Monday, February 28, 2011

All Aboard....For England!!

The next Imaginary Trip to England will be leaving promptly at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1st! We'll be visiting the Queen's palace guards as well as the wilder side of England. This trip shows the different sides of a country that are often overlooked.
And don't forget we leave for an Imaginary Trip to New Orleans on Friday, March 11th! This is shaping up to be a really fun trip with a few surprises thrown in along the way! Want to join the fun?! Come on!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Note(s) to Self...

...I thought y'all might benefit as well, especially if you've been as distracted this week as I have:

1st Note: When filling waterbrush with the black stopper thingie, do NOT do it over the garbage disposal side of the sink.
     1st Sub-Note: Cease eye-rolling and sighing immediately. They are no help.

2nd Note: The time to think about cleaning the garbage disposal is BEFORE you drop the black stopper thingie, not after.

3rd Note: Before you get brave enough to stick your hand down in the garbage disposal to retrieve the black stopper thingie, be sure to move the knife with peanut butter on it, out of the way.

4th Note: Black stopper thingies seem to diminish in size when they are at the bottom of a garbage disposal. Check internet to see if phenomenon is true.

5th Note: Once you have retrieved the black stopper thingie, and find peanut butter on your arm, check your clothing. BEFORE you go to the market. Not after.

6th Note: Better yet, change out of your good shirt BEFORE you attempt to retrieve black stopper thingie out of the garbage disposal.

7th Note: Back up two steps and scrub hands and arms up to armpits with anti-bacterial soap.

8th Note: AFTER arriving home from the market, check the seats of the Jeep to see if you managed to smear peanut butter on them, too.

9th Note: Switch to using a regular brush with a container of water so that you can avoid losing the black stopper thingie down the garbage disposal with the peanut buttered-knife lying in the way so you can avoid looking like a 3-year-old with peanut butter smeared down the side of your good shirt while strolling casually around the market.

Don't be a Laure. Learn from my mistakes. Please.

It's too late for me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Addicted to Color

I succeeded in getting lost in a world of color yesterday though it was purely unintentional! After the disaster with the sap green in Monday's post, I decided life was too short to waste time painting with icky paint. I went in search of another half pan of sap green that I was fairly certain I owned. I just had to find it....
And eventually I did find it, along with some palettes I'd totally forgotten about and being a color junkie, I just had to play with them all. Again.

It all started with that BIG box of 64 crayons...really. It's my parents' fault that I'm a color junkie. Really! There was something mesmerizing about one box. And for the first month or so they had to be kept in perfect order. I would spend hours lost in that box of magic!

Some things tend to fade away with childhood, but I've found that I can repeat that particular magic whenever I get out a palette and start playing again. And I thank my parents for that gift. Time and place disappear. Something I desperately wanted to happen yesterday.

At the top of the photo above, you can see a small Sennelier palette with half the paint missing (harvested for other palettes, no doubt), a large Sennelier palette, and continuing in a clockwise circle, a Schminke palette and the smallest one is (mostly) Winsor Newton.

I save little scraps of watercolor paper to test colors and mixes on which are all those little pieces of paper you see scattered about. Most hit the trash bin, but every once in a while I come up with a combo I want to repeat. I've decided to do some sketches dedicated to the various palettes I own and see if I (or you, my lovely readers) notice a difference in the sketches.

All this play in a timeless world has led to the start of a painting. It's not quite ready for prime time yet, but maybe by the end of the week. Surprisingly, something good out of something not good.....I'll just have to go looking for sap green a little more often.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Icky Paper + Icky Paint = Icky Watercolor

Watercolor, gel medium,
gesso, and tissue paper
in Handbook Watercolor
This is one of the worse watercolors I've done in a really long time. It doesn't show so much in the scan, but the paint would not dissolve, so there are little clumps of paint everywhere. This particular paper doesn't allow for layers as all the paint sits on the surface. Blah, blah, blah....

Wondering why I'm posting a sub-par image? Because I haven't painted anything else lately. In our family, we have something we affectionately (not!) call the Black Ass (BA). It simply means that you have a bad case of the blues, your mood is quite dark (black) and occasionally(?) you act like an......ass. BA has a particularly negative effect on painting.

Whereas I did not get roses for Valentine's Day (a good thing), I have received them in the past for no good reason (a very good thing). I thought about all the roses that were given for the holiday and wondered how many folks save a bud like I do to dry.

This little bud is a few years old and I wanted to capture it as a memory. This didn't turn out quite as expected due to flawed choices at the beginning. I'll try it again though as the experiment worked....I recently made a purchase that came wrapped in some fun tissue paper. I saved it for use in a collage.

The piece you see is a very small section cut out and pasted to the page with gel medium. Once dry, I added clear gesso over the top so I could watercolor over the "tissue tag." I need to do a bit more experimenting, but the idea is solid.

Why the black mood? We've have a very dear friend that has been given a rather grim prognosis of congestive heart failure and we'll likely be losing them soon. My heart breaks just typing the words. I recently read an article the said our relationships don't end with death....the relationship merely changes just like it would if someone divorced, moved away, etc. I find a great deal of comfort in that thought.

If I'm not around much this week, please bear with me. I'll be back.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Anatomically Correct" Valentine's Day

Chris and I are not your usual sweethearts on Valentine's Day, exchanging boxes of chocolate and roses for power, we go in for things that are just a little off-beat. We have also been on an anti-clutter campaign for quite a while now, so if we give each other "stuff" it better be some really kickin' waaaay cool "stuff!!"

With this in mind, I was pretty sure that Chris was going to be thrilled with getting a box of artificial eyes for Valentine's Day....
I distressed this with sepia ink and tore the corner off
to add to the look of antiquity
I overlapped the end pieces as if they were seals,
and then "broke" them as if the box had been open
a long, long time
Click to enlarge and read—it's pretty funny!
Is that not just wicked cool?!! I had the best fun making this from a piece of clip art I found over on the Graphic Fairy's blog (do check it out...Karen's got some really cool stuff!) and a wooden tea box that my sister-in-law sent to me because she knew something awesome could be made out of that box!

I spray-painted the box black and touched up a few areas with a black marker. I then measured all the surfaces and sized the art to fit. I had to put a black border around some of the pieces because it didn't quite work out to size. I printed the art on the back of some paper headed for the recycle bin. Once I cut down the art, I blackened the edges and "distressed" the pieces with some sepia ink. After gluing everything down, I went and found some antique glass marbles and put them inside for "sound effects!"

I wrapped it in an old paper box with lots of stuffing and bubble wrap to complete the "look." When Chris went to open it and the marbles clacked together, I cautioned Chris to be careful so as to not break anything! He was trying to figure out how to open the eye box (the lid slides open) when he realized what he was actually holding in his hands—the tea box. Too much fun!

He gave me an anatomically-correct squeeze heart.....
...with our initials written on it. He seems to think I may occasionally need some stress release......I'm not sure where he gets that idea from????

What did you get for Valentine's Day?!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy St. Valentine's Day

Watercolor in Pineapple Journal
5 x 5 inches

May your love be rich and deep, 
may your sweets be the sweetest, 
may your heart be all aflutter
for 'tis
St. Valentine's Day!

P.S. Florida strawberries are at their peak—
yummy goodness and good for you
(especially when dipped in chocolate!)!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Mother of Creativity

I am positive that the mother of creativity is "necessity." And the father is "oops." Think about it. It's when we create an "oops" or make a mistake (gasp!) and we're pushed waaaaaay out of our comfort zones that we seem to learn the most!
We're beginning to see tulips in the stores here in Florida and I decided I wanted to capture just a simple, single bud in my long, skinny sketchbook. And I did. Done.
At some point, I managed to get the ink wet....oops. I didn't even know I had done it! The photo above shows it after I tried adding white gouache and white acrylic. Both made the ink bleed even worse. It doesn't show in the image above, but there's ink above the tulip as well.

It was just a sketch in my sketchbook, right? No big deal. Lesson learned. Make sure to use permanent ink next time. Except it was bugging me. Big time. (I liked my tulip! And then I didn't.)

To salvage the page, necessity stepped in with her treasure chest of creativity.

I decided to take the "Well, why not?" approach and use this as an opportunity to play and see what would happen. I pulled out different papers, stamps, ink pads, and any other tools I thought I might need. I had been looking at Toni Kelly's beautiful art here and Kate Johnson's brown paper here, and decided to use a brown lunch bag as my "patch."
Once I had the brown paper down on the page, the white of the watercolor paper was too white. I went to town with my stamps, texturing tools, and dip pen. No more white paper.

Quite the difference, don't you think?

There are several things I wish I'd done differently, but I an assure you that I'll be trying more of this as it was just plain fun! And I also have a page that I like in my sketchbook rather than one that was bugging me.

BTW, anybody interested in an "Imaginary Visit to the Garden?" Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Take Back the Holiday!

I love the meaning behind Valentine's Day, but not the pressure from slick advertising that makes us think we have to give the "most perfect/most expense/most romantic" gift or else.....we're slackers! So here's a quick and fun way to recognize the blessings in your heart and life....and put them on display—just in time for the big day. (This can be a great activity for families, kids, well, just about anybody who has something to be thankful for.)

Grab some paper (I used my scratch paper journal) and draw/paint/create a page of hearts. Pens, markers, stamps, pastels, crayons—use what you've got to make your hearts. You can choose a color theme or use the rainbow as I did. This is a great way to get our art out of our journals and out in the open so others can enjoy it too!

Scan and print out the hearts. I printed mine on the back of paper that was destined for the recycle bin. I printed out 4 sheets of hearts and varied the size on two pages so that I would have different sizes to play around with. I took markers, stamps and anything else I could think of and embellished the hearts (and forgot to take a photo, but you can see the embellished hearts below).

After cutting the hearts out, some with white borders, some without, I  glued them down to scraps of leftover scrapbooking paper. I made sure to leave enough room between the hearts so that I could cut them out with ease. Some were glued down to a second sheet of paper (just to get a good variety) and cut out again. 

Once the hearts were cut out, Chris and I sat down with pens and wrote out a blessing on the back of each heart. We had fun writing our blessings separately and then comparing to see where our blessings overlapped. Some were funny, some nutty, while others were heartfelt.

We punched holes in the tops of the hearts and assembled them on a wire tree (from Christmas) along with some bright red heart ornaments and some funky yarn! If you don't have a wire tree, consider tying the hearts to the yarn and use as a garland or gluing the hearts to a wreath.
Have family far away? Mail hearts back and forth with heart felt messages to "share the love!' Your imagination on the type of hearts, the colors, the papers, the embellishments and how you assemble them is without limits!

I hope you'll consider "taking back the holiday" and share the blessings with your loved ones. If you do, I'd love to see how you "render" your tree, garland or wreath!

If you don't have time to make this for Valentine's Day, consider Easter eggs for Easter or flowers for Spring!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bluebird of Happiness?

Watercolor of ceramic bird
2 x 3 inches
Pineapple Journal
Click to enlarge
Every once in a while I see a figurine that catches my eye and fires up my imagination. This little guy is the result of that spark. Bluebird of happiness?

Hmmm, maybe. It sure made me happy to stop for a few minutes today and to sketch out the idea and paint it. It doesn't look much like the figurine as I was really trying to incorporate the swirls (the spark) on his back.

As to the nice emails asking if I'm okay...yes, just super busy with two classes running and some technical issues that had to be dealt with this week.

I'm hoping things will go a bit smoother next week and I'll be posting as normal. Hope you have your own bluebird of happiness that visits with you this weekend!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Naked Tree

Memory Sketch of Lake Davis Park Bald Cypress
Watercolor and acrylic
3.5 x 8.5 inches
Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook

Actually, not naked, just bald. As in the Bald Cypress or Taxodium distichum....I think I prefer bald. Anyway, out at Lake Davis again, I saw this tree with the large, dark back drop of green scrub oaks. Slightly in front, stood the cypress and the trunk just glowed in the late afternoon sun. It looked like that whitish gray that dead trees get after they've weathered a summer or three in the Florida sun. However, this tree is very much alive and healthy.

The whole scene struck me as rather odd. With the light backlighting the green oaks, they looked far greener than they actually are at this time of year. Nearly yellow instead. The grasses and ground cover are all brown and crunchy from some of our recent freezes. And a white, glowing tree trunk. Odd combination.

I'd love to tell you this was done on location but twas not case. I did this as a memory sketch to see if I could recreate the view. I can tell you it doesn't really match up with what I see in my mind....and I can also tell you that seldom happens. It is close enough that I will remember the afternoon and the light. And that is enough.