Archive | October, 2012

Art workshop

31 Oct

Happy Halloween to those of you who celebrate.

This past Saturday, I attended a fantastic art workshop at Plaza Artist Materials in downtown Nashville. Before I go any further, I want you to know I was not paid to write this post by anyone. I am writing this because I had a really good experience there and want to share with you all.

So, Plaza Arts offered a ton of free workshops from airbrush to matt cutting to color pencils to pen and ink (which caught my eye) to oil painting. But what really caught my eye was the acrylic workshop. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the blurb closely so I didn’t realize what a treat I was in for.

I was able to chat with the gentleman manning the Pentel pen booth (somehow, I didn’t catch his name) who helped me find a great pen to use in my journals. Not all pens write over acrylic paints, so this is a big deal for me. He let me try out various pens and markers and I settled on this beauty:

Said gentleman tried to show me where I could find it amongst all the other pens and markers in the store, but we couldn’t find it. He assured me that he would alert the store and then proceeded to give me the pen to take home and try out. I don’t know if you know this, but some of these pens/markers are expensive (upwards of $15 and more) so you can imagine my delight at getting to try one out for free. (Which I have and I love so guess who will continue to buy this pen?!)

I was able to rush through the rest of the booths before heading back to the warehouse where the acrylic workshop was set up. Bruce Baker, the GM, introduced the speaker and thanked everyone for coming. He then informed everyone that the $10 fee that we all agreed to had been waived because he really wanted the workshops to be an avenue to introduce folks to new mediums and give them a chance to try them for  free. This way, if someone discovered something new they liked, they could purchase it (say a new gel medium) and if not, no harm no foul. He said they asked folks to register for the class and pay the $10 fee so they had an idea of how many people would turn out (he even refunded money to people who already paid). I share this because there were over 30 people sitting there, waiting to hear about acrylic paints, and well, you do the math. I think it’s pretty classy of an establishment in this day and age to put their customers before profit.

Mr. Baker then went on to inform us that our speaker, Patti Brady, was in his opinion, the most knowledgeable person he knows (20 years in the business) of acrylic paints. After hearing her presentation, I have to agree. If I hadn’t know that Ms. Brady was an artist, one look at her would have convinced me and I mean this with the utmost respect. Ms. Brady stood before us with pink hair, a patterned top under another patterned dress (I don’t think I could have pulled it off, but it totally worked for her!) over leggings topped off with a chunky necklace that featured some type of buggy creature. I didn’t have my camera with me, but check out her website (she’s got a few photos there, but more importantly, you can view some of her artwork).

Ms. Brady briefly shared with us that she is the Working Artist Program Director for Golden Artist Colors. She has developed curriculum for acrylic classes for artists and art educators. If you’re still with me (I know this is text heavy, but I promise there are some photos coming) I will share a secret with you. I want to be Patti Brady when I grow up. She is so freaking cool! She has been an artist for over 20 years and has herself to thank for her position at Golden. Back in the day, she wrote Golden a proposal outlining what she’d like to do for the company. Obviously, they recognized how special she is!

So, back to her presentation. She told us that she was going to share all types of mediums: heavy body, fluids, open, gels, polymers, airbrush acrylics, interference, digital grounds, pastes, varnish; I felt like a kid about to be let into a candy store! She was going to take about each one and pass around a sample board where she used that item. So, she refereed us to our packets:

Our packets contained all kinds of goodies, but I love the color chart. Ms. Brady shared that each color chart is painted by hand and each artist signs it (mine was done by Laura). This color chart helped show the difference between modern and mineral pigments (I won’t go into it, but it was fascinating!)

It would be too much for me to try to share everything from that workshop, but I learned a lot, was inspired by her artwork and yes, I did even buy a fluid by Golden (as well as a much needed new brush). It was one of the fluids she shared with us called Quinacridone Crimson and it is a beautiful color!!

We were also treated to a goody bag of some different products. I can’t wait to try them out!

I could share so much more, but this is already pretty wordy. Again, this is not a promotion or advertisement and I wasn’t paid to write any of this. But I write about my art so I thought you might enjoy hearing about some of the products and experiences I have along the way.

Come back this Saturday for another art journal layout. And as always, I love to hear what you think. Please leave comments!

Cheers,
Michelle

Remember when I mentioned my photography?

28 Oct

Happy Saturday! I spent this afternoon at a cool workshop led by an amazing acrylic artist.  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything we learned today so you’ll have to check back on Wednesday to hear about it (and this will be a short post).

You may remember I mentioned my first love is photography if you read my About Me page (check it out, I added a photo…..of me…..I do prefer to be behind the camera, so having my pic up is, well, excruciating!) I digress. Anyhow, I mentioned that from time to time, I would share my photography and the time has come. So, here goes (and pardon the watermark, but I’ve heard horror stories):

There’s no theme here, sorry. I just picked a few that I really like. Now it’s your turn to share. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Cheers and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday!

Michelle

Hand print Halloween cards

21 Oct

I hope you all are enjoying your Saturday. As I was making my coffee this morning, I glanced out the kitchen window and was treated to the site of 3 deer walking through our yard. I love when that’s one of the first things I see in my day! After that, I got to spend time with a dear friend who brought tasty food from Whole Foods (YUM!) We dug into art supplies and she started her very own art journal.  An afternoon of paint, journals, laughter and good conversation. And I’m just finishing up my Halloween cards. What a perfect day!

What Halloween cards you ask? I will be happy to tell you. About a month before each holiday, I start planning a small gift and card for the kids in our families. For example, they all got hand dipped chocolate covered pretzels and handmade cards for Valentines this year:

So, last month, I started looking for inspiration on pinterest and I found this cute card  (I tried to post the photo but was unsuccessful). It was posted on the blog Meet the Dubiens so go check them out if you’re looking for fun crafts to do with the kids.

I have to tell you, I had a blast making them. I began by mixing my paint on wax paper. Once I found the right mix, I painted my hand.

Next, I pressed my hand onto some card stock. I probably made twice the amount of “monster bodies” than I used (did I mention I was having fun?!)

Once I picked out the hand prints I felt would make the best bodies, I cut them out and adhered them to the card. I used Golden Soft Gel Medium (it’s like Mod Podge, but so much better!) I then moved onto the face using paint chip samples for the eyeballs, and mouths cut out of models in magazine ads.

Finally, I added arms and legs and painted the back ground. They’re kinda silly, but they’re monsters so it’s alright. And they make me smile so I figure they’ll make the kids smile.

The cards will be sent along with candy corn covered popcorn (yep, I said candy corn covered popcorn. A good friend found a recipe for red-hot covered popcorn and we modified it a bit for Halloween).  What can I say, I love those kiddos!

I’d love to hear what you think of my monsters!

Cheers,
Michelle

Surprise, art in the mail (part 2)

14 Oct

Greetings! Last week, I shared the art card I made for my mom. I also told you that I would share with you the circle art journal that I started with her. But first, I should tell you about circle journals (or my version of them). I heard about this type of journal years ago and I guess it had been tucked away in some corner of my mind waiting for the day it would emerge.

That day was a little over 2 years ago, while I was still in the midst of trying to make some sense out of the unexpected passing of my dad. Not to digress, but I will tell you that he was the kindest, most gentle person you could have met and I miss him every day. Part of my journey through my grief included evaluating the relationships in my life. Those I would take care to work on if needed, to strengthen or just continue to build and those I would let go because as I just learned, life really is too short.

So, I turned to 2 of my favorite people, who happen to also be family members, and proposed this journal. I decorated a composition book (remember when I told you that I was having trouble with my iPhoto, well that’s the reason I’m not sharing what it looks like, but trust me, it’s pretty darned cool!). Anyhow, the idea is for the 3 of us to get to know each other better, as women, not the mothers we all are, the wives, professionals etc, but what makes us who we are. So, for the first few go rounds, I proposed the question. Sometimes, it’s a fun, light question, sometimes it deeper. And then I asked my cousin to take over, and boy, she hit us with a doozy (love ya cuz!)  We’ve all taken to making comments as we read through the others answers, and I have to be honest, sometimes, that’s my favorite part! And since we live in 3 different states, we have to mail it out (from me, to my sister-in-law to my cousin and back to me – hence the name, Circle Journal). It keeps us connected and it’s fun when you open your mailbox and see that envelope. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I asked some friends if they would be interested and so far, it’s in the middle of it’s second go round.

And this brings us to the journal I stared with my mom. My mom moved back to Vegas after my dad passed away. It’s hard to live so far apart and a few weeks ago, I realized that what we needed was, you guessed it, a circle journal. But this one would be different. Mom isn’t much of a journaler. But she is an artist and painting is her medium. So, I decided that we needed a circle art journal. I got this journal at the Curb Center’s Boot Camp back in August, and it’s the perfect size (3″ x 5″)to mail.

Here’s the inside page:

And here is my first entry:

Of course, I started with a layer of gesso. After that dried, I went with this pink background color. I used part of a gift bag as my patterned paper (on the left). I softened both the patterned paper and the paint with a thin layer of gesso.

I used crinkled plastic wrap lightly dabbed in paint to add some texture to the pages.

Close up of that texture:

I don’t have any circle stamps, so I used an old creamer lid. Not bad! The birds were found in my favorite local mag, Nashville Art Magazine.

I added pieces of newspaper (The Contributor – I like to recycle after reading the fantastic articles. Plus, I buy multiples each month so I can share a paper and use a paper). I ran the edges of the newsprint on a chocolate colored ink pad for some added definition and I softened each one with some gesso.

Finally, I hand wrote the following quote (you’re going to have to trust me on this, because much to my horror, I discovered that I forgot to take a picture of the final layout!) “Each morning we are born again. What we do today matters most.” I found this on pinterest, and it’s attributed to Buddha.

I got a very excited phone call from my mom when she received her envelope in the mail. She LOVES this idea. We’ve chatted since and she told me she’s sketching out her layout. I can’t wait to get it back. I can’t wait to see what she paints. And I’m so glad she’s excited about painting again! I already asked, and she has given me permission to share her pages.

So, is there someone in your life you can share a circle journal with? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,
Michelle

Surprise, art in the mail (part 1)

6 Oct

Last Wednesday, in my post about gesso (pronounced jes-oh), I shared a few photos of some works in progress. The intended recipient of said projects was my mom (who kindly reads Studio B) so I didn’t want to blow the surprise.  She lives out in Vegas and I’ve been telling her about these art cards that I started for the girls, and she read the post about making them, but she’s an artist and very visual like me  ( well, I guess I’m like her) so I thought she might like one for herself. Plus, I found these really cool stamps and got inspired!


I decided to also start a circle art journal with her (but you’ll have to check back next week to see that project….didn’t you read the title? This is Part One!).

Anyhow, you may recall this photo and my explanation that I wasn’t happy with how it was starting to unfold, so I covered it in gesso and changed up the orientation. And I’m so glad that I did! I repainted the background color and as I was working on that, I realized that another element that wasn’t working in the first version were the leaves. I had painted the tree first and then tried adding the leaves. All that did was cover up the branches I had painted and it looked kinda funny (I should have taken a photo of that, sorry). So this time, I decided to start with the leaves. And I used one of my very favorite tools – BUBBLE WRAP! I love me some bubble wrap. I cut a small strip and painted my leaf color on. Next, I pressed it onto my card a few times till it looked right (to my eye)  and this is how it started shaping up: So, now we’re getting somewhere! I repainted the tree (free-hand) and now we have this:

But I want it to mimic the stamp, so I add it and after a few final touches, we have this:

Not too shabby, I think. My mom loved it so I guess that’s what really counts. Let me know what you think.

Part Two (next Saturday, Oct 13) will reveal the second item I sent her: a mother daughter circle art journal. You won’t want to miss it!

Cheers,

Michelle

So, what exactly is gesso?

3 Oct

If you read my last post (and thank you if you did!) I ended by telling you that my dear friend Nancy was kind enough to share my blog on facebook with her friends. And her kind comments were accompanied with “But what exactly is gesso?” So, as promised, today is Wednesday and I’m going to tell you about Gesso.

Acrylic gesso is surface preparation material. It’s similar to white paint, but it’s thinner (nowadays it also comes in black and if you’re really adventurous, you can tint your gesso with a bit of paint).  It’s flexible and won’t crack on your surface. It primes your canvas (or whatever material you are using) gives it “teeth” or texture and allows the paint to go on without soaking into the surface. I suppose I could get all technical and tell you that traditional gesso is a white paint mixture consisting of binder mixed with chalk or gypsum, but that’s boring and really, I think you get the idea.

So, I begin all my art cards and journal pages with a generous coat of gesso. Once in a while I forget this important step (usually if I’m particularly inspired and can’t wait to start a page and I can tell right away. The paint kind of smears on instead of spreading nicely. But there are many other uses for gesso.

Sometimes I start a card or page that doesn’t quite turn out as I planned. Instead of scrapping it all together, I’ll cover it with gesso and start over. This art card, for example, wasn’t working vertically, so I decided to cover it and change up the orientation. The finished product was much better (I’ll share it in the near future)

You can use gesso to tone down a patterned paper you may use as a layer in a page, like I did here:

Or when that didn’t quite work, I painted over the gesso layer and then toned the paint color down with more gesso. You can still see the patterned paper through the layers so it looks more like it’s part of the page instead of sitting on top of it.

There are many, many more ways to use (can you stand to read that word again?!) gesso. Check out Mel Stampz for some really cool ideas.

I’ll share both of these projects in the near future. They are on their way to Las Vegas as we speak and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Once I know they have been received, I’ll share!

Cheers,
Michelle