Saturday, February 23, 2013

Collage art

I used some of my papers from last week to collage the following small pieces of art. I also used some watercolor paint, black Pitt pen, Montana acrylic pens, and letter stamps with black ink pad.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fun with Speedball Ink + brayer

I'm having too much colorful fun with these Speedball Block-Printing water-soluble inks. The colors are so vibrant.
My sister was playing around with it too and gave me some good ideas, including brayering over the layer of paper/cutout/glass with paint on the brayer, creating a different look on the paper.
As you can see I managed to acquire some magenta (the lovely pink) and gold inks since my last post. They are completely fabulous!

I also experimented with some foliage. Brace yourself - this is about to get awesome!

In the above photos and below you can see some spots created by pieces of salt sprinkled on the paint before brayering. I found that some of the best artifacts from the salt were created on the third or fourth pass over the plate (probably gave it time to dissolve a little bit).

I love all the weird odd-shaped dots in this one, again from the salt (and probably little pieces of foliage stuck to the plate):
Look at the wonderful layers of this one my sister made:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Minecraft Steve plush doll: adventures with felt

My niece loves Minecraft (a video game where the player constructs buildings out of cube shaped objects). One of the characters is named Steve. I made this out of felt.
Stitching the head to the body was the hardest part. Next time (not that there ever would be a next time) I would find a way to attach the arms so they can rotate (maybe some kind of button setup).
The kids are throwing him around and having a lot of fun with him but those stitched arm joints will only be able to handle so much. I did use double thread so it should hold up for a few days at least. I'm thinking industrial strength staples would probably also do the job...
I'm being told that now I need to make a pick axe, dagger, sword, and other such implements to be attachable with Velcro.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Printing with ink and Stewart Gill stencil

I found this Stewart Gill "small circles" stencil years ago at a craft show and it just occurred to me it would be perfect to use with the ink/brayer/plate. 
I used Speedball water-based inks.
I love how it turned out. Perfect for creating layers for collaging.

Doll, dress and mini quilt

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The best Salted Caramels EVER

Seriously. These are THE BEST. I found this recipe at after trying a few others with no success. The recipe is easy to follow. I add a bit of vanilla to the heavy cream, and some chopped pecans to the caramel.
It was fun to use a recent monoprint as scrap paper to jot the recipe on! In making these caramels, there are two stages to the cooking. The first is to let the sugar/water/corn syrup bubble/boil (I keep the heat on low, high enough to keep bubbling but not so hot that there is any risk of burning the sugar). I don't stir during the first phase. I keep an eye on it and just as it turns a light amber color, I remove it from the heat and mix in the butter/cream/vanilla (which I pre-melt/mix in a separate pot). At that point it will bubble violently for a few seconds and I put it back over the heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. I add the thermometer at that point and watch it creep up towards 250 while I stir with the wooden spoon. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to get up to temperature.
I line a 9x12 pan with parchment paper and sprinkle some chopped pecans on the bottom. After the caramel solution hits ~245-250, I immediately pour it into the pan. I set the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes I remove the pan and sprinkle on some fleur de sel (chunky/flaky salt). After a few more minutes in the fridge, I remove the parchment from the pan and put the parchment/caramel sheet back into the fridge for 20 more minutes. Then I use a hot knife to cut it into strips then squares.
Then I pull out the wax paper factory and get to rolling those caramels into a nice long shape, perfect for sharing!
Try it! They're so wonderful!

Watercolor Still Life: Process

I arranged some flowers in a Mason jar and put a fabric behind it with an interesting motif. I've never been able to bring myself to cut into this fabric. It was hand-printed (not by me). So it's nice to finally have a use for it!
I added some yarn balls to the arrangement for more visual interest. Then I did a quick sketch of the arrangement. In the below picture, there is a painted texture in the upper left corner of the paper. That was the result of this paper sitting underneath a paper towel that I was using to remove water from my paintbrush during my last exercise. I love the inadvertent transfer of color in a grid-like pattern to the surface of the paper. I may try to replicate it intentionally.
I started adding paint. My favorite parts are the light green and pink flowers in the middle.
I wanted to convey the 'shadow' being cast on the cloth from the flowers and the yarn without using gray, so I decided to paint the cloth a light orange color. I suppose I could have used a very light purple for the shadow instead of changing the color of the cloth. I am still experimenting with creating shadows using the complementary color of the surrounding objects (as suggested in Betty Edwards COLOR).
Here is the finished painting with pen. Sometimes I like the pen and other times I think I should leave it alone. I like the emphasis it adds on some things but in this case I wish I had not added it to the yellow (white) yarn ball.

Monoprinting: Process

I used an X-acto knife with a swivel head ("Swivel Craft Knife) to cut out some thin branches of blossoms from an acetate sheet. This was my first time experimenting with this. Next time I would use a thicker acetate sheet. In this case there wasn't sufficient thickness to keep the layers of ink separate (when inking the acetate after inking the plate). These are the three I liked the most. I especially like the one on the right, with the yellow ink and the faint dark outline of the blossoms. I am going to tint the blossoms and stems pink and maybe put some text along the bottom. I could turn it into a pretty bookmark or use it as part of a collage.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Watercolor Still Life: Process

After seeing this beautiful floral still life by Carrie Schmitt on Pinterest, I wanted to try a still life challenge. I wrote this down in my art experiment notebook:

The challenge is to do a still life (doesn't have to be flowers), but with patterns/prints/bolds: so pick a big bowl and put some stuff in it and have a wild background like a draped shirt with chevrons or something, then use your favorite colors, doesn't have to be true to life (the color scheme). make the whole thing fill the page (like an up close shot).

I want to emphasize a dark vs light contrast. I am going to make two focus colors, for one painting I want to do blue/orange and for the other yellow/purple. I'm going to buy some flowers to use and i'm going to use a piece of my fabric with a wild print for the background (so i can see how it drapes for my painting). 

So that is what I was THINKING about my still life challenge. I made a quick arrangement of a piece of fabric I like, and a blue glass cup with color markers in it, plus a small birdhouse and an apple.
Then I sketched out the arrangement and started to fill it with color.
This is the 'finished' piece before I added Sharpie marker.
I like the colors of the finished painting, especially how the birdhouse turned out with the subtle shadows on the left bottom side. But I couldn't stick to just two main colors. I wanted to put EVERY COLOR on the page... I will continue to explore adding textiles and patterns in my paintings as backdrops. 


I just noticed how interesting the colors are on the cut paper that I used for the monoprinting. Normally I would throw these kinds of things away (along with all the prints I did that I wasn't particularly pleased with). But I think I will start keeping everything so I can build up a painted scrap collection for collaging. I love the bird. One of the spirals I cut got stuck to the bird inadvertently. I didn't notice it until I was done with the printing. I love the colors - the yellow under the spiral was the first color I inked.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Monoprinting with cut paper: HAPPY SEEDS

I saw this tutorial by Green Willow Studio and had to try it (with my new brayer, some Speedball ink and a small glass plate). I cut out some shapes from paper, added ink to the plate, then put the shapes on and rolled a different color over the shapes.The above is a finished print that I embellished with marker and some letter stamps: "Happy Seeds"

 Here you can see the layouts and inks on the plate.
 Some of the finished prints. This was fun to do. Now I feel compelled to acquire some pink ink.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gelatin plate monoprinting

I saw this cool video by Linda Germain on making monotype prints using a gelatin plate. She makes it look so fun and interesting. I immediately rushed out and got some gelatin at the grocery store! I made it in a 9x12 pan. It tore a bit on the edges when I removed it from the pan. Next time I'll find a shallow pan to use. Here is a picture of the gel plate sitting on top of a wooden cutting board (not a good idea - the board smelled really strange after I removed the plate).
I played around a little with some acrylic paints and pieces of paper cut into different shapes. This is my favorite from what i did. I think this might be a fun way to make some papers to use later for collage.
This is the same one, just photographed in different light to show the gold paint. I love gold and silver paints.
I'm going to have to go out and collect some small branches and twigs and twine and odds and ends, and get a brayer and a glass plate (or disassemble a picture frame to use the glass). I also MUST get some of the inks she was using. Linda also has a good post about printmaking tips.