Making backgrounds with Kids Fingerpaints

Art011Making backgrounds with Kids Fingerpaints

Sometimes you just have to play! I made this beautiful background using fingerpaints from a dollar store. The background is canvas paper.  I used my fingers…what else! On some of the papers I used a stamp of a flower. If you use a rubber stamp be sure to clean it right away, although the fingerpaints may clean up easier than acrylics. I blended colors and patted and smeared. Then I  used punchinella to pounce through and print with. I don’t think I’ve used this background yet, but have lots of ideas on how to use it. It would be great for atcs, altered books, journal pages and mixed media canvas’. I generally photocopy my backgrounds before cutting them up so I can use them in other art. I think it is time to go play…just have fun with it!


Zentangle-inspired mixed media canvas

Zentangle-inspired mixed media canvas

I taught this class last Sunday at Fred’s Mexican restaurant in Old Town through We had a great time, but these intricate patterns take a long time to complete. First we covered an 8×10 stretched canvas with text from old books. I love to collect books from used book stores in different languages. I especially love it when the pages are a deep brown on the edges indicative of age. We tear the pages into interesting shapes…not whole pages or all squares. We arrange them in different directions. We adhere the text with mod podge under and over. Then we adhere a copyright free image and let the whole thing really dry. The words come next which are best applied with IDentipens. I like to use the thin side for the lines and the thick side for the text. As you can see, I repeat or carry the patterns from one side of the canvas to another to create a harmonious composition. Some areas are colored in with pens. Lastly, burnt sienna was floated in the image shadows and around the patterns with an angle shader brush. The canvas is then coated with several layers of mod podge or varnish. Now go try it yourself, okay?

Sketching on location

class pics019ImageThis morning I sketched on location at Misson Trails park in San Diego.  It is near my house.  My usual sketch kit consists of a waterproof black pen, travel watercolor set, paper towel, small bottle of water and some textures, and a sketch book. Currently I am using a Strathmore Visual Journal, 5.5×8, watercolor book. I use Pigma 01 and 03, stadler pens or Prismacolor in waterproof black. Today I did my sketch with an elegant writer pen by Speedball. It has a calligraphy tip and bleeds when you touch it with water.  I have 3 watercolor sets. Two are the Koi by Sakura in 12 and 24 colors. I like these because they come with a wonderful water brush. I also carry an extra water brush, green in color, by Kuretake.  I like my windsor-newton paint set because it is so tiny, but it only comes with a small travel brush. Water brushes are so convenient because you don’t need an extra water source. I carry the small hotel shampoo size water as a back-up or to wet the brush when it isn’t flowing as much as I’d like.

My process is to sketch in pen on location getting down simple lines. I am not interested in making a realistic, detailed painting…only my impression of the scene.  I guess I do okay as two of my travel journals have been published in Somerset studio’s ArtJournaling magazine.   After the sketch I will watercolor in the scene ignoring lines I may have made in error.  Then I may add details with the pen again.

So, give it a try. Sketching on location will enhance your experience. You will see details you may have missed and remember the scene more vividly later.




Mixed Media Canvas

Today I’ll be teaching an inspiresdstudio class on a mixed media canvas. So I’ll share a brief description of the process.  We will work on a stretched canvas. I will demo on 8×10, but the class will work on 11×14.  The first step is a brush blended background. I always use a lot of warm white plus 2 or 3 other colors. It is good to keep the background light at this stage so tissue papers and napkin patterns show up. Load a large flat brush with the warm white and tip a corner in another color. Start in one corner and do criss-cross strokes covering the area and sides. Each time you re-load the brush (without adding water or rinsing in between)start with more warm white and pick up some color. Work quickly so the applications blend with each other. (When I do this at home, I just pour the paint on the canvas, but students often use waaaay too much paint. If i have too much paint, I just smoosh the excess on an altered book page spread.)

Next step is to choose an image and napkins, papers, text in your color scheme. I get my images from the book pictured below. I copy and cut them all out in advance.  Then tear and  arrange the papers, balancing the color, having the patterns in more than one place and including your image placement. Once you have them arranged, you can start to mod podge them in place, beginning with the papers that will be underneath others.

The last steps are to float color on the edges, float a shadow around the image and ground it if necessary, use punchinella to connect shapes and other texture if desired. I sometimes paint in the flesh with a mix of red, yellow and white. Sometimes I just float some burnt sienna in the shadows. I usually add some of my background color to her clothing in washes. You can finish with several coats of mod podge or varnish.ImageImageImage  These canvas’ can have further embellishments that are dimensional. I’ve made them with silk flowers and wood pieces.

The canvas’ pictured above are early stage and finished. Now go make art!

Making Faces

It is always fun to add faces and figures to my art and altered books. I have been playing with this idea lately in my altered books and I’d like to share a couple of them here. If I was gifted with a natural drawing ability for people, I might just draw them. But just like many others, I need some tricks to accomplish the task! In these two examples, I first chose a nice magazine photo of a face. Now, as copyright dictates, if I want to publish the photo, I need to get permission. So, by the time I’m done, you don’t recognize the photo at all.

I mod podge the photo onto a book page. With my fingers(I’ve been doing this a lot lately…no brushes to clean)I smear on some white gesso over the whole face. I’m careful with the eyes, nostrils and mouth and make sure, sometimes with extra water, to make this layer of gesso see-through. I apply a good white coat down the middle of the nose. Then again with my fingers start to apply paint, this time turquoise, to the shadows…around the hairline, along the nose, under the chin. I alter the nose line and other places so the new face is my own creation. I did a fingertip of blue on the eyes. Then I used an orange pearl on the rest of the face. I used a little red on the cheeks and forehead and perhaps other places. Keep it loose and fun. The more interesting the colors, the more interesting the outcome.  We aren’t going for reality here.  One painting I used a pen to outline the features and add hair. The other I just used it on the jawline and for the lashes. Sometimes I’ll use my Sakura gelly roll pen for the whites of the eyes, and the highlight marks on eyes, nose and lips.  

I hope this inspires you to play in a new way with your art today. See you again soon. Please let me know if you find this helpful, okay?ImageImage

Sample poster for street fair

Today I made a sample poster for an upcoming streetfair in San Diego.  We have a booth to promote the business I teach through, Inspiresdstudio.  I will be selling some small encaustics and whatever else I can find around here…rocks, visors, etc.  While we’re there, we will have make and takes and I’m in charge of the Inspire bookmarks.  Later this week I have a class in a zentangle-inspired mixed media canvas.  So we will do patterns on the bookmark.  On the pics, the part I did in pencil didn’t show up…sorry.  The poster was too big for the scanner, so it is in two parts.

Here is the sample for the class as well. I start by putting text all over the stretched canvas with mod podge.  Then I add a copyright free image. Each person chooses their own…as well as their own saying and choice of patterns. This is why I love this company…it encourages creativity and individual expression.  We include all the materials and lead you through the process so there is never any skill needed!

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Melted wax inchies on canvas

As promised…here is the other artwork I did yesterday. It is melted wax inchies on a black canvas.  Inchies are simply art work cut into 1″x1″ pieces.  The black really sets the colors off nicely. I did 2 coats of black acrylic on the white canvas.  I melt crayons on a warming tray and lay paper on top and peel it off for a monoprint.  I usually use 4×4″ papers, or 3″x5″ or even smaller.  That way I have lots of those nice edge pieces to choose from.  Sometimes I do a batch of like colors and sometimes I just play and use whatever floats my boat.  This is easy enough for kids and a good way to use up old crayons.  The warming trays can be found at thrift stores and were popular in the 70s.

When I was arranging these pieces, I thought they looked like flowers, as did my daughter.   But then when it was all glued (I use Aleene’s tacky glue) together, both my daughter and I saw the “Monkey in the Middle” . Made us chuckle.  I used a Sakura gelly roll pen for the signature and titleclass pics009