Monday, January 31, 2011

Giant postcards!!

Sometimes I sign up to do fun things that have nothing to do with my own art journals, just for a challenge and because they're usually a lot of fun. Plus they always result in getting awesome mail in return.

This one was through, and the assignment was to make a giant postcard for your partner.  In the US they can send something up to approximately 6" x 11" (or is it 11" x 6"?) for FORTY-FOUR CENTS!!!  Wow.  If we had that rate on postage I'd be sending out massive postcards all the time.  Oh, plus they can be up to 1/4" thick!!  Just think of the possibilities!

Canada Post unfortunately does not have a separate rate for postcards, so I was going to have to pay the "oversize letter" rate. Which to the US is $2.06, as long as it's not over 100g. I figured I'd better get my money's worth. I made a "postcard" out of a cardboard file marker that measured 9 1/2" x 15". Since it was pretty huge and kind of intimidating, I started off by basecoating it with gesso. If I don't have any ideas for something, I'll often start by throwing down a coat of gesso or paint, just so I'm at least doing something, not sitting there stalled. And more often than not, the ideas do come.  Unfortunately I ended up covering up every bit of the card with collage material afterward, so the gesso turned out to be completely unnecessary.  That's okay though, it got me moving at least.

I started gluing stuff onto the card.

Doesn't that look amazing so far?!   Sometimes my genius is almost blinding.

I collaged a whole bunch of bits and pieces to my postcard: a parking pass, some EKG paper, tissue paper, old receipts, a calendar page, some fabric tape, washi tape, rub-ons, a computer punch card, patterned cardstock, part of a flash card, a photo, labels, magazine bits, a piece from a lottery ticket number picker - really anything that was within reach that was fairly neutrally-coloured.  Then I started stamping - I used a dotted-line roller, a date stamp, a script stamp, and some number stamps.  Oh, also the "UTILITY" stamp that I got at Value Village.  I have no idea what it was originally used for, but it's one of my current favourites!

After that I covered the whole thing in a wash of titan buff paint, to blend everything together.

Starting to look like something, right?  After that I stopped taking progress pictures, because I kind of got into it.  My victim - I mean SWAP PARTNER - likes the number 8, the ampersand symbol, and the colour blue.  So my postcard wasn't entirely made up of random elements.  I tried to make something she would really like.

 The ampersand is actually a thin chipboard cutout, covered in patterned paper and then trimmed and the edges sanded.  I did the lettering by hand, which is why it's not always straight.  But I do really like how it turned out around the ampersand!  It reminds me of an ad for a circus or something. 

It's going out in today's mail.  Hopefully it arrives quickly; mail from here to the eastern seaboard seems to take about two weeks, for some reason.  I sure hope it fits in her mailbox!

Have a fantastic day, you guys.

Love Shelley!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This isn't about the Beatles

I started this page a loooooong time ago - I put down the background paint, put the gaffer tape around the edges, and glued down the heart and used rub-ons to spell out love love love. 

Then I stalled.

I loved the colours, but couldn't think of what else to do with it.  So it sat, literally, for a couple of years. 

Then a couple of days ago, I made the colours a little stronger with watercolour crayons, and added the black and white dots, and then the rest came pretty easily.  I liked how my last page turned out, so I did a couple of things the same - writing over the whole page in pencil and then using stamps to do the big lettering. I just used pencil crayons to fill in the letters, but they didn't cover all that well, so I ended up giving them a quick coat of white gesso first so that the blue/green would actually show up.  It was easy-peasy, just a little time-consuming (but meditative!) 

The finished product, I have to say, is a nice change from my usual angry pages!  But for the last few days I've been feeling pretty contented and relaxed.  I was a little worried that without the strong negative emotions, that my creativity would desert me.  After all, it has been my outlet for a long time. 

The good news is that I have a BUNCH of unfinished pages in various in-progress journals, so maybe I can dump out all kinds of happy emotions into some of them for a change.  Maybe the reason I couldn't finish some of the pages was because they were too positive, too pleasant, too sweet and light, and were meant to be filled with love and laughter instead of rage and frustration.  Well I guess we'll find out, won't we?

Until then,
Love Shelley!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Well, it looks good from far!!

Hey everyone!

I'm finally back, and I'm done that sandwich board sign that my brother Neil asked me to update for his church's dinner theatre program.  After my sister Kristy and I brainstormed and doodled some ideas, we decided on a layout, and then I put together this idea of basically how I wanted it to look:

Neil had given me the old sandwich board, and the plywood was really too rough to paint on, so we got some pre-primed 1/4" hardboard.  Two coats of gesso, and I was ready to put the pattern down. 

At this point, I was congratulating myself for being so far ahead of the game.  After all, Neil didn't need the board back until February 15.  This thing was going to be a MASTERPIECE!!  People would come from far and wide to see The Sign!  I would be drowning in commissions in no time, because nobody would be able to believe my amazing sign-making capabilities, even though I've never made a sign in my life!  (I have a very rich fantasy life, can you tell?)

Only it wasn't meant to be.  Somewhere along the line, we messed up the dates.  I suspect he said January and I just got it wrong.  At any rate, he called me on Monday night and asked if it was almost done yet. 


On Tuesday evening Kristy came over for a different purpose entirely, but as soon as she walked in the door, she found a pencil in her hand - she got the drama faces transferred to the boards while I started painting with red.  Lucky for me she's easygoing, plus it turns out she's really good at this kind of work!

You know what I really hate about red paint?  IT DOESN'T COVER VERY WELL.

At around 9:30 my brother Dave showed up, and soon found himself with a brush in one hand and an eraser in the other.  Then Mike came home and he got put to work too.  I am an excellent recruiter!

Kristy was very concerned about the paint not covering very well and looking splotchy in places.  I assured her that people would be mostly looking at it while they were driving past it in the dark.  So no worries!  (When you have 24 hours to go, your standards tend to fall away pretty quickly.)

Plus the state of the "before" sign ensured that ours would look good by comparison no matter what we did to it.  Heh.

Here's the almost-finished product, splotches and all:

Mike graciously dug into his personal stash of red reflective tape and put arrows on both signs for me.  Here he is posing with his handiwork.  Can you see his brain?

And finally, here are both sides of the sign.  Neil can figure out how to affix them to the existing sandwich board - my work here is done!

Obviously, I owe Kristy, Dave and Mike a huge thank-you, because there's no way I would have finished this in time by myself.  Plus it was fun working on it as a team - sitting at the kitchen table joking around while we all work together is always a good time. 

All in all, a fun project!  Working big was a refreshing change, but I'm not gonna lie, I'm looking forward to getting back to my paper art journals.  This weekend is going to be a huge treat for me - a bunch of us rent a church hall once a month or so, and spend an entire Saturday working on our art/crafts/scrapbooks/whatever, and that's only two days from now.  I can't wait to see my friends, and I am really excited to spend the day doing art stuff.  Wheeeeee!

With love and rockets,

EDIT:  The sign got lots of compliments - for about a week.  THEN SOMEONE STOLE IT. 

Well.  I guess that is the ultimate compliment.  : )

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mean-Yelly-Mom, That's Me!

I started and finished this page all in one day, which is unusual for me.  Usually I have several pages going at once, and I jump back and forth, letting stuff dry and ideas evolve as I work.  Otherwise I would totally lose my momentum and I would never finish anything. 

Anyway, today this page almost did itself, it came together that easily.  I started off by gluing down some paper bits on the plain page, including a piece of paper in a strange language, a piece of a calendar, an EKG, and some washi tape.  Then I painted the whole page with watercolour paint, and stamped on those nice lines in grey staz-on (I thought black would be too stark.)  Next I cut out some hearts from those dictionary sheets I made the other day, and then lined them in black marker and stapled them on. 

In pencil, I wrote a whole page of thoughts, then stamped the words over top in black staz-on ink, and then it took a few tries to figure out what colour they should be.  After a few false starts (white? no.  yellow? Really no.) I settled on red, coloured them in, and shaded beside them with a charcoal pencil to make them pop off the page. 

And really, that's about it.  There were no fancy techniques on this page, just a quick, easy brain dump.  I was very frustrated this morning because of a sleepover gone bad (five kids, hardly any sleep) and to be honest, I was hiding in the craft room and supervising from a distance because I just wasn't good company and I didn't want to be mean-yelly-mom all day.  I'm sure if-I-didn't-see-it-it-didn't-happen mom is way better, right?

I have a couple of other pages on the go, but I have been asked to paint a sandwich board sign for a church dinner theatre production, so that's what I'll be working on for the next few days.  I'll post progress pics, and in between maybe I'll get a chance to finish one or two of those other journal pages too!  (OR I'll watch all the episodes of Modern Family that I've been saving up since December.  Depends on how creative I feel.)  I guess we'll find out together. 

Have a great week,
Love Shelley!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Am A Big Chicken Sometimes

Here's the danger in looking at someone else's art journal pages: 

Sometimes you find out more about that person than you really wanted to know.  (That's what they call foreshadowing.)

ANYWAY.  I started off this page by gluing down this cool rooster I found, along with the big hand from a completely different source.  I had no idea where I was going with this, but I was sure it would be interesting and fun.  (Because aren't all my pages?  Ha.)

So it sat for ... well, a couple of months, to tell you the truth.  Then I realized that a CHICKEN could symbolize my FEARS!  I know, that's pretty deep.  The stuffing pun goes out to my brother John.  He loves jokes like that.

I know some of these fears are perfectly justifiable, but a couple are just plain goofy.  I love fast zippy rides, but the ferris wheel makes me light-headed with fear for some reason, even the kid-sized one at Tinkertown.  And I know airbags have saved countless lives, but all I can ever think of is how if mine ever deployed, it would jam my glasses right into my face - ow.  I have a recurring mental picture of accidentally lightly rear-ending someone, and the airbag blowing up, and then me jumping out of the car and weaving around in traffic like a drunk, clutching my face and screaming, "my eyes, my eyes!!"  In my imagination I'm actually pretty dramatic, hey?

As for high school reunions... well, I still have plenty of anxiety dreams about forgotten exams, locker combinations, class schedules and PANTS, that I'm in no rush to revisit those days.

Sorry if I put any negative thoughts in your head.  I'll try to be more positive next time!

Love Shelley!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saying "lady friends" makes me giggle


Another year has passed, and like clockwork, my birthday rolled around again.  I don't usually go out of my way to celebrate it, because it's so close to the holidays that I'm all celebrated-out by then.  But this year... no.  This is the year of EPIC, so I rounded up my girls and we went for drinks last Sunday night.

First, I'm crazy lucky to have such awesome friends - every single one of them came out, and we laughed our asses off all evening.  It was a great time.

Second, they all agreed to go along with my (ahem) story about my current age.  I figure 29 has really been working for me, so why change things up now?  Right?

I'm trusting you guys not to rat me out.

Love Shelley!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

Hey guys!

I had a good time on Friday - I've been really inspired by bright colours lately, so I decided to just play a bit.  I ripped three pages out of a really old dictionary and then used paints and watercolour crayons, and pencil crayons, rub-ons, and some paint markers to make them bright and exciting.  The plan was to be able to cut out shapes, or rip them up and use them on journal pages, so I wasn't too concerned about the colours not blending together well. 

Yep, still addicted to circles!  (I know you were wondering.)

Then I used that orange/yellow/pink one in the middle... first I sprayed gold mist all over it, so it shimmers like crazy.  Then I drew and cut out a bunch of stars.  Then, since I couldn't stand to waste the scraps (PRETTY!), I drew and cut out a bunch of circles. 

Then I used them on this page:


And you can click on the picture to make it bigger if you want, to read my genius idea.  BUT --- you should know that after I stapled on all the letters to spell "G-E-N-I-U-S", I looked at the package and realized that they are self stick letters.  All I had to do was peel the clear backing off, and I wouldn't have had to mess around with the big stapler.

So...not a genius after all.  But it's good to have something to aspire to, right?   I just have a feeling I'll be aspiring for a long, looooooong time. 

Love Shelley!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Colours, Silly Thoughts

Here's another page from the journal I'm working on for my friend Holly:

After I covered the page in those great pink dots, I kind of got stuck... so I dug through my stash and found a collage sheet I got from Nancy Baumiller's Crowabout shop - honestly, you should check out her stuff.  It's amazing, and sometimes it's just the kick of inspiration I need to get me going again.  I cut out that semi-circle with the "10" at the top and glued it down, and from there everything started flowing again! 

I have the day off today and the kids will be at school, so I'll have just over EIGHT HOURS to do my own thing... now I just have to decide whether I'll spend any of that time doing housework or other mom-stuff - or if I'll just do the mad-scientist-in-the-craft-room routine that I love so much.  I'll let you know how it turns out - and if you do come over to visit, don't judge me on the state of my kitchen.  Heeee! 

Love Shelley!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I admit, I was reaching.

My long distance friend Holly (BEST PENPAL EVER) asked me if I would be the first to work in a collaborative journal she was starting.  Of course I jumped all over that and said I didn't mind at all being first.  Then the book arrived and I stared at it for a couple of weeks, just waiting for inspiration to strike.  After all, anything I did in the book would have to be EPIC!!!  Right?  (no pressure...)  I did a couple of pages, and wasn't that excited with what I'd produced, and then I ran out of ideas altogether and started recycling.  Recycling's good, right? 

I went through some of my old stuff and collected a bunch of the bits and pieces I'd doodled, mostly while on the phone. 

I added a fold-out.  I love hiding places and interactive bits in my journals. 

Some close-ups:

As far as the finished page, the only thing I'm not crazy about is the lack of colour.  Surprisingly, the monotony of cutting and pasting totally fired my creativity, confirming my theory that if you just keep at it, the good stuff will definitely kick in. 

I attacked the next few pages with an explosion of different colours.  Stay tuned - especially if you like pink. 

Love Shelley!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Which I Reveal My Dark Side

Taking a risk here:

I debated a lot before I decided to post this one.  It's not because of the gratuitous use of the f-word... it's probably because I was really seriously pissed off when I did this page and I know that the emotion comes through loud and clear. 

And I've spent years and years trying to keep people from being able to see what I'm really thinking.  I'm like the emotion ninja - no matter what's going on in my head, I can usually paste a pleasant smile on my face and carry on like nothing's wrong.

And now here I go just putting it right out there. 

Hope I don't regret this.

Love Shelley

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bad News... and Good News!

This is where I annoy you by finding the bright side in an otherwise-completely-irritating situation:

Next week, postal rates are going up again. 

A letter sent within Canada goes up 2 cents, from $0.57 to $0.59.
A letter to the US goes up 3 cents, from $1.00 to $1.03.
And finally, letters sent internationally go up 5 cents, from $1.70 to $1.75.

The silver lining is that Canada Post has come out with some new low-value stamps, so you can top up the value of the stamps you already presumably have hanging around in your wallet, purse or a glassine envelope prominently placed on your desktop.  (That last one might be just me.)

I was at the post office the other day and picked up a few of each - look!

I know my crappy pictures don't do them justice, but they are really pretty.  Gorgeous bright colours, black edging to make them show up on your envelopes, and of course, they now come in every domination from 1 to 10 cents!!! 

This one's my favourite:

From Canada Post's website:  "In this latest tribute to beneficial insects, five more tiny helpers squirm onto the scene in the form of low-value definitives: the paper wasp, the assassin bug, the large milkweed bug, the margined leatherwing and the dogbane beetle. In 2007, Canada Post celebrated five other beneficial insects that roam Canada’s gardens and marshes: the golden-eyed lacewing, the cecropia moth, the convergent lady beetle, the northern bumblebee and the Canada darner. "

I'm partial to the 9-cent stamp too.  Tiny art to add to envelopes... for PENNIES!!  What could be better?!

Love Shelley!

Monday, January 3, 2011

My 2011 Resolution

Happy new year, everyone!

So do you guys make new year's resolutions?  I used to make massive ambitious lists of stuff I wanted to accomplish for the coming year, and while it was fun to dream about actually doing all those things over the course of a year... well, the reality was that it was really disappointing to look back at the END of the year and realize how few things I'd finished.  And this went on year, after year, after year...

So last year I finally wised up and made a different kind of resolution; one that I knew I could keep.  One that would make me feel good at the end of the year,  not like I'd failed.  That resolution was "Keep Being Awesome" and I totally rocked it!

It turned out so great, that I decided to go that route again this year.  I present to you, my resolution for 2011!!!

I'll let you know how it goes... but I'm not gonna lie, I think it's going to be pretty great.

Love Shelley!