Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kindred Art Spirits

Mary Ann and I

On Thursday I met my friend Mary Ann at her house, loaded up her car with paints and canvas, watched her hug her husband goodbye and the two of us headed up north to her cottage in the center of Michigan where we brainstormed, painted, read, ate, laughed and shopped. It was exactly what I needed to refresh myself before the busiest time of year starts for me.

I'll be going back to my before and after school program and classes will be starting soon. With fall comes more orders and more opportunities to sell. I returned from my trip with 25 painted canvases and a lot more ideas.

I have to admit I did not take any clay with me and there were times when I wished I would have, but I really wanted to do collage while I was away, so I left the clay behind. However, I'm planning on embellishing some of the canvases with clay pieces; I'm just not sure with what yet.

Here are some pictures of my trip..
This is the beginning stages of an altered collaged book

I will put clay on this

Brand new canvas waiting to be painted

Painted canvases dry on newspapers

Big kitchen table to work at

Even though this was a clear night
the weather was cool and rainy.

We drove through the countryside so I could take pictures

We found time to cook!

The beginning of a collage

After spending the weekend in a frenzied art-a-thon we vowed that we would get together more often during the year to inspire and motivate each other to paint and create. We really work well together, bouncing ideas off of each other, instructing one another in different techniques and challenging each other to explore art further than we ever have.

I admire Mary Ann's quiet determination as she puts together her art, patiently taking hours to complete one canvas. Each step she takes is deliberate and thought out. Mary Ann loves my free spirited approach to making a collage or painting a canvas. My brush flits and swirls across the canvas as I quickly fill the white spaces with rainbows of colors.

Mary Ann and I wish we could have a studio where we could meet each day, to paint and laugh, to listen to Enya and Coldplay and to drink hot tea in English tea cups. Until then though, I'm going to try hard to keep making art in my own little world, cause that's when I'm happiest and feel complete.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Painting Faces

The last two Saturdays I spent some time painting faces at two parties I went to. I thought it would be fun to show a few of the designs. Even though it isn't art, it's me being creative and having fun with my favorite humans, little kids!

It was pretty humid and hot when I did some of these faces.

I'm packing for a art get away right after I post this blog. Sunday evening I'll be back to share some of the art work that I hope to complete. I'm going to take pictures as I go along to share as a tutorial.

Then I think my summer travels are over.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beautiful Blogs

I purchased the magazine "Artful Blogging" yesterday and was inspired and awed by the many wonderful blogs that they featured. I thought it would be nice to actually visit them online, so, with the magazine by my side, I typed in the addresses of some of the more interesting blogs and thought I would feature them here.

Sweet Eye Candy Creations
is filled with retro and shabby chic artwork, fu fu designs and lovely photographs. I like the way the artist, Jennifer Hayslip, uses old cards, feathers and flowers to embellish her work. I love vintage graphics and she incorporates them nicely into her creations.

Tangled Sky Studio is also featured in the magazine. The artist combines paint and wax to make interesting, whimsical artwork. Her blog features works in progress.

I really like the art work of Jennifer Maroney . She does a lot of doodling and journaling, her style is colorful and fun, full of hearts, swirls, flowers and stars.

A Fanciful Twist is a blog written by Vanessa Valencia. This artist expresses herself through mixed media, art dolls, paper dresses, jewelry and illustrations. I like this because I've been told that I sometimes am chasing too many rabbits, because I have so many art forms I'm interested in. Sometimes I feel like I should put it all away and concentrate on one form, but after visiting A Fanciful Twist that's not going to happen! After you visit Vanessa's website, you'll understand what I'm talking about.

If you like retro, vintage and shabby chic, you will love Cherry's Jubilee at blogspot. Here is another artist who uses old cards, books, ribbons and buttons to make interesting home decor. I especially love her photographs (Look for the picture of the two suitcases). Here's a link to her Cherry's etsy shop.

Artful Blogging features many more wonderful blogs; the above are just a few of my favorites. Once again, it is so inspiring to see what other bloggers are writing about. I love the peacefulness or whimsy of these blogs. There are no harsh words or angry rants, but a beautiful look at the simple things that inspire the artists and their work.

It makes me want to be a better artist, blogger, photographer and writer.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael's Clay and Makin's Pasta Machine Reviews

While shopping at Michael's the other day, I was surprised to see that they are now carrying their own brand of polymer clay.

I was impressed with the cost of their clay; at $1.29 for 2 ounces, it's half the price of Fimo and Sculpey. I purchased 9 different colors and thought I would give it a try.

The clay is very pliable and soft, making it easy to create little figurines. The colors are nice but I felt they are not as vibrant and rich as Premo, Fimo and Sculpey III. I didn't care for the deep ridges left in the clay (probably from the cutting tools they use to manufacture it).

I made a simple cane with the clay, but, since I don't do complicated canes, I'm not sure if this soft clay would be a good choice.

After the clay was baked it was fairly durable, similar to sculpey III, but not nearly as strong as Premo.

In my opinion, this would be a great clay for beginners and children. If I were in a bind, I would use it. But as long as Michaels and Joanns continue to have Sculpey and Fimo at 50% off, those are the brands I will buy.

Kudos to Michaels for trying!

Pasta Machine

Last year I purchased a Makins Pasta Machine. Within a few minutes of rolling out my piece of clay, it jammed inside the machine. A metal strip on the underside of the rollers fell off also.
I contacted Makins and they sent me another machine. I was pleased with their customer service. However, it hasn't been a year yet and my machine is falling apart. The metal screws on the bottom platform have fallen out. The knob that controls the thickness of the "pasta" is starting to malfunction. It's time for me to start looking for another pasta machine.
I've tried the Amaco Pasta machine in the past, and it was very poorly made, jamming up and causing ripples in the clay. I went to a teaching seminar two years ago and several of the brand new Amaco pasta machines jammed up or wouldn't turn after only a few minutes of using them.
The best pasta machine I ever used was an Italian made machine that cost me around $60.00. I used it for 5 years before it gave me any problems. I guess I need to go to my local Italian market and check out their machines, because the Makins and Amaco machines, in my opinion, are poorly made. (Makins does suggest that you only use their brand of air drying clay in their machines, so heed their advice.)

If you have any suggestions for durable pasta machines that you would recommend, please drop me an email or leave a comment.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to business!

That sound you hear is me tap dancing around my house as I've got my computer back! Unfortunately, everything was lost (thousands of pictures and music), but I'm not going to mourn over it. (Just another dumb learning experience!!)

I've been busy making clay and tomorrow will be taking pictures. Then it's back on track blogging and creating.

(I never want to go this long without being on line again! This was a punishment I don't want to repeat!)

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Due to a problem with my computer (possibly a bad hard drive) I have been unable to blog for the past two weeks. Hopefully I'll be writing again soon.

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