Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Creating Patterns with Photoshop

It seems this year in particular has been a great year for learning new techniques from some awesome instructors.  This summer I took a digital collage workshop.  I signed up because it had the word "collage" in the title of the workshop - Ha Ha - I am such an easy target.  The class turned out to basically be a Photoshop class; and, while I have a brand new appreciation for digital artist, I still gravitate to the hands-on approach when it comes to making art.

What I did learn in this class that made subject matter much easier for me was how to take several images and combine them to create a new image.  I think some people have this concept that artist just pull subject matter out of their heads and plop it down on the canvas.  I'm sure some very talented artist do just that.  But I need a reference.  Something to help me get the angles, and the proportions, and the shapes just right.

Here is an example using my ice cream sundae collage.  See if you can pick out the parts from these photos and find them rearranged in the completed work.

I used these photos for reference

And created a pattern to make this piece
Do you see the bowl?  Not in the reference photos; but, it is there.  It came from the bottom picture on the left.  I cropped out the stem of the glass, reworked the shape, and added the polka dots.
Having a pattern is only half the battle.  Translating the pattern with paper is another monster - but she is a friendly monster and I am very fond of her.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mothers and Daughters

As a collage artist, I am always on the lookout for paper of all kinds to use in my work.  In particular I love old books and dictionaries, maps, anatomy and technical drawing books.  Anything with interesting print and patterns will do.  One dictionary I purchased at a resale shop contained a foreign words and phrases section.  LOVED that! Using a few choice phrases, family photos, and the techniques I learned from two great workshop, a new sentiment series was born.

This summer I brought collage artist, Jane Davies, to Houston to teach a workshop.  That's her in the picture above wearing her plastic tiara.  This class was a blast and really pushed me out of my comfort zone.  Making abstract art is not easy - at least, not for me. 

 Using Jane's guidance, I created the three abstracts above.  Now, what was I supposed to do with them?  I tucked them away and got ready for my next arty adventure - my first online art workshop.

 I wasn't sure if I would like taking an online class; but, I saw Mary Jane Chadbourne's playing card class and I couldn't resist.   Mary Jane's class was yet another eye opening experience and the online instruction was fantastic.  Here are some of Mary Jane's cards below.

So, now I have my dictionary phrases, my abstracts, and my new playing card techniques I learned from Mary Jane.  Here is how I put them all together.


I started by taking this (very old) photo of myself and making a copy.  Instead of copy paper I used a page from my dictionary and ran it through my printer.  Nice effect! 

Next, I took my abstract background and glued it onto an 8 X 10 canvas, mounted my picture to the abstract background and super sized all the playing card techniques to fit a bigger size substrate. 

I used another abstract for the background of this piece.  That's my mom pictured.

The last background I used with a picture of my daughter.

Mothers and daughters - three generations in art.  I think each foreign phrase fits its subject perfectly and I love the new techniques that brought the pieces together.  Both of my amazing instructors teach online workshops throughout the year.  Find them here:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Desserts in Review

The yummy dessert series is all wrapped up.  I tried several new techniques this time around and I really like the results. 
One of the things I purposely tried to do was to create the feeling of "white" using color, as seen in the cupcake holder, the ice cream, the cream-filled cookies and the cake.  Large areas of white in collage have always been a challenge for me; but, mixing in colored paper with the white paper completely brought the white to life.  That was a good lesson learned.   
Another first in the dessert series was the use of a few large format stamps I made from foam core and fun foam.  (Thanks Judi Hurwitt for that fun class this summer).  I cut the foam core to the size of the panel - 12 X 12 - and then cut self adhesive fun foam into circular shapes, placed the shapes onto the foam core, applied paint with a sponge, stamped the panel, voila!  Very happy with the result.

Another handmade stamp was used for the cake background.

And another for the cookies background.

Chocolate covered starwberries has a background made from a stencil, a rubber stamp, and a small circle cookie cutter used as a stamp.

Soon after I finishing this series, I discovered the Society 6 website which allows you to upload your art images and place them on items such as notecards and tote bags. 


So Cool! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells E-Course - Week 1

For those of you who don't know, Lilla Rogers is an illustrator turned art agent who has licensed over $100 million worth of art.  This chick knows her stuff - for sure.  Having a little extra cash in my pockets (thank you face painting) I signed up for her e-course "Make Art That Sells" to gain some insight into what the licensing game is really all about. 

Lilla's course is broken down into a different licensing market every week with an assignment due on Sunday.  Week 1 was bolt fabric.  HOLY COW, I had no idea what went into creating fabric.  It was so outside my comfort zone I could not complete the assignment to the specs given.  Fortunately, Lilla says that every artist is not made for every market. Thank goodness for that!  However, it is not unusual for artist to cross over into different markets over time - encouraging to hear!

Week 1 assignment was to create a fabric pattern using berries and casserole dishes in a vintage theme.  Something like this:

Well, my friends, that was not going to happen for me.  I don't DO tiny.  But, I still wanted to put SOMETHING out there; so, I fell back on a loved theme of my own - animals in hats - and created this:
And to make it match the assignment in the best way I could I went in and digitally added text and came up with this:

Needless to say, my piece did not get picked for review by Lilla herself; but, I do feel like I stayed true to myself - important, right?  Part of the assignment was to teach us that sometimes you don't have a choice what you make for licensing.  The client and the market dictate that in some instances. 

Interesting Fact - Did you know that it is standard for an artist to make about 10 - 12 cents per yard of licensed fabric sold. That may not seem like much, but Lilla says if you do well with a client, they may produce 3 or 4 themes of your work in fabric every year with colorways and coordinates all thrown into the mix.

So, good-bye bolt fabric week.  It was nice to meet you but I do not want to date you.  The week 2 market is Home Decor.  I'll keep you posted :)



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sunday Best - A Series For The Sophisticated Baby

One of the things I keep reading about is how important it is for an artist to create work in a "series" - a collection of work with the same theme.  My work to date has been pretty scattered with single pieces that don't really connect to each other. So, I said what the heck.  I'll give a series a try. 

Next problem - subject matter.  What do I make?  I am the first to admit that my work leans toward the juvenile side.  That seemed like a good place to start.  Something for children that was a little quirky and whimsical. 

Here is my first series.  I imagine these pieces in a nursery or kid's room making children and adults smile and wonder.... where are these animals going all dressed up in their Sunday best.   Enjoy!

Oliver Owl

Ginger Giraffe

Priscilla Kitty

Fiona Fox

Beatrice Bunny

Prints of these pieces are avialable in my Etsy store here:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Painting the Human Canvas

I just returned from Florida where I was attending the Face and Body Art International Convention.  As many of you may know, I became a professional face painter a few years ago.  WOW - what a fun job!  Every week I have the priviledge of transforming ordinary children into super heros, princesses, butterflies and tigers.  What a wonderful way to make a living.

What do you do at a face and body painting convention you might ask.  You paint in the morning, you paint in the afternoon, and then you paint some more at night - sometimes until 2 am.  Something wild and wonderful begins to happen when you are surrounded  - literally surrounded - by creative people.  Have you heard the expression "greatness begets greatness"?  That's what happens.  You become a better artist just by being surrounded by great artist.  It's kind of like a great big gust of inspirations hits you non-stop for a week straight.  Crazy good!! 

Here are some high lights from the convention.  All painted with cake make up or air brush make up.  Pretty impressive!


A tribute to Angelina

That's me.  Painted as a sugar skull by one of the instructors.
There was even a surprise wedding between two of the instructors.
Tree man - the beginning....
And the final product

See all those people in the background. This is a "jam" where we all get together after daily classes and paint.   See what I mean by being literally sounded by creatives.
Stay Inspired, my friends!




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unusual Origins of Color

One of the perks of attending a color theory class is that you get a little bit of color history thrown in with your regular assignments.  Last week in class, we watched the video "The Colourmen" about the beginings of color pigment production by Windsor & Newton.  BTW - they were geniuses!

What an eye-opening video!  When I pick up my bottle of Indian Yellow I never think about how that color was ORIGINALLY manufactured - before the industrial revolution.  Well, now I know; and, so will you.  Just keep reading.
Indian Yellow

Indian Yellow is a beautiful, transparent colour with excellent lightfastness. It used to be produced by feeding cows exclusively on mango leaves and using the resultant urine to manufacture the colour. Using the cows in this way was unacceptable in India and by the early 20th century the practice had ceased. Indian Yellow has since then been made with a variety of pigments but it took until the 1990's to find pigments which provided the lightfastness of the original.

Mummy Brown

Mummy brown was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian Mummies, both human and feline. One London colourman claimed that he could satisfy the demands of his customers for twenty years from one Egyptian mummy. It fell from popularity in the early 19th century when its composition became generally known to artists.  It was also considered extremely variable in its composition and quality, and since it contained amonia and particles of fat, was likely to affect other colours with which it was used.
Mummy brown was produced up into the 20th century until the supply of available mummies was exhausted.

Cochineal Beetle

The darkest red, carmine red, was for centuries made from crushed cochineal beetles found in South Africa.  Cochineal carmine was used by the Aztecs and was first imported to Europe in the 1530s from Spanish conquests in America. Carmine had extremely poor lightfastness and has not been widely used since alizarin crimson became available in the late 19th century.
Well, that is kind of gross and fasinating all at the same time, isn't it.  If you have a chance to watch "The Colourmen" I highly recommend it.  I know I won't ever be able to look at Indian Yellow again without thinking of its origins.



Friday, March 15, 2013

The ABC's of Genuine Happiness

The Genuine Happiness Challenge - I have had this little jewel tucked away in my computer files for a long time.  I ran across it the other day and decided to take a look at it again with fresh, new, joy-filled eyes; and, it smacked me right over my head and yelled, "This is IT."  This is my daily prompt, my affirmation, my way to break through the clutter of everyday negativity that is so abundant out there. 

26 letters in the alphabet - I have decided to take one letter a day and bring it into my consciousness.  I will treat it like shampoo instructions read, act, repeat - read, act, repeat.  I challenge you to do the same.  BTW - this came from  Here are the letters in review:

A - Accept your reality.  (In a good way - I am worthy, I am artful, I am deserving)
B - Be present. Be bold
C - Create something exciting ( LOVE this one)
D - Drink plenty of water.  Dance
E - Exercise daily.  Eat fresh foods
F - Feel your emotions.  Face Fear
G - Go outside and observe nature.  Give
H - Hug often.  Help others
I - Ignite your passsions
J - Jump through your comfort zone
K - Kiss passioately.  Keep looking forward
L - Laugh.  Love.  Learn to let go
M - Meditate daily.  Make goals
N - Never give up on what you want
O - Own a pet.  Observe beauty
P - Pray. Paint. Play an instrument
Q - Quit a bad habit.  Quiet your mind
R - Read.  Relax.  Reinvent yourself
S - Smile. Sleep. Simplify
T - Take power naps.  Talk wisely
U - Unleash your strengths
V - Vent.   Visualize your dreams
W - Walk.  Write.  Watch the sunset
X - Xerox your smiling face
Y - Yell less.  Yeild to your thoughts
Z - Zap negativity

Beautiful, isn't it. 

Thanks for reading.  Find me at

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Artful Journeys

I read a quote recently that went something like this:  "You don't choose art, art chooses you".  So, I guess I was chosen at an early age.  At 3 years old I took my first steps into art, performing art, as a chicken. 

Good Times!  I am grateful for my dancing days and all the things they taught me about disipline, determination, and working toward a goal.  I still love to watch performers of all kinds and I sometimes shed a little joyful tear as I watch their effortless grace because I understand what it takes to reach those goals. 

After my dancing days were over, I went on to other arty adventures including mosaics, stained glass, and now art school and mixed media.  What does it take to succeed in these endeavors?  Disipline, determination and working towards a goal - it's always the same rules and it applies to not only art, but to anything that means something to you.

During my stained glass days, I took some inspiration from the photo above to create this stained glass line drawing and window.

I consider myself fortunate that art chose me at an early age - even if it was as a chicken :).


Sunday, March 10, 2013

From Inspiration to Completion

Part of my master plan for this year was to create enough work to be able to apply for a few "real" art shows.  For the past six months I have been diligently working toward this goal - painting paper, ripping paper, placing paper - lots and lots of paper going down on the canvas.  Once I had completed about 20 pieces, I start to look at art show applications.  One wants you to submit work on a CD,  one wants a shot of your booth (full of art, of course), one wants to see your creative process from start to finish.  From start to finish?  Okay. I can do that.

First - the inspiration.  I usually go to my personal friend, Mr. Google, for this part.  I have an idea for a hummingbird.  I do a search which leads me to this: The fiery-throated hummingbird.  Mother Nature is a great artist, isn't she.

Next, I laid down some paper on my board - I work on two projects at a time.

Covered the papers with gesso

Then painted the background

Next, I made a special batch of paper with a pearl finish to match the iridescent feathers of the hummingbird

Tear and paste, tear and paste, tear and paste

Voila - It's done

Up close details

Now, back to the story.  I apply for my first art show with my collage work and, Holy Cow, they said Come on down, we'd love to have you.  How exciting and terrifying at the same time.  Do I have enough pieces?  How many days until the show?  40 days until the show.  Okay.  I can probably make 10 more pieces in 40 days.  I don't need to sleep or eat, right?

To be continued.....