My Archon Schedule

Art for Archon 2016

Art for Archon 2016

The fine folks at Archon 39 have posted the programming schedule for this weekend and it looks like it’s going to be a great weekend! You’ll find my art in the show and me in person on the following panels:


7:30 PM — Art Reception, Great Rivers Ballroom B

9 PM — Yard Dog Press Presents Readings and Interpretive Dance, Marquette B


1 PM — Draw with the Pros, Marquette B

5 PM — The Ad-Lib Game (M), Marquette B

7 PM — The First Editor: Yourself, Marquette B


10 AM — My Favorite Art Medium (M), Mississippian

Noon — Marketing for the Self-Published Author, Mississippian

Don’t forget to stop by the art show and ogle the art (and buy some, perhaps?). Also, stop by the Yard Dog Press booth in the Dealers Room and buy books. Lots and lots of fun-to-read books. See you there!

WIP: Life’s Too Short; Use The Good Stuff.

Have you ever thought about what the phrase “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” really means? It’s another way of saying that you can’t make a high-quality product from poor-quality materials.

Don’t waste your time and money using cheaply made, sub-standard materials; it will only cause you frustration and end with work you simply aren’t satisfied with.

If you want to produce quality product, use quality materials. (If you are patient enough to wait for a sale and/or use the right coupons, you CAN get good materials at an affordable price.)

Take a look at these canvas-covered panels, to which I’ve applied a thin wash of fluid acrylic.

  • The panel on the top is from a store-brand “value pack” made in China and purchased at a big-name craft store.
  • The panel on the bottom is a Utrecht Studio 100% Primed Cotton Canvas Board made with 7oz primed cotton canvas mounted on heavyweight multi-ply board.

See the difference? The value panel resists the paint and creates a weak, splotchy mess, while the quality panel accepts the paint evenly.

Quality does matter. Life’s too short to spend your creative time re-working a splotchy mess. Use the good stuff.

Good stuff on the left, not -so-good stuff on the right.

Good stuff on the left, not-so-good stuff on the right.

WIP: Word Stamps

I saw some cute little word stamps in a catalog, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually pay that much plus shipping to get them. So I made my own using inexpensive wooden alpha stamps from the craft store and a couple dabs of glue. My intention was to use them in my art journal, but I’ve also made some to use as a checklist in my daily notebook.

05-28-2014 13984789266_c9466c9968_o

Why rant?

Why rant?





A dab of glue.

A dab of glue.

WIP: My Notebooks

I keep two notebooks consistently: my sketchbook and my daily notebook.

My sketchbook captures ephemeral content from my right brain: sketches, doodles, scribbles, random creative inspiration, and color combinations. This is the notebook I also take to meetings and workshops, where I can let my right brain run loose while the left brain pays attention.

My daily notebook stays with me all day to capture the mundane contents of my left brain before they leak out: lists of things to do and things I did, telephone messages, observations, dates, and deadlines. Sometimes I paste in receipts or ticket stubs or the label from something tasty that I’d like to try again.

I prefer a wirebound Canson Universal Sketch in 9″x12″ for the sketchbook and 6″x9″ for the daily notebook. On the outside, I personalize the covers with decorative paper, washi tape, rubber stamps, and stickers. On the inside, I make marks with whatever happens to be handy: pens, pencils, markers, spray ink, etc.

For a brief moment when my notebooks are new, they are crisp and clean and symmetrical. Soon enough, however, they become rumpled and bumpled with water wrinkles, their edges darkened by spilled coffee and ink over-spray, and their bellies fat with pasted-in ephemera and tabs made from washi tape — all of the things that make them MINE.

My notebooks

My notebooks


My notebooks

My notebooks


My notebooks

My notebooks


My notebooks

My notebooks


My notebooks

My notebooks

WIP: Greeting Cards

I don’t buy greeting cards. I make them. It lets me be creative, and I never have to fret about Grandma receiving the same card from us and from one of the cousins. (It also gives me an excuse to horde decorative paper, but that’s fodder for another post.) My cards may not be as sappy or as snarky as the ones you buy down at Walmart, but they do come straight from the heart. About the photos below:

  1. This Hello Baby! card welcomes my new nephew to the family. When inspiration fails, add adhesive alphas and outline them using sparkly gel pens.
  2. I love this “Handmade Card” stamp from Cat’s Life Press Rubber Stamp Company.
  3. Dirty Little Secret #1: The patterned paper on the back of this card hides an unfortunate smudge.




WIP: Backgrounds

I’ve neglected my blog for several months, but I have spent the time doing other creative things and taking photos of them as I go.

Here are a few shots that explain how I collage backgrounds for my mixed media works.

  1. On a small canvas board (or canvas) and use tinted gesso or a light wash of acrylic paint to establish the base color.
  2. I tear small pieces of printed scrapbook paper and paper ephemera, which I then attach to the board matte gel medium.
  3. Next, I add a transparent wash of acrylic paint to unify the surface color.
  4. After the wash has dried, I add details using stencils and rubber stamps.
  5. For these boards, I added dabs of fluid acrylic in a coordinating color and a metallic. I usually leave this step for last, after I add the focus image (for me, that’s usually a cute big-eyed critter of some sort).

Materials used: Utrecht canvas boards, Golden fluid acrylics, Liquitex matte medium, various scrapbook papers, various rubber stamps, Studio G stamping ink, plastic palette knife, foam sponge brush, plastic lid.


Adding paint


Let that be a lesson to me…

I’ve been working on both versions of my art journal workshop exercise off and on for the past few days, squeezing in a scribble here, a smudge there, and a swipe of the paintbrush in passing.

Right now my desk is covered in supplies — my color journal and my art journal, various watercolor pencils and watercolor crayons, pens, brushes, paints, and various other implements of artistic nature. And — most significantly for this story — a jar of water to rinse my brushes.

At least, that jar of water HAD been on my desk. When I walked away from the project early last evening, I forgot to empty it. Mayhem (one of my loyal feline studio assistants) took care of that for me.

You know it’s a bad thing when you’re sitting downstairs and hear a hard clink, a soft thump, and the sound of water hitting a hardwood floor in your office above.

The damage to the desk, floor, and supplies was minimal. (The toe I stubbed on the chair in the dark, however, not so much.)

Let that be a lesson to me: empty the water jar. No exceptions!

Art Journal Workshop 1: Do-over

My first attempt at the Strathmore Visual Journal workshop exercise was less than satisfying. I didn’t like working with the oil pastels. I thought the charcoal dirtied up the page. I didn’t have gesso, so I used a semi-opaque watercolor instead.

So I decided I needed a do-over, using materials that I’m more comfortable with. After all, they keep saying it’s all about the process, right?

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Materials

Steps from Lesson 1

  • I resized the sketches and reformatted the text and printed them out.
  • I prepped a two-page spread with a random application of turquoise watercolor, added texture, stenciled stars, and random sprays of ultramarine blue.
  • Strips of blue metallic tissue paper provided my vertical element.
  • After topping it with my sketches and text, I brushed on a light wash of my turquoise watercolor to tone down the white and darken some of the shadow areas.

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Supervisor Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Lesson 1

Steps from Lesson 2 and Lesson 3

  • I added a few details and “underjournaling” in white crayon, which will provide a resist under the next layer of water-based color.
  • Using Derwent Graphitint and Inktense water-soluable pencils and an unknown brand of watercolor crayon, I added the shading in blue and purple, and highlights in yellow and green.
  • A thin application of white gouache enabled me to smooth out and re-establish the white areas, and to add highlights to the eyes. I then added more shading and color.
  • For the stars, I made a stencil using cardstock and a punch.
  • I used a blue Faber-Castel brush pen to re-darken the text.

Art Journal Workshop 1.2 - Lesson 2 and 3

Lesson 4 is still a mystery. I expect we’ll be able to access the video for it this weekend.

Artist Journal Workshop 1: Continued

In an earlier post, I shared my work-in-progress for the Strathmore Visual Journal Workshop 1. Picking up where I left off, I began adding other media to the now-dry collage page.

Lesson 2 called for adding more layers and color to the page, such as using gesso to paint over unwanted elements, adding “under-journaling” using graphite, enhancing the depth and shape of the elements using charcoal, adding color with oil pastels, and pulling it all together with a gesso wash.

Lesson 3 called for adding more color and texture to the negative space and image elements with oil pastel, re-doing outlines with pencil, and adding hints of color throughout.

I made an honest attempt to follow instructions, but ultimately my method varied in several respects.

Layer 4 — The instructions called for adding lines with graphite and then shadows and depth with charcoal. I also added conte’ crayon because I liked way the reddish color echoed the layer of scrapbook paper. The charcoal just seems harsh and dirty.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 4

Layer 5 — The instructions called adding color with oil pastel, and then giving the whole thing a light wash of gesso. I used oil pastels as instructed, but I simply did not like working with them, and I’m unhappy with the effect. (For more on that part of the process, see “Warming up oil pastels: Cup Warmer vs Warm Cat”.) I couldn’t find my gesso, so I used light washes of white gouche and a mostly-opaque flesh-tone watercolor to tie the elements together.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 5

Layer 6 — I added more color using watercolor, a step that was not in the original lesson.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 6

Layer 7 — The graphite disappeared completely into the page, so I used ink where I wanted to see the lines. This is where I stopped, after adding more color, more charcoal, more oil pastel, and ink. I probably should have stopped sooner. Like the page says, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Knowing where to stop is something entirely different.
Art Journal Workshop 1.1 - Layer 7

I still don’t know what Lesson 4 will hold, but I bet it involves adding more layers to this piece. I’d like to try a do-over, using only the materials I’m comfortable with.