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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Playing with Plates and Alcohol Inks

A friend from the guild told me about some 
plates she saw painted in alcohol inks.

 We had to try it! So we got a bunch of friends together at Katie's Cup last Monday and played.

I was surprised at how well the ink worked on the plates.

We had a great time.

At home I kept on painting as I'm trying to come up with a project to do at 317 Studio.


 It's a bit addictive.

On Monday, November16th we'll be back at Katie's cup. Next time ...ornaments.