Category Archives: Art

Fun at Perennial – a place, not a plant

Mary with two of her jewelry display boards that she built
Mary with two of her jewelry display boards that she built

Perennial is a non-profit community workshop and store with the mission of building a creative culture of sustainability and turning discarded items into valuable resources. As an artist and craftsperson who already is enthusiastic about using recycled materials, I was delighted when my friend Mary (pictured at top left) invited me to meet her there and try out one of the community workshop sessions.

I met Mary at a Creative Arts Fellowship last year and got to know her better at some subsequent events. Mary’s art and mine have a lot in common – we both like upcyling materials and taking apart old jewelry to make new. I enjoyed teaching a class with Mary recently at one of her Women’s Upcycled Jewelry Jams. I’m looking forward to more opportunities for Mary and I to collaborate. A gifted artist and teacher, Mary creates under the name Sanctified Studios.

I knew I’d love Perennial after being in there for about two minutes! Seeing all the nice work space, supplies and tools was exciting but what really sold me was the console stereo! Clearly my retro-loving, thrift-shopping, dumpster-diving self was going to feel comfortable here.

Look at all those wonderful woodworking tools!
Look at all those wonderful woodworking tools!

At my first work session I cut up some wood for an upcoming class I’m going to be teaching on building garden pollinator houses. Then I put together a wood tray that I’ll be finishing and writing about later.

You can become a member of Perennial to access the work space and use the tools when they hold open sessions. Different levels of membership also give you discounts on classes and other events. Perennial accepts donations of materials. You can trade or purchase some of the materials for what you think is a fair market value. They also make craft kits that are for sale in the shop.

Some of the supply stash on the left and the sewing area on the right.
Some of the supply stash on the left and the sewing area on the right.

Art and crafting can often be lonely activities. Working around other artists is really healthy for social interaction and for the stimulation of being around new ideas. I’m looking forward to many happy times while I enjoy my new membership!

Creative Arts Fellowship at DaySpring School of the Arts

I saw a notice for an event called Creative Arts Fellowship, an event for Christian artists to share art and faith. Both my faith and my art needed some help so I decided to attend and see what it was all about. Besides just being curious I was ready for some spiritual and emotional healing. When you’ve been emotionally abused by someone who puts themselves out there as a Christian, it can really shake your faith. I don’t want to let one person ruin how I feel about God any more than I want one person to make me look down on myself or lose faith in the possibility that some people are capable of being good to you.

We watched some short inspirational and musical videos. Some of the participants joined in with a form of dance. We heard some very good preaching which was on topics that I really needed to hear about. For someone like me used to a more formal style of worship it was refreshingly different. The content is from a non-denominational Christian perspective. We did some discussion and sharing, both about personal issues and about art issues. I believe the arts are inherently healing and sharing art in a kind and supportive atmosphere is even more so – the art world in general can be pretty unkind as any artist knows. All forms of art are encouraged here, participants shared visual arts, crafts and poetry. The art shared does not have to have specifically spiritual content.

I was treated with love, understanding and acceptance at the event and I made a lot of progress in how I feel about my faith and other human beings. We all need a reminder that there are people who want us to succeed and won’t put us down for trying to use our creative gifts. This past summer a person I loved tried to destroy my self confidence by attacking me for just that reason. He knew me well enough to know what would damage me the most. Right after that the studio I was renting closed (it was extra frustrating because my hard work over the last several months was just staring to pay off financially) and I didn’t need that when I was already feeling worthless and like a failure. When you’re in a state of heightened emotions it’s easy to see everything as being a personal attack on you even when it’s not. Sometimes it’s just life. I believe creativity comes from God. The God I believe in would not give me creative gifts if he didn’t want me to use them. I got some affirmation that it’s ok for me to use my gifts and some ideas for outlets where they might do the most good. As I get stronger I believe I will be led to opportunities to help others heal through art. Art therapy is not a new idea to me but art ministry in the form of this meeting kind of is – I want to learn more!

Future dates for Art Fellowships are on selected Monday evenings from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at DaySpring School of the Arts at 2500 Metro Blvd, Maryland Heights, MO 63043.
September 19, 2016
October 3, 2016
October 17, 2016
November 7, 2016
December 6, 2016

I’m planning on coming back for more fellowship nights! DaySpring School for the Arts also has classes for adults and children in the fields of Music, Theatre, Dance, Visual Art, Crafts and Design. They have space for rent for special events and parties. I didn’t see all of the facilities but what I saw of the building looks very modern and stylish. For more information go to: dayspringarts.org.

For those recovering from emotional abuse, these links have helped me – they might help you too.

http://liveboldandbloom.com/11/relationships/signs-of-emotional-abuse – recognizing the signs takes awhile sometimes – it can creep up on you slowly and it can happen to anyone

https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/10-simple-things-you-can-do-to-support-a-survivor-of-emotional-abuse.335/ – send this link to your friends and family

http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/index.html – emotion regulation

https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/stages-of-grief-from-a-psychopathic-relationship.138/ – understanding the stages of grief might help you avoid beating yourself up for taking too long to get over it

Volunteer Work at Artists First Studio in Maplewood

Supplies in the paint room after I organized them
Supplies in the paint room after I organized them

I recently lost the art studio I had been renting and combined with some other much worse sad things that happened in my life around the same time, I have had a rough time lately. When you’re feeling bad, one of the quickest ways to make yourself feel better is to help someone else. Artists First studio in Maplewood is a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities. Their mission is to foster independence through self-expression. These clients need access to an art studio even more than I do. Helping them reminds me that I have a lot of blessings even though I’ve had some bad losses also. I’ve been doing some volunteer work on my last couple of visits helping to organize supplies in the paint room. I don’t know what my next assignment will be but it’s likely in the future that I’ll be teaching the clients how to use some of the supplies. I have some previous experience teaching art on a volunteer basis to people with mental illness and mental disabilities.

For more information about the Artists First studio, here is their web site: artistsfirststl.org. This is a great cause if you have any time or resources to contribute.

paint_room_2

New Year Card for 2016

Here are the results of what has become an annual ritual for me – designing a card to celebrate the New Year!

New Year Card for 2016
New Year Card for 2016

This year there are three versions of the card – see my Pinterest board for a peek at the other two variations.

Making these designs was kind of an involved process. The first thing I did was go through some monoprints I did back in the 1990s that I thought would make good backgrounds. These prints were “rejects” that I didn’t think were interesting enough on their own but I thought might be good as part of a collage some time in the future. Next I used some archival dye-based ink (Ancient Page and ColorBox Archival) to stencil designs on top of the background pieces. I chose this ink because it was translucent and I wanted the backgrounds to show through a little. Most of the stencils I used on the backgrounds were from a series that I cut out back in September consisting of designs inspired by a mid-century modern building I saw on a trip last summer.

I drew a set of retro ornament shapes and cut them out of more monoprint scraps, and stenciled on them with some commercial stencils of geometric design. I thought they complemented the mid-century modern look quite well. I don’t know many more times I can go back to the well of inspiration that is retro ornaments – I have yet to get tired of them!

The next step was to scan the background pieces into the computer and work on them a bit with Photoshop. I altered the colors a little bit on some of these to make them better backgrounds for the ornaments. The real life pieces will be used later in some art projects. I got some more use out of the backgrounds by making them into header images for Google+, Facebook and Etsy – I like to change those seasonally and without the seasonal references I won’t have to change these headers for awhile!

Monoprint leftovers with stenciling on top and a little bit of computer enhancement and collaging.
Monoprint leftovers with stenciling on top and a little bit of computer enhancement and collaging.

Next I scanned in the ornament pieces separately and used various Photoshop tools to trim around them and enhance the color a bit to make the stand out better against the backgrounds. I added a drop shadow and a grunge border and exported each composition as a JPEG to import into Illustrator. The card text and further details were done in Illustrator with the addition of the yellow texture imported from Photoshop. The texture was created with a technique I wrote about in my article Analog to Digital: Waste Paper From Stamping Projects Can Enhance Photoshop Art.

The next step is to get these printed and mail them out ASAP!

Studio:art Grand Opening Saturday December 19, 2015

Studio:art co-op grand opening

Studio:art Grand Opening this Saturday!

New artists co-op and retail store in Maplewood!

I’ve joined a new artists co-op in Maplewood Missouri and I am excited to invite you to our grand opening! It takes place Saturday, December 19 from 10am – 6pm. The address is 740 Manchester Road, Maplewood, MO 63143.

Local art and crafts (including some of mine) will be for sale, plus refreshments and a chance to win a $50 store gift card! It’s not necessary to RSVP, but if you’re a Facebook user you can RSVP at the event page or invite any of your friends that might be interested.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, the store retail hours are:
SUN: 11AM-7PM
MON: Closed
TUE: Closed
WED: Noon-8PM
THURS: Noon-8PM
FRI: Noon-8PM
SAT: 11AM-8PM

I hope to see you there!

Experimenting with my new stencils

Four Mid-Century Modern inspired compositions
Four Mid-Century Modern inspired compositions

Over the last couple of weeks I designed and cut a number of stencils in a Mid-Century Modern style that I plan to use in home decor and in art projects. While on a Modern STL house tour this past weekend, I noticed that several of the homes featured color schemes that go well with the theme to my blog, which was intended to be temporary. Inspired by the recent tour, I decided to use my new stencils to create a header graphic for this site and only modify a few parts of the theme as I see fit.

First I took my new stencils and sponged black rubber stamping ink through them onto white paper. I scanned these designs and brought them into Photoshop where I colorized them and added other digitized textures to create the four compositions above. Then I selected sections of these designs to make my new header graphic. I’m excited about possibly using these as studies for art pieces I may want to do someday.

To learn how to cut your own stencils, see my article Fun With Stencils.

To learn how to use scanned textures in Photoshop artwork, see my article Analog to Digital: Waste Paper From Stamping Projects Can Enhance Photoshop Art.

Make a Soft Dia De Los Muertos Skull

Soft Dia De Los Muertos Skull made using discharge paste, embroidery, fabric paint, and embellishments
Soft Dia De Los Muertos Skull made using discharge paste, embroidery, fabric paint, and embellishments

Do you want to have some fun with a mixed-media fabric project? This soft Dia De Los Muertos skull uses discharge paste, fabric paint, embroidery and embellishments – you can use a lot of your toys for this one! Enhance your decor with a small decorative throw pillow or attach a loop to the back and hang it on the wall.

This tutorial assumes you know the basics of cutting stencils and stenciling on fabric. If you need more of an introduction to those skills, see my tutorial “Fun With Stencils”. You’ll need a few very basic sewing and embroidery skills too.

Read more at the Jacquard Products web site

Mark your calendars! Upcoming events

I hope you can join us for one or both of these events!

September 19, 2015 – Two Parties in One Place: Zwanze Day Spillover – Green Power Challenge Winner in Sutton Loop Park, Maplewood, Missouri. More information at the event link. I’ll be demonstrating Rubber Stamp Carving and Hand Stencil Cutting at the Studio: art tent from 12:00-5:00 pm.

October 29-31, 2015 – Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference in Edwardsville, IL. See the event web site for details. I will be vending some of my hand-crafted items and giving a presentation on the topic of “Scrapbooking with Memorabilia”.

Filmstrip Challenge

Artwork after scanning and adding a digital layer that resembles filmstrips.
Artwork after scanning and adding a digital layer that resembles filmstrips.

I had so much fun participating in a sketch challenge recently that I decided to make an effort to enter more. RubberStampMadness magazine is currently running a Filmstrip Challenge which appealed to me. Above is my entry. There are still a few days left before the deadline if you want to get in on the fun – here are the entry guidelines.

Though I’ve been rubber stamping for well over 20 years, I haven’t done a whole lot of coloring in of rubber stamps. This project helped me to get some practice and was an opportunity to experiment with mixed media.

The first thing I did was to cut out a bunch of 2 x 2 inch and 2 x 3 inch pieces of scrap paper which would become the individual “frames” in the finished artwork. Then I stamped images on them in black waterproof ink.

The next step was to give each section it’s own background color with decorative chalks and old eyeshadow. To apply I used Q-tips, sponge tip makeup applicators and Fantastix by Tsukineko which are a great help in getting color into  tight areas around the edges of the stamped images.

Next I sprayed the paper pieces with workable spray fixative to hold the chalk in place, then I coated them with a thin layer of matte medium and let it dry. The workable fixative allowed me to brush on matte medium without the powders smearing and the purpose of the matte medium is twofold – it’s the glue I will use to attach the images and words I cut from magazines, and it keeps the markers I’ll apply later from smearing the black ink that I stamped.

The next step was to figure out words to put in the word and thought balloons I had stamped. It would be a lot of fun to tell a coherent, planned out story with this format but I couldn’t think of any ideas for a story so I did what I often do, I relied on the random and let my subconscious guide me. Cutting out pictures from magazines has been a reliable way for me to tap into the subconscious part of my brain for decades. I picked up some discarded magazines that I hadn’t cut up yet and went through them looking for words that piqued my interest. Along the way I cut out appealing pictures – some I put aside to use in other projects and a few I used for this one. I grouped the words on my work surface into combinations that appealed to me and matched the words or groups of words with images. Some of the results make sense to me, some don’t and it’s likely the ones that mean something to me won’t mean the same thing to others and vice versa. That’s one of the fun things about art!

I then glued the cut-out images and words in place by brushing the backs of them with matte medium and smoothing them in place with an old credit card. One way to reduce the risk of wrinkling the paper is to coat both sides of the pieces with matte medium and let dry before wetting the backs again to apply. It’s extra work but it’s worth it for good results. You can speed up drying with a heat tool so your work session isn’t interrupted. (It sounds funny to say “work session” – this was play!)

If you prefer instead of gluing in cut-out words you can write words in the balloons or use word rubber stamps or stickers.

My next step was to take each section and highlight the stamped images with a little color here and there and add some texture to the backgrounds with stencils from The Crafter’s Workshop. I like the way some of the textures vaguely suggest the “dot gain” effect that you often see in comic books. My coloring implements for this project were Sharpie markers and Prismacolor pencils. Both will color just fine over the matte medium but if you want to use different media, do some tests on scrap paper first to see if the surface will accept the color. I could have made masks to protect the areas I did not want to stencil on but to save work I relied on my eye to tell me where to stop. I only went onto the white word areas on a couple of spots so I decided to touch up these areas later with acrylic paint to disguise my mistakes. If you decide to sponge ink through the stencils you will need to make masks.

I glued the individual “frame” pieces down on a piece of archival cardstock with Yes Glue. Then I got out a tiny paintbrush and touched up the white areas and I liked the way the bright white looked so I added white highlights here and there all over the artwork where I thought it needed it. I liked the effect, it added a little extra “pop”.

The next image shows what my artwork looked like before I scanned it and added digital enhancements.

Here is my artwork before I added any digital enhancements.
Here is my artwork before I added any digital enhancements.

Stamp credits:

Row 1, left to right: Unknown, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Unknown, All Night Media, Carolyn’s Stamp Store

Row 2: Viva LasVegasStamps, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Unknown

Row 3: Viva LasVegasStamps, Viva LasVegasStamps, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, 7gypsies

Row 4: Unknown, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Chronicle Books, All Night Media

Row 5: Viva LasVegaStamps, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Carolyn’s Stamp Store, Carolyn’s Stamp Store

After scanning in the image, I opened it up in Photoshop and added a layer for a faux filmstrip effect which I made from a couple of these free digistamps. I may print out this “filmstrip” layer on clear transparency film and mount it over the original artwork with brads or eyelets to display it.