Nov 20, 2013

I Get a Kick Out of iHanna Postcard Swaps!

To quote Cole Porter “I get no kick from champagne/mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all, so tell me why should it be true? I get a kick out of you.” Well, I get a kick out of iHanna DIY Postcard Swaps. Why should it be true? It’s really a perfect fit because I’m a mixed media artist who collects postcards.

This year I’m feeling the 60s, and was inspired by a friend of my mom’s who was the ultimate recycler. Linda used to send notes and letters all the time. She never bought a single piece of paper or an envelope. Sometimes she used fancy hotel stationary, but other times it was the back of a Christmas card she had received or an envelope turned inside out. As a kid I thought it was cool and weird at the same time. Now I realize it was totally cool and wished we’d saved them.

" Yesterday we met some people in the lobby and had supper at the hotel together."
I collect the postcards just as much for the messages written by vacationers as the cool images on the front. I love to sit with a box of vintage postcards and read them. (Cool and weird? Or just weird?) Many are totally boring “We are doing our laundry. Waiting for it to finish.” I love those. Often the messages are downright snarky “How are you doing on your diet? Having a nice vacation.” 

"We are doing our laundry. Waiting for it to finish."
"How are you doing on your diet? Having a nice vacation! See you!" 
"This is our Christmas card to you. Wish we could stay longer." 

"Well, I think maybe I had better send you our address in case Dixie didn't call you.
We will be without news if we don't hear from you." 
This series was entirely recycled. I used original postcards from my collection that had been mailed with messages, a children’s book about Leonardo Da Vinci and recycled paint chips. I created a “found poetry” and used a very minimal design approach to create a kind of collaboration with the card and its original sender. 

I called my last series “Time Warp Souvenir” and wrote about it on my blog as well. Although visually they are very different, they are both an homage to nostalgia, family and friends.

Check out the inspirational Flickr photo pool and maybe you'll be inspired to sign up for the next one. The best way to find out about it is to sign up for iHanna's wonderful blog

Nov 8, 2013

Recycled Pizza Box Surfboards

I am the lucky recipient of all kinds of “gifted” recycled materials. Don't want to schlep that stuff to the recycling center? Just give it to Patti! She'll figure out something to do with it.I come home to all kinds of surprises on my front porch. One day I received a large delivery of empty pizza boxes fresh from a party. (Yes, there were still scraps of pizza inside.) I decided that because the boxes were taking up a lot of space (and because the pizza scraps were going to get gross really fast) that I’d better come up with a project quickly. 

I cut the box tops (the cleaner part) into quick simple surfboard shapes. Actually they are shaped more like skimboards, but those are equally popular around here and extremely cool. The class used acrylic paint from tubes on the brown side because the logo on the other side was difficult to cover with the paint. I encouraged painting freehand but some of the girls also really enjoyed using the hibiscus stencils.  

Those cat food bags are still lingering in my basement looking for the right idea to come along. I did manage use create a pretty amazing dress with my students using dog food bags. The top is actually the bag turned inside out. We Bits dog food bags are very fun to recycle because they are primarily pink, holographic and feature a picture of an adorable Westie.  So you never know, there may be something fun happening down the road involving those cat food bags!

Nov 6, 2013

Color Collage Class Inspired by The Collage Workbook

One of my favorite all time arts and craft books is The CollageWorkbook by Randel Plowman. He is known for his Collage a Day project. Here is a link to his blog where he is offering an online class. Based on his book and the student's work featured online I'm sure it will be terrific!
I sometimes use the single color collage exercise from his book with groups of children ages 8 to 13. I love teaching collage to children because they just take off and do the most amazing things while I walk around the room and hold myself back from gushing too much about how they are creative geniuses!  I think children and collage are a perfect combination. They get so absorbed in expressing themselves that they lose any kind of judgment and really connect with their creativity. I feel that working with collage has this affect on adults too -- it certainly does for me!
Here are some examples from my children's class. They went through magazines to cut out and sort images by color into shoebox lids. I also asked the class to hand color some paper to add texture using oil pastels, paint or crayons and put those in the sorting boxes too. 

Nov 4, 2013

How I Get My Color Fix in Mixed Media.

My beat up old set of Dr. Ph. Martin’s is the second best treasure from my second marriage. My creative, funny genius son with a heart of gold is (of course!) the very best treasure! When my son’s dad left us years ago he didn’t leave us any money, but he did leave a ton of really great art supplies (Arches paper, Sennelier pastels, an airbrush, photographic equipment, etc). I sold most of these things at a yard sale to pay for more immediate necessities (like food) but had the presence of mind to hold on to these little treasures. They are so super concentrated they will last nearly a lifetime if you work on small pieces. If you work on larger pieces they are still incredibly economical because they are so incredibly intense. Dr. Ph Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Water Colors are truly one of the studio staples I can’t live without. The colors are so incredible. Some are almost too beautiful and some are actually ugly. They are all capable of magic! 

They are labelled “Radiant Concentrated Water Colors” but I feel that they are more like a an ink or a dye. Sometimes I thin them with water or use  different kinds of acrylic mediums. I’ve even mixed them into acrylic paint, used them in conjunction with regular watercolors, pastels, crayons and collage. One of the things I love about them is their ability to unify different medias and materials.  There really isn’t anything they aren’t compatible with. And they are non-toxic! I use the gorgeous brights when something I’m working on needs a shot of energy and I use a different range of colors when I need to antique something.
The company has been in existence since 1934. I don’t know if the formula has changed since then or if the current line in production is as magic as mine from the 90s. I’m about to run out of my favorite color (Persimmon, which reminds me of a really intense flamingo) so I’ll have to break down and try the new formula. Has anyone tried these in ways I haven’t mentioned? If you haven’t tried them I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed and hope you enjoy exploring with your set.