Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Class Schedule

The inaugural run of A Taste of Silks ends today and I must say that I have been amazed at what the participants have been creating (take a peek here).  There is a lot of buzz around these gorgeous new products from Luminarte and I am thrilled that they invited me to offer this class on their website.   The class has been so popular that I will be offering it again on the Luminarte website starting July 13th, 2012. Registration will be opening soon.  For more information click here.

In the meantime, I am gearing up for a very big summer of online teaching. Sadly, I had to decline a number of invitations to teach at retreats and in-stores this summer.  My impending house move has meant packing up my studio and setting up in an entirely new location.  This, and helping my family settle into a new home, in a new town is forefront on my agenda.  I'm not ashamed to say that I am first and foremost a mother and wife, everything else comes next.

Still, I am thrilled that several of my online classes will be running over summer.  Watercolor Pencil Workshop gears up for another run on I've added some new projects to get your teeth into, including some luscious projects and tips for using Neocolor II's Water-Soluble Crayons. If you've never had the chance to really learn how to use your watercolor pencils and crayons, then come on into this class.  The emphasis is on technique with lots of hands on projects to get you going.  It covers a lot of ground, and as such the content comes to you in weekly PDF files that you can download and keep forever, and the exclusive online class forum is a wonderful place to share, ask questions and engage in discussion.  Watercolor Pencil Workshop begins on June 28, 2012 and runs for 6 weeks. If you'd like to know more, or to register, click here.

Mastering Twinks makes a return appearance at for a 6-week summer run.  Hundreds of participants have already discovered the twinkling, shimmering world of luminescent watercolor technique.  These sparkling little jewels are not like any other watercolors you've used.  The mica properties give them their own light source, literally illuminating your work.  This class is jam packed with technique, exercises and projects and begins on July 26th, 2012.  For more information or to register, click here.

Wisdom Circles which is my workshop offering as part of 21 Secrets, is continuing its run through to 1st January, 2013.  21 Secrets is an online art journal playground that offers participants 21 workshops from 21 amazing instructors.  It is running now through to January 2013 and access to all of the workshops and materials is unlimited to participants for the duration.  I must say, I've been doing some of the other workshops myself and they are amazing.  If you'd like to learn more about Wisdom Circles, click here.  If you'd like to learn more about 21 Secrets, click here.

So with my house and studio being packed up I have been working out of a little art bag with limited supplies.  This is the time when my watercolor pencils and sketchbook become indispensable. This painting of a periwinkle was done using watercolor pencils and water-soluble crayon.  These tools are so easy to use that I can sit on the couch and create without any mess or fuss.  I've also been creating watercolor pencil pages while sitting in a cafe, waiting at the doctors office, and more recently when at the playground.  They are the perfect no fuss, no mess, take anywhere medium.  If you haven't tried watercolor pencils or crayons yet, then I suggest you give them a try, and if you want to learn more about how to use them, then please join me for Watercolor Pencil Workshop.

Thanks for checking in. xx

(The wonderful Jenn McLean over at Just Add Water Silly has a terrific challenge in the Artist's Playroom this week--Magnify.  Click here to check it out.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Delicious Pear

Last week I was very fortunate to be invited by the fabulous Julie Fei-Fan Balzer of Balzer Designs to participate in a stencil blog hop (here).  Stenciling is not something I have done a lot of, so it was a wonderful experiment to see how I could use Julie's gorgeous stencils in my own special way.    I played around so much that I ended up with lots of projects.

One of those projects was this fun and delicious pear.  I love painting fruit, they offer so much color and interpretation to play with.  This was a last minute thing as I created a lovely background in my sketchbook using Julie's Leaf Grid stencil and couldn't decide what to do with it. So in the end, I got out my watercolors and splashed around this pear over this textured background. I used Silks Acrylic Glaze for the background, and Koi Watercolors for the pear. I was thrilled with the way it turned out, particularly how the stencil designs showed through as texture on the pear.

I highly recommend you try this. Let you imagination go wild.  When you're ready to paint over your background, then I suggest you examine the background and pick out patterns and tones that may work in some kind of subject.  I didn't spend a lot of time examining this one, it kind of just worked, but it's given me great ideas for future works. I created several stenciled background as part of this project using the Leaf Grid stencil. I did  couple of other pages in the same way and I'll show you those later in the week.

As a bonus, I have created a brand new Flickr group for those of you who have been inspired by this blog, or any of the art, artists, tutorials, or workshops I have offered here.  This new Flickr group is a place for you to showcase your own work (click here to join).  You can also promote your blog, activities, and offerings within the group discussion forum.  I plan to showcase some of the beautiful work you are doing in my future posts and will use this pool as a resource.  Please feel free to join this group and start sharing anytime.

Thanks for checking in xx

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Words To Live By

"The life which is not examined is not worth living."

It is when we are in the midst of a major life change that it is good to remember what has bought us to this point.  It is so easy to get caught up in the necessities of making changes and quickly forget about the joys we have known, just the way we were. Right now my little family and I are in the throws of a move.  We're packing up our home of the past (almost) ten years and moving on. In one weeks time we will be walking through the front door of a new house in a new town, ready to start the next chapter of our lives.  It is so timely for us, so much what we need, and we are so excited.

As with any move, there are always elements of the life you leave behind that hold such powerful memories...good and bad.  For me, I'll  be glad to move on from where we are right now. Even though I've watched both my children go from rolling and crawling around our lounge room floor, to climbing the stairs, I'm ready to move on.  I've watched them empty the cutlery draws, play with pots and spoons on my kitchen floor, and press their noses to the back window to get a glimpse of winter's first snow. I am so ready to take these good memories, and walk away from the bad ones. 

I have loved every moment of watching them explore our back yard, draw pictures on our sidewalk, and stretch beyond capacity to open the mail box and collect the mail.  But this house holds harsh memories for me as well. It was here that I first started experiencing those unthinkable and terrifying complications of early pregnancy. I was bed-ridden for weeks in the dark of my bedroom, trying desperately to solicit help with my 3yo daughter while trying to hold onto a doomed pregnancy long enough to make life viable. 

I remember being admitted to a hospital 2 hours away from home for 13 weeks, but only lasting 1week. I remember early one morning, my son was unceremoniously torn from my womb in a blaze of panic and emergency while I was innocently eating breakfast.  He was so tiny that the doctors couldn't find him, they had to pull everything out of my body to search for him.  I remember arriving home from hospital a week later without my child, no longer pregnant, and in shock.  I sat on my couch, my husband had made me a cup of tea, my mother had put her arms around me, having arrived from Australia not long before, and my home never feeling the same again. Nobody expected him to survive and nobody knew what to say.

Over the next six months, I remember my rare visits back home from the hospital, being woken by phone calls from the NICU saying our baby was unlikely to make it through the night and we should get back there as soon as possible.  In the end, I stopped coming home.  I remember watching my husband carry our sleeping daughter in his arms, placing her gently into the car, wrapping her in blankets, as we made the two hour trek back to the hospital in the deep night, hoping that we would make it in time to kiss our baby good-bye.

I remember at last rolling up our driveway after 5 terrifying months in the hospital with our infant son.  I remember juggling apnea monitors, baby carriers, and oxygen tanks as I carried my baby through our front door for the first time.  I remember the welcome home sign that my husbands Aunt Rita had made, and how happy I was to finally be home.

I remember the shock of seeing huge oxygen tanks littered around this house. They stayed for two years!  I remember carrying my infant son back out our front door and into an ambulance to be admitted back into the ICU 4 times in the first 2 years of his life.  I remember sleeping night after night beside my young daughter who was bewildered and confused by the changes her little life had experienced.  

I remember so many joys amidst so many despairs, and the joys prevailing. But still, I'll be glad to leave.  I remember only one year ago, the terrifying storm that tore through our little mid-western town in the wee hours of a mid-summers night. I was woken by the cries of my son. There was a strange silence, the power had gone out, he was afraid of the dark.  I looked out my window and knew in an instant that we were in danger.  My  husband screamed at me to grab our son while he grabbed our daughter.  We ran down the two flights of stairs to our basement as our house was torn apart around us.  I remember emerging for our basement that morning, waiting for my husband to cut the trees away from our backdoor so we could get out.  I remember, it was the day my son was fitted with hearing aids.

I remember the pride and excitement of walking my daughter to her first day of school.  I remember watching her emerge from her bedroom every morning, disheveled and sleepy, but so excited that she finally gets to go to school.  I remember watching her stand against the door in our kitchen, waiting for me to mark her height with a big pink marker, anticipating the distance she had grown from one birthday to the next.  I'm still trying to work out how I can take that door with me! Yes, the good memories far outweigh the bad ones, but still I'll be glad to leave.  

I'm ready to start a new chapter in our lives, in a new town, in a new home.  Closer to my husbands work, a place with more opportunity, more choices, and more to do.  I have one week left here before we move on, and I plan to walk through every inch of this house, consciously packing up my memories so I can take them with me.  But I'll be making room in my life for a host of new memories now, and I honor this house for giving us security, shelter, and a safe home in which to grow. I will remember it fondly!

Thanks for checking in. xx

(This page was done in my Strathmore Recycled Sketchbook. It is Twinkling H2O's over a flat watercolor wash.  Just some flowers I saw in my neighbors garden...I don't know what they were.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shimmering Stencil Tutorial

When Julie Fei-Fan Balzer asked me to try out some of her stencils as part of her stencil hop, I was thrilled.  I've been playing with stencils more and more lately, not for scrap-booking, but for art journal pages and custom journal covers.  I've discovered that stencils can give me some amazing affects when used in layering and mixed-media projects, and even as backgrounds for some of my art. In fact, when the stencils arrived and I started playing with them, I simply couldn't stop.

At first I was uncertain how I could make them work effectively for the type of work I do, then once I got going I found that the opportunities to enhance my art pieces were limitless.

What was more exciting was how effective they were when I used them with my precious Silks Acrylic Glazes.  Of course, the timing was perfect, they arrived just as I was in project preparation for my new online class A Taste of Silks.  This was a serendipity as I was able to include some wonderful projects in this class using these beautiful stencils.

As it turned out, I ended up with so many great ideas that I had a very hard time narrowing them down for this stencil-hop.

The stencil I am showcasing today is called Leaf Grid, It has been designed by Julie under her label Balzer Designs and is produced by The Crafter's Workshop.  Julie sent me two sizes, a 12"x12" and a 6"x6".  The designs on the smaller stencil are perfect for art journal and sketchbook pages, and the larger stencil is perfect for scrap book pages.  I used them in this project in the not-so-traditional way.

I'm not always one for using art and craft supplies the way they are supposed to be used, so in this project, I am going to show you how I used them to create beautiful flower patterns using Silks Acrylic Glaze as a resist to a Silks/watercolor background, then painting the flowers over the top using Silks once again.  

Silks Acrylic Glaze is a beautiful new product from Luminarte.  It is brilliant liquid acrylic glaze that has been laced with mica and other proprietary minerals to give it a spectacular shimmer. It is incredibly versatile, and one of the techniques I use here is Silks as Watercolor. It is a technique I also teach in my online class. (And NO, I'm not on the Luminarte payroll, I just LOVE their products.)


For this project, I use a Strathmore Visual Journal with 90lb watercolor paper.

Begin by wetting your page heavily until it shines.

Mix a little Silks with a lot of water in a palette well or cup and drip, splatter, and splash it over your wet page. Let the paint spread out and cover the entire page.  (The color I am using is Jasmine.)

Use a paper towel to dab off the excess water and paint.  This will encourage the pigment to sink into the paper, creating a lovely soft sheen.

Position an individual pattern from your large (12"x12") Leaf Grid stencil over your journal page.  Use a solid synthetic brush, or a stencil brush to gently dab on a little paint. I am using Ice, which has a white pigment with a spectacular new rainbow crystal-like mica.  The Ice will draw up a little of the wet pigment under it and reflect back the beautiful luminescent design.

Next, take the smaller stencil (6"x6") and position a portion of the design in and around your larger images.  Paint these using Fern.

What you are creating is a two-tone pattern that will become the foliage behind your flowers.

When the leaves are dry, load your brush with another mix of Silks and water using bright colors to add contrast to your page. (For this, I used a darker mix of Jasmine and a bright mix of Ginger Peach.) Wash this paint around your page, allowing the colors to blend and mix. 

You can see how the Silks act as a resist to the watercolor mix.

Use your paper towel to dab off the excess water and remove any color that has pooled over the stencil designs.

Let the page dry completely.

Next, use a watercolor pencil to draw in some basic flower designs over and around the leaves.

Paint these with Silks using Stargazer and Blue Flame directly from the pot.

Let this layer dry then use a flat brush to paint behind the flowers using regular watercolors.

This layer of regular watercolor will allow a little of the shimmer to show through. It will also act as a wonderful matte contrast to the shimmering flowers and leaves.

When your page is completely dry, use a fine line marker or pen to add detail to the flowers and leaves.

Finish by smudging a little charcoal around the edges of the flowers to give them some definition.

You can see how wonderful the stenciled leaves appear behind these simple flowers. The contrast between the flat watercolor background and the Silks flowers adds and amazing effect to this journal page.

I also used this beautiful Leaf Grid stencils to add texture and interest to the background behind this painting of a pear.  In this painting, I sprayed and rolled the stencil to create some contrasting patterns. I will show you more of this journal page next week.

I also used the Leaf Grid stencil as a support for sculpting leaves using Silks mixed with a variety of gel mediums. This is one of the techniques we play with in A Taste of Silks. If you'd like to know more about this class, please click here.  If you'd like to know more about Silks Acrylic Glaze, please click here.

If you'd like to get your hands on this beautiful Leaf Grid stencil, please click here, and if you'd like to see more amazing work using this stencil, just hop on over to the blogs of these talented, inspiring, artists.

Thanks for checking in. xx