My rusty weathered heart I give to you

You know how one thing leads to another – I was sanding a cedar block this morning when I remembered a technique I developed for a faux rust finish a couple of years ago.

Sanding this block gave me an idea . . . .

Aha! I though. That is perfect for Valentine’s day gift for SHARDS readers!!

Here’s a great quote to go with it, from poet John Mark Green. “Beneath the rust and grime which dulls the shine of our weathered hearts, joy patiently waits to be rediscovered” You can write that on the tag you attach to the heart.

So here are the materials and steps – you should have most of this stuff, especially if you tried the faux turquoise finish I posted several weeks ago.

What you will need:

  • A scrap of coarse-grit sandpaper – used is fine
  • A scrap of 300# watercolor paper or card stock
  • Acrylic paint – Quinacridone gold, Aqua Green
  • Tsukineko Walnut Ink – Java
  • Twig
  • Ribbon scrap
  • Heavy-duty hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Tag (optional)

Steps:

Get some coarse-grit sandpaper and some scissors

Fold the sandpaper in half, and draw half a heart on the fold – this one was about four inches wide

Unfold the sandpaper heart

With a glue stick, adhere the sandpaper heart to a piece of watercolor paper to reinforce it

Cut out around the reinforced sandpaper heart

Paint a coat of Quinacridone Gold acrylic on the surface of the heart

Spray randomly and lightly with Java walnut ink

With your fingertip, brush on a teensy accent of aqua green acrylic for a dash of patina

With a heavy-duty hole punch, make two small holes on the edges of the heart

Poke a twig through the holes, letting it stick out on either side

Add some ribbon (you could also use wire) and a note tag if you like

Optional – hang it on the nearest bird beak

Honestly, this is such a fun little diversion – and you can make several of these in less that an hour. Get a small tree limb and stick it in a flower pot and hang these guys from the branches. How totally Martha Stewart!

Sometimes we just need an artsy-craftsy break from our serious artwork, plus this is a technique that you might find useful in your mixed-media work. Happy early Valentine’s day, my weathered, rusty-hearted friends!

Art, alignment and your New Year’s Resolution explained – maybe

I was working in the studio yesterday on a striped background for a painting workshop, and when it was finished, I assumed it was going to be a horizontal composition. Then I wondered. . . why had I assumed that? Why was horizontal my default?

So I asked my Facebook friends what they thought. I wanted to see how weird was I compared to them. I posted the painting in three separate pics (combined, below) and asked if they like it better horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. (Remember, this isn’t a finished painting, just a striped canvas, so content isn’t really an issue).

When the FB comments started, they were all over the wall, so to speak. Some people gave reasons, others just stated a preference. Some changed their minds, some had some cool out-of-the-box replies.

I decided that different kinds of people like different linear arrangements – well, duh. But why? Here’s an article from Vanseo Designs that explains part of the reason:

The Meaning of Lines: Developing A Visual Grammar

 Horizontal lines are parallel to the horizon (hence the name). They look like they’re lying down, at rest, asleep. They suggest calm and quiet, a relaxed comfort.

Horizontal lines can’t fall over. They accentuate width. They’re stable and secure. The convey an absence of conflict, a restful peace. Horizontal lines by their connection to the horizon are associated with earth bound things and idea.

Vertical lines are perpendicular to the horizon. They are filled with potential energy that could be released if they were to fall over. Vertical lines are strong and rigid. They can suggest stability, especially when thicker. Vertical lines accentuate height and convey a lack of movement, which is usually seen as horizontal.

They stretch from the earth to the heavens and are often connected with religious feelings. Their tallness and formality may give the impression of dignity.

Diagonal lines are unbalanced. They are filled with restless and uncontrolled energy. They can appear to be either rising or falling and convey action and motion. Their kinetic energy and apparent movement create tension and excitement. Diagonal lines are more dramatic than either horizontal or vertical lines.

Diagonal lines can also appear solid and unmoving if they are holding something up or at rest against a vertical line or plane.

MY CONCLUSION, and how to decide on your New Year’s resolution:

After you have chosen your preference and know whether you are a Horizontal, Vertical, or Diagonal person, you can write a really cool New Year’s resolution. To wit:

  • Horizontal people should resolve to get out of their comfort zones. Take a chance. Eat a squid taco. Experiment with fluorescent paint on a burlap canvas. Paint it with your toes.
  • Vertical people should resolve to lighten up. Loose the formality. Eat a Cheesy Jane’s beanburger and don’t use a napkin. Toss the oil paint realism and go for a Jackson Polluck style with enamels. Get high on the fumes.
  • Diagonal people (oh, how I wish I were one) should resolve to channel their crazy energy. Eat tofu, drink green tea. Paint with only shades of gray on white paper. Yeah, that’ll last about ten seconds.

See what one little question on Facebook can lead to? OK, now that I’ve helped you with your self-analysis and your resolutions, I’m headed out for a squid taco. Ewwww.

Happy New Year! And thanks for reading SHARDS, no matter how weird it gets.

Exquisite ephemera

My friend Lisa Stamper Meyer had a great studio show and sale yesterday that showcased her recent painting trip to France. She (lucky woman) enjoyed a time of deep artistic exploration during a month-long residency at the Chateau Orquevaux.

Here’s a piece that I purchased from her yesterday. It reflects some of her signature materials and themes, which came into sharp focus during her journey – and everyone loves her ravens:

Mixed media collage, Lisa Stamper Meyer

Lisa is a master in both collecting and using “ephemera,” those wonderful scraps of vintage paper that add intrigue to artwork. Fortunately for her friends, she brought back packages of French papers, letters, and book pages to share with us. Look at some of the cool stuff I got!

There is something about using authentic letters and book pages that somehow makes one’s artwork more precious than using reproductions.

When you are working with ephemera and printed pages, remember that the same guidelines of composition apply – Alignment, Breathing Space, and Thirds.

Here’s a preliminary collage arrangement of some of the pieces that I got from Lisa:

collage composition practice

And here are a couple of tips for YOU that will help when you use ephemera or printed media.

ephemera composition tips

  • If there is a border on the torn paper strip, use it to good advantage by reinforcing the visual border of your work (see on left edge how the black border stops the eye from going off the page).
  • If you have one torn edge and one straight edge, the torn edge should face into the work (see the top edge) – again, this focuses the viewer toward the interior of the composition.
  • When you use a section of text, align it into the center. If it’s aligned away from the center, the viewer will be inclined to turn the composition outward to try and read it, and that will redirect the eye off the page.

Next time Lisa goes to France, I am going too, with four empty suitcases to fill with nifty French ephemera! (I wish) What is it about printed materials foreign languages that is so intriguing?

If you’re interested in materials like this and can’t get to Chateau Orquevaux, there are good sources on Pinterest for vintage French correspondence like this one

There are also design sites like this one that sell more vintage collage and decoupage ephemera that you can shake a glue stick at -:Southern Blackberry Designs

Somehow, though, going to France on a residency program to collect ephemera sounds a little more appealing. Thanks, Lisa, for sharing your experience, your work (and your fantastic ephemera) with us!

The art and science of aromatherapy – essential oils and Alzheimer’s Disease

I’ve studied and used essential oils since 1989 and was actually teaching workshops on their uses way before I began teaching art workshops. In the late ’90s, Dr. Bill Kurtin and I partnered in sharing research-based information about aromatherapy with social agencies and college classes, and set up our informational website, called Chemaroma, in 2006.

Bill is a biochemist who chaired the Chemistry Department at Trinity University for many years. We’re married now, and since Bill retired from teaching, he’s had time to do more research on current studies about essential oils. He’s just written an article for our Chemaroma blog summarizing recent research on essential oils and Alzheimer’s Disease. Here’s the link to the complete article, which I think is wonderful and encouraging.

In his article, Bill writes, “The research . . ., as well as much work not mentioned, strongly suggest that EOs may provide an excellent alternative, natural, widely available, and inexpensive treatment for AD, particularly for easing the symptoms of the disease.” He writes for a general audience, who, like me, have trouble with scientific complexities – whew! It’s a fascinating premises that could help millions.

If you have not any in-depth reading on the science of aromatherapy and need an introduction, here’s a good background article from the University of Maryland Medical Center. And, or course, you can always go to our website, Chemaroma, for more info.

I’ve always relied on Clary Sage essential oil for getting past creative blocks – the name in Latin means “clear eye” – and its smell is intoxicating.  Here’s another take on essential oils from an artist on the Craftsy site.

Bill and I are especially interested in essential oil research that pertains to our aging population – anything that will help all of us stay alive, engaged, and creative longer is worth pursuing! Read and share the article, Are Essential Oils Useful in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.” It’s a good one.

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Who owns your work – and where did you find that photo, pal??

copyright

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the torturous, mind-bending subject of copyright in the digital age to an audience of first-rate artists at the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts.

Copyright issues are of particular importance to artists  – one, because a visual artist’s work can be so easily copied and distributed digitally these days, and, two, because most artists use or take photos as reference sources or use them in mixed-media pieces.

The presentation was limited by time and scope, but I created a Power Point slide show to illustrate some specifics. For this blog, I converted it to a video (who knew you could do that?? Live and learn!) because I wanted to share the presentation with you guys. It works just like a regular Power Point, but if you want to read a slide, you need to pause it. Of course, you won’t hear my not-so-brilliant comments, but you can get the main points.

Many thanks to Charlotte Cox and the Coppini for inviting me to present! It gave me a chance to brush up on those points that I used to teach at Trinity University in my Computer Science class. And, as I said in the summary, below, copyright is a slippery subject, rather like trying to nail Jell-o to a wall.

chectsheet

So get out there, create, and Steal Like an Artist – but respect the laws of copyright!

 

 

 

 

Last-minute gift tags

This is a quickie post – we’re all holiday-busy! Four years ago I designed some little gift tags for SHARDS readers, and I actually needed to print out some for myself this morning.

I found the old post from 2012 and decided to share it again with you guys. Here’s what the gift tags look like – you can just print out a sheet of six on card stock, fold them and attach them.

xmastags1 xmastags2

Get your tags here!! And happy wrapping!

Stack of books and other presents in basket. Christmas decoratio

Big problem, but I got it covered . . .

1

My nifty new ultra-cheap ultra-cool floor covering in the studio workshop room

So when I moved into the new Studio, two of the rooms had wood-grain floors that I was really afraid of messing up with paint and glue and art stuff. I tried a drop cloth, but kept tripping over it and saying bad words. I tried plastic sheets, and that was worse. Think Attack of the Saran Wrap Monster.

In desperation, I went to Home Depot and asked a nice guy named Dave what might work. He showed me this fantastic indoor/outdoor carpet that is a perfect solution!

I’m sharing this with you guys in case you need something cheap and durable for your workroom floor. It’s called Elevations Indoor/Outdoor carpeting, and it comes in 12″ and 6″ widths. They cut it for you with a giant machine to whatever length you want. I got enough to completely cover two big rooms for less than $100. I kid you not.  Cheaper than canvas drop cloths.

This is where I taped a seam together with clear packing tape - works great.

This is where I taped a seam together with clear packing tape – works great.

The sheets of carpet lie flat and are light enough that I could lay them down by myself – I moved half of the furniture to one side of the room, lined the carpet up and rolled it out part-way, moved the furniture back on that half, then – well, you get the picture. No glue, no tape – when you move out, you just roll it up!

3

You can see how nicely the edge of the carpet meets the door – it’s not glued down and it still lies flat.

4

It has a tightly-woven grain – not bad looking at all!

 This carpeting comes in four colors – I picked “Stone Beige”, of course – Neutrals ‘R’ Me – but they also had a pretty blue, a grassy green, and a nice gray. It’s worth the purchase just to see them cut the stuff with the 20′ long cutting machine. Rowwrr.

And that’s your Studio Tip for the Day, kids – by the way, don’t you just love the way Home Depot smells when you walk in? It makes you feel all strong, like you really want to buy a chain saw or a flat of Sheetrock. Yeah!!

Elevations at Home Depot – great for art studio floors – yay. Hmmm, wonder if they’ll give me a discount for this free advertising  . . .?

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Product review and freebie

I’m always looking for new products that aren’t too gimmicky and have multiple uses – this Metallic Creative Medium seems to fit that description.

I ordered some of this CM Metallic from Imagine Crafts, thinking it would work well on my earthenware face shards. Here are some pics and comments:

Here's the Metallic Medium - kind of a creamy paste in a jar. It comes in bronze, copper, gold, and silver.

Here’s the Metallic Medium – kind of a creamy paste in a jar. It comes in bronze, copper, gold, and silver.

1

First, I sprayed the fired earthenware faces with Walnut Ink, as usual, and wiped it off to emphasize depth and detail.

3

I applied the medium with my finger to the clay surfaces, trying out all four colors. It is very transparent on the clay and I needed two coats. It also seals the surface – that may be a plus in some circumstances.

2

Left to right – copper, gold and silver – very subtle on the clay. I added pigment and applied onto some stamped black paper – again, very transparent.

6

Finally, I added acrylic paint and rubbed some Pearl-Ex into the surface while it was tacky – lotsa bling.

Verdict for using CM Metallic on earthenware – 6 out of 10. It’s a little too transparent for my purposes, although two or three coats work well.

Best quality – it dries super quickly, so you could stencil it on a surface and go over it with watercolor or (of course) walnut ink almost immediately.

I checked on Amazon and somebody was selling it for $18 a jar – EEK! But  JoAnn’s has it online for about $6, which makes me think they might have it in their store as well for that price.

This is kind of a cool project using the medium that would lend itself to lots of spring-off ideas – I like the notion of covering the blocks with vintage pages – and maybe vintage photos?

Creative Blocks

Click image for directions

Freebie time!! I have four extra jars of this medium, one in each color, that I’m happy to share with you SHARDS guys. Just leave a comment for me and the first four people can have a jar to play with.

The only catch is that you need to be in San Antonio to pick them up at the Studio, because I don’t want to box and mail them. Yeah, I know – chintzy. Sigh.


I may not be pretty, but I work!!

I may not be pretty, but I work!!

SPEAKING OF FREEBIES and such, and because we all help each other out, I have an artist friend who is in need of a cheap car. Really cheap, just reliable transportation of any kind or condition or color. If you’re getting rid of an old vehicle or can donate one, please email me and I’ll pass the info along to her. She can afford to pay $1000 toward getting some wheels, but that’s about it. Help!

Thanks, as always, and stay tuned for more Studio updates – in the meantime, go out and play!

 

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Rainy day re-discovered books, and FF winner

Does this sound familiar? You’re looking for a particular book in your overcrowded art book stash, and you find one or two that you forgot you even bought. You check them out – hey, wow! These are good! Just what you were looking for and didn’t even know it! Serendipity strikes again.

That just happened to me on this rainy stay-in morning, so I’m sharing these with you – the first one is Mixed Media Books by Gabe Cyr. It is a treasury of mixed media ideas, and not just for re-imagined books.

The Tools and Material section alone is worth the price of the book, including a great page on adhesives with a chart comparing and contrasting different ways to stick stuff to other stuff. And the photos are drool-y.

Mixed Media Books by Gabe Cyr

Mixed Media Books by Gabe Cyr

 

It's about more than just altered books

It’s about more than just altered books

 

There's a nice section on collaboration

There’s a nice section on collaboration

 

The second is a book published in 2010 by Annie Lockhart called Objects of Reflection: A Soulful Journey through Assemblage. Annie Lockhart’s recent work is based on Soulful Painting, but this is all about collections and construction.

This book is wonderful for anyone doing assemblage because it has maps and legends of the components. And it has another invaluable section on joining things together. The book is printed on tan paper with monochromatic photos – interesting.

Prompts and inspirations

Prompts and inspirations

A legend of components

A legend of components

Objects of Reflectin by Annie Lockhart

Objects of Reflectin by Annie Lockhart

One big fat request: I’m giving you the Amazon links so you can “look inside” but if you want to order these books, please PLEASE check first with your independent book store and see if they have them or can get them for you!!  If you’re in San Antonio, here’s a link to The Twig Book Shop.

And now – tah dah – the winner of the Cat Starter Kit Friday Freebie is – – – – – Carlos Haun. Carlos, email me about how to collect your Shaman Kitty kit.

kitphoto

 

Anatomy of an art purchase scam

karma

Here’s how it works – or doesn’t, in this case. You get an email from someone who is interested in your work:

Dear Lyn,
Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creative works on

your website and i will like you to get back with more details if they
are still available for purchase. I will appreciate an urgent reply.
Best Regards, Betty J

Sounds a little weird, but what’s the harm in following up, right? I mean, who purchases art online without knowing the size or price?? I was curious – and a bit  suspicious.

 Hi, Betty,
Thanks so much for your inquiry. Some of the pieces are available. They are on display now at a gallery in Kerrville As far as I know, 2/9 and 3/9 have not sold. I’ll be glad to call the gallery and make sure.  What else can I tell you about them that might be helpful? Sizes? Price? Thanks again,
 Lyn

Good old Betty writes back, her grammar slipping a bit in her excitement to purchase my “creative works.”

Hi Lyn,
  Thanks so much for your response to my query about those creative
  works. I will like to proceed with the purchase of both pieces . Can
  you pls confirm the actual size and  price  of the two pieces so I
  can know how best to proceed.  I will also like to know  what inspire you
  to make the pieces. I will look forward to hearing from you soon.
 
  Best Regards,
  Betty.

Obviously, there’s something fishy here – I’m getting more and more curious about how it will play out. I give Betty the info about the pieces and what “inspire” me – I’ll spare you that part. I tell her that both pieces together will be $900. She writes back.

 Hi Lyn,
 It is nice to hear back from you. I will like to proceed with the
 purchase of both pieces. I think they are lovely works and I hope to
 give them a good home. I am presently away on vacation but I should be
 back in few days.

 1481 NE 104th St
 Miami Shores, FL 33138

 Meanwhile, can you pls get back with your mailing address and phone
 number so I can inform my husband on where to forward the payment. I
 can have him send the payment asap. About shipping, you can handle it
 from your side to my mailing address above or I can forward your
 contact info to the local cartage company handling my shipment. They
 can arrange FedEx or UPS pick up of the artworks from your studio.

 I will look forward to hearing from you so I can know how best to
 proceed. Cheers.

 

Husband’s assistant? She implies that there’s money there. Obviously, I go online and check the address – there’s no such person at that address, but it’s in a very swanky neighborhood in Miami Shores, Florida. Still curious, I send ol’ Betty the mailing address at my studio and then kind of forget about it for a week or so.

Lo and behold, last Saturday, as I’m talking to a friend at the studio, the mailman drops of an urgent delivery envelope with a check for $2300 inside made out to Lyn Belisle Studio. The check and the bank appear to be quite legit. I have no idea where it came from until I get an email from Betty that evening – hmmm –

Hi Lyn,
Hope this message finds you well. I am very sorry I have not been able
to get in touch for the past couple of days. It has been a very busy
time for my family with my sister’s wedding and a big move so I have
been away from my computer.

Anyway, I will like to confirm that the payment was sent by my
husband’s assistant this week and he was advise it will arrives on
Saturday or Monday via USPS with tracking number (
9405501699320079030307 ) so kindly be on the look out for it.
Best Regards,
Betty.

I write back:

Hi, Betty,
I received the check on Saturday and I am thoroughly confused about the amount. It is far greater than the price of the work that you requested. Can you clarify? I am grateful, but want to make sure the transaction is fair and accurate for you.Thanks ever so much, Lyn

And then . . .KA – CHING! What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

Hi Lyn,
I got your email now. Thanks for the update. I am so excited you have
received the payment and can’t wait to have the artworks on my wall. I
hope to give them a very good home and enjoy the pieces for many
years. Regarding the check , my husband made a terrible mistake and overpaid
you because he didn’t have full details of the transaction since I was
too busy when he sent it. I am very sorry for the confusion but I will
like you to go ahead and deposit the check, deduct the cost of the
pieces plus shipping to my vacation address below . Then you can
forward the difference back to him.

Kindly acknowledge this email as soon as you can. Thanks.

Best Regards,
Betty.

That rascally husband – don’t ya hate it when they make terrible mistakes? I told Betty that I was returning the check. I’ve heard nothing from her since. Surprise!

This is apparently a common scam, often aimed at artists. There are examples of it all over the Internet, but I was surprised at a couple of things – one, how quickly she befriended and flattered  me and developed a story line about her family, complete with personal touches.

The second thing was that the impact of a real check being delivered through official mail has a lot of impact even though you know it’s not a legitimate transaction – who couldn’t use an extra $2300? And it was not an exorbitant over-payment, just tempting enough to be plausible. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to prove anything without actually depositing the check and agreeing to the sale.

Anything like this happen to any of you? For me, it was interesting and merely annoying, but I imagine it could be devastating for someone who fell for it and ended up having to pay a lot of money back. Here’s a good link for artists about such slimy scammy matters: www.artscams.com/

So, does anybody want to buy these two fine pieces of art? They’re available 🙂

Have a lovely day – and be careful out there.