Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Listen Within"

I'm trying to focus more on myself. I discovered the practice of mindfulness as a way to help combat my anxiety and while it can be hit and miss for me, I know that I'll never get better at it if I don't try. Pretty much everything in life is that way. I ended up working a bit of mindfulness into my art journal.

Something else that I've been working on is faces. A few months ago, I was sketching and coloring a face at least once a week. Then something happened. I stopped doing faces and took a break. My first face in quite a few months is the purpose of this blog post.

It started out rough. The background is craft paint over stenciled gesso. A second stencil is visible above the first layer with Apple Barrel's "Too Blue." Then we come to the face. I started out by sketching the shape of the face. I added the neck after that and I have to admit that this guy's neck looks way too thick.

I used a black Stabilo All pencil to outline the face, facial details, and the neck. I love how this pencil blends in with paint when Dina Wakley uses it and I attempted to mimic her technique.

This is how the face looked with the second layer of paint (slightly lighter than the first). I still struggle with highlights and shadows and the Stabilo All pencil kind of helps you fake it. Still, it's far from perfect. I was going to go over it a third time but I decided that even though it has imperfections, there's something simplistic and calming about it.

This is the final result of the page.

Other than the baby blue stenciled dots, not much changed to the face. I rebuilt the structure of the chin with the Stabilo All pencil and avoided going back into the facial details because I like how they look. Is it perfect? No. Am I happy with it. Absolutely.

Monday, September 26, 2016

21 Secrets - Color, Color, Color!

Hello everyone.

I signed up for 3 art classes over the weekend, so I'm probably going to be posting a lot of photos to my instagram over the next few weeks. You should follow me over there by clicking here.
Note: I have to approve your request to follow me so that I don't get spammed like crazy, so forgive me if there's a delay.

That doesn't mean I won't be on my blog in the interim. I'll also be doing some blog posts and an end of the class review. From what I've gathered, 21 Secrets has been around for a few years now. The theme (Color, Color, Color!) is all about integrating color and art. Isn't that awesome?!

I enjoy vibrant color in art and I think I'm really going to enjoy learning from 24 amazing teachers. It's not to late to sign up even though the class has already begun. You can click the photo below to learn more about the class and sign up if you feel inclined to do so. I'm not an affiliate and I won't get any credit for you signing up. I still encourage you to join in on the fun .

Friday, September 23, 2016

Surprise Arrival

My Joggles.com order arrived today and I was taken by surprise. Knowing that my order was going to be traveling from Rhode Island to Washington state, I had it in my head that it wouldn't arrive for at least a week (you know, like those Amazon packages).

Opening it up was like being transported into a candy store for the first time as a child. I've been wanting both of these products since I heard about them and I was happy to find them at reasonable prices.

I'm gonna be busy this weekend!

"An Artist's Life" - An Art Journal Page

 I was looking for some fun stickers that I could implement into my art journal pages a couple of months ago and I found quite a few that caught my eye. One of the stickers that I purchased worked great for the page I created.
© Leslie Evans       [to purchase]

To begin the page, I decided to use the 5.5" x 8.5" Canson Mixed Media journal that I've been working in. The paper weight is 98 pounds and it can take quite a few layers of paint, gesso, and texture paste. The smaller size makes it ideal for pages that you want to dry quickly between layers without the need for a heat gun (I don't like the fumes).

I started with a layer of Apple Barrel's New Shamrock (21479). Once dry, I applied a few 1" lines of Art Basics white gesso and used a shaped Catalyst palette blade (C-64) to spread it around. The result was the boxed/lined texture that almost looks like tire tracks. The hardest part was waiting for the gesso to dry because it was still in clumps in some areas and I wanted to make sure that it was thoroughly dry before I added another layer.

I covered up the background and gesso with a bit of Yellow Flame (21474). I used a brush to spread the paint evenly and placed down one of Patti Tolley Parrish's round stencils (Dot Maze Round) before the paint had even started to dry. Using a baby wipe, I lifted the yellow out of the stencil areas to create a contrast between the two colors. My next step was to apply a thin coat of Liquitex Airbrush Medium over the page to give it a little bit of a shine while also binding the three layers together.

Once that dried, I used Apple Barrel's Black (20504E) paint and applied it with a makeup wedge through Tim Holtz's arrows stencil. I used a couple of them and once dry, I lined inside of the arrows with a white Uni-Ball Signo pen. I was trying to go for a haphazard look without going outside of the line.

I found some matching washi tape that shared the black and white theme with the arrows and I used a couple of pieces in strategic locations. Then it came time to add the sticker, but it didn't pop off the page as much as I wanted it to. The solution was simple. All I had to do was outline it with a black Pigma Micron pen.

I'm really happy with the outcome. I like how all of the elements are cohesive together and yet the focus is still on the great sticker I found on Redbubble. If you haven't taken a look at all of the amazing art that people sell on that website, I encourage you to check it out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Organization and Anxiety

I've lately realized that there's a correlation between organization and anxiety. Creating art calms me down, but nothing sends my blood pressure up and brings on the anxiety like not being able to find something that I'm looking for. There have been times where I've had to substitute things because the item I'm trying to find can't be located.

I had pens in boxes and organizers all over my house. I had washi tape in a variety of locations around my room because I didn't have one place that would fit all my tapes in an way that easily let me identify what I had (this is how you end up buying three of the same item). I did have all my craft paint organized because I bought a toolbox to put all of it into, but it was a mild annoyance having to pull it out and then put it away once I had finished.

The solution was simple. I needed the things I wanted to use in a place that was easily accessible. Yes, I know it's common sense, but sometimes it seems that we humans go out of our way to make things more difficult on ourselves. With a little money saved up and a solution in mind, I went off to find an organization solution.

Little did I know that I would find everything I needed on Etsy.

The answer to my needs: Organizemore. Based out of Tennessee, this Etsy shop hand creates organization solutions that will help you store your items accessibly so that you can easily find what you're looking for. The hardest part was waiting the six weeks for my shelves to be created, but the wait was well worth it.

I first ordered the "Craft Paint Storage Organizer"that holds 90 bottles.

As you can see in the photo, a lot of the spaces are empty because I'm using up the older bottles I have before I go to the store to purchase replacements. In the interim, I've taken to storing some fine liner bottles in the organizer. They protrude slightly but they are still out of the way.

The second organizer I bought was the large capacity "Craft Marker Storage Organizer."It's great for holding markers, gel pens, and ink pens. I've also found it useful for storing my drawing compass, a handheld single hole punch, and my smaller inking tools. I decided to organize by color since it made the most sense. I'm really happy with it.

The final item I ordered was a custom request. It actually involved me messaging one of the owners, who was pleasant and willing to help me find something that would work within my parameters.

Sorry about the weird lighting. 
They have a great washi tape organizer already but I didn't need one that large, so I asked them if they could make a smaller one. They came through big time!

This thing is perfect for my needs and fits all of the washi tape that I own (with room to grow). Now that I can see that I have gel pens, my favorite craft paint colors, and that washi tape with the skulls on it, I use my supplies rather than hide them away in forgotten places. What a concept, right?

Organizing supplies can be annoying, but these organizers made it easier for me. There are dozens of DIY solutions that may work better for you and I encourage you to check out all your options, but Organizemore does a fantastic job and they will work with you if you need something custom. Visit their Etsy shop by clicking on their shop name above.

*This blog post was composed based off of my own opinions. Organizemore did not give me merchandise in exchange for this review; all products purchased from the company were paid for by me and no one else. I am not an affiliate and I do not receive payment, credits, or merchandise for sending people to their website.

-Bonus Photo-
Can you spot the skittles with all that color?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hello there.

Do you remember me? It's been almost 5 months since I've updated my blog. 

The sad truth is that while I have had creative spurts within that time, I've been feeling a little stuck creativity wise for the majority of the time I've been MIA. I'm hoping that the artist's block is on its way out of the door (or back into the box where it belongs). 

I woke up early this morning and couldn't get myself to fall back asleep for anything. So, I got up and got a drink, found my queue of Project Runway episodes on Hulu, and broke out the alcohol inks that I haven't used in ages. I was happy to find that none of them had evaporated or dried out.

If you haven't used alcohol inks before, I warn you here and now: these things are addictive. You can buy specially made card stock or use any non-porous and glossy surface (including domino tiles), but I like alternating the card stock and yupo paper.

I'm very happy with the results.

Until next time, my friends.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Struggles

This post has nothing to do with art.

It has to do with my anxiety and depression, as well as my absence from the online community as of late. I've been there, lurking in the shadows on some days, but for the most part I haven't felt like watching YouTube videos, doing any art, catching online streams, uploading YouTube videos of my own, or even adding any photos to my Instagram. The fact that I accomplished any of those things at all over the past few months is a win.

I was in the hospital last August the 7th to September the 7th. I was undergoing electroconvulsive therapy, but I left the hospital when it became apparent that my mother was on the verge of passing away. She died six days later.

The ECT isn't like it is portrayed in the movies and it should be considered a valid option for those that are struggling. The hospital I was in had an ECT department that was separate from its psych ward, which is where I stayed the rest of the time. The ECT department and its staff was top notch. I can't say the same for the regular psych ward and its staff.

Let's just say that the psych wards at Harbourview leave a lot to be desired, especially in terms of the professionalism of the staff, making patients feel safe and welcome, and treating patients as if they are people rather than a source of income. It would be my recommendation that people go anywhere else, or only receive ECT there through an outpatient basis if that is the only option, based on my experience. (Note: I'm sure for others it has been a positive experience, but that was not how it was in my case.)

Feeling depressed and suicidal became a secondary focus as I tried to work through the grief over my mother's passing. I'm sorry to say that it hasn't remained secondary.

My Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner says that I have treatment-resistant depression and social anxiety. Translation: medications and other therapies aren't effective. I have tried and failed multiple medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other forms of group therapy. At the present moment I feel as if I am simply existing. I am depressed, afraid to go outside of my bedroom, and thinking that everything would be better off if I just killed myself.

The good news is that my P-Nurse isn't giving up. She recently took me off of a couple of medications and has prescribed me newer meds in the hope that they will work where others have fizzled out. Electroconvulsive therapy is probably my next step after that, though I am struggling to allow a repeat of past experiences.

I've been trying to do art in an effort to get myself to do something, anything, and my P-Nurse has encouraged me to read. Every day is a struggle and I don't think the people that don't face the challenges of mental illness quite understand that. Platitudes, as much as they are passed around on social media like an STI, do not work. In fact, often times they serve to only alienate us further.

The purpose of this post isn't to gain sympathy or to educate anyone on mental illness and its various treatments. This is simply my way of explaining my absence to those people that may be missing my presence and wondering what rock I'm hiding under. I'm trying to be optimistic and struggling, but I know that my mother would want me to keep moving towards getting better. Most days I don't even know if getting better is possible.

I've had happy mail ready to go out for over a month but I can't get myself to the post office to get it sent off. Please know that I haven't forgotten those of you that sent me happy mail - it will be heading your way as soon as I can gather the motivation to get some things done.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hauls Galore

I spent the last 40 minutes making a video with all of my recent haul items. It was a video I've been wanting to make for a while and I only now just got around to doing it. On the plus side, I really think my new lighting solution is working out, and my new camera mount is great even though I may have bumped it a time or two while filming.

That's nothing a little bit of video editing won't fix.

Look for the video to be uploaded in the next couple of days. I'll post a link to the video once it's finished editing and gone live.

As always, thanks for your support!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Youtubing Takes Effort, Man.

I will never be the person that uploads videos every day. Or every week.

Chances are, you'll be lucky if you get monthly videos from me. I like YouTube and the fun that it provides, but I can't think of it like a task that I have to mark off of my calendar or the fun will be sucked away faster than a rocket takes off. The same thing goes for this blog.

I'm not posting and creating videos to show off my products or online classes, and there is nothing wrong with doing that. For me, art is a hobby. I'm not saying it will always be this way, but it is for the time being.

That doesn't mean that I can't make creating videos easier. A new camera mount is being shipped to me, as are a couple of lights, and I think that will make creating videos easier which will directly correlate to how many videos you all will see. Fingers crossed that everything works the way I'm hoping and that the past few sentences I've written will be moot.

With all that being said, you should mosey on over to YouTube right now and check out the long overdue video that I just uploaded. CLICK HERE TO SEE IT.

(Please like and subscribe if you like and want to subscribe.)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Let's Play - January 2016

I don't know what took me so long, but I've recently discovered the awesomeness that is Carolyn Dube. I am in awe of how easily she speaks on camera in her YouTube videos, and her art skillz are the bomb. If you've been living under a rock in close proximity to mine (hence my 90's slang), you can find out more about her here.

I recently saw the video about her Let's Play challenge. It sounded like something to keep me creating even when I wasn't really feeling up to it, and it's a monthly thing so it isn't like I have to rush to get something done in the span of a few days. If you want to find out more about the challenge, click the colorful "Let's Play" button to the right of this post.

I have to admit that it was nice to just ease into the process of creating without getting too worked up about the finished product. That's one of the reasons I love art journaling, but lately it has seemed that the finished product had to be share-worthy or else it was a waste of time. That is so wrong on so many levels! This challenge was a great way to bring me back to my center, and the January theme of using something that would have been thrown away made it all the easier.

I selected a priority shipping envelope from my last order from istencils.com, and I cut the envelope so that I had one panel at almost 7 inches by 9 inches. I used a piece of the protective material that came with my PS4 (whatchamacallit?) and cut it up to avoid falling into the habit of just sticking it down in one piece and moving on. I even saved a mini candy bar wrapper and tried to use it in a way that I probably wouldn't have normally.

I used the FW Acrylic Inks to get some color down after I applied a thin layer of white gesso. See the Pinterest board below for a full list of the supplies I used.

This is the material that expensive electronics sometimes come wrapped in. It is soft to the touch and a thin material, perfect for the application of paint.

I applied a layer of Dina Wakley's black gesso before using white linen Dylusions paint with a couple of stencils. Some of the paint got underneath the stencil in a couple of places but I didn't sweat it.

I used a white paint pen and a black permanent marker to trace the triangles that I cut out, as well as to doodle all over the page. I did some light stamping with Memento's London Fog ink pad, so that the stamp isn't too pronounced.

On a whim, I used one of the crazy bird stamps and colored it in with spectrum noir markers. I used Elmer's glue-all to adhere the triangles and the bird to the envelope.

I decided to add a little pop of color using the Gelly Roll moonlight pen. It didn't stick in all of the areas and I just accepted it. In fact, it makes the outlines of the large triangles look more sketchy, which is the look I was aiming for.

This is the mini Hershey's wrapper. I just stuck it down instead of attempting to mold it into a special shape or cutting it into another triangle, and that makes it stand out on the page. In order to help it blend in better, I went over it with some of the FW acrylic inks to mute the brown color on the wrapper. Doodling over it made it fit better with the theme of the page, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  

I enjoyed the process of creating this page - my first one in almost a month. It was nice to get back into the swing of things and just do some creating without focusing too much on the specifics. Of course, there are things about the page that I'm not overly thrilled with, but it isn't enough to worry about.

The finished product:

Thanks for checking out my creation. Join in on the fun and check out Carolyn Dube's channel and blog - you won't regret it.

Follow Travis's board Supplies - January Play Challenge on Pinterest.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Long Time No Art

I've been a little bit MIA over the past few months. Sorry about that.

The holidays were especially difficult this year because my mother passed away in September of 2015. Add that to my already depressed and anxious mood and you can imagine that I wasn't really up to doing much of anything. 

I didn't feel like doing much in the way of art or any other type of creating, and I didn't use my art journal as a way to get out the feelings that I was holding inside. So, as a result, those feelings stayed inside and just compounded until I finally started to embrace my grief and work through it. I don't really cry except for the infrequent sad movie, but I had my fair share of it these last few months as you might expect.

I joined Creative JumpStart 2016 as a way to help get me focused on my art again, and I splurged and bought a couple of art supplies from my wish list - supplies that I've really wanted to use and knew would get me doing something. I'm feeling inspired again which is a wonderful feeling!

I spent the morning cleaning out some trash and will be doing some organizing of my art space later today in an effort to get back into the swing of things. Creative JumpStart has already exposed me to two artists that I was unfamiliar with, not to mention the numerous Jumpstarters that are producing amazing works of art with a variety of mediums. I can see why so many people return to the class/community/program year after year.