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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.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Success? and Failure?

Sometimes we just don't know if something is a success or a failure. And that is where I've been for the last three days.

This is the most recent spread in the Junk Journal. Very much my normal thing. Pretty background. I've gotten to the point where I can get a comfortable blend of colors and then stamp with home made and commercial stamps, until I really like what is there.

Then I added ephemera from the Internet, printed out on my home printer. My Epson printer prints out copies that do not smear. I know that people have some problem with that with other jet printers, but Epson always did have great inks.

I didn't put a smeared border around any of what I added. Or around the page either. That is also my basic style. I am not at all sure I like smeared borders. Or at least not the ones I've done in the past. I need to see if I like distress inks in those areas, but the problem with all of the sprays and inks from Ranger is that none of them are permanent. And I don't really like that they aren't permanent. I've gotten very good at fussy cutting which I did with the roses.

But that was Friday or over the weekend. On Friday I bought a Gelli Printing class that was anything but the normal thing one sees on YouTube. I started doing the actual printing on Monday, and I'm not sure what to say. I learned a lot from Carla Sonheim's class. But I also learned that it is very likely that I can never comfortably do her style of Gelli Printing.

The first two were done on Monday and Tuesday. I was still using my own color pallet, which is mostly bright colors. She suggested that you take card stock and make some masks with it, which I did. Of all of the ones I did with the kinds of masks she suggested this red and yellow piece was the most successful.

The spirals were my idea. She mostly uses circles she has cut, both the positive and the negative. I've gotten very good at cutting spirals.

The tree was my own idea. I used the stencil part of the tree many times, on many different papers. I didn't use the mask part more than once, and none of those were all that successful. Here I used it twice, once in an almost white and once in a darker color, over a very colorful background.

I think it is interesting that the two most successful pages out of the 16 or 17 I did in the three days were done on the first day in a bright color scheme.
 Here is another tree but in the muddy, dark colors I was using on Wednesday. Not anywhere as successful as the Monday/Tuesday ones. I've decided that dark, muddy colors just aren't for me.

Over all, I'm glad I took the class. It was only $25, and it was short. She has a second one for $35, but one advantage to the fact that she broke the two classes up instead of selling them for $60 as one class is that I'm going to have some time to digest what I've learned, and put it into practice before I go on to additional techniques, if I choose to take the second class too.

So what have I learned?

I also cut a tulip stencil out of card stock. Having multiple broken sections on the bottom of the stencil, which this one has, makes it very difficult to take it off the plate and almost as difficult to just put it on properly. So stencils, even card stock stencils cut out with scissors without drawing first, need to have solid bottoms.

I've also learned several Gelli Plate techniques that I've never seen before on YouTube, and can infer several additional ones. I've done a bunch of masking, not just the trees and tulips, circles and spirals, but the wavy lines you can see most clearly in the bottom photo, and I know I'll be doing a lot more of that. There are at least two paint techniques that will become a permanent part of my toolbox. I don't feel I can explain them here because they are a basic part of her course.

Take care all.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Junk Journals, Doodling and ICADs

So yes, that says Junk Journals. In addition to the two books I sewed up and the one book waiting sewing, I've been trying to turn a Church magazine into a junk journal. After all, once one has read all the articles, the only thing one normally does is throw it away. My local garbage company doesn't recycle magazines or white paper.

This is my third attempt (fourth?) at turning something like this into a journal. I finally succeeded and you can tell because there is paint all over the cover although I have not yet painted the cover.

The magazine is a short one. And it is made of unusually heavy paper. The entire thing is made out of paper usually used for the covers.

I put masking tape on the cover and inside all of the pages to keep liquids from destroying the magazine when I gesso the  pages or paint on them. That is what happened to the other attempts.

So this was where the first journal page was when I went to bed several days ago. It felt finished to me, but I knew that this journal like the others I've made was intended as a place to experiment. And the experiment I needed to do was doodling, which you can see I did quite a bit of, and layers. There are a bunch of layers on this piece, but I wanted more.
This is the same page, several layers later You can see bits of the previous layers in between the blue. More stamping and stenciling, some collage, more doodling, more paint and some oil pastel crayons. I liked the first set of layers, but I like this set too.

This is the second spread in the junk journal. I forgot to take a photo of this spread before I added the collage. It wasn't finished. Even I didn't think so, but it was an interesting first set of layers.

The collage layer is book pages and some painted magazine pages.
I did a bunch of stamping done on top of that.
Then stenciled butterflies and doodling. And at this point I just could not paint over it and do more layers. I intended to, but just could not.

I was watching someone on YouTube finish up her spread and I watched what those finishing touches were. I had already drawn around the butterflies first with marker (see above) and then with the oil crayon and smudged. I'm not sure I like the oil crayon here. I had doodled inside the butterflies with white and I added more doodling in black, which I like the look of. I also added the smudged border around the spread and I'm not sure what else at this point, but I know that as I watched, I got up three times and just did some of what she had done.

I have also been doing ICADs. (Index Cards A Day) which seems to be a Summer event every year. The idea here is that you have a cheap, small surface and you do something with it every day. Basically the idea is that if it is cheap and plentiful, you will be able to work with it even if it isn't perfect.

Here are the first 5 out of what is supposed to be 60, made during the months of June and July. I started a day late, but since it was just one card I decided to catch up.

I've been using supplies I have in the house that I have not used either at all or much. Oil markers on the flower including gold and silver markers. The theme for the red card was supposed to be Circus and I put in the lights that used to be strung in country fairs. The green one is a play on my name which is Stella, which means Star and I did a Starry, Starry Night. Both of them had glitter which I didn't like, so I tried to wipe it off and instead the entire card got covered in a light coat of glitter, which I did like. I did the red one first and then did the blue/green one as well. The next two cards have writing on them. Like a lot of people I don't like my handwriting so I'm forcing myself to do some writing on some of these cards.

Another thing that I've been working on is doodling. I had a bunch of gelli printed delli paper that frankly were going nowhere, so I pulled them out and pulled out some markers and this is what I got.

I practiced all kinds of doodles in white and black markers. I had one extra heavy black marker and you can see some of that on the bottom picture.

These were always intended as papers to be collaged with and now they are interesting enough for that to actually happen.

I did them this morning and I really like what happened.

But I know I need to do more of this before I'm really comfortable doodling. And this is a great way to turn some gelli prints into something I'm likely to use.

Take care all.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Binding Books?

One of the things I never expected to do in my life was to bind a book. And I still haven't, but in the Art Journaling world, people go on about making their own journals. There is a bunch of reasons for doing it, and I found myself having a couple of them. What I made was a simple pamphlet, or rather two of them with a third in the wings. Let me show you.

One reason to make a pamphlet is that you've got all of these papers you have painted, or made on the Gelli Plate, and now what are you supposed to do with them.

 This is a classic answer. You make a journal out of them.

A second reason is that you need a place to experiment where the materials are cheap, not precious. And my two "real" art journals are made out of good paper. So I've got a second classic answer.

The journal with the yellow cover is out of paper I painted very early in my journey and that was always intended for a hand made journal. There are a total of 4 sheets, or 8 pages, or 16 surfaces in that one. Some are painted, some have just gesso on them, and some are actually bare paper.

The red and blue one is just binder clipped together right now. I have not sewn it yet.

I've done two pages in the Gelli Printed journal. I wanted to see what would happen if you used a stencil and just painted in either white or in black on backgrounds that were just a Hot Mess. That is also an Art Journaling term, but it is self evident. The papers were pretty, but almost unusable. I think the white worked better, but it is possible that with a different stencil the black would have worked well too.

This is also an experiment. Two totally different kinds of backgrounds. I tied them together with some light blue paint and then just went with it. I'm happy with the result.

I also tried my new Inktense pencils. They are the dark black lines. And pulled out my GelSticks and got a wash out of them with water after I colored. So I've successfully used two new media that I have bought and not used much yet. Havi9ng a place to experiment works.

I'm not sure what will go into the Yellow Journal, but I'll figure it out.

Take care all.