Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

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.


Color inspiration

Posted: March 22, 2014 in art journal, color study, opinion

paintswatchWell, this is no Degas.

What can you expect? Just when Bob and I go outside to blow the stink off after getting air conditioning installed for 2 days, to do some yard work, we got robbed. Once again, there was an uninvited idiot in my house. He/She/It stole Bob’s brand new phone, my laptop and kindle. I’ve been recuperating.

About a week ago I grabbed a handful of random old postcards and I sectioned out the nice vintage lithographed ones from the ubiquitous pictures of old motels and swimming pools. A couple of the things that I like about the old lithos is the paper, which is heavily textured and a linen-ish color, and the colors they used. I inspected a few and it seemed to me that the color palettes are limited and consistent from card to card. I set them aside and thought it would be cool to try and match those colors and do some work using that limited palette. Of course, when I went to Joann’s earlier this week I forgot the cards and I was in the paint aisle when I remembered I didn’t have them. But it was ok, because paint was not on sale.

It’s not that bottle craft paint is all that expensive, but it is more than it used to be (dirt cheap) back when I did tole painting in the ’80s and we used it for our base coats. The normal price was 4 for $1.00 then and it frosts my canastas to pay upwards to $2 a bottle for it now. So I went over to Michael’s today with coupons and a mission, WITH the cards in my purse, thanks very much. Sometimes the neurons ACTUALLY FIRE! Imagine my delight when I saw that the Craftsmart bottle acrylics were 4 for $2 on sale, and I had a 25% coupon for my whole order. I went to town matching the colors. It took a while and pesky customers got in my way but I persevered, and returned with awesome colors. Most are good matches and I can mix to perfect a few that are off.

The last time I bought craft paint I got current with extreme brights and some neons and glows. I had not bought bottle paints for so long that I was stunned by the gorgeous saturated colors available. I have been using them to exclusion in my journals. It seems like a waste to use expensive heavy bodied Golden acrylics as backgrounds in journals. I think my art making is worth Golden and I already own it, but I almost always scrape on my backgrounds and WANT the map or white underneath to show. I’ve been using a selection of Apple Barrel, FolkArt and Americana brands. Mostly I got extreme acids because I like my yellows and greens to make your eyes bulge out, your gums bleed and your back teeth hurt. Seems sadistic now that I write it but you know I’m right about this. I found this out about myself when I bought beads. I’d buy the ones that were left in the acid yellows that nobody else could imagine using. My gain, their loss, but I’m getting sidetracked.

Here’s what I like to do with paint to keep track of what I buy. I make separate catalog sheets by brand name and then write down the colors and put a small fingertip dot for a sample. This is helpful not only in the store to make sure I don’t double buy (if I like it ONCE, I’ll like it AGAIN) but also when I’m at the art table trying to match something. It’s just easier to do off a page for me, maybe not for you. Obviously, I open them because that plastic wrap around the top is made in hell and there is nothing worse than wanting to paint and having to find scissors to get that plastic off. Make sure you TIGHTLY close the bottle and that the flip lid is secure, and store them upside down. This is good when you are just fiddling around painting backgrounds or if you are trying to find a specific color in 40 bottles. If you don’t use them for a while, pull them out and give each bottle a shake while you are waiting for something to dry.

Now, I know there are prejudices against bottle craft paint. I’ve heard all the opinions over the years. A main draw back seems to be that peeps think the pigment load is too low. True, the pigment load is lower than more expensive paints. If I were painting canvases to sell, I ‘d use my Golden paint. Personally, I like the finish on bottle paints, especially on paper. They have a matte finish, a smoothness, that heavy bodied acrylics don’t have. Some peeps don’t like them because some pens and markers won’t write over acrylics. Copic markers always do and Sharpies do if the paint is completely dry and smooth.

Personally, I like the color choices. If I am careful to stay within limits, premixed paints work for me. I do not like re-inventing the wheel in the studio. I’d rather pull an awesome color out of a bottle and have it look like what it looks like. It doesn’t waste paint. I’ve wasted a LOT of Golden paint trying to remember how to get a good flesh tone and I just bought a gorgeous flesh tone today for less than .50. For me it saves time and money and my frustration level is manageable. Yes, I may have to put on a couple of coats, but I often do with more expensive paint as well.  Your mileage may vary but I’m 58 years old and the clock is ticking. And moths flutter out of my wallet when I open it these days.

On a totally different topic, here’s some stuff to check out:

Foster the People’s brand new release Supermodel. Oh my goodness, what a sophomore release, couldn’t be better. Hear this band evolve right before your ears.

Documentaries I saw on Netflix:

The Woodmans, the story of Francesca Woodman, photographer. Outstanding work, way before her time. If you like b/w photography, a must see. She specialized in set ups and nude self-portraits, very inspiring. You will not believe the variety of textures  in her pictures.

Gregory Crewdson, photographer, I believe it’s called Beyond the Limits. He does very elaborate set ups, in collaboration with lighting and set designers from the movie industry. Every single detail is planned and the images are extraordinary.

Don’t miss the Christopher Walken mash-up that Huffington Post made the other day. His dancing and some short vocals and gestures from a bunch of his films. I adore him and it is delightful watching him move over about 4 (can it be?) decades.

Even in the 70’s the fountain pen was becoming old-fashioned and nearly obsolete, what with the recent release of Flair™ felt-tipped pens and the ubiquitous see-through hard plastic barreled Bics™ that were coming into vogue and would dominate the world market (and land fills) for decades to come. Yes, believe it or not, young whippersnappers, there was a time before felt-tipped pens in my living memory. A time when the major means of communication in a schoolroom was squeaky chalk on a dusty blackboard, and homework was done with a chunk of wood and lead (known in The Day as pencils). I am That Old.

Humankind has witnessed an unrelenting parade of writing implements, from dip quills to fountain pens, to pencils to ballpoint pens to felt-tipped pens to gel pens. Each improvement makes previous “models” rare, collectible antiques or curiosities to gawk over. Pencils have gone the way of the dinosaurs. This constant waxing and waning of writing products keeps us on edge. We don’t want to miss the release of the “next” Sharpie Retractable™ or gel color. Our writing tool hunger knows no bounds. The culture of writing implements is an arena where eager eagle-eyed office supply junkies roam the store aisles muttering “pens” under their breath like stiff-armed zombies in video games mutter “brains” under theirs.

It boils down to this – a pen is an ink delivery system. That’s all they do. Don’t we feel silly now? The problem is that some do it better than others, some don’t do it at all and some do it sporadically. Some cover nicely and some don’t. So it is not that we need so much ink delivered, it’s that we need it delivered the WAY WE WANT IT. We are an independent folk.  That is the basis for humanity’s love of the pen.  For instance, I won’t put up with a scratchy fountain pen to write with, but I will draw with it. But I won’t put up with a scratchy ballpoint pen at all. Life’s too short to mess with a scratchy ball point pen, but I know there are people out there that WILL tolerate it. I can’t conceive of WHY, but they WILL. Because I’ve been on the business end of too many scratchy ballpoint pens in too many places, like signing the check at a restaurant or borrowing a pen at the pharmacy check out. Oh yes, you feel my pain. The dang thing worked for the guy ahead of you but can you chicken scratch out your John Hancock here to save your life? You cannot. And because we are a thrifty folk, that pen will be there the NEXT time you come back to that restaurant, because there is a piece of ratty-assed paper at the register that they keep resuscitating that pen with. They Code Blue and IV Stat and press and squiggle and that bastard writes for them and then they hand it to you and it’s dead as a fence post and makes a deep furrow on your paper where your signature should be.

We didn’t know how good we had it with ballpoints until gel ink came along, reanimating the search for the Holy Grail of pens. Which gel is better? It’s a hard question to answer in the 90’s forward because although they were new, they pretty much sucked out loud. Talk about unpredictable. I had a boss that bought them by the dozens and laid them out on his desk, not just because he was obsessed but because they gave up the ghost so fast that he had to select another, and another, to finish signing his name. Who hasn’t been entranced by the fifty pen set at Sam’s Club and finally seduced to part with their $20 only to get home and find that out of fifty pens, eight of them write smoothly, twelve write sporadically and a full thirty need cold fusion to blast that gorgeous ink out of them, which you can SEE but not ACCESS. And here’s the other thing about gel pens—white ones. Whoever manufactured the first white ink pen should be tarred and feathered although they would probably enjoy it. They have wreaked upon humanity the final blow, the completely unattainable search for perfection. That would be a white pen that writes. Not only that, it must write for a while, and if you inspect the average white pen that MIGHT be the answer to all our misery, you will find that white pen has only been given, in the factory, HALF of it’s life potential. The barrel is only half-full, and I say this not in the optimist/pessimist, “The glass is half-empty” kind of way but in the way of, the barrel is only half-damn-full of white ink.  Immediately, your bliss in finding a white pen that delivers a line of opaque white ink, that is not the size of a railroad tie nor quanta, that covers black paper or paint and does it consistently and with a good attitude is going to have a life shorter than the chick in Love Story. Every time you use it you are contributing to it’s encroaching demise and this you cannot ignore. It taunts you. You have the perfect pen that you cannot use because using it will use it up and even though you BOUGHT it to use, it’s too good to waste on the likes of you. You pen snob you.

My husband is a pen snob. He is not a snob in any area except pens, and he doesn’t own any good ones except ones I’ve bought for him. Because he’s too cheap to buy good pens, but not too proud to use ones given him, like Amish people who don’t believe in electricity but will sit all night in your living room watching your TV. And when I say he is a pen snob believe me, because he turned his nose up at the Sharpie Retractable™ in microscopic fine point and that pen is as close to heaven as any of us will ever get on earth. He said, and I quote, “It isn’t all that, Terry.” This puts a perspective on the last eighteen years of my life. Because if you don’t like the Sharpie Retractable™, and you are alive, there is something quite wrong with you; something so hideously, insidiously evil that H.P. Lovecraft is looking frightened.  H.P. wrote with a fountain pen and would have given his left nard for a Sharpie Retractable™–at least the OPTION of it. But no, my husband prefers his G2™.

We live in troubling times, my friends. We live in a world that wants a dried up Bic™ to be immortal, a white pen barrel to be full of ink, the Sharpie Retractable™ to be universally loved (so that it will be around forever), and the fountain pen, with ink cartridges, readily available. Doesn’t seem like much to ask, does it?