I spent the evening working on my Artist Trading Cards. I haven’t participated in our local group’s monthly trades in a while – my schedule just hasn’t relented – but I made a conscious effort this evening to go through some of my materials and put some work together. It only took a few hours and was a great creative energizer. I have some new ideas for my other works in progress.
Artist Trading Cards are small works on paper. They are only 3×4″ big. The size restriction causes you to really plot out what you’re doing. A friend of mine who is always used to working big says that this is a challenge for her. The work I’m currently doing is on the small side at only 8×10″ so I’m a little more accustomed to the restrictive nature of it.
I also take a mixed media approach to this project, and it’s very similar to my last entry about using vintage children’s books and illustrations. For these cards, I used pen and ink illustrations from a vintage book of Adventure Stories for Girls from 1955. Reading through the stories is hilarious – and a little nostalgic. I sometimes wish we could all be that naive again. Inside I found some of the most perfect illustrations for the spooky Hallowe’en theme. I added some of my own illustrations in coloured marker, and gave the cards cheeky titles, like: “What’s That MacBeth Recipe Again?”
Hallowe’en is simply my favourite holiday of the year. Pumpkins, cats, witches, bats… seriously creativity just waiting to be had!
I love going through vintage children’s books for papers to use in print making and multimedia. I found a Golden Book Encyclopedia from the 1950s with some terrific illustrations for my constellation theme.
I started off with my silhouette painted in India ink. I was going to leave it as is but the more I watched the painting, the more it spoke to me. It wanted more.
So I took out some embroidery floss and created some French knots in the paper to act as stars. I’ve never done embroidery on paper before, but I’ve always wanted to try it. I enjoy regular embroidery on cloth so why not spread my wings a little?
Art is fluid – changing. The piece started out simple, and I may have been content to leave it so. Perhaps on another piece, I may be more minimal. One thing I’m learning as an emerging artist is that I have to listen to my intuition when it speaks. It’s usually right.
In January of this year, I taught myself to crochet. I had some vague notions of how, and had made minor attempts before, but I decided that I was going to pick up the craft with seriousness. One of my dear friends works at a yarn boutique in Ottawa, Ontario, and I made my first very expensive yarn purchase and followed some online videos to successfully knit myself a cowl.
I use crochet to reward myself for, or distract myself from, painting. In a previous post, I mentioned that I spent the evening making soap in order to get some creativity stirring. Last night, I finished crocheting these little cacti for a friend, knowing that today I was going to be working hard on a painting. Maybe I have a sort of creative attention deficit disorder, and can only focus on one creative endeavour for only a particular length of time before having to switch things up.
It makes sense, in a way, doesn’t it? I know so many artists and makers who can dedicate themselves to creating beautiful pottery, or lovely jewelry, or gorgeous fused glass. But I like doing all three and why should I choose? Why can’t I dabble in a little bit of everything – hopping from lily pad to lily pad – making each pond a little lovelier with a different craft, a different medium, each time.
It’s quite rare indeed that at the ebbing of October, one can spread a quilt on the ground in the afternoon and enjoy the day with some soft pastels and an easel. After about three hours, I finished my latest constellation series painting, titled Perseus and Andromeda, and was finding the cold beginning to stiffen my fingers. But it was hard to ignore just how beautiful it was to be able to enjoy creating art in the fresh air. Even though my subject matter wasn’t something in my environment, there is something in the crisp air that heightens one’s creativity.
I’m at the beginning of a new Constellation painting: Perseus & Andromeda. I see them as dancing an Argentine Tango. Sharp, controlled, sexy. I like that the subjects in my paintings – when people – have an unreadable expression. It’s impossible to tell what they’re thinking, so it’s up to the viewer to interpret. It means there’s a sort of silent partner in this dance.
I always block my colours in this way, then blend. Sometimes I’ll put in some detail to give myself a direction – but according to highly academic pastel artists, this is methodologically incorrect. Unfortunately, it’s a rule I have to break. I need to place some detail to act as an anchor. Oftentimes I’ll go back and change it, but it gives me a starting point. And we all need to start somewhere.
Sometimes I need to mix up the creative things I do to gain a different perspective in order to finish work on an art project. I’m currently working on a piece for my Constellation Series; however, coming home tonight I felt a little depleted of creative energies. I decided to do one of my quick but favourite crafts: soap making.
I suppose one could say I’m self-taught in the art of soap making. I’ve done a bit of trial and error, and have developed a recipe that I love. Pictured above is my Calendula Soap. I grew calendula flowers this year, and made oil from their blossoms. Calendula is so incredibly good for the skin. I have a salve made with it and it heals cuts, scrapes, burns, rashes and the like in scant days. While this soap is made with what some may call the “sissy method” – I don’t use lye, but prefer to buy premade melt-and-pour blocks of soap and put in my additives according to how I like it – it’s the best soap I’ve found yet!
I find the simple activity of mixing the oil, the dried petals, the melting soap base, such a meditative act. And it’s creative therapy that lifts me back onto the path of being a maker again, and that sets me right with the mindset that I need to have in order to paint. And that’s where I need to be.