Life Book 2014 – Week 19

This weeks lesson was about honoring your inner world by Danielle Daniel. Try saying that name three times fast! Lol!

I struggled with this one a bit. Letting go and freely painting just isn’t my thing. But I hope that the more I do it, it will become easier for me.

We were told to randomly collage and paint in the background. This is as random as I get.

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Then we painted a girl in a meditative or praying position. I love that all the Life Book teachers have been really accepting of all belief systems. I was a little worried that as a Christian I would have a problem with all the “universe” talk and meditation. That I would feel uncomfortable or left out of some things because they clashed with my beliefs, but I have been pleasantly surprised on how accepting all the teachers have been. For example… one of the past lessons we were asked to write a letter to the universe, but the teacher also said that it could be a letter to God (which was who I chose to write my letter to). And I have really enjoyed the different meditations that have been included here and there with the course. I find them to be very relaxing and stress relieving.

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The teacher also included a quote by Emily Dickinson that I really liked. So I decided to include the same quote into my piece.

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Forever is composed of Nows

At one point, I stopped worrying about making it look like the teacher’s piece and just started to paint how I felt. I decided to be present and be in the now…

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Til next time..

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Life Book 2014 – Week 15

This week was another lesson with the totally cool Tamara Laporte! Quirky Animals!

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We started with taping 2 pieces of paper together. The largest paper I had was “Mixed Media” paper, which I sliced in half and then taped back together to make a fold out page. I wish I would have taken 2 sheets of watercolor paper and used them instead because the mixed media stuff started to ball up on me with all the painting. The background is made with a mix of watercolor crayons and spray inks.

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This little lion is the beginning of the animal totem pole.

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I’m in LOVE with this little guy! I love elephants and have collected them since I was little. So this was a lot of fun to paint.

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A monkey with a heart of his shirt… Yes! I think so!

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The bunny was fun to make. I love her ears! The last animal was supposed to be a cat, but I’m a dog person. So the cat was out and the bird was in. He looks very regal with his crown.

The entire piece took me several hours to complete, but was totally worth it! I really pushed myself to make all these guys. And adding the little embellishments to each one was so much fun!

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Can’t wait for Tamara’s next lesson!

Til next time…

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Life Book 2014 – Week 13

This week our lesson used TAP (Transfer Artist Paper). Our teacher was Leslie Riley and she is also the one who makes TAP. This was a simple lesson that had us ironing on an image using the TAP and then creating a background around it.

Leslie used a picture of her daughter holding a bowl. I actually have a picture of my daughter doing the same thing. The picture was taken right after we moved out to a new house in the country. My “city girls” were out exploring the yard and picked a bunch of raspberries to make jam. So I had to take a picture of this momentous event. City girls becoming country girls!

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This is the second printout I did. The first one came out so dark that the raspberries were black. If you’re going to use TAP make sure you lighten the photos because it makes them dark. Oh! And be sure to print it in reverse so it’s the same as the original when you iron it on.

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Here it is after I ironed it on. I was able to get most of the picture to transfer, but I’m still missing some bits. It’s still pretty dark, which I’m not thrilled about, but I can live with it. What really bothers me about TAP is the texture. The photo transfer is really gritty (rough to the touch). So much so that I think it makes the picture appear to be low res when it’s not.

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I really didn’t think this piece was going to turn out so I didn’t take any other progress photos. So here is the finished piece. I absolutely LOVE the background and the technique used to create it. I applied gesso through a stencil and once that was dry spritzed on some spray inks. I used a bit of water to blend them and a baby wipe to reveal the gesso’d parts. I love this technique and I’ll definitely be using it again. Not so sure about the TAP, but I love that background!

Til next time…

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Life Book 2014 – Week 12

This post is coming a little late. Okay… a lot late. It was a bit more challenging than I anticipated and I had to gather up more supplies than normal to complete this piece.

This lesson was taught by the very talented Anna Dabrowska – aka Finnabair. I came across her work several months ago and I immediately connected with it. So I was thrilled to learn that she was one of the Life Book teachers. Her work has such an amazing texture! And to be able to transform every day objects into something so beautiful is truly a gift!

Here is Finnabair’s example for her class.

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I was going to use the same layout, but opted instead for an off center one. I didn’t really have a picture of my face straight on like hers. Oh! And I decided to do the lesson on a canvas. That much texture can’t be contained in a book!

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As I was going through my photo album this picture just jumped out at me. It’s me at age 5 holding my “baby ellie” and feeding it a bottle. I loved that elephant! I drug it everywhere. In fact, I had a whole collection of stuffed animal elephants. But “baby ellie” was my favorite.

One year for Christmas I asked my Annie Ann (my aunt) to buy me a “papa ellie”. I needed a dad elephant for my collection. I already had a baby and mama. So my aunt went to the store and asked the clerk for a “papa ellie”, the guy had no idea what she was talking about of course. LOL! I’m not exactly sure how she figured it out, but eventually she realized that all I wanted was an elephant stuffed animal. Oops! Sorry about that Annie Ann!

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Okay… back to the lesson.
I started with background texture. Texture that was flat in nature that could be built upon. Then I went crazy adding everything short of the kitchen sink. I hope my husband won’t be too mad that I raided his toolbox. Shhh… don’t tell him.

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It was a little crazy looking at this point. I’ll admit I was a bit worried. But the next step was to gesso everything. Wow! What a difference that makes.

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I truly just wanted to stop at this point. I didn’t want to screw it up with the sprays, but I went ahead with the lesson anyway. I have to at least try. Do something new. If I don’t… then why did I pay to take the course? What am I learning?

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YIKES! That is awful! I immediately regretted my decision. I had limited colors of the sprays the teacher recommended. Hobby Lobby just had a few and I bought them all. But it just wasn’t the color combination I liked. So I gesso’d over the black and tried again with the gold and green sprays I bought and then I added some blue dylusions ink spray around the outside. A much better look. I used a bit of gesso on the top to highlight the high points and give it more dimension.

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It’s not exactly what I had envisioned, but I think it’s pretty good for my first try. I have to remind myself that my first try at something doesn’t need to be as good as someone who has been doing it for years. I remember Tamara saying (she might have been quoting someone) that we shouldn’t compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. That is so true!

Til next time…

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Life Book 2014 – Week 11

This week was a bonus lesson week. The original teacher couldn’t do it so thankfully Tamara stepped in and offered a lesson of her own and even a second one by Gracie. These were just fast forwarded video lessons, but they still had a great deal of info. Tamara never disappoints. Her lessons are always fun for me.

The theme was The Tree of Life. I created very closely to what the example was. I really responded to the piece she created and I wanted to push myself with drawing legs and hands. The cartoon style of the girl made it easier to try them out for the first time.

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I never realized that you should sketch your subject first. I always thought that real artists just painted off the cuff. Like Bob Ross. I remember watching him paint as a girl. He would just slap paint down on the canvas and I would think, “What are you doing? That doesn’t look like a tree.” And then somehow as he kept layering this gorgeous scene would emerge. I am still in awe of his work even to this day. Watching him on tv are some of my fondest memories as a child.

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The collage in this piece is from a hymnal that I picked up at our local goodwill type store, called Bargains Galore in Waupun, WI. I love using music sheets in my pieces.

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I love my big headed girl! She was so fun the create. Her dress is made with washi tape, her shoes have little swirls on ends and her hair is blowing in the wind. I would like to improve on how to draw hair. Make it look a bit more free, but this was a good start for me.

When I started stamping on the tree I thought I had ruined it, but then I started adding the white dots. The white dots gave it more of a magical look which I absolutely love! I definitely would like to try this look again.

Here is the bonus lesson by Gracie.

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This piece has a lot of different layers for the background. But everything was brought together by adding gesso with a brayer on top. I love swirls! They were my signature when I was working with stained glass. So creating the tree was a lot of fun for me.

Til next time…

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Life Book 2014 – Week 10

This week the lesson was about paint over collage. I almost threw this piece in the trash. I really don’t even want to blog about it. But I made a commitment and I’m going to follow through.

First we started with collage. We were also supposed to pick out a picture of a woman’s face from a magazine. I don’t subscribe to any magazines. So it was slim pickin’s around the house. But eventually I found a girl from a toilet paper ad. The picture was a little too small, but I didn’t have anything else.

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I don’t have any progress photos because, like I said, I felt like throwing this thing out the whole time. The hair was the biggest issue for me. I just don’t understand how to paint hair. If they ever offer a class on it… I’m going to be the first person to sign up!

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I am grateful for this lesson despite the less than thrilling outcome. This lesson taught me that you can take a bunch of things that don’t really go together and make them look cohesive with a little gesso, oil pastels and a brayer.

I think I would have really enjoyed the lesson if I had started with a larger face. So I’m planning on doing it again with a different picture. I had a ton of fun with the collage and I look forward to playing with that again.

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We were supposed to write about our positive connections in our life in a sort of poem like way. Tamara was really great about explaining how to do that, but when it came time to do that part the words just came out of me without even thinking. But I will definitely keep Tamara’s instructions in my mind and use them next time I’m doing something like this.

All in all… I learned some great lessons that I can apply in future projects.

Til next time…

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Life Book 2014 – Week 6 – Part Two

I think I’ve fallen in love with ink sprays! But sometimes I wonder if they are in love with me also. Or maybe they’ve put me into the friend zone…

Watching Tamara’s lesson she made using ink sprays look so easy. And they can be… once you’ve got the technique down and your using the right paper. But no matter what, you’ll still end up with fingers that look like this.

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Not a big deal. I’ve suffered for art before. You should have seen my nails when I was working with glass. The grinder was not kind and I usually ended up with nails that looked like squirrels had been gnawing on them.

So here is my girl, with her lovely hair flowing wild and free!

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I love the combination of using ink sprays and a stencil. I did have some issues with the ink sprays though. Speckles would go all over the page. Some so small that you didn’t even know that they were there until you try to add some yellow and you end up with every other color but yellow when the speckles mixed in.

So in order to get some yellow on the page I waited for everything to dry and sprayed some yellow on at the end. But on my next piece I figured out a better technique that eliminated most of the speckles.

I really enjoyed drawing a different type of face. It was a little tough to go over some of the speckles, but I eventually got them covered.

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We were supposed to fold the paper in half and then put our Positive Qualities on the back. The only paper I had that was a bigger size was some Bristol (96 lbs) paper. So I gesso’d it. I wanted to make it thicker and a bit more substantial to work on. But in the end, I really struggled to get the vibrant color I was looking for. I believe the gesso was the culprit. It didn’t allow the ink to soak into the paper. So when I blotted some of the ink up with a paper towel it left a pastel version of the color. Not what I was looking for.

I struggled some more working on the back of the paper (gesso strikes again!) to make my Positive Qualities page. So I gave up and started it on a new piece of watercolor paper. What a difference! Strong, vibrant colors! On this piece, I figured out a technique so you don’t get speckles of color everywhere. Hold the spray bottle extremely close to the paper. Did you hear me? Hold the spray bottle extremely close! So it’s pretty much touching the paper. That’s the key.

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As most of you know I have been loving this art course. I love to learn! But I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy all the love and support from all the members of Life Book and from Tamara herself. It may seem a little self indulgent at first to focus so much on yourself, but that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about encouraging and uplifting you as an artist and as a person. It’s about recognizing that you are good enough and what you create is worthy. I am so very grateful to have found this group and I can’t wait to see how much I’ll have grown by the end of the year. And it will all be there for me to see in my very own Life Book.

Til next time…

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