Sunday, February 28, 2016

Strathmore Free Online Workshops Are Starting Again!

I don't know if you've had the chance to look at Strathmore's free online workshops, but they usually have an interesting variety of options.  Sometimes painting or drawing, sometimes journal-making...always interesting - and always taught by some pretty wonderful artists!  They are go-at-your-own-pace and include discussion groups and a gallery to share your work.This year, the workshops include: 
  • Sketchbook Fury – the Art Ninja’s Guidebook.  Taught by Graham Smith Starting March 7th, 2016.  A 4 video series by Graham ” the paper junkie” Smith: MMA (mixed media artist) Black Belt, illustrator, filmmaker, and nerd – on sketchbook strategy, building drawing skills, developing ideas, and executing finished art.  The workshop will cover: Build Your Dojo, Overcome Fear, Plan the Attack, and Art Battle
  • The Mind of Watercolor.  Taught by Steve Mitchell starting May 2nd, 2016. Watercolor is one of the simplest mediums to use, but it seems to have a mind of its own at times, giving it the reputation of being fussy and unforgiving to work with. In this workshop we get into the mind of watercolor and see what makes it tick. Success with watercolor depends greatly on discovering and anticipating how it reacts in real painting situations. We will cover the basics of getting started and choosing proper materials then applying those basics as we go through the process of producing a landscape painting and a botanical painting from start to finish. We’ll learn how to get better results by setting the ideal conditions for working in watercolor and even letting watercolor do some of the painting for us. Watercolor is such an expressive, fresh and rewarding medium to use. Follow along as we discover how to partner with this excellent medium and let it take us on an exciting painting adventure.
  • Colorful Creation with Marker. Taught by Will Terrell starting September 5th, 2016.  Will Terrell leads you through an introduction to techniques for using markers on different types of paper. In this workshop we’ll learn how to lay down color, build up layers and blend with markers. We’ll also cover what to look for in a paper when using markers and try out a few different options. We’ll focus on a variety of subject matter and look at how to achieve these results with cartoons, people and animals. All levels are welcome to join and follow along as we make colorful creations with marker!
A few tips I learned last year:
  1. The workshops close after the time-period listed (which means the teacher is no longer available to ask questions of), but the videos are available for a long time afterwards (months!).
  1. They always list class materials (which of course include all Strathmore papers)... but nobody is watching you so it's ok if you use what you have (it's just not PC to advertise that you aren't using their papers since you are taking their class... and since you are taking their class for free it is nice to use their products if possible!).
  1. I was able to find the previous year's workshops on Youtube - so you may be able to find more videos there. 
  1. To get the most out of the workshops, you do need to actually show up and do the work.  It is really easy to tell yourself you'll get to it later - but then time runs out and you've lost your opportunity to ask the teacher questions. Getting answers to your questions is one of the best parts of these workshops.  Otherwise you could just watch the videos on YouTube any old time. 
If you end up taking a workshop or 2 or 3, I'd love to hear what you think... you never know - you might see my name listed along side yours on the workshop roster!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Busy Creating - So Much To Do!

Applying resin
As the title of the post suggests, I have been SUPER busy lately!

  1. I am working on how to set up my studio in a slightly larger space (with better lighting and more walls).  I'm trying to figure out if I can fit in all my furniture PLUS a table or two for teaching small classes (not sure it's going to work.. but I am trying!!)
  2. I am diligently working through Jacqui Calladine's Wild Creative... which I've discussed in previous posts.  I'm finding it very helpful -- but a bit distracting too (because I want to do more of it!)
  3. Of course I'm a mom, wife, and have a full-time muggle-job... that all keeps me very busy as well!
  4. And I'm working feverishly on my resin bowls (which take a lot of time, but my mind is just HUMMING with ideas!).
A pink bowl at the very beginning

Of course, the creating part is what I want to spend most of my time on, but it is hard to focus solely on that with all of my other activities!

Here's a sneak-peak at my latest resin & silk creations... you'll  have to wait and see what the end results are!

A purple, soon-to-be bowl

Saturday, February 20, 2016

What Are Your 3 Words For Growing Your Art/Business This Year?

Isn't he gorgeous?
I am LOVING Jacqui's Wild Creative.  It's fun to look at my business, my art, and my personal life all though a somewhat different lens than normal.  This week, Jacqui challenged us to come up with 3 words for growing our businesses (and ourselves).  Hers were: Clarity, Value, and Big.  All excellent words!

I've been thinking about what my words would be... and I too, would choose BIG... but I have 2 others that I are different from hers.

  1. BIG - (perhaps the word should be BIGGER).  I want to start working on projects that are bigger in size (a great challenge because of the small space I have to work in!).  I also want to start thinking bigger ... making bigger collections, applying to bigger shows, and gaining bigger sales. 
  2. PLAN (or PRE-plan) - I will admit that when it comes to my art (and to my crafts), that I just let whimsy carry me forward (oooohhh... shiny thing!).  Because of this, I am easily distracted and rarely think about how my art will fit on a canvas or in a frame... or how I will finish it - or even how I should be painting/creating it.  I just start and then work out all the details along the way ( possibly causing myself unnecessary fear when it is getting close to being finished as I realize all of the things I didn't consider when I started the piece).  So this is an important goal for me -  one I've been thinking about for a while now. 
  3. PROGRESSION - I want to always be progressing in my art (and in all areas of my life).  I don't like stagnate things.  I love to experiment, to try out new ideas, to learn new things, and to continue to improve-on/build-upon the skills that I already have. 
Those are my 3 growth words for this year.  Have you come up with your words?  I'd love to hear what you chose!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How To Remove A Silk Painting Decoupaged To A Canvas

A View From The Ferry
(now awaiting reuse!)
Have you created things that you don't like, didn't sell, or otherwise just didn't work for you?  I sure have!!

Some of my art pieces that haven't sold, now grace the walls of my home.  But I have a small home, with little it behooves me to figure out another way to use my artwork - specifically, my silk paintings.

IF I've wrapped my silk paintings around a canvas or board, and attached it with pins or tape (in other words, easily removable), then I can simply unpin or untape it and it's ready to use for something else (A View From The Ferry is one that I've unpinned and am now trying to decide how to reuse it).  
Sunflower Quad

BUT if I've attached my silk painting to a canvas using Acrylic Matte Medium... well that's a whole new experiment in how to reuse/recycle!

My latest idea is to remove decoupaged silk from the canvas - leaving the canvas in tact (but with a really cool faint impression of the original silk painting on the canvas).  However, removing the silk from the canvas AFTER it has been adhered with acrylic matte medium is not an easy task!  I will show you how I do it... and you can decide if it's worth the effort.  :) 

First I begin with a painting that I've decided I don't want to keep.  In this case, it is 1/4 of a sunflower quadriptych.  I place it on a surface face-down (making sure that the surface will not harm the painting!). 

Edges removed from the
I begin to gently scrape at the very edges of the painting.  If they are well-adhered (and mine usually are), then I will have to scrape harder.   I may even have to get a tool of some kind to help me.  *I would not advise using anything with a sharp tip.. it is VERY easy to tear a hole in the silk!  I've found that my fingernails are best.. tough enough to scrape the silk off of the canvas, but soft enough to not damage the silk (although, I usually end up damaging my nails!... which may be why I can never seem to keep my nails long!). I have used an old credit card (or in this case, a "free" one that came in the mail -- I ALWAYS save my old credit cards and gifts cards... I use them all the time in my arts and crafts!). 

Pulling the silk
off of the canvas.
Notice how some
of the gesso from
the canvas sticks
to the silk!
I try to loosen all of the edges of the painting first.  *A word of caution - it is extremely easy to tear the silk while trying to remove the edges from the canvas!! I often have little tears along the edges.  If you are slow and careful, you can keep the tearing to a minimum.  But if you hurry, you can end up with some pretty large tears.  So go slowly!!  

Once you get the sides safely removed, you can actually grab a hold of the silk and pull steadily and the silk will remove from the canvas.  You do have to pull pretty strongly to remove it, but so long as you are pulling from the body of the silk (rather than a torn edge), the silk will peel off of the canvas in one nice, big piece.  

Once the silk painting is removed from the canvas, you can see that an impression is left behind on the canvas.  You can put the canvas aside to use for something else (you could re-gesso it and use it for a new painting, or you could use the canvas as-is and incorporate the faint image into a new art piece). 

As for the silk.. it will not go back to it's original texture (soft and supple).. but it is still a very interesting piece of fabric.  

All of the pieces I have thus-far removed, have all ended up with small bits of gesso on them (from the canvas they were adhered to).  I don't mind that.. I think it shows that the silk had a previous incarnation.  But I am playing with ways to remove it - just in case I want that.  FYI - DON'T just try scraping the gesso off of the silk!  It will most likely result in a hole or a tear in your silk (yup, tore a hole in a lovely piece.. had to then get creative with the usage of the piece. argh).

As for how I'm using (or rather re-using) my now twice-recycled silk... well keep watching!  You'll probably see them show up in other art pieces I'm working on!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Holds You Back From Creating?

Original photo used for
Magnolia's Life Recycled
In a previous post, I told you that I'm following Jacqueline Calladine's Wild Creative.  She's encouraging her followers to open their hearts and souls to be more creative, more inspired, and more in tune with their true wants and desires (both in their art, as well as in their personal lives).  This last week, she challenged us to think about what is holding us back from creating... and from stepping forward to begin our next project.  

I thought long and hard about it and found that I actually have 2 issues when it comes to creating.  My first is just as Jacqui said in her Facebook post: "Have Courage To Take The First Step".

Cropping in on what I want
to paint
To begin a big art project (or any size project really), seems daunting (if not flat-out overwhelming) because there is often SOOOO much to do.  So instead of beginning  my art project, I am amazed at my ability to find other things to do.  For example I will find that all of a sudden I need to: clean my studio or house, pay bills, update my blog or Facebook, or work on a bazillion other art or craft projects etc.

Part of my hesitancy to begin, is because I've jumped into the art world with both feet and am having to learn as I go.  There are probably processes and procedures that would help me (for instance: getting better-organized, or pre-planning my paintings)... but because I am relatively new to this whole world, I stumble my way through creating.  The idea of pre-planning

my paintings is just completely overwhelming.  I have no idea what I should really be doing first. Right now, I draw out what I want to paint, transfer it to my silk, and then begin painting in no specific order.  
A better picture of
my inspiration

However, once I begin to create I enjoy the process until I near the end.... this is where my 2nd issue appears. And somewhat ironically, this issue causes me far more problems that the first issue!

When I near the end of a project I often find myself freezing.... so much so that I will often have to walk away from projects for hours or even days (and on really big projects - sometimes I just walk away and can't seem to come back and finish it). It took me a long time, but I finally realize it's fear that stops me. 

Fear that I'll ruin it when I try to finish it...or fear that it won't be what I want it to be. Interestingly, it's not fear of what other people think. .. but instead it's that I've set such a high expectation for myself...that it is almost impossible to meet it. For me, finishing a project can actually be more scary than starting one!
Magnolia's Life Recycled
Took me a VERY long
time to finish and I
LOVE it!

In the end, I know I just need to get it done.  To accept that it will be what it is... and that ruining it isn't the end of the world (even if it will piss me off).  I have no silver bullet, no quick answer or solution.  

All I can think of are the immortal words of the Nike ad campain - JUST DO IT!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Thinking About Artistic and Personal Goals

Jacquiline Calladine - photo by Tanaya Caim
I have come to know a lovely artist named Jacqueline Calladine (learn more about her and her wonderful ideas and artwork at  She is currently working on an inspirational and motivational journey she's referring to as Wild Creative.  In it, she challenges us to look within at our true motivations for what we do.  

I love the process of being introspective and thoughtfully reviewing the choices I'm making both in my personal life and my artistic/business life!  I find her methodology unique and it provides some interesting insight about myself.

One of the first questions she asks is:  "What are the core values that drive your creative practice and/or business?"  

Most of us set goals for ourselves that are based on what we deem to be success, but often success is a somewhat nebulous thing which is in reality, defined by societal norms and NOT by what our soul is really searching for!  So when our goals are forced to change, we often see that as failure.  If your goals are set with your core values as the focus, then if a goal has to change, it will change within the framework of the core values you have... giving you the opportunity to see it as acceptable change rather than damaging failure.
For example, I've had a goal to start teaching silk painting etc.  And my assumption (prior to Jacquie's inspiration) was to have my goal be that I MUST have a large studio outside of my home, big enough for many people to be taught in.  Having that large studio MUST prove that I'm successful.    However, upon reviewing my personal core values, I've realized that my real goals are more along the lines of teaching with the idea of connecting with other people - providing them with something they would see as valuable (knowledge) and in reciprocation, providing me with the feeling of being valued for my knowledge and skills.  I am now better able to understand that I don't HAVE to have the large studio outside of my home to teach (yes I would still love one, but it doesn't make me a better, more-successful artist just by the virtue of having one).  

Jacquie challenged us to find our 3 main core values (and trust me, it is hard to narrow it down to just 3!!).  But after a good deal of thought, and a quick perusal and use of the worksheets in Danielle LaPorte's book Fire Starter Sessions... I have finally settled on what I feel are my current core values for my personal life, art practice, and business.  Those values are:

  • Creative. (sounds like a "duh"... but I have found I MUCH prefer creating new things rather than producing the same thing over and over again!
  • Bio-centric/Eco-centric.  (I'm torn and not sure which of the two is the best... so I'm making them into one value!).  My art is almost always inspired by nature, and my business/art practices honor eco-friendly practices whenever possible. 
  • Reciprocity.  Originally I had the word value here, but I want more than to just be valued. As I said above, I am looking to be valued, to have my art be valued by society and the world as a whole, but I want to add value as well.  I want to connect to others and use my art to help to connect to them, but also to provide ways for others to connect with me through my art and business. 
I plan on posting these words around my home and studio, and I may even carry them in my purse or tote bag.  Making my life, art, and business decisions through the filter of these values, should help me make better, more confident choices!

If you decide to walk down this soul-searching path, I'd love to hear what your 3 values are and why you chose them!  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

FINISHED! Two silk paintings - HOORAY!!

Tulips Revisited (notice the fine line details?)

I am feeling rather good - I managed to finish 2 silk paintings this week (which is pretty good for me because I work full-time and am a mom and wife!).  

The first one I finished is another tulip painting.  I am rather pleased with how it turned out.  I used the same base design for it as I did for Stained Glass Tulips Too.  My motivation for that is to show everyone (both online, and in shows) the differences between the traditional Serti method (or painting with resists that prevent dyes from flowing outside of the resist lines), and the Sistek method (a stop-flow method which uses a variety of chemicals to greatly reduce the speed at which dyes flow).  

Stained Glass Tulips Too (The dark resist lines make
it look like a stained glass piece)

As you can see, in Stained Glass Tulips Too, there are big lines outlining all of the major shapes (the lines are left by the resist), and while shading is easy (and fun!) to do... fine detail is much harder to create due to the dyes spreading so easily.  In my latest painting Tulips Revisited, there are no outlines and you can see incredibly fine detail which is possible using the Sistek method.   I think it's fun to compare the two!!

The other painting I finally finished is my chunk/section of the collaborative piece my fiber group is working on.  Mine is section 4 (and the collaborative piece is being referred to as Laundry Line). 

As I am typing this, I am waiting for both pieces to finish steaming.  Then I'll be able to mount them on to their canvases and move on to new paintings.   Now I just have to decide what to work on next! Hhmmmm.......  birds? bugs? Fungus?  (yup, I've got the desire to work on one/all of those!).