Friday, October 31, 2014

Homage to Red and Aqua

Do you have a color combo that makes your heart sing?

For me, that is red and aqua. Look in my closet, and you'll find at least half the clothes are red. These are live-out-loud colors. These are colors for the brave of heart. These colors are my opposite. When I look at all the red in my wardrobe, I wonder why. I'm fairly reserved. I don't like to call attention to myself. And yet there it is: Pop! Zing! Take THAT world!

Pairing it with aqua becomes a matter of yin and yang. Fire and water. Sweet and sour. Hot and cold. I love the balance. Red is passionate, and aqua is the relaxed feel of tropical waters.  I hadn't thought about it before now, but I suppose that balance is why it made perfect sense that those colors should be our wedding colors.

This week it also found its way into the pages of an accordion album I made for a swap. Here are a few of the pages:

I also made a vintage woman postcard for a swap. I'm now wishing I hadn't doodled on the image of the woman...but sometimes the hand does what it wants to do before reason can step in:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

One Hour at a Time

I find that I get grumpy when I'm not creating something. However, there are weeks when I can only squeeze in an hour per day. This was one such week.

 Hobbies/Personal Interests ATC Swap:  I incorporated 5 things that interest me: hands, clocks, the color red, vintage images, and poetry book pages. I really do need to stop trying to color the lips of these ladies. It fails me every time, as I don't have a red pen that doesn't bleed. Thus, they take on the look of little children who've been drinking Kool-Aid or the crazy ladies in the movies who put on their lipstick in a psychotic way....

 This was my faithful companion this week. He was feeling under the weather. I'm not sure why. Perhaps he ate something he shouldn't have. Perhaps he is just getting older.

 I participated in an elephant swap. I found a foam elephant puzzle for $1 at Staples and instantly decided it would make a good tool for my Gelli plate. I stamped the image and then used a white Signo gel pen to clarify the pieces.

 When you participate in art swaps as I do, you know it's a faux pas to send anything naked. That is, you have to jazz up the envelope. Yet I've been busy, so lately, when I have any time at all to work on my Gelli plate, I will often use envelopes to clean the plate surface. This gives me envelopes with a little color or a little pattern. However, even that seemed to minimal, so I added a handful of collage elements and felt instantly better about sending it out to my partner.

 I made this for a mermaid swap. The body began life as a coloring book page. I then used tracing paper to ascertain the shape of Gelli print paper I needed to make her scales. I added a rosy cheeked vintage image and tons of collage bits and pieces. With the exception of her hands, which are the balloon-ish cartoon-y hands, I l ike how it came out. I even like her chubby belly.

 I got lots of interesting mail this week too. One swap partner sent me a selection of crouched (or is it knitted?) items. I'm most enamored of the red flower and the neck wrap. Red is my favorite color, and I think wearing both items at the same time would be quite fetching. And her swap couldn't come too soon, as it is freezing outside.

 I participate occasionally in collage collaborations. You send out a textured background, and then 3 or 4 ladies add to it and eventually send it home. Honestly, I can't remember what the background looked like before it left my hands, but this is what it looks like now. I like the scroll background and the moon elements best.
 I also got this in the mail. It's a set of 10 Halloween-themed ATC (Artist Trading Cards).  Many many people participated in this, and I imagine it must have been quite a task to sort through 400+ cards.

 I got this from Texas. My partner made me mermaid-themed items. She suggested that the larger item would look good as a journal front, and I will likely do that when I have some time.

 This is another collage collaboration. In this case, I am the final person to add to the collage before sending it home to its owner. On the back of the collage, the original owner requested that someone add a lady to the piece, so I will see what I can do. I'm also pretty sure those red moon and star elements won't stay red and that I will use some black pen to clarify the tree branches.

Finally, I participate in an online art community that provides participants with weekly prompts. This week's prompt asks people to incorporate leaves. I used one leaf I made out of a Gelli print. I used various painted papers in my stash. Finally, I have this childish side that likes to imagine there is an artist who hand-paints each and every leaf, so I couldn't help but try to visualize that artist. Don't you love his expression and his giant ears?

Not bad for working one hour a day on art, yes?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Some Assembly Required

Most of the time, I work in 2-D. I prefer to work in an art journal or to send artsy friends postcards, ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), or small art pieces. 

Recently, however, I signed up for a found object art swap as well as a fabric art swap, and these two pieces seemed to scream out for something tactile.

This is the piece I created for the found object art swap. The house began its life as a cheap key holder I found at a thrift store. The door was broken. I ripped it off. I also removed the row of gold hooks on which the keys are meant to hang.  Next I added to the inside square with numerous metal bits and pieces I'd squirreled away: an orphaned zipper, a key, a squashed rusty bottle cap, row of fuses, a washer, and even a feather. Some found pieces of metal were mysteries to me. For instance, the two metal strip around the bottom and right side....what's their actual job? And that square at the top...what original purpose did it serve?  Eventually, I added a photo of my grandmother as well as sheet music to the outside of the house shape.

This is the piece I created for the fabric swap. I decided to work in the inside nook of a photo frame--the part that normally faces a wall. The frame was covered with a black, cream, and gray fabric. Next, I crated stripes with duct tape and fabric tape. Then I created the two girls and made their dresses by winding embroidery floss around the dress shapes.Their little heads suggested the entire color scheme to me. I rummaged around in my stash and found two old spools of thread that continued the color scheme. Finally, I created a cascade of different types of flowers. Several of the flowers were cardboard or paper. Two were made of felt.

I made the two largest pink flowers. This is a process I learned well while making decorations for my wedding last year. It involves cutting several different circles of a rayon-like fabric and then using a candle flame to melt the edges into ruffles.

Final touches included a vintage clock face, some pink beads and the whimsical lettering to spell "Create," which seems apt, considering that the piece is being sent to one of my artsy and creative friends.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Out of the Color Comfort Zone

This week's Documented Life Project prompt is to use 3 colors you don't normally use.  To begin, I looked through a pile of "failed" Gelli prints I'd made. A "failed" Gelli print isn't ready for the garbage yet. However, it's not ready to use or to put into happy mail. It might mean I need to add more layers, or lately I've been adding to the prints with pen.

These particular prints made use of a maroon, yellow, and a pink-orange. Salmon? Coral? Rouge? I'm not sure. I had bought the paint at a thrift store. 

So last night, I drew over the  prints with maroon, white, and black pens. Then I tore the 4 x 6" prints into smaller chunks and created a pleasing background pattern. I had drawn a butterfly on one of the prints, but I couldn't position it in a pleasing way, so I cut it up.

Finally, I added a zetti-type lady. Suddenly, the colors seemed like Fall, so I added the skeleton leaf, the "Admit One" ticket, and the gold clock.

And this isn't a DLP project, but it's a "Old Hollywood" swap project.  I'm not quite ready to send it to my partner because I feel like it needs something...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bohemian Rhapsody

Sometimes I sign up for art swaps then wonder what the hell I've done. Recently, I came across a  "bohemian" swap, and instantly hit the "join" button. Yet, as of this morning I'd done nothing to get the swap completed. 

In a general sense, I know what bohemian means.

If I look up bohemian art or bohemian style of clothing or decorating, I get a confusing mishmash of hippie and hipster.

Wikipedia says, "Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed through free lovefrugality, and—in some cases—voluntary poverty."

That's all fine and good, but it still wasn't inspiring me to create something for my swap partner...

Finally, I settled upon trying for a visualization of the wanderer/adventurer component. I altered a Moleskine notebook by glueing two pages together and alternately tearing out 3 pages in between. I went with a color scheme of black, white, cream, and metal colors.

And here's the result:

Friday, September 19, 2014

In a Good Place: My Collage Process

It's common for people to assume that collage is just the haphazard process of sticking random things down on a substrate. Collage artists know that's not the case.

In an online art group I'm a member of, I also hear of people avoiding collage because they "Can't do it."

This post addresses both mindsets. 

Each week, the Documented Life Project (DLP) provides a prompt. This week the prompt was to use a feather. My chosen means of addressing all their prompts is collage. So how do I arrive at a finished project?

First I look through my stash to find the bits and pieces I think I may want to work with. In this case, I knew I wanted to work with a feather a friend had sent me. It's teal and purple and covered in clear microbeads. Knowing the feather was teal and purple, I chose bits and pieces that would work with those two colors. I usually only work with two or three colors. So you can see that my color scheme ranges from light blue to hot pink, purple, aqua....pretty much anything that looked good next to another piece.

I should also note that I have certain bits I love to incorporate as a sort of signature: black and white photos, cancelled postage, measuring tape, lace, numbers, etc. In other projects, that means eyes, hands, handwriting, Gelli plate scraps, and sometimes a word to meditate on.

Next I lay down the beginnings of a background. I usually work in sets of three, so you can see I have 3 bits with purple and two bits that are hot pinkish.

 Before I got too carried away, I wanted to make sure I incorporated the prompt item.  I also laid down the measuring tape and the number 9, again working for balance of the purple and hot pink colors.

 Next I added a beautiful tag a friend sent me in the mail. I pulled some bits off of it and added a few of my own (scallops, a cancelled stamp, and some 3-D roses). At that time, I tried to incorporate a heart, but I find that I almost always dislike the cartoonish type of heart. Anatomical hearts are more my thing.
 So I took off the heart and replaced it with a rose.

 I gave some thought to moving the tag and adding the anatomical heart, but it didn't work.

 So I moved the tag back into its original position. Then I began trying to fill in the white spaces. I added a Gelli print I'd done on deli paper. I added some paper lace and the word, "Imagine." I considered adding a series of chevron arrow-type shapes in the bottom corner, but it seemed too much.
 It always interests me that my eye won't leave an element alone. Notice I moved the imagine higher up, and it looks better than if it was closer to the 9. Why? I think it's because the eye is able to travel all the way across the page from pink element to pink element: from the imagine, to the "la rosa" card, to the stamped rose image, to the 3-D roses. And the feather points to that visual journey, so we get the bonus of emphasizing the feather too.

 I worried about the little square of white space. It really stood out to me, and I felt it had to be something dark to balance out the black writing of "imagine," the black in the rose, and the chevron/arrow thingies.

I get "happy mail" almost daily. What's happy mail? Well, other artsy people send decorated envelopes filled with ephemera--bits and pieces--fodder for art journaling, or in my case, collaging.
I had just gotten a happy mail that day featuring another favorite of mine: typewriters. I love anything that hints at my other love:  writing. I used the typewriter to cover the white space and instantly felt better...sort of. Even as I type this, the black elements seem a bit unbalanced. There are technically 5 elements with black. All of those items appear on the bottom half of my page. I imagine I'll go back and try to add some darkness to the top portion. Otherwise, I won't be a happy camper.

So here is my "finished" product, which is to say that, for me at least, a collage is never done. It's in a good place, for now. From start to finish, from the moment I began rifling through my bits and pieces, until the moment I glued down that arrow piece in the lower right-hand corner, I spent about 1 1/2 hours of blissful morning alone time. And now my day can begin.