Thursday, December 11, 2008

ATC Shading Tutorial

I have had a little break from blogging - partly because November is National Novel Writing Month - see the official NaNoWriMo website for more details about that. Suffice it to say that November is a mad month where you write 1667 words of fiction every night until you have a 50,000 word manuscript which becomes the first draft of a novel. This I did, and my sanity was much affected.

But I won. For those interested in the gruesome details, my novel is about Melburnian vampires, and was tremendously fun to write, and most likely incredibly dreary to read. Long may it languish in a drawer.

A little while ago, someone asked for a tutorial on how I shade my ATCs. Here's a step by step guide to how that happens for me. There's lots of ways to achieve this effect, and the more you play around with it, the more you get a feeling for your own style. In the (misquoted) words of Captain Barbossa, these aren't rules, they're more like guidelines.

First of all, cut out your figures and play around with them on the background. Look for interesting crops; set the images off-centre or only use part of it. These backgrounds are made from the newspaper that covers my work mat and gets covered in lots of random colours. When the paper is caked with paint, I stamp randomly all over it with a text stamp. This newspaper is from 2005, that's how long it's been accumulating paint and texture. It's all lovely and nubbly from the layers of colour.

I paste the newspaper over 300gsm watercolour paper with gel medium. Newspaper has some stretch in it, so it moulds around the edges of the card, too. See those little splashes of aqua that have randomly shown through the magenta? I would never create something like that. It has to be a happy accident.

While you at it, sponge the edges of the images with butterscotch ink - it takes away the white outline of the paper the image is printed on and helps it to blend with the backgound better.

When I've decided where the image is going to go, I make a highlighted area, using a sponge and some paint in a complementary colour. At the moment, I'm fond of using stencils to make interesting shapes which the image will lie over.

I've made these stencils by using my shape cutter to cut holes in glossy card. I'm hoping the glossy card will last a bit longer than more porous card, but these are really not permanent fixtures. I'm hoping they last at least as long as my current faddish interest in stencilling does.

While I'm stencilling the shapes, I also sponge around the edge of the card to start building a border of sorts. I'll flesh that border out later with my pastel pencils. I stencil with a latex sponge, and I'm using acrylic paint. This is red-violet acrylic paint, and it's more translucent than most acrylics, but that suits me for now. It's quite violently vibrant, too, but that suits the lavish, faux-Middle Eastern imagery I'm using.

Now I grab a text stamp and stamp with a contrasting, eye-catching colour over the shape. I'm using a Wordsworth stamp, and Galaxy Gold Brilliance ink.

See how I've stamped right over the shape without worrying about the text overlapping? Because it's gold, and fairly transparent, it vanishes into nothing against the mad, multicoloured background. That's sneaky and lazy, but it works better than using a mask, which can leave a little outline around your shape.

Now I grab a magenta pastel pencil, and use it to outline the shape, and the frame of the ATC. This is like using eyeshadow - you start with the lightest colours and move through to the darkest colours. At least that's how I do it. Smudge the pastel colour with your finger or a paper stump, which is one of those nifty little art tools that can save you from wearing out your finger when working over a large area.

Then grab a darker colour - I'm using black because it suits my palette, but you could use brown or navy or something else. Run a line around the edge of your shape to highlight it further and to add dimension.

Now wave good bye to the card with the door-shape, because this is the last you'll see of it. Shortly after this I made a bad artistic decision with a white gel pen, far too shameful to show to the public. The white gel pen is my private shame.

Now it's time to past your image down. See how using half the image is much more effective than putting the whole figure in the centre of the card? If I were making a lot of these for a swap, I'd crop the image before I printed it, to save on ink and paper. There's no sense in printing out her legs twelve times if you're only going to cut them off. Cut them off in the design stage - she won't know anything about it.

So, after looking at the image for a while, I decided that she looked as though she had just gotten out of her beautiful bed, ready for a new and exciting day. So I took my gold gel pen and drew some sun rays coming off the half-circle, and stamped some letters onto thin gold paper. I used the black pencil to give shadow to one side of the sunbeam, too. The shape of the stencil and the woman's figure gave the card a theme. Sometimes this goes very well, and sometimes there is the private shame of the white gel pen.

Last of all, I use my paintbrush to create a thin, raised edge of gold paint - it's not straight or perfect, but it suits the organic colour of the card. You can see that the gold text I stamped on the semi-circle is almost all covered up - that wasn't intentional, but it still has a presence on the card.
And there she is:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My post-box over floweth!

First, a disclaimer. My spacebar is broken - it fails every third or fourth time, so I'm having to go back and put the missed spaces in manually. Apologies for any words I've run together.

All the following art I've received recently in the mail for various swaps.

Here's the collection of pages for my chunky angel book. I've yet to make a cover for, but I love looking at them en masse like this. What a mountain of inspiration!

In Stamphappy's 1-4-1 ATC raklist:
Vicki Whittington - thank you! It did make me smile.

Carolyn Weiss (the foil background is actually royal purple - the camera sees it as blue, which is very mysterious.)

Lynn Gosney - the beautiful pearlescent finish on this card is also not showing up too well. It's very pretty, though.

Linda Aldred - lovely background made with beadz.

Janet Gardner - a lovely, sparkly flapper.

Melanie Smith - this sweet little girl is called Denice, apparently.

Barb Conroy - I love this gang of cowboys, they look like such rascals.

Look! My mum (Loretta) sent me an ATC, too. It's made with some kind of new magic film stuff that I've never used, but find very fascinating; it has all the colours of an oil slick.

Quilty Conscience postcard from last month's challenge which was painted fabric:

Karin Hutchinson - love those lush, red flowers.

Stephanie's sandy beachscape

Coralee's postcard, which reminds me of a lavish corset. (I'm seeing corsets everywhere, probably because I'm very into this month's theme, which is drawn from the movie Marie Antoinette.)

Debbi Baker's lovely stencilled bird. Another one where I wish the sparkle came through on screen. It shimmers.

Debbi also sent this gorgeous fabric ATC with our postcards. I feel very lucky!

The best thing about being in all these swaps is the gorgeous, gorgeous stuff that appears in my mail box. Yay!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blog Award!

I haven't posted for a while! I've been on holiday from work - not with big plans to go anywhere, but taking lots of day trips and overnighters to places. It's been lots of fun, and very relaxing. Also, Daylesford is very, very, VERY cold at this time of year. *shivers* Thank goodness for electric blankets.

I've been very lucky - one of the newest bloggers I'm reading lately has nominated me for a blog award. Thanks Diane!

Here are the rules (or guidelines, as I prefer to think of them):
1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate seven blogs you love to read
4. Link to those blogs
5. Let those bloggers know with a comment that they've been nominated.

People I've nominated - please don't feel obliged to do the same. These memes are fun to do, but sometimes they can feel a bit like a chain letter. I can talk for hours about the blogs I love to read and why, but the people I've nominated shouldn't feel pressured to do the same.

Seven blogs I love to read! (Only seven? That's hard.)

The first person has to be Debbi Baker. Her blog got me into blogging about my art, and probably helped me get my feet solidly under myself after my hiatus from art. She's a great insipiration, artistically and as a friend. She's a great Aussie artist, we've been in swaps together for a long time, and I'm really glad to have her blog on my reader. Thanks Debbi!

France Chevalier's blog is fun and entertaining, a bit like an awesome, eclectic cafe that always suprises you with the menu. There's art - at the moment, France is doing some great polymer clay work with jewellery and Krafty Lady molds. Sometimes there's recipes, sometimes there's philosophy, she always has interesting links to places I wouldn't normally come across while browsing. Her blog is a cool, chatty place to hang around.

Julie H makes the most astoundingly gorgeous found object jewellery, actually, her blog is chock full of to-die-for art. I love her blog for the visual inspiration it provides, but also I love her posts about her home and her pets. It's a very grounded place, very inspiring.

Barb P is another friend from the email list days. (Listen to me being all nostalgic when those lists are still going strong!) Barb makes gorgeous cards, loves to try new techniques, and frequently goes travelling on great adventures.

Inspirato is Stacey Apeitos' blog. Stacey is an innovater, no matter what she's working on. She's the organiser of the fabulous Paperific conventions, which are so good that they nudged me out of my hobbit-hole and all the way to Melbourne to attend.

Annette Husband is a phenomenal artist from way, way up north. Her art is lavish and colourful, and she makes wonderful video tutorials to explain some of her really clever techniques. She does amazing things with Opals and beeswax and paint. She's a bit of a crack-up, too, sometimes!

Creativ Spirit is Rob's blog. She's recently taken over as list-owner for my favourite new email-group, Chunky Books. I have one of her pages in my first book from this groups! We follow a lot of the same challenges, I think, like Gothic Arches. I've only recently added Rob's blog to my reader, but I'm already enjoying it.

I have some art to post later but for now, I'm going to be catching up on everyone else's blog - you guys have been so busy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First time for Gothic Arches

The Gothic Arches theme this week is 'Crowns'. I've really wanted to make something for this weekly challenge, because the arches I see each week are really beautiful.

Unexpectedly, I made two.

Productivity of this level is a bit shocking, frankly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Inbox and Outbox

Point the first: Quilty Conscience postcards are done and posted. The challenge was to use painted fabric. I used vilene that I had dyed and over-painted with acrylic, then stamped, then stenciled with xpandaprint and then embroidered. *falls over exhausted*

Point the second: I've been very lucky, with many gorgeous 1-4-1 ATC swaps arriving in the mail. It's so much fun, and I'm getting to swap with a lot of new people.

From Left to right: Diane Whatford, Roz Veevers and Jude Wagner

Lisa Manyweathers and Janet Hamblin

Roslyn McGechan and Ann Lawton

Point the third: I've made a couple more of my own to send out, using quotes from Peter Pan:

All business now attended to! Now, to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Skinny Book Swap

Here are my pages for the skinny book swap - it's been a while since I had to make a large number of anything, and I completely miscalculated the amount of time I needed to get through. But I survived, and I really enjoyed making the pages - I played a lot with my pastels to get the shading on the earthbound angel's halo, and for the edging. It's the first time I've used my own handwriting in my art, too - that was fun and a little bit daring. And Stephanie was invaluable help with trimming edges and cutting things to size. She's a mathematical whiz. *hugs* Thanks, Steph!

The back was just pure collage fun - I got to use some gold paper edging, and a lot of gold paint. Bliss!

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the pages coming in to me - then I can decide how I'm going to bind it, and make some covers.

Debbi and other Quilty Conscience people - I am so, so sorry for holding you up another week - the postcards are all but done, they just need edging. A thousand apologies for being such a slacker.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Treasure from the mail man!

Treasures and delights have rained down upon my head! I love getting arty mail.

I'm really excited to have the first few pages for the Angelic chunky books swap on [chunkybookartists]. It's the first art-book swap I've gone in for a few years, and I'm really looking forward to it.
From left to right: Teresa Crouch, Ann Spiteri, and Carol Sweeney

Some [Stamphappy] 1-4-1 ATC swaps:
From Gwenyth Zwaan, and in a beautiful envelope with a lovely quote by Goethe.

From Sharon Batchelor, in a beautifully made folder with some German scrap tucked into one pocket.

From the left, cards from Narelle Cox, and two from Kaeren Sutherland

Again from the left: Rikki Showell, Pam Addicott and Julie Price

Here's what I've been up to, in between frantically finishing my Quilty Conscience postcards:
This one was a challenge to myself to make an ATC using only rubber stamps.

Guess what I bought? A white gel pen! Hooray! Let's put it on everything!

I also bought a big wooden box to put my pastels and pencils and watercolour tubes in, so they're all a lot easier to get to now. Hence, there's a lot of pastel shading on these cards. Pastel shading, and more gel pen. (Actually, I had to hide the white gel pen from myself. Seriously, little white dots are even more addictive than Shiva stiks.

These three are studies for what I'm going to be doing on my own chunky book page:

Now! Back to sewing! Sewing, sewing, sewing, because the postcards were due 16 days ago. *hangs head in shame*