July 9, 2010

Fascinated by Scrap Paper

Posted in Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Crafts, Papercrafts, Techniques (art) tagged at 9:41 pm by amateur-in-art

Oh yes, I know I know, it has been months and months since I posted.  I haven’t been idle – just no time to post.

But I caught myself staring once again at some scrap paper that I have made, and thought I would share it here, along with a couple of other items from my miscellaneous pile.

First, the scrap paper.  I had read somewhere, I think online (and my apologies for not keeping better track of where I get my suggestions from) to simply use a scrap of paper – preferably something fairly heavy duty like watercolor paper – and use it as a sort of canvas to be used when you end up with extra paint on your brush, or when you are watering down and cleaning up your brushes.  At first, I thought, oh, no biggie. But now that I have been using it for a few weeks or months, I’m starting to really like the way it looks. I believe the original source also suggested this method as an excellent way to create deeply textured, multi-layered backgrounds for projects. I’m not done with it yet, but I can see how it can be used that way.

It’s really not that visible here, but I have also used several different types of acrylic mediums on this – “Opaque White Flakes” (visible within the turquoise at left); “Lava Gel” (the stuff that looks like pepper on the lower right); and probably one or two others. Don’t think I’m a serious artiste, though, just because I can say “acrylic medium” – I’m the artistic equivalent of a child playing with flour in the kitchen. I may know what flour is, and may even know it goes in a cake, but what to do with it, or how to get it from “flour” to “cake” – I haven’t the foggiest.

That being said, I do like how this piece of scrap paper is shaping up. None of it has been deliberate or intentional – just totally random, most often, as I am cleaning up or changing colors.

Anyhow. I thought I’d also share a couple of scrap papery items that I, on a whim, stamped – and love the result! When saving these images on my computer for posting, I had to call them something, so I called them “Joy Blurts” – and I kind of like the ring of that. Here’s what they look like:

And here’s similar scraps, before stamping.

Wow – these look even cooler after scanning – better even than in real life!  These are super simple.  Just take 2 or 3 crayons, scribble on paper until paper is full of color – no white showing through.  Take watercolors of a similar or contrasting color and wash over the crayon scribbles (visible as specks on the yellow sections above). Voila! You are done!

To stamp, I used black pigment ink and heated with a heat gun to set.  That had an interesting effect as well, as it seemed to get rid of the waxiness from the crayons on the paper, but left colors and everything else unchanged.

The above scraps were originally scribbles on a much larger piece of paper – it was cut up into smaller squares as part of an exercise.

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© amateur-in-art, 2010

June 3, 2009

Guided Tour of Art Map

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Collage, Learning art, Papercrafts, Soul Journal tagged , at 9:44 pm by amateur-in-art

I was in such a hurry to meet the True North Arts deadline for posting my Art Map that I rushed my previous post. I also hadn’t quite finished up my map. Here’s what it looks like now, pretty much done at this point.


I don’t think I’ll talk a lot about technique in this post (mostly because there is not that much to it) but I will say here that my base is a paper bag that I wadded up and smoothed out several times. My original idea was sort of to have it be a “treasure map” – with the heart (Art) at the top being the “treasure.” In the end it wasn’t really a treasure map, but it definitely is a map of my art journey through the past year. I’m thinking about pasting it down onto a canvas board, creating some sort of trim around the edges of the board, and putting a small placard on the top that announces the title of the piece: “A Year in Art”.

My art journey began almost exactly a year ago. On my map, it starts in the lower left corner.


You cannot read it here, it is too pale, but the small purple square at the lower left is a tiny “book” and the cover reads: “Altered Book Workshop.” That’s where my art journey began. I had not seen or heard of anything like this before, but being both a reader and a writer, it sounded like it would be very interesting and creative. Wow! Did that start me off on a journey! I think I went out and spent $100 (that I did not have) on various art supplies right away. I started searching out different places on the Internet, checked out books from my library about altered art and college, and literally, for a while, I think, went nearly insane in my enthusiasm. In fact, I started this blog not too long after that, too, and my original intent was to call it “Artistic Enthusiasm” because that was what I felt, and if I gave it that kind of a name, at least I didn’t have to worry if I was long on enthusiasm and short on talent. (The name was already taken, even though it appeared to be an abandoned blog, but so here I am as “Amateur in Art’.)

Back to the map. I’ve already commented upon Collage Diva and 1000 Squares in my previous post, so won’t reiterate here. Let’s move on to the “southeast,” which covers the next major portion of my art journey.


Caspiana (Sarah Whitmire) has been a mainstay in my art journey, and I started her Soul Journal project in the fall of 2008. She posted her Soul Journal prompts in July and August, but I couldn’t do them then. I have taken my time and am almost all the way through them all at this point, but it often takes me several weeks to do a single prompt due to my schedule and other (off-line) creative commitments. In any case, Caspiana is a big country on my map. I made it from a photocopy of one of my Soul Journal pages, and I added my little sketch of one of her little white dogs – sort of my own logo that I have made to represent her and her work at Caspiana. I also decided to add (you only see the top part of it in this image, but you can see it better in the full map image at the beginning of this post) a booklet attached with a brad that says “Caspiana Soul Journal” on the front of it. On both this and the Altered Books booklet, I thought about decorating the interior of the books, but I have not done so yet. I may come back to it – but then again, I kind of like the idea of leaving them blank – a “blank canvas” as it were.

I talked about the Watercolor River and the Village of Kindred Spirits on my previous post. One of my favorite parts on my map is the Ocean of Possibilities. I like the color of it and the way it turned out. The wrinkles on the paper bag also give it a very nice “wavy” effect. The large stamp in the middle is from Tim Holtz and reads “Live the Life You’ve Imagined.” Oh – and I just put on the finishing touch of the sailing ship earlier tonight, and realized I forgot to write “Set Sail for Adventure”. There is also a small “safe harbour” (I’m not British but I decided to spell it that way) in Caspiana, as well.

Onward! Let’s begin to head north, now.


Now it is less about specific places (like Diva and Caspiana) but more about what art gives me and how it helps me. There is a brick wall that is being burst through (a.k.a. “Creative Breakthrough”) and then up to the left we have “Inspiration Point” (a promontory and an old fashioned pointing finger) along with a “Leap of Faith” occuring at the same place. A few weeks ago, I had read something about creativity being an “act of faith” – because we simply have to trust that something will come from our first brush stroke, written word, note, or what ever action you take in your chosen field of creativity. Then, after these things, you at last get to the Land of Big Ideas – where the light(bulb) is always on, and it is a land of many mountains – big, strong, and with incredible vistas that give you great vision. You literally can “see forever.” Then finally a few tidbits – the quote “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” and the centerpiece and the real focus for the entire map: “Follow Your Art” (in the shape of a heart).

Now, let’s continue our journey to the northeast.


Starting at the bottom, after the journey across the Watercolor River and through Caspiana, and the Village of Kindred Spirits, we get to the Ink Well (literally) which is overflowing with ideas. Then we get a Flight of Fancy (love that flying flock of birds stamp – I’m using it again. It’s from Tim Holtz, too). And a journey to or through Creative Freedom. The first thing I think of when I hear the word “freedom” is an American flag so often it pops up in otherwise unexpected places for that reason. I had to stick “Wisconsin” in there – because after all, True North was leading this exercise – but also I consider Wisconsin to be my “heart’s home” – I love that state and its beauty. It makes me happy just thinking about it. And then of course we get to the compass and True North. I really like the look I got on the square that the compass is on. It is just a square of pastel-patterned paper, but I took some liquid alcohol ink and daubed it on a cotton swab and dabbled it around to give the paper more color. I like the way it turned out. Oh! And I have to comment on the tag at the top – the “Don’t Stop Now” came from a bookmark I picked up on a recent trip – I found that and immediately knew I was going to have to use it in my art somewhere, and when I started work on my map, I knew it would be the perfect place! Right at the “end” of the map, where normally you would “stop.” It also works well, I think, because at the beginning of my map I have a “Start” tag. Off to the far right side, I have written “Off the Map”, “To Unknown Lands” and “Unexplored Territory.”

I absolutely loved this Art Map adventure, and thanks go to Collage Diva at True North Arts for providing us this prompt and her guidance!

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© All images and words copyright 2009 by amateur-in-art. All rights reserved.

May 22, 2009

Art Map

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Collage, Papercrafts tagged , at 10:59 pm by amateur-in-art

I am squeaking in just barely under deadline, so keeping the verbiage to a minimum tonight.

Here’s the map I made as part of Collage Diva’s (a.k.a. True North Arts) map event. I have not had a chance to check out what other people have done, and I’m not sure I’m even completely finished with what I’ve got, myself, but it is pretty much done, so I wanted to post it now.


And here are a few details.


Kudos to the Collage Diva – and inspiration from inchies at 1000 Squares!

A visual shout out to some of the kindred spirits I’ve found along the journey. (This isn’t everyone on my map, just the ones that are in the “village” here.)

Sorry a little out of focus - will try to take a better pic and replace soon!

Sorry a little out of focus - will try to fix later.

The residents of the Village are: Thrifty Collage Artist, Vintage Moth, Pattern of Life, and Me Scrap!

The extra shiny part right above the word “Explore” is my “Watercolor River.” I laid down thin stripes of paint, then coated it with gel medium to make it look liquid-like.

And finally – every map needs a compass to point to True North, right?


Thanks for this great idea, Diva! I’m only sorry I didn’t have more time to work on it, but I’ll keep going on it, and maybe post more or edit this page soon.

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© 2009, amateur-in-art

April 5, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 20

Posted in Art, Art journals, Beginner's art, Collage, Learning art, Papercrafts, Soul Journal tagged at 5:00 pm by amateur-in-art

At last! It’s been a long while since I posted about my Soul Journal. I’m still doing it, just moving very slowly. This is actually good news, though – it means other areas of my life are also picking up, creatively, and so I’ve been working on a lot of other endeavors, off-line.

Enough with the intro. Today’s assignment was to use our photocopies of previous SJ pages that we made on Day 19 in our artwork today. I was stumped for a long time on this one – I just didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t even sure what to do with the background, to even get started.

I had bought some spongy foamy letters with the idea of using them as stamps, so I decided to try that.


I didn’t really like how this turned out – silly me, again stamping or trying to bridge the gap on the center of the book. And wasn’t sure I liked the color on either of my pages, but shrugged it off and kept moving.

I had kept the latex glove I wore when I traced my hand on Day 17, with the idea of using it at some point in some future art project. I wasn’t even sure if I’d use it in my Soul Journal or not. But I did like the look of it, and I decided this would be the place and time to use it. I put it on the right hand page (resulting in an unintentional pun), I think because of the weird way-out color I used. I thought the glove would “go nicely” with that page color.


Once I did this, I really started being able to move ahead on this page – at least the right side. I slipped some paper inside of the glove to give it a little color and subtle interest, using polka-dotted paper down in the fingers, and paper from photocopies of Day 17 inside the wrist part (which aren’t that visible here). I used a small circle punch and also tore up some bits of photocopies from Day 18, and used these as like “rings” and “fingernails” on the hand. I added a photocopy of the button-“ribbon” from Day 18 as sort of a sleeve cuff or bracelet, and put a heart from Day 17 on the middle of the hand. I like it!


I still really wasn’t sure at all what to do with the left page. I tried a few things – using a paint spreader with “teeth” (which turns out, looks just like “fork painting”) using a small stencil with hot pink paint (I still don’t know how to stencil well), and spread a little here and there, too – it reminded me of blusher!


I still really didn’t like this. I took some “Pewter Gray” paint and spread on top – it came out too strong so I wiped off. I didn’t like this too much, but I did really like the overall effect that this gray had on things. It toned it down a lot, and softened the colors very much. I will have to remember to use this color in soft wipe for future when I want to tone down the overall color of a page or even just make it look old and distressed.


Meanwhile, I had remained pretty stumped on what else to do with my photocopies. Finally, I decided just to weave them together. I used some from Day 18 and also from Day 17. Day 17 is what I ultimately ended up using.

Starting to weave

Starting to weave

Finished weaving

Finished weaving - copies from Day 17

I laid this down on my page to see what it would look like – and really didn’t like it. Ick!


Finally, I just decided to scrap the whole thing (the left page, that is). I realized that although I had a lot of different colored paints, I didn’t have just your basic black. So, when I went to the store to get that, I also saw the great strong green color, like the ink I had used on Day 18. I thought this green would be fabulous on a black background, so I decided to just go with solid black with some “skips” of the green. I used a craft stick to put on the green.

(Bad news though. Some of the black got on to my Day 18 page, around the corners. I guess I got some on my wax paper that I had underneath the page – and didn’t realize that it had seeped under to where it would get onto the previous page! Argh!)

I had done more weaving, and decided the piece I had (shown above) was too large for the page. I had another piece, that was more rectangular, and decided to use that. I also felt using a small piece of purple paper sort of as a mountboard and frame would help unify it as well as set it apart. Yeah! I like this much better! It is so much stronger!


While at the store, I had also come across some of Tim Holtz’s Grungeboard. I got the “elements” pack because I really liked the swirls and flourishes, as well as some of the other items included. I didn’t realize when I got it, though, that it was not chipboard. Instead, it is more like leather or soft suede. I like it, I just didn’t think it would be as flexible and pliable as it is. I found that even the intricate details were well cut, making punching out easy. I thought I’d use this large flourish across the page.


I decided this was too big, though, and that some of the smaller flourishes would be better. My intent was to use the remainder of the grungeboard as a stencil, after I punched out the items, and I wanted to try it on this page. Like all of my stencil work, I had only limited success, but that is not the fault of the product but rather, of me, because I still have difficulty keeping the stencil smooth to the surface and getting a clean impression. I had to do some touching up on the image.


But I like the result in the end, and I like the way both of these pages turned out!

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

March 9, 2009

Inspiration from Inchies!

Posted in Art, Collage, Fun & frivolity, Learning art, Papercrafts, Techniques (art) tagged , , at 10:38 pm by amateur-in-art

A little while back, I came across the 1000 Squares site by ArtJunkGirl, and I perused the whole thing! It is absolutely fabulous! I started at the beginning of her site and followed her project forward in time until the end. Her goal: to create 1000 “inchies” over the course of a year. And she did it!

Besides just being interesting and inspiring artwork, in general, what was truly inspiring to me was to see her completed project. She created a mosaic using all 1000 inchies – and it is amazing to see exactly how large and how impressive that is. Each single inchie is its own work of art, created with care and attention to detail. It is stunning to see 1000 of these tiny works of art, all together in one unified work, and to think about all of the work and time and effort and dedication that went into the project.

The overall lesson I take from this: You can accomplish a HUGE project by taking small, simple steps on a diligent basis, everyday. Her project truly is inspiring, beyond “just the art” (pardon the expression). I’ve thought of this when I have to make my money stretch, work on large projects for work, or anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed (which has been a lot, lately). I think of those 1000 inchies – one inch at a time – and the impressive end result – and I gain inspiration.

Kudos to ArtJunk Girl for her project, and for sharing it on the web to inspire others! You can visit her 1000 Squares site or look at images on flickr, or visit her general blog to see what else she’s been up to.

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© 2009, amateur-in-art

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