Searching for Letters Abroad

letters-abroad“There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all”  In My Life” – John Lennon

Of late, the Full Moon has been my time of introspection. Urged on by the changing of the seasons, so it was again this month. The feeling of melancholy surrounds me as I see the leaves change colour and begin their spiral dance to the earth. And the progression continues with change as the only constant.

I have mentioned how much the Artistcellar Labyrinth series has inspired my work. Believing in Synchronicity, they came to me just when I needed them most. This time my chosen stencil to work with was Gonzaga. I love the clean straight lines. It would be a superb counterpoint for the elements I collected for the collage.

A new medium for me is the Deco Art Media Crackle Paste. Application is easy and all that is needed is a palette knife and patience to allow for an adequate drying time. I picked a piece of copper metallic writing paper for my substrate. As I spread the paste through the stencil I wondered how it would hold up. Would this technique be its demise? It’s an interesting process to watch. The thickness of application varies the size of the eggshell cracks. And like magic…there they were. I pulled the stencil away from the paper and started my clean-up. I’m happy to report, as with all Artistcellar products, cleaning was easy and the stencil held up beautifully. Quality, quality, quality!

Hearing “In My Life” on the radio brought back so many wonderful memories from a time before email. It’s no secret that I am a passionate lover of the written word. Letters, postcards…anything in the mail is nourishment for my Muse! I relish the anticipation as much as the delivery. Just to see an address in a familiar hand is uplifting. I wanted my theme for the collage to be the art of correspondence.

I admit I find it difficult to meditate. So many ideas, so many images interrupt what should be a place of quiet and wonder. By using the labyrinth as the focal part of my work, I am getting closer to quieting my mind. The Labyrinth pulls together my random thoughts. So the work you see here is an attempt at stream of consciousness meditation, for lack of a better phrase.

It was time to complete the collage. Drawing from my Book of Backgrounds (aka the Strathmore Mixed-Media Visual Journal) I selected other stencil designs I created: Halftone Dots, Seafoam, and Open Works from the Blocks series. Placing the images went smoothly…as if they knew where they should “live”. I allowed myself to feel, and to journey looking back at what once was with a definite optimistic view of the future. I recognize that accepting change is an integral part of the progression.

In my life all these places had their moments. And for that I am grateful.

Shameless Plug: The Labyrinth Series in addition to other works incorporating Artistcellar Stencils will be on show at the Oyster Mill Playhouse, Camp Hill, PA November 4 through November 20, 2016

MATERIALS USED:

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In Finding the Moon

in-finding-the-moon“Don’t think. FEEL! It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!”   Bruce Lee – “Enter The Dragon”

The Artistcellar Labyrinth series holds great inspiration for me. The variety of designs is an encouragement to slow down and listen, and to allow their voice to guide you. Or in the words of Bruce Lee, “Don’t think. FEEL!”

So it was, during the last full Moon, with my Strathmore Journal in hand, that I started my next design. I chose the Anasazi stencil. My heart was telling me it was the right one to use.

I stenciled directly on to the page in my Journal with Dye-Na-Flow Midnight Blue. By drying between applications I was able to produce a dappled effect of varying shades. Once the base was complete I layered lunar inspired colours of metallic acrylic. Warm highlights were added to accent and compliment the cool.

It is wonderful to experience the positive aspects of the full Moon by revising goals and setting intentions. Because of this powerful lunar energy, meditation is encouraged. I find just looking at the Moon introduces calm and stillness to what is usually a frenetic life. Mindfulness is highlighted. It is the perfect time to seek the benefit of walking a Labyrinth.

It was my time to put the work together. I’ve mentioned that I am compiling a great collection of images in my journal and from there I chose a watercolour swatch in shades of indigo. I also selected the Open Work stencil from the new Artistcellar Blocks series.  It has become one of my favourites!

The Bruce Lee Estate recently released a series of his 1968 pocket notebooks.  He filled them in neatly written script noting appointment details, affirmations, and his philosophy on life. They are inspirational. Reading through them, you can’t help but see how his life and work were intertwined…the fluid with the sharp, the public with the personal, and the strong with the sensitive. But above all, he had the power to still the mind and allow his spirit to soar. He found the compliment in opposites.

I kept his quote foremost in thoughts while working and allowed the collage to build itself. I wasn’t thinking of technique but rather was permitting the elements to find their own home. I allowed myself just to feel. When my collage was finished, I knew I had discovered a place of deep stillness. And once there I too did not will miss all that heavenly glory.

MATERIALS USED

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

 

Do You “See”?

DIE GOLDENE MEDINA-WASH DAY“Photography helps people to see.” – Berenice Abbott

Do you “see”? Do you mindfully take time to appreciate the glorious sights that surround you? Do you find similarities in beliefs and dreams reflected where you least expect them?

The incredible photographic work of Berenice Abbott is without a doubt thought-provoking. And while I agree that photography helps you to see, I also think music, literature, painting, printmaking, drawing, and in my case collage, also encourages introspection.

My passion for New York runs deep. While many people find rejuvenation rambling through the countryside, the sound of my heels clicking a staccato rhythm on the sidewalk sets my soul on fire. And if I can’t physically be in New York, Berenice Abbott’s dramatic black and white photos are a passport not only to my hometown, but to another time.

Looking at Abbott’s catalogue housed at New York Public Library, I decided to work with a photo of a Manhattan courtyard on laundry day taken in the 1930’s. The realist in me knows doing laundry in the tenements was a back-breaking job at best. But the romantic in me yearns for the days of seeing clothes strung on a line, the patterns and colours enhanced by the sun and wind.

I knew I needed a background as dramatic as the photo. I chose a handmade scarf completed at a workshop I attended at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. The silk chiffon was accordion folded, secured with wooden blocks, drizzled with reactive dyes and steamed in the microwave to set the colour. It was the first time I tried this technique and I was extremely pleased with the results.

The warm tones of coral, orange and yellow were the perfect framework for the cool palette I chose when using Artistcellar’s Seafoam stencil. The foamy look of the stencil merged perfectly with my wash day theme. And that’s what I love about the Artistcellar products. The only limit to their use is your imagination. With a swash of watercolour, a splash of acrylics and Artistcellar Halftone Dots, my background was nearly complete.

But something was missing. Looking at the patterns formed by the laundry I wondered what stories they had to tell. Life was challenging, but still there was hope. I wondered about the letters sent home to family and friends…some who would be making the journey soon and others would only experience Die Goldene Medina through their eyes. So I added the text in Chinese, Italian, and French.

The Arts are a mirror by which we see a reflection of ourselves and each other. A photo, a painting, a bit of prose they all help us to truly see that hopes and dreams are passions we all share.

MATERIALS USED:

  • ARTISTCELLAR SEAFOAM STENCIL
  • ARTISTCELLAR HALFTONE DOTS SERIES STENCILS
  • 100% SILK CHIFFON SCARF
  • REACTIVE DYES: CORAL, YELLOW, ORANGE
  • WOOD BLOCKS
  • STRING
  • ROYAL LANGNICKEL WATERCOLOURS – FLAT & PEARLESCENT
  • REEVES METALLIC ACRYLIC: GOLD, BRONZE
  • PLAID FOLK ART METALLIC ACRYLICS:ROYAL GOLD, AQUAMARINE, AMETHYST,
    PLUM, ROSE, CHAMPAGNE
  • NATURAL SPONGE
  • FLAT PAINTBRUSH
  • RUBBER CEMENT & ERASER
  • DIGITAL IMAGES

The Golden Land

DIE GOLDENE MEDINA - FROM ITALY“ALL JOURNEYS BEGIN BY LEAVING ONE PLACE TO VENTURE TO ANOTHER.” -Ellis Island

And so began the journey for so many of our ancestors. For me, it’s always all about the story. I am fascinated by the motives behind a person making the decision to depart the land of their birth. What made them head off to begin life afresh in a distant country? Did they ultimately fulfill their dreams? Was the move as successful as they hoped? Given the chance, would they complete the journey again?

Ellis Island was, and is, part of the fabric of our family. So many of the stories passed on to me by my Grandmother certainly were the catalyst of my interest in all things relating to immigration, especially at the turn of the Century.

America. Die Goldene Medina. The Golden Land. A land of opportunity for everyone. A place like no other where every dream, every wish, could and would come true. Looking at the photo of an Italian woman taken as she waited at Ellis Island, I wondered about her story.

I have been using my Strathmore Mixed Media Journal quite a bit lately. With 140lb vellum finish paper that is acid free, it is quite a help in building a portfolio of backgrounds that I can use for future projects.

For this piece, I started with the Artistcellar Seafoam stencil and my water colours. I wanted the overall appearance to be bright and “golden” so I limited the pallet to tints of yellow, magenta and orange. I allowed the pattern of the stencil to dictate where the colours would fall, as well as where to use the flat or pearlescent paints. When dried, I stenciled using one of my all-time favourite Artistcellar products, the Halftone Dots stencil. This time I reached for my metallic acrylics and layered complimentary colours.  Again when dried, I finished the background with my Punchinella and metallic acrylic.

I assembled my images…the photo of the lady from Italy, a postcard of Ellis Island, a map and airship from the Lunagirl Moonbeams collection of collage sheets.  The last element was a clever bit of repurposing: an artist friend sent me a dryer sheet she used to mop up paint. I loved the rough edges of the sheet and the lovely texture. I am a believer in Synchronicity and her generous contribution was flawless! Just the colour I needed to tie everything together. The timing was perfect!

Looking at my finished work, I wondered, did the Italian woman find her “Golden Land”? What became of her life? I hope she did find all she wished for.

I feel fortunate, as I am sure many of you do, to be an Artist. Our work and imagination can take us wherever we wish to travel.  Art allows us the opportunity of self-expression and experimentation. Our Art allows us to venture to our golden land where dreams come true.

MATERIALS USED:

ARTISTCELLAR SEAFOAM STENCIL

ARTISTCELLAR HALFTONE DOTS SERIES STENCILS

STRATHMORE MIXED MEDIA JOURNAL

ROYAL LANGNICKEL WATERCOLOURS – FLAT & PEARLESCENT

REEVES METALLIC ACRYLIC: GOLD, BRONZE

PLAID FOLK ART METALLIC ACRYLICS: ROYAL GOLD, ANTIQUE GOLD, INCA GOLD,  CHAMPAGNE, ROSE SHIMMER,  AQUAMARINE, AMETHYST

NATURAL SPONGE

FLAT PAINTBRUSH

REPURPOSED DRYER SHEET

DIGITAL IMAGES

All On Board the Train!

ALL ON BOARD

Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
They’re taking me to Marrakesh
All on board the train, all on board the train
All on board – Graham Nash

We are in a cycle of dark dreary days filled with rain and humidity. Not the most advantageous to inspire creativity on these late Spring days. I needed an escape!  I wanted the sun! I wanted warmth! I wanted exotic locations! With a bit of imagination and the best tools at my disposal I magically escaped the monotonous and travelled into a world of colour and exploration.

Opening the box from Artistcellar that arrived at my door was like grabbing my passport and getting on board to an exciting journey! Included with the supplies was the CHRIS COZEN – PLAYFUL PODS SERIES stencils. As with all the Artistcellar stencils, they are made to last and perform perfectly with a variety of media. Clean up is quick and easy, leaving the stencil in like-new condition. Lately I have heard a lot about the use of Rubber Cement. It seems to be the “go to” everyone is discussing…from Google+ Communities to Workshop details that land in my Inbox.

I selected the Bodacious Pods stencil from the series. They reminded me so much of Moroccan pouffes…the lovely Ottoman footstools that take lounging to the pinnacle of relaxation.  In my collection is an exquisite image of Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee’s “Leila”, which I purchased on a Digital Collage Sheet. The woman, painted in the Oriental style, at last found a home.

My idea was to give the art a rough, almost sun worn finish similar to the buildings I photographed in Marrakesh. I chose a heavy watercolour paper for the substrate.  I dabbed the rubber cement through the stencil with my fingers…varying the amount from thick to thin, hoping this application would produce a mottled effect when covered with paint.

The rubber cement dried relatively quickly, even for impatient me. As an impulse buy, I recently purchased  pearlescent watercolours. I go weak in the knees for anything with a shimmer, and the selection of colours looked scrumptious. I covered the paper with a wash. I chose all the gorgeous Bohemian colours available on my pallet: Hot Pink, Vermilion Orange, Cyan Blue, Turquoise and Bright Violet! I blended the colours using a tool new to me… The SAKURA KOI WATERBRUSH. If you haven’t tried it you must! The brush is made of flexible nylon fibers that are fed with water from a refillable reservoir. When I was finished blending, the paper was once again set out to dry.

With my fingers and an eraser I removed the rubber cement. The result was as I had hoped…patchy, worn, sun-kissed, with a dazzling shimmer…just as I remember my travels in Morocco.  It would be the perfect home for Leila. I scanned the altered paper and revised the image of the woman. I wanted to keep as much of the paper without further alteration, so I only added Graham Nash’s lyrics…the inspiration for the piece…surrounding her.

Art, I am sure you will agree, can take us to the places as far and as wide as our imagination. With the proper tools at our fingertips we can re-experience the wonders of travels past. Or we can dream of places we’ve yet to see. Either way, won’t you join me? All on board the train, all on board the train!

MATERIALS USED

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

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