Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Woke Up in a Giant Jar of Peanut Butter

Today is gray and rainy. Not a torrential and scary rain, but the dark skies and gentle drops kind. The best kind of rainy for napping, eating cookies, watching quirky documentaries, and listening to Cat Stevens. The best kind of rain for basically doing NOTHING. I got some important work done this morning. Now I am schlepping around and thinking about the concept of "being stuck."

I've been working on developing a new creative path for myself lately. I've been a bit stuck on what direction to take next. Where should I focus? Should I be doing this? What about that? Maybe this! Hey that looks sparkly! Wait, what about that? Ugh! I'm not moving fast enough! ... Can anyone relate?

I love the way Oliver Jeffers' story so perfectly illustrates how I feel lately...

Ok, so maybe a more professional approach might help.

My business-minded husband recently forwarded a great article from Forbes that I think addresses the topic. The article is called "Three (Incredibly Simple) Questions The Most Successful People Use To Change The World" by Mike Maddock. (I know, I know. I was really just looking for advice on how to get out of my fuzzy socks and get motivated, but hey, I am happy to change the world as well.)

The questions are perfect for un-sticking of any kind.
1) What's the outcome I want?
2) What stands in my way? (and what is my plan for combating that?)
3) Who has it figured out already?

pretty thought provoking, eh?

A final approach... the art-making kind. For this approach, I am turning to a creativity expert, Noah Scalin. I've got a copy of his book, Unstuck, and have found it to be a great resource in times of wuh?

Today I decided to spend a few minutes writing six-word memoirs. Have you ever done this? It's quite a blast once you get rolling. If you don't know about six-word memoirs, check out SMITH Magazine for mountains of personal sharing in the six-word memoir format.

My memoirs started out silly...

 But then they got more thoughtful...

And that's when I realized that maybe I wasn't really stuck. I was just tired.

So... I am in my fuzzy socks, dipping a chocolate bar into the jar of peanut butter. Yum.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book + Veggies = Inspiration

This week I did something new. I traded work for food. I had the pleasure of working with Local Food Stop, a Community Supported Agriculture program in my area. I spent my Wednesday morning bagging beautiful organic fruits and vegetables and loading them into cars for delivery that afternoon. My reward? I came home with a gorgeous bag of produce and a good feeling in my soul.

Over the past week, I have been gobbling up the eye candy in a new book I couldn't walk past at the book store. It is called Painted Pages: Fueling Creativity with Sketchbooks and Mixed Media, by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare (Quarry Books, 2011.)

I'm so glad I treated myself to this little book. Page after page is filled with happy colors, charming illustrations, and heartfelt writing. I felt close to Sarah ( I feel like I can call her Sarah) because she shared so many personal stories, pictures, creative techniques, and cozy photos from her sunny studio.

I was particularly inspired by Sarah's sketchbook style. Instead of detailed drawings, she is satisfied with simple ones that tell meaningful stories. So often I start a sketchbook only to give up because I am intimidated by the blank page. Sarah's style encouraged me to try again and to focus on the ideas and feelings rather than the details.

An that's where the vegetables come in. When I got home with my bag of beautiful veggies, I pulled them
out of the bag and left them on the kitchen table. I just wanted to look at them a bit. I was so happy with them, I decided to make a little sketch in my sketchbook.

Inspired by Sarah, I decided to make some copies of my sketches to use in collages down the road.

I also decided to create a different look using tracing paper and watercolor paint. I like the way tracing paper can be layered or stitched in collages for a dreamy effect.

I'm not sure how I will use these sketchbook veggies.

Nor am I sure how I will use this veggie.

If you need more nourishment ... check out Sarah Ahearn Bellemare's blog for more of the creative kind. She also has a wonderful etsy shop and is currently offering a special autographed book+print deal!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thrifty Nifty Notebooks

Deep within the bowels of one of our local thrift stores (and with this one, yes... it was bowels,) I scored some hilarious old albums. The actual albums were scratched and warped, but the covers were irresistible cheesy goodness.

Last year I bought a Cinch binding machine on the clearance aisle at JoAnn's. I wasn't sure how I would use it, but it spoke to me as crafting contraptions in craft store clearance aisles often do.

A year later... Cinch machine meet old album covers. Together we are making some fun journals to add to the homemade holiday gift stash.

Use a craft knife and a cutting mat to cut the cover and the back to the desired size.

Use decorative tape or washi tape to cover all the edges.

Don't have a binding machine? Just use your hole punch and some binding rings from the craft store. Just as cute! Or, weave a ribbon through the holes for a softer look.

I ran out of the Cinch binding wires, so some of these will have to wait. But since I had to order more, I went ahead and stocked up. These are fun and so easy to make. And who doesn't like another notebook or journal? Especially when a man wearing lederhosen is on the cover.

I just might have to head back to the bowels for more notebook-making loot.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Love Affair with Gelli

Once in a while you meet an art supply that makes you weak in the knees. My latest crush... the gelli print block. Just touching its wiggly surface makes me smile. Once I add paint to it, well... I am transported to a happy land of paint-covered marshmallows and clouds.

I bought my Gelli block at Blick Art Supply and was able to use a 40% off coupon, but you can also order them from Interweave.

I used all my acrylic paints, from the cheapies to the Golden and they all worked like a charm. You need a brayer, but you can use anything to make your marks; an old credit card, a spoon, a jar lid, etc. I used lots of different papers and found that the thinner papers worked best for me. However, I am new to this and I probably need to play around more with my paint thickness.

After the paint dried, I added some stamps using some of my carved rubber stamps. I use Staz-on ink because it is permanent. You can add water or any other mediums to it and it will indeed stay on! I have already started cutting some of my printed papers and using them for collages.

If I haven't enticed you yet, you need to see this amazing video from the Gelli blog. I have not tried this technique yet, but isn't it wonderful? The blog is filled with great tutorials.

My friend Dudley Redhead has created some stellar prints with her Gelli. Take a look at some of her lovelies.


Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you get a chance to be crafty!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Juicy Bits and Sparklies

Ever read a line, hear a phrase, or experience a random thought and think, "I could use that in a piece of artwork!?" If you are like me, those ahhah! moments come often, but quickly disappear if I don't write them down. I guess my brain is too taxed by trying to remember computer passwords and where I parked at the grocery store.

Of course, if I do manage to write down that great phrase, 
my next problem is finding the gum wrapper where I wrote it.

So, in an effort to give myself some help, I decided to make a handy booklet just for the purpose of writing down phrases I like. I am calling it "Juicy Bits and Sparklies."

 I used white Canson Colorline paper, acrylic paint, spray ink, pencil, and watercolor crayons to decorate each page in a free-form color splash style.

I added writing surfaces by using washi tape and a few old book pages covered in gesso. The tape can be repositioned, so if I change my mind on something, I can just pull it out and add something else.

I'll use washi tape to add other doo-dads and pictures as well. No big plans here, just a fun place to peruse when I need a little inspiration.

How about you? Do you have a journal or special book for your favorite sayings and sparkly bits?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wait! Who? What? Where?

Whew... we just got back from a week in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. If you've never been, the experience mixes breathtaking natural beauty with good old all-American cheesy tourist trap fun. Kind of like eating corn dogs and funnel cake at the Louvre.

Now that we're back to earth, we are ramping up for school to start on Monday. I don't really know what I have been doing over the last 48 hours, I just know I have been driving all over town, using my credit card, and signing forms.

I cannot wait for Monday at about 9am. At that time, I will join Peanut on the back patio.