Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tiny Town Tutorial

In addition to painting rocks for the possibly-upcoming-WeHa Artists Emporium - treasure-hunt-thing, I also made some tiny towns.

I made the little houses and trees out of polymer clay and hot glued them to rocks.  I think they are so cute!  So far, they are my favorite! 

Want to make your own Tiny Town?  Here's a wee tutorial.

You're going to need:
Polymer Clay
something to slice
something to make indentions
white acrylic paint
black acrylic paint
glue (I used my hot glue gun)
glaze or clear nail polish

Step 1: Pinch off a grape-sized chunk of clay.  The color isn't super important, but go with something house-like.  No neon green. 

Warm it up in your hand.  Then work it into a tall cube shape.  It doesn't have to be perfect.

Step 2: Texture looks good on these houses, so find something around the house that has a bit of pattern.   I used a little piece of screen.  Lightly press your clay into the texture piece, front and back, but don't worry about the sides.

Step 3:  I used a thin flathead screwdriver (like crazy-small) to make indentions for a door and a couple of windows.  This will smush your cube out of shape a bit - don't worry.

Step 4:  I have a clay slicer.  It's a little piece of plastic/metal (I don't know) that is very thin and slices through clay cleanly.  Maybe you use a knife or a credit card or a thin spatula - whatever.  You want to slice off the bottom, the sides, and angle the roof.  This will give your tiny house nice, clean edges. 

Now you're ready to bake.  Follow directions on your clay packaging, but baking for 15 minutes at 230 F is pretty standard.

Here are my tiny houses and tiny trees ready to go into the oven.

Step 5:  Bake and cool.

Step 6: Paint.  I did a light white-wash to all my tiny houses to give them a uniform feel.  I used a light coat and I wiped off heavy parts.  I wanted them to look a bit cottage-y, a bit weathered.  Also, if you do press some texture into the clay and you lightly paint over the top, the deeper part of the texture will remain unpainted.  It looks nice.  I painted most of my roofs black (although I painted a couple grey and a couple red.) Use a THIN brush and paint the windows and doors black.

Allow to dry.

Step 7:  Glue your tiny houses and trees to your rock.  Find a flat rock so your houses are all wonky.  Or, if you have a bumpy rock, shape still-soft clay houses to fit on the bottom.  When you're ready to glue, use a permanent glue like hot glue or Gorilla Glue.  Dry.

Step 8:  Finish.  I cover my tiny towns and rocks with either a semi-gloss coating for polymer clay or clear nail polish.  You just want something to give it a little shine and bit more stability.  I paint this liquid over the entire top half of the rock.  Let dry.

Enjoy your Tiny Town!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rocks, Rocks, Find the Rocks

I recently joined/helped form a group called the WeHa (West Hartford) Artists' Emporium.  It is the brainchild of my friend Stefanie Marco Lanz, who is a very talented artist, go-getter, and people person.  She knows so many artists living and working in West Hartford and thought it might be nice if we joined together as a group to promote our work.

Stefanie is FULL of great ideas on how to do this, starting with a Facebook Page where we can put our art for sale up - an online gallery.  We're also going to be marching in the Park Road Parade on October 18th. 

I had an idea to place painted and/or artistically enhanced rocks throughout West Hartford as a sort of freebie treasure hunt.  (I got the idea from a glass blower who places glass balls around Block Island for people to find.)

I don't know if it will take off, but I was inspired this weekend, so I painted a bunch of rocks for fun.  (All ideas were snatched off Pinterest.)

The first one I painted was a lizard (which is shown from above in the top, group shot, which is not the angle it should be shown from, but oh well.)  It came out OK.  The bird's nest was one of the latter rocks that I painted and I think it shows that I picked up a lot of tricks as I went on.

The frog was also one of the last ones I did.  I got better about picking a good size rock for the image I was painting and learning about the style that works best for me.

I copied the big owl directly off of Pinterest, but I did the small owl by myself.  I actually prefer the smaller one and if I were to keep painting owl rocks, I would just look at photos of real owls from this point on.  That said, I did a third owl that was a HOT MESS, so, yanno, sometimes they just don't work out.

I had a lot of fun painting these rocks and I even did a few more (see tomorrow's post.) I hope the WeHa Artists' Emporium is able to do this little treasure hunt.  I think it would be really fun for someone walking through town to discover a little unexpected treasure, don't you?

Thanks so much for stopping in!  Wishing you all a happy Monday!

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Haircut

Usually, I keep my hair long.  I always have and I probably always will.  But every one in while, I like to shake things up a bit and chop it off.

I think it's good for my hair.  When it's long, I wrap it up and braid it and tie it back.  But when it's in a shorter bob, I can let it hang loose.

And it's nice to have a bob in autumn where I can wear a kicky autumn hat.  (Kicky hat not pictured.)

Magoo is not crazy about it.  He likes my hair long.  (I'm sure the day will come when I don't like his hair either.)  For right now, I like my little bob.

Happy Friday everyone.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Black Cat, Blue Wall

Black Cat, Blue Wall        2014       j. c. phillipps
I spent the morning working on another painting for Open Studio Weekend in November.  (November 15 & 16th for those of you in the are who might want to come.)  I had extra wall space last year, so I want to make sure to have a good number of new stuff up this year.  I'm kinda on a roll so I'm going to go with it.

I thought it might be fun to take a little Vine video of how the painting progressed.

I just cleaned all the crud off my mat cutter, so I was able to get this baby framed up in no time.
Another one for the inventory!  Yay!

In other news:
We made it through the horrible heat and humidity.  It's gorgeous outside now, beautiful, crisp early autumn day.

I saw the movie FRANK this weekend.  If you love quirky movies, experimental music, and are a fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal (who's in many quirky movies) then this is the movie for you.  I saw it at Real Art Ways in Hartford (which I am embarrassed to say that after living in West Hartford for 12 years, this is the first time I have ever been there.  It's so cool!)  I don't know how long it will be there (the movie, not Real Art Ways), but I definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

Alright, time to go work on a story.  I think I'll dive into this little rhyming story about a cat who dies.  I don't know if it will ever get to the point where I will show it to my agent, but I think it's funny.  (Cats have nine lives, so don't be too worried for the feline.)

Happy Monday!  Thanks for stopping in!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Seagull in an Ochre Sky

Seagull in an Ochre Sky     2014       j. c. phillipps
Since school has started back and I have a little more time on my hands, I have to start thinking about Open Studio Weekend.  I didn't sell a lot off the wall last year, so I have a good bit of inventory that is already matted and framed.  But I don't want to put the same old paintings up either.  A lot of the folks who come through are Open Studio regulars and they don't want to see the same paintings year after year.  Gotta swap them out!

So this year when I have a painting in mind, I go down to the basement and look at my framed work and choose a mat/frame first.  Then I paint to size.

When my painting is done, like Seagull in an Ochre Sky, I just rip out the old painting, pop in the new one, and it's the easiest frame job ever!

The old painting goes in plastic on the rack, where it will be just a little bit cheaper than last year.  And where, quite frankly, most things sold from last year.

That rack is like the Filenne's Basement of original art.  Same great quality, low low prices.  :)

In other news:
The humidity is gone.  It is SO MUCH NICER today and I'm jut a happier person in general!  It's not gone forever though.  It'll be back by Saturday.  So I'm just going to enjoy the cool breeze as much as I can until then.

Hope the breeze is blowing on you wherever you are!
Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Clip Art Update

Hi everyone.

I don't know about you, but it's hot and humid here in Connecticut.  Awful.  Blek - blek - blek. 
I could go on and on about how much I dislike this weather, but instead I'll show you some recent clip art.

I didn't do much for the summer.  I fell out of the habit of thinking about it.  But then someone requested a Japanese Family for some worksheets they were doing so I got back into it. 

Once I got my clip art groove on, I thought it would be fun to do a little freebie.  Something different.  Something a little kooky.  I ended up with Back-to-School Zombies.

Once teacher based a lesson plan on them and requested a fuller pack of zombies.  I enjoy zombies, so I complied.  So there's a free basic starter zombie collection, and then a more enhanced School Zombies collection.  You'll note that the zombies are low on gore.  No blood.  No exposed bone.  Just off-color skin, dead eyes, and dirty clothing.  They're zombie-lite.

The final set of clip art started off as illustrations for a cute manuscript my agent passed along.  Cars are not my usual thing, but I thought the little guys I created were pretty darn cute.  My agent didn't love them for the project, so I figured I'd turn them into Silly Cars Clip Art.  Why waste them?!

All of my clip art is available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Wish me luck getting through the next horribly humid day.  Blek!  Thanks for stopping in!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Having Fun with Kids' Art

There is a lovely author/illustrator named Aaron Zenz who keeps a blog of his children's art.  (All FIVE of them!)  Every so often, to celebrate the blog's anniversary, he invites other illustrators to be inspired by his children's creations and re-interpret them.

It's super fun and it's happening right now.  Check it out here.

I've participated in the past (here's the previous one) so he invited me back for more fun.  Honestly, the hardest part is picking a piece of art to work from.  Those kids are so talented and creative.  It's a difficult challenge to settle on a single piece of art, but I managed.  I choose a work entitled: O Is For OGOPOGO by Elijah.  Here's the original:

I fully intended to do collage when I chose it, but then none of my papers were speaking to me.
I went a different way completely with pen and ink.  Here's mine:

If you haven't already clicked over to Aaron's blog, Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty, do it now.  (But only if you want to smile.)

In other news:  Magoo has been having a good week at middle school.  He has mastered the padlock on his locker, he likes his teachers and hasn't had any issues with jumping from class to class, and he has some friends from his elementary school that he sits with at lunch.  All in all, a big thumbs up!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend, everyone!  Thanks for stopping in!