some little escapist faeries

Wow! Its been a week. Not just the election – although I am still reeling from that, but also a trip to the Cleveland Clinic which meant a day with over 12 hours of driving. I am exhausted!

Like many other artists, stress drives me into the studio, where I found I just couldn’t settle to any of the projects I had started. On a bulletin board over my desk were 5 or 6 little partially completed collages, things that were stuck and abandoned there. I have been wanting to paint again for a few weeks, the change in the light as autumn and winter draw in always makes me want to pick up a brush to capture it, and so I decided I would try painting over a few of those collaged panels.

What to paint? I hadn’t picked up a brush to paint anything except a wall in more than 10 years –  I decided to just be whimsical and paint some little tiny faerie faces on a couple and see what happened. It was fun, just the escape I needed. The little faces looked a bit odd and isolated on top of the layers of collage, so I added another layer of collage over the top. I enjoyed having a brush in my hand. I see more tiny paintings in my future.

Here are the results – they will be my contribution to an exhibit coming up in December at the Sensory Art Gallery & Winery.

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And now back to real life – a mountain of essays to grade and an enormous gift giving exhibit to install at the 3rd on 3rd Gallery.

Local arts showcase

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I’ve blogged about Infinity before. What happens there is the best of the arts. Young people are mentored and inspired. With the help of local artists they craft their own goals and get all the support they need to make them happen. We all know the arts make better people. So I am happy to be participating in this year’s local artist showcase. In addition to hawking my wares I am also donating an art guitar to their auction.
Here’s a shot of the work in progress.

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Hope that if you are in the area you will take the time to come and see the marvel for yourself!

Happy Journaling New Year!

I am starting this year of again with three new sets of journaling prompts. One I will not be sharing here as it is more wordy – but the other two are going in my art journal I started last year. It is getting very fat now – I cut the spine away so it would have more room to fluff out, maybe by the end of the year it will be almost circular – that would be cool!

New for me this year is the Documented Life Project – I kept seeing it everywhere last year so I thought I would give it a try. There are monthly themes and weekly challenges & prompts –  I am not sure it will be for me as it is much more ART journaling but I am going to give it a try and push myself a bit. Hoping some new book content ideas will grow out of it. And it never hurts to loosen up and try.

The first month focuses on the blank page – which is not such a challenge for me – I have long since learned almost any “mistake” can be fixed, but I am looking forward to seeing their ideas. The first week’s take was book pages – so  – well it fit in to my existing practice and was a comfortable place for me to start. I knew I wanted to start the year with this great border that came from some sheet music someone donated to me. I began by blocking out in pencil all the page that would NOT be covered by the border and circling any ACTIVE words left on that part of the page

I think you can see the pencil lines marking out the spaces and words

I think you can see the pencil lines marking out the spaces and words

Next I blacked out all the exposed text except the words I had chosen to keep using a fine line marker and a fine point sharpie (and a ruler). I left any blanks spaces in the text open so I could go back and write in them.

blacked out text with the border stuck down

blacked out text with the border stuck down

Now I could dive in and begin to journal in the spaces. I used a fine line Bic Z marker for the black text and a white gel pen for writing over the blacked out areas. I have used this technique before in my journals, for me it is a fast way to see what is on my mind, I think of it as meditating on the filled page.

Adding layers of journaling and doodles copied from the border

Adding layers of journaling and doodles copied from the border

I also stamped a few key words in red and doodled with the gel pen to mimic the leaves and flowers in the printed border.

and done!

and done!

I plan to use the weekly prompts to divide my journal and then add daily prompts in between. So turning the page from this spread I began with a page for January 1. I so enjoyed working with the Root Journal prompts from Lisa Sonora Beam twice last year that I am doing this year’s FLOW prompts. It is free to join and you can find everything you need to sign up here. Again – I am not approaching this as art making so much as a way to access my inner muse and kick start my year in the studio. I am using the same kind of “junk” as last year – scraps of paper, collage and found objects, along with some simple stamps and markers. No fancy equipment – just stuff that is laying around. Here’s my entry for January first

letting the muse flow into my studio!

letting the muse flow into my studio!

My goal for this year is to refocus on my own practice. I have so many projects that have been dragging on over the last year (or two) that I want to push on to completion. I am also hoping to get back on track with my blog, and there are more workshops already lined up for next year. I am trying to say NO to things that don’t serve my work and hoping that my family life will settle down a tiny bit! To help stay on my path I also purchased a passion planner – I am a paper person, and I hope it will keep me focused as this year unfurls.

Tomorrow I will post my “best of 2014” – so much happened I want to spend some time fussing with it. Until then Happy New Year!

we interrupt my NYC adventures for this announcement

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Seth Apter is at it again – building community, proving that the art world is ABUNDANT and that there is plenty and joy for all. His book The Pulse of Mixed Media, became a call for work on his blog, and now it has become an exhibit. I am excited to be a tiny part of this endeavor – you can see my contribution featured in this post. And I hope someone who lives locally will go take some nice pictures as I just can’t travel another centimeter this year! If you live near the space I hope you will go and see the show and take home some tiny mixed media loveliness for the holidays.

my work for the show

my work for the show

AEDM, wrapping up week 1.

I am staying with my youngest daughter for a few days while she has some tests and gets used to new medications. I brought a few things with me, mostly  teaching related, but I have been sneaking a little art in. A couple of collages in my art journal

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Using only what’s on hand is a stretch, but good for me.
And more prep work on the womens work project. I am about two thirds of the way through securing the book block for binding. It has taken so long to get to this point that I am getting frustrated. I just want to get the fun part, the embroidered binding started! So close. Maybe another hours worth of sewing till I get to that point. Ah well.

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I am trying to really embrace all the imperfections in this book, and no doubt it will be thoroughly overdone by the time I am through, but I am who I am, and this is what I am driven to make.
It really is the nature of my work, slow. Sometimes I wonder why the universe send me these long slow things, why I am so attracted to them.

Still finding my roots.

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It has been a slow art week. In addition to gearing up for classes, I am also away from home taking care of one of my children who had surgery earlier this week. I have been working in a tiny portable project and falling behind with my journaling. Here are some new images.

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Hopefully I will have something new to share soon!! Thanks for stopping by all the same.

do you miss me?

I am up to my ears in grading – and behind on everything because for some reason I thought it was a great idea to have a major international exhibition in the middle of the semester – well the show WAS an excellent idea – the timing not my most brilliant idea ever. Ah well, live and learn. I have SO much to share about the experience – but it is going to have to wait one more week. In the meantime more crazy leaf crush sewing!

sewn with sulky thread and very trick as the leaf was already pressed and dried - very fragile!

sewn with sulky thread and very tricky as the leaf was already pressed and dried – very fragile!

maple detail

tree star tutorial – finally!

mixed media on panel - tree star - for coffee and canvas at Infinity

mixed media on panel – tree star – for coffee and canvas at Infinity

I developed this project for “coffee and canvas” night at Infinity. Like many other art centres we are trying to encourage our whole community to find their creativity – and these evenings are a super friendly, low-key introduction to finding your creative self. It is designed to be a foolproof project and if you want to give it a try here are the step by step instructions.

The foundation for the project is a plywood panel, I buy finish grade plywood in large sheets and cut it down into smaller panels – the one for this project is 12 inches by 12 inches, the final step in this stage is to sand all the edges and prime the whole panel.

Next I covered the whole panel with old book pages to create a base. Over the book pages I sprayed some alcohol inks, and in the workshop some participants added watercolours on this layer. It doesn’t need to look like anything – this is just to add colour and texture to the final project. Let all this dry thoroughly.

old pages with alcohol inks

old pages with alcohol inks

Now to add the moon – I used a transfer technique for this. I printed an image of the moon, cut it out and covered the printed side with modge podge (or an acrylic medium) and press it down onto your prepared board wherever you want the moon to be. Let this dry. The longer you leave it to dry the better. The final part of this process is to gently wet down the paper and rub it away – I use my fingers but you can use a soft brush or eraser. The trick is not to get it too wet or the glue gets sticky again. It doesn’t matter if the transfer is imperfect or if you rub part of it away. To finish the moon I also drew over the transfer with a white gel pen. You can copy the craters and lines of your transfer or just make something up!

cut out print of the moon

cut out print of the moon

stuck onto the panel printed side down

stuck onto the panel printed side down

with layer of gel pen over the transfers

with layer of gel pen over the transfers

The starry tree uses a mask technique. For the workshop I had this file cut at a printer with a vinyl sign shop – I didn’t have to go far as the family printer I work for has a vinyl cutter. If you don’t want to pay to have a mask cut or don’t have access to a vinyl cutter you could transfer this image onto card stock and stick it down with a re-positionable adhesive instead, or create your own tree in the same way. If you use sign vinyl I would recommend sticking it to your clothes before sticking it to your project to take away some of the adhesive’s tack. (or ask for a re-positionable vinyl). So once you have your tree and stars stick them to the board, this is where everyone gets a chance to make the project their own and really shine!

with the vinyl mask applied

with the vinyl mask applied

To create the star filled night sky I used a watercolour wash sprinkled with kosher salt, the two react with each other to create an easy starry effect. You can do this multiple times in layers until you get an effect you like.

covering the whole thing in watercolour paint o create the starry sky

covering the whole thing in watercolour paint o create the starry sky

Once your sky is dry gently peel away the tree and star masks, revealing your textured paper layer below. I had a few stars that stuck a little too well and peeled away the top paper layer – if this happens to you never fear – the very last step will allow  you to fix this!

some of the paper peeled away with the mask - but we can fix it

some of the paper peeled away with the mask – but we can fix it

Lastly I added some stars I cut out from decorative papers scraps – you all know I never throw any paper away, I also used some punches to make tiny flowers to sprinkle in the branches. I used the gel pen to emphasize some of the stars and the tree branches. The beauty of this project is you can keep on layering more paper and pen until you are happy with what you see.

Lastly I sealed the whole project with a spray varnish. And there you have it – a starry mixed media tree, step by step with error proof fixes built right in! If you try this tutorial please send me an image and let me know how it works out for you. Feel free to share with friends and family – just let them know where your inspiration came from!

Thanks to all the participants in my Infinity group for a fun evening – and to Infinity for being such a great space for creative people!!

Lastly – if you would like me to come and teach this workshop for you please email me at debraeck at debraeck dot com.

playing

a very purple journal page

I swear I went to the studio to do some work, but I couldn’t focus so I ended up playing in my journal instead. I wish I was one of those super messy journal-ers but I am not. I am drawn to clean open journal pages. I made one that was a bit messier than this but I don’t like it as well. In the interest of full disclosure here’s a section of it!

messier – and I don’t like it!!

5 for silver, 6 for gold

Next installment in the magpie book, finally managed to squeeze in a few minutes in the studio to finish these pages. The baby is still having a hard time, feeling just better enough to be really bored and frustrated but not well enough to get back to her normal life. So probably a few more weeks recuperation yet. Anyway, hope you like them

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