Monday, November 6, 2017

Still Decorating Teabags!

Still experimenting and having fun doing mixed media art on recycled teabags! This is the latest batch I finished...

This a print using black gesso on a real feather, on a square teabag that didn't stain too well. The blob became a bird, of sorts, which I played with gold leaf on. I forgot how tedius gold leafing can be!

I used water color and inktense pencils, black gel pen, white gesso, and my imagination on this regular stained teabag.

This is a regular stained teabag, which I dropped paynes grey acrylic-ink onto and let it do its thing, then I used inktense pencils on the background and metallic gel pens for the hearts and halos.

A barely stained square teabag, which I painted some robin's egg acrylic on, then stamped on it with iridescent red gold ink on a wooden fabric stamp. The swirl is a stamp that I had made with a hot glue gun. It was handy, so I glued it on with gel medium, then finger painted it with blue and metallic gold paint.

This stained square teabag  has the background "painted" with a red inktense pencil and water. The elephant is a wooden fabric stamp with gold metallic acrylic ink rubbed on it, and I "borrowed" the title of Ronnie Dunn's album "Peace. Love, and Understanding", written in a black Pitt marker.

And this one is a barely stained teabag, on which I used my imagination, inktense pencils, plus my water brush, and black and gold gel pens.

I learned with the batch of teabags after these that I didn't leave these to soak long enough. I also learned that microwaving a cup of hot water doesn't stain the bags very well either. With the next batch, I put them in boiling water on the stove for several minutes, left them in the tea for a good while, then put them on paper towels to dry, turning them a few times, for a few days, until they were good and dry, before emptying them.

But it's all good! As long as I'm learning, I'm not failing! I'm just enjoying the process and feeding my soul!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Between Shadow and Light-Drawing Exercises

I'm currently working on yet another class with Ivy Newport, called Between Shadow and Light. It's a mini portrait course, which during the month of September Ivy donated all the class fees to help the victims of the horrible hurricane in Texas. That helped me make the decision to take the class, but I'm really glad I did. Ivy is a good teacher and I'm learning a lot from her! See the sidebar for the link!

Exercises 1, I misunderstood the directions. I deliberately didn't set a timer and sketched these, and the one below, with my non-dominant hand, using magazine photos, and taking no more than 5 minutes per sketch. I used a hard charcoal pencil on 18" x 24" mixed media paper in a large sketchbook.

The models would be horrified, but I wasn't going for a likeness. Besides, who knew I could sketch/draw with my non-dominant hand?!!! So excited!

This sketch, from an old photo of mama, was done with my dominant hand with a hard charcoal pencil on 18" x 24" mixed media paper. Again, I deliberately didn't set the timer, but took only 5, or so, minutes to sketch. I'm amazed that it actually resembles mama!

A few days passed after I did the first exercise, then I re-read the material and watched three more class videos.

I found that I had misunderstood directions on the first exercises and did them over.

 I set timer for 2 minutes each sketch, because I could barely get the head shape down in 1 minute. I used the same paper and pencil as the first ones and did one sketch with left hand, then same one with right hand. I used the same magazine images as the first exercises, only this time I sketched each image using right and left hands on same page. Image 1- Left on left, right on right. Still amazed that I can even sketch with my left hand!

Second image with both hands. Very interesting how my mind shifts with each hand when I compare the two images, and how it feels during the sketch.

For the third image for this exercise I used a photo of my cousin instead of the magazine photo with the hat. In many of these sketches, I prefer the one done with my non-dominant hand. Who knew?!!

A two minute blind contour sketch from a photo of another cousin when she was young, although this one is semi-blind, because I forgot and looked at my paper a few times. Again, two minutes each, one with each hand, same paper and pencil.

Four different color pencils, same paper, using the same photo of my cousin, two minutes each, four overlapping sketches, two with each hand. I forgot to take a picture of the first sketches. This is after I had tweaked and added to them some.

I have a tendency in these classes to get carried away an "do my own thing", so I overdid what the exercise asked for and went over the whole thing with a brush and water, making the sketches very vibrant because three of them were done with inktense pencils. The other was in watercolor pencil.

There is a bonus video on this exercise, which I am currently attempting for practice before trying an actual portrait, so stay tuned for more of my feeble attempts at these class assignments! More photos as I progress...

Plus I have several works in progress from other classes I have yet to finish! :o

Sacred Landscapes (of a sort) 2012

These are not part of the Sacred Landscapes class that I took from Ivy Newport this past year (although I recently shared them in the group with Ivy), but some I took from another teacher a few years ago. In this class we used only 3-4 colors, layering them over one another, creating textures, and letting the images emerge after they dried, then developing them further with pencil. I love doing this!

Just lately, I went over the images with a black Pitt marker, when I re-discovered them in an old sketchbook. 

Same image in shades of gray and black...

Different images in different colors. The images aren't showing up as much, because they're still outlined in pencil.

Same image in grays and black...

Same painting with the Pitt marker lines added to emphasize the images more.

These are all done in fluid and open acrylics on mixed media paper in a mixed media sketchbook.

I don't claim to be an artist, but I sure do love trying! Happy Arting!

Denim Tote Bag

This tote bag belonged to my mama. I found it one day when I was in her house looking for something to put papers and stuff in to bring back up to my house to go through to destroy or keep. A painful job, but it had to be done.

She had a drawer full of tote bags from various groups and trips she had participated in over the years, but this is the only one that she had made, and it immediately brought back memories and a smile to my face.

In her late fifties-sixties, she belonged to a clogging group called the Riverbend Cloggers, where she had learned to clog and loved performing with the group at various places. One October they performed at a Halloween event, possibly a nursing home, and they wore costumes.

Mama dressed in patched overalls, straw hat, flannel shirt, sort of like a scarecrow, and she made this bag out of old jeans that she had gotten somewhere. She lined the inside and made the gussets with patchwork fabric. The embellishments were already on the denim. She sewed the denim pieces together, leaving the raw seams on the outside. And, wallah, she had a bag worthy of a scarecrow! :)



I thought it was cute at the time she made it, but I treasure it now that she's gone. It has made several trips back and forth between our houses, as I continue to sort slowly through her things, and I love it more with each trip. 

I have a picture of her in her costume somewhere, and I wanted to include it in this post, but haven't gotten around to finding it yet. I am missing her so much, and most days I feel so overwhelmed right now that I don't get anything accomplished, and there's so much to be done...

But I didn't mean to sound depressing, and time will help, so I will just say treasure the people you love while you still have them, because any day they can be taken away from you, and you can not even begin to imagine how much you will miss them.

Take care and keep making stuff! It feeds your soul!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

More Recycled Teabags

Still playing and experimenting with used teabags! I think I'm addicted!

Some of the teabags are a little larger and don't have the strings, tags, or staples to help the environment, and the herbal teabags don't stain as dark as regular teabags. I used watercolor and inktense pencils, gel pen and waterbrush  on the imaginary lady above. 

The stains, and any loose tea that didn't come out, add to the imaginary flower painting, also done with watercolor/inktense pencils and gel pen with water.

Different teabag with an imaginary landscape, using the same media as above.

I wanted to try some prints on teabags, so I put black gesso on a mini gel plate and made marks through it with a plastic fork, being careful not to scratch the plate. When that dried, I made dots with a white gel pen, which died on me, and then I laid the teabag down on some semi-dry red acrylic paint for sort of an abstract look.

Again, I used black gesso on the rectangle mini gel plate and stamped into it with the wooden elephant stamp for a black and white print, but it didn't come off plain enough, so I stamped over it in red acrylic paint and with black acrylic paint on a mandala type wooden stamp. I also used a bit of raw umber acrylic ink to darken the pale tea stained teabag.

Four more currently in progress! More experiments and more fun!

Recycled teabags drying. Just waiting to be turned into fun little treasures!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mama's Rose Jar

Mama passed away in June from cancer, which we didn't know she had until about a week and a half before she died. There were many beautiful flowers and other memory gifts at her funeral, and I didn't even see the beautiful rose basket from one of her nieces until we went back to the cemetery after the reception. All of the potted plants, throws, etc were in the back of our SUV, and since mama's only living sister was leaving after the funeral, I gave her some of the potted plants to take home with her.

There, among all the other plants was a small basket with a dozen beautiful cut red, yellow, and peach colored roses arranged beautifully with some fern, daises, and strawflowers in it. So delicate looking!

I wanted so badly to preserve them in some way while they were still fresh and beautiful, but I had lost my voice during the funeral, and the day after my husband and I both came down with one of those awful flu/virus things and we were very sick for three weeks. By that time the roses had died, but I still couldn't bear to throw them away, and left them sitting on my piano drying for several weeks.

I was afraid they'd fall apart if I touched them.

I found many ways of preserving dried flowers on Pinterest, but I particularly liked putting them in a pretty jar.

One day while I was doing some stuff in mama's house, I noticed the jar she kept her sweetners in, sitting on top of the wooden breadbox on the counter. Perfect! I emptied the jar, brought it home, and washed it, but it was still several days before I got up the nerve to try putting the roses in it.

I was still afraid of them falling apart.

But the day came when I was brave enough, thinking if they fell apart I would just put the petals in the jar and save them.

Luckily I had some long surgeon's tweezers that had been given to me years ago to place the roses down in the jar, because my hand wouldn't fit.

The roses were tougher than I thought and didn't fall apart when I cut the stems off. Of course, I handled them carefully and held my breath! The jar fit them exactly with some empty space in the center, which I filled with the strawflowers and a small packet of silica gel to help absorb moisture. 

I folded the sweet note from my cousin and lay it on top of the roses, and along with the small yellow ribbon from the basket on top of the note, I put the glass lid on to top it off and let out my breath. It was done and I didn't lose a single petal, besides a couple that had come off from handling during the funeral process! I tried putting some of the leaves in, but they were too fragile and crumbled easily.

I am not a pro at arranging flowers, but I'm very happy with how the rose jar turned out. It looks vintage to me...

Mama's roses are in her jar, and in this photo, sitting on a doily that she crocheted many years ago and gave to me shortly before she died.

I don't know why, for sure, that I was so drawn to the rose basket out of all the beautiful plants and flowers at mama's funeral, but I think, somehow, it was like a beautiful reminder that I also watched helplessly as it died and became a beautiful shell of what it once was.

Mama's shell is gone, but her spirit and essence lives on through me and those that loved her. The freshness and live beauty of the roses is gone, but their essence lives on through the beauty of their dried petals, which I can now hopefully keep and treasure for a long time to come.

I don't need anything to remind me of mama, and I don't know how long they will last like this, but I love this jar of roses for her and will think of her especially every time I look at it.

I love and miss you so much, Mama!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Second Placemat Fabric Book

So I received some gorgeous square placemats from my lovely niece a couple of years ago for Christmas. There happened to be six of them, and I hope she doesn't mind that I cut one in two to be a base for a fabric book. Placemats make a great base, because they're already two pieces of fabric sandwiching a thin layer of cotton quilted between them.

I used an old used quilted placemat for the first fabric book I ever tried, this being the second. It's worked out great. The padding gives the pages a sturdiness for working on, and if you don't like the color or pattern of the placemat, you can sew/glue another fabric, lace, etc. over it and go from there.

In my first book, I sewed a beige lace fabric over the pages before I sewed the book together, because that mat had a pretty side and a plain white side and I wanted a book of laces and frills.

This book is pretty on both sides (the colors are more vibrant than they appear here) and I'm not sure yet what the theme is going to be, or if I want more pages in it, so I haven't sewn it together yet. It has scalloped edges, which means when I cut it in two, one edge on each page is straight and raw, but that's an easy fix. I'll just add a ruffle, lace, or something to match my theme!

This is one side of the mat, brown with a little white leaf-like pattern...

The other side is a gorgeous paisley print in browns and golds with flecks of blue, so I have four book pages in each color. The mat happened to be a twelve inch square, so the double page is 6" x 12", and when it is folded and sewn, the book will be 6" x 6" square. Like this...

I haven't decided, for sure, on the embellishments, but I have a lot of ideas...

I chose the paisley side for the cover and am trying out different ideas to sew or hot glue on. The woman and gold shape came off an old Red Hat Ladies Society tee shirt that I had when mama and I were members. The lace is half a collar off an old dress left over from a church yard sale that I confiscated years ago. I knew it would come in handy one day! :D Not sure if I'll use it here or not though. Still pondering!

An old doily that mama crocheted and used when I was growing up. She gave it to me, along with some others she found when clearing out stuff, not long before she died. I can't bear to cut it up, but I might hand stitch it to a double page in some way...

or I might hand stitch it to the cover, like this. It will be where it can be taken off in one piece, in the event that someone wants to use it after I'm gone. It's a beautiful piece, and I love it, but don't use them on my furniture, which is why I want it where I can enjoy it as long as I am here. :)

If you want to see my first attempt at a fabric book, which is also still a work in progress, but much further along than this one, go to my sidebar, where it says labels, and click on fabric books. It should take you to the post of what I have so far.

Will share more when I figure out where I'm going with this book. To be continued...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mindy Lacefield "Frolic" Class

Quite a while ago I took a class from Mindy Lacefield called "Frolic" and it was a lot of fun. I love her animals and people!

I probably shared an earlier version of this painting sometime before now, but the other day I was looking through an older sketchbook and came across it again. It told me how to finish it and I listened, and here she is! I really like her now!

The background is collaged, stamped, stenciled, written on, smudged, and whatever else I felt like doing to it. I copied her drawing of the rabbit and tried to follow Mindy's instructions for painting it. Not exactly like hers, but I'm happy with it and I learned from it! The dress pattern was made by writing "The Lord's Prayer" in different directions and colors layered over one another, because I truly needed to pray that prayer that day, and every day. The overall colors harmonize better now too. I love when I find an unfinished piece and know what it needs to finish it! :)

Teabag Paintings: Cup and Tree

Still learning to paint used teabags! I love it! So far, all of mine have been on intact teabags with only a slit in the bottom to pour the dried tea grounds out through, and I've only painted on one side and wrote my name and info on the other. However, I've noticed that other people are cutting them in two, opening them up and painting on single layers, and/or stitching them together to do all sorts of interesting things with them. I'm loving working on the bags, so I will be trying more different techniques on them too. Here are the last two I've painted.

This one, with the cup, is just playing with watercolor/inktense pencils, white gesso, and stabilo pencil, and I just made it up as I went.

The tree is also a made up as I go piece, and is done in watercolor/inktense pencils and gel pens. Unfortunately, the white gel pen clogged up on me in the middle of the tree and I had to use a white stabilo pencil on part of the branches, which made them not as sharp as I wanted, so I kind of went over them with a gold gel pen to add a little detail. I think it looks kind of dusky and okay...

The tea stained bags affect the colors and any grounds that get left in the bag also affect them, sometimes leaving interesting textural effects. So you don't always know how they'll turn out, which makes it fun, as well.

Anyway,  I'm out of used teabags for now, so I'll either have to brew some tea, or dig out some that I have saved before and haven't used.

I have yet another project working in my head. I would love to make a calendar with my art for each month, which will require me to make decisions (not my strong point) on which art to use, make good pictures of each, and get it published. I would love to do some for Christmas gifts, but I'm not sure I'll feel like it and have time, because of health problems and still trying to settle my mom's affairs and get everything in order at her house and mine. Sometimes it's overwhelming, but, with God's help it'll be ok!

Keep learning and creating!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Sheeple" Tea Bag Painting

Another teabag painting, just out of my head! It was meant to be a sheep, but it's face looks more human, so I'm calling it a Sheeple! :D

The sheeple (white gesso) and back ground were finger painted on to start with. His face started out a finger print. Then there's a layer of Posca Marker Pens to make the blue lines, grass, flowers, legs, nose, and wool. Then a layer of stabilo pencil, gel pens, and watercolor pencils, some fixative spray, and I called him done. Fun stuff!

Someone comment that he looks like he has a secret. I said, "He does." :D

Rooster P's First Kittens

Rooster Poot (hubby's name for her) came here back in the spring and adopted us, mostly hubby. A couple of weeks ago she literally made a nest out of the leaves in the open car shed and had four kittens. She kept them here for several days, before moving them into an abandoned boat in front of the house, which hubby covered with a tarp to keep them dry.

These pictures were made the day after they were born. They are beginning to open their eyes now.

Yesterday, she moved them to our kitchen door stoop, and they started appearing and disappearing. One time we would look and there would be different numbers or different colors. The next time it would be different kittens. We couldn't figure out what she was doing and why.

This morning when I looked out there were two kittens, but different ones from last night. I got a cup of coffee and looked again, just in time to see Spotty B, one of the other cats, get a kitten by the nape of the neck. I yelled at her to drop it, but she grabbed it and took off out the driveway with it.

Mystery solved! Spotty B is stealing Rooster P's kittens and poor little Rooster P is stealing them back. It's funny, but it's also sad that Spotty B wants the kittens bad enough to steal them from a loving mother cat like Rooster P. It reminds me of stories about women who lose, or can't have, babies and want them so desperately that they steal some other mother's.

Rooster P and her babies

Spotty Belly, the kittenapper

Bloomer is just amused by it all!

Nothing much we can do about it, but hope they work it out. They're not fighting or anything, just moving kittens back and forth. Maybe they can both mother them! I've seen cats do that before.

Nothing like early morning drama to wake one up! :D

Tea Bag Art-First Attempts

First I saw an awesome class on tea bag art offered online, but I didn't take it. Then I researched it on Pinterest, and watched a couple of youtube videos. I have cataracts and am not seeing the best right now, but I decided to give it a try, because I love miniature things.

I had previously saved some used bags and opened them up to sheet size for use in mixed media journals, etc., but, for these, I saved used tea bags until I had a few. I let them completely dry with the tea still in them (to add to the color), cut a small slit in the side, or bottom, or the bag and poured the dry tea out (I saved it in a little jar to use for something else), and got started.

I started the middle one by collaging (gluing with gel med) a piece of brown paper that I had used to clean off my paint brushes, stamps, etc. onto it. You can seal the bags with a coat of white, or clear, gesso, but I tend to forget that step. For the left one, I brushed on a layer of white gesso for the background, then mixed white gesso with sort of a reddish brown acrylic color and painted in the shape of a head and shoulders. For the one on the right, I just brushed in a bust shape while I still had the paint on the brush.

Not necessarily how other people do it, but it's how I'm doing it. :D

Works in progress: Curley Dots has had acrylic inks, some irridescent, and stabilo pencil added to her. White lady has  had white acrylic paint and stabilo pencil added, and Lost has had a word, washi tape, acrylic paint, stabilo pencil, and gel pens added.

Calling them done after adding a few stripes, gold gel pens, and a bit more stabilo pencil. I wrote my name, date, the title, and the medium on the back and sprayed with fixative or sealer.


Close ups:                                                      
"White Lady" and "Curly Dots"
I have enjoyed playing with these a lot, and have some more ready to paint. I've seen them opened up and painted on too. I'm thinking it would be cute to use them in art journals, collaged pieces, or put a few of them together in a frame or on a book cover. Yesterday, it occurred to me that if I painted both sides and laminated them, they would make cute ornaments or gift tags.

The tea bags are sturdier for working on than one would think, Water colors are especially pretty on them. So I will be trying some of those too.

I have so many irons in the fire already, but I'm currently taking Ivy Newport's mini portrait class, Between Shadow and Light, although I've only watched the first three videos so far and haven't actually done any work yet. I've also signed up for Olga Furhman's year long class, Paint Your Heart and Soul, with 24 teachers and classes, which starts in January 2018.

I still have art classes half done, and I'm really wanting to work on my fabric books, and I have a yen to work with my weaving again. How does one learn and do everything? Yikes!!!

Oh, well, I'm thankful for what I get to do and learn. There's so much wonderful stuff for us creatives online, and so many generous teachers that I'm genuinely grateful for, that it's kind of overwhelming, but I LOVE it, and will keep doing as much as I can!

Keep learning and doing whatever it is that makes you happy!