Wednesday, 28 October 2015

WOYWW #334: Gelli printing!

Here we go again! Another Wednesday to hang out in the Stamping Ground courtesy of our lovely hostess, Julia, and snoop around other crafters' work desks to see what they've been up to.

I did a lot of gelli printing yesterday, which is what I would like to share with you today. I used some home-made stencils, but not the ones I shared in my previous post. These were all cut by the Cameo from textured card. I like using my hand-cut mylar stencils in journals, but the ones cut from card are better for the gelli plate, I think, because they pick up the paint better and they don't need cleaning. The more you use them, the stronger they get because the acrylic layers build up on them. Here are all the stencils I used to make prints with:

And here's a photo of my desk in action. I now use deli paper and tissue paper to print on because they're nice and thin for collaging and they seem to pick up the paint from the plate better as well. Tissue paper can be very fragile though, but I like the texture it creates. The open journal on the right is for cleaning the excess paint off my brayer. The paint layers make an excellent start to journal pages - no more white page syndrome!

And now let me show you some of the prints I've made. There are dozens more - these are just the better ones. I went for a "grungy" look, which I love!

At the end of the printing session, I was on a roll and quickly created a page in my "clean-off" journal. It is so much easier to get going when you've already got some colour down to start with. I did this page in about 15 minutes. No planning, just went ahead and did it. Other times, I can spend hours agonizing over small details.

Thank you for visiting today! Hope I was able to show you something interesting to look at and comment on! Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, 26 October 2015

LifeBook Catch-Up Week 25: Stenciling Fun!

Week 25 of LifeBook was brought to us by Lynzee Lynx. It was a fun lesson: we got to make our own stencils and play with them to our heart's content. The lesson included a meditation and healing exercise, but I was too excited about making stencils so I had to skip those. I just couldn't wait to play with my new toy, a Cut Master stencil cutter.

Many of you will be familiar with this clever tool, but in case you're not, I'll tell you a bit about it. It looks like a soldering iron with a sharp tip. It heats up to a high temperature and melts the stencil plastic as you guide it along. Obviously, it will not give you the precise, intricate lines of commercially available stencils or the ones produced by die-cutting machines, but I like the organic shapes you can make this way. It takes a little patience and more than a little caution (I managed to burn my finger!) but it's so rewarding to be able to cut out your own designs. Of course, you could just use a craft knife to achieve similar results but I've never been able to handle one, especially along curves. This is what the tip of the Cut Master looks like:

and these are the stencils I made for this project:

It was so much fun putting these stencils into action! I first painted a sheet of watercolour paper with three coordination fluid acrylics for the background. I was supposed to leave some white space, but I just couldn't help myself! Then I went beserk with stenciling using paynes grey and white acrylics with a sponge dabber and finished it off with some doodling in black, white and gold paint pens. I also sprinkled some black and white high flow acrylics all over the page to jazz it up a bit. I made three of these pages in different colour schemes. I will make them into a foldout page for my LifeBook. Fold-out pages add a lot of interest to a journal, making it more interactive. Now that I have quite a few pages completed, I can't wait to bind my book at the end of the year!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

LifeBook Catch-Up Week 23: Two Angels (Strength and Tranquility)

Our Lifebook hostess and overall mixed media goddess, Tam Laporte showed us how to draw a male face in the magical form of an angel in week 23. I can tell you it's a lot more tricky than drawing a female face, so no wonder that the majority of art journal pages and mixed media projects tend to feature the female form. The reason I find the male form more difficult is because you have to deal with the ears, short hair and bushy eyebrows. You also have fewer options to use certain elements to make the page more engaging, although it can also create opportunities you otherwise wouldn't have with a female theme, I guess.

Before diving into the project, Tam challenged us to think about why we create in the first place. For me, this passion to create started soon after my son was born. I'm not sure what brought it on, but I'd tried numerous creative outlets before I stumbled upon mixed-media just over a year ago. I think I had a lot of pent-up creativity in me, that never had a chance to manifest itself, going back to my childhood. I grew up behind the iron curtain where creativity, independent thinking and self-expression was frowned upon or at best discouraged. I'd never been "arty" as a child or a young adult. Instead, I was always 100% committed to my studies and later my various jobs, so perhaps those were an outlet for my need to assert myself. When I became a stay-at-home mum, I had this uncontrollable urge to become creative and it grew from there. Perhaps it has also got to do with the fact that we women, when we get married/have children, lose a great deal of our individuality and desperately need to feel like ourselves again. I certainly felt that way when I became a wife and mother. I know now, that mixed-media is not just a passing fad for me. It is a way of life and I don't ever want to give it up!

Today I'm sharing two pages with you. One of them is the aforementioned male angel and the other is a female angel from LB2014 that Tam released as a bonus lesson for us. The female angel represents my "art guardian angel", who has opened the cage of my creativity setting it free. On second thought, I could have named this page "soar" but at the time "tranquility" was the word that came to me, because art also helps me combat anxiety. I named the male page "strength" because, to me, that's what the male archetype represents. In case you're wondering why my angel is wearing a hat, it is because I messed up his hair and this was the only way I could fix it, LOL! So no hidden meaning there, though if I thought about it long enough, I'm sure I could come up with an explanation! Enjoy the slide show!

Disclaimer: I just want to emphasize again that I'm not making these paintings public because I think they are amazing, but because they are part of my creative journey and I did have a lot of fun making them!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

LifeBook Catch-Up Week 17: The Maiden

Week 17 of LifeBook was taught by the lovely Jenny Wentworth. Her soothing voice guided us through a lesson to paint an expressive portrait. My version didn't quite turn out the way I envisaged it. I wanted it to be loose and painterly like hers, but it wasn't meant to be. Maybe I'm just not ready for that level of expression yet. My portraits are still quite tight and illustration-like. Nevertheless, I like some aspects of it. I think I did well with the lips, though looking at it now, her nose is a bit too wide along the ridge, giving her a feline appearance, not unlike the characters in Avatar (perhaps, just very slightly).

I named this picture 'the maiden' as I happened to have Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'ubervilles lying around for collaging (it's the title of one of the chapters) and it seemed rather fitting for my girl. The crown was an afterthought, but I think it fits the painting well. I added the three hearts to break up the whiteness of her shirt. The scribbled background was featured in the lesson, but that's about the only thing in common with it. So, it's not quite what I wanted, but I accept it as part of my creative journey.

I always share my projects even if I'm not 100% happy with them, because I want to inspire other people to make art and show them that you don't need to be an accomplished artist in order to put paint to paper. I found a lot of enjoyment in making this painting, photographing it and putting it on my blog. And that's the only thing that matters to me right now!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

LifeBook Catch-Up Week 11: Inner and Outer World

Week 11 of Lifebook 2015 was brought to us by the one and only Jane Davenport. Her lesson featured a busy collage (symbolising our inner world) as part of a female figure. My figure didn't really work for me, so I made some changes to my page. At one point, I was going to discard the entire page, but I'm glad I managed to save it. I really don't like giving up on something that I already put a lot of effort into.

My page started out OK - I really liked the collage I made with gelli prints and elements cut out of napkins and tissue paper. Because of the colourful gelli prints that I used for the background, I chose some neutral images, which worked quite well on top of the prints. I also added some black stamp marks. I was very happy with my background and more than a little reluctant to cover it up. Luckily, I have some photos to remember it by! I even took some close-ups.

Two gelli prints collaged on a sheet of watercolour paper

Collage elements added from napkins and tissue paper, plus stamping

Now the more difficult part! I had to sketch a female figure on top of all this yumminess, masking the "outer world" with gesso, and leaving the collage visible for the female figure only, symbolising her inner world.  Jane's figure was all curvy, feminine and full of movement, but I didn't manage to achieve that effect. Mine just looked odd, so I had to make some changes. There wasn't much I could do because I had already gessoed over the page. But I managed to come up with a more static design (though I'm sure Jane would cringe at the stiff neck, LOL!) I softened the stiffness with the little bird sitting on her shoulder! A little whimsy can save a page! So here it is in all its glory and stiffness! I added a quote to minimize the empty space on the left. The bird is probably my favourite part of this and if you want to be philosophical, you could say that my inner world spilled into my outer world bringing some brightness and whimsy with it!