Thursday, August 14, 2014

Style or Stuck?

I've been lurking on The Documented Life Project and amazed at the artwork I'm seeing.   Lots of bright, bold colors, doodling, white-pen work and busy, busy pages.  I like it, but I can not do it; it just doesn't work for me.  I had a couple of frustrating days in my studio this week, trying to create something whimsical, colorful, outside my comfort zone and it was so freakin' stressful.  My vision was stylized flowers on a paint-splattered background.  What I got was something that looked like mutant jellyfish surrounded by a haze of dots.

This got me thinking about personal style.  I follow several mixed media artists and can usually tell whose work I'm looking at because of their personal style.  I also see that some of them can keep their work fresh, even though their style is immediately recognizable.    

I've wondered if maybe I was just being lazy and not challenging myself to try new things, like lots of color , bold markings and busy layouts.   I think I've decided that the artists who keep their work fresh yet have an easily identified personal style do it by using new techniques, subjects and formats are the ones I like best.  I'm good with  finding and creating a personal art style while appreciating different ones.  Sort of like finding a personal fashion style.  I'll never be wearing big, bold prints or harem pants - not going to happen.

So, back to my studio for some recovery therapy, doing what I like best - understated color, simpler designs, and  some vintage vibe.  And guess what ?  No stress, just playing and having fun!

I made the backgrounds for these tags by spritzing water on left-over Distress inks on my craft sheet and then dragging the tags through the puddled ink.  Since Distress Inks react with water,  a spritz of water on the colored tags gives a nice splattered effect

I stamped some with gray dye ink and like the muted look.  Sometimes the bold black seems too much for a soft background color.  Added a few bits of stuff - washi tape,  rub-ons and fibers dragged through the same ink and done!

This odd-man out tag is at the edge of my color happy- place !

Think I'm getting comfortable with appreciating others' style without needing to go there myself.  I could be a bit more adventurous with color, but probably will never feel comfortable with lots of bright  colored doodled designs outlined in bold black or white.  On the other hand, if I ever need to make mutant jellies, I now know how !

Friday, August 1, 2014

Quick Notebook Upgrade

And that means I need lots of notebooks for all those lists.  I found these notebooks at Michael's - 3 for $2.00.  Who could pass up this deal - not moi!  The books are just the right size ( 5.5 x 4 inches)  to slip into a pocket or purse for those grocery store or Tarjay lists.  Of course these books are OK just as they are, but I thought I could make them even better.  See that stash of washi tape in the back?  I know it is a ridiculous amount of tape; probably I shouldn't tell you that I just had to buy three more rolls today.

I decided to tape the edge of each page to add some color and interest.   This was an easy project - -no measuring, no color plan, just tear, stick and clip.

Here's how I did it - tear off a strip slightly longer than the page.  Stick it down along the edge, leaving enough to fold over and stick down to the back of the page.   I have some pretty narrow tape (3/8 inch) and found that this technique works best with tape at least 1/2 inch wide.  The narrower tape is harder to position so you have bough left to fold over - not impossible, but not the easiest.   Tear, stick, fold over and repeat until you've taped every page.   

Here is my book with all the pages taped.  Now about those tape tails.  Since the cover and pages of these books have rounded corners, I decided to round each page edge.   I cut the tails even with the top and bottom of each page and then used a corner punch to round the edge.

Here are some of the pages with the edges taped and corners rounded.

This is what the book looks like with all its pretty taped pages.

Now about those covers.  

I love these Dina Wakley Squiggly Bird stamps!  So cheery, so happy, so fun.   I used a piece of artist paper from an old Somerset Studio magazine for a background.  I stamped the birdie on light blue paper and added a script stamp, cut it out and glued it to the background.  The sentiment came from a magazine.

This little card fell out of a used book and he was too cute to throw away.   I rubbed on some Distress Ink and added some bling.

The sentiment came with the scribbly bird stamps.  I used a piece of scrap paper with paint and inks leftover from other projects and doodled around the edges.

This is a perfect TV-watching project- quick and easy and no gluing.   Happy list-making!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Family Time **Picture Overload Warning ***

These past two weeks have been busy in the best way possible - kids (and a sweet Grand) were visiting from all over.   Texas Daughter and SIL  rented a nearby beach house and filled it with a rotation of  siblings, parents and friends.   Of the hundreds of pictures, we took,  here are some highlights.

Breakfast and watching airplanes take off at The Airfield Cafe.

Checking out the beach with Yaya.   I didn't know that Greek grandmothers are called yia-yia.  I took the name from The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood and because I thought it would be easy for a little person to pronounce and because I think I'm too young {but clearly not} to be called "Grandma".

This is what grandparents do - feed kids ice cream and then lobster rolls for lunch.

Only fitting that Boston Daughter who has studied sharks hold the little  sharkie one.

Texas Daughter, SIL and grand baby William.

William takes to beach relaxing.

DC Son, AKA Uncle E and Katie at the beach house.

Moonrise from the beach house deck.

A spectacular clambake orchestrated by Boston Daughter.

This little guy just couldn't be any cuter!

Mastered the cabin ladder!

Texas in-laws came to enjoy beach fun and grand baby time, too.

Mother/ Daughter fun at the Stratham Fair.

And to top it off, William's one year old birthday bash.

I am grateful every day for our family and cherish every minute we get to spend together.   When the kids  were little, I told them that they could be anything they wanted  - I just never considered that they would be doing it so far away!   I am learning to savor the times we have together instead of focusing on the time we spend apart.  Learning - as in work in progress;  not really there yet!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

This Week in the Gardens

I read some good advice on a gardening  blog (can't remember where or I'd happily give credit)- every morning go out in your gardens and just admire the show - no weeding,  no "I should move that plant",  no "what WAS I thinking?":  nothing negative, just bask in the beauty.  I've been doing that and it's a pleasure to just appreciate - colors, textures, flowers without feeling compelled to fix something.  

On one of my coffee-in-hand morning garden tours I realized that this advice is good for life in general - look for the beauty and goodness and ignore the rest.   Appreciating the things that work and make us happy are probably a better view.  This stamp sums it up:

Kraft paper background with swipes of gesso, washi tape, dictionary page strip and Distreess Ink stamped canvas garland.  The circles are the ones I made based on my lurking on the Documented Life Project site- so fun!

This is my judgement-free garden tour of the week:

There - no weeding, no pressure, no misgivings- just enjoying the view.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Finally Made Some Art!

It's been some time since I've spent much time in my studio.   I've been gardening like a crazy person, and while I do think that's a creative outlet, it's not like paper, ink and stamps.

I made this for  Carpenter Son's birthday, using a piece of wood he had sent as protection for some other gift.   I love using wood as a substrate - you can bang it up, nail things right into it , and it takes color well.

I had some trouble getting the background color in this - fiddled with some brown, white and green until I succeeded in making mud!   It needed serious lightening up, so I stenciled the numbers and letters with white gesso, then dry brushed on some cream paint.

I found the old train schedule from his home town at Nancy Dole's Used Books and Ephemera in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.  She has a small shop filled with beautiful old books and all manner of ephemera from the area. 

This is an old family photo of his Papa driving a steam shovel, probably in the 30s.  The smile of recognition at this photo was priceless.

I added a piece of old ruler to honor his carpentry skills.

One of the fun things about using wood is that I could pound these old gears right into it.   

Love this canvas resist clock piece.   The 73 is significant - the year CS was born and the year I turned 10.  How else could it be possible for him to be as old as he is?

It felt so good to be making something again!


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