Thursday, December 31, 2015

Getting Ready for the 30 in 30 Starting Tomorrow

I'm down in Savannah, Georgia for the New Years. We came down Monday to celebrate my husband, Mark's, 60th birthday. As you know, the season is unusually warm and we have been enjoying temperatures in the high 70's. Meanwhile home has been slammed with snow and ice.

I've been taking a lot of pictures of this beautiful city for the upcoming 30 in 30 starting tomorrow. I haven't been able to post the pictures from my ipad to my blog. Ugh... but I will by tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting back to painting after the holidays and shows etc.

There's still time to sign up for the 30 in 30 tomorrow here

This being New Year's Eve I don't usually make any resolutions but I certainly make goals for my art business.  This year, I have decided to turn things up a notch by hiring a professional marketer to look at my business and make suggestions. Her husband is also a financier so he will be throwing his 2 cents in too. They've been looking at my goals and stats and will be making their suggestions in January. I can't wait. I will be sharing my thoughts on the process and some of their suggestions later in the month.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let There Be Light.

Last month I did a show in Madison, Wisconsin at the Museum of Contemporary Arts.  
It was strongly suggested that all vendors bring lights. I didn't.
I just didn't want to add the extra expense to the show costs.

The lighting was fine in my booth, or so I thought. 
It looks alright from a distance right?  But in truth, you couldn't see my art. Soon the other artists started telling me, "Get some lights in your booth." Sales were slow Friday and Saturday mornings, due to the first large snowfall of the season. Very few people ventured into my booth to view my paintings.

Samantha went out to Walmart and bought some inexpensive lights. By 11AM she had them installed.

My sales got better!

For $60 at Wal-Mart we were able to get 5 lights, extra bulbs, 3 extension cords and zip ties.
What a difference lighting made! It was easy!
Thanks Samantha for all you do.

Do you use lighting in your booths?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Painting Plates with Alcohol Inks

Today is my plate painting class at 
317 Studio & Gallery.

In preparation, I've painted Christmas themed plates.

Starting with a clean plate, draw the outline of the image you want.
I use a Faber-Castell black artist pen but you can use any marker you want.

The good news/ bad news is that the pens are alcohol based so they easily rub off when you want to change your drawing. This can be frustrating as you paint and watch lines disappear. But it's not really a problem if you limit the amount of alcohol you use.

Then paint the plates with alcohol inks and rubber alcohol. You'll want to use less rubbing alcohol and more saturated inks so they don't run as much as maybe you'd want them to on Yupo paper. They still blend very nicely on the plates and dry quickly.

The colors are wonderfully vivid. When adding layers of color I stipple the brush more than using long brush strokes. This allows the colors to blend more. When your done painting go back with your marker to outline and redefine the picture.

When your plate is completely dry you may seal it.

 I use Liquitex Gloss Varnish. This is tricky because all sealers dissolve the inks and pen marks. So start with a very soft brush and apply a first coat very lightly, passing over the image only one time. After it has dried for three hours you may apply another layer. This time it may be thicker. Repeat for a third time.

When you compare my unvarnished plate to the picture with varnish above, you will notice some of the lines holding the ornaments has vanished. (See the yellow bulbs.) I will go back and reapply these lines after the varnish has dried.

It is important to note that these plates are NOT food safe. There currently is not a brushed on sealer on the market that is.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Trimming the Tree with Toulouse

Last night was our art guild's Christmas party. 

I was asked to decorate a table for the event and was told I could use a known artist as inspiration or  create my own design. I choose Toulouse-Lautrec. I mean who can say no to Can-Can girls around a Christmas tree?


I started at Google images and collected some of my favorite drawings.
I wanted some free standing figures and of course, some posters. 
 For the free standing figures I used Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels. This would add a course surface to foam core board so it would accept pastels.

I drew the figures I wanted free standing and added the ground.  After it dried, it was wonderful for the pastels. These would be the figures around the tree. I added a few ornaments and strings of lights so it would appear they were in the process of decorating. I sprayed them with fixative and added a stand to their backs.

For Ornaments, I used one inch canvas boards for the posters and drew the images in pen. Then, I added some color with Dr. Martin's Watercolorsand hot glued ribbons to the backs.

A picture of Toulouse is used as the tree topper. But I still needed something to explain why I picked Lautrec and then I remembered why I love him so. It all has to do with a yellow line. That yellow line became my garland for the tree and was the reason why I draped several yellow ribbons on the table. So people could make their own fabulous lines. I added some of the alcohol ink bulbs I've been making and some lights and I was done.

I printed this on card stock a left it on the table.

The most beautiful line I’ve ever seen was drawn by Toulouse-Lautrec. It was a yellow line… the bottom of a Can Can girl’s skirt. It was perfect in its spontaneity and its movement. I stood in front of it for 15 minutes or more wondering, “Did Toulouse make this line quickly and with joyous abandonment as it appears, or did he meticulously paint this line knowing the significance it would play in the entire painting? 

You may ask yourself, “Will anyone ever stand in front of one of my pieces and ponder over how a certain element was done? Can I create such a piece?”

Maybe the answer is in one of Lautrec’s paintings…. Yes you Can Can!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have a Merry Christmas.
                                                                                 Jill Rae

People seemed to like the table... everyone loves Toulouse-Lautrec.

Over all, the whole night was a big success and a lot of fun,

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pics From 317 Class

I held another class last Thursday. What fun! 

 The world is filled with 
such creative people.

We are capable 
of such beauty.


Such an important thing to remember when humans in the world sometimes look so inhumane.
  I am grateful for the beauty that is in all of us.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Big Magic Part 2

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's 
new book Big Magic. 

I love the idea of talking about creativity and am devoting several blog posts to some of the points she makes in the book.

Elizabeth talks about "creative entitlement" believing that you are entitled to be here. I think of it as; "I paint so I am an artist". Recently, I wrote an interview about a woman who teaches over 350 elementary children art each day. She doesn't consider herself an artist because she has never had the formal education. I think she's an artist but she will never be an artist until the day she declares to herself, "I am an artist."

This is an issue that is near and dear to me as I become more involved with the arts. There is always works that I consider superb and my first reaction is; "that artist is better than I am". It would be so easy to go down some incredible negative path of comparisons. I stop, and remind myself that I also have talent and am different from everyone else. We all are unique. What a shame it would be if we all started painting like someone else.

Elizabeth explains it best when she says;
"This proclamation of intent and entitlement is not something you can do just once and then expect miracles; it's something you must do daily, forever. I've had to keep defining and defending myself as a writer every single day of my adult life - constantly reminding and re-reminding my soul and the cosmos that I'm very serious about the business of creative living, and that I will never stop creating, no matter what the outcome, and no matter how deep my anxieties and insecurities may be."

She talks about the Central Paradox that art is meaningless and deeply meaningful at the same time. Some days we must be able to jump back and forth between these two ideas within minutes. I loved her example; "My creative expression must be the most important thin in the world to me (if I am to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all(if I am to live sanely)."

It's important to be able to handle the time in between the successes. Elizabeth calls this the time you have to love you own "shit sandwich". Learn how to deal with frustration, failure and rejection. One of my favorite things about the art business is that it will always change. It's a roller coaster of high and lows. One day your work comes easily and you are at the top of your game. Just wait for it.... the knock down punch, either from your own mind or the outside world. These are the times I use my dreams to raise the bar just a bit higher. "I can't get this technique... I'm going to keep on going until I master it. No one wants to buy my work today? Okay, but I talked to a lot of people and collected a lot of emails. I had no chance of winning that competition against artists at that caliber of expertise. Okay, next year I'll be better and the year that I do win his competition I will remind myself how impressed I was with the winner's work."

Next time; "Don't quit your day job." Whoops... too late.

Tell me about your creativity. When did you know you were an artist? How do you handle rejection and frustration? I want to hear from you please let a comment.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Last Years Alcohol Ink Ornaments

Here's a post from last years ornaments.
Just another way to do the inks. 

I love the versatility of alcohol inks. 
 This Christmas I put them to the test by making some ornaments with them.

Having bought basic ornaments from Michael's I started with masking fluid which I applied with my ink pen in various shapes and forms.


After the masking fluid dried, almost immediately, I was ready to add the alcohol inks. You might notice that I reuse my the ink in my palettes - just add rubbing alcohol and they're ready to go. (I hate wasting paint.)

After removing all the masking fluid with my eraser, I was ready to spray on the clear Acrylic Spray Finish. I did this outside at arms length and found some of the paint smearing together. Probably better to spray at a distance (as  the directions state). After allowing these to dry 15 or more minutes I went back in with a fine permanent marker to outline some of the detail which had been lost in the spraying. As long as the finish was totally dry there was no smearing.

After adding some silver ribbon they were ready to go. I took them to the Holiday Art Show and found them to be a big hit.  I still have a few left which I will use as hostess gifts and possibly a give away on this blog. What do you think? Would like to see them as a giveaway?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alcohol Ink Bulbs

This year I'm stamping my bulbs with alcohol inks.

I start with regular glass bulbs and pour white acrylic craft paint inside of it. I put them upside down in a cupcake pan so the excess paint can run out of it. (Remember to use the paper liners to make clean up easy.)

        The paint takes about a day to dry.

Stamps can be purchased in the store but I make my own stamps by attaching Velcro to round cylinders. Use the hard side of the Velcro. I found a pack of 6 containers for mixing glitter in at Michael's for $2. A wine cork or medicine bottle will do just as well. I cut small squares out of white felt.
 Put just a few drops of two or three colors on the stamp then begin stamping. (Here I'm using two oranges and a blue.)
 Cover the bulb with the inks. You can continue stamping until you like the effect. If you don't like the look you can always clean it off with 91% rubbing alcohol but you might want to try dripping some alcohol on the bulb first to see what interesting shapes it will make. Try dripping some colors on it first. 

There is a big variety of shaped bulbs in the stores to choose from. 

After letting the bulbs dry completely (it doesn't take but a few minutes), you will want to seal them. This can be tricky because  the sealants will melt the paint. I used the Krylon, Clear Polyurethane. Carefully spray your bulb with a light coat at first. Make sure you are spraying from a distance. After the first coat is dry repeat again with a slightly heavier coat. Let that dry and repeat for a third coat. Or you can try the Liquitex Gloss Varnish which is applied with a soft brush and again a very light top coat. (I used this for my plates and offer it as an alternative to spraying. I think the spraying may work better on the bulbs.)

 This bulb got a little too close to the spray but the effect is still nice as long as it doesn't melt too much.
Tomorrow I'll post some alcohol inks I painted last year. They were painted with the alcohol inks also, but with a different technique.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Meet Sarah Russell

When Dakota Elementary School's art teacher retired after many years of teaching it was announced that she would not be replaced, due to budget cuts. Sarah Russell, one of the school's aids at the time, knew exactly what to do. (Well, maybe not exactly, but this incredibly creative and fearless woman knew she would figure out the details as she went.) She approached the principal with her idea of taking over the program with her aid status and providing art time for the 350+ children. He accepted the idea.  Sarah promised that the program would not cost the school anything in materials.

Cereal Box chicken
Soon Sarah had the children bringing in used cereal boxes, plastic bottles, milk cartons and broken crayons to create amazing art using recycled garbage. She now has so many people donating their unwanted craft supplies ( you know we all have some ) that storage of these goods has become just as creative as the artwork itself, hanging garbage bags of bottles and other supplies from the rafters.
milk jugs

The end result: 350 + children in the Dakota district, grades K to 3, are learning art, how to be creative and to look at garbage in a new and exciting way.

These projects require hours of preparation before the children can make art but Sarah has no lack of energy, and often will recruit family members to help. One Thanksgiving Day she and her family spent 5 hours converting the Halloween Face project into Christmas Elves by adding clothed bodies and Santa hats. When the children came back to school the following Monday they were greeted by a hallway full of  holiday cheer.

Sarah's talents have touched more than
just those at the school.
One Christmas each grade created 6 foot, lighted Christmas trees for the annual Holiday concert. Sarah decided to raffle off the trees as a fundraiser for the local food pantry. The check she delivered, $1400, was the largest donation the pantry had ever received. TV crews were on hand the report the story.

Pizza boxes and laundry detergent bottles

 I met Sarah while demonstrating at 317 Studio & Gallery. She was interested in a technique I was using, for her classes room. She came to my house for a private lesson. I could tell immediately she was an incredible person with many talents. I knew I had to have her share her story with the Rockford Art Guild.


Last Tuesday, Sarah shared her story and many of her art projects to a very interested art guild crowd which included several art teachers.

You see, Sarah doesn't even consider herself an artist as she does not hold an art education degree or any formal training. Her class is not called "Art class" but "Arts and Crafts class"  to differentiate between the two. The guild members all confirmed her artist status as she told many wonderful stories and shared great project ideas.

As far as the school art budget goes... what budget? In the last four years she has spent $60 of the school's money. 
Everything else has been donated or recycled.

She ended the night with one of her favorite stories  which she recalled with tears in her eyes. One day the mother of a First Grader approached her and said, "Ms. Russell, we have a problem." Sarah was immediately concerned and listened to the mother as she told her that she was cleaning out her son's closet one day when she found piles of garbage; water bottles, cereal boxes, milk jugs and other items. When she asked her son why he was collecting garbage in his closet. He replied.

" I know it's just garbage now but someday it's going to be something really beautiful."

water bottles