Sunday, December 11, 2011

Butterfly Fairy

So here is my latest creation, a butterfly fairy I made for a friend who is giving this to her grandchild. Like the gnomes, she is made out of wood and felt. I'm thinking I might put her up on as a made-to-order option. I go back and forth with how much detail to put on the wings. I did a different version that I thought was too busy. I like the simplicity of this one.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Tree

I always mean to go all out on the holiday decorations, especially since the kids seem to enjoy them so much. Somehow, though, the business of life interferes and I never have quite enough time. This year, trees are on my mind and I decided that this would be one project I would complete.
I bought the tree base from Joann. It was one of those super coupon deals, so it cost only a few dollars. I would imagine if there are any left after the holiday season, they will be even more drastically on sale. I wet felted the balls by hand. Originally I was going to do the whole tree in the off white balls and then maybe do some other white embellishment. After some thought I decided I wanted more color, so I added the colored balls that I felted for a now abandoned jewelry project. I used a sewing needle and threaded the balls onto embroidery thread, knotting both ends when done. Then I just tucked in the top knot at the top of the tree and spiraled the balls down the tree, tucking in the end knot at the bottom. This way, when I want a different look next year, it is easy to remove and I can use the balls for another project. If you are looking into doing this but don't have the time to make your own balls, I know there are several shops on where you can buy them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Resin Fun

I have been collecting bottle caps for more than a year, hoping to use them for a project. Beyond making a christmas ornament out of them last year for Christmas tree at my husband's work, they have just been sitting there collecting dust. While I was pregnant with child #2, I had plans of teaching myself how to cast resin, but had been recommended to wait until after the baby was born. I continued to research it and a few months ago, a friend of mine expressed her desire to make bottlecap magnets.

So here we are with the results of that first experimentation. After my research, I decided to get my doming resin from Rio Grande. I loved that it had no odor, and therefore wasn't sending harmful fumes out into the house. I have heard that the Envirotech brand, which you can get at the hardware store, has heavy fumes. I decided that going with a jewelry grade resin would be best. The results were mixed for us, as some of our bottlecaps were still sticky to the touch after the curing period--we either didn't measure right or didn't mix enough. Luckily, I found a fix that worked--using clear nail enamel on top. The finish isn't quite as nice as those we didn't have to treat, but we were able to salvage the bottlecaps that would have remained permanently sticky.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Love Making Gnomes

So, to take a break from making dolls and collages to sell, I decided to make some toys for my kids. I have been wanting to create these little guys for awhile. I came across this style of peg doll when I was researching Waldorf dolls. They fit with the connection to nature that is part of the Waldorf philosophy. Mine are made of wood pegs that I bought. I covered them in 100% wool felt and embroidered with cotton embroidery floss. Everything is hand sewn except I did use a little bit of fabric glue to attach the hats. I'm thinking of maybe creating some to sell. What do you think?

By the way, there are more pictures of these little guys in my new dolls and sculpture gallery on my webpage. You can click here and visit, if you are interested.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gallery and Website Update

Here are a few of the collages/paintings I sent to Frog on a Limb Gallery in anticipation of the gallery opening. Thanks, Jessica, for the opportunity. In preparation for some additional traffic to my website and to reflect the new direction my work has taken, I've created a new gallery on my website specifically for my dolls and soft sculptures. You can visit my website by clicking on this link.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Primitive Dolls

Here's my first attempt at some primitive dolls. These, hopefully, will be making their way to a gallery in Colorado. More on this later . . .
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Under Pressure

I had this idea while I was drifting off to sleep last night. This is sketched out while the kids were eating breakfast this morning. I'm calling it "Under Pressure" and it's a study for a mixed media piece I'm going to do. I used water soluble oil pastels over pencil. I have a couple of variations in mind--if any turn out, I'll try to post them.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Art Cave

Since I haven't posted in awhile, I thought I might treat you ;) to a few pictures of my art cave. Consider it a work in progress. Yes, it's an unbelievable mess, but I swear that if you had seen it just a few weeks ago, you would be impressed with how orderly it is now. You can actually walk the length of it without tripping over something.

I call it my art cave because it's in the basement, and frankly, the lighting sucks. My art supplies are in random boxes, some labelled, some not. On the bright side, I did organize all my art magazines so that they are little bit easier to find. Also, my awesome husband bought me a wood board to make a new work table--I'm using two old bathroom drawer units as the base--like the rest of the art cave, it's a work in progress.

My kids also have some of their art supplies down here, although, at this point, I don't allow them to work down here--they are just a bit too young and I have supplies better left for mature hands.  Since most of the rest of the basement serves as storage space, the biggest challenge is to keep that junk out of my space.

I have big plans ahead for how I ultimately want this room to look. Some paint, some lighting, a bit more structural organization and it will be a real studio. Considering how limited in space we were in our last house, I'm feeling pretty lucky I have this much room to work with, even if it is in a "cave."

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Craft Project: Felt Crown

I've been meaning to make a felt crown for my son ever since I made one for my niece. He asked for his to be a pirate crown, so here we are.

Felt is a very easy material to work with, and, if you are just getting into sewing, it's an ideal fabric. It doesn't fray, it runs through a sewing machine easily, and it's very forgiving. All wool felt is very expensive, so unless it's a project where I specifically need 100% wool, I either used a blend or use synthetic (especially for projects that the kids might end up trashing). For the crown, I also used a little bit of elastic for a better fit and room to grow.

So here's my pirate king thinking up his next dastardly plan.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Look into My Journal

I never really used art journals until 2007, a year after my first child was born.  At the time, it was a way to try to bring art back in my life.  An entire year had passed without me doing anything more creative than paint my baby's bedroom. I used it to sketch and practice, tape inspirational work, write (vent), and keep track of ideas I wanted to try but didn't have time to focus on immediately.  I'm now on to my second journal.  The biggest benefit for me is that I can use the journal to brainstorm projects before I get to them--especially since I have limited time.  I will usually draw a box to represent the "canvas" and create the layout or a quick thumbnail sketch of what I want to do.  I've included a page from my current journal, along with a current work in progress so that you can see how I use it. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Drawing Exercise

Many months ago I purchased Carla Sonheim's  Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing FunIt's filled with some excellent ideas for improving your drawing skills and useful if you need to get past a creative block.  It's organized as a series of exercises, many of them fairly short in duration.  I started one of the exercises when I purchased the book, but never got around to finishing it.  Today I went ahead and finished the painting/drawing because I wanted to use some new watercolor pencils I purchased last weekend.  Here is the result.  I like that the exercise freed up the movement in my drawing, as I have a tendency to draw animals in the same position.  What I don't like is that it's obviously off as far as perspective--part of the nature of the exercise, as I tried to stay as close to the watercolor washes as possible.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finished Watercolor Butterflies

So here are the finished butterflies.  On the right side are two of the original watercolors prior to adding water pencil.  The images on the left are the finished butterflies with the pencilwork complete.  I used water soluable pencils and then lightly went over the lines with a wet brush.

While I can certainly use more practice, I am happy with how these images turned out.  Now I need to figure out how I will use them in my collage work.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saving My Progress

This is just a quick post so I can share my current work in progress.  My first art love was pen and ink; my second, watercolor, mostly because I wanted to color in my pen and ink.  I have enough love to go around for anything creative, but, when I painted these, I realized just how relaxing it was to come back to watercolors.  I am doing something different.  Instead of inking it, I plan on using a combination of watercolor pencil and regular colored pencil to finish these butterflies off.

Because there's always the chance I might ruin my art at a stage where I like it, especially when changing mediums, I try to take a scan of my project before I proceed.  I may mess up the original, but scanning at least gives me a chance to have a partial do over since I can print just about anything out on my large format printer.  This mentally frees me to experiment and reduces the number of half finished projects I have laying around.  Plus, its a good way to document my progress.

I'll post the finished art if it turns out successfully. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Collage With Cereal Boxes

So I thought you might like to see an example of something I created using a cereal box as the substrate.  Here are some collages I made to use either as journal pages or digital scrapbooking pages.  As a bonus, I'm providing a link so that you can download one of the images to use in your own journaling and/or scrapbooking.  All I ask is that you not use it for commercial purposes or in artwork you plan on submitting to a magazine.  Of course, I would love to see the final project showing how you used it.

To download a 300dpi version of the first background (the one with the flower), click here.  When the image opens, right-click on it and save as onto your computer.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Doing More with Less

Art supplies are expensive. I shudder to think how much I have spent over the years, especially since I have so many artistic interests and they all require their own set of tools and media. To make matters worse, new tools and gadgets keep coming out that are oh-so-tempting. You can never have enough art paper. Really. Ok, maybe you can, especially if you are like me and fall in love with those beautiful, fluttering treasures and can’t stand to “ruin” them by, gasp, actually using them. (I know, I’m working on that.)

This causes two issues: 1. Supplies are expensive and my budget doesn’t leave much wiggle room for extras and 2. Some of those supplies become too precious to use, especially if they are both gorgeous and expensive.

Both those issues interfere with my goal to make more art. My solution is this: to repurpose items that would otherwise be recycled or thrown away. I know, this is nothing new, and plenty of other people have come to this realization as well. But for me, it’s progress.

My favorite repurposed item is the cereal box. It makes an excellent substrate for a variety of projects, from bookmaking to mixed media collages. It is also a great art supply for kids. Mine run through paper so quickly (often making just a few marks before deciding they need another piece of paper), that an alternate source for things to draw, paint and collage on is a relief. Plus, I’m not ruining a precious material, as my household goes through an inordinate number of cereal boxes that would otherwise be recycled. The downside is it’s not archival, but since much of what I’m doing right now is practice and experimentation, this isn’t such a huge issue to me.

So do you have a favorite repurposed material you use in your art?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Family Art Time

One successful way I’ve found to slip in time for art is to make a weekend morning of family art time. My husband and I take turns getting up with the kids on the weekend since they both seem to have this unnatural urge to get up early (don’t worry, I’m storing this away for when they are teenagers and want to sleep until noon). Having them work on art projects serves two purposes—it usually gives me time to do some simple art along with them, and it keeps them quiet. I find that simple drawing projects or clay/play dough projects work best since cleanup is easiest and supervision isn’t as intensive. My oldest child especially loves that I make art along with him, providing some always welcome Mommy-time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finding the Motivation

So after reading Shona Cole’s book The Artistic Mother, I totally felt energized to do daily art. In theory it seems so simple, to break projects down into smaller pieces, prioritize your life, etc. Reality never seems to want to follow the rules. As I was trying to work on a couple of pieces this morning while my children played, I kept on having to interrupt what I was doing, and I became really frustrated. And so I realized this about myself; I often procrastinate from doing art, even in small chunks, because once I focus on something it really bothers me if I have to stop before the process is done. As a result, I find it hard to even start because I want to avoid that kind of negativity. Anyone else in the same boat?

Rather than give up, though, I’ve decided that now that I realize this about myself, I can work on changing that feeling—learning to be more patient with myself and others. It’s hard work.

Here is what I was working on: faces for some whimsical people collages. I painted the flesh color yesterday in acrylics. Today I was using a combination of water soluble oil pastels and watered down acrylic gesso to add some interest. It’s been an unnaturally wet and cold winter here in the NW (even by our standards) and it still doesn’t quite feel like spring. To combat that, I’ve been focusing on using a lot of bright colors and cheery themes.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Elf Doll

So I used a basic Waldorf doll pattern and adapted it to make this elf for my son for Christmas. The fabric is an upcycled t-shirt belonging to my husband. It is stuffed with wool except for the ears which are made with cotton quilt batting. The clothing is made from felt and the scarf is knit from a soft wool blend. The hair is mostly wool yarn with some wool roving thrown in for texture.

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