Mosaic Inspiration

With this small window of time between work,  I should fill it with learning. My goal is to read, watch great documentaries, go to museums, learn more techniques, and make things. So I signed up for a Mosaic class for the next 6 weeks at the Banana Factory with mosaic artist Kim Hogan.

Why Mosaics? The first thing I loved about the B-factory when I saw it were the mosaics decorating the outside. Secondly, I've never worked with glass. Thirdly, I have always been drawn to shiny, glittery work, full of tiny parts and random surprises. I plan on using a mixture of glass and found objects and will post my work in process over the next 6 weeks.

Here's a small photo journal of inspiration that I took in Philadelphia at Philly's Magic Gardens on Thursday. Also included is a photo of "The Go-Go's" by artist Jason Mecier from his amazing website.

The Go-Go's by Jason Mecier from www.jasonmecier.com


How To: Be Smart With Leftovers

Last week I shared how to make book safe with an old Audubon Book of Birds. I was left with a stack of these great bird illustrations, though some were ripped and brittle from age. I took the torn paper and punched as many mini stamp shapes as could fill a small container and saved the rest for future projects.

My left over Audubon illustrations and the tiny stamp shaped punches I made from them.

So what could I do with those tiny stamp shaped scenes of nature? In celebration of the first day of Spring, upcoming Earth Day on April 20th, and National Letter Writing month, also in April, my solution was to create nature inspired stationary.

You can try it out too, in different themes, sizes, or shapes. Organized collections of similar items, tend to work well together.

1. Collect images with a similar theme and play with arrangements. I stuck with a square compositions made up of 9 equally spaced stamps. Create a template if you plan on repeating the design. I used a 2.5" x 2.5" square and placed it slightly high in the center of 4 greeting cards.

2. Glue the punched out shapes in the 4 corners first. It will make visual spacing easier and eliminate the trouble of drawing an entire grid. Yes! paste is my favorite glue for collage, because it goes on smooth and doesn't wrinkle the paper.

3. Once all the pieces are glued down, create captions for each collection. I tried to create puns, based on the collection of images on each card. An old school address label stamp kit helped me lay out my captions.

4.  Add another 4 punch outs to the opening flap of the envelope. A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME...A sweet card of congratulations for the person who is too humble to brag.

5. BRANCHING OUT...A fun message for someone graduating , moving or being promoted.

6. FEELING BLUE...A good question for a friend who just got dumped, let go or is generally pessimistic

7. LET'S TURN A NEW LEAF...A nature inspired apology note.

8. Finally, don't forget to sign your work. I stamped the back of my cards with the address of my Etsy shop.


Morning After: Drink and Draw 3/13/12

Last night I enjoyed another Drink and Draw event at the Bethlehem Brew Works. We had the same models as last time, except that they had more of a pin-up theme to their outfits and hair. I wanted all of their dresses and shoes! We had great, dynamic poses for the 5 minute warm up sketches, but when we got to the 15 minute poses, Carl and I kept getting back shots. Bummer.

Cold brew and a woodless sketching pencil

I tried making lemonade out of lemons and they actually turned out to be my favorite ones....

15 minute pose

15 minute pose

15 minute pose


How To: Build A Secret Book Safe

This is a book I rescued from a future in a landfill at my last school. It's a little beat and worn, but the feather pattern on the cover is so nice, and when I look inside there are these great bird illustrations by Audubon. I want to keep those illustrations for collage supplies, but would hate to chuck the rest of the book. Ever been there?

This tutorial is a two-fer. Not only do I get all those great images, but I can get a useful and beautiful object in the process by making the empty space into a secret hiding place. Here's how:

1. Wrap the front cover and the first 15 or so pages in plastic cling wrap. I kept the long list of bird chapters and the introduction. You may want to take the first chapter, depending on the type of book.

2. Glue down the last 4-5 pages of the book to the back cover.
3, Shut the book and, using a large bristle brush, glue around all of the pages along the outside. The glue should be heavy, but not dripping onto the covers. I used a matte Mod Podge sealant.
4. Apply pressure by using a vise or strong clamp, and allow the glue to dry.
4 1/2. Or a stack of heavy books.
5. Measure the size of the area you want to remove from the book. I chose the size of the bird illustrations, since they were the same through the whole book.
6. Use a utility knife and metal ruler to cut out the area carefully. I had to do it layer by layer. Keep your hand steady and straight, as pages lower down can become harder to pull out. Glue the inner edges of the section you cut out the same way the outer edges of the book pages were glued. Apply pressure again until the glue has dried.
7. Open the book and carefully remove the first page from the section you cut out. This one tend to get pretty beat up in the process. I also added decorative tape to clean up the edges of the hidden compartment. Use sandpaper to wear down excess glue.
8. Add embellishments. I added decorative tape to clean up the edges around the secret compartment, a scrap from the title page on the cover...
9. ...and a book mark using collage images from the book.

 Next week I'll share a tutorial from the images cut out during the making of the book safe. Stay tuned :)


NAEA 2012 Convention In NYC

Having just moved to PA, and being unemployed for my first month, I had to find a way to stay in the Art education game. When I found out the National Art Education Association Conference was in New York City this past weekend, a little over an hour and a half away from me it sealed the deal for me to go. My fiance even got to go along, in exchange for working the Crayola vendor booths at the event (He's a toy designer there). I hooked him up with great lectures and he hooked me up with swag.

I attended lectures from using play to engage learners of all ages to incorporating tattoos into a high school art curriculum, but the talk that paid for the whole event, by far, was between artist-icon Chuck Close and critic Irving Sandler. I waited an hour in line, thanked my stars I got in, and took manic notes while he spoke. Here are a few of my favorite gems (some paraphrased):

    1. [The most important part of our education was that] We didn't know we were artists. We were very serious about being students.
    2. Nothing you learn at grad school is useful. The work habits you learn and being part of a community, something bigger than yourself, is useful.
    3. If all agree on the problem, all will come up with similar solutions. The trick is to see the problem differently or create your own problem.
    4. The choice not to do something, is a positive decision. 
    5.  And he said to write this down verbatim: "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work." Everything [creative] comes out of work itself.
    Chuck Close (photo credit goes to this exceptional art teacher)
    NAEA Swag
    BAD street meat

    I also took my first trip to the MOMA. It was like all the Art History: Modern through Contemporary slides come to life. Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon.Van Gogh's Starry Night. De Kooning's Woman I . Jackson Pollock's Number 31. Andy Warhol's Gold Marilyn. Two self portraits by my favorite lady, Frida Kahlo! Plus newer powerhouses like Takashi Murakami.

    Love (backwards)

    Being immersed in a world where hundreds, maybe thousands, think what you're doing (ART ED!) is important is the ultimate recharge. On this (hopefully brief) break from my career, I'm just going to ride the wave for a little while.