Carole's Creativities

A place for sharing my 2006 art journals and related creative explorations.

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Location: Castleton, VA

I am a creative type living in the hills of rural Virginia. I'm trying to transform my geek career into an art career but the two keep joining forces in a seeming conspiracy to complicate my life. Or is it just part of the Big Plan? Hmmmmm. I wonder.

January 19, 2006

Playing with Knives





I adore hand carved stamps. Been wanting to get more focused (buahahaha, as if that was even possible!) and make a bunch to use in one of my zine tutorials, so I joined this Yahoo group called Artists of the Round Table. A group of us are going to be working in a structured way (with lesson plans and everything!) through Gloria Page's EXCELLENT book Art Stamping Workshop to develop our stamp carving skills. If I don't cut my finger off, I expect it should be a really worthwhile activity because I adore the look of hand-carved stamps. That image above was made with a stamp I carved from a 30-cent pink eraser in about 5 minutes, with no plan...just freehand. I love how it turned out...can't wait to dig in (please excuse the pun) to my more expensive soft blocks...the pink eraser carved fine but those soft blocks are like butter.

So far this year, I've stayed on track to my commitment to do some kind of art every day...much of it is for the zine and doesn't get reported here, but it's still art and I am enjoying the DailyDevotions365Days Yahoo group that keeps me focused on that commitment.

Been riding my exercise bike regularly, too...another commitment being upheld. Gosh, it's almost like I mean it. Now....if only I could figure out how to do art stuff during the boring 20 to 30 minutes that I am pedaling....hmmm....must ponder that one...

January 18, 2006

Fusion Stenciling...Trippy and Fantabulous

For the last couple of days, I've been working out the details and creating samples for a new technique which I'll share in the "What If?" section of upcoming Issue 4 of my zine Paperpourri...I call this technique Fusion Stenciling. It involves inkjet photo paper, water media, hand-cut stencils, and fast fingers. Results are trippy, slightly out of control, and always visually interesting. Does art get any better than that?!

Here are a few samples from the dozens I've made:



Are those alien dancers?



Is that a cosmic sunflower?



Is that a lakeside monolith at sunset?

Don't you LOVE the way there seem to be images half concealed in the color and how, the longer you stare, the more you see? Besides that, the colors are fantabulous. Scanning doesn't do them justice--in real life, they are pop-your-eyeballs-out vivid.

January 14, 2006

Getting the Word Out

Marketing for my zine and classes is much on my mind. When I came across Jeffrey Yamaguchi's delightful, smart, and funny Get the Word Out suggestions, I somehow got the idea to use them as the basis of a "Business Development Journal" type thing which I could use for inspiration and to store ideas, progress, etc...I had in mind a folio type thing that looked well used, messy, and overstuffed. I printed out JY's wisdom, made a list of his 30 suggestions, distressed that, then tore them all apart. Then I cut a 3 ring binder down to 2 ring size, punched holes in 31 half size kraft envies, and glued one step and its associated text to each envie and mounted them all in the binder. The 31st envie lives in the front of the binder and is for stuffing with ideas that don't have their own envies yet. I'm looking forward to feeding this journal! Thanks for the great inspiration, Mr. Yamaguchi. Some images:









The paragraph above is one Yamaguchi's suggestions for getting the word out about your project and it's worth repeating here: Get rid of your television. I can't believe how much time people waste passively staring at the idiot box--time they could be using to DO something instead of wishing tomorrow that they had done something today. Here's some food for thought on that topic. We'd probably all be better off with a Turn Off Your PC mentality, too. While computers and the Internet are a large part of how I get my work done and the word about it out there, the computer is a voracious and seductive time vampire.

Back to Yamaguchi...I am charmed and amused by his work. His book 52 Projectssounds intriguing; I'm about to order it from the Big A. His book Working for the Man is worth reading too for us corporate escapees or those still chained to The Man. Here are some stories from it. JY's blog is Bookmouth, also an interesting read.

Playing with Paint on 1/13/06



A local (60 miles from my house, but around here that IS not out of the realm of being "local") stamping store (Cami's Paperpie in Purcellville VA, probably one of the most beautiful stores I've ever seen) hosts an Artists' Circle on the second Friday of each month. A small group of us...usually no more than 10...get together to swap ATCs, share art we have created since our last meeting, and then one of us leads a mini workshop to share a technique or a project how-to. It is a wonderful, energizing, talented group! So that's where I spent my Friday the 13th.

Our project was a background paper technique (thanks, Leiann!) that involved drenching paper towels with various colors of liquid watercolors and other water soluble media, then sandwiching the wet paper towel between other sheets of paper and brayering heavily. This resulted in the wet pigment transferring to the other layers in the sandwich, resulting in some really coooool papers. Sometimes, we placed stencils in the sandwich which affected how the pigments transferred to other layers during the brayering....my favorite result is shown above. The stencil was a snowflake I free-hand cut from a square of card stock. Aren't those colors GORGEOUS? I'm thinking about framing this piece, I love it so much.

The technique we explored was inspired by a workshop given by Traci Bautista which one of our members had attended. Very cool technique though messy! But in my mind, MESSY equals CREATIVE equals FUN!

January 12, 2006

No Rules, Just Right

Whoever thought up that slogan is speaking my language. Funny, though, that I can't mentally connect the slogan with its product at the moment. Heck--for that matter, maybe I'm not even remembering the slogan correctly. But the sentiment is near and dear to my heart. I was reminded of that by a gal who emailed to thank me for posting explanations about how I was texturing ATCs with gel medium and other stuff (like I described in other posts here). She said I had "given her permission" to actually sit down and play with new products she had without feeling confined by the manufacturer's instructions. BRAVO! That made me so happy to hear that I inspired someone to explore and PLAY!

When it comes to new art products, I tend to read packaged instructions only as a last resort--if ever. With unfamiliar techniques, I skim the steps then jump in without a backward glance. Yeah....I risk making some mistakes, screwing up, wasting product. Big deal. The upside is that in figuring stuff out through experimentation, a new technique or application might reveal itself along the way. Ya never know.

Crayola Colors We'd Like to See: Poop Brown

Today, I re-shot the video for the doll tutorial in Paperpourri #4. This was AFTER I noticed that my tripod (which I had hanging from the ceiling to get the right angle) was about to fall apart and drop my expensive video camera crashing to the floor. Yikes. For once, I was able to avert disaster, this time with contact cement. Anyway, I'm glad I did the video over because a) it looks way better than the first effort and b) this doll is cuter than the one in the other video. Could have something to do with the earthy colors...I've always liked brown. Reminds of when I was in kindergarten. I had this poop-brown dress with a waistband embroidered with cute flowers. I LOVED that dress and wanted to wear it every day. I was forever arguing with my mom to let me wear it. Funny how it disappeared over the summer and I never saw it again. Took me about 5 years to realize that! Yeah, duh, I can be a little slow sometimes...

But anyway, here's the new doll...now I'm deep into the process of editing and narrating the video for this tutorial and that should keep me busy for a day or two.


January 11, 2006

Week 2: Mid-Week Art Update

Posting every day is probably not realistic if I want to get anything else done, so I'm aiming to do an update every few days but no less than weekly. The focus on art that my Daily Devotions commitment encourages is SO good! Plus, in some weird way, it's setting up a good vibe for also staying on task with my diet. At the end of this year, I can only hope not only that I've been more productive art wise, but that I'm also a leaner, fitter me!

January 8. We spent a goodly amount of time delivering a donkey we sold to his new owners and then just got busy with other stuff, so not much art happened today...but at bedtime, I did go through a stack of old Somerset Studio and other art mags, just filling my brain with "stuff." I figure if I go to sleep with some of these images and ideas swirling around in my head, they'll worm their way into my subconcious and morph into something usefully my own that can be reflected in my art.

January 9. I joined an ATC swap with the theme of Farm Animals. Since I'm still in love with this idea of pressing stamps into goop, that's what I did on my cards for this swap. This time, I mixed a little metallic gold paint with Golden's Gloss Gel Medium and scraped some onto card stock I had spritzed with water and then with Ranger Color Washes. Love those Color Washes lots. LOTS. Then I pressed a rooster stamp into the goop and let it dry. Finally, I stamped a couple of other stamps in StazOn Blazing Red. I just love how you can turn these cards in the light and the combo of metallic paint and textured image changes what you see as you do that. Here's the card I made:


The stamps I used on this ATC are from Qwikart Art Stamps.

January 10. Shot the video for the doll tutorial for Paperpourri #4...I've set up my video equipment a little differently now that I'm in a different studio space. I have the camera mounted overhead, so it shoots straight down onto the project as I work it. I'm not thrilled with this angle, so will probably re-shoot this project with the camera mounted above my left shoulder so that it's looking at the project at a bit of an angle downward. More natural perspective that way for viewers. Also, need to zoom in a little tighter on the project so people can see more detail while I work. Lots to remember and do while videotaping...even after 4 issues, I sometimes look at what I've produced and make retching sounds, it's so bad. At any rate, here's the doll I made on the first videotaping effort for this tutorial:


The doll's face is made with a cool stamp from Cardsnstamps, my Issue 4 sponsor. The arms are from a template I drew myself and which will be provided as an Art Goodie in Issue 4.

January 07, 2006

Art in Motion

There wasn't supposed to be much time for "me" art today, because two friends were going to come over...one to do some target shooting with her new rifle and another who wanted to learn a couple of techniques from me that she'd seen in my art. So it was going to be a fun day but not necessarily a "me" day, ya know? But as it turned out, both gals rescheduled their visits and suddenly I had an entire day free of any obligations. This is pretty rare. Guess where I decided to spend it? Yup, in my studio which I love so much.


The first thing I worked on was the piece shown above. It's for a collaborative journaling project with a fellow artist in NY who is also building an art-based life/business. The general theme is "a life of art in motion" and figuring out how to steer it in the right direction. We're going to do it dialog fashion...I'll do a page in my journal and ship it off to her and she'll do a response page with her musings about the topic my page explores. We'll do a similar thing with her journal. I'm providing the journals, which only have 9 sheets of cardstock in them so this project hopefully will wrap up by the end of the year. I think it's going to be fun! The piece I did today demonstrates why I love "messy" art so much. The reddish streak that wends down and toward the reaching figure looks like it was deliberately put there but in fact, it's just bleed-through from the spray washes used on the title page. Once I glazed over this page with gold metallic acrylic paint, it blended the bleed-through and made it look like it was an intentional part of the design. The funny part is that when I was placing the figure (drawn freehand with dimensional fabric paint), I never even noticed the relative position of the streak, but now to me it appears as if she is being struck by lightning...or is that inspiration flowing down into her??? I'm really pleased with how this turned out.

The other art stuff I did today was work on my zine Paperpourri. I did some programming tasks for awhile and worked out the details for one of the art doll projects I'll videotape myself making tomorrow. The goal is to get Issue 4 done and headed everyone's way by the end of this month. And in another brainburst, I sat down and worked out ideas for several book arts classes I'd like to teach here this year. All in all, a VERY productive day. Now I'm ready to settle down and look through two great new books I got today: Gloria Page's Art Stamping Workshop and Lynne Perella's Alphabetica. They both look GORGEOUS and demand to be savored slowly with a nice hot cup of tea. What a great way to end my serendipitous day in the studio!

January 06, 2006

Feelin' Fossil-ey



I've been thinking about fossils lately (probably cuz I am beginning to resemble one). So the spackling paste that has been beckoning me to come hither for months was finally recruited for today's project. I used a fat popsicle stick to scoop a couple of blobs of the chalky stuff into a half cup plastic container, then thoroughly mixed in some matte gel medium. When that was blended, I poured in some Lumiere paint (Pewter and Metallic Olive Green) and a little bit of gold PearlEx, then swirled that mixture lightly, so it wasn't totally blended. Don't ask me how much of this or how much of that...I do art like I cook...I just wing it. If it doesn't work, who cares? But anyway...then I scraped a layer of this paste mixture onto a 4x4 piece of 140 lb watercolor paper, pulling the paste in a couple of different directions very quickly, leaving some ridges for texture. Then I got out my all-time-favorite stamp, a fern leaf from Plaid, and pressed it into the wet paste, removing it immediately. I set the page aside to dry, washed my stamp and went up to feed the starving masses (if I'm late getting up to the barn, 14 mini donkeys and 2 giant mules will summon me with a lovely chorus that echoes off the hillsides, making me even more popular with my neighbors than I already am; unlike doorbells and ringing phones, this is one summons that I will answer religiously cuz they're my babies!).

When I got back from doing barn chores and loving on my critters a little, the piece was dry, so I rubbed my gold and copper Brilliance pads across it this way and that, pressing harder at some points to work the pigment into the deeper crevices. Then I used a soft brush to dust on copper and green PearlEx in various locations. Finally, I attached a mica tile with some little brown brads to create a focal point on the fern. (I love those little brads. If I was a jewelry person, I'd be thinking about how I could stick 'em in my ear to wear as earrings.) So that's the story of this piece...I'm pleased with how it turned out AND it has the distinction of being the first of what I hope will be a weekly 4x4 page I'll make as part of my Daily Devotions art in 2006. At the end of the year, I'll bind all the 4x4s into a chunky book as a tribute to this Year of Art.

January 05, 2006

Can You Say Plantar Fasciitis?





That's my foot up there. That spot on the heel is the persistent and occasionally gasp-inducing pain that has been plaguing both my heels for a month or so now. Having a high threshold to pain, my first strategy was to ignore it, hoping it would heal itself or get bored with my inattention and go away. No such luck. I was bitching about it to a friend of mine who announced she'd had the same symptoms; her doc suggested stretching exercises. Then my sis-in-law told me she had gone to HER doc about the same problem and was diagnosed with "plantar fasciitis" (try saying PLAN-tar-fashee-EYE-tiss three times real fast). They suggested she do some expensive and annoyingly schedule-interrupting therapy to resolve the problem. She asked what the therapy involved, they told her, she did it herself, and she's much improved. I did some looking online and found a very informative site. So the therapy has begun with ice, stretching, more supportive shoes, and athletic tape. I hope it works. I had my fill of doctors last year and would like to avoid them this year.

Getting old sucks (though admittedly it's a lot better than the alternative). When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me, "All that running around, you're going to wear your body out. I have weak ankles. I married your mother because she had strong ankles. You got my ankles. Don't wear your body out." He was nutty anyway, so I didn't pay much attention. Hmmm. Maybe I should have. And besides, who's the crazy one now? I just brayered my foot with yellow citrus chalk ink so I could stamp it on the acrylic paint background I made this morning.


Disclaimer: This post is not a medical recommendation. If you croak because you tried something I advocated, supported, recommended or otherwise reported here, the fact that you fell out of the gene pool early is your problem.

January 04, 2006

Keeping Up the Pace



Horses are my comfort zone, my fallback when it comes to sketching in watercolor. Having drawn them obsessively since I was a small child, having endlessly practiced drawing nostrils, hooves, ears and other parts parts, having observed them close up and personal for 37 years, they come out of my pencil, pen, or brush with little effort. So when I sat down this morning to do my Daily Art Devotion, I decided to start with a watercolor sketch and of course a horse came out. I started with a quick stick figure in pencil then lightly formed up the outline, then developed the details with black watercolor and a #6 Filbert brush. I discovered that that brush is also wonderful for lettering. Who knew?! I might have to revisit calligraphy sometime soon. With a little practice, I know I could do some stuff I'd be pleased with.

After I painted the horse, I realized he is in a gait know as a pace, where both legs on the same side move in unison. Similar speed to a trot, but in the trot, diagonal pairs of legs move in unison. It may come as a surprise to some, but horses' legs move in specific patterns known as gaits. The typical gaits are walk, trot, canter, gallop. The pace is an unusual gait not often seen except in some harness racing horses and possibly in a handful of breeds bred for atypical gaits. Anyway, I guess it was serendipitous that this horse ended up pacing because I saw the instant connection to my keeping pace with my commitment to doing daily art. Interestingly, the word "pace" is used in numerous English idioms: keeping pace, pace yourself, put her through her paces, snail's pace, set the pace, can't stand the pace. Don't you just love The Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms at thefreedictionary.com?

January 03, 2006

Keeping the Chunky Book Faith


Narrow Escape

I love chunky books--the 4x4 size is about as addictive as ATCs. But of the four chunky book swaps I entered in 2005, two books and the hostess have disappeared into the ether, one book is finally on its way a half a year late, and another is 3 months overdue. Sigh. I won't get on my soapbox about people who sign up for swaps and then don't send their stuff in on time or hostesses who politely wait and wait and wait for late submissions. Suffice to say I get my stuff in on time and am a ruthless swap hostess. But I digress. I was successfully keeping the Chunky Book Itch at bay until I happened to be poking around over at Nervousness.org. There I found a swap for chunky book pages...send 5 pages a month, get 5 back. No commitment to play but guaranteed return if you did. That was right up my alley--and totally doable on a regular basis. If I play every month, in 6 months or a year, I'll have enough pages to bind my own chunky book. What a GREAT idea!

So today's Daily Devotion art is one of the pages from my first set of pages for that swap. Titled "Narrow Escape," here's how I made this little work of art:
  1. Slopped three colors of watercolor paint on a wetted 4x4 square of 140 lb watercolor paper.
  2. Glued some onion bag mesh to my brayer and inked it up with Pearlescent Sky Blue Brilliance ink and rolled it over the background in a couple of different directions.
  3. Inked up my favorite fish stamp from Qwikart Art Stamps with Colorbox Iris Blue chalk ink and stamped the image.
  4. Painted the fish using three different colors of Twinkling H20's.
  5. Colored the eye of the fish with a Krylon copper leafing pen, then made a black pupil with a black marker.
  6. Sponged metallic gold acrylic paint on a scrap of that onion bag mesh, then sewed it onto the image with metallic embroidery thread, adding some gold seed beeds as embellishments.
  7. Used the leftover gold paint on my sponge to lightly "dust" the edges of the image.
  8. Edged the card on three sides with the Krylon copper.
  9. Covered the back of the image with some hand-painted background paper I made, then stamped it with my "I Made This" signature stamp.
Now I am very curious to see what I get back!

January 02, 2006

Art on the Throne

It does seem like my days are wall-to-wall busy, so I've been thinking about ways to fit a little personal art into each day. Here's one crazy idea I thought of: I could keep my journal and a nice selection of markers in the bathroom...is anyone really going to notice if I excuse myself to use the restroom a couple of extra times a day?

Hmmm...all good ideas need to be tried: here's my "bathroom" art from today:



I dunno. It's hard to write while seated on the throne. Think my husband will look at me funny if I ask him to build me a movable mini desk in the powder room?

Keeping My Options Open

I was getting a little stuck mentally thinking about whether or not working in the same journal every day would be limiting. I mean, what if I wanted to work on ATCs one day instead of journalling? But DOH! It finally occurred to my peabrain that I can always incorporate "external" art into my journal--either directly or as a printed scan. Geeze, now isn't THAT freeing. DOH!

2006: The Year of Art Every Day

This year, 2006, I'm comitting to spilling out my creative guts in an art journal every single day...whether that means something as minimal as laying down a base color on a page or as much as actually completing several pages. I don't do much art for me, I've realized. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I create a LOT of art--content for my zine Paperpourri, samples for classes I teach, publication submissions, ATCs and other art for swapping, and creative cards and gifts--but it all ends up in the hands of others! I seem do very little art for the simple purpose of creative play, exploration, and introspection. Yet isn't that a necessary part of finding one's artistic "voice" and keeping the creative fires well-fueled? I think so, and it's something I've been ignoring...like forgetting to take my vitamins.

So, 2006 is the year of My Dedicated Art Journal Experience, and here's my entry for January 1, 2006:




To help me stay on track, I've joined the Yahoo Group Daily Devotions 365 Days, which has challenged each of its 140+ members to commit to doing art every day. The energy, enthusiasm and sharing of all those artists is a great motivator! I've also set up this blog to share my creative explorations. Please feel free to comment, link, and track back to your own blogs. Thanks for coming along on my artistic journey...I've no idea where it's going but I aim to get somewhere!