“Albert’s Steampunk Dreams” 24″ x 24″ Mixed-Media Wood Panel. Permanent collection of Happy Basset Barrel House, Topeka KS.
Let it Snow Sign
Happy New Year!
Well we didn’t get a white Christmas this year, but we did wake up to a winter wonderland on the first day of the year! What a way to start out. It’s so pretty and peaceful (and let’s be honest, even better to be on vacation so I didn’t have to venture out into it very far!).
I also received my box of new design team goodies from TCW. Boy are we spoiled! The most exciting part for me was the new stencil butters and the new stamps and stencils, not to mention more matte medium gel which I have used more of this past year than ever!
To celebrate the new supplies, of course I had to dive right in. The irony is that several of us chose the same stencil using our new stencil butters, so I realized I had to do something different.
The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.
I always have gloves, but I don’t have any mittens. However, when I saw the new TCW2193 Snowy Mittens Sign Stencil, I just knew I had to use it. In addition to the adorable mittens, I knew I wanted more snowflakes in the background, so I also used our TCW720 Snowflakes stencil.
To start, I used clear embossing fluid with a dauber bottle for the snowflakes stencil. I applied white embossing powder and heat set it using my heat gun. This formed a resist of snowflakes in white on the white mixed media board.
Next, I sprinked Colorsparx powders in Cerulean blue, turquoise, and orchid randomly all over the board, then spritzed it with my Ken Oliver Spritz bottle. Just look at all these beautiful, deeply pigmented powders all mingling together in the water spritz. Yummo! Again, I dried it with my heat gun.
Here’s a close up image of the dried ColorSparx powders over the white embossed snowflake background. I really love the effect it gave to both the snowflakes and the background, definitely a technique I will be using again!
In order to be able to apply the mitten stencil over the ColorSparx powders, I knew I had to seal them somehow. The snow we had was a very wet and heavy snow, which made me think of replicating a ‘wet look’ somehow. TCW9006 Gloss Gel Medium was the perfect solution.
Recently, I learned that you can apply mediums to a gel plate, then lay it face down with the medium onto the substrate. This enables you to apply the medium without smudging or reactivating and moving the water soluble product below. In the following photo, it shows my catalyst spreader being used to apply the gloss gel medium to my Gel Press six inch square Gel Plate.
I repeated the gel plate process until the entire mixed media board was covered with the gloss gel. I dried the gloss gel medium with my heat gun to set it, then let it cool a while before I continued.
Now, it was time to add my adorable knitted mittens to the sign. Using a cosmetic sponge, I pounced vertically up and down to lightly apply the TCW9001 White Gesso through the TCW2193 Snowy Mittens Sign Stencil. I used my heat gun to dry the gesso, being careful not to overheat the gloss gel medium so that it did not bubble up.
And now for the gloriously creamy, incredibly smooth, easy to use stencil butter. You guys have to try these, they are so easy to use and the vibrant colors are just amazing! I decided to use the Fuschia Stencil Butter with a palette knife held at a 45 degree angle. Working slowly and smoothly, I applied the Fuschia stencil butter to the mixed media board over the stenciled mittens and snowflakes. Just look at that gorgeous deep pink color, isn’t it fabulous?
My friends call me the “Texture Queen”, because I love to manipulate mediums to see what I can get them to do. One of the techniques I love to get into my works is 3D dimension. If you use a heat gun to dry modeling paste, you can experiment with how close you hold the heat gun to the modeling paste. Holding my heat gun about 2″ from the modeling paste allows me to get it to dry, then bubble and puff up, giving a raised, bumpy effect, kind of like puffy paint.
I often use this technique to introduce a 3D aspect into many of my works. So of course I wanted to try it with the new stencil butter, to see how it would perform. As you can see in the following image, it performed absolutely perfectly, giving me a bubbly look, as though someone had thrown wet snow onto the letters.
As a last step, I really wanted more contrast around the letters to make them stand out more on the sign. Using black water-based ink and a paintbrush, I washed the ink over and around the letters. The ink sinks down into the valleys of the letters and around the edges, helping the letters really pop out against the background. If you accidentally apply too much ink, you can remove it very lightly with a damp paintbrush. The mountains of bubbles in the modeling paste are very fragile as they are hollow. If you touch them too hard, they will collapse down, and it is almost impossible to get them to rise again because the modeling paste has already been dried.
Want to see a quick video? Hop on over and watch my quick fly-by video on my YouTube Channel.
Until next time, happy experimenting and happy day!
Happy Christmas Eve to those of you who celebrate Christmas.
Did you get to see the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on the evening of December 21, 2020? I was watching it happen over the course of that entire week. Yep, I’m a romantic star gazer. I’m fascinated by astronomy, planets, galaxies, nebulas, and more; are you? I totally geeked out over the recent ISS and Dragon X docking too. I loved it when baby yoda was released into the ISS by the Japanese astronaut, what a hoot!
OK, back to earth…. Do you celebrate the winter solstice? I like to turn inward and reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t work, dreams, feelings, plans, ideas, and so much more. It’s the time of year where I like to slow down, rest, contemplate life, and think about what my word of intention and focus will be for the following year. It’s become an annual tradition for me, to take a break from life, take a step back, slow down and stop to listen to my inner wisdom and dreams.
To celebrate the winter solstice, the conjunction, and the night sky, I decided to create a wreath to decorate my home for the winter. Being isolated due to the global pandemic since March, and doing so much art this year, has finally given me the confidence to actually hang my own art in my own home! Please, come celebrate with me, as we journey across the winter night skies in celebration of the stars, moon, and once in a lifetime conjunction experience!
The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.
I bought this little stag several years ago. I always wanted to use him on a wreath, but I never knew what theme I wanted to do until now. The idea came to me during my weekly video chat with my parents back home in Australia. We were discussing the upcoming conjunction and solstice, and that’s what sparked the inspiration to create this magical winter solstice wreath.
To begin, I added some patterned tissue paper that I love (also related to my theme) to the papier mache stag head. I used TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium to apply the tissue paper over the entire stag head.
Next, I used the TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium to add the moon to the stag’s forehead, and to add some wooden stars to the stag’s face and antlers. I allowed these to dry overnight, so that they would be fully dry and adhered completely.
The tissue dried far more colorfully than I thought it would, so I decided to give the stag’s head a coat of stiff dry brushed TCW9001 White Gesso, mixed with a little water to make it somewhat translucent. I did this so that the initial design from the tissue paper would still be slightly visible yet far less colorful, with the added advantage of adding texture and a distressed, shabby chic, rustic finish.
Now, I was done creating the base for the stag’s head. Next, I wired the stag head to an unadorned grapevine wreath; which I then decorated with permanent botanical foliage. Full disclosure: I am an accredited florist by the Nebraska Academy of Floral Designers. A skill set that has served me well and is great to have for the creation of home decor and much more!
Some of the leaves on the wreath were also dry brushed with TCW9001 White Gesso to provide unity in design between the wreath and the stag’s head, by providing repetition and similarity to tie the elements together.
Next, I really wanted to add stars to the stag’s head, but with the curves and shapes, the stencil wouldn’t bend around it properly and lay flat to allow crisp stenciling. I contemplated for a while, then came up with an idea. I used TCW9004 Light & Fluffy Modeling paste through TCW5004 Star Shower stencil onto a 1 ply white paper napkin (serviette). I dried this immediately with my heat gun.
Using TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium, I tore the napkin into small pieces and attached it over the stag’s head and antlers with a brush. This gave me exactly the effect I wanted. The napkin blended in perfectly with the white gesso background, leaving the light & fluffy stars to stand out with a 3D effect!
Now, I needed to decide if I wanted to add colour to the stag head. In trying different colour themes and ideas, I was able to take the progression of four different finishes. I took a photo of each option to show you what they looked like, until I settled on the final combination.
This first finish shows the stag’s head as is. This shabby chic, white distressed finish is the perfect neutral finish that would suit any home decor color palette.
Next, I wanted to try a blue color to reflect the twilight sky, just after sunset. I settled on a deep blue water based ink, mixed with water, and applied liberally with a brush over the entire head. I really love the watercolor effect this achieved.
I decided the blue was a little too light in color. I really wanted more intensity of color to accurately reflect the darkness of the night sky, and to make the stars really stand out, so I added some additional water color washes with a dark brown and a black water based ink that had blue mica powder mixed into it.
I feel like Goldilocks! Now I decided the stag was too dark! I really wanted it to shine more. I had literally just watched a video of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). That gave me the idea to try a peacock blue finishing wax over the dark finish. Voila! The perfect shining night sky was achieved!
Want to see more? Hop on over and watch my quick fly-by video on my YouTube Channel.
Peace on Earth
Happy Holidays! My new blog post is up today over on The Crafter’s Workshop blog site.
There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has been quite the year, for so many reasons, not least a global pandemic.
I like to take the month of December to reflect inwardly about the past year and all of it’s happenings. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting period of reflection so far considering the amount of lifestyle changes and ongoing changes we have all had to make. I began to realize just how important inner peace is for all of us; to find our center and balance, no matter our outside circumstances. That’s what prompted me to make this Peace on Earth art journal page.
There is a wonderful phrase in the Japanese culture and language called “Shirin-yoku”, which literally means “forest bathing”. This is a crucial part of my daily practice to maintain my own centeredness and balance, and that’s what I decided to portray for myself to keep my internal peace and while keeping the negativity at bay.
We are blessed to live with a large green space surrounding us and we love to take daily jaunts up to the apple orchard, around it, and back again. We are so fortunate to have this daily opportunity to observe all the minute and big changes, wildlife, seasons, and the cycle of life. Second only to my daily art practice, this is one of the biggest joys and peace creators in my life.
To reflect the blue sky, I began with laying down TCW9001 White gesso, and mixed a little permanent light blue acrylic paint in. I love to use an old hotel key card to spread the gesso and paint over the page. I remember the first time I saw this done, and was amazed at how quick it was to cover the entire page (as opposed to using a brush which is what I used to do!).
In the second step, I used raw umber acrylic paint on a cosmetic sponge and dabbed it through stencil TCW252 Aspen Trees to create the woods we walk through daily. I created the bottom half of the trees lighter in color as they will have additional layers added over them.
Next, I wanted to create a feeling of an under canopy, all the plants that grow around the base of the trees that we walk through. For this, I selected two different stencils, TCW243 Ferns and TCW862 Maidenhair Fern. I applied the maidenhair fern stencil first using yellow ochre acrylic paint, then I applied the ferns using sap green acrylic paint. Both these layers used a cosmetic sponge to dab the paint through the stencils onto the page.
I really wanted the viewer to have the feeling of being immersed in the forest and trees, so I used the reverse side of stencil TCW870 Fir branch to add an overhanging branch in the top left corner of the page. Again, I used a cosmetic sponge to apply the paint colors, this time using Payne’s Grey and Sap Green for the needles, and Burnt Sienna and Payne’s Grey for the pine cones.
Now, I was done adding all of the background elements. Next, I wanted to create a mandala background for my seated figure. I began by dry brushing in a circular motion TCW9001 White gesso lightly in a large sphere on the right side of the page as a placeholder for the mandala to be stenciled on to.
I used stencil TCW905 Leaf emblem mandala stencil to create the mandala background for the seated figure. I applied Cadmium Yellow Medium hue acrylic paint with a cosmetic sponge and dabbed the paint through the stencil onto the white gesso sphere. I kept the edges of the sphere showing around the edges of the mandala stencil to give it a glow effect against the darker background colors.
I really wanted the mandala to have an esoteric feel to it, so I decided to use ColorSparx powders in green shades to reflect the background greenery, and also to provide depth and interest within the mandala design, showcasing the leaf emblems. I first applied a thin layer of TCW9011 matte gel medium over the stenciled design. I then laid the stencil down, sprinkled the ColorSparx powders over the stencil, and spritzed them with water to activate the powders.
I had found an image in a magazine and cut it out to create a mask for my seated figure. I laid the mask down onto the page, then sponged TCW9001 White gesso and TCW9002 Black gesso around the outlines of the figure to create a shadow and a glow. I added a stamped image with dark green embossing powder over the seated figure.
Now, I was ready to add the remaining foreground elements, consisting of forest floor mushrooms, a flower, and the sentiment. TCW9001 White gesso was sponged through stencils TCW578 Mini Whimsical Shrooms (Alas! This stencil is now retired, but you could easily substitute another stencil) and TCW585 Inspired Words to complete the foreground elements.
I then hand painted and colored the foreground elements.
I’ve included a few close up shots for you to see the details more easily.
To see more, hop on over and watch my quick fly-by video on my YouTube Channel.
Bloom Where You Are Planted
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post today, I really appreciate it. Recently, I took an online class with Renee Mueller. Her class was inspired by an afternoon in the garden with her family, the sense of connection she felt with them, and the beauty of her surroundings and the sky, as they laid on a blanket and watched the clouds go scudding by.
My interpretation of this class is shown in the image, above. I created a deep purple clematis vine, which reminds me of my maternal grandfather’s garden. He grew passionfruit along the back fence, and I always remember with fascination the flowers and their color. Watching Renee work and asking us to select a vine to paint, brought this deep purple clematis to mind which also brought the passionfruit flower memories flooding back.
Before I began, I wanted to give the background some interest before the class work started, so I did some gelli printing using my 8″ x 10″ Gel Press Gelli Plate to begin and to help the page lose it’s initial white starkness. I find it’s always easier to create on a non-blank page, don’t you?
For this page, I started with stencil TCW874 12″ Poppy Grid by Rebekah Meier, using Unbleached Titanium acrylic paint. I brayered over the stencil with the paint, then did the print. Next, I used stencil TCW454 12″ Specimens by Rebekah Meier, with Light Naples Yellow acrylic paint. I used only the geometrical shapes from this stencil as background accents in a few places on the page.
Next, I wanted to try gelli printing a sky with clouds over the previous stenciling. I wanted to keep the paint light and airy to simulate the sky with clouds, but also to reveal some of the stenciling underneath for interest and depth. I lightly rolled Permanent Blue Light acrylic paint with the brayer first, then I added Titanium white, brayered randomly and lightly as clouds, and pulled the print. The finished sky is shown in the bottom right corner of the image, below.
To protect the gelli-printed sky background, I covered it with a thin layer of TCW9007 Matte Clear Gesso. Now, I was ready to begin the class. Renee had us begin the project by doing a wash of acrylic paint for the sky, clouds, and surrounding greenery. I used Payne’s Gray, Sap Green, and Titanium white as my wash colors. Once I had achieved my desired effects, I then used TCW9001 White Gesso with my fingers to blend it in as clouds and light. I must admit, I was so tempted to stop here because I absolutely adore how this background turned out and I didn’t want to cover any of it up! I will definitely be using these techniques again.
I added some watered down splatters of sap green acrylic paint and dried the project fully. I then added another layer of clear gesso to seal and protect these middle ground layers, as shown in the image, below. Aren’t they gorgeous?
Now, it was time to create the foreground and focal points. I created the clematis vines and leaves using the Sap green acrylic paint. I then added the clematis flower blooms and buds using the TCW9055 Orchid ColorSparx powder as a watercolor paint mixed with water. I just adore the vibrancy and intensity of the ColorSparx powders, and this color might just be my new favorite!
Next, I completed the focal point images with a hand-painted bud, torn paper collage, and hand embroidery on ribbon to represent the connections stitching us all together. I applied these focal point elements to my page using TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium as both glue and sealer.
To finish the project, I added a hand lettered sentiment that fit with the theme. I chose ‘Bloom where you are planted’ because I have moved multiple times in my life around the world (not recently), and I realize it is up to me to thrive wherever I plant myself!
To see more of this project up close and in progress, please check out my quick video overview on my YouTube Channel.
Thanks again for stopping by today, it really means a lot to me. I hope this post inspired you and gave you the courage to try some new techniques and maybe even some new supplies too.
Until next time, happy playing, and happy day!
ColorSparx At Play
Well hello there!
Here in Kansas, fall is really beginning. Lots of leaves are falling from the trees, most of which haven’t had cold enough temperatures yet to start to change to pretty colors. However, I noticed this morning, the tips of some of the trees are beginning to turn to beautiful fall shades, which I adore and which inspire me greatly.
This week, I was trying some new techniques, experimenting with stencils and the wonderful ColorSparx powders. Before I joined the TCW Design Team, I had never used the ColorSparx powders, so I hadn’t experienced their beauty or their versatility first hand.
Since receiving my first ColorSparx powders about two months ago, I have been playing with them constantly, trying new techniques, learning what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do with them.
I thought this week I would show you some of what I tried, what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned during the process, all in the hopes that it will encourage you to experiment and try something new, too!
When you purchase ColorSparx, they come with a card of great suggestions to try. I definitely recommend giving those techniques a start. That’s how I got started. From there, I have progressed to trying the ColorSparx powders mixed into different mediums, such as modeling pastes, gessoes, and gel mediums. There are so many possibilities!
This week, I wanted to try some water techniques with the Colorsparx powders and stencils. Here’s some photos and narrative of what I tried, and how it turned out…
Recently, I learned a technique which intrigued me. After adding water to the watercolor paper page with a brush, sprinkle on the ColorSparx powders, lay the stencil on top and walk away. Yep, walk away. Let the page dry overnight.
Using this technique, the color pools under the plastic stencil, and clings to the edges of the stencil cut lines, leaving darker outlines of the cut out shapes. Once dried, I took a black Micron pigma pen and outlined the stencil shapes, and voila! One hot, and happening page! (if you turn the page upside down, it looks like flames! Good to know, right?).
For this page, I used stencil TCW568 Moving Vines with TCW ColorSparx Powders in Gamboge, Crimson, Scarlet, and Orange. For the sentiment, I used TCW9039 Copper Penny Modeling Paste which has a dreamy, creamy, spreadable texture, that is so easy to use with a palette knife. The next morning I was swooning over these gorgeous, vibrant, fall colors and shimmery copper sentiment!
My next experiment had me using the TCW192 Gingko Stencil with the Gamboge, Fuschia, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Orange, and Scarlet ColorSparx Powders. I used exactly the same water technique as the Moving Vines experiment, above. The Yellow Ochre and Gamboge powders have a touch of green sparks in them, and I really love how that green soaked into the ginko leaf shapes. For this page, I used the same black Micron pigma pen to outline the leaves. Then, I decided I wanted the leaves to ‘pop’ out of the page more, so I outlined the leaves with a white signo pen. In places, you can see where the white ink absorbs some of the color sparks pigment, adding unexpected tints! To make the tints more noticeable, I outlined the leaves one more time with the pigma pen. I really love the way the leaves look three-dimensional, and as though they are about to pop off the page!
Last, I decided to use the TCW658 Mini Jungle Vines stencil with the TCW9043 Marcasite Silver Modeling paste applied using a palette knife. I used another combination of the Colorsparx powders, in Olive Green, Crimson, Gamboge, Orange, and Scarlet, and I used the same water technique that I used for the previous two pages, shown above.
This page was a good learning experience for me. I added too much water, when the modeling paste was not fully dry. I should have dried the modeling paste completely with my heat gun, then added the water and powders. Lesson learned.
The water soaked into the edges of some of the leaves, making the modeling paste dissolve overnight. When adding the water for the powder, I added too much water to the page, which caused some of the colors to blend together, turning an icky mud brown. Ooops, please, learn from my mistakes!
As a result, it took this page far longer to dry than the previous two pages, and the colors turned out much murkier and darker than I would have liked. Once dried, I used the same outlining technique for the stenciled shapes, that I did for the gingko leaves. In the end, it really didn’t turn out too badly, as you can see in the image below, on the right side.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the image on the left side of the above photo is. While I had the powders out, I played with just sprinkling powders on some other pages I had practiced on earlier with modeling paste. I left these pages to dry with the other pages shown above.
When I came to look at the pages the next morning, they were all simply too gorgeous to not be used.
What I decided to do was take the off cuts from the pages above, combined with these other pages cut into what I like to call “moments of joy and beauty”. I then created a series of seven mini collages, each collage measuring approx.. 6″ x 8″, featuring a fall theme, using these ‘left over bits’ die and hand cut into pieces. I hand poured some resin leaves, painted them with TCW9002 Black gesso and finished them with waxes. One leaf was added to each collage as a three-dimensional element. I’ve included photos of the six additional mini collages, below, for you to see.
Sunflower Garden Keeper Mixed Media Board
Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on the beautiful Sunflower Keeper who is tending her garden and thinking about what to plant next. This project was inspired by the Montage Moments class I took from Kate Morgan on Ivy Newport’s site.
This project is a 12″ x 12″ mixed media board featuring modeling paste, gel medium, lots of ColorSparx watercolor powders, stenciling, painting, collage, and assemblage. And yes, those are real cicada wings (from an already deceased one), and her skirt features turkey feathers which I find a ton of daily while I walk Miss Maggie.
To watch my two part video tutorial about how the garden was created, hop on over to my YouTube channel.
To read my Design Team Blog Post about this artwork’s creation, head on over to the TCW Blog post page.
To see more photos of the Sunflower Keeper deep in thought in her garden, check out my Instagram post.
Explore Multi-Layered Mixed Media Artwork Page
To watch my video tutorial about how this artwork was created, hop on over to my YouTube channel.
To read my blog post about this artwork, head on over to the TCW Blog post page.
Texture Mini-Series – SOLD
I’m in the process of taking an incredible online class called Soulful Abstracts with the uber talented French artist, Laly Mille. I have absolutely adored every project so far for this class, and I’m only a third of the way through the class!
Yesterday, I finished my Texture Mini Series for the class featuring four canvases measuring 6″ x 8″. These canvases contain a variety of textures including fabrics, paper, cardboard, and 3-D embellishments. The muted colour palette was selected intentionally to help highlight the depth and focus of the viewer on the variety of textures in each piece.
To view all pieces, hop on over to my Instagram account, as shown below.
Mini Journal – SOLD
For my first project as a Design Team Member for The Crafter’s Workshop (TCW), I decided to use my all time favorite TCW stencil, Steampunk Gears (TCW262s) to hand craft a custom mini journal. This journal is 4″ square, features 24 hand painted pages, a custom colored cotton canvas cover, and steampunk gear charms.
The Crafter’s Workshop
Design Team Member
Today, it was announced that I was selected to be on the 2020-21 Design Team for TCW, The Crafter’s Workshop.
Every other week I’ll be creating a new project or artwork, featuring TCW stencils and products, and writing a blog post for the TCW blog, so hop on over and check out our amazing daily projects by our fabulous design team. 12 incredibly talented artists from all over the world will be posting their works, process photos & videos, and tips for creating your own mixed media projects.
Don’t worry, I’ll also be posting my projects here on my blog too!
Hand crafted nature journal
Tonight, I completed my Wanderlust 2020, Week 20, Nature Journal class with Christine Karpiak from Canada.
Christine’s class taught us how to gut an old book, and give it new life with new pages, signatures, and covers. I rediscovered how much I enjoy hand making journals! Very enjoyable.
Albert’s Steampunk Dreams earns highest bid and revenue – SOLD
April 25, 2020
Tonight was the Facebook Live Art Auction for the Friends of Topeka Zoo fundraiser. Tonight, Albert was auctioned off for $1,550 with full proceeds benefiting The Friends Of The Topeka Zoo non-profit organization. In addition, I also donated my Zoo Membership which raised an additional $100. A great event, and I’m delighted to hear that they reached their event goal amount. Grateful for a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community, especially in these times.
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