Sunday, July 29, 2007

In or Out?: My Mixed Media Collage

Here is the first of ten mixed-media collages I made about a week ago as part of a guided exercise in the book Kaleidoscope. In a nutshell we were told to assemble certain types of art materials and then I followed the directions on what to do, but they were vague such as “paint five surfaces” and “write one word” and “scribble with a pencil”. I was forced to work quickly and without the time to put much thought into what I was doing.

This is a fantastic book which is actually a collection of previously published articles from art zines. There are many different authors who wrote the articles in this book. There is also a lot of interesting art contained in the book, again, from many different artists.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Art Making Has Resumed

At the library fundraiser book sale I went to a week ago I picked up a bunch of books on art and photography.

Throughout the week I have been reading these books, mostly as before-bed relaxation reading. My creative juices started flowing again.

Yesterday I was busy doing things and going to appointments and that prevented me from making art when I had the urge.

Last night after dropping my kids off at a Harry Potter sleep-over party I took some time to cut apart food boxes (breakfast cereal etc.) to reuse as bases for making art. As we finished the box I’d toss it on the dining room table. So I went through that stack and cut up the pieces.

Because I had larger sized panels of thin cardboard I was inspired to try a technique I read about in Kaleidoscope by Suzanne Siminaitis. (That book is great but I don’t have time to tell you a ton about it right now, sorry.) However I decided to go to bed.

My cats woke me up at 4:50am playing with something in my bedroom. I was unable to get back to sleep. So I got up and did the project.

I had chosen the project “mail art postcard book”. The exercise was supposed to be a surprise of sorts. There was a list of materials that we were to assemble. Then we were not to read ahead at the directions. We were to do what the directions said. This was to be a fast, intuitive thing. A timer was to be used to time each step, we had only a little time for each technique.

I will admit that when I bought the book I did read the directions. And they scared me so I didn’t do it back then.

However I had not peeked at them since then, and I had forgotten exactly what it said.

Assembling the materials took a lot of time since I had them scattered around the house. We also were to pre-assemble these things then we could not change our mind. So for example I selected a few colors of acrylic paint and that took me some time to figure out what colors I felt like working with.

I had five pieces of cardboard and I was to use both sides. To give you a gist of what I did, I had five minutes to write one word on each side. Another time I had five minutes to completely paint over three of the sides. Another time I had to collage five items onto each of three surfaces.

At one point we were told to completely paint over three boards which I had already done a lot of work on. That directive was killing me. I was tempted to not do it. But she said, “you have to do it”. So I did it. I actually watered down the paint so that the stuff underneath shows through.

At this point in time I have ten surfaces which are a combination of acrylic paint, Sharpie marker, paint-ink-pen, rubber stamp ink, rubber stamped images and collaged papers.

The next hard part is that we are supposed to cut down these larger boards to 5x7 inch size. After that we are to use the scraps to make new postcards.

In the end the recommendation is to pick seven 5x7 inch pieces to bind into a book, two for the cover and five interior pages. The rest of the left over postcards we are advised to use as mail art.

However I really love some of these collages as full sized pieces and I simply cannot bring myself to cut them up. They are not dry enough to do that anyway, at this point. I will let them dry further, then will scan them. On another day I’ll figure out if I really want to chop these up.

This was a challenging exercise to work so quickly and to keep moving from working with one media to another.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What I’m Up To Lately

I have not made any art since getting back from vacation.

I am busy with planning out my children’s homeschooling year for 2007-2008. That is taking many, many hours.

I'm also on a house cleaning spree. I'm trying to keep things uncluttered. I am busy packing then unpacking. The laundry seems endless.

In the last four weeks I’ve been book hunting. I’ve held a homeschool curriculum tag sale at my home and bought stuff from other people. I’ve attended a huge used curriculum sale in Massachusetts. I have visited two used book shops which also sell rare books, in two states. I have been to a gigantic library sale here in Connecticut. So I am up to my ears in “new to me” books and am busy sorting them, cataloging them, and organizing them/putting them away.

I also have been having summer fun and spending lots of time playing with my children.

I am in a bit of an art lull.

I have even resorted to not reading art books since getting home. I am in a mode of doing a lot of living real life not immersing in books.

The only creative thing I’ve done is I’m writing more and blogging more on my other (main) blog.

I am a bit burned out of ATC swapping and am fed up with problems with “problem swappers”. I go through cycles of feeling annoyed with the problem people then rebounding. So now I’m in that funk where I am feeling let down by swappers. Frankly at this point in time I have no desire to swap art with others. Right now I am hosting two swaps and those will end in August. I must force myself out of this art lull by the deadlines. But whether I’ll sign up for new swaps to participate in or to host is unknown to me at this point in time.

Creatively what is on my mind is this:

I am itching to try lino block cutting. I do own a starter kit and want to use it. But frankly I’m too busy right now.

I want to do more rubber stamp carving but right now have no new, uncarved rubber to use.

I am itching to try woodcutting but am putting that off until I use the lino cutting starter kit I own. (Side note: I have found it easy to experiment with designing and cutting my own rubber using a book as a guide. However I looked into a nonprofit art instruction place near me and they want nearly $500 for a beginner class on woodcutting and the same for a beginner class on monoprinting. Wow.)

I have been interested to try monoprinting. I worry that right now I don’t have a proper press. Buying one is not in the budget, I am pretty sure they cost hundreds of dollars. I guess I could start with simple prints that use a brayer (which I own).

In May I found this old book at a library sale for 50 cents, Printmaking by Henry Frankenfield.

This little book outlines everything a person needs to know to make prints. It covers everything from linoleum (lino) cutting to woodcutting. It covers lots of stuff, from printing on cloth to printing letters, printing in one color or multiple colors. This is the more old style book that keeps things simple and covers a lot in few words. This book left me feeling that I could most certainly do this and even do it without taking a $500 class.

I also suspect that if a new book on this topic were to be published the author would drag out the subject, take up a lot more words and they’d increase the word count and make the whole process seem harder than it is.

Anyway this old book left me thinking that the most important thing to do is to just TRY IT and as a person works with the tools and the materials they will learn by DOING. I think that is true of every art form but really I think lately it is not stressed enough. Instead we are led to believe that to try something new is SCARY and requires a lot of up front information and they assume we are all needing to be led by EXPERTS. Well, Mr. Frankenfield, your book was published in 1964 and you are still influencing people like me to JUST DO IT. Thank you!

Metal Crafting---
Again I want to try my hand at working with metal. I have been re-reading Metal Craft Discovery Workshop by Linda and Opie O’Brien. This book outlines cold fusion techniques, that is, you don’t use heat or a solder to seal the metal. I don’t know anything about making my own jewelry but I am tempted to make some funky metal jewelry with using old metal cans and cookie tins and such as the base material (free stuff I have on hand already).

I also was looking at a book on metal called “Metal Mania” by Lisa Vollrath. This book is self-published and is a soft cover with a comb binding. The book is only sold through the author/artist’s website, Ten Two Studios and it retails for $15.99. The thing I like about this book is that Vollrath makes learning to solder seem easy. She gives step by step instructions with photographs for each step. I appreciate that she gives her tips along the way.

I was speaking to my husband and he said that we already own some of the materials necessary to solder. Additionally since my mother used to do stained glass I am going to ask if she has any unused copper tape cluttering up her house that she’d give to me.

I am getting the itch to try to make some charms for necklaces or pins.

I think that the ability to solder would be a good thing to know.

Who knows maybe if something I made comes out decent I can sell it on etsy and actually make a few bucks.

So that is what is on my mind lately. I am pretty busy and trying to have some summer fun this summer. It is ending up to be an “out of the house and having fun outside with friends and family” type of summer rather than a “stay inside and make art and crafts” type of summer.

I hope your summer is going well!

Monday, July 09, 2007

My ATCs: Gold Leafing Pen Resist Technique

I made the following ATCs for an ATC swap centered on the challenge to make ATCs using the technique of gold leafing pen resist with watercolor paint. I learned this technique from a book called “Artist Trading Card Workshop” by Bernie Berlin. The book is fantastic and I highly recommend it.

Before I share the finished product, I will share the trials and tribulations first. This swap had many starts and stops before I was able to finish it.

First I had trouble getting the Krylon gold leafing pen to make splashes. I finally figured out that I needed to push down on the pen on the paper then to flick it upward and the paint would splash out. Also I took the pen and flicked it downward toward the paper. However once that resulted in the pen flying apart, whoops.

The first time I put the gold leaf on the paper. A little while later I thought it was dry. I painted it and the gold leaf smeared everywhere and it was ruined.

The second time I put the gold leaf on the paper and let it dry for two or three days. I then used a cheap set of watercolors and used green and blue. The colors looked muddy and horrible. I did not use that sheet.

The third attempt was that the deadline was approaching and I was going on vacation. I took a new sheet of white watercolor paper with the gold leafing already splashed on it. However when I got to my destination, I could not find the sheet. I had taken other art materials with me so that I could spend time making ATCs but was unable to work on this swap. I was very frustrated.

When I got home, which was less than 48 hours before the deadline, I was faced with unpacking the luggage or working on the swap to get it out on time. I decided to work on the swap! I made a new splashing of the gold leafing pen and I used a heat gun to dry it. I will say it bubbled up a bit kind of like what embossing powder does.

I made just one sheet. I used old paints I had from the days of doing Waldorf-education inspired preschool at home, using the liquid watercolor paint made by Stockmar. I used yellow and red. The colors blended well and made lovely shades of oranges and reds and yellows. So all the ATCs in this series are with the same colored backgrounds since I ended up with just one sheet of decent painted backgrounds.

“A Sign of Summer”
I made a packing tape transfer of a butterfly image from an old field guide. Hand wrote the words onto the background using a Micron pen.

“Summer is here.”
Made a packing tape transfer of a butterfly image from an old field guide. Hand wrote the words onto the background using a Micron pen.

“Columbian Coffee Pickers”
Cut out image from a Berkley and Jensen coffee bean package and adhered it. Edged with an embossing pen and black embossing powder.

Cut out image of the Pilobolus dance troupe and adhered it to the background.

“Fantasy Stamp”
Collaged used postage stamp onto the background. Rubber stamped design in black ink onto the edges. Rubber stamped and red embossed image from Nick Bantock line at the top.

“Breast Cancer Fund the Cure Find a Cure”
Used several used postage stamps to make a collage onto the background. Note that I chose to cut them up as the postal worker used a thick Sharpie marker to “cancel” the stamps with which was ugly and cutting the stamps inspired this abstract design.

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