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Shifting Art Gears

fluid art painting acrylic ink

October has just flown by! After the past few weeks of doing Inktober and Drawlloween and staying (roughly) on track, I realized that I haven’t done anything with jewelry, painting, or the site. Sorry about that! 

It also got me thinking. I’m really loving drawing again. Not that I ever didn’t love it, but I’m rediscovering all the “behind the scenes” things that happen in art that make the experience of creating so robust. It’s deciding on concepts, looking at reference images, quick sketches to see if something will work, and starting over again when it doesn’t. It’s all the things that happen before the final piece is even started. 

I’ve also been thinking that I don’t miss the fluid art. There’s only so much time before and after work and in between family activities. Every day is a choice of what to make – if there’s even time (or energy) to make anything at all. For me, fluid art was a stepping stone to bring art back into my life. It was something I could just make without having to worry about it too much (plus I learned how to make videos, which was super fun!). Then I started working on an old painting again. That got me thinking of ways to revamp old pieces and ideas for starting new ones – so the “fluid art phase” did what it was supposed to do.

fluid art painting acrylic ink
They’re everywhere!
fluid art painting acrylic ink
They’re here, too!
fluid art painting acrylic ink
I can’t even look at them anymore! lol

Now that my walls are covered in trippy paintings, I’m ready to move on. Of course, with Inktober I’m drawing every day again. So the natural progression seems to be to shift gears and focus more on that. I’m not going to make any more fluid art videos, but I do want to start recording my drawing and painting. 

As for jewelry, I know I haven’t posted much about that here, but I’m going to keep going with that. I won’t be making any more Pebeo pieces, so I’m working on using up the Pebeo paint that I have left. For jewelry I’m going to focus on copper pipe necklaces and the “doogle” pins. There’s been enough experimenting and wasting supplies “in the name of science!” And it’s time to get the craft table under control. Seriously, it’s a mess. Time for some fall cleaning!

messy craft table clean up
So. Embarrassing.

All of the Inktober stuff is coming as soon as the month is up! I feel like this year is miles better than last year, but we can talk about that in a few days when the pics go up. 🙂

But for now, thanks for reading! Until next time!

BTW, if you want to check out last year’s Inktober/Drawlloween fiasco, click here. 🙂

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Inktober and Drawlloween Are Here!!!

inktober drawlloween ink drawing sketching October

If you don’t know them, you’re gonna know them! Starting today, it’s a drawing per day – two if you’re in it for both events. Every day there is a prompt and you draw it. Simple, right? For Inktober it’s an ink drawing and for Drawlloween it’s a drawing in whatever medium you want. 

Of the two prompt lists I prefer Mab Graves’ Drawlloween because it’s more October-related. It’s lots of spooky fun and it’s super interesting to see other artists’ interpretations of even the most familiar monsters. 

drawlloween October 2018 drawing sketching mab graves
Spooooooky Drawlloween prompts from Mab Graves!

On the other hand, I think the Inktober list is more challenging because it’s more abstract. The prompt of the day could spark instant inspiration or leave you absolutely stuck, which is really the point of prompts, isn’t it?

OFFICIAL Inktober 2018 prompts!

Last year I did both for the first time, something I don’t recommend if you’re short on time! I started the month off strong, then ended up a couple of days behind and would play catch up. Then I would do well for a while and end up behind again. I think I did most of the last week on the last day! So I wasn’t super great about getting the drawings done every day, but I was determined to get them all done and I did. 

inktober drawlloween ink drawing sketching October
Some pages are alright. 🙂

That being said, there are definitely some stinkers in there. It’s even more obvious because I dedicated a sketchbook to October. I don’t have to think back to which prompts I had issues with or which ones I relied to much (or not enough) on a reference for. I bet you could pick out which ones I had issues with, too. 🙂

fail inktober drawlloween ink drawing sketching October
Some pages I’m not proud of. AT. ALL. Seriously, this must have been a rough day…

I’m hoping this year is an improvement over last year. I don’t want to be too obvious or cliche and I’m thinking a ban on references might be in order! The sketchbook also needs to include the “junk” drawings and not just the final ideas. All that white space is uuuuuugly! Oh, did I forget to mention that I put all the drawings up on the site? Yep, they’re there – every single one. Give me another day and the “junk” will be up too. 🙂

Inktober and Drawlloween are two more reasons that October is my favorite month! If you follow the hashtags you can check out all the cool drawings that come out this time of year. Come November 1st, I’ll be posting the next section of my October sketchbook – for better or worse!

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

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Fluid Art Materials! (All My Faves!!)

spray paint artist mtn hardcore Liquitex acrylic

There’s one thing a lot of artists do in their fluid art videos that I don’t – show their materials. I started out recording all of that and ended up never putting it in because I use the same basic materials every time. It would be pretty boring to watch the same few minutes of me showing the same few bottles every week anyway, right? 

This list is all of my favorites things (and some other stuff) to put into my fluid art! Some are requirements (well, to me they are), and some are just nice to have, but it’s what I’ve come to like after some trial and error. We all do it differently! 

I buy almost everything from Dick Blick because I like their selection the best and their prices are competitive. I’ve also found their shipping speed (even the free) to be better most of the time. Their biggest competitor once took a week to put my stuff in a box when I paid for shipping to get something on time – not okay. They aren’t sponsoring this post (hey, Dick Blick – wanna sponsor me?), this is just my experience. Sometimes you can grab a deal from Amazon, but you run the risk of getting old materials that have been sitting in a warehouse ever since warehouses were invented.

(Full disclosure/disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by anyone, but I have included some affiliate links. I only link to places I shop!)

Liquitex Pouring Medium – This is the base for all of the paintings! My numero uno! My bread and butter! All of the paints are mixed into this stuff. Pouring medium reduces crazing (crevices in the paint) and leaves a nice glossy finish. It’s expensive and I’ve noticed the price fluctuates a bit, so shop around. The big art supply websites typically have the best prices, but once in a while you can get a deal on Amazon.

Don’t skimp and get something smaller than a 32oz – it won’t be enough (especially if you love it!). If I’m doing a lot of paintings I’ll blast through a gallon of pouring medium pretty quickly. I still use that first 32oz bottle I bought and refill it as needed from the gallon bucket – it’s way easier to manage. When I’m on my last 32oz, that’s when I reorder. I’ve started exploring different techniques to reduce how much I use since I went through two gallons in a month at one point (mistakes can cost you – literally!).

fluid art painting paint dirty pour Liquitex pouring medium
This bottle has seen a few pours….

Golden High Flow Acrylics – These are beautifully pigmented and a little goes a very long way. They are a little expensive, but they can last a long time. I’ve also used them to paint with and left them sitting out in the palette for a long time. They didn’t dry out or even skin over nearly as quickly as regular acrylics do. A set of these is worth having in your arsenal just because. 

fluid art paint painting Golden High Flow Acrylics Drawing Set
These are all colors from the drawing set. I am forever running out of Indigo. It’s time to grab a big bottle!

Liquitex Professional Acrylic Ink – You get what you pay for with acrylic ink. This costs a little more, but it the color holds well when it’s thinned out. I use these sometimes, but I prefer the high flow acrylics when I need something lighter and thinner.

fluid art acrylic paint painting Liquitex Ink Primary Colors Set
From the primary set. They’re more of a like than a love for me.

Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic Water-ResistantArtists Ink – Less expensive than Liquitex, but I find that I have to use more to keep the colors true when adding to the medium. BUT, it’s readily available at the local art store, so when I need something in a hurry I make that 40% off coupon work!

fluid art acrylic ink paint painting daler rowney
I love combining these neon colors with glow in the dark paint for some blacklight-ready paintings! (However it takes a lot of ink to keep the color bright in the pouring medium. Sometimes using the ink straight is better).

Spray Paint – I use Liquitex Professional Spray Paint and MTN Hardcore 2 Spray Paint. I also use Krylon. Which is the best? I don’t have an answer for that because I just started using these and I’m working at a Kindergarten level with them. I’m leaning more toward the transparent colors from Liquitex layered over the opaque MTN. More on this some other time – I’m still playing. 🙂

fluid art spray paint acrylic painting
The latest addition for me. Don’t forget a mask and proper ventilation!

Generic Craft Acrylics – You can get these pretty much anywhere and a small bottle is fifty cents to a dollar. You might have seen people poo-poo on these because they are cheap. They aren’t as lightfast and can cause some crazing if you use too much. That’s true, but ask yourself this – are you making a painting that’s going to end up in the Louvre 100 years from now? Me neither. These paints are hands down the best way to get started on the cheap. Once you’ve got all your staple materials built up, they are still a great way to fill in the gaps in your palette and try new colors. 

fluid art acrylic craft paint painting
These let you experiment with lots of different colors and finishes.

Silicone – Different artists add different things to their fluid art to get cells and I’ve found that I like silicone the best. I use this whatever brand because… it’s what I’ve always used? I can go to the store and get it if I need to, but I’m actually still on the first bottle I ever bought. It cost four bucks and has lasted nearly a year. Easily the most cost-effective material on this list!

silicone fluid art painting acrylic
At first I thought this was Elmer’s. It’s this other brand apparently. Elmer’s makes something similar, though.

Generic Painting Panels – I first tried to pour on those flimsy canvas panels that come in packs of three or five. All they did was warp. I don’t know if they were absorbing the moisture or if it was the paint contracting as it cured, but I used exactly two of these panels before I switched. 

Canvas – Stretched canvas can work and I do use it from time to time, but the weight of the paint can cause it to sag in the middle and then the paint just pools there. Not cool. Smaller canvases (think under 8×10) work pretty well. I especially like getting gobs of the tiny ones when they are on sale and pouring a bunch of them together as one piece. They are too small to sag and they are cheap to pour on!

3/4” Painting Panels – These were (and sometimes still are) my go-to. Some brands are better than others, but I found the Blick brand worked best for me. There was another bunch I ordered from another site and nine of the ten of them had damaged corners. They were also very poorly packed.

I’ve never had a problem with the Blick ones and I still order them if there’s a good deal on them. They are thick enough that they will not warp and they have slots in the back for hanging, so you don’t need any additional hardware to finish the piece. The only issue I have there is sometimes the painting looks better upside down and the slot is on the other end! Blick has some that have a regular cradle, so you can hang them however you want. I recommend grabbing these when they are on sale. Sometimes you can get a deal on the Blick Super Value Wood Panel Packs.

 

Build Your Own Panels – This what I do now. I use 1/4” birch plywood and 1×2 pine boards for support. Materials-wise it’s cheaper, but it takes time to build the panels. It also requires space and tools – not something everyone has and that’s okay! If you don’t build, you don’t have to deal with the noise, the mess, and the big sigh (and light cursing) when you mess one up. What I do like about it is being able to make whatever size I want and being able to just run to the hardware store when I’m out of panels. On top of that, when I’m building I get to go to this beautiful zen place where all that matters is “measure twice, cut once” and whatever happened earlier that day doesn’t matter. 

Ready for primer!

Is there something you think I should try? What are your favorite materials? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading! Until next time!

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Stickers! Stickers! Stickers! [Making a New Journal]

stickers paper sketches projects

Now that the outside cover was all done, it was time to figure out the inside cover for the journal. I had no idea what I wanted to do, except that there should be color. So I took one of my staple color combos – indigo, turquoise, and magenta – and dripped the paint around the inside of the front cover. It was looking… ew… so I closed the cover to try to get an ink blot effect. It *sort of* worked. I figured it was going to be mostly covered with stickers anyway, so I let it dry and pulled out my big ole stash of stickers. Yay STICKERS!!!

Did you know you can get packs of 100 or more vinyl stickers on Amazon for about ten bucks? Not promoting anything here, but when I need to make the free shipping (I REFUSE to get prime), those sticker packs are just the best!

I went ahead and picked out my faves. I’m talking the stickers I liked so much that I would probably never put them on anything, ever. Well, if ever there was a place to put said stickers, it would be on the inside of my journal. After picking out all the good ones (omg what are you gonna think about all the ones that I thought were good??),  I separated them into piles of black and white stickers and color stickers. Then I sort of figured out which ones would go in front and which ones would go in the back. Sort of, because we both know whatever plan existed was going to change part way through anyway.  

I thought it might look cool to transition from the black and white cover to a more colorful inside. So I put the black and white stickers toward the edges and the colorful stickers in the middle. I’m not sure if that translated, but that’s what I did.

journal making stickers inside cover
Transition! Or another hot mess… STICKERS!

When I moved on to the back inside cover, things got a little sticky – pun intended. I used WAY too much paint. When I closed the cover to smoosh it all up, it didn’t really want to let go. Then it started to run, so I dabbed it and smooshed it again. Eventually I got it to some kind of a happy place where paint wasn’t running and pooling everywhere, but it took a long time to dry. Seriously, it felt like FOREVER. 

journal making inside cover
Not only did it take forever to dry, parts of it stuck shut after the book was closed for a while. There are a couple of rips in there now. 🙁

It was actually more like I had to leave it overnight and stop working when I didn’t want to (*stickers!*). The next day the paint was still a bit tacky underneath, but that ended up being for the best because I had an idea. I was going to add A POCKET. Not just any pocket. A pocket made out of one of the pages I ripped out! It was another one of those singing angels moments and I’m pretty sure the entire room started to sparkle. 

After a bit of cutting, folding, and gluing I had a pocket! I put some of my leftover sketchbooks scans around it and proceeded to sticker away! 

journal making inside cover
I’m pretty proud of that pocket. I may or may not have glued it shut at one point.

All that was left at this point was prepping the inside pages, which would probably make for some boring pictures, except maybe for the first and last pages. I had two things that absolutely had to go in the journal. First, there was this big fairy sticker I bought at Hot Topic at least ten years ago. I have no idea why I got it, but I had it for so long it was time to finally give it a home. Onto the first page it went! I thought it would be a nice representation of all things past, since by the time I started the journal everything at the beginning would be in the past. 

journal making inside page
This sticker was just the COOLEST THING EVER.

Then there was the last page. That was filled with strips of pink unicorn duct tape because how could I NOT use pink unicorn duct tape? Buuuuuut, if I’m going to assign it some meaning it does represent a lot of change since I bought that fairy sticker. Back then the only color I really liked was black and everything all whatever and stuff, but I’ve worked at moving away from that and been through lots of life decisions. So I guess we can say pink unicorn duct tape represents change and moving forward while still being myself because I bought that on a whim, too. 🙂

journal making inside page
I had to do it! The unicorns told me to!

For the rest of the journal I just divvied up the sections, glued some stuff in, added drawing and watercolor color paper where it was needed, and that was it! I closed my freshly made journal for the year with pride and-

Oops.

journal making craft diy
There’s just too much love packed in there!

Remember where I said pages needed to come out to make room? Protip: Make sure you take out *enough* pages. Watercolor paper especially can be pretty thick. Even though it doesn’t close all the way, I still think it turned out pretty sweet Plus, it’s one of a kind, with plenty of other quirks built into it already!

If you want to watch me put this thing together in super sped-up time, you can check out the video here: 

Thanks for sharing this little journey with me. If there’s another project you’d like to see me take a crack at, let me know! Until next time!

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Overcoming Fear and Failure [Making a New Journal]

Where did we leave off? Right, we’re all set up and about to thoroughly destroy a perfectly good book! No worries – it’s all in the name of art! Let’s make this journal!

First thing’s first, we need to start ripping out pages. I know, I know. It. Is. Scary. It’s especially scary if you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to write in books or even dog-ear a page when there’s no bookmark handy (*cough cough*). However, if you’re adding paper to your journal, some pages have to come out in order to make room. Otherwise your book won’t close all the way. 

So I sat there looking at the book, counting out the pages over and over again (read: procrastinating because I was scared), trying to decide whether it would be better to cut or tear the pages. Finally I just started to rip – and it was terrible. I was thinking that it would be this nice, smooth rip, and it would have been if I had been smart enough to use a straight edge as a guide, but I rarely plan that well. The first page ripped out was looking pretty bad and there seemed to be too much of it left. I knew I didn’t want to rip too close to the spine because of the risk of losing pages, but it looked awful.  Then I did the worst thing I could have done and started picking at it. 

journal making book recycle pages
Disaster! (not really)

I tried ripping one more page after that and switched to scissors. My cuts were a little rough at first, but once I got into my groove they got better. Every sixth page was gone in a couple of minutes and by the time I got to the last one it was actually kind of cathartic. I want to rip out more! Give me more books! 

journal making book recycle
She turned me into a newt. It got better. Just like my cuts! Does anyone remember when they learned how to use scissors?

After this I turned my attention to the cover. I gave it a light sanding to make sure all the things would stick to it, then painted the front and back with a thin layer of fluid acrylics – black around the outside blended into white in the middle. Dab, dab, dab with a sponge and it was painted in a few minutes.

journal making book recycle
Ready to paint my future journal!

 

journal making cover paint
A little base paint to get that green covered up!

Then I started laying out the decorations. I had neatly cut strips of decorative paper and neatly cut prints of drawings from my sketchbook.  An obscene amount of Modge Podge was used to secure each one and I dabbed paint around the outside of each one to try to blend it into the paint.

journal making cover
I think I should have seen the problem at this point.

 

journal making cover fail
Even more so at this point. Hindsight, right? But that’s what happened when you cling to an idea instead of recognizing that it’s not working…

I had this vision in my head of the images looking like they were emerging from the cover – or something. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out that way AT ALL. It was just the front cover that got to this point, but it was bad enough that it stalled me for a week. I didn’t even pick up all the things – I just left it there. I walked by the book every day, sulking about the terrible outcome. It looked awful. My idea was terrible. I ruined my book for nothing! WHAT HAVE I DONE?? Oh the DRAMA!

journal making cover fail
This is what haunted me for a week (I cleaned up my paint though).

Technically, since I used Modge Podge, I could have wet the cover and peeled everything off. However, exposing the cover to that much moisture would probably have damaged it. Plus the layers of paint were a pretty big wildcard. So when I started over I just went right over the top! My approach was similar to the original idea (it wasn’t bad after all!), but rather than being meticulous in cutting and placing everything, I just ripped it. The edges of the decorative paper and the sketchbook scans were all ripped and I did not use the paint to try to tie it all together.

journal making cover
It’s kind of poetic that my mistake is lurking under there. Not that I had much choice! 🙂

This let everything sort of blend together on its own. I loosely planned where everything would go, but ultimately it happened in the moment. I also included a colored piece on the front and the back, because as much I love me some black and white, it had a depressing look about it. 

journal making cover
Maybe it still looks a little messy, but that’s me. Organization is for the birds! (Do birds organize?)

 

journal making cover
This is the back cover at a dramatic angle. Because dramatic angles are what all the cool kids are doing.

Collaging the back cover was smoother than the front because there wasn’t a snafu to hide, but with both I continued slopping on the Modge Podge (not really the way you’re supposed to do it) to get some neat textures and wrinkles. I added a little doodle on the bottom of the spine and the outside cover was done! 

On to the inside!

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What’s Old is New [Making a New Journal]

Not too long ago, I made a journal out of my very first ever art book. It was given to me by the one person that encouraged me to pursue art – my elementary art teacher (Shout out Mrs. P!). When I was a kid I didn’t think I was good at anything in particular, and whether I was actually any good or not, I felt like I was when I was in the art room. That’s the best gift a teacher could ever give a kid. So this book has been on the bookshelf of every place I have lived since then, through many moves and lot of life. Now after a couple of decades I have to admit – it’s been a while since I even flipped through it.

So let’s look back to just a couple of months ago. I was coming to the end of my last journal, which I started following this book as a guide. It worked as a first journal ever and as an exercise to see if I could really stick to it for a year. The year went by quickly and I completed all (*ahem* – the vast majority) of the exercises from the guide. The thing is, I was never really happy with what I used for the journal. It was one of those kits you get from the local art supply store and for the second time around I needed something more personal. 

I did some poking around about bookmaking, thinking that you can’t possibly get more personal than making something from scratch! And really, bookmaking is still something I want to try, but it wasn’t feeling right for this project. Then I found some stuff about repurposing old books. I had that angels-come-down-from-heaven-singing moment even though I’m not the least bit religious (which is saying something). Anyway, the ideal candidate for a book-reusing project has to meet certain criteria.

First, it has to be a hardcover. That one is kind of a no-brainer. Second, the pages should be thick enough to withstand whatever you need them to do. If they are a little thin, they can be glued together, or other paper can be added in, but some books have crazy thin pages that I would never use (except maybe for ripping them out for a collage – not that I go around arbitrarily destroying books).

journal making pages
Those are the stitches you’re looking for!

Third, and this was something I hadn’t thought about, the binding has to be stitched. The reason is that in making the book strong enough to stand up to drawing, painting, collaging, and so on, pages need to be ripped out and glued back together (you’ll see what I mean later). Pages that are only glued in might hold up, but exposure to moisture (like ink and paint) means you run the risk of pages falling out.

Stitched pages reduce the likelihood of losing pages as you destroy a book in the name of art. (Of course, if it’s going to be more of a “light duty” journal and pages don’t need to come out, then a glued binding might be ok). The tricky part is, you don’t see many stitched bindings these days. Go take a minute to flip through some of your hardcover books. How many are stitched? Guess how many of mine were. Zero. Even some of the books that looked old were just glued.

journal making
Copyright 1978. When they knew how to make a book to last.

So I stood there looking at my bookshelves thinking – this is all the books I have? Mind you, having moved these books across the country and back and between many different apartments, I have long had the opposite sentiment. But there were a couple of books in there that I guess I’ve had for so long that I sort of didn’t see them any more. There was an early printing of The Stand, and obviously that wasn’t even a consideration. Can you imagine?? Then of course, there was the art book. Cue more angels. 

journal making
This is it! A little worn and very green.

It was the perfect size and had the perfect number of pages. It had history. This would make a journal that would be infinitely more personal than buying a bunch of materials and making a book. So I picked out paint, stickers, and paper. I thought about what kind of cover I wanted and scanned and printed out doodles and drawings from my sketchbook. I found a bottle of Modge Podge that is so old I have no idea when I bought it (it’s still good!). When I had everything together, I set up a camera and got to work. 

journal making stickers paper sketches
All the things will go into my journal!

I think that’s enough exposition for now. Next time, I’ll show you the transformation!