Thursday, May 31, 2012

Product Review Yasutomo Pearlescent Watercolors Part 1

As I was meandering down the aisle at my local art store hunting watercolor crayons, which they had not, I came across these new watercolors and their shimmer, and price, caught my eye. I do love to add a bit of bling to my art journal, so these little lovelies called out to me, especially at the price of $6.95 along with a 40% coupon. 

Before I start, let me say that for my fine art watercolor pieces I always use Daniel Smith or Holbein, but for my art journal, I feel pretty much free to try any medium and brand, just to test it out. I will walk you through my thoughts about this paint, and hope that if you choose to try it out too, you might share your point of view here. 

I first started out by creating a color grid in my journal of each pigment. Right away I realized two things: 1. I had forgotten to gesso my 'really porous' paper and 2. They were pale. As each square was formed and the water was absorbed though, the shimmer aspect of these paints began to appear and they were really lovely. 

Next, I tried mixing a few colors to see how they reacted on the paper. What I found was they really kept both pigments but seemed to set one on top of the other in a transparent layer. This effect could have great potential depending on how it was used. 
You can really see the shimmer in this view. If you open this up in Paint, it will give you the perfect view. 

Here is a close up of the 21 color palette. 

Next, I decided to create a journal page with them, just to see how they actually performed in a painting. Because my paper was so porous, sigh, they didn't blend at all like I had hoped and I found myself wishing they were a bit more opaque for skin tones, etc. Once again, as the paper dried, their beauty appeared. Because they are so translucent and pale, they wouldn't be my first choice for an intense color palette. What these paints were made for though, is adding a shimmer layer on top of bolder colors. In fact, when added to black, their pearlescent/interference qualities are simply stunning. 
I was not crazy about them when I first began to use these, but the paper was an issue too. 

As they dried, I could see their potential, but I missed the bold color.

I could have been ok with this, but I chose to add a few more washes of regular watercolors instead.

"Decapitate the Annoying?" 

I will continue to test these but use different papers tomorrow, along with mixing them with regular watercolors and acrylic glazes. Seeing how they move and react with glazes is something I am eager to find out. 

For the price and convenience, they are a GREAT value, especially for the art journals and mixed media pieces that lend themselves to a little bling. My journal page today was a lesson on letting go of what annoys me, which seems to be a lot lately. Knowing I need to stop, breathe through the moment, and chill makes it so much easier to accept things I may dislike....short of decapitating something or someone, :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Painting Fine Art for Children

Sea oats and magnolia leaves are great fodder for some artists but not for me. My imagination is just too much off the chain for that so I opt, many times, for painting the weird, the wacky, the lovely, and kids love it! This piece, "Is That You Bob Marley?" is one that would inspire wonder, questions, and make a child think. That type of art is powerful to have and expose children to because it takes them from ordinary to the imaginative extraordinary. As a child, children's illustrations fascinated me and the weirder ones always got my attention. 

I could always say, it started with a door, a flag, and a rabbit, ;) 

Patterned, painted gesso paper, watercolor crayons, pencils, graphite, and diluted white acrylic. 

Up close detail, you can see the patterns well here.

It did start with a door, a flag, and a rabbit.

I am healing well enough to graduate from the bed to the table!

Oh, is it him or not? 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Embracing My Ugly Art Journal Page

Sometimes....I just feel ugly. Be it my round head, my pointed chin, my nappy hair, or my gift of size, I simply feel not pretty. For the longest time I carried that with me, like a weight around my heart, and secretly never felt good enough. As I have gotten older, there are still days that I feel not as pretty, but I have found that embracing those moments, feelings, and ideas in my head tend to lend themselves to revealing just what it is that really is the issue. Most of the time, it is never what I look like.
After my shoulder surgery this week I have pretty much been in the bed, not getting dolled up, which I rarely do, but not placing any importance on my appearance...(my poor hubs is a trooper with this.) As I began to consider journaling today, I chose to embrace my ugliness, what was underneath it all, and allow myself the freedom to give a rats arse what I look like. The entry that came from all of this is quite a hoot and I love it. I love it because it is imperfect, weird, rather strange to look at but it seems to have a beauty about it just the same. This is what comes from giving yourself the freedom to be realize beauty is not far away.....real beauty that is.

I sketched my initial image giving homage to my round face, my pointed chin, and other peccadilloes that have a voice of ugliness in my head. I knew it didn't really matter if I drew anything even close to a person, I was drawing features instead....and the person evolved. I did gesso the paper first, which always gives such great texture, and went back over my sketch with a black, watercolor pencil. Ever so slowly I began adding details, color washes, layers, and thinking about why I find these specific issues troublesome when it comes to beauty. I did not intentionally plan out any of the finished layers, just listened to my heart and followed where it led. I did write in my thoughts into the dress, because I knew I wanted to symbolically wash away some of those connections or agreements I had formed.

The final product made me laugh out loud. It has the femine and masculine traits, it is bizarre, but in its own way I think it is beautiful. I might spend a bit more time with the concept of ugliness. It shapes so many of my own feelings and thoughts, and I would guess is a powerful frame of reference for many of us.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Art, Heart, & Healing Mixed Media Free Workshop

I saw a little blurb float in my FB stream this morning and it was a post about a free, mixed media online workshop. The words mixed media had caught my eye first, but when I realized it was free, I was thrilled because I had been wanting to take an intensive online course for a while, but I haven't been able to afford it. Thankfully, Tam, an online mixed media teacher, decided to offer her four week course for free, and the theme was Art, Heart, and Healing, just what I was looking for.
Here is the link to her ning network where you can sign up for the workshop:  workshop link

This is the image Tam teaches for the first lesson.

Two days ago I had shoulder surgery so I knew the painting part of this might be a challenge but I chose to go ahead and join so that I could begin working through this issues and ideas that Tam suggested. I found that for the first art journal exercise, I was actually able to do most of it without having to move my shoulder to much, and working through a little bit of pain never hurt, so today turned out more productive than I expected. As artists, I think we tend to get lost in the process at times, at least I know I do, and many times it helps me to slow down, spend time with an emotion or feeling, right in the middle of painting, and learn from it. That is what I realized I would gain from this workshop. I am familiar with the painting techniques, but my spirit needed the respite and my body needed the healing so both of these trumped my desire to paint well. 

The first activity was to consider what type of negative self talk or ideas was floating around in my head these days and get those concepts down in my journal. I then spent some time thinking through why I let them hold me back, and after spending some time letting them see the light of day, I then covered them in a layer of paint to symbolically detach from them. I only did this after I figured out what message they were sending me, how that affected my beliefs and behaviors, and how much weight they held over me. This type of inspirational and 'feeling' art goes way past the act of learning to paint for me. It helps me connect with my creative spirit, my faith, and opens my heart to be bold and strong in moments I might not feel like. Intuitive painting is part of what I hold dear as an artist, so this workshop is valuable in fostering that type of ability. If you are one who enjoys journaling, is ready to consider healing concepts of the heart and spirit, then you might want to join us in this workshop. There is no time frame as all the videos are online already, but the experience might be just what you are looking for. 

Here are the up close images: I used watercolors, crayons, white acrylic paint, watercolor pencils, and a silver gel pen. The orange image has all of the self talk written out, then painted over. You can see hints of those 'discarded' words through the layers. There is also no right or wrong way to do these activities as Tam points out. She uses tons more layers than I do, but the end result fits my needs, so it works.

My finished journal page turned out interesting for me. The layers represent all the layers I feel I deal with on a daily basis, and some are more important than others. I wasn't after a beautiful portrait, I was simply after honesty of feelings, emotions, and connections with my creative spirit. This journal gave me that connection. After I finish all four weeks I am going to offer a workshop for those in chronic pain similar to this. There are so many of us who hurt, need healing, but have limited resources to seek help, especially artistic resources. If you decided to join the workshop let me know, we can message one another through it. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Intuitive Painting with Angst

There are times as an artist that the piece of work I am tinkering with morphs itself over time. What I mean by that is I can create a piece of art, see it as finished and put it aside, only to come back later to view it with new lenses and realize it simply isn't what it should be, it needs to be tinkered with. There is a fine line with this process as it can be easy to 'overwork' a painting, but I have found that when I breathe deeply and get quiet, I can connect with my intuition about a painting and usually it leads me down a more successful path rather than to artistic mess.

The first picture here is actually how it began, as a mixed media collage that was a product of an Exquisite Corpse Game. The center figure drove me nuts and I just decided that to be content with it, I needed to work through my emotions about it. There are parts of this image I really love, but the overall piece left me wanting and I knew it just wasn't where my intuition was telling me it needed to be. I let it rest.

The second version was a nightmare, to the point where I wasn't even willing to photograph it. Pretty much I thought I had ruined it, and it pained me deeply. Once again, I let it rest.

Thankfully, after I began to tinker with it for the third time it began to evolve and take on a life that I could embrace. The color, the glazes, the hidden elements, all called to me and connected with my intuition in a way that said to me...."this is where it needed to go." At first, I really thought it might be finished, but once again, after letting it rest I was still a bit uneasy and couldn't really put my finger on why. There where just a few elements, like the line structure, that I wasn't willing to keep. One more time, I chose to let it rest.

When I picked it back up the other day it was on a day I was frustrated and filled with great angst. Ordinarily I wouldn't have chosen to rework a painting through that type of emotion but when my eyes landed on it my spirit was time. I began to layer more colors, scrape glazes, and add collage elements. Very subtly, my emotions calmed and my artwork began to arrive at a place of blissful peace, despite its energy.  This finished piece carries with it many days of emotions, layers of vision and effort, mistakes and successes, and angst. It carries with it the laughter of friends, their own unique creative input, and is a perfect metaphor for how I live my life as a creative, and how I muddle through my days and feelings.

Regardless of our medium, be it writing, sports, teaching, or painting, there will be times when we need to rework what we are creating. The choice to quiet our spirit and trust our intuition through a piece may be the difference between artistic contentment and frustration. Thankfully, at least for me, processing my emotions through the arts is one of the best ways I have found to maintain balance. What a blessing it is to know and understand that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Art Journal Book Love

Today was one of  "those" days. You know the ones, that start out from the gun with angst, frustration, tears, and all things in between. I have come to know these as my "Those Days" and keep a journal about them because pretty much, I need a reminder. I need a reminder that even though life will have days like this, there is a lesson to be learned from them, and it usually reveals itself to me after the tears have stopped, the blood pressure has chilled, and I have time to breathe, reflect, and journal about it. But, in the meantime while I am waiting for all that chilling to take place, I figure stopping by the local bookstore for some artistic retail therapy is just about one of the best ways ever to let go of that angst for a bit, and reconnect with my artistic spirit.

We all have one I believe, an artistic spirit. For some it is what grounds them to nature, the planet, to themselves, or to the universe. For me, my artistic spirit is what connects me to my faith, and I am ever so grateful for that. Coping mechanisms come in all shapes and sizes but over time, I have pretty much learned that when my spirit is wounded, if I take the time to breathe, surround myself with beauty, art, and have a conversation with the big guy up stairs for a bit, I can make it through any "Those Days" that life throws at me, but I can't imagine trying to do that without the artistic connection.

(That would be 'Where Women Create' by Stampington on the table)

While at the bookstore, I managed to come across a book I have been hunting, after reading about it on Liesel Lund's blog, Adventures in Pretty, You're Beautiful. She showcased "Creative Wildfire" by L.K. Ludwig, which is a yummy book that shares an introduction to art journaling from the basics to the advanced methods. It has been on my list of "Must Books" for a while now and today just seemed like the timing was right. As soon as I came home I sat down with the Two O'clock Birds outside and began to slowly devour the bits and morsels of art journaling techniques that this book offers. It was good for my soul and my spirit.

One tip from the book answered the question I have been longing to figure out, how do you use acrylic paint in a journal without having the pages stick to one another? If you have that same this book, it was like.....score, finally, a solution!

There is a lot going on me with me in my art world these days: Working on Restructuring My Website, Getting Prepared for Artwalk, Identifying My Artistic Goals For The Summer, and it looks like shoulder surgery in a couple of weeks, and did I mention my Parents 50th Wedding Anniversary Party?  Lots of high living going on, despite the pain, despite the chaos, even despite having one of "Those Days." I wouldn't dream of anything less than a juicy life!

I would love to know what creative juiciness you are up to these days...share...share...share!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Acrylic Skin Magnets

I often use a glass palette when using acrylic paints and every few years it is time to peel the skin from the glass. This year I decided to use the skins to make bottle cap magnets, which would be a remembrance of the various paintings I have made over the past two years. 

First step is to pull the skin from the glass. 

Here is a large skin, you can see the gorgeous colors that the glass reveals on the skin. 

After the skin is pulled, I place a gel thumbprint (that's what I call them) onto the skin and cut around it. This makes the painting look like it is covered in epoxy. 

I then glue the thumbprint, back side down, into the bottle cap and place a magnet on the back. 

These magnets turn out gorgeous and are really simple to do.