Ain't No Ninny

Where Creativity and Everyday Life Collide


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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.
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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.

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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!


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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.

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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.

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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!


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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!


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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!


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Good Intentions, Poor Execution

On the last day of 2014 I stated that I would be back the next day to provide my ‘bucket list’ for 2015.  Well, here it is January 5th and I am late.  Why?  Uh . . . because I was tired from the holidays?  Actually, I still haven’t created a bucket list for the year although I did decide which ongoing art e-courses or challenges I wished to participate in this year (the short list, since new ones come along all the time).  Most of these are focused on art journaling and most are new to me even though I was aware of many of them last year.  If you are interested in any of them, I have provided a link to the website or blog where you can find out more:

* Life Book 2015 (LB2015) created by Tamara Laporte at www.willowing.org/life-book-2015.  This is a year-long mixed media course with weekly in-depth and bonus videos and PDFs taught by 25 well-known artists.  It is a paid class but is well worth the price of about $120 USD since so much quality material is provided and you can download and keep all videos and materials. I have taken her free on-line introductory course but LB2015 is new to me.

* The Original Documented Life Project (DLP).  This is a FREE challenge/workshop created by five artists at Art to the 5th Academy.  Last year the challenge was created as an art journal/weekly planner using a Moleskine planner.  This year it is set up to create an art journal only with an option to add in planning information.  There are monthly themes, weekly promps, and weekly videos from one or more of the artists.  Find out more here:  http://www.art5academy.com/the-studio/the-documented-life-project-free

* Painted Paper Paradise (PPP) is a paid abstract watercolor/gouache workshop created by Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow Art.  It is a follow-on to her Watercolor Playground workshop which I took late last year. I really hope to get more comfortable with watercolors this year and Tammy has a knack of making learning fun and easy.  Find out more here: http://daisyyellowart.com/workshop-directory/ .  She has other workshops on that same page that are free of charge and are a lot of fun to do. Last summer I participated in her Index Card a Day (ICAD) challenge and had a blast. Check her out!

* Book of Days 2015 (BOD), Volume I, Everyday Beauty is a 12-week art journaling workshop (paid) created by Effy Wild, one of the artist instructors for Life Book 2015. This workshop will be focused on finding beauty in your daily life and environment. There are weekly videos and PDFs that can be downloaded and kept forever.  She also has a free ‘boot camp’ workshop on how to create your own canvas journal from scratch.  It’s worth watching and her blog is worth reading. She is a very honest and generous person who started out in art journaling like many of us (no fine art training) several years ago. Find out more here on her blog:  http://effywild.com/

* 21 Secrets (Spring 2015) which is an online, downloadable e-course taught in eBook form by 21 talented artists who provide their own secrets and techniques for art journaling. I almost took 21 Secrets last Fall but got busy with other things.  This e-course is the ‘baby’ of Connie (Hosvika) Solera of Dirty Footprint Studios who started this twice-yearly workshop five years ago.  You can find out more about this workshop that starts April 1st here:  http://www.dirtyfootprints-studio.com/2008/05/21-secrets-spring-2015.html

Since my dance card is booked this year I decided NOT to participate in Journal52 this time around. However, if you are looking for a free weekly art journaling workshop you should really check it out.  Chelle Stein is the creator and she provides her experience and art journal techniques to a very large group on FB (more than 1300 people) each week.  For more information go here:  http://journal52.com/

I’ll be back later this evening with my first art journal spread for the year, created over the last two days for the Documented Life Project.  In the meantime, I hope you have set some creative goals for yourself and work to keep creativity in YOUR life every day!


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An Artful Adieu to A Year of Art

The last two weeks just flew by.  In fact, the whole year passed in the wink of an eye!  Now, on the last day of this year, I wish to post an artful farewell to 2014.

On January 1st of this year I wrote and posted a bucket list, things I wanted to do, to see, to accomplish.  One of the items on the list was to take an online acrylic painting or mixed media workshop.  I had always wanted to paint but had not picked up a paintbrush and put any kind of paint to paper or canvas since I was ten years old.  I wanted to get past my fear of trying painting.  So, on someone’s recommendation, in February I took a mixed media e-course by Kelly Rae Roberts.  I watched her videos, I collaged, I painted, I came up with mantras, I tried some more.

Around April, I decided I wasn’t very good at painting on canvas. I became embarrassed to post my paintings alongside the ‘true’ artists in Kelly Rae’s e-course Facebook group.  Even though the people in the group were supportive of me, I was not supportive of myself.  It appears I thought I should go from knowing nothing to being skilled over night.  In any case, I switched gears and decided to focus my efforts on art journaling instead.  That seemed less precious, less threatening, and more experimental.  The groups and workshops I joined for art journaling had artists of all levels and I felt comfortable.  I then did two months of index card art:  quick and easy and not threatening at all.  Then I took a watercolor class.  And a workshop on creative funky journals.

But on December 12th I decided I wanted to create a mixed media piece as a gift for my daughter for Christmas.   She had told me earlier this year that she wanted me to paint a ‘Day of the Dead’ painting for her because her tattoo-artist boyfriend liked a few early paintings I had done.  So out came my better-quality paints and a 16″x20″ canvas art-board and my Muse.  This is what I created for her:

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The background is colorful, with a design reminiscent of Mexican art.  The way I painted the face  reflects the closing out of a year which has been extremely challenging for my daughter (the skull half of the face) and the beginning of a new year of possibilities (the celebratory-woman half of the face).  Endings and deaths always make room for beginnings and births, which is why we celebrate on New Year’s Eve.

I am grateful that my daughter loved her gift and that I left my fear of painting behind me.  I am grateful to have fulfilled a wish on my bucket list for 2014 and to have learned art from some very talented artists.  2014 has been a wonderfully creative year for me and I hope 2015 will be even better!  Tomorrow I will post what I would like to focus on in the coming year.

Happy New Year and new beginnings to you all!


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Last Bit of Holiday Art Journaling for a While

Things are starting to get busy for me.  Christmas is less than two weeks away and I have shopping to do, wrapping to do, baking to do, and gift-making to do.  I have decided to put aside my holiday art journal until at least the day after Christmas.  I think there will still be time to fill it up by the first week in January when other art commitments will take its place.

I did finish two pages today.  Both were quick and easy.

 

Happy Holidays Elephants
This started out as Christmas paper that I had folded and sewn into my hand-made journal.  It is slightly redder than the photo makes out with a faint pink texture in the background and 3 tiny pink elephants.  I outlined the little elephants and then laid a large elephant mask on the paper and outlined it.  I used a different stencil in a Marakesh pattern over the outline and pounced frosted pink paint through the stencil.  Once the paint dried I outlined the pattern using the same Signo Broad pen in blue-black.  I added the words using the blue-black pen and tried to fill in the puffy letters with a light pink souffle pen which didn’t quite work.  It reacted with the blue-black pen so it is not as clean as I would have liked.  But I do like the page.  It is rather non-traditional but the frosty pink adds some holiday zest.

Trees Trees Trees
For this one, I drew and collaged various Christmas trees onto a page of Bristol paper in the journal. I had previously dripped Adirondack ink in red and teal on the top of the page.  I decorated some of the trees using Pitt Big Brush pens and Sakura souffle pens.  Others, specifically those collaged from colorful papers, I left as is.  It was a simple page to put together and I wish I had not used a page with the ink at the top.  But it is colorful and full of Christmas tree cheer.

You may not see me on the blog again until after Christmas, but rest assured I will be creating daily.  I hope to show you some of my hand-made gifts after the holiday itself.  I hope you find time in your busy holiday schedule for creativity too.  Good wishes to you all during this holiday season!


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Easy Peasy Collage, Stamps & and Lettering

I’m still playing in my holiday art journal.  There are so many pages in it that I will have to do more than one page per day to fill it up.  And that’s fine with me.  While I have time, I’ll play . . . and when it gets busy with the holidays, I’ll focus on family.

I finished 3 more pages today (no prompts). All were done using simple collage, stamping, and lettering techniques.

I added a small cracker box into the journal simply by taping it into a section with designer duct tape.  I stamped all over the inside cardboard of that box with red snowflake stamps to use as backgrounds for two different pages.  The color of the snowflakes reminded me of a reindeer that I had sketched and painted for an art journal page a couple of weeks ago.  I made a copy of that page and cut out the reindeer (and the words “Deer Santa,”), collaging them onto the stamped background.  I hand-lettered the rest of the words on the page using a Posca paint pen in white, a Signo Broad pen in white, and a Fude ball pen in black.  Easy-peasy!

Deer Santa

The next page I did over a scrapbook paper page in the journal.  I had cut Christmas ornaments out of a Pottery Barn catalog and I simply collaged them, overlapping a little, onto the middle of the page. I outlined each in a different color of Pitt big brush pens to make them pop. I added ornament stamps using black archival ink at the top and bottom of the page and colored bits of them in with Pitt big brush pens.  Since both stamps had the word “Joy” in them, I hand-lettered various versions of the word all over the page using a black Sakura Identi-pen and highlighted certain letters with the Pitt big brush pens.  Another page, easy-peasy!

Joy to the World

For the next page, I used a gelatin plate monoprint that I had created several months ago and was saving because it had such a Christmas look to it with its colors of gold, yellow, green, and burgundy.  I collaged it onto the back of a cereal box in the journal using Tombow permanent adhesive then, picking up the gold in the print, I taped all four edges of the page with a goldish-copper glitter fabric tape.  I’m not sure that the glitter of the gold paint or the glitter tape shows up but they really add some sparkle!  I had a page of 7 Gypsies old-fashioned letter rub-ons that I thought would look good on the page.  There was only one of each letter available and I had a difficult time deciding on what song lyrics or saying I wanted for this beautiful print.  I settled on “O, Holy Night” which is my favorite of all Christmas carols.  The only problem was there was only one H in the sheet of rub-ons and two H’s in the title of the song.  I laid out and rubbed on the letter, leaving a space for the 2nd H which I hand-lettered using a black Fude ball pen.  It is not as ornate as the other H but I think it works.  I added the next line in the song in smaller plain letters using the black Fude ball pen.  I think the whole page is gorgeous and I wish the glitter of the golds showed up better in the photo.  Another page, easy-peasy!

O Holy Night

I did all of this in about one hour … or maybe a little more.  This blog post probably took as long.  I found time in my schedule to be creative and I hope you see that you can be creative with very little time in your own day!


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More 12.31 Holiday Art Journal

I’m on an art journal roll lately.  In the last two days I finished two pages in my hand-made holiday art journal and started on another.

The photo below shows a page in my journal that I drew and doodled using a black Micron 05 pen.  My objective was to capture a small close-up section of a Christmas tree.  This particular page is half of a 11×15″ piece of Bristol paper.  A few days ago I placed a stencil that had been covered in yellow iRESISTable paint face-down onto the page to use up leftover paint from the journal cover. Nothing goes to waste in this re-cycled journal!  When I started drawing on the page, I noticed the yellow texture in the background but forgot that it was a ‘resist’ product.  Yesterday I decided to use watercolors to color the page instead of using markers or gel pens or acrylic paints.  And whoa! The yellow iRESISTable paint spray surely did resist the watercolor!  That made for some interesting texture.  Because there was a significant amount of yellow on the top-right side of the page I went ahead and used a yellow watercolor wash for the rest of the background.  I’ve never seen a yellow Christmas tree but, then again, this is MY fantasy world and in MY fantasy world Christmas trees can be any color in the rainbow.

All That Glitters
I really liked the page when it was just a black drawing on the white paper with yellow peeking up through the decorations.  But I’m not unhappy with the watercolor page.  It gave me the opportunity to practice painting with watercolors since I am still a little uncomfortable with that medium.

The next page was done on the outside portion of a Toasted O’s cereal box in my journal. First I covered it with white gesso, using a catalyst tool. I left a lot of scratches and lines in the gesso for texture and let it dry over night.  I decided to use Dawn DeVries Sokol’s 12.31 Holiday Art Journal Workshop video prompt for 12/09.  The prompt was to doodle picture frames on the page and then fill the frames with people/pets signifying who I would like to spent Christmas with). I combined the video prompt with her prompt of the day: To write out all that I am grateful for this season.  First and foremost, I am grateful for my family so they take center stage on the page.  (You can find Dawn’s free workshop prompts here:  http://www.dawnsokol.com/1231/ )

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As you can see, I decided to make this a grunge page.  The texture I left in the gesso was a good start.  Then I used complementary colors of Dina Wakely heavy body acrylic paints spread on top of the gesso with a palette knife, making it even more textured.  I scribbled into the wet paint to allow the white gesso to show through.  I resized three photos of loved ones (including my pets) and copied them out, collaging them to the page with matte medium. I found it interesting that the complementary blues and reddish-oranges could be found in the photos I chose (completely unplanned!).  I drew picture frames around the photos with black and white Posca paint pens     and journaled my gratitudes around the page using a black Fude ball pen and a white Signo Broad pen.  I do not often use grunge techniques in my art journals but I really enjoyed doing this one and I like how it turned out.  I will try this again in the future.

Making time in my day to be creative relieves the stress of the holidays and allows me to focus on my own needs.  I hope you can find time in your own busy schedules this season to be creative too!


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2 for 1 Fun ….

Today I did two pages in my holiday art journal.  That’s not exactly true.  I finished a page that I began a few days ago; I did a quickie collage page; and I started (but did not finish) another page that contains a lot of drawing.  Here are the two pages I finished today.

Catmouse
A few days ago, I posted this painted background with just a sketch of the uppermost cat. At the time I had no idea where the page was going.  Last night I had an idea for the words on the page: “We wish you a merry Catmas” . . . except when I said it out loud in my head it came out “We wish you a Merry Catmouse.”  Perfect!  I couldn’t pass that up so I went with it.  The cats and mice were sketched with a pencil and outlined with a black china marker.  The lettering and all of the details were done with a Posca paint pen in white and a black Fude ball pen.  This page makes me smile.

Kid Toys

Yesterday I added the red & white washi tape to the inside of one of the cereal boxes I used in creating my holiday journal.  Today while thinking of whether or not to paint this page, I saw a piece of Tim Holtz scrapbook paper that had old-fashioned alphabet blocks on it.  I thought they would look perfect directly on the cardboard itself.  Since there were only one of each letter of the alphabet, I decided on the phrase ‘kid toys’.  Once that was decided on, I looked for something in my stash that was related.  I found a roll of vintage bingo cards and cut one to use as the center background.  I also cut out the letter blocks and collaged all onto the page.  I then used Crayola crayons to outline the letter blocks and, finally, I drew the baseball and jack.  I like how the page came out.  It takes me back to my childhood in the 50’s when all of those items were popular.

These pages were fun but now I have housework to do.  I’ll be back, maybe tomorrow, with more creative play in my holiday art journal.  I hope you make time today, too, for some creative fun!