Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter in Color and Texture

Oh my gosh, I'm so pleased with this piece and how it turned out. Actually more than pleased....I'm somewhat shocked that this came from me, and that I made it. More so knowing that it was a very easy, simple piece to make. I don't know, perhaps sometimes the simplest pieces of art can turn out the best. I've never been a big believer in "less is more" with my art, but now I'm inclined to believe that can be true in some cases.

This is a piece I made two days ago. In the span of a few hours. No pain, no angst, no false starts. And no, I didn't fly by the seat of my pants on this one. This one was planned ahead of time for entry into an art contest on a cool art website I signed up on recently. The theme of this particular contest is "Let it Snow". I looked at all the entries so far just to get an idea of what was being entered, and discovered the theme is wide open in how it can be interpreted. I was happy to learn that. So I knew I wanted to enter this online contest, and just sat back and let some ideas percolate in my mind for a few days until I had an idea I could start with.

I thought well, I should have some white in this piece, but it doesn't have to be all white or only white. It mainly has to evoke the idea of winter in some way. Then I thought, what evokes winter but bare trees? Trees with no leaves on them. So I cut some twigs off a tree in my yard. Then I thought I should paint them white. Regarding the background, I thought of using caulk, since it's white to start with, and I wanted lots of texture on this piece. (Well like duh....when do I not want lots of texture in my art?)

I always get excited when I use caulk in my art. It's one of my favorite media to use. So I spread wonderful caulk over this 5x7 inch piece with abandon. The base here is chip board. I used a vintage butter knife (with no serrations) to spread the caulk to get the kind of texture I wanted. That was easy enough and only took a few minutes to accomplish. The hard part was waiting for the caulk to dry, which I helped along with my hair dryer. I waited a few hours, and then proceeded.

Then I thought about painting it, and the colors I wanted to use. My first thought was using blue (acrylic) paint, because to me, blue is a winter color. Then it occurred to me to dilute the paint with water, to make it thin enough to run over the textured caulk in a totally random manner. It was fun to watch it run down this piece, to see the effect of randomness. I liked the way it looked with just the blue and white at that point. I had some cheese cloth dyed blue, so I glued that over the piece on which the twigs are glued. After I glued down the cheese cloth, I painted Matte Mod Podge on and sprinkled with very, very fine purple glitter. I wanted even more texture on the base piece, so I glued down some white and blue synthetic fibers I had. They were in a package I had bought a long time ago, and totally forgot about, but happened upon for this piece.

I liked it, but felt it needed another color, and purple is one of my favorite colors. I also felt it needed more white, but chose to use metallic platinum instead, and also metallic purple. I diluted those with glaze, and once again let them run down the piece. With the fibers on there, the diluted paint ran even more randomly. Then I glued on the twig piece, and outlined it with permanent blue marker. And voila, it was done and finished.

A part of me started thinking maybe I could add something more, but my muse adamantly put her foot down, and said NO, this piece is done!!! I had to agree with her, because I wanted this piece to be simple and organic. And I felt adding anything more would be too much, and ruin the organic effect. And I'm so glad I listened to my muse, and didn't argue. I'm not always that cooperative with my muse.

I haven't used caulk in my art for quite a while, and now I realize I've missed using it. It provides such fantastic texture, and is so easy to use, and what makes it even better is how cheap and accessible it is!!!

So in closing, I'm VERY happy with how this piece turned out, it's like how I pictured it in my mind when I started. And believe me, not much of my art turns out how I envision it when I start. Which is fine and okay, different approaches at different times to different pieces of art is okay, it's the "artist's way" I believe. For most of my art, I have no plans and fly by the seat of my pants. But sometimes, I settle down with a plan, and actually make it happen. I like making art both ways, and don't necessarily think one way is better than the other.

As an addendum here, I'm submitting this piece to the Mixed Media Monday (MMM) challenge. Here's the link.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Old keys -- wonderful keys

My oh my, I guess I've been a very good girl this year. Santa is giving me all these oh so cool old keys!!! However, I don't have a chimney or fireplace, so he's sending them through ebay. Ah yes, Merry Christmas to me, and sometimes, ebay rocks!

As some of you may know, if you visit my blog on a regular or even not so regular basis, recently I've been using old (some even antique) keys in my art. Well, I stumbled onto this penchant I've developed for very cool old keys several months ago, and where else would I go to find them but ebay? I've been fortunate enough to win several auction lots for old skeleton keys and funky flat keys.

When I first started looking for old keys on ebay, I didn't know what to expect. So I was shocked to find out just how popular and sought after they are, and how hard it is to find a good deal on them, and how hard it is to win an auction. I bid on, and lost, many auctions before I finally started scoring by bidding at the very last minute. Even then, I lost quite often. However, I did score on some of them.

Most old key lots go for much more money that I'd ever want to spend. And most get bid on early, and end up with many bids and bid up high, before they end. I didn't even try to bid on those auctions. I had a rule for myself, that I wouldn't pay more than 50 cents per key, including shipping, and generally it worked out that that's what I had to pay on the ones I won. But considering what most key lots go for, I considered myself lucky.

But hey, on this auction, I really struck gold, and right before Christmas to boot. I kept my eye on this particular auction for several days, and it never got bid on. Which is totally rare for old key lots. I know, because I've been watching them for several months now. This one ended early this morning, and I knew I'd still be in bed when it ended, so I had to bid on it last night before I went to bed. I only bid a dollar over the entry price, and fully expected to be outbid. I was totally shocked and amazed that no one outbid me, or bid at all. I was the only bidder on this auction. Totally amazing!!!

Because this lot contains 100, yes 100 keys. The entry price was $9.99 and shipping was 7.60. So I got 100 keys for $17.59, or 17.5 cents each. Unbelievable!!! And far less than my rule of 50 cents per key. This is by far the best deal I've ever gotten on ebay for old keys. I'm still in shock that I was the only bidder on this auction. I kept waiting to see it bid on, and it never happened. Not even after I bid on it.

So anyway, I'm thrilled about this, and feel so great to get such a bargain on these old keys, knowing what they normally sell for on ebay. Today was my lucky day!!! And also, after winning this huge lot, I doubt I'll be bidding on anymore keys anytime soon. Now I just have to start using them in my art....more than I have been. There might just be a key on every piece of art I make from now on.

Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me! I really lucked out, and Santa is sending me a whole bunch of old keys. I must've been a very, very good girl this year.

And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you out there. May each one of you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, and make a memory to treasure always. And in the hustle and bustle and stress of Christmas, may we always remember the REAL meaning of Christmas, and that Jesus is the reason for the season. Amazing grace! If not for Him, there would be no Christmas. May God bless all of you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Green Lady

This was made today for entry into the Theme Thursday challenge. The theme this week was using the colors green and brown in a piece. A fairly simple theme, not hard to achieve. On this, I used the brown side of frozen pizza cardboard (FPC) for a 5x5 inch piece. First I painted it randomly in a few different colors of brown. Then I squeezed on some tan paint and put down Saran Wrap over the whole piece, and scrunched it up in places, to get a textural effect. I let that dry overnight before peeling off the Saran Wrap. I've only tried this technic one other time, and would've preferred more texture, but it worked pretty well. Next time I think I'd use more paint for more texture.

After that, I rubbed some green paint on randomly with my finger. Then I stamped with brown paint with some eraser domino stamps I made a few years ago. Due to the increased texture, it's a little hard to tell they are supposed to be dominos, but that's what they are. I used a stencil to trace the figure onto scrapbook paper, then cut that out and glued it down. Then I used my Hot Stamps tool and burned on the number three, the other marks, and the three question marks. Those may be a bit hard to see, you have to really look for them. Lastly, I sealed the piece with Future Floor Finish (FFF). Amazingly enough, I didn't use any brown shoe polish on this piece. I almost did, but decided otherwise.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time to post again

These are two works I'm entering into the Crazy Amigo Challenge at I don't often enter weekly challenges like this, but lately I've been following Heather Robinson's lead, who enters lots of weekly challenges. Heather,, is an excellent artist and good art buddy of mine, and I so admire her art. Some of you already visit her blog, but for those who don't, you really should -- it will be a treat! Heather and I have a personal swap coming up soon, a collaborative effort we'll be working on. I'm looking forward to that a lot. I think it will be very interesting to see what we end up with, considering our art styles are totally different. Greetings Heather!

The theme of the Crazy Amigo Challenge this week is Hearts. And I do love using hearts in my art! The first piece I created yesterday. I used a sharp awl to scratch diagonal lines into the brown side of a 5x5 piece of frozen pizza cardboard. (I should start abbreviating that into FPC, lol, I use it so often for a base.) Then I rubbed it with brown paste shoe polish, so the lines would show up. Then I glued some torn music paper, and text and an image torn from an old Cumberland General Store catalog published in 1976, and rubbed them with shoe polish. I don't even remember where I got that catalog, maybe at a yard sale, but I think I should start using the images, they are great. The rectangle on the right is a distressed paint chip. I've shared how I distress them in previous posts. I outlined that with a gold paint pen. The hearts were cut out of brown candy wrappers, the the gold circle was punched out of a foil bag that once contained coffee. After the fact, I don't think gold was the best color to use for the circle, but oh well. And the letters and number were burned into the piece with my Wallnut Hollow Hot Stamps tool. I finished by sealing it with Future Floor Finish (FFF).

The second piece is one I made a few weeks ago, and entered into a yahoo group challenge, the theme being using the colors red and green. I used the FPC as a base, but used the colorful image side, after sanding it a bit. Then I used my sharp awl to distress it and scratch the text into it, then rubbed with shoe polish. Then I rubbed magenta acrylic paint over it and quickly wiped some of it off, then rubbed green glaze over certain parts. I stamped with scroll stamps in the green. Then I glued down the hearts and the frame, made from distressed paint chips. Lastly, I sealed it with Acrylic Floor Finish (AFF from the Family Dollar store that gives more of a satin finish.)

As an aside, I wanted to say that I stumbled onto this website yesterday,, and decided to join. It looked interesting to me, and there's some good art there, and lots of different artists. So, I posted some of my work there, and will be posting more as time goes on. The works I posted have already been posted here on my blog. Just wanted to share that site with all of you.

That's all folks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Joy of Serendipity

This is my latest work, just finished. I spent a few hours on it today. Well, I have to admit that I'm rather slow when it comes to creating art, I can never rush through it and get it done quickly. Even when I think I can, and try to, it never works out that way. However, I do have to say I really enjoyed making this piece, and it was fun and easy. Why??? Because I was in the "zone", of just doing whatever came to mind. No stress, no pressure, no angst, no frustration, etc. Gee, it would be so, so cool if I could be in the "zone" all the time, but noooo, that's not the way it works out a good part of the time. So when I'm actually in the zone, I truly appreciate it and enjoy it.

I was SO in the zone on this piece, it's even hard for me to remember exactly how it came about and the steps involved in making it. I started out with a 5x7 piece of frozen pizza cardboard. And then used my very sharp awl to distress the brown side of it, which I've never done before. And rubbed brown show polish over it. I always paint or glue down a background first, but this time I didn't. Then I glued down some torn music paper, map paper, and text paper, and rubbed more shoe polish over it. Then I glued down some strips of rusted dryer sheets and rusted fabric and fibers from fraying the fabric. I also glued down a large skeleton leaf.

Then I used my Walnut Hollow Hot Stamps tool, which is basically a woodburning tool, and heat stamped the letters and numbers on. I thought it was finished at that point, but it wasn't. I sealed the whole piece with Future Floor Finish for a glossy effect, and while it was still wet, flicked Pearl Ex on it in gold and then copper. Again, I thought it was done, but decided no.... as in I had to push the envelope. I chose to spray mist it with Memories Mists in Strawberry Daiquiri and Mango Lemonade -- the only two colors of mists I own. And I totally love those two colors together!!

I confess, I was VERY afraid to spray on the mists, because I liked it the way it already looked. I really had to argue with myself to do that, and take that risk, but I went ahead and did it. Now, after the fact, I kinda wish I hadn't, but I did, so it's too late now. I don't know, sometimes I think I don't know when to stop, and let a piece just be what it is. I have to hold my breath and cross my fingers that if I take it to the next step, I won't ruin it. And sometimes I do ruin it, or feel I do. And other times, I'm glad I took the risk, and feel it turned out better for it.

With this piece, I'm not sure. I thought it looked good before the spray mists, but I think it looks good now too. Oh well, it's too late to go back, so this is the end result. And I'm pleased with it. And very happy I was able to get in the "zone" today, which doesn't happen often enough.

I have chosen to enter this piece into this week's Mixed Media Monday challenge, which is "Gold".  (  So just click on the URL and it will link you to that website.  I'm entering this piece because I flicked gold Pearl Ex onto it in several places.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Raw Art" - the title of this piece

This is somewhat different for me, but not totally. Lately I seem to be into using paint chips and distressing them, then rubbing brown paste shoe polish over them to highlight the distressing. I've done several pieces using this technic, which is my own technic developed by me, as far as I know. I've never seen it used by anyone else, or read or heard about it, regarding someone else developing this specific technic. So I feel kind of good about that -- that I developed a new technic that I've shared on blog.

In this piece, it occurred to me that I could use a sharp awl to actually write text on these paint chips. And that it would show up, after being rubbed with the brown shoe polish. And I don't often use text in my art, but this seemed an easy way to do that. Although recently, I've been using more text in my art than I ever used to. I also discovered that writing text with an awl is a bit difficult, it doesn't come out like writing with a pen, it's more like a "carving" process. Perhaps I can improve on that with more practice, but at this point, I kind of like the imperfect effect of it.

Well, let me back up here a bit. Last year in November, Cyndi did an artist profile on me on her fabulous website, Layers Upon Layers. My profile is here, if you want to read it. Just click on the URL. Anyway, Karen Campbell, a very fine and talented artist and a friend, and the leader of our local book arts group, left a comment for me about my profile. In it, she said "You specialize in raw art — art that comes solely from you and art that does not depend on a lot of commercial products. That truly is the toughest art of all." Well, I'm not exactly sure what "raw art" is, but I found her description of it quite interesting. It is true, I don't use a lot of commercial products in my art. Such as pizza cardboard, caulk/joint compound/spackle, rusted paper and fabric, paint chips, shoe polish, etc. I tend to use those kind of things much more than commercial products meant for art.

So on this piece, the term "raw art" bubbled up into my mind, and so I went with it. Although I must admit, I'm a little nervous about posting this piece, because it's kind of "out there" with the awl written text. But oh well, I'm posting it anyway, come what may. I seem to be going into a more primitive or primal direction lately in my art. And I'm so glad to be making art again, after a long slump, I'm not going to fight it.

In this piece, I used frozen pizza cardboard, and it's 8x10 inches in dimension. I used a piece of wallpaper cut from a sample book for the background. And a paint chip, which was sanded and written on with a sharp awl, then rubbed with brown shoe polish. Actually, I used two paint chips here, one glued on top of the other. The "windows" were already in the top one. Then I used my Walnut Hollow Hot Marks heat tool with the appropriate nibs screwed on, for the question marks and the lettering in the upper left corner. I'm so glad I "rediscovered" this great tool. The hearts and rectangles were punched out of paint chips. I used tea dyed cheese cloth in the upper left corner, and scrapbook paper in the center, and some copy paper I stamped with a stamp I carved out of styrofoam (a meat container) in the lower left corner. I rubbed over the whole piece with brown shoe polish and sealed it with Future Floor Finish for a glossy finish.

I'm still not certain exactly what "raw art" is, but Karen's description sounds pretty good to me. I'm willing to go with that, at least for now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New art -- just flying by the seat of my pants

This is something I made yesterday. I wanted to make some art, but as per usual, had no plans as to what to make. So I was basically playing around. Although I did pull out my Walnut Hollow Hot Stamps Alphabet tool, which I haven't used in ages. It's like a wood burning tool, with the alphabet and some cool stamps as nibs to screw into the heat wand. I'm glad I foraged around and pulled it out and used it. I used it to heat stamp ART and also for the circles. It's always nice to pull out tools/supplies one hasn't used in while, and put them to use again.

This is a 5x5 art squared piece on a frozen pizza cardboard base. I started out with using a dyed paper towel, something I've had for a long time, as the background. Then grabbed a paint chip and distressed it with sanding, a sharp awl, and a dress pattern tool. Which I've done before on previous art, and like doing and using in my art. After distressing the paint chip and the torn scrapbook paper, I rubbed brown paste shoe polish over them. On the bottom edge, I used a piece of scrap fabric, and frayed it. I used the frayed threads to glue down, rubbed with gold waxy stuff, and glued the key on top. So that's how I created this piece -- pretty much the way I do most of my art, or at least for some time now.

Any questions? (tongue in cheek and just kidding). I guess I'm just a "fly by the seat of my pants kind of artist" most of the time. AS IN NO PLANS, NO RULES, NO FOUL! That's what reeled me in, regarding doing "altered art" in the first place. The idea there were no rules, so I could do whatever I wanted to do. If it hadn't been for that, I doubt I would've had the daring or courage to even try to do art, or see myself as an artist. That part of it was so appealing, and so gave me "permission" to just jump in and play around. Not that I still don't have doubts and fears and angst, a lot of the time, when I approach doing art, and also posting it. And I wonder if that will ever change??? And if I didn't have a blog, and post my art on my blog in a public forum, if I'd feel differently about it.

Well, I do have a blog and do post my art, so it is what it is. And I'm happy it is what it is. Even though I keep waiting for it to become easier!!! Clock ticking, crickets chirping....waiting, waiting. It's still not easy, after all this time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An art gift for my niece

This is a new piece I created on Sunday. It's a gift for my 16 year old niece for Christmas, to go along with a gift card to a bookstore. Her name is Shannon, and she's a fine young lady who has a voracious appetite for reading books. She's been an avid reader for many years now. She is also a fine writer, and has been writing and journaling for years also. I've read some of her writing, and am so impressed with her intelligence and talent. She's a darn good writer, and I believe has the potential to be published at some point.

Well, I was an avid reader and writer at her age, so I can relate to her in that way. I think I can relate to her very well. And I'm so proud of her and I love her, and am lucky to have her as a niece. And so I thought it would be nice to make her a small piece of art for Christmas. I wanted to make something to encourage her in her writing. At least that was the goal of this piece.

This is a 4x6 inch postcard format, and the base is frozen pizza cardboard. The background is a multi-colored piece of scrapbook paper glued down on the base. Then I used gel medium to glue down a piece of dyed cheese cloth on the left half of the piece. I cut some quotes on "Authorship" out of a book, crumpled it up, then rubbed brown paste shoe polish over it, and glued that down over the cheese cloth. The hearts were punched out of paint chips. The circle and triangle shapes are vinyl paper clips. I wrote the text with Bic permanent markers, and then rubbed the shoe polish over that whole part, including over the paper clips. I sealed the whole piece with Acrylic Floor Finish. (You can find it at Family Dollar stores.)

This was a fun, simple piece to make. I hope the message will mean something to Shannon, and that she'll find it encouraging. Because I really want to encourage her to pursue her writing, I think she is that good.