Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wow Factor

Today I have an assignment for you.

As a mixed media artist I'm always looking for new and exciting techniques to give my art the Wow Factor. "But, what is the Wow Factor?", I had to ask myself. What was it that I liked about art that really turned me on, that spoke to me? Was it the colors? Or perhaps the content it's self; the words on the page; or a phrase that spoke directly to me? Was it the depth that the artist captured with in? Or was it all of those things?
With all these questions swirling around in my head I came to the conclusion that Yes, perhaps ALL these things did in fact create that Wow Factor that I was looking for. And if these components, although different for each person, if you applied these questions to each artist when they gave their own individual answers would they too find their Wow Factor? I'm thinking that indeed they would.

So, my assignment for you is to create you own list for your Wow Factor components.

1) What is your color palette? Are you drawn to a few specific ones or many?

Pink, Orange, Yellow and Green :D

  • flip through some magazines and pull any adds or pictures that you like.
  • go to the gardens in a local park and really examine the flowers, their shapes, color and color combinations. Which are you drawn to? How do they make you feel? Happy, spirited, safe, comfort... which colors scream out to you?
  • go on a scavenger hunt. Go to your local hardware store and peruse the paint chips, gather up the ones that you're drawn to. Take a look in your closet, fridge, linen closet and around your home. Which colors keep reappearing? 
2) What shapes and images appeal to you? 

  • Do you love birds, flowers, swirls, circles? 
  • Does the world of abstract speak to you? How about Victorian or Vintage? Gothic? Whimsical? Contemporary? A walk through a few different department stores or furniture store will help you uncover what type you may be. Or perhaps you love many styles and eclectic is for you. 
  • What mood or feeling are you trying to express through your art? 
3) Words and Phrases?

Practicing Calligraphy & doodles

  • make a list of words that you use often, words that speak to you, that anger you, that excite you, that make you sad, mad, glad, that make you laugh and feel all silly inside.
  • search through books by a favorite author(s) and write down phrases that you love, that moved you, made you laugh or cry etc.
  • write down favorite quotes? Search the internet for quotes on favorite topics, Love, dreams, joy, family, God, passion, healing... anything that speaks to you.
  • did you doodle when you were in school? Doodle some flowers, shapes and letters; make some squiggles; and learn how to tangle OR "Zentangle" (YouTube has examples and tutorials), they are all unique ways we express yourself
  • what is your style of writing? Do you love calligraphy, as I do? It's a beautiful art in and of it's self and worth while learning. When you create a document on the computer is there a certain font that you use on a regular basis? Do you like fat, frilly, fun, silly, bold or some other interesting font? There are great programs you can up load or buy for your computer to add your own personal style for you to use when you print out your words, phrases or quotes. OR you can do like me and hand write them, use calligraphy pens and inks or draw them and fill them in.
4) Which tools of Creating depth speak to you? Begin with what you have on hand and then add to your creative tool box.

  • look around your home for objects that have interesting shapes; wine corks, lids from jars, bubble wrap, the end of your brushes, tooling from an old dress, paper or plastic doilies, chop sticks, coffee cup liners, old credit/gift cards, sequin waste (can be purchased at a fabric store for little $$), lace, paper towel, cling wrap or foil, elastics, string or twine... only your imagination is the limit. 
  • stamps and stencils. One will leave a positive image and the other the negative image of it's self. If you're adventurous and creative you can even create your own stamps and stencils. YouTube has some good tutorials.
5) Do you like to get messy or keep it neat and tidy? Playing with gel mediums you can do one or the other or both, it's totally up to you. All you have to do is start experimenting with them. This is where steps 1-4 meet step 5. I find gel mediums to give some of the greatest effects and depth to a painting of all.
Spackled green squares 
     a) Gesso ~ If I had but one medium to choose it would be gesso. It can be used as a primer, you can stamp into it, create depth, cover up mistakes, tone down color, smooth out rough parts or rough up areas where you want extra texture by applying some of your depth making tools to the wet area of gesso. It's my go to gel medium.
     b) Crackly mediums ~ These types of gels, liquids and pastes will give an antiqued look to your finished product. They are beautiful and add a great deal of interest to your finished piece.
     c) Spackle and Molding paste ~ A product that I have recently fallen in love with. A little Spackle (found in your local hardware store) or molding paste create beautiful depth. You can use it straight out of the gar or add any color to it I have found that acrylics and liquid acrylics work the best, but you could also use water color paste to create your work of art. Simply apply with a flat surface such as Spackle knife, credit card or brush onto your canvas or over top a stencil. You can draw, doodle, stamp or scrunch designs into it, it's totally up to you.

So there is your assignment, the rest is up to you. Play, create and have fun. You can use an art journal to experiment with some new techniques and begin putting different techniques together to create your own style. Next week I will give you a couple examples with the guidelines and steps of how I put these all together. Have a wonderful day.

Recommended reading:
"inner Excavation", by Liz Lamoreux
"Collage Lab", by Bee Shay
"The Artist Unique", by Carmen Torbus

Friday, February 3, 2012


The Day 8 Seed Journal challenge for Milliande the on-line community I belong to is ~ "Seed Kin"
My first thought was Acorns or maybe Pine Cones... but after a bit more thought I settled on Cattails. I'm very drawn to and have a strange connection to Cattails. I love how velvety soft they are and how they bend in the wind, strong and flexible. They grow in clusters all along the ditches where I grew up, much like me and my large family of 9, standing strong as one unit. So simple, yet so profoundly complex. The Cattails have thousands of seeds that lay dormant till the fall, when the Cattail turns from brown to white and releases it's seeds. These seeds then  spread far and wide as the strong wind blows them free of the tall reeds they once called home and new life is born next spring. Simple, strong and yet so elegant.

Journal entry ~ I grew up poor. Really poor. So poor that I didn't even know I was poor. I grew up in the country, the 6th of 7 children, out in the country where my siblings and I had to make up our own entertainment. We had one TV with three channels... so needles to say we spent a great deal of time out doors, playing various ball games, tag or just hanging out. I remember going for long, long walks with one or more of my siblings down our dusty, gravel roads, kicking rocks, watching birds or the clouds flying by, and picking Cattails from the ditches. Summer time we were the Kings knights fighting off dragons or battling one another for the hand of a fair maiden. In the fall we would pluck the seeds from the Cattails and send them off into the wind to fly to far away places.

Those were much simpler times. We didn't have much but we had each other, lots of love, and the type of friendship that only blood, "Seed Kin" can have. All grown now, I too have been blown here and there by the winds of time taking root and creating my own life. I have many fond memories from my childhood. I still love going for long walks and spending time with my siblings. Life has been very good to me... Like the Cattail with it's abundance of seeds I feel I too have been blessed with abundance in life.

Always remember where you came from. Cherish it, learn from it and move on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reality Bits & Bites

Today I decided to step outside my comfort zone a little. Though I love drawing faces and sketching people the painting of a face is another story for me. It's a bit of a mystery to me and that really bites. Then there is the background... what the heck do I do with the background? The background always leaves me a bit frustrated. But, then I begin and I let my intuition take over and everything is ok with the Universe once again.
So  today I began my art journey by watching a couple Pam Carriker youTube videos on how to add portraits into your art Journal. Miss Carriker is a beautiful artist and gives amazing instruction (in case you're interested). But, her  videos are meant to entice you to sign up for her on-line art classes... I just don't have the patience or the cash flow to do that right now which also bites. Soooooo, I watch the video a few times through and do my best. In fact I feel that I learn a lot by doing it this way and the final product is more mine than if I took some on-line course.
The bit I find interesting is how during the process, I go from liking what I have created in the beginning, to not liking it in the middle and back to liking it by the end. Kind of a strange bit...

This is my process:
1) Draw a face and add some shading. You can also use an old book,
 or music sheets, etc to draw on,so you will see some 
of the words peaking through. 
(If you use a book or separate paper to draw your face, 
cut it out and mod podge it to your journal.)

2)Mix some Titan Buff with a little water and gel medium and paint over
 the face. While waiting for it to dry begin to add some soft colors 
to your background and some collage.

3)Blend two different skin tones into the titan buff. 
One to give you a high light and another to create a low light, 
then apply them accordingly to the areas of your portrait.

4)Do a little stamping or writing on your background to start creating depth.

5)Keep working your face and background until you have your desired affects.

Be patient with yourself. I find it useful to walk away for a bit and then come back to see my work with fresh eyes.
Live happy, Be creative, and Love Yourself!