Jack and Jill Went up a Hill

to fetch a pail of water.  Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

Sums up what my life has been like for the past few months. Ups and downs and tumblings after.  I’ll check in after the first of the year for an update.  :-)

“Where Did the Posts Go?”

I have been out of commission for the last month due to personal health issues.  I hope to begin blogging in the next few weeks and I am collecting ideas as I recuperate.  Thanks.

Paste Paper for Journals or Books

Paste Paper for Journals and Books

I use paste papers for the endsheets or covers of my visual and written journals. I also like to tuck them into a journal to make sections.

This paper technique takes time and is a messy project, but it’s fun and you get some great textured paper, lots of great textured paper, in one sitting. Many artists refrigerate the paste and use it for several days, but I never get the best results from this ‘kept overnight’ paste, plus I prefer to make the mess all at once. (Then there’s only one clean up, too.)

Suggestions for paper to use include Mohawk Superfine, Strathmore or Arches Text Woven.

Use a 5:1 ratio of water to corn starch OR water to rice flour (five parts to one part.) You can add a little dishwashing soap to the mixture to make it smoother. (I’ve only used Ivory.) Also make a 1:1 ratio of water and starch or flour to use as slurry. Set the slurry aside.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, then simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add slurry and stir until mixture is smooth. Blender can be helpful with mixing, but clean promptly. When it is smooth (no lumps,) cover with wax paper and cool. Add about a tablespoon of acrylic matte medium or Mod-Podge for every cup of paste to decrease chipping and for some waterproofing protection, or use beeswax for waterproofing as described at the end of this entry.

To color the paste add tube watercolor, powdered paints, water based tempera paints (cheap works fine) or acrylics. Actually nearly any type of paint will work. I use the cheap bottled acrylic paints found in craft stores (CeramCoat or Folk Art are two brands, but there are others.) If you want more color using less paint use a tube acrylic such as olden.

Use individual throw away cups or containers for each color you make. I use whatever is around – any clean, plastic container will do fine. Divide your mixture into containers and add color. Sometimes I add metallic or luminescent paint, glitter or mica to obtain the look I want. Marble colors the colors if you wish.

Wet your paper by slipping it in and out of a tray of water or spritzing it heavily with water. Place paper on flat, smooth surface. Working from center to the outside, brush bubbles from paper using a sponge or squeegee.

Spread paint over the surface, using a wide painters brush (cheap) or paint roller for walls from hardware store or, in a pinch, a wide sponge brush. The paint roller gives me the effect I want.

To add design in the wet paint, use a comb, a dull but pointed object (craft stick, nature’s stick), sponge or other tool. A common practice is to comb in curving lines, but for interesting designs, consider using a multi pronged hair comb about two inches wide and do a basket weave, checkerboard or diamond effect.

Let dry and then glue to surface.

Once paper is attached as a book endsheet or cover, you can polish lightly with beeswax or a commercial product called Renaissance Wax and a soft cloth. Another option is to spray with Matte Krylon for durability. It all depends on what effect you wish to achieve. The Krylon needs to be used in a well ventilated area and has an odor which will dissipate in a day or two

How to Make a Quick Artist Trading Card

MAKE FAST. There are times when you have an entire afternoon and you can leisurely make Artist Trading Cards. That doesn’t happen to me very often. Usually I’m doing my artwork on the fly – 15 minutes here, a half hour there. By the time I get my supplies gathered and rummage around in my brain for a creative thought, my time is almost over. Therefore I made a list of easy and quick ATC ideas that can be mixed and matched, and completed in bits of time or in one short sitting. One of the techniques I frequently use with these cards is to think big. I use a part of a large image, enough so that it’s obvious what I’ve used, but not all of it crowding into one small space (2 ½”x3 ½”.)

BARE-BONES BACKGROUNDS I seldom do backgrounds on these cards, and if I do I make it quick – maybe a few pounces of chalk, a little acrylic paint dry tapped on the card with a sponge or a diluted watercolor wash swabbed for a color background. I don’t have to wait long for any of these to dry and be ready for the next step. I usually simply use the white background and this cuts a step from the process. If you do the backgrounds, especially the ones involving paint, do several at a time. Then you’ll be ready for the next time.

I often do these cards using black ink, either India ink and a nib if I have a little extra time, but more commonly with a .05 micro waterproof pen. Other commonly used media I use include Prismacolor or other quality brand of colored pencils, Copic pens (these mark on nearly anything because they are formulated with an alcohol base, but are on the expensive side,) a good quality set of markers. Add your own favorites.

Focal point, then embellish.

FOCAL POINTS ON ATCs Here are some ideas for a quick card to get you started:

1. Thinking big, draw a part of a common item, making the identity obvious. Consider a few things that are easily found in the home: a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste tube, cup, fork and spoon, or a part of a fruit or vegetable.
2. Examine a picture, photo or a real flower, pinecone, cactus, leaf or other natural item. Then draw a ‘macro” image from an insect’s perspective. Go off center or off the edge. Add an insect or bee if you want.
3. Use found paper as a focal point – a dry cleaner’s tag, a ticket torn in half or in pieces, (hopefully not a parking ticket), a torn strip of a map, graph paper, a handwritten letter, computer type in an unusual or typewriter font, yellow or white telephone page, a print from a newspaper or magazine page or part of a label from canned goods or packaging. Again play with the placement. Center? Off-center? Off the card?
4. Draw the unusual – a totem pole, (close up or all of it), a pair of crumply fishnet stockings, an electrical cord, a single die or pair of dice, a line of telephone poles, a spider web with a plastic spider.
5. Cut out a shoe from a department store sales catalog and position so the shoe is stepping into the picture.
6. Draw a coiled snake, head up and fangs exposed. If this is done on a white background with black marker or pen, add a bit of color with red fangs or bright green eyes. Depending on size, you could use tiny jewels for the eyes.
7. Use fingerprints to make a simple pattern or item. Add detailing with a pen or marker.

Now ADD AN EMBELLISHMENT:
• Add a row of colorful snaps or eyelets, using an odd number, ie. 3, 5, 7. (A basic design principle)
• Colorful staples, either in a pattern (row, line, square) or randomly placed over all the card
• A 1” alphabet letter or numeral
• Cut out letters or words from printed material
• If you are accomplished with a sewing machine, stitch around edge of card once or twice
• Rubber band wrapped around the card. I cut a wide, flat rubber band and glue it, using either a single band or three, usually at odd angles
• Twine or string wrapped around the card like wrapping a present with the tie in the front or knotted on the back
• A frame of silver duct tape (hardware store) wrapped around edge of card and mitered at the corners like a picture frame.
• Photo corners, either purchased (some are in colors or embossed) or made out of cut paper
• A piece of aluminum foil, crumpled then flattened, and positioned across one corner

Mix and match any of these ideas or adapt as you want and you can easily make a few cards in a short amount of time.

Foil Backgrounds for Artist Trading Cards Plus

Adapt these techniques for large collages or for diminutive artist trading cards, or anything in between.

Begin with a surface that has some give. You can use a piece of packing styrofoam or foam core board, even a computer mouse pad if you’re very careful. Using aluminum foil (the heavy duty weight works much better), crinkle it into a very loose ball. Carefully unfold the ball and smooth it flat, but do not attempt to remove the wrinkles. Let them remain in medium to deep crevices. Place the foil with the shiny side facing up onto your surface, but do not attach it. Using a dull pointed tool – a dulled pencil will work – emboss patterns in the foil. Spirals, letters and/or numbers, geometric figures, lines – all work well when applied over the crinkles in the foil.

When you are satisfied with your results, affix it to a piece of light- or medium-weight cardboard. I have used spray adhesive or acrylic matte medium or a thick glue such as Yes! However, you cannot rub on the foil to adhere it to the backing so I generally tap it gently with my fingers, and then use a pound bag of dry rice for a weight, usually leaving it overnight. Do not disturb it until completely dry. I usually cut the foil larger than the backing so I can wrap the foil around the edges. If I am making ATCs, I attach a second piece of paper to the back to hide the uneven foil and also provides a writing space for the particulars of the card (name of artist, title, number if part of a set,etc.)

Use two or three acrylic paints thinned half and half with water. Deep, jewel-toned colors work best against the silvery metal. Using a 1/2″ to 1″ wide brush (hardware store type) gently paint parts of the foil, using an almost dry brush technique. Let some of the foil show through. Work within the patterns you have embossed, or ignore the patterns and free style if you prefer. If you want the paint shinier, mix with acrylic gloss medium instead of water, though you may still need to thin it further.

There is really no need to do anything further if you are making ATCs. If you are using this for a larger background, add your collage, mixed-media material or complete as desired, being mindful of the fragility of the background.

Quotations V

The hours between two and dawn are like a gift that only a few unwrapped — a puzzling. luminous gift.
Joy Williams

I ain’t got no worries
‘Cause I’m not in a hurry.
Come and dance with me.
Take me by the hand.
I wanna hear some funky Dixieland.
Take me by the hand.
Doobie Brothers

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Henry David Thoreau

We live in deeds, not years;
in thoughts, not breaths;
in feelings, not figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart throbs.
The person lives most who thinks most;
feels the noblest, acts the best.
Philip James Bailey

You don’t get to choose how you die or when.
You can only decide how you are going to live.
Joan Baez

The smile on your face is the light in the window that tells people you are home.
Anon

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Fall Garden ATCs

A few garden ATCs for the beginning of the fall season.

Butterfly garden. Choose two colors of acrylic paints. Dry brush one color horizontally, leaving mostly white background; dry brush the second color vertically in the same manner. Don’t be neat here, just streak the background with some color. I used a sage green and a Wedgewood blue. Heat emboss 3 layers of UTEE over dried painted surface. (Stamp with VersaMark stamping pad, cover heavily with embossing powder – UTEE – and melt with heat gun.) I used a clear UTEE with blue sparkles. Ready a rubber stamp of a flower or garden-y item before applying the last layer. Immediately after melting the last embossing layer, ink and stamp pattern into still wet UTEE. Imprint will remain. Don’t stamp in the center; position off center. I used a medium blue Staz-On ink. I had a page of butterfly pictures, mostly done in light browns with highlights of blue, and collaged a rather large one onto the card at an angle, covering part of the (sun)flower.  I trimmed the butterfly parts that extended over the edge to fit the page and finished the surface with several coats of matte acrylic medium. (Use whatever picture you have – magazine cut-out, clip-art, digitalized image.)

Fall prairie . In September the tall grass prairies brown, and yellow goldenrod and purple aster flourish. I prepared the background of a 2 1/2″x3 1/2 ” white tagboard with a prairie blue sky – quite a vivid blue. I’ve been stockpiling fibers for years, and chose 5-7 kinds that reminded me of golden brown prairie grasses – variegated browns, golds, yellows; silky, fringed, twisted; and of medium and smaller diameters. I added some pale yellow baby yarn. I randomly applied these fibers to represent the prairie grasses: some erect, some blowing slightly; some stretching from top to bottom, others cut into smaller pieces, layering heavier towards the bottom. The look is rather a haphazard, natural one. I attached the heavy fibers using a spray adhesive and I finished the card by dabbing yellow and purple dabs of acrylic paint ‘flowers’ along the bottom inch using a cotton tipped applicator. Obviously this card cannot be protected by sealing, so I have mine in a clear protective card holder.

Simple Sunflower   Draw large black (or brown) ink sunflower near the center of card, stretching the petals off the two sides. I used a garden flower picture for a model and added as much life-like detail as I could, using mostly a dotting technique, rather like inked pointilism.  I did nothing else, except protect with two layers of matte medium and add an orangeish-rust faux wax seal to an upper corner.  A very simple, but appealing card.

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