Monday, December 31, 2012

Turquoise and Bisque Journal

This is another sewn-over-tapes with mixed paper journal. Alternating colors of turquoise and bisque Canson Mi-Teintes paper make up the signatures, as you can see on the spine. Again, I used acrylic paintings of mine as pockets and pages as well as recycling old book covers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two Book Reviews

Since I love creative books and have collected and read so many over the years, I tried cutting back this year. After all, there is only so much shelf space. Yes, I tried reading art and craft ebooks but was very disappointed—so many juicy photographs and layouts left out—and these type of tomes need to be held, taken down from shelves, consulted, propped open when doing exercises. Beginning to feel malnourished, I recently ordered “Personal Geographies” and "Artist's Journal Workshop". Turns out I made good choices!

I have not gotten too far into “Personal Geographies” and already it has provided me with incredible inspiration and ideas. Jill K. Berry has a unique angle of creating personal maps in this mixed-media technique guide that stretches your mind, whether or not you actually do the projects. Reading a little at a time, I already have topics for journal spreads as well as larger pieces. Ms. Berry gives you a broad outline of what she did and why but since you tailor-fit the exercises to your own life, the possibilities are endless. Not only are Ms. Berry’s finished pieces insightful but the other contributing artists have additional ideas.

Usually I focus on one art technique book at a time. But, I couldn’t help it—I started reading “Artist’s Journal Workshop” by Cathy Johnson, as well. Her segment on the 2012 Strathmore online workshops earlier this year was one of my top favorites from the last two years. As a testament to her gentle and encouraging teaching style, I almost wanted to dive into watercolors--her chosen media-- even though I do not use them.

Instead of reviewing which materials to use in your artist journal, she begins asking three thoughtful questions that may define your approach. Ms. Johnson draws and paints exquisitely. I love reading her journal spreads as well as the other invited artists. Even though the focus is on realism, not my usual approach, I do not feel intimidated. I go through periods of wanting to sketch. My drawing is usually confined to small notebooks, working out bookbinding choices about covers, papers, closures or designing 3-D projects and assemblages. But sometimes I want to stretch, illustrating photographs I have taken or exploring memories or dreams. Ms. Johnson gives you courage, guidance, and advice.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meeting Yourself, Coming & Going and Wandering

Meeting Yourself, Coming & Going
14" x 20"
acrylic on paper

These started out to be pockets for journals but they wanted to be paintings instead.

14" x 20"
acrylic on paper

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gelatin Printmaking 303

Mexican Sycamore leaf on cardstock

Why can an artist sometimes be like a fretful dog, pacing around and around, until finally settling down? That's what I felt last Sunday wanting to play with my new Gelli Arts plate--I kept putting it off even though I wanted to experiment.

Mexican sycamore leaf and other small leaf inside, on 140 lb. HP Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper

Finally, I cleared space. Got out some paints, papers, fresh leaves, stencils and masks, brayers, spray bottle. And just started. Although I have done printing on gelatin before (here and here), this time I didn't have to destroy the gelatin.

Mexican sycamore leaf, BFK Rives tan paper

Working on this new re-usable plate is much different than working on unflavored gelatin. Here are some positive things I found from my first experiments with it:

  • I could make monoprints with great results by not lifting the paper completely off the plate (I’d be hopeless trying to put the paper back in the exact same location or register
  • I could take the plate out anytime you want to play and not have to make the gelatin hours or even the night before
  • I was surprised and pleased fluid acrylics worked well (if done quickly and in small areas)
  • I could make prints on watercolor paper pages in my handmade and bound journal

Oak leaves, Coventry rag paper
There are also some negative results from the plate:  
  • I couldn’t pull multiple prints as I could with regular gelatin; the plate seems to suck in paint and transfer it all on the first print
  • I found my acrylics dried very fast on the plate (I used artists heavy body Liquitex in tube form and Golden fluid acrylics in small bottles); I know this often depends on weather conditions
  • I had to stop and clean the plate more frequently because ghost prints on computer paper with a spritz of water did not lift off already-dried acrylics
  • I found any ghost prints quite abysmal to non-existent
leaves, triple spiral handmade stamp, BFK Rives paper

Trying several types of paper, of course, yielded different results. I used 104 lb. BFK Rives printingmaking paper in a tan color, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico Hot Press watercolor paper, and regular 65 lb. white cardstock.

These are just a few links to more information (some with YouTube videos) about playing with either gelatin or the Gelli Arts plate: 

Do a Google search and I’m sure you can find a bunch more.

leaves, triple spiral handmade stamp, fluid acrylics, 140 lb. HP Fabriano Artistico w/c paper

So, I’m wondering if using an acrylic retarder--in either a medium or paint form--would help with the very quick drying I experienced.

leaves, triple spiral handmade stamp, fluid acrylics on cardstock

mountain and figure masks, BFK Rives

mountain and figure masks, 140 lb. HP Fabriano Artistico

Even with prints that didn't quite work, I see possibilities for re-working later. With a new tool, you can never know how things are going to turn out. But, that's also the fun of experimenting.

ghost print, 140 lb. HP Fabriano Artistico

ghost print on cardstock
note excess paint from figure mask that stuck

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Latest Journal

Here's my newly-completed, sewn-on-tapes journal I made for a good friend at work. Since she loves astrology, it's perfect with those symbols adorning the front and back.

Recycling very old book covers--"The Century," from 1891--from a discarded library book, I again used a mixture of papers—scrapbook, maps, calendars, drawing and pastel papers. For a personal touch, I used several of her own greeting cards and saved papers. My gelatin prints and acrylic paintings on watercolor papers became pages and pockets.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Updated Journal Cover

After using my new journal for a while, I decided to change the cover. Adding more of my acrylic painting (on watercolor paper), I tried to complement the circular silver design on the original covers. Replaced the original jute cord with brown leather closure, too. I like it MUCH better!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rose of Inspiration

ink on Mi-Teintes paper
 Cleaning up kitchen scraps one evening, I saw the end of a baby bok choy on my husband’s cutting board and immediately recognized it as a rose. How to use it? As a stamp, of course.

Although it doesn’t last very long, the natural stamp was fun to experiment on various papers. It might make a stronger impression using heavy body acrylic paint, though I haven’t gotten around to trying that yet.

What else could be re-purposed? The end of a celery stalk? Half a cabbage? Once you begin seeing with artist eyes, it’s hard not to see art in everything!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Walk on the Beach

Walk on the Beach
9" x 12"
acrylic on paper

This new painting is a departure for me, using a figure and a more realistic scene. Aiming to do a solid black silhouette walking on the sand, my technique did not turn out the way I planned (I know--why plan?!).

But instead of blocking out the figure with more Payne's Gray, I decided I liked it and  simply outlined the walker. I like to think that the figure is becoming more part of the natural scene the more she walks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Vale of Tears and Pain

The Vale of Tears and Pain
14” x 20”
Acrylic on paper

For a good part of my life I wanted to be a writer. I molded fictional worlds and created characters out of dialog and thoughts. Many, many short stories and novels were envisioned; some even finished.

But it wasn't until I became a visual artist that I could fully, quickly express myself and complete pieces of work. Color and texture replaced plot and chapters.

I painted "Vale of Tears and Pain" this week in a few sessions. Texture from acrylic mediums, tissues, and papers became the storyboard to which I added warm colors. For me, painting is the best medium I have found to express myself. I really love the simple materials, paper and paint, and a few tools, palette knife, 2" brush, so hands and eyes can create a dance, releasing emotions.

When too much time has elapsed since I painted, as is the case now, I delight and learn anew how precious this form is and wonder why I neglected it. Bookbinding requires design and planning. Painting requires intuition and spontaneity. Hooray for not thinking so much!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Journal and Comfort

Here is a new journal I made myself a while back. I used the sewn-over-tapes binding style while trying leather straps, a circle cut from one of my acrylic daily paintings, and a button that seemed to belong. Instead of hiding the title and author, I left it intact.

Like the other Full Tilt Boogie journals, it has a mix of papers—calendars, cards, old magazine articles and covers, my photos and art, book pages, and various art papers.

Any artistic inclinations have been pushed aside the last several weeks as I’ve been dealing with my husband’s most recent health issues. How do you find comfort in times of high stress? Recently, I’ve turned to old books (Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series) and a new DVD (A Celtic Pilgrimage with John O’Donohue).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's Hot in This Country

Where would you rather be today? Here?

September 2010, Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Or Here?

April 2012, Poteet, TX

I didn’t name my blog Artistic Dreamer for nothing…I am a dreamer. So, even on the coldest, rainiest day in Ireland I’d much rather be there than in South Texas. I’ve lived here long enough to know and despise the heat. It's one of the many things that will always bother me about this area. As a distraction, I put other cities on my weather page where I can do daily comparisons. The Pacific Northwest and Ireland have quite similar climates. Yet, I do enjoy seeing the sun…just not having summer nine months a year.

Today's weather

Some people love the heat. To me, it makes me tired and slow and exhausted. I feel invigorated by cool weather and love piling on layers to warm up. What is your preference? Do you think it has anything to do with where you spent your first years?

“It’s hot in this country,” I often joke with my husband after going out for a walk. I use a lilting Irish brogue, conjuring clouds to dampen scorching blue skies. In my studio, there’s a Celtic stained glass piece hanging in window. When I first spied it in a Dingle gift store, I knew it would bring a misty reminder. So, I draw the insulated curtains against the summer sun, touch the stained glass, and play Irish CDs. With these mental tricks, I’m almost back…

Happy creating wherever you are!