Stamping Christmas Cards (sorry it’s so early)

I’m happy to report that I’m working way ahead of schedule this year in the area of Christmas cards. Year before last I stitched some Christmas card beauties and, frankly, set the bar way too high for myself, as witnessed by last year when I barely wrote replies to those industrious souls who kept us on their list. It’s a tough grind that one wants to keep going right? (Yes we do – it’s worth it – handwritten snail mail rocks!). In some cases it’s our only reachout to some of our favorite people! And once my progeny moved out of the house the ready-made family photo was no longer available as card material, so I had to come up with something (dog photos? Scruffy is pretty Scruffy-licious!)

Draw a Few/Carve Once – Stamp Lots

One of the things I love about rubber stamp carving is that it allows me to easily share a creative idea across multiple media. I’ve just experimented with paper here but I can see some fun to be had in stamping material with these (handmade stamped canvas gift bags?).

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I sketched so many trees before I figured this one out! I like the way it comes out after Sharpie embellishments.
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So many things to love…

The drawing for the tree stamp is partially showing top right, so that’s fun to see in it’s original state (the candy cane and heart you’ll see in a minute). Then the poinsettia, which I stamped in a darker red to accentuate the spaces, and also in a lighter red so I could marker-outline the edges. Right now I can’t decide which I like more. Let’s make 10 of each!

I think those are the winners in this year’s contest for “Which Rubber Stamp Carvings Will Make This Year’s Christmas Cards” (the acronym isn’t worth it…this contest may never happen again).

Runners Up

Candy canes big and small deserve air time, and I’m here to make sure that happens.

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The heart candy canes are my own design (though I doubt I’m the first to think of it so I won’t be seeking a patent) and I think they’ll look great on the sealed back of a Christmas/Valentine’s Day card envelope.

The larger candy cane stands alone as a tribute to lazy rubber stamp carving. It was easy, so I did it, and I can’t imagine where I’ll use it. Such is the way with rubber stamp carving sometimes. (Good news: I used a scrap piece from another stamp to make it, so no full rubber stamp lives were lost in the making of this candy cane stamp.) Phew! Thank you for your concern.

Sending love and thoughts of light. What art are you working on today?

 

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Zentangle: Is It Cheaper Than Therapy?

I’ve seen the word “zentangle” come up in “adult coloring” searches and have been thinking about it for awhile. This weekend I decided to do an image search on “zentangle designs” and I dove right into the vat of kool-aid. Now I’m a zentangle addict with some fine-tip Stabilo colored pens on order (due to arrive any day now, but who’s counting. I am. That’s who’s counting.)

It All Started with Chisel Tip Sharpies and a Kleenex Box

I *think* I bought this set of Sharpies for a banner that never got made (how else does one find oneself in ownership of a full rainbow set of large chisel tip Sharpies?).

Then there was the Kleenex box in my office that has white flower designs. I had a few Sharpies in my office pen holder and lots of time on my hands listening in on business meetings…so doodling began. Along the way I realized that these big Sharpie markers had a calligraphic edge so they got carted out to my office for further doodling (pictures forthcoming, once the masterpieces are complete…of course. Reminder: There are 6 sides to a Kleenex-box-work-of-art. Have patience people. Reminder to Self: This Kleenex box “work of art” is destined for the Recycle Bin. Art Everywhere!)

What Would These Sharpies Look Like in My Art Journal?

My mom is my first official Art Supporter and she enrolled me once in a brief calligraphy class that involved “nibs” and “ink” and some really cool lettering (I was probably 12 yrs old). As soon as I started messing with these chisel tip markers it all started coming back…

First I tried practicing the calligraphic strokes I remembered
First I tried practicing the calligraphic strokes I remembered, plus some general mark-making.

As you can see on the next page I started one of those “zentangle” designs we used to make in kindergarten (Instructions: scribble a big set of connecting loops then color the inside. The beginning of many refrigerator-art-masterpieces…not to mention adding wax paper, crayon shavings and an iron.  We were all artists in kindergarten and we still are!!)

Here’s another angle of the tangle (ok that was fun):

Crayons graduated to Sharpies...and more ideas are generated...
Crayons graduated to Sharpies…and more ideas are generated. I barely got done with the Sharpies before I was off and running in my sketch book with some fine-tip markers.

 

Taking It to the Image Search

Once I realized the similarity between our childhood scribble homework from kindergarten and the “official art form known as zentangle” I was off and running.

My favorite image search engine provided helpful filters (in lovely rainbow colors) to show me what everyone is up to in the zentangle world (it’s a whole world y’all). I saw “hand” and “step by step” and started making some marks.

Hand Patterns in Zentangle

When I saw what the world is doing with handprints and zentangle I had to get me some of that. So I made the old turkey beginning handprint with a pencil and started doodling.

Here' the first one I did of my hand using a couple of super fine black sharpies.
Here’ the first one I did of my hand using a couple of super fine black sharpies.

 

Here's my mom's hand with some different designs.
Here’s my mom’s hand with some different designs. I love the 3D designs and keep trying to emulate them.

 

The railroad tracks were the first design on this handprint (hard act to follow).
The railroad tracks were the first design on this hand print (hard act to follow, but easy to learn from the free online tutorial graphic). The “tendon design” on the thumb turned out pretty cool. The middle finger is a 3D pattern gone wrong (and saved at the last minute :).

 

And then I got hold of my daughter's Stabilo point 88 color markers...
And then I got hold of my daughter’s Stabilo point 88 color markers…Oh Happy Day!

 

Another "selfie" with colors
Another “selfie-hand” with colors

Shortly afterwards my daughter packed up her supplies/belongings for college and I was left to my own devices. I promptly ordered another set of markers similar to hers and am awaiting arrival…

I tried to use my “in-house” fine-tips to create more color tangles but they dried up after a few marks. I couldn’t wait for my ordered markers to arrive (Impatience IS  my middle name) so I went to my local craft store and dropped $5 on a sale set of fine-tip markers that bled more than expected in my sketchbook but still turned out some fun results.

Bigger markers - same fun
Bigger markers – same fun

Check out zentangle designs online y’all! It’s relaxing, fun and quick to spur new original designs. (I think these could make cool cards too! And rubber carving options – oh my!).

Mandala Magic

My Valentine’s Day gift turned into an amazing kismet experience!

My sweetie got me an amazing book he found at a used book sale: “The Language of the Goddess” by Marija Gimbutas. He bought it for the patterns (which he knew I could use in my art – and he is so right!) but here’s the fun surprise we discovered in the unwrapping.

Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess
Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess; I was flipping through the book and when I saw this illustration I remembered this mandala I colored in the past.
Something I colored awhile back; "Coloring Mandalas" by Susanne F. Fincher
Something I colored awhile back; “Coloring Mandalas” by Susanne F. Fincher

Turns out the illustrations in Susanne’s book cite the Marija Gimbutas book more than once. WHAT A FIND!! It was a really fun connection point to make on a Valentine’s Day venture.

Palms and Patterns

Today I was kind of all over the map. I worked crazy hours in meetings and also seemed to manage some interesting art in my breaks. Sometimes it seems that one feeds the other…

On my lunch break I took (daylight) pictures of the palm pieces I’ve gathered over the last 5 years. These are pieces of palm trees (usually really tall ones) that fall to the street in wind storms where I live. These storms aren’t necessarily “rare” here, but they happen seasonally and for the most part we don’t see this kind of stuff in the streets on a regular basis.

But then there’s a crazy wind/rain storm that happens for a couple of days (if we’re lucky) and people tend to leave them in the streets and sidewalks for awhile. So the last storm is responsible for my cool eucalyptus leaves hitting the ground from so high up (poor worms/bugs who were feasting on their edges! They’re left with the remaining leaves I guess.). That recent storm also left some new palm pieces I came across in a recent dog walk.

Current doggity pic - he's not happy here because I'm heading out of town
Recent doggity pic – he’s not happy here because I’m heading out of town. The scowl is obvious.

Which inspired me to post a bit of a gallery here, of my palm canvas finds. The first two I came across were way too big and intimidating for me to start painting on, but I have a vision for this medium, and the smaller pieces I came across recently seemed like a good testing ground.

My first palm canvas
My first palm canvas – I imagine a giraffe on this one
close-up of the grain
close-up of the grain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one sits in a corner of my office, by turns mocking and inspiring me.

my 2nd palm canvas - sitting in a rocking chair It's huge y'all
my 2nd palm canvas – sitting in a rocking chair – It’s huge y’all

This one arrived at a craft fair as possible table decoration, and when they didn’t have room for it they said out loud, “I guess we should just throw it away.” And my supersonic-craft hearing kicked in and I ran across the room to say, “I’d like to stow that in the backseat of my car, if that’s ok with you?” So now I have a life-size palm frond on which to paint my next masterpiece. Get started already, huh?

my 3rd palm canvas(ses); the small middle piece is for test paint
my 3rd palm canvas(ses); the small middle piece is for test paint
close-up of the cool grain
close-up of the cool grain

Is it just me, or do the 3rd palms look like Alien casings? I’m not sure if I’ll be painting on the front or back of those (which is all relative, in relation to the tree right?).

So I’m excited about the 3rd palms because they’re not as big as #1 and #2, so whatever I paint on them can’t possibly be as serious as what happens on #1 and #2, right? Anyways, I picked up a stub palm frond that I can try all my acrylic pain on first. So nervous I am, with these palm fronds. I see the possibilities but I’m not sure how to get there.

[Brief Interlude]

I tried to use my lunchtime sun to also capture some better pictures of my drawings without much luck. But I did capture this, which I like. The wind kept blowing the paper off the stump I was using, so I grabbed this glass orb to weigh it down (used to be part of a solar light in the garden). Turned into a nice shot, I think.

Reflections: Going, Going, Gone
Reflections: Going, Going, Gone

[End Interlude]

During lunch I also separated (OCD fashion) all the quilting squares mom sent me recently. Turns out there’s lots of similar patterns in different colors, and that got me thinking about free-form embroidery options.

So I picked a square and decided to start sewing French knots in the loopy pattern. Turns out there’s a cursive capital “L” in the loopy pattern that I didn’t see when I started.

I started with red French knots and saw the pattern; ready to continue with yellow "L's" on the next row
I started with red French knots and saw the pattern; ready to continue with yellow “L’s” on the next row
I just realized these "L's" are visible when this is right side up and upside down. Escher!!
I just realized these “L’s” are readable when this is right side up and upside down. Escher!!

This is one of my first free-form embroideries – what fun! I have big plans for these L’s involving beads and outlines of other colored threads. Stay tuned. It was fun to free-form on this square, but it’s interesting working without the tension of a hoop. By the last “L” I think I finally had it figured out.

the other patterns in different colors
the other patterns in different colors (see the cursive “L”?!)

I wish I could sew all night, but time for bed. See you in the new creative AM.

 

Eucalyptus and Leaf Rubbings

I’m happy to report that I got a tiny bit of exercise today walking to run an errand. And Scruffy is happy to report that he got a walk today!

Scruffy Momo as a wee one. He's 8 years old this month and the exact same size.
Scruffy Momo as a wee one. He’s 8 years old this month and the exact same size.

On our walk I picked up some fun things to make art with. The first was a set of eucalyptus leaves that got blown down in a recent wind storm we had.

Eucalyptus leaves
Eucalyptus leaves

What I love most about them is all the chomping bites that were taken out of all the leaves before the little branch got blown down. All the leaves on the ground were chewed up like this and it was all I could do not to gather them all up to take home with me. Because I. Love. Leaf. Rubbings. A. Lot.

"Indian Feathers"
“Indian Feathers”

I’m addicted to the unexpected textures of the leaves that I often can’t see with my “naked eye,” and also to the variety I can create with different colors. My sketch pad cover has a great bumpy rough texture that I like to use as a background/stage. Maybe you can see it in the background colors on the close-up of this one.

"Going, Going, Gone"
“Going, Going, Gone”

But mostly I love the mystery of coloring over something to find out what shape it is. I figured out today that it reminds me of these books.

It took me at least 5 minutes to figure out the right search term for this dinosaur!
It took me at least 5 minutes to figure out the right search term for this dinosaur!

Ah the memories (“Yes & Know” so clever!), and now the smirks (“HOURS and HOURS of “BY-YOURSELF ENJOYMENT” – their capitalization, which also happens to be a registered trademark apparently). Uhm, oh my…but only in retrospect. At the time, my mom included these as part of her genius “Travel Treat Bags,” which we took on any long car/plane ride, and since I was an only child and she was the only adult…these were pretty fun for both of us! (P.S. I used the “Travel Treat Bag” strategy countless times with my young’uns – highly recommended. The younger the child the cheaper the “treats.” They tend to lose the pieces en route – it’s all about short-term fun.)

So anywho’s – grab a greenish leaf from the ground, a piece of scrap paper from the counter and a pencil and see what secrets that leaf has to offer. I guarantee you’ll reveal life-giving veins and edge details you couldn’t see with your indecently “naked eye.” I would love to see pics of your findings! Post a link in the comments and we can start a gallery!

 

Coloring meet-up!

I love the meetup.com site – such a quick way to find folks nearby with similar interests! Usually my groups meet in other parts of town, but tonight I got to attend my across-the-street neighbor’s meet-up for coloring!! So fun! Our hostess provided lots of books and coloring tools, but what really interested me is how many folks came with their own supplies, and in same cases pictures already started that they wanted to finish (and their own portable ott lights…I WANT!!! My ott lights have a very heavy base and are not fun to tote around the house, much less across the street.).

I also need to order a set of gel-pens immediately, some of which must have glitter in them. Because of this y’all!

dragonfly wing (w/ glitter pen!!) thru a magnifying circle on my ott lite!
dragonfly wing

(be sure to click on it for a close-up of glittery goodness)

Unfortunately I didn’t have an ott light while coloring this, so the detail could be better. But who cares about that when there’s shiny glitter!!

(plus I like how my stalwart home ott light provided a magnifying circle)

 

 

dragonfly
dragonfly

 

A broader picture. I think he needs more color but I ran out of time. I’ll tend to him later (with my new glitter pens…mwhahaha!)

Actually I think pencils could fill in some of those spaces nicely…(calm down crazy artist who needs new supplies all the time.)

 

Another thing I really liked about tonight’s meet-up is the camaraderie and support between artists. We really took time to look at each other’s work (past and present), commenting on things we loved and giving support and encouragement for stuff not yet done. We all need that extra nudge past the “I think I hate this” moment that usually precedes an amazing work of art. My favorite advice is to put it away for awhile and look at it again later. Amazement usually follows, if even just at the magnitude of the effort and the obvious step forward it represents from your past stuff. We’re moving forward all the time but it seems so hard sometimes to note that forward progress while it’s happening.

I can’t wait for my March time off to focus on these (most important) things full time! Sabbatical here I come!