Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Secret Takes Shape

I will start this post suggesting that if you haven't read my July 13th post, specifically the second half "It's A Secret" that you do so you have some idea where this is coming from.

I measured and drew where I wanted my blocks to sit on the piece. Since I am painting the blocks I am including the landscape in the paintings so I have to have the placement settled so that I include the correct parts of the landscape in the paintings. I am going to do stitching/embroidery on the collage so this also lets me know where not to stitch. After I had all of these marked it was time to mark where my secret door was going to be. I felt a bit of trepidation at this point because not only was I marking this on the piece, (unlike the other markings it isn't going to be covered up) I was going to cut the door out of the main collage. Yes I actually cut a hole in my collage. In the 2nd photo you can see, yes there is now a whole in my collage.

In my July 13th post I mentioned that my current idea for the inside of the secret door was a mosaic of mirrors. In the last 2 photos you can see where I am on them and what it will potentially look like. I will need to get more of the Delicas that I am using for the beaded bezels when I go to Bead Fest in Philly. I haven't run out yet but will before I get all of the mirrors done. I am using peyote stitch to create the bezels using Delicas and 13/0 charlottes (sp?).

After I bezeled the first mirror I butted the next one up to it and used the connecting side as part of the bezel just adding a new lip for the new mirror. I think I am going to like the effect of this .

I don't have to decide on this yet since it won't be attached to the piece for a while yet.

Remember if you want to sign up for e-mail alerts when I have a new post you can sign up with Feedblitz on the top right of the page. For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Tree Is Planted And Gets More Leaves

After lots of fun and experimentation I was ready to collage my tree onto the landscape collage. I used more acrylic matte medium/water mix. I covered the surface of the collage with the mix, placed the tree on top of that and then brushed more collage over that. I added 2 more coats of the medium to firmly secure the tree to the background.

I liked the effect that I got from the fusible web leaves so much that I painted some more for the middle layer of leaves, these would go over parts of the branches and the trunk of the tree.

The second photo is of the painted fusible web once I pulled it off of it's paper backing. You can see the grid of my cutting board through the webbing.

The next photo is detail after I added the new webbing "leaves". It gives the tree that extra bit of depth and more realism. I am really liking how all of this is turning out. The project has kept me very excited from the first and I have never gotten bored, blocked or felt anything but joy with it.

To show my joy with the piece I decided to use some pressed flowers that I found on clearance at Michael's during one of my visits there. It does give the collage a more festive spring/summer feel.

For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Leafing Out

More painted interfacing, this time painted mostly in greens. After making the tree with the painted interfacing and liking the way it felt and looked I decided that it would make good leaves. Most of the other ideas I had were going to have larger leaves than I thought I was going to want on the finished project. With the interfacing I could make them any size that I wanted.

I drew the leaves with permanent pens and after drawing out a group of them I would cut them out. I have done this so far in several different sessions so that I wouldn't get bored doing them. Besides the leaves for the tree I wanted to have ferns and Ivy on the piece so I drew those leaves as well. The fern leaves I drew onto the back and once they were cut out I flipped them over I had the parts for my fern.

I may need to make more leaves but since until I start sewing them on I don't have a very good idea how far they will go. I have more of the painted interfacing so I can make more as I need them. The fern leaves will be collaged on with the tree, the ivy and tree leaves will be stitched on when I do the embroidery work for the collage.

For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Every Tree Needs Leaves

My tree wouldn't be very healthy looking with out some leaves now would it? I have had so many ideas for what to do for the leaves of this piece and there was no way I could use all of them. I really liked the way the painted fusible web looked and thought that it would work great for background leaves for the tree. When you look at a tree, all you see of the leaves further back is color and pattern so the fusible web would work great to give me that. In my post on July 10th I discussed painting the fusible web. I could have cut out shapes and fused those onto the landscape but I wanted an organic feel so I pulled the fusible web off of the backing paper (a butter knife or a bead scoop helps those areas where it wants to stick to the paper) and tore the fusible up into smaller pieces.

I did the fusible in more than one layer. I first put down a layer and used parchment paper to fuse the web to the background. Already I was liking the effect, getting the effects I was getting would be very challenging if you were just trying to paint directly on the surface of the piece. After I fused the first layer I placed the tree on top so that I could make sure I had leaves behind all of the branches, even the lower ones.

I ended up with 3 layers of fusing the web on, the layers overlapped and the colors/values melded together when they were fused. The parchment paper worked great for the fusing. Once I fused the web on I let the parchment cool a little so the web didn't stick to the paper. As you can see from the last photo where I just placed the tree on top to see how it looked already the tree looks happier.

For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Painting My World/A Tree Takes Form

Time to add more depth to my world. I used fluid acrylics and Jacquard Dye-na-Flow and Lumiere paints to add more depth and color to the landscape of my piece including clouds in the sky. I used washes of the paints so that I could add layers of color as I wanted. Working with these acrylics diluted gives me soft almost watercolor effects while still allowing the piece to be added to without getting muddy or loosing the detail from a previous layer of color.

After letting the landscape dry I used permanent pens to add details to the grass and the cliffs. The wrinkles that are in the paper of the mountains made good starting points to add rocky depth the the cliffs, as you can see in the 2nd photo.


This project is full of new techniques and I think I have more to try. The current one is painting on interfacing. I used a medium weight, non-woven, non- fusible interfacing. I wanted something heavy enough to have some body but light enough to be able to put on my drawing and trace onto the interfacing. There is a seam along the left side of the tree that I taped from the back side, the interfacing was not as wide as I needed. I used permanent markers to draw the tree onto the interfacing. The third photo shows the interfacing on top of the drawing.

I again used diluted acrylics and Jacquard paints. The interfacing proved to be very absorbent and with the diluted paints I got some really cool watercolor effects. I added some acrylic medium to the diluted paint to help keep the acrylic content enough so that future layers of paint would have a stable surface and wouldn't run.

After the first layer of paint had dried I added additional layers of paint to add more detail and depth to the tree. After painted with the acrylic paint the surface looks almost like a light weight suede and since it is non-woven you can cut out intricate shapes without fear of fraying.

After painting to a point I was happy with it, it was time to start cutting the tree out. It took me 2 days with scissors and a craft knife to cut around all of the branches. Although at points I was wondering about the choice of making the tree of the separate surface and having to cut it all out (it was a bit daunting); as soon as I put it on the collaged and painted landscape to see what it would look like I did a happy jig all around my studio. The tree seemed to glow, now I am thinking I may consider doing it for another project in the future.

I enjoyed painting on the interfacing and if you want soft effects it works great. If your paint was thick enough you could probably get more details, another option would be to use mat medium or gesso to prime the surface like you would a canvas. I think that using heavy weight interfacing you might have an interesting surface to bead on.

For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Like Leaves on a Tree: Plenty of Ideas

Here you can see how my full sized plan is looking. The smaller rectangles will be the painted and beaded blocks for my Bead Journal Project. I haven't figured out what is going in all of my blocks yet and some I just haven't worked on the sketch for them yet. Each one will contain animals flowers or other things that have symbolic or personal meaning to represent who I am.

The ideas from this project have come fast and furious and part of the process has been to figure out which of the ideas I want to keep and which I want to save for later projects. My first idea for the collaged landscape was to use a collage of handwritten paper and then paint the landscape over it but I decided that I wanted to use some of the papers I had and make the basic landscape from them and then use painting to add depth and detail.

Changing my idea for the background led to changing how I was going to do the tree since I wanted to use fluid acrylics to paint with and they are somewhat translucent. Thus I needed to paint on something that would cover the landscape. My solution to that will be my next post and include working with another new technique for me.

The place where the most ideas have come and gone has been how to make leaves for the tree. I have gone through lots of ideas and I think many will end up in other tree related pieces. I considered carving my own stamps and using them, making leaves out of wire and fabric or paper, painting each leaf individually and collaging on punched out leaves. I am going to use painted fusible web for the background leaves and am working on my idea for the foreground leaves which I will add when I do the stitching on the landscape and tree.

I have included photos of some of my sketches of my blocks, I have not finished any of them and they will end up with added details. Other than working on the sketches and looking for beads for them I do not plan on starting them early. I will paint each one on the month I am going to use it unless I need to do any ahead if we are going to be moving or something and I will be without all of my supplies.

For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How I Do It/ It's A Secret

After getting a couple of comments about the organization going into this piece and I realized that now would be a good time to look at how I approach my more elaborate projects.
I also just read Robin Atkins "One Bead At A Time" and was inspired to share what I do to create art.

I start all of my larger projects with a sketch book. How I start there depends on how I am coming at the project. Sometimes I have a theme in mind; a season, trees, ponds, crystals or purse and I just start sketching ideas. This stage can take hours to weeks depending on how quickly a sketch grabs my attention and says "work with me." I will often refine my idea with more sketches until I have a good idea where I want to go. I go by what feels right and although I know all that goes into "good" art I tend to work intuitively, if it feels right I am less likely to have problems later.

An important consideration for me is that I don't design with the idea of how I am going to accomplish something. I start with the idea that I like and figure out how once I have a good idea where I am going. For me I really enjoy figuring out how to accomplish the idea. I have learned new beading techniques, tried new supplies and made myself stretch creatively this way.

At this point I gather supplies, again I go a lot by what feels right for the mood, season or whatever I am trying to convey. I tend to collect supplies so quite often I already have something that will work, occasionally I will need something more (mmmm more supplies, yeah!). Quite often I will not be sure how I am going to execute my idea so I may end up with supplies I don't use and have to get others later.

For a project this big I work full scale for finishing the design. It helps me to see where I want to go. I do not consider a design finished until the piece is finished and the whole process is fluid, ideas come and go. Some ideas get used others go on to the back burner for some future project.

I am a detail loving person (probably the reason I love working with 15/0 seed beads). I tend to take detail photos of nature and like to draw/paint things like lichen, and other small things. I don't work improvisationally. I almost always have a plan of some sort, I have not found that this limits my creativity because I tend to work very intuitively so that I go with what I feel like doing as I work on a piece letting the piece evolve as I go. Of course after reading Robin's book I am tempted to try something completely without a plan, pick a fabric some beads and just go. I have a feeling for me this would be very challenging, way outside my comfort zone.


As I was playing with the idea of my tree and I knew I was going to use my animal totems and animals that have personal meaning to me I decided to re-read the information that I had on them. I have Ted Andrews "Animal Speak" and have found it really useful source. One of things I noticed in reading about the animals again is that a number of the animals that I am including are guides or guardians to the other side (spirit realm, fairy realm however you want to look at it). One morning after this while I was out walking I realized that what the piece needed was a doorway to the other side. I am still working on the idea of how I want to have through my secret doorway. At the moment I am leaning toward mirror tiles that would have beaded bezels. When you opened the door you would see yourself in a mosaic of mirrors. The other side is in essence already inside of us. I would love to hear any other ideas people have.

Remember if you want to sign up for e-mail alerts when I have a new post you can sign up with Feedblitz on the top right of the page. For the most recent photos of my project go to My Web Gallery or Artistic Kreations and Passions.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trying New Techniques/Collaging My World

This post will be about two of the new techniques I am trying and the beginning of collaging the mixed media piece.

Painting Fusible Web:

I had read in more than one issue of Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors about painting on fusible web and adding it to your artwork. All you need is some paper back fusible web, some diluted acrylic paints and a brush and have fun. I did learn that you could dilute the pain too much in which case the pigments don't stick to the webbing well. As you overlap colors of paint you get additional colors and values. The picture to the right is the webbing that I painted. The backing paper crinkles as it dries, since my first layers of paint were fairly wet my paper crinkled a fair amount. After this you can cut out a shape and fuse it to your art giving you a web of color on top of your work. I am planning on ripping my webbing up and using pieces of it behind my tree to look like leaves in the background.

Painting on Scrim (or cheesecloth):

Another technique I have read about was painting on or dying scrim. Most people dye it but since I don't have dyes but I do have acrylic paints I diluted them down and had fun. I put some tissue paper underneath to catch some of the extra paint, folded the scrim in half and started painting. I am not sure where this will get used on the piece. I may scrunch some of it and sew it down to be more background leaves. Another idea is to scrunch some of it up down in the grass area of the landscape.

Collaging My World:

The last photo on this post is the first step of the mixed media/ collage background that is the world that will contain my tree and all of my beaded journal blocks. I used my full sized drawing to help cut the paper pieces that I was going to use to the size I needed them. The sky, cliffs and hills are all mulberry papers that Wayne brought me home from a trip to Korea one time.
The papers for the beach are 2 different scrapbook papers that I tore up and combined. They have shells and sand on them so look nice and beachy. The paper for the water is one that I have had for a long time and that I have always loved but not know what to do with it. I decided that it would make interesting water especially with the shimmering gold on the surface. After tearing/cutting the paper to the sizes I need I got ready to collage it onto my backing fabric. I used a piece of off white poplin that was stiff enough to give the piece some stability since I will be adding more to it. I also don't want it so stiff that I can't sew through it to add embroidery and embellishments so I did not go with canvas. I used a mix of Acrylic Matte Medium and water to do the collaging. I applied a layer of "glue" to the fabric and then added the papers, layering them as needed. As each paper was added I used a layer of glue on top until everything was glued down giving me my rudimentary landscape and the background to future layers of paint, embellishments, leaves and the tree.

To check out the most current photos of where I am on my piece go to my web gallery or my Artistic Kreations and Passions website which I will keep updated with new photos of my Sacred Tree.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Sapling Takes Root On Purple Dirt

Part of my process for this piece includes drawing the mixed media section to scale so that when it comes time to make it I already have all of the information I need as to how things are going to fit together. This also has allowed me to work on how the tree is going to look. I am not a expert on trees and trying to draw one to this size and keep it fairly realistic has been challenging. The tree is not meant to be any particular species of tree so I didn't have to make it look like a oak or an elm or a maple or anything.

Drawing the piece to size also allowed me to play with the placement of where I want my 12 blocks to be on the piece. The colored index cards represent where the blocks are going to go. At first I was thinking of making the background smaller but I wanted the tree to figure predominately in the piece so I went for the larger size. The finished mixed media piece will be approximately 24 inches by 40 inches.

The photos show the sketch laying on the fabric that will be the front of the quilt that the piece will be attached to. While I was visiting the in-laws I was working on the ideas for the piece, when I mentioned making the quilt with purple fabric, Marti pulled out a piece of beige printed raw silk that some one had given her years ago and asked if I would like it dyed purple. Mmmm would I, heck yes! I got to help a little and we ended up with this fabric in shades of fuchsia to purples. At the moment I am planning on using the printed side up but I could always go printed side hidden.

She also gave me the three little stone turtles that are sitting near the bottom of the top photo. She had planned on making a necklace with them for me but once she saw what I was doing on this piece she thought that I might like them better to add to this. I will include the symbolism and my person take on what they mean on this piece in a later post.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Goals for a new year

OK here is where I look at my goals for the upcoming 2008-2009 BJP project as I discussed in my last post the whole thing is going to be a quilt/mixed media collage with painted and beaded blocks. But what all do I want to accomplish in the coming year.


-Explore new techniques, surface design/painting on different materials, different stitches, combining divergent materials into a cohesive whole.
-Learn more about trees and their roles in human beliefs
-Learn more about Totem animals and symbols
-Explore combining painted images with beading. (last year I combined my photography with beading so taking it a bit further I will paint images and then add the beads)
-Take my Art to the next level
-Share the creative process on my blog
-Enter finished piece in Bead International


-The background/support will be a quilt approximately 36" x 60". It will be whole cloth of a raw silk that my mother-in-law Marti dyed for me and gave me. It will be machine quilted with a tree pattern and???
-The next layer will be a mixed media collage a fabric support with papers collaged on to make a landscape and painting to add details. The tree will be made separately and then attached to the collage. Stitching will be added for details and to add leaves etc. Little to no beads planned.
-The BJP blocks will be 4 inches by 6 inches some will be horizontal and some vertical. They will be painted and then beaded.

The photos are a teaser of my plan for one of my blocks. She is the tree spirit, earth goddess, creative spirit, my muse and me all rolled up in one. She is going to extend outside of her block with hands to her sides balancing ???, halo extending above and and skirt made of fringing off the bottom. I was planning on making her one of the last blocks I did but I realized that she will probably require more of my time than most of the other blocks and if I want to really enter the piece into Bead International (that is the thought at least) that I will have to be finished with the entire piece and have photos taken by the September 2009 entry date. (we will see if that works out or not.) As it stands she will probably get started in one of the earlier months in case she takes longer to finish. Maybe October which is my birthday month and since her are arms on either side she works for Libra.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Seed Germinates

Although the BJP for 2008-2009 doesn't officially start until September for me the eyes started flowing not too long after we got a good start on the 2007-2008 year. I knew that I wanted to do this again even before it was official that we were going to do it, if the others weren't I was. I learned so much the first time around and learned so much about myself, my art and new techniques that I couldn't not do it.

I have played with many ideas in the last year but I kept coming back to the idea of doing a Sacred Tree. The idea of playing with the idea of trees germinated when I went with Colleen to DC to a lecture by the Artist in Residence at a seminary school there. The Brother did predominately religious themed work but not all of it was. Part of the lecture was about the symbolism used in his work. It was truly fascinating and his mention of the Tree of Life set a little seed in my brain. I have always liked nature and love lots of trees around me.

I find it amazing how prevalent the tree has been in so many cultures as a sacred object. Most early cultures had some sort of belief system about trees. Trees have been seen as Gods, dwelling places of Gods, embodiment of different lesser deities the tree has been for thousands of years an important part of the forming of human beliefs. Why wouldn't trees be important? They make oxygen for us to breathe, provide us with wood to build shelters, fuel our fires, and provide food to sustain us.

The next parts of the idea I ended up with came in part from Robin Atkins, I read her blog entries about her animal totem(s) and since I had always felt very connected to Bears and other animals at different points in my life I decided to have a reading done. The other part of the idea came from Robin's January BJP. She had done a self-portrait with beads. Hers was an abstract portrait with lots of symbolism and her post came at a time when I was already leaning toward a tree with my animals and other things that I love. What a perfect blend of ideas, the piece would become a portrait of who I am including things that I love, have meaning to me or symbolize who I am as a person. In a way many of our BJP projects have been a self-portrait since so many of peoples page show who and what we are, where we are creatively and what has personal meaning to us.

I spent a lot of my initial time playing with ideas in my sketch book. How did I want to accomplish this. The tree as the background for the piece came before I had decided on the piece as a self portrait. At first the tree was part of the environment for the animals, but as the idea progressed it became an integral part of the piece. The photos are some of my early playing to work out scale and ideas. I went from little sketches to much larger attempts to see where I wanted to go. The photo to the Left is done with dry erase markers on dry erase poster board. My proposed blocks are index cards.

I have been putting in lots of time working on my Sacred Tree. Officially it doesn't start until September but since the piece is going to include so much more than the monthly blocks I need a head start. The whole thing is going to be a quilt/mixed media collage with painted and beaded blocks. I will include a lot of information on my creative process, different techniques I am trying, my goals, and all of the symbology of the piece. I already have put enough time into the project that I have enough info for several posts so I will try to write about 2 times a week on it until I catch up at least. I have also started a new album in My Web Gallery for the piece and if you don't want to wait for my blog to catch up you can see my photos of the progress of the piece there, I will update it as I get new photos. If you are interested in getting e-mails when I update my blog you can sign up with Feedblitz on the sidebar of my page near the top.