Art

What’s in a Face? An Introduction to my Journey Through The Aggravation of Creating Portraits

Everyone’s doing it – painting, drawing, embroidering portraits. Cute little stylized faces, hyper realistic portraits, something in between. What is so fascinating about faces? And faces can take a really long time, what makes someone want to spend all that time with a stranger’s face? And, when you try to draw someone you know or love, likeness becomes really important – and oh! the disappointment when you totally f- them up! Why put yourself through that anxiety?

I’ve tried many styles of portraiture – mostly as a bandwagon thing – but I also find it a challenge, like a really complex puzzle – putting it together can be very frustrating, but when you get it right, and the puzzle is done – it’s really really satisfying. Of course, when there’s a piece missing, and it’s a total fail, that’s not so satisfying, and that’s the case more often, for me anyway, with my portraits. But, I plug away, stubbornly.

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The Sketchbook Revival – Day One – 1 Liners

Happy Sketchbookery my friends! I am so happy to be doing the Sketchbook Revival again – a festival of all things creative, and sketchy, and fun and free. Today’s lesson was from Carla Sonheim, who I mentioned in my last post. Last year, we drew lions. This year, we played with one liner drawings, and developed them into sketchy characters. Totally stress free, totally freeing.

Doing this exercise was kind of a call and response drawing – Carla called out a prompt, we drew the prompt, not lifting our pens, and this went on for about three minutes. Our prompts were cat, vase of flowers, elephant and toilet.

I could not for the life of me remember what our toilet looks like – crazy right? The things you see everyday, and yet don’t really see.

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New Tool in the ol’ Tool Box – Procreate!

Recently, Joe and I switched our Internet/Phone provider from AT&T to Verizon. Not only do we have true 5G service on the phones, better phone service in general, and a smaller monthly bill, Verizon gave us rebate/gift cards for the iPhones we already owned (3), which added up to enough for a new iPad Air 4. Joe arranged the whole transfer, and the phone bill is one of his bills, so I thought he was going to keep the iPad for himself, which I was all for, by the way. I was perfectly satisfied with my old iPad Air 2. But, when the new iPad Air arrived, Joe decided to gift it to me, and he took my old iPad, because he uses his Surface Pro for everything I use an iPad for. I was surprised, and so happy – because now I could invest in an Apple Pencil, and go down that digital dark hole called Procreate.

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Heads Up! A Great Free Online Event is Coming!

Last March, we had a pretty new rambunctious puppy, and a scary, uncertain reality bearing down on us. We were newly locked down, and I thought I’d be back at work any day, any week. I set up my office in our kitchen, to contain Charley puppy, and I called it the bunker. Time passed pretty slowly in the bunker. Every morning when I turned on my computer, numbers flashed across my screen – new infections, deaths, number of days in lockdown. I reviewed the same files repeatedly, I wrote letters to the outside world, but some days, I just sat on the floor and threw a ball for Charley and Olive. They were in heaven in our cramped corner of the kitchen. I was losing my mind, a teeny bit.

I started playing around with my art supplies, and doodling in my sketchbook. And in some email from some artist who I had signed up on their mailing list, I got a link for a free online event, The Sketchbook Revival, and I signed up. And then, every week for two weeks, I got a spark of inspiration in my email box.

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More Vintage Photo Fabric Creations

After posting about my last failed attempt at altering a fabric vintage photo, of course, I stewed about how to fix it, how to start again, what to do differently – that’s what I do sometimes when I’m staring at my computer at work.  Some people day dream about exotic vacations, or what they’re reading, or what to make for dinner, or what to wear tomorrow, I fixate on how to fix my projects, or starting a new project, or what kind of a mess am I going to make this weekend.  I may have resting bitch face, but underneath, I’m all about paints, and stitches, and pretty things.

So, here’s how I tried to pretty my failure up:

Again, here’s the big fail:

Time to start over!

Back to the original.  What first attracted me to this photo is the window, and the cuffs on her clothes.  I envisioned hanging flower baskets and french knots on the cuffs.  Why I strayed from my original idea I don’t know, but above is what you get when you don’t trust your instincts.

So, the french knots on the cuffs:

And, kind of weird sort of turkey work on the belt –

And, finally, the daydreamed about plants in the window:

And here she is, in a broken Ikea frame (have to do something about that!) –

 

I’m so much happier with how she turned out.  If I were to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t curve the stitching on the bottom of her dress – I was going for a look that suggested movement, but instead she just looks bloated, and strangely shaped.  Instead of using a bright paint in the windows, I used a subtle, chalk pastel.  The pink chalk pastel on her dress completely rubbed off, but that’s ok.  I thought out doing some bullion stitches on the back of the chair, to add some texture, but I decided that would be too much.  So, I’m basically good with it.  I love how the plants turned out, and I was right about the french knots.  Inspired, I whipped up another one:

Some embroidered silk roses, and a few fabric embellishments, and voila!

On Instagram, someone asked me why the hat?  And I think the better question is really why the wings?  Whenever you download collage sheets, or look at others’ vintage photo alterations, typical embellishments are wings, hats, stripes on socks, lollipops, balloons, etc.  I added the wings, because well, everyone adds wings.  Not such a good reason.  I added the hat, however, because after I embroidered the silk flowers, she really looked like she was wearing one of those oldtime plastic flowered bathing caps.  It wasn’t a good look for her.  The hat changed that look, and also, kind of goes with the rebel theme – that the rebel would wear a crooked hat.  Anyway, in the future, I’m going to try to tell my own story with my altered photos, instead of copying trends, like wings and such.  Of course the hat is from a collage sheet download, and a staple of vintage photo alts, but to me, it works with this photo more than the wings, which really don’t say much at all to me, other than to give it some whimsy.  So, that’s my thought process.

And the polka dots, by the way – to cover up some sloppy slops on the white border – oopsy!

A Fabric Experiment

As you know, I’m a sucker for a sale.  So, when Ivy Newport ran a super duper birthday sale (40% off!) on most of the classes on her website, I took advantage and purchased a class, Fabric in Time with mixed media artist Stephanie Rubiano.

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This was a class I camethisclose to purchasing at full price, but with Skillshare and Creativebug enough to keep me busy, I just couldn’t justify it.  But, can’t beat almost half off, right?  Anyway, the class is chocked full of good advice and helpful tips about how to print on fabric, paint on fabric, and add embelishments to your final piece.  There’s also a bonus lesson on encaustic wax, but setting up a wax station is really not in my budget right now.

This class combines so many of the things I love – vintage photography, painting and embroidery, that I was immediately inspired, and went to work with the products I had on hand.  I can’t remember why, but I bought a set of cabinet cards from an etsy seller a long time ago that were perfect for this project, and I scanned them into my computer.  I then printed out my photos on quilting cotton.  My first attempt went wonky, but the second attempt was pretty good.  There’s a 50% coupon for AC Moore today, so I’m thinking about trying the InkJet printable fabric sheets, but we’ll see.  Then, I went into a creative frenzy, and whipped up my girl before I took any photos.  Because I immediately went to work, I didn’t exactly have all of the supplies I needed.  For instance, I didn’t have any finishing spray – so I had a little problem with the water on my brush mixing with the ink on the photo, but I just moved the paint around, and embroidered on top of any water blotches.

You can see the original photo in the top corner.  And you can see more improvising.  To give the cards structure, Stephanie uses a double sided fusible, and creates a fabric sandwich.  The only double sided stablizer I have is the Bosal Foam fusible, which is really great for tote bags, and quilted wallets and such, but not so great for this project.  While it lends stability, it doesn’t really have that stiffness that painting on a stiff fabric interfacing would have.  But, I made do.

You can see she’s a little puffy from the foam, but eh, it’s all good.  As you can see, I had a bit of a water issue on the edge there, but again, no big deal.  I mean, if I were going to sell it or something, it would be problematic, but for the walls of my craft room, I’m good with it.  The little background embelishments are sequins with seed beads, and the stitching is a combination of lazy daisies, french knots, and cross stitch.  I had to watch a few refresher videos on the stitching, but it came back.

To finish her off, I trimmed the card down, punched some holes with my crop-a-dile, and inserted eyelets.  Then, I used this funky beaded wire that I’ve had in my stash forever and never knew quite what to do with to add a hanger –

All done! I thought about binding the edge to hide the water splotch, but again, eh. She’s just hanging with the rest of the girls on the craft wall, no crafting police here.

I was really excited to start my next girl, but unfortunately, it was back to work on Monday, and then I didn’t get back into the craftroom until last night. By then, I had thought of so many ideas of what to do, and I had a vision of what I wanted her to look like.

Here’s the before:

I had this idea that I was going to embroider hanging flower baskets in the window, and lots of little white french knots on her collar and her cuffs. And then, I went south -I don’t know why – and the further south it went from my vision, the more I messed it up:

I hate how bright the blue is in the window. So, I abandoned my hanging basket idea, and thought maybe I’d cover the whole window with a vine. Then, instead of using my perle cotton thread that I love, I went with a cheap craft embroidery thread because the color was better, and my stitches look so sloppy. It didn’t help that I cut the fabric too small to get good tension in the hoop. Then, the only white paint I had on hand was a fluid acrylic, and that interacted horribly with the ink from the printer, and I got a really ugly stain on her dress. I tried to cover it up and it just kept getting worse. So, then I painted it red. I hate how the red looks with the pink ribbon roses. Sigh. She’s going in the garbage and I’m going to start over. This time, I’m going to print her the same size, but on a full sheet of paper, so I can get the fabric tight enough in the hoop. I’m going to go back to my original vision of the baskets in the window, and the knots on her dress. As for the blue windows – I’m going to stick with the blue, but I’m going to use a really light colored pencil instead of paint, so it’s just a faded outdoor look.  I’m ok with starting over.  Sometimes projects just don’t work out.

And, while I still have a few more cabinet cards to play with, I ordered these tintypes from ebay:

I really love this one:

Since she’s already got the crazy faux outdoor backdrop going, I can see myself embroidering wildflowers or trees or something behind her.  We’ll see.  Of course, when I ordered then, I didn’t really think about putting the tin on my scanner – I’m really afraid of scratching the bed.  I may try to photograph them rather than scan them, but I don’t have a light box.  Another problem to be solved!  But, it’s craft, it’s all good.

Stay tuned!

Not About the Eclipse

I know, today is all about the eclipse, and here I am, inside blogging for the first time in two months.  That’s what happens when you don’t get your NASA approved solar eclipse glasses – forced to finally blog.  I’m just going to have to watch some shade from my window.

Ah, now there’s some sun for you.  Last week we visited with Joe’s parents in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.  Doesn’t get much better than that!  Oh, unless you’re doing some arting on that lovely beach as well:

If you’re ever looking for an easy peasy travel project, pick up this book:

Remember those Ed Emberly books when we were kids? Well, when I was a kid – How to Draw Animals, Monsters, etc., that broke the creature down into shapes – draw a rectangle body, draw a rectangle shape, draw a triangle ear, etc., and then at the end you had a dog, a cat, or a whatever.  This book is the Ed Emberly book of flowers for the drawing impaired.  Every flower is broken down into steps, the steps are basically shapes, until the last step, when you do little hashmarks for shading.  If I can do it, you can do it.

Here’s me doing a daisy and a couple of tulips:

And, here’s a paper garden –

It actually makes me look like I know what I’m doing! In any event, the directions are easy to follow, and the materials are extremely portable – just a pencil, a micron pen and a sketchbook.  No fuss.

Now, for something that doesn’t look like I know what I’m doing – watercolors.  These are supposed to be peonies, garden roses, and anemones.

Remember the Show Me Your Drills challenge from the Happily Ever Crafter? Maybe not, because my blogging is so inconsistent, I may have forgotten to mention it altogether. The drills challenge was a calligraphy practice workshop – every day you either practiced your upstroke, or your downstroke, or connecting letters, or something of the sort.  Anyway, Happily Ever Crafter joined forces with water color artist, Stephanie Fehrenbach for a new challenge, Show Me Your Florals.  Everyday a watercolor lesson appeared in my inbox, and I kind of went, eh.  Every watercolor class starts the same way – how to mix colors, how to control the water on your brush, and paper etc.  I’d already done much of the exercises through Skillshare.  The week wrapped up with florals, finally.  I did end up buying the workbook at the end – which was what it was all leading up to anyway.  On the first day, the workbook was $12 – which was a nice deal, since all of the flowers that are illustrated in the book are also demoed on video.  I don’t know if I’d pay $24 for it though, since so much of it is on Skillshare and Creativebug.  But, for the price of two Starbucks frozen coffees, I was good with it.  Although, as you can see, my efforts weren’t so hot – I have to admit, I didn’t try very hard, nor did I practice very much.  We were packing up for vacation, and my craftroom was like 100F – so hooooottt!  Anyway, even though my flowers are meh, I’m not one to waste good watercolor paper, and I turned them into cards –

A good splash of watercolor is always a good background for a card, and they’re supposed to be abstract.

This one was a big sloppy wreath that I ended up cutting down to fit on a card base.  I did cut away some of the good bits, but i think it looks pretty ok The stamps are from Unity.  Not part of the monthly kit, but part of one of their sales.  There’s always a sale.  Luckily I get the monthly kit, or I’d be in big trouble.

By the way, I’ll revisit the kit next post, but I have to say, I have not bought one extra stamp (except for these creativity sentiments from Unity, that I bought because they work so well with anything) since subscribing three months ago.  Does that mean that I’m spending a little extra to save more in the long run?

Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Flowers, and Leaves and Wreaths, Oh My!

When you get sucked into the handlettering community, you naturally get pulled towards what’s cool and popular in graphic design.  Watercolor, wreaths, banners – it’s all big, and it’s all on Skillshare.  As I mentioned before, at 99 cents for three months, you can’t go wrong, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the following group of classes from The Pigeon Letters.

First, I tried my hand at Botanical Line Drawing, in which she goes over 29 or so (I can’t remember how many) Flowers Anyone Can Draw.  And, believe me, if I can draw them, you can draw them:

and leaves:

and wreaths:

All of these doodles are so easy. I just sat with my sketchbook while she drew, and I doodled along with her. Easy peasy. And stuff like this is great for decorating envelopes, embellishing hand lettered quotes, and of course, dressing up a bullet journal.  And, it turned out to be really nifty that I photographed my pages, because now I always have them on the phone for reference, so if I’m decorating an envelope at my desk at work, I don’t need to go back to the class to remember this flower or that flower.

After botanical line drawing, I moved on to 25 Banners Anyone Can Draw:

Again, I just followed along with Peggy (the Pigeon Letters), and everything came together in very banner like ways – my banners aren’t perfect, but everything takes a bit of practice.  My scrolls are a little wonky, and my lines aren’t so neat, but I can do it – and of course, you can too!

Persist, my friends, persist.

And, after I finished up with the banners, I moved on to 10 Easy Watercolor Projects Anyone Can Paint:

I like watercolors. They’re not messy, and they’re easy to clean up. However, they are kind of hard to manage – it is just colored water after all, that you want to manipulate into a certain shape.  And of course, it’s easier to do the work with the proper tool, and I don’t have any round watercolor brushes.  It’s on my list of things to get though, once I’m unbanned from online ordering.  My husband may have noticed all of those watercolor stamps and fountain pen supplies, and notebook covers, and stuff coming in the mail, and he finally said, what the heck?  So, I’m on time out until 3/8 when HSN has it’s next all day craft day, and I can’t miss that!

But, if you’re looking for a good way to spend 99 cents – I highly recommend Skillshare!

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