Friday, October 31, 2014

Week 43 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

It's been a very busy week. Between doctor's appointments for my pregnant daughter, watching grandkids, and working on 2 quilt challenges, I didn't have much time for drawing this week. But I did finish one drawing for Deb Prewitt's 365 Days of Art Weekly Sketch Challenge.

I was able to get one more dragon hatchling drawn this week from J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book: Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon that I've been working from this year. (See previous posts here.)

I've been working through the dragon hatchling exercises (see week 41's post). This week I only got one hatchling completed. Here is my Fairy Dragon hatchling.

Fairy Dragon Hatchling, 5" x 4", pencil on mixed-media paper. 

Fairy Dragons are the smallest of the dragons. They start out tinier that one might imagine (I think of a tiny hummingbird baby).  The baby Fae dragon will mimic an adult in miniature. Its wings may not be fully functional or as brightly colored yet. It is more plain, lacking the elaborate patterns and bright colors of adults. While most of the Fae baby is small and round, the loppy, oversized crests behind the ear are bigger (relatively), helping to give the age of the dragon. The spines of the wings connect with gentle U shapes forming the membrane stretched between them, instead of being sharp and dangerous like an adults.

I enjoyed drawing this tiny dragon, with her big eyes and floppy crests and wings. I would've liked to add color to this hatchling, but didn't have time before posting this week (especially since the week is almost over! Lol!). She seems like a delicate little dragon, and I feel I captured that aspect. I hope you enjoyed my sketch this week.

Keep creating!!

Blue Twig Studio Design Team: Review of Products and first Projects

I have been asked to be a member of Deb Prewitt's Design Team for her shop, Blue Twig Studio.  I feel very honored that Deb chose me. I pray I live up to her expectations! I appreciate any and all comments, as your input is valuable to me.

For the month of November, I tested a few products and used them in two projects (a postcard and tealight holders) that will be displayed at Blue Twig Studio.  I started with quick, easy projects, so these could be done for the upcoming holidays - a handmade postcard you could send someone special or tealight holders for gifts or to decorate your home.

The products I'm specifically testing and reviewing this month are:
  1. Tim Holtz's Distress Paint in brushed pewter  and victorian velvet (pink). (photos 1, 2). These are acrylic paints dabbers for multiple surfaces.
  2. Viva Croco Crackling Color in blackberry (purple color) (photo 3) 
  3. a Mini Navaho, 6x6 Stencil by The Crafters, Designs by Jaime (photo 4)
Photo 1.  Tim Holtz's Distress Paint. 
Photo 2.  Sponge dabbers to
apply the acrylic paint.
Photo 3. Viva Croco Crackling Colour

Photo 4. Mini Navaho 6x6 stencil by The Crafter's Workshop, Designs by Jaime
  A couple other products I used to help create the projects were:
  1. Dylusions Ink Spray in bubblegum pink (photo 5)
  2. Martha Stewart Crafts: Fine Glitter Translucent Glass Paint in antique silver (gold color) (photo 5).
Photo 5. Dylusions Ink Spray and Martha Stewart Crafts: Fine Glitter Translucent Glass Paint.

First Project: Postcard
Photo 6. Postcard with pewter paint.
   The postcard is Strathmore 140 lb 4" x 6" acid-free, cold-pressed watercolor paper. I coated the postcard with the brushed pewter distress paint, leaving a shiny gray surface (photo 6). I added the victorian velvet (pink) paint through the stencil (photo 7), but it didn't work very well. The paint bled under the stencil, leaving a fuzzy pattern. I ended up smearing the paint over the entire postcard, so the postcard has a mottled background of pewter and pink.(photo 8). I decided to try the glittery translucent paint that I have in antique silver with the stencil (photo 9.) Some of the stencil pattern isn't well-defined, but I like the texture and color it adds to the matte effect of the distress paints. I like bright colors, so I sprayed Dylusions Ink Spray in bubblegum pink through the stencil over one corner of the postcard. (photo 10). To see how the cracking colour works on paper,  I added it to just a few of the stenciled areas for more interest, texture, and value (photo 11).  After the crackling colour dried for 24 hours, I zentangled the word JOY using black Sakura micron pens in sizes 0.01, 0.03, and 0.05 (photo 12). For further embellishment, I added a large opalescent sequin and a pink fabric flower over it the "O" (photo 13).

Photo 7. Adding pink paint through the stencil.
Photo 8. Mottled background layer of pewter and pink paint.

Photo 10. Sprayed Dylusions Ink Spray through stencil.
Photo 9. Glittery translucent paint stenciled.

Photo 12. "JOY" zentangled with micron pens across postcard

Photo 11. Crackling colour added selectively.
Photo 13. Finished postcard front. 

    The back of the postcard looked naked being bare of any paint or designs. I painted the back of the postcard with the distress paint dabbers, again creating a mottled pewter and victorian velvet (pink) background.   I added these quotes about JOY to the back once the paint was dry.(photo 14).

  • "Choose JOY" - Sara Frankl
  • "JOY, being happy, is a choice that you make every day." - Dawn Camp
  • "I will take Joy in the God of my salvation." - Habakkuk 3:18

I addressed it to myself for Deb to mail to me when she is done with the sample.

Photo 14. Back of postcard showing the "letter" side.

Second Project: Tealight Holders
     I also made tealight holders with the crackling colour. I started with a pair of 2" square glass holders (photo 15). Initially I painted them with the Martha Stewart Translucent Glittery Glass Paint in antique silver, which actually was more gold in color (photo 16). After that dried, I painted them with the blackberry crackling colour (photo 17). It needed to cure for 24 hours (photo 18), although the crackling started to appear after only a couple of hours. The tealight holders would look fine this way, but I decided to embellish them with a ribbon, a couple of leaf-shaped sequins, and a circular gold crystal, which I hot-glued to the tealight holders. They look beautiful with the tealights glowing through the crackling colour (photo 19).

Photo 15: Two-inch glass tealight holders.
Photo 16. Coated with antique silver glittery glass paint.
Photo 18. After curing crackling colour for 24 hours.

Photo 17. Adding the blackberry crackling colour.

Photo 19. Golden glow of tealights through the crackling. Holders embellished with ribbon, sequins and crystal.

These tealight holders will make nice, inexpensive gifts for the upcoming holidays or can be used to decorate your home. I love the soft, golden glow showing the crackling effect.

Notes about the products:
    Tim Holtz's sponge dabbers were easy to use the first time I opened them. The paint rolled smoothly over the surface of a watercolor paper postcard.  However, there were a couple days between using the Tim Holtz's Distress Paint dabbers on the front of the postcard and the back of the postcard. I had no problems with the victorian velvet color, but the brushed pewter dabber would not allow paint to flow onto the dabber sponge. I found the ball for mixing the metallic paint was stuck in the opening where the paint flows. However, even after removing it, I still could not get paint to flow onto the dabber sponge. I ended up using removing the dabber sponge cap and dipping a paint brush into the bottle of paint and knocking it over in the process. Thankfully, I was able to save most of the paint. The bottles do say to store them upside-down, which I did. I would advise if the dabber will not work, to pour a couple drops of paint into a palette and close the bottle.  (Do NOT work with an open bottle of paint! lol!)
    The directions for the crackling colour say to use a thicker layer to get the best crackling effect, with 1-4 mm being the optimum range of thickness.  The crackling on the postcard and the glass tealight holders came out best where I layered the colour closer to 1mm than the 4mm of thickness. The thicker layers on the glass did not crackle as well (as can be seen in photo 19). On the other hand, too thin a layer does not crackle at all  - this happened on one place on the postcard, where I got the layer too thin (photo 13).

Other thoughts:
     I had never used the Viva Croco Crackling Colour before, although I have used Tim Holtz's Distress Paint previously. The victorian velvet and brushing pewter created a challenge, as these are not colors I normally use. But I had fun creating the postcard. I plan to create more postcards to send to family for the upcoming holidays. I love the tealight holders, but  I enjoy lighting candles especially when we have guests. I will be making more sets of these to give to my daughter and daughters-in-law for Christmas.

     I hope you enjoyed the review and projects. Try these products, if you haven't already. Experiment and have fun!

Keep creating!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct Book Club - Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko (continued)

The book club, hosted by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio, continued with the book: Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko for the month of October (see last month's post).  Deb has many good comments in her blog post. Some people finished the book, but some still didn't get the book finished - I'm one of those. I only got through about 2/3 of the book. However, the book is long with many techniques, examples, and exercises, making it difficult to read very quickly.

Thinkertoys is about changing how you think. It is mainly related to business, but can be applied to art and creativity or other areas in your life. The book is divided into sections for logical thinking and intuitive thinking with many real-life examples (right and left brain thinking makes more sense to me).  Michalko uses illustrations, as well, that include optical illusions, puzzles, brain teasers, and reversals, which he terms "Janusian thinking", named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces that looked in opposite directions. These were fun to figure out and see how he applied them to the technique he was explaining in a particular chapter.

This book's main purpose is to help enable thinking outside the box. As Deb reminded us, many of us think in the same way no matter what the problem or challenge is -  we tackle the problem or the challenge in the ways we have learned all of our lives. It is difficult to change this.

The exercises in the logical sections of the book made sense to me and I figured these would be the easiest for me to understand and try, since I have engineering degrees and engineers tend to think in a more logical manner. However, I found that some of the intuitive exercises were some of the ways I found solutions to problems over the years. In particular, one I use is where you either dream about the problem and let your subconscious solve it in your dreams, or the one in which you let your unconscious mind work on the problem as you are falling to sleep and wake yourself before falling into a deep sleep and write down the ideas you unconscious mind came up with.  My father always sleeps on problems and almost always figures out the answer by morning. He discussed these with the family often. Generally, I take longer than my father to find a solution.

I applied this technique recently to a quilt challenge the guild I belong to issued for this year's challenge. We are to make 2 quilts, both 18" wide by 48" high - one about our origins, and the other quilt about where we live now, AZ. The challenge is called "States of Mine."  I readily came up with an idea for AZ  - a flower I photographed in our front yard.  However, I was stuck on the origins quilt. What did Ohio mean to me? Fall? My grandfather's farm? His pond where we spent so many hours? What??  I had a photo of the farm in the fall that I want to quilt or paint. However, it just didn't fit the long, vertical format. My grandfather's pond where we camped, had cook-outs, swam, fished, ice-skated - so many memories - it works better in a horizontal, not a vertical format. Fall leaves? - I already painted a photo of these and didn't want to do them again. Nothing else was making me excited. I slept on it for over a month. It came to me over several nights as I dreamed about the sky, stars, the Milky Way, the moon, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon (he did this on my birthday and we watched through the telescope - Neil Armstrong is from Ohio close to where we grew up), my father getting us up many nights to look through the telescope at the moon and stars. I've had an interest in astronomy since childhood.  When we visit family in Ohio, I always go out at night to look at the Milky Way and the stars, or when we camp out in the desert, I look at the stars, as we usually take a telescope with us. As I was talking about it to a friend, it just hit me what I'd been dreaming about - the Milky Way. My challenge quilt will be the the  Milky Way, if I can get it finished by the challenge deadline!

A long story to explain how I used the dreaming technique explained in Michalko's book. I want to try some of the other techniques, too.

This is a very good reference book to help think outside the box. My husband is also enjoying reading the book, as he has a small business. He feels it will help give him ideas.

Next month's book is The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe. Sounds like an interesting book for November. But I've been intrigued by some of the Impressionists for many years.

Join us for book club. It would be more fun to interact with everyone at the store, Blue Twig Studio, in Colorado, but  I enjoy participating online via blogs and facebook.

Keep creating!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 42 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

This week has just flown by!! My daughter's birthday was Friday.  I took her shopping Saturday - got her first sets of maternity clothing and a Boppy body pillow for pregnancy. She was thrilled. Got some good buys and great discounts! Since it was her first pregnancy, she also got a goodie bag. Couldn't believe it contains 4 gift cards worth almost $200 !! And they are for items she'll actually need!! Made that shopping trip definitely worthwhile!

Sunday, we held a family birthday party for her at the neighborhood park. Had a good time. Our 2 1/2 yr old grandson went with Papa and Daddy to play on the playground. When it was time to call them for "cake" (a chocolate peanut butter pie at the birthday girl's request), he brought a 14 yr old girl with him!! She introduced herself and stayed for the birthday celebration! Can you believe it!!! 2 1/2 yrs old and already picking up girls!!! Oh my! He's starting early!!!

Anyway, I didn't get much time for sketching this week. So I'm showing a couple dragon sketches that I did a while back.
Momma Dragon Taking a Nap. 4" x 5". Pencil on mixed-media paper. 
Getting into Mischief, . 5" x 3". Pencil on mixed-media paper.

Now that I've been going through all the dragon studies, I can see things I would change if I drew these particular dragons again. I really like their expressions and that the baby dragons seem to be plotting mischief while Momma is sleeping.

I enjoyed drawing these. Unfortunately, I didn't write down my reference material. I would love to give credit where credit is due. Normally, I write this information down. Must've been a spacey that day! Lol!

I had originally drawn these dragons to use in a quilt. I had planned to have the mother dragon looking over the shoulder of a young girl at the sewing machine, teaching her to quilt, while one baby peered over the table and the other pulled on the spool of thread. It has never materialized into anything more than a very rough sketch. Maybe someday....

Keep creating!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week 41 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I enjoyed sketching this week - Week 41 -  for Blue Twig Studio's 365 Days of Art weekly sketch challenge. I'm continuing to work through J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book, DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon. This week I started the section on dragon hatchlings! I enjoy seeing how different artists depict baby dragons. Therefore, I'm thrilled to be learning how to draw them myself.

I was able to finish two of the dragon hatchlings this week. Just like a baby, they have large heads in comparison to their body size, a shorter spine, and large eyes. They also have stubby limbs, tail, and wings, soft and round body types with baby fat, and unsharpened horns. I'm pleased with my little hatchlings.

Western Dragon Hatchling, 4" x 4". Pencil and
0.005 black Sakura micron pen on mixed-media paper. 
Western dragon hatchlings often walk on four limbs and have a pair of bat-like wings. They usually don't have a full set of horns on their heads, but these will grow with time. They generally can't breathe fire at this tender age and are little, mischievous terrors. I think the little guy came out cute, but I had to fix a couple things that I didn't notice until I uploaded my photo onto the computer. I had drawn the tail crest growing from the side of the tail, instead of the spine- oops!  The wing seemed to be attached to the back of the neck, instead of the shoulder. This area still doesn't quite look correct to me, but I'm happy enough with it. I struggled with the open mouth as well.

Eastern or Lung Dragon Hatchling. 5" x 4". Pencil and
0.005 black Sakura micron pen on mixed-media paper.
The Eastern or Lung dragons have elongated bodies, so the baby has a body that's much longer than a Western dragon, but not quilt as long in proportion to its head as an adult. I really like her face and the up-turned back foot. I think these give her a cute pose. Peffer's directions are detailed with good instructions.  I do change some things in the exercises, but not all the time. I figure I have time enough to create original work once I'm done working through all the studies from Peffer's book.

It really helped uploading the picture to my computer to see the proportions, so I think I'll try to do this more often in the future to see if I need to do anything else to drawings or paintings, before saying "I'm done!"  I do this with my quilts, so not sure why I don't with my art work! Lol!

Next week will see more dragon hatchlings! Thanks for visiting!

Keep creating!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Week 40 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

I had to work hard to finish my weekly sketch for Deb Prewitt's ( Blue Twig Studio) 365 Days of Art Challenge.  I had the sketch done in plenty of time, but decided to color it. That took me longer than it did to draw the sketch! Whew! But I'm very happy with this week's sketch.

I continued with the next exercise in J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book: DragonArt Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon. (see last week's post).  Last week I drew various types of lung dragon heads. This week, I drew a full-size lung dragon. Lung Dragons are benevolent, wise Oriental or Eastern dragons. They are a favorable sign to anyone lucky enough to see one. The lung dragon is a long, serpentine dragon with the eagle-like talons and the horns of a deer. They are able to soar through the heavens without the use of wings - definitely magical in nature!

This is my full-size lung dragon.

Full-size Lung Dragon. 7" x 10" with 0.005 and 0.03 black Sakura
micron pens and Derwent watercolor pencils on mixed-media paper. 

I am extremely pleased with this week's sketch. I've drawn many medieval or Western dragons before, but this was my first attempt at a Lung or Eastern dragon (full-size).  I decided to color him after getting the pencil drawing sketched in. There are so many details that I thought I might get lost in laying in the values in pencil or charcoal. It took me awhile to get the color in, but I think this is the best dragon sketch I've done so far. I feel I have the proportions correct (or at least close enough). I love the colors of the clouds in the background going from light and airy to dark and stormy.   I feel like I captured the cloth trailing from the jeweled pin on his chest. I found the folds a challenge, especially in the printed areas.

I hope you like my lung dragon.   Next week I move on to baby dragons! I'm excited about this exercise. Peffer gives studies of several types of baby dragons, so I may take 2 or 3 weeks to do all of them.

Thank you for taking time to look at my sketches. Keep creating!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 39 of 365 Days of Art Challenge

Wow! The 39th week of the 365 Days of Art Challenge. The year is 3/4's over! How has the year been going by so fast?? I've been accomplishing one thing that I didn't accomplish last year! I've been sketching weekly!! This has been a great challenge for helping me do the drawing I've been wanting to do, especially doing the exercises in J. "Neon Dragon" Peffer's book, Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon. I still have several exercises yet to do, but I'm getting them done due to this weekly sketch challenge and posting it! For me, posting the weekly sketch is almost more of a challenge than doing the sketch. That means I have to let the world see what I'm working on. That can be scary! Thanks for the push, Deb!

I moved on from the medieval dragons to Lung Dragons (see previous posts here).  From Peffer's description, lung dragons are Oriental or Eastern dragons - they are more sinuous then medieval dragons and are also more benevolent and wiser. These first few exercises are dragon heads from the front, side and 3/4 views. I added black ink to the sketches this week to try something a bit new. This was also scary, as ink is not erasable if I made any mistakes!

Ancient Lung Dragon head, front view. 3" x 6", 0.005 black Sakura
micron pen and pencil on mixed-media paper.  Peffer said the front view 
is the hardest, as everything has to be symmetrical. My symmetry may not
be perfect, but I think the front view and side views are the easiest to create. 

Bearded Lung Dragon head. side view. 4" x 5". 0.005 Sakura micron pen and
pencil on mixed-media paper. The side view is probably the easiest view to draw,
as you don't have to make two eyes look the same, get the foreshortening of the
nose correct, make the mouth, nose, ears, and horns symmetrical, etc. I'm not sure
which view I enjoy more - the front or side view. I like both.  

     Lung Dragon Head, 3/4 view. 4" x 3".  0.005 Sakura micron pen and pencil on mixed-media
     paper. I find the 3/4 view the hardest to sketch. Getting the nose and eye correct is difficult,
     whether drawing dragons, animals, or people. I find it a challenge to get the perspective correct. 

I'm very happy with my dragon heads this week, especially the front and side views. The 3/4 view is my challenge - I have not found any book or had a teacher really explain capturing this view in such a way that makes it easier for me to sketch. I will keep on practicing!!

Next week, I move on to a full lung dragon.

Keep creating!