Friday, April 3, 2015

Greene Earth, a work in progress...

Hello lovelies,

Thank you for checking back! I’m in my new home on the web, Greene Earth... but the website is not quite finished, so I decided to post here as well until things are completely applied. 

I have so many interests, and how do you weave them all together??  Instead of having several websites, I decided to have ONE and post about my two big passions, art and writing.  To juggle everything is a journey for sure (sometimes a crazy one.)


Mixed media art, JOURNEY "12×12.”

Sometimes I get stressed out about where to put my focus.  One day I’m inspired to paint, the next to write.  I try to follow my muse, but she is pretty fickle at times, lol.  I’m not super woman, and I suspect I will have to make a choice into which area to put my full effort.  To truly succeed in fulfilling my highest potential in any area, I have to be 100% present to the challenge.  To grow, it takes all the attention and effort.  When I started out as a writer, I had an enormous passion and drive to succeed, and I did!  It took several years to get published, but I stuck with it.  Sometimes we have to stick with something even if there are no signs that success is on the horizon.

The whole idea of success is the journey itself, something I’ve learned as I’ve moved forward with my art.  It has been a more tentative affair, trying a style here, and then another.  I think I’ve gone through at least ten styles as an artist, but in the exploration, my true voice has slowly emerged.  I don’t think I’ll ever be done exploring the magic of art, but a surer approach evolves.  I’m no longer afraid to explore whatever crazy idea comes into my mind.  If I don’t like it, I can always paint over it.

Speaking of paint, I recently took Flora Bowley’s online course Bloom True.  It involves intuitive painting, which is an expression that fascinates me.  It takes immense trust to “go with the flow” and just paint in the moment to see what comes up.  We worked on three canvases at once and looked for elements that stood out in the chaos of the paint, and then enhanced the forms.  I’m not quite done with mine, but here are the works in progress:



Here you can see the chaos of paint.  This has since turned into this:


It’s not anywhere near completed in this picture, but it has a good feeling to it.  The head is way too small, but I love her expression.  And the sun in the belly!  That is the creative fire.

And finished!




 I have worked on a third canvas that started out with the most lovely colors, and ended up kind of blah, so far.  I don’t know where it’s going.  It has the shape of two heads, but one of the things we learned in the course is to keep turning the canvases around and painting whatever we see as we go along.  It’s a very freeing method, and it takes away all attachment to the outcome.

Sometimes it takes a while before a picture reveals itself, and sometimes, it ends up being a collage of colors.  There are no rules, no right or wrong.  I truly enjoy the journey!  Maybe I should go paint something now…
I would love to hear what you’re working on, and if you want a free mixed media tutorial PDF, sign up for my art newsletter HERE.  Thank you for visiting! xo


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The fabulous doll artist Marla Niederer...


Hello lovelies,

I have been slacking here on my blog, but today I have a fabulous offering, an interview with my dear friend and fellow artist, Marla Niederer. Her art is so great it takes my breath away! I asked her a few questions, and here are her answers:

How did you get into doll making? What other kind of art did you do first?

I am a self-taught artist and have always been engaged in one art project or another since my earliest childhood memories. I have always been drawn to figurative art and my earliest art was two dimensional figurative art. I have used a variety of mediums but spent a lot of time playing with pastels and acrylic paints. As a child I also loved dolls. About 24 years ago I picked up a magazine and saw dolls being created as an art form and I was fascinated. From that time on, I have been designing and creating art dolls. My earlier works were a combination of paper-clay and cloth. Currently I work all in cloth.

What is the most challenging about the dolls you make?

Pushing the boundaries of cloth. I am always working on developing and refining my techniques so that the figurative art I create matches more closely what I see in my head, heart, and dreams. My art has evolved considerably since I began and hopefully will continue to evolve as long as I create.

What is the most rewarding?

Teaching my art to others. That is my way of trying to share the benefits of engaging in creative pursuits. I have always found the process of creating a way to de-stress, to live more fully in the moment, and a way to make my heart sing.

Marla, I know you have retired from your regular job recently to work full time on your art. That is really exciting and something you have wanted to do for a long time. Tell me a bit about retiring and working on the dolls, and how that has changed your life.


I really don’t consider myself retired. I left the field of public education to enter the field of figurative art full time. The change has been transformational. I follow the rhythms of my body. I no longer wear a watch, time has become irrelevant. I eat when I am hungry and rest when I am tired. I wake up rested and eager to start each day working on my art. I am calm and able to handle stressful life situations in a much more serene manner. I smile and laugh much more than ever before. My heart sings all the time. My art is evolving at a much quicker pace. I have always been an artist and now I can be who I am all of the time. Life is bliss.


Marla, I know you're having some classes coming up soon and I would love for my readers to find out more about them.


I will be teaching an online class on Claudette: A Cage Doll on A for Artistic starting March 31, 2015. You can read more about it by clicking on this link:

  http://bit.ly/1FaSSUu

  

 



I will also be teaching a live class How to Needle-Sculpt and Use Watercolors to Create a Cloth Doll Head at the Quinlan Art Doll and Teddy Bear Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday April 30, 2015. I will also have a sales table at the convention for my figurative art dolls. You can find out more about the convention and how to sign up for my class by clicking on the following link:

http://bit.ly/1w4myCO



Here below are some earlier examples of Marla's dolls.




  







Thank you, Marla, for your beautiful gift of teaching doll making to the world!


To connect with Marla online, you can friend her on Facebook, and follow her on her BLOG.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gelli printing, guest post 3, with Jacqueline Williams

It is another gorgeous day in Florida.  We've had some gloomy days, but the sun is back and I love it! 

I will delight you here with another gelli print guest post, with Jacqueline, or Jacques, Williams, from Somerset, England. It always amazes me how much you can do with gelli plates, the variations are almost endless.  Here's my interview with Jacques:

How did you get started with Gelli printing and what kind of art did you use to do before you got into Gelli plates? 

I’m a mixed media artist and studied the art and science of printing in my late teens.  I loved the organic feel of printing and didn’t mind getting my hands black from the various inks and paints, from screen printing, monoprinting and later using the Rotaprint machines in publishing.  I was saddened when everything started to become digitalized. The print factory closed down and I retrained to secure a better future. During the summer (2014), my DH transformed our shed into a printing space for me. It was a dream come true and I loved spending the light evenings out there with my youngest daughter. 

Then one day I went out there to find an unwanted resident mouse had eaten its way through several stacks of prints, so I moved my printing back inside until we could remove the mouse!

I first heard the word Gelli when I joined a creative Facebook forum almost a year ago called ‘Be Creative’.  I researched it, and then invested in a Gelli plate.  I found that my 8 x 8 plate was perfect for printing postcards for swapping within the Be Creative group.  I first played around with just black standard acrylic paint, but found it dried out too quickly. I then opted for tubes of water color and preferred the effect the colors had on the plate and on the card stock I was using. I then discovered the Facebook group, Gelatin Printing Enthusiasts.

Was it hard to learn how to make the prints?  What is a good beginner's guide, if any?

I confess, I didn’t read up on any specific techniques on making prints or how to use the plate.  I made stencils back in the 80s and relied on my printing background.  I still prefer to use watercolor rather than acrylic paints; I’ve invested in some Open Acrylics, but the box is still unopened because I like the flexibility and transparency of watercolors.

How have the prints evolved for you? 

To start with, I just practiced making prints using what I had available from the garden: leaves, petals, flowers, nails, and feathers.  I didn’t embellish them or draw on the tops of the prints. Later I began experimenting with lino on the plate, ghost prints, and then printing on fabrics such as silk and calico.  My favorite prints have included tree silhouettes, exotic birds and the outlines of buildings against a backdrop of textures.

What tools do you use to make a variety of prints? 

I picked up some textured brayers at a boot sale (yard sale) – one is covered with oak leaves.  I’ve also used the bottoms of fizzy soda bottles (petal shapes), various lids, the orange mesh used for holding oranges, pen caps, upturned cups, the corrugated innards from chocolate boxes, cutlery and rusty nails, string, lino cuts, and handmade rubber stamps.

How do you use the prints?  What do you suggest to beginners (as far as using the prints in other media?) 

I’ve used the prints for collage, mini notebooks, making price tags for a craft sale, pictures for frames, greeting cards, and postcards.  I’ve printed straight on fabric, tote bags, and silk ties.  I will be rolling some sheets of my spare stock to create pen pot holders and beads.

Tips and tricks in general.  Anything special to know about Gelli plates?  Anything you wished you had known when you started?

The cost of the plate isn’t cheap.  However, I think that the enjoyment I’ve got out of using it and because it’s so versatile and adaptable to a range of printing surfaces makes it worth the expense.  Before investing in one, I’d recommend that you think about what sizes you like working with best.  One day I would like to buy a large plate, but for now I’m happy creating textured backgrounds for my journal pages, and I can move the smaller plate around on larger surfaces to build up the layers.  Gelli plates pick up so many textures.  Hunt around the house and you’ll find yourself digging in drawers and cupboards to find items with texture. You can also look at objects in DIY stores that you may not have considered before.  Sometimes you can salvage cartons and containers from the trash just to try a different texture.  Also, try cutting an apple in half and putting that down on the Gelli, or a pepper, but bear in mind that fruit adds moisture to the paint or ink you’ll be using!  Most importantly, experiment and have fun!  Having fun is what it is all about.

 Thank you, Jacques, for this lovely post.  Again, I'm amazed at the variety of prints that can be made with gelli plates.  These are so much fun, and I love the Nature inspired motifs.

















Jacques' clickable links:

www.facebook.com/squarebird.co.uk

https://squarebird.wordpress.com

https://theelevatorpress.wordpress.com

https://uk.pinterest.com/jacquelinehwill/lino-and-gelli-plate-printing/

Friday, December 26, 2014

Post-Christmas blahs and other things...

Christmas is over; yet another year has almost passed, and it surprises me how fast it goes!  I have enjoyed my Christmas tree, and eaten too much food... just like any other year.  The post-hoopla is both peaceful and deflating.  Where one word is positive, the other isn't.  The blahs show up every year, but it's not a big deal.  I'm glad the craziness on the roads is pretty much over.  I spent several evenings making mosaic art.  When other people baked their cookies, I baked polymer clay mosaic tiles.  I never was a good baker, but I can whip up a mean polymer clay batch!  I made these heart plaques/frames.  The hearts are made from old plastic Christmas ornaments that I sanded, decoupaged, painted, and then embellished with words.  I still have a couple left in my stash for future inspirations! 






I bought a star cookie cutter at Michael's for a dollar and made some polymer clay stars.  I stamped the words and painted the stars.  I will hang them in the kitchen window when I get around to it.  They could make awesome Christmas ornaments, so my friends might get some next year.  It was hard to get a good picture, but you get the idea...


What are you working on?  I hope you had some time off for the holidays and that inspiration is flowing.  Please sign up for my newsletter (top right hand column) if you want more inspiration and mini tutorials.  See you next year!  Have a safe and happy New Year's celebration!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Free tutorial! Polymer clay mosaic tiles galore...

Hello fabulous,

For years I used to make polymer clay mosaics.  I don't know if you've heard of Laurie Mika and her fabulous book, Mixed Media Mosaics?  I was smitten and used some of her techniques for making my own boxes and frames.  I have made many, but I got burned out on making them.  They make great gifts!  I took photos of the process, but I struggled to get good pictures.  I will post them anyway since the mirror I worked on is done.


I didn't get pictures from the tile making process, but you knead a block of polymer clay and roll it flat like cookie dough with a rolling pin.  The slab should be about 1/8" thick.  I then use rubber stamps, old buttons, charms, and found objects that make good indentations.  I cut out the tile with a polymer clay blade.  I put the tiles on a baking pan and put a same-size pan on top, bottom up, like a lid.  I secure the pans together with binder clips and bake in the oven per manufacturer's instructions.  Carry the pans outside, release one of the clips and slide top pan open to release fumes.  I like to use Sculpey III, but I'm sure Fimo and other brands are good too.  I tried self-drying clay for a batch and it was very difficult to work with.  You can use any color clay since you're going to paint over the tiles, but black will make the tiles darker. 


Here is a close up of the jewelry charms I baked into the clay.  They add bling!  These are the tiles after one coat of paint where I usually fill in all the indentations and wipe off the rest.  Looks messy at this stage....


This is a mirror frame.  I took out the glass part and painted the frame front and back with black craft paint.  It seals the wood and also adds "tooth" to the surface, which makes it easy to adhere the tiles.  Attach a sawtooth hanger on the back before adding the tiles.  There are sometimes holes for hanging, but it's difficult to use those and get the mirror straight on the wall.  (At least I find it so..lol.)




Same two pictures in different light.  This is the second coat of paint.  I usually smear it on with my fingers.  I try to vary the colors to get more tiles to choose from for my project.



Third coat of paint, which is embossing powder in different colors that I also smear on with my fingers.  I use Perfect Pearls.  See how it all came together?  Now the tiles don't look messy at all, but handmade for sure.  Embossing powder smooths everything out and adds a nice highlight to any ridges.  Where there is white shining through from the tile, I usually go over it with a paint pen or a fine brush, or fill in larger areas, like the purple star and sun with more of the same paint.



A basket of yummy tiles!  Now my mirror frame is dry too and I sand the edges.  Then it's time to match up the tiles for the design. This is the fun part...  It can be painstaking, but I have never done a project that didn't come together just perfectly. :)


When the design is done, I put the tiles in order on the table and spread LOTS of glue on one area at a time.  I use Aleene's craft glue, which works great, but Weldbond is also a good brand of glue for mosaic tiles.  For the wings and heart on the center piece, I used E6000 jewelry glue, which is heavy duty.  I really like my pieces to be solid.  Where there are small gaps between the tiles, I pour in a string of seed beads.  It adds bling and gives the piece a finished look.



Finished!  I painted the edges with good black acrylic paint.  I also like to paint the back one more time to make it really look good.  I sign it on the back.

Are you willing to try one of these?  It's not hard, but it looks hard. :)  What are you working on now?
I have a sale going on in my etsy shop, 20% on everything until 12/31/14.  Check it out.. http://etsy.com/shop/greeneearthoriginals
xoxo
Maria

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gelli printing guest post #2 Juna Biagioni

Hi beautiful readers, 

I'm so excited to treat you to another guest post on gelli printing and it has lots of pictures!  Juna Biagioni makes beautiful art.  Check out her post.

My name is Juna Biagioni, I’m 42 years old, a mixed media artist & explorer, and I live with my husband in the beautiful heart of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

On my website www.junabiagioni.com you can find my blog about my art journey, and my shop with mixed media originals and prints. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/junabiagioni with my mixed media videos and am currently developing a gelli printing e-course. If you’re interested in any of these topics, you can find more information on my website. 

1. How did you get started with gelli printing and what did you use to do before you got into those?

I first learned about gelli printing (and monoprinting in general) last spring and was immediately hooked when I saw all the beautiful and fun things you can do with this technique. I have always loved being creative: as a little girl I loved to make music, draw and write stories, and in my early twenties I worked as a graphic designer. Later my focus shifted, but a few years ago I rediscovered my creative source and started a new exciting journey into art. First I worked with polymer clay and about a year and a half ago I dove into mixed media. And that’s still what I love doing today, including gelli printing.

2. Was it hard to learn how to make the prints? What is a good beginner's guide, if any?

No, the fun thing with gelli printing is that it isn’t hard at all to make prints! The possibilities are endless. It’s just a matter of trying out all the things that you can do with it, having a lot of fun, and finding out what you like best. I watched lots and lots of videos on YouTube and I can also recommend the book Gelli Plate Printing by Joan Bess.

3. How have your prints evolved?

Color! I am using more and more color in my prints and I love it! I am also lately using the gelli plate to create intricate backgrounds that I then use as a starting point for mixed media paintings.

4. What tools do you use to make a variety of prints?

I try not to pull out too many tools at the time, just to help me focus and not get lost in all the possibilities that the gelli plate offers. I use various stencils and masks (many of which I make myself), a few texture plates, and my favorite stamp that I made out of a plastic placemat. I also use household items such as bubble wrap and packaging materials. I find that the simplest tools and materials often create the most interesting and original effects.

5. How do you use the prints? What do you suggest to beginners, as far as using the prints in other media?

I often add extra layers to my prints, using media such as markers, oil paint and inks. My prints are either artworks on their own, or a background for mixed media paintings. I haven’t yet used my prints to create other products such as journals, but I might explore those possibilities in the future as well. 

6. Tips and tricks in general. Anything special to know about gelli plates? Anything you wished you had known when you started?

An important thing that I’ve learned is that I usually have to make a pile of just ‘nice’, mediocre or even plain ugly prints in order to get one that I really, really like. I first found this frustrating, I thought that each and every print I pulled had to be ‘good’ otherwise it would be a waste of paper and paint, but now I know that this is just the way it works for me. When I start gelli printing I make sure I have lots of work space to lay down all the prints I am making, and at the end of the printing
session I’ll just pick out a few prints that really stand out to me, the ones that I want to use to work on further. And the rest? The rest just forms a growing pile of new… ‘possibilities’! ;-)

7.  What kind of paper do you use for your prints?

I use Bristol paper, 250 gsm. It's a very smooth paper.  It depends on what kind of effect you are looking for. I like the smooth paper because it shows many details. 
But many other artists like watercolor paper too. That usually has some texture of its own, which can be nice for prints as well. Just a matter of preference and trying what works best.










I love Juna's art.  It has a mystical quality and so many layers.  Make sure to check out her website.  http://www.junabiagioni.com/
Thank you, Juna, for taking part in this series.  :)

I sent out a newsletter last week with more links about gelli printing.  There is a YouTube link for making your own very inexpensive gelli plate.  The link to the newsletter is on my Facebook page.   Scroll down to the third post from the top. 
More guest posts coming soon.  Have you tried Gelli printing yet? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gelli printing series #1 guest post by Tami Sturm Howse

Hi all, I have been slacking here, but I got this great idea to do a series of guest posts with artists who are great at Gelli printing. This new-ish technique has taken the mixed media art world by storm. If you don't know what gelatin printing is, check out this link.  There are many tutorials on YouTube as well, for beginners and experts.  Gelli plates can be purchased on Amazon and other art supply online shops.  You can also make your own plate.  There are many tutorials on how to make one on YouTube.

Let me introduce mixed media artist Tami Sturm Howse.  I met her on the Gelatin Printing Enthusiasts on Facebook.  I asked her a few questions and this is her guest post.  Also, please check out her blog and etsy shop for more pictures.  Links are at the end of the post.

1. How did you get started with Gelli printing and what did you use to do before you got into those?

“Tami, this looks like a craft store exploded”, said a friend when she saw my craft room.

I started out as a scrapbooker years ago, but realized that nobody in my family ever really looked at my scrapbooks. I then became interested in mixed media. I loved that I could use all of my “stuff”, which was becoming quite plentiful.

Being a true crafter, when I first saw the Gelli Plate, I wanted it, whether I needed it or not. However, I wasn’t willing to spend the money until I knew I’d like it. So, I went online and found a way to make my own. After I played with the homemade one, I decided I didn’t want to have to run to the refrigerator every time I wanted to use it (I wasn’t aware of the “permanent” homemade version yet). So I bought the 8x10 plate.

2.  Was it hard to learn how to make the prints?  What is a good beginner's guide, if any?  It wasn’t hard at all to learn. I watched several YouTube videos (Carolyn Dube was a favorite) and just got started. The cool thing about Gelli printing is that if you don’t like the print, you can just paint over it. For the beginner, I would say that if you make a print that you absolutely love, don’t change it. Also, ALWAYS scan your prints if you have a scanner. That way, you can digitally immortalize them, and you don’t have to be timid about cutting them up and using them.

3.  How have the prints evolved?  Since I’m a mixed media nut, I’ve been incorporating my stencil designs, hand-carved stamp images, embossing, molding paste, and hand-painting. I love that they can be changed up.

4.  What tools do you use to make a variety of prints?  Bottoms of shoes and flip flops. I once saw the bottom of my adult daughter’s shoes and exclaimed, “Don’t throw those out when you’re done with them. I want to use the pattern on the bottom.” She rolled her eyes. I also love to use bubble wrap (of course), stamps, my stencil masks, leaves, the bottoms of fruit trays (don’t blame me if you start eyeing them up in the produce section), and on and on. I’m always seeing texture tools throughout my house.

5.  How do you use the prints?  What do you suggest to beginners (as far as using the prints in other media?)  I love using the prints as a collage base for my mixed media canvases. They’re great to use on journals, candles (see my blog), cards, envelopes, and decoupage (think “funky”). Anywhere you use paper, you can use your Gelli prints. Sometimes I like to use a “theme” of color, depending on the project I’m doing. I’ve been known to decoupage onto furniture, cigar boxes, old cabinet doors as a base for an assemblage piece, and my husband.

Well, I’m joking about the husband, but I think sometimes he’s afraid if he stands still, he’ll be “Gellied”.

6.  Tips and tricks in general.  Anything special to know about Gelli plates?  Anything you wished you had known when you started? Make sure to store your Gelli Plate in a climate controlled environment e.g. NOT in a hot car and NOT in a freezer. Also, don’t use a glossy paper on the plate (like photo paper or glossy magazine pages) Other than that, they’re pretty sturdy little buggers. When looking through magazines, keep your eye out for images that you can cut out to use as masks, which can be really fun. When using texture tools, make sure you’re not using anything sharp, or you’ll have a permanent “texture dent” or “texture rip” on the rest of your prints. Remember that often “mistakes” are just new techniques. At least that’s what I always say.

And, if you’re anything like me, your crafting area is a disaster. All. The. Time. So, when you sit down to do Gelli printing, make sure you’ve cleared enough space for drying prints, or else you will end up having to use all of your bathrooms and your bedroom floor, which I’ve never done.

If you’re interested in some of my original stencil and mask designs, please feel free to visit my Etsy shop at

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Howsewears?ref=hdr_shop_menu

And, if you’d like to see some Gelli techniques as well as my other craft adventures, please visit

www.thisandthatfromtami.blogspot.com

Thanks for reading! Fondly, Tami












I LOVE what she has made with the Gelli prints!  I wish these give you some inspiration to expand your own prints.  There is no end to the versatility of the Gelli printing plate.  Thank you, Tami. :)