Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monsters and Found Poetry

Today, I've got both the Journal 52 (read more about J52 HERE) and Documented Life (DL is HERE) spreads ready to share with you.

The J52 prompt was "Found Poetry" and here's what I came up with:

"flickering ribbons of life; I have to face facts.  I'm not like them.
Her words felt like weights.
There is indeed something: a moment, a knowing.
He'll lose her if he doesn't learn to talk.
I was just letting you be."

I used a kids book that I got from my nephew for this page.  He was right...the book was 'pretty lame' I didn't mind cutting it up.  There was some pretty interesting phrasing happening in there though and it made good fodder for found poetry.  I used the scraps of the book page I had used and a few other back up pages I had for the background...we don't waste the written word in this house! :)

For DL, the prompt was "Collage something you recycled." and here's what I made:

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster." -Nietzsche
"Being against evil doesn't make you good." -Hemingway

I was kind of sad to cover up the paper I had for the background; it was awesome...but I am forcing myself to go in order in my DL I painted the pages red.  I feel a little like the heartless Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland now..."Off with their heads!"  ("Painting the roses red...We're painting the roses red." get a long-distance high five if you started singing those lyrics from the old animated Alice...and a double high-five if you changed 'roses' to 'pages')

I used some gauze I had from my many dentist visits as my 'recycled' bits...important side note: these were NOT in my mouth at any point...I wasn't willing to go that far with recycling!  I sprayed them with Dylusions to color them.  I also used the dried up paint that forms around the tops of my tubes...that's what those little circles are (well, mostly circles...some of them broke).

Before I put the gauze down, I used a mask I had from Maya Road (the wing), traced around it and colored it in, then flipped it over and did the same on the other page.  I really like the way the gauze looks over the wing on the right page.

"I am gonna love. I'm gonna overcome."  -John Butler
I mentioned last time (the 'flap on flap prompt) that my original calendar flap was on the next page, and so there it is above.    I like my monster, but she is also extra creepy...

Somewhere in my brain, deep down, I like to believe that I'm fighting the good fight.  In my case, the 'good fight' is against the general douchebaggery of others and my own tendencies towards being a one.  It's kind of easy to be a jerk to people who are jerks, you know what I mean?  But I try not to let that happen...not because I'm an angel or anything, but more because of what Mark Twain said: 

It's true...It's so true...

Sometimes the jerk side of me wins though.  I can actually be a really good jerk when I let myself be one.  I think the key to being a really good jerk is to bide your time and observe...because then you can be a truthful jerk!  If you're patient, people will give you huge amounts of ammunition which they have no defense against, because it's the truth.

I got called a BAD WORD at work this week.  Actually two bad words...or one bad word with a descriptive bad word to accompany it...I don't know how to quantify it...but swear words (or "square" words, as one of my nephews used to call them) were said about me at work.  Just for the record, if you don't want someone to hear you say something, make sure you're not saying it someplace where the walls are thin ( if you hear your name being said, you kinda stop and listen to the conversation before interrupting it...).  But I didn't get mad, it was actually kind of funny...because if I'm a B----, then the person who said this about me is my queen...

I've been called a lot of things in my life...and really, I don't mind it...I mean, people are going to say and think things about you and you don't control that...and I'd rather they talk bad about me than talk bad about somebody who cares what they say...But, for Pete's sake, be an adult and say it to my face.  Honestly, I've worked with high school students who were more mature...sheesh.  The best part was, I wasn't even being a B----!  Don't get me wrong, I'm positive I have my days...but this particular instance, I'm pretty sure, was not one of them.   

 Ok...the actual best part was that the person who was doing the 'listening' to the rant about me didn't agree with the one who said it...despite the many attempts to get her to agree...and then later, she told me the conversation...she had no clue I had already heard.  That actually makes me feel really good.  To me, it's worth being called ugly names if only because you get to know who has your back.

So now I have my little angel and devil sitting on my shoulders, telling me what they think.  On the one hand, let it go...always the good and moral thing to do, I suppose...because eventually a bad person's actions catch up with them...  On the opposite side, hold a grudge...bide your time...continue to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut...because maybe someday the universe will let you be the 'karma' implementer...and if that's the case, you should be adequately prepared...

Normally, my little halo-wearer wins...but, honestly, I get a little tired of being the good guy.  I don't want to be the pleasant doormat.  I want to be the BRINGER OF DOOM!!!  My little conscience is tired of having situations come up where she has to be the bigger person...I think even she might be secretly rooting for me to be the smaller person and exact well-implemented revenge.

That's what this week's DL spread is really about, I guess.  If my good side is telling me to be bad, I figure I should make my bad side, my little monster, tell me to be good.  Love and overcome. 

Hmm...I don't know if I can muster love...but I'm pretty sure I can at least not jab anyone with my horns...just yet...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

When I Grow Up

Thanks everybody for all the kind comments from last post.  It was really interesting to me to see how many of you understood exactly where I was coming from.  Sometimes, it's just nice to know we're not alone, isn't it? <3

For today, I've got a page...actually two share with you from my Journal 52 art journal (you can read more about J52 HERE)  The prompt for this past week was "What did you want to be when you were growing up/what is your dream job?"

I had a hard time with this prompt...I actually had to ask my mom if she could remember what I said I wanted to be!  

I've talked before about the fact that I don't really remember a lot of my childhood.  The funny thing is that I remember odd little things...tiny smells and sounds of specific things.  But for the most part, huge chunks of it don't exist in my memory.  If my family starts talking about something that happened, I can remember more.

I grew up with a very not-nice father.  I think our brains make us forget things we can't handle, and I think that's why I don't have a lot of memories of being a kid.  So when I read the prompt (before I asked my mom if she could remember) "What did you want to be when you grew up?", I could only think of one thing:

"I think I just wanted to be free."

I remember VERY specifically wishing that I could be free.  To be free from my dad's be free from hypocrisy that I saw, even at an early feel free to be a kid and not be afraid of what was going to happen to me if I was 'bad'.  My dad left when I was 16, and I felt very lucky when that happened.  He died a few years ago, and I'm lucky enough, most days, not to hate him anymore, but only pity him.

Freedom is a funny thing, because I don't know that we are ever truly free.  Not often, but sometimes, things my dad said to me when I was little pop into my brain.  

There were a lot of things that he said that don't bother me anymore.  Like being called stupid.  I'm not stupid...I'm actually pretty smart!  It doesn't bother me, because I have proof that he was wrong.  I'm at least smart enough to get myself through life, and who needs to be smarter than that?

But there are other things that I can't seem to shake.  The worst one for me is "No one will ever love you."  And I know that it's not true.  My brain knows that there are a lot of people out there that love me and care about me.  But feeling it, believing it...that's tricky.  Because love is not always a constant thing...once it's there, it can be taken away.  And we can fool ourselves into it and out of it.  And love isn't necessarily reciprocated, sometimes it's one-sided.  And we use the same word for loving food as we do for loving people and we throw around the word like it isn't such a precious thing as it is.  And so love is scary, but we all want it anyway.  We want it so bad it hurts.  And I don't think I'm the only one who feels like that.  I think in the back of a lot of people's minds, there is a tiny mean voice (or sometimes a big booming one) that says 'What if you are just unlovable?'  or 'What if it's a lie?' or 'What if no one loves you ever again?'

I work really hard to squish that lie.  I remind myself that it's a fact that my father was a lying jerk.  I remind myself that even when I don't feel loved, there are people out there just wishing they could make me feel it...even it I'm having a hard time seeing them.  I remind myself that, very importantly...maybe even most importantly, I love myself.  Therefore, at the very least, one person loves me.  And I remind myself that my family loves me...the ones who are my family by blood and my artsy family online too.  And then that mean voice that sounds like my dad shuts the hell up.  As it should.

And so that was my first page...but then I thought, 'Self, you need to have a happy are depressing the crap out of everyone.'  So I texted my mom and asked her if she could remember what it was I dreamed of being when I grew up...

Look it's Baby Sweets!  That is me as a little kiddle, probably five or six years old with my younger sister, Gretchen.  It's really funny, because I couldn't remember what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I remembered what Gretchen wanted to be right away: a 'pay lady'.  For those who don't know (everybody reading this...haha), a 'pay lady' is a cashier.  When we would go to the grocery store, Mom would say "We're ready to go, we just have to pay the lady."  ...and so a cashier became the 'pay lady' to my sister...I think she just wanted to push all the buttons on the register.  For those who are wondering, Gretchen got to live her dream...she was several times in her life so far, a 'pay lady'. 

And mom said that she seemed to recall that I wanted to be a teacher or a writer.  I have absolutely NO recollection of wanting to be a teacher...Mom said I was really young when I wanted to be a teacher.  

But I did remember wanting to be a writer.  That was actually a dream of mine for a long time...I can't believe I didn't think of it!  Books were a big escape for me as a kid.  Mom would have to force me to go outside and play, and even then she'd practically have to frisk me to see if I was hiding a book!  I had a good imagination, and I remember reading things and them being so real to me.  I think that I wanted to be a writer so that I would be able to make up my own stories to live in...

"When I grow up, I want to be a writer." - Amy
I used the picture above as a reference, and I'm a little disappointed in the way it turned out.  Actually it was pretty good as a line drawing, but then I started coloring it in and  I should have just left it alone...  On the positive side, I do like that I used my (non-dominant) left hand to do the writing on the looks like a little kid wrote it, which is what I wanted.

Thanks to the internet and the blog, I get to be a writer now.  In a small way, I get to live my dream...even if it doesn't pay any bills.  :)  I do get very excited when people comment that they like or relate to things I've written here, or when someone compliments something I've said or written in some way.  I started the blog as a way to share my art and to document my progress with that...but somewhere along the way, I started blabbing away and couldn't stop.  These days, a post doesn't feel finished to me until I've given you the story behind the art!  Maybe if my life were more interesting, I could have sold the copyrights by now! :)

So that's what I've got for today...I wanted to be free and I wanted to be a writer (and that, clearly, I was an adorable child...hehehe).  What did you want to be when you grew up?  What about now?  Has your dream job stayed the same, or do you have a different idea of what you want as an adult?  (Mine would be being independently wealthy and not having to have a day job...then I'd just make art and write about it all day long!)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Flap Flap

This week's prompt for Documented Life (you can read more about DL HERE) was "Add a flap to your flap."  I made my own DL journal out of a SmashBook I had lying around since forever and I actually had to add a flap to this page so I could add a flap to that flap.  My original flap (with the monthly calendar) is on the next page.  So flap flap flap. Flap.  (hehe)

This spread was inspired by Mindy Lacefield's work.  You can check her out at her site, TIM'S SALLY.  In my Pinterest adventures, I have seen her work before, but for whatever reason, it has been catching my eye a lot lately.  I think it's her use of color and the childlike quality present in her pieces.  I like that her faces can be sweet and haunting (or slightly sinister least to me) at the same time.  So here's what I did inspired by her:

I think it's the black eyes that make them appear a little menacing to me...menacing in a good way...if that's possible...

Can I just tell you, despite all my efforts in the past to make realistic looking drawings, that I LOVE this girl! In fact, I love this, love, LOVE IT!!!

Part of my love for this spread comes from that teal on the page...Liquitex Heavy Body Cobalt Teal, to be exact.  Never in my life, did I think I would be the proud owner of a $20 tube of paint...but here I am...thanks to my lovely and generous mom!  (Thank you, Mom!!!  Smooch!  Smooch!  Smooch!!!)  Oh, hubba hubba!  Isn't it just dreamy?  And the blue on the page (Ultramarine Blue, in case you were wondering) is from my very first bottle of Golden Fluid acrylics!  Can I just say, I feel like a true artist, because I actually used my fancy paints?  Instead of waiting for the 'perfect' time to use them, I made this time be the first time!  I am a little proud/patting myself on the back over the whole thing!  

I have my two fancy bottles of paint sitting next to me on the desk, and every three minutes or so, I look over at them with dreamy eyes and whisper "I love you" to them...

In the background, the card with the flower on it was something my older sister, Marian, made using UTEE (which is ultra thick embossing powder) and an image from the interwebs, I do believe...  In real life, this has a very thick, glossy coat of goodness over it that the camera just won't pick up...but trust me, pure GORGEOUSNESS!  And then, of course is my flap with flap...yay!

I think the childlike quality of this spread lends itself well to my theme...

"We've all had a piece of heaven, but how many of us knew when we had it in our hands?"
I wanted to paint a stylized version of the fancy flower/UTEE piece that my sister had made to kind of tie it in to the page, because they really didn't 'go' together.  I love how the leaf to the right looks especially.

...I guess in my head, my theme is kind of childish in itself.  Basically it's talking about wanting something you know you'll never have.  Hoping beyond hope for something that won't come to be....wishing on a star.  I think it's why I wanted those flowers on the page as well, because even though they're beautiful, they look a little melancholy too.  

Flaps completely flapped out, with some personal journaling on the back.  Also, check out those neat black 'doodles'!  Such a cool's actually writing that I mirrored.  If you turned it on the side, and covered up half, you should be able to read what I wrote (if you are so inclined)'s a cool way to have secret words in your pages (although mine's not so secret anymore, I guess!).  All you do is take tracing paper (or any paper thin enough to see through), fold it in half and write whatever it is you want right along the fold.  Then flip the paper over and copy what you wrote (it will be backwards now).  Then open up your paper and you will have a mirror image of your writing.  You can leave all the spaces open or color all or some of them in, and it will give you different looks.  Fun stuff, right!?!

I wonder why we do things like that...why we want what we can't have?  Why do we have to want what doesn't want us back?  And even if we did get what we wanted, it would never be like the picture in our head anyway, so why do we keep dreaming?  All these feelings...they sure are a hassle...just saying...

The adult part of me knows all that.  I know that what I want to happen is not 'good' or 'right'.  I know that it would never be like I imagine.  I know that even wanting the things that I do...'letting' myself want foolish.

But the kid in me...oh, the kid...

I spent most of my life being a tiny adult.  I did what I was told: what was 'good' and what was 'right'.  I was mature and responsible and stable and steady and all those other grown-up words.  All those little kid things ways got locked up inside of me...probably right next to wherever my emotions were hidden...and they never saw the sun.

But now that my emotions are loose in the world, it seems like my secret kid parts have escaped and are rampaging like wild rhinos.  

I, Sweets, the adult, know that it's wrong and stupid and dangerous to want what I want.  But my bull-headed inner child is yelling to the top of her lungs that she doesn't care.  She wants what she wants and she refuses to understand that she can't have it.  She doesn't care that it will only end up hurting.  She doesn't care that it's just a day dream and that it's not possible in this world.  She just wants it and she refuses to be suppressed until she gets what she wants.  No matter how many times I tell her that it's not going to happen, she screams back at me that there's hope.  There's always hope.  And no matter how much the adult in me knows that hope, for the most part, is a terrible lie, she will not accept that.  She just keeps hoping...

...and she just keeps standing there with her arms wide open, waiting for the things she wants to fall into them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Meant To Say...And I Fixed It"

I'm so super excited about my page for this week's Journal 52 prompt!  (You can read more about J52 HERE.)  The prompt was 'Love Letters', and I think I diverged from my routine a little bit on this one, and I REALLY like the result so much:

"You are all the words I meant to say but couldn't scribble them down before they slipped away."

In the beginning I struggled a little with what I wanted to put on the page...and then it hit me.  One of my goals for this year is to work on my hand lettering...and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to practice...I mean, love letters...c'mon!

Because I am not the best with lettering, I used a piece of manila card stock to write out my quote (which is from a poem I wrote that can be found HERE if you want to read the whole thing).  It came out just right the first time!  ...I couldn't believe it either...  I wanted to make the paper look aged and like it had been read over and over...I got a little out of control with the Vintage Photo Distress Stain though, so the whole page is now brown...but that's ok, you can still read it!  I crumpled it up (after deliberating for a long time, because the writing was pretty good...for my skill level...but if you can make it once you can make it again, right?) and then used stamp pads to hit the high spots and make them stand out more.

Then on the watercolor paper (I've been using this as a base for all my J52 pages so far...and a lot of my other pages too...), I decided to pull out my Dylusions and used Vibrant Turquoise and White Linen colors mixed together.  An interesting thing happened...a happy accident, really.  I had sprayed the Turquoise first in a few spots and was going to spray the white into it right away, but had to go take the dog out (he insisted) and when I came back to the page, the turquoise had dried a lot.  But I figured they were water-soluble so they should still work, right?  And I sprayed the white over top.  What happened was these really cool areas where the turquoise sunk into the page and turned this grungy weird color...  I was a little disappointed at first, so I tried to cover it with more turquoise and white mixed and then dripped water in a few places...and it ended up being really cool and vintage looking.  I could never have figured that out if I was trying to do it on purpose!

When that dried, I stamped  all over the page using brown Stayzon ink and a stamp from Hero Arts called "La Letter"...and it was looking good!  Then I thought, what if I try to make it look older with some stamp pads (I mean, the ink box was already open...I HAD to!), and this time it happened like I wanted...(note to self: use stamp pads, not distress stain, for aging purposes).  

Then I wondered if I could make coffee cup stains on the page.  First I used Neocolor II's and they didn't give the effect I wanted...I almost thought I had ruined the then I tried using brown India ink, drawing circles with a pipette to do it.  That was more of the look I was going for.  It didn't end up exactly how I wanted it to, but it has me going in the right direction, and with a little more practice, I think I can eventually get a really cool coffee cup stain.  But, even though it doesn't look like a coffee cup stain to me, it does look pretty cool!  When everything was dry, I took foam tape and stacked some pieces on top of each other in different thicknesses to attach the writing page to the background page.  I wanted it to look like somebody had just laid the note down and was coming back for it any minute...and it totally looks like that to me!!!  (Can you tell I'm excited by this page?)

Also, related to J52, I used a suggestion by my friend Pamikins to make some changes to one of last week's pages for the 'Abstract' prompt (it's SO much better now!):

"completely without meaning"
Thanks to Pamikins for the suggestion of adding words to the 'middle school art project page'...I also added thicker black lines, and I like this page WAY better now than I did before...It's still out of my comfort zone, but with the darker lines and the words, I no longer hate it!  I kind of like it more and more every time I look at it.  Thanks, Pamikins! <3

And then, related to suggestions for page fixing, I used a suggestion by my friend Patricia to change this page from last week's Documented Life was a little thing, but it makes a big difference to me:

Thanks to Patricia for the suggestion of adding something to the middle of the flower...I couldn't think of anything else, so I just did splatters with white and green india inks.  That small change made a BIG difference to me...It looks finished to me now, and I think that's what I was looking for.  Thanks, Patricia! <3

And then, I got some fabulous mail art from my friend, Cheryl, (Thank you, my Cheryl!!!) that I kept forgetting to photograph!  I finally remembered and here she is:
"What is true beauty?"
I got a surprise card from my sweet friend Cheryl with one of her gorgeous faces on it!  I love her so much (both Cheryl and the face she sent)!!!  I like how she just colors in parts and leaves white makes me so happy.  And I love this gal's lips!

I am so happy with my J52 page for this week.  Out of my usual, ended up accidentally learning a few cool things, and got to practice my letter skills!  I always talk about how much my handwriting looks like a 12 year old boy's...and I notice a lot of other people aren't fans of theirs either!  What about you?  Do you like your handwriting?  Do you think you can have bad handwriting skills, but be good at hand lettering?  (I hope you can...or else my dreams will be shattered! haha)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Draw One.Repeat.Add Color.

I am on it this week for Documented  Life!  (You can read more about DL HERE.)

The prompt for this week is "Draw one shape-repeat-add color."  And here's what I did:

This page has some SHINE, let me tell you!

The first thing I thought of was doing the interlaced paper strips...I know it's not technically drawing a shape, but as soon as I read 'one shape', I immediately thought of different color rectangle strips woven on the page.  Egads, that made me so happy!  I painted the strips with different colors of Martha Stewart Pearl Paint, and I knew that if I stuck the strips on black paper it would just make them POP!  And they's glorious!

"I ran where they told me not to run, but I sure had fun."
-The words are from a song called"A Mistake" by Fiona Apple

I had all these bits of left over black paper when I cut out around the woven paper thingie, so I used them to see if my Silks acrylic glazes would show up on the black (that's what the circle shapes...and one lonely heart...are drawn in)...they do show up (clearly)...some better than others.  Then I used Heidi Swapp Color Shine spray on some other pieces just to see if it would's kind of like what happens with Perfect Pearls if you've ever used those...turn it the right way, and there is MASSIVE shine!

I am pretty happy with what I did with the lettering...I was just messing around with some pens I got at the dollar store, but it looked plain with just the bright colors, so I added the black and I like how it looks...  I will have to remember this technique for future use...and take a little more time with it (I see some accidentally squiggly lines that are driving me crazy...)

I really like how this looks!!!  *sound of a million angels singing*  I know it's so simple and could possibly be viewed as another 'middle school art project' (or MSAP...thanks Pamikins for pointing out the abbreviation...abbreviations make me happy!) but I don't care, I just love how this looks!

I did the background of the pages using Neocolor II's on top of a gesso wash...the colors make me squeal with delight!  One day I will own all the colors of the Neocolor II's and rub them lovingly all over my body...that might be too much information...awkward...

I'm super excited because Jane Davenport's Express Yourself workshop has last!  I've been waiting so impatiently, and I'm so ridiculously excited about it that I can barely stand it!  I can't wait to dig in and get down to brass tacks...and then of course to show you all the arty goodness that will no doubt occur!

Now I'm off to work on my Journal 52 page for this week (I'm making myself do it before I start on the workshop...I will not shirk my art journal commitments.  *keeps repeating that last part to self*)...and maybe eat supper...but who needs food when there's arting to be done?

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Million Attempts


I feel like I haven't posted in FOREVER, even though I know it's not even been a week...

Did anybody else had as much trouble as I did with this week's Journal 52 prompt?  Great Koogely Moogelies!  In case you don't know, the prompt for this week was 'Abstract Art' (you can read more about it HERE).

When I first took an interest in artistic things, I was one of those people who just didn't 'get' abstract art.  I never thought it was easier to make abstract art than it is to make realistic just wasn't something I gravitated towards.  I think it's because I'm interested in the story of the art, and with abstract art, it's up to your own interpretation.  I've seen a lot of things that other people really love, but to me look menacing.  Abstract art is kind of like a giant ink blot test...

The more I've come to love art, the more I find abstract art to be interesting.  So when I read the prompt for J52 this week, I was super excited...and then came the execution.  My brain just went stupid...that's the only explanation I can think of anyway.  Or else I made this whole thing harder than it should be...  Or a combination of the two...

"Flight of an Easily Breakable Thing" birds were harmed (at least not by me) in the making of this page...

In my defense, the picture has messed with the color of the painting's not quite so bad in real life.  This was my first attempt at abstraction...  I started out with a tutorial I found on pinterest for painting abstract with acrylics, which looked ABSOLUTELY nothing like this.  I just didn't like how it came out after I'd done the steps of the I kept going.  I used a brush for the bottom layer of the painting (Naples Yellow and Portrait Pink) I used my pallet knife a lot on the blue (Pthalo Blue and Mars Black) and scraped the paint around with it.  I liked doing that!  But I still wasn't happy with the thing as a whole, so I kept going.  The red (Brilliant Red) was actually painted on using the feather that's glued to the page!  I do like that I experimented with a different mark making tool...  After I added the red, it looked like something had been viciously mauled to me...and since I was using the feather to paint with, the name of the painting came to me: Flight of an Easily Breakable Thing...  The 'easily breakable thing' part is from a poem (which you can read HERE...the poem is much different than the picture is...just so you know...).  I don't usually name my seems like something for a better...or more professional...artist than me.  It makes me feel self-important...but for some reason, I've been naming my J52 pages, so there you go.  I also used Inka Gold in Lava Red and Gold colors on top of the feather (and red poster paint sharpie around it) to try to make it stand out a little more.

But I was not satisfied with this attempt at abstract I decided to try again:

...this will be known as 'the middle school art project' from this point forward...

I used all water-soluble media for the second Inktense for the outlines, various watercolors, and Aquamarkers.  I just started drawing random shapes and lines, and where they intersected, I colored in each space with a different color.  To me, this looks like a middle school art project, completely without meaning or technical skills...  Maybe I would have liked it better if I would have used only warm or cool colors and not combined the two...I don't know...either way, not one of my favorite pages that I've made...

So I made another page...
...well...I do like the white space...

For the next page, I put some washi tape on the page in random places, and painted over it with acrylics in various colors...then removed the washi.  This one is ok to me, but it seems like a background that's just waiting for more things to happen on top of it.  Maybe that's my problem with my abstract attempts...they all look like backgrounds for something more realistic...

At this point, I got irritated with the whole stupid abstract art thing and decided to see if the bottle of crackle medium I had (for at least eight years...) was still viable:

...again with the bad coloring in the photos...I think it's my fault...or winter's fault...because I took this picture at night, so not great lighting...

I actually ended up liking these crackle pages more than anything else I had done!  Especially the bottom one...look at those gigantic cracks!  (I think the thicker the layer of crackle medium you use, the bigger the cracks you get.)  I used up my entire bottle of crackle medium, so it's on the list for my next trip to get art supplies...I see more crackle experimenting in my future.

So, in the end, what did my million attempts teach me?  For one, abstract art is NOT easier than realistic art...I didn't think it would be, but I also didn't think it would be so much harder for me than my normal art is.  I have been completely frustrated by abstract!  For another, I realize that I am now going to have an abstract art obsession until I 'get it right' in my own eyes.  Yeah, as we speak I have another page drying so that I can do more...  So far, I think that two things to work on for my future abstract attempts are going to be to not forget the things I already know...color, composition, shape, value...all that technical stuff that I work on in my regular art still applies in abstract!  The other thing that I think will help me personally is to try to think of a specific thing while I'm painting...all the attempts I showed you today were just me 'trying to paint abstract'.  I think I will do better if get myself in a certain frame of mind that I want to convey in the painting instead... Does that make sense?  As in, here is a painting of how loneliness feels to me, or here is a painting of the day I fell in love, or the day I had a bad cold, etc...  I think I need to have something that I want the painting to say...  We'll see how it goes...


I finished my spread for Documented Life this week.  The prompt for it was 'Open your Pinterest Board and Be Inspired' (you can read more about it HERE).  This one felt too easy for me, because I use Pinterest for inspiration A LOT!  Mostly, I get inspired by quotes on my 'Just Words' board and then go make a page, or else use a face in my 'Photographs' board as a reference photo.  So I decided to make sure I was inspired in a different way than I usually am, and here's what I ended up with:

Whoops...I forgot to take out my wax paper!  (I use it so I don't get stuff all over my other pages.)
I feel like the flower needs...more something...any ideas?

I did a couple of different things *inspired by Pinterest*.  First, I used THIS video from Journal Artista (aka Paula Phillips, I think) to do a REALLY STINKING COOL variation on a packing tape transfer.  You can see this technique best on the left page.  SO COOL!  Just for the record, the Journal Artista lady has some really interesting techniques...I will be checking out more of her videos and learning more fun stuff from her really soon!

Then I used THIS tutorial on how to draw a croquis (or fashion figure).  Can I just say I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the croquis?  Cause I do!!!  *draws croquis on everything for the foreseeable future*

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it.  Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way." - Vincent Van Gogh

And then, I let my spread inspire which quote I used (which you can see the pin for HERE) from my 'Just Words' board, instead of the other way around like I normally do.  

I really like the way the croquis lady contrasts with the Marie Antoinette lady (which was already on the piece of scrapbook paper I had added to make 52 weeks worth of spreads to work on when I made my DL journal).  There's a meaning in there, but in the spirit of abstract art, I will let you decide for yourself what that meaning is exactly...  The croquis lady reminds me of Pam Carriker's work (you can see the pinterest search results for her name HERE), but it wasn't on purpose...I think it's the color more than anything...she uses muted tones a lot...  

Ah...croquis lady...allow me to squeal with delight for your awesomeness just one more time...SQUEAL!!!

So, what's your take on abstract art?  Are you a fan, or not so much?  Have you ever attempted it...and if so, did you find it as hard to do as I did?  Where do you tend to find inspiration? Do you like to see how other artists do things, or do you like to experiment and make your own discoveries, or do you do a combination of the two?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Journal 52, Week 4 - Building Character

First, I just want to thank everybody for taking the time to leave such sweet and heartfelt comments on the last post.  I remind myself over and over that when something is hard to talk about, that's the thing I need to say the most.  You reward me with your kind words and lift up my spirits.  Thank you all so much. <3

Today, I just want to share my Journal 52 page for this week.  You can read more about J52 HERE.  The prompt this time was to create your own character for your art journal, and here's what I made:

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing."
-Abraham Lincoln

I have to admit that after having such a bad time this past week, I was initially just going to draw horns on my girl and say something to the effect of "being the hero of your own story might make you come across as the villain in someone else's"...but I thought better of it.

For a while now, I've been dealing with a frustrating situation at my job.  For the most part, I can handle it and not lose my temper, but with being stressed out and emotional over Nu Nu...well, you can only deal with so much before you start to crack...I feel like I'm at my breaking point.

I have a co-worker...or I should say a person who sits in the same office as I do all day long without doing much actual work...and I hate her.  My other co-workers also have...let's say...very low opinions of her.  I do my best to keep quiet at work about how I feel about this woman, but not everyone else tries to practice "if you don't have anything nice to say..."  I try to maintain a professional attitude, one, because I was raised that way, and two, because if I do say something off hand, I will be the person that gets caught and probably fired over it.  I might have a big butt, but I always keep it covered...

I'm sure everybody either works with someone like her or did at one point.  The person who does the least work, that complains the most about how hard they work...  The person who makes the most money, but complains to the others about how much she 'struggles' to make ends meet...  The person who always tries to one-up everyone else...if you broke your arm, she knows someone who had both their arms bitten off by a shark...  The person to whom you just want to say "I'm sorry, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?"   All these great things and more are wrapped up into one evil succubus at my job.

And since I'm ranting, she lies...she lies about things that don't matter.  She lies to garner attention.  And the worst part of all is she doesn't do it well.  I personally am a fantastic own mother can't tell when I'm lying.  I try not to lie, I'm not proud of the fact that I'm so good at such a bad thing, but for Pete's sake, if you're going to do something, do it right!  And the second to worst part of all is that she believes her own lies.  The woman is completely delusional.

The really frustrating part for me is that, at first, everyone loves her.  "Oh, she's so sweet..."  Gag.  The only good part about it is that eventually, people see through her act...  My father was like this to a tee...I think it's a big part of the reason I really can't stand my co-worker.  Just because you know someone is going to get their just desserts eventually, it doesn't necessarily make it any easier to deal with at the time...

And I was thinking about this when I started to make my character page this week.  How my co-worker has the reputation of being a nice, sweet old lady but the reality of it is she's a lazy, racist jerk of an old woman... Shadow vs. Tree.  People eventually see it, but it takes them a while sometimes.

The original journaling, which sound pretty negative, actually describes the situation really well.  In my story, I'm the hero, of course (I mean, it is my story...come on!), having to silently combat this frustrating situation day after day, without a resolution in sight.  

On the other hand, this woman is the hero in her mind...which makes me her villain.  In her mind, she works hard and struggles to make ends meet and she wants attention and praise and sympathy and pity.  By being the way she is, she doesn't get the things she wants...she constantly fishes for it and if people do give her the reaction she's hoping for, it's only because she's backed them into the corner about it.  I really did try to pity her for a long time, because she's constantly defeating her own purposes.  If she could just be a decent person, she'd get all the things she wants...or else, she wouldn't want them anymore.  But she's not a decent person, so much so that I've quit trying to pity her, and am reduced to trying not to throw a computer monitor at her face...anymore, that's all the energy I can muster in this fight.

The extra funny thing about it is that, as her villain, I'm getting all the things she wants.  For the most part, my co-workers like me, they joke with me, they offer to help me without being asked...because they know I do the same for them.  I get commended because of my good work by my boss...because instead of talking about how much I do, I just do it!  I totally understand that as an employee, I'm not doing anyone any favors.  They PAY me to do my job.  I also understand that no one is irreplaceable.  I work hard because I need a job, and it's part of the deal...I work, they give me money to buy art supplies (and, to a lesser extent, food)...  I am not there to get praised, I'm there to make money, but I get praised because I actually do work.  No matter what it is, work wise or socially (or artistically even), I do the best that I can...that's the most anyone can do.  If you want to see the least anyone can do, I invite you to come meet my evil co-worker...

I didn't mean to have such a rant today about this.  I really do try not to talk bad about other people...I don't always succeed as much as I'd like, but I do TRY!  I just had to get it out, before steam started shooting from my ears, making steam engine whistle sounds like in the cartoons...  

What do you do to deal with the 'villain' in your story?  Do you think someone looks at you like you're the bad guy in their story?  Are you the bad guy in someone's story (you naughty monkey!)?

Panned out a little so you can see the edges of the page...the first layer of this page was various book pages, including a word can see on the left hand side that "journal" was one of the words in the word search...I was very excited by that, and had to leave it showing...  There, now I feel like that was a more positive way to end a post... :)