Monday, April 28, 2014

Finding what Inspires Me

I want to take a few minutes to share with y'all a few things that inspire me.  I think I work on one of the most beautiful campuses in Mississippi and I am constantly finding architectural and landscape elements that speak to my inner muses.  Sometimes it's water droplets on the azaleas, stones in a ditch, or just leaf shadows on the grass, but it is all beautiful.

Especially yesterday.  Yesterday morning as I drove in to work I got absolutely pummeled by heavy rains (the kind of rain where you slow down to about 20 miles an hour and pray you see the puddle or car ahead of you before it's too late), but as the morning wore on the sun began peaking out.  It turned into a b-e-a-utiful day!  There are more storms coming, but I was able to escape my fish bowl for a little bit and take a few pictures to share with y'all.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I was able to finish my latest Zentangle that I've been working on for over a week.  

Next up on the Tangled Project List:  a Tangled Mustache!  I got the 'stache from Hobby Lobby (it's made of chipboard) and have already applied several coats of white gesso.  I'll be taking it to work tomorrow so hopefully I'll make some progress on it this weekend.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A New Project on the Easel

This week has been a whirlwind.  It started out with a Biology test on Monday (got a B!), my Art Final on Tuesday (got an A!), and a Biology Lab Final on Thursday (don't know what I got yet).

Even though my art class is finished and I no longer have any Friday deadlines, I still managed to make some time to paint today.  I broke out one of my new 24x48 canvases and got to playing.  I used acrylic paint for the background and then had fun with some Dylusions Sprays.

I'm not sure what direction this is headed in, but it looks fun!  I won't have time this weekend to mess with it so it will just have to sit until next week.  Maybe it'll speak to me in the meantime.

Although it does looks really cool on its side:

 I have two more weeks of classes and then I have 2 days of wonderfully intense Finals.  Oh joy.  I'm ready for this semester to be over.  I'm ready for summer!

That's all I've got for tonight folks, y'all have a good one and we'll see ya next time.


Friday, April 18, 2014

My Last Finished Friday

This is my last Finished Friday post - at least for this semester.  I've been ill all week thanks to my little disease carrying children!  It's always great when one brings it home from school and it gets passed around the entire family.  And why is Mom always the last one to get it?  Anyhow, since I was feeling a bit better today I did some (in my opinion even though there was no vacuum cleaner involved) major cleaning and even tackled laundry.  With my space all zen and orderly my muse was ready to tackle a blank canvas.

The assignment: Paint your Perfect Paradise

The result:
The Sea is Calling   16x20 Acrylic on Canvas

I can hear the beach calling me.  Not that I'm well enough to go by any means, but I am needing the sight and sound of the waves.  Summer needs to hurry up and get here!

I tried out a "new to me" technique and used a Slow Dry Blending Medium over the entire canvas.  I know the usual thing to do is to actually mix the medium into the paint itself, but I wanted to go all "Bob Ross".  I absolutely love how it turned out.  My wave crests are a little funky but I adore the sky so I'm happy. 

I will definitely give the Slow Dry Medium another go.  Placing it directly on the canvas does provide some challenges - it's really thick and makes you really have to work the paint (it is definitely not Bob's Liquid Clear) quite a bit to get the strokes out.  But it was fun and I got great blends using it.

I do suggest, however, that if you're adding foreground details that do not need to blend into the background, let it dry completely before using.  Those rocks were a real challenge because my brush kept picking up paint and making holes.  I'll know better for next time.  And I suggest give it several hours to dry - I finished about 3 hours ago and it's still tacky to the touch.  Leave it over night if possible.

And yes, I even made a "happy little rock that lives right here". 

It's "more icky blue medicine" time y'all.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Altered Sketchbook Cover

Today I altered the cover of my sketchbook!  I love how it turned out and I wanted to share.

I tote around a Canson 7x10 Multi Media sketchbook everywhere I go.  It's small enough to fit comfortably in my purse and the paper is heavy enough that my microns don't bleed through.  And I can use rather wet media (such as watercolors) without the paper warping terribly.  But that blue cover was really kinda ugly and I wanted to do something fun.  Plus, I already had the gesso out.

So I started by covering the cover with 4 thin coats of white gesso - letting each layer dry completely before applying the next coat.  Once that was completely dry and I had a nice white surface to work on - I began spraying with my new Dylusions Spray Inks.  I used Cherry Pie, Lemon Zest, and Funky Fuchsia.  I sprayed a couple of layers and then spritzed them with water to get some good blends.  I used my heat tool to dry in between layers.

Then it was time to play!

Using my The Crafter's Workshop stencils in Chicken Wire, Harlequin, and Art is, I both stamped and "ghosted".  Then I used my Mixed Media collection Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous and dipped it into my palette (a styrofoam plate I'd sprayed some dylusions ink spray into) and stamped randomly.  I heat set in between layers again. 

Then I taped down my Art Is stencil and using some Molding Paste, I scraped it across using a plastic palette knife.  I let it dry.

I wanted the words to really stand out, so I took a cosmetic sponge and dabbed a little Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Wild honey over the letters and then went back over it with some Distress Stain in Vintage Photo.

I stamped a couple of dots and such using the Wild Honey and Vintage Photo and then heat set the whole thing.

Before using Modeling Paste for the words

I really enjoyed this project and I absolutely love my Dylusions Sprays.  I must have the rest of the colors.  I've been watching lots of How-To's and YouTube videos on altering Art Journal covers and such and I've been a little bit of a chicken about trying it myself.  I'm so glad I gave it a try.  There truly are no accidents and you never know what kind of effect you'll get.

Until next time y'all!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Zentangled Artist Trading Cards

Mixed Media ATCs!  I got the idea a long while back about doing some ATCs, but hadn't gotten around to actually doing them.  I had gotten some Canvas ATCs and that's what the first one was done on.  I love my Micron pens, but they don't love those canvas papers.  I do not recommend them!  However, I did manage to get them to work and then added dashes of color with Gelatos and Water Colors.

I pulled out a sheet of paper from my sketchbook and made my own ATCs after that (I use a 98 lb. Mixed Media paper - Canson 7x10") so I could use my pens and zentangle a little bit.

The red ATC background was created with watercolors and then dried with a heat gun.  It was then stamped using StazOn Jet Black ink and Dylusions "Further Around the Edge" Stamps.  I added a few little dangles and doodles.

The blue ATC was zentangled using a watercolored background, Micron pens, and combination of a Uni-ball Signo White pen and Sharpie Extra Fine Tip White Paint pen.

I had previously stamped the back of these with a really nifty stamp from Donna Salazar.

These were really fun to do and I've a bunch more already cut and ready to go!  I'll post pictures as I get to them.

Have any of y'all out there done any ATCs or zentangles?  I'd love to see what you've done!  Drop me a comment and/or e-mail!

I've got to be good tomorrow and get my canvas out and do some painting - one last assignment for my Art Class for the semester.  "My Paradise"  It should be interesting as I've no real clue what I want to do.  I waiver between the beach and the forest as far as paradises go - and then too, between bed and the couch cuddled up with my girls.  I'm definitely feeling a beach these days though.  I need a trip - need to get out of town for a couple of days.  Summer is so close I can feel it!  I definitely need to plan a trip to New Orleans or the Gulf Coast!

Well, that's it for now folks.  Y'all be sure to drop me a line so I can see what fabulous things y'all are creating!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another Finished Friday

I'm late posting this, but here are the paintings from this past Friday -


Storms on the Sea

The assignments were "Earliest Memory" and "Worst Nightmare".

Storms on the Sea is a diptych, acrylic on canvas.

Lost is a mixed media piece - using acrylic, pencil, buttons, thread, and collage of watercolor papers.  The compass does actually turn.

After checking my syllabus more thoroughly - I have one more painting due this coming Friday - then a paper, a final, and finished.

That's all I've got for tonight, y'all.  I've got to go take care of my sick babies.


Monday, April 7, 2014

A Happy Zentangled Owl

My latest zentangle!  This little fellow took me about a week to complete in between classes, homework, and snatched moments here and there.  He's such a happy little fellow!

I picked up a set of Sepia Micron pens yesterday specifically for this project, but I'm positive I'll be using them lots.  I love the way the sepia tone gives a little bit of extra depth to his eyes - of course, I wish I'd managed to make them the same size!  ha ha!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Great Finally Finished Friday - NO! Wait, it's Thursday!

 That's right!  It is Thursday.  I had these blocks done last Saturday, but in typical Brenda-Fashion, I procrastinated on the backgrounds.  I had a heap of time and motivation to get them done today though, so here they are...

Sorry for the paperclips on the owls!  Wind is not my friend - ever! - when trying to photograph my art.  Then I accidentally learned that the wind wouldn't knock them off of the support rail.  Live and learn I guess!

In case you're wondering how I did it, here's how:

I picked up a Speedball Block Printing Kit and a Speedball Speedy-Carve Block for this project.  The assignment called for an Xacto Knife and cardboard.  Me being me, I just couldn't do that - plus, I'm super duper clumsy and very dangerous.  I use Xacto blades to my peril. 

The kit came with a lino block, black water based ink, a brayer (I didn't even know they had a name, I'd always just called them ink rollers), a foam tray, and a cutting tool (with blades #1, #2, & #5).  The owl was done on the 4x5 lino block that came with the kit.  The flower was done on the Speedy-Carve block and then cut out.  There are all sorts of tutorials for tracing and transferring your sketches to blocks and I won't go into those here.  I just used a simple pencil to sketch directly on the block.  Then I carved!  Be careful and go slowly - those cutting tools are super sharp!

Since the ink was water based, I knew I would need to do the background before I printed since I wanted a water color effect.  I used watered down craft paint (Blue: Americana Whispering Turquoise, Indian Turquoise, and Turquoise)(Green: Americana Sea Glass, Folk Art Aqua, and Americana Bluegrass Green)(Orange: Folk Art New Leaf Green, Tangerine, and Americana Vivid Violet) and painted wet into wet - I drenched my watercolor paper in water and then let the colors bleed into one another.  I didn't let any dry and apply another layer.  I wanted fun, but uncomplicated.  I used my heat tool to dry - because I'm impatient.

You could use an oil-based ink or even straight acrylic if you want to do any kind of water/wet effects on top of your print.

I then rolled the ink on my blocks and pressed them to my papers.  The faded out prints are "ghost prints".  If you don't know what a ghost print is - it is a 2nd printing without applying more ink.  I really like ghost prints.  It's almost like they're distressed or layered without even trying.  A note on the Speedball block printing ink - it is very think and can be very gloppy.  If you're using it, use it with very bold designs and/or think lines.  It tends to glop in the fine lines and they disappear.  They can still be seen some however because the ink will peak when you pull the block away, so you get a little bit of a relief effect.  So word of caution there.

That was it.  And then I printed and printed and printed and printed!

To wash the ink off the blocks, I just washed them with warm water.  The actual lino block is adhered to a block of wood - so don't get that wet... it will warp.  Use a stiff brush to get in the nooks. 

I will definitely be picking up some more blocks - probably the Speedy blocks as they are truly super easy to cut and will even try my hand at stamp making.  But more than likely, I'll just leave the stamps to the pros!

This project is kind of a sad one for me because it is my last one for the semester.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to take any studio classes next semester yet.  (The problem being that I go to a small campus, not the main one, and so it would require a commute.  We'll see how things line up closer to August.)

Just a great big paper and a Final Exam left in this class.  It's been super fun and I've totally enjoyed it.  It has made me try a few new things, get back to basics, and truly sparked my creativity.

Y'all have a great rest of your day and I'll see ya later!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Little Zen-Tangling

My last art project is due this week.  Then I'm finished for the semester with the studio part of the class.  I'm one of those people that works best under deadlines - even in my art.  Especially with my art.  So as a way to help me keep my creativity flowing, and as a way to help me keep growing in my art (because, let's face it, patterns are not my strong suit), I've picked up a book and a ton of pins on Pintrest about Zentangles.  Zentangles are fun little doodles that can be as intricate or as simple as you want.  And I have to admit, they're really quite fun.  Something I can pull out and work on while at the park, waiting on supper to cook or arrive, in between classes, or where and whenever.

And as the name implies, they are very meditative.  I find that if I'm aggravated about something or my ADD is kicking too high, that a few minutes of zentangling will calm me right down.

They're super easy to do, all you need is a blank sheet of paper and a pen.  I use my Micron set, but Faber-Castel Pitt Pens, Sharpies, or a good ol' ball point would work as well.

I'm off to do some laundry - I'm down to nothing but dressy clothes, and that is something that I definitely shouldn't be stuck with!!  Y'all have a great day!

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