Archive for the ‘Dollar Tree’ Category

moon is our mother

This image is a collage with expressive drawing, my Daily Art practice. I pulled out a handful of the paper strips I talked about yesterday, and this one piece of old street map presented itself. It hadn’t been cut, most likely because it was already small and fragile. I laid the piece around the paper with different orientations and I thought this outline looked bear-ish. Like a bear climbing a tree. So I tried to draw it to look more like a bear than it did, resulting in it looking even less like a bear than it did. I decided instead that it needed to be an unspecified marsupial climbing a tree. That’s what I meant to do all along! That’s the ticket.

Earlier today I was reading a book on the alchemical Emerald Tablet which states that the Moon is our Mother. I stopped reading at that point because I wanted to think on that for awhile. It struck my fancy. Bears are associated with the feminine/moon energy.  I decided (pretty much unilaterally, since it is just me, the cats and a dog here right now) that marsupials are feminine/moon energy too. It is out climbing at night, after all. Even if it is on it’s way to bed, that counts.

Considering how it all ended up not being what I thought it would be, I’m very happy with it. It’s a friendly creature (no Stink Eye here), the moon is full, the tree is strong and I particularly like this map paper. There is a heaviness and fullness to the piece, I feel gravity and that is not an easy feeling to capture 2-D. At least for me, it isn’t.

I am all about doing these creatures these days. It started with those Dollar Tree “monster” stencils (I call them creatures, they are too cute to be scary). I love expressive drawing and I find more and more to be drawing quasi-realistic animals in blots and on collage compositions. This piece came together quickly which is usually true for me when I do expressive art. I had already made a small square canvas piece earlier in the day. This piece followed later in the day and I didn’t want to work very long. The first piece could be a breakthrough idea if I continue it to a series. I love the idea of making “themed” series(es?) and constantly dream up great ideas for them but I almost never follow up. I get bored or forget about them. A year later I clean the studio and run across the first piece of a proposed series and go, oh yeah, I was going to make that a series. Whoops.

Not much more to say about this and I want to get back to reading about the Emerald Tablet. ta ta.



Well, guess what? The studio is tossed again.

Last week I put my big folding table into the middle of the living room and brought out the various and sundry boxes and bins of paper and images and sorted it into cool boxes I got at the Dollar Tree. The boxes are letter-sized and have a self-lid and hold a goodly amount of of paper. I was soon overwhelmed with the sorting but I did get through the bins It is so much easier now to keep it neat and find images by subject matter which is important to me. I wanted to do a page with an owl last week. I have 284 pictures of owls around here and couldn’t fine one. One. That’s what started this ball rolling.

I got overwhelmed, particularly with laser copies (lots of black and white) of my own photographs. In the good old days I had a color laser printer and I routinely printed contact sheets and reproduced my photos. Lots and lots of mannequin photos because I used them frequently in my work. I knew there were too many to go into the nifty boxes without there being 30 boxes of mannequin photos. So I started shoveling them into a separate pile. Before I knew it, that pile was teetering on the edge of calamity just like my sanity.

I had to put the big table away, and the stack took up home on the dining table. I filed the neat boxes away in the studio and that was a wonderful feeling. But then I’d walk through the center of the house and the stack that didn’t get filed away, mostly my OWN art, was taunting me. Plus, the dining room is smack in the middle of my feng shui Wealth area and that is not good. How many mannequin photos can your Wealth area overlook? If I know my Wealth area, and I do after many hours of studying it and moaning over it, there were about 6000 more mannequin faces than it could manage. My Wealth area couldn’t even with it and neither could I.

There were stacks of paper. Strangely, I’ve been obsessed with stacks for awhile. It started with caryatids about 18 months ago. They were fascinating to me. Then I saw pictures of cairns that my husband took in the Smokey Mountains last spring. There is an artist that works in several rivers up there making cairns (he’s around on the internet, Google him if you want to see his work. He is really good, a true Rock Whisperer). Then I ran into this cool Edward Gorey’ish fabric during Halloween that was so exciting to me. About that time the Alice in Wonderland stencils showed up at Dollar Tree. One day I couldn’t take it anymore and cut out a caryatid, the gothic fabric and created an Alice stack using illustrations and stencils. A reprieve but I returned to stacks again.

Stacks of paper. Obsession with stacks. What are stacks? They are layers on top of layers. Image on top of image. Strips on strips.

I couldn’t use all those faces, but I could use strips of paper. I could weave them, layer them, draw on them, use them as backgrounds, etc. I could make strips out of all that stuff, throw them into a box and haul a handful out and use them however I want to in the moment. If I found I didn’t like the process, or wasn’t using the strips, I could toss it all into the recycle bin with no guilt.

So yesterday I spent a few happy hours layering paper and cutting it with my paper cutter. All different widths. I find cutting or tearing paper stress relieving. I can honestly say I enjoyed it, and I thought about the strips most of last evening. I had the urge to get up and bring some in to draw on but I didn’t because we were relaxing watching Dexter. It’s one of the few programs I enjoy watching, but I was tempted and that is a good sign. I’m onto something.

So, my Daily Art practice rolled around and the first thing I did was grab a bunch of strips. I wanted to start by paper weaving. I took two wide strips, cut them into random pieces. One was a black and white photo of mine, the other text from a book. I glued those pieces randomly to a paper foundation. Then I selected several strips and cut them down to smaller widths. Surprisingly, all the strips I used are my own work. I did simple over/under weaving over top of the other images, shifting the colored strips to where I wanted them. I glued the ends down to make it permanent.

The process created leftovers and I tossed those strips back in the box to be used for another project. I decided to journal, and stamped out “life is a tapestry.” Then I wrote “weave it” in black pen randomly, and did some circles on the strip with the wording, to make it stand out more. This project was finished in an hour and I very much enjoyed it. I plan to do many of my Daily Practice pieces with these strips this month. Perhaps it will inspire you to try it.

I will soon post an update on my Mythos blog about how my 2016 Initiatives are going so far. If you have an interest check it out over the next few days. I will say here that I missed only 1 day in January. The day I missed I simply did not want to be in the studio. I was tired and not feeling particularly well. To go in would have defeated the purpose of the Initiative, which is to give myself time to do what I love. It’s not an obligation, it is a privilege.

I would urge you to get into your studio every day, even if just to paint a background or stamp a word on paper, or whatever you enjoy doing. Just for the fun of it.



Ok, this piece sure as Sam Hill doesn’t know what to be when it grows up.

It started Innocently Enough, as these things often do. I painted the paper with watercolor, dried it. Squiggled over the top with Sharpie™ fine line black pen. Then I stenciled (of course) with the alphabet set I’ve been bragging about for several months. The one that came from the  Dollar Tree. This set, as you can see, is not a “ransom note” style, but the letters fall into a few distinct styles. The simpler block style as you see in the “Stor” and the simpler, larger more cursive style as in the “Y”. Because I did not view the letters beforehand, the Y dips dangerously close to the bottom of the paper. After I penciled the letters in, I used my Stabilio® All Water Soluble pencils and wet it with my fingertips.

I cannot even describe to you what a hot mess this was. All those squiggles behind the letters were confusing; my eyeballs were jittering in their sockets. I thought about ways I know to make layers recede and pop forward. There were so many lines as compared to the amount of letters I decided that the lines needed to be subordinate. I embark upon a Doodling Journey. The important part of the process was not to doodle OVER the letters, but under and around them. This makes the letters appear to be the topmost layer. Developing some continuity in the pattern helped as well (following the thickness and “trail” of a pair of lines).

Early on I saw the “creature” represented by the spikes, a lizard/aardvark cross that I colored green and outlined a bit. It has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the piece except, perhaps, confuse it and lend a tad of narrative. Is it the story of the creature? Or did the creature haplessly wander into The Story and couldn’t escape? Probably, there was a lot of that going around.

In some ways the image is successful but ultimately unsatisfactory. While the squiggles did help unify the image, they are still too much of a distraction. So is the green creature. But I wanted to use my Stabilo® All pencils and that alphabet stencil package, and I felt like doodling so it was satisfactory in that respect and that is the purpose of making art, right?


da1-5-16The Daily Art Challenge police would have no trouble spotting the crime here–1/4/16?? It’s 1-5-16–busted! Yes, after signing this today (in permanent Sharpie™ of course) I realized the correct date.

But, moving on to this odd fellow. The lettering is a stencil alphabet that I traced onto transparency in 8.5×11 size. Then I cut a light colored scrapbook paper to 8.5×11 size and copied the alphabet by running the paper through the printer tray. That way, instead of having to buy stickers or stamps, I can print any of my alphabet stencils into any paper. So, if you are following along with my Make Do Initiative, and I know you are, this is a creative way to make your supplies and tools more versatile and also you have stuff that nobody else has with no further financial investment. How cool is that?

For sure you remember the Dollar Tree stencil sets I’ve been bragging about. The big leaf gnome body is a stencil from the Sea Life set, cut out from an old map. The legs, arms and hat are cut from a botanical print. The tree and acorn were sketched in with a Stabilo-All®  Water Soluble Pencil (brown) and wet very delicately and smeared, which is where this pencil excels. I outlined the gnome and letters with Prismacolor® pencils. The face is from a stencil of four different cherubs.

I thought I was using Rives BFK Arches printmaking paper. During making, the paper was behaving UnBFK-ly; it was buckling. I held the paper to the light and discovered it had an Allstate watermark–it is half-sized paper I found at an estate sale and bought for it’s cotton rag content. This paper is not suitable as a collage foundation. Not sure how, but this piece was in with my pre-cut BFK supply. A tip and reminder: any foundation you use for collage has to be heavier than the paper you are applying.

I may have taken longer than an hour. It’s been a weird unpredictable day. Several business matters needed to be done during normal studio time. An installer is coming to put in some equipment. There’s been unusual unavoidable interruptions. My work was intermittent and I forgot the timer. The dog ate my homework.