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!)

16 September 2014

A Drawing In

Summer Fades

I love summer most as it is fading away.  There is a pause like the hush of an audience before a stage curtain lifts waiting for the magic to appear on stage.  I was blessed a full evening this past weekend surrounded by peaceful countryside, allowing me the opportunity to watch the sun slowly set on the final days of the season.  In contrast, the previous day had been a sauna of summer heat and humidity as you come to expect when you live near the Chesapeake Bay. 

This day, somehow, had a sudden crispness to the air with breezes finding their strength. The sunlight had a palette not quite golden, but certainly warmer in hue. The billowing clouds helped to create the atmosphere.  We drove well around Baltimore City to avoid the giant blow-out festival in the Inner Harbor celebrating the 200th anniversary of the British attempt to blast their way around Fort McHenry. Instead we opted for winding roads and retro 1980s tunes, as we drove northward and away from the urbs and suburbs to tranquil farmland.  The stated purpose of our mission was to attend a fundraiser dinner for the Creative Alliance, but I had only the urge to be surrounded by Summer's full bounty on my mind. 

And there is no time like the present, because the seasons are changing. . .

I think of this moment between Summer and Autumn as a time of Drawing In.

It is a lull in the seasons to pause and cherish all of the energetic growth and ecstatic wildness of the warmest months of the year.  Even though I am not a farmer as my hosts are, the harvest that I see spread before me is all of the activities and accomplishments of my creative endeavors. You do not have to work on the land in order to appreciate the importance of harvest time.

My host expressed a similar thought when he sat at his dining table. For him, the idea behind hosting a party immediately before the Fall of the year is a conscious choice. He knows that he has a lot of work in store for the harvests and preparations for winter, but this is his time to kick
back and reward himself for all of the labor of the year.  The food served at the table came from his land and his wife's amazing feast.

Here then are some of my impressions of the landscape that I saw during this enchanted evening.

In the farm yard.

Baby Turkeys!

Big, bad turkey!

Honey, the Herder

The Trickster Goats

In the nearby woodlands. 

There are mists rising even as the daylight begins to fade.  The Jewelweed has grown so tall and bushy. It's orange blooms stand out like flags in the twilight.

Jewelweed Glowing in Twilight

08 September 2014

Summer Siren

Summer Siren by ~runningwave~
I have finished my first work of mixed media art on canvas. Woot! I finally did it. She's turned out quite lovely. I am so new to all of this painting-figures-on-canvas thing, but I am loving it.  The mermaid was inspired by a lesson taught by my art guru, Effy Wild in her year-long online Moonshine 2014 course.  This was a pretty intense lesson. Here are some photographs showing the creation of this piece.

Step 1, paint the mermaid in acrylic colors

I drew the figure on a 12 by 9 inch canvas board, outlining first in pencil. I intended her to look like she was floating peacefully in her aquatic home, carried by the currents. Once I had painted the general shape of the mermaid and added in her facial features I let the whole canvas dry. Effy's lesson called for three-dimensional hair. She chose cheesecloth to approximate the look of seaweed-like hair. I love the effect she achieved so it was off to the grocery for me.

Step 2, glue cheesecloth hair onto the canvas
Here's what the canvas looked like after I glued layers of cheesecloth onto it using artist's matte medium.  This turned out beautifully. I wanted her tresses to look like they were floating in a radial spray from her head in the waves.

Detail of the face and hair in step 2.

Step 3, Detail of the face, mostly complete.
To paint color in her hair I mixed PearlEx metallic powders with my acrylic Titanium White paint. The Sea Green colored powder worked best for the palette. My experiments with the PearlEx resulted in some very pleasing colors and I intend to keep playing with them. I had purchased them years ago to use as embossing colors for rubber stamping, but their effect when mixed with acrylic paints is stunning.
You will notice the detail of eye lashes in Sakura Gelly Roll metallic blue Glaze. Her lips and necklace were painted with Jacquard Copper Lumiere acrylic. The necklace got some finishing contours added in a dimensional ink brand called irRESISTible Pico Embellisher by Tsukineko.

Detail. Completed mermaid tail under the hair.
There are more coppery details on her fishtail and also in the shadow on the left side of the canvas to counterbalance the visual "weight" of the tail and out-of-control hair.
Summer Siren, completed September 6, 2014.
I think there are three very important lessons that I learned from this exercise. One: I'm perfectly capable of creating fine art on canvas. Two: I can, in fact, paint faces. Three: This was a LOT of FUN and I want to paint more canvases with mixed media.