Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Raven - Mixed Media Art Piece

My latest mixed media art piece - The Raven. I had a blast building this wood plaque up with plaster, pastels, hot beeswax and then shallow carving it down for some darker paints. While the raven is an iconic image, this was a recent memory for me. My girls and I were out running errands and came upon this tremendous raven sitting on a fence during a fiery sunset. It was just stunning and eerie  Of course, I was too late with my camera - as if it would have done my memory justice. I've wanted to recreate that spooky, beautiful moment for awhile now and am quite happy with this piece. Our memories are always so more vivid and alive than can be captured by film, this mixed media art is a bit closer to what feelings were invoked.

Seriously loving playing with plaster and paint!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Art Journal - The Daily Doodle

I have been really focused on learning and exploring new techniques, so much that my imagery ideas have been stalled. It's really fustrating to want to dive into a project, but not know exactly what designs to use. I've never been able to keep a consistent art journal. I write down ideas and sketches all the time, but they are scattered here and there. The art journals I've seen are so beautiful and meaty - I just don't have the time to dedicate to it, or at least I'd rather use that time working on the actual project. Then I decided that my art journal is just for me, to help me move forward. What I need to move forward is to be more comfortable with my drawing skills and to generate more image ideas. 

So, I started a daily doodle art journal. Just a boring composition book and a nice black pen. No colors, nothing else. Now, I'm not showing pictures to brag or in any way solicit praise. I'm not comfortable with my drawing, it's not a skill that has ever come easily to me. But it is a skill, it requires daily practice, it requires failing and learning. 

My first page of doodles is to help me move along in a project I've been wanting to do for awhile, it's titled "Flies In Your Honey". It's about how my husband and I do not fit in the state of Utah, the home of the beehive. We are flies, not bees..

The page today was inspired by a morning trip to the aquarium with Baby Girl. I have always been obsessed with jellyfish. They are graceful, translucent and not to be held down without a price to pay.

A friend of mine asked how I'm generating prompts for the doodles. For right now, I have a huge stack of project ideas with words already associated with them. I'm just going through my list of ideas and trying to create visions to go with them.

If you are not the crazy note taker that I am, but interested in some artistic word prompts.. Here are a few sites for you to enjoy. Not all of these are current or maintained, but they still provide a great base to work from.

Balzer Designs
Blacksburg Belle
Daisy Yellow
The Smashbook

Linking up to: Today's Creative Blog

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Playing With Fire - My First Dive Into Pyrography

Last week on Instagram, one of my online friends displayed a photo of her wood burned spoons. I fell in love! Pyrography is something that has always interested me, but I have never played with it. I was inspired to see how it can be used in such modern ways to create amazing art. Also given my latest love with playing on wood bases for encaustic and plaster art, it seemed like a natural technique to learn up on and incorporate.

My very first piece was this queso / cheese board that I just paired with kitchen towels and listed on Etsy.

I free hand sketched the design and just dove into it with my pyrography pen. I feel in love fast! Wood burning is not quick, it is a slow art that allows a level of meditation. If you try to force it to move quickly, you will not receive the desired results. You have to relax, man. Yeah, I need some more of that in my life!

The Halloween trinket box, I posted yesterday? The ghost bunny was wood burned first!

And what else I have been playing with?

A wood burned paper mache egg! I can't wait to finish this and paint in the dots with some metallic cream. This beast is not a normal egg shape,more like an ostrich egg and it will be some time before I finish. But working on it is the best reward!

If you are looking for a new medium to work in and would like to be forced to sllooowww down, pyrography is the way to go!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When The Stores Fail, DIY Carved Stamp

I have been working on this Halloween project demo and really wanted to add something to the background. Nothing super obvious or distracting, just something to layer up some depth. I thought it would be easy enough to find a polka dot, nope. Apparently the big box stores think plastic stencils are passe, but some of my favorite designers have been quite busy creating amazing ones.

What to do, what to do..

Well I have plenty of toys that would help me create my own stencil. I figured though if I was going to take the time to make my own, it should speak more of me rather than what is always expected. It would be easy enough to punch holes through some stencil plastic, but that just didn't seem right.

I decided that even though this would be a simple polka dot design, I wanted to hand carve a rubber stamp. It doesn't take long and you have full control over the final appearance. I started by stamping dots with the back of a pencil eraser - low tech, but effective! I then carved out the rubber around the circles. I varied the circles width - some bigger, some smaller. I love the final stamp - it's fun and perfect for what I needed.

For the Halloween project, I layered brown PanPastel chalk on the stamp and pressed down on the wood. Yup, you can totally stamp with them! A background that is layered, but doesn't scream out at you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

DIY - Salt Dough 'Thank You' Tags

It is amazing how much packaging of items can play a part in our level of happiness. I'm always striving to create cute shipping & packaging for my Etsy items. I want people to receive my item and feel like that special care was taken, that their purchase has become a memorable gift.

I've decided to raise the bar a bit and make something a bit extra to show my appreciation. This afternoon I decided I would create salt dough gift tags. There are a number of DIY salt dough recipes on the internet, but if you are interested, the one I used is here. After rolling them out, I used my Making Memories metal tag stamps to create the "Thank You". Metal stamps are pretty popular these days; you should be able to find them in your local craft store or even some hardware stores like Harbor Freight.

Once these come out of the oven, I will give them a light wash of color and highlight the text. Then pull a yummy ribbon or baker's twine through them and wrap them up with my outgoing orders.

It seems like these days customer service is so rare that we remember the few places we find it.
I hope this will help my clients feel treasured and appreciated!

Linking up to: Today's Creative Blog

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Shallow Carved Mixed Media Mirror

A few months ago I picked up Plaster Studio: Mixed-Media Techniques for Painting, Casting and Carving with the hopes of learning some new mixed media techniques. And boy did I ever! It is rare these days that I find a book that I want to completely devour and every page has insightful new techniques. If you don't have this book in your library at home, you need to. It's pure awesome.

Two weeks ago I had reached a mental block with sewing and needed to move into a different media. I started playing with plaster and didn't stop. Then to top off my excitement with a bit of heartbreak, I read online that Jenny Doh was hosting Stephanie Lee, one of the authors, to teach a class on her book. Oy. Some days I miss my California home badly, those days usually coincide with Jenny's class announcements. From all the pictures on Instagram from that class, yeah I was bummed! I decided that I would pretend to be at the class and join in on the fun.
I brought out this plastered wood mirror that I had started and just went to town on it. Layers of burnt umber, mustard yellow and evergreen. Then a shallow carving of a single feather. And yes, I sweated over that one. I figured I had one good try to make it right or I'd be back to square one. Luckily I didn't choke and I'm pretty happy with it.

I thought it needed a little something extra, I decided to carve a small word of inspiration.. "fly".

Though I'm sure it doesn't compare to taking a class with Stephanie, it was still so much fun to make. I just added the mirror to my Etsy site if you are interested.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Our Romantic Night Away - Armstrong Mansion

It has been several months since my parents have been able to visit us. My mother had major surgery on her foot and is just now able to get around with crutches. We took this opportunity to get away for the night, one last time before Baby Tommy makes his arrival in June.

I found a fabulous getaway on KSL Deals for The Armstrong Mansion. When I called to make the reservation I had not taken the time to visit their website. I only knew that we were in desperate need for a little time away and I was eager to get it booked. When I called my only request was to have a comfortable bed since I would be starting my 5th month of preggerhood and sleeping was difficult. They recommended the "December" room and it sounded great to me. I still wasn't sure what the room name referred to and still didn't take the time to check out their site.

Well, what an amazing and romantic surprise that was waiting for us! Each room in the Armstrong Mansion is connected to a month of the year and is appropriately themed. This is a peek at our truly beautiful December room..

The bedroom was massive with vaulted ceilings and a chandelier. As a true Christmas lover, I was delighted over the lit Christmas tree and decorations. The bed was soft and overflowed with pillows. It was more than I ever could have imagined. Romantic, cozy and ever so inviting. When we departed for our dinner, we were asked to call before we returned so that they would have time for the romantic service to the room. And what did that include?

When we returned there were soft bathrobes laid across the bed, chocolates waiting to be nibbled, sparkling cider on ice and a plethora of lit candles in our amazing jetted tub. Truly everything I could have hoped for and much more.

And of course my body would not allow me to sleep in. Oh the irony! While we waited for breakfast, we indulged in a hot bubble bath in the jetted tub fit for two. I don't think I've ever started a day so relaxed.. ever.

The dining room is charming with the several delicate tables set for couples. The breakfast was delicious! A quiche with a hashbrown crust and an apple crumble that was divine. That coupled with several servings of apple spice tea and I was not wanting to do anything but chat with my Hubby and enjoy the serenity.

I can not say enough good things about the Armstrong Mansion. It is the perfect getaway for couples local to Salt Lake and an amazing respite for those traveling from out of state. From what I could tell we had one of the most special rooms in the mansion. Though the June and February room also look incredibly romantic.

I can not wait to get back for a little romantic jaunt with my husband! They still have the deal on KSL for those that are interested. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Be Brave - Embroidery

The other night while watching TV with my Hubby, I started to miss all my embroidery floss and decided to just create something on a piece of cream linen. Between all the Valentine's day items in the store and our nonstop Brave marathon while the girls were sick, I had arrows on the mind.

This is what I came up with. A quick little embroidery that my eldest daughter instantly fell in love with. Honestly I was hesitant to hand it over to her. I had wanted to do a patchwork bag or something similar to list on Etsy. But her birthday is just around the corner *and* it is a Brave theme. It was too perfect to ignore. I've decided to patchwork this bit into a birthday dress for her.

I am more than a happy to create this into a printable PDF embroidery pattern if there is any interest. Just drop me a comment if you would like it and I'll work it up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wax On, Wax Off

I can't help it! I have fallen in love with melted beeswax and plaster!! This past weekend I had an extraordinary amount of time in the studio and just played the days away.

First off is "The Gilded Memory". I know, I know.. put a bird on it.. But I can't help loving the imagery and the meaning behind bird cages. This started as an ordinary heart paper mache box. While I was playing with plaster earlier, I had a bit of excess and decided to shmear it all over the lid. It gave me awesome depth and such a fun background to work with. There is cream and pink paint along with a gold glittery wash. I spritzed some Glimmer Mist. There is an original postcard from 1910, lace and book pages in French. Lots of yummy, hot wax to finish it off.

Next up is a piece in my Dark Carnivale series. I'm actually still working on I - Double Trouble, and it will be a bit before that is completed since it a quite large fabric collage. This one is II - The Magic Eye.

This one started on a 12" square mounted canvas. I originally layered joint compound and strips of plaster. Then it was iced in a thick layer of white gesso. I had fun painting the background with acrylics, fluid watercolor, and oil pastels. I wasn't sure where I was going with it at first and then it seemed perfect. This image was one that I sketched a few months ago when I decided to create the series. After the first layer of paint, I collaged fabric on top for the eye, banner, and circle. I then came back with more paint and darkened it up. All topped with of course.. hot beeswax. I wish this picture did it some justice. The layers of plaster and paint give it an incredible depth and texture.

Next up for the Dark Carnivale? A lizardish man on a high wheel bicycle. I'm not sure which medium I'll use to create it yet..

Monday, February 4, 2013

Curiosity Only Inspired The Cat

I have been accused of having ADD when it comes to my creative pursuits. I was told that most recently about 6 months ago and it was implied that I easily lost focus. I can not begin to tell you how much I disagree with this idea.

Yes, I typically have 5+ projects in the works at all time. Yes, most of those projects are created with different media forms. It is not rare for me to have a project in crochet, hand embroidery, an art quilt, mixed media and a bed quilt on my mid-arm.

For a number of reasons that are not unique to me. A number of my projects are time intensive and meaningful to me. Therefore they are physically and emotionally draining. I need breaks from them to be able to come back and work fresh. I do complete my projects in my own time.

I am inspired by life. I'm inspired by popular culture, by other artists, by my crazy Tim Burtonesque dreams, and more. Not all of these ideas can be created with the same media form. By working with paints one day, I can come back to a different quilt and have a new insight.

It is my firm belief that ALL Creatives are inspired in countless ways. It is their curiosity for ALL things that fuel the creative process. It's not ADD, it's feeding your creative spirit. And when I refer to Creatives, I do not limit it to artists. I think of scientists, engineers, musicians, and more. Anyone that could look at life with a slightly different view in the hopes of creation, is a Creative in my book.

This morning as I dropped my daughter off at preschool, she noticed the frost on the metal fence and was instantly fascinated. We were late for class so that she and her sister could look at it, touch it, and ask questions.

Curiosity did not kill the cat.
It inspired her.

Take some time today to view your world like a child.
To be passionately, insatiably curious.
Who knows what will bloom.


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