Donnerstag, 30. Mai 2019

"Forest" - Art Elements Theme Challenge

This month's theme at Art Elements was chosen by Susan - Forest. This gives such a broad variety of potential subthemes and inspiration. From the forest general down to the animals, plants and fungi, colors and pattern, maybe up to the feeling of life and decay at the same time. 

My first thought was actually my little urban garden on our balcony. I even have a wild growing corner with fern and a digitalis. 

As tiny as our balcony is, I try to let it be a tiny wee urban jungle! It is also my favorite play to get a coffee, read, paint (or also play silly little games on my phone - just to be truthful ;) ).

I played with my new watercolor sketchbook that I made last month. It really helps to try out different kind of papers because I was surprised. I thought I preferred the wonderful smooth surface but it is actually the medium roughness that works best for my way to paint! 

It creates more organic patterns, lets the water easier flow, hold the wetness better, and won't let the watercolor create harsh drying lines. 

You see, I played with mushrooms (due to the #mayshroom challenge that I used as inspiration). Mushrooms are such weird organisms with wonderful weird shapes!

I also wanted to make more carved stamps to use for print making. I want to go for some more high quality prints on nice paper combined with water color.

This plan is actually already for a long time on my to-do-list but I won't stress myself. I will do them one day since this is an "item" that stayed on my list for a long time now... other ideas can change more easily.


I was not able to finish the print blocks.I still need to refine them. But I thought I should show you a test print! I love where both of them are going to.

Since I have a lot of stress at work, I am struggling again a little bit with my routine of creating daily. I know from past experiences that these are the times I need to create more than ever to keep myself calm and sane. It is a wonderful coping mechanism and one that works for me. So I try to change also daily what I do since this helps me more than to repeat one material, technique or theme.

Making monoprints with small commercial plates works wonderful for that. I mostly use three different colors for a print: A light and a dark one plus a bright contrasting color. It is a simple recipe but it works nearly every time. If some contrast is missing, I can always add more.

I made a mix of abstract work combined with some shapes and symbols. All with the theme "Forest". I added with some markers and polychromos marks and highlights. 

And last but not least some urban inspiration that evokes such an organic feeling for me. 

My sister actually uses them now as backgrounds for her computer and phone! (so love that!) 

I am also thinking of printing them to use them as prints themselves or as background.

Please fell free to use them as well if you like.

And now please have a look what everyone else made! Thank you so much for participating! :)


Dienstag, 30. April 2019

"Repurposing" - Art Elements Theme Challenge

This month's theme over at Art Elements was "Repurposing". Lesley chose this wonderful theme that was (should have been) perfect for me! I love to use anything I can find simply because I like the shape, the color, the texture... or the weirdness.

This is a picture of my work table... and this is nearly the clean and orderly state since you can see some wood of the table! But in a lot of the small vessels and dishes are found objects and other strange pieces that I love to use for my work. Repurposing is a big part of a lot of my creations.

I had a lot of ideas and plans... nope... didn't manage most of them. But I did finish my tin can book! I showed how I made the book covers in my blog post for this month (here). 

I painted a little bit more on the edges (and will go on with this, my sketch books are ever eveolving things) and chose my favorite red thread for the binding. I love the contrast!

This will be a wonderful sturdy tine wee book.

I went for a selection of different water color papers. I got a lot from different companies to try them out.

Since the pages are often quite thick, even cardboard like, I had to use a single page binding stitch.

It really took some time to find a stitch that worked for me. I watched a lot of tutorial videos, I have some books on bookbinding... in the end I played so long until I had my own way for stitching single pages.

Just for today, I even played a little bit!


The first row is still uneven, I was in the "figure it out" phase but I love how the other rows look.

And I made a second new sketch book with single page binding. At first I thought... mh... not fitting the theme... but then I remembered that I always use the leftover cardboard for my book covers. I don't think of it as repurposing although it is. I simply use what is available.

I finally used one of my favorite monoprints ever! I try not be a hoarder... but it is hard!

Again, the first row is a little bit uneven, maybe I have to fix the book better doing the first row.


In this bigger one I enforced the ends with washi tape. Since I used three different kinds of paper I also used the washi tape to color code them.

Since I am doing monoprints, most commercial papers lost their appeal.

By the way... the company already color coded the pages! I just didn't see that.

This was of stitching allows the book to lay completely flat when open. But of course it is also more flexible in all directions. If you don't like that in a sketch book, then I would not recommend this kind of stitching.

I need to make more monoprints like this!

 I also had some lose water color papers that I used for testing. I keep them as reference.

Can you see the different thickness?

Aaaaaand a lot of them!

So I went through my paper stash and repurposed some packaging cardboard for the back to make a little cover.

The papers are not fixed, I a not sure whether I want to bind them or not.

The outside... 

As a last point I wanted to show you my latest tools I use for monoprinting. Because in the end monoprinting is the perfect repurposing method! ;) A package piece that creates wonderful lines, two trash plastic pieces that from the lab, and another package piece I cut down to have this wonderful eight figure.

This was a wonderful challenge even though I didn't manage the projects I had planned. But so is life and the project will be done at some time. I know myself.

Thank you for joining us and please have a look what everyone made!

Sonntag, 31. März 2019

"Luna moth" - Art Element Theme Challenge

This months theme for the Art Elements theme challenge was chosen by Jennifer - " Luna moth". I have to say this was a difficult theme for me as much as I love these insects (and insects in general are simply stunning creatures!). Maybe it was simply the fact that I got ill, there were a lot of deadlines, I spend some long days writing grant applications, and also went to a conference. Sometimes a too literal theme stuns me in the beginning.

I know, I could have simply taken the colors alone as inspiration or create an abstract pattern but once your brain is stuck... it is not easy to get it working again. The only way that works for me is actually to start creating something even without inspiration or any idea. So I tried to sketch a luna moth to get a better feeling for the shape, pattern, size and overall shape. The upper wings are not wide enough but it helped.

If you follow me here or read my blog post at Art Elements, you know that I don't like most commercial available water color sketch books and started binding my own ones. I still wanted to try out the Moleskin one. Although I am not such a fan of the art sketch book, I have to say the water color book works really good! I was pleasantly surprised. The only downside? It is so damn expensive... 

When I am stuck, I love to create color swatches. They are so relaxing, to see the colors flow has something so beautiful and joyful. It lead to another try to pain a luna moth. It is okay but I am not in love with it. Just a... meh...

But you know what? This kind of challenges where I am stuck in the beginning can be the best! Because it forces me to think. Jennifer shared her carved stamps in the last theme challenges and just showed her tiny sketchbook made with tiny wee carved pattern stamps for the sketchbook project (have a look here). The last time I carved anything is a year ago and I thought maybe I should change the medium.

I simplified the shape of the luna moth...

....and I wanted to add eyes. I don't know why but the image of eyes, the moth and the moon kept coming up in my head.

If you want to mirror copy a stamp, simply stamp it with watter resistant ink on the rubber. Now you can carve it. If it should be the same orientation like the original one, simply to it again with the mirror image stamp. Yes, they will be a little bit different but in the end it should still be a handcarved and unique stamp.

I tried out several shapes and pattern for the eyes. In the end my favorite was the one with the tear drop that I copied to have a pair to be combined. The only thing I changed in the mirror stamp: The light reflection should come from the same side!

I played with the stamps and water color. Just playing...

This pink card was a birthday card for a friend. The moth is maybe a little bit too big for cards. 

I also created several test prints on high quality paper.

I think this one is my favorite with a single eye on top. Maybe I will add a moon / circle in the background.

I also need to play more about how I could incorporate the eyes. 

By the way, if you want to add metal effects in your water color, I really can recommend Aqua Bronze from Schmincke. It is made of metal powder and not mica. It comes in a powder form that includes a kind of glue. You have to wet it with water (every time fresh!) and then you can apply it as paint. It takes some experimenting with the ratio and paper since the metal particles can be easier rubbed off than pigments. Depending what you want to do with the finished piece you should fix it.

But it looks so stunning! No other paint ever came close, it has an effect like metal foil! I also have a silver version. 

As always... shimmer and shine is difficult to capture on camera.

In the end I actually had another go at a luna moth painting. This time it worked for me and I like the finished piece. The trick was to go for different colors. There is still green but combined with turquoise and not anymore this neon like light green. It may be not the true color of luna moths but somehow it looks more real to me.

As much as I struggled in the beginning of this theme challenge, I really love where it lead me. My absolute favorite? The eye stamp(s) with the tear drop! I think this may become one of my favorite and most used stamps ever!

Thank you for joining us and please have a look at the ideas and creations of everyone! :)


Art Elements Team:
Claire (you are here)


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