Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another Throwback Thursday

I pulled out all the throwback stops on this card.

Two, not one, but TWO old SU stamp sets.

Using inks and masking to create a scenic background. Remember when that technique was all the rage?!

And to complete the throwback?  I used old SU colored card stock in ?Summer Sun?  Does this color even exist in SU's color family anymore? Anyone?  Anyone? Bueller?

I did fail in making this card totally flashback by using Distress Inks vs SU retired inks.  Sorry. Distress Inks just blend soooo much nicer, in my humble opinion.

This card is for a young man who just turned 16.  He loves the mountains and hunting.  I thought that creating this scene was appropriate for the occasion. I must have been on target as he proclaimed "this card is so cool".

Card details:  Size 5.5" square.  
Papers:  Gina K pure luxury black and ivory (for the scene panel).  SU ?Summer Sun?
Inks:  Distress Inks in Ripe Persimmon, Black Soot, Mustard Seed, Spiced Marmalade, Fired Brick, Gathered Twig, Walnut Stain. Memento Tuxedo Black
Stamps: SU's Lovely as a Tree, Nature's Silhouette 

'Till next time..........

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Positive Teen Role Models

I may have mentioned before that my kiddo's attend a small parochial school.

Did I mention that the school is small? As in, barley 300 kids (if that) from grades K-12, kinda small?!

There is advantages and disadvantages to attending such a small school.

Advantage: everyone knows your name.

Disadvantage: everyone knows your name.  

Advantage: class sizes are small so teachers are able to give more undivided attention to those who need a bit more help.

Disadvantage: class sizes are small so teachers have undivided attention! It is much harder to get away with "stuff" (wink).

Advantage: you are able to participate in extra curricular activities that you might otherwise get "cut" from at a larger school.

Disadvantage: with such a small talent pool to pull from, there are times when coaches, friends, teachers and parents will BEG you to play a certain sport so that the school can field a team. 

Disadvantage: sometimes those teams are made up of player and coach combinations that are toxic.  There is such a negative vibe that underclassmen are not inclined to join the team and previous team members decide not to play rather than endure another miserable season. 

For the last couple of years the baseball team, unfortunately, fit into that last disadvantage category.  The end of the school year saw those personalities graduating and coaches moving on, but in the wake, was left a program that had gained a very negative reputation. 

The surviving players begged, pleaded and recruited enough players (just barely) to field a team.  Of the 12 players, keeping in mind that 9 players are required to be on the field, SEVEN of the players are a combination of freshmen and players who have either never played or have not played since middle school.

Needless to say, there is a whole lot of newbies on the field during the games. And, heaven help us, when one of the more experienced player's gets injured because it then becomes a shuffled deck as to who will play what position to cover.

But, despite the disadvantages, this team has shown a HUGE advantage.  

The leadership of the upperclassmen. 

With the encouragement and understanding of the coaches, as to the inexperience this team has, the senior boys, (including one who has never played), has kept their attitudes positive and have gone out of their way to work with and encourage the younger guys. 

And the boys who were so reluctant to to join the team initially are having fun. 

This has not gone unnoticed by the  parents.  Several parents wanted to make sure that the older boys knew that their positive outlook and attitude towards the new players was appreciated. So often we tend to only point out the negative and what can be improved versus commending the good and positive.

Yesterday, we commended the five seniors for the good and positive.  Goodie bags filled with fun goodies such as Lifesavers and Rolo candies with the tag "Thanks for being such good "ROLE" models", "Doughnut" we'd do without you" on the bag of doughnut holes, "High Five for a job well done" on a back of Five gum.  Bottles of GatorADE for the aide given and plastic Big League Baseballs filled with candy for being "big league leaders". 

 We have known, and The Toad has coached, four of these boys since grade school.  And the fifth? The Newest Kiddo that joined our family last year. We felt that a personal note to each boy was warranted.

Inside was the quote: 

"The strength of the group is the strength of the leaders"
--Vince Lombardi

I took this photo before the game started.  As I was walking out of the dugout to get a better angle, I overheard the Captain (one of the Senior boys) talking to the rest of the team.  His words?  "No matter what, let's have fun out there".

And then, he pulled them in for a team prayer.

Positive Teen Role Models.

After the game all five of those boys went to each parent and gave them a hug of thanks.

But that wasn't the best part. The best part was the discussion among next year's upperclassmen of needing to keep the positive attitude going for the new guys joining the team.

Positive Teen Role Models.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Flashback Thursday

Notice how the newest craze on FB is to post flashback photos on Thursday?  Today, I'm posting a birthday card that flashes back in using an oooold SU stamp set, Time Well Spent.

Actually, this card uses some old SU card stock colors also.

And the combination gives a retro, bright, 60's-early 70's look.

I'm just rocking the flashbacks today!!

The pink paper is either SU's Pink Passion or Pixie Pink. Who knows? I never labeled my paper colors and I actually had to look at my SU inks to get the possibilities.  The orange is Only Orange.  

I needed a card for a classmate of  Youngest Kiddo.  This particular girl is new to the class this year and I really don't know much about her personality to give me a clue as to what style of card I should go with. 

 This card took life with the determination to figure out how to use ink sprays (in this case, Tattered Angel's Glimmer Mist in Tuscan Sun and S.W.A.K.) besides just spritzing for general overall glimmer.  I taped down the honeycomb stencil from Heidi Swapp and tried to keep from being too heavy handed or too close with the spraying.  Then I dug through my paper stash and tried to find papers that matched the Glimmer Mists.  

Just a side note.  I am beyond curious as to why I even own a pink colored Glimmer Mist.  It is a well known fact that I am not a "pink" type of gal.  I cannot recall why I would have purchased such a color.  I must have needed it for a specific project. Who knows?!!

I then stamped the flower image from Time Well Spent three times using Memento Tuxedo Black ink.  I colored with Copics and cut each layer out and adhered with dimensional tape.  A epoxy dome was place over the center and bling added for extra pop.  The sentiment is also from an old retired SU set; It's Your Birthday.  I used the same Glimmer Mists on the sentiment flags to tone down the intensity of the colors just a bit.  A bit of a clear mist was then spritzed over the flower to tie it all together.

A bit brighter and much more "girly" than I usually make for my boys to give to their female friends, but, in this case, the Youngest Kiddo didn't flinch (much) when he saw it.  

Now to see what I can come up with for yet another female classmate's birthday this weekend!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lessons From an Art Journal Chapter Two

Chapter Two 

Validating Fears of Ruining a Project

One of my biggest fears is creating a base for a project that I absolutely LOVE and ruining it.  I think that is why it takes me FOREVER to complete even a simple card; I am afraid that I will have finally put together the "perfect" elements and ruin it.

Lesson Number One: You WILL ruin the "perfect" background.  Time and time again.  Get over it.

I have yet to bite the bullet for a larger Gelli plate.  I have a 6x6" plate, which I LOVE!  It is rather ironic that I can smear paint on that plate and make mono prints all day without stressing about ruining the prints. It is probably the only time I let go and let the process just take over.  Of course, that does not apply to actually USING the prints! HA!! There I still have the overwhelming fear of ruining the prints. 

Since my mixed media journal is 9x11" I decided to experiment with an idea that that I hoped would give me the look of a mono print.  What I achieved was almost better! A mono print with texture.

I wish I could capture the amount of texture on this page!! The ridges are actually raised.  I could run my fingers over it all day, just feeling the rise and dips of the paint.

I started this page by putting a layer of Gesso down. I then randomly put globs (such a artistic, technical term) of Claudine Hellsmuth paint and Liquitex Gloss Gell on the page.

Using a brayer and a Martha Stewart paint tool, I spread out the paint and added the textured lines.

Just for your information:  I bought this paint tool from Home Depot.  There are three different textures tools in the pack.  I think I spent $10.  CHEAP and gave me the texture I was hoping for!

Lesson Number Two:  There is no rule that says you cannot have a journal page of just lovely paint and texture.  There is an extensive amount of art hanging on gallery walls that exists of just paint and texture.  If you create such a piece that makes you happy, don't feel pressure to add to the piece.  

Lesson Number Three: If you choose to ignore Lesson Number Two, then don't be shocked and disappointed when you ruin that lovely piece of textured art.

I admit it.  I ignored Lesson Number Two, despite that nagging voice that was yelling in my head to just leave the piece alone.  I got greedy and thought to my self that adding some wonderful embossing paste through a stencil would give me even more wonderful texture.

Totally ruined the piece.  All those lovely ridges of paint do not make for a good surface to place a stencil over and achieve a crisp image. When I pulled the stencil, I had GLOBS of embossing paste that had slipped under the stencil.  

Lesson Number Four:  Learn from your mistakes. 

I decided that I would try again, but with a few deviations from the original background.  First:  I did not Gesso the page.  Actually, I just forgot this step. Interesting outcome was that my textured base layer did not have as high of ridges.  I'm not sure if this is because the paint and gel soaked into the paper more, or because I did not use as much as much paint and gel as I did the first go around.  

Second:  I used the stencil again, but instead of using embossing paste, I pulled out various artist markers to fill in the stencil.

The stencil is the center skull and flourishes from the TCW.  The stencil is only a 6x6".  It was swallowed up by the larger page so I free handed the "roses" in a style I hoped complimented the stencil. 

Highlights were done with a Sharpie Paint pen

Not quite as much texture, but maybe that enabled a crisper image from the stencil.

Lesson Number Five: It's okay to feel uncertain with the outcome of a piece. This piece is a bit busier than I usually create.  The texture adds another dimension in reality that I cannot capture with the photo.  I like the fact that I pushed my creative boundaries.  I'm a bit iffy on the amount of "activity" the piece conveys.  

Lesson Number Six: Try to relax and enjoy the creative journey. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lessons From an Art Journal...Chapter One

Chapter One

Letting Go

In case you haven't noticed, mixed media art journals are all the rage.  Everyone seems to be getting out all their ink sprays, stains, paints and stencils and creating layer upon layer that somehow comes together as a whole.

I bought a new mixed media journal at the beginning of the year.  The original plan was that I'd try jumping on this creative band wagon and see what all the hoopla was about. I had the over zealous idea that I would let my creativity flow at least once a week and let it meander where ever it decided it needed to go.

But what I am finding is that I am struggling with the question as to whether or not this type of journal art fits me.  Or, if the struggle I'm having is a result of not having done this type of creating previously and I am lost in how to make it happen.

When I look at journal pages I have one of two reactions.  First reaction is "Whoa.  Waaaayyyy too much happening on this page".  My mind/eyes don't know where to focus as there are too many layers, colors, dots, dashes, words, zig zags.

The second reaction is "Whoa!  I like this! How does this person put together all these different elements that draws my eye to seek out the details in all the layers?"

My first attempts at an art journal page enlightened me to a few personality traits that I'm not sure fit this type of art form.  For one, I apparently have the compulsive need to control where and how inks, paints and sprays apply to the paper.  I don't like, or perhaps, cannot foresee how the blotches of the above mentioned mediums will look like a cohesive work of art.  This is more than likely due to my lack of skill using stencils and inks in this manner.  I have used stencils for many years to assist in painting of murals.  But, those stencils were to facilitate a more realistic piece of art.  Not a free flowing "let the splatters land where they may" type of art.

The second annoying trait would be that I over think each and every placement of the different elements.  This should come as no surprise to me, as I have over thought each and every element on every card I have every made.  But, when one is trying to have a random, flowing of creativity, this does not work in one's favor!

As a result, my first page looks exactly like what is is:  an over analyzed, stay within the lines, stiff piece of work.

Please don't take me wrong!  In reality, I know that there is nothing really wrong with this page. It is just not the page that I was hoping to create.  This page, unfortunately, just does nothing for me, except bring to mind the feelings of frustrations, disappointment and a major "Eh. Whatever", attitude.  

Instead, this page will be a page of lessons learned from my vast amount of mistakes.

I began my page by applying Gesso over a 9x11" multi media journal page.  I then randomly smooshed (technical term) Distress Inks over the page and moved them around with a watercolor brush that had been dipped in some water. 

Lesson One:  I need to figure out how to use spray inks.  I don't know if it is because I did not adhere the stencils down securely or because I held the inks too close while spraying.  What I do know is, I was left with just a blotches of ink, pooling under the stencil. 

Lesson Two:  It is just paper.  The ink spray splotches were beyond my tolerance.  And before I even thought to try and salvage the piece, I redid the background.

 Which is where my compulsive need to control the inks came in.  I replaced the stencil and used a variety of inks to give the background leaves a definite outline.  The edges were still a bit fuzzy due to the fact that I was too impatient to let the wet paper dry completely before applying the Distress Inks.  Which, if you have never used Distress Ink, react with water and spread out.  

Lesson Three:  When one is applying Wendy Vecchi's black embossing paste through a stencil, one needs to be aware of the smudges of black that are being spread around in the haste to apply more paste instead of properly cleaning the stencil between flipping it from front to back.  

Lesson Four:  Yes, Gesso covers mistakes. But, sometimes, covering the mistake with Gesso makes a larger mistake.  

To my dismay, I discovered that Distress Stains and Inks do not completely cover Gesso.  The resulting color is muted, as if the Gesso absorbs the ink, leaving areas that do not "match" the rest of the background.  No matter how many layers of ink you apply.

Lesson Five: Walk away.  Sometimes you just have to walk away and let the stewing simmer to a less frustrated level.

  At some point, you have to acknowledge the fact that the page is never going to turn out like you had hoped it would.  So, grab another stencil and experiment with using Copics through a stencil.

Lesson Six:  Review Lesson Five and walk away.  Several days (okay, a couple of weeks later) grab some random paints and try to fix the leaves one more time.

The leaves still don't match.  But they aren't as muted as they originally were.  

Lesson Seven: Take to heart the words Kenny Roger's sang so long ago in The Gambler

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

I'm walking away.  

'Till next time...................


Dear Blogger,

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY dislike you right now.  Seriously?  All I was doing was checking my final draft before I hit publish.  I don't think I realized that the automatic "save" during my typing NEVER happened.  

And you decide to BLIP.  Erasing EVERYTHING but my first paragraph.  


Okay, to say I'm beyond frustrated is an understatement.  I am just not up to rewriting my post today.  I feel like I'm turning in the tattered remains of a term paper that the dog chewed.  


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Red, Turquoise, Box?!!

There are some days (weeks) that I am amazed that I am even able to complete a project.  Not because of time restraints, but because my brain continually zigs and zags all over the creative route. I start out with one idea, then ZIG! Another idea leaps in, changing the path. I go along happily on the new path and ZAG!! A major rut cuts down the path, resulting in another detour.

This creative endeavor is a prime example of my wandering creative journeys.  I started on a path for a birthday card that included red metal altered with alcohol inks against a design paper that brought thoughts of a sunny blue sky with wispy clouds floating.


Found a few jewelry trinkets that I decided would accompany the  birthday card.  Just so happens the jewelry was turquoise and leather.  Okay, switched gears a bit and decided to make the card coordinate with the gift.  Got out some new metal, paper and accents.

For the life of me, I just struggled with the card.  While I liked the elements for the card, I could not escape the feeling that something was "off".


Detour number two took me from a card to a box to hold the trinkets.  Ahh! Yes!! Finally! I could see the path through all the weeds!!

Box: from my stash
Paper:  (from my stash):  From Fabscraps Shabby Chic Romance
Metal:  Ten Second Studios  Peacock and Dark Chocolate metal.  Kabuka mold #13. Decorative wheel and fine tip refiner
Embossing folder: Cuttlebug  Swiss Dots
Dies:  Tim Holtz's Tattered Florals and Garden Greens by Sizzix
Other:  SU Antique brad altered with Copic marker.  Suede ribbon: stash.  Brown Paint 
Adhesive:  Glue and Seal, Beacon's Glass, Metal and More

The flower creation was totally inspired by Lin from Yours Artfully .  She graciously allowed me to create a tutorial based on her flowers for SCS a while back.  The step by step photos can be seen here on the SCS resource page or the video below

'Till next time.........remember the path we start out on may not be the path we actually travel!!