Ain't No Ninny

Where Creativity and Everyday Life Collide


1 Comment

Book of Days – Ordinary Beauty Week 1: Intentions

Yup.  I’m already 3 weeks behind in Effy Wild’s art journaling class Book of Days 2015 – Ordinary Beauty.  I signed up for this class, which is 12 weeks long, on January 1st.  I loved her description of what the focus of the course was to be:  looking for beauty in the world around us and journaling about it. I really, really wanted to hit the road running with this class.  The first week’s prompt was provided on January 5th but first I wanted to make a canvas-bound journal in which to do my art journaling for the class.  And I couldn’t do that until I received the materials that I had ordered the day after Christmas (thanks to Gary who gifted me some dollars to spend at Jerry’s Artarama).

I finally got the materials I needed on January 9th and finished making the journal on January 11th, just in time for the 2nd week’s video/prompt.  Here’s my pristine, canvas-bound journal with four five-page signatures.
IMG_20150112_213900

And do you think I did week 1 or week 2?  No.  I did other things.  Arty things.  Non-arty things.  I procrastinated.  I took naps.  I did watch the videos . . . I just didn’t journal for either week.  And on Monday (four days ago), the week 3 videos/prompt were released.  Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.

Today (finally!) I decided to work on the week 1 prompt.  The prompt was to create a 2-page mixed media spread identifying our intentions (goals, hopes, resolutions) and a significant word to strive for during 2015.   As part of that, we were encouraged to do an image transfer (using gesso) onto one of the pages.  I decided to use a silhouette of a woman doing a sun salutation with open arms (as the image transfer), signifying the words I wanted to focus on this year:  ‘release’ and ‘renew’.  I also decided I wanted the spread to have the look of a beautiful sunset or sunrise since sunsets are about letting go of the day (release) and sunrises are about new possibilities (renew).

I got so caught up in the process that I did not take photos of the steps I took.  After transfering the image onto the right hand page, I decided to paint over the image to lighten it, leaving black only in the figure’s hair.  I finished the spread by stamping words on both pages and then journaling my intentions for the year.  I also scribbled the words ‘sing yourself alive every day’ around the figure.  This is what my pages looked like when I finished.

P1020887

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.  The colors are vibrant like the sunsets we get here in Arizona.  The figure is recognizable and the image transfer was successful, even though I decided to paint over it.  I’m hoping now to finish up weeks 2 and 3 over the next few days in time for week 4 to be released.

I found beauty in my art journal pages today.  I hope you found beauty in your life too!


4 Comments

Documented Life Project (DLP) Week 3: Color Wheel

The prompts for DLP come out each Saturday around noon.  I had planned to put off doing my page/spread until later in the week but it called to me yesterday.  These were the themes/prompts for the Documented Life Project week three:

January Theme
The Blank Page and How to Face It!
January 17
Art Challenge:  The Color Wheel
Journal Prompt:  “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way . . . “    – Georgia O’Keeffe

While searching for something else yesterday I came across an individual piece of mixed media paper, slightly larger than the size of the large Dylusions journal in which I am creating my DLP spreads.  It had papers and paint on it where I had started something a year ago but had not continued.  I decided that the colors were perfect for a color wheel (burgundy, magenta, teal, yellowish green, yellow with coordinating papers).  I started by spreading white gesso around the papers with a palette knife to integrate them with the background.  I scribbled into the wettish gesso with a pencil, leaving several marks that I hoped would peek up through the layers. Then I smeared more fluid acrylics in the same colors with my fingers and through two StencilGirl stencils (‘Angel Circle’ by Kate Thomspon and ‘Spider Flower by Terri Stegmiller). I adhered the Georgia O’Keeffe quote printed onto deli paper onto the top left side and finished by adding sketchy embellishments with a black Fude pen, a black Stabilo Marks All pencil and various Posca paint pens.

P1020869

In the photos below you can see the details of the painting, showing the pencil marks and different layers peeking up through from the original paper.

P1020873 P1020872 P1020874

For the second week in a row I worked fairly intuitively (no plan at the outset for where the page would go) and for the second week in a row I created a grunge-style painting.  I didn’t intend to do that but I am really liking the messy, colorful results of this intuitive experimenting I am doing.  I wonder where next week will take me?  We’ll see.

I had fun creating this and will continue on with more art journaling later today.  I hope your holiday is full of creativity also.  Happy Martin Luther King Day!


3 Comments

Life Book 2015 Week 3: The Artful Wordsmith

I love Joanne Sharpe’s work.  She is an artful lettering expert, in my humble opinion.  Her book, “The Art of Whimsical Lettering” has all the tips and tricks you might need to learn to hand-letter your own artwork’s quotes and mantras using your own embellished handwriting.  In week 3 of Life Book, Joanne provides a set of videos demonstrating exactly how to turn our own slopping writing into something artful and how to use watercolors to create a painting from our letters and a simple drawing.

Okay, I’m still not comfortable with watercolors and I have horrible, shaky, slanted handwriting . . . but I’m game.  I watched the videos and, while sitting in a chair, I created a small practice painting using her techniques.  All I had with me was my 5″x8″ watercolor Moleskine notebook, a black Sakura 03 Micron pen, a black Sakura Identi-pen, a few water soluble Tombow markers and a water brush.  This is what I produced:

Practice Lettering

Not too bad!  I was surprised how the Tombow markers actually emulated regular watercolors. Plus they are nice and bright, to boot!  I was rather proud of my little practice piece.  Much more confident than when I started out,  I decided to follow up with a larger piece on better quality 9″x12″ watercolor paper using a new set of gouache (opaque watercolors) that I had not yet tried. And I used quality watercolor brushes too.  This is the result:

9x12 Watercolor Lettering

I am not so pleased with my efforts here.  I used too much water in spots and too much paint in others. My lettering AND the borders are uneven and oddly crooked.  The right side of the composition is too crowded and the lettering on the left side is too small and bland.  Sigh.  It’s not ugly but it is not what I had hoped for.  I will have to try and try again to master both lettering and watercolors but I’m willing to keep trying, even if it’s an uphill battle.  That’s how I learn.

I hope you did something creative this weekend and that your inner critic is not screaming at you the way mine is at me!


3 Comments

Life Book 2015 Week 2: Awesomeness

Because Week 1 of Life Book was so difficult for many beginners (the all-important Beacon of Light painting plus some other bonus activities), the week 2 prompts were considered bonus activities (to do as you see fit).  I wasn’t planning on doing either of them since I was behind in other art challenges but my need to keep up over-powered my need to do other things.

The first bonus activity was to create gift tags using watercolors or sprays and art that you had previously completed, resized for the project.  These are the two tags I created using my prior art work:

P1020826

P1020824

The first tag was created with a painting I had done on a pink index card last summer for Index-Card-A-Day challenge.  I added a journaling card beneath it, some Dylusions sprays, doodling, ribbon sprayed with Lindy’s Stamp Gang starburst, and Tim Holtz rub-ons and chitchat words.  The second tag was done using art from an Artist Trading Card I had done in 2014.  I used watercolors on the tag, then added the ATC art, Tim Holtz chitchat words, and another ribbon.  I am pleased with how both of these turned out.

The next bonus project in Life Book week 2 was to create what Tamara Laporte called an Awesome jar.  The purpose of the jar is to have a pretty repository for pieces of paper that describe awesome things that happen to you throughout the year.  I wasn’t going to do this because I’m not a very crafty person and I didn’t think I had time, but I love the idea (I had seen it floating around Facebook all through 2014).  So I spent some time yesterday and this morning creating what I call my Gratitude jar.

P1020826
This was my first layer, drying for several hours.  I used dictionary paper, a vintage bingo card, and scrapbook paper in colors I thought I would like.

P1020851
Then I added bright, flowery paper napkins over the top of the first layer.  You can still see the first layer of paper through the translucent napkins.  I let that dry over night and added a ribbon around the rim of the lid.  I finished up this morning by stamping “Gratitude” on a piece of matching scrapbook paper and adhering it to the front of the jar.  I stapled the two art tags back to back and adhered them to the back of the jar with another ribbon.

P1020855
P1020856 P1020858

Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome.  I barely had patience to do all the steps for the project so the first piece of good news that went into the jar was a piece of paper saying that I was grateful for having finished this project!

Now I’m off to work on binding and painting my hand-made journal for the Book of Days art journal workshop.  I’m already two weeks behind on that.  I hope you find something creative to do today too!


5 Comments

Documented Life Project Week 2

The Documented Life Project 2nd week prompts were provided yesterday and I got right on it. I was itching to do something a little crazy and experimental and that’s what I did.  Certainly nothing as ‘pretty’ and colorful as what I normally do!

January Theme
The Blank Page and How to Face It!
January 10
Art Challenge:  Gesso
Journal Prompt:  “The beginning is always today.” -Mary Shelley

As soon as I saw the art challenge, I knew I wanted to use my Liquitex black gesso as well as whatever white gesso was close at hand.  In my mind, I was thinking of a black gesso ground with bits of white, green and a rusty gold (which I did use), maybe some molding paste or crackle paint for texture (which I didn’t use).  I had no direction in mind for my spread, no outcome, with the exception of a portion of a quote by Maria Rainer Wilke, the poet, from his early journals (see photo below).

P1020840

I started off by pouring out a little black gesso onto both pages and spreading it out with an expired airline rewards card.  After looking at the black against the white of the blank pages, I got out my Golden gold-green and quinacridone nickel azo gold fluid acrylics and started rubbing little dabs of each onto the white parts of the page with my finger, overlapping the black gesso in spots.  Then I took my white Dina Wakely gesso (by Ranger Ink) and a cosmetic sponge and sponged it and a little more of the Golden paints through several different stencils (all from StencilGirl).  They were all new stencils that were still sitting on my desk so I merely placed them here and there around the spread for texture, still with no idea or purpose in mind.  After seeing the stenciled gesso/paint areas and thinking about the quote, I realized that I had intuitively painted what my mind is like right before starting a new endeavor or project.  It looked a-jumble — dark thoughts, questions, fears all billowing up out of the blankness of my mind — before settling into something coherent.  I finished the piece by printing out the quote onto a piece of deli paper and adhering it to one page while doodling here and there with black and white gel pens to add dimension to the flat stenciled areas.

P1020838

This was definitely experimental for me, never being one to start a project without some idea where I was headed.  It turned out to be a grunge piece, a style that I’ve only used a few times and am clearly not a master of.  But I like the messy result, the dark-side-of-my-mind attitude of it.  Will I do this again?  I don’t know.  I wish now that I had used some white crackle paint to give it more texture in spots.  And I wish I had left a little more white space to balance all of that darkness.  But I’m glad I tried this technique.

Now I’m off to do other creative projects.  I hope you find time in what is left of the weekend to be creative too!


4 Comments

Life Book 2015 Week 1: Beacon of Light

I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately but I’m already a week behind on the challenges in three out of the four art journal workshops I am participating in this year.  It’s not that I’m not motivated, it’s more that I feel scattered and unsettled and can’t sit long enough to finish anything with patience.

For the main challenge on Week 1 of Life Book 2015, we were supposed to draw and paint our own version of a Beacon of Light that we could turn to throughout the year to motivate or soothe or encourage us on our life’s journey.  Tamara Laporte provided both a video and a PDF file on exactly how to create her big-headed, big-eyed whimsical beacon of light figure which was done mostly in taupe and gold tones.  I tried one version and thought the head was too big.  And I tried to paint her in brighter tones so that she was more cheerful.  The problem?  I was too impatient while using a black paint pen on her eyes which blobbed all over her face.  I tried blotting and reworking the parts of the face that had been ruined but it didn’t work. I felt really discouraged and sat without doing anything for several days.

Yesterday I decided to start all over.  I sketched a new girl, not unlike the one I had ruined, but with a head that suited her figure better.  Tamara’s figure had ‘rays’ for a headdress.  I decided to create a moon headdress with a sun/halo behind it since I wanted my Beacon of Light to be both of the day and the night.  I sketched the figure using 9″x12″ 140# Cotman watercolor paper and a 0.5 mechanical pencil.

Beacon of Light Sketch

Then I got scared about painting her face, fearful that I would ruin it again.  I decided to paint the body first, which I did, and the face second.  I was really into the process by the time I was ready to do her face so I proceeded, using a light hand with acrylic paints. I decided to use fineline markers for her eyes rather than a paint pen.  It worked much better.  I used metallic IZink and Liquitex inks in teal, gold & silver for her hair/crown, her dress, and the sun/halo behind her.  I used Neocolor II watercolor crayons for the background & charms and and a dot stamp with gold ink for the tiny ‘stars’. I used silver glitter on the crown but rubbed most of it off. I think it looked tacky and I probably will never use glitter again since I am finding it everywhere around my desk.  I finished by shading and outlining everything with Letraset alcohol markers and a Stabilo All pencil in black.

Beacon of Light PaintedBeacon of Light - Scanned

You can see the shimmer in the first photo above that was taken with a camera & flash.  The details show up better in the second, scanned image.

I’m pleased with how this turned out and plan to adhere the watercolor paper to a 9×12 wood block to hang next to my desk to remember that I am always safe in all of my undertakings.  I can take as many do-overs as needed until I get things right.  That is true both in art and in life.

Now onto Week 2 of Life Book, just as week 3 is being released!  See you soon.  I hope you find time in your weekend to be creative too!


2 Comments

Documented Life Project Week 1 Spread

On January 1st, the original Documented Life Project (DLP) was initiated for 2015.  This year they will provide monthly themes, a weekly art challenge (to satisfy the theme), and a weekly journal prompt.  Four of the artists provided examples (videos or photos) on how they faced the first blank page(s) in their new journals using book paper and the weekly journal prompt.

January Theme
The Blank Page and How to Face It!
January 1
Art Challenge: Book Paper
Journal Prompt: Be Your Own Goal Keeper

Here is my version of that prompt/challenge in my brand new large-size Dylusions journal.  I started with the quote that seemed to differentiate between ‘intentions’ (we all have good ones) and the work we need to do to reach our goals (make our garden flourish).  It’s been unseasonably cold and dreary here in Arizona this last week so I made the colors springtime bright and cheery to make up for it.  I listed some of my 2015 goals on the back of the gift tags which are inserted into the painted flower pot (the goal keeper).

P1020821
P1020820
P1020810 P1020819

I don’t provide photos of the steps I took to create the spread but I did start with various torn papers as the first layer on both pages.  I covered that with a gesso wash (enough to allow sections of the text to show through) and layered acrylic craft paint and Caran d’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on top.  The final layer was created using circles punched from my own painted papers for the flowers, pieces of painted cardboard from a gift (for the top of the pot), more Neocolor II crayons, colored gift tags, a quote printed out onto deli paper, StazOn ink pad, text/foliage stamps, Posca paint pens in various colors, and a black Stabilo All pencil for shading.

I hope you found something creative to do today also!  See you soon!