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.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Transforming Lovers and Tyrants: An Altered Book Project

When I look for a good book to alter, I'm usually taken by the title. In this case, Lovers and Tyrants was too good to pass up, especially for a quarter.

When I joined the "Anything Goes" journal swap, I realized that my partner might not be keen on Lovers and Tyrants, so I completely overhauled the cover. I began by adhering chipboard shapes to the cover. Usually, I use E600. However, I was out. I used PVA glue. I placed a weight on top of the chipboard shapes and let dry overnight in order to ensure they had adhered.

Next, I applied a generous coat of white gesso to the spine and the front cover.  When the gesso was dry, I began applying Gelatos to each chipboard shape and also in-between those shapes. I applied it in quite a thick coat and then used my finger to smudge. I tried to use colors that worked well together if they came in contact with one another. 

Finally, I wanted a sgraffito effect. What is that, you say? Sgraffito involves using a tool of some sort to take away part of the surface you've just created. It's popular in pottery/ceramics, painting, and drawing. And some of you might be more familiar with it than you know, if you've done any playing around with scratch board. Some even make their own scratch board by using crayon to color heavily on a surface. They then paint over the crayon (usually in black in order to achieve high contrast). Finally, they scrape the paint away to reveal the colorful crayon beneath.

To achieve the sgraffito effect on my book cover, I simply took a pair of sharp scissors and used the point of one of the blades to scratch designs into the thickly applied Gelato. You can see that I created a number of patterns: crosshatching, stripes, scallops, even words.

I love the effect, don't you? It's a little bit grungy...a little bit shabby chic, a little bit "doodle-y"--I keep imagining how that spine will really pop when my partner puts it on a shelf with other books.

Finally, because I've invested hours in decorating the pages within, I thought I'd share with you a selection of my favorite pages:

This layout is an experiment in image transfer. And don't you love the fish scale look of that Gelli print?

 Here we have a lady I found on a piece of Stampington  paper. I loved that Lynn Perella collection of papers. I hoard them!
 The round bit on the left side is actually a mark made by a potato masher. I have a collection of potato mashers featuring different designs. Lovely, don't you think? Oh, and the layers on the right side act as cubbies--spaces to place tags or other bits and pieces.
 These are more Gelli print bits. I've begun to draw on them with stencils--that resulted in the scallop-y thing you see on the right side.

 It's fun to use up little bits and pieces in this project. When I get out my sewing machine, I go crazy and sew loads, but then I wonder what to do with those bits. Here you see a half circle, which fit the color scheme that emerged.
 I like for an altered book to be a tactile experience. Thus, I tend to use things like corrugated cardboard and little tags and such that beg to be touched!
 Here is some more stencil work I've done atop a Gelli print. It's actually a flap that lifts up for "secret" writings.
 I'm pretty proud of the project. I love the bright color scheme and would be happy if I received it in a swap. Yeah?
And I couldn't resist taking one last shot of her before I took her to the post office. I felt a little teary sending her off.