Monday, August 16, 2010

Red Bird

I really like this spread. I first painted the pages with "Antique White". When it was dry, I used Post-It tape to block off sections and painted with "Lime", "Island Green" (which is the aqua), and "Raspberry". The splotchy area was made by dabbing with paint on a wadded-up paper towel.
This technique creating some interesting spaces for the writing instead of my usual boring method.

June 1-3

For the last few days I have enjoyed reading Martha Lever's blog "Art du Jour". She is a calligrapher and watercolor artist who lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
I've gotten some great ideas from her, which she says she's gotten in turn from other folks. All of us seem to "steal" and adapt from each other. In her book "Cover To Cover", Shereen LaPlantz said "One of the great joys in art is transmutation. We all learn from others' ideas. The process of adapting these new ideas to our tastes and needs is transmutation." I especially admire Martha's fun lettering. She has taken Suzy Ratto's brush letters to a different level by adding black micro lines to them in the style of Sherri Kiesel. And who knows where Suzy and Sherri originally got their ideas?
Another thing I really love on her blog are her wonderful watercolor doodle flowers. Since I'm not much of an illustrator, I adapted that idea to make the flowers on the right page. I used HeroArts "A Real Candytuft" stamp, coloring directly on the stamp with Tombow markers, and spritzing with water before pressing it to the paper. This is a favorite technique that gives a watercolor look to stamps. The taller, darker flowers were the initial stamping, while the lighter, shorter ones were the second stamping done without reinking. After they dried, I used a micron pen to draw the black lines to define them. This is what gives a hand drawn look to a stamped image. I had to extend the stems with the pen.
On the word "June", after writing it with a Zig brush marker in one color, I added a new layer by giving a flick on top of each letter with a darker color. This is a trick I've used for years after learning it from Suzy Ratto's booklet "Color Layering System". However, the new layer just sits there. For some reason, this time I decided to see what would happen if I used my Kuratake Waterbrush filled with blending fluid to pull the top color around. It blended nicely, and that was an interesting discovery, which I'll try to remember.

Wilma's First 100 Years

More strange experiments creating backgrounds.
These pages started off by me using up the yellow paint left in my brush. Later, I had some blue left in a brush and I added that around the yellow. On another day, I had stirred some blue Plaka paint with a wooden skewer and rolled it around on the page, making the funny little marks.
My next experiment was a suggestion from Martha Lever. She says that she often uses the cardboard insert from a toilet paper roll to make marks on backgrounds, so that gave me the white circles.
The flowers blossoms were made with a Fiskars decorative punch. It's one of the kind where you squeeze the handles. This type works so much better than the kind where you have to mash really hard on the top of it. The paper I used was made by dabbing stamp pad inks onto cardstock. I cut the leaves out of some scraps of textured handmade paper.

Two Birthday Parties

The circles on this spread came about in an unusual way.
Several months ago, I bought a rubberstamp of a sunflower at Dollar Tree. The stamp itself was okay, but I didn't like the fact that it was mounted on a 2" tall plastic handle shaped like a door knob. That's actually easier to grasp than the wooden blocks that most stamps come on, but it was too tall to fit in the shallow drawers where I keep my stamps, so I eventually peeled the stamp off and just use it on an acrylic block. After I did this, I noticed that this exposed a round piece of black foam on the bottom of the handle. Aha, I thought. I bet I can stamp a circle with this. I spread some white acrylic paint on a piece of plastic, and here's what I got. I like the fact that there are empty spots left inside the circles with lots of texture.

Blake in the Bluebonnets

We took these photos in Granny's field. This was a bumper year for bluebonnets all over the state since the winter had been cold and the spring wet.
The bluebonnets that grow in this East Texas field are daintier than what we see along the coast and in the Hill Country. They are "Lupinus Subcarnosus", while the bigger and showier ones are "Lupinus Texensis".
This was Blake's first experience touching flowers and grass, and she was fascinated, as she is by everything. Of course, she wanted to put them in her mouth.
This spread is different looking, to say the least. I was experimenting with backgrounds, and this is the result. I began by partially painting the pages with red and green acrylics. When those were dry, I brushed on gesso, letting the colored paints show through. The bluebonnet borders were from a rubberstamp, colored with Tombow markers and spritzed with water.

Bunny Ears

For this spread, I carved a rubberstamp from a Speedball Speedy-Cut block. I was inspired by one I saw on Martha Lever's blog. She said she used watercolors to stamp hers, which is what I used on the back egg, but I think I got a better result on the front egg by using stamp pad inks.

Little Piggy

Today Blake was 4 months old. She is so adorable. She grins, grins, grins when I talk to her. She is also trying out lots of new sounds. For the last few days, she has been grunting like a little piglet. It's such a funny little noise that we can't help laughing when she does it.
We had to take her to the pediatrician for her checkup, and she grunted the whole way there. We knew from how she has been outgrowing her sleeper suits that she was getting lots bigger. She weighed 14 lbs & 1 oz. and is 25" long. Dr. G. says that puts her in the 60th and 75th percentiles.

New Books

The art books I ordered finally came, but I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in both of them, but especially the one by Judy Melvin. Her work and her classes are SO GREAT, but her handouts are almost non-existent, so I was really hoping for a lot from this book. Actually, it's just a little 18-page pamphlet, and although the photography of her artwork is gorgeous, each technique is described by only 3 or 4 sentences.

St. Patrick's Day

March 17 has always been a special day to me.
First because it was the birthday of my great grandmother (my mother's mother's mother).
Then later, it became more special when it was Missy's half-birthday. And last year, it was the day when she found out that she was pregnant!
This year, we marked the occasion by taking Blake out in public for the first time. For some reason, she had a screaming fit in the car, but she was super good in the stores. We went to JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby looking for fabric to trim the drapery material that Missy wants to use to make cornices for her kitchen windows.
The next day, Missy & Jerry came over and planted a live oak in our backyard in Blake's honor. They wanted to put it in our yard since they figured that we're here to stay, whereas it's likely that they'll relocate someday.
The shamrocks are a rubberstamp and I created the rainbow with soft pastels.

Peter Rabbit Story

Some of Missy's favorite stories as a little girl were the ones by Beatrix Potter. That's why we used that theme to decorate Blake's nursery.
While Jerry made a trip to Florida to pick up some restaurant equipment, I stayed with Missy and the baby. One night she asked me to read to Blake before she put her to bed. I was astounded how that 3-month-old baby smiled and never took her eyes off my face. I know she didn't understand the words, but she certainly reacted to the sounds. Missy says it's because I read with lots of expression. That comes from having been a children's librarian. Reading to kids was one of the things I enjoyed the most. I really missed it when I switched from my elementary school to a junior high position. I can't wait until Blake can really interact with the stories.

Blake Meets Granny

Alas, another page that didn't photo well. I bought a new camera (a Nikon CoolPix) right before Blake was born. It takes fine pictures of people, etc., but I'm not happy with the results from photographing my journal pages. I think my old Fuji FinePix did a better job, but the little door that holds the batteries in place broke off.

January 2010

This is a pretty page in real life, although it didn't photo very well. The background is a soft pink brushed in the middle with "Seafoam Green" after the pink was dry. You don't want to mix these two colors when wet, because you would end up with a light gray (unless, of course, that's what you're aiming for!) This would happen because all three primaries are present in these colors (red in the pink and blue and yellow in the green). Anyway, the date and the decorative stripe were written with a metallic green ColorSharp marker, and the tiny calendar page was from a shopping list pad.