Thursday, July 31, 2014

ATC Cards for July Challenge

Deb Prewitt at Blue Twig Studio has a monthly ATC Challenge. June's ATC challenge was eyes and the ATC's really captured my attention. They are so unique and beautiful. Depending on how many ATC's are returned each month, Deb picks 1-3 winners and the winners receive a portion to all of the ATC's for that month.

I've belonged to a couple of ATC groups here in AZ over the past few years. The first one had about 12 people in the group and we voted on a theme each month. You had to make 13 cards (one for each person and one for the store) and we traded cards. It was fun and creative. The group disbanded when the store we met at closed. Last year, I joined another group for a time that had about 16 members. Making that many cards each month took too much time, with everything else on my schedule, so I ended up dropping out of the group.

With Deb's encouragement, I decided to try join her ATC Challenge. The really nice thing with this group is that I only need to make one card to enter! I think I can handle one card! After all it's only 3 1/2" x 2 1/2" in size! That's just a tiny piece of artwork! 

July's challenge is birds.  I made 2 different ATC cards and mailed them off to her. I mailed them off a week ago, but didn't want to post them before the deadline to have the cards turned in. These are the cards I made.

Before I really knew exactly what I wanted to create for a "bird" ATC card, I started off using yellow, orange, pink, red and a touch of blue watercolor to create a background on mixed-media paper. I added salt before it dried to add some texture.

First try at a watercolor background on mixed-media paper.. 
I decided to create birds silhouetted against the moon on one side of the card, with a saying "Indulge your imagination in every possible flight" on the other side of the card. I tried to add a white moon to the above background, but it doesn't show up. Save it for another month!!!  I got a piece of 140lb watercolor paper and started over. I used blue, indigo, and black to create a background and then lifted the paint to create a half-moon on one side of the watercolor.

Watercolor background with salt texture on
140 lb watercolor paper. 
Finished ATC card. Watercolor background.
Black Prismacolor pen size 0.01 was used to
create the birds, Multicolor brush style
Prismacolor pens were used for the saying.

 I had a better idea what I wanted to do for a second ATC card. I started with mixed-media paper and painted half of it in watercolors with blue and greens.  I again added salt to add a bit of texture.The other half the card is covered with black card stock on which I drew a feather design drawn with several colors of Souffle pens. Then I added a 3D sticker of a bird perched on a birdhouse to the blue background. and an envelope with a card in it with a saying, "My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather."

Finished ATC card. 
Finished ATC card showing the saying that
the envelope contains. 

Back of ATC cards.

Both cards have the same thing on the back for a label. I've seen others who use a stamp for the ATC label, but I've never found one to buy, so I just hand-label all of them. 

I hope these are good enough for the group. I've been sick and the month of July got away from me before I realized if I didn't get something made, I would never get it mailed in time for Deb to receive them. 

Keep creating!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Week 30 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

July is quickly drawing to a close. I had time to sketch this week!! I've been sick with a respiratory infection and have spent 1 1/2 weeks in bed, sleeping and resting.  I can't remember the last time I ran a fever for a week!

The good thing about this is I quickly grew bored reading, sleeping, and watching TV. I drew more than I usually get time to do this week. I continued with the dragon studies by J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer from her book DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon that I've been working on the past several weeks (see last week's post).

This week, I finished the last two limb studies: delicate and furred limbs. A dragon with delicate limbs mainly flies, so it's limbs are more elongated and thinner than other dragons.

Delicate Arm of dragon - pencil on mixed-media paper.  Of

 all the limb studies, this one makes me think more of a human
arm, with elongated fingers and claws. It was a bit easier to 
draw than the other limbs have been so far. 
Delicate leg of dragon - pencil on mixed-media paper. Again, 

the leg is similar to a human leg down to the ankle. The foot is 
definitely more elongated with the toes more like fingers.
Delicate Dragon - pencil and colored pencil on mixed-media paper. I decided to use colored pencils this time, rather than pencils to create all the values. The spiky membranes below the ears and in place of horns on the head would have been more difficult to differentiate with just black/white values. I didn't feel well enough to attempt this in pencil. The colored pencils definitely made the range of values easier to achieve. I'm not totally happy with the proportions of the limbs - they still need some work. But it's a unique pose for a dragon, Overalll, I think he's a cute little dragon. 

Furred Arm of Dragon - pencil on mixed-media paper. 
Furred Leg of Dragon - pencil on mixed-media paper. 

The limbs of the furred dragon were relatively easy to sketch. There is not much musculature definition to the limbs. The fur was fairly easy in Peffer's exercise, as the fur is drawn in "clumps" rather than individual strands.

Furred Dragon - pencil and colored pencil on mixed-media paper. I enjoyed drawing this dragon. The fur was fun to add to the body and wings. However, it was also challenging to shade correctly to show the different layers in the fur. 

The Furred Dragon has been my favorite dragon to draw so far. I like the way she looks. She seems regal, proud and benevolent to me.  I'm ready to move on to the next study- which is dragon heads and facial expressions. Facial expressions will be a challenge!

Keep creating!

Book Club - Show Your Work (alternate book)

July's book club book was The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  Unfortunately, I could not find the book to be able to read it. Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio (host for the book club) did a very nice write up in her blog.  Sounds like it's a good book about what causes resistance in our life to creating our art, as well as, how to combat this resistance in our life.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
Since I couldn't get a hold of The War of Art, I read the sequel to last month's book, Steal Like an Artist (see post from July 1)  - Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon.  This book was just as fun to read as his first book, with lots of good advice. 

Whereas in Steal Like an Artist, Kleon discussed stealing influence from others, Show Your Work is about how to influence others by letting them steal from you. The book is divided into 10 chapters with the following headings:
  1. You Don't Have to Be a Genius.
  2. Think Process, not Product.
  3. Share Something Small Every Day.
  4. Open up Your Cabinet of Curiosities.
  5. Tell Good Stories.
  6. Teach What You Know.
  7. Don't Turn into Human Spam.
  8. Learn to Take a Punch.
  9. Sell Out.
  10. Stick Around.
Kleon says the best way to get started sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.

     "Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking 
       for you find you." - Dan Harmon

The main idea of the book is the process, not the product. In documenting the process, you can see your work more clearly. Kleon says to share your process (and product) with others on the Internet with a website, or a blog, or a social media site, such as Twitter or Facebook - share a little something every day, if possible.  What you share doesn't have to be perfect. (It's taken me years to realize that I don't need to strive for perfection to the point of living in so much stress all the time. I can relax now and enjoy the process!)  Your influences are worth sharing because they let people in on who you are and what you do. (This advice is also hard for me, as I've always had trouble letting people in.)  Teach what you know - when you teach, you are generating interest in your work. (I have enjoyed teaching - I think I learn more than the students every time I teach!) As you share your work, others will start seeing it, which generates more interest and more people seeing your work.  It reminds me of the Kevin Costner movie, "Field of Dreams", from several years ago about building the baseball field and he kept saying, "If you build it, they will come." 

     "Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share 
       your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time." - Andy Baio

Lastly, Kleon's advice is to pay it forward and to keep working. When one project is finished, start another. But take a break occasionally, as needed, to avoid burnout, and more importantly, to generate new ideas. 

     "We work because it's a chain reaction, each subject leads to the next." - Charles Eames

I enjoyed this book - it's full of good advice, just like his first book.I am trying to share my work online weekly at this point. Right now that is more than enough to keep me busy.

Next month's book is The Trickster's Hat by Nick Bantock. 

Keep creating!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Week 29 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

More dragons!! It's week 29 of the weekly sketch part of the 365 Days of Art Challenge started by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio.  The last couple of weeks, I played with digital art. This week, I've gone back to sketching more exercises from J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon  (see previous posts). I'm continuing the dragon limb studies.

This week's study is dragons with stubby legs.
Stubby Dragon Arm - pencil on mixed-media paper
Stubby Dragon Leg - pencil on mixed-media paper. 
I'm pleased with the leg, but the arm still needs work on the musculature, especially in the lower part of the arm. The elbow also needs some work - way too pointy!! Needs a horn added to it so it has a reason to be that pointed! Lol!! However, I think the stubby limbs have been the simplest to sketch so far - although I've only done 2 other sets of limbs (basic and bipedal). Peffer still has two more studies on limbs (delicate and furred).

 Stubby-legged dragon - pencil on mixed-media paper. I think it looks more like a dinosaur
with wings! Lol! However, I think I did a better job the arm musculature with this sketch. The
wing that faces front, showing both the underside and top of the wing definitely needs more work,
 since I'm having trouble differentiating the underside from the top! Back to the drawing board!!!

I'm enjoying these dragon studies. They are a challenge, but I'm certainly learning more about dragons and realizing I still have a ways to go.  I think sketching animals and people would be a huge benefit to help me learn more about muscle and bone structure. Does anyone have suggestions for good reference books or tutorials? I'd appreciate your input.

Have a wonderful week!
Be creative!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week 28 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

It's been an exciting week and has kept me busy enough that I didn't get this posted yesterday as planned. My daughter came over yesterday to tell me she was pregnant!! It's her first! So she's very excited, but nervous, too.

On to the 365 Days of Art Challenge - Week 28! Time just keeps marching forward! I did some more digital art this week. I worked with my Paper Camera app that I mentioned in last week's post (Week 27 of the 365 Days of Art Challenge).  I chose a photo that I took of my 2-yr old grandson playing the piano and then used the different effects available in Paper Camera to show the features of the app. 

This is my original photo - a vignette of my grandson singing while playing a small electric piano. I had planned to use a flower image, but the photo of my grandson shows off the various effects better.  
Vignette of 2 year old grandson singing while playing electric piano.
I originally edited this photo using Photoshop Elements.
 Following are the 14 effects available in the Paper Camera app. There are various choices in each effect (background, brightness, colors, contrast, edges, foreground, lines, saturation, quantization, shine, slickness, strokes, water, vignette)  that can be manipulated to change the final outcome of the photo. Paper Camera can take a photo to work from or use a photo already on your tablet to create digital art. I thin this app creates some interesting effects to use in digital art.

I tried to put these in a video format. The preview worked great, but every time I then saved the final version, the program would crash. The company said it's a bug in the program and they are working on it. Hopefully next time I have so many photos (especially of a series), I can put them in a video!  

Acquarello produces a watercolor effect. 
Andy Pop is reminiscent of Andy Warhol's work.

Bleaching washes out the colors.
Comic Boom creates a comic book look.

Contour creates a monotone drawing. The color can be changed. 

Gotham Noir creates a rich black and white image.

Granny's Paper produces a sepia-toned image.
Half Ton creates a dot matrix effect in color. 
Haystacks is reminiscent of pointillism (creating an image using dots of color).
Neon Cola creates an effect like a neon sign - bright, bold colors against the dark night. 

Old Printer - The image appears to have been created on an old dot matrix printer.
You probably need to be over 40 to remember the old dot matrix printers. Lol!
(I'm certainly dating myself since I remember using these printers!)  

Pastel Perfect gives the soft effect of pastels.

Pen and Ink produces a blue monotone image.

Sketch Up produces a pencil or charcoal- like drawing of the image. 

Thank you for checking out all the effects that Paper Camera can create with me. 

Keep creating!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Week 27 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

View of dust storm heading our direction (coming
west) Photo taken from backyard. The opaque 
cloud that can be seen over the tree tops and
roofs is the dust storm. The trees and roofs give
an idea of how high the dust cloud is. Blue sky 
can still be seen above this cloud of dust.
It's been a hot muggy week here in AZ. We officially started our monsoon season with a huge dust storm last weekend. Visibility was reduced to 0 in some areas. I went outside to check on the chickens and could see a wall of dust coming our way quickly! By the time I got my husband to help me round up the chickens to enclose for safety, they had already gathered in their nesting box and we were able to just close it. They are smarter than I give them credit for!! The storm hit just then. Hard to see with keeping my head down and eyes covered (still got dust and dirt in them!). Wish we had gotten rain with the storm!

View of dust storm heading our way from front yard (coming up from the south).  The dust storm looks bigger from the front yard. The wind was strong enough to topple huge trees in the neighborhood.  

I played on my tablet this week with two photo-editing apps. One is Pixlr Express, which I use frequently to touch up pictures. This app also allows me to combine photos, add text, texture, stickers, etc. to photos as well. It's fun to experiment with. The above photos of the dust storm are edited in Pixlr Express to help emphasize the dust clouds.  

The other app I enjoy using on my tablet for editing photos is Paper Camera  because of the choice of effects that can be used to make photos look like drawings or paintings. The following photos are ones I edited in Paper Camera. 

My Jack Russell Terrier, Abu, is 15 years old. He loves to sleep on his pillows all day, except to take a walk or to eat people food or a doggie treat! I love the Sketch Up effect in Paper Camera. This photo really looks like a sketch, even though I've not picked up a pencil at all! This is my sketch for this week! Lol!!
With this photo of seed pod on a cactus in our front yard, I used the Neon Cola effect of Paper Camera.
It creates bold outlines of the various colors in the photo and puts them on a dark background. 

Photo of my daughter edited in Paper Camera using the Haystack effect. The Haystack
effect transforms the photo to look like it's been painted using pointillism (tiny dots of color). 
A photo I took in Sedona last fall. I used Paper Camera's Acquarello effect. This

makes the photo look like a watercolor (albeit a paint-by-number watercolor! Lol!).
This is another photo from Sedona. I used Paper Camera's Andy Pop effect to create a tiled
image in the style of Andy Warhol. The number of rows and columns can be changed. 
This is another photo I took in Sedona last fall. This is the Pastel Perfect effect to make the photo look like it's been painted in pastels. I like this effect, but wish it were a bit lighter and brighter. 
This time I used the Gotham Noir effect from Paper Camera with the same photo
as above. Gotham Noir creates rich black and white images of photos. 

I hope you enjoyed the various effects of the Paper Camera app. These are only half the effects available in Paper Camera. There are a several other styles in Paper Camera that I did not show today, like Comic Boom (I believe this is suppose to give a comic book like effect), Old Printer (black and white dots like the old printers use to do), Contours (looks more like a charcoal drawing with outlines), Bleaching (the photos is outlined with the colors faded), Half Ton (similar to the Old Printer but in color), Granny's Paper (sepia toned), and Pen and Paper (photos is done in shades of blue).  I'll create photos using those effects and post them in another blog.

Made it through another week! Keep being creative!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Week 26 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

The year is half over!! Can hardly believe it's July already! Time flies when you're having fun! I'm continuing my dragon studies from J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book, DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon (for more info, see post from June 10, 2014) this week .

In Week 24 of the 365 Days of Art Challenge, I started working on dragon limbs. I've continued that study this week with bipedal dragons. These would be dragons that walk upright like t-rex and velociraptor dinosaurs.

Bipedal Dragon Arm - pencil on mixed-media paper.

Bipedal Dragon Leg - pencil on mixed-media paper.

This week's study was a challenge for me. I had a hard time with the arm because the shoulder is included in the sketch. As I was working on it, I kept wondering where the extra joint came from and had to keep reminding myself - it's the shoulder!! Lol! The hand seemed so large, too, until I remembered that velociraptors and t-rex have puny arms, but large hands with claws.  The leg was a bit easier to sketch - I had to think about a dog's paws to draw the foot elongated with only the ball of the foot touching the ground.

Bipedal Dragon - pencil on mixed-media paper. 

I am happy overall with the dragon.  However, I don't like the way the shoulder muscle attaches - how it connects to  both the puny arms and the wings. The neck also needs more work - it is rotated some, so I should have a 3/4 view of the head, instead of the side view.  That's the purpose of these studies - to learn and improve!

I struggle to get the musculature and proportions correct. This year of sketching weekly is a big help! I'm drawing more consistently and am able to critique my work more honestly.  I have all these thoughts and ideas, but need to continue to improve my technique to get them on paper (fabric, canvas, or whatever other medium takes my fancy for a particular project).

Thank you for stopping by! Please, leave a comment. I enjoy reading what you have to share.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Club - "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. was the book for this month’s book club with Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio.  The book is quick to read, full of humor, and advice on being an artist.  Austin Kleon wrote and illustrated the book as advice he would give to his younger self. 
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Back of book  listing chapter headings
He starts out stating that nothing is original – "There is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9 - that an honest artist “steals” his ideas - that we learn by copying. Copying isn't plagiarism, it's about reverse engineering to see how it works. 

       Salvador Dali said, "Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing." 
       Wilson Mizner said "If you copy from one person, it's plagiarism, but if you copy from many,
           it's research". 
       Gary Panter said, "If you have one person you're influenced by, everyone will say you're the 
          next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you're so original." 
       Pablo Picasso said, “Art is theft.”

Another thing I do that Kleon suggests is always carry paper to jot down thoughts, observations, doodles, conversations, etc. He says to keep a “swipe” file (digital or analog) of stuff you’ve swiped from others – notes, pictures, sayings  – anything for inspiration. 

       Mark Twain says, “It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around      

Kleon also says don’t just steal style, steal the thinking behind the style. Don’t look like you’re hero, see like your hero. Study, transform and remix. Make art that you want to see. Write stories that you want to read. Write not what you know, but what you like! Add something to the world that only you can add.

       German writer Goethe said,  “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

I love his advice to practice productive procrastination! Work on several projects at one time – when stuck on one, move to another – eventually you’ll figure out the first one and be able to finish it. I do enjoy working on more than one project at a time for just that reason. 

The secret is to share with people.  Wonder about something and then invite others to wonder with you.  The more open you are, the closer people feel to you.  Be curious, kind, have stamina, and a willingness to look stupid. And finally, instead of wasting anger complaining or lashing out, channel it into creativity.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
The last thing that really struck me was Kleon’s statement that creativity is subtraction. Choose what to leave out, so can concentrate on what’s really important. He gave an example about Dr. Seuss, who wrote The Cat in the Hat with 236 different words. When his editor bet him that he couldn't write a book with only 50 different words, Dr. Seuss won with Green Eggs and Ham.  It’s often what the artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting. Creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out. 

This is a good book to read more than once for the advice and suggestions! Makes me want to read Austin Kleon's latest book, Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. 

Have fun.

Next month's book is "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.