Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sneak Peak into "Mastering Twinks"

I wanted to give you a sneak peak into my "Mastering Twinks" online class which starts on January 31st through and runs for three weeks.  As part of this class we will be creating some fun filled art and I wanted to share with you a simple process for creating a beautiful butterfly using masking fluid between layers of Twinkling H2O's.  

Start with a very loose and simple sketch of a butterfly. Don't put in too much detail, just the basic outline and pattern on the wings. Keep it simple and give yourself plenty of room.

Using "Solar Gold", paint a very light wet wash over the butterfly. Keep the wash withing the boundaries of the butterfly.
While this layer is still wet, apply several other colors onto the wings. I used a combination of "Mediterranean", "Ginger Peach", "Jasmine" and "Teal Zircon".  Dot these colors around the wings, letting them feather out and blend into each other. This creates some lovely color mixes and the sparkle is beautiful.
Let the butterfly dry completely then apply a layer of liquid frisket or masking fluid. Push the frisket around the surface of the butterfly, dotting it only in places where you want to see the color shining through.  Follow the contours of your design. Masking fluid is like a rubber or laytex cement that is applied over a page to preserve the white or color wash underneath.  You can paint directly over it after it has dried, then when the paint is dry, you just peel or rub it straight off.  it doesn't tear or affect the paper underneath.  I use it a lot in my twinkling projects, but beware, it can sometimes dilute the  paint on which it sits and lift up some of the mica. Especially if the paint isn't fully dry before you apply it.
When the masking fluid is dry, paint over the entire butterfly with "Hunter Gray" or another dark color. You may like to paint a second layer to give more contrast to the patterns or you may like to keep it light to allow the color underneath to peak through.
 When it is completely dry, gently peel off the frisket.  Many brands of masking fluid come with a special eraser, if you don't have one, use a regular eraser or just rub it gently with your finger to lift it off.

Finish it off by softening the pattern with a fine line market.  Stipple the edges of the patterns, or scribble and shade to create a soft effect.  

You can see how some simple dots and lines create more definition to the butterfly. 

As a final touch, wash in a background to give the butterfly dimension.  Keep the intensity of background color close to the butterfly, and let the pigment wash out as you move away from it.  For thisI used a Tombow water soluble marker and blended the color with a wet brush.

 It's a very simple, yet effective process and is great for so many subjects.  Remember, there's still time to sign up for "Mastering Twinks", click here for more information.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Artist You Should Know

Artistic brilliance comes in many forms, and to me, some of the most brilliant artists are fiber artists, and art quilters.  They epitomize creativity in so many ways. Their skill with a brush as well as a needle is unsurpassed.  I admire these artists for their fortitude and astounding vision as they lovingly build up a piece of beautiful art in a way that requires amazing patience. One artist in particular who encompasses all that I admire, is totally inspiring, and extremely talented is Annie Wade, AKA Bohemiannie.  Annie is a wonderful artist with a riotous sense of humor.  Her writing is thoughtful and engaging and her art is breathtaking. You must check out her blog, I promise you'll be inspired.  Annie is most definitely an artist you should know.

When Dion asked me if I wanted to be part of her blog…’An Artist You Should Know’…I nearly fell off my chair. With excitement! And whoopdedoo! And wonder! And “YES”! I said uncertainly.

 I’m not sure what Dion wants in the way of information but here goes…

I’d been playing with arts and crafts most of my life…but NEVER with confidence or certainty because of all the negative feedback  I received as a child and young (really young) adult. – like – you know – don’t run with scissors, etc. I did get some good reviews when I made something using my mom’s sewing machine so I learned to sew – and then all of my clothes and lots of my friend’s clothes were made strictly following a pattern for years thereafter. I dabbled with quilting but every time I tried something I was told by someone with good intentions that I wasn’t using the correct fabric, thread, foot, ruler, scissors, etc., etc., etc. 

When I started seeing art quilts about 12-15 years ago, I fell in L-O-V-E, love. HERE was something that broke the rules and I knew I could do it!!! After all, I’d been a rule breaker and rebel most of my life! Here was something that used fabric of any description PLUS the added benefit of beads, baubles, bangles, glitter and wow - bottle caps! I could even PAINT on it if I wanted to!!!

But where to begin?!? (Still not much confidence).

I checked out every book I could find at the library since there were no art quilters in my sister’s quilt guild (at least not that I could find) and read books for years as a wanna-be. The problem was…there weren’t very many books that were helpful so…I just began doing my own thing.

 When I moved to Florida I continued my reading venture and began to collect ephemera.  A couple years later, I met my dear friend Carol Holsopple, an accomplished art quilter who quickly became my mentor. She began a group in Lee County - with a little help from me and many others called Art Quilters Unlimited. We were fortunate that lots of ladies came out of the closet with wonderful creations to share! Who knew?!? I learned SO much from that group!!!

It wasn’t until I moved a couple hours north however – to the Tampa Bay area – that my art life really took off. You see…those ladies didn’t know that I was a baby art quilter / mixed media artist. They just loved the work I’d done and wanted more. They asked me to show…teach… encouraged me to sell my work in boutiques and OMGoodness…EXHIBIT!!! So I did!!! 

Two short years later, I moved to Colombia, South America. My granddaughter was born near Tampa which is why we ended up there in the first place (to help the kids finish school) and then her daddy came home to Barranquilla after earning his PhD. Of course he brought our daughter and grandbaby with him…so what could we do but follow?!? (BTW- I must also mention that my daughter received her Master’s Degree and my son is a SGT in the Army with a wonderful pharmacy tech wife). (I had to toss that in). (I also have a grandson in MI that I don’t get to see L).

Anywho…after settling in Barranquilla, I started looking for like-minded artists. So far, I’m a thankful member of a small traditional quilting group but it’s not quite the same! They don’t go ga-ga over my stuff like my friends back home! I know! You probably think that’s a terrible thing to desire!! But I really LOVE getting a pat on the back with a lot of goo-goo-ga-ga along with it!!!

 So…I began blogging. In the year and a half since, I’ve found an abundance of… WONDERFUL, awesome, talented, generous, simply lovely people on line that delight and amaze me.  Yep…YOU! I never really knew much about blogging before 2k10 but I’m SO grateful this world has opened up to me! 

 And I say to myself…”It’s a Wonderful World”.

The end beginning of the story is that my art life is alive and well and kickin (I actually do consider myself an artist now) and I receive such beautiful comments, encouragement and support from the blogging world that I’m simply ON FIRE! 

Thank you Dion for asking me to share and for ALWAYS inspiring me with your art…words …and wisdom. 

Let the magic in you come OUT!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mixing up the Media

I really want to thank everyone who has left me comments and feedback, particularly these past couple of posts.  I feel really bad because I haven't been able to reply to everyone.  There's no acceptable excuse...if you take the time to leave me a comment, then I should take the time to reply to you.  However, I've been running ragged with competing priorities this past week, and some things have been put on hold. I want you to know I am grateful for your thoughts and encouragement.

We're only a couple of weeks away from the start of my "Mastering Twinks" online class, and then only a few weeks later is the start of my "Watercolor Pencil Workshop".  I've been drowning in an ocean of color, finishing off projects and putting the finishing touches on the class materials. Online classes are so exciting, and so much fun to produce, but they take a lot of work, and when you have a little 2yo and a vivacious 6yo who take first priority, it means you burn lots of midnight oil.

In the midst of all that, I've had next to no time to art journal, or do much art for my own pleasure and growth.  But I am enjoying the projects I'm preparing for my online classes, and I know that those of you who have already signed up will enjoy them as well.  I've been particularly enjoying playing with my Twinks and mixed media.  This apple was done primarily in Twinkling H2O's, with highlights, or in this case, low-lights, done in Neocolor II water soluble crayon.  

These two are an unlikely match, but as you can see, the results are stunning.  The shimmer and dimension of Twinks paired with the creamy matte of Neocolor II's is actually very effective.  The key is to allow only one of the mediums to dominate, in this case the Twinks.  The Neocolor II's are there to help mute the light that is being thrown around by the Twinks and direct the eye toward the shimmer. Don't let them compete with each other as the pigment in both mediums is very powerful, so a light hand and a damp brush are the ticket.

If you'd like to learn more about these mediums, there's still time to sign up for both of these classes.

For information on "Mastering Twinks", click here.
For information on "Watercolor Pencil Workshop", click here.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Imagine Your Life

What age is considered 'mid-life'? The cookie-cut 'life stages' don't apply to me, unfortunately. I'm a woman who didn't find my husband until my late 30's, and didn't start my family until I was into my 40's. Yet many of my friends, who are the same age, journeyed a different path. They have children who are adults, and are at a completely different phase in their own lives.  But really, our personal journey's are similar. At mid-life, many of us no longer grapple with 'who we are' and 'what we want to be', instead that perpetual search for 'ourselves' has crescendo-ed into a process of 'becoming' who we are meant to be.

My own journey isn't so much about 'who am I' anymore, as it is about 'who I am'.  It's about embracing all that is 'ME', and putting into motion all that I am. Age and wisdom are so very precious, and it's with these gifts that I feel able to fully embrace my life.  Still, it's a challenge when there are young children, when we are a young family still building our dreams and finding our way.  The absence of time and the excess of stress are my enemies.

Over the years, my survival, and self-discovery has been fueled by art journaling. Writing my personal story through words and pictures has been an empowering experience.  Weaving together the artful threads of my life has given me so much courage, especially when I look back through my books and see the depth of my endurance.  My journals have been a way of reflecting on my life and telling my story, if only to myself.

Everyone has a unique story and I wonder if it is at the mid-point in life, we find that our story must be examined?  How can we live fully and authentically in the second half of our lives if we can't reflect on the journey that has bought us to the point we're at today? When we examine our own lives, we connect to all the riches of the past, we honor all the sadness and adversity we've overcome, we grieve for the 'never to be' elements, and we are energized, ready to use our remaining years more wisely.

Art Journaling gives us permission to stop and listen to the story of our lives.  It puts meaning in our past, and gives us a compass for the times when we are stuck, incapacitated, and petrified. It also gives us images and icons for our achievements. It solidifies our glories, and validates our victories. The gift of artful expression belongs to everyone, and rich are those who embrace it.

This journal page was done in response to Inspiration Avenue's weekly prompt..."Butterflies". It's done in Twinkling H2O's and ink. Don't forget, "Mastering Twinks" online workshop begins January 31st though .

Thanks for checking in. xx

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tutorial: Neocolor II

Last year I was invited to be a guest blogger for the very talented Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. I’m an avid follower of Balzer Designs and a very willing participant in her Art Journal Every Day program.  Julie is one of my greatest art journaling inspiration, and it is through her courage and creativity that I have learnt so much.  Julie is also one of the incredible instructors on this years "21 Secrets" hosted by Dirty Footprints Studio.  I was honored when Julie asked me to share some of my Neocolor II secrets with her followers.  I will be including Neocolor II's in my upcoming "Watercolor Pencil Workshop" which starts on February 23rd through For those of you who missed this tutorial over on Julie's blog, here it is again.

Neocolor II's are little sticks of lusciousness and are one of my favorite mediums. They’re perfect for art journaling and can really make a page POP. Caran d’Ache, the makers of Neocolor II’s produce a wide range of artist materials, but these little water soluble crayons are one of their best products, and perfect for art journaling. I especially like vibrant color on a black background so I often spread my journal pages with black gesso as a base layer first. Unfortunately, not many water soluble mediums work on black gesso, but I've found a way to make the Neocolor II’s work for me.

Start with a basic pencil sketch over black gesso. Let it dry completely, preferably overnight. When it's fully dry go over the pencil lines with masking fluid, I use liquid “Incredible White Mask Liquid Frisket”.  Keep the lines basic and eliminate the detail, masking fluid can be a challenge to control and it’s better when you are not trying to put down fine detail. .Use a nip or a stick to apply it, don’t use a paintbrush or you’ll destroy it with one dip into the frisket.

Once the masking fluid is completely dry, you’re ready to put in some color.  Writing with the Neocolor II for any small spaces will drive you crazy.  You’ll find that the frisket is volatile and will peel up with a firm sweep of the crayon.  Instead, dip your brush in water and wash it thoroughly over the tip of the crayon.  This way you’ll pick up the pigment and will be able to lay it down like paint.  Gesso is not traditionally ‘water’ medium friendly so if you use too much water it’ll bead up.  The more pigment you use, and the less water you have, the better chance you have of getting the color to stick to the page.  Lay down a first layer of color this way, with particular emphasis on the edges of the frisket.  Just paint right over the top of it, it won’t bleed through.

Once you’ve put down your first layer of color, you may notice that it looks kind of washy and transparent.  Don’t worry; this is only the first layer.  When it’s dry, take your crayons and start coloring in.  Be careful to avoid touching or sweeping the frisket or you’ll lift it up.  Lay the colors down thick, play around with combinations and textures.  Pick up a brush and with minimal water, wet and blend the colors.  If it washes out too much, just wait for it to dry and lay down more color with the crayon. 

When you’re happy with the colors and consistency, you can put in the background.  In this case, I used Folk Art Metallic Acrylic paint.  It’s a wonderful contrast to the crayons.  It’s shimmery and makes the vibrant matte of the Neocolor’s literally POP off the page. Put down your first layer with a paintbrush, then grab a sponge and lightly and gently work your background with a contrasting color.  When it’s all completely dry grab your clean sponge, dip it in some more metallic paint and start sponging it over the crayon. Be very careful as too much acrylic over the crayon could ruin the picture, and if you’re too heavy handed, the wet acrylic paint will react with the Neocolor and swoosh it around.  Subtlety is the key.

When it’s all dry, use an eraser or a silicone remover, which sometimes comes with the frisket, and remove the mask.  Be very gentle and light.  The mask will come off just by peeling it back with your fingers, and if you’re too heavy handed you’ll smear the crayon into the black lines. Gently clean it up once all the mask is removed.  Sometimes I go along the edges with a gel pen and sometimes I don’t.  Most pens won’t write over the crayon, it just clogs the nib, but I’ve found certain Sakura Gelly Roll gel pens will write over it quite nicely.  I often use a dark metallic gel pen or something in the silver or gold range, depending on what I am trying to achieve.

I find that less is more when it comes to using Neocolor II’s on black, and when I say less I don’t mean with the layering of the Neocolor’s, I mean with the layering of other mediums on and around them.  These crayons are so brilliant in their own right that you only need to enhance and highlight, not overwhelm.  However, you need to play around with them yourself, get to know what they can do.  They are truly a ‘must have’ for any art journaler and I guarantee that once you get to know them, you won’t be able to live without them.

Don't forget, if you want to learn more about using water soluble pencils and crayons, consider signing up for "Watercolor Pencil Workshop".  It's jam packed full of step by step projects, starts soon, and runs or 6 weeks.

Thanks or checking in. xx