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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November Poem A Day Challenge – Day 1

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The following poem was written today, 11/1/2014, using a prompt provided by Robert Lee Brewer on his blog “Poetry Asides” .  It is fictional and bears no resemblance to an actual incident, although my father did die from COPD during the winter months.

Game Over

 

 

 


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Journal 52 Weekly Art Journal (Week 20: Book Inspiration)

I have been participating in a weekly art journal workshop Journal 52 ( http://journal52.com/ ) since January.  It provides prompts and motivation to keep creating week after week. I have not missed a week yet, even though I have not posted all of my attempts to my blog and sometimes I am ‘late’ in creating my art journal pages. But I’m doing it!

The prompt for last week was “Book Inspired”.  Almost two years ago I wrote a novel (as part of National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo).  It is mystery that takes place both in 1840’s Ohio and 21st Century Arizona. Part of the mystery is how two main characters in the book are connected across centuries. My book remains unfinished and unedited. There is still a lot of work to do before I can even think of trying to publish it. But it inspired me to complete this journal prompt. I tried to make this page look vintage, much like the 175 year old diary that is central to solving the mystery.

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This is a mixed media collage.  I started with a torn blank page from my Dylusions journal.  I adhered torns bits from a printed page from my book to the journal page using Liquitex matte gel medium.  Then I used a generic background stencil and acrylic paints in two colors to ‘antique’ the text.  I collaged on two faces printed out from online images and smudged around them with raw sienna paint to make them blend better.  Then I used a vintage border stamp and black archival ink across sections of the page and stenciled words across the page using a StencilGirl stencil by Seth Apter and acrylic paint.  I used a fluer-de-lis stencil on the corners of the images to make them look like photographs from a family album.  Finally, I scanned the page into iPhoto and used the ‘Antique’ and ‘Edge Blur’ effects to tone down the paint colors and make it look more vintage.