23 September 2014

Art in Trade

"I Believe in Magic" Artist Trading Card, 2.5" x 3.5"
A grand welcome to the harvest season of Autumn!

While I did love the unusually mild weather this Summer, I am very pleased that Fall is here. It is always my most favorite season of the year.

Since the beginning of Summer I have spent a lot of time contemplating what I will "do" with my art. I have been engaged in asking myself, "What form of art do I want to send out into the world?" It's not any easy question to answer. I love making art, but for the most part I have made it to give as gifts to friends or for my own simple pleasure of manifesting an idea into reality.

In late August, I decided to join several art swapping groups with other mixed media artists. One of them is a closed group on Facebook, to which I was invited, the Artful Mail Groupies. You can join, but they have certain rules to help keep the group active and friendly. (Note: Send me a personal message if you are desperate to learn more about this group.) 

The other swap group is part of an online artist community that I joined in 2013 run by the amazing artist-extraordinaire Tamara Laporte over at willowing.org. Tam is the originator of the amazing year-long online art course Life Book.

I love these online communities of artists. They inspire and amaze me everyday. I really find a lot of solace and comfort sharing my process of becoming an artist with these wonderful people.

The Art Swaps are a great way to send your work out into the world and get another person's art in trade.

Autumn Moon Artist Trading Cards made for Artful Mail Groupies Swap

One way that many artists are sharing these days is to create very small-scaled art works -- the size of a baseball or playing card: 2.5" by 3.5". The small size makes projects easier to complete although there is a real art to using a tiny space well. I have been learning from some talented people. I decided that I am ready to throw my art out into the unknown and receive other art and feedback in exchange. Plus, receiving mail from a person far away is fun! (I always enjoyed having pen pals in other countries as a kid.)

My first swap was the Autumn Moon ATC (ATC = Artist Trading Card) swap with the Artful Mail Groupies on Facebook.  I had so much fun inventing a way to use the Martha Stewart silhouettes of owls, ravens and spooky things for my moonlight purpose. I wanted to create a Harvest Moon shining behind each silhouette. I created all of the moons from cardstock or hand-painted (by me) papers. I added some additional collage elements.

The second way that I'm exploring for spreading my art out into the world is that I'm trying to find a way to make art books that are not so labor-intensive as professional book-binding. I have several friends who are paper conservators and book-binders for a living, so I know very well just how much time and energy goes into creating most books that are bound by hand.

I recently took a workshop at the Queen's Ink with artist Terry Quinn on printing techniques for the Gelli Arts monoprinting plate.  The class is taught periodically and called "50 Shades of Play." Terry took the guesswork out of the workshop by selecting your pattern tools and colors for you, so that our minds were free to play and explore. She taught me that there is no such thing as an ugly monoprint because you can always add another layer if you don't particularly like the color or design that you used. That is a really significant lesson to learn.

Monoprinted Index Card book that I made in Terry Quinn's "50 Shades of Play" workshop
I was able to produce two sets of monoprinted index cards in the class which will become tiny books. Not sure what I will put on the pages yet because I like the patterns and colors so much just as they are. Each page is unique, and that was true of the 50 pages that each of the students made in the workshop also.
Detail, front cover, monoprinted book from "50 Shades of Play"
I discovered, for example, that my new favorite color is called Gunmetal Gray; it offsets bright colors like these golds and oranges so well. I wouldn't have known that if I wasn't limited to a palette within that session of Terry's workshop.  Don't you think this mini-book cover turned out pretty well?  The book measures only 2.5" by 3" -- one half the size of a folded 3x5 index card.

I cannot wait to put my second book together and experiment in collage on these pages! Promise that I'll share.

Wishing you joy in this season of harvest! (Or of new life if you are living in the Southern Hemisphere!)


  1. Happy Fall, Maria!! I love this time of year, the colors, the light and all the symbols of Fall. Your ATCs are fantastic! I think the harvest moons behind the figures look great. And, you little Gelli book looks great too. I'm coming to like gray also. It's a great foil for brighter colors.

  2. Happy Fall! I know I already told you this, but I just love those Autumn Moon ATCs you did. Wow.

  3. Thank you Maryanne & PocketSize for your encouragement. Both of you inspire me and I feel lucky to be sharing my artist's journey with such fun people!