Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Art Journal - Illustrated Alphabet - C is for Collage & Crackle

Going into this page I was really worried because I was planning on attempting a couple of techniques / styles that I've never done before, well not like this anyway. Sure I've stuck various different items on layouts, mini albums, art journal pages, even off the page projects, but I've never done anything that I consider to be "Collage" in the strictest sense of the word and I've certainly never used images from magazines on any of my projects... only under to catch the paint and glue drips. I've also not done a lot of crackle work on my projects in the past though I have done heat embossing with a crackle stamp which I really loved on a canvas project. But I had made up my mind that these were going to be the two techniques for this page and I wasn't about to let inexperience stop me from doing what I wanted. (Yes I can be incredibly stubborn and when I make up my mind about something, then come what may I'm going to stick with my decision... even if that is on a soon to be published world-wide video.)

If you've already watched the video, then you will have heard in my voice-over than there were one or two (or more) moments of complete and utter panic when I wondered if I was completely screwing up the page and a definite moment when I thought I might have to scrap it all and start over from the beginning. I chose to stick with it and keep going (and not let this page get the better of me) and now that I've completed the page, in hindsight I can happily say I do actually like the end result and the process from start to finish really wasn't that bad. Let's just say it contained lots of learning opportunities.

Anyway, enough blathering, let's get on with the good bits... what did I use and how did I do it.

Products Used:

  • Black gessoed page
  • Liquitex Matte Gel
  • Tim Holtz Idea-ology Tissue Wrap - Postale
  • Vintage book pages
  • Magazine cut-out images
  • Washi Tape - various
  • Pebeo Studio Acrylics High Viscosity - Iridescent Blue Green, Iridescent Green Blue, Iridescent Blue Black, Iridescent Orange Yellow, Iridescent Green Yellow, Iridescent Violet Blue and Iridescent Red Blue
  • Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint - Black Soot
  • Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens - 114 Light Skin, 132 Light Flesh, 131 Medium Flesh, 199 Black
  • Faber-Castell Gelatos - Peach, Guava, Metallic Melon, Bubblegum, Chocolate, Gold Champagne, Red Cherry
  • Faber-Castell Gesso - White
  • Stabilo All Pencil - Black
  • Faber-Castell - Allbecht Durer Pencils - Burnt Sienna, Walnut Brown, Dark Sepia
Tools Used:
  • Zig Water Pen
  • Colour Shapers
  • Wet Wipes
  • Heat Tool
  • Craft Mat
Process Steps:
  1. I started with a page I had pre-gessoed with black gesso. I coated the page with a thin layer of matte gel then coated some torn pieces of tissue wrap on the underneath side and adhere in place. Then brush a light coat of matte gel over the top as well. To get rid of any excess gel and ensure strong adhesion in place, I then ran over the piece of tissue with a credit card. I repeated this step with multiple pieces of tissue wrap.
  2. I then did the same with some torn pieces of vintage book paper to give the background some contrast. I was interested to see how much the black gesso background showed through the various materials used.
  3. I fussy cut a couple of images I had found in fashion magazines. Once I had decided where I was going to place the two images, I adhered them in a similar manner as the tissue wrap. Having completed the page, I suspect I removed too much of the matte gel or pressed/scraped too hard when rubbing the image of the face. When I added colour (in a few steps) it didn't flow as much as expected instead it soaked into the page or worse took off more colour than it added... note to self to watch this next time!!
  4. To add some contrast and bring a bit more black back into the page, I added some strips of washi tape, all of which were predominantly black. To ensure these didn't lift off, I coasted them with the matte gel as well, then ensured that the page was well and truly dry by leaving it overnight to "cure".
  5. The next step was to colour some of the cork ends in the second image with the iridescent paints. I had only purchased them earlier in the day, so I was really keen to see what they looked like away from the swatches in the shop. For most "dots" I gave them three coats of paint to get the intensity of colour I desired.
  6. Once I was sure the painted dots were dry (which didn't take that long really), I generously coated each coloured dot with a thick dot of black crackle paint. I used a pair of colour shapers for this step to get a thick enough coating while maintaining the shape and size of the coloured dots. This was a little more difficult than I had expected and to be honest about half way through I was screaming on the inside "what have I done????" while I waited to see if my moment of brilliance was actually going to work.
  7. Wait impatiently for black crackle paint to dry... to too impatient so pull out heat tool for a wee bit... then smack one's own hands and let it dry naturally.
  8. This next step got a little bit messy, a little bit hair raising and a little bit panicky as it all seemed to go horribly wrong on several occasions and though you can't see it on camera... I spent a considerable amount of time thinking I had completely ruined all my hard work up until this step. Given my considerable panic, I have to confess I can't remember exactly what I did here, but it looked something like this - tried to cover the patches where the colour had bleached or been rubbed off the magazine image, first with PITT Artist Pens in flesh tones, then when that didn't work I tried gelatos in flesh tones. I tried water to blend the gelatos but this seemed to lift off even more colour off the magazine image (insert more panic)... so I tried heat setting the gelatos to see if that would get them to "stick" to the page... finally something seemed to go right, sort of. 
  9. I still wasn't happy with the colour and what was happening so to prevent myself from throwing all my toys out of the cot (not that I would do that)... I had a moment of inspiration and decided to do a thin layer of gesso to create a base on which to try to recolour the face. I painted the gesso over all the exposed skin on the face and upper torso covering everything but the eyes and eye brows.
  10. Once the gesso had dried I tried colouring with the PITT pens once again but they just seemed to soak into the gesso rather than "float" on top of it, so I soon moved back to the gelatos to try them again. I did a light layer of gelatos then heat set them to see if they would create a good base for whatever else I was going to try. The good news was that this did work and I was able to blend in additional layers a lot easier, though I did still have to be careful that I didn't take off as much colour as I added back on. Once I had the skin tone base back again, I added some red for a rouge on her cheeks as well as some shadows and highlights to make the face look more natural, though still painted. Finally it actually looked pretty good.
  11. I added some colour to her eyes brows again (to make them look less magazine and more art-like) as well as eyes lashes... though in hind sight I may have added to many as I'm not 100% sure that they look all that natural... but hey artist's impression right!
  12. Having done this, I then decided that the hair needed some extra highlights to match with what I had already done with the image. I added some highlights using metallic gelatos as well as ordinary gelatos to add some interest. I really liked the end result of the hair.
  13. I lined the images with my Stabilo All pencil which I then blended with my water pen. Note to self - sharpen pencil before using it on each project otherwise the line will just end up being really thick and won't look as good. (In the video I said something about it looking like a drag queen had done your eye liner... no offence to drag queens as their make-up is usually impeccable and I which I looked as good as they do all dolled up).
  14. To add some more depth to the images I then coloured around them with a little water colour pencil which I also blended out using my water pen. This step gave the page a great deal of depth so it didn't look as one dimensional.
  15. To frame the page I repeated the water colour blending around the edge of the page. This really finished off the page.
Here are some close-ups of the page as well as a few pictures showing you some more of the magical iridescent paints... these are the excesses I scraped onto a random page in another art journal.
Here is the finished page. After a few false starts and a few moments of panic, I ended up actually quite liking the end result.
Maybe some overkill here, but I really loved the end result of the crackle paint over the top of these bright iridescent paints. The worked out even better than I hoped.
 It's hard to say what my favourite colour is as they all turned out so gorgeous. Part of me hated the idea of painting over these sumptuous colours, but I think the end result is so worth it.
 Sigh... love!!
This shows a little of the highlighting added to the hair. I love the effect and wish colouring my hair was this easy and looked this good afterwards. 
Though I wasn't entirely sure at the time, once I had finished the eye lashes and eye brow I really did like the end result... though I think I need to examine eyes a little more closing as I think I may have "over" extended the eyes lashes around the eye. 
Sharing some of the over flow of paint that I didn't want to waste ('cos it's just so yum!!) so I just smeared the excess onto this random art journal page. I love the colours here so much whether thick or a very thin coating as they just have so much shimmer to them. 
 Isn't this orange just gorgeous!!
This one really shows that even when applied really thin so that they appear almost transparent, the shimmer still just shines through. Love the effect over the heading in the background. 
Not sure if this was the Blue - Green or the Green - Blue with the Red - Blue who cares... still YUM! 
Ahhhh... this just makes my heart sore... love this almost but not really transparent look.
And again the finished page... just a bit bigger.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

US Trip - Meeting Crafty Friends

When we decided our trip to the States was a go... meaning I'd actually booked non-refundable tickets... one of the first things I made up my mind to do was to a) go to as many craft places as I possibly could but most importantly Michaels, Joanns and Viva Las Vegas Stamps and b) meet with as many crafting friends as would meet with me.
We had started planning our trip, well the first week of it so that we knew we could get to Oklahoma in time for the party... more on that later, so I knew some of the places we would be stopping at - Los Angeles, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma even though the last location ended up changing the closer we got to the trip.
I started asking questions, where to go, where to stay, what to do, who would be willing to meet me... after I promised I really, really wasn't crazy or a stalker. I also had to bear in mind that I would have my darling hubbie in tow, so I couldn't spend all my free time craft shopping (as much as I might have liked to) and I had to be select about what I purchased, so he didn't find out how much I spent... sssshhhhhuussshhh.
After messages and emails and Facebook stalking, I mean research... I had in place plans to meet a couple of people I had met online in real life. Both lived in Las Vegas... (quite convenient I thought) so I wouldn't spend too much time boring hubbie to death.
Several weeks of planning, several thousand kilometres of flight, at least 12 hours flying and several more hours driving... on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road... and we finally made it to Las Vegas.
The only thing I didn't plan, or even think about until it was too late, was that the weekend we were in Las Vegas was the US Labour Weekend. As the Monday was a public holiday, every man and his dog was in Las Vegas for a fun, long weekend... or at least that's what it felt like to us poor Kiwis from little old New Zealand.
Here in New Zealand, in general, a public holiday means that most businesses are closed for the day. There are obvious exceptions, such as service stations, some convenience stores, building and gardening places (because we Kiwis have a great love of DIY), though this is a generalisation as it depends upon which public holiday it is... such is the New Zealand Holidays Legislation.
I digress... but over in the States, most places, except I think local and federal government agencies, were actually open. I had confirmed this in writing with my MUST VISIT place... Viva Las Vegas Stamps. This was to be the venue for my meet with both of my friends.
Monday duly arrived and I woke up keen to go craft shopping at last and meet my friends and instead I was greeted with the moans of a very unhappy hubbie. Unfortunately for him, the Thai dinner we had, at the Thai wedding we crashed the night before had not gone down well and he'd been up most of the night with a very upset stomach. He was still feeling somewhat second hand so he told me he'd be okay and that I shouldn't change my plans just because he was unwell.
Now I'm pretty sure that most normal people would have the same internal conversation as what I did that morning... Part of me was quite concerned as he was looking quite pale; another part of me was wondering whether he was just using it as an excuse to get out of being dragged around yet another craft place and yet a another part of me was ever so secretly jumping for joy that my crafty shopping wouldn't be stifled by the ball and chain, I mean my darling hubbie.
So feigning great personal sacrifice, I ventured out alone... sans navigator... in a strange city... in a strange country. Just between you and me... as I left I tried not to look too enthusiastic and instead showed the right amount of concern that hubbie would be okay without me, and that I really wouldn't be gone that long... YEAH RIGHT.
Thanks to my trusty GPS in my trusty Samsung Galaxy 5 (when she cooperates and keeps up to speed with my driving) I managed to find my way to Viva Las Vegas Stamps. It was less than 10 minutes drive from where we were staying... more by good luck than good management... though it seemed to take forever to get there, I think because I was just eager to get there everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.
Press the buzzer, get let in the building, walk down the hallway - the whole way staring and looking all around me at everything on display... so much neon... until I walked through the door into the hallowed land... Viva Las Vegas Stamps SHOP.
I arrived with plans of taking photos and videos of the shop just so I could share with you how amazing it is inside. Instead I shopped, and shopped and then did even more shopping. I probably could have done even more shopping, had I not actually been concerned about hubbie's welfare.
The good news was I finally got to meet DeeDee from UmWow Studios and of course one of the Viva Las Vegas Stamps Designers and a truly awesome lady. The bad news was my other friend didn't make it, but I would catch up with him another time.

We did manage to sneak a photo of the two of us, though to be honest as much as I loved the neon lights, they are not particularly conducive to good selfies!! And look... we were both wearing red and both had red rimmed glasses. We talked a little, okay a lot. I shopped, we talked some more, I did some more shopping... you get the picture... I shopped a lot!
For those who have not experienced the glory that is Viva Las Vegas Stamps... see that shelf just over DeeDee's left shoulder (the top right corner-ish from where you are sitting)... yes those five shelves that you can see absolutely smothered in stamps... well take that image, then times by three for the approximate height of the shelves, then double that for the approximate width of the shelves then multiply by two as the shelves are generally back to back... and then... and then... multiply that by 25 maybe even 30 and you would still probably under estimated the sheer volume of stamps in this one cavern of rubber and wood heaven. (Sorry that sounds a bit 50 Shades of Grey Red Roomish... but you stampers and crafters know what I mean.)
I read somewhere or watched a video tour, that VLVS has over 19,000 different stamps available... and I think I missed some, even though I was there a good several hours!
Words can not describe my sense of amazement at this place. Suffice it to say... I will be going back, even if I have to swim across the ocean and then walk across the desert to get there... literally.
As I mentioned I did do a little shopping there...
I may have bought one or two stamps. These are just the unmounted stamps... there was another pile, probably just as big, if not bigger of mounted stamps and there was the box of stamp plates that I had pre-ordered that were posted back to New Zealand for me.
Believe it or not, rubber stamps, even when unmounted soon become quite heavy. Even with two of us, with two suitcases each (yes we had to buy extra suitcases while we were in the States) and a full back pack as cabin baggage we still only had so much weight in terms of out luggage that we could take on the plane, and yes the airlines weighed it all very carefully. So while we rested in Newark, New Jersey before we flew back to New Zealand via Los Angeles, I trimmed every single unmounted stamp I bought to remove as much excess weight as possible. As you can see it ended up being quite a hefty pile of off cuts. I would hazard a guess that I managed to save a good couple of kilos at least... which saved us going over our limit and meant we didn't have to pay excess luggage fees as well as the extra bags fees. Well worth all the effort even if I say so myself.

Be sure to check back soon as I share stories of who else I met and where, while we travelled across the States as well as seeing some more of all the crafty goodness I bought along the way.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Art Journal - Illustrated Alphabet - B is for Background

If you've just arrived at my blog having watched my new video on YouTube... hello, hello, hello. You're either here to know what are the 22 mists/sprays that she used on this page or you want to know... did she really use 22 different mists/sprays on this page or was that an exaggeration?
The answer to all these questions and more is further down the page... but please don't skip down straight away, you might miss something interesting.
If you've arrived at my blog because you follow it or you stumbled onto it by some random twist of fate then welcome, welcome, welcome. If you haven't checked out my video, then you really must as it shows you how I created this art journal page,  albeit at a great rate of knots.
I'm typing this up while I wait for the aforementioned video to upload to YouTube... I call it multi-tasking... and as it just takes so long to upload it's also a boredom prevention for me at least.
This week's page was "B" for Background. If you think the page looks unfinished, and I totally respect your assessment if you do, then that's okay. To some extent I agree with you. I could have done a lot more, even just a few more things to finish it off... but, having said that, I also disagree on the grounds that because the page is all about "backgrounds" then that is what I wanted to show and I didn't want a lot of embellishing to over power the back grounds... they are after all the "stars" of the page.
The page was created over a couple of days as I allowed for some drying time overnight, particularly for the moulding/texture paste to dry. As much as I just love my heat tool, I do find that with texture paste all it tends to do is bubble up when you try to force dry it. I have used this to my advantage on earlier art journal pages to give me some puffy looking circles I had wet embossed onto my project but in general it's not something I tend to create all that often. I also tend to take my time when I'm creating so I can enjoy the process. I know I will never win any speed creating prizes, cos that's just not my style.

So let's get down to business...

Products Used:
  • Pre-gessoed page (Faber-Castell Gesso)
  • Die-cut Chipboard "B" approximately 6" x 3 1/2"
  • UmWow Studio - Star Confetti
  • Faber-Castell Whipped Spackle
  • Liquitex Matte Gel
  • Lindy's Stamp Gang Magical - Tiffany's Blue
  • Pearl Ex - #685 - Spring Green; #686 - Turquoise; #687 - True Blue & #688 - Misty Lavender
  • Lindy's Stamp Gang Mists
    • Flat Fabio - Danny Zuko's Denim (1)
    • Starburst - Tibetan Poppy Teal; Screamin' Banshee Black; Hydrangea Blue; Whale Watch Blue; Sea Grass Green; Freaky Franken-Lime; Ponderosa Pines Olive; Tiffany's Blue and Lucky Shamrock Green (9)
    • Moonshadows - Ethereal Emerald; Gossamer Gold; Buccaneer Bay Blue; Mystic Malichite and Tawny Turquoise (5)
  • Prima Color Bloom - Lime Wedge; Summer Sky and Storm Cloud (3)
  • Heidi Swapp Color Shine - Chartreuse (1)
  • Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist - Gold and Monster Mash (2)
  • Tim Holtz Adirondack Color Wash - Stream (1 - total 22)
  • Tsukineko - Versamark Ink Pad
  • Donna Salazar's Mix'd Media Inx Embossing Powder - Denim
Tools Used:
  • Mechanical HB Pencil
  • Palette Knife
  • UmWow Studio Mask/Stencil - Star Confetti Mask
  • Cake/Clay Modelling Tools
  • Small head and large head paint brushes
  • Heat Tool
  • Tweezers
  • Upsy Daisy - Joyful Jots Acrylic Stamp Set
Process Steps:
As soon as I had decided my theme would be background techniques, I knew I wanted to create a page that showed off a number of very distinct and very different styles / techniques but with a cohesion to the overall look of the final page. I decided that the best way to "blend" the various styles would be to blur the edges between one technique and the next rather than leave them in distinct boxed areas. The second key tool to creating a cohesive look would be my use of colour to draw the various components into one complete unit and my all-time favourite way to add colour, is to use mists and sprays. 
  1. Starting with my pre-gessoed page, I aligned the chipboard "B" on the page and drew around the edges so I knew where I could and couldn't add texture to my page.
  2. Starting in the bottom left corner (using the visual heavier weight to anchor the page), I started to randomly adhere pieces of the chipboard Star Confetti using the matte gel. I started with the larger pieces first then gradually selected smaller and smaller pieces adding them between the larger pieces as well as "fading" out from the heavier centre of the chipboard area in the corner of the page.
  3. In the top right hand corner I then added some more stars using the coordinating mask/template - Star Confetti with some whipped spackle. This was a little bit trickier to stay outside of the "B" shape, so I did have to clean up a little over flow so that it didn't impede the chipboard "B"'s ability to lie flat.
  4. In the top left hand corner I spread some whipped spackle out with my palette knife then I drew wavy lines into it to create texture reminiscent of tree bark or vines. The inspiration for this technique came from Aaron on his YouTube Channel - Imperfect Impulses. I made sure to bring this right down the page to inter-weave the pattern amongst the upper-most stars which I had purposely left more open than further down the page.
  5. In the final corner I wanted to experiment a little with pre-colouring some of the whipped spackle. I put a generous couple of scoops into a small resealable container then added some colourants - magical and pearl ex powders being mixed together to try to get the perfect colour. Side note - although the colour was quite nice, it just wasn't what I wanted (not that I really knew what I wanted). Rather than keep blending for the sake of experimenting, I decided to settle for the colour created - for the time being.
  6. I spread some of the tinted whipped spackle onto the remaining space around the "B". Using a icing/clay moulding tool with fine corrugations on it, I created a series of peaks and valleys which kind of swirled from one point out in slightly different directions. I think it looks almost like the veins of a feather, not the fluffy ones, but the slick, flat feathers that kind of look fused together.
  7. At this stage I left all the gel and moulding paste to dry overnight.
  8. I wasn't happy with the intensity of colour in the tinted moulding paste, so I added some more of the magical and pearl-ex in small patches across the tinted area then using a small brush I spread the colour across the surface making sure to get the additional colour both in the valleys and peaks of the surface. I then dusted off any excess with a large soft headed brush. Much better and the shimmer considerably more visible as well.
  9. Step 9 is the colouring of the page and through it's just listed as one step here, in reality it's a lot of little steps all rolled into one for the sakes of brevity. I did all of the rest of the colouring of the page using various mists and sprays - 22 different colours to be exact. Do you have to use that many - no. Use what you have and what you like. You can give the impression of having more colours than you really have, by varying the intensity of the spray that you use. Spray a lot in one area but only a little in another. Spray from different heights. Dry in between layers or mix colours while they are wet. This all combines and mixes and mashes to create a totally unique and individual look that no one else will ever be able to recreate - not even you. My first layer of colour is usually the only layer that I cover the entire piece. After that it's usually a patch or a section only. I generally also use between one and three colours before drying with my heat tool. I may cover the entire page or only a portion before I dry the colour as well. And I use my heat tool as well as tilting my page to assist with mixing and blending the colours. Just keep layering with more mists/sprays and more colours or add more of the same colours until you reach the look that you like.I have been known to add so many layers I lose count not to mention not knowing how long this step takes. The final layer is also usually a light layer across most or all of the page with either a silver or gold just to add that final touch of opulence. For this page it was a light mist of gold.
  10. Phew nearly there... last step was to add the title - "Background". I knew the fit for the alphabet stamps I was using was going to be very tight width wise. I laid them all out along the backbone of the "B" and they didn't quite fit - but only just. The only way I would be able to make it fit would be to ink and stamp each letter individually then eye-ball how much space I wanted to leave between it and the next letter. If I was using a coloured ink, not too big a deal, but as I was using a clear ink to then heat emboss, I had to create each letter start to finish before moving on to the next one. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to get the spacing right because I couldn't see the letter I'd just stamped. Usual process for this... stamp with VersaMark ink (my ink of choice for embossing but you can use whatever you prefer). Generously sprinkle with embossing powder - usually I sprinkle directly out of the pot but I wanted a little more control over where the powder landed given there was just so much texture on this page. Using a wide palette knife allowed me allowed me to do this. Shake off the excess embossing powder and clean up the image with a small paint brush then heat set with my trusty heat tool.
And that's all there is to it. I didn't add a border to the page this time as I didn't feel it needed it and the texture is so strong that I don't think it would have actually looked right.
I love this finished page. It's very me, very much my style as far as backgrounds. And I have lots of texture myself... (If you've ever met me, you'll get what I mean LOL).
There are some photos below and of course you can see the finished product in the video, but neither seems to capture the colours how I see them in real life... not sure how to resolve this... maybe you all just need to pop on over to New Zealand to check it out yourself!!

Top left hand corner of the page. The bark / vine look inspired by Aaron from Imperfect Impulses (believe it or not). I definitely need to try this technique on a tree form to see if I can create realistic looking tree bark... challenge issued! 
Love the colour blending and striation. This also shows how two distinct techniques / styles blurred / ran together rather than being segmented by a harsh border.
Stars created using mask / stencil from UmWow Studio. 
Stars created using die cut chipboard Star Confetti from UmWow Studio. This has got to be my favourite section of colouring. I love the deep, dark, moody blue-ish black look with just a hint of gold to break it up.
 This has got to be my favourite textured part of this page. I think it almost looks like a peacock feather. I'm really pleased with the way the colouring worked out. The rivulets of colour were intentional and looked even better than I expected.
Heat embossing so that the letters would stand out a little as colour wise they almost blended into the background which is what I wanted.
Love, love, love this grungey, distressed style. 
The next few photos are all about showing the dimension of the page created by the varying techniques used. It may also have been just a little of me playing with perspective when I was taking these photos.
 Hmmmm more of the delicious moody blues.
This piece looks even better from this angle. 
Love these stars. The green looks slightly warmer, more golden but still a great colour. Love me some green!! 
Considering this was merely a filler upper of a gap, I'm really pleased with the way they turned out. I had no expectations so the final look is awesome. Almost looks like craters on the moon LOL. 
Maybe another one of those mysterious perspective photos that just slipped in... 
At last the final page in all it's glory. Love it, even if I do say so myself! Just wish the colouring looked a bet closer to reality.

I do have the following products available in my online shop. Be sure to get yours before they are all gone. If you haven't already subscribed to my YouTube Channel please be sure to head over and click the button. I'd hate for you to miss out on any other pages I create for this A - Z Illustrated Alphabet Art Journal of Art and Craft Styles and Techniques.
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Lindy's Stamp Gang Starburst Set - Sweet Treats - I used Tiffany's Blue from this set but the other colours in the set are equally gorgeous in their own right. I've just had some new sets arrive so these will be going up on the website this week.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Art Journal - Illustrated Alphabet - A is for Abstract

Having come up with inspired idea for a theme for my A - Z Art Journal, I then sat down to come up with my list of techniques and styles in preparation for creating page 1... the letter "A".

Some might say this is cheating but I have to beg to differ. I did this step because...

  1. I am a planner and organiser type personality;
  2. I have in mind some specific techniques and products that I want to try and I wanted to make sure that they were included... and I didn't forget about them until I got down to X, Y and Z.
  3. And because when I started to think about the list, I realised that some letters are really hard to come up with art styles and techniques for... like "Q" and "X"... so the planning stage gave me an opportunity to answer the difficult questions... up front.
  4. And because this was something I could do at work in my lunch break. (30 minutes is not really long enough to pull out paints and paint brush especially if I want to video my creative musings.)
Now before anyone starts pointing fingers and asking me what about the cover page... which I mentioned in the first video of the series about preparing the album... yes I have purposely left this until further down the track.

I happily, openly and with full disclosure admit that I am a perfectionist. I'm a Virgo. It comes with the territory. Having confessed this... I am also happy to add that I have learnt that this little personality trait means I tend to put a great deal of pressure upon myself because I have such incredibly high expectations of myself... sometimes unachievably high expectations. Over time and with a great deal of soul searching, I have learnt ways of reducing the pressure I place on myself and one of them is by not doing the first thing that you will ever see on a project, or in a book... well first. I allow myself time to get into the groove of things until such time as I can really feel the inspiration and motivation and MOJO are right there, in this moment and now is the time. I'll let you know when that time arrives...!

So let's get down to business...

Products Used:
  • Pre-gessoed page (Faber-Castell Gesso)
  • Fibatape - Drywall Joint Tape (Available at Hardware/DIY Store)
  • Printed Deli Wrap
  • Liquitex Matte Gel
  • Golden Fluid Acrylics - Pyrrole Red; Pyrrole Orange; Hansa Yellow; Quinacridone Magenta; Burnt Sienna; Green Gold; Teal; Ultramarine Violet; Ultramarine Blue; Phthalo Green (Blue Shade); Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)
  • Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Gloss)
  • 2B Pencil
  • Stabilo "All" Pencil Black
  • Faber-Castell Gelatos - Lemon; Banana; Mango; Tangerine; Blood Orange; Red Cherry; Chocolate
  • Viva Decor /Inka Gold - Gold
  • Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens - Walnut Brown; Black
Tools Used:
  • Palette Knives (various styles and sizes)
  • Paint Brushes (various styles and sizes, including Zig Water Pen)
  • Royal Sovereign Ltd - Colour Shaper #2 Taper Point - Firm
  • Water Spritz Bottle
  • Paint Palette
  • Tim Holtz Tonic Scissors
  • Baby Wipes
Process Steps:
With the theme of "Abstract" I knew I wanted this page to be bright and out there and in your face and I knew I had to have a bloody great big "A" on it, but that was pretty much all I really had in mind when I started out.
  1. Cut and adhered down some strips of drywall joint tape. I cut the tape different lengths and widths and stuck it down. Even though it is self-adhesive, I did go over the tape with some matte gel, just to be on the safe side.
  2. Tore up some of the printed deli wrap and adhered this in place with the matte gel as well. I wasn't too specific, just overlapped some of the pieces from both of these two steps.
  3. Put some drops of the warm paint colours directly on the page, spritzed a little water, then covered the entire page in colour blending the paint and water just with my finger tips.
  4. I wanted the colour to be more intense, so following the colour blocks laid down in the previous step with the acrylic paint, I added some coordinating gelatos over the top blending them in with a little water and again just using my finger tips. Some areas ended up getting three or four layers of gelatos while some only needed a couple of layers. Once I was happy with the colour intensity, I heat set the gelatos so they wouldn't move as I added the next layers.
  5. I sketched in my "A" with the 2B pencil, then went over these sketch lines with the Stabilo All Pencil when I was happy with the size and form of the outline. I then lightly painted in the pencil lines with a water brush to turn this from pencil lines into permanent India ink lines.
  6. I painted a couple of layers of white gesso inside the letter with a small brush so I would have a blank canvas to add the next layer onto. (I did actually like the plain white letter and was tempted to just leave it white but didn't think this was "abstract" enough like that.)
  7. I selected my cool colours and put three drops of each colour into my paint palette, then added equal amounts of glazing fluid. I mixed these thoroughly then painted a light coat in a random patchwork type design using a small paint brush. (I will confess that I was quite disappointed at this stage and was tempted to wipe the paint off and go back to just plain white but then I remembered that that wouldn't be abstract enough so I decided, ahh well, there's no turning back now, so just make the most of it.)
  8. I wasn't happy with the look from the paint brush so I decided to experiment with a fine tipped colour shaper. These are like a paint brush, but instead of having a brush made out of individual fibres, they have a rubber head shaped like a brush head. I figured if nothing else, at least it should be easier to clean than a paint brush. (Can you spot Miss Perfection's ugly head making an appearance??)
  9. When I tried adding the paint using the colour shaper, I couldn't get an even paint layer. Some parts came out ultra thick and some were thin and almost watercolour like. I tried emphasizing the blended areas where two paint colours met and rather than making the blended a smooth transition, I encouraged the two colours to blend, but still remain distinct. (Sorry but this bit really needs to be seen to be understood). The other thing I noticed was that this technique was making my acrylic paints act as a faux oil paint and even though they are very small peaks and troughs, the dimension is nonetheless still very evident. 
  10. Just to clarify... I am no oil painter. I don't have the patience to wait for the oil paint to dry and I'm too much of a perfectionist that I'd never get my brushes, palette knives and palettes clean enough to actually do any oil painting. My mother however, loves oil painting. (A debate that will last forever between us as neither of us will ever concede to the other's product of choice.) As a child and teenager, I used to watch her paint with oils. I watch how she created dimension using both brushes and palette knives to add interest to her sea scapes and sunsets and I guess somewhere along the way I may have learnt some techniques from her even if I did (please forgive the term) bastardize them to use with acrylic paints. Anyway I really love the end result!
  11. Once the paint inside the letter had dried I went around it again with the Stabilo All Pencil and water brush just to darken up the framing.
  12. I added some gold highlights on the raised bits of the drywall joint tape that were still just the background colours.
  13. To frame the piece I added some Chocolate gelato around the edge of the page and blended this with my finger. I then added a thin line of PITT artist pen which I also blended in with my finger and finished with edging the external edge with black just to hide any lighter bits that I might have missed earlier.
  14. I added the title "Abstract" again using the Stabilo All Pencil and water brush.
I really love the end result of the page especially the faux oil painting technique. Will be definitely trying that again!

 The finished Art Journal Page.
 Above and below - close up of the faux oil paint texture, made using fluid acrylic paints and glazing fluid.
 I really love the distinctive blending I was able to achieve with this technique, using the fine tipped colour shaper.
 Gold accents to highlight the texture of the drywall joint tape.
And a hand lettered title to finish the page.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Illustrated Alphabet Art Journal Album - Part 1 - The Preparation

If you haven't already seen it then I suggest you take a wander over to my YouTube Channel and check out the video I posted, the first of many, that shows the start of my new Art Journal project for 2015.

I was inspired by my good friend Aaron over on his YouTube Channel - Imperfect Impulses. Last year he created an A - Z album which I really enjoyed watching him create. I thought this would be a great idea for me to do this year, but I wanted to put my own spin on it (as you do).

So I pondered the theme of my art journal for a few months... yes it took a while to come up with my own twist. Of course having just returned from the States meant I was really inspired... I just had too much work to catch up on at my "real" job (you know the one that pays the mortgage and power and food bill) so the actual turning the inspiring into reality took a little longer than I hoped.

Over the Christmas and New Year break (here in New Zealand it's Summer, so we have a long holiday break at this time of the year) I caught up on some YouTube watching and I watched a few videos demonstrating Calligraphy. Now this was an art form I tried back in my teenage years so it was almost like going home. It didn't take too many videos to click on what my theme would be for my art journal... An Illustrated Alphabet.

To take it one step further I decided that the theme of the illustrations would be art styles and techniques so my completed art journal could also be used, once it's completed, as a source book or handbook of styles and techniques for any time I get stuck for an idea and need something to help re-ignite my crafting MOJO.

I considered the selection of art journals that I had in my stash and eventually decided to use the Prima Marketing Mixed Media Art Journal 9" x 6", but use it vertically rather than horizontally. It just seemed to fit the stylings of an alphabet better, especially when I was considering that some letters might have long tails or uprights... depending upon how I ended up actually creating them.

As it is also going to fulfil the purpose of being a handbook of techniques, I also decided I was going to experiment with all those products that I have in my stash as well as any that I happen to acquire during the creative process. Which is why you will see a long list of different gessos in a paragraph or two.

My art journal journey will be as much about experimenting with various tools and products as well as investigating the interaction between products used, as it will be a documentation of the techniques tried.

I hope that I can give you ideas for new or different ways that you can use your tools as well as your products, because let's be honest there can be a lot of money invested in them so we want to make sure we are getting our money's worth out of them. And just quietly, I'm really not a huge fan of tools that can only be used one way. In fact I flat our try to avoid buying anything like that. I want versatility and multiple uses so I can rest assured that I am getting value for my hard earned money spent.

Getting off soapbox now...

Products used in Album Preparation:

  • Prima Marketing Mixed Media Art Journal 9" x 6"
  • Elmer's Glue Clear & White (stick pages together)
  • Gesso: Faber-Castell Gesso; Golden White & Black Gessos; Liquitex Clear Gesso; Prima Marketing Finnabair Art Basics Clear & White Heavy Gessos
Tools used in Album Preparation:
  • Recycled Credit Card (For gluing pages together step & painting gesso)
  • Brayer (To ensure good adhesion of pages together)
  • Princeton Catalyst Blade (Shape 6 30mm)
  • Paint Brush
  • Wet wipes
  • Paper Towels

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's back...

Just when you thought it was safe to carry on with your crafting... you turn the page on the calender and realise... it's back... time to begin the countdown to my Christmas Craft Challenge.
Today is the 1st of October. That means here in New Zealand we are one month into Spring, it's 30 days until Halloween (not that we really celebrate it here), I've been back in the country two weeks and it's two months until the 1st of December which is officially the start of my Christmas Craft Challenge.
The 1st of October is the day I post my official reminder for the kick off of the Christmas Craft Challenge in exactly two months.
By now I have usually forgotten all about last year's stress and the self-imposed pressure I put myself through so I once again blindly commit myself to doing it all again. 
This year will be the 6th year in a row that I have been doing this. When I first started there were very few crafters doing this sort of thing... well at least few who were blogging about it. Last year they were everywhere. There were so many people blogging, photographing and posting their Christmas creations that it close to being overwhelming.
So why do I put myself through this? We all participate in crafting challenges, especially at Christmas, for many reasons... some more practical than others - boost sales, get your name our there to build demand for your crafting or design services or for design team exposure. Some may be hidden behind a guilt about having committed to doing "X" amount of crafting during the year and then discovering in October/November that you've fallen short on meeting your targets. For those in the Northern Hemisphere it may be related to heading into the cold, miserable Winter months, when indoor pursuits are all you can do unless you don't mind standing around freezing, knee deep in snow waiting for the next chair lift. And if like me you don't fit into any of the above... then just because.
Back to this year's Christmas Craft Challenge...
Well last year's went horribly wrong, I don't mind admitting it. I was working full-time from the start of November having been unemployed for some time, and I was sick as well (no time off when you are contracting)... so my Christmas Craft Challenge turned into a New Year's Craft Challenge for the most part.
I'd like to think I learnt something from last year, so this year I'm not going to commit myself to one craft project a day as Christmas is busy and stressful enough at times without adding pressure to myself for no particular reason. Instead I am happy to commit myself to a minimum of one blog post a week for the four week period. Anything over and above that is a bonus. Each blog post will cover a minimum of two craft projects.
This is doable, without killing me, killing Christmas for me or for me ending up wanting to kill my family for adding to my stress.
Play along at home as well or just pop by to look at what I have created. If you are playing a long at home and will be sharing your own projects on the net somewhere, be sure to leave me a comment to let me know where so I can check you out (well your crafting) and give you a plug on my blog.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

USA Update 1

Can I just start out by saying OMG... I can't believe I am actually here... here as in, actually IN the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.
There was a time when I thought that not even in my wildest of dreams would I ever get to step foot in this country. Then plans were set in motion and even though I had my passport and my plane ticket I still thought something would pop up to prevent me from actually making it here but it didn't and I spent hours and weeks and months stressing and worrying about nothing. Yes I am a worrier... but moving on.
I (I should say we, as my darling hubbie is with me)... We are here in the US of A and have been here a few days.
So what's happened so far...

  • 12 hour flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Los Angeles... in cramped, uncomfortable seats, including getting severe leg and foot cramp in my left leg... I wasn't a happy flier.
  • One night only in LA... in a really hard bed so that I didn't catch up on any of the sleep I didn't get on the plane.
  • Driving a big beast of a car, on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road when I'm used to driving a sports car about 1/3 the height of what the rental car gave me.
  • Three nights in Las Vegas... and yet another hard bed. Three fabulous shows... "Absinthe", "KA" by Cirque du Soleil and "Jubilee". Driving up and down the strip, seeing so many people in one spot all at once and so much neon!
  • Shopping at Walmart (a big deal as we don't have them in New Zealand lol) and picking up some great crafty bargains.
  • Finally getting to look around the many, many, many shelves of Viva Las Vegas Stamps at their 19,000 odd stamps and trying not to spend ALL my money there. 
  • Buying stamps for myself as well as for my store.
  • Meeting the absolutely lovely DeeDee at VLVS where she works as well as designs for them and her own label UmWowStudios. 
  • Picking up not one but two boxes of UmWowStudios products from DeeDee... and biggest frustration... not actually be able to do any crafting with it!!
  • Meeting Aaron Blazevich of Imperfect Impulses who I have followed on YouTube for a long time now as well as being a friend on FB etc etc. 
  • And getting spoilt by Aaron when he gifted me some of his stash of printed Deli Paper (also something we don't have in New Zealand). I so wasn't expecting this. I made a cheeky comment on one of his videos on YouTube about wanting some and I was so flattered that he remembered!
That's pretty much it so far. Not too bad for 840 odd miles, 4 States and 6 days. There are pictures... they will follow... just this hotel wifi is not the greatest and keeps crashing on me.

Be sure to check back for more updates and photos (eventually). You can also see updates on my Facebook account. Look me up if you're not already a friend there.

Catch up with you again soon... not sure where from!