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Monday, September 8, 2014

Why I'm not blogging

About a week ago my main computer died, extremely suddenly. It was 4 years old, and worked perfectly until its last day. The hard drive had been racing for several weeks, and I'm pretty sure that is what killed it. I'm currently on an old laptop I bought the last time a desktop died and I knew I'd be without a computer for a month. This laptop is not only 4 years old, it was the cheapest laptop I could buy, and it is the slowest computer I've ever had to deal with. But it is still with me which is why I can write this blog post.

What I can't do is get photos from my camera to the computer. All of its USB ports are engaged.

I'll get the new computer which will be a laptop this time, but one that isn't the bottom of the barrel and isn't 4 years old. I bought a Windows 7 Pro laptop online from HP. You can't get new Windows 7 computers from the big box stores but you can from the manufacturer's website. I had such good luck with the old computer I decided to buy the same brand again.

And with any luck, you will hear from me in less than two weeks, with photos of what I've been up to. I've been playing with my paints and my art journals, and as usual I've been learning all kinds of new things that I would love to share.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Art Geeks and August Obsessions Class

I've been working my way through the August Obsessions Class at the Art Geeks site. This month the group has been making a scrappy journal, and we did a bunch of layers on the pages. I'm somewhat behind because I have not done the binding on the journal yet, or made any of the pages, but last night I finished the covers, front and back and here they are.

All of the drawings were originally just pencil drawings, some with shading and some without. I tried putting colored pencil on them and hated the look, so I painted them with acrylics last night. The paper was very thin and I didn't put them down with medium or collage podge, so they wrinkled a bit, but I'm still very happy with them.

Now on to the pages.

Take care all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sorry it has been so long

It is getting harder and harder for me to blog. I'm not sure why, but I think I'm using my energy to actually do Art Journaling and taking classes in it, and I don't tend to have enough energy left to write about what I am doing. Not sure where this is going to go, but I do have an update.

I did make a cover for the Altered Backgrounds journal that I used for the class I was taking at the Art Geek's site. This is the front cover. I never got the beads on the long strings but I still hope to do that.

And here are my 7 favorite ICADs. I finished them on time. I was actually a day or two ahead during the last couple of weeks because I kept making a second card or even a third on some days. Once I got started I could not stop. One of the cards is the second or third I made but most of these were done later in the process as I got a better handle on how to do an ICAD.

And yes, I do miss them. There are two other regular small projects that are out there. One is to use Rolodex cards. And a second is to make a box to hold slightly larger cards and to do those. Neither is a Summer only project and neither expects you to do them every day for a specific period although a few people are doing them daily or almost daily. I have index cards that are way too big for the ICAD project and I am considering using those because I have so many of them.

 The next three layouts are rather odd, because each of them was made using either a loose sheet or in a separate book.

I've never done a loose sheet Art Journal layout before. I probably should have done this one in one of my commercial Art Journals, but it was possible that it was going to be one of several. This was for a challenge on the Jennibellie ning site. The idea was to do something you wanted to attract into your life, and I took something that is already there that I want to keep in my life.

I really am Just plain Happy to be creating every day, and I want that to continue.

I did I Choose to be Happy in my smaller Strathmore Visual Journal which has 140 pound Watercolor paper and is a joy to work in, but for some reason I am more interested in making my own journals right now. Still, from time to time I come back to this one and to the larger one.

I really do CHOOSE to be happy. It was something I learned you can do back when I was taking care of Joe at home. I could have sunk into depression during that last year, but I found several books on how to be happy, anyway, just because you choose to find things in your life to be grateful for or to enjoy. You can allow joy into your life even when things are bad, or you can sink into it. It really is a choice.

 A 4 page booklet arrived as part of my junk mail a week or so ago. It turned out that it wasn't even stapled together, but just held together with glue. I taped it together and I ended up with a little journal. I was experimenting because all of the others I had made so far, either from booklets of some sort, or with sewn signatures like the Altered Backgrounds Journal, had gesso on the pages. I only used paint on this one and then collaged some stuff onto the various pages. I'm going to try and paint flowers on the pages. This is my first attempt at a flower, and I'm reasonably happy with it.

 Most of my time during the last two weeks has involved taking classes over at the Art Geek's site. One of the classes is the August Obsessions class where we are making a journal out of single sheets of cardstock. Other people in the class are using file folders but my paper cutter is a very old one, and it would not cut file folders, so I ended up using card stock instead.

This is what the two sides of my new journal look like front and backs of all the sheets just put into a pile. They already look different since I've added another layer to them, but since I will be adding two more to them this weekend I didn't update the photos.

It is going to be interesting to see how the binding method will go, but I'm not ready to try that out yet. We will see what we will see.

 I am also taking the Eclectic Journal class at the same time. I already had a journal made out of a church magazine. This class is about either using a magazine or a book and altering it in ways that are different from using gesso or paint. I had one spread and the cover from my old magazine journal so I decided to try the new system on that.

I could only use the full system on the back cover since everything else had some gesso on it. The front cover does have a partial new system on it. All I can say is that I've become a believer because this is the easiest thing I've ever done with making my own journal.
 The photo above is the front cover. The one to the side is the back cover. The idea, also from the class is to use your own previous journal pages to produce things you can use in your new journals. The girl on the front cover is a copy of one of my two painted girls. I got to do some additional pen work on the copy, and I think she looks even better than the original did. I cut her out and pasted her on the cover and put a boarder of a painted paper of my own around the page. I added a fussy cut flower spray as well. The background is painted book pages and a painted paper that I had made quite a while ago.

I used one of the techniques from the Altered backgrounds class when I made up the back cover. I also recycled both the bird and the bird stamp from a previous layout. Using elements from my own art was interesting mainly because there isn't all that much of it yet. I've only been doing art journaling for a few months. But no question that I'm going to be making copies and scanning a lot of what I will be doing in the future so I can use parts of it again. Looks like Photoshop is going to get a workout.

And finally here is the last spread in that journal as well. Like every other thing I did in it this is experimental in some way. I used a dyed paper towel at one end, and washi tape. I doodled and I put some collage on the page but did not cover the entire thing. The hearts were from a deli print I had doodled on. I'm pretty happy with it overall.

So that is what I've been up to. Take care all.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Catching Up

I went back to see what I had shown all of you and what I hadn't. Boy do I need to catch up! Some of this stuff goes back several weeks. I'm still doing ICADs, but I won't show any of those this time. The season is almost over and I'll be doing a post about the ones I like the most when it is over.

The Studio isn't quite set up yet. I've got more organizational stuff in, but I'm taking it all one day at a time. If I get to something that is an unholy mess, I deal with it, and then go back to playing. In the long run that will mean I remember where I put things, and it never becomes a miserable job on any one particular day.

For example, I got some new stencils in and it hit the "overwhelm" button, so last night I started using the page protectors I'd bought over a month ago and got the ones that didn't have a home settled into page protectors and the container I'd bought for them. I didn't go into the stencils that do have a home, but those will get moved into page protectors too, and possibly into a 3 ring binder at some point, but not quite right now. I know where everything is, and nothing is so jumbled up that stencils are getting torn.

On to art journaling!

 The first two layouts were ones where I knew I wasn't quite finished. They are both from my experiments journal. In both cases I knew I needed words to finish them.

I think the letters I used in this one were too small. I'm still learning how to use letters I buy and put down, and I've got these tiny ones, and the huge ones below, in black.

I know I need to buy something in between. I think larger letters would have made me happier.
The 2 inch letters were the right choice for this layout. It actually does take courage to create things. This background has collage, as does the other one, and paint and stamping, and who knows what else. It is literally a hot mess, but those bold black letters do seem to have pulled it all together.

It makes me happy.

There is only one spread left in the experiments journal. I think I know what is going into that last spread. And then I will have to work on the cover.

 In addition to the experiments journal, I've been working in this hand made journal (my first) for a class I'm taking at Gulfsprite's site. I've jointed Art Geeks there, but that won't actually start until August. There is a free class with 9 or 10 videos, and I've been taking the class and treating it as a real class with homework.

This was the first page. On this one I used various kinds of dimensional media to create texture on book text and crumpled up scrapbook paper. I'd seen loads of videos on doing this kind of thing but watching and doing are two different things.

Once the dimensional media had dried, I painted over it. Each of the different media took the paint differently, and you can actually see that in this background.

All of the spreads in this journal are now backgrounds, not completed pages.

The second class involved using a photo from a magazine, and scrapbook paper, and other papers that were painted, to fit with the colors in the photo. I also cut the paper, which also altered it from what it was originally. I lucked out because that week's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY had this great two page photo in it that worked extremely well in this background. Actually, except for journaling and a title, this page is a finished page.

This is the third page in the class. This time we were putting the paper on horizontally. The idea was to cut out petals and use both the petals and the cut out, and to use the papers both painted and unpainted along with some paint and some painted book pages.

Like the first page this is almost an exact replica of the one done in the class, and once again I like how it came out.

 More paint, more cut up scrapbook and other papers. I also got to use two flowers I had painted on a painted paper project I did months ago on this page and I love how all of it came out.
 This class was about using just black and white and multiple scrapbook paper (with a little music paper). I only had one washi tape that was black and white and it is in there too.
 Something simple and elegant. Some doodle flowers from scrapbook paper, a little paint that is just scrubbed on and some lnesdone with a marker.

 In this case I didn't have the materials to do the actual class project, so I used what I had. I cut out a vintage photo, probably of an actress from the 19th or early 20th Century. I stamped on tissue paper with brown ink and painted a gold patterned tissue paper and music paper with brown paint.

I would never have done a background this way before this class, so obviously I have learned a lot.

And finally the unfinished cover of this little handmade journal. There is one more class that I haven't done anything for. There was one class where I decided to do an ICAD instead of a spread, and it is one of my favorite ICADs. I knew I didn't have enough pages to do every class in the journal. But I can make the covers out of the project for the final class, and then, I'm going to put some beads on the strings I left long so I could decorate them.

This isn't just my first home made journal. It is also my first finished journal. The commercial ones have lots of pages to go, and that is fine. I like working in multiple journals. There is also a journal made out of gelli prints that has reached its half way point. I'll talk about that one in another post.

Take care all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What I've Learned From Doing ICADs

If you had asked me in May if I was capable of doing a tiny piece of art every day for two months I probably would have told you no. I have a hard time committing to anything long term. Or at least I thought so. But here I am on the 46th day of ICAD season and I've got 48 index cards with paint on them.

So one of the things I've learned is that I can commit. I have 48 cards because I mus-numbered one of the cards and decided to make a second one for the official number of that day, and because one day I just could not stop at just one.

One of the things I was committing to was making a single card every day, and for the most part that is what I've done. I've made at least one EVERY DAY.

 So this is the pile I showed a while ago. You can see how many cards there actually are although you can't see most of them well.

And this is a photo of the last 8 days.

I've learned a lot from doing the cards and not just about commitment. I've tried new techniques. I've used supplies I have never used before. I made cut outs using my electronic cutter, and cut things freehand, and stamped and painted and fussy cut things out from the Internet and magazines. I already know that I'm going to be trying out a couple new techniques I've never done before or that I've only done on Art Journal pages while I was taking a class.

Index cards are cheap. If your experiment doesn't work out you haven't spent a lot of money. You can try something new. You can see something someone else has done on YouTube or on the Internet, and try it out for yourself. 

My only problem is that I am going to miss them when July is over. Only 14 more days. I could just keep doing them, but I think there is a reason not to do that. Not totally sure what it really is. I'm sure that looking at the cards from year 1 and the cards from year 2 should show a big jump in quality. I also think that when you come back to them after a year away, you focus on them differently than you did a year earlier. And I think those aren't the only reason not to do them year round. But I will miss them.

Take care all.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

This Week's Stuff

I haven't done that much Art Journaling this week. Instead I've watched a bunch of YouTube videos and recognized that one of the reasons I get stuck is that everyone else out there has stuff I don't have. Not art supplies so much at this point. Over the last 6 months or so I've bought a bunch of art supplies. But things like the elements I had when I was digital scrapbooking and the embellishments everyone seems to have. Some of that "stuff" is bought, but a lot of it gets made by the artists out there.

And that is what I've been up to. I bought the Silhouette and I've been cutting stencils, but also I've begun to cut various die cuts that I can turn into the stuff I've been missing. I've bought a couple of fashion magazines because although I'm not likely to make layouts out of fashion pictures, I just might. And there is other stuff to cut out of the magazines. like words and phrases, and small pictures, and even squares of colorful images that you won't be able to tell came from a magazine. I might just be doing some of that on the Silhouette. Not sure how it will react to magazine pages as paper, but we will see.

I've just gotten a new book that is sending me off on even more of this making it stuff. For example I have an old vintage book that I bought because it was a favorite childhood craft book. I think it is older than I am. It was all about making costume dolls out of paper mache. I'm not likely to ever make the dolls. My attempts at age 12 were pretty awful, but I just loved the book. It has illustrations of the dolls. I'm going to be copying the drawings, and I might even color some of them and use both the plain ones and the colored ones as collage sheets. The art journaling book has multiple ideas on how to make collage sheets, and using drawings like the ones in the doll making book are just one of them.

Another thing the author suggests is copying one's own art to make collage sheets. And I've got two collages that do not have words on them at this point (but will soon) that I'm going to do that with.

A collage sheet is something that one makes so one can cut it up and make new art out of it. At this point it is another thing I don't have, but will have soon. I've also got a lot of stuff on my computer from the digital scrapbooking days that I've begun to catalog. Some of that also needs to be turned into things I can use.

I do have a couple of pictures for you to see. 

 It is ICAD season. In June and July, every year, the Art Journaling community does little pieces of art on index cards. At this point I've done at least one every day. I did two only once so far. I've learned a lot. The early ones were nothing to write home to mother about. The newer ones have been much better. I've got things I printed and cut using the Silhouette on a couple of the newer ones.

And on the newest one, the one with the 35 on it, I've got a hand made flower embellishment.
There has been a sudden craze in some of the groups I've been following on Facebook for hand cut and decorated flowers. So far I've only decorated a few, but here is a stack of flowers cut out of book pages and Gelli prints waiting for their turn with the markers.

This also has been part of my element/embellishment journey.

The messy drop paper in my art area is on purpose. Pretty soon it will get to the point where I will turn it into an intentional painted and collaged paper. Which I will use to make more embellishments and elements. More circles. More squares and more flowers.

Take care all.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What I Have Been Up To

I seem to add "what I've learned" as a tag to almost every post, but that is because I've been learning a lot over the last few months.

First a health update. I still have days when I need lots of recliner time so I can rest, and even lots of naps (sometimes more than one a day) but I am also getting stronger all the time. I now can walk up a flight of 8 or 9 steps with the help of a banister and a cane. Down too. Down is sometimes harder. I've begun to stop avoiding curbs as well, although I'm not as steady with those. I can go into a store and use a cart for support instead of using the store's scooter. The scooters made it possible to shop, but shopping is totally different if you are using a cart. There are parts of the store you just can't get to in a scooter.

So things are going pretty well around here, and I'm still feeling so happy most of the time that I bubble. Can't help enjoying the bubbling.

 I've been reorganizing the studio. I took a bookcase that has been in the garage for almost 10 years and brought it inside. I had to put a small file cabinet into the garage, because there no longer is room for it.

Basically I've run out of room in the bookcases that were already in the room, even with heavy culling.

 This is what the bookcase wall looked like the day the new bookcase came in. It doesn't look this way anymore, and it won't look like this when it is all finished. I'm going to get two additional shelves for the new bookcase, and I'm still deciding what is going where, and I've done even more culling of books that I've had for years, even decades, and which no longer are the kinds of things I'm interested in.

I also have a new toy. This is a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. I wasn't doing paper crafts when the machines like the Sizzix came out, and I was seriously considering getting a die cutting machine. That was the one I was looking at, but I realized that the one thing I truly wanted to do was to make stencils, and a Sizzix doesn't do that. The Cameo does.

I have now cut 6 stencils. Two in card stock and four in plastic. Since the first two were the first things I ever cut doing them in card stock made sense.

It is interesting just how much one learns if one suddenly has a bunch of stencils, and if one is actually cutting them oneself. The designs I used mainly came from the Silhouette store. Some came from free cutting files on the Internet. None of them were intended to be stencils, and I've had to begun to manipulate the software that came with the Silhouette so I could actually make stencils out of the file. I'm a Geek, so playing with software comes naturally. And with so many YouTube videos, I'm learning fast.

When I'm not playing with the new machine, or trying to make order out of chaos in the Studio, I'm doing some Art Journaling.

I did this page last month, knew that it really wasn't finished and promised to show it again if I made changes. The changes are the lettering. I have never used stickers before, and it was interesting doing that on this page where the ones I had bought a couple of months ago were a reasonable size for the page. The page is in the small journal, so the fact that these stickers are pretty small is not a problem.
There is a woman on YouTube who sells what she calls an inspiration deck of cards with technique prompts on them. Her prompts wouldn't work for me. I don't have some of the supplies she takes for granted, so I started a deck of my own, on index cards on a ring. This was the first page I ever did using cards from that home made deck.

Frankly it is quite different from anything I normally would have done. I like it, I think. But I'm not sure.


The next three photos are from the Junque Journal. The one I made from a church magazine. It was intended to be a place where I experimented with stuff I'd never done before.

The profile of the lady is from one of the cardboard stencils I made. The successful one. I like her a lot. The unsuccessful one is in the background of the other page. The experiment there was doing all kinds of doodles that I'm not done before. I'm learning how to doodle. I'm pretty happy with both pages which are not a two page spread although that was the original intent.

The experiment here was doing a collage with papers I had made from doodle and scribble pages done with a very cheap oil pastel. These are actually Crayola oil pastels which cost under $6 for the box. Unlike most of the oil pastels art journaler's use these are not water soluble. But they really blend very well, and were fun to use. They were not fun to work over however, and the black at least turned out to be more water soluble than expected. The black smudged badly. I put a border around it with marker. My black Sharpie marker looked brown on top of the oil pastels. A function of the oil pastels and not of the marker I believe.

I added circles cut out of deli paper that I had printed on the Gelli plate, marked around them and then painted around them with black paint. The oil pastels were not happy with the paint either. And I added white dots and tried to splatter the pages. I don't splatter well. I don't splatter well at all. I just don't understand how to splatter.

But I will figure it out!

Finally one last spread done on the small journal I made myself out of really bad Gelli printed pages.

The first thing I did was use some of the colors from one page onto the other, in both directions. That unified the backgrounds. It was a technique I saw on one of the YouTube videos I watched, but I have no idea who's technique it was. Then ephemera from the Internet printed on my Epson printer which does not smudge. I tried stenciling on the borders of the square drawing, but I'm not sure I liked that.

This journal is also intended for experiments I don't seem to be comfortable doing on the "real" journals, although the layout isn't too different from some I've done in those books.

So that is what I've been doing. I've got a load of organizing to do because I've recognized that I won't be able to use the new bookcase for the art supplies. I moved some and have moved them back. The old bookcase wall is going to have to be where the art supplies go. I won't be able to truly organize things for another week because I won't have all my shelves in place until my handyman comes back. I've bought some organizing plastic, but I'm not sure if it is the right stuff or not. Etc. I'm in a waiting game right now, but I've got to get all this stuff off the floor because it is driving me crazy!

Take care all.