Thursday, January 29, 2015

January ATC Challenge - Circles

The theme for this month's ATC Challenge from Blue Twig Studio is circles.  I made two cards for this month.

The first one is Zentangle-Inspired-Art or ZIA. I drew 5 circles with a pencil and then started adding various tangles with a 0.005 black Sakura micron pen. I used a 0.05 black Sakura micron pen in the areas filled with black ink. I added shading with a pencil and tortillion. I used fain, flower, dragonair, tipples, and mooka tangle patterns. Zentangles are so very relaxing and fun to create. I never know how the finished piece will turn out until I'm done. It's always a happy surprise. I added this quote to the back:
                 "It's okay to spin around and around in the same place. Just so long as your  
                 singing your heart out. THAT's what life is all about." - Chica Umino

Zen Circles ATC - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". 0.005 and 0.05 black
Sakura micron pen and pencil on bristol paper.

The second ATC card started with blue watercolor painted in streaks on the bristol paper. Then I added circles of colors in yellow, blue, red, white, green, and purples. With a white paint pen, I added dots and dashes inside a couple of the circles. I embellished three of the circles with flower sequins and a fan-shaped sequin. I added googly eyes and a crystal nose to two of the circles to add whimsy to the whole card. On the back, I added this quote:
               "When in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout." - Laurence J. Peter

Googly Eye Circles ATC - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" - watercolor on bristol paper.
 Embellished with sequins, googly eyes, and crystals.

This was a fun challenge. I hope you will join us next time!

Keep creating!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blue Twig Studio - Jan Product Review and Project Step-Outs

This month's Blue Twig Studio product was a Treenway Silks package: Creative Silk Pack, in Winter Night Sky colors. It contains (8-10) silk hankies, (5) silk cocoons, (5-6) silk carrier rods, and some degummed throwsters silk. For those that are unfamiliar with these fibers: Silk hankies are 10" squares of silk fibers held together with a "selvegde.." The Bombyx cocoons are the home of the Bombyx silk worm and are spun of a continuous thread one mile long. They can be cut, painted, and sewn. The carrier rods are a by-product of reeling the silk from the cocoon. Some of the filaments get wound around the machinery. This silk is then slit and removed. The rods are 5-5 1/2" long when whole and unscrunched.  The degummed throwsters silk comes from a "throwster" who takes several silk filaments, assembles and twists (throws) the silk to create a reeled silk yarn that is substantial enough for weaving or knitting. These fibers, cocoons, and rods can be dyed in many colors. In the Winter Night Sky pack, the various silk fibers are dyed in shades of blue to purple.
Treenway Silks Creative Silk Pack in Winter Night Sky colors.
Contains silk hankies, cocoons, carrier rods, and degummed throwsters silk fibers.
Project:  This product gave me some thought on the best way to use it. I love working with silk fibers. However, you cannot felt silk without adding some wool fibers to trap the silk. Wool has little barbs that hold them together, but silk does not. I took a class last year with Noriko Endo (a Japanese fiber artist) on using silk fibers. She made beautiful silk scarves and wall hangings. I decided to do a silk scarf. I cheated by using a white silk scarf as a base, instead of just fibers, as Noriko Endo had us do in class (as there were not enough fibers in the package for me to make a scarf).

8mm Habotai silk scarf - 8" wide x 54" long.
First, I painted the scarf using a variety of paints: Pebeo Setasilk and Setacolor shimmers in greens, blues, and purples, and silver; and Liquitex Acrylic Inks in copper and bronze.

Pebeo Setasilk and Setacolor Shimmer
fabric paints in purples, blues, greens, and silver.
Liquitex Acrylic Ink in bronze and copper.
One end of the scarf after the painting has been completed and heat-set.

A couple other products that I used were Angelina fibers to add glitz and glimmer to the silk fibers, netting to trap the silk and Angelina fibers, and water soluble stabilizer to hold the layers together until I stitched them.

Angelina several shades of blue, bronze and copper.

Netting to trap the silk fibers between it and the silk scarf.
Water Soluble Stabilizer

One very necessary item that is needed when working with silk fibers is hand lotion. The silk fibers tend to stick to fingers unless lotion is applied frequently. So keep a jar or bottle handy while working with the silk fibers.

Hand lotion - very necessary for working with silk fibers.
When pulling silk fibers from a silk hankie, stretch the fibers out to create a thin layer.

Stretching the silk fibers of a hankie apart to create a thin layer.
Pulling off a piece of a silk hankie to work with.

Since I used a silk scarf for the base, I applied thin layers of the silk hankies to create texture and interest. (If a silk scarf base is not used, then a base created from multiple thin layers of the silk hankies applied in opposing directions on top of a layer of heavy water soluble stabilizer is necessary.) Besides the thin layers of the silk hankies, I added thin strips of the carrier rods, strings of the degummed throwsters silk, a whole carrier rod, Angelina fibers, and some silk flowers that I had in my silk fiber stash to the scarf.
A small portion of the scarf showing the thin layers from the silk hankies, curly
 strings from the degummed throwsters silk, thin strips of the carrier rods, silk 
flowers, and Angelina fibers laid on top of the painted silk scarf base.

After adding all the fibers, I added a layer of netting to trap the fibers and a layer of light-weight water soluble stabilizer to hold it all together. I sewed the layers together on my sewing machine using metallic threads and silk threads for further embellishment. I stitched approximately 8-10 curved lines lengthwise down the scarf. I also stitched across the short ends. (If creating a base of silk fibers, rather than using a silk scarf, then netting is not needed, as it is necessary to machine stitch with small circles no larger than 1/4" in diameter to hold the silk fibers together.)

Once I was done with the machine stitching, I further embellished the scarf with embroidery using silk floss. Ruth Chandler's book, Modern Hand Stitching, is a good resource for stitches.  I added buttonhole, fly, lazy daisy, and seed stitches. I also added beading to the silk flowers, lazy daisy flowers, and the silk carrier rods. Finally I cut a couple of the cocoons in half lengthwise, added beads to them and hand-stitched them to the scarf.

Hand-painted silk scarf embellished with silk hankies, silk carrier rods,
silk cocoons, degummed throwsters silk, Angelina fibers, embroidery and beading.
Detail of completed silk scarf.

Product Review:  The Treenway Silk Creative Silk Pack was fun. The silk fibers can be used in many wonderful ways. Winter Night Sky is just one of many colors the dyed fibers come in. Just remember to keep hand lotion available when handling the silk fibers to keep them from clinging to your fingers and getting everywhere!

Keep creating!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Face Sketching continued

I am continuing to work on faces using Jane Davenport's new book "Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces" (see last week's post here) to improve my portraiture skills.

After drawing simple, little "Draw Happy" faces for the first exercise, Davenport moves to adding guidelines to help place features on the face with confidence. The eyes are about halfway between the hairline and the chin, while the bottom of the nose is about halfway between the eyes and the chin, with  the mouth about halfway between the nose and chin. The ears sit between the eyes and nose.  All sketches are approximately 3" x 3" and use a pencil, 0.005 black Sakura micron pen, and a white Uni-Ball Signo gel pen.

Simple face with guidelines showing placement
 of the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. 
Davenport calls this Divide and Conquer! She says although there is a huge amount of variety in every face, the guides will work on any face shape and by sticking to these basic placements, the face will look balanced no matter what face shape is drawn. The exercise was to create a series of different shapes and draw simple faces onto them using these guidelines. (I did not completely erase all of my guidelines.) 

Circle base for the face.
Oval base for the face.
Square base for the face.
Rectangle base for the face.
Heart shape for the face.

These guidelines are a huge help with creating a face that looks realistic, although they are still simple faces. I only added a bit of shading to create depth. I added simple hairdo's - I wasn't concerned if they looked real - since I was mainly concerned with creating a symmetrical, somewhat, realistic face. The next few exercises start going into more details for creating a larger face - where getting facial features placed right will matter more.

I have a hard time creating a face that looks real from my imagination (that is not drawn by using a photo or looking at someone), but I'm already feeling more comfortable from just these first two simple exercises.  I think I'll soon be ready to add faces to mixed-media work and art journaling. 

Keep creating!

Week 2 of Weekly Art Challenge - Blended Photos

I am still waiting on my Dylusions Journal to start the Documented Life Project (DLP) by Art to the 5th Academy.  For 2015, DLP gives a prompt each week to create an art journal page. I've been wanting to do more mixed-media art journaling and thought this would be a fun way to meet that goal. Posting my results each week will also help keep me on track. However, I'm off to a late start, since my journal has been back-ordered. Thankfully, I've found another place to order it and hope to have it by the end of next week. (Thanks, Deb!)

In the meantime. I've been continuing to play with my photo-editing app, Pixlr Express, on my Android tablet. The first few photos are ones I took while in Ohio in December and played with the enhancements, effects, and overlay features of the app.

Foggy, cold morning. Picture taken from the driveway looking east.
The same foggy, cold morning. Taken from the front yard looking east. 
Looking out through the ice on the driver's window of the car at a tree beside the driveway.

The program was updated recently with a "blending photos" feature that I've been exploring. This feature allows 2 photographs to be blended with different effects - darken, multiply, color burn, lighten, screen, color dodge, add, overlay, soft light, hard light, and difference. I'm still learning what can be created with these effects. These are a few of the photos I've blended.

Combined the first foggy morning photo with the iced car window photo,
using the multiply blending effect 
Combined the 2nd foggy morning photo with the iced window photo, using the difference 
blending effect. More of the texture from the ice shows in this combination. This effect 
reminds me of an interference pattern.
I blended the iced window photo with one of the "Draw Happy" faces I posted
last week (see post here). This makes me think of a mixed-media painting. I like
the texture and color the iced window photo adds to the black and white sketch.  
Combined the tree from the 2nd foggy morning photo with a palmetto photo I took last
year in CA at a quilting retreat. I used the multiply blending effect.   
I combined the above blended photo of the palmetto and tree with another of the "Draw Happy" faces I posted last week (see post dated Jan 10, 2015).   I used the "add" blending effect. I really like the results of this combination. I can see printing this on fabric to use for an art journal cover or to create an art quilt. 

It's exciting to create new "photos" by blending them. I really like the results and can see printing some of the blended photos onto paper or fabric for mixed-media art, fiber artwork or quilts.  I'm just starting to explore the tip of the iceberg, as I haven't even begun to check out all of the "Overlay"and "Effect" features of the photo-editing software after blending two (or more) photos. The sky's the limit!!

Keep creating!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Face Sketching

I recently picked up a new book by Jane Davenport called "Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces: A Mixed-Media Portrait Workshop."  I had to skim the entire book the day it arrived. She draws such beautiful, whimsical faces.

Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces by Jane Davenport 
Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces back

When I took my first art classes several years ago, my instructor talked my into trying portraits, kicking and screaming the whole way! But I found out that I really enjoy creating portraits. Since then, I have done portraits in oil and colored pencil, and for commissions. I did these working from photos. I find it harder to draw a face without something to look at and have been wanting to get better at drawing faces for some time now. So when I saw her book online, I just had to pre-order it and it arrived a couple days later!

I stayed up until the middle of the night dong several faces for her first exercise called "Drawing Happy". These are little, simple "Draw Happy" faces that she gives about 10 step-by-step instructions to complete. Following these instructions I made about a dozen "Draw Happy" faces, approximately 2" x 2" in pencil, 0.005 black Sakura micron pen, and white Uni-Ball Signo gel pen unless stated otherwise.
Face #1 
Face #2 - Also used 0.005 red and sepia Prismacolor pens.
Face #3
Face #4
Face #5
Face #6 - Also used 0.005 red Prismacolor pen
Face #7
Face *8
Face #9 
Face #10
Face #11
Face #12

As you can see, my faces improved the more I drew. I like the last 3 the best. I can see the point of Davenport's exercise - the more you draw, the better you become! With drawing small faces, I could draw several in a fairly short period of time. These aren't meant to be detailed, realistic faces - just small, simplistic representations.

I'm looking forward to continuing to do the exercises in Davenport's book. She goes into more details in drawing faces that look more realistic, yet whimsical and she uses a variety of media - including pencil, pens, colored pencils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors, inks, etc. to accomplish the various drawings. Fun, fun, fun!! I also want to use these in my art journaling.  I used one of Jane Davenport's face stencils in my December project as a design team member for Blue Twig Studio. I hope to be able to draw my own whimsical faces, in addition to using the stencils, for various mixed-media, quilting, or drawing projects in the future.

Keep creating!

Week 1 - 2015 Weekly Art Challenge

I want to continue doing a weekly challenge this year, but it's taken me awhile to decide what I wanted to do. I thoroughly enjoyed Blue Twig Studio's weekly sketch challenge last year and want to do something again this year.  I can see in looking over my sketches from last year's challenge (see posts here), that taking time to sketch weekly helped me improve my skills. Also, it was also a lot of fun! I enjoy creating Zentangles, too, and thought about doing these daily, with a weekly sketch thrown in. Even though a Zentangle can be created in a short amount of time, I was afraid it would be more than I could realistically accomplish when I examine everything else in my life at this time.

Another weekly challenge I had thought about participating in was a weekly photography challenge that would help teach photograph skills and editing photos. I would love to improve both of these areas. However, I don't have the required DSLR camera or Adobe Photoshop and can't afford either of them currently.  So that challenge is out for now.

Lastly, another area I want to improve is my mixed-media skills. I found an online challenge for a 52-week art journal called  the "Documented Life Project 2015" (DLP) at Art to the 5th Academy. They will be giving a prompt every week to create an art journal page. I thought this would help me explore my art journaling more, as well as, be fun to do.

After much thought, I've decided to to the Documented Life Project (DLP) 2015 with Art to the 5th Academy for my weekly challenge.  I'm going to be behind one to two weeks, as I'm waiting on my Dylusions Creative Journal to arrive via mail. It was supposed to be here in 2 days, but so far it's been almost 10 days. Hopefully, I can catch up in a short amount of time once the journal arrives. In addition to the DLP, I will post my sketches, drawings, Zentangles, photos and digital artwork as I create them - I am just not going to commit to having these done on a weekly basis.

With all that long explanation now out of the way, since I can't start the DLP without the art journal, this first week I worked on some digital artwork. I used Pixlr Express to create the following digital artwork made up of blended photos or photos and drawings. I took all of the photos myself and drew all the drawings. I hope to print some of these on paper and use in my art journal once it arrives!
Photo of a rose with the morning dew (see post dated May 21, 2014) blended with a photo of a palm frond. Both photos taken  at Vina de Lestonnac in Temecula, CA, May 2014. The palm frond creates an interesting texture across the rose and rosebud. Overlays added more color to the background.

Photo of winter berries covered in ice blended with a photo of a funny looking tree in the middle of a river. Both photos taken  in Toledo, OH after a snow storm on Dec 6, 2011. Overlays added the bubble texture, while the red lines bring focus to the berries and tree. 
Photo of the winter berries covered in ice (taken in Ohio, Dec 2011) blended with the photo of the palm frond (taken in CA, May 2014). I like the contrast of the radiating straight lines from the palm frond with the round berries and organic shape of the ice covering the berries. Overlays added more color to the background.
Photo of a carpenter bee blended with a photo of a yellow flower. Carpenter bee taken in Chandler, AZ  (see post dated Mar 20, 2013). Yellow flower taken at my parents in Lima, OH in July 2013. The flowers the bee was hovering over blended with the yellow flower to create a unique background. The carpenter bee seems almost transparent. 
Photo of sunset blended with Dragon Rider drawing. Sunset photo taken in Chandler, AZ 
on Dec 4, 2013 and dragon rider drawing created in Dec 2014 (see post dated Jan 1, 2014). 
I cropped the sunset photo and saturated the colors to make them more vivid.
Same blended photo as above, but the blending is reversed. I like the way the reversal 
changed the colors of the sky and changed the black/white drawing into colors. It 
creates entirely different emotions than the previous digital artwork. This one seems 
more fantastical and otherworldly to me.  What kind of planet has a green sky?
Another sunset photo taken July 16, 2014 blended with a fairy dragon drawing (see post dated July 30, 2014). The colors of the dragon are almost lost in the sunset colors and he seems transparent as well. I added a bubble overlay to give an appearance of a moon behind the dragon's head. 
Another sunset photo taken  Sept 17, 2013 in Chandler, AZ  (see post dated Sept 18, 2013blended with Mesoamerican dragon drawing (see post dated  Jan 1, 2015).  An overlay created the starry sky. This was one of my favorite dragons to draw. I like how he appears to be soaring across a night sky, barely visible as the sun is setting and the stars are coming out. Only a select few that believe in dragons can see him!

I enjoy editing photos and playing with all the various features of the programs. The various overlays and special effects are fun to experiment with. I also like changing or enhancing the colors to create different moods with the digital artwork.  I'm beginning to feel fairly comfortable with Pixlr Express. The company keeps adding updates, such as this photo blending feature I focused on in this blog. I'm still learning all the possibilities with Adobe Photoshop Elements. I do not find this program as intuitive to use and I haven't found a good book to help with the learning curve. The company has online tutorials, but I'm always having to re-watch them. I'm learning this program slowly.

Thanks for stopping by!
Keep creating!