Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dia de los Muertos Alter Tray

Hello Friends :)

I don not usually get very personal about myself and my life on this blog. I figure people are here to see my art and process step outs...not hear about me. But today I am sharing a very personal project I did completely for myself and for the healing art brings. Lately I have been feeling death around me in a very personal way. I am still processing my best friend and partner's battle with cancer for the last year+. You go through stages when you are a care giver of someone who is that ill. First sheer panic. Then full on warrior mode to get through. You have to power through all the doctor appointments, hospital stays, scans, and chemo treatments. Now that treatment is over and he is OK...I feel some sort of acceptance of the fact that people do actually die. And also gratefulness that he didn't. But several of my family have died. Most recently my Aunt to cancer. Another Aunt is in treatment for breast cancer. My father passed from cancer as well as my Grandmother on his side. My other Grandmother has passed and I miss her dearly. And very recently my Mom's Dashound. Other people I am close to have felt recent deaths in their close family as well. A 16 year old daughter died of cancer...a Grandfather....pets. I don't mean this as a whining session. Just trying to explain why I am feeling death at every turn. It could also be that I will be turning half a century this birthday! But ultimately I am ready to make friends with death. To invite my loved ones spirits to be near me if they want. I can say to them..I love you..I miss you..I hope you are safe and happy...and please come for a visit. As I was making my project to use on this Day of the Dead (November 1st, 2015) I thought about my Grandma, my Dad, and my Mom's little dog Rocky. I will be using this tray to place their photos and favorite foods. Blue cheese and peanut butter for my Dad, a chocolate chip cookie made with her recipe for my Grandma, and a pupperoni for Rocky. Also there will be water for drinking after the long trek from the spirit world, a scented candle to guide their way, salt, and a brush and soap for freshening up. I hope my personal spirits will feel welcome at my home on Dia de los Muertos.

I started out my project with a clearance bin wooden tray from Tuesday Morning store. It was originally priced $19.95 but I got it for $5.99. It was a tiny bit beat up but since I was covering the whole tray, I didn't care. I did a bit of light sanding on the rough edges and then gave it two coats of white gesso.

While that was drying I started on my images. I thought it would be easier to collage things on to the try then to try and draw and paint on it. I cut a piece of mixed media paper from Canson to the size of the bottom of the try (for perspective) and then started to draw in pencil. Once I had my three main images drawn (a male, female and dog sugar skull figure) then I cut them out to see how they fit and laid them on the tray.

Now for coloring them in. I used Decoarts Media line fluid acrylics for color with a small brush. Why these you say? Well, I am a member of Decoarts Blogger Outreach program and I submitted my idea for this project to them and asked for products. They agreed to my request and sent me a box of stuff I asked for ...for FREE :) However, that being said... I LOVE these paints. They are highly pigmented so it just takes a little drop of paint. I own one lonely bottle of Golden fluid acrylic..and these seem exactly the same. I didn't have to mix with water to get a paintable constancy like I do with my heavier body no thinning of the paint which dilutes colors. Now that I have tried these I don't want to go back to cheap paint! Luckily these are less expensive then Golden so I can maybe afford a few more :)

Once all my painting with the fluid acrylics was done, I went in and added detail using my white and black Posca paint pens. I also used some of my Posca color set of pens. I used a .005 Prismacolor black pen in some places where I needed a really fine detail line.

Fitting them on the tray again...I need lots of other elements!

A common flower to see on Dia de los Muertos alters is Marigolds. It helps guide the spirits by it's strong smell. So I went for a napkin I had that had something resembling Marigolds (although could be Chrysanthemum) and fussy cut them out. I did the same with a butterfly napkin. 

I made several other flowers using a pack of paper flowers by Recollections. I sprayed them using the Media line ink sprays from Decoarts. I am having a bit of trouble taking process photos while filming video...

<~Insert photo I don't have here ~>

Next I wanted to add a blue sky with fluffy white clouds to the background of my tray. I took a scrap of the mixed media paper and tore it into a cloud shape to use a mask. Then I used a sponge to go over it, turning and moving it as needed. I used two colors of blues and a white heavy body acrylic paint from Liqutex basics to do this.

Now comes the collage favorite. I used Decoarts Decou-page from the Americana line to glue all my images down. The napkins I used only a coat directly on the tray then lightly over the top. For the heavier paper pieces I put glue on the backs of the paper and the try both and smoothed with my fingers. Then brushed another coat over the top. I used the satin finish and it has a light sheen.

Once I had let my collage dry overnight, I added details. I used Inktense pencils my Derwent to make shadows around the images. I used black for the main images and mostly blues for the background images. I blended it with a wet paintbrush. I also added details using my colored set of Posca pens and other colors of Inktense. I added highlights with my white Posca.

I hope you enjoyed my project! Here are a few more close up photos.
<3 Shel

Please leave me a comment about what you thought about this project/post :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dia De Los Muertos Tag for Tag It Tuesday :)

Hello My Friends :)

Today I am sharing with you a tag I made for the Tag it Tuesday Link Party over at my friend Sheri's blog, Cards and More by Sheri. The theme for this month's link party is 'spooky'. My tag does look a bit spooky, but it is also represents of a holiday that is commonly celebrated in my home state of Arizona called Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. This holiday is a way of honoring and remembering all the loved ones who have passed on. In my city there is a parade called the 'All Souls' downtown and many people paint their faces to look like the traditional themed treat called 'sugar skulls'. They walk in the procession carrying photos of their dearly departed ones. My tag represents a girl who has painted her face for the parade :) Enjoy!

If you follow my blog at know that I cut my own tags from old manila folders most of the time. Today is no exception. My tag is 3"X 7" and I added a coat of white gesso.

Next I used my soft graphite pencil to make a sketch of a face. I wanted to make it symmetrical with the features in the correct placement before I put in the 'make up' that will obscure the features somewhat.

Then I added the details in with my pencil. 

Now for color. I started with my all time favorite Neocolor II water soluble crayons, blending with a Aquash brush filled with water.

Then for more precise details I used my Inktense pencils and blended with a small liner brush and water to 'set' the ink of the pencils.

Next I added lines and highlights with my black and white Posca paint pens.

For some added visual interest, I used a fan brush with Decoarts media fluid acrylic to add white spatters and splashes. Of course my hands and even my glasses received some spatters too..LOL

I love solid boarders on my tags so I added a layer of dark purple card stock. It seemed too flat so I used a metal ruler and my white Posca pen to go around the edge between the painted tag and the cardstock layer.

She needed something more. Ah ha! flowers. I used my Decoarts media line ink sprays to color some paper flowers from Recollections. Then I glued them on with Aileens tacky glue and added a rhinestone to the center.

Now for one more little detail. I decided to hang a charm off my ribbons at the top of the tag but didn't have anything appropriate in my stash. So, I used some shrink plastic to make several sugar skull charms. I drew them on sanded white shrink plastic using my Pitt artist brush pens because these are india ink and permanent when dry. Then I cut them out and punched a hole..then shrank them with my heat tool. I added a coat of Decoarts satin varnish and a jump ring...and there you go!

Here is a picture of my girl tag with her companion pet tag. We can certainly honor the spirits of our passed fur babies as well :)

I hope you enjoyed my tag. Please join in with Tag it Tuesdays over at Cards and More by Sheri :)

Oh..and leave me a comment..I LOVE COMMENTS! <3 Shel

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dimensional Fall Tag - My Second Video

Hi Friends :)

I am trying to do a few blog posts now as I will be going out of town on Saturday for a week. I am visiting with my know the one who buys me art supplies :) It will be nice to get away and see some new scenery for a bit. is a new blog post and a new process video. I am still very shaky on this video thing. The editing is really no fun. I hope some people do like the videos :) For those fans of the step out here on the blog..I am doing one of those too. Here is my new project...a dimensional Fall altered tag.


I was thumbing through Pinterest and I saw a altered tag where the girl was using those fun foam pre-cut stickers. It reminded me of something I taught years ago when I was a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator (yeah I did that for over 10 years and in 3 states) So I decided to adapt that technique to mixed media and make this tag.

I started with self adhesive fun foam from Walmart. And a heavy watercolor stock tag. Then I cut pieces of fun foam to fit my stamp and heated it with my heat tool. Then I pressed down hard and held the stamp until the foam was cooled off. This makes a deep impression. It works best with deeply etched stamps of course.

Next was the fussy cutting of the leaves. Then I started to assemble my tag. I added a few piece of masking tape to give a bit more texture.

Then I added my first coat of gesso, let that dry, and added a second coat. I did not use a heat tool to speed the drying as I was afraid it would soften the fun foam and ruin my texture.

My next steps were to add some ink spray in a tea stain color, and then paint my leaves with several layers of distress inks. I used a water color brush to apply the colors.

Once that was all dry I added a sponged boarder with distress ink and then added more dimension with dimensional magic from Mod Podge. This creates a very shiny clear coat where you apply it. I just did the leaves.

While the dimensional magic was wet I sprinkled on some gold colored microbeads for even more textural interest.

Once all those layers were dry, I finished the tag with some words stamped on a scrap piece of cardstock and framed with a metal finding.

Then I colored some seam binding ribbon using the same palette of colors of distress inks. Combined with a couple of fibers from my stash made for a nice finish to the top of the tag.

I did not waste any scraps of fun foam or any time. While each layer was drying, I cut my scraps into squares and rectangles to create this texture plate for my Gelli printing later on :)

I hope you enjoyed my dimensional fall tag. If you did please leave me a comment :)

<3 Shel

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Made a Video ! Whimsical Owl Page

Hello Friends <3

So...after much encouragement...I took the leap and made a Youtube video of my process for an art journal page. It is not the best video ever...I made it with my iphone and edited with Windows Movie Maker. But since it is my first try and it didn't turn out too horrible..I am proud of myself :) I have been blogging my step by step processes for my art for a year now. I guess it was time to step up another little step into the big world of social sharing. The page I made the video of is my Whimsical Owl. I used some of that pile of Gelli prints you saw on my last post. Collage is my first love and I feel very confident doing it so that is what I chose to do for my first video.

~>Video Here <~

I also have a few other pages in my journal to share that I did recently. I didn't take any photos while doing no process steps today..sorry :)

This one was a pencil sketch I did a week or two ago. I finally got around to coloring it in during the Kraafters Kommunity Kraaft It Together day. This is a virtual hang out on G* where everyone comes with their projects on video and works on them while chatting. In order to come to this event each have to be a member of the G+ community Kraffters Kommunity.

I colored this page using Neocolor II water soluble crayons blended with a brush and white acrylic paint. Then after all was dry I added outlines and highlights using my Inktense pencils and my black and white Posca paint pens. It was a relaxing project coloring like a kid :) 

This next page I also started during the Kraaft It Together event. I started with a watercolor background using my Sukura watercolors. Then I collaged some random papers on top. Next I sketched the face with a pencil then filled in that area with white gesso. Then I colored and shaded her using Neocolor IIs blended with white acrylic paint. I added the quote later that I had printed off the Internet. 

My final page is one I did just today. It is my entry for the Kraafters Challenge which is themed 'Leaves' #KSCOCT15  :) I first put on some light modeling paste through a stencil. Then I did an abstract background using my new Decoarts Media line fluid paints. I love these! It only takes a teensy tinsey bit to get a full coverage of pigment. Yummy! I also tried out the Decoart sprays. Not reactive to water which I find a nice bonus for a lot of uses. I made marks with random caps and paper rolls. I splattered and dripped. Then I drew in some maple leaves and painted around the background spaces using white gesso. Then I used a fine liner to draw black outlines and white highlights with the fluid acrylics. I stamped 'leaves' in black archival ink and called it good :)

I hope you enjoyed these pages and that you will give me a comment. If you take the plunge and watch my video...comment or thumbs up there please :) If it goes well and no one is mean..I will make more videos!
<3 Shel

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Autumn Blessings Decor - Spark Some Creativity with the Kraaft Shaak

Hello and Happy Fall Y'all :)

Yes it is Fall...a time of gorgeous color and a time to be thankful for the blessings in your life :) Here in the desert of Arizona the changing colors are not so obvious..but we do enjoy a slightly cooler bit of air as we stroll among the cactus. To celebrate the change, I made a decoration to hang on the door. This is my Spark of Creativity for the Kraaft Shaak Design Team. You may remember I was on the team for three months earlier this year? Well we were all asked back to design for the Holiday Season, so you will see a more sparks coming from me, as well as the others, on the Saturdays of October, November and December :) Look HERE for more information about all my fellow artists on the team!
So how did my project start? Well I knew I wanted to make SOMETHING for Fall...but not really WHAT. I also knew I didn't want to spend a ton of money. I went off the the dollar store to see what I could alter. For me, those dollar items just looking (duh..they are a dollar). So I figured I could get something and use my creativity to improve the look a bit.. I found some things I thought I thought I could use to make a little tower of pumpkins with a few leaves for around $7 total...I was excited! My next trip was to the Michaels store. I needed some matte gel medium...but you can't go to Michaels and not look around right? Well, I found this adorable wooden picket fence for $7.99 and I just HAD to have it. Luckily my Mom was with me and so I could use two Now I had a pile of things I could use for my Fall project :)

To begin I started with my Art Basics heavy white gesso to cover my wooden fence piece. Of course I wanted a 'white picket fence' but I also wanted to seal up the wood and make a less absorbent surface for my future layers. This gesso brand is my favorite for a one layer application. I am so glad I was introduced to this line by the Kraaft Shaak Shop.

Next I used my sample of Modeling Paste from the Kraaft Shaak Shop. It is so cool to be able to get a sample of the products you want to try out instead of buying a huge expensive tub of something you might not like. After using several types of pastes..this one from Art Basics is my favorite. It is thick enough to stay put but also dries fairly quickly. I used a crofter's workshop stencil and palette knife to create some raised texture 'vines' on my fence.

I had to let my fence dry for awhile, so I moved on to my haul from the dollar store. Styrofoam pumpkins, burlap leaves and flowers, and some silky leaves and flowers. I cut all the stuff apart. Then I used a big 'ol kitchen knives to cut all those pumpkins in half, I guess this means I COULD make another whole decoration :)

Next... my favorite! I needed some nice papers to use with my project so of course out came my 8" X 10" Gelli Arts Printing Plate. I picked several fall colors of paints. I wanted to make some impressions of Autumn leaves, but of course, we have cactus here...not maple leaves. So I decided to use some of the uglier silky leaves I got at the dollar store for printing. As you will see in later steps..this was a brilliant idea :)

I used both deli paper and newsprint weight paper to make my prints. I love the translucency of the deli paper. For collaging over something in a opaque fashion I would need the light weight newsprint paper. You can see that I made WAY more prints then I needed for the project at hand. I just CAN NOT STOP when I print with my Gelli Plate!

Now for the pile of pumpkins. I used my liquid matte medium and started to collage over the half pumpkins with my printed papers. I also searched through my stash of papers for bits and bobs to include. As I was collaging I kept in mind the light source and where the highlights and shadows would be. I used lighter and darker papers to 'paint' them was they would be on a real pumpkin. 'Paper painting' type collage is really a LOVE of mine.

Once all my pumpkins were covered with my Gelli Plate printed papers and set aside to dry, I moved on to leaves. As I said before...$1 items are a bit cheap looking...but once I had used these previously 'ugly' leaves for printing...they were much nicer. So, I decided to just add a bit of color and shine to them and use them on my project! First, I painted the top with a bit of left over liquid matte medium I had on my palette..and then dipped them in my tub of clear embossing powder. Wow..a nice shine that made once I heated it. Then I got out my Lindy's Stamp Gang Magicals in 'Autumn Leaves; colors from  then Kraaft Shaak Shop. I painted up the leaves with using the hot poker orange and cattail brown. This added a nice shimmer. Next I used a bit of Adirondack alcohol ink to drip down the creases of the leaves. Then I used the magicals again in tibetan poppy teal just in the creases. I gave the leaves another hit with my heat tool to dry them up and set the colors into the embossing powder., Love the look :)

Now back to my fence. I wanted a weathered look with a few different layers. I decided a bit of background stamping was in order. I used a french script stamp from Stampin' Up! and some black archival ink.

Next I made some glaze using 1/2 glazing medium and 1/2 brown acrylic paint. I painted this on my fence and then wiped it off in places with a baby wipe. Once I finished up with all the slats using the brown glaze, I made up some rust colored glaze and repeated the process. I liked how the glaze made my 'vines' show up as well as bringing out some of the wood texture.

Next I I got out some Liquetex acrylic ink in a sepia color and did some dripping. I started the ink at the top of the fence then tapped the fence on the desk to make it run. I sprayed on some water to make it spread more. I also dabbed off some places with a baby wipe where I though it was too dark looking.

My last thing to do before assembling my project was to make a title. I found some 'grunge board' letters in my stash from Tim Holtz. I also had a plaque looking thing made of chip board. I covered the plaque with a cool piece of one of the deli paper prints and then wrote the word 'blessings' on it with my black Posca pen. I painted the letters using orange and rust acrylic paint and stenciled them a little with a Tim Holtz stencil to add texture.

Finally I assembled everything using my hot glue gun. I added a few twists of copper colored craft wire to finish it off. I LOVE it :) I hope you do too. Leave me a comment and don't forget to visit The Kraaft Shaak to see what is coming up next!

<3 Shel