Upcycling Cardboard for Canvases

Working out of my home is way overrated.  Finding time to art has become its own creative endeavor all it own…I keep several projects going at all times.  Then when I find a spare minute or two, I add a bit of paint or doodle here and a bit of glued paper there, and eventually I get a whole piece finished.

But here’s the super-duper awesome thing about the job: all of the trainers are now saving me the cardboard that comes out of the training materials they use in their classes!  I have a gigantic pile of these babies, they come out of the packets of training materials before they get put inside 3-ring binders.  All of them are the same size, they’re in pristine shape, and they gesso up and make the perfect canvas for collages and other art works!  And the kids love them as well!!

Who knew?  I get paid to work, and I get more Art Fodder™!!

They will make great book covers for art journals.  They are the perfect size for making lovies to frame and put on the wall.  And they are a nice, consistent size for another project I’m creating that will have pages and pages of illustrations.

I’m posting a few here for you to see how well the card boards are working out.

TreeButterflyBirdie

Prompt: What do you like to use as alternatives to traditional canvas?  Cereal boxes, old book covers, cardboard? 

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Transitions, Cheers to New Beginnings All Over Again!

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

~ Author Unknown

Here we are again…I fell out of the blog-o-sphere for a week and a half.  How does that even happen??

I certainly don’t aim to bore, to fill you in with too many details of crap going on in our daily lives.  That’s not why we read blogs, is it now?  We want to be entertained, find something inspirational, or a bit of enlightenment.  I have just been a bit buried under the things that come along with daily life…

I have been arting like crazy, it seems that inspiration is striking from every turn.  Amen to that, right??

And I have also decided to jump into an online class, although I sort of was thinking that I wouldn’t have time for one any time soon.  And I sort of haven’t had class monies in the budget.  But this one called me, told me to bite the bullet, so to speak.  I couldn’t get past it, couldn’t find a way to talk myself out of it.

I probably won’t share too much of my work from the class, but I will send you over to check out what’s going on in…Life Restoration, aka Soul Restoration 2, with Melody Ross at Brave Girls Club.  It’s not your typical art class.  I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, other than it’s a class about figuring out how to purposefully live your life.  Right.  Totally looking for that.

Of course, I have spent many-an-hour and much energy in my life working through self-help courses, books, art work, sales career seminars (which are all about building things on purpose) and a myriad of groups and videos and clubs…oh, pretty much anything that helps build and grow and that kind of stuff.

So why on Earth was I being called to yet another class just like all of the others??

I know now.

I have been working through the assignments, and while Melody has lots of great art technique videos (I have actually learned a few things, woo-hoo!), what’s truly amazing is the stuff I wasn’t expecting.  Plowing through garbage that I have been trying to figure how to clean out of my closet, finding the freedom to let go of the things that I didn’t realize I was holding onto so tightly.  Bringing into consciousness those things that I was longing for and hadn’t quite breathed into focus.

This comes right after I finished a class and self-examination with my church Pastor.  Finding Your Spiritual Gifts.

I feel a bit weird at the moment, a bit cloudy.  You know how when you’re cleaning the swimming pool, everything you stir up as you’re cleaning kind of makes it all look cloudy, and you’re wondering why you stirred it up to begin with?  But then when it all settles back down once again, you see how much cleaner it all is than before.  I’m right in the cloudy stirring at the moment.

As artists, I think we are continuously re-assessing.  Not just ourselves, but our art, our surroundings, our relationships.  We like to see things in new light.  It’s just what we do.

Right I was getting started on this class, I was finishing up this canvas.  Eventually I think I will add some text, but for now, it is what it is.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,

the Master calls a butterfly.  ~ Richard Bach

ButterflyButterfly closeup 1Butterfly closeup 2

Butterfly closeup 3

Works of Inspiration, or Really, It Didn’t Seem Like Work

Why do we always call our new stuff “Works”?

When I’m arting, when I’m really enjoying it, I don’t feel like I’m working.  I feel like I’m playing.  I feel like I’m the luckiest gal in the world, that I have some way to get the stuff in my head out and onto something in front of me.  That I’m lucky because I gave up the fear, and instead, I just get brave and get the stuff out…however it turns out.  It just happens, that with practice, I’ve gotten better at getting the image in front of me to at least somewhat represent the image I was holding in my mind’s eye.

So why “Work”?  Why don’t we call it “Play”.  These are all my original created pieces of Play.  Heehee.  How well will that go over??

I’ve got a couple of new things I’ve been wanting to share.  And I tried something a bit new for me.

I created these on canvases of wood.  Ooh, fun!  I spend a lot of time pondering supplies in the hardware store, and I’d been thinking about getting a sheet of wood cut up into different size canvases.  I finally had my hubby help me pick out the wood and sizes and so forth.  We ended up with a sheet of 1/4″ wood, it’s really pretty, although I can’t tell you what kind of wood.  Not that I wouldn’t tell you, but the sign just said “wood panel sheet” or some such thing.

But it’s pretty wood, the grain is nice, it wasn’t full of splits and that sort of thing.  The guys at the store ripped the sheet into the main big pieces that I wanted for no extra charge, and then we do some additional cutting at home as I decide on the sizes.

I do (or I do have Christopher) spray the wood with clear polyurethane before I do anything else.  That keeps the wood from soaking up too much of whatever else comes next, usually gesso.  And he lightly sands it after the spray.  Ahhhh, what a lovely surface to paint!  The only caveat I have here for you, I tend to do a lot of my backgrounds using my fingers…and by the time I was done with a series of pieces on the wood canvases, my fingers were getting a bit sore!

I tell you all of this to tell you this: the finished product looks awesome, not just the same ole canvas, and it’s waaaaay cheaper than purchasing a clay wood canvas for working, I mean playing, mixed media.

My inspiration for both of these lovelies comes from the Book of Psalm, these are from the NIV.

You can also see these babies over on the etsy shop (more closeups of the tree canvas over there)…Someday I will work on prints, but for now, the originals are what’s available.

Sunshine

 

For the sunshine on this canvas, I also got to play with something new: an awesome vintage lace stencil from Christy Tomlinson.  I looooooove my new stencil!!  I made the happy little sunshine with caulk on a book page from an inspirational book on love.  I think it turned out beautifully!!

Sunshine closeup

 

Sunshine verse

 

Tree 1a

 

Tree verse

 

YOUR PROMPT:  I’ve said this before, now I’ll say it again.  Go browse the hardware store.  It’s amazing how many things are so well suited for arting.  Find something you haven’t thought about using in your artwork before, and put it to good use.  You’ll find some great prices on really cool stuff there!!

Art Journal Page Turned Canvas, or Using Your Art Journal for Inspiration

I have no idea how it has been almost two weeks since I last posted on the blog!  Where does the time go??

Around here, I suppose that the time flies away from me when I get my head buried in art projects…I have so many projects floating around in my head, as I work to get them out as fast as I can.

I keep a list of things that I want to do, otherwise I’d forget them as other inspirations grab space in my head.  Maybe my head’s too little, whaddya think?  Okay, don’t answer that, lol.

We did get some listings finally active in the etsy shop.  I opened that shop ages ago, and have just been dragging my feet, or maybe a bit of fear was holding my little footsies back. I dunno.  But finally, I just started.  You can hit the link, or find the button over on the sidebar of our blog to check it out.  We will be adding more along the way, so keep checking!

That’s always the best way to go about new things, isn’t it?  Just get started?

I’ve also been enjoying some classes with Jeanne Oliver.  I sort of forget to ever sit down and watch video classes cuz I can’t seem to put down the paint brush.  But it always seems to help get my head straight to sit down and focus on something other than the images swirling around in my head at break-neck speed.  And Jeanne has such a lovely and calming way of talking, such a heart-felt and personal way of speaking directly to me (and everyone else of course!).

I have a number of fun little projects at the ready to bring in and show you here on the blog, not to keep taunting, but I will soon.

Beauty Blooms from Within closeup 1

 

So I played with the pastel chalks in the art journal, using them to “paint” tulips.  I so liked how the page turned out, I decided to take it to a canvas (it is listed in the new etsy shop!), or in this case, a wood board canvas.

Once again, my art journal play time became the inspiration for a canvas.  I love how it translated, I love that my art journal means so many things for me.

Beauty Blooms from Within Canvas 1

Prompt: Let your journal inspire you.  Find something that you think looks super-cool or something that moves you.  Take it to a larger format, a canvas, or a huge sheet of paper. Get it out of the journal and onto something you can hang on your wall.  It’s incredibly satisfying.  And don’t worry about whether or not it just looks like a huge art journal page hanging on your wall, sometimes that’s exactly what your wall needs.

 

 

Hallmark Card, or Mixed Media Canvas for Valentine’s Day?

This is the third mixed media work in my Valentine canvas series.

I built up the texture-y background with tissue paper as the very first step.  All the other paint, marker, NeoColor, stamp ink and paper all went on top of the tissue paper layer.  I did not gesso in between the tissue and the other stuff.

I welcome any questions, this was a time-consuming and tedious work, as I painted the stripes and all of the shading.

But for now, I am off to play on this beautiful Saturday with the hubs…he’s fixin’ to start cookin’, and we’re keeping our Another Perfect Saturday roll going 🙂

Have a great rest of your weekend…and go make something for your honey for Happy I Love You Day!!

True Love

True Love Canvas Closeup 3True Love Canvas Closeup 2

Always Be Courting, a Caulk Canvas and Technique Video

Oh, my gosh!  I missed a Valentine post yesterday!  The shame…but I may have an okay excuse, I was helping the teenager with finishing up his science fair project.  Which of course was due today.

I don’t think I ever got a science fair project completed earlier than the night before, either.  And I’m pretty sure my parents would say they were always up late the night before with me, griping that I waited till the last minute to get it done.  Ha!  I did turn into my parents!

I must say, though, that I had no idea that you could measure the speed of light at home using a microwave and a bag of chocolate chips.

So here we are on Friday, the Friday before Valentine’s Day.  You still have the weekend to ponder prepping your love notes and making lovey-dovey projects for your heart-throb.

I am using the heart-theme to its full advantage 🙂

Always Be Courting

This canvas and video is one of my very favorite techniques.  It started a while back when Christopher saw that I was fighting the whole texture problem.  I would spend so much time adding layers, 2-D layers, of visual interest…which resulted in the look of texture, but not so much in actual tactile texture.  While a lot of art journaling techniques are all about adding the visual kind of texture, I was looking for tactile texture.  Something you can reach out and touch.  Something different, something that added serious dimension to my works.

Along came Christopher with a pile of tubes of caulk.  Ahhh, my texturing life got really exciting from there!  You can see one of my very first works using the caulk here (which is still one of my favorites, probably because of the emotional tie I have to it as my first caulk canvas, lol).

This video does NOT go into detail on painting the caulk texture.  It is a look into working the caulk, both on the background and on the foreground.  Color will come later.

And…this is my first appearance on video, for the intro.  You will see, I was extremely nervous, feeling super bashful, and clearly aware of the camera.  I am hoping with practice and time it will feel more natural.  So be nice.

Without further ado, here ya go.

Kiss Me, a Canvas for My Valentine

Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight

Lead me out on the moonlit floor

Lift your open hand

Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance

Silver moon’s sparkling

So kiss me

~ Sixpence None the Richer, Kiss Me

Kiss Me closeupI sometimes get so caught up in thinkin’ about the subjects for my canvases.  Like so many of us, I fret over the empty canvas.  I look at it and worry that I’m going to “ruin” a canvas.  My art journals give me way less grief, because the paper seems so much less permanent and less expensive and less important somehow.

I can spend tons of time and loving arting energy on the paper, and then when I get to a canvas, I get all choked up, thinking that I have to make something perfect just because it’s a canvas.

I have been working on breaking through that barrier (always, always, keep on swimming, keep breaking the next barrier, keep Stretching the Boundaries).  One thing that has helped is to look at my canvas as a great big art journal page.  If I make something that ultimately I don’t like, I can always gesso and paint and glue stuff over it!  I forget that too often.

So I’m learning to work faster than my fear.  Just get the canvas out, and get started.  Make something.  And stop thinking so much (which is super difficult for me!).

Kiss Me heart closeupThe other thing that has been helping is to think less about the actual subject.  I’m going with what’s in my heart, using the images and ideas and subjects that I use on a daily basis in my art journals…that is, expressing the same ideas that I express in my journals, just in a bigger way on the canvas.  Those subjects for me are love, friendship, flowers, the beauty in the world around me, my joy in my kidlets, and my relationship with God.

Silly, I know.  Why are those subjects good enough for the journal pages and not so much for the canvas?  Why would I fight that??

Well, I’ll fight it no longer.  While I have used my journaling often as a place to work out what will later go on a canvas, as a practice spot so to speak, I realized that I need to take to the canvas the same joy that I have while working in my journals.

And I do have Happy I Love You Day on the brain (really, you ask??).  Yep, I do.

That brings us to the first in a small series of heart canvases.

Kiss Me 3

Prompt: Make something larger, something more out there, get out of the journal and onto a canvas, or a piece of wood, or a wall even…but get brave, treat the canvas like you treat your art journal.  Make something fabulous and playful, just like you’ll do in your journal.

Gifts from God, a Journal Page

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

~ Romans 12:12

I played a bit further with the ideas from the “Sketching my Breakfast” art journal pages, and Ithen I moved along to the next video in my class…which took all the sketching to a new journal page.

Although I had sketched coffee cups and muffins, my next project turned into cuppie cakes.

The kiddos one-by-one came along and asked me to make cuppie cakes just like the ones in my page, they looked so yummy!  I guess you know you’re successful when…right??

One of the most fun parts of this fun, luscious little project is the “canvas” part of the page.  In our class, Miss Junelle told us that she likes to gesso together book pages before she uses them as a place to sketch and watercolor…

Now, I use lots of old book pages for lots of things, but I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the way she kept saying that she gesso’d three book pages together.  I listened to her on the video like 5 times, trying to see if that’s what she really meant.

Well, let me tell you, that’s what it was all about!  I pulled out some of my extra book pages and gesso’d them together (I would normally Mod Podge them).  And to my delight, not only did it work, but it gave the paper canvas this wonderful feel, and crunch, and texture.  Nothing like the stiffness and bendy that comes from Mod Podging the whole thing together!

What a dream!  And not only is the texture awesome, but the edges are really easy to fray up a bit, adding to the look and feel of tattered pages.

I love it!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prompt: Try using old book pages as a canvas…you can gesso the pages together to make a thicker batch to work on.  NeoColors work wonderfully on the gesso’d pages!  And if you haven’t read my Ode to NeoColors, check it out for some fun ways to use water-soluble wax crayons!

How-to Texture Your Journal Page with Caulk

How to add visual interest through using texture is an ongoing study for me.  I do so love adding the look of texture, using layers of papers and paints and shapes…but all of that adds only the look of layers and texture, in a very 2-dimensional way.

Adding visual interest through more 3-dimensional layers is really way more fun.  I love the way it looks and the way it feels.  I like having art that I just want to run my hands over.

When I’m working in the ole art journal, of course, 3-D can be a bit trickier.  If I get it too dimensional, I won’t be able to close the book, lol.  So finding a balance while playing in one of my journals is an ongoing thing around here.

Caulk is one of my favorite mediums for adding texture to my canvases and art journal pages (you might have seen some of my earlier postings using caulk, in my art journal and on canvas).  Great things about caulk: it’s cheap, it’s readily available, it comes in different styles and materials.  It mixes with color, you can use it to make subtle texture or very stiff texture…the list goes on and on.  It’s great stuff.

I’ve had a lot of people looking at that colorful (are you ever surprised at which one of your blog postings are the ones that everyone seems to look at the most??) page using caulk and punchinella.  I did that whole bit just to show the result of the two together, but it didn’t really have much of an end purpose for it other than that.

So I’ll share with you here a more art-journally page (is that a word??) where I’ve used that very technique as part of a finished journal page.

I did put paint down on the gesso’d paper before I started adding the other layers.  I also added the stenciled flowers on the background before the caulk.

I cut the punchinella into a curvy shape before taping it down onto the paper.

Texture using caulk and punchinella

And I used clear silicone caulk, mixed with a bit of acrylic craft paint, so that the flowers underneath would show through (as compared to the very colorful page in the earlier post, where I put down white caulk, let it dry and cure, and then painted on top of that).

I suppose it was because I mixed the cheap craft paint with the silicone, but it didn’t want to cure to a point where it wasn’t sticky.  I followed it a couple of days later with a light coating of Martha Stewart faux glaze (one of my free craigslist finds along the way), just on top of the caulk and not the whole page.  When that cured up, the tacky was all gone.

Then I just played on my art journal background like any other time.  I had a bear of a time keeping everyone’s grubby hands off while I was finishing this page, haha.  Since it took a bit longer than expected for the caulk to be touchable, I had this book open and out on my table for a few days…and anytime anyone walked by, they’d reach out a paw and touch to see if it was dry!

Prompt: I’d love to see if you try this technique out!  Drop me a comment with a post to your own blog posting and pics, or send me a pic, or leave a comment to tell us about how you use caulk to add texture.

How-to Prep a Children’s Board Book for an Art Journal, and My Little Board Book of Verses

I love using old children’s board books for projects…they’re easily available, usually cheap (if you pick them up at garage sales, thrift stores, or used book stores), and so many of them are great sizes for making into little stand-alone art journals or projects.

One of my faves in the past is My Manifesto board book (check that out here).  If you haven’t looked at it before, take a peek, it makes a great comparison with the one I’m playing with now…and I want to share with you what’s working so much better for me with this current little board book.

On my little book of manifestos, I prepped the board book by carefully peeling off the actual story part of the pages.  The book itself was pretty banged up before I got a hold of it.  So the slick, printed part of the pages was already peeling up a bit on most pages, and it didn’t seem to be that much of a chore to peel it all off.  Wrong.  It was quite the chore, I griped and fought with it and even had some pages that it didn’t all come off the pages.

I didn’t let any of that sweat me at the time, I just chalked it all up to adding lovely texture 🙂 With a bunch of gesso, the pages did come out to be a mostly even canvas to use for the book.  Some of the pages did keep the look of the fuzzies from where the paper had been peeled off, and some of the pages had some smooth parts and some fuzzy parts, lol.

This time around, I’ve gone a different route.

I didn’t try to peel anything up.  This time I used some very rough sand paper to sand all of the pages.

Brilliant!!!

This works way better.  I thought before that sanding was going to be way more work, and I was so incredibly wrong!  The sanding is less troublesome.  Sanding the pages gave a smoother and more pleasing canvas to work with.

You do not have to over-sand.  While much of the artwork will sand off from the printing, what you’re really going for is getting the plastic coating and the shine off of the pages.  Just about everything else can be covered up with gesso and paint (or whatever medium you’re using).

I do use a lot of NeoColors in my pages, so I did work at getting a lot of the printing off…so that I don’t have to worry so much about coverage.  And, I do like the texture and depth that a bit of the printing shows through the backgrounds.

Here’s what a page from my prepped book looks like:

The pages are a dream to work on, the smooth is so pleasing, I actually sat and ran my hands over the pages for a while before I ever got to working in it!  This little book is the perfect shape, very square.  And it has the perfect number of pages (one page at a time, not two-page spreads) for this project.

My hubby and I are taking a discipleship class together at our church, called Experiencing God (put out by LifeWay).  One of our weekly activities is to memorize that week’s Bible verse.  The class has 13 weeks and 13 memorization verses.  This little book has 13 pages.  Serendipity.  And making a page in the little book for each verse each week gives me a lovely art project to do along with my class and actually helps me memorize the verses, cuz I’m thinking about how the look to me visually.

Here’s the first two pages:

 

 

“I am the vine, you are the branches; if you stay in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”  ~ John 15:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  ~ Psalm 20:7

 

 

 

Prompt:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  Use it in your art journal, build the page around how the page looks to you in your mind’s eye.  It’s incredibly satisfying.

Prompt 2:  Find a board book and re-purpose it.  They make for great gifts and great inspirational books to carry with you!!