Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Theme: Destiny

"Voices in the air
I hear it loud and clear
Telling me to listen..."
This week, pocketeers, I have no art to show you.  Work has been getting only busier, and while I've gotten to dabble with a couple of things, there's nothing I think is worth showing off yet.  And besides that, there's been one preoccupation I've had all week...
Pic from 2009 playoffs.

The closer it gets the more excited I am :)  I even did a temporary blog makeover to honor the occasion.  The lyrics at the top of this post are from "Invincible" by Machine Gun Kelly. Not a song I would normally listen to, but it's the soundtrack to the splash video that's up this week on  And when you read the lyrics, it really does seem written for Baltimore, especially the line about "the city of people who came from the bottom."  Baltimore has its problems with poverty and crime and all that big city stuff, but it is a proud place, and they've been waiting for this for a few years, knowing it would come.  With this Superbowl run, the Ravens have had a lot to say about "destiny."  To be honest, a lot of it does seem preordained, if you believe in that sort of thing.  And one thing Baltimore does well is believe. 
Somewhere along the line, Ray Lewis, the team hero and spiritual leader, started quoting Isaiah 54:17:
No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.
That's something to believe in.  I'm hoping the Ravens win, but what I know I believe is that it's going to be an awesome game. 
I leave you with a video, which I hope you'll watch because it's really fun.  There's a couple who have been doing Ravens parody songs, and their "Bring on Brady" went viral when they posted it before the AFC Championship game.  For the Superbowl, they've posted two new ones, but this one is a little clearer:


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Theme: Trees!

I really thought I'd be continuing the purple theme this week.  My Ravens are going to the Superbowl!  WOOOOO!!!  But there is something I've been working on with and without color, and it's not always purple, but it is something I'm doing a lot with lately and that's the whole point of Thursday Themes.  So, in case you didn't read the title of the post, this week I bring you TREES!

I don't know why I've been so into trees lately.  Partly it's a squirrel thing.  You know, because squirrels live in trees and all.

Like this little guy.

But it's not a season in which I normally think about trees, since they're all dormant or spiky (conifers being the spiky ones...).  Still, trees have been stuck in my mind.  Maybe it's because I've been using the Froud Meditations:  Pathways to Faerie app and all the meditations start with leading you to an old oak tree that then acts as the portal to the faerie realm (yes, I'm totally into that stuff).  Maybe it's because I got a new alarm clock that has bird chirping as one of the sounds you can select, and yes I absolutely use the happy sounding chirpy birds to wake me up, and birds make me think of trees in the same way squirrels make me think of trees.  Cos, you know, they live there.  I don't know.  Whatever the reason, I've been tree-centric lately.  And luckily, I have that spiffy Tim Holtz stamp that I used for these, which you saw last week:

Nope, still haven't finished them.  The little one still doesn't even have a hole at the top.

I finally got a brilliant idea for using stamps on canvas, because I love the texture and presence of canvas, but stretched canvas is bloody hard to stamp on because it's not rigid.  And my first idea for executing this bit of brilliance involved the same stamp:

Can you see it?  The secret is tissue paper.  Shh.  Don't tell.

Fancy-pants Instagram closeup!

It's still a work in progress, as I want to add more layers of stuff and textural elements and paint to it.  I'm loving the Liquitex Super Heavy Body gesso, though.  That stuff + Michelle Ward's stencils = texturey patterny goodness.

Alas, my mixed media stuff is not all that portable, and I can't always be at home playing with it.  So I'm still carrying a sketchbook with me in my enormous handbag of holding.  And with my recent tree-nspiration kicking, I've spent a couple of lunch breaks sketching these guys:

Really just playing around with making the branches look like they might actually grow in those directions, and with how to taper down to twigs.  Not great.

Today I decided to have a little fun and get a little fanciful with it.  So here, a fantasy tree.

I'm still feeling the tree vibe, so there may be more trees to come.  There will also probably be more purple.  Really, I'm super psyched about the Ravens going to the Superbowl.  If you're not into football, please be patient with my fellow fans and me; everybody gets excited about something, and this is super exciting for me!  What are you excited about lately?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Theme: PURPLE!

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before...
~The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe

Purple Nation is a very happy and hopeful place right now.  If you don't follow pro football and don't know what I mean, here's the very simple explanation:  the Baltimore Ravens are in the playoffs, and very well might make it to the Superbowl - and it's really important for them to make it, because after this season, our beloved Ray Lewis, the heart and soul of the team, is retiring.  I've been wearing purple every day since the first playoff game, which makes it very fortunate that purple is one of my favorite colors.  And between Ravens Purple Fever going on here and me having had a hankering for adding purple to my wintery green tags, I decided it was high time I purpled the blog.  

I haven't always been a Ravens fan, per se.  I would say I've supported them since they came to Baltimore and became the Ravens, but I didn't follow pro football.  I was always a Navy fan, and didn't bother watching any other games.  What I have always been a fan of, however, is purple.  When I was little, my two favorite colors were purple and red.  Over the years, they've changed to pink, blue, and black, but purple and red always came back.  The first shawl I made was purple:

random 001

random 003
It's alpaca, and super cozy.  I'm actually planning to wear it tomorrow...  Note: this is the same pattern I would later use for my Raven Wing shawl.

Back when I was knitting and crocheting like a fiend, I was buying more purple yarn than I knew what to do with.  No, seriously.  I never used most of it.  It's still sitting there, waiting for the "right" pattern.  That's a problem when you buy single skeins of things and tend to like patterns that use a lot of yarn.

In my paper arts, you don't see as much purple.  I tend to stick to neutrals and reds and blues.  Not that I've never used purple.  But while I have purple inks and purple paints, I don't use them much, except for the Seedless Preserves color of Distress Ink in the Fall.

I just love this color!

But I did pack my purple paint when I went to CREATE last year, and sure enough, when I got in trouble with Teacher for not having something on each page of my Debris Journal, I went back to the hotel room that night and this is how I committed to one of my pages:

I call this spread "OMGPURPLE!!!"

Yep, still haven't done anything more with it.  But still.  Lately I've been thinking how nice purple and green look together (I mean, lavender is beautiful, right?  And other purple flowers as well, like my purple pansies that somehow still keep going strong out on the balcony), and since I've been so enamored with green lately, it seemed logical to bring some purple into what I'm already using.  BEHOLD!

More playing around with Michelle's stencils, replicating the background of Mom's birthday tag.

I also started thinking about bare trees, it being Winter and all.  And I had this idea to use the dot stencil from Michelle's line to give a tree sort of faery orbs... or... somethinglikethat.  So, using a stamp from a Tim Holtz Christmas set by Stampers Anonymous, I tried two different versions tonight:

Version 1 has embossing holding the Distress Ink watercolored tree color in place, and version 2 has just Archival ink, with a speckle stamp as well as Michelle's dot stencil.  Both tags used Iced Spruce and Seedless Preserves Distress Ink and Iridescent Gold Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist.

Because I can't leave well enough alone, I will probably tweak that idea a bit.  It's a little weird for me still to be doing such simple things, and without any dimensional elements.  It's like they're not finished.

Well anyway, that's all the purple I have for you today, and it's almost not Thursday anymore anyway.  So I will leave you with a video to enjoy on what I am sure will be a fine Purple Friday, anticipating what I hope will be a Ravens victory over the Patriots this Sunday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Theme: Stencil Madness!

So, since this is my blog and I make the rules, I feel compelled to say that sometimes, Thursday's Theme will be quite general, which means that some themes may repeat over time.  It's always worth revisiting themes from time to time anyway, because at different times you might see the same thing differently and do something different with it.  As an example, I've recently been playing with stencils (and masks) more because I've been getting more of Michelle Ward's fabulous stencils.  But the way I use them has been evolving a little bit, and I'm starting to play with new ideas.  So here's a brief tour of some of the things you can do with stencils, starting with some older work.

Way back, I started with one of Michelle's Street Team Crusades, where she encouraged us to cut our own stencils and masks.  Not one to ever start with something easy, I did this:

It's a lion mask within a lion stencil within a shield mask.

I used it in the traditional way, pouncing paint through it and around it, which was cool but very static.  And then I didn't do much with stencils for a long while.  I occasionally used masks with my inks and sprays, but not a whole lot.  I did a couple of things with paint, trying to use Michelle's drybrushing techniques and usually ending up with too much paint, like this:
Last Summer I got to take two fabulous classes with Michelle.  And we did a lot with her new stencils, and we cut our own.  And I was hooked.  The techniques I had tried to learn from her blog finally clicked. 

 And once I came home, I decided to experiment a little more with layering and monoprinting with the painty side of the stencil, and that's how I did this:
The coolest part of this was painting a gray background and laying a stencil over it, then wiping through the stencil with a damp paper towel.  That's how I got the lightest crosses.  It's actually the blank canvas showing through.
I've gotten more adventurous with my experiments, hence the messy mushroom canvas and the Halloween tags:
Big mushroom masks cut from manila folders, layered with Michelle's quatrefoil stencil for spots.

Laid down a background, embossed through the stencil with clear embossing powder, and then darkened the tag, which the embossing resisted.

And Christmas was a great opportunity to use portions of stencils, and layer inks and sprays through them:

But all this time, I've been forgetting something that Michelle taught us in the classes.  You can still draw through stencils.  Remember when you were a kid, and you learned how to use stencils, and you traced the shapes through them?  Or was that just me?  Anyway, that's still a perfectly good way to use a stencil.  So in the previous post you saw Mom's gift tag, where I started to remember that.  This week, I spent some time with some stencils, a pencil, a Micron pen, and two Sharpies.  Here are my experiments.  I like the third one best.
What's cool is, it was a really simple way to test some layering ideas, and now I have some patterns that I can translate into ink or paint and still retain as much or as little of the pencil/pen/marker features as I want.  The hash mark fill-in from the first one of these was kind of fun, and I can see where that might be useful in some compositions.  But I loved mixing some filled in spaces with some outlined spaces like in the second and third photos.  There's lots to play with here, and I have the feeling that the more I play, the more I'll discover.
When's the last time you played with stencils?  Do you have some particular favorites?  Do  you make your own, or purchase them, or both?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday Special

We interrupt this Thursday's Theme with a special message.  Today is a special day.  This day, January 3, is my Mom's birthday.  Happy birthday, Mom! *throws confetti*

At this point, we've been to dinner, given her presents, and rolled home.  But I still had a blog post to write, and I want to dedicate it to her.  Don't worry, there will be closeups of that tag up there.  Patience, pocket padawans.

I want this blog post to be about my very awesome Mom because without her, I might not be the artist I am.  With a different Mom, I probably wouldn't know how to sew, or knit, or crochet, or sort-of-but-not-really-well-so-I-don't-bother cross stitch.  I might not have gotten into stamping or mixed media.  I might still be artistic, but would probably have stuck to traditional 2-dimensional art forms.  And that's great, and I love sketching, but there is so much more to unlock. 

My Mom is super creative.  She didn't really know it until she married and moved away from home, but she has always been an artist and had a particular eye for color.  She started with embroidery and moved on to all kinds of fiber arts, from regular sewing to quilting, and crochet to knitting, and from sewing and quilting and knitting to wearable art and beading.  She loves papers and ephemera; we used to read Victoria magazine together and she started buying Somerset Studio when I was in middle school.  As a kid, spending time with my Mom, I was surrounded with all this stuff and I wanted to play with it all.  So she taught me, and encouraged me, and told me I had a talent.  She was always so adventurous with art and that encouraged me to be so too.  And we always had fun, whether taking a class together or just putzing around in the basement with fabric or yarn or stamps.  She gave me my own space in the sewing room, and when I outgrew having a play room, we turned that side of the basement into a "studio."  We designed a yarn room together when my brother's old room became the new guest room and the old guest room was suddenly available (and our combined yarn stashes threatened to take over the house otherwise).  And now, even though I have my own place and my own supplies, I still go back home to play with Mom and share tools and ideas.  She'll show me what she's been working on - nowadays it's usually either new tags with cool techniques she's been experimenting with or bead and metal jewelry that she's designing and making with her ever-growing arsenal of metalworking tools - and we'll have some tea and talk about what we want to do next or what's been inspiring us.

The best times, I think, are when you can just be friends with your Mom.  And creativity has always given us a place to be friends. 

Well, after writing all that, the tag will seem awfully simple.  But it was really fun to make, and Mom liked it, so I guess that's all that matters.

Here's what I used:
(The stencils are, of course, by Michelle Ward.)

Here's what I did with them:

Happy birthday, Mom!