Archive for the ‘Ink’ Category

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.


ATC Ideas

More ideas to document while inspiration is fresh so I can come back and see which ideas I am interested in doing.

1. I took a picture recently of a nearby lake on a calm day; the reflection in the water was a perfect duplicate. Try doing a minimalist watercolor spread over 3 cards. (Use a larger piece of watercolor paper and trim into 3 cards after paint has dried for a panoramic spread and a set of 3.) Maybe use a charm with a lake theme in the lower corner of each card. Charm could be an anchor, sailboat, fish, nautical wheel, compass… Or attach a sparkly threesome of jewels.

2. The planets have been especially bright on these clear summer nights. I was relaxing in my backyard atop a small rise, when I was treated to a lovely sight – two falling stars, about 10 minutes apart. Inspiration for an artist trading card, very simply done. Dark background (for night sky), yellow acrylic paint for the two falling stars. Add glitter to the stars using a gold glitter pen. Using small cut-out letters from newspaper, junk mail or magazine, add a two word description either going along vertical side or positioned around a corner. Some thoughts – twin shooters, falling twins, night show, night glory.

3. Another idea for a shooting star card. Ink drawing, either simple or detailed, of the stars. Perhaps add a ringed Saturn or a red Mars with its lakes in the background. Use ink on white or a wash of paint on watercolor paper or other heavyweight paper like cardstock to keep it simple. Try embellishing by sewing yellow seed beads onto background.

4. Continuing on the night sky theme, wtaercolor a background with dark color. While still wet, sprinkle sea or kosher salt (larger grains than table salt) onto the paint. Let dry and brush off salt crystals. Embellish with ‘night lights’.

5. Using black, gray and white pictures from magazines, cut paper into 1 inch squares. Mix squares and glue sets of four on several ATCs. Draw a black ‘frame’ around each ‘inchie’ or leave as is for the minimalists. Make a simple mark (a zig-zag, Greek or Chinese letter, hieroglyph, etc.) in a contrasting color on each card, a slightly different mark on each card. Good technique for making sets of 9 – the ultimate set.

Fishy Set of ATCs – Another 6 Art Techniques

6. If you’re talented with rubber stamps and can make your own, try this. Make an angel fish, complete with stripes on body. Using cardstock and a Versamark stamp pad, ink the image and emboss using UTEE. Heat set. Tear blue or green paper into wavy strips and adhere to part of card for a ‘watery’ background. Do a light watercolor wash if desired.

7. Use your own idea for the background. Make an angel fish, cutting or tearing silvery and related colors of paper into mosaic pieces. Add bits for black stripes and seal with matte medium.

8. A silly idea. Good to be silly – who knows where your imagination will take you. Put the angel fish on stage. Draw a simple stage and add color. Add microphone. Arrange a dancing, singing fish balancing on its’ tail. (at an angle) Add a ballet or tap shoe or whatever. Maybe a cane and top hat. Use your imagination.

9. Crazy ideas are fun, too. Use crayon resist for angel fish and do it crazy! Is the fish on a picnic or sitting on a park bench? Smelling the garden or flying an airplane? Sillier the better. Have fun with this one.

10. Chalk background and set with spray if necessary. (Use spray outside or very well ventilated.) Apply two angel fish about 2/3rds down the card. Use coral (or another color) fibers to make ‘coral’ to hide the fish. Or make a bed of reeds for them to take cover in. (Reeds are their natural habitat – read the article listed under the angel fish picture.)

11. Use markers, black pen liner and glitter glue stick to make aquarium with angel fish and a school of neon tetras.

12. Using three colors of cardstock, cut 1 inch squares. Approximately 4 will cover card when leaving space between them. Cut to make them fit leaving 1/16th” in between. You can leave enough space on the bottom and one side for small script if you wish to add words. Use any kind of mark maker to draw tiny angel fish in 3 of the blocks. Make them all the same or different. Whatever. In one of the boxes draw tiny blue/red neon tetras. Apply squares in a grid using matte medium. Using a metallic pen, inscribe words if wanted. You can write ‘angel fish and tetras’ enough times to fill the space or write a true fact about the fish, find a quote or write your own colorful description.

Twelve ideas for an angel fish set of ATCs. You could do nine of the cards to make a nine card set to fill a plastic trading card holder (binder insert). Or store them in a metal band-aid box decorated aquarium style or with a modern design of silver and black lines. (Sand first so paint will adhere to surface.) Then you can take them out and enjoy handling or sharing them whenever you are so inspired.

Scrap Paper Embossing

Using matte acrylic medium, adhere newspaper print, ad copy or telephone book page (white or yellow) to heavyweight paper for the background. Add tiny pieces of contrasting scrap paper with UHU glue stick, overlapping some of the papers.  Cover at somewhat more than half of the surface. If necessary, smooth the small pieces on the surface with a brayer. Let dry completely.

Stamp with Versamark clear stamp pad. While still ink is still wet, sprinkle rust colored embossing powder over stamp ink (or use whatever color you like.) Shake off powder residue that did not adhere to ink, then use a heat gun to melt the embossing powder. Move heat gun over the surface until powder turns shiny. Add ephemera to the embossed collage. Consider vintage cherubs or children, image transfers or cut out words.

Emily, My Muse

Poem 2, by Miss Emily Dickinson, is presumed to be the second poem she wrote for possible publication. It was supposedly composed in 1850, but not published until 1894, after Emily had died in 1886. Upon Emily’s death, her sister Lavinia went through Emily’s papers. She discovered a small box filled with over 900 poems, tied into 60 simply constructed packets with twine. Lavinia went to a publishing acquaintance of Emily’s and insisted the poems be published. So in 1890 a selection of 115 poems were published and well-received by the public. At least seven more collections with Emily’s original poetry were published, the last one printed in 1945.

Today I read Poem #2. Four of the simple lines gave me the inspiration for artwork and a few lines of poetry or non-fiction. The verse sounds quite like a kindergarten class’s recitation, so I will create an altered book featuring Emily Dickinson, with 8 to 10 pages using Dickinson as the focal point. Since I am reading a poem a day of Emily’s, I should have plenty of imagination fodder. I need to remember to print a few words on each page if not the whole verse. I also might create several ATCs using the same basic kindergarten art techniques.


Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden
Where not a frost has been.

Using heavyweight watercolor paper or mat board. Cut a large-sized rectangle to serve as a collage base, at least 8″x11 1/2″, preferably 12″x15″. Cut remaining paper into several cards 2″x3″ to use for ATCs (artistic trading cards.) Since I am only doing 2 or 3 ATCs, I will put the rest of the paper cards aside to use at a later date.

Make the backgrounds using a technique with modeling paste (found at Michael’s or an art store, or through a mail order store like Spread the paste onto all of the papers, using a palette knife and covering the surfaces as if you were frosting a cake. Create a different texture by using the long side of an expired or junk mail credit card that has been cut like a saw’s cutting edge. Other textures can be made with a natural sponge, or an “art’s only” toothbrush or comb. Use your imagination and make texture on the papers until you are pleased with the designs. If you want a softer look, you can use white gesso instead of the paste, but I love the modeling paste’s peaks and valleys. They hold their shape and provide more texture.

Dry modeling paste completely. This will take several hours or possibly overnight. Pick two yellow shades of acrylics, ones that are next to each other on the color wheel. Mix some glazing medium or other transparent medium into each color, about 2/3rds paint and 1/3rd glaze. Apply the lighter color with a natural sponge, soaking the paint into the cracks to enhance the texture. While the first coat is still wet, rub the paint lightly with paper toweling. Remove paint from the surface, but the color remains in the cracks. When the paint dries until it is sticky to the touch, wipe again with damp paper toweling. Then apply the second coat of paint in a shade a bit darker and repeat the process.

Next, there are two methods to make the tree trunk. First method: Make a personal stamp using a small piece of linoleum block and cutting tools or a piece of transparent vinyl and an eXacto knife (from an art store or In this case, cut a stretched diamond, long and narrow, which will be used to stamp the roughened bark of the tree. Draw the shape of the tree you want, and using the homemade stamp, ink the shape with brown dye ink. Then add a slight (very slight) bit of black ink over the brown. Second method: tear a piece of a yellow phonebook paper from last year’s book. ( This is a wonderful thing to save for all types of mixed media art.) Paint a whole sheet of a yellow page with brown paint (you may mix in some glazing medium) and let the words show through a bit. Use two colors for more contrast if you want, but only if you use another shade of brown. It’s okay to be a little messy with the paint as long as you stay pretty much in the shapes. Dry the paper carefully, using a heat gun to speed drying time. (Do not hold heat gun too close, as the paper can burn.) Then tear paper — not cut, tear! — into the shape of a tree trunk kinda following the lines. Apply tree to the background paper or mat board using matte medium like a glue.

Take a small natural sponge, about an inch in diameter, dot in slightly dark green paint (so that it contrasts with the background) and splat paint in the shape of a tree-top, covering most of the width of the paper. Rinse sponge well. Then use red and pink paint to dab onto bottom of the paper to make a garden of bright flowers. Finally, accent with bingo blotters (, using green for the leaves and red for the centers of the flowers.

Emily, My Newest Muse

I bought a wonderful book yesterday, a solid tome of “The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.” These poems are in chronological order, which I consider a real plus. My plan is to read a poem a day (or maybe two, depending on length and depth). Then I’ll use an idea birthed from Emily’s wordsmithing to create an a-ha! inspiration for a new piece of art, preferably either collage or mixed media. I’ll try to do a piece once a week and post it here and on a Soul Food Cafe site. Also I’ll post my thoughts while brainstorming a new Emily Project on this site. Here is my first attempt.

The first poem was written Valentine week, 1850. The first three lines are the ones that speak to me.

The bee doth court the flower, the flower his suit receives,
And they make merry wedding, whose guests are hundred leaves.
The wind doth woo the branches, the branches they are won,
(And the father fond demandeth the maiden for his son.)
Emily Dickinson

Emily Project #1

The scene: bee on a flower, surrounded by 100 leaves. Use wooden shadowbox, preferably antique in nature (try antique stores, flea markets or auctions), but may be new (try Michael’s or a dollar store). If new, carefully antique with heavy acrylic paint, (coat one brown, coat two blue, blue dried partially then wiped off with rag, also ink and luminescent paint. Background ideas are: try gluing torn strips of a phone book (I still get blue pages in my phone book so I’ll use those) and covering with a light layer of gesso, fabric pillow ticking, watercolor paper wet well with water and spritzed with half light blue acrylic paint and half water. Or spritz watercolor with water until nice and wet, use light blue liquid watercolors to lightly paint much of the watercolor paper, then sprinkle with Kosher Salt and let dry. Could also consider taking dried, treated watercolor sheet and cutting it into 1 inch squares, then make a mosaic background. Before attaching the background to the box, map out placement of the tree placed according to rule of thirds. Perhaps the tree trunk and major branches can be made of found bark from the ground. Rule #1: Never pick anything off a live plant, unless you are picking flowers from your own garden. Plan on using paper leaves from the MM Company to dress the tree with exactly 100 leaves, making them appear wind-blown. Use a silk bee found in the silk flower section of Michael’s if nothing older can be found. Dress the ‘bee bride’ with scraps of white — silk, satin, ribbon, lace, fibers. Fashion a tiny veil if the right materials can be found, and fasten it to the bee’s head with a gold crown. Assemble. Apply background, then tree branches (paint more if needed.) Spread Yes! glue onto bottom and cover with coffee grounds mixed with greenery. Add some small twigs and rocks to the bottom. Place paper flowers cut and made 3D from my printed scrapbook paper stash (decorated on edges with complementary colors of dye ink and sprinkled with gold.) Attach bee to a focal flower. Add the first two lines of the poem to the background or around the inner edge. Find public domain (or other uncopyrighted picture to print) of a bumblebee. Copy five bees, glue one to each manila tag and tint in pastel colors. Attach tags to the bottom of the box on 6 to 10 inch pieces of fiber or ribbon.

Kiwi and Strawberries

I was inspired by my fruit salad that I recently made and then devoured. The quartered strawberries and slices of kiwi made me look twice. Design! I was struck by the beauty of the reds and greens, and by the simple shapes — circles and oddly shaped triangles. Plus the seeds in both fruits, especially the kiwi were a work of art in themselves. The kiwi’s seeds exploded like a star. They looked so fun! And how easy to paint. Easy to make the shapes painted in irregular shapes in watercolor. I used watercolor paper because I think I am going to cut the paper into cards for ATCs. Use a very fine point .025 (Is that right?) black Micron pen for the outlining and to add some simple details. Pretty enough to display or use as a background.