Friday, March 28, 2014

Making Sense of the Chaos

 The prompt for Journal 52 this week (HERE) was to create a page about the things you do each day or your favorite part of the day.

I'll be honest, my days are pretty much the same.  Wake up, go to work, come home, make art (which, in my book, includes blogging), go to bed...repeat.  Throw eating and showering in there, and you've described my basic day.  Art is definitely the highlight for me...although eating probably runs a close second...I do enjoy eating...

I don't have a lot of outside excitement in my life...I'm married (so no dating...that ship has both sailed and sunk to the bottom of the ocean), I don't have kids, I don't go a lot of places, I don't have a lot of in-person my days are pretty much spent in hum-drummery.  I've slowly learned to like most of the aspects of my life as it is...I don't have the stress of dealing with dates/kids/drama...and I'm usually pretty content to be a homebody.  So hum-drum works well enough for me.

Most of the interesting things that occur for me happen internally.  I have an exciting imagination.  Reality tends to be overrated in my estimation.  

The funny part about that is I am one of the most realistic people I know...possibly because my life is full of delusional people...but still...  

Maybe the difference is that I know the things I think about generally won't happen...and other people have hope or fear that they will.  I don't know, I guess I do too...but my mix of pessimistic doubtfulness about good things happening and nonchalance towards bad things happening (worrying changes nothing, so why worry?) keeps my hopes and fears to a mostly hushed whisper.  

But I think about things.  A lot.  All the time.  Over-think.  Sometimes about things that happen (or have happened) in my life, but I think a lot about other people.  I wonder at other people constantly.  What makes them tick?  What are their motives?  Why are they the way they are?  And I play out lives in my head, trying to cipher out just how it is that a person got to be a certain way. 

I do this for my own life too.  I think out the angles of decisions as far into the future and in as many directions as I need to in order to get satisfied.  What if I do this?  What if I don't?  What if this had happened instead of that?

In a way, it makes me feel like a scientist...constantly coming up with new ideas, forming my hypothesis, testing my theories.  I've gotten good at figuring people out.  I think it's part of the reason I find it so devastating to be wrong about a person...because I put a lot of effort into cataloging them.  I want to be able to put a label on people...not in a way that limits them to being one thing, because each person is made up of a million billion different facets (The subtle nuances that make people unique individuals is endlessly fascinating to me.)...but I need to label them to make them something I can understand.  

The more I learn about myself, the more I see that I need a why.  Why am I this way?  Why are you that way?  Why does she do this?  Why won't he do that?  If I can't figure it out, I get very frustrated.  

It's a difficult thing for me to accept, but sometimes the why is not for me to know.  Sometimes there are no labels, nothing to name it, no way of identifying with a situation.  That kills me.  That's the point when I become a little obsessed...because it's not that there isn't a why, it's that I don't get to know it.  And I feel like if I just think a little longer or harder, if I just play out one more scenario, then I'll get the answer.  But that's not always true.  

I have come up with  reasonable theories about things, but the time for proving those theories has passed...and there's not a second chance.  I despise not having my proof.  I loathe not knowing.  

My goal is to understand, to make sense of the various aspects of life...and life is not that way.  Life is mysterious and never as clinical as I'd is chaotic.  But I still analyze and I still hypothesize and I still test my thoughts and look for proof...  And somewhere out there, if they knew how I am, I bet there's a person who'd look at me and wonder why it is I do that...and they probably wouldn't understand, because it's part of what makes me mysterious and chaotic and alive.  But, just like me, they'd still try to understand...because, just like me, their favorite part of the day would be when they were able to sense of the chaos. 

My favorite part of the day is when I can make sense of the chaos...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Late in Posting, Not in Doing

This is my page from week 12 of Documented Life (you can read more about DL HERE), where the prompt was to cut up a magazine and add it to your page.  I actually had this spread finished on time...I just haven't had any time to post it.  Ugh.  I even have this week's spread done too...I hate feeling behind when I'm not actually behind!

This was one of my less favorite prompts...I love how other people can do collage work...especially with magazines...I just don't think it's my forte...know what I mean?

But in the spirit of 'tough crap, just do it', I made this spread:

"Now and Then"

I have a limited supply of magazine choices to work with...Better Homes and Gardens and Southern options were pretty much flowers and here you have what I could do with flowers and ads...

The left page represents how I feel currently:

"I'm scared.  I don't know if I can.  I don't know if I can do this."

I went with a yellow background know, because if you're a chicken, then you're yellow...but it was really bland I added the grey...still I used that bright orange marker.  Good is BRIGHT!  I think this page is so LOUD.  I think that it matches what I'm feeling right now...the timid yellow and grey are feeling puny and wimpy...the bright orange of my fears yelling at me that I won't be able to do the things I want...yeah...there you go...color metaphor...

The right page is about the future:

The magazine prompt part of the spread...

There's such a huge difference between the two pages of this spread...they hardly go together at all.  But to me they do...  This page is my after...after I face my fears and make a move...after all the discomfort and trying times are done...then I get to this point...eventually.

"But we did do it, didn't we?"
"Yes dear...we did it.  We made a good life for ourself."
On a side note, the girl on the porch looks like she's from a tampon ad...I don't know what kind of ad she actually came from, but she totally looks like she's from a feminine hygiene sort of ad, doesn't she?

Those ladies are me at various stages.  On the left page, it's me now...scared and unsure of what to do/what will happen.  On this page, on the porch, that's me immediately after all the sucky stuff is over and life is getting to be what I choose it to be...where I am standing in the light at the end of the tunnel.  And then in the window, that's me looking back over my life...being happy, knowing I made the best choices I could, knowing that everything really did turn out ok and for the best.

Right now, that left page seems so far away.  I feel so mired in indecision...guilt for thinking of some of the things I think about...fearful of the unknown.  

Do you ever get that feeling like something is about to happen?  Like some secret shoe is about to drop on you and turn your world upside down?  I feel like that right now.  I don't know why.  Nothing's happened to give that feeling any merit...and yet I feel it.  It's like everything has been calm and I suddenly realized it's the calm before the storm...and I've only got a few minutes to batten down the hatches.  Who knows...

I've been telling myself nothing will come of it...that it's just a random feeling I've got from being too tired and working too much and not having enough play time...making me a very dull girl indeed.  But I find myself discreetly preparing for the upheaval anyway.  In small ways, I've been bolstering myself for something...I don't even know what...just something.  

I find myself feeling agitated and I want to strike the first blow on an enemy that hasn't even made himself known yet.  And that's not like me.  I hate conflict.  I hate confrontation.  I'm passive.  I let things happen and then decide from there what to do.  I don't act...I react.  But here I am, ready to take a swing at the first thing that pops it's head up.  It's like all my life my fuse has been slowly burning and now it's getting towards the end...shorter and shorter and soon something explosive is going to happen.

It's so strange, because I remember feeling extremely and uncharacteristically optimistic about this year just a few months ago.  In December and January, I was so happy-go-lucky, with a similarly illogical feeling about this year being a good one.  And that feeling is still there, waiting in the wings...but now I have this odd feeling of unrest...of something in the air.  Change is coming.  I don't know how or why or what...but it's coming.  And I know change is always happening...but whatever this is, it's's major...and it's looming just on the horizon.  It feels exciting and menacing at the same time...FREAKY, I know...

To be honest, the whole thing is a little unnerving.  And that's what this spread is about, I guess.  Because whatever happens, it will be ok.  I can deal with it.  I can get through it.  I can thrive.  I can get handed lemons and make lemonade and all that good stuff.  I know I can.  But right my moments of weak the dark days before this possible impending gigantic s*** storm that's about to happen (Tom Petty was right...the waiting IS the hardest part), I feel scared...and I suppose I just needed a visual reminder that whatever happens, I'm going to be able to make myself a good life.  No matter how I feel right now, I know I'm not really weak...I'm not helpless or powerless.  Quite the contrary.  

I know I can work through a lot of things, because I already have.  It's one good thing about not always having had an easy know from experience that you can get through it and get past it.  I've been through the ringer before, and I'll go through again, I'm sure.  It isn't pleasant during, but you come out fresh and clean on the other side...  And maybe that's why this ominous feeling I'm having is accompanied by optimism...because I know how good a fresh start can feel.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Golden and Eternal

First and foremost, I want to say a BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC thank you to my friend, Boo, for all the beautiful napkins she sent me!  There were scads of them in the envelope...she is an expert napkin packer for sure!  I am super excited about the Joker one, which she used in her art HERE and which I ADORE (both the napkin and her piece...I LOVE how she used the Joker!) more than I can say, but there are so many other gorgeous ones that she made it hard for me to pick a favorite!  I'll just have to say that they are all my favorites and let that be that! :)  I'm a little excited...can you tell?  I can't wait to play...

Thank you, Boo, for all the napkin-y goodness!  You made my day!!!  Smooch!  Smooch!  SMOOCH!!!

Today, I have my Journal 52 page ready to share with you.  The prompt this week, which you can read more about HERE, was "Take inspiration from stars or the night sky".  And here's what I made:

"On soft spring nights I'll stand in the yard under the stars - something good will come out of all things yet - And it will be golden and eternal just like that - there's no need to say another word."
-Jack Kerouac , from"Big Sur"

I took a little inspiration from Van Gogh's "The Starry Night", although I don't know if it's readily evident...but I liked the swirl in his painting, and that made me attempt a swirl in'll have to decide for yourself if you see any similarity: 

I secretly think of Van Gogh as an art journaler...I know his work is looked at now as profound and amazing, but in my head, if he were living in this time period, he'd totally have a blog and be an art journaler almost's my imaginary world, and that's how I see him...I don't know why, but I can't help imagining each painting is another page in one of the most fantastic art journals ever...

As I look at my girl, I am noticing some things I didn't do (like shade the hair and add the eye glint) and now they're irritating me...I'm gonna have to go back and fix her a little...  Plus her nose reminds me of Michael Jackson...hehehe...poor girl!  I still like her and all...but once the MJ nose has been seen, it can't be unseen...

On the positive side, don't you just love that quote?  I'd like to be like think that good will come out of be able to look at ordinary things and see magic.  

Part of me can...the creative part of me, for sure.  I think artists/creative types notice things other people don't and I think there's a good deal of magic in that.  We can see an ordinary thing for more than what it is...and we want to capture that 'more' on the page.  I think a good artist makes people take a second look at those ordinary things.  I think, if they had the chance to see just the right artwork for them, that there's not one person who could NOT be profoundly affected by that art.  Then again, maybe I'm a little biased...

On the opposite side, there are parts of me that are still slow to see things as 'golden and eternal' least the eternal part of that...  I am very good at being content...with however much or little I have.  Pretty well happy-go-lucky, I suppose.  I am ok with my life right now as it is...I've been in much worse situations mentally, physically, and emotionally...and yet, when I stop for a minute and clear my mind, I find myself thinking "I don't want it to be like this forever".  

A huge piece of me feels guilty over that...I know that people deal with much, much worse than I do...honestly, I used to be one of those people myself.  But things are better for me now...and so I think to myself  "How much more do you need?  What's it going to take?  Be happy with what you have, because you know there's worse out there.  Quit being so greedy for your ideals."  This has to do with how I was raised, I think...I don't know that I heard 'you can be anything you want to be' as a child...I heard that ambition is bad...that certain things are just not meant for me......maybe that's not how it was meant, but it got translated into my head that way.  The opposite side of that lesson was work hard and be happy with what you it wasn't all bad, you see.  But I think it's a big part of the reason why I'm having such a hard time now...I'm a fantastic 'settler'...I'll settle for anything, work my butt off towing the line, and have a goofy grin on my face the whole time...

The more I learn to be my own person, though, the adult person...the decider of my own life and way of thinking...the more ambitious I become.  I think now that ambition is not all bad...blind ambition, yes, I imagine it is bad for anything to be all-consuming, have to get it, damn the consequences to those around you...  

But I believe if I wasn't at least a little ambitious, I wouldn't have made any improvements.  I wouldn't be making art.  I wouldn't be writing this blog.  I wouldn't be doing anything that I have come to love.  I wouldn't be learning and growing and getting to be a better version of myself.  Ambition has been good to me so far.

But it scares me a little too.  Because where do you stop?  Do I have the right to say I'm not happy...content, yes, but not quite happy...with a life that isn't bad?  I never thought I would be where I'm was too much to think about...but I've come this far...should I hope to go farther?  A tree puts down roots and still it stretches towards the sky...but if that tree gets too tall, it'll tip right over.  In other words, where is the line between healthy growth and being a danger to yourself and those around you?  And how much should you care for the consequences your actions have on others?  If someone doesn't turn out to be who you thought, do you just ditch them?  Should you let other people stand in the way of your happiness so that they don't get hurt?  You can't let other people dictate your life, but can you just go around leaving scars in your wake?   Do you let a decent life go for a chance at what you think will be a better life?  You don't know that it will be better on the other you risk it? What do you think?  What's the right answer?  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Overkill...or Put Many Birds on It

This week's prompt for Documented Life (read more about DL HERE) was to incorporate a bird on your spread somehow.  And immediately, my mind went to this: 

HAHAHAHAHA!  That skit makes me laugh more than is necessary... 

And so in the spirit of that clip and birds everywhere, I made this spread:

"I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.  I want to be light and frolicsome.  I want to be improbable, beautiful, and afraid of nothing as though I had wings."
-Mary Oliver

I drew the birds...why have one bird when you can have four?  I'm the queen of overkill...on the page first (except the one at the top left, that one is a packing tape transfer) and then went looking for a quote to fill in the empty spaces.  I really like the quote that I picked, and, maybe it's just me, but I see the traits mentioned in the quote in the birds next to the top left bird looks 'dangerous and noble', the bottom one looks 'light and frolicsome', etc....that was totally unplanned!  I think sometimes my brain formulates plans in the dark recesses and doesn't let me in on it till after the plan is carried out...I call them serendipity, but secretly my brain is toiling away to make those moments happen!  

On a side note, I love that paper on the left page...those zinnias are awesome and I couldn't bear to cover them over too much!  That was one of the pages I added to my SmashBook to make it have enough for 52 spreads...good choice, I think! *pats self on back*

I love that quote from Mary day I am going to do a page about her poem "The Journey"...I LOVE that poem...  My friend Pamikins was right, my pages are never done (in my eyes anyway) until I put words on them!

In other news, I got a new phone with a better camera than my last phone...I was so excited when I saw that picture because the colors are very true and it's so crisp!  I had a problem with color accuracy on my last phone, and then towards the end it started to take hazy looking pictures.  So hooray for the new phone and it's better camera!!!

Now I'm off for the night...possibly to put birds on more things... :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Size And Shape - Why I Make Art

The prompt for this week's Journal 52 (HERE) page was "create art for a cause", and asked 'Why do you make art?' or 'create a page for a cause you're passionate about'.

For most of my life, I was a person who didn't have any emotions...or at least a person who denied them to an extreme.  One day, seemingly out of nowhere, that changed for me.  Suddenly, I had all these emotions that were completely out of control.  For most people, you learn as a child how to keep a handle on your emotions...but I didn't have any practice doing that.  I had no idea how to stop myself from feeling certain ways.  I didn't know how to make them be be in the back of my mind.  So when I had an extremely hard thing to deal with, the suicide of my very dear friend, I was pretty much at my wits end.  It was all I could think about.  It was all I could talk about.  It was the only thing that ever happened and nothing else mattered.  I couldn't function.  I couldn't live my life without feeling guilt and sadness to the point where I was really close to giving up.  It was as if they closed the casket on me the day he died.  And it was at this super desperate point that I found art.  I thought maybe it would just be a welcome distraction, but it turned out to be so so much more than that.

At first, I think I just wanted to make pretty make things 'correctly' I practiced my fingers to the bone.  And then I practiced some more (and continue to practice...).  And I found out that I could stop my brain from spiraling, if only for the time I spent practicing...

And one day, it came to me...the phrase is 'art journal'...I was doing the art end, sure...but where was the journal part?  I was making pretty pictures, but they had very little meaning for me personally.  So I made it my goal to put myself in the page, so to speak.  I didn't want to make generic pretty pictures anymore.  I wanted to make my pictures.  Whether they were pretty or not, didn't matter as much...I wanted someone to be able to look at my pages and get an idea of who I was and how I felt.

The hard part about it was that I wasn't really sure who I was...and the things that I felt were so tightly bottled up in me that they mashed into one big, messy glob.  I couldn't control my feelings, and I had a really hard time separating one from another.  So, the only thing I could think of was to start with what I knew.  And I knew I was mourning the loss of my was the only thing I knew for I started with that.

Once I started to put my true feelings on the page, I found that they got out of my head...not just while I was creating the page, but afterwards too.  When I put them on the page, I could look at my thoughts, understand what they were and what was behind them...and I started to feel like they were real and valid...that my thoughts mattered, how I felt mattered.  Not only that, but I could see that this feeling was different from that feeling...they were not all connected together in an insurmountable mass.  And when I realized that, it was suddenly possible to change... to not be such a helpless mess!  I could look at what I'd done on the spread, understand what it meant and choose to work to make things different.

All that didn't happen overnight...but it did happen.

I've changed.  I'm not the same person I was when I first picked up that pencil to make art.  That girl was sad and scared and on the verge of insanity or worse.  She didn't know who she was and didn't think she was worth the knowledge.  Art made me aware of myself.  Not in an egotistical way, but in a way where I actually matter.  I learned that I have a heart and art showed me that my heart doesn't have to beat so loud that it drowns everything else out.  Art showed me that it's ok to 'wear your sorrow, but come morning, change your clothes' other words, feel what you feel but don't let yourself be consumed by it.  That's huge.

It's not only internal changes that have been happening for me.  This feeling of being in control has changed my interactions with other people too.  I saw that what I was putting out into the world was not the person I really was.  Making art helped me figure out who I am and that all those weird little random bits that make me who I am are totally ok.  I'd always felt like such a weirdo...that I couldn't be the real me, because no one would like me then.  Art made me realize that no one could really love me if I didn't let them know the real me.  Through the art, I've gotten to learn who I am, who I really am (because I honestly didn't know).  I find that people respond to me differently, because I am different now.  And, even better than that, I no longer worry myself sick over whether people like me or not...because I like me...and that's way more important than anyone else's opinion on the matter...

If you would have told me, when I first started making art, that all this would happen just because I picked up a pencil or a paintbrush or some water soluble crayons, I never would have believed you.  But it has! Every little mark I made on the page has moved me forward and I feel like...while I'm still moving forward, still learning and growing and changing...I'm finally at a place of some kind of normalcy and not so completely estranged from everyone and everything around me.  I finally feel connections: to myself, to my emotions and thoughts, and to other people as well.

For me, the reason behind why I create art makes art a cause that I am passionate about.  If you knew me before I started creating pages and spreads,  if you knew how much those little marks on the page changed me for the better, then you'd know that it could do the same for anyone.  It healed me more than any medicine I've ever heard of.  It gave me more knowledge of myself and other human beings than any doctor or philosopher ever could.  It connected me to the world around me better than any other meditative practice I've tried.  I could talk about it all day, everyday, to anyone who would listen.  It sounds melodramatic to say it, but art saved my life and gave me myself.  All that from some marks on a page...

"It's so much bigger than I thought and it just keeps growing."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Color Scheming and Keeping On Track

Last week for Journal 52, the prompt was "Color Inspiration" (read more about J52 HERE).

I may have mentioned it before, but I have an intense love of plates (and bowls and cutlery...a lot of kitchen/dining related things appeal to me, I guess) a perfect world, I'd have a huge collection of them in every pattern that catches my eye and I'd be happy as a clam.  I'd have one of each and nothing would match and it would be pure utopia for me.  I think I must have inherited this love from my grandma, who had my own personal paradise in her kitchen cabinets...although I think part of her collection was earned honestly: years of sets of plates and many children in her house equaling a lot of breakage...I was just the enthralled observer of the survivors.  Either way, I can remember sitting down at the table hoping I'd get a certain plate...or, even better, opening up the cupboard door and getting to pick which one I wanted.  I still do this at my house, and my husband continually questions why I just can't take a plate off the top of the stack like a normal person...  I can't help it...I love what I love...

Anyway, since this isn't a perfect world, I don't have space for a huge collection of I have to limit myself to a few REALLY special pieces...the ones that my eyes never want to look away from.  So for this week's J52 page, I chose one of my absolute favorite plates:

My awesome Merit saucer/plate inspiration piece...Isn't it GORGEOUS???
I would totally love to have this tattooed on me somewhere...I love it beyond words!

I really love the pale yellow of the background along with the bright juicy colors in the just floats my boat!  

I also love the design...the composition and the flower itself...SO awesome!

So even though the prompt was color inspiration...I took it further and just tried to recreate the plate in page form:


Sorry for the dark pictures...I took the picture of the plate during the day (so I'd have a reference photo) and it came out really true to color.  The journal page pictures happened at night, so the colors in the photos are way off what's really on the page (especially the yellow's pale yellow in real life).  Thank goodness we're on the uphill swing with Daylight Savings happening.  I hate losing an hour's sleep, but I do appreciate more daytime hours happening so that I can take better pictures!

"It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all it's tainted glory and still love it."
- Oscar Wilde

I'm super happy with the drawing of the flower!  Full disclosure...I originally was going to write the quote in that gray color, but my brain forgot how to spell (and you can't erase that marker, darn it!) so I scribbled over my mistake with the marker and just wrote over that (more carefully) with the white pen.  It was a happy accident for me, because I really like the way that dreary gray block on the pretty page ties in with the 'tainted glory' part of the quote!

At some point, I will probably go back and add a page to my J52 journal using only these COLORS as inspiration...because otherwise I'll feel like I 'didn't do it right' and it will bother me until I do...I know, I know...I have issues...  On the positive side, I really do love that color palette, so I think I'll be glad to use it again!

In awkward segway news, I had a hectic week at work, so I actually had this page finished but didn't have time to post!  That's working way too hard in my opinion!!!  I'm going to have to figure out where I can create some time in my life, because this whole working around work thing is just not working for me!

Do you have any ideas on ways to find time?  I feel a little guilty asking this question because, mostly, I go to work, come home, and do art...really the only solution is to become independently wealthy, so if I could just win the lottery or something, that would be great...BUT I really would like to hear any suggestions you have about finding time!  I think it's a topic that a lot of people think about, so maybe you have some awesome ideas about it that can help.  

One thing I think about...notice I said think about, not to keep a schedule (this was actually one of my 'new year's resolutions'...going along with my word of the year: condition)...  I don't have a lot of outside commitments, other than work, but what if I made myself stick to an at-home schedule?  Part of me thinks this would be good, because I feel like I'd get more done if I looked at my free time like I look at my work time...

But a bigger (or at least a more vocal) part of me thinks that I would drive myself crazy trying to stick to a schedule...I've never been much of a plan person...I've been much more of a wing it/see what I feel like doing at the time person.  But I also didn't used to be much of a stick-with-it / routine type of person, and I am finding that I am sticking with art journaling, doing my J52 and DL spreads every week with a vengeance and at work, if I don't do things in the order I usually do, my whole day is thrown into chaos.  What's the deal with that???  Am I really changing so much?  Is 30 year old me going to be that much different than me in my 20's?  Whoa, man, I'm freaking me out a little!

I guess, WAY deep down inside, I know the only solution is to try the schedule thing and see how it works...  scary, I know.  But nothing changes unless we do, right?  Ok, ok, I'll just do it...quit nagging me!  Sheesh!  I'm sure I'll let you know how it goes for me...because otherwise, you might be tempted to doubt my commitment and then where would we be? :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fun Foam Stencils

Someone on Facebook asked about how I did the Fun Foam Stencils I mentioned in the last post, so I thought I would do a little tutorial.  Honestly, it's pretty self-explanatory but maybe it's a new idea to some or maybe I have a tip that you didn't know here we go:

  • Fun Foam (you can get this at craft stores or online, I'm pretty sure Walmart carries it as well.)
  • Scissors or a craft knife/Xacto
  • Self-healing mat or a surface you don't mind gouging (if you are using the craft knife) 
  • Sharpie or pen

Ooh...Supplies!  Fun foam, scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat, sharpie or pen

The first thing you do (if you so desire) is draw your pattern:
You can get all fancy and use a ruler or circle templates or whatever...or you can just wing it.  I'm a fan of winging it...

Next take your knife and cut out your design:
I would tell you to be careful with the knife because it's sharp, but you should know that and, besides, I'd feel like a hypocrite..."Cut away from yourself!"  You're not the boss of me logical thinking!  *she says as she cuts herself for the fifth time*

Don't throw away the pieces you cut out; they make great stamps!
This is me giving you permission to become a hoarder...
You can glue your foam stamps to things like cardboard or clear packaging (which is awesome because you can see exactly where you're putting your stamp) but you don't have long as you don't mind getting your hands dirty...
You can see that I don't cut on my lines...mostly because I'm too impatient...I draw them in (quickly) to get an idea of placement and then I go back in with the knife and fix what wasn't working for me.  But that's just do it how you like to do it!

You can use your stencil with sprays and paints, just like any other stencil:
Perhaps that was kind of a given...

With sprays:
With sprays, if you reverse the stencil, you can get a really good stamped image from your left-over ink...that's right, two toys in one!  I find that the spray ink stays put a little better on the fun foam than it does on store bought plastic you get a cleaner image when you do the stencil flip technique thingie...

With paint:
I use a make up wedge and pounce in the gets the paint into the pointy bits pretty well.  You can also use a brush and go in to each space, but it's kind of a pain if there are a bunch of small places.

If you're not a fan of the craft knife, you can also just use scissors and cut out a design...I know you've done this a million times in your life:
The best part of this is you have a stencil AND a you can stamp with both of hooray for multi-taskers!

Here's what we have so far:
You can see the spray in purple from the picture above.  Then the blue acrylic can see your shapes aren't super exact with the acrylic pouncing (or else I'm just out of practice).  Also, if you use a make up wedge to pounce your paint in, don't forget that it has paint on it and will make a cool mark...that's what the marks lined up at the bottom of the picture are.  And you can also see, sprayed in pink, the heart stencil  (on the left) and mask (on the right).  A stencil lets you put color on the inside of the design (so the design is colored), a mask lets you put color everywhere except the inside (so that all around the design is colored and the design stays white).

And remember to try stamping with your left-overs:
For the stamps, you can use an ink pad.  I got a light imprint, even with black ink...I'm not 100% sure if that's because I need to re-ink my pad or because the fun foam just doesn't take the ink well...

Or use paint with a brayer (or just dump out a paint puddle and do it that way):
I should have used a different color so that you could see it a little better in the picture, but you can (possibly) see that I  got better prints with the paint than I did the ink pad...

And if you do use your brayer to 'ink' the stamp:
Don't forget that you will get some really neat images from your brayer!  The stamp takes off the paint only where it makes contact with the you are left with another cool pattern on your brayer that you can use!

You can use all the 'left-overs' (the ink or paint left on your stencil/mask/stamp/brayer) and start another page...some people keep an extra journal just for that purpose.  It actually is pretty helpful if you are low on time to have that left-over catcher...because you will have a background ready to go next time you want to create and don't have the time to do the whole shebang.  Plus, you are not wasting any of your *PRECIOUS* supplies!  So, it's a time and money saver...Multi-tasking at it's best...

A word of's kind of addictive to do start cutting your own stencils...this isn't even the tip of the iceberg...

Just a few other thoughts:  

Thin lines are totally doable, if a little tedious.  I used a regular size Sharpie and cut on either side of the mark it made (instead of on the line), and that's about as thin as I could cut it with the craft knife without the foam tearing or me going crazy...ok, crazier...  Also, if you are cutting thin lines, don't pop out your left-over pieces till you are done; it helps the foam be more stable (learned that one the hard way...) and easier to cut. 
This stuff cuts pretty easily, but if you find a place that's still attached, cut it with your knife or scissors...don't be tempted to pull it...because it will tear and you will make the sad face... (learned that the hard way too...)  You can make curves for sure, but go a little slowly for the same will tear/you will sad face...

If you make something and don't like it, think about keeping it anyway.  I cut a feather that I didn't like but was pretty small, so I kept it and just went back to it later and made another design a little bigger around the original feather (so that the original just got cut away completely) and it ended up being pretty awesome.   And if you keep cutting bigger and bigger and just end up with a big empty square, look at it like you have a frame stencil!  You can also cut up ugly stencils and make good 'background noise' stamps.

Keep in mind that if you don't leave a border with the foam around your stenciled image (like the flower in the picture above), you will have a wobbly stencil...BUT it may be worth the wobbly to have an image that seamlessly flows into the background...  Full disclosure...I find it irritating because I have to keep adjusting the stencil to get the stem space on that flower.  I will be cutting another flower like the one above but with a foam border...that way I can have the best of both worlds...

If you don't have fun foam, you can always just use paper or cardboard or a million other things...the ideas are pretty much the same.  The fun foam is nice because it's a little more sturdy than paper, so your stencils will last longer.  BUT if you use paper, you can fold it up and do paper 'snowflake' type designs (I know you did that as a kid too!)...the fun foam will fold, but because it's thickier, you can't (or it would be extremely hard to) get those intricate designs...I found you could fold the foam twice (one horizontal, one vertical) and still cut it, but again, it's not easy to get detailed designs that way...BUT you could always cut the paper and use it as a template on your fun foam and get the detailed design that way...

So, ta-da!  Tutorial over...  I hope I had some helpful info and wasn't just being Captain Obvious...  I bet there are a million other ideas out there involving fun foam stencils or cutting your own stencils...or other uses for fun if you have anything to add, I'd love to hear your ideas!

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Piece of Work And A Work of Art

This week's prompt for Documented Life was "Make a list of the things that make you YOU." (You can read more about DL HERE.)

One of the things that make me ME is the fact that I am not a natural list maker.  Seriously.  It took me FOREVER to come up with my list of attributes.  But I finally ended up with some good ones:

"I am a piece of work and a work of art.".

Just for the record, that poor girl's face looks seriously wonky...but her head is supposed to be tilted.  So if you tilt your head to the left just a little, she's not quite as wonky looking...still a little wonky, but much less Quasimodo than she seems to be at first glance...see:

Not quite so deformed now, am I?

Also, as a personal pat on the back to myself, I would just like to say HOORAY for the nose on this girl. I think I made her look like somebody punched her in the face or something...that was an accident...I just wanted to try to use some different colors for the shadows...I think it works on the forehead area, but her eyes look a little bruised... So, as a whole, she's just ok, but I am super mega ultra happy with that nose.

Nasal perfection.

So anyway, back to the dreaded list... 

 Here's what I think makes me the person I am:
General hilarity (obviously... haha)
Gappy Teeth (one day I'll have to post a picture of them, but trust me, once you see them, you'll never be able to think of me without thinking of my glorious gappy teeth)
Going Off On Tangents
Look For Motives
Practical Dreamer (that counts as one thing)
Flux (The only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes.)
Constant Learner
Music Connoisseur
Literary Genius (hahaha...that's in my dream world, but it still counts!)
Deep Digger (I like to know what's beyond the surface of things...)
Firm Believer in Practice (it doesn't make perfect, but it makes us better than we were before)
Awkward Segways (Not the scooter thingies...I mean the transition between topics thing...)
Foreteller of Trends (I swear this one is true...if I start liking something today, a few months from now, you will start seeing it EVERYWHERE...I need to figure out how to make money from this fact...)
Wordy (I know, you have a hard time believing this one...*eye roll*)

Things that make me the person that I am...

One thing that really stood out to me as I was reading over my list of me things was how I don't think that I included any negative things.  This is a HUGE difference from the what I would have thought of myself in the past.  I know I'm not perfect, but I can actually see the good stuff in me now.  I've come a long way, baby!  

"I know who you are."

I just wanted to point out some art related coolness going on in this spread.  I've been cutting my own stencils out of Fun Foam.  I'm so excited by this technique it's not even funny!  In the picture above, the green square in the background are from a foam stencil I cut myself.  The blue squares are from stamping with the fat end of a makeup wedge and the pink lines are from the thin edge of the same wedge!  I also cut my signature Red Clover design from some foam; you can see it stenciled in white in the's BIG ..I love it!

Do we share any similar qualities?

The blue rectangles on this page are also a stencil I was supposed to be a brick pattern...I think I am going to make another one with thinner 'grout' lines...but I do like this one too...not what I intended it to be, but a happy accident nevertheless...  

The foam stencil cutting is making it's way toward becoming a little side obsession of mine...

What about you?  What are some of the things that make you YOU?  Do we share any qualities?  Or are we different (and complimentary) as night and day?  Do you have any new artistic obsessions of late?