Thursday, October 29, 2009

Busy Week

It has rained nearly all week long, which for me has been good as it's kept me inside and busy making art. This first piece is a mixed media collage, 5x7, that I call "September Hydrangea". I've done a number of hydrangea pieces over the years. Some have been in collage, some in pastels and some even in oils, but this is the first time I've done one that depicts a hydrangea blossom after it's lost its color and dried. I'm kind of liking the way it looks, so it probably won't be the last time I use this as a subject.
This second piece is called "Designer Chocolates". In an effort to steer away from circles, I punched out a series of squares from the palette paper I spoke of in previous posts and started arranging them on dark chocolate colored banana paper. I was immediately reminded of a chocolate shop in the Town Center of Virginia Beach. which is a favorite of mine. It's called The Royal Chocolate. They make their own chocolates, but they also handle chocolates made by world famous chocolate makers; some of which are painted in edible food paints. The palette used is very similar to the colors I've used here and I was just reminded of my most favorite food group when I created this piece.
"Reverie" is what I call this collage piece. Once again, the punched out squares that I also used in Designer Chocolates, but this time I also used a special stamp that I love. I don't often use rubber stamps as a focal point for my pieces, but thought the colors in the background lent themselves to the dreamy expression on this woman's face. I stamped the image on transparent white Thai unryu paper. I like the way you can see the fibers of the paper against the background colors.
And, of course, I have to use up all the scraps! You can see the left over palette paper that I used to cut a circle for "Parallel Universe" (featured in an earlier post) and also all the squares for the two pieces above. I glued the scrap to a piece of purplish (what do they call this color?) Thai unryu paper that has gold metallic threads running through it and then punched more little pieces from more painted palette paper scraps. It reminds me of my high school years and I call it "70's Revisited".

So it's been quite the week. It almost makes me wish for more rain. NOT!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If you keep doing what you've always done...

This mixed media collage image is strictly a journal image. I'm reluctant to even post it, but I think it's important. As the quote in the page reads "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten."

Keeping or "playing" in an art journal is important, but only if we allow ourselves to experiment and learn from them. This is not a palette that I would normally choose, but I felt a lot of freedom in the creation of this double spread. It's not going to be juried, it's not going out to the public for sale. And by doing this I've learned what I'm not comfortable with, but I also picked up some ideas that I wouldn't mind trying again.

Playing is essential to an artist.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Breakwater Trail

Today was a perfect day for a fall bike ride through the salt marshes in our area. I'm lucky to live in an area that has so much parkland. I try to take advantage of it as much as I can.

And Still More Circles!

Parallel Universe, Mixed Media Collage, 5 x 7

What can I say, it's become an obsession. Maybe next time I'll try squares.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another in Mixed Media Collage

I love this medium; one thing leads to another and because of that you can never run out of ideas. While creating the journal pages "Art for the Soul" (see post dated Oct. 14) I filled up a piece of palette paper with many colors of paint, mostly while cleaning out my brushes. Then, when I tried out my rubber stamps, loaded with paint, I tested them on the same palette paper. As a result, I had this piece of paper filled with great color and design and it just begged to be used. In fact, I cut out a couple of circles which I used in that same journal piece. Then I cut out a few more circles and created artwork around them. These circles of colors enticed me to use papers in shades of violet; colors that I haven't used in awhile; and that's what these pieces are here. "Lavender Melody" and "Purple Tunes."

I use circles a lot in my collages. I'm drawn to them. My son says I need to explore this obsession with circles. He feels they represent little windows to my soul or something. He may be right, but I don't think I have to know what they represent in order to have fun with them.

After the rain...

Sometimes life brings unbearable pain and though it's difficult I try to remember that things happen for a reason. Many times it's impossible to find the good in the bad. Sometimes I can find solace in my art journal.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October Nor'easter & My Opinions on Varnish

We're having a nor'easter today! I wouldn't want one every day and I know that they can cause serious damage; but they do force me to stay inside, stay cozy and slow down a little. For that reason, I love the occasional gale.

Today's a Sunday, too, and as I don't have any other chores to perform I took the opportunity that the inclement weather presented to make another scrap paper collage. Lately I've been enchanted with blue/yellow/purple/orange/green combinations (did I leave any colors out?) and those are the scraps I chose to glue together today. When it dries, I can cut shapes from this scrap collage to utilize in "real" artwork.

I also worked on three little pieces that I started last week. They are nearing final stages and are currently undergoing coats of varnish. When I switched to wrapped canvases as my support (instead of making my collages on paper and framing them under glass) I realized that I would need to varnish my artwork in order to protect the papers from the elements.

I originally used Liquitex acrylic varnish. I start with two coats of gloss varnish to protect the color and then finish with a coat of matte; unless of course, I'm looking for a high gloss finish. Sometimes I'll leave sections of my collage with a gloss finish to let them stand out from the background.

Later I switched to Lascoux. I learned that Lascoux has UV filters in their varnish and I'm hoping that those filters will help to keep colors from fading over time. Quite by accident I discovered another difference between the Liquitex and the Lascaux varnishes. I mistakenly picked up my Liquitex matte varnish for my final coat on a couple of the pieces I was working on last night and this morning realized that the final finish was very different than what I was used to. I discovered that the Liquitex matte varnish dries to a very flat finish, while the Lascaux matte varnish is more of a satin finish. The satin finish gives my artwork a subtle glow and makes the papers appear more like fabric; a look that I really like. So... for that reason alone I would choose the Lascaux over the Liquitex even though it's somewhat more expensive. Needless to say, I applied a final coat of Lascaux to the pieces I varnished last night.

I'm not a paid spokesperson for Lascoux, this is just my own personal observation and I thought I'd share it. ;-D

In a couple of days I hope to share my new finished pieces with you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Art For The Soul

Too often I'm caught up with thinking about the commercial value of my art and too seldom do I create art just to satisfy my soul. This week I decided to work in my art journal; something I haven't done since June. Once something is created in my journal it never leaves. It stays there forever as my personal possession so the only person I need to please is me. I had picked up some new journaling techniques from another blog and I couldn't wait to try them out. Sorry I didn't photograph it step by step, I'll try to remember that next time.

There's something about this double page spread that personally satisfies me; and this week I'm the only one I want to satisfy. It involves a lot of paint, stamping and line work; all things I don't use very often in my works for sale. And I love the color combination. There are certain areas where the colors come together and excite me and other areas that I find soothing. I truly believe that certain colors can elevate our moods or increase our awareness. Colors have had a great affect on me ever since I was a little child.

So I hope you'll indulge me while I enjoy this piece of purely selfish art. :-D

Thursday, October 8, 2009

French Sunflower

6"x6" - Gallery Profile Canvas

Well, here it is! My inspiration from the "Country French" magazine. Instead of talking so much in this post, I'll just show you the steps taken to complete this piece.

Of course it's not finished until I've splattered gold paint on it!

You can still see the blue toile on the sides.

Blog Contest Winners

The winners of my first Giveaway Contest are:

1st Place - Cindy Lynn
2nd Place - Debby
3rd Place - Arja

Thanks everyone for participating!

Congratulations to the winners! I'll be shipping the prizes straight away.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blue & Yellow

Did the French invent the color combination of blue and yellow? And if they didn't, why do I always think of the south of France whenever I see that color combination? (In case you were wondering, the color yellow is not present in this photo!)

I received a comment on yesterday's post from Cindy wondering what artists do when they hit a dry spell. Although I've never been truly blocked there are times when I lack inspiration. Whenever I get that way I have a few tried and true tricks that I use. Sometimes I use down times as a chance to try out new materials or a new medium (that's how I got involved with collage). Sometimes I take a day trip to a museum or gallery or maybe a public garden somewhere to try to get the creative juices flowing. Just this past weekend it was a trip to Home Depot that did it for me!

On Saturday my husband needed to run to Home Depot to pick up a number of items on his current project list and I tagged along. I don't know what it is about Home Depot, but it seems as though whenever we're there together we always manage to lose each other and we spend twice as much time there as we intended just trying to find ourselves. (Of course it would help if he'd bring his cell phone with him!)

I have to admit that much of the time it's my fault. I'm easily distracted in that place. And this past Saturday as we were passing the magazine rack in front of the customer service counter, my feet just ground to a halt. I'm not a big magazine subscriber, preferring to just pick up a magazine as the mood strikes and it certainly struck then. I decided to peruse the home decorating magazines to see if I couldn't shake up the lull I was going through. None of the usual zines were doing it for me and then I ran across one I hadn't seen before, "Country French" and I was immediately charmed. I saw so many things in a quick flip through the pages that caught my imagination. My first impression was that of blue toile and sunflowers and suddenly I remembered that I had blue toile tissue paper! I don't know why I have blue toile tissue paper, I certainly don't remember buying blue toile tissue paper, but suddenly I knew how I was going to use it.

The magazine was pricey and I put it back in the rack when I saw my husband pass by again on his way to the check out. Half way to the check out, though, I turned around and ran back to the rack and grabbed the magazine. Sometimes you just got to pay a little for inspiration!

I have one more layer of varnish to apply before I take a photo, but tomorrow I should be posting French Sunflower.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Buzzing With New Ideas and Don't Forget the Blog Contest Continues!

Before I forget and before I mention anything else; please don't forget to enter my giveaway contest. The details are outlined in the September 30th post.

Right now I'm excited. It's a new season and after something of a lull I have fresh new ideas and my brain is buzzing. I think the artwork I've posted here (an earlier collage) is a fair illustration of my brain when it's buzzing with creativity.

I have several friends who've expressed an interest in collaborating with me on children's books and I've already started sketching illustrations for one of them. I don't think I'll be able to post any of the illustrations on my blog; but hopefully, one day, I'll be able to announce that I've published a book. There's a lot of work to be done between now and that day, though.

I've also come up with some ideas for some new artwork which I'll share with you as soon as my newest piece is finished, maybe even as soon as tomorrow.

For some reason, as much as I love autumn, the transition from summer to fall is always a tough one for me and this year made doubly tough with Spencer's illness and then ultimate passing, but I feel that once again I've come through to the other side and I'm ready to take on new challenges.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Anyone who has suffered the death of their dog knows what I've been through these past 24 hours; and anyone who's ever had to make the decision to euthanize their beloved pet knows the agony I've been through the past several months.

Spencer was more than just a pet; he was a family member. He was 13 years old, well past his "best by" date and making the decision to have him put down yesterday was agonizing, but we couldn't endure to see him suffer anymore.

Spencer was a dog for all seasons. When he first came to our family he was 10 months old; fully grown and full of energy as Labrador Retrievers at that age usually are. He was a perfect playmate for our boys who were then 12 and 14. The boys soon learned how to "harness" all that energy. They would strap on their roller blades, put Spencer on a leash and yell, "Go, go, go!!!" Spencer would be off, tearing up the road next to our house with one of the boys flying behind him at the end of the leash. It was a two-mile run round trip and Spencer wouldn't even be out of breath when they returned.

More than anything, Spencer loved to play. Whenever a guest came to our house he'd greet them at the door by throwing one of his many stuffed toys at their feet, entreating them to throw it for him by barking at them until they gave in. He could retrieve endlessly. I never had to worry about entertaining the small children of guests because Spencer would play with them for hours. They would climb all over him and he never got tired of it.

Spencer had strange notions of when it was time for me to play with him. I guess those times coincided with anytime I'd stand still in one spot. Every morning while I stood at the bathroom sink to apply my make-up was playtime for Spencer. I'd be trying to make-up my face and would suddenly feel a furry toy land at my feet. If I didn't immediately pick it up and throw it down the hall I'd get barked at. And of course, once was never enough. It always took me twice as long as it should to get my make-up on in the mornings.

In his prime, Spencer was an ardent hunter. Once again, it was just a big game to him and another chance to play. He would patiently wait in the goose blind for hours with my husband, whining happily as he'd hear a flock honking overhead and bringing back every bird that was shot down. On unlucky days when nothing was shot down to be retrieved, my husband had to endure Spencer's dirty looks.

Since I was the lone female in the household, Spencer appointed himself as my protector. He would stay close to my side. When working in the studio I had to be careful before rolling back in my chair because more often than not, he'd be lying right behind me. He'd also sleep on the bed beside me whenever my husband had to be out of town. Spencer loved to lie underfoot while I'd be cooking dinner, of course that had more to do with hoping for a hand-out than playing protector. All I'd do is tell him that he was in my way and he'd sigh, get up and move to a new spot. He seemed to understand our everyday conversations and later we discovered that he even understood some words when we spelled them; like t-o-y-s.

Spencer was a great traveler; especially when he got to have the whole back seat to himself. He would get really miffed if he had to share the seat with anybody or anything. Once I had to share the backseat with him and he kept pushing against me as if to get me out of his way! But, when he had the space to himself he could travel for hours and you wouldn't hear a peep out of him.

He also didn't like the wind in his face. He'd never stick his head out an open window of a moving vehicle and when traveling in an open convertible he'd crouch down as low as he could go and only peek out when we'd reached a complete stop. So un-Lab like!

Over the past nine months Spencer's old bones just started to give out. We had to give up our long walks together, and I missed them; especially our walks on the beach. In the past few months it was proving even too difficult for him to walk around the house. He'd fall down a lot and spend most of his day in a deep sleep in one spot. Getting him to go outside proved to be very challenging. He didn't want to move and even his very active tail had stopped wagging. When he stopped responding to our voices and lost all interest in eating we knew the time had come.

The big sleep came very quickly and painlessly and I take s
olace in knowing that he's no longer suffering. My husband was very good about removing all of Spencer's belongings from the house save one. At my request, he kept Spencer's teddy bear in our bedroom. Of all his many toys, Spencer's favorite was his teddy bear. It served not only as a play item but as a security blanket as well. He traveled with it and it went with him whenever he needed to be boarded. Now the teddy bear stays on the bench above the place where Spencer's bed used to be to remind me of his faithful companionship and wonderful spirit. I'll miss him greatly. In time my heart will ache less but I'll never forget what a wonderful dog he was and how much joy he added to our lives.