Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WeHa Artists at the Park Road Parade


This past Saturday was the Park Road Parade in West Hartford.  Stefanie (below, getting her moustache) had the wonderful idea that our new groovy group, WeHa Artists Emporium, should march in it.


So we gathered together, with paint brushes in our hair, berets, art smocks, moustaches, and out new silk screened T-shirts (modeled on Angela, below) and looked the part of a group of rag-tag artsy folk.


Stef rigged an easel to a dolly and we painted as we walked - WHICH IS REALLY HARD TO DO.  I kept moving toward the easel with my brush and it kept moving away!


 Look - we're so official we even have a banner!


Here's the group as we progress down Park Road...


... and here we are with the finished painting.  I think it turned out pretty good, considering a bunch of people collaborated on it IN MOTION.


It was a lot of fun, and hopefully we got our name out there via the papers, TV (there was a local film crew) and the bookmarks we handed out.  Now, if only we could sell some art! 

WeHa Artists Emporium is an online group consisting of artists in the West Hartford area and art lovers from anywhere.  See our Facebook Page here, and if you want to join, please do!

Thanks so much for stopping in.  The last few days have been crazy busy with little time to blog, but I'll be putting together the Open Studio inventory very soon and will give you tidbits along the way.
(Open Studio Hartford is Nov 15 & 16th.  More soon.)

Be well!
Julie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

OPEN STUDIO HARTFORD 2014


Mark your calendars, local art-loving peeps!  OPEN STUDIO HARTFORD 2014 is going to be November 15 - 16th, 11am - 5pm, Artspace, 555 Asylum Ave, Hartford.

(Okay, it's going to be in way more places than just Artspace.  But I will be in Artspace and I want you to come see me.  :)

It's about a month away so I'm starting to gather my nitty-gritty items like cards:
 

I have some new card collections this year:  Fruit cards (above) and Tattoo Folk (below.)


I'll have originals of all the Tattoo Folk, as well.

I don't like to make too many softies because then I feel like I'm working in a warehouse, but it's nice to have a few little friends to go with book purchases.  Here's Rocco and Dizzy from The Simples Love a Picnic.


I decided that the Tiny Towns I made for the WeHa Artists Emporium Finders Keepers were just too darn cute not to have at Open Studio as well.  So I made a bunch of those.


Of course there will be lots and lots of art by myself and others.  And, for those of you who do stop by, the fabulous Ms. Angela Shenk and I will be on the first floor this year!

There are many bonuses to being on the first floor - for starters, we don't have to deal with the dreaded elevator.  You should see that place at 5:15 on Sunday.  The line for the elevator is CRA-ZAY.  Also, whenever there is food about, it's usually on the first floor.  And, best of all, everyone enters on the first floor - we should get a decent amount of traffic.

The deficits to the first floor will be the cold.  We'll be close to the back entrance so if it's brisk out there, we're gonna feel it.  Guess who has two thumbs and will be wearing a cool hipster hat?  This gal!  Also, since we're in the main hall and not by the resident studios, there's little-to-no security for the art.  I'll have to put a lot of it away at night.  That's sort of a bummer.  But oh well. 

No elevator.
No elevator.
No elevator.

So if you're around, come by and see me.  Yeah?

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Julie

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rockin' Out Again


You know what's fun to do when you have a bit of time between projects or meetings or what have you?  Make funky rock art - that's what!

The top rock was done with colored pencils.  I found some examples on Pinterest and I swear they look like blown glass.  I haven't been able to accomplish that effect, but I do like the lightness of the color when done with colored pencil. 


I had the idea this morning that it might look cute to make coffee and tea cups.  I'm extra pleased with myself because this is the first idea that I didn't lift from someone else.  I have no problem with lifting ideas - we all do it.  But it is very satisfying to come up with a concept of one's own.  That said, if you'd like to steal this idea - please do.

Arg - me be a painted rock!

I saw some really fun rocks were they glued smaller rocked on for noses.  The decorated it in black Sharpie only - so I took it to the next (color) level. But I LOVED the idea of gluing on a rock nose.  (So I lifted it.)

Have I told you what I'm doing with all these rocks?  I can't remember.  Well, I guess it's OK to tell you, my blog readers.  You won't tell will you?  As part of a new artists group in West Hartford called WeHa Artists Emporium, we're all going to paint a bunch of rocks and leave them all around town in December, so folks can stumble upon them and get a little giftie.  We're calling it Finders Keepers and we're going to number them on the bottom and encourage people to come to the webpage and list where they found their rock.  Fun, right?

I get so tickled when I think of someone finding a little treasure.  I love little unexpected treats!

I'll keep you posted on that one - it's still a whole month and a half away.  I'm up to 32 rocks.  Will I make 50?  (I bet I will.)

Thanks so much for stopping in!
Have a great weekend!
Julie

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wonderful Wonderland Corn Maze

Sunday was a glorious day.  Sunny.  60's.  Brisk air.  New England colors. 
It was a wonderful day to hit a corn maze!


In years past, my friends and I had taken the kids to a place with a playground, face-painting, and a small, simple corn maze.  It was great when the boys were smaller.  They could roam around and we could always hear them, often see them.  But they are much bigger now and I'm not worried about Magoo getting lost or freaking out.  So we set the boys loose at Rosedale Farms where they have a sprawling 6 acre corn maze!


I don't think I saw my son again for at least 40 minutes.

The boys took off first, followed by the men, followed my friend Heather, my mother, and me.  Heather bagged because she wore poor foot-wear for the trek, so it was just Mom and me and we fumbled our way through the corn.

It was cute and helpful that there were Alice in Wonderland characters running through the maze, warning Alice to run because the Red Queen was going to "Cut off her head!" and giving us simple humans some pointers or words of encouragement.


I had been in mazes where there wasn't an exit, really.  You just got lost and found your way back out to the entrance.  So I wasn't really sure what I was dealing with here.  The Cheshire Cat set me straight.  She told me that there was, in fact, an exit and it was "over there."  She pointed in a general direction, swished her tail, and disappeared.  (Just kidding.)

I think Magoo just cut through the corn whenever he wanted to.  I took a few "short cuts" myself.  It was quite a maze!

By the time we found this sign:
 I think Mom and I were ready to be out of there.

The men and 2 of the boys were waiting for us on the other side.  (One boy was not discovered until later.)

Oh, and we found Alice too. :)

Thanks so much for stopping in!  I hope you all are having a lovely autumn so far!

Julie

Saturday, September 27, 2014

DIY: Maleficent Headpiece


This year for Halloween, Magoo decided he wanted to be the Grim Reader with a store bought costume.  In which case, I figured I could spend my crafty hours making a costume for myself.  Since I already own a black cape and the Angelina Jolie Maleficent came out this summer, I thought I'd be trendy.

I'll admit to being a little apprehensive about it before I started.  Curvy horns can be challenging.  But this actually only took me a few days and I could do all of it while binge watching Project Runway, so it was all good.

If you want to give it a go, here's how I did it.

Supplies:
Balloon
Masking tape
paper (I used lunch sacks)
gel medium (although you can use good ol' flour and water)
plastic cups and card stock
black paint
black lava texture gels (for shine.  You can use glossy Modge Podge) optional
latex gloves (optional)

I started by taking a measurement of my head and making a little "skull cap" with white masking tape.  (I doubled it up so it wasn't sticking to my head.)  You'll want a good fit so the big horns don't wobble.  Then I inflated a balloon half way and stuck it inside the "skull cap."  I inflated it the rest of the way - so it was my head shape - then tied it off.

I taped it to a small container to keep it upright.


I like a nice ripped up lunch sack for a good paper maché base.  It's important to rip the pieces, as opposed to cutting them with scissors, because when you rip the paper, you get a tapered edge that lies smooth on the other layers.  If you cut the paper, you'll see the edges. 

I also like to use a clear gel medium (intended to thin out acrylic paint) as a paste.   It goes on smooth but it can get a bit gunky on your fingers so I'd recommend latex gloves if you want to clean up quick and easy.

I paper machéd around the balloon in the shape of the headdress - high in the front, low in the back.  Then I checked it over for weak or thin spots and added more paper to those spots.  I'm pretty good about overlapping pieces of paper so I don't do more than one layer, but it's actually two layers of paper because of the overlapping.


I finished and let it dry overnight.  The next day, I popped the balloon and gently pulled it out.  This was a delicate process as the balloon stuck to the paper maché cap and sucked it in a bit as it deflated.  I just gently pulled the balloon out and popped out any dents.  No biggie.

I fit it on my head and marked where my ears sat.  Then I trimmed the cap all around like so.


Then I reenforced the edge by doing another layer of paper mache, folded over the edge.  I let that dry.

(I should probably say that if you don't have a wig head to hold your headpiece, you can blow up another balloon and tape it to a container.  That will work too.)

The trickiest part for me was building the horns.  Getting a nice curve is challenging and making sure the two horns are symmetrical is also a little challenging. 


I stated with plastic cup. (Those are the clear ones.)  I cut them down and angled them, and taped them in place.  Then a did a couple links of card stock that was rounded and curved into a ring.

Here's how I made the paper links.

1. I curved the card stock as if I was making a cone.   I fit the ring on top of the cup and got it to size.  Then I taped it.

2.  I trimmed the front part down like so. (It looks kinda like a pilgrim collar.)


3.  Here's a side view.  You want to have one long side (on the left) and one sort side (on the right.)  This is how I made the curves in the horns.


After I did the two rings of paper maché, I switched to paper dixie cups.  Then I did, like, six more sets of card stock rings.  It's important to fit these on top of the existing horns and then tape and cut and tape and cut until you get the right size, slowly building the height and curves of the horns.  I did both horns at the same time so I could match each piece and each angle and keep the horns even.  (It might take a little time to get used to this.  Just go slow and use your best judgement.)  Also, I only lightly taped these together.   The tape only holds the pieces in place long enough to paper maché.

After I had the horns shaped, I paper machéd them.  When that dried, I painted them black.


Because black hides a lot of flaws, I didn't have to be too careful that the horns were perfect.  If the horns were to be white or a lighter color, I would have had to be far more careful with the construction and smoothness of the paper maché.  Yay black!

I wanted the horns to have some shine to them.  I happened to have a little sample jar of Liquitex Texture Gels Black Lava, which I painted on top of the black.  Basically, I painted glitter on top.  It turned pretty well.  The little beads add a nice texture and they do catch the light.  If you don't want to bother finding that, just coat it with something shimmery, like a acrylic gloss or a glossy Modge Podge.

The end result is a very light headdress that fits like a glove.

The finishing touch is a long strip of black jersey fabric that I wrapped to hide my ears and cover my neck.  I wore this under the head piece, but you could also put the headpiece on first and wrap the fabric around and over top.

Violá!  A DIY Maleficent headdress ready to rock your Halloween!


Thanks so much for stopping in!

Julie

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pluggin' Along

Sorry there hasn't been much on the blog this week.  I've just been plugging along, working on a couple new pieces.  (Well, one is new, one is just newly dusted off.)

I have four projects out in the world right now:

THE ILLUSTRATED PIECE.  This is a piece that was written by someone else and my agent, Scott Treimel, wanted me to do some illustrations for it.  We are always trying to get me straight illustration work, but it doesn't really take.  This is a really cute story, but it falls somewhere between a picture book and an early reader and editors aren't sure where to put it, so it hasn't sold yet.  Everyone seems to like it though, so it's still making the rounds.

ONE WORD PIECE.  This is one of my own stories where there is only one word in the text.  Obviously, it's more of an illustration showcase.  I have worked on this one SO MUCH.  When there are no words to help the story along, you have to be extremely clear with the illustrations - so clarity of story, character, and motivation where big challenges.

ANTI HERO STORY.  I wrote a story about a naughty character.  This breaks the picture book mold a bit, as there aren't a lot of bad main characters out there.  But I figured the anti-hero is becoming more and more prominent in adult pop culture, so - if done properly - it could work itself into the picture book world too.  Right now, this one is the forerunner of being Book #5.  But there are no deasl yet.  Just longing and hope (on my part.)

TWIN STORY.  This is a story that started out as a picture book, then an editor wanted to see if I could make it into a three-story early reader book.  (I tried really hard, but I couldn't really do it.  It's a lot harder than you might think.)  Now it's a kid graphic novel of sorts that has been specifically designed to be a certain type of book - meaning, I made it look exactly like this one line of books I really like.  The editor is very high-and-mighty and the chances of her picking it up are slim.  She's the only one who has it right now and it's probably sitting somewhere in her slush pile.  We're waiting on that one.  For awhile.  Then I'll rejigger it again, and so on, and so on.

But those are the pieces that are done(ish.)  Nothing is ever done until they start to print it.

The two projects I am currently working on are:

RHYMING PICTURE BOOK.  This is out to the crit group this week.  I dont usually do rhymes, but the tone of the book might run dark, so I thought a peppy little rhyme might help liven it up.

GRAPHIC NOVEL.  This is a longer Babymouse/Lunch Lady style of graphic novel for a middle school aged kid.  Because it's longer, it has taken awhile to get it right.  Now I have a goal of sketching out 4 pages a day to see how long it's coming in at.

That's what I'm up to!
Shana Tova to all my Jewish friends!
Happy Thursday to the rest of you!

Best,

Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY: Two-Tone Animal Rocks


Yes, yes, more rocks.  What can I say?  I'm into it.

While trolling around Pinterest I found some groovy rocks with vintage-y animals on them, but the thing that really appealed to me was that the rocks seemed to have been partially dipped in white paint before the animals were put on.  It was cool!  So I stole it!  :)

The key is to balance the white and black with the animal.  For example, the white tail of a bunny is going to work well against the dark tone of the rock.  So paint the only top of the bunny on the white.
If you think these are cool and want to make some yourself, I'm going to run through how I do it. BE WARNED:  this is DIY for someone who can paint an animal.  I don't do a step-by-step on how to paint a fox, so if you think you can't handle it, maybe go to Pinterest and find something more your speed.  

YOU'LL NEED:
A rock (You can buy river rocks at Michael's)
A computer and printer
pencil
paints (I used liquid acrylics)
brushes
thin black pen
clear nail polish

Step One.  Figure out what animal you want to do.  I went online and found some vintage clip art illustrations of animals and I picked the ones I liked.  I measured my rock - wich is about 2.25 inches wide, and made a tiny print of a fox.  (TO be more specific: I copied the image off the interest and pasted it into Photoshop.  Then I resized it to 2" wide.)

Then I painted half my rock white with white acrylic.  I needed several coats.


Step Two:  Flip your copy over and coat the back with pencil.  You're making old fashioned carbon paper, basically.


Step Three:  Flip it back over and place it on your rock.  Using a pencil, outline the animal directly on your copy (draw details like eye placement) onto the rock.  The pencil on the back will transfer off onto the rock - even the dark part of the rock.

Then go ahead and do a white coat of paint within your animal drawing on the dark part of the rock.


Step Four:  Paint your animal.  Again, I used liquid acrylic paints.  Make sure that you have dark parts against the white background and lighter parts against the dark.  (You can cheat a bit and make darker paws in back and lighter paws in front.  Use your judgement.)




Step Five:  When the paint is dry, take a small black pen and make slight details: eyes, little hairs, things like that.

Step Six:  When everything is dry, apply a clear coat of something varnish-like.  (I use clear nail polish.) Let that dry and you're all set!  Yay!  Enjoy your awesome painted rock!


Here's a close up of the toad...


 ...and of the sheep and rabbit, pre-varnish.


Have fun and have a great weekend!
Thanks for stopping in!