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The one with the Zero Landfill Project

20 Apr

Happy Saturday!

So, I’m sitting in my art room, uploading pictures for this weeks post and I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. I turn my head and this is what I see:

turkeyYep, that’s a turkey folks. We live in what I believe is now called a bedroom community, so it’s not like we’re out in the country. But we do get a ton of wildlife walking through our yard; it’s just usually the backyard. In fact, earlier today, I saw the tail end of our coyote running at the bottom of the hill in our backyard into the woods. Anyhow, turkeys tickle me so I had to shoot a few pics.

Today, I had the opportunity to take advantage of the Zero Landfill Project.

ZLPI have been waiting for this since my friend and fellow artist, Robyn, told me about it last week. If you’ve never heard of the ZLP, it’s an upcycling project benefiting local artists and educators while reducing items thrown into landfills. They put out a call to local architectural firms, interior designers etc to donate all the samples they would normally throw out. And because the ZLP is so freaking cool, they GIVE all the stuff away for FREE. FREE! I was like a kid in a candy store.

Here are the treasures I left with:

ZLF 1Not a bad haul, huh? I was able to get enough for my own personal projects, some for a friend of mine who also does art journaling, some to use in the mixed media workshop I’m designing (don’t worry, when it’s ready, I will share it with you!) and some to split up for a few programs I’m working on over the summer (for my day job).

ZLP 3The wallpaper samples are amazing! Beautiful colors, some have incredible textures…..

ZLP 2And this beauty. It’s a sample book filled with vintage looking papers (I kept this one for myself!)

ZLP 4

I haven’t used a lot of fabric in my art, but now I have enough to last, well, quite a long time!

ZLP 5Beautiful! And some of the patterns have already inspired new ideas!

This fantastic event is over two weekends, so I’m going back next Saturday with Robyn. I encourage you to check out the site to see if they do this in your area. And if so, it’s well worth the trip. I was assured that there would be even more treasure to find next week and I can’t wait!!!

Let me know if you are lucky enough to have a ZLP in your area and if so, what treasures did you find?

Till next week,
Cheers!
Michelle

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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

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