much stronger with the embossing (an important lesson) – it still did not stamp correctly, due to the uneven surface of the different bits and pieces of paper glued down together. I was really disappointed that the “The Journey Awakens the Soul” phrase did not come out well.

But onward I must go. I wasn’t sure what to do about the really messed-up stamp in the lower right, but decided to use a piece from a collage sheet, add some ink to distress it, and use it to cover up the bad spot.

Distressed next to original

Distressed next to original

Positioned and outlined with dyed string from tag

Positioned and outlined with dyed string from tag

Now, to work on the back. I still used torn up bits of paper from Day 18. Then some letter-stickers spelling out “Soul Journal” and a tag-type sticker, cut in half then reattached so it would not be so big, where I wrote in the years. Then I outlined them both with a thin-line marker.


Then I added a pink ribbon at the top, with two jewelry charms from (love the name) Heart & Soul. One is a key and the other says “Trust in Your Dreams”.


Here you can see the details on the charms and you can see the other side of one of them says, “Be Free.” A few other things to point out in this detailed view. Before adding the ribbon, I also dabbed on some pigment ink around the reinforcement around the hole, on both sides of the bookmark. I took my heat tool to dry it – but I think the heat may have made the color shift just below the hole in this picture – where the two red lines are, see how it goes to black in the middle of the green, just underneath the hole? Finally, one other detail. As a finishing touch to the whole piece, I used some yellow watercolor and edged the whole bookmark, on both sides. It really gave it a nice look, overall. (You can compare the difference by looking at the back of the bookmark, and the picture preceding it which is the front, without the yellow trim.)

I definitely like this bookmark much better than my first attempt, and although I wish the “Journey Awakens the Soul” part would have turned out better, I still really like it, overall.

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

February 14, 2009

Coloring Mandalas

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Art samples, Beginner's art, Learning art tagged , , , , at 12:08 am by amateur-in-art

I recently purchased a “kit” from Barnes & Noble called “The Art of the Mandala.” It comes with colored pencils, a booklet of the same title, and 80 outlines of mandalas to color. (It does not appear to be listed on their website. I found it with the various kits and boxed sets of things near their bargain books.)


I only (and still) had a very vague notion of mandalas. I knew they were considered “spiritually significant” by some religions, and that they were used for meditation for some religions and beliefs, and especially, I think, in Buddhism. Though this is still all just my general ideas about mandalas. I have yet to read the book that was included with the kit or to learn more about them. I will, though, I’m sure.

When I colored my first mandala (above), I was surprised at the calming effect it had, and how through the process, I discovered that there was more and more detail to the drawing. What, on the surface, looked like a simple drawing, instead, turned out to have many layers and elements.

The next one I did was not symmetrical – it had a dragon’s head on one side and what looked to me to be an eye on the other. I wanted to use red for the dragon, for sure, but wanted something calmer to contrast with it, so I made part of the “frame” around the dragon green and used red for the frame on the other side.


It is interesting to me that on both of these, the “feel” of the piece changes when you change the orientation of the drawing.


In this case, it’s not only the colors that switch, but it seems important as to whether the dragon is facing up, or facing down.

There is probably more significance to these drawings than what I see and understand. As I said, I’ve never really encountered mandalas before, and I don’t know much about their tradition, either.

But I do like the drawings that are in this kit, I liked the experience of filling them in, and coloring mandalas is definitely something I will want to continue to do.

It may be sacrilege (and if so, someone please tell me!) but I’m also thinking that at some point I may cut or tear these up to use as pieces or fragments or backgrounds in some future page or art project. Especially the first one – seems like the patterning there might be good in a background or something. And all of the curlie-ques and ornamentation from the dragon one also might be really cool to use in something.

© amateur-in-art, 2009

P.S. (Mar. 9, 2009) – Check out some great mandalas at Collage Diva’s Soul Journal site – and look for an ATC swap and a contest, too!

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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 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

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