Category Archives: Art

Eclipse Doodle

Here is my eclipse doodle art from 4/8/24

Yesterday my Dad and I went to Hawn State Park in southern Missouri to watch the eclipse. I took my drawing and doodling supplies with me to help pass the time while waiting for the main event. We left fairly early because we knew there would be a lot of traffic and we got there about two hours before the sun started to get covered up. The state park had a nice parking area for us in a mowed field. We had a little picnic and I sat on a blanket doing an eclispe inspired piece of doodle art with colored ink pens and markers.

I am very grateful that I was able to do this. I’ve been in physical therapy for the last several weeks for an arm and wrist injury. I’ve been severely limited in my usual activities for the last couple of months but I’m getting better. I’m slowly adding in my normal activities one by one as I do exercises to get stronger. I’ve added back in crafting, gardening, and now drawing. A week ago my wrist hurt so badly that I could barely address an envelope. This is my first drawing since the injury. I did it without pain and my injury doesn’t feel worse this morning. I’m on the mend and I’m very thankful. I think sewing is the last normal activity to re-try.

When I started this doodle, I knew I wanted to do something inspired by the color wheel. I decided to make each color inspired by a stage of the eclipse. I just doodled whatever came into my mind. As we got closer to totality, I started setting the stopwatch on my phone to go off every 10 minutes – then I’d look at the sun through the eclipse glasses and draw something inspired by that phase.

I kind of had a vague image in my mind of a weird foldout from the Voynich Manuscript as I doodled.

Without looking at a copy of any of the manuscript pages as I drew, I was just trying to get the feel of it, trying to imagine how someone trying to penetrate deep mysteries without the answers that we take for granted now might have reacted.

EDIT 5/15/24: I’m going to have to come back and revise this section. Now that my water garden has grown in a bit more this spring I can see that the cattails sprouted where the Water Willow was last year and what I identified as Water Willow in this article is Cattails instead.

I was also inspired by some plants in our outdoor water garden. I have a small stream as part of our outdoor pond. It acts as part of our filtration system because I run water through lava rock and plants that are in it. One of the plants I grow is a Missouri native called American Water Willow. The stems have really interesting cross sections. I was also thinking about these stems as I was drawing.

Cross sections of American Water Willow stems in my water garden. I don’t know why it’s called water willow. The flowers seem orchid-like, and the leaves seem iris-like. Oh well, its beautiful and native so what’s not to like?

Sitting in the warm sun on a perfect day in a beautiful park with my Dad was a treat. And I proved I can draw again so I can resume my plein air drawing group activities and watercolor painting classes that I was taking before I got injured. That’s a big weight off my mind! I also have a class coming up that I’m teaching – my first since the COVID pandemic – and I’m relieved to know I’ll be able to do a good job.

I haven’t wanted to talk about the injury unless I absolutely have to because it’s scary and I was embarassed. For example I wasn’t able to brush my hair and it got so tangled I asked my husband to cut part of it off. I have about four hairs in each follicle for every one that most people have, so my hair dresser has told me. It doesn’t take much for it to turn into an inpenetrable mat. So I was looking like a Harpy Eagle or like I was trying to audition to be in Night Ranger until I got it fixed. I’m slowly getting my life back together and resuming normal activities. That is a relief because I’ve been very stressed out by not being able to do what I normally do. It’s easy to feel isolated if you have an injury. If you ask for help you don’t know if you are going to get helped or attacked because people think you should be getting well faster. It’s humbling and it really makes me have additional empathy for other people who are strugging with something similar, whether permanent or temporary. I’m more grateful than I can say that the therapy is working.

What to do with leftover paint?

Pieces of paper that I stenciled on with paint that was about to dry up.

Have you ever mixed up several colors of paint and looked for a way to use up the leftovers before they dry out and go to waste?

I’m in that situation today, so I’m going to share with you a few pictures of one of my favorite ways to use up paint – stenciling!

Stencil designs by The Crafter’s Workshop. Clockwise, from upper left: Cosmic Music, Rainbow Montage, Dash V, Bubble Scribble.

I have a large collection of stencils, both commerical and original hand cut. The stencils in this article were designed by The Crafter’s Workshop and are for sale in my online store. I do a wide variety of art and crafts that involve paper and cardstock, such as greeting cards, collages, book arts, scrapbooks, tag art, mail art, planners, art journals, doodle art and more. Stenciling some cool designs on scraps is a great way to build up a collection of interesting papers for future projects. Paint that is on the verge of drying up is ideal for stenciling – the tackiness helps prevent running or bleeding.

I pulled out some papers to stencil on from the following sources: old planner divider pages, reclaimed shipping tags, product packaging, scrap cardstock, scrap chipboard and cardboard, interesting backgrounds accidentally made on waste paper that covered my work surface, assorted unfinished project pieces that could become art journal or doodle art pages.
I use dry sponges and tools for each color. If any water gets in the paint, it usually causes running or bleeding of the design, so I avoid that by having enough dry tools ready when I start to work.
After I’m done with each color and stencil, the tools go in a container of water until I’m ready for the final cleanup. I start the next color with a dry sponge and dry tools.
Some of the paint was too far gone to stencil the normal way – full of lumps. Feeling playful, I decided to see if I could mix in some water putty and make my own dimensional paste. I answered my question – yes I can! No it’s not smooth like commerical dimensional paste – but it was fun to see what happened and it’s a surface I can play with some more later. Tip – if you want to make your own chalk paint, you can mix in a little water putty or tile grout to acrylic paint. The stencil shown in the photo above is called Splash Whoosh.

I’m a ‘zine publisher again!

I published a paper ‘zine called the Lime Green News from 1991 to 1998. There were 18 issues. I was burned out on it when I quit, and weirded out (ok, kind of scared) by some of the creepy attention I was getting. At the time I was glad to switch to web sites, e-newsletters and my blog for awhile as a writing outlet. I did a lot of business blogging for clients and employers as well. For about four and a half years I’ve been fantasizing about starting the Lime Green News up again. When it ended it was 24 pages which is a lot of content to get ready all at one time when I haven’t produced a printed ‘zine in so long. I decided to try to bridge the gap with a new mini ‘zine called, what else, Lime Green Mini ‘Zine. I was going for a loose, grungy look for a little 90s nostalgia and hopefully low-tech appeal. I’ll refine the design as I go but I’m pretty excited to get this far. It’s been a long time coming!

I’m going to produce roughly 50 copies of the first issue. While I brainstorm about how to distribute the new ‘zine, here is the Vol 1, No 1 content to explain what I’m doing. I’m also providing a couple of templates for the front and back covers in case you like the format and want to start your own ‘zine. Enjoy!

Click for .jpg template for covers

Click for .jpg template for inner pages

Welcome to Volume 1, Number 1 of Lime Green Mini ‘Zine!

Back in the 90s, I used to publish a paper ‘zine called the Lime Green News. If you want to see what it looked like I have some back issues for sale in my Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/CarolynHDesign, look in the Zines and Magazines section). For awhile I didn’t want these old issues to be seen, but they are so old now that it doesn’t matter if they are kind of embarrassing.

The Lime Green News, like my current blog (chasenfratz.com/wp), was about whatever creative projects I was working on or studying at the time. I also published artwork, poetry and articles by other writers and artists. After I learned how to make rudimentary web sites in 1997, my Lime Green News web site (limegreennews.com) gradually replaced my paper ‘zine.

After awhile, the format of the old Lime Green News web site got outdated and embarrassing, just like the paper ‘zine, but I left it online because it had a whole bunch of content on it. Now it’s old enough to be considered “vintage”. Vintage web sites that are still live can serve a valuable function in society. Much of the history and culture of the early Internet years is in danger of being lost. And the World Wide Web is increasingly hostile to any content that is independent and not corporate in origin. One nice thing about a web site made with primitive code is that it still works! While the rest of the web has to keep changing over code to adhere to newer and newer technology, my primitive web site will still run. So instead of being embarrassed that I don’t know the latest ways of coding any more, I’m going to keep doing the primitive code so that the work will hopefully have a long life.

The Lime Green Mini ‘Zine is a little project I’m doing because after years of being away from the ‘zine scene, I want to experiment with getting back into a paper publication I can touch. It’s going to supplement rather than replace my blog. I expect the content will vary according to whatever I’m working on or writing about at the time of publication.

I designed the front cover template to incorporate pockets that I’ll slip little items into. It might be a project or a sample. There are probably some people out there who crave something tangible and tactile to augment all the electronic content we consume. I hope you enjoy it!

The QR code above leads to this web page on this blog –
http://www.chasenfratz.com/wp/my-former-zine-and-mail-art-days/

End Notes:

You might be asking yourself as you look in the pockets of this issue, what’s up with the Christmas projects? I’m working on projects to submit to magazines, which need seasonal projects far in advance. I got behind on Christmas 2023 because of some personal grief and trouble, so as I get caught up I’m working on next year as well.


Have a great 2024!”

I printed out the first six issues actually on my desktop! Here they are with little projects in the pockets and QR codes to scan to find out how to make them. After a bit of refinement to my originals, I’m going to get the rest of the copies done at the office supply store to save on printer toner. I added a touch of design tape to fix a mistake I made when assembling the first copy, but I liked the effect so I’m going to keep using it for awhile. I own a long-arm stapler, but these ‘zines are so small I don’t even need it!

More paper ornaments from vintage cookie cutters

A celebration of my favorite color – green. Especially lime green!

For the last four years, my husband and I have been doing a conceptual art project called #12daysoftomsbeard. It’s a fun way of combining crafts, installation art, photography, mail art, digital art and conceptual art into a holiday celebration for us and our friends and family and anyone else who wants to join in. From December 25 through January 6th Tom poses for me with different items in his beard. I then apply wacky filter effects then upload the results to Instagram. We invite people to send in pieces to use in the beard. Sometimes Tom is more than just the muse and model and helps make some of the pieces and art direct it.

I make a lot of the pieces for the beard – until we get more participation, if we ever do, I’ll be making the majority of them. Not that I mind. Each year it’s been kind of an endurance contest to keep coming up with ideas for 12 days in a row, though well worth it. The activity is creatively fruitful and yields a lot of ideas I can explore throughout the year in other art and craft projects. This year was different though – at the end I was ready to keep going when it was over! So was Tom. He kept floating ideas to me, and me to him. At the time of this writing I’m still on a roll.

During the second year of the project I was really turned on by colors and made a lot of colorful paper pieces to put on Tom’s beard to accompany collaged paint sample cards that I salvaged and upcycled for my stash back when I worked at Central Hardware in 1989. I still have some left, and I still enjoy them! I decided to try a different color scheme for each day and see how many different ways I could interpret it. Did I develop all the ideas as far as they could go? Not even close, but it was and is a great exercise.

Colorful paper pieces made for #12daysoftomsbeard.
Colorful paper pieces made for #12daysoftomsbeard, inspired by upcycled paint sample cards.

Cookie cutters are convenient sources of shapes to trace, and might also be part of what makes this project “conceptual” – #12daysoftomsbeard could not happen in the format I’ve chosen without modern tools such as social media, smartphones, and digital filters. On the other hand, Christmas is nostalgic and comforting in times of uncertainty and technocratic threats, and what symbolizes holiday warmth and low-tech pleasures more than home-baked cookies made with vintage cookie cutters? I’ve decorated my paper “cookies” with craft bling instead of colored sugar, little silver candy balls, sprinkles, and whatever else is shiny and delicious.

Green beard pieces I made a couple of years ago on the left. One of them made a repeat appearance on Day 1, 2023-24.

There are lots of ways to bring in the “color of the day” to my beard photos, if that is the theme I’m on at the time. I use clothing, backgrounds, props and filter effects. I also purpose-make some colorful shapes from decorative paper and craft supplies. Because I have to work fast to complete one photo each day, most of them are really easy to make. In four years I’ve accumulated a lot of pieces. I can’t keep them all, so some of the pieces get sent on to other people, and others I’ve offered for sale as bookmarks in my Etsy shop. I’m going to keep some around, like these green ones, to re-use in temporary assemblages and actual decorations. (Decorations ARE temporary assemblages, aren’t they?)

Following is a simple plan based on circles for decorating paper ornaments cut from the traced outlines of nostalgic cookie cutter shapes.

Paper selection is important for this project because the design is so minimal. I’ve found that a monochromatic color scheme combined with metallic, glitter, and pearlescent surfaces is a pretty easy way to produce a finished result that looks sophisticated. See what paper and packaging is around that you can recycle. Greeting cards and gift packaging often are generously blinged out. Christmas card envelopes frequently are lined around the flap area with metallic paper that is perfect for this look. Then if you need to augment your finds, check out craft suppliers for coordinated special effect craft paper stacks. For this project you only need small paper pieces – take a look at small paper stacks in coordinating metallics, glitter paper, foil printed and more in your chosen colors to help you affordably build a stash of your own.

It’s a lot easier to make these than to explain why I did it, so let’s get to it!

Tools and Materials

Colorful and metallic papers – new or upcycled
Cookie cutters
Pen or pencil
Scissors
Scrap chipboard or card stock
Glue stick
Metallic paint pens
Clean scrap paper
Burnishing tool, such as a
bone folder
Decorative circle punch
Glitter
Clear drying glue suitable for adhering glitter
Bright colored, pearlescent, glittery, or metallic stick-on crafting bling
Hole punch

Instructions

Get out selections of cardstock in the color scheme of your choice. Punch out a bunch of paper circles with the circle punch and glue them down with a glue stick. Burnish well with a bone folder or other burnishing tool for a tight seal, with clean scrap paper in between to protect the paper from rubs and tearing.

Turn over the cardstock pieces and trace outlines from cookie cutters onto the back with a pen or pencil. Cut out the shapes.

Press on plastic jewels, or dimensional stickers onto some of the circles.

Here they are before I added edging.

Add some bling to the edges either by outlining in metallic paint marker, or squeezing out a glue line and sprinkling with glitter. I outlined half my pieces with paint marker, and half with glitter since I think the combination is pleasing.

To make my glitter more interesting, I mixed four colors together – yellow, green, metallic silver, and white opalescent. I had done some experiments with glitter on other pieces and I think a blend way more interesting than just a single color glitter – though the opalescent and variable kinds are pretty good on their own. Yes glitter is messy, and glitter glue pens are easier – I like those a lot too – but what fun it is to make your own blends!

This picture is for the next project, but it’s the same glitter blend I used in this one.

Let the pieces dry, punch a hole, and they are ready to display as you choose. My husband mocked me for writing this in yesterday’s article, but I’m going to say it anyway – since these are just paper, they are flammable. So don’t put them too close to candles or lights.

Enjoy!

Variations on Scribble Art

Scribble Art
Some of my finished scribble art. This is the second of two scribbles. Are these finished “art”? Maybe they are, but even if they are not I might use the resulting textures as collage elements or image transfers in other projects in the future. They should look pretty good as is with a nice mat and frame.

The work on this page was inspired by the project “Collaborative scribble drawing” in the Expressive Arts Activity Book that I use a lot for study and inspiration (Darley and Heath 60).

Scribble art is a great icebreaker. No artistic talent or skill is needed so it’s easy to get started. If done as art therapy it can also create a rapport between the facilitator and the client by making it into a collaborative activity (Darley and Heath 60). For example, in a two person exercise each person can make a scribble on a blank piece of paper, then the participants trade papers and finish off each others drawings. The initial scribble can even be made with eyes closed to take all the pressure off of having to show artistic skill. Abstract results can also be a way to encourage conversation about something the scribble might remind the participants about (Darley and Heath 60). Following are several examples of scribble art that I made with my husband Tom and my Dad Don.

If you want to try something like these samples, here is a list for tools and materials.

Tools and Materials
Bristol board or drawing paper
Pencil
Eraser
Stencils
Black markers in various widths
Colored pencils
Found papers for collage – I used the insides of business envelopes
Tracing paper
Tape
Glue stick

Caption
Scribble art by me and Tom. I did moths on the left with Tom’s scribble and he used my scribble to add in various textures from stencils on the right.

Tom and I each made a scribble with our eyes closed with black marker on Bristol board. Next we traded papers and used commercial stencils by The Crafter’s Workshop to further develop the designs. Then we finished off our designs by coloring in parts of the image with colored pencils and markers.

Tom’s scribble was a challenge to work with because it was very dense. It did remind me of something – I turned it into moths trapped and tangled to represent trying to overcome some kind of frustration or challenge. This kind of work is not only good for the brain but just from a visual point of view it’s a good way to discover effects you might want to use in other art later on.

Caption
Scribble art by my Dad. Texture practice on the left, filling in the scribble on the right.

These examples were made by my Dad. First I gave him an introduction to Zentangle and doodle art which I wrote about in a previous blog post. He practiced making some repeating textures. Then we each made scribbles on two sheets of drawing paper. We kept our favorite of the two sheets then traded the other. Then we filled the sheets in with textures from our samplers. For extra fun we glued cutouts from the insides of business envelopes into some of the areas in the scribbles. I thought they looked cool with the hand-drawn textures. The tape and tracing paper from the materials list were used along with the pencil to get my collaged paper pieces to fit in their spots on the scribble drawing.

Caption
This is my first scribble art sheet in progress. I think it’s against the “rules” of Zentangle to pre-draw pencil lines as a guide before rendering the designs in marker. But I did it anyway!
Scribble Art
My finished scribble art after erasing the pencil lines. Bristol board and robust good quality drawing paper will stand up to a lot of erasing if you need it.
Scribble Faux Postage
I made a scribble version of Faux Postage using a printable template I shared awhile back. Dad had started this sheet awhile ago by making marks with stencils and markers in the upper left. He’d left the sheet unfinished for a year or two so I asked him if I could finish it. I was inspired by blue and black patterned envelope insides to make a monochromatic design on the sheet. When I finished marker drawing, coloring and collaging, I glued on some little pieces of paper printed with rubber stamps to evoke postage stamps. I’m going to get printouts made of this sheet and send it out to other artists when I next do some Mail Art.

I’m grateful to Dad and and Tom for doing art with me from time to time. I sure do feel a lot less lonely when I get to do a project with somebody. It helps us all with our general well-being and is also a great way to spend time together. When you’re working on art that is mostly mindless, once you get started, it’s easy to talk about various things. It’s also a good activity to do alone when you’re stressed and need to get in a better state of mind. The finished product really isn’t the point if you’re doing it for therapeutic reasons, but I also get skills and inspiration for future art work while I practice.

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Darley, Suzanne and Wende Heath. “The Expressive Arts Activity Book: A Resource for Professionals”. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.

Zentangle – fun with doodling

One of my samplers for Zentangle and doodle art

When I was in grade school in the 1970s, I developed an unquenchable doodling habit early on. I covered almost everything in sight with doodles, including my brown paper textbook covers, folders, notebooks and tops of desks – I used pencil on the Formica tops so it would wash off. I thought my habit was harmless and decidedly my own business because I only doodled on my own property or with media that was washable, and I refrained from doodling on homework. I remember that my third grade teacher didn’t agree with that point of view at first and would try to curb my habit by confiscating my implements whenever she saw me doodling away. I don’t think that lasted long. My Mom complained to her about it and gave me extra pens and pencils so I’d always have another one anyway. I was mostly an obedient child but this is one area where I flat out refused to conform. Before too long I was left alone as long as I washed my desk top periodically. That seemed fair to me and all was peaceful from then on.

A popular item I remember from the 1970s was a DoodleArt kit. These were basically sophisticated coloring posters for older kids, teenagers, and adults. The black and white design was Doodled for you and the consumer was meant to color them in with colored markers. As I recall these were sought after items by myself and my peers in the 70s. While shopping at the toy store and the craft store I would drool over them. If I got one for Christmas or a birthday it was a thrill. Here is a link to a vintage DoodleArt kit for sale on Etsy, and I also found an apparently attempted DoodleArt revival on Facebook.

In the present day, many adults once more enjoy adult coloring, similar to actual DoodleArt. Many people like related activities such as art journaling and bullet journaling. Popular Zentangle is a form of meditative pen and ink art where the artist fills in sections of a design with repeating patterns, usually in black pen or marker. Some people add color to their Zentangle designs. Zentangle results do remind me of DoodleArt in a way, though Zentangle practitioners freehand draw their own designs instead of purchasing pre-made coloring pages.

A lot of my art journal pages are somewhat similar to Zentangle, in that I often like to fill in sections with repeating patterns, sometimes hand-drawn, sometimes traced from a stencil. Whenever I put some of my new art journal pages on Pinterest, in the area where you are shown similar pins to your own, a lot of Zentangle art comes up in my feed. I decided just for fun to try Zentangle for real just to learn a variation on what I already like to do. It really scratches that doodling itch that I still have!

My sampler #1

There are lots of samples online of fill-in textures that you can draw in your Zentangle designs. I’ve linked to a few on a Pinterest board so you can see samples and get inspiration. After viewing some samples I decided to make a few of my own samplers featuring my own textures inspired by art journal pages I’ve already done. Here are some easy instructions for making your own sampler.

Tools and Materials
Drawing paper
Ruler
Pencil
Eraser
Selection of fine tip black pens and markers of different diameters
Optional – circle template

Zentangle sampler
Use a ruler and pencil to divide drawing paper into evenly sized squares or rectangles.
Zentangle sampler
Outline areas in one thin line and one slightly thicker line. Fill in each section with a hand-drawn texture of your invention. Erase the pencil lines as you fill in the paper.
Zentangle sampler
As a variation, on a second piece of drawing paper I slanted the lines to make more irregularly shaped sections to fill in.
Zentangle sampler
Yet another variation made by tracing four different sized openings from a circle template.

Some samplers I’ve seen online are works of art in their own right. The ones you see here are not that refined – they are more for practice and developing a vocabulary of textures that reflect my own taste in design. When I’m ready I’ll have lots of choices I can use to make my own version of Zentangle art.

My sampler #2

Stenciling plus coloring – some self “art therapy” with my Dad – PART 2

Coloring Idea #2: Rainbow Effect With Gel Pens and Colored Pencils

Experimenting with different ways to use stenciling as a base for coloring. Commercial stencils that I used to make the letter patterns are by The Crafter’s Workshop.

Sometimes when I do “adult coloring” I have a specific idea that I am trying to explore. At other times, I just want to color without thinking too much – it’s so soothing. Rainbow color gradations are a sure fire way to lift my mood. Here is how to get a fun effect with stencils, gel pens, and colored pencils.

Step 1: Tape a stencil over the design area and outline with a thin, sharp pencil. For this kind of utilitarian marking I really like a mechanical pencil. It’s easy to erase and I don’t have to keep stopping to sharpen it.

Step 2: With the pencil and ruler, draw parallel lines at intervals across the page.

Step 3: Note how the pencil lines you drew divide the design into striped areas. Outline your pencil lines in one gel pen color per stripe in rainbow order. For example, I outlined the first in blue, then blue green, then green, then yellow, continuing through to pink.

Step 4: To make sure the gel pen is dry, lay a clean sheet of scrap paper over your design then burnish with a squeegee or bone folder. Lift the paper and check to see if any of the ink is coming off onto the scrap paper. Repeat if necessary until no ink is transferring.

Step 5: Erase your pencil lines. You probably won’t be able to get all the pencil lines out from under the gel pen ink lines, but the rainbow effect will still come through well enough. If the pencil lines bother you, you could go back in and touch up your work later with opaque gel pen colors, paint markers, permanent markers or the like.

Step 6: Color in gradations in pencil between and around your gel pen lines, maintaining the overall color progression in hues. There is a lot of room for creativity in how to color in this step. I choose to make the pencil colored in areas lighter tints of the hues in the gel pens and keep analagous colors roughly together. Keep experimenting and coloring until you are satisfied with the effect.

The example at the above right is not finished yet. Here are a couple more examples I’m working on of the same idea so you can see the work a little closer.

In progress: art journal page on the left, beard pieces on the right.

This is a time-consuming way to color, but sometimes that is just what I want. It requires just enough concentration to distract me from problems I want to forget for awhile, but it’s not so hard to do that I need a lot of energy. Sometimes when you’re in a crisis great ambition isn’t really there. I may or may not leave some of the background white. We’ll see!

Stenciling and oloring on art journal page
Stenciling and coloring on an art journal page. I used a hand-cut stencil of my own design plus a commercial stencil by Tim Holtz.

Bringing the coloring to Dad in the hospital

I worked on the samples you see in this article and for PART 1 both on the go and at home in order to have samples to show to my Dad. Dad likes to do the #12daysoftomsbeard project and he requested that I bring him some shapes for it to color on at the hospital. I wanted to give him a choice of coloring techniques, so I had samples of each technique ready. I had supplies on hand to cover either choice, but to streamline my supplies I only brought colored pencils as both techniques can be done with colored pencils even though I used colored markers for the first one. Dad chose the stained glass effect from PART 1 – stenciling over patches of background color.

When I brought this project to Dad, he was only a few days past some serious seizures that affected both halves of his body, but especially the left. Dad is left-handed and I was very worried because Dad’s left hand had been in a claw-like position for about a week or more. After the seizures his hand relaxed. I wasn’t sure how much function Dad would have in the hand yet, so I prepared a couple of sheets of shapes in advance for us to color, one for me to demonstrate on and one for him. I taped the shapes to scrap chipboard pieces so they wouldn’t slide around while being colored. I also brought some shapes that still needed to be cut out so that Dad could cut some if he was able.

I brought some pre-cut tags with me taped to a scrap card stock backing and also gave Dad the option to cut some out himself.

I showed Dad an overview of what we were going to do, then I offered him a chance to try cutting some shapes. He did a great job on them – with a right-handed scissors no less! I was overjoyed and a bit teary-eyed to see him doing so well. I told him this is what I want for Christmas – to see you able to do this! It seemed like a miracle compared to how he was just a few days before. For awhile I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to ever talk with him again, much less do art together!

We used some beard shapes and holiday inspired cutouts as backgrounds for colored pencils.

I suggested some color schemes for Dad – primary colors, secondary colors, and analagous colors. It wasn’t critical that the pieces be of any particular color scheme, but when I teach a project, if I can I like to include some useful art information. I’m not a trained art therapist but I am a trained artist so I can legitimately call these activities “educational” even if I can’t officially call them “art therapy” (Darley and Heath).

I got some colored pencils out for him to cover each scheme, and let him pick from among them. Instead of covering the whole background like I did on mine, he mostly drew small shapes all over the background without covering it all the way. And instead of coloring in the negative spaces between stencil markings, he put numbers on his tags, numbers 1-11 to go along with the #12daysoftomsbeard. He was short one tag, so I’ll make a #12 later when we get to that.

In this kind of project, expressive arts for therapeutic purposes, the process is far more important than the finished results (Darley and Heath). There is no reason to try to change what Dad wanted to do if it varied from my samples. Dad has always been creative – I was so glad to see that ability is still there!

Stenciling over colored tags.
Stenciling over colored tags. Commercial stencils used to apply these patterns are by The Crafter’s Workshop.

Here I am drawing stencil lines over the colored in shapes before filling in the negative spaces with black permanent marker. The main difference between coloring over marker vs. colored pencil is that the colored pencil creates a slightly waxy surface which might resist the marker at first. To help with this, I outlined the black areas in gel pen before filling in with a black Sharpie marker. The gel pen sticks better to the colored pencil and once the outlining is done then it’s not hard to fill in with the Sharpie.

Embellishing with sequins and squeeze paint
Embellishing colored pieces with punched paper shapes and sequins.

I have started embellishing some of the pieces that we colored with punched paper pieces, glued-on sequins and little dots of squeeze paint to go along with the stenciling.

Caption

When #12daysoftomsbeard starts on December 25, we’ll have a good selection of items to display on the beard. Hopefully people will send us more parts as a challenge to incorporate each day. The first year we did this activity, in 2019, I started out by clipping little pieces of paper to Tom’s beard with tiny clothespins. To keep things interesting, we’ve been gradually elaborating by making little garlands, involving Tom’s glasses, adding found objects and props, incorporating parts of the background, using far-out creative filters and more.

What will happen?

Some of my favorite #12daysoftomsbeard pictures from 2019-2022

Above is a commemorative artistamp sheet I made to show off some of my favorite beard pictures from the first three years we did this project.

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Darley, Suzanne and Wende Heath. “The Expressive Arts Activity Book: A Resource for Professionals”. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.

Stenciling plus coloring – some self “art therapy” with my Dad – PART 1

The 2022-23 Holiday season for many people is probably going to be the closest they’ve had for awhile to normal patterns of celebrating. My Dad and I have made some attempts to join in this year, but to be realistic most of our energy has been absorbed by the effort to get and stay healthy. My Dad has been having some medical issues since mid-October and I’ve been staying with him frequently at his house and visiting him him a lot in the hospital. Except for the past week – I just took a week off because I seem to have been hit by a flu-like illness (not COVID, I took the test!). I’m on the mend now. Dad has been taken care of during this time at a rehab hospital and will be coming home later this week if all goes as planned.

When he’s discharged, I’ll be providing some care he’ll need for about three weeks. I’m not sure how much either of us is going to be able to attend holiday activities in person. We will probably have to sit a lot of it out. But we will try to keep in touch online!

The annual project #12daysoftomsbeard is one that my husband Tom and I have been doing every year at Christmas time. It’s a way of combining crafts, installation art, photography, mail art, digital art and conceptual art into a holiday celebration for us and our friends and family and anyone else who wants to join in. From December 25 through January 6th he poses for me with different items in his beard and I apply wacky filter effects then upload the results to Instagram. We invite people to send in pieces to use in the beard. My Dad in particular really enjoys this activity and he wanted to work on some beard parts while he was in the hospital. I’ll show you how we combined stenciling and coloring to make a bunch of pieces to use in Tom’s beard during the 2022-23 Christmas season. I’m going to try to make an extra big deal out of it this year for my Dad and myself because we are going to miss out on most other holiday activities this year.

If you want more background information on #12daysoftomsbeard before reading on, here are a couple of my earlier blog articles about it.

Instructions for #12daysoftomsbeard

SWOT Analysis of #12daysoftomsbeard

Tools and Supplies
Beard printouts – scroll to bottom of the page for links to 6 graphic files to download and print
Cardstock and chipboard
Pencil and eraser
Ruler
Black permanent markers
Black gel pens
Colored pencils
Colored markers
Painter’s tape
Stencils and/or cookie cutters
Scissors
Hole punch
Scrap paper for covering work surface
Glue stick
Squeegee tool or bone folder

Optional for Embellishments
Sequins
Glue
Squeeze paint

Coloring Idea #1 – Stenciling Over Colored Markers

Stenciling over colored markers

Instructions

Scribbling some colored backgrounds is an easy way to make vibrant backgrounds for stencil art. By filling in the negative spaces with black marker, you can create an attractive faux stained glass effect.

Step 1 – Color in the background with markers in random patches to make something similar to camouflage patterns

Step 2 – Tape a stencil over part of the work area and outline in black gel pen, black fine tip marker or black fine tip pen.

Step 3 – Repeat with different stencils until the whole design area is filled with outlines.

Step 4 – Color the negative spaces in with black marker.

Step 5 – With a glue stick, paste paper pieces to chipboard or cardstock and cut out.

Step 6 – If needed, touch up the edges with black marker to make a neat edge.

Stay tuned for PART 2: Rainbow Effect With Gel Pens and Colored Pencils.

Make a textile out of fabric and thread scraps

A rainbow scrap textile in progress

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been creatively inspired to make things out of scraps. When I work on hand-stitched fabric projects, I often have several going at one time which means I switch thread colors often. Although there are many needles in my sewing tool stash, I have two or three that are my consistent favorites. Re-threading needles is easy for me since I do it constantly, but it’s a task that still takes time and care and I don’t enjoy doing it more often than necessary. Once I have a needle threaded, I want to use the color all up until the thread is too short to be of any use, even to me!

If I don’t have a project in progress at hand that can use odds and ends of threads, I will often sew semi-random scraps of fabric to scrap pieces of backing fabric to run off the extra thread so that I can quickly switch back to sewing with one of my favorite needles. Over time, I periodically accumulate enough of this new “textile” to make something else with it. Since these types of scrap textiles have a lot of raw edges in them, I won’t use them in something that gets a lot of wear or has to be washed because they would not survive for long. Even with that restriction, I have found good uses for the scrap textiles. Here are some examples!

Holiday ornaments
Christmas stockings
Throw pillows
Parts for art quilts

What will my rainbow piece turn into? I’m not sure, but I have some crazy images in my head involving that piece and some pale yellow, lime green, and electric blue tulle. What will happen?

Art show opening this past Saturday

Today I am Dazzle Yellow and I have a lot to say!
“Today I am Dazzle Yellow and I have a lot to say!”

I appear to be in-between crises today so I’ll take a moment to write a little about art!

This past Saturday, October 1, 2022, was the opening reception for the Art Saint Louis show, “Declaration”. Above is my contribution to the show. It’s made of found papers, paint sample cards and image transfers from found papers made with packing tape. My artist statement reads as follows:

“When I started, I was inspired by some found images of rug designs from a catalog combined with some of my own mini postage stamp inspired collages juxtaposed with paint sample cards in tints of yellow. I work part time in a hardware store where exciting possibilities are everywhere. Bright paint sample cards, caution signs and caution tape and anything in the store that is colorful are parts of life I greatly enjoy. One of the colors on the sample cards was named Dazzle Yellow. I made some image transfers on packing tape out of sign images from a catalog and pieces of found papers that incorporate yellow, basically making my own version of caution tape. The purpose of such a bright yellow is to get attention. Once you have it, how do you use it? Yellow could mean stop and be careful, stop and enjoy, or “Look at me, I’m full of possibilities today!”

This was not an easy art show to look at, because as you might expect, a show with the theme “Declaration” is heavy on political themes. I had my share of political ideas for art pieces I considered making for this show but I decided to go in a different direction – I desperately need a break from politics and I figured art show patrons might like a little break as well! Whatever the subject matter, it’s always an honor to exhibit among a group of artists as talented as these.

I’m on the left posing with my collage and Dad is on the right next to a panel outside on the sidewalk that we were all allowed to add to with chalk markers. I’m very grateful to my Dad for coming with me – my husband Tom was busy at a homecoming event at his high school at the time of the opening and I certainly don’t begrudge him that! My Dad has been coming to my art events for decades and I’m eternally grateful for his support!

I custom made the frame for this piece at the last minute – I hadn’t done any woodworking since making a memorial box for the funeral of my uncle last year. Due to tragic events of last year I had been in such a brain fog that I didn’t trust myself with saws, mat knives and things until I was kind of forced into making this frame. That’s part of my motivation for entering these shows – it’s therapy for me both because of the opportunity for expression and because the deadlines force me to get things finished.

I have made so many picture frames in a similar style that even though it had been awhile, I had little trouble and was vastly relieved when it turned out ok! I had been intending to buy a frame because I thought I didn’t have enough time to work up to making one, but in the checkout line after looking in three stores for one the right size and shape I discovered that I had forgotten to pay my credit card bill and the charge would not go through. I immediately made a payment over the phone but it took a couple of days to re-activate so I was forced to hurry up and make the frame. I’m now glad that happened because now I have a lot more confidence and the next frame or wood project will be much easier.

Here are some helpful links with more information about the “Declaration” show:

My photos from the reception (plus one of me and my collage that my Dad took – click right arrow to see more)

Image gallery of all the works

Promotional video