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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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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Art Every Day Month – Day 21

Wow!  This month is flying by!  It will be New Years before we know it.  Yikes!!

Today I got back to the Jennibellie challenge (7 art journal pages in 7 days, each day a different technique or product).  I am on day 4 and this is the technique I blindly drew from the box on my desk:

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Finally!  I’m glad I got paint/ink sprays this time because the remaining two techniques (ephemera and pens/doodling) don’t make sense before the pages are painted.  That’s the good news.  That bad news is that at least one page really didn’t lend it self to either painting or ink sprays but I did my best.  Here are my seven pages after I applied paint or ink:

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Oops!  I guess I forgot to crop this one.  I water-colored this using Ranger Distress stains instead of watercolor paint.  I really loved this after Day 2 when it was all black and white but now I’m not so sure.   We’ll see where this ends up after Day 7.

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This page really didn’t call for paint and I think I screwed it up trying to add gesso and some blue paint around the face/braids.  I may have to fix this in the final step.  I did change her lip color to be consistent with the colors on the page and painted the whites of her eyes to stand out more.  I liked this page the best after Day 2 and now I like it the least.

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I’m really liking this one right now.  I water-colored the dog and some of the stencil pieces with autumn-toned Ranger Distress stains.  I have no idea where I will go from here on this but I love it as it is.

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I used water color paint on this for the towel, her hair and a yellow wash around the body.  I wanted the body to remain untouched because I might doodle on it or add words later.  I love the soothing but bright colors on this page.

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On this page I started with the sky and decided to use a complementary color to the art-deco blue washi tape that was on the page.  Watered down orange/yellow acrylics seemed to make it stand out and is consistent with a fiery sunset skyline.  I do wish, however, that I had not highlighted the swirls in orange. The buildings I did using cheap watercolors in pastel colors, much like what you would see on the art-deco buildings in Miami along South Beach.  I still have to meld that bright sky and those pastel buildings.

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I love how this turned out with her bright hair and pale eyes & skin.  I used soft body acrylics and gesso for her face/hair/lips/eyes.  I gessoed the rest of the page, over the collage/stamps, then sprayed Prima Color Bloom spray in Summer Sky over that.  It was a coincidence that it matched her eyes.

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I couldn’t figure out what to paint on this page so I used a guache watercolor the same color as the ball to outline the feathers, the stamped words and all of the circles.  I also touched up the areas on the girl’s body that had torn when I glued them with a glue stick and tried to make the tears less noticeable.  I painted the sky blue with an acrylic wash and then went over it with gesso to tone it down some.  I think I will end up liking this page after I finish it up on Day 7.  Right now I’m a little ho-hum about it.

I spent a lot more time on these pages today than for any other step and I’m rather ambivalent about them right now.  Most are in that in-between ugly stage.  I’m hoping the next three days will fix them up and I’ll like them all in the end.

I am glad I created and I hope you got to be creative today too!


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Art Every Day Month – Day 18

I decided that for the next seven days I wanted to do an art journal challenge that was started by the artist Jenniebellie on her blog http://jennibelliestudio.blogspot.com/2014/11/ready-set-go.html . She has accompanying videos to show you how she completed the challenge each day for herself.  It is a 7-day challenge where you work on any number of art journal pages you choose each day for 7 days (I chose 7 pages each day). You decide in advance of starting the pages which six products/techniques you want to use on your pages.  I selected the following, which I often use:

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You fold the six pieces of paper up, put them in a bag or a box and pull one out each day.  You work on that technique/product for that day on all of your journal pages.  The next day, you pull a different paper out and work on that technique only for all of your pages.  You continue until all six techniques have been completed on all of your pages.  The seventh day is used to do whatever you have to do to complete your journal pages.

I put all six of my folded papers into a small box on my desk top and shook it to rearrange them.  This is the technique that I pulled out of the box to use today.

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Aaargh!  I would normally do the focal image last (or next to last) after the background has been completed and I have an idea for the overall page.  The focal image usually completes a page, creates a place for the eye to rest, and conveys the message you intended for the page. This is a real challenge for me since I have no idea what I want for these seven pages! A focal image can be drawn or painted or collaged or stenciled or stamped . . . whatever works . . .  so I felt free to use different techniques to create my focal image.

Here are the seven pages I did today with a focal image on each. They are all on white 7″x10″ 90 lb. mixed media paper.  Since the pages are white, it will be hard to see where one page ends and another begins.  But, believe me, there are photos of seven pages of the same dimensions.

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On two of them I used collaged images, four were drawn free-hand with a Micron 05 pen, and one (the seated lady) was outlined using a Donna Downey stencil and embellished with the Micron pen.

Today’s technique took over an hour to complete but the others should take less than that since they will be embellishing the focal images and created a background for them. I am looking forward to the next six days and finding out where this challenge takes my journal pages.

I hope you found some time today to be creative also!


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Art Every Day Month – Day 15

I am exactly half of the way through this creative month.  I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  It will get busy near the end of the month because Thanksgiving is at my house this year (lots of cleaning and cooking and entertaining) so I want to do quick and easy art projects from here on out.

I decided to try to catch up with my art journaling group journal52.com.  This week’s prompt was to use a napkin (or tissue paper or paper towel) in our art journal.  I already had a background that I had created several months ago on which to start.  I had glued down inky paper towels (with a diamond motif) onto a piece of watercolor paper that had been used to mop up paint from a painting I had been working on.  That background sat for several months because I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

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I stared at the background a while and saw a ‘figure’ at the center of the page.  I created an angel since there was already a green pattern I could use as her dress and the inky paper towels had the rough shape of wings.  I used a Stabilo All pencil to outline the angel and her wings then painted the face/hair/wings with acrylic paints.  That was difficult over the texture of the paper towels (especially the face) but I worked with it anyway.  I then partially painted in the black circles with orange acrylic paint.  As a final step, I did some stamping (the word “Grace” under the angel, the triangle pattern at the bottom of the page, and the crown on the angel’s head).

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Voila!  It seems perfect for the holiday season.

I hope you find inspiration to create something today too!

 


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Art Every Day Month – Day 14

Some days what you see in your mind does not translate to the page.  Today is one of those days.  The NaNoJouMo song-title prompt for the day was “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake.  I wanted a dapper man in suit and tie and the words “I be on my suit and tie” as well as another line from the lyrics “Let me show you a few things”.

Well, I did find a magazine photo of a man in a suit which was the correct size for the page but the black inks of the image were more charcoal gray than the glossy black I had envisioned.  I wanted to create a background that had Payne’s gray (almost a charcoal navy color) and a turquoise green to offset the black of the image.  I created the background using acrylic paints and a stencil. It looked fine on its own but I wasn’t sure at first how to write over the top of the stenciled parts.  I used Posca paint pens in black and green and simply wrote over the top of the stenciled parts . . . but, unfortunately, the writing didn’t show up very well.  And the image of the man didn’t show up well against the background so I used a green oil pastel and a black paint pen to outline the image, which did help a little.  I also did some doodling on the page to help integrate the background colors a bit.  Here’s what I ended up with.

Day 14 Suit and Tie - Justin Timberlake

I’m not wild about the finished journal page but every time I do something that doesn’t work, I learn something from it:  either what not to do in the future or what I can do to fix it.

Also, I realized that I really don’t like following the NaNoJouMo prompts much.  I’d rather come up with my own inspiration and create that.  So, although I may use the prompts now and again, I think I’ll just follow my own heART for the rest of the month and do what calls to me.

May your own muse call to you to do something creative today also!


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Art Every Day – Day 5 (Second Hand News)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here.  I really have trouble drawing and painting faces.  The only remedy for that is practice, practice, and more practice.  I expect to try several this month.

I used Dawn Sokol’s Day 5 NaNoJouMo prompt which was “Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac.  I decided to use newsprint in the background over which I wanted use translucent paint that would let the pieces of newsprint show through.  I chose two paints (Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and Green-Gold) because they would give the journal page a warm glow and would look a little rustic.  I drew the face with a graphite pencil and then painted it with various shades of craft paint.   I stamped the words on the neck with Sepia archival ink and went over them with a Sepia pitt pen.  I hand-lettered the group’s name in black gel pen and highlighted it with white gel pen.

Day 5 Secondhand News - Fleetwood Mac

I wasn’t looking for photo-realism in the face, which is good since it doesn’t look realistic.  I was looking to achieve a face that was serious and thoughtful.  I hope I achieved a little of that.  I’ll keep practicing and practicing and, with luck, I’ll improve.  That’s the name of the learning game!

I hope you did something creative too!