Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Repurposed Wine Bottle Gifts

     Every year I participate in a local Christmas Bazaar, Ladybugs...hosted by local artist Martha Howell. She clears out her studio and invites other local artists to bring in their wares. This year she celebrates her 39th year of the Ladybug Christmas Collection.

     Repurposed wine bottles is one of my contributions to the sale, I make wine chimes (wind chimes from wine bottles), photo holders and scoops. The scoops have turned out to be a real hit...I first discovered them when I was cutting bottles for other projects to go in my book on recycled bottles, 'Bottle Art',  and messed up on one of the bottles. It looked just like a scoop so I smoothed down the sharp edges and started brainstorming about how to cover them to make them more durable.

                                       Wine scoops ready for sale. It's a Scoop!!

     I normally paint with a paper towel on my table ... and use it to wipe off paint from my brushes. They have so much glorious color on them I save them all. These turned out to be the perfect solution for the scoops...very colorful and makes the glass more durable. I also discovered the color was more vibrant if I painted the bottle with gesso first. When gesso is dry I apply torn strips of paper towel with Modge Podge until I like the way it looks. When dry I apply two more coats of Modge Podge for extra protection.

                                                     Close-up of paper towel texture.

     Normally I have to cut down the cork a little to insert it back into the bottle, I then drill a hole through the cork and wrap wire for a handle. These are great for entertaining...scoop up nuts and other dry snacks. Don't put them in the dishwasher and wipe clean rather than wash.

                                             Wine bottle photo holder with added acrylic paint.

     I used the same technique on the photo holder and added additional acrylic paint. If you are making gifts this holiday season try this easy craft. Make your own paper towels by applying paint...possibly add water to run the colors together and let dry. Have fun!! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

House of Spirals

I admit it, I really don't enjoy talking on the phone. Never have...but sometimes you have to do it.  Thank goodness I usually have pen and paper in hand. I found myself drawing spiral after spiral ...decided it looked like the roof of a house so I kept going.

By the time I got off the phone, I had this little guy completed....House of Spirals.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Zentangle Alphabet

Zentangle® is such a wonderful practice. Tangle patterns seem to find their way into most of my art. I also use it as a warm up exercise when I get in the studio and feel a little stumped as to where to begin.

I look forward to each new Zentangle book that is published. I just received copies of 'Zentangle 8' and 'Joy of Zentangle', ...... fun and fabulous books. Both books also feature the work of some great Zentangle artists and CZT's.

One of my alphabet Zentangle tiles is in both books, 'S' for Shepard...notice the tiny eye in the top curve of the 'S'? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Still Crazy after all These Years!

     Gotta talk about another artist whose style I love, Flora Bowley. Couldn't wait for her new book,  'Brave Intuitive Painting'. It got me in the studio working on a larger surface than I normally do. Instead of my usual journal page I opted for a 24 x 24 canvas. Using my Golden fluid acrylics I added a beginning couple of squirts just like Flora does. Then began mark making with practically all the colors I have.

                                                        Still crazy after all these years!

     Flora's style is intuitive painting. She suggests adding tons of color and various marks to your art - just "let go, be bold and unfold". It is a really fun way to paint. I am really drawn to whimsical work and love these crazy houses. After lots of mark making on my canvas I drew in my house shape with black paint, added more acrylic paint to the house, and determined where I wanted the eyes and mouth.  Zentangle® inspired embellishments were drawn in with a Sharpie paint marker. The eyebrows are pieces of scrap paper I cut to shape.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Zentangle Mustache Love

     I have lots and lots of the Strathmore Visual Journals, my favorite is the 5 1/2" x 8" Mixed Media Journal. A perfect carry around size, works great for my Zentangle® art, Inktense pencils, colored pencils or simply sketching. The Strathmore Visual Journals are also available in 90lb and 140lb watercolor paper. Both papers are a little thicker and great for watercolors, I don't like them as much for Zentangle drawings because the Micron pens I use don't seem to hold up as well on the rougher paper.

Preliminary sketch with circles, mustaches, eyes and eyebrow. 

 This is a fun exercise I did in my Strathmore Mixed Media Journal using circle templates and hand-drawn Zentangle mustaches.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Painted Eyeglass Case

     Decided to get busy this weekend and begin work on projects for a few Christmas Bazaars I participate in every year. One of my artist friends recently brought some extra eyeglass cases to share with my local Mixed Media group...she had tons of them and wanted ideas for how to use them in art. My plan is to alter them to house wonderful little trinkets and gifts for the holidays. As I began working on one I ended up doodling eyes on the case (this happens to me a lot) I always gravitate to funky eyes of some sort.
      I painted them first with a couple of coats of gesso, added inexpensive acrylic paints and finished off with a couple of coats of gloss medium.....very simple.

      This particular case is going in my purse to hold my sunglasses. Jeepers Peepers...what fun!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mustache Love

Mustaches are popping up everywhere....cell phone cases, license plates even tattooed on fingers (personally I love this one). I have a mustache bottle opener, mustache stickers and a whole stack of fake mustaches...just cause I love 'em and you never know when you will need a good disguise.

Recently I was out in the studio finishing up a piece of art and happened to glance up at a package of mustache stickers...then it hit me, I should put a mustache on my art!  It was just the touch of whimsey the piece needed. Now I can't stop making mustaches. All shapes and sizes!

The  most fun I have had with them is drawing tangles on them. Simple cut-outs from white cardstock and a micron pen and now I have tons of Zentangle® mustaches to adorn my journal pages, my works on canvas and even my grandson.

Have fun with this trend, Halloween is right around the corner....tangle a few mustaches to get you in the spirit.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ode to Jesse Reno

Making my own journals from recycled materials is something I have been doing for a few years now. I save all of my old envelopes to use in my handmade journals. For some of my journals I use only envelopes...when you add gesso and acrylic paint it makes a wonderful, sturdy surface for art. I also like the fact that the used envelope is already a distressed surface with uneven edges and sometimes even ripped up a little....perfect!!

The low cost as well as the funky look of these journals make it so easy for me to feel the freedom to experiment with materials and techniques. I often use them to try my hand at different artist's styles to see if I can figure out how they did something I like...what materials they used, their symbology and color palette. My journal is just for me so I don't have to worry about copying the artist in the work I may want to sell. I recently listened to a great podcast interview with Rice Freeman-Zachery and artist Jill Berry where they discussed the benefits of intensive study of other artist's work.

Jesse Reno is one of my favorite artists...he paints with his hands, draws amazing creatures and uses color brilliantly. I am hoping to take one of his workshops in the next year.

In the meantime I had fun experimenting in my journals with acrylic paints, markers and a few Jesse Reno like creatures.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mail art is fun!!

      Remember when mail had so many possibilities, a handwritten letter from grandma or holiday photos finally developed and mailed from your aunt. If you were a really lucky kid a birthday card with a $10.00 bill!! Not so much anymore, ecards are awaiting you in email, you can check out the family photos on Facebook and god forbid you send money in the mail cause it never seems to reach it's destination.  Why is that anyway?

Front and back of large envelope.

     I really enjoy working in my recycled junk journals so why not treat mail as art. Instead of decorating a page in my journal I decided to work on a few envelopes to have handy for mailing.There is a whole movement devoted to 'mail art'. I must admit I have just gotten on this bandwagon....I chastise myself for not sending more cards to friends and family. Maybe now I will be better about mailing those holiday and birthday cards.

Front of envelope, bird and leaf images are napkins.
     I wanted to share a few of the art mailings I have done over the past week. I always begin by looking for book pages, sheet music, napkins or old wrapping paper to apply as the first layer. An artist friend of mine, Judy Evans, always seems to find the most wonderful napkins and she shares them with our local art group...thank you Judy!!

Napkins, sheet music, pattern paper, ledger paper, tissue paper and an old piece of my art applied to envelopes with matte medium, ready for gesso, paint and stamps.

      Using napkins as a focal point makes it so easy to create a beautiful envelope without a lot of work. Just slop it on with some matte medium, wait for it to dry - add gesso, paint, stencils, and stamps. I usually add a final coat of matte or gloss medium to seal it.  If you have beautiful handwriting or a calligraphy pen add the name and address by hand as well, or simply apply a label with name and address. 

Flower and flapper girl napkin peeking through after gesso, paint and stamps.

       Try it....surprise someone with a special piece of art delivered to their door. Next time you send a real birthday card add some art to the envelope first.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Zentangle® Creatures

     Sharing your art with a like-minded group is priceless. I feel very lucky to be able to get together once a month with a local mixed media art group, the 'Articrafters'. I helped to form this group a few years ago. The plan was to share what we know and love - and experiment with all kinds of art and craft.  It is also a great opportunity to be in front of a group of friendly faces and hone your teaching skills.  Almost every member has at one time shared a favorite project, workshop or tip.

  Tangled in a Strathmore mixed media journal, colored with Prismacolor colored pencils.

     Before I began teaching from my 'Stash and Smash' book I practiced on my friends and got some great feedback. It also helps with your timing - class and instruction time can go by so quickly you have to be very aware or you leave students with an unfinished project. Not a good thing.

            Tangled on a Zentangle tile, colored with Derwent Inktense pencils.

     I hope as an artist you have found your own kindred spirits to share your art and your vision with. Articrafters is always welcoming new members, some of them recently requested a Zentangle refresher course. As I was looking through some of my Zentangle drawings I found a few I wanted to share with you. My strings (the starting point for most zentangle drawings) always seem to turn into funky creatures. I love making a few swirly marks and trying to decide what they should become. The creatures don't seem finished unless they have drips, tears or dots!!

                              Tangled with Micron pen on Zentangle tile.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Strathmore Visual Journals

     Most of the time my preferred medium is acrylic paint. They work so beautifully with the recycled journals I normally work in. I also love the Strathmore Visual Journals...they have drawing, mixed media, bristol board, and my favorite...watercolor paper.  After watching Strathmore's latest online workshop, Watercolor Sketching with Cathy Johnson I decided it was time to experiment with my long ignored watercolors. Until I picked up a few tips from Cathy's workshop I had always felt like all I created with watercolors was a muddy mess.

     I discovered my favorite pages were the ones I first laid a little color on, either leftover color on a wet brush applied to the page or wetting the page first and spreading dabs of color. Once this was dry I then drew shapes with a pencil and started painting. Drawing the same basic shapes on different pages gave me a chance to perfect the brush strokes needed for curved areas. With a little practice I was able to create light and dark favorite watercolor effect.

    Of course I had to add a few tangles to one of them, most of the patterns are from Sandy Steen Bartholmew's books. I first erased the pencil lines I had drawn for the original shapes...this gave me a chance to come back in with watercolors and create an aura or shadow around them.

     I also learned just one swoop of color on the brush isn't enough for me....I let some areas dry and came back in with at least another brush or two of color to deepen portions of the image. All of these pages are now ready for journaling or zentangle art...which one?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Colorful "Stash style" cover for Art Journals

     Several people have asked for more detail on how to create the journal cover I used for the front of my book 'Stash and Smash'. Here's the trick, I use both my fingers and a palette knife to apply the paint. If I use a brush it looks too blended for me. I make sure each layer is dry before adding a second color on top, and keep a baby wipe handy to scrub away a small portion of the paint.

     The base I used is chipboard, or in my case the back of an old watercolor tablet. I cut it to desired size for my journal and apply two coats of gesso to each side. One coat of gesso horizontal, when dry the second coat vertically...more texture that way.

     I then apply sheet music and colored tissue paper with Golden matte medium.

     Using my fingers I add patches of heavy body acrylic paint all over the cover, more of a "hit and miss" style of application rather than lines of color. When this layer is dry I use a palette knife to skim over portions of the previously applied paint. Sometimes I will add a third layer on top, it just depends on how I feel about the overall look of color.


     When these layers of paint are dry I add white tissue papers which have been stamped with a couple of my favorite stamps, the eye and the crisscross pattern are both on tissue paper.

     I use heavy gel medium to add the wine bottle eyelashes, as well as the coin, plastic palm tree and El Musico card in the picture below.

     The matchbox cover and other paper ephemera are stuck on with duck tape. After all the objects are affixed to the journal cover I use my fingers to lightly blend paint colors over them so the piece will seem more cohesive.

  The last step is regular stamps (I always use Staz-On ink pads since they are permanent) and a white gel pen for embellishments.

  I bind this type of journal one of two ways.
     Punch holes in it and use binder rings or bind it with a Zutter or other spiral binding machine. You can also take it to your local office supply for spiral biinding. If you do take it to the office supply be sure the side to be bound is flush, they are not able to bind irregular shaped journals.....I found this out the hard way!!
     Tip: Add watercolor paper, scrap paper and old art pieces cut to size as journal pages.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Journal, journal, journal.

Seems that's all I do these days. I look forward to creating in my journals every day. It's been a really busy week for me - I've taught two "Stash and Smash" journal classes - my husband was in the hospital for knee replacement - and don't even get me started on everything else my week held. Thank goodness for journaling, it's a great way for me to unwind and let go of it all.

                                                                CHA make and take.

I really enjoy sharing my journal ideas with others. Making them from recycled materials seems to take the pressure off...less fear of your art not being worthy...or some such thing. The recycle journals I make are from paper bags and old envelopes - free stuff! I add gesso, paints, papers, images and  markers to really layer them up. A lot of my images come from old magazines. I love this one it reminds me of one of my favorite, fun songs - "On Top of Spaghetti" - remember that one?

                                                                Recycled journal page

At the end of January I attended the Craft and Hobby Association conference to premiere my new book Stash and Smash ... art journal ideas. It was wonderful...Sandy Steen Bartholomew was there doing make and takes as well as Mark Montano and Joanne Fink. Suzanne McNeill received a much deserved  Industry Achievement Award. Mark Montano even set in on one of my make and exciting, he is a real sweetheart.

                                   Sandy Bartholomew, Suzanne McNeill, me, Mark Montano. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Zentangle® Art Show

In October 2011 I had the great pleasure of attending Certified Zentangle Training in Providence, Rhode Island. The Providence Inn was a delightful hotel and was mostly occupied by us tangle types.  Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, the founders of the Zentangle drawing style, are very inspiring and such a pleasure to spend time with.  I have been happily drawing and experimenting with Zentangle for over a year and am so grateful to now have more knowledge about this art form and finally feel successful with the ones I found difficult to draw. Yay ....I can now whip out a W2 and Huggins pattern quick and easy.

There are other CZT's in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Angie Vangalis is one of them and has been spreading the Zentangle message for a while now. For the second year she has put together a Zentangle Art Show at the Irving Arts Council in Irving, Texas.  I entered some of my art in the show.  There are some very creative pieces in the Zentangle art exhibit. The opening is January 15th, 2p til 4p. The show is on now and runs through January 27th.

 A piece I entered in the show, "What a Hoot".  Microns and Inktense pencils on Bristol board, coated with gloss medium, 9"x9". I framed it in a black square 12"x12" frame with a black mat.

 Two of the pieces I saw at the show were created by someone who is not a CZT, but had taken classes from one of my fellow CZT students. Sandhya Manne became a CZT in October at CZT7, the same time I was there.  She has begun giving classes and should take great pride in the fact her teaching has already blossomed in this artist who has presented an intricate silver point on black piece and a marvelous acrylic canvas piece with Zentangle patterns. Becoming a CZT is a worthwhile endeavor and promotes our own artistic venture, it only makes it more worthwhile when as a teacher of Zentangle you see your students go on to create their own individual works, Congratulations Sandhya done good!