Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What Color Is Happy?

You know me...a day late and a dollar short. So this morning I'm finally looking at yesterday's newspaper (The News & Observer) and found the most interesting little article. Seems Crayola is renaming their colors to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Box of 64. I love crayons! I love the smell, the colors, and the endless possibilities that box offers. Mine are no longer in their box; instead they're mixed with other brands including Glitter Crayons in an old Whitman candy tin or maybe now they live in an old cigar box. I know the collection outgrew one of those containers; I just can't remember which one won out in the end. I'm carrying those crayons with me for classes at StampFest in Orlando and Stampaway in Cincinnati because I know everyone loves them as much as I do.
But do they really need new names? Especially when the names were selected with the help of 20,000 kids. Why didn't somebody ask me?
So the article turned to a discussion of 3rd graders, asking what they thought of the new names. As you can imagine, there were quite a few comments. The concern included the confusion of little kids trying to learn their colors when Orange is now Fun in the Sun and Happily Ever After is actually Blue.
But two brilliant little gals appealed to me immediately. Sarah liked the new names, saying they had Pizazz, and the echo of that word could be heard throughout the room as everyone tried it on for size. What a great word and so appropriate. Little Peyton thought the new names were like a secret language. Indeed! Go open your box of crayons and listen closely. No matter the name on the wrapper, they're still a joy. Take them out of the box, color some flowers and birds, scribble away on a background, and listen to them sing. Sure enough, I can hear it. It truly is the secret language of Pizazz.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creativity Abounds

Have you ever been in a room of creative women, looking at samples, feeling inspired & ready to get your fingers inky? That's exactly what happened in my studio on Tuesday night when my stamp club met for our regular monthly meeting.

We were challenged to create small works of art with a theme of April Showers. That simply meant using water in our creations, and everyone rose to the challenge. The best part of course was when members pulled out multiples of gorgeous backgrounds, not just their finished works of art. We all try several things to see what works and what doesn't, and then we create our swap piece. But some of these gals brought all the trial & error pieces, explaining how they experimented with different papers as well as different colorants, with extras thrown in like metallic powders, mica powders, & more.

And the surprise was just how many of us used the Ranger Color Wash sprays! These are often overlooked because they can be messy. But if you transfer some of each color into smaller spritzer bottles like the new spritzers from Inspired Paper Crafts (the makers of Paper Glide), you get a fine spray of color with no drips.

I'd made 2 different sets of gift enclosure cards, so why don't you try one of my techniques and see what you think. You'll need:
  • watercolor paper
  • a spritzer bottle of water
  • bold image rubber stamps (dragonflies, butterflies, even floral images work beautifully)
  • your favorite watercolor crayons. I've got multiple brands, but Lyra is truly my favorite.
Cut your w/c paper into different sized pieces, none larger than 3x5 or 4x6.
Spritz your rubber stamp with water, scribble w/c crayons in multiple colors all over the image, and spritz again with water before stamping.
Press lightly the first time because it will be incredibly wet, and then with more pressure the second time. Don't clean the stamp. Just spritz with water, scribble with more crayons in different combinations, and keep stamping.
When all the pieces are covered, cut them to size. These can be used to make greeting cards or gift enclosure cards by layering them onto colored cardstock and then to white cards. You'll be amazed at how many you can create in a matter of minutes.

If you don't have watercolor crayons, try this with your dye-based ink pads instead. Take a corner of an ink pad and press it against a small section of your rubber stamp. Then do the same with a second color, and a third. Now spritz with a fine mist of water and stamp. Depending on the amount of water applied, you'll see the colors begin to blend with one another, creating new colors. It's like a magic trick: you never know what you're going to get.

Don't have a pad of watercolor paper? Again, don't let that stop you! My personal preference would be Bristol board anyway, so try that. And you can also use regular white cardstock. Just remember that some papers are meant for use with water, so use less on more lightweight papers to avoid buckling. And make sure you're using an uncoated paper. Glossy & matte kote won't work nearly as well because the coatings prevent them from absorbing the colorant.

And while you're experimenting, try this. Tear off a few strips of masking tape and apply them to your clothes. This is to remove some of the tackiness so it won't tear your paper when removed later from your work of art. Cut small pieces of w/c paper, Bristol board, or white cardstock. Again nothing larger than 3x5. Now tape off a frame, leaving the center of the paper exposed. You can use the straight edges of the tape for a traditional frame, or tear the tape to create a wavy border for a more abstract look. Do a color wash inside the frame, sit it aside to dry and keep "painting". When they're completely dry carefully remove the tape. You'll now have a lovely white border/mat all around your masterpiece!

What to use for the color? Try lots of things. I can't live without my Ranger Craft Sheet, so get that out.
  • Scribble water based markers on it.
  • Apply acrylics or colorants from tubes, dispensing just a tiny dot of each color on the craft sheet. Spritz with Color Wash sprays.
  • Drizzle from reinker bottles.
  • Press your ink pads directly to the sheet (Dye-based pads and Distress pads both work well for this).
Whatever colorant you use, spritz it with water and then lift it with a water reservoir brush or a cheap paint brush, and paint inside the tape. Another great look is to press your paper onto the craft sheet, or press & twist to lift the pigment from the surface. You can do this repeatedly, spritzing water between pressings and adding colorant as needed.

Again, let them dry, remove the tape, and be amazed by your creations.
Want to try a variation of this? Tear pages out of old books, old phone books, sheet music, old ledger paper, even those really inexpensive, flimsy Bingo cards you can buy at WalMart. (For these, look on the wrapping paper/party favor aisle. They're printed on newsprint, 2 to a sheet in a pad of several hundred for about two bucks.)
Now color away, giving all of the above a wash of color. When dry, try different things. Cut out pieces from each of the papers to "build" a house. Cut the house itself from sheet music, the roof from ledger paper, the chimney & front door from a Bingo card. Cut really tiny ones and create a little row of houses across the bottom of a card. Or make flowers! Each bloom could be a different paper & color, or each petal could be different!

Okay, I guess I'll have to play around myself and post a photo. Check back in a couple of days. Or email me your photos to post here!

And remember, if your hands aren't inky, you're doing it wrong.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Art Happens with Lovely Linda

April 15, 2008

  • Tax Day
  • STARS meeting tonight

Last night I flipped through old magazines while watching recorded shows upstairs. Should've spent more time in the studio since the stamp club gals are coming over tonight, but I was too easily distracted. And what jumped off the pages at me everytime? Photographs of flowers. Snipped beauties from your own garden (or the neighbor's) presented in jars, tin cans, bottles, and juice glasses. Phlox, tulips, poppies, daffodils, even greenery stems were so simple and yet so lovely. Today's first item of business is to find a bouquet of flowers, no doubt from the store. I have so few blooms in my yard that it would be stripped naked long before I had enough to make a display. I'm sending the photos to my mother-in-law via the mail to brighten her day, with a handmade card and note of course.

Around 11pm I finally tackled the studio. It's still not tidy enough, but I wanted to participate in this month's swap, so I pulled out watercolor pads, stamps, spritzer bottles, and my favorite Lyra watercolor crayons. There was a bit of trial and error but I finally came up with 6 pretty gift enclosure cards using butterflies & dragonflies. These will be the item I'll trade. But I was to make one other item for show & tell, again with the theme of April Showers, which meant anything created with water. So I selected 2 white silk flowers, separated the layers, and spritzed them with Ranger's Color Wash sprays. The secret to success is to spritz the flowers with water first so that the sprays begin to bleed into the fibers of the fabric immediately. However, having said that, if you've spritzed your color first and now have specs of intense color in spots, simply spritz with water afterward and the blending begins. It's a totally different look but not a bad one at all. Look for photos tomorrow of all the different things members brought for show & tell and to swap.

Income tax returns go out in today's mail. I signed my name on the dotted lines and didn't see any checks attached so I guess that means we're due a refund. I can live with that!

As many of you know I've been losing my battle with allergies since mid-February. Today I'm sneezing non-stop. Do you think it's from the photographs of flowers? What's going to happen when I actually buy them and put them in vases in the studio tonight?

I'm also shopping this week for camp supplies for kids. At church last weekend I picked up tags for 2 little boys, 5 & 8, who need beach towels, flip flops, ball caps, juice boxes, snacks, and of course art supplies. My son, David, is 32 so I'm out of practice but looking forward to stuffing those bags!

Speaking of shopping, have you visted your local Target lately? Last week I bought 5 pair of the most fabulous reading glasses in the Dollar Spot. I now have specs in zebra stripes, black with white polka dots, some with checks, just too much fun to pass up on the possibilities. Join the trend...go buy a pair, or two!

One final thought for today... I got a magazine in the mail yesterday that I've been flipping through and something caught my eye. They used a cardboard egg carton to sort craft supplies: beads, sequins, buttons, threads, yarn, and fibers. I don't know about you, but I've got far too many of my craft supplies to use an egg carton for sorting and storage. But I must say the array of colors & shapes was a beautiful display of eye candy. And I'm all for that!