Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Art Too

Rubber stamp: RubberMoon's Tall Tree

Whenever I hear someone say, "Oh, I could never... I'm not an artist." It makes me want to scream. Mostly because I've been there, thought that, and wasted years that could have been a whole lot more fun had arts & crafts been part of the scene.

I used to try to sketch tree branches and end up with a wastebasket full of crumpled paper. The only reason for it? I forgot to take a good look at nature. Nature, while it has a certain order to it, loves some randomness. Branches aren't, as I kept trying to make them, straight lines. They're squiggly and bendy and broken in places.

Branches are meant to be doodled, not sketched.

When I first held my new Tall Tree stamp (original image pictured above) in my happy little hands, I knew I wanted to do a winter scene with it. So, I stamped it in white on blue cardstock.

And I wasn't happy with it. I mean, I was happy with the stamp - I just didn't achieve the look I was after. I wanted a cold, snowy afternoon. The kind that always makes me think there's magic afoot.

That barren, stubby tree just didn't say "magic". So, I picked up my white gel pen and began to doodle branches. And I didn't stop until my little tree whispered "magic" to me. It took me maybe 5 minutes. Yep. Five.

But, the key here is that it was just doodling. Anyone can do it. Anyone. Even you, over there shaking your head and rolling your eyes. Squiggly lines. You can do it. Yeah, so much for that old oh-but-I-can't-even-draw-a-straight-line excuse. Because, guess what? Neither can I!

Give it a try. I dare you. It's true, the Guggenheim Museum will probably not make an immediate bee-line for your door, but you'll have tons of fun. Plus, you'll flex creative muscles you didn't know you had, and trust me on this, it will take you to some amazing places.

To see what else I did with the Tall Tree stamp, check out my post this week over at Rubbermoon: One Stamp, Three Designs.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Want My Mummy!

"I want my mummy!" was the first thought to cross my mind when I saw Fitztown's Halloween 3 digistamp. Not because I was frightened, but because I can't resist a horrible pun.

The other, maybe only slightly more artistic thing that crossed my mind was that the Dead Nurse Zombie Mummies made me think of the women in those old Robert Palmer videos (think Addicted to Love).

So, I knew I was going to glitz them up as much as I was going to gore them up. Seriously. What's a Dead Nurse Zombie Mummy with out a little glitter?

I began by coloring the images and cutting them out. I glitzed up their nurse caps and shoes using Stickles Star Dust. I chose gray cardstock for my background onto which I stamped a spider web (no idea who made that stamp, sorry!) using white craft ink.

As you can see in the first image at the top of the page, I also distressed the gray cardstock by flicking different colors of ink at it. How? Just dip a paintbrush in a dab of re-inker and flick your fingernail against the brush or tap the handle of the brush against your other hand. It's something you'll need to play with to get a feel for what kind of force creates the look you're going for. I also swiped around the cardstock with a sponge dipped in a couple of different colors of ink.

My Dead Nurse Zombie Mummies looked pretty good, but I felt like they were missing something. I couldn't decipher what. So, I took a break, wandered away, came back, squinted at them, and in my finest cheesy Dracula voice, yelled, "BLOOD!"

Duh. Every Dead Nurse Zombie Mummy needs blood!

I didn't want to use plain old ink and have it soak into the paper and end up looking like plain old ink. I decided to go the mad scientist route and experiment with some mediums. What I came up with was a very simple, very satisfying solution.

I mixed about a dime sized dollop of Judikins Diamond Glaze glue with a couple of drops of Fired Brick Distress Ink from my re-inker bottle. I mixed it together with a toothpick and, ta-da! Blood.

Using the same toothpick, I added drips and smears of "blood" to my Dead Nurse Zombie Mummies. It did exactly what I'd hoped for and dried to a shiny finish that still looks like liquid-y fresh blood.

Wait... Stop! Don't throw away that remaining "blood"! Get a piece of cardstock and schmeer it around. Let it dry and you have a funky, fun background to use for some other project.

I love my new technique. I plan to play with a few different colors to see what else I can come up with... aqua for water, pale blue for ice... you'll excuse me if I wander off to play, won't you?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Coffee and Templates

(Fitztown digistamp used: Halloween 9)

It's no secret that I'm a freak for coffee. Not only is it not a secret, it's probably a fairly well-known fact. Rumor has it that I can be a little scary if I don't get my coffee.

And it has to be decent, deep brew for me to be really satisfied and happy. Weak coffee only serves to make me fractious. But decaf? Boy, howdy. Serve me that stuff and you'd better just run for your life!

But enough about my (completely reasonable) demands.

Somewhat lesser known is my love of stencils. They can be used in so many different ways and combinations and on any number of projects.

I have a dozen or so of them and it's not nearly enough. Which runs frighteningly close to being the same as not having enough coffee. Yeah. It's that bad.

Anyway, when I saw this Fitztown spectre, I knew that poor ol' ghoul wasn't so bad really. He just needed some decent coffee to bring him back to life. So, I poured myself some and went to work.

I colored him in using Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils and a small brush dipped in water to blend them. Then I cut him out.

I felt like he needed some ghostly looking flames and I had just the ticket - a template from The Crafter's Workshop.

Using a template is ridiculously easy. All I did was to lay the template on black cardstock and sponge over it with ink. I shifted it slightly to vary the placement of the flames, and using a different color, sponged over it again. I repeated this four times using Brilliance Pearlescent inks in: Lightning Black, Poppy, Olive, and Ice Blue.

Your templates can simply be wiped clean and put away for later use. If they get really messy, you can gently wash them in soapy (dish detergent) warm water.

Here are a few other examples of cards I've made where I  used templates.

Another Crafter's Workshop template, 
combined with a Tim Holtz stamp (sentiment). 
I don't know what company made the bird stamp.

Tim Holtz template over Stampin' Up's Harlequin background stamp. 
Floral stamp is by Penny Black. Sentiment is by Sweetgrass Stamps.

Tim Holtz template. 
Stamps by Blockheads, Eclectic Omnibus, 
Stampin' Up!, Scottish Borders and Rubbermoon.

Get some templates and start playing! You'll be amazed at the creativity they inspire.