Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two New Journal Pages

Here are the two latest projects from my online workshop, Artistic Journaling, with Jodi Ohl.  The lessons involved creating a painted background, adding collaged paper elements, and then writing or adding additional embellishment as desired.

The background for this page in my Moleskine was painted by young friend Joey, age three, who blobbed black and brown paint in my journal during an outdoor painting session.  After that I wrote in marker that he had painted the background, and that I loved children's art ...although these pages, not so much.  So I used the dark background and added fun words and shapes that I cut from magazines and catalogs.  With the whimsical flowers and critters, and the reference to kid's art, I decided to add a little drawing by my Kindergarten grandson, Avery.  I love the big belly buttons and the creative "journal-writing" of our last name.  The big figure in the middle is the Easter Bunny.

The next one is another ocean-themed page.  We go to the beach with the whole family for a week every June.  When I was still teaching, it was always the week after school was out for the summer.  True bliss!  The week of swimming, sunning, reading, eating fine seafood dinners, and enjoying sunsets and Margaritas on the deck inspired this page.  The sunset picture was on the cover of one of the endless Coldwater Creek catalogs I get in the mail.  The background is watercolor, and the collage elements are cut from catalogs (except for the word TIME, made from those adhesive scrapbook letters.) The surf is a piece of lace.  I added doodling and accents with markers, gold and copper leaf pens, Tsukineko inks, and Sharpie marker. 

I should have a lot of new ideas for art after this weekend.  We are off to Merlefest, a music festival in the mountains featuring many well-known and also up-and-coming musicians.  The festival was started in honor of Doc Watson's son, Merle, who was tragically killed when his tractor turned over on him.  Some of the artists who traditionally drop in include Allison Krauss, Emmy Lou Harris, and Bella Fleck.  This year there will also be appearances by Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, the comedian Steve Martin and his blue-grass band, and the Avett Brothers.  I am looking forward to browsing the vendors and checking out the crafts.  Will report in on Monday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Meadow quilt

Here is another of the quilts made from the die-cut machines (Big Shot) sold by Stampin-Up rep Martha Armstrong of Zebulon.  Martha must have had a good year...while I am slaving over her quilts, she is off on a cruise to the Bahamas that she earned from Stampin-Up.

This one has a lovely color combination of yellow, blue, and green.  It has a square shape for the outer petals, rather than a third round shape. 

 The flower shapes are just attached to the background fabric with glue stick, so I have to go around each one to attach it to the quilt.

The backing is a bright blue, which really shows off the yellow thread of the quilting.

You can see from the back how I framed each flower with leaves and vines, then went in and out of the flower rings with a wavy freehand circle.

This quilt reminds me very much of the fabrics and colors in a Yellow Brick Road quilt I made when I first got my Gammill.  I call it "My Favorite Things."  The prints have hummingbirds, dragonflies, flowers, an angel or two...

For some real spring pics, here is a shot I was able to get while Mama and Papa Bluebird were out of the box and not guarding it from their usual branch.  There are five babies, although only four beaks show in the picture.

Here are some woodland violets that I photographed in the mountains last weekend after it rained.

And this good fellow was looking rather grumpy and red-eyed after the night of rain. 

And finally, here is a blue salvia that I planted where our driveway forms a "U" going uphill to the cabin.

I am also still working on the online journal class, and hope to have two more pages finished by tonight using paper collage on watercolor backgrounds. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Secrets of Digital Quilting: From Camera to Quilt

Today's post is a review of the new book, Secrets of Digital Quilting-From Camera to Quilt, 8 Projects: 25 Techniques: Embellish with Paints, Inks & More

 by Lura Schwarz Smith and Kerby C. Smith, by C&T Publishing, March 2010, 96pp
I have been a fan of Lura’s art quilts since I first saw her demonstrate her face-painting techniques on HGTV’s Simply Quilts. I was so intrigued by Lura's work on this segment that I purchased both of her instructional DVDs and the complete set of Tsukineko inks and applicators.  This book combines Lura’s talents in art and quilt making with her husband Kerby’s expertise as a professional photographer. It includes useful information on the how and why of using your digital camera specifically for printing on fabric, which I have not found in other digital photography guides. The technical chapters demystify all those settings on your digital camera and the different types of digital files. Best of all, it explains how to use Photoshop Elements software to improve your pictures for the effects you want in your digital photo fabric. Even if you only want to use a point-and-shoot camera without learning all the technical stuff, there is good information for you in this book. There are mini-art lessons by Lura which deal with elements of design like positive and negative space, symmetry and balance, shape and form, color and value. Additionally, there is a section in which Lura references the types of markers and paints that she uses to enhance her surface design with additional color and shading. There are eight projects which utilize the different techniques explained in the book, with handy page references. What I like about the projects is that they are not patterns or designs for you to replicate. Rather, they offer guidelines and techniques for creating your own unique photo project. A section on construction technique offers a tutorial on piecing curves the P-Free way: no paper, no pins, no planning! I recommend this book for anyone who wants to improve their digital photography and editing skills, and learn some new art quilting techniques.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Have I Been Photoshopped?

Back in March, my husband received this cute birthday card from his sister. 

The more I looked at the card, the more that little girl looked familiar.

You may remember that, as the children of a commercial artist, my siblings and I all took turns "posing" for photographs that would assist my father in the realistic artwork that he produced for advertisements, catalogs, or whatever the current project required.  So, my "baby book" includes some not-so-normal types of portraits.  But we all have many, many photos to document our growing up years. 

Looking through the book my mother and father made for me from the extra family photos, I found this.

What do you think?  Could the little microphone hog be me?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Few Things Quilty and Artsy

This past weekend we traveled again to our cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.  What a wonderful  time we had!  It was so pretty except for some thunderstorms bringing much-needed rain on Saturday night.

On Saturday morning we traveled to West Jefferson or our groceries and other errands.  We stopped at the Ashe County Farmer's Market, where the first thing I noticed was the attractive quilt block at the peak of the roof.

There was a lady selling these inside, along with lots of other dealers with candles, soap, jellies, homemade bread, and plants.  One lady had a table piled with these tied quilts.

And here are some carved hiking sticks.

One think I like about West Jefferson is all the public artwork on display.  Quite a few of the old brick storefronts have painted murals, like this one of the New River.

You might not notice at first that this entire wall is made of bricks, not rocks.  The entire scene is painted, including the old car and doorway.  Very clever!

I liked seeing this line of cows, all at the very top of one of those high hillside pastures.

The wildflowers have dotted this field with gold and white.

This afternoon we went on a Gator tour of the other side of the mountain, where there is a huge project to reclaim the "sulphur flats" that resulted from the old copper mine at Ore Knob.  It used to be a smelly mess of yellow water and powdery sulphur.  They have been covering it with crushed rock and topsoil, and creating drainage areas filtered with rock, topsoil, and grass.  I cannot believe how nice it looks already, and the water channeling down between the rocks is crystal clear.

 As we left the mountains, the clouds were rolling over the hillsides, creating waves of sunlight and shadows.

Hated to leave, once again!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Finished Quilt, and a Nature Walk

Today I finished the last of the four quilts that Teresa brought for me to quilt.  This one was fun, a patchwork quilt of richly-colored squares. 

The quilting does not show up too well on the top, but it does on the pieced flannel back.

It was so nice outside today that I walked for about forty-five minutes around the neighborhood.  There were some nice azaleas, like this mailbox display with clematis in front...

and a big "snowball" bush beside the driveway.

This Paulownia, also known as the Empress tree, was in bloom.  It is only a few years old, probably grown from a seed carried in a bird dropping, as it just "volunteered."  They say this tree might be the original "Tree of Life."  This tree grows incredibly fast.

The roundabout on my street looks nice with all the pansies in bloom.

When I got to Hidden Pond, I noticed there was a brood of baby goslings swimming among the flock of Canada geese. 

 That made me check my bluebird box when I got home.  Surprise!  Five newborn bluebirds in the nest.  I did not take a picture because the parents were very anxious, swooping down on me.  One of them stays nearby in this pecan tree to keep watch.  Do you see it ?

My own yard looks pretty good.  All of my azaleas are in the back along the edge of the woods.

and the pink weigela bush is coming into bloom.  It is huge, maybe ten feet in diameter.  Here are some of the blossoms.

Journaling Again

I spent time yesterday alternating between my journals and the long-arm quilt job I was working on.  That means a lot of hand-washing when you are working with mixed media!

Here is my Moleskine journal page, which was supposed to be a "graffiti" style page.  The background is gessoed, marked with black marker, and then collaged and written on with more paint, beads, Swarovski crystals, Sparkler threads, and magazine cutouts.  I used a gold paint pen for some of the lettering and some very fine glitter.   The dripping black marks are India ink.

I used the same technique on the next page, but with a very different result that does not resemble graffiti at all.  On this one I added fibers with gel medium, and added more gesso to build up the surf.  The lettering is done by sticking adhesive scrapbook letters to the page and painting over them.  In addition to the lady disappearing on the lower right, I have stamped a woman's face in green ink in several more parts of the ocean.

I liked the ocean so much that I constructed a similar ocean on the bottom of the canvas I painted yesterday.  It now has lots of texture.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finally Finished

Here is the very soft and pretty yellow quilt that I have been laboring over for some time now.  It has rail fence blocks surrounded by the floral print.  With so many flowers in the print, I got the brilliant idea to just outline the flowers and leaves as I quilted.  I regretted that decision all through the process.  It got pretty boring to do the same rose or floral group over and over. 

The backing fabric is what I would call white-on-white, except it is ivory.  The quilting is done in Seafoam green cotton thread by Signature.  That color blends nicely on the front, but shows up dramatically on the back.

Trust me, there is a LOT of quilting in this project!

I have one more quilt left to do for Teresa.

In the meantime, I have been making some yummy new backgrounds for my next journal pages in the Artistic Journaling online class.

This one is in my Moleskine sketchbook.  I used acrylic paints.  I think I am going to use these pages to journal about some of my favorite things.

This one is in the Watercolor Field Notebook.  Can you tell that I hope it to be about the ocean?

Both of these used a process of smearing the page with gesso to coat it, and then using your non-dominant hand to add text with a black marker.  Then, you have fun adding layers of paint.   After that, you continue to add marks and areas of interest with more paint, gesso, spattering water, etc.  The one that looks like the ocean has some Lumiere paint to add a gleam.  This process is so much fun, but you have to be patient to wait for the paint to dry between layers.

Here is one more background I have started, but not for the journaling class.  I just thought I would play around while I was painting the journal pages.  This one is on a piece of canvas board.  I gessoed through a piece of lace, then started adding various paints and inks.  I am thinking that this background might be for a mixed media mermaid!