Learning To Be True

the-last-letter-janis“You can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow.” – Janis Joplin

I was just a kid, making my bed and listening to the radio on a Saturday morning. The opening notes of a song caught my ear, but it was when I heard the raspy, passion filled voice, I knew I was experiencing something exceptional. At the time I didn’t know who was singing, and I didn’t know the name of the song. But the vocalists’ raw emotion, the way she held a note…releasing it at just the perfect moment…captivated me.  The song was “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company. The mesmeric voice belonged to Janis Joplin. The memory of the first time I heard her sing will forever stay with me.

We all know her story…leaving Port Arthur, Texas to discover who she was as a woman and an artist, of her addictions and her need for pushing the limits of her rock-and-roll lifestyle.  But rather than dwell on the tragic I want to celebrate all that was triumphant.

As a confirmed letter writer myself, I loved reading Janis’ correspondence to friends and family. This Janis is the one that inspired me through my awkward (are they ever anything but!) teens and into my twenties. Janis kicked open the door for women in the arts. She showed us anything is possible if we follow our dreams to our authentic self. Her drive to succeed on her own terms…caressing the vulnerable and the beautiful…lead to many mishaps but also to great discoveries.

The quote is a favourite of mine. Before words like “mindfulness” became part of the lexicon, Janis was already a believer. As I’ve recently been working with the wonderful Artistcellar Labyrinth series, my heart and my work have found a brilliant resting place in being fully present and not destroying my “now”.

The newest member of the Artistcellar family is Blocks. I couldn’t wait to start creating! The variety within the four piece set is excellent. I was especially drawn to the Open Work and Cross T designs. I wanted to give my work a 1960’s vibe so I chose to stencil with the colours of the era: hot pink, purple, acid green. It was fun to dab my acrylics through the stencil and see the combinations. I even stenciled a single colour knowing I could add it to my art. As with all of the Artistcellar products, clean up was a snap leaving the stencils in perfect condition.

I enjoyed building the collage. I wanted to give the work a vintage feel and started with a tintype background. I added the layers including the stenciled images, newspaper clippings, date stamps, painted dryer sheets, and finally the image of Janis. I chose this particular photo because she looked fearless, happy and ready to take on her next adventure.

It is easy to be drawn to the heart-rending story of a creative who died before their time. But if there is one thing I’ve gained from following Janis’ much too short career it is this: Be true to yourself, as a woman and an artist, and you will find authenticity waiting to be discovered in that special piece of your heart.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR STENCILS: BLOCKS – Open Work, Cross T
  • PLAID FOLKART METALLIC ACRYLICS: Aquamarine, Champaign, Antique Gold, Amethyst, Plum, Rose Shimmer, Metallic Rose, Emerald Green, Peridot, Blue Topaz
  • PLAID ACRYLICS: Sunflower, Brilliant Pure Orange
  • REEVES ACRYLICS: Rose Red
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS
  • STRATHMORE Mixed-Media Visual Journal 300 Series- 5.5″ x 8.5″
  • DIGITAL IMAGES – Purchased & Created
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Bringing Power To Your Life

travel-brings-power-labyrinth“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” – Rumi

TRAVEL: To go from one place to another, as on a trip; journey.

From the time I was a child the word “travel” was the genesis of my wanderlust. I couldn’t walk past a travel agency without stopping to look into their store window. Gazing at posters showing incredible scenes of cities that seemed so far away only fed my desire to travel.  I wanted to learn about the lives of the people depicted in those posters. I wanted to see for myself the towns and cities that looked so enticing even when viewed through a plate-glass window. I wanted to put pins in a map of all the places visited.  I knew I was destined to live a nomadic life.

And I have been lucky. I have visited almost all of the places that sparked my interest. And I found when traveling my journey enriched not only my physical but my spiritual life as well.  And this is why I am in love with the beautifully crafted Artistcellar Labyrinth series. Let me tell you about the journey I wandered in creating this collage.

Starting with my Strathmore Journal, I covered a page with Dye-Na-Flow Midnight Blue fabric paint using a 1” foam poly brush. While still wet, I splashed on Dye-Na-Flow Magenta followed by dripping rubbing alcohol into the wet die. As the page dried a soft floral pattern emerged.

Although I liked the effect, I wanted to see how the dye would react on Mineral Paper. But this time I drizzled on a bit of rubber cement before coating the paper.  The beauty of Mineral Paper didn’t disappoint! I liked the way the resist seemed to flow with the dye one enhancing the other. Although the technique was the same, I now had two distinct looks. Where my journal paper produced a soft velvet effect, the mineral paper was watery and wonderful. Looking at the backgrounds, I couldn’t decide. Which one should I use in the final work?  As the saying goes “You can never have too much of a good thing”, so opted to use both.

In my last collage I featured the Chartres stencil. This time I knew Crete was the one to use and stenciled directly on to the page in my Journal beginning with Viva Decor Inka Gold. I liked the effect I got the last time I used this product and polished it when dry with a soft cloth. It then became a wonderful base for shades of Silver, Gold, and Rose Red acrylics. The final element added was a vintage map.

Just working with the Labyrinths allowed me to recall so many memories of my travels. I believe travel empowers you to wander with purpose and explore the passions that drive you. Travel does more than include the physical movement from one place to another. Travel also resurrects the desire to explore within and find love and serenity in just being present.

MATERIALS USED

PLAID FOLKART METALLIC ACRYLICS: Rose

REEVES ACRYLICS: Silver, Gold, Rose Red

DYE-NA-FLO: Turquoise, Midnight Blue, Magenta, Sun Yellow

VIVA INKA GOLD GLOSS PAINT

NATURAL SPONGE

SOFT CLOTH

1” FOAM POLY BRUSH

RUBBING ALCOHOL

RUBBER CEMENT

MINERAL PAPER

STRATHMORE Mixed-Media Visual Journal 300 Series- 5.5″ x 8.5″

LABYRINTH SERIES STENCILS FROM ARTISTCELLAR

DIGITAL IMAGES – Purchased & Created

Walking The Labyrinth

WALKING THE LABYRINTH 6 x 6

“Say not, ‘I have found the Path of the Soul’. Say rather “I have met the soul upon my Path’”-Kahlil Gibran

Have you ever walked a Labyrinth? Have you thought about it, but perhaps don’t have one near enough to easily visit? If that’s the case, new addition to the Artistcellar stencil collection is for you!

Unlike a maze with twists and turns designed to challenge the walker with the possibility of misdirection, think of a Labyrinth as an empathetic guide. Regardless of design, the winding paths all lead to a single point. The objective of a maze is to reach the center. The objective of a Labyrinth is to reach your center.

Labyrinths embody the saying “It’s all about the Journey”. Not aligned to any specific religious tradition, the beauty of walking a Labyrinth is its ability to slow you down and allow you the opportunity to seek comfort and wholeness for your soul.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful Labyrinth at the Unity Church of Harrisburg. Built in 2007 it is of a medieval or Chartres design. I have walked it and continued my journey in their Peace Garden, always leaving relaxed and renewed. This is the reason why I was delighted to receive the new Artistcellar Labyrinth stencil series…and so happy to see the Chartres design is included. And as with so many things in life, it came at just the right time.

This Summer has been a whirl of activity…some wonderful experiences and others less so. But one thing is certain. I need to slow down, to regroup, and to revive. Having the stencil in my hands was the first step in the right direction.

My Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal has become my “go-to” at the moment. I like the size and quality of the paper. The Chartres stencil was a perfect fit on the page. My stenciling efforts are now part of a growing collection of images ready and easy to use.

I had a general idea of the elements I wanted to include in my final design. Looking through my box of acrylics I chose colours in the purple family: Amethyst and Plum and gold for an accent. I wanted a slightly worn feel, so I began stenciling with a natural sponge. Although the colours complimented each other, and I liked the texture, something didn’t feel “right” about it.

After cleaning the stencil I went back to the box of acrylics to choose shades of green: Aquamarine and Blue Topaz. And suddenly everything fell into place. The texture and colours worked just as I imagined. I added further highlights of sunflower and Viva Inka Gold which I burnished with a soft cloth to a brilliant sheen. To complete my image, I placed it on a background mixing the sense of earth and a sky sprayed with stars.

And there it was…the Labyrinth just as I envisioned it. A sensation of well-being washed over me, just as it does when physically walking the winding path. Still, one aspect of the work puzzled me. I’m normally not a great lover of shades of green and usually don’t feature it in my art. But here it worked. And thinking it over, a thought came to mind: The Heart Chakra. Of course…just working with the Labyrinth stencil guided me to reach my center. And there I placed a Heart Chakra symbol.

I have read of the use of “Finger Labyrinths” for meditation. After creating with the Artistcellar stencil I firmly believe it works. I would like to share this with you. Please feel free to download my art and walk the Labyrinth with me.

And why not try your hand using the new stencil series in your own art? As with all Artistcellar products, the quality of the stencils opens the door to creativity for years to come.

Will you walk the winding Path to find your center? I’d love to hear about your adventures.

MATERIALS USED

PLAID FOLKART METALLIC ACRYLICS: Aquamarine, Blue Topaz, Champaign, Antique Gold, Amethyst, Plum

PLAID ACRYLICS: Sunflower

VIVA INKA GOLD GLOSS PAINT

NATURAL SPONGE

SOFT CLOTH

STRATHMORE Mixed-Media Visual Journal 300 Series- 5.5″ x 8.5″

DIGITAL IMAGES – Purchased & Created

 

Are You A Canvas?

MID CENTURY MODERN DREAM“Fashion is Art and You are the Canvas!” – Velvet Paper

Fashion truly is Art! From Haute Couture to Prêt-à-Porter the designer escorts us through their passionate journey.  Colour, form, and pattern: our shared tools of the trade inspire them to make their concepts tangible. And how heartening it is to be wrapped in someone’s dream!

When my Artistcellar box arrived in the mail I couldn’t wait to experiment with the Marked Series Stencils. With circles, X’s, and an interlocked ladder the graphic feel made me think of Mid-Century Modern art and interior design. And I was in luck: my Artistcellar treasure trove also contained Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink Ink Spray and Dina Wakley Lemon and Lime acrylics. The stencil pattern and my acrylic colours were perfect for taking me back to the time of Bakelite telephones and the Camel cigarette man wafting smoke rings across Times Square from his billboard.

I wanted to start with the background. I went to a new page in my Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal. The ladder stencil and Dina’s Lemon acrylic came first. Slowly, I built up the layers using each stencil in the collection and a variety of acrylics. Then came time to throw caution to the wind! I grabbed my Dylusion Bubble Gum Pink ink and sprayed away. I loved the hot pink colour, mopped up a bit with my sponge and pushed it through the stencil. I really was pleased with the effect and will be adding it to my favored techniques. I completed the background with Punchinella, Artistcellar Halftone Dots Stencils and metallic acrylic.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the fact that the Artistcellar stencils hold up to anything I throw at, or push through them. Clean up leaves them in perfect condition ready for my next project.

Now that I had my background ready, and my colours were just as vibrant as they were wet, I knew the focal point needed to be just as bold. I am a great fan of black and white fashion photography of the 1950’s. I chose a photo of a woman, head titled back, with eyes slightly closed. What was she dreaming about… Perhaps a great adventure? And who would accompany her? And most of all, what clothing would she pack! I thought of the Bakelite phone…and the phone book she would peruse. To the left of the work you will see a page which I infused with bee’s wax.

This is what I love about Art. We have countless ways to express what comes from deep within us. With so many tools at our disposal we are only limited by our imaginations. By sharing what is essential to us we give it life, and hopefully nurture the spark in others.

So the next time you put on that favourite piece of clothing, just think…you are the canvas helping to make a designers soul immortal!

MATERIALS USED:

Shall I Tell You About My Life?

MAN OF THE WORLD

“Shall I tell you about my life
They say I’m a man of the world…” – Peter Green 

How do you share your deepest feelings? Do you ever use your Art to tell someone about your Life?

June’s Lunagirl Moonbeam challenge is all about Fathers and Brothers. As with all Lunagirl Collage Sheets, sometimes it is difficult to settle on just one image. But for me, the J. C. Leyendecker image from the “SharpDressed Man” sheet whisked me away on my journey. It was easy finding just the perfect complimenting backdrop…the Lunagirl Maps Sheet. I loved the look of the map…like an open book.

Who could this man be? What was he reading? Why does he look so serious? Could he be planning a great adventure or contemplating voyages of the past?

Working on the piece my thoughts were drawn to an early Fleetwood Mac tune, written by Peter Green in 1969. A melancholy song, it is about a man who has everything he desires except the true love of a partner. At the time Peter was fighting his own demons. And, as is the case with many artists, he let us witness a glimpse of his struggle by opening his heart through his work.

Supporting the digital aspect of the collage is a selection of stencilled conventional elements from my collection. As it is an introspective piece I added the Moon…the symbol of the soul, the capacity for reflection and renewal and the cadence of time.

Do you ever open your Book of Life sharing with us your voyages of the soul? Does your Art allow us a fleeting glimpse of your world?

Your Story Lives Across The Stars

THE STAR

The Self Is Born in the Stars – Carl Jung

I’ve always been interested in Tarot. The cards intrigue me…not so much as a tool for fortune-telling, but more of a way of discovering what is happening in the present and how it can shape the future. I am by no means an experienced reader. But I do find comfort in handling the cards and finding my part of the story of the symbols.

As with many of us, my life has been quite hectic of late. And I find time seems to be moving at an accelerated rate.  I’ve been told that life gives you what you need if you are receptive. And what I need is time to stop and reflect.

Looking through my collection of Tarot cards, I was drawn to The Star card. Stars are visible in the Universe because of the cradle of darkness. So too, we shine when we have been through a difficult time and come through with strength and faith in ourselves.  I decided to use the card as the basis for my work using the Artistcellar stencils.

The Star Card is aligned to the Crown Chakra. I started the collage using Prismacolor pencils on rough drawing paper and the Crown Chakra stencil. When finished I built the collage around the stencil drawing. The vintage images of the Marseilles Tarot, the palmistry hand, and the night sky fell into place.

I can’t get away from the Mineral paper. It is wonderfully adaptable to any media. My acrylic paint using the Halftone Dots stencils stayed as vibrant dried as they did wet. The Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic kept their incredible shimmer, which is sometimes lost on other substrates. If you haven’t tried this paper…you must! The results are delicious!

It has been a brilliant education getting familiar with all the products Artistcellar has on offer. I have tried techniques that are new to me, and hopefully will stir your interest as well.  This brings me back to The Star card.

The card is one of personal transformation, new ideas, and opportunities. The thirst for new journeys can be of a physical or spiritual nature.  But above all The Star encourages you to have faith and believe in yourself.

And what better way to be true to yourself than to write your own story across the sky?

MATERIALS:

Artistcellar Halftone Dots Series Stencils

Artistcellar Stencils: Pocket Stencils – CHAKRAS – Crown

Hand cut stencils

Mineral Paper

Vintage Images Tarot Card, Palmistry

Drawing paper

Prismacolor Coloured Pencils

The Best Things In Life!

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE

Lovelier than a thousand kisses,

Smoother than muscatel wine.

Coffee, I must have coffee,

And if anyone wants to give me a treat,

Ah! just give me some coffee!

The Coffee Cantata J.S. Bach

Coffee. Or as we say where I come from, “cawffee” is more than just a morning ritual. Its intoxicating scent eases you into the start of the day. Rich and bold, it is a relaxing conclusion to the evening. It warms you up on a cold day or cools you down in a variety of disguises from iced to ice cream. It’s an excuse to meet and share time with friends. No matter how or where it is served, I love it!

Working on my next collage using the wonderful Artistcellar Halftone Dots stencils I moved on to my next new love: Mineral Paper. Sleek and smooth, made from rocks, I couldn’t wait to try it out with a variety of media. It took the acrylic paint I stenciled on like a dream. No buckling or wrinkling. I was left with a wonderfully smooth, flat surface.

But would the mineral paper hold up to something a more liquid? I reached for my ever-present cup of coffee. I covered the sheet with a general wash. While drying, I sprinkled on both wet grounds and instant granules. The page performed just as described by the Yasutomo Company. No bending. No warping. Just a flat surface – as pristine as when removed from the pack.

I loved the way the paper responds to wet media, but I wanted to try just one more effect. When dry I spritzed the sheet in several areas with my spray water bottle. The mottled look was just what I was after. Again, when dry the Mineral Paper remained flat, smooth and ready to be scanned.

Of late I’ve been in a ‘50’s kind of mindset. I decided to add the image of the surprised woman. But what could she be thinking? Did she just make a fantastic discovery? Of course! It has to be the best things in life.  And what could be better than a reassuring rotation of Art, Sleep and our Daily Brew? Who wants to join me?

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