Tuesday, July 15, 2014

monogram painting 2014

This summer has been full, and it feels like it's almost over. School starts in less than three weeks! Many districts in Indianapolis have switched to a "balanced calendar" - typically nine weeks on, two weeks off, with an extended Thanksgiving break. That means school starts at the end of July or beginning of August, and lasts until June. I like the two week breaks, and I don't work a typical teachers' calendar. If I did, I might love the two week breaks!

Anyway, this has been a fairly cool summer temperature-wise, which is awesome. I just spent the past weekend in Cincinnati and the first week of July in northern Michigan. There is so much to tell! Today I just want to post this photo of a painting I made for my niece, Gretchen. It's 11x14. It's cemented my inkling that my next painted projects will be strictly painting - no additional media. I love creating with mixed media - but I love just painting, too.

Gretchen's painting is a follow up to the monogram painting I made last summer. I've worked on my flowers a bit, and I like these shapes more. Gretchen, once again, was the color advisor. She has a keen eye.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


It's been a few months since I first posted about my recent adventures in art journaling.  I still don't like the phrase "art journaling", and I'm trying to come up with a term I'm more comfortable with.

I am liking this more and more all the time.

The first game changer was the day I added washi tape.

The next game changer was the day I added handmade stamps.  When I carved these tiny houses, I could barely keep from stamping them on every page.

I'm still working on the entire book all at once.  About half of the pages have backgrounds so far.  I usually take one tool or pen or type of paint, and add that to several pages at a time.  I just keep updating everything.  There are spaces to add words later, if I choose.  

This process has led me to be more self aware about my own style and creative habits.   Right now my goal is to be freer with color schemes.  It started out that when I would paint a background, I would tend to choose keep the color scheme of the background as I added patterns and designs.  Lately, I'm more intentional about mixing warm and cool elements.  

I'm also aware now that my canvas creations are more fairly rigid and calculated than I realized. Here, I have no expectations, and nothing is a mistake.  There is not a picture in my head about what the final product might look like.  I mix inks and paints and paint markers and delight in whatever the result turns out to be.  Words are from my stream of consciousness.  

Today I made some stamps out of bottle caps, and I like how the white pigment ink was just a little bit smeary, and how the edge of the bottle cap made an unintentional speckled semi-border.

And I wrote something for myself because I had a bit of a worry that looking at so many journals would make mine feel derivative.  And then I realized that the important part of it is to get into the mental space where I'm just creating - and within that space, "where I am not planning anything at all", there is no room for anything but authenticity.  It's probably similar to meditiation.  It definitely calms me, and that could be why I seek opportunities to keep at it - to keep adding new colors and shapes and layers - to keep tinkering with different media - to keep creating.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

downtown franklin goodness

Pictured below - just a sampling of the vintage/antique/artsy goodness of a Saturday trip through the shops on Jefferson Street in downtown Franklin, Indiana*.  I'd been through a few before, but taking in all of them on one day (with Heather K.) was fun and creatively inspiring.  I think this needs to become a seasonal visit!

*All of the shops were awesome in their own way, but the link only mentions a few. If you go, I can't stress enough the coolness of A Bird in the Hand and Vintage Whimsy - they skew toward midcentury quirkiness. We stayed in those shops the longest, for good reason!

Monday, May 26, 2014

water balloon dart painting, part two

Two years ago, I put together a water balloon dart painting for my niece Katie's graduation party. I really wanted my niece Gretchen to have the same experience. Here's how it happened.

To make the water balloons (which is the most important part!), you'll need the above items:
*water balloons
*liquid acrylic paint
*water bottles with "sport caps"
These caps are the secret to good paint balloons - they allow enough pressure to fill the balloons well.
Obviously, you will also need water - we did not fill the balloons with the Vernor's ginger soda next to the yarn- but I do recommend a can of Vernor's as the balloons are filled for delicious refreshment.

You will also need:
*duct tape

I recommend a larger canvas, rather than a smaller one.  Anything else you wish to use to set the scene (like a tarp) is optional.

I should mention up front that this painting project didn't turn out the same as the first, in one very significant way. We used the cheapest craft paint, and less of it. This led to some translucency in the final product, which turned out looking like we'd intentionally created a dripping chalk effect. I think the effect is really cool - but if you are trying for a brighter final product, use a thicker paint, twice as much paint, or half as much water, before shaking the bottle. (Generally, cheaper brands of paint are thinner.)  I don't have exact measurements, because paint consistencies are so different.  Try one part paint to two parts water, if you are seeking a measurement.

Filling these balloons can be a painty mess. On this day, I filled the balloons on a beach. The sand absorbs the spills nicely. I realize that taking paint balloons to the beach may not be a realistic step most of the time. Grass works fine, too, and so would any absorbent thing you may use as a tarp.   Most of the spills came from the process of tying.  To neatly fill the balloons, stretch the balloon while the bottle is upright, and then fill it as gently as possible, leaving enough room for a tie.  Just to be safe, wear painting clothes for this step.

A few weeks ago on Shark Tank, some entrepreneurs presented the TieNot . I've never used one, and I know it's meant to be attached to a hose, but I think the stick could be used to tie these balloons, and it may be a good investment for this project if tying becomes problematic. Let me know if you try it.

If you want to evenly separate your paint colors, you may want to assign each paint color to a balloon color. You won't be using as much liquid in a paint balloon as you would for a water balloon, so some of the balloons will be more opaque, meaning you won't always know which color of paint is inside.

The largest paint balloon was about two inches in diameter. And it's better to have a smaller balloon filled with paint rather than a larger balloon filled with paint and extra air - extra air will leave blank space behind it when it bursts.

In the meantime, paint the background of the canvas.  Gretchen painted her background black, while I painted fuchsia.  Two more hints: choose a background color that is not at all like your balloon paint colors.  Black was a great choice.  Fuchsia was a less great choice, because we used fluorescent pink balloon paint, which blended right in (and by chance, many of the balloons attached to the fuchsia happened to be pink ones).

Once the canvas is dry, it's time to adhere the paint balloons.  My method is to use a small piece of duct tape to individually hold each balloon along the back of the canvas.  That way, you can move each balloon while arranging them, and as you pop the balloons, you can move the strings and balloon pieces  behind the canvas, so the paint doesn't stick to those parts.  Place most of the balloons along the top of the front of the canvas.  It's fun to experiment with balloons at different heights, as well.

Choose an area to stage the creation of the paintings.  We used a huge plastic tarp, which we thumbtacked to trees, to minimize mess, and to catch any stray darts.  I like the idea of using a large, old sheet as a tarp, and I'd choose that over a plastic tarp next time - the plastic tarp took a long time to dry.  For Katie's painting, we used burlap against a fence.  We didn't have a fence this time, and I didn't want to throw darts and paint at the side of the house, so we chose this arrangement instead.

This is my only photo of the best part - the dart throwing, balloon bursting, color dripping part (!), because the process was much more fun to experience in the moment than behind a camera.

Part of the way through the process, the canvases looked like this.  Notice that the tarp is already sloshy, and Gretchen's painting has a dart stuck in it!  There will likely be tiny holes in your canvas. It's part of the fun!

Here are the canvases, waiting to dry. I think the tiny circles on the black canvas may have been caused by air pockets in some balloons - or just balloons where the darts hit toward the bottom of the balloons, so everything in them spilled downward. Regardless, the unintentionally chalky look was a cool surprise! My fuchsia canvas, with its layers of pink paint, only subtly resembles a water balloon dart painting.  And I really like it!  (Although, I've considered using the same fuchsia canvas for another round of dart painting - this time using gold and other non-pink colors on top of what is already there!)

These were so much fun to make! They were so worth the effort of mixing paint, filling and tying balloons, setting up a tarp, and cleaning up. It would make an awesome summer tradition!

If you try it, I'd love to see the results!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

easter bunny gets depressed after easter

This week at school, we said goodbye to our guitar teacher after five years. He used the phrase "Easter Bunny Gets Depressed After Easter" to teach the order of the guitar strings...E,B,G,D,A,E. He often told the students he wanted a picture of a depressed Easter bunny to go along with that reminder. So now, finally, he has one. Painting this was fun!

Cale was a phenomenal teacher with our students. He will be teaching lessons in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area soon - so if you are in the area and are seeking guitar lessons, trust me on this recommendation, and find him here.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

new and somewhat new

last weekend, i got back to painting for a little while.   as happy as i was to be painting something, i was kind of bummed at the end of the day - nothing was turning out well enough for me to feel like i had reached my potential for the day.  i'm sure this happens to everyone...off days are opportunities to figure out what not to do next time.  my favorite piece is the "you are" flower, above...which completed changed at least three times.  it started out as a pink canvas with no flower at all!  it's only 3x5 - and though i really love the idea for this flower...3x5 is too small for the message, and all of the words - even though i used my tiniest paintbrush. i think i will try this idea again sometime - using a larger canvas!

i also tried a new blog banner, but in the end, the proportions didn't look right to me when i posted it.  i still like it, though...so i'm posting it below:

i was determined to update my blog banner, though...so tonight i created this new image, which feels right:

(the way i painted the circle reminds me of a pair of keds i had in high school, and even though i can't find a photo of that keds style online, trust me that they were really cool shoes!!!)

i'm headed back to the painting table now.  enjoy your evening!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

let your lovely light shine

oh, painting, i have missed you so...

 creating this canvas was awesome. inspiration struck, and then i painted with my tiniest paintbrush near a pink hyacinth (i love the smell of hyacinth!) and my teen angst mix tape playlist on spotify (which may not fit the mood of the painting, but that music is a muse to me!) i tried some new techniques, and felt calm, and i really like the final result!

i hope your easter is lovely!

have a wonderful week!