Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Light Up Mixed Media Christmas Tree Canvas

Hello Friends,
Today I would like to share with you a present I made for my best friend. There is a story behind why I made this canvas of course. For the last several years both myself and my friend have been feeling the stress and general 'Grinchness' that comes around the holidays. There is so much to worry about and do, and so little time. The things like outside lights and decorating a tree that were once so wonderful...are now feeling like just a chore. And wrapping...forget about it! Buy those nice bags and throw the stuff in. I don't know what has caused this grinchiness....but it makes me sad. But what I found really sad is that as a result of this feeling...my friend has just been taping a a basic tree shape cut out of wrapping paper to her wall and putting the presents under it. I do understand it of course. She and her Daughter go to the Grandparents house so why even bother with her house? But one thing I always enjoy on those December nights is turning off all the lights, except for the tree, and sitting and relaxing.  So, I decided to make her a piece of art that is a Christmas tree with lights...not a real tree...but easy to put up and very decorative!


For those of you who might feel the need for one of these easy up trees...here is how I did it. I started with a canvas that is 4 X 2 feet. It was very white of course, so I did a tissue paper collage background using hand stamped tissue papers and gold metallic tissue paper. First I stamped all over the kraft colored tissue paper with a big text stamp and archival black ink. Then I used a variety of Christmas stamps in red, blue and green pigment inks. Lastly I added snowflakes with white pigment ink. I used inks that would dry non water soluble as otherwise the ink would smear all over when I used liquid medium to glue them to the canvas. I tore up the papers and applied them all over the canvas and edges. 


Now time for the tree. I painted on the red pot for the tree to stand in (this is an alive tree!) using acrylic paints. I followed this with the basic bare tree design. Remember.. nature is rarely symmetrical to the eye when you are trying to paint a tree. 


When I paint I tend to use a minimum of 4 shades of a color...because that is the way I like it. I did this method on the pot and the bare tree, and of course the needles. Here is an idea of what I mean. The darkest color goes first in the areas not receiving a lot of light. Then the 2 mediums, then the lightest color being last to go on.


Once the tree was done, I really felt that the background was too busy and would take away from the design, so I decided to tone it down with some watered down gesso. Once I had finished that...I was annoyed that my metallic tissue paper was now all DULL :( So I decided to add back in some shimmer using Pearl Ex powdered pigments mixed with liquid medium. This turned out great as I added first some gold all over then a darker gold and a metallic red on the edges. I also put some heavier gold around the area where the star would shine. (this photo is of another canvas...but you get the idea of the toning down)


Now my tree needed some ornaments. I had purchased some pretty glittery snowflakes at Michaels the other day because I just liked them, so I started with those. Then I made some painted and layered balls out of cardboard from a cereal box. I went over them with some glossy accents from mod podge and a bit of glitter. Then I made a glitter star, and some other drawn and painted and glossed ornaments.

To finish off the tree I added 100 little rice lights by poking a small hole for each in the canvas. Then I pressed the light through and taped it on the back to hold it. My final step was to glue a piece of felt over the whole back to cover up the wires.

This was a fun and rewarding project. I sent it to my friend already and she is putting it up the day after Thanksgiving, Also, her mother has ordered one, and she wants one for the office as well (smaller) So a little extra money for me to use to buy Christmas gifts :) 
<3 Shel






Friday, November 21, 2014

New Art Journal for Round Robin Swap

Hello Lovely People!

I am so excited!!! I am participating in a round robin art journal swap starting in January over at Creating and Sharing Mixed Media G+ community. This is my first time joining into anything that has communal art possibilities. I know it is going to be so FUN and REWARDING. After I got my first official e-mail yesterday with the parameters of the activity I was just ...I just wanted it to start already! So instead of working on the bazillion projects I have going which need to be done before Christmas.... I just decided to make my journal for the swap. It is a altered cereal box journal so is also qualified for the November challenge at Kraafters Kommunity as well :) #KSDNOV
So this is my journal and how I did it. Enjoy :)


So yes, this lovely piece started as a lowly cereal box! I cut 3 sides of the box so that it would lay flat open, The spine of the book will be one of the short sides of the box. Then I glued all the flaps down with Eileens' Tacky Glue and burnished then with a bone folder to make them smooth and flat. Then I cut some pieces of 90 pound watercolor paper to cover the 'ugly' parts of the box.

Next I wanted to give some color to the blank white pieces of watercolor paper. I decided to use my Gelli Plate. If you have never used one of these check out all the great videos over at Gelli Arts. You will be hooked! For this project I decided to use tube acrylics with some water misting on my Gelli Plate. Since my journal theme was going to be nature..I wanted sort of a sky and land type look so I dotted some blues at the top and then graduating desert colors at the bottom then misted and spread with my brayer. I liked the results. I also messed around with some stencils as well.


Once my cover bits and pieces were finished, I glued them onto the cereal box base. I started with the front, applying glue to the flat part and then burnishing. Then I folded over the flaps to the inside and glued them down and burnished again with my bone folder. Once that was dry, I flipped it over and added the inside pieces. Gluing and burnishing as before. Oh, before adding the inside flap cover...I sewed on a piece of thin plastic to make a pocket for tag I wanted to include for all the swap artists to sign their names as the journal travels.


At this point I went off to have some dinner and let everything dry. Then when I came back to the studio I used my favorite black Stabilo Aquarellable pencil to make a sketch on the front cover. When I was satisfied with the images, I used a small brush and some watered down gesso to paint over the areas I planned to add more color to.


I painted in everything using the Daler Rowney tube acrylics and a bit of gesso all thinned with water, until I was happy with the results of my covers. I also printed off some words from my computer and put them on the back cover explaining my theme for this art journal. I used Heidi Swapp color shine sprays to add some highlights and shimmer to certain areas as well. 

Next it is time to add the pages. I decided to make 4 signatures (folded together sheets) of 3 pages each. I cut and folded the signatures using a combination of watercolor paper and manila paper cut from folders. Next I measured and made a template of where I wanted my holes to be in the spine for sewing in the signatures. I used a pokey tool (I think its called an awl) to make the holes. Then I folded the template so I could put it into the creases of each signature to poke corresponding holes in them. Finally I used a large needle to sew in each signature with some beading thread aka fishing line. The reason I used this thread is because its mostly transparent and I didn't want to upset the design of my spine. It worked quite well I think.


To finish off my project, I made the insert for the inside flap pocket using my computer and printing it on manila cardstock. Then decorating it with stamping.


I hope you enjoyed my project. I will be sure to do a flip through of the finished book after it gets returned to me from the swap (it will take a year or so) Thanks for visiting!
<3 Shel

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Happiness is... #WOIW

Today I was at soccer game at the park. A lovely Sunday, a little breezy and the sun was shining. I was sitting in folding chair and there was this child, about age 3, wearing bright blue cowboy boots and playing with a soccer ball. He was dropping the ball then chasing it and giggling. His face was full of pure happiness. Watching him got me thinking about this weeks Word of Inspiration 'Happiness' over at Kraafters Kommunity.

So many things that make us humans happy are circles or rounded. Balls make kids insanely happy, as do hula hoops and merry go rounds. The sun makes me happy when it shines on my face. Being alive on earth makes most people happy. Plates of cookies make me happy. On G+ we have circles of friends. My family is my circle of love... you get the idea of where I am going with this right?

So today I decided to put my strange wandering (and circling) thoughts into my art journal with this page. Happiness is...Circles.

To start out with I drew a little guy with his soccer ball on a piece of scrap watercolor paper and cut him out.

Next I colored the figure in using acrylic tube paints and a lot of blending with water and a brush.

Step 3 was working on my background page . I wanted a lot of circles so I use 3 different sized containers off my desk to draw a sun and then painted it in with acrylics. Then I used some wasted cardstock that I had punched out several sizes of circles for another project. I applied different colors of paint through this 'stencil' with a sponge and then wiped off some of the paint with a baby wipe to give it a more organic feel. To finish off the background I stamped some circles all over with white pigment ink. 

After gluing my figure onto the page I decided to add a stamped title with some black archival ink. I found the center of the page and then stamped from the center of the words out to make sure my title was in the center. Finally I wrote in a few 'circle' words with a white gel pen.

I hope you enjoyed my page. Post a comment if you did :) <3 Shel

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Made with Warmth & Love - Art Journal Page



Early this morning I was baking some banana bread for my family with the ever present 'spotty bananas' which no one will eat. I was thinking about how my love of baking started when I was a child with home baked cookies! Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers ALWAYS had cookies whenever I visited.

Grandmother M made vanilla cookies which were a cross between sugar cookies and shortbread. My father and I would go straight for the kitchen for cold milk and the cookie jar! This even before sitting down to visit with grandparents in the formal living room.

Grandma G always had a big jar full of fresh chocolate chippers. How she kept that jar full I have no idea considering how many grandchildren she had running around. Somehow she always did it. As I became a little older I often stayed with her on holidays and made the cookies with her.

It is interesting to me how these women who were so important in my life showed the warmth of their love through baking. And how I now do this too. I wanted to make a art journal spread today about how I was feeling warm and happy with the memories of my grandmothers this morning. It just so happens my page with fit perfectly with the November challenge over at the Creating and Sharing Mixed Media Art  The challenge prompt being 'Warmth' :)

I started out the idea for the page by thinking about the cookie recipes that were standard for the grandmothers and also the most popular one in my house...linking together all of us. I wrote them down on index cards with a permanent ink...and then made them look used and warn with sponged on inks and blots and fingerprints.
Next I needed a background made with warm colors. I decided to do a collage type background with some prints on deli paper using my 3 X 5 inch Gelli plate. I decided to use deli paper as it is translucent and for the same reason I used tube acrylics with a bit of water mist. Instead of making the Gelli plate lay down on the table and pressing my papers into it...I used it more like a stamp by mounting it on an acrylic block. I smooshed on the acrylic colors with a brayer and then simply pressed them down on the paper. I also used a sloppy circles stencil and pressed the Gelli plate over the top of that. It was fun! I liked the idea of rectangle shapes for the baking tray and circles for the cookies.



Once I decided I had enough deli paper printed to cover my journal pages, I started to tear them up and collage them to my pages using gel medium and a stiff brush. I just used my powers of randomness and I loved the way the background turned out.
Next I put on the recipe cards I had prepared. I added some shading using my favorite black water soluble pencil. After that I added some hand drawn and painted in hearts using the same acrylic colors. I added some white gesso around the hearts to make them stand out more and then added in shadows using the water soluble pencil again. 
My next step was to add stamping using a large and a small sized set of rubber stamps and a black archival ink pad. Then I put on the COOKIES... These were cut out of some hand painted papers I had for the paper paintings I make. I made 3 different types of 'paper cookies' to fit in with the recipes and collaged them on using gel medium. Then again I added shadows using my trusty black water soluble pencil. I hope you enjoy my page and can feel the love and warmth of my Grandmothers. 
<3 Shel



Saturday, November 1, 2014

#WOIW Art Journal Page ..BOOK

Hello All :)

I had some time this morning while everyone was in a post Halloween candy coma...so  I spent my free time in the tiny studio creating a page in my art journal. I was inspired by the word of inspiration Wednesday for this week...BOOK. It is a such a help to have a new word to think about each week supplied by Heather at  Kraafters Kommunity !

I LOVE BOOKS! I read a lot. I will admit... I use my tablet to do it. Yes, about 2 years ago I was converted to electronic books. If you were to see my bookshelf overflowing with ACTUAL books you would know why. My tablet contains over 500 books I have read since then...so I would have needed to have a few more bookcases installed  to hold all of those! LOL

I decided to start my page by looking for a quote about books that I like. Then I printed it out and brought it to the studio. Now, for the MOST SCARY thing EVER. A blank page! I have the hardest time starting a page...just staring at that whiteness. So that is why I think about a quote and build my story in my brain around it.
So to quickly get rid of all that frightening whiteness.... I used some watercolor crayons to draw in a park scene. What better place to read then a park on a sunny day
Once I had the picture scribbled in, then I smooshed around (technical term) the colors using a brush and some clean water. I needed to wash out the brush frequently to make sure the colors stayed a little bit separated and not muddy.
Next I drew in a girl reading a nice fat book. I used a watercolor pencil to do the drawing. Then I filled in the figure with some white acrylic paint so that the background colors would be gone and I could start painting in the girl. I like to use watercolor pencil for drawing because it starts to blend and add shadows once the wet acrylic paint touches it. A nice bonus.
To finish the figure, I used acrylic paints and a small brush to add color. Then shadows and highlights. After that I drew in small while lines with a white gel pen....just because I liked the way it looked :) After that I used some gel medium to paste on the quote. To darken up the edges of the page, I used a cellulose sponge with dark green ink.
To finish off the whole project I wanted to add some stamping (of course) So I got out some stamp sets that had just words. BUT...one of the sets WAS NOT MOUNTED (shocking) This is the boon of my stamping life. I do have clear mounts...but these words are so tiny..so I had to take a break from art to cut and mount these babies.
But I think in the end it was worth it. I like how the words are clustered around the girl as if they are flowing from her imagination as she reads.
I hope you enjoyed this art journal page project :) Thanks for stopping by PaperOcotilloStudio.
     <3 Shel