Archive for the ‘New Mixed Media art’ Category

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.



da1-4-16Time passes, and to prove it, I now have a new folder entitled Terry Work 2016. Today’s Daily Art offering is a stamped feather image made by an eraser I carved. The foundation is cardboard. Somewhere on the Internet I described soaking cardboard for a few minutes and separating the layers. Well there you are, I just did it again. It’s really that simple. Poof–free paper. Ever since I saw the work of Hanne Matthiesen I wanted to use cardboard but I was sure it wasn’t as easy as she described. It is, just do it once and you’ll be hooked.

My Daily Art Initiative involves making a 5×7 paper foundation piece in one hour. I did this one in about 45 minutes and most of the time was spent trying to find some weird text to use. I had already carved the stamp several months ago. I was trying to carve a simple feather shape and do not ask me why, I have no idea. It was very important at the time, important enough to hand carve this stamp. As I said, I started out for a simple feather and got really carried away. This is sort of a quill-y affair, like Edgar A. would use. I think I used one of those I MADE A BIG MISTAKE erasers from Dollar Tree.  I like the I MADE A BIG MISTAKE eraser because they can be cut up easily for a high yield.

I do find carving stamps to be meditative. Developing good working habits is a must. It is easy to cut yourself badly, no matter what implement you are using. If you can, brace the block so that you don’t have to hold it. If you hold it, hold the bottom and always cut away from yourself. The implement will slip or jump, it is just a matter of time. Learn to be careful when you start to learn.

Most carvers move the block more than they move the cutter. This develops a good rhythm and brings you into that meditation. There are plenty of videos and articles on the web to show you how to carve. Just basic stuff and you can start. Practice makes perfect. In fact, you don’t have to do it much before you are good at it, if you have good eye-to-hand skills, and you are able to firmly grip the cutter.

If you had an idea to get into carving, a Daily Carving challenge would be very advised. Think of the benefits! You’d be an expert carver in a month, and have hundreds of unique stamps after a year. It’s very doable.

Back to this piece. Cardboard, stamped feather. A book on European birds listed a picture of each bird (too big to use), a physical description of the bird, nesting habits, habitats, food choices and vocals. The way the author described the vocals was delicious. It was hard to decide which one to use. One bird with an audacious name like Wood Hunting Worm Hole Jelly Breasted Nuthatch or something had a vocal “like a raucous crow ending with a harsh guttural explosion.” I am not making that up. Well, actually I AM making that up, but it was very close to that–too close. I made a harsh guttural explosion when I read it, I am not making THAT up.

The blue border was a piece of nifty paper that I get for free, the source to be nameless lest it get someone into a fix. It is WASTE paper, stuff that gets pitched in a place that does not even recycle. Don’t get me started. What would go in the trash gets given to me and I am grateful because it is very nice paper. Sort of like cotton rag old school typing paper, back when manual typewriters came with a special eraser that looked like a pencil and had a nasty bristle brush on the end of it to brush away the eraser crumbs. Only the bristle brush would get ink on it from brushing away inky crumbs, then you ended up with nice rag white typewriter paper with black inky streaks on it and had to RETYPE THE PAGE. My, how I long for the good old days. Oh, the fun we had, waving our inky pencil erasers over clean paper and scrubbing away inky streaks until we put a hole in the paper and had to retype the entire page. We did this, youngsters. And we liked it, we liked it just FINE, because it beat writing with the quill-y type pen like E.A. Poe was stuck with. Him, a fine author whose mind went, no doubt, a million miles an hour while his poor clenched hand scribbled, dipped, scribbled, dipped, scribbled, dipped all the way through the Masque of the Red Death.

Just in the 60 years I have been alive, information processing has changed in astonishing ways. Here I sit, ranting and raving like poor mad E.A. on a blog nobody reads, with spell correcting and digital images illustrating, neatly left aligned. Now a crumbly pencil eraser sells for $75 on Etsy. Oh, the things I have seen.

Well, the paper was painted with navy acrylic. The top border with the red was added at the last minute just because the red popped it a bit. Then I clipped out the vocal description and glued it down, strangely, it kept coming up. I wonder if it was the clear gesso I put onto the cardboard? The paper was very old and porous, it surprised me the text kept lifting, in fact, you can see where it lifted and some letters escaped. I had to write them in. With a pencil.

I used a permanent fine tip marker to write the bird call on the border, signed it and done. I like it, I like it just fine.

begin to date

Here’s my Daily Art for the first day of 2016. Happy  New Year!

Today I started with the 5×7 Rives BFK printmaking paper. I worked with navy acrylic yesterday in different piece and I felt good about this color. It’s not been a favorite of mine in the past, even though it so represents the clear night sky. I wet the paper so that the acrylic would wash the paper and be less opaque. The fan helped to get it dried in time to meet my one hour time limit.

I have Sharpie Paint Pens™, both oil and water-based. The oil-based are transparent, the water-based are opaque. Usually I go for the water-based; they do a great job over acrylic paint and not all pens do. But I wanted to try the oil-based because it’s been a long time since I’d used them. As I thought, the paint went on looking somewhat opaque but it faded as it dried. I continued to write “Begin to Dare, Dare to Begin” over the navy and all that showed was the barest grey letter outlines. I then switched to the white water-based opaque pen and began adding viewable text.

If you are unfamiliar with asemic writing, it is writing that is without content. Asemic writing resembles mark-making; it compels one to look and look, trying to find words that can be made out, to construct a meaning. It’s handy for me to enjoy the look of asemic writing because my handwriting doesn’t enhance my artwork at the level I’d like it to, especially in this era of carefully and creatively hand lettered journal pages. When I do hand letter a piece, I’m not aiming for highly decorative or readable text; rather, I work to my weakness (strength?) of indecipherable messy lettering. But in contrast to asemic writing, rather than being without content, my content is simply unreadable. I have a Pinterest page where I collect asemic images, if you’d like to explore it.

I began to encircle the center image with white Sharpie™ water-based pen. At first the navy shape inside the white center looked like a long-haired female with an arm outstretched. But I also saw trails like a comet, so I went with that idea, which seemed more expressive. I didn’t want to write with black, so I found a Sharpie™ extra-fine pen in purple. I thought purple looked more like the cosmos. I wrote with it in a different size in order to create greater contrast to the white writing. At this point, the image looked as if it needed more gravity on the page, so I did imperfect circles around the center. The empty center and outer circles created a mandal; a Begin and Dare mandala. I signed and dated it which is another “rule” of the Daily Art Initiative.

The subject matter of “daring” relates to Lisa Sonora ‘s current 30 Day Journal Project that began today. The prompts today were about achievements and what had to be dared to accomplish them. My journaling was about commitment and beginnings, so I brought those ideas into this piece. It’s possible that this 30 day challenge will inform other Daily Art projects.



I already spent most of the day blogging at Mythos so I’m going to reprint a page from my process journal about this piece:

December 1 & 2:

Nikki (Nikki St. Laurent) made the Dragon’s Eye pendant and I had a torch fired hoop that worked color-wise. I tried various combinations and went down that path for quite a while. Finally I had an arrangement that used a spectacularly colored designer leather scrap I swore I could never find a use for. (Note: it looked like dragon scales). I LOVED the leather with the finish on the dragon eye, so reptilian and mythic. By Day 1 end I had a workable design that just needed minor assembly and a closure.

Day 2 I was still good with the piece and pleased with the component meld, but the closure stumped me. It was too heavy for a leather lace. Ball chain was out. I tried every silver chain I had and none worked so I thought of going to the store. The more I thought about going to the store for chain and a clasp, the more I thought about Make Do. I noticed a buckle part on my table…beautifully etched and in the shape of a shield. I removed the torched hoop and decided to form horsehair to create a loop on the bottom of the shield.  I really did not want to leave off that leather, but then I thought about the courage of the Knight. Courage, “la couer”, the heart. Also, the heart of the Steed and the red of scapulars. It occurred to me to make it a “badge of the Quest” scapular so I decided on deep red thread and seam binding to help form the horsehair. I knotted the hair at the bottom, sewed it in place, leaving ends to appear from behind the shield. I ran horsehair through the buckle hole, knotted it and ultimately hung the dragon’s eye off it at the top. I attached a tiny heart-shaped lock with a tiny brass safety pin.

The Knight is on the Quest, the Dragon guards the treasure the Knight seeks. The mythic story. But what of The Steed that carries the knight for many days over arduous land. Certainly he represents the energy needed to carry the Knight to the final destination. The loyalty and stamina. This is my tribute to the Steed.



Here is my creation today. It is expressive art mixed media that began with this image:


How did this image come to be? About six months ago I bought some stencils at the Dollar Tree. There were five sets available: Sea Life, Farm Life, Alice in Wonderland, Monsters and an alphabet. (I wrote about these at Mythos in an entry Idea Farm). I bought the Alice set and opened it about a week later and it was awesome. Yes, the stencils are on lightweight cardboard, but they were detailed and cut cleanly. The images they selected were not all mainstream. On my next trip in I decided to pick up each set.

For some reason, perhaps all the children’s books I’ve been looking at, the Monster set got appealing. Actually, it started further back than that now that I’m thinking about it. About a month ago I decided to do a mixed media piece using a black silhouette. I’ve done these before (some of them are shown on this blog). Basically, I find an evocative fashion magazine image, one that will translate to being blacked out. I cut it out, paint it with black gesso and create a background to put it on. It’s fun to do and cool to look at. In this instance, I found a couple good samples. I flipped them to the back, and one of them had an image I had not planned. I decided on a different image for the piece I was working on, but I wanted to remember to try this, although as I say, it was an accident. I was going for the boxy pose on the other side. I put the image in my process journal and made notes about why/how it had happened. I left my notes on there but not sure you can make them out.


I think this was backburnering, then the children’s book thing happened. The Dollar Tree stencil sets are a good size for my 5×7 Daily Art Initiative projects. During TV time, I go through books and magazine pages and hold the stencils over the pages to find ones that utilize the images on the page.

Because the Monsters (I prefer Creatures, because, really, they are more cute than scary) were abstract I started with that set. Oh, the fun that I had. I tried to use all the Creatures, but found I was partial to several. This one seemed “bearish” to me, it also reminded me of a shaman cave drawing. When I saw the word “Bare” printed on a page I couldn’t resist myself.

All the little guys and gals got gelled down to a full size piece of paper, smack dab in the middle. I’m not sure this was necessary but it seemed like it was, so that’s what I did. The idea was to scan them, crop them and then be able to stick them all on a page(s) to print out to conserve paper. Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? I do not want to use the originals.

I have about 30 0r so done. See my last post about how fast my new Brother inkjet scans. I sat down the other day and scanned them all, then I sat down yesterday and cropped them all and grouped them in files so I could do what I did today, quickly and efficiently. It was a lot of work to digitally resize them and organize them, but if I don’t do it right away, they will just get lost and not get used. Another important Initiative in 2016 is to develop the habit of Organization, but I digress.

I wanted to use Bear, so I picked this one because of the Bare fun factor. I am easily amused. As you can plainly see, the image RESEMBLES a bear, if you squint and tie your Imagination Hat firmly onto your Noggin. Colored pencils are a dry medium so I used my Prismacolor set. I adjusted his ears and they were way too big, which sure set the tone right off the bat. Then I drew the face. I swear to God, the first face made him look like a rat. I couldn’t even with it, so I erased and started again, making the face bigger and wider, and that got better. I messed about giving him paws and shading him in. But there was that awful “Farrow” word that had to go. What to do? I thought the best thing would be to cover it up with a dry, opaque something and decided on ledger paper. I wanted to write the word “Bear” out because I thought maybe the drawing wasn’t good enough to allow you to get the joke. And the paper was all lined like elementary school, so I wrote “Bear” in a childish sort of way.

About now, I have an ugly bear with a childish look and goofy word and a pretty elementary pun to boot. Then I read it. “Bare Bear.” It sounds like what a kid would name a favorite, cherished stuffed bear. This is no longer a bear, its a bear TOY. But it was standing up so tall, not like a stuffed bear. Then I thought, it’s a wind-up toy bear that walks. But how to show the winder thingy? They are called keys, and this is an old school toy, so I can just draw a key winder. I made it big to make sure you could see it and know it was a toy bear.

Man, I only had an hour and I was running out of time. That rat face put me way behind. This toy bear made no sense at all standing in the middle of space, he needed a room. A kid’s room. A boy kid’s room. So I drew some curtains and put on some sailboat wall paper and an out- of-perspective table with a sailboat set on it. I polka-dotted the curtains and was just putting the red fringed rug under Bare Bear when the timer went off.

Ok, we all know this is no Beatrix Potter but I don’t give no fiddely dee about that. I like this; I like everything about this. I especially like these things: I enjoy doing this during TV time because I don’t enjoy TV much; this is super cheap–.10 magazine, $1 for 20 or so stencil images; the process spurs on imagination; drawing practice. Mostly I like this cute little bear waiting for a little boy to wind him up and give him some animation. Good ‘ole Bare Bear, long may he bust a move.


My Daily Art Initiative is detailed here. This post is to discuss the process of making the above pictured piece.

This image was made in one hour on a 5×7 sheet of damp Rives BFK printmaking paper. The background is Pelikan’s gouache paint. I used colors intuitively and when I was finished painting I held a small fan close to the paper to dry it. (Obviously the fan is completely enclosed in a heavy wire cage for safety).  It took longer to dry than I thought it would. Remember, I’m on a one hour clock.

If you’ve read previous posts you know I have been experimenting with walnut ink and ink crystals. I use a waxed paper sheet (like deli paper only more see through) underneath any inking projects; walnut ink stains everything. I keep the paper because, well, you know. Because it’s paper and it has walnut ink on it.

A cat, let’s say, Peter Pan, knocked one such walnut ink paper off my desktop. I can’t swear in a court of law that it was Peter Pan, but I have a strong feeling it was. In this case, and likely ONLY in this case, I should thank him for it, because as I was bending to pick the paper off the floor (in order to prevent a vaudeville-like slip resulting in a worker’s comp case AGAINST MYSELF) I distinctly saw a running wolf with it’s mouth open showing his teeth. It was the head and mouth that was the easiest for me to see…although the tail and back leg were also prominent. It was just the proper size for a 5×7. I copied it on my Brother All-In-One inkjet printer. I am going to pause here to discuss this printer.

After some discussion and research Bob and I decided to get the Brother Work Smart series model MFC-J885DW inkjet printer not too long ago. I have not had an inkjet printer for quite some time. Previously I had a Canon inkjet which printed very nicely when it would print. Which considering the print head failed after 10 hours of printing wasn’t very often. I was given the first one, and it printed nicely and so when the print head failed I figured it might have been used a lot before I was given it. Just a note: if your print head fails, it costs 2x as much to replace it as it does to get a new printer. So I bought a new Canon, and that print head failed as well, unfortunately after it couldn’t be returned. I gave up on inkjets after that. We all know why, but for the five of you out there that might not, I’ll go ahead and say why. It’s because that you can purchase an inkjet printer for $19.95 and it will print very nicely, and the print head might last longer than 10 hours, in which case you are grateful. But then the fun begins. Long about 10 copies in, the dinky starter cartridges of ink that came with the printer are all drained, then you have to replace them with full size cartridges, sometimes each color separately, but at LEAST two cartridges, one black and another tri-colored. Actually, it is better if the three colors ARE separate because at least then one doesn’t have to replace a tri-colored cartridge just because you got all into yellow for awhile and now there is no yellow left, just the other two colors that have to be tossed like the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Whether you have the tri-color refill or the individual refills hardly matters, because all of them are going to require a second mortgage to replace. You see, it’s the bait and switch deal. They pull you in with a cheap printer that’s head will fail right after the time you buy the refill inks.

So, we’ve struggled along with our most excellent laser all-in-one. Laser printing is most economical but, alas, just black and white copies. Actually, it is most economical but the toner cartridge, which will last well into the next Presidency, costs $80. Sigh.

It started to seem as if I wanted color copies. I considered scanning and sending to an office supply store; color copies have gotten less expensive than they used to be ($1). However, to do this I would have to scan each item. Meaning, if I had an inkjet all-in-one I could just photocopy which is more efficient. The Brother had great reviews and the ink tests and prices were decent. And it was a great decision because I seriously love this machine, for a bunch of reasons that I didn’t even anticipate. It is fast copying and printing. All good. It is wireless and it works. Very nice. It has a touchscreen that runs it. Wow. I don’t even need a computer on to use it. It saves right to a stick drive. I control everything it does on that touchscreen. And the scanning, oh the scanning. Perhaps it doesn’t have truly professional scanning options but who the hell cares? I can scan in about 15 seconds, with no computer. I. Can. Scan. In. 15. Seconds. And, because it’s Bluetooth wireless, I can go in the other room, use that computer, use Adobe and send it to the Brother.

In short, I am in Brother All-In-One Worksmart heaven. This could be the single, most revolutionary thing to hit my studio in a long time (besides me being in there). I am not kidding.

So back to the art. Blots on paper are odd. When you use the copy machine, sometimes the blots look different than IRL. Maybe it’s the difference in the paper texture, I don’t really know. I copied the blot but it didn’t clear up the image, it was almost the same. I did use the inkjet copy to trace the image of the wolf as I saw it and decided to use that tracing as my cut out. Remember, I’m on a one hour clock. If I wasn’t on the clock I might have taken the time to redraw on the original blot, but I didn’t have the time.

The wolf needed a context. With Little Red Riding Hood uppermost in my mind these days, he was placed in the woods. Just black paper strip trees. I found a tiny piece of red paper and I colored over it with a red Copic marker. I tried for some perspective by varying the depth of field of the trees. I finished with one minute to spare.

This piece could use more detail work. I might put some grass and stones under the wolf to get him further into the foreground. I would have to do something with where Red is. The watercolor background is not very suited to the woods, it is way too bright. Red actually looks like she’s standing on the edge of an orange cliff, not picking flowers for Grandma. One more step to the right and the least of Red’s  problems is that wolf. Yes, in it’s current state, all told, it is woefully inadequate. But it does have that urgency, not withstanding it’s flaws. And it got made, all by me, in one hour.

Ok, how did I get this image. Besides the inkjet and paper, I mean. A big part of the how is obviously the obsession and research into LRRH. Pursuing a search of LRRH in my local library’s catalog, I found a book called Picture This, Perception and Composition, by Molly Bang. I had no real grasp of what this book was about, but I requested it. Turns out, Ms. Bang had done some research of her own, into shapes and colors. I am talking extremely abstract shapes. Normally this wouldn’t interest me much, except that she used LRRH as an example of how to build a narrative illustration using ONLY simple shapes and minimal color.

Step by step, shape by shape and piece by piece she takes us through building an image. If the triangle leans in, it feels this way. If it’s smaller, it feels this way. What will make the wolf scarier? How can we put Red into more danger? She ends up using white teeth, mauve background, black trees and wolf shape. Red triangle for Red and red in the wolf’s eyes and a big lolling red tongue. OMG people. In a million years I would not have put this together, EVEN THOUGH, I’ve studied color and universal shape meanings for 30+ years. This is a book that demands re-visiting, re-reading and direct application over a period of time and many experiments.


This photo copyright 1991 by Molly Bang, from the book “Picture This, Perception and Composition.

It is obvious that this author knows her subject. She has personal knowledge and has used the technique with students of all ages. The book is simple because she made it that way. The concepts are complex, her presentation is digestible. Look at what I did, after just exposure to her concepts. I simply do not believe I could have rendered this work before. I urge you to give yourself the gift of this book if you are interested in the emotional, psychological and perceptional aspects of shapes and colors.

Astonishingly, this book is available used on Amazon for .01 plus shipping. You know where I’m going.

Afterword: I receive no compensation from Brother, nor am I an affiliate for Amazon. Molly Bang is a prolific illustrator of children’s books. The illustration from the book Picture This is used as an example for education and review only.

fabric paper copies

When last we met, Fabric Paper Part 1, I promised a follow up about my uses for the paper. Well, my purpose in making the paper was to cut it up and make bracelet cuffs from it. I still intend to do that, but I  haven’t gotten to it yet. So this post is about art journaling.

I don’t usually decorate the cover of a journal first. To be honest, I  rarely get past the first three pages of a journal so nearly no covers get done. It’s not unusual for journal makers to leave the cover for last. Perhaps the idea is that after the journal is completed there is more of a tone to bring to the cover than might have been apparent at first. Perhaps the idea is that the cover might get so monumentally messed up that nothing could fix it and it would be forever lost. Not a very good way to start a journal. My feeling is, I need to love that book to the point that I can’t leave it alone.

I don’t usually follow the market for supplies. I’ve used various mixed media sketchbooks, hardbound and spiral bound. For some reason, spiral bound journals started to bug me. I actually used to LIKE spiral bindings, so I have no idea what that is about. And, the hardbound journals I had would not stay open or lie flat. That started to bother me, too. Wet pages had a mind of their own and would flip closed to the other side. (Don’t write to me about clips). Anyhow, I saw a few videos by Ranger for the Dylusions Creative Journal. It is a bound journal that opens and stays perfectly flat on it’s own with No Clip. The paper is heavyweight and suitable for wet applications; the cover is heavy chipboard. The 8.5×11 journal retails for $25 at Michaels, so I wait for a 50% off coupon and buy it; at $12.50 this 64 page journal is an excellent buy.

If you’ve been keeping up with my Mythos blog, you know I’ve developed an obsession with Little Red Riding Hood. Since I posted over there about Red last week, I’ve gotten an obsession with all the Grimm Bros. tales, and the Grimm Bros. themselves. I plan next week to get an obsession with Hans Christian Anderson, to be followed by Charles Perrault. Ultimately Mother Goose will be involved, at which time if I’m decorating my bedroom as a nursery I expect professionals will be called in.

So, I procured me a new journal: hope springs eternal. And I decided to tackle the cover first. Mother of Pearl, what a confunction.  I have no hand-lettering skills. (Could this be at the base of why I am a journal writer that does not write journals?) How was I going to get the text on? Was I going to collage a cover? (Treacherous). Was I going to draw a cover? (Unlikely). Was I going to paint a cover? (Unlikeli-er). Maybe I wasn’t thinking out of the box enough, but it seemed that about covered it, technique-wise.

Finally, I considered stencils. It’s hard to imagine that I didn’t think of stencils right away, because there is a good portion of my grey matter dedicated to thinking about stencils. I have several tree stencils of the right size.  Then the decision: paint or ink?

Acrylic paint has drawbacks; it creates a slick “dimensional” coat. I felt it could limit my options later, both for material and technique. Ink also has drawbacks, the first being, I don’t like the look of sprayed ink. It CAN be very inconsistent and temperamental. Like, I spritz it off-project a couple times and everything is good, then I move onto the money shot and it fires out blobby and drippy and with extreme prejudice. One time it actually blew the stencil off!

I didn’t want the cover black, and I didn’t want it colored, either. I wanted it natural, so my mind went to walnut ink crystals. I had some ink made up already. I also had one of those Mini Mister applicators. I thought the smaller mister might give a more consistent spray.

I had to take it outside because walnut ink stains just about everything. Particularly cats, and they seem to jump on my work island just as I am executing a critical treatment. My experience with spraying any ink is that it goes all over the place, even though you think it couldn’t possibly. (A good idea for you is to put the ink-ee into a box; that is, if you, as a well-prepared artist, can put your hands on a box that doesn’t have black widow spiders inside it. I am not so lucky. I am not making that up.)

Outside I went. I had applied TAPE to keep the stencil laying down. I tell you, I was firing on all cylinders. I got the mister going and I was right, the Mini-Mister did a good job with a fine spray, consistent and very much enhancing the detailed stencil. However, mysteriously I did produce two large drips. The biggest one ended up spreading out and isn’t too noticeable. The smaller one is at the bottom. While I was out there I sprayed the edges of the journal all the way around. The edges always get messed up on my journals anyway, so I figured I’d grunge them up from the beginning. woodsjournalstenciled

I left off working on it last night to let it dry properly.Today I was faced with Now What? There were many options. I considered collage for the tree trunk and limbs with small pieces of paper. That’s why I copied the fabric paper–some of the designs worked for tree bark and texture. I tore a couple pieces up and tried it and I didn’t like it. Not One Bit. I tried a teeny dictionary with tiny type to collage the trees. That was better, but with the busy all-over stencil design I was concerned the collage would be overwhelming and make the tree look stiff and clunky.

I decided to take a break so I sat down and outlined the tree with a fine line black marker (Artline) and that created considerable depth to the image. At this point I considered doing very very very small handwritten text along the tree trunk and limbs. I was very tempted to do it, being that it is one of my favorite activities, but it might be even busier than the collage. No go.

It’s not possible for me to hand-letter the journal title. I considered transferring toner or inkjet computer text to the cover. (Treacherous). I thought maybe I’d do a packing tape or Contact Paper transfer. (Easier, but the stickers can look clunky). I did not want to stencil again, even I know when to stop. So I went into the stamp hoard and found this alphabet (I cannot tell you who made it, the packaging is long gone). It was amazing that I bought both the capital and lowercase set of this font. I must have realized 15 years ago that This Day Would Come-And It Did.


Isn’t it nice? You can see that I had to do a pre-stamp trial run…better safe than sorry. I have been sorry SO many times. I loved the font and the color (StazOn Saddle Brown). I took the plunge….wait for it…


This is where I stopped. You will notice that I optimistically added the “Vol. 1” notation as an afterthought. I’m pulling out the stops to get this journal on a good trajectory. I Winter Solstice-ed it up for you by adding a cheery pine cone. I know how you appreciate that Martha touch. (I reread this post and see I’ve mentioned two Ranger products. I do not receive any compensation from them and actually use very few of their products).

The cat is Peter Pan. During the above process, I listened to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, “The Theater of the Imagination”. Today it was Bluebeard. Her telling and analysis is a must hear for women.

fabric paper step 1

I will apologize first off for the blown out image. I hate shooting in the sun but today there was no alternative. Also, the cat would not move and he weighs about 45#.

Fabric paper offers a lot of opportunities, and I have exploited them often and with great enjoyment. Any fabric will work and I have variously used vintage linen and new fabric. Keep in mind you can cover the fabric up as much as you want with the paper. If you use a print or solid that you want to show, leave gaps between and/or around the images.

After you decide on your fabric the next step is to decide on your images. I find that working with too-thick images doesn’t work, i.e. postcards. They are too thick and too inflexible, but go ahead and experiment if you want to use them. They would be cool but I find the thickness frustrating.

Let’s also say this now: My intention at this stage is not to make a masterpiece. This is the foundation of my ultimate use for the fabric. My mode is to look for texture now, or interest in a background sort of way. Later it will be embellished with whatever you decide, thread, more detailed images, sewing, beads.

I use Mod Podge™. I’ve said this before on this blog. It is an inexpensive alternative medium, thick, with good body when dry and it does the job. I pour the Podge™ out on the fabric, squeegee it around with a credit card and quickly apply the papers. It’s a good idea not to work with too much real estate at one time. Podge™ dries fast, but don’t worry, put on more if  you need to.

Concentrate primarily on getting the papers stuck in place. There isn’t a need to go over them with Podge™, but if you get some on top, just swipe it with the credit card. The reason you don’t want a bunch of Podge™ on the top is because it will make your Fabric Paper more sealed and plastic-y. If you want it this way, go for it. But any ink, paint or dye you want to put on later is not going to get absorbed well. Actually thinking now about it, if you want a streak or texture you can exploit the “resist” aspect by deliberately creating marks with Podge™ that the liquid color won’t cover. That would be fun.

Get all your paper glued down. If there are ends or edges that aren’t glued well, get some Podge™ on there and smooth them down, especially if you are not going to sew at all. Sewing helps get everything put down that you might leave unglued. I like to have some edges not stuck but this could bother you. If you are going to sew on top and you aren’t sure, do some looser to see later how it works for you. Remember, it’s just fabric and stuff you’ve got around the place giving you allergies.

There will be wrinkle-age. Deal with it! Some of them will flatten as they dry but some of them won’t. That’s the way the cornbread crumbles.

The humidity, thickness of fabric, amount of Podge™ you used and the phase of the moon will determine how long it will take to dry. It has to dry through all the layers, so don’t push it. Better safe than sorry. You do NOT want to run damp Podge™ fabric through your sewing machine. I can’t EVEN tell you what that mess would be. Learn patience.

After your fabric is dry, decide if you want a unifier besides sewing. By unifier, I mean a layer of paint, ink or dye. I am currently experimenting with walnut ink that I make from crystals. I love this stuff (you can find it and other wonderful things at animadesigns) and get a real kick out of throwing everything in there to see if it will work. (See another example here). More about those experiments at a later time. For now, I made a strong brew, about 1/2 tsp in a salsa container. I ate the salsa first. I used a large paintbrush to apply the ink. It beads up on any spot that has heavy Podge™. It will also puddle in low spots and I like this. I try to get a coat on every part and especially between the images and around the edges of the fabric. After Coat 1 is dry, apply Coat 2, really getting into any areas you want darker. I want it unified, but not all the same tone.

Now, if you use acrylic paint instead as your unifer, work in a small area, paint over top of the images and wipe down quickly. Use the same heavy/light application technique, but layer and go slow. It’s easier to add more, impossible to get rid of unless you sand and there goes your paper. With acrylic paint you can also add an acrylic medium to make more of a glaze and longer working time, that’s more like inking. Remember, acrylic is plastic. It’s a permanent coat.Fabric Paper step 2

Walnut ink is a subtle dye. Also, it is a purplish brown dye, keep that in mind. It looks murky in the container and when it goes on, but it dries light. I trust you can see in this picture how the papers seem more one tone, how the muslin is toned, and a few paper edges are really dark.

I decided that I wanted two coats for now. It got hung on the washing line to dry. In the Florida sun it was probably dry by the time I got the last clothespin on, but I wanted to write this up so it’s still out there.

It’s coming along nicely. In Part 2 I’ll tell you what I’m using it for and we’ll see what I decide to do before I sew it on the machine. I know you are busting with anticipation. Get a grip on yourself!

Fabric Paper Washing Line

Great things happen when listening to Jane Siberry’s “When I Was a Boy”.

organization notebooksI’ve been spending some time looking at videos of artists and how they work, the clues they give off about their organization, product preferences, etc. I’m not so much concerned about whether I like the artist’s style or the products they do use, but perhaps their reasons for what they do or what works best for them. There is a lot that can be gleaned from this, even if I look across medias.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that action carries change. If I do not take action, or I do not have an orientation to accomplish some type of change, it just won’t happen for me. So while it has been informative to watch videos and learn, unless I put some concrete steps in the development of new habits, it’s just a waste of time ultimately, or at least a pleasurable activity that could be more satisfying spent elsewhere. Like on my own art or education or recovery.

But there are certain artists that interest me enough to keep watching. The artists that intrigue me are those that have done, as a practice, only the work they find satisfying. They are the artists that fill their own well by doing and experimenting. These are the artists that would (or do) work for the pleasure of it and would likely do the same stuff if they didn’t get paid. Most of them are getting paid, but I can tell pretty quickly which are participating in art as a lifestyle and which are earning a living.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong about making money as an artist on artistic work. But I am more interested, as a matter of study, in those artists that simply mind their own business and do what they want, as a practice.  They teach for the fun of it, because they want to. They publish because they have something to say, even if there is hardly anyone reading. They self-publish for experimentation or to refine ideas. They make art for themselves and the world catches up with them.

There may be ambition, or planning, or networking at work. I’m not suggesting that successful artists go willy-nilly along the path. If a book is in the offing, they consider whether they want to write a book now. If a gallery showing is offered, they consider if it is something they want to do. Perhaps it is not a good time to pursue such activities. The work is not a means to an end.

Anyway, as I said in yesterday’s post I am a member of Teesha Moore’s Artstronauts Club™. This is a forum that Teesha wanted to explore and considered for some time before pursuing it. (I am quoting Teesha from her own writing and videos). I’ve admired Teesha and supported her various publications for more than a decade, starting with her Studio zine, Play zine, stamps, etc. Her style is very much her own and she’s evolved it over the years, sought compatible materials, hand-makes her own journals, etc. She develops her own ideas, her own projects and she just keeps doing what she wants. She takes risks. (This is my observation). She’s fine with making money, but she’s also generous in truly sharing how she does what she does. Her Club is reasonably priced and there is good value in membership. And no, I am not in any way affiliated with her. I am a customer and while she published me in the Studio zine years ago, it is not likely she remembers me and I have nothing to gain by speaking of her.

I began to think how I could record and organize these observations of successful artists, so that I could assess whether a habit is worth adopting. Is it compatible with my way of working? Will it improve my life or evolve my art? I took one of Teesha’s routine practices: she constantly recycles her art. She does so by making scans and color copies of her art journal pages and cuts them up, incorporating them in a new design. It is one part of her process, not the entire process.

I got three mini composition notebooks from my inventory. One book is dedicated to my Observations. I approach them “scientifically” and list them in detail. Today’s focus was on the above, recycling finished art, or partially finished art, to be used in future projects in any way possible. I have already done work with my own photos, and I have already created original journal pages and canvases. I almost never take the next step to reproduce these works and use them again in some manner. For years I’ve thought about this, wanted to do this, but I haven’t. Watching Teesha do it on videos keeps bringing it into my awareness. I’m ready to take action.

The second book is for Action steps. To-do lists, broken down activity by activity.  Education needed, skills to develop, setting priorities. This is the how-to part of the habit. It’s not just going to happen and become a habit. There is always room for refinement, but I am building a foundation here, not a house.

The last (or next?) book is the Acquire aspect. How or where do I get the education? skills? experience? What about materials and tools? How or where do I get them? What resources will it take? I have a set of re-minders on the cover as to various means of acquisition.

If you’ve looked closely at the mini books, you will see the pattern and printing through the label. These are workbooks and I don’t care about that kind of stuff. Also, I picked the mini comp books because they can be held together with a rubber band and taken in my purse. While I am waiting at the doctor’s office I can review my progress or make new notes. It’s a matter of convenience and utility with me, not making a masterpiece.

Which brings me to today’s experience. I wanted to reinforce the composition book bindings. I like the black tape and wanted to put another layer of black masking tape on. I was sure I had a roll of black masking tape, and I was just at the store buying colored masking tape and I know they didn’t have any black, and it’s been wicked hard to find the colored. I’ve just done a total studio reorganization and if it’s not in the “adhesives” bins I don’t have it. Guess what? I don’t have any. I was going to put it on my “to buy” list but that didn’t help me this morning. I wondered, where will I find it? Then I remembered the last time I saw some at Michael’s™ it was in the drafting section and it was about $9.99 a roll. I don’t want to pay that. I looked at my Acquire list. I had already tried to Shop at Home. Borrow: nobody here in the hood would likely have black masking tape and I’d rather not go door to door. Ditto with Trade. Then I hit Make From Scratch.  I had watched a video about making your own custom washi tape, which included both painting and stamping plain masking tape. So I pulled out a roll of blank masking tape and a bottle of black gesso and I placed the piece of tape on waste backing from Contact Paper™ I had used (it’s a paper that nothing sticks to, similar to a Teflon™ pad but way free). Gesso’d it, let it dry, cut it and applied it, not even five minutes of effort.

Result: 1) I didn’t spend too much money on a roll of black tape; 2) I wished I had remembered all this before I paid almost $5 a roll for the neons I found last week (although I am a masking tape fiend and it is something I use over and over, but still); 3) no time and gas trying to find it in a store; 4) able to finish project immediately. A side note: Sam’s Club™ sells 6 rolls or so of regular masking tape for about $12. That’s a lot of masking tape. Make your own washi tape, you already have stamps and paint and ink pads. Have you priced washi tape? Half of it doesn’t even stick properly and the designs aren’t to my liking (unless they are even more expensive Japanese designs). Keep pieces of masking tape on freezer paper handy. Next time you have leftover acrylic paint, or your spray bottles out, go to town. Same with stamps.

Give it some thought. Decide on a successful person you admire. (Doesn’t have to be an artist, either). Learn about them. Write down the habits you feel drawn to, make a detailed action plan, figure out how to do it. Put it into practice. Remember, just because it works one way for a person, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Customize it or leave it be. What’s the worst that can happen?

thingsilove72I seriously love this page.

I found this small journal I bought at a local art supply store. It was made for kids, with an insert on how to make a visual journal, some decorative paper bound in and some heavy colored cardstock. I think it must be about 5×8″.  Since it started out being for kids and it is of a small size I decided to use it for my Little Kid journal. This is a place where I go into my Victorian stickers, Japanese stuff, pencils, crayons, gel pens and vintage elementary school readers and picture books. I took blank pages and just filled them up with stuff that I’ve bought but might never find a place to use for whatever reason.

Today I started with a page of isolated individual vintage kid’s pictures. There are a few stickers, too. I believe I used a glue stick to apply the images. (If I had one, I would have used that old-style-plastic-pot-paste-thing-with-the-brush-that-went-down-into-the-lid that they gave us in grade school. The paste was always dried up at the top of the pot and you had to stab and plunge around blindly in the pot to get some good glue on the brush, because in a fit of engineering genius, the brush was imbedded into the lid of the pot, therefore, you couldn’t swab around and see at the same time. This is why it took us 2.5 months to make a foot-long construction paper garland. Plus, remember that smell)?? They were just stuck on with lots of white space around them. They needed unification so I dabbed on my new litho-inspired bottle acrylics (see yesterday’s post). In true kid fashion I used my fingers to dab and smoosh the paint around.

I hauled out all my gel pens that I thought might still write. Most of what I used today were Sakura Gelly Rolls™ of one type or another, for sure Glaze and Glitter.  I’ve been watching Teesha Moore videos on her Artstronauts Club™ and she uses gel pens a lot (she calls her Sakuras™ “Moonlight”). I thought I might try them again, but in doing so I reacquainted myself as to why I avoid them and haven’t bought any for a long time. The Sakuras™ are ok, but some of them make you write the way they write best, which is not how I mark-make. Some of them only write if you go verrryyyy slllloooowwwlllyyy. On the serious. Some of them are very blobby and some of them are very dry. I’d like to say some of them are “juusstt rriigghht” but that would be a lie. They pretty much aren’t just right for me. Or just write, either. And some of them wouldn’t write although they are the same age and nicely capped like the ones that did still write. They do have beautiful colors and were producing neon and florescent before that was cool, but still, pens need to be de-pen-dable. And they are not cheap pens, they are an investment.

Speaking of cheap pens, I got sucked into a Sam’s Club™ dealie about a thousand years ago, a set of 800 gel pens for $20, packaged in a nice stadium-type case that makes it easy to see the colors. (I think maybe there are two of each color-double the tragedy). They are fun to look at, quite inspiring but they never worked and I think it is possible they were dry before they got shipped. Every now and then I feel froggy with several days to spare and I take them out and scratch around on a scrap paper to no avail. (They deboss paper wonderfully, but then, what dead pen doesn’t)? I refuse to give up on them because they are PRETTY and I BOUGHT them, but I am almost there, folks. I will at least take a picture of them scattered on my studio table before they hit the circular file, in a last ditch effort to get some use out of them.

And then there are my Dollar Tree™ pens. A little package (perfect for on-the-go journaling) of NEON pens for $1. It’s a zip lock package so they won’t roll around in your bag. They are teeny tiny. By nature, they could only hold half the ink of a regular pen, but that doesn’t matter, does it, when the expensive full-size pens only put half a barrel of ink in there to begin with? So, we have a half-sized barrel half-full of ink, which ain’t much ink, peeps. But you know what? THEY ALL WRITE! They are about 3 years old, and I even lost the TOP for the yellow one, and they all write. And the colors are gorgeous. What do I care if I only get half a dozen pages out of them?

gelpens72 I can’t remember if I’ve seen these recently at Dollar Tree™ but they will probably show up again at some point. And since they appear to have longevity, and they write, I’d get a few packs next time. Great little gift for journaling friends and kids, they are so cute.

Back to the page. I worked back into the original colored illustrations, outlining and filling the shapes. I didn’t care if it was glitter or not, what with being so grateful when a pen wrote. I drew extra bubbles in soft pencil on the page where there was empty space, but it was too much. I took an eraser and lightened them up, knocking them way into the background. If you look carefully you can see them in the picture. Then I outlined all the black lines with an Ultra Fine Sharpie™ to bring out the colors and pop out the illustrations from the backgrounds. I took my $1.50 Studio G™ alphabet set and printed my words.

Speaking of Sharpie™, I don’t know where I would be without Sharpie™ everything. As disappointing as I find some brands, and some products, I have never been disappointed with Sharpie™. The pens last forever (if you keep them capped), the blacks are black, the fines are fine, the colored markers are fabulous, and they are truly permanent to water. The paint pens are too-die-for.  I just bought a set of the new gel highlighters (neon, need I say) but I haven’t used them yet. Plan on shading with them, I’ll let you know.