Art and Soul retreat

Las Vegas might seem like an unlikely location for an art retreat, but no matter, on my second day of the retreat, I have to say it's a complete success. 
Yesterday, I learned to work with faux bone, use a bench saw and all sorts of techniques that I'm sure will come in handy. Rober Dancik was a fine instructor, and his own work is simply amazing. I now know several ways to make a hinge, you never know when you need a hinge. 

And just in case I need a hinge, I learned another way to make one today in a fantastic class with Thomas Ashman. We made tiny glass and copper journals. I totally adored it. 

I must admit there was a time towards the end when the glass had to be fitted between fiddly bits of tin and held by a zillion rivets and bolts when 4-letter words might have been heard from my direction, and I really thought that tin was going to win.
But... patience, success, advice, a few tricks, and voila....
Front and back of  my own. 

Here we are at the Bally's casino, with torches, volatile chemicals, and it was just a blast. Well, it wasn't, we dind't blow ourselves up, but you know what I mean.

Below are Thomas the Black Sheep's own work:


Just gorgeous, aged, funky looking books. I still have to add the charms to mine, I'll be doing that tonight. 

Completely satisfied with this workshop.
Tomorrow, I'll be more in my comfort zone, back to painting in various forms.

Funky journals

Here are some recent funky journals I just made.

I made the first one for Valentine's day, to receive pictures of all the amazing expressions of love for my birthday. It's a funny day to be born, Valentine's Day. It's given me lots of opportunity to reflect on romantic love, as opposed to spiritual or unconditional love. I thought this year would be a good year to record those thoughts and put them down on paper.
This is the front cover: 

I have been studying various books on paper fabric. Here's a close up of the back cover with a multi-layer heart.

Here are two of the pages inside:

Yes, it's me on the left page, displaying the gorgeous scarf pin my sister sent and which I wore at the lunch my good meditation friend treated me to.

The second book I made is in prevision of a week long retreat I'm doing in June with Carrie Burns Brown. She teaches abstract acrylic painting, and the retreat will be about color. So I made a black and white book, thinking I would fill it with samples of the work we make during the retreat, and that they would be colorful.

This was my first time using metallic thread and thanks to my Yahoo group at Sketchbook project, I got a lot of help and advice, and managed it. I also covered my crazy quilting with a piece of organza scarf I had found at the thrift store, and it looks really neat. 

These are terribly fun to make. I have not even painted this week, having too much fun.

I even made a funky bracelet to go with my funky journal for the Art and Soul retreat this coming week. I leave Saturday!!!! yeah~~

This one I just made with yarns that  Lisa sent over via the Birthday faery.
And the one on the left got made with a scarf I had. It will be a full shitzu doggy when it grows up.

A new beginning

'tis the season of new beginning. Even far North in Canada (OK, on the West coast) little daring green things are starting to poke their head towards the sky.

Lent started today, for those of us who were brought up Catholics. And for all others, it's a time of reflection before the onslaught of growth, greenery, new life: SPRING!!!!!!

It is the time when I think of the year ahead, what it will be made up, what do I want it to be made of?

What new creations are burgeoning, what new directions need to be followed? Pre-spring is a time to go within, to listen to the new growth that wants to be heard.

It's also time for new beginnings. Or New Beginnings. Here's a beautiful video to reflect on new beginnings, the ones that are in our power.

A season to open our heart to the call. Whatever form that will take for you.

Sharing the love

Blessings are many in my life. I wake up every day and express my gratitude for the amazing life that I live.

No other time more than today and these past few days, leading up to my birthday on Sunday. Online and offline friends have been showering me with their love. Let me share with you.

My step-sister sent me a huge parcel from France. It was filled with tons of goodies for me and for Mr Paul, my puppy. There was a box of origami paper and i've been making terriers in paper!!! She'd enclosed a new trend in France, a little clip to hang your purse off the cafe or restaurant table.

She's also included some very old menu proofs that belonged to the famous uncle's stash. We don't know if they are his illustrations, although it's unlikely. But those menus will look awesome in one of my paintings or in a journal.

There was a beautiful white blank box that looks like a book and that I can decorate as I please.

Next, wonderful Toni in the States sent me tons of ephemera for my collages, a beautiful hand-made card and a stunning old Whittier birthday book. Some of the labels and old letters are already in my shabby chunky journal.

Out of the blue, Duane (Phredike) from my Yahoo group, sent me 4 of the glass beads magnets that he makes. They are totally gorgeous and I love the top one, with the Da Vinci face in it.

Yesterday, the mail delivered a parcel from my wonderful Janet, in which she had wrapped some handsome handmade papers, an awesome hand made pin that I will wear in Las Vegas next week at the Art Retreat, and a little bag with stunning buttons, and a tiny, tiny buddha. One of the buttons is the hand of Fatima, and my uncle had given me one years ago, and I've recently lost it. Synchronicity.

Then Monday when I went to my RMT appointment (massage), wonderful Dale treated me for free!!!

I feel so well loved and cared about.
Saturday, a wonderful friend in town has invited me to go to lunch to this lovely place by the water where I know they have gorgeous food, and for Sunday, I've planned a long and luxurious spa session for myself!!!!!

See, I am blessed indeed.

Acrylics of the day

This first one is quite large, my largest so far. It's 24x30. Then what do you do with a large painting like that when it's finished? It gave me no end of trouble, and I had to leave it for a while to become objective about it.

This next one is smaller, 16x28, and I used stencils again extensively. Stencils are great fun, but they take to be so meticulous. It's so easy to go outside the stencil borders and have spray paint all over. Also, at this time of year in Western Canada, it's only around 8 to 10C outside, so I try to limit the time I stay out there. I suspect I'll be exploring sprayed stencils extensively when the summer comes.

It's funny how a painting never turns out the way you intended. On this one, on the top left, there is a collage of this amazing old iron and wood door. So I thought, I'm going to do an aged, wabi sabi come grunge painting.

Haha, nothing like it at all. But I've learned not to fight it. I just go where it goes and let myself be surprised.

I wonder how that works when someone gets a commission for a particular painting. It seems to me the painting that comes out is whatever the muse has in mind for that day!!! Lesson: take commissions that are open ended I guess.

Wabi sabi panels

These little guys are 4x6, 6 of them are on thin paint board, and the other 6 are on mini canvas.

In the middle of the painting, I wanted to experiment with blue. The problem with the Alcohol Inks (AI) is that they have these fancy poetic names like: worn corduroy, fresh hay, antique paper, but you just can`t tell what color they are. So a lot of experimenting goes on as well as the painting... lol

I had it in mind to use blue, and it turned out an aged look, so in my crazy mind, I thought it would look good with a steampunk theme, and one thing led to another and here are two panels under the steampunk heading. Why not!!!

Some of these colors turn out amazing. They seem to blend well with the glazing medium and the black border really sets them off. I am certainly having fun making them. It`s messy work though, that glazing stuff is sticky and I used the heavy medium for gluing the little watch parts together, let`s stay it`s a job that sticks with you!!!

More wabi sabi paintings

I've continued with the wabi sabi theme, this time with bigger panels.

I have not used tissue paper this time, but still work on the texture with the gel medium. Great stuff. The alcohol inks blend well with the medium as well.

You be the judge:

I started with a black panel on this one, but it quickly got covered up.

Wabi sabi paintings

I had meant to study wabi sabi and I had been saving articles about it. I started this afternoon, and made 6 little panels, as well as 2 bigger paintings.

The term wabi sabi is Japanese and refers to the transient aspect of life. It is fascinated with objects and nature decaying, knowing that all will die and be transformed.

I painted the series on small panels, 3x6, and the next two are 8x12. I've used clear gesso to give shape and texture, and alcohol inks. I'd never used the AI before, but they seem to lend themselves to this process. Here's a close up of each one:

I started the bigger ones on a panel that I'd painted black as an experiment. This one would be a sunset on a field.

This one... is open to interpretation!

Another happy acrylic painting

I'm blowing my own horn, I'm really happy with this one. I just like the gentle colors and all the various bits of ephemera that are included.

I used a cheap canvas that I found at a thrift store and covered it with wall paint undercoat. It's latex, and it has a tendency to run, and it also crackled when I applied the heat gun. Love it.

It's another big one (for me) 24x16. I'm using several stencils, and they turned out well.. Stencils with spray paint are just too cold to do outside for this time of year in Canada, so I'll limit myself to the ones I can do indoors with thick body acrylic paint. I found also that Golden Molding Paste is awesome for making raised stencils and giving body.

Here's a detail. The blue on the left started really badly. It was really strong and I didn't' know what to do with it. I had just watched a Bob Burridge video on Youtube, and he uses up his paint from his palette on his paintings. No waste. I had a big amount of Golden Thick Titan Buff, so I used it to mute the blue and that worked!!!! Yeah for mistakes.

The profile of the girl just wouldn't stay flat with the Golden Matte Medium I used. So... no problems, I emphasized the wrinkles and rubbed them with nickel azo gold. That worked too.

Here's a detail with the Golden Molding Paste:

And this little spot. It's right smack in the middle at the top, and I just love the colors.

Thanks for your comments, and your visit. They mean a lot to me.

Bright new acrylic

In the class I'm taking online with Julie Prichard, I got stuck on lesson 5, where we had to use crackle paste. Can't get my crackle paste to crackle. So I stayed stuck here for 2 months.

Finally, wisdom prevailed, and I moved on to lesson 6. She suggests that we work with colors that we're not used to. I have this beautiful Golden Quinachridone Magenta, but each time I've used the tiniest amount of it, it's resulted in a disaster. So I thought I'd use that as a base.

She suggests also that we take a photo as a guide to lead us, as we won't know how to combine the colors.

I found a Gauguin self-portrait that had colors I liked, even though I'd not have dared to combine them myself.

I also used some techniques that I've recently picked up from Mary Ann Moss of the Remains of the Day. She has a very sweet 'stencilry' class that is amazing. Now stencils are really hard on the hands, but I cut a few in cardboard. I see why you use stencil material to cut them, in cardboard, they just curl up after a few uses. Duh!!!!

This painting is big - for me! 16 x 24. It was a challenge to put so many bright colors together. I'm not sure if it's finished.


I think I may add some white. I tried white chalks last night, and that didn't really work. Good thing there were chalk, they erase easily.

Your comments are appreciated.