Sunday, February 28, 2010

Enjoy the Unknown When Creating

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on and a group called "A Year in the Life of an Art Journal."  I looked around and was amazed at what I discovered...a great group of inspiring people discussing, creating, and posting their art journal pages. 

Every month members are given an art journaling prompt to complete.  Sometimes it is a thought to expand upon, other times the prompt is as simple as a word to think about.  February's one-word prompt had me thinking immediately... 


To an artist, the unknown is what we live for as we sit down to create.  Sure, we flesh out the the ideas/concepts, pick out the colors, and select the mediums to use...

but do we really know what will be the end product of our creations?

That's where our muses come in.  They whisper in our ears.  They inspire.  They make us excited and help us bring our ideas from the depths of our minds and out through our pens, drawing pencils, and paintbrushes.  Face it and let yourself go!  For  creative folks, it's all about the unknown. 

“Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.”
~Amy Tan

Visit A Year in the Life of an Art Journal

Materials Used: acrylics, gesso, modpodge, magazine clippings, various pens (brand: Le Pen), alphabet stamps, paint brushes, scrapbook paper, saved-up fortune cookie fortunes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Funky Frame Art Project

So, I've had this Target gift card from my brother since Christmastime, and it's been burning a hole in my pocket like you wouldn't believe.  Each time I've gone to Target, I walk around and think..."Oh...I could buy this.  Or I could buy this.  What about this?"  Until yesterday, that is.  I finally decided what to purchase.  Here's a picture of my funky frame that is really four frames fused together.

The plan is to not fill these cute frames with photos, but with artwork instead!  And I even know where I'm going to hang my office/craft room!  As far as cheesy pictures that come in the frames, these are pretty decent.  I definitely dig the green going on.

This is the top left frame, an 3 X 4 oval.  The large green flower is very cool. 

The top right frame is 5 X 7.  More green flowers.  Un-natural but very pretty.

The bottom left frame is 3.5 X 5.5.  The carousel picture reminds me of the beautiful Parisienne carousel at below the Sacre Coeur in Paris.  You know the one, the carousel used in the greatest French film ever...Amélie.  (One of my all-time favorite movies ever.)  If I remember right, Savage Garden also had a music video with the carousel in it...i'll check and post it if I find it.

And the bottom right frame is 4 X 6.  I have to laugh at the picture of the girl.  It reminds me of the Friends episode where Phoebe actually thinks the guy that "comes in the picture frame" is her really her father...haha.  :)  (Ah, Friends was such a good show.)

I'm not sure exactly what type of art I will work on for these frames.  I'm thinking mixed media/collage.  We'll see.  I'm sure this will take me quite awhile to A) make the artwork B) select which pieces to add to each frame.  Any suggestions are always welcome!  Help a girl out!  Tell me what you think I should make to put in the frames!

Update after post:  Yes, I found the Savage Garden music video from 1997 on YouTube!  (And the carousel in Paris is much prettier than the one in my frame.)  After watching it I find it funny that the 17 year-old in me loved this music that I watch it years later, everything about it is super dramatic and super cheesy.  Nonetheless, there are some beautiful shots of Paris that make me long to go back and visit again.  Here it is for your viewing pleasure.  If you're wondering where I've gone, I'm off to complete the renewal form for my passport now...haha.

Monday, February 15, 2010

DIY Valentine's Day Surprise for my Valentine

I can always think of a million things to get my boyfriend, but for our first Valentine's Day together I wanted to make his gift a memorable one.  I tried hard to think of something special that tied back to the very first night we met.  He impressed everyone that came to eat by making General Tso's chicken and Fried Rice, and of couse I kept stealing glances while he expertly tossed the rice in the pan.  We were set up by two close friends that night on April 17th (2009) and have been together ever since.
As I said, I thought of a million things to get him... 

The nice sturdy set of measuring cups at Williams-Sonoma that we saw when were at the Mall of America last week...

A new set of spatulas...

A candy thermometer?  (So he can make me chocolate?  Tempting...but no.  That wouldn't help my waist-line.) 

The list could go on and on...and as I thought of all these kitchen items, suddenly I thought of a brilliant idea!  He hates recipe cards, doesn't have a box for them, and would rather print out his recipes on a 9 x 11 sheet of paper.  In fact, he stashes all of his Food Network print-outs in a kitchen drawer and sometimes they float around a bit before they reach the drawer.  Ta-da!  My present was to be a personalized binder to keep his recipes in.

First it was off to the K & Krafts (a very cool local scrapbooking store in the Fargo/Moorhead area) to search for some manly paper to personalize his binder.  I spent less than $7 on the scrapbooking paper and a few sheets of regular green cardstock.  Here's a picture of the front cover.  His favorite Food Network personality is Alton Brown. Can you tell?  I used rub-on transfer stickers that I already had for the lettering.

Below is a picture of the back cover.  The Menu used on the back cover and the fork, knife, and spoon on the front cover came from a sheet of scrapbooking paper.  The entire sheet had different menu/eating/cooking related  cut-outs.  The best part is that these didn't have flowers or sparkles all over them.  These passed the dude test.

I even got out my paints and painted some of the letters for the spine of the binder.  

Here are a few pictures of the inside of the binder, starting with the cover page.  On the back of the cover page is a lined page where I left my Valentine a special note in place of a sappy card from that greeting card store that starts with an H.  :) 

Yes, I also found some (manly) scrapbooking sheets that you could cut into recipe cards.  Even though he prefers making print-outs, everyone has recipe cards for exchanging.  One never knows when a blank recipe card could come in handy, or if he receives a recipe card now there's a spot to keep them.  I put a sheet of recipe cards at the start of each section/divider.  (There are 8 dividers in this binder.)

And let's face it; cooking can be a messy job.  Who wants stuff all over their cards or print-outs?  I bought a pack of 50 heavyweight sheet protectors (non glare) at Office Max, and the recipe cards fit perfectly into a the [In] Place brand of Heavyweight Assorted photo pages.  These photo pages came in a pack of 10 sheets.

With a binder that will hold 300-some pages, I think he should be set for awhile!  In the process of making his present, I let it slip out that I was making his present when we were talking over the phone, and that made him instantly curious.  He may be humoring me, but I don't think he guessed what I was up to.  :)  And no more loose pages of recipes will be floating around.  Most of all, I had a blast making his present!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Art Supplies and Eating in St. Paul/Minneapolis

“Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.
~Al Hirschfeld"

There's nothing better than taking a road trip to the Twin Cities.  What do I like to do when I get there, you ask?  I like to explore, but I also have a few favorite must-travel-to stores.  For art supply stores my favorite is Wet Paint, located in St.  Paul.  I walked away with two items in the picture above:  A Caran d'Ache gouache watercolor set and a spiral-bound multi-journal book of watercolor/multi-media paper.  As of right now, I don't have any experience using gouache watercolors, but I'm going to learn, and I have a great new journal to experiment in.  I also just liked the colors and thought they'd be useful for other mixed media projects. 

If you're an artist spending some time in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, I definitely recommend you visit this charming little art store.  And I dare you to walk away empty handed.  You can find anything and everything here, and if you have any questions the staff are friendly and quick to help.  Wet Paint has been independently owned and open since 1976 and has a special place in my heart.  (My grand-parents and parents once owned an independent art supplies store.)

On this trip, I also set out to visit a Dick Blick store in Edina.  I walked away with a few fun items: two Pearlescent Liquid Acrylics (Dutch Blue and Hot Mama Red...haha), pens, a bamboo pen and Hake brush.  There was also one other fun item that I found at Dick very mini sushi magnets. 

Aren't they adorable? I already had the mini scottie dogs shown above, so when I saw the tiny little pices of sushi, I had to have them. They even have the rice on the bottom of each magnet. (You can't see that in this picture.) I put them over the little cardboard packet they came in because it's so cute with the chopsticks, wasabi and ginger at the bottom. Mmm...the thought of sushi is making me hungry just typing about it.

I also did get my sushi fix that night.  After my boyfriend finished working, we went to a great Sushi/Chinese buffet called 98 Pounds in Bloomington.  There were quite a few people there at 7:30 PM and the sushi chefs kept the sushi bar fully stocked as people walked away with sushi.  They had a decent selection of different roles as well as your regular sushi with rice.  We had a few good hits of wasabi along the way and definitely did not leave hungry.

For lunch that day, I went to a favorite spot on France Avenue called Q. Cumbers. It's a huge salad bar buffet that has every veggie and add-on you can think of to put ontop of lettuce. They also have a mouth-watering selection soups and other hot items. I had a bowl of Tomato Artichoke soup that was very good! Oh, and don't forget the homemade bread with rosemary butter. I remember visiting Q. Cumbers when I was much younger with my family (probably about 8 or 9 years-old).  With that said, Q. Cumbers has been around for awhile. This reasonably priced buffet is a great healthy alternative to eating fast food.

Now I'm home and exhausted from shopping (and eating, obviously...haha), but I'm inspired to sit down and create with my new goodies this weekend!  Happy creating!

Other posts about Wet Paint: 
My Trip to the Twin Cities & the Saga of the Pentel Pocket Brush

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fleur de Trois

"Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That or a kick-ass red lipstick."
~Gwyneth Paltrow

There's nothing like sitting down and letting it all out on paper.  That's what I allowed myself to do last week.  I turned on my iPod, opened up my home-made journal, picked out a few acrylic paints, gathered a few pens and colored pencils, and sorted through the pile of magazine clippings that I've been collecting.  I let my music take over and quickly forgot all about time.  How did it feel?  It was amazing (and the first real time I've used my craft table since moving to my new apartment last August)!   

Before I started anything, I used a brush and primed my blank pages of my funky homemade journal with Gesso. And although you can't tell from the picture below, I used a sponge stamp for the large fleur de lis on each page, so there is a bit of tack and texture to those areas of the paper.   

Shades of green and a bright red were my choices of colors, and I went crazy and got my fingers and hands all messy.  On the left side, I wanted to mainly collage and play with mixing the beautiful greens.  Adding the bright red color was actually a pleasant after-thought once I glued down the magazine clipping of the lipstick/hand/and number 3.  I used a red acrylic paint on a rubber stamp for the fleur de lis in the upper left-hand corner.  Below is a picture of the left page of my journal.

On the right page of my journal...I wanted to write...write...write.  So I let my iPod take me away and Dido and Nine Inch Nails also helped me purge what I felt about the images I selected.  The fleur de lis turned out great on this page.  If you look close, you might be able to see the tack behind the use of gesso on this side better.  I outlined the fleur with red acrylic paint and used a red marker to journal my thoughts.  I also used a red colored pencil to do some shading on this page.

Yes, it felt great!  As you can see, I love to spread out and just let loose!  And the use of my great new Ott Lite helped me see what I was working on without straining my eyes.  I also worked on the backgrounds for a few ATC Trading cards.  I hope to tackle those in my next upcoming project...stay tuned!  Happy creating!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy this post:

My Homemade Journal - Learn how to make your own very own homemade journal with just a few supplies.  I learned how to make this journal with the help of of a very crafty artist/blogger named Samantha Kira.  I think I made this one for under $5.  Visit my post to see my finished product and to watch Samantha Kira's step-by-step You Tube video.  You may already have some of the supplies at home!