Monday, July 28, 2014

One for the bees ...

Just a brief little postette ... a bit of art I created over the weekend prompted by a challenge created by Effy Wild for her ning group. Say what you will, but sometimes having a jumping off point can be really satisfying when you're feeling creative but don't really have anything specific in mind.

I thought about "finding" a good bee quote to use as inspiration, but (as usual) the act of reading a bunch of bee quotes and not seeing one that grabbed me generated some writing of my own. When in doubt, use your own stuff, I always say.

The background is blueprint paper that's been gelli printed using my 6x6" gelli plate on Impression Obsession's plexiglass Mega Mount designed for their 6x6 Cover-a-Card rubber stamps. It's a cool quick way to get multiple layers of paint and texture on a big sheet of paper, and I just keep stamping and stamping till I figure that paper's had enough.

The bees are acetone image transfers. They come from Clipart, Etc, my favourite online resource for black and white images (historical, biological, etc etc). The flowers are from Stampin Up. There are a few random bits of collage and washi tape here and there.

The poem was created ransom-note style on scraps of paper using miscellaneous rubber stamp letters, rub-on letters and the ever-so-handy (but impossible to find at the moment?) Tim Holtz Label Letters. If I don't find more of these soon, I may need to make my own, which is a shame since I love the font (Dymo labeler!) and how each letter is already pre-cut. I created each word separately and then figured out the word spacing on the finished piece afterward.

Nothing too grand, but for some reason I really like it. It's funny (at least to me) that I'm always trying for "casual primitive" and wind up with "neatly organized". Think I'll just blame it on my Virgoness and learn to live with it.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sketchbooks revisited ... part one ...

I know, I know ... haven't blogged in ages. Sorry 'bout that. I blame Pinterest. Or something. Actually Pinterest totally changed the way I record my thoughts, curate images of stuff I want to remember and do. I haven't journalled *properly* since I started doing Pinterest. I miss journalling the way I used to. Oh wait ... you mean I can go back to it? Cool.

Now ... on to the sketchbooks!

As some of you know, every year I participate in the The Brooklyn Art Library's annual Sketchbook Project. I've done 4 books already and I'm already working on my 2015 submission. I like trying to get enough coherent thoughts and ideas in a single location to make a book. I like sharing. I really like having a deadline. And I always always always look forward to when their annual tour hits Vancouver, which it did this past Sunday, July 13th, on Granville Island.

Sunday promised to be very hot, maybe a little hotter than we're used to, but I couldn't imagine not being there. The idea of a little trailer packed with 4000+ sketchbooks from artists all over the world, not to mention hanging out with a bunch of like-minded Vancouverites, is just too good to miss.

Thanks to limited computer access we weren't issued the usual library cards, or able to do that whole digital scan checkout/checkin process. I say "thanks" because this meant we just walked up to the counter and they handed us a pile of books. Be still my beating heart. At my table we very quickly developed a rotation system, handing them off to others as we finished reading till the books made the circuit, and then someone would return some books and get more. There were just SO MANY sketchbooks to look at, and only 4 hours to do it in, but I think I looked at twice as many books as last year. Thank you very much, limits of technology!

I don't want to get too talky here ... mostly want to show you some of the great sketchbooks I looked at, some of which you can view in their entirety on the Sketchbook Project's Digital Library. Don't worry ... I'll give you links at the bottom of this post so you can zip right to them if you want to see the whole book ... here goes:

An appropriate beginning, the first sketchbook I looked at ... Robin Matthews' Atlas of Turning 50.

 

Two pages from Kathryn Lynn Buncik's Many Compositions.


The delightfully quirky line, thread, way by Hilda Richers-Kieseritzky.
The delightfully colourful Sky Sandwiches by Sinead Hanley
The deliciously rendered "Fall vs. Summer Honey" from Staci Adman's Simple Beautiful Things.
And here are the links if you want to see these books in full at the Sketchbook Project's Digital Library:
Robin Matthews, Waynesville, NC - Atlas of Turning 50 - not available online yet ... sorry!
Kathryn Lynn Buncik, Jackson, TN - Many Compositions 
Hilda Richers-Kieseritzky, Nienburg, Niedersachsen, Germany - line, thread, way 
Sinead Hanley, Melbourne, Australia - sky sandwiches
Staci Adman, Kenmore, WA - Simple Beautiful Things 

I took *a lot* of photos, and I'll be back in a day or two to show you some of my favourites and talk about them a bit more ... lovely covers, amazing line drawings and texture, texture, texture. You're coming back, right?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just a little Wes-obsessed at the moment ...

I realize it's been ages since I posted anything here. Not that I haven't been creating, I've just haven't been talking about it. I've been creating plenty, including this page, which is one of my submissions for Owen Clements wonderful kickstarter project: Wes Anderzine!

I'm a relative newcomer to Wes Anderson movies, but I'm just a teeny bit obsessed with them at the moment. I think that might be normal if you like his movies. I never quite know how to describe them to people who haven't seen them. Quirky is apt, but it barely scratches the surface. They're like quirky to the nth degree. They satisfy on so many levels it's almost an overload on the senses. You can watch the first time for the story, then again for the characters, then again for the dialogue, then again for the colours, then again for the design details, and documents, and aerial views, and camera pans, and music, and well, you get the drift ... it's like trying to pick your favourite part of a kaleidoscope as it changes before your eyes.

The artwork above is inspired by Suzi in Moonrise Kingdom, my favourite Wes Anderson movie so far. Suzi and Sam are perhaps the sweetest, quasi-tragic pair of star-crossed not-quite-old-enough-to-be lovers I've seen on screen since Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (but with a happier ending). I could go on about the movie for awhile, but it's like trying to pin down mercury - so I won't. But any movie that features a library book obsessed, binocular wearing, scissor wielding, misunderstood preteen heroine is already leaps and bounds ahead of most Hollywood-generated blockbusters as far as I'm concerned.

Like Suzi, I'm a little book-obsessed myself, and one of my favourite non-parts of Moonrise Kingdom is this little gem of a video book review with The Narrator. Do you like to read?

As a kickstarter backer, as well as a contributor, I'm eagerly awaiting my very own copy of Wes Anderzine, Volume 2 to arrive from England. Congrats to Owen for hosting such an amazing project and for letting all us wesandergeeks contribute. I heart collaboratives, and the quirkier, the better. Looking forward to seeing more Wes Anderson movies so I can contribute to Volume 3.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Evolution of an Idea ...

Sometimes in the creative process your brain finds something interesting ~ an image, a process, a juxtaposition ~ and then one day you realize its been showing up in your work in different ways over a period of time without any apparent conscious decision on your part. I thought I might present a series of works I've done over the last year to illustrate this point ...

The first (known) occurrence of what I've decided to call "little tree" syndrome happened at a retreat I attended last October called Faith and the Arts, hosted by Jill Cardwell, organizer of the Creativitea meetup group. Some of you may be surprised to find me at a retreat called Faith and the Arts. So was I. One of the things I've said about my strict religious upbringing is that it acted more as an immunization against religion rather than an indoctrination. But setting that aside, I think the creative experience is also a spiritual one and when presented with an opportunity to "be present" with whatever drives my creativity, and to share that time with other people considering the same question, I attended with an open mind and an open heart.

At the retreat we were given a blank journal, and over the course of the 3 days I filled it with collages, writing and drawings. One day we began our creative exploration with a simple, elegant prayer, which I later collaged into the journal spread below. Something about the earthiness of the magazine imagery I found and the way I tore the top edge created a kind of hillside and made me think of the main part of the page as "subterranean", so I decided to reinforce that by drawing little trees along the hill's top edge ...

A few months later I went away to my regular art journalling retreat (I know, I know ~ how lucky am I to have all these retreats to go to?) and I was playing around in one of my ongoing projects La Musee d'une Vie Inventee (The Museum of an Invented Life), and I found myself again creating a page with that same subterranean dark hillside feel. And again, a tree just seemed like the thing that was needed. This time I added some roots, perhaps to show that the character exiting on the right was not only leaving the landscape behind, but also her roots ...


A few months later, I was working on my submission for The Sketchbook Project. I'd decided to illustrate a  short story I'd written in my journal a few years ago, and (since I can't draw) I thought it might be fun to do it using torn paper collage. At one point I realized I wanted tall trees, and realizing the limitation of fine detail with torn collage, I decided to draw them. The little trees in my previous work came to the rescue, although I'm not sure my attempt was completely successful, at least they *do* look like trees ...

A few months ago my art journalling group had an Art Journal Zine Exchange ~ something we do from time to time to share our work with each other, and I wanted to include some of the pages from the Faith and the Arts retreat, but the page size was a completely different shape and size. I photocopied the original pages to a smaller size and then shortened them as well. The prayer seemed out of context with the rest of the zine, so I replaced it with inspiring quotes, something my art journal group also shares with each other on a regular basis ...






Okay .. we're almost up to the present ... a few weeks ago I bought a LARGE jar of black gesso. Like a lifetime supply. I started painting some more background pages in La Musee d'une Vie Inventee, and had a bit left over (you know how it is) ... I grabbed some blank ATCs so that nothing would go to waste. And the first swipe across my card was (you guessed it) ... that hillside shape again. So I painted a bunch of them. Like 30. I had to get more black gesso, but when a good idea strikes I feel it would be just rude to ignore it. After the ATCs dried,  I started drawing (you guessed it) ... little trees. Which were shortly joined by fences (as in the page above with the person leaving the landscape). As I was drawing I was thinking about human-scaled objects that might be seen in silhouette on hilltops, and I thought of parks, park benches and bicycles, so I threw a couple of those in as well. And when I'd drawn all the little pictures, I remembered the quotes I'd added to the zine pages, and started looking through some random text pages that I keep on my desktop for cleaning my brayer when I'm using the gelli plate, and little stories started to appear ...

 


I'm calling them "momentaries", as in commentaries on little moments, maybe? Well, anyway ... yesterday while working on the last of the momentaries to prepare for my ATC group trading session this upcoming Sunday, one story surfaced that seemed to be particularly meaningful and made me stop and think of all sorts of other moments. I'm not sure what it might mean for anyone else, but it felt like it wanted to be shared and it felt like the right thing to follow that instinct ...



Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Recent adventures in art : giving books the eyeball ...

Left: "Temptation". Right "Dragon Watch"
One evening last week my friend Tammy dropped by with some new fun art material to play with. She'd recently taken a class creating "eyeball" books and thought I might enjoy making one for myself. She was oh so right.

In my opinion, you can always tell a good art material by how much it bends to the artist's vision. And in this case, I didn't so much have a vision as a hunch. Well, actually not so much a hunch as a willingness to see what popped up when I started playing. The base books are quite small and very very cheap. Like dollar store cheap. The sculpting material is apoxie clay ~ the jar A + jar B = hardens in air over the course of a couple of hours kind of clay. Not cheap, but definitely worth it.

"Dragon Watch" on the right measures 3.75" x 5.4" and was the first book I made. Wish I'd had the forethought to take pictures before I started, but I'm a *little* impatient when I get an idea. The original cover was matte black with big bright glossy flowers. You'd never know that now, of course.

After mixing A+B, I spread a thin layer completely over the front of the book, paying particular attention to those glossy flowers. I wasn't sure the apoxie would stick to them, but it held on marvelously. The focal point (no pun intended) is the eye. I dug through my random art supplies and found this beautiful clear sea green marble, and started layering bits of apoxie around it to form the eyelids and brow ridge. Almost immediately the marble seemed to turn black (no light shining through anymore - d'uh!). Ah well, live and learn, I figured. Once I had the eyeball in place, I began rolling small balls of apoxie clay and layering them around the eye in what seemed like a "natural" way. I resisted the urge to google lizards to see what I should be doing. I'm stubborn that way. As time passed, the apoxie was getting stiffer and stiffer, so it's a good thing my "hunch" wasn't too ambitious. The interesting thing for me was how lifelike it all turned out. Even before it was painted the eye just sort of looks at you. It's a little creepy, but in a good way, I guess.

The next day I (again!) didn't take a picture before painting. Just too impatient to get started. I decided to gesso the whole thing (front and back cover) to cover up the rest of the bright glossy flowers on the back, then I gave the whole thing an undercoat of purple. I know. Dragons aren't purple. But I wanted to get some layers in there and, following another hunch, purple seemed like the right colour. When that was dry I overpainted with Chromium Green, then rubbed off some of it to let some purple show through, and then lightly brushed the high areas with iridescent turquoise. The last step (which I have yet to do) is to find a nice bit of red ribbon to replace the current bookmark, so Dragon Watch will have a tongue! And the thing about the green-marble-now-turned-black is that in certain lights, you get a reflection from deep in the eye that makes you *really* feel like the book is looking back. Cool.

I had a bit of leftover apoxie mixed up (once you've mixed A+B together, there's no going back and apparently creating a dragon takes less clay than you think) so I decided to use it up on a second book.

The second book, "Temptation" (on the left) is a mere 3" x 4.25". I loved the little fabric circle on the front so much that I didn't want to cover it, and as I was rolling out the remaining apoxie into a "snake" of clay it occurred to me that I could indeed make a snake and have it curl around the circle. I'll confess right now that at this point I should have googled snakes to see what they look like (I'm pretty sure their heads look *nothing* like what I made), but the apoxie was getting stiffer by the minute and I just went for it. I had just the teeniest bit of leftover after I made the snake, so I thought I'd add one more little detail ... which turned out to be an apple. I wish I could say I'm clever enough to think of these things ahead of time ... oh yeah, I *totally* planned for a snake and an apple, but no ... I just wung it. (Wung it, as in past tense of "to wing it").

When the snake was down I was seriously impressed with how firmly the whole thing was stuck to the book. Even before it was dry I simply could not budge it. I made a diamond back pattern with my book-making awl (don't tell my book binding kit!), and then poked a series of holes that I thought I would glue beads into after painting, and a hole in the top of the apple for a stem of twisted wire, and a leaf of painted text paper sandwiched around some strong baling wire. The next morning I painted the snake with iridescent green and turquoise, and the apple in quinacridone red. Getting the beads in the holes was easy. Keeping them there was a whole other deal. You try sticking sticky beads in sticky holes with sticky fingers and get back to me. I eventually wound up using a pair of toothpicks as chopsticks, and then overpainted the whole thing with a layer of glue just to be safe. I was worried the glue would dull the iridescent paints, but it looks fine, and the beads are well and truly stuck. Phew!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Recent adventures in art : Flower Pounding with Magpie's Nest

 
It's been a month since I posted anything here, but that doesn't mean my hands have been idle. Today, for instance, I made my way over to Britannia Community Centre for a Flower Pounding free pop-up art workshop hosted by the Magpie's Nest Community Art Space.

I've never done flower pounding before, but the concept is almost as simple as it sounds ... put a layer of flower blossoms, leaves, etc., between a sheet of watercolour paper and a piece of fabric, and then whack at it with a small hammer in a determined sort of way. My favourite method was using the rounded head of a ball peen hammer, and work my way pointilistically over the surface of the bloom or leaf.

I decided to create a sort of "impossible botanical sampler" ~ a plant with a variety of blooms and leaves. I wanted to see what kind of result I'd get from each blossom. I began with whole flowers and leaves at the top, but by the time I reached the bottom I'd learned that placing each petal individually gave me more satisfactory results. On the left-hand side is the muslin "print" of the flowers, with the paper "print" on the right. The magpies had brought a massive amount of flowers and leaves to choose from, as well as a big stack of prepared fabrics and paper, but I thought I better keep my project small and manageable.

I'm not sure how permanent the colours will be, but they're very lovely and soft at the moment. I found it interesting how the colours changed even while I worked on it. The three-petaled brown-yellow flower on center outside edge was actually three petals from a large orange lily. The yellow inner edges very not much different in colour from the petals initially, but retain their yellowness even now. But while pounding the outer edge of the petals, each strike of the hammer would result in a vivid orange dot on the fabric, but it quickly (within seconds) changed to purple/brown you see above. Oddly beautiful transition that only the person pounding would ever see.

This was Day 2 of the flower pounding workshop, and (judging by the noise level) well attended! Some people who'd been in on Saturday for Day 1 came back with friends, so it was a bit deafening at some points ~ probably one of their noisier workshops. But as someone across the table said to me today: "Funny how the noise doesn't bother you when it's you doing the hammering!". Perhaps this act of creativity would be a good form of stress relief as well ...

Big thanks to all the lovely Magpies at Magpie's Nest Community Art Space. Their events are always well organized and welcoming, and fully stocked for whatever diverse art activity they have planned. If you live in Vancouver (or nearby), I highly encourage you to sign up for one of their meetups. Their events are creative, free and kid-friendly. As a person who's usually on the organizing end of this sort of thing, it's a real treat for me to just drop in and enjoy the atmosphere when these talented and dedicated people bring their unique events to the community. Well done!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

More gelli fun - zine covers + envelopes ...

Finally had some time this afternoon to sit down with my Gelli Arts plate again. My goal today was to make some bases for zine covers and goodie envelopes for an upcoming zine swap. Although it might look like it, I didn't actually approach my colour choices in any kind of organized way. I just arranged them this way for the photograph afterwards.

I usually use a variety of paints, but these ones were mostly made with higher quality paints so I could get good "pick up" when pulling up residue paint off the plate. On the higher end, some colours were Golden, as well as Kroma (a local paint company in Vancouver). Kroma tends to be very buttery and lovely to work with. I love their pigment quality and how they blend. Slightly down the economic scale, there is some Pebeo and Amsterdam acrylics. Still good pigment, but not as good on the pick up. My new favourite colour is still Titanium White - the zine cover on the right-hand end must have about eight layers of uglier and uglier paint experiments - all saved by cross-texturing wavy lines in white. Fabulous.

For this gelli plate session I used some of my favourite "pattern makers" : 12x12 stencils from The Crafters Workshop, two pieces of wavy corrugated paper (not sure of the name or the source ... still trying to track down more of this stuff!) as well just plain old dragging a triangle graining tool through the wet paint.

I only foresee one problem with these zine covers ... I have to give them away in the swap. I wish I didn't fall in love with all the stuff that comes off the Gelli ... it would make life easier when it comes time to hand things over, even when I'm getting a bona fide art journal zine from some pretty amazing artists in exchange. Sigh.