Sunday, October 4, 2015

Inktober: let's look at the book

Let's take a closer peek at my #inktober experiement: I have a new a3 moleskine sketchbook and for the first time ever I am making good use of the pocket. I'm considering building a class around this process, depending on the outcome and if I think it has worked or not.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fears Unfounded - Mixed Media girl with wax

It’s been far too long since I painted anything, so I decided to do just that.
I’ve adapted a few of the popular mixed media ideas floating around out there, and with these strategies I think I’ve worked up a nice personal-icon flavored idea. She’s 6×12 on a simple plywood panel.

See more process photos at my site


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer of Color - Blue Blue and Green

I'm participating in Summer of Color for the first time  - it's a huge challenge, run by Kristin Van Valkenburgh at Twinkle Twinkle.  Every week there's a very loosely defined color palette.

For this week's challenge I used Pthalo blue red shade, Utrecht paint Aquamarine (a lightened Pt. Blue-green it seems) and to complicate things a bit Hooker's Green hue. A little gesso, a little white, and inktense pencils, in Chrome green and indigo. (which I think match in with the hooker's green and the blue pretty well.) Also I think green gelly roll pen which near-matched the aquamarine for some reason..

I did a journal spread in a smaller Moleskine that I've been keeping. I think my secondary challenge with these palettes is to loosen up and doodle into my work more - I want to get a bit more raw here. I like the way this one worked out.

don't forget, you still have a couple of days to sign up for my fun summer class at Uthrive!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Joy - Gelli plate, acrylic, ink, water soluble pencils.

I thought I'd challenge myself to add more line into my work, and to use some tools that leave an obvious line. This proved kind of neat.  She's smallish, only 6x8 on hot pressed watercolor paper (really more of a bristol.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The House Whisperer - Mixed Media Canvas, 11x14

I have an urge to work bigger on canvas, and in a rough way, more like the scratchy lines from scratchboard drawings.  I still feel like this is a little tighter than I want it, but that's something I can keep working on.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

House of the Past - Art Journal Collage and Paint

I don't throw out much. I used to throw out mistakes, wanted to scrub them, forget them, move away from them.  Now I think mistakes are generally lying in wait, ready to be cut up and made into something that makes them even more awkward and even more terrific.

This piece didn't involve mistakes, per se, but proof prints with colors that weren't what I wanted. Printing greeting cards particularly seems to result in a lot of "oh, crap!" moments. I intend to get through this pile eventually, adding them to journal pages like this one.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dena Ann Adams Mixed Media Workshop At UThrive.

There’s still time to register to learn how to turn your personal photo collection into a source of art journal inspiration. With a few tricks of looking closely, your smartphone or digital camera is now an INSPIRATION MACHINE.

Find out all you want to know here: (and see a rad quick video of this process in action)

Working this way has really saved me from looking at blank pages in blank books and not knowing where to start. Also, looking at beautiful backgrounds with nothing else in them and wondering what to put on them? In the past. Word.
Sign up – we’ve got limited space and lots to do! I can’t wait to see you there.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Life of An Idea - A+B or A+Mustard - repost from

Hi, friends.  This is the first sketchy outline of something I might call "Ideatorials" - it's not quite a tutorial in a "how to paint this girl" way, but it's a tutorial for idea generation, a walkthrough of how to use the awesome sustainable resource that IS your journal and your dreaming playful silly self as a way to make work that honors its individuality and its worldview. I really really would loooove some feedback and some ideas about whether this kind of thing is helpful, welcome, and desired. If not I'll keep making them anyway, because that's how I roll. :) But I think this kind of thing can be massively helpful when students hit that stage of "OK I can draw the cute face, OK I can sketch the realistic hand or cow skull NOW WHAT?" I know that a lot of people feel lonesome and stranded at that point and like you're spinning your wheels in a huge way, and I still feel like I'm learning that part of my journey as well, so let's hold hands for a minute.


I want to talk about how the journaling mind is not always the right mind to allow final say in what we do.

The journaling mind is the immediate mind. It's the start of a brainstorming session. It's the first idea that sounds halfway worth doing. There's nothing wrong with that. It's completely necessary and it deserves all the nurturing care we can heap on it, and as much indulgence as we can give it. But that doesn't mean we need to leave it in charge of things.

 It has its shortcomings. One problem with the first idea that comes to mind is that it's almost always some kind of a common thought, a cliche, or a stereotype. This is our monkey animal brain at work, and it has kept us all alive and inventing agriculture and swiping ipads for as long as we've been running away from perceived danger, so again, no dis on the gut instinct. It has an important place in our lives, but it really shines when it teams up with some internal regulators.

 Let's look at two kinds of projects that do two different things for me. 

The first is a journal page. It solves a nebulous spirtual/emotional problem. Dena is a sour grown up and forgets how awesome it is just to be alive - that's the problem. As an art thing, it just kind of happened. The second is a pattern design - in this case I'm doing it as a textile and a digital scrap paper. This is designed, calculated, composed, and solves a concrete simple problem (hopefully solving it well) - Be Pretty.

thankyouweb scrapbookmossbanner 

The first image is OK. It's got a triteness that I really cringe at. But then I'm working on that, not the tritness, but the not-cringing. I'm making myself just be nice to my inner child, who's not jaded enough to worry about anything beyond making-things-is-fun.

The second image is OK. It's got function, and I think it does it well. I'd wear it, or make a tablecloth of it, or collage with it, whatever. So I decided to collage with these two. What happens when you add A+B?


Well, that's nice. I think it becomes more interesting, and it's a sweet card or decorative piece. I could happily leave well enough alone. In fact, I did - and this is available as a print and a card. (I think it's best as a card, personally, Occam's Razor.) But let's try adding A and, this time, instead of B, let's add mustard.


Remember her? She was an Illustration Friday piece for "Nefarious". Here's one way to take it. 


She's weird. But it feels contrived weird to me, you know? What if we make this world a yet weirder and more complicated place. A + Mustard + B + 24,102 + Peach Potpourri circa 1984. 


 Now, I'm still not sure if she's a finished print. I have a page that I can work back into. Printed out with Epson ink on Somerset Velvet it takes paint and gesso and media really well. I will probably go back in in some capacity. 

But my world just got more complicated and harder to pin down immediately

There are new questions. If this gets a title like "Nefarious" it becomes a much more interesting illustration because it's broken free of the first available idea in a huge way. If it gets a title like "A Heart for You" - if it's a gift item, it's a compelling one. Can you trust the intentions of little Medusa-esque girls bearing hearts? And why would you not give a little Medusa girl the benefit of the doubt? Pug angel disapproves of your shallow look-ism. That's just one way to tell the story, of course. 

Basically, a few things happened here. 1. Mining of past work.

2. Juxtaposition of obvious opposites, but also harmonious elements.

3. Not forcing an interpretation till all the players have gotten onto the stage.

4. Starting with a journal page.

I hope this makes sense and suggests ways that you can start using your art journal and using digital means as another medium and not just a completely separate medium unto itself. I look at digital as a really sophisticated  scissors and a really sophisticated eraser.  The advantages of this cannot be overstated if you're a collage artist.    

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Journal Page - a kind of Gratitude

It's been ages. I'm dusting off, though, and getting into blogging my journal/mixed media practice some more in this space. I feel like I kind of need a playground just for my journaling, versus my portfolio site or pattern design, or things like that. Even though eventually everything comes together, a lot of work starts out kind of personal and precious and I am very grateful that there are places for gentler sharing out there on the same web that can be pretty cruel and hard at times.
A peek inside my 9x9 superdeluxe journal - I'm going into the blank pages of old journals I haven't completely filled and doing the job right.

Some people have been really wonderful to me lately, allowing me the luxury of being vulnerable and not exactly my finest. I'm very grateful for that, and it feels like a huge gift.

She's got handmade stamps, acrylic, watercolor, an old stamped image and newsprint at the very beginning, posca pen, stabilo All (which I have mixed feelings about, but whatever) and lyra pencils.

I'm gearing up to make some videos. Any tips out there for a nervous first-timer?