Tag Archives: Art

CHA 2012 – Vintaj Demos Melt Art and How to Alter and Patina their Metal

This is a fun demo where we see Jess emboss metal shapes to get an impression. She shows how to add rich coloring to them with lots of depth. Next she shows how to relief the metal so some of it shows through the color. And finally, she demonstrates melt art with a melting pot to give the metal an amazing shiny covering, or a thick raised matte finish.

What I Learned at Flora Bowley’s Bloom True Workshop

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A couple weekends ago I went to Berkeley to experience the very thing I recently wrote about many of you experiencing as you try to figure out how to actually implement the design principles as you learn them. You know that middle ground where you logically know a concept, like design principles, but the actual implementation part is still difficult?

It doesn’t matter that for the past five years I’ve helped students in school to identify how the greatest masters of art used design in their work. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been using design principles, myself, and teaching them to scrapbookers for almost as long. I felt like many of you when I was at Flora Bowley’s art workshop, but it was a beautiful and enriching experience that I’m so excited to share with you!

I’ve had very little experience with composition and design when it comes painting, where you create every aspect of the piece yourself. With photography, the subjects are already there and it’s just a matter of arranging them through your choice of angles. With scrapbooking, the main subjects are almost always the photos themselves, and even the other pieces usually come pre-designed.

It was good to put myself back into a situation of remembering the fears you must ignore when you understand a concept in your head, but don’t have experience with the actual implementation. The best opportunities for growth come by trying new things, and Flora Bowley and the girls at the Teahouse Studio made it such an awesome and wonderful experience!

Flora Bowley

Here are a few of Flora’s recent paintings…



flora bowley 3

I love Flora’s art. Her art itself is one of the main reasons I wanted to take a class from her. But in reading about her, and in taking her two-day workshop, I found that her painting process and her teaching methods are phenomenal, no matter what your tastes in art are.

Fine Art vs. Folk Art

By definition, folk art has a purpose, whereas fine art is for the sake of the art itself. Scrapbooking is folk art. It’s purpose is personal story-telling or memory-keeping. In scrapbooking I emphasize one thing: know your story before you start. That way your design and supply choices can help you tell your story visually. This makes sense for a scrapbooker.

Painting is fine art. The artist doesn’t have to have a story or direction at the beginning, or even at the end. So in that way, Flora’s process is opposite of how I scrapbook. With Flora’s process, the point at the beginning is to get all kinds of color, texture, line-quality, shapes, lots of variation, on the canvas. In this stage there is no unity, no focal point, no visual path, no regard for where you will go with the painting. You don’t worry about what your painting is going to look like in the end, or whether you have a point or purpose with the piece. It’s very freeing!

In many ways, it’s like art journaling over and over again in multiple layers on a canvas — on the same canvas. You just keep playing and layering. As you do so, you discover techniques, textures, designs, and color combinations you like. You let those things be your inspiration for your painting as you continue to layer.

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In Flora’s words:

  • Let go of expectations.
  • Focus on the process, not the final piece.
  • Allow the painting to emerge naturally through your own process of discovery.
  • Trust yourself.

Even though I believe in identifying our stories at the beginning of scrapbooking, Flora’s philosophy resonates with my philosophy of focusing on building your foundation before thinking ahead to the detailing of the embellishments: trust your foundation — the placement of your photos and the creation of lines through the anchoring pieces, and then you will have natural homes for the embellishments to come later.

I’m so used to working with my focal point first, though, that I was constantly thinking ahead to how my first stage might effect the end result, and after floundering, I finally found that Flora was right when it came to the painting — with her process, thinking too far ahead is disabling. Once I let go of that desire to plan ahead, it all came together in the most magical way!

Here’s the crazy beginning stage I had on one of my canvases, along with my attempts to plan for the end result.

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By the end of the two days, I was nowhere near finished and I didn’t have a clue where I was going with this painting. Flora gave us a few last seconds to do something big on the canvas so I grabbed a brush, put some blue color on it and swiped it back and forth about five times. And then I thought, “Uggh!”

In-progress painting 4105

But I did what Flora teaches: I put it away for the night and the next morning I pulled it out so I could find something — even if it was just one thing — that I liked.

Identify What You Like. Find the Image In the Clouds

And I did find something I liked. It was the top few inches of part the canvas!

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When you identify something you like on the canvas, your task is to do more of that. So I knew that would be my direction as I continued to add and layer.

Flora also says to step back and look for accidental images — much like how we see images in the clouds. As I was looking at my painting, I found this…

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Doesn’t that look like a dove? It did to me.

After I got my painting home I worked with those two things: the top three inches and the dove, and started working with them to bring them out around my painting. I was timid at first, afraid to touch the dove. In fact, I toyed with letting it become a tropical fish, because I was afraid to give her a beak or change her coloring to bring more of her out! You can probably see how thinking of her as a fish influenced the other things on my painting. Do you see any octopi that grew out of my subconscious…?

In-progress painting 4104

But ultimately I knew I wanted a dove and not a fish. So I stepped up and added darker blue + white to bring her out. I’m so glad I did!
My painting is starting to come together

I also thought back to some crazy awesome flowers I found walking around town in Berkley. I took a picture on my iPhone for future inspiration, but didn’t actually refer back to the picture when making my own. I didn’t need them to be exact replicas.

I’m not quite done with the painting, though it’s getting closer. I will be “spiraling in,” as Flora teaches, to work with abandon to achieve more of that accidental goodness that results, and I’ll be “spiraling out” to work more thoughtfully to bring balance and more unity to the painting so the eye moves around it in a more purposeful way until it feels finished.

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Experiment To Find the Painting

So basically, Flora’s process is to experiment (and she teaches lots of techniques to try as you experiment) on your canvas, all the while identifying what you like and finding the images that show up by accident (or adding your own in if you don’t come across any accidental ones). As you continue to add layers, you can leave windows into the earlier layers.

The awesome thing about this workshop is that it works for any level of painter. I think there were more beginners in our class than there were experienced ones. I’m a beginner and I loved this free-form process! I plan to take her workshop again, and if you have any interest in art and paint I recommend you try it! She is such a great teacher and her paint process is accessible and so much fun! She travels around, so here is her schedule.

Teahouse Studio

I can’t leave out the experience of taking a workshop at the Teahuse Studio, itself. Steph, Mati, and Tiffany of the studio were awesome hosts. They made us all feel comfortable and welcome, like friends. They accommodated my vegan diet and provided us with amazing catered lunches that were fresh and delicious! They made it easy to find a hotel within walking distance. There is a Dick Blick brick-and-mortar just down the street!

Teahouse Studio hosts regular artful workshops on writing, crafting, photography, and other topics. So if you can see yourself venturing into Berkeley (it’s a fun place to visit) you should check out the schedule! There are some fun workshops coming up!

Have you ventured out of your comfort zone recently? I can’t think of a better way to enhance your creativity and enliven your soul than to try something new!

How to Develop Ideas and Art from Observations

My Hand-painted Lamp

I had this ugly, plain boring lampshade and I just painted what I call, “Abundance Circles,” onto it.

Scrapbook Albums and Pages

How to Get Ideas: Observe and Experiment

The idea came from this doodling on a receipt in my car…

Doodles that led to Abundance Trees

Doodling the random things that catch your eye can lead you to lots of different ideas later — especially if you keep your doodles together some place. I keep mine in my scrap journal and my sketch book.

The doodle started when I was pulling out of a parking space, and an unusual pedestrian path caught my eye. I grabbed a receipt and sketched it on the far left, and then I had a spontaneous desire to add the circles and make it a tree. I was feeling whimsical.

I liked the tree top, but not the trunk, so I tried again on the right side of the receipt. And you can see that two days later I tried again a third time and was really happy with the results. I made a note that the tree top felt like abundance to me. Later when I flipped through my book and saw it, I added a note saying I was calling my tree an Abundance Tree.

Refining Your Doodles

Abundance Tree

Later I sat down with a Copic Multi-Liner and tried making a tree that I could actually use for scrapbooking and mixed-media art. In the process I devised a trunk I really loved, though my tree ended up looking more like a mushroom. I made a mental note that the circles were too tight and tried again, this time adding color with my Copic Sketches…

Abundance Tree

Here’s another example of where doodling has led me to an eventual hand-made embellishment for scrapbooking…

Grocery List Doodle: Happy Mushroom Colony…
Grocery Lists (Doodling Included).

Refining the Happy Mushroom Colony in my Scrap Journal…
Doodling with Copics in my Scrap Journal

Making a Happy Mushroom Colony as a Scrapbook Embellishment…
Happy Mushroom Colony

I’m sure I will eventually use my abundance tree in a scrapbook or mixed-media project, and I’m already making more.

Translating Your Ideas into Different Mediums and Styles

The key is asking yourself the question in the first place — “How can I translate this piece of inspiration into something else?”

I’ve been asking myself how I could translate my Abundance Trees into a painting project. Because I had the question in my head, I got the answer when I saw this dress on Elsie Flannigan. I saved the dress to my Art Inspiration board on Pinterest and decided I would use it as inspiration to dress up my boring lamp shade. I practiced first in my art journal…

Abundance - Art Journal

I didn’t try to copy the pattern on Elsie’s dress. I took one more look at it before pulling out my paints, and then closed the picture. There are two reasons I rarely try to copy directly when doing artistic projects…

  1. You set yourself up for frustration and negative self-talk because it’s very difficult to copy something just right. In fact, sometimes your own project actually needs you to do it a little differently and it’s hard to see that need if you’re copying. I think of my sources as inspiration, rather than a source to copy exactly.
  2. If you study the inspiration piece beforehand, and then put it away when you’re actually going to work on your project, you free yourself to make the piece your own.

This is how I use inspiration for my scrapbooking as well. I almost never scraplift, but I sometimes do think back to a layout I liked recently and I recall the overall idea of why I liked it. If you do that, you benefit from the inspiration of others, but you’ll make projects that are completely your own.

My Hand-painted Lamp

So now, from noticing a pedestrian walk and and doodling it into my scrap journal, I’ve developed some art I can use for scrapbooking, for mixed-media projects, and for painting projects as well. It’s amazing how it all flows for you when you pay attention to your environment, act on your observations and idea bursts, experiment with them, develop them, and ask yourself how-questions.

Multiple Art Journals for Multiple Purposes

Art Journals

I user a broader definition of “art Journal” than what is trending right now. Most people these days use art journals for artful experimentation and play, which will then be the foundation for written journaling. I do so much writing and journaling into my photos, into my scrap journal, on my blogs, in my fiction, and onto my scrapbook pages, that I don’t have any interest in adding it into my art journals.

Plus, as a writer, I naturally look at it for a different purpose. Many fiction writers keep writing journals, where we’re just practicing or warming up, and if we’re lucky, you might find a jewel there to embellish into a short story or novel. But mainly, we use writing journals for practice actual fiction. So it’s more natural for me to think of my art journals this way — a warm-up place for my art.

And I’m still trying to discover who I am as an artist. Mixed media? Collage? Copics Markers? Paint? So far it’s all of the above, but pure paint continues to stir up more passion in me than the others. I’m also still trying to find my colors, and I have yet to really commit to larger focal images and that I create myself. I have very few completed pages. I guess I’m still working on that fear thing.

Different Sizes

While my smallest book has the nicest, sturdiest cover, which I really like, I can’t stand it’s size. It’s too small. If you haven’t bought yourself a journal yet and are planning on it — don’t go for small. It’s very limiting and there is a lot I want to do that won’t fit in that tiny book. Fortunately I have the two larger books you see on the bottom.

If I can fit what I want to do it the small book, I’ll use it. Otherwise, I really love the big ones, even if they don’t have nice sturdy covers.

So far none of the art you see here are finished except the tree in the book on the right-hand corner.

Different types of books

Speaking of the book in the right-hand corner, I originally turned that old unwanted novel into a journal — a place for me to write a few thoughts and to add a scrap or two from the day. A receipt. A thank-card. A napkin with some quick notes I jotted down.

That’s why I call it my scrap journal. Then I found myself brainstorming in it. Brainstorming began my image-making, because who brainstorms with words only? I liked the aesthetics of the images on top of the text. I liked using my book to just doodle, too. I’ve found that the doodling generates new inspiration.

And then I bought my Copic Markers and I found that I love the copics on top of the text and manila colored pages. So now my scrap journal is also an art journal. It’s my everything book. But it’s still not the typical current popular type where you art a page up and then journal on top of it. I have pages with only journaling. I have pages with scraps or brainstorming. I have pages with sketches and copic color. I just do whatever it is I need to do in this book.

It’s not about making the book pretty, although there are some pretty things in it.

Sketch Books

I also keep two sketch books. One is 14×17 with thin pages — great for practicing drawing larger images, and suitable only for pencils. I also have a one that is 12×9. It’s easier to carry around with me and its pages are a thick material so I can use my Copics in it, as well.

I have a few playful experiments I’m excited to share — hopefully next week. But what about you? I’m curious to know how much of the Paperclipping audience does art journaling, is interested in art journaling, or has no interest at all?

August Challenge Highlight: Jana Olivera

Congratulations to Jana Olivera, who submitted an art journal that we chose to highlight this month! Her art journal a response to challenge topic #4 – Let’s Get Artsy.
Jana’s pages come from the paper towels she used to clean up her paint during the July 13th Paperclipping Live event when Jackie and Reenie filled in for me. Jana used toilet paper rolls as the foundation of her pages.

Next week’s Paperclipping episode will be a tutorial on how I’ve made my own handmade journal by re-purposing those gorgeous, colorful paper towels, but it’s very different from Jana’s and I’m loving the way Jana put her own book together. You can see more pictures of Jana’s gorgeous art journal by watching her slide show.

What the judges had to say

We think this is a beautiful art journal. There are so many textures and elements. The layering and details are complex.

There are so many colors in this book but what prevents them from overwhelming us is the balance of color intensity. Each page has a brighter, more intense feature color that pops from the foundation of softer hues.

We love the texture of the soft crumbled paper and the subtle lines of stitching around the pages, which contrast with the shiny hard texture of the beads.

We especially love that this unique piece of art has been made from what we normally consider trash, which proves that art can be made from almost nothing.

Find Jana Olivera

You can find Jana in our community, The Crop Circle. You can see more of her at her blog, 2 Worlds.