Monday, June 29, 2015

4th of July Inspiration and a Dialogue about Creative Spark..

Well, I am back.  Time flies when you are having fun!!  June has been full of all sorts of activity.  First, my daughter had a major horse show in California.  Preparation to getting her ready is always time consuming. She and my husband flew and the horses were ground shipped so everything had to be accounted for and checked and rechecked to make sure all arrived in a timely manner.  I unfortunately was unable to go.  I stayed home to root from Texas.   During their week long absence, my sister came to visit.   My sister, Alicia, is an amazing paper-crafter.  When we visit each other, the hostess teaches one new technique and then we make cards with that concept.  What I learn is that I am very much inside of my own box. I craft alone except when she visits.  I need inspiration from outside to keep me motivated to create new and different.
This visit, I was the hostess, so I planned on continuing with my background/mixed media experimentation.   While I like layers and complexity, she prefers more "controlled" organized simple concepts.  Magic happens when we meet up.  I have an opportunity to explore a different path with the same tools.  I often come away with a new focus, or an appreciation for something I maybe thought of but discounted, or an entirely new idea.  Today's cards are the result of our weekend.  The final card was mailed to Alicia from me for the 4th of July, but it is truly a combined inspiration.

So, lets start with the background.  We used all the same techniques as I had shared with my blog post regarding background experimentation.  Only this time, I used the ink pads applied onto an acrylic block and then placed over, a slightly dampened piece of water color paper. This allowed for more control and the ability to see where the ink was going.  We had the idea to make a distressed "flag" background.

The basic Background
So to recap, I used a Tim Holtz stencil, stars.  Sponged distress embossing ink over the stencil and embossed with clear embossing powder.  On an acrylic block applied Fired Brick and Mermaid Lagoon, spritzed with water and then applied the inked block to water colored paper that had been misted with water.  The ink bled under the embossed stars giving a rustic appearance.  There is a lighter area in the center, this was where there was no ink.  For the next step, I used the same ink, with an ink blending tool and evened out the inking and thus covering up the white area without having to worry about "messing" up the perfect areas.  I also applied Walnut Stain around the edges to enhance those darker edges where the red met the blue.  They look brown in this photo but were more of a dark purple.

We made a stack of backgrounds of various colors and techniques.  These will be turned into cards at a later date.  But my first task was to create a card from just one of the backgrounds.  At home, missing my sister, and thrown into "normal life", I seemed to lack inspiration. Thus the time lag.  

 I pulled stamps and colored, played and made a mess.  Even stopped to "organize" my organized stamps once more.  The problem was that  I  just could not see how what I had in the way of stamps would work with this background.  Part of the issue was that this background was rustic.  Almost Cowboy rustic, old and tattered, not what I usually make, more bright and happy.  Everything I tried was too "modern" or stylized. That furry bear with drums and pipes, too cute, the skyline too modern, but what?   So back to the cowboy thing.  Well,I do live in Texas, and there is no lack of inspiration for "this look", but it was too expected.  But how and what could tie all that together?
The inspiration hit like a hammer.  The idea of "Easy Rider"came flooding into my head. This is a movie from before time, I think, well 1969 to be exact.  A movie with Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda.  It is a motorcycle saga, reminiscent of those old cowboy movies.  Only instead of horses they used motorcycles and the cowboys were not outlaws in "the cowboy sense, but drug dealers.  The formula was the same as the old Westerns, only time and circumstance being different.   The characters were outlaws from conventional society,  they had rejected the established norms and were being hunted by the law. This new "western" created quite a stir and soon movie goers and society realized that motorcycles could be a legitimate American art form, and the term Ironhorse was born.  

Sounds good!! Well, actually the rest of the story is that I suddenly remembered having 
the perfect stamp!!   Snoopy, the dog from Peanuts the comic strip, riding on a Harley !  If I backed him by an American Flag (artisitic license here),  it could be seen as rather rustic and patriotic at the same time. That Harley is sure outdated and Snoopy is well, old.   He first appeared in print in October of 1950, and was one of the main protagonist of the strip.  I think he might have been the inspiration for Easy Rider, LOL.     

How perfect!!!  So the card became.   I am not sure that anyone else will see that spark of inspiration, that set me on this path of creativity.  It often is those little things that start us on our way.  That little bit of inspiration, a little spark, a little glimmer or a fond memory that leads to a flood of creativity.  

My point in discussing the inspiration for this card,  is to show that when we sit down to create that spark has to come from somewhere.  It is present in everything we create. Even when try to recreate  someone else's  work, it will have a distinct difference because of what we bring to the table from our skill set and our past experiences.  Truly, I did not think of "Easy Rider"  with all the analytical comparison between modern day "cowboys" and  the old time Western Cowboys, but I was looking for that "cowboy edge".   My inspiration was  that movie, with it's motorcycle genre, coupled with the knowledge that I had a Snoopy Stamp on a Motorcycle that led to this design.  I will admit that the George Patton Movie scene showing him giving a speech in front of an American Flag did flit across my mind, but that is another topic altogether.
So enough about inspiration.  How did I make this card.  Well I had the back ground completed.  So, Snoopy was stamped onto Neenah Solar White card stock in Memento Tuxedo black and colored with Copics.  The image was enhanced with a silver Gel pen and Wink of Stella added to the glimmer.  I die cut stars from glitter paper and adhered them onto the back ground.  
Close up of the Sparklers.  This was very hard to capture with a photo, but the idea is there.  
Now all I needed was fireworks.  These too  were a spark of inspiration.  I started with circles  I had cut circles from white  card stock and stamped a flower image that "sort of looked like sparks with versamark and then heat embossed with a glittery embossing powder.  Not quite right!  The circle of white made them look like UFO's.   So I repeated this  process on Velum and then cut away any excess paper to give the image of fireworks. The center was colored with a grey copic and then Silver Wink of Stella added on top of the entire image followed by clear Wink of Stella.  The result was a multiple level of sparkle. Subtle at some point and stronger in other areas.  The center was dark enough to hide the glue and foam dot that was needed to give them dimension.  A simple greeting, then layered  the card front onto silver card stock and then popped it onto a  bright blue note card.   Not bad!!!  I need to go watch that movie again, it has been awhile!!  I bet Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda haven't aged a bit, but I have!!!
Until, next time,
Happy crafting.  Josette 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Coffee Loving Blog Hop

Today I am joining the Summer Coffee Lovers Blog hop.
My first card is a simple one.  I colored a Tim Holtz, Fresh Brewed Blueprint Stamp and layered it onto a simple card.  I think Simple is the ideal Summertime Theme!!  It is hot in Texas, So very few layers, LOL!!!.
6 x 6 card, on Neenah Cardstock, colored with Copics.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Backgrounds, backgrounds and experimentation

It has been a busy week.  Ready for an update?

Multi layered Grunge Card
As you know I am a design team member for Flossy Scrapper.  My role is mixed media.  Well, what does that mean.  To me it means, canvas and layer and more layers, using different media.  How to apply that concept to cards?  This my first dilemma.   This required me to redefine what Mixed Media means to me and perhaps to a larger audience.  So I spent the week searching web sites and viewing different types of art, paper crafting, Art Journaling,  After much reserarch I concluded that mixed media is technically layering, texture and color.  All this must be readable and in the case of a card on a small scale. Possibly mail able?

I have made those cards!  I called  this grunge but I was using the same concept,  layer, texture, and color. but I defined it differently.  So what I needed to do, was define a mixed media style that was not grunge?  But how. . . . . . . well, play. Truth is the only way to define a new style or explore a media, is to simply play with it.  So today I am going to share my process and examine the results.
A simple Mixed media "grunge card"

Mixed media canvas
The process:
1) Oh where do I start?  Well paper is a good guess.  I decided to try 3 types, an 80# card stock, a #110 card stock, both in white and a cold press water color paper (140# Canson).  These were all cut down to a 4.25"X 5.5" (A2) size.  I made 3 stacks.  All were going to receive the same treatment.

2) Texture:  Decided to start with embossing: both with texture paste and heat embossed.
3) application:  stencil, stamps, direct application (just smear it on).
So, on each of the 3 card stocks, I first used a stencil and daubed embossing ink on to the card-stock using an ink blending tool.  I used several different stencils, and 2 inks:  Versamark and Ranger Distress and then applied a clear (regular grain size) embossing powder and heat set.  Conclusion:  Distress is Thicker and the result was there is a   "more organic" impression.  The Versamark retained more of the fine detail of the image.  This was better for stamping or when I needed a cleaner image, but when I just wanted texture the Distress proved better.  This became more apparent as I added the color.  No appreciable difference between papers.

This photo shows several examples.  All of these were created using the distress ink.  All were colored using sprays. 

Next was to try the same with stamping.  I simple used one of the 2 inks on each of the papers and stamped a background.  Repeated with the second ink.  Here the answer was clear, use the veramark, as Distress blurs the stamped image.  

Last step was to go back to the stencils and apply texture paste.  I used the same paste as in the video "A latte for you" Ranger, texture paste and applied to each of the 2 card-stock papers.  I did not apply to Watercolor paper.

4) coloring  This was the most enlightening.  The 80# did not hold up well and was quickly abandoned, This left  me with only the 110# card-stock and the Water color paper.   I chose a limited palette: Distress: Abandoned Coral, Cracked Pistachio, Fossilized Amber, and Walnut stain.  I used: stain, reinkers, and ink pads.  For the sprays: Distress but I used only the new colors (no Walnut Stain).  I also used: Heidi Swapp: Gold, Bronze, Cherry, Chartreuse, and Orange. Decided to limit it to a single manufacturer, but in the end added Dylusions in a beautiful yellow I did not have a yellow in  Heidi Swapp spray.  First,  I started with the ranger sprays.  Much to my surprise they were pale and almost pastel, on the card-stock and only slightly more colorful on the water color paper. Made sense as they start out diluted, but I was still surprised.   So I quickly moved onto the inks and re-inkers.  This gave me the more vibrant colors I was after and clearly the water color paper showed the best result.  Here are 2 examples of these:  These also demonstrate the difference in the embossing.  The first is with Versamark on Watercolor paper.  The Second, Ranger Distress embossing on Card-stock.
The first is cleaner and more vibrant, the second more rough and organic.  Both nice but different.  In person the difference is more apparent.
This has been stamped with Stampers Anonymous Fresh Brewed Blueprints mini on the background and on the insert.
The stamping here is from the larger Fresh Brewed Blue print and was colored with water colored pencils to keep with the more "pastel nature of the background.  The background is a combination of a coffee stencil and Tim Holtz Star Stencils. 

I then switched to the other sprays,  First sprayed the embossed papers, they are represented in the very first photo and then moved onto plain paper, both 110# and water color.   In the end the samples all had a softer, mistier feel from the metallic layering. When I left out the metallic or used a very minimal spritz, the color was more vibrant, but not as interesting.  Generally, in this exercise  I had used both the gold and bronze on the same papers.  Wish I had stuck to more color and less metal, but 2 of the backgrounds ended up as cards and they both were more "metallized".  Decision: perhaps one manufacture is not best the best for variety.  Less metal if want bolder colors, paper choice little difference other than the color difference and texture between the papers.  I  preferred the card stock, probably because it was white. 
Time to make cards and stop experimenting:

I still had some embossed samples left over.  So I attacked these with my preferred "media" (re-inkers and pads) but switched up the color to Mowed Lawn and Broken China.  

The hexagon stencil had spoken  to me from the beginning, and I had an idea to use them with a Bird Theme.  Thus, I had embossed several of these, hoping to have a few with the right color combinations.  None of the experiments fit the bill, but I had 2 left .  These were going to become the background for those Crazy Birds by Tim Holtz.  Both were on water color paper with Distress embossing ink and heat embossing regular clear powder. They were  colored with re-reinkers that had been applied to a craft sheet and spritzed with water. Careful placing gave me a sky and grassy area..  I had came up with this idea because they have the look of  chicken wire.

Mowed Lawn and Broken China reinkers, colored with Water Colors (tube type)

Full version.  The birds were matted and popped up and then attached to a blue note card

Similar background, but very "little grass", so I created a Barnyard effect.  This bird was colored with Copics.

As you noticed I did not include my experiments with the texture paste.  There was little sampling necessary as I had used the paste and Distress products on the canvas.  I planned on using the texture paste panel to explore using mixed media  in an elegant, antiqued style.  That style will include a video.  I am most happy with vintage, understated elegance and METAL!!!    So, until next time,
Happy Crafting,