Carving your own stamps

Have you ever wanted to make your own stamps? It may be easier than you thought! You can just carve patterns. Houses are always fun and fit into a variety of places in your art.  For the flower stamp, I used a flower shaped eraser!  The easy carve material from Speedball or Artist and Craftsman is much easier to carve than the erasers which are a bit harder rubber. I bought a carving set, but find I mostly use the curved tool for gouging out my pattern. For the face and dancing girl, I traced an image with a pencil onto tracing paper. I tried to transfer the image with graphite paper, but it wouldn’t stick. In desperation I just turned the pencil over and rubbed the back. Voila…a perfect image appeared! Much easier than I made it out to be.  It is really fun to stamp in black ink over your fancy gelli plate or dylusions spray backgrounds. I prefer the black Versafine stamp pad. It is waterproof and gives a great impression. Try it…you might like it!Stamps 001

Sketching and painting in a grid

sketchbooks016Sometimes you would like to sketch several small montages instead of a whole scene. On this first page I had gathered the fall leaves in Wisconsin and brought them inside to sketch.  Here is my process. My favorite everyday sketchbook is the Visual Journal by Strathmoresketchbooks017I use repositionable tape and section off the areas. (I re-use the tape for other pages and just keep it inside my cover.)Then I use watercolor washes to give the sections a cohesion even though each section will be a separate picture.sketchbooks018After painting in all the sections, or adding journaling in some, I remove the tape and have the option of writing in the empty lines.sketchbooks015This second page I did because the architecture in Balboa Park is quite intimidating to me.  By breaking it up into small sections, I am a little braver to capture some of the interesting details.  This is a simple technique that I hope you will try in your sketchbook. Now go make art!

Playing with Japanese brush painting and Chinese calligraphy

Recently I was introduced to a new discount store called Daiso.  In addition to other things, they had Japanese brushes and calligraphy paper for only $1.50 each.  As it happened, I just came across an old Chinese Calligraphy book and decided to combine the two cultures in today’s playtime.  I did five sheets of the calligraphy paper with the symbol for eternal.  It combines several strokes and  I found that a nice challenge. The only calligraphy of this kind I had practiced was my Japanese signature for my name, so it doesn’t come easily to me.

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With each combination, I found I did some things right and others not so right, or at least not like the sample.  What was interesting was that I kept changing what was better or missed the mark on each one. In paying attention to getting the first stroke straight, I forgot to make the next one the right proportion…sigh. On the first sheets I had also forgotten to take the extra water out of the brush near the ferrule with a paper towel.    But it was all play and my plan for these sheets is to use them as collage elements in my altered books. The thin paper will be wonderful as we should be able to see the elements underneath.

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I finished up my play session with bamboo. This is a subject I have practiced a lot and wanted to end with a positive feeling. I messed up on some parts, but it is still fun for me to paint, and again it will be torn up and glued into my altered books.

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So the next time you come up with art supplies or inspiration, combine a couple and see what you can come up with. I’d love to see what happens in your art space. Now go play!

Encaustic with nature’s materials

I’m still playing with my encaustic medium. I taught a class and learned this…limit the size to 10 students, you can’t plug in and run a griddle, melting pot, 3 heat tools, a quilting iron and a woodburning tool into one socket, even with a surge protector without blowing a fuse, and finally, your stuff will get really messy with melted wax drips and glitter!Art004

I have seen some lovely painted eucalyptus leaves lately and wanted to collect some for my class. There is a park nearby with a lot of good nature offerings so I collected bark, leaves, seed pods and some bits from a palm that look like little fans and some woven fibres. 

For this artwork I began with a 5×7 canvas board. I used modge podge to adhere a rectangle of brown handmade paper with gold flecks on about 1/2 the board and then overlapped that with a piece of yellow handmade paper with a torn edge. This gave me 3 background colors with the overlap making the 3rd color once the wax made it somewhat translucent.  I added a scalloped edge of gold paper rescued from a store bought cake cardboard.  Before adding any wax, I drew some branches and simple flower shapes with a black sharpie. I also signed the work. Then I layered the wax and began my additions. I stamped a feather, on the white piece of napkin you get after separating the layers, using versafine black. I added the feather, a piece of bark, three leaves, a fan shape and woven piece from the palm and some seed pods. Then I strung some gold beads on thin copper wire, looping the wire at intervals to separate the beads. I wanted to repeat the gold from the scalloped paper and the flecks in the brown paper. This helps to balance the art work when you carry the color around the work. Each time I added something, I melted wax for under and over the new piece. The beads were added last and come out of the artwork. I didn’t want to lose all the shine of the beads.

Encaustic on canvas by melting wax

I will be teaching a class on encaustics next week and my usual method of using the pellets and a tiny quilting iron doesn’t really work for more than one person. I was given a melting pot by Ranger and decided to try that with the wax medium(beeswax plus damar resin)and a bristle brush. I used a lot more wax which gives it a lot of depth. I had watched a lot of videos on image transfers on wax and it looked easy enough…unfortunately, didn’t work that well for me…more practice, I guess. I think I didn’t get the surface smooth enough to start with, perhaps didn’t burnish enough and was a little hasty with the removal of the paper. So I layered images, napkins, flowers and another image. Not fond of the outcome…so if anyone wants this one, speak up.

Art isn’t always about the outcome…sometimes it is learning what not to do. So here is my fail…but I’m not about to give up…now go play.

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Artsy figures to use in your Altered Books

class project016 Here are some fun figures to use in your altered books, art journals or collaged canvas’. First you take some colored 8 1/2″ x 11″ cardstock. I used colors from a Sugar Candy 50 sheet pack from Michaels. Next you loosely brush on some paint using a 3/4″ flat brush. I used Americana craft acrylic paints in Saffron Yellow, Irish Moss and Royal Fuchsia. The colors of paper and paint aren’t important…just use whatever you have on hand. Brush on one color at a time leaving your strokes showing and some paper underneath. I’ve done this with 2 colors on some sheets and 3 on others.class project013class project014class project015

After the paint dries, which is pretty quickly, you begin stamping. I use a variety of random stamps with one face stamp placed near the top of the page. The stamp pad used is Versafine in Onyx Black. After placing the face, randomly stamp 2-5 of the same image around the sheet, then change stamps and do the next in the same manner until the page is filled. It may be easier to start with the larger stamps after the face.class project019class project020

For your body shape, you may trace around a figure from a book, magazine, photo or use a template from a doll set or draw your own. I have some made of mylar or thin plastic and some from cardstock or manila folders. Trace around your templates and cut out the figures. The rest of the painted and stamped sheet can be used for other cut outs and collage pieces like flowers, stars, hearts and leaves. Often I will get out my box of stencils and keep cutting shapes until there is nothing left to work with.class project017

This is a fun and easy activity for any level of artist. Now go play! Artful hugs to you, linda