Friday, April 4, 2014

Let's talk about paper

There's a lot of brand fetishism when it comes to materials - and I sometimes have a problem with this. (No kiddding.) I especially have a problem with this when the product is not lightfast but is priced for the pro, and when we, as a community, take the kool-aid and pass it around gleefully like it's the best beverage of the century.

If you are going to call yourself an artist, stake a claim to your creativity, and "grow wings" and all that - why would you not want to put your money into serious materials that cost only slightly more and sometimes much LESS than the toy of the moment?

Roz Stendahl's excellent excellent blog has outed some of my favorite materials as NOT lightfast.

Benefit from the wisdom of Roz's lightfastness testing here.


Spoiler alert: bad news about my favorites and probably some of yours: inktense and graphtint pencils. They are Dye based and fugitive. 

Now I use these like crazy - but every single time I use them I get out my scanner - and it's that illustration that I consider the finished work - the original is not something I would sell.

 I like the characteristics of these pencils too much to pass them up entirely.  But they are seriously fugitive - if you aren't scanner happy I would not use these. Period. Check Roz's tests!

If you are scanner happy like I am, and if pixels not paper are your "output" while you still do analog work, then you may be interested in my next statement.

If you want to save money - save it on pigments.  Don't save it on your substrate. Journal from the gut on any paper - but work seriously on good paper. 


Now why would anyone apply fugitive cheap ass media to excellent paper that's just going to be scanned anyway? I have a good reason.

Answer: the behavior of media on the paper is completely different from what you're probably used to.  Get ready for lively marks, happy accidents that you don't have to push and shove for, bleeds and drips and subtleties you just can't get without a fight on mediocre paper.

Part 1 : Watercolor.

Fabriano Studio Hot Press versus Uno (Rebranded as Artistco Soft Press Ultra White)

The Fabiano Studio hot press is nice, if you want a sheet of high-grade bristol, but expect your pigment to just dance around on the surface of the paper.  I like Fabriano Studio for collage, sheet journaling, and experimentation. It's not super cheap, but I think it's a bit more freeing than the pressure put on me by a Moleskine, and the paper is solid under glue and paint.

When I applied my relatively crappy (admit it they are!) Koi watercolors to the Uno - holy poopsicles, people.   My Koi colors suddenly rose to the occasion and started to behave like they had delusions of being Holbeins. The warm colors especially - got dreamy.

 Uno is discontinued, but I'm told that Fabriano Soft Press paper is the same thing. At 12 something bucks for 3 sheets via Blick,  the average mixed media junkie is thinking "you're kidding me" - well you'd be right except that would be 12 odd bucks for 3 22x30 sheets.

Don't worry, you don't even need a guillotine. If you've ever folded and reverse-folded and torn a great sheet of paper, you know how easy it is to get 12 small sheets out of 6 mega sheets.

Arches Pads versus Fabriano Studio

A lot of watercolorists insist on Arches. It's only marginally more expensive than Fabriano product and often priced the same. Now, in the studio-grade taped pad category, the Arches is significantly better and less Bristol-like. I love my hot press pad at about 10 bucks for 12 sheets of 9x12 hot press. The Fabriano is about 5 bucks for a pad of 8x10, a size I actually like using. Arches shoehorns you into 9x12. And with pad paper, forget about tearing smaller.

I've had the better Arches in block form, and honestly, I don't care for it remotely as much as Fabriano Artistico.  Your preferences will vary.   Arches is top notch paper, obviously.

 I'm a fan of sheet over block, I've found that it always seems as if some of the budget of a block goes into the block construction and out of the paper.

No Way.

If you just can't stomach this kind of pricing, you could go for the Fluid watercolor blocks by Global Arts, but do the math on the sheets of Artistico and you'll ask yourself why bother, other than convenience.  I think the Fluid is OK - it's better than Strathmore or Bee which I won't even use with watercolor.  (Both are awesome journal papers though.)

Small blocks for fast little works are decent enough.   You will get some of the flow and absorption that is missing from cheap paper - you probably won't step backward if you're doing water media.

Part 2 :The BFD with BFK


Acrylic? Gelli Plate? Drawing?  

Rives BFK has your back.  Again, BFK is pricey, but it's about 100 bucks a roll - think what 5 ho-hum paper journals run you.

Rag papers like these pick up a variety of mark making that other papers won't.  They hold up under erasure more. They wound in interesting ways when you scratch or over-erase them. They catch an amazing amount of subtlety if you're a gelli plate person, but you gotta treat them a little differently.  I'll show off some gelli stuff on BFK lighweight next post.

PLEASE don't do anything but collage in deli papers - monotype doesn't have to be a throaway free for all - you can take pride in your prints enough to put them on decent papers and consider them real works!

If you're dying to try something else, I'd do all my serious drawings on Legion Lenox 100 and that's that.  I haven't done much printmaking with Lenox, and I'm not sure it'd be great with gelli, perhaps I should see.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A little behind in being a good blog buddy

Your comments are making me so happy - I hope that every visitor is enjoying him or her self, and that there's at least a little useful information tucked away here for everybody.

I'm so behind on blog visiting! I'll make a point of doing some tonight.

Here's a little fast fun in watercolor, inktense and graphtint pencils, and a brush. On Fabriano Studio Hot press - which is like bristol that doesn't suck for wet media. Lovely!

 One of my less frustrating moments.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finished Up

So here's the finished spread from a few days back. Some changes, but not too major. I find I'm waiting for a lot of things in my life right now, one of them is the end of a steroid taper, that's the most concrete of them. If you have ever done a long one of these, you'll know the feeling.

I've also  been playing with watercolor. Everything they say is so true about it - it's hard. It's wildly uncontrollable. It's so easy to create hideous badness. And it's fun.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

A color experiment

Using the suggested palette from Mix it Monthly

Watercolor and acrylic ink. Not sure it's done - may use this as a basis for digital stuff too.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

In Progress: leaving well enough alone.

The biggest pitfall, I find with the free-flowing everything is right and nothing is wrong dictums of mixed media, is that it's far too easy to overdo things.

I do it a lot. 

When you draw observationally, you are in a constant state of push and pull with the thing you are referencing. You simply don't have a choice about whether to stop and analyze what you're doing - drawing observationally is a kind of analysis in itself.

When you don't, you have to make yourself stop. Step back. Analyze.

If everything is right simply because it's you, you have no criteria to use to decide whether you should or should not do something.

It's true that an art journal should be a place of experimentation - but for me, it's also a place to learn lessons, to make mistakes and also to learn how mistakes were made so that not making them repeatedly becomes habitual.

So this is a spread at midpoint.  I have a few regrets in it already - that's OK - but it's a good time to take a breath and listen and look.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Finding Place

This quote really engaged me, so I made some space for it.

“I had no one to help me, but the T. S. Eliot helped me. So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.” 

― Jeanette WintersonWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

I found a lot of my thoughts about the value of education and the place of literature perfectly articulated here. Which is her point - literature lets the disconnected, the discontent, the marginalized person to know that others have been there before.

You could also switch out "art" for "poetry." Why not? Go for broke, right?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Journal Page - The Difficult

I got out the gelli plate the other night - monotype with a press is my "thing" - years ago I had an artist residency at MN book arts for my monotype work.  It's completely different without a press, but I think I'm going to enjoy wrestling with this little silicone blob until I like the results.

 Her crown and dress are some very subtle mossy gelli printed papers. Collage, watercolor, stamping, drawing - other than the water color washes almost all the paint is applied with a tsukineko fantastix foam stick. I'm still crazy for those things.  I should keep a running list of supplies I find "worth it."

Mixed Media on Loose Fabriano Watercolor

I am trying not to go ape and throw poo be bummed about YET MORE SNOW. Enough. Any time now.

Well, even if I'm kept indoors at least I can play. This is like the rainy day activity that never ends.

In GOOD news, it is the anniversary of Paint Party Friday! PPF has introduced me to many talented and friendly bloggers/artists, and it's one of those nice blog parties that makes a self-employed freelancer feel just that tiniest bit less like a cave dwelling hermit. YAY PPF. Here's to many many more!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Journal Page - The Possible

I've got a Moleskine A4 that I've been kind of precious about using because it's expensive watercolor paper and a nice binding and blah.

What a mistake that was! It's nice to get out of the square format of my usual journals. I do love Bee paper recycled 9x9's quite a lot, mainly because I find them heavyweight enough for all that I throw at them AND nicely portable.

But the Moleskine? There's obviously a reason they're popular. I believe these to go in the "worth every penny" category. It's just really pleasant to play with water media on the right kind of paper, and still have the option to keep things bound.

What's all this then?

Watercolor, my own carved stamps, pigment ink, commercial background stamp, acrylic, gesso, caran d'ache crayon, acrylic ink with a crowquill pen, charcoal, washi tape, alpha stamp. Whew!

You probably don't need a psych degree to tell that things are turning around a bit for me, too. The hopeless malaise of a flare that lasts for unknown amounts of time is over. I'm moving away from misery - for how long who can say, but my experience tells me I can now dig in and get on with the rest of my year, with any luck!

The body may be a step behind, but the mind is light and ready to say yes to things.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chronicles Project week 5 that is not week 5

One of the hidden joys of doing 29 was finding the Chronicles Project over at Wonderstrange. Sarah's prompts and journal concerns seem as if they were tailor made for my brain.

Let's break it down - say you see a journal page with the word "dream" on it.

What does that tell you? What does that actually cause you to do?

I tend to get anxious. The problems in my life are not caused by a lack of vision, rather by a poor sense of implementation, sometimes within my control - just as often NOT within my control.

Results: look at happy pink spread. Feel miserable.

Chronicles is not about writing down "awesome!"  - it follows that best of literary rules.

Show don't tell.

So, my awesome. Let me show you it.

These are the parts of the week 5 prompts I decided to work with:

  1. Write about your favorite thing that happened this week.
  2. What song do you love this week?
  3. Take a picture of the thing that is making you really happy right now.
1. This is not a banner week. I know a lot of us have horrible autoimmune diseases, mine is making my life less than fabulous, though better than hospitalized, so not all is lost, right?  The wife made cookies and made things not completely implode all around me. That was awesomesauce.

2. Easy.  Avant Gardener. It's so awesome to me because it both deals with being sick in some fashion AND having that outside-of-yourself ability to laugh at the first-world-problems nature of being sick and outside the "old enough to be sick" demographic and the way that other people look at you or your worries about the way that other people look at you.

Also "The neighbors must think we run a meth lab. I should amend that, I pull up weeds" is particularly awesome.

3. I don't photograph my life. Which is funny, because photo was a huge interest of mine in art school daze past. I opened an instagram account, and took a picture of one of those little things in life that's making me SUPER happy (yeah I know wheat and sugar are inflammatory, but if a coffee and a cookie are going to kill me it's not worth it anyway.)

This would ordinarily go under the journal rubric "it's the little things." Amirite?

 A little repurposing of my own stuff. I printed a card, it misfired, I cut it up.

I don't hoard scrapping stuff, but I do have some, and since everyone has some psycho IP insane Angel policy for every sticker now, it can just go live in my journal.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Additional Blog!

Hi blog peeps!

I've really enjoyed the FACES project, though I'm not sure I hit 29 it's been loads of information for me about new ways of working, new concerns, more discoveries than I can shake a stick at. I'm pretty sure I'm going to do the next one, too!

One of my realizations is that I really like a bunch of different things and getting them all to sit happily under one umbrella isn't always working for me. This isn't the newest of news flashes, but it's making more sense lately.

I've started a paper craft / shabby craft blog - specifically for things I define more on the craft side than the art side. It's craft playtime in all its unapologetic glory! Craft teatime and cookie therapy - to which I stake a little claim. Also, I'll be doing challenges. Lots and lots of challenges. I'll be using stamps! Craziness, I know.

This blog is kind of my personal art incubator, for journaling, illustration, new techniques, brutally honest product bitching  reviews, also sometimes a tutorial or two in messy inky journaly stuff - I'm not sure where the limits of this are, but I do know that I need a separate place to make little heart-shaped things of paper and cloth.

So, if that kind of thing makes you happy, there's tons of it at...

Little Altered Heart!

Follow it if that's your thing.  Don't worry, I'll be posting here too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More face fun

more digital doodling

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More digital fun

Still playing away, decided to add some architecture for a quickie observational challenge. I'm enjoying using a reductive method in digital, kind of a virtual scratchboard!

Is it just me or is The Red Balloon one of those things that bores the snot out of you as a child and then as an adult you totally love it?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Notes to self 2/17

  1.  Observation, u need more of it. even though you had decades of it. Do a daily (hahahahaaaha!) from photo or life or some public domain vintage source.
  2. Your inner critic is not a clueless mom, a less-than encouraging teacher or your inhibition. It's an honest to god Critic. Un-school for six months. Look at craft, look at anonymously made art.
  3.  Make peace with non-proportional folk bodies. You have some kind of meltdown over this, so do some and see if you still feel wrong. Why is it so hard to convincingly go back to what you were doing before you knew what to do?
  4. Have you done something bad, derivative or silly this week? If no, what's up?
  5. Figure out how to curate yourself later. Do a week's batch at a time maybe.

The poop with Faber Castell Gelatos - brutally honest craft product reviews

Gelatos. They were on sale, ok? I hoarded a few and they...sat and sat.

I played with them briefly. They're like drawing with lipstick, they re-activate with water, and they never seem to truly dry either, like an oil pastel having a bad day.

I was not enjoying the Gelato kool aid, and they sat for a while in my stash.

A not so secret? The poop with gelatos, is apparently that the "scrapbooker" level item and the kid's item which costs half as much are the same thing repackaged, though Faber Castell swears up and down that they're not.

Here's a nice shootout on YouTube by the Frugalcrafter, shout out to her. . Apparently there's no fading difference after 1 month either.

My gelatos sat and sat, and then I watched this Donna Downey tutorial for some reason - and that changed everything.

I'm a sucker for dripping paint. I Blame one of my favorites from the high art world,  Pat Steir.

So I thought I'd get a little cascade going on one of my journal spreads. Lo and behold, gelatos really get happy when you add the water to them. They deposit color while moving down the page in a way that a wash of Cotman watercolor just doesn't even come close to! (I tried both.) I'm not sure that Neocolor 2 would move with the flow the same way.

Would I use these to draw? Not really. Would I use these on fabric? How are people getting any kind of permanent adhesion with 'em? I can't see it. They don't stamp brilliantly well. But they do flow down a page of paper like butter when you spray them.

So I like having these for my dripping paint moments.

Others will disagree and insist that gelatos are a great multitasker, but I find them a single-use item. If you don't really care about dribbling things around - use your watercolors, use some good acrylic ink washes, use neocolor, use inktense blocks or pencils, use stamp inks for stamps.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ask/Ask - Art Journal Page

No matter how old you get, you and your mother will probably have this dialogue.


technical sidestep of further navel-gazing time!
There's some of that tasty hand stamping, you can see where I started.

Gelatos again. I think they're a definite candidate for my next BRUTALLY HONEST PRODUCT REVIEW segment - will they pass the test? As always, it depends what you are testing!

Also used - 99 cent alpha stamp, posca, charcoal, pencil, gesso.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Frida Problem.

This is going to be controversial and hurt some feelings. If that's too easy to do, run away now, mes amis.

Am I the only gabacha on the internet who has a big problem with the Frida thing? I hope not.

I've had the same experience with Frida's art that most people do. It is intense, unsparing. It grabs you by the throat, it winds itself into your heart. You can't be unmoved and you can't be the same if you spend time looking at these images. If you get to see them in person, you are lucky to absorb them that way. Breton famously called her "a ribbon around a bomb."

Someone has stolen the bomb.

Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick, 1954

" 'I'm not painting or doing anything. I dislike the "high society" here [in New York where she had travelled with Rivera] and feel a little rage against all these fat cats, since I've seen thousands of people in terrible misery.' - Frida Kahlo

Frida is not a product or a pet. Frida is not a cute wide-eyed doll.  Frida is not a tepid "permission to play".  Frida is not a chicken soup for the White Lady Soul.

None of those things are bad, on their own, but they're absolutely misapplied when you apply them to Frida.

I might understand a gringa desire to connect with Frida if, say, you have a major illness or disability to the tune of 40 surgeries. I'm not sure anyone has ever articulated the fears sufferings and epiphanies of illness on the same terms or ever will since. I connect with these images over their spidery IV lines, but I am humbled at the scope of my own illness in relation. I won't make a point of making a visual art connection, I'll simply absorb. Look. Listen.

I might understand a gringa desire to link your art to Frida if you're a serious Marxist and you've actually suffered over those beliefs. I don't believe that the state should be in charge of all property, but I believe in people's right to believe and I recognize that this country is still stuck in a permanent insane Red scare.

But if you're a comfortable, reasonably healthy, straight white woman in the North American suburbs, one who has had the kids and grandkids that Frida would have KILLED to have been able to bear - what exactly gives? Why isn't looking at Frida's work and admiring it enough?

If you're xicana or a Mexican National she's yours to reframe and engage with. She could only have come from the same amazing place as you. You certainly don't need me or anyone else  to tell you that. I love to see her well treated and honored, but it's not my place to demand anything like that! If you want to be irreverent, that's your prerogative and can be really valuable too. If you want to transmit her as an icon of beauty and positivity I understand why that has value, and I think that this was a part of her legacy, the elevation and dissemination of indio aesthetics and beauty.

I'm not saying "nobody ever make Frida anything" and I'm not dictating how the Latin world handle its luminaries. But I'm addressing the ubiquitous shorthand Frida that anglo Mixed Media artists seem to love.

Peeps:  Please scratch the surface and understand who you're looking at.

LOOK at Frida. Study Frida. Your life WILL be richer for it. But study what's there and don't project your sanitized daydreams onto it.

Frida is personal, but she is never solipsistic. Frida is personal but she is never disconnected from Amerindian identity, Mexican identity, populist politics, or her specific time.  Frida is relevant to Feminism but Feminism is simply a part, a fraction, of her relevance.

It bothers me to see this work reduced to a consumer and aesthetic choice and branding. But it bothers me twenty times more when Anglo North Americans feel free to pluck the pretty parts out of a garden they don't even realize is someone else's freaking garden.

If you're not entirely sure why it's speaking to you, maybe you need to think and read some more.  Is it beckoning to you because it's pretty? Because it's stylish? Because it's a shorthand for something you want to say about yourself? Is it exotic and therefore more interesting because you haven't made contact with your own culture more deeply?

There are problems, serious problems, in the legacy of the US and the rest of the Americas. Plundering the nice bits out of Frida Kahlo's visual legacy is a kind of stealing of soul that I can't participate in.   Frida DIED from the pneumonia exacerbated during her last act of public appearance - a protest of US intervention in Guatemala.

That's missing from the happy Etsy Frida.

Getting messy again....gelatos and inktense journal pages

Peace of mind? Really? How journal schmournally. It's a well-trod sentiment. But peeps, my dear peeps, how I really really could use some in my life this week.

This page started with a hand stamp I carved. I call the pattern "cairn" - you can't really see a lot of evidence of it here, but I'll be showing it off a lot.  I'm LOVING carving my own stamps as a starting point - it's a great way to lay down a bunch of information onto that intimidating white page, and it's a nice way to keep the image vocabulary your own.

The flowers are collaged deco paper, though. I thought they went so nicely with the background I worked up with plenty of gelatos dripping. They do tend to migrate down the page in a different way from watercolors, it's hard to explain but you'll notice the difference if you try both.

Used inktense, gesso, posca, acrylic pen and ink, and lots of prismacolor here. It's nice to get messy again and get lot of deep saturated color.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

More Cat Faces.

I used a pencil sketch as the basis for this again, this time much more digital layering and coloring. I was laboring under the delusion that digital is faster. Digital is not faster - the digital advantage is simply having the world's most awesome eraser at your disposal.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Time Spent with a Cat

Time spent with a cat is never wasted.

Pencil, digtally inked and cleaned up.

I'm really enjoying this little visual journey.  Yeah it looks different from my other work, but I think it's a logical place to go based on everything else. I'm not done making lots of messes, though.  Wonder if I can make it all make sense together.

Field of Dreams

More playing with ink, pencil and I even dragged out the intuos 3. Seems it's been waiting for the right moment.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Doing the opposite....

I set up a challenge for myself - I don't usually doodle in a way I find visually rewarding, I don't usually use line or fail to use layers, and I don't tend to work in a very graphic way.

So: HB pencil only in my sketchbook.

Scanned, digitally colored - I was going for the look of a poorly registered print, somewhat.

Valentine faces!  Thinking of you (plural) - me plural making art, all my various visual personae duking it out to see whose style will actually win.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

29 faces day 1 - 4x6 with crumpling

For 29 faces - a face as the focal of a small painting. This is 4x6 and about as small as I can get comfortably, more power to the people who rock original ACEOS!

Experimenting with trashing my cardstock before painting on it.  Honestly I only halfway like it here, but it's worth playing with. Used distress inks, a Tim Holz lettering stamp, my own painting in acrylic, inktense pencils victorian butterfly collage cutouts (courtesy of justsomethingimade)

The butterflies were made into an acrylic skin - everyone familiar with that technique? I might do more with it in future posts.

After I was done I wasn't loving the surface, so it's nothing my quilting iron and wax couldn't enhance. It's a little crazy to put wax onto paper rather than a hard surface, but I think it worked.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Brutally Honest Craft Glue throwdown: Newspaper decoupage/mache

A decoupage heart. A glue throwdown: Mod Podge? Collage Pauge? Or go eco retro and use wheat paste?

So I wanted to get a layer of 100 year old newsprint onto some foam hearts for some fast gratification, and I decided "hey, you...let's test out different methods of doing this to see which works best!"

This newsprint is OLD and crunchy, so initially I thought soaking and wheat paste were not on the table.  Don't worry, nothing of major cultural interest was harmed here, just some meh pages from the ad sections of papers I bought for this kind of purpose. I'd use a flyer from a certain middlebrow grocery chain if I had one on hand, you don't have to be a vintage paper fascist like I am!

So we've got ONE step of ONE project three ways.  For your consideration.

Technique - using water and mod podge, a combination of soaking, massaging brushing, tearing - in order to coat the subject.
SMELL: Grade School Craft table. Elmers-like.
MESS: Meduim-low.
CLEANUP: medium annoying.
VERDICT: Fail. -200 points. Do not pass go.

Oh everything started out smooth sailing. I was sure that Mod Podge was going to clearly outshine all other options - the paper went on silky, clean, straight and nice. Then, at about the three minute mark, all those tiny little strips began to stick to my fingers. And I mean stick.  And then the frustration commenced. Gahhhh!

I do not recommend this to anyone as a way to do this effect. It really looked like it was going to be today's winner, but as you see, I got fed up and stopped bothering. I'll be pulling this one apart and doing it over. I was honestly NOT expecting Mod Podge to bring the fail to this party, but for this application, I'd avoid it altogether. This doesn't mean that mod podge isn't ideal for everything else you can think of, just not THIS.

CONTENDER 2: COLLAGE PAUGE (Aileens Tracy Bautista branded)
Technique - using water and collage pauge, a combination of soaking, massaging brushing, tearing - in order to coat the subject.
Smell: Like acrylic gel nails at the nail salon. Not that I go often, but it's definitely THAT smell, kinda. Meh.
Cleanup: Same as Mod Podge
VERDICT: Surprise Win. This process is annoying so win is relative.

 Ok, it's not perfect, and I really don't like those little crumbly things that start to work themselves up as you handle your item at about that five minute mark of doom.  If this scarecrow had a brain, she'd paper mache one side of all her hearts let them dry and then flip them, but this is about getting a move on if you're an etsy seller or an impatient floozy like me, not someone who's gonna chill out with some rose petal tea in a vintage teapot while it dries.

Verdict: initially I wasn't feeling it, but relative to everything else? I am pleased. And I'm actually not surprised - I've NEVER been disappointed in an Aileen's glue since I was 11 and gluing pompoms to various cardboard crappacchino, capische? 

Aileens glues generally perform exactly as they say they will on the box. Collage Pauge is one of their less thrilling products, in my opinion, but it still pretty much does what it sets out to do! Yay!

CONTENDER 3: WHEAT PASTE (Your kitchen and an optional dash from your stash)
Technique - using water and wheat and acrylic medium , a combination of soaking, massaging brushing, tearing - in order to coat the subject.
Smell:  Vaguely like newsprint and cookies.
Mess factor: High.
Cleanup: Easy peasy.
ACHIEVEMENTS UNLOCKED: Eco soundness and cost.
VERDICT: Better than a poke with an embroidery needle, but I'll take Collage Pauge, thanks!

Less than thrilled with A and B, I thought we needed a good control, so I whipped up some wheat paste with water, added a squirt of Blickcrylic gel medium to bind things, and away we went.  This won the speed round, but in my opinion kind of looks it.  The only really awesome part of this is the text that visibly says "behead an Englishman."  You're not going to get that from Tim Holz reproduction papers.

So what do you think? Did I miss something? Is there some tip to Mod Podge that I overlooked to keep from sticking to my project enough to want a glass of sherry at 9 am? I hope this helps you in your teeny weeny paper mache moments.

NB:  At this point in time I am paid by nobody and given product by nobody, and if I continue with BRUTALLY HONEST reviews, I imagine I won't be! If you appreciate this, do consider some facebook LOVE as a little favor to me, eh? Thank you!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

40 - lost your way? Art Journal Page - Art Journal Every Day

A good time to reflect on your mortality. Keeping it upbeat and valentine-ish though. Vintage label scans, acrylic, distress inks, tattered angels mist in some kind of pink color. I included a wry little reference to "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock." The meanderings of the narrator as a contemporary list.

1. part hair from behind
2. eat peach.
3. mermaids. wth?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I draw him so I can talk about you without talking about you - Art journal Every Day

Acrylic, acrylic ink, poscas, washi tape (a little)

I used a wooden embellishment from Michaels as a mask, and went over my background with Tattered Angels spay in "cork."  Also some distress ink around the borders.

The sparrow is a print and cut from my own work - I drew him freehand from an 1860 or so ornithological reference picture. Then when I liked the stage the sketch was at - you guessed it - scan and print onto computer paper, cut and paste and paint over the sketch, used as an underpainting.

Monday, January 27, 2014

llustration Friday Find:

Via RoksanaRobrok.

liquitex Acrylic Inks and Journaling.

Hi friends.

I love to shop. I love to buy things as much as the next person.  Hence my expanding stash. Ever ever expanding.

But I am also pretty hard on products for the mixed media market.  I'm kind of a manufacturer's design team nightmare, but the one who takes me on and gives me good product will love me forever.

I've actually got more formal training than I'd like to discuss, and I tend to compare crafter's products to the things I used in school - and usually they do ok.

But in the case of pens, they often come up short. Pens, what gives?

Wanna know the *only* pens that get me hot and bothered?
1. Uni Posca. Good luck finding these babies, but when you can get them in a 1 mm tell me you're not in love.
2. Uniball signo white. But it was a bad ro-mo-ma-ha-ha because it has gummed up on a dry ground that had a tiny bit of watercolor crayon in the mix.  ET TU SIGNO???
3. PITT - but generally for lick your finger and intentionally smear that stuff applications only.

I don't like seeing people caught up in the hype of product wasting money over and over.  OK I'll speak for myself -  I feel like I did, when it came to pens which are either not archival at all  (sharpies, gelly rolls I have doubts over) OR they're just cranky and terrible to use and you go through a hundred nibs. (Sharpies! A million sharpie carcasses ALL OVER. Copic likes to die a seven dollar death over any kind of paint or medium. Coloring stamps has to be the ONLY great use for a Copic, or under watercolor or something really transparent and inky and washy and too pretty for me to have made, ha!)

 Like a lot of art journalers, I'm often on the quest for a better pen.

One that won't dry out. One that won't gum up and make you cry the second it might touch wet paint. One that you don't have to shake like a maniac.  One that covers. You hear me pens? COVERS.

 One that is KIND to my left handed chicken scratch inscrutable handwriting. Blah.

Well, I found my pen! Actually what I found are my inks - Liquitex acrylic inks, to be exact.  I use a good ol' dip pen. Why?

Control is terrific - if you're a lefty like me, you have to watch out for smearing, but other than that, your line quality gets 1000 times more interesting in just one easy installment, ha.

The white ink (how I love it) allows you to mix opaque pretty colors with great coverage - and you can get the exact shade you need without having to run out and get another six dollar pen that is only going to die the second it encounters gesso (I'm looking at YOU Copic!)

Honestly, don't be intimidated by brush and pen and ink - really. The simple speedball set which comes with a tiny crowquill pen is the way to go, for me, but I'm probably going to want some calligraphy tips too.  The sets are about 9 bucks, and the ink is about 20 in a primary color plus brown black and white set - but the life that you get from this setup seems MUCH longer than a lot of the journaling pens I've collected, all of which disappoint me except for Uni Posca.

What do you think? Have you played with traditional pen and ink? Any mileage with the liquitex inks?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A is for ALOUETTE - Simon Mondays

Paperyum presents: A is for ALOUETTE.

I knew right away I wanted to do ALOUETTE for the letter A project over at the Simon Monday blog!

It's such a funny thing, that a song about plucking songbirds has come to stand for all things charming and Francophile. Trouble is, ALOUETTE is literally a Lark and I couldn't find a great lark image at the vintage source blogs - I settled for this random songbird from The Graphics Fairy as the starting point for what was going to be a stamped, painted and embellished mini cushion.

The first step: A little painting. A little stamping! I used lumiere inks and a fiskars border to create a distressed swirly texture to work on, in a copper on cream colorway:

Netxt: print the bird graphic directly onto some June Taylor cotton and heat set that puppy with my heat gun.

Then embellish, layer, stitch - basically I put the project into an embroidery hoop and treated it like I would a mini mixed media canvas! Everything is hand sewn.

Et Voila!

Alouette, gentil Alouette, Alouette, je te brocherai!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Art Journal Page - Also Available as ACEO

Got to play again the other night - I'm not a huge fan of cold press paper, but she was done on cold press. You can see the texture of the paper. Undecided on whether I like that.

It's going to get cold again, after a balmy couple of above-30 days. Blergh.  This is me, trying to cheer myself up.

She's available as an ACEO for now @ my etsy shop. 
You can request a full size print if you want!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Heart Stuffies - Victorian neo crazy quilt heart shaped mini pillows

I've been playing with digitally printed fabric! 

First I printed out some vintage images in a smallish scale.
Then I lightly fabric glued them down into an arrangement on some cotton duck stretched onto an embroidery hoop, tracing around them with a heart template.  

Then I painted and stamped a bit - I used my lumiere paints and fabric compatible metallic inks, and a little liquitex fiber medium with some acrylics.   

Then I dug into my collection of vintage lace, beads, millinery flowers, czech beads and  freshwater pearls! Embroidered fun ensued.

All of these are hand sewn - I find it easier than digging out the machine just for this small a piece. 

I can't wait to try some other things with the printable paper, some art dolls, some flat dolls, some ornaments! Have you had any results with printable fabric? Do you worry about the dye fastness, or are you pleased with your results? What printable fabric do you prefer?

Illustration Friday Highlight: theme BEGINNING

Isn't this great? She's a find from illustration friday at Joana Voa Voa.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Raptor Release Spring '13 old photos

I'm a victim of the bird trend, I guess, only I've always been one as long as I can remember. I found all these photos from the spring on a compact flash card I'd forgotten!

The MN Raptor Center is an amazing organization - this is from their raptor release day.

These animals are not wildly endangered for the most part. The value of saving an individual hawk or vulture is debatable in a world full of bigger problems. But somehow the minuteness of the gesture - saving one Cooper's or Red Tail - makes it seem even more important. There is no compelling reason to do it except for the goodness of repairing one thing we caused. Whether with a car, a window,  or a horribly misguided pellet, because some people still resent their fellow hunters that much.

And when you think about it, it's an incredible thing - to repair hollow avian bones and terrified wild muscles and tissues, to maintain enough distance to maintain the desire to leave the rehab environment - to be able to put a hawk back into the sky.

These animals are not cute, they are not their own best press and advocates to people who love baby bunnies, but we do need them in the ecology of our immediate surroundings, and we do need to look up and see the Hunters and not just clouds of House Sparrows spun out of control.  Anyway, photos!

Educational Red Tailed Hawk - this bird is injured past the point of rehab, and is one of the educational Raptors for schools and events like this one. The Education birds have been conditioned for the demands of human contact and closeness.
Another Red Tailed hawk in the education department: the coloration of red tailed hawks varies a lot within the species.  It's often confusing to ID these birds from the underside!
Nobody's favorite? Turkey Vultures are SO underrated.  This bird is older than I am!  In the seventies it was a valuable part of a California Condor conservation project, and the University has maintained responsibility for this individual ever since. His/her gender is still uncertain. Because the bird has no idea how to be a Vulture in the wild, it's got to stay put.
Eagles are a common sight on my drives to Joanne or Michael's for those last minute craft runs! I feel so privileged to live in a city with these birds as neighbors. Eagles are so different from our projections onto them - timid with smaller threats, social with other Eagles (including lots of stealing and squabbles) - I think Eagles actually ARE good places to see ourselves reflected in nature, but not in the ways we usually do it!

Biggest threat lately? Lead poisoning - that's part of what happened to this individual, and she was lucky to recover, though not enough from her bone breaks to go back to the wild. I don't have a problem with hunters. The plastic fork I might use on a vegan falafel is a much worse thing. Just don't use lead shot and/or be sure to bury your offal, sportspeople, and you and I are copacetic.

A friend in need.  I'll shamelessly admit that the tiny Kestrel is my favorite raptor. This male kestrel has nothing physically wrong with him.  He was taken in as a chick by well-intentioned people, but this was done incorrectly, so he imprinted on human beings. A bird whose eyes are first focusing is in an imprint stage and will imprint on humans if exposed to them. Moral of story : ALWAYS call a pro from a Wildlife rehab facility.  He has no idea how to be a Kestrel, so he'll live out his life as an education bird, at least cared for and admired and hopefully teaching people not to do any wildlife rescues of baby birds themselves.

But most of the Raptor Center's patients, the VAST majority, do not wind up as education birds - most are released into the wild once again. Here's a red tailed hawk leaving the hospital after a car-related rehab: