Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gell Printing Part 2

In my day job as an art teacher I have been showing my students a few of the You Tube videos from Gelli Arts.  We look for inspiration in so many places and for some of my students I like to use You Tube, in this day and age they all have access to technology and probably watch you Tube but how many of them use it for educational purposes?  I've shown a few of the more recent videos where Joan is using the Catalyst Wedge Tools and my students are fascinated.  I'm generating interest in the gel plates that I ordered to try with my students.  I could only afford 6 plates so we will need to share them.  I'm sure that my students are going to love the process and so do I.  Maybe my enthusiasm for the project is showing and they are catching the vibe.  I still haven't printed anything that I am in love with although I did like the ones that I'm showing above more so than the others.  I'm sure that I will eventually print something that I am happy with but so far feel like such a newbie at the process that I am devouring educational information found on blogs.  I would however recommend purchasing a plate and trying your hand at it.  So fun.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Prim Look Witch

As many of you know who read my blog regularly I like to try new art techniques.  This new pattern incorporates an interest that I've had with mixing media with trying new product.  I used the DecouPage product from Deco Art when I decided to include scrap booking paper in the background of this design.  I also included a number of stencils from both Laurie Speltz and Renee Mullins and love how this turned out.  This is one of those projects that can be used on so many different surfaces.  This pattern should be on the website very soon, I had hoped to have it on before Halloween but as you can see that didn't turn out so better late than never.  When this pattern is published I have included an alternate background that does not incorporate scrap booking paper into it.  Look for it in the next couple of weeks.  The frame is one by, formerly Turns in Time, and I felt that this project needed a frame that was distressed and consequently worked to achieve that.  This frame is made from reclaimed wood and I thought that it would work well for a more prim look for this Halloween design.  I hope that you will love this as much as I do, so far it has been receiving rave reviews from everyone that has viewed it.  Let me know what you think.    

Gelli Arts Printing Plate Part 1

I enjoy an artistic challenge and love to learn new techniques.  I find that when I try something new that may be outside of my comfort zone I take something away that I can use in my own personal art.  Those new challenges make us better artist just through the "experience of it".  The creative activity helps to generate new opportunities that you may have not considered. 

My newest challenge has been in the printing arena and I'm finding that I love it.  If you have been following my blog you know that I have experimented with the media of printing in the past and have cut my own stamps.  My newest interest has been in the area of gel printing and have been following a small company called Gelli Arts for some time now.  I've watched when grow from a start up company to a company that seems to have developed a nice following and is certainly taking the world of gel printing by storm.  I recently took the plunge and purchased one of their gel plates so I could try this fascinating media and have been having a great time.  So far I've thrown out more pieces than I've kept but isn't that part of experiencing a new media and I'm finally ready to share some of what I've done with the plate. 

I've tried many of the techniques that Joan shares on the Gelli Arts Blog and was the very happy winner of one of their give aways this past week and am looking forward to receiving my Princeton Art Catalyst Wedges so I can continue this wonderful new media that I am exploring and I want to thank them for that opportunity. 

I think that if you are a Decorative Painter who is saying, "ok this is cool, but it isn't something that I can wrap my head around to use,"  I think that if you try this you will see that it has so many applications for the Decorative Painting world and I'm working on a new project that will incorporate the printing plate.  Ok, don't worry I will also include the painting instructions in case you aren't quite as enthralled with this new media as I am.  LOL.

If you do the research and are interested in the plates you can purchase the plates, brayer, and Princeton Arts Catalyst Wedges from Dick Blick which is where I purchased mine.  I like one stop shopping and was able to do that through Dick Blick, I recently became a partner with Dick Blick in their affiliate program and you can access the company through my links page on my website.  This link will take you directly to the Dick Blick website.  Google Dick Blick to see if they have any coupons that you can use, they often have unannounced specials in addition to their usual sale flyers.  I was able to save 15% off of my order and that helped pay shipping costs. 

This is my first attempt at the wipe out technique that is currently on the Gelli Arts Blog.  It was very fun, but because I didn't have the tools that Joan has I had to use other household items to smear my paint around and I had mixed results.  I can't wait to try it once I get the wedge tools.  You can see that in the bottom left photo I started by adding texture with bubble wrap as my first layer and went on to use the wipe out technique.  I used my Deco Art paint and in the two samples on the right used glitter paints in addition to my Americana paints.   That worked well and I always print a ghost print which is recommended by Joan on her blog and the print below is the result. 
The sample that you see above was completed by pressing bubble wrap into my paint, lifting that off and pressing a sunburst texture plate into my paint color and printing that.  Next I added orange to my plate and printed using one of those fantastic stencils that I was blogging about earlier this month and printed the orange dots.  This is actually a ghost print because I had too much paint on my plate and my first print didn't turn out well but I liked the ghost print. 
What are your thoughts?  Will you try this technique?  Stay tuned for further posts showing other samples.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Head on over to the Gelli Arts blog to sign up for a very exciting giveaway. If you have not tried their new gell plates for mono printing yet, you really should.  I just got mine and have been playing with it most of the weekend.  I'm not that great with it yet to share anything but have fallen in love with it.  It makes gel printing so incredibly easy,  I purchased the 8"x10".  I'd recommend this size but can see how the larger size would be useful and can see how great the smaller one would be.  This is another tool that I have just fallen in love with.  Head on over and take a look at their blog and watch their videos,  see just how easy it is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Backgrounds and Stencils

Do you remember this background piece that I painted a few weeks ago?  Well I decided to work with it and used the new stencils to alter it pretty significantly.  I think that this will become the background for a card or even to be used in a later project.  I'm going to have to give this some additional thought to see what I decide to do with it.   

What do you think? 

What If I used Stencils in Combination with Background Papers?

The phrase "what if" has been rattling around in the back of my mind for the past few days.  I don't know about you but "what if " thoughts tend to be a part of my life.  What if I had done things differently or what if I'd taken a different path, more often than not those thoughts are filled with relief rather than regret, but in my art life the phrase "what if" takes on a completely different meaning.  What if is usually filled with excitement and anticipation, the what if that accompanies the start of a new project or a light bulb moment.  What if is not a bad statement about my life and it isn't a bad statement where my art is concerned.  I had one of those "what if" moments the other day when I came across background papers that I had worked on a year ago.  I found them in one of my many piles and thought ...HMMMMM!  What if?

I decided to go ahead and put my thoughts into action and began playing around with those background papers. In March 2011 I painted background papers and posted the technique on my blog.  They were a very popular blog post and I've spent the past year thinking what else could I do with them.  I used them for card making and some scrapbooking but I am always thinking of new ways to use an existing project to make it more current.  I thought that I  should take some of those papers that I had made and enhance them.

As many of you know who frequent my blog  I recently did a series of blog posts about using stencils and even invested in some new stencils.  One evening this past week I sat down and thought that I'd play with the new stencils,  and I remembered that stack of background papers and wondered what if I enhanced those.   I picked out one of the nondescript boring papers and thought that I would see what happened.  I began by randomly choosing one of the stencil screens.  I chose the floral stencil, I actually began thinking that I'd design a Christmas themed background but as you can see that didn't happen.

I placed the floral screen onto my nondescript green background paper and used the thinned down acrylics in a spray bottle that I used originally back in 2011, I randomly sprayed primary colors onto the green background.  Because I had used acrylic paint I could easily layer paint colors as long as each layer was dry.  The paint still seemed dull and nondescript.  I obviously needed to find a way to jazz it up a bit and stenciled white flowers over the sprayed stencil.  My next step was to go through some of my paint and find some interesting paints from the Deco Art line.   I decided to use a mix of Metallic, Neon, Glitter and regular paints.   I picked up the sponge and repositioned my stencil over the top of one of the floral areas and sponged blue metallic over the blue sprayed area and a beautiful rich color began to develop.  You will find that this frequently happens when you are working with layered paint colors.  The layering of paint develops a richness and vibrancy that you may not achieve otherwise.   Next I picked up on some red glitter paint on my sponge, repositioned my stencil again and sponged some red glitter paint over the top of the red areas that I had sprayed in the previous application.  Then added red metallic paint randomly to the area.  At that time I wondered "what if"  I picked up some yellow neon and sponged over another one of the stenciled areas and lastly sponged randomly throughout the paper wherever I felt I needed a little ZING.

I don't know about you but I think this piece rivals many scrapbooking papers out there, it was substantially cheaper, and I spruced up a boring nondescript paper.  Now I just need to decide how to use this.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stenciled Box

I had time to paint this weekend! 

Surprising because my dishwasher died, it has been on its last leg for some time and I was hoping to keep it plugging along until after Christmas but we all know about those best laid plans.  LOL.  Appliances donot always cooperate.  Needless to  say my husband I were out shopping for a new dishwasher today.  I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner and I want to have a functioning dishwasher in time for the holiday.  I have to admit that even with help dishes are not my favorite thing to do.  We found one and it was ON SALE.  WaaHoo!!!  Even better!  At any rate when we got home and after I did a few of my weekend household chores I was able to carve out a small amount of time to paint. 

I am painting this adorable heart box for a new pattern that will be available soon.  I wanted it to have a loose background that I showed you last week as I was stenciling.  I'm sure that you can see the Valentine theme that I've used but my goal is not for this to be used just as a holiday project instead that it could be used year round for someone special.  I've added the design elements and have added the Gesso.  I like to have a white background to paint on and use gesso frequently.  It takes a little more time to add but I think that the result is worth it, I like clean crisp paint colors.  You can see how the stenciled background will work with the finished piece. 

This is the first pattern that I am planning to show you as it progresses.  This is something new in my blogging life and am curious as to how you will enjoy it.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Use those stencils.

Ok, so now you have heeded my advise, you've invested in a few good quality useful stencils.   What can you do with them?  Tons!!!!  Note the exclamation marks!!!  Seriously the sky is the limit, they can used on walls, canvas, wood, paper, there isn't a surface around that you can't use a stencil on. 

Twenty years ago my husband and I had just built our current home, we had spent the extra money on solid oak trim for our windows and didn't want to cover them so I stenciled above the windows and used that instead of a valance.  It was cheaper and could easily be changed when I was tired of it.  A friend of mine did a bathroom using the Deco Art Zebra Border stencil with black and pink.  She and her daughter stenciled a wall and added border trim, she showed me a photo of it and it was darling.

Use sections of the stencil to add interest to your background before you begin painting the foreground.  It isn't necessary to use the entire stencil, I like to take portions of a stencil and use only that.  Deco Art has another border stencil called Floral Breeze and the swirls, or as I call them the flourish, is beautiful.  Why not add that to a background with a tone on tone color scheme, it will add interest to your background without being overpowering.  Often we want a plain background but honestly I have found that I like adding a surprise of color, it adds interest and gives your background a hint of texture.  Using your stencil to help layer color gives you a beautiful effect with just the right amount of interest to draw your eye through the entire piece. Or want a dramatic effect?  Try using the compliment of the color that you've used in your background, that should give your painting some drama. 

Another easy way to add texture to a piece is to use a palette knife and smooth texture paste across the surface of the stencil onto your surface, carefully pull the stencil away and you are left with the stenciled image.  Let it dry and paint it as you would the rest of your piece.  This is another great way to add excitement and interest to your background or foreground.  If you want to show swirls to mimic the look of wind blowing in the sky use your stencil/texture paste technique and paint it the same color as the sky and then dry brush a highlight color over the swirl to subtly give the impression of wind.  Gorgeous.  It is simple yet subtle and gives your painting an interesting dimensional feel that is extremely popular right now.  Deco Art carries a fantastic texture paste that I use frequently called Decorating Paste, I used it on a project recently to make fall leaves stand out and I was pleased with the result. 

How about the age old dilemma of whether to use stencil brushes or a sponge?  Honestly it is personal preference and is dependant on the surface.  If I'm stenciling on a small surface and I want the stencil to be subtle then I use a makeup sponge but if I'm stenciling on a wall and I want to show variations in color for shaded areas and highlights then I will use a stencil brush.  Be careful not all stencil brushes are alike and I would recommend that you invest in a good quality stencil brush, do your research and see which one would work well for you.  I frequently use my stencil brushes for purposes other than stenciling, they are amazing for dry brushing. 

I hope this helps you feel confident and comfortable to give stencils a good old college try. 

Stencils used in a Background

Here is a project that I am currently working on and will be available as a pattern in the near future.  You can see how I've used my background colors and stencils to design the background for this box.  I think this would be lovely on its own but naturally I have more to add to it.  The background for this box is finished for now.  I'll add the design to the box lid and then will decided if I think that anything more needs to be added.  I love how the random look in the background will enhance the design that I have planned to put on it and it literally took me a couple of hours from start to finish to get it to this point and that includes prepping the box and sanding it.  In my opinion that is quick and easy. 

I'm curious to see if any of you use stencils in creative and unique ways.  

I love this wooden box, you can purchase this box from This company was formerly Turns in Time and they produce a wonderful made in America product.  Check them out on their website.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stencils that I use in my Painting

As I stated before I like to purchase tools that make my job as an artist easier and allow me to be more efficient and in the process more creative.  I love all types of art tools, paint brushes, different paints, different mediums, and love to learn new techniques.  You can see that on my blog and website just by the paint brushes that I carry.  I like to have my tools easily accessible and of a quality that I'm satisfied with the result after using them.  Stencils are one of those tools that I find to be extremely useful and allow me the consistent result that I strive for.

Staedtler is another company that produces a great quality stencil or as they prefer to call them a template tool.  These were designed as a drawing aid but work brilliantly as a stencil.  I particularly like the sizes that are in descending order and find that the variety of sizes and shapes that are available make them a very versatile tool, even if you don't want to use them as stencils they are invaluable in drawing basic shapes.  I have larger sized oval and circle templates that I use often as well.  Take a look at these as a good general tool in your design and art work.  I will say that these tend to be slightly more expensive than a stencil and that can be hard to justify, when you are on a budget, which many of us are.   However they wear like iron because they are a hard plastic that will be dependable whether you are using them with paint or as a template drawing tool. 

These can be purchased at many art/business supply stores.  Dick Blick carries a wonderful selection, I've ordered from Dick Blick as an art teacher and as an artist and I can guarantee that they are easy to work with and stand behind their product. 

Staedtler is not the only company that produces this type of product, take a look at these as a tool that you might want to add to your collection.  I assure you that you won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tools of the Painting Trade

Whenever the topic of stencils comes up it seems to generate strong feelings.  I personally love stencils and use them frequently in many of my designs, stencils are a quick and easy way to develop a background or add interesting detail.  In just a few minutes an artist can add stars to a sky or to a Santa's coat and it requires very little skill.  Anytime that I can use a tool that makes my job easier I'm all for it, whether it is around my house or as an artist.  You can see in this photo the stars on this Santa's coat which were all done using a stencil and it literally took me moments.  This pattern is called First Star of Christmas and is available on my website as both a paper pattern and as an e-pattern. 

I have a decent collection of stencils and have a few that I seem to use more often than others probably because they are of very high quality and produce a consistent image.  I also have a number of newer ones that I recently used in a soon to be released Halloween design that I purchased from Renee Mullins. Bat Night, Candy Corn, and Spooky Words, all of which were excellent stencils and were a great size to be easy to use on any surface.  They are 8.5" X 5.5" which is smaller than many stencils but made them very easy and comfortable to use.  Another fantastic stencil that I've used is made by Laurie Speltz  Laurie started developing a line of stencils many years ago which she called base coat stencils, made in layers so that you could start with the base coat and move through to adding details.  They were wildly popular with anyone painting for shows and were a brilliant idea.  I've also used a number of her stencils and can attest to the fact that they are another quality stencil product. 

Typically when I purchase a stencil I have a specific use in mind but just recently decided that I needed generic stencils that I can use at any time in the foreground or background.  I only recently discovered these stencils and just received them in the mail as of yet I haven't had a chance to use them but am looking forward to trying them out.  I've ordered an interesting assortment and really can't wait to use them on a future project. 

Do any of you know of any interesting stencils?  I'd love to hear of different brands that I haven't tried yet.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

#2 in Background Papers 2012

When I sat down to paint these background papers I didn't really have a goal in mind other than to just spend some time playing with paint.  Remember that "play" from my last post.  I added a number of random paint colors to my palette and just started laying down color, making sure to allow each layer to dry before continuing on to the next, in fact I painted this in a mass production format.  I laid out 5 papers and walked around the table adding various colors to each paper.  All I used was inexpensive computer paper and my acrylic paints.  As I got to this one I decided that I wanted the background to have more of a mottled look to it and triple loaded my brush with various shades of blue and just started slip slapping my brush out onto the paper, then thought that I'd dab bits of white and pink in a random manner and voila this is what came about.  I actually really liked this one and thought that the paint colors were very sweet and reminded me of babies.  Maybe it would be great for a baby scrapbook page or a card. 

I laughed when I was scanning these that out of the five I only scanned three to post, in fact I was pretty happy with that.  I only had to throw away two of them, often I throw away all of them.  LOL.  The point I'm making is that this is an exercise in creativity, not intended to produce great works of art, if it does then great but if not then they are round filed.  These may end up having additional paint added on to them before I ever use them but for now I'm holding onto them for future use.   

How many of you have some wonderful activity that you use to help you when you are experiencing a creative block or to just get the creative juices flowing?  I'd love to hear the techniques that you all use.  Wouldn't that be a great topic of conversation?  Leave me a comment and lets see if we can give each other new ideas and techniques to use.