Material Girl – Artsy Gifts For All

… Just kidding, I actually can’t stand Madonna’s music, but it seemed an apt title to use when talking about all the fun artsy things I have for sale.

This past weekend the program I direct at Creative 360, Express Yourself Artshop, hosted an art and craft fair. A number of our students participated, and a fun time was had by all. I was having so much fun making stuff that as usual I went a bit overboard so I have a lot of surplus stock, which I have posted in my ebay store and will continue to add to.

I have two kinds of plushes, both incorporating unique upholstery fabrics and hand-sewn and hand-painted details along with vintage embellishments.

I also have hand-painted wooden art dolls that range from adorable, girly fashionably dressed characters to holiday themed and even some mermaids thrown in.

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In addition, you will find affordable art prints (including wallet size ACEO prints for $2.99!) and original pieces for sale, as well as a wide range of paper dolls. I’m up to over 10 different designs, and all the clothing is interchangeable which is super fun.

I also have two print-on-demand shops through Redbubble and Zazzle. I own a selection of products myself from both sites, and have been so impressed with the quality for a really affordable price. Both sites offer slightly different products and designs including jewelry pendants, clothing, mugs, tote bags, stickers and cards, notebooks and journals, phone and laptop cases, pillows and other home accessories, and more.

Moongirl Designs Redbubble Shop

Moongirl Designs Zazzle Store

It gets so tedious to shop anywhere the later into Fall it gets with the holidays coming up. With stores filled with grouchy, hurried people running into each other like bumper cars, I am a huge fan of online shopping. Plus, giving something people have never before in their journeys through big box stores will make you the coolest of gift givers for sure :).

I love supporting others’ art as well. Are there any shops on etsy, ebay, or print-on-demand websites that are your go-to for gifts?

 

 

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Happy “Inspire Your Heart With Art” Day!

Happy “Inspire Your Heart With Art” Day everyone! As I’ve told you before, I love holidays – I mean really love them. There is always that slight letdown after the marathon of nonnstop holiday excitement from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years … Who knew there was this fun little holiday to tide us over until Valentine’s Day and Easter? I cannot believe I just learned of its existence this year … !

What a perfect opportunity to send some inspiration out into the world through sharing what my students have worked on throughout the beginning third of my first full semester as program coordinator for Express Yourself Artshop at Creative 360. My students pretty much feel like family members at this point, and I know I mention them a lot. But, for those new to the blog, Express Yourself Artshop is an inclusive arts and wellness program open to all students, including those with physical, mental, and psychological challenges.

I’ve worked with the program as an instructor since it was first established, and I am blown away by seeing how each student has grown since we first met a little over 2 years ago. Without further ado …

A snapshot of our amazing watercolor class! Everyone has such different styles and interests, so it is fun to see what each student comes up with.

Next, the gallery of Heather D.! I call this student and friend my “artistic soulmate” because we share a love of fashion, big eyed girls, and everything retro and vintage inspired.

Our classes are not all about art for your walls. Tons of cool functional and awesome looking wares are being created in our Woodshop class this semester as well. I love this log cabin inspired bird house, I think because it reminds me so much of childhood Lincoln Logs!

It is so much fun to be able to decorate your home with handmade pieces that are unique, and that no one else will have. You don’t have to be what people think of as a traditional “artist” to do it. The top two pieces, by Colleen D. and Amber E., are canvases wrapped in fabric with a cutout from an art print collaged overtop. The wreath below can be created easy and stress free with any medium sized to large craft punch, a wreath form, a free afternoon, and a lot of hot glue sticks handy.

Proud smiles!

Creating, whether your goal is to become a world famous artist or just to calm your mind and relieve some stress, is a HUGE confidence booster. It is also an important tool of communication and self expression, speaking from experience myself. I challenge all of you to try to make at least one thing today, even if it is just a doodle. Happy inspiration!

 

 

New Job + Adventures In Upcycling

Many of you who have read my blog before have probably heard me talk about Express Yourself Artshop, an art and wellness program open for adult students of varying abilities, especially those with disabilities. Artshop is one of the programs I have taught with since its beginning a little over 2 years ago. Our Program Coordinator moved out of town last month, and being that Artshop has always been my favorite out of all the programs I teach with, I applied for the position. This week it is official, from now on I will be with Artshop full time. I have a lot of ideas, a ton of brilliant people helping me, and I cannot wait to see how the program grows and evolves. I dare you to watch the video below and be in a bad mood.

Life is funny, and I never ended up actually working “officially” in the field that I went to college for, but am now doing something I never would have imagined. I’m not one for cliches but the old saying “Knowledge is never wasted” certainly rings true, and I see my interior design background creeping in in little ways throughout my current work. In my new DIY Decor class this semester, I’ve been exploring creating classy, elegant and beautiful decorations for the home using cheap, everyday materials. My students and I have combined my two loves; stylish and artistic decor, and recycling, or up-cycling in this case (basically never wasting anything). They have blown me away with their fantastic vision and their own unique style that they bring to the projects. There is a lot going on, and I’m excited to share more with you in the coming weeks and months.

Coasters by Lori : Wood Samples (It pays to have a boyfriend who works at a furniture store ;)) covered in book pages and magazine cutouts accented in metallic acrylic. Felt is applied to the bottom to prevent scratching. Sealed with mod podge aka my lifeblood.

Coasters by Lori : Wood Samples (It pays to have a boyfriend who works at a furniture store ;)) covered in book pages and magazine cutouts, accented in metallic acrylic. Felt is applied to the bottom to prevent scratching. Sealed with mod podge aka my lifeblood.

Salt and Pepper Shakers by Amber : Empty glass spice jars with holes punched in the lids. The tops are painted with enamel and the jars are wrapped with fabric and ribbon accent, sealed, again, with mod podge.

Salt and Pepper Shakers by Amber : Empty glass spice jars with holes punched in the lids. The tops are painted with enamel and the jars are wrapped with fabric and a ribbon accent, sealed, again, with mod podge.

Abstract Wall Art by Lori : Modern art using Sharpie pens and cutouts from transparent file folders

Abstract Wall Art by Lori : Modern art using Sharpie pens and cutouts from transparent file folders

Decorative Terrarium by Colleen : It's amazing what you can do with some fake plants , ribbon, and raffia.

Decorative Terrarium by Colleen : It’s amazing what you can do with an olive jar, some fake plants , ribbon, and raffia.

Decorative Terrarium by Michelle : All you need is an empty salsa jar, some fabric flowers on stems, ribbon to wrap around the lid base, and a little bit of creativity.

Decorative Terrarium by Michelle : All you need is an empty salsa jar, some fabric flowers on stems, ribbon to wrap around the lid base, and a little bit of creativity.

Coffee Is Love.

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So, I put an exhibit up in Espresso Milano for Midland Artists Guild last week. This was an especially fun venue exhibit for me because I pretty much lived here when I was in high school. For those of you unfamiliar with Midland, Michigan, it’s a nice town for sure but, well … there’s not a whole lot for young people to do! Hang out with friends on Saturdays drinking coffee all day, especially frappes in the summer? Not complaining too much. It was always either that, or spend the day at the mall reading comics and music magazines in Barnes and Noble, until they started shrink-wrapping the darn things so you actually had to pay for them to read :P.

Snooty face 2007.

Blast from the past : Snooty Face 2007.

My P.I.C., Erin - best friends since we were 2 and actually just had a craft day together last week!

My P.I.C. that day, Erin – best friends since we were 2, and still going strong. We actually just had a craft day together last week!

Speaking of coffee being just the best…

(a topic of conversation that I daresay never gets old, nor loses its truth), I have some really cool illustrated mugs for sale in my ebay store right now! On discount, too … sweet right? They are dishwasher safe, top rack, and really heavy and durable. I am an accidental collector of unique mugs, and can’t seem to ever stop buying drink-ware in general, so these made me super happy.

Designs available are Retro Flowers, Queenie, I'd Have Been Happier As A Bird, and Whimsical Peacock.

Designs available are Retro Flowers, Queenie, I’d Have Been Happier As A Bird, and Whimsical Peacock.

Other things I’ve been working on over this Labor Day weekend are, shockingly, Christmas plushies! I sell some of my fun creations at Imagine That!, also located in downtown Midland, and I need to have my holiday wares ready by mid-October. It’s weird to be thinking so far ahead already, but I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed getting in the holiday spirit a bit early :).

Whimsical trees and some pretty rad angels with halos made of strung sequins <3

Whimsical trees and some pretty rad angels with halos made of strung sequins ❤

Midlanders (or Saginaw/Bay City dwellers nearby such as myself), if you happen to be downtown within the next 2 months don’t forget to check out the exhibit. And for those of you in the states, I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend as well!

Book Pages and Metallic Paint = Instant Classy.

Every so often I get bored and dissatisfied with the state of my walls and need a change. I’d had some Alice In Wonderland etching coloring book pages framed above my couch since I’d moved into the apartment. I’d filled them in with markers, giving Alice hot pink hair, and my boyfriend was even starting to comment, “So… are you ever going to take those down?” Apparently the appeal of pink haired punker Alice was lost on him, and he also couldn’t fathom why I would hang up coloring book pages when I have so much of my own art at my disposal. I do decorate my home with some of my own work obviously, but you have to understand, I get real tired of staring at my own art. I’m staring at it the whole time I’m working on it, and when it comes to my walls, I want to give my eyes something new to get excited over. The coloring pages had overstayed their welcome a bit, and the magic marker was getting ridiculously sun-faded. But, I didn’t want to spend the time making 3 new fine art pieces just to hang above my couch when I knew I had exhibits coming up to get ready for.

I don’t know if anyone uses those 12×12 paper flip calendars anymore … They are a bit of a relic nowadays, but I always insist on getting one from those giant kiosks in the middle of the mall set up around Christmas simply for the cool pictures. Art Deco is one of my absolute favorite design periods, so for the past 2 years I’ve gotten the Erte calendar. This fashion artist is responsible for the loveliness below – so yes, he completely rocks.

You can buy 12×12 scrapbook frames at any craft store and hang calendar page art as is (the cheapest prints you will ever find), but I decided to take it a step further to create the trio below.

trioThese pieces only took an afternoon to create. First off, a background made of book pages makes anything look instantly classy. If you are like me and love books, tearing one to pieces could take a lot of soul-searching. Therefore, I picked up the most dull, dry, uninspiring book I could possibly find from the red dot $1 bin at Barnes and Noble so that I wouldn’t feel I was doing any disservice. The opposite, I felt I was improving upon the provided material by turning it into art. I first tore out about 6 pages per picture, then adhered 3 pages layered on top and 3 on bottom to the cardboard backer that always comes with frames. I found brushing tacky glue onto the back with a combination of a cheap throwaway paintbrush and one’s finger worked best. I then flattened the bookpage-covered-cardboards under a pile of magazines to dry. While the glue was drying on those, I found 3 calendar pictures I liked and cut out the main subject from each page. You could do this with any calendar theme, cutting out a large central image be it a flower, an animal, a boat, your favorite entertainer, whatever makes you happy to look at. I then brushed tacky glue onto the back of each of my calendar cutouts. I pressed them on, smoothing them out with my fingers, making sure there were no bubbles, and then put the pieces back under the magazines to dry flat. Next, out comes the metallic paint! Metallic acrylic paints are just magic and make every single thing look way better. You don’t have to be an artist at all to accent your new decoupage calendar pictures with paint. The “distressed” look goes awesome with the torn out book pages, and for this technique the messier the better. Grab a large flat brush, and make sure you keep it dry – don’t dip it in water until you are finished. Dip some paint on your brush and simply swipe across your piece. The paint will naturally catch where the pages layer and overlap lending a cool texture. If you don’t feel intuitive with the paint, an easy out is to simply paint along the edge of the image you glued down to emphasize it, and also brush along the corners or all the edges of the actual rectangular piece to “frame” your collage. You’ll be surprised at how amazing these turn out. You’ll have people asking where you bought them, when all it was was less than $5 of supplies and a couple of hours.

Doing more rearranging later due to visiting the Midland Antique Festival and buying yet more wall art, I decided to make a wall collage above my dining table which is something I’ve always wanted to do. My framed original portrait drawing, collaborative mixed media canvas piece I’d made with my boyfriend, and my crazy little 60s-big-eyed-circus-child all had a vintage, weathered look to them with lots of beige and ivory amongst the pops of color. I needed some super small pieces to tuck in between the gaps in the arrangement, but 5×7-8×10 frames are usually meant for table tops and just don’t look right on the wall, and the frames’ heavy, dark edges were taking away from my more focal pieces. I needed something on a small canvas, but once again, was pressed for time. Though I wanted my collage to look good, I did not want to make 2 miniature acrylic paintings with all the other projects I had going. I had a value pack of 8×10 canvases I’d gotten at Michaels that calculated out to $1 per frame at the end, and decided, what the heck? When in doubt, cover them in book pages. Once I had the entire front and sides of the canvases covered in tacky-glued pages, I went to Staples and got 2 of my original works printed small on standard printer paper, tore the edges to make them uneven, and glued them to the relative center of my canvas. If you don’t make art yourself, you could still do the same thing with magazine pictures, digital photos you’ve taken, or works by famous artists copied from art history books. Antique or vintage-inspired images look best with the book page background. Of course, I had to metallic up the edges with some gold paint, and once again I had put in an hour or two of work for a really cool end product.

I fell off a chair and dented the entire right half of myself trying to hang this up, so it better look kickass!

I fell off a chair and dented the entire right half of my body trying to hang this up, so it better look damn good!

I hope some of you will try this out. Even not-so-great looking decor can be super expensive, and these projects are FUN even for non-artists (promise!) and will add a ton of personality to your abode. Collaging is even suggested as a relaxation technique when under extreme stress, so this project could be just what your day off needs. I’ll be taking a break from art and heading off to Ludington tomorrow for a mid-week weekend of hiking, swimming, and generally being outdoors from morning till the wee hours of the night. Hopefully I come back refreshed and inspired ^_^.

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New WIP, and Building An Army

I started a new conceptual portrait, this time involving stars and space imagery which I haven’t used a lot in the past – time to retire the flowers and forests for a bit. I am also going to be adding touches of art nouveau, one of my absolute favorite design periods. I’m not certain what main accent colors I will be using with the black and white as of yet, but I’m leaning towards navy and gold, we shall see. The tilted downward angle of the face is certainly more challenging then the classical head and shoulders portrait, but after much erasing, success! Even practiced artists are in love with erasers.

wip

When I need a break from the more technical, detailed work, I’ve been having fun growing my little army of wooden dolls – currently two strong. Who am I kidding, painting those tiny little clothing patterns and facial features on wood with a couple-hairs wide paint brush is still technical and detailed :P. I have always loved the simple cuteness of Japanese kokeshi dolls, and I wanted to try my hand at designing my own take on them. I figured wood would be easiest to paint with acrylics, so I perused the wood crafts aisle at Michaels after teaching a class one day and found 2 bags of shapes, one conveniently labeled “heads”, the other “bodies”. What luck! It doesn’t get much easier than that. Along with glue, I ran a heavy toothpick through the partial hole in the bottom of the head and the top of the body for extra support. This would be a really fun project to do with kids as well. You could even glue on small googly eyes, and some yarn for 3-dimensional hair, cut pieces of fabric or patterned paper to glue over the body, some small buttons down the front … the possibilities are endless. I will post pictures of their friends once I finish some more, promise! I will also keep you updated on the new portrait. Have a great start to the week everyone!

Pretty simple supplies ... it's all in how you decorate them!

Pretty simple supplies … it’s all in how you decorate them!

Two of my non-handmade modern kokeshi dolls

Two of my non-handmade modern kokeshi dolls

Each of them just has to have SOMETHING on her head. Yes, that is a real acorn on the left, brushed gold and sealed. I was on a hike and quite literally exclaimed to my boyfriend, "They look like mini hats!!!" and started frantically collecting as many as possible. I knew they would come to good use one day!

Each of them just has to have SOMETHING on her head. Yes, that is a real acorn on the left, brushed gold and sealed. I was on a hike and quite literally exclaimed to my boyfriend, “They look like mini hats!!!” and started frantically collecting as many as possible. I knew they would come to good use one day!

A Mixed Bag Of Epic Battles, Social Networking, and Therapeutic Craftiness

So, this update is going to be a bit all over the place. First off, I will be participating in Do-All of Bay City‘s Art Clash for the third year in a row with a new(ish) friend I met through teaching at Creative 360. Heather is a wonderful artist and keeps an art blog as well, so be sure to check her out! We had such a great time last year. It’s crazy for me to create a piece of art from scratch completely live, since I usually don’t even share idea sketches with anyone but (occasionally) my parents and boyfriend, and in progress works in my studio area are hidden when people come over to my apartment. An example, back in college I spied a friend that was over flipping through my sketchbook (Without even asking! The audacity! – other artists, you know what I’m talking about!) on the other side of the room and I took a running start and tackled him WWE style to get it back ASAP. A fun fact about me; I basically dislike all sports, but I flat out hate wrestling, and honestly find any activity whose basis centers around causing bodily harm to another human being to be fundamentally disturbing. Despite this, apparently in the right circumstances…

The vulnerability of allowing others to see your “in progress” work all the way through, even in its awkward phases, coupled with a pretty short time limit of only 3 hours makes this kind of event something I always swore I could never do. Then, in 2013 I forced myself to try it specifically because I swore I couldn’t do it, and now I am addicted. Art battles are everywhere, but the cool thing specifically about Do-All’s art battle is that 50% of the proceeds from finished pieces auctioned at the event go to Do-All, an organization that provides activities and services to people with disabilities – pretty cool! Many of the students from their Do-Art program also participate in the battle, so you’re immersed amongst all different types of people from all walks of life which makes it a really fun environment. Last year, my piece even made it into the top 10 award winners which was super exciting. I have an idea prepared for where I want to go with this year’s piece, but it cannot be revealed at this time :). I’ll post the finished product after tomorrow evening!

Transformation, 18x24 Mixed Media, Do-All of Bay City's Annual Art Clash Award Winner

Transformation, 18×24 Mixed Media, Do-All of Bay City’s 2014 Annual Art Clash Award Winner

Next bit of news, as if I don’t have enough social media accounts … (I just finally made a twitter after discovering that there is actually a ton of interesting information and inspiration bouncing around on there, and not simply “hey guys, I just made a sandwich!” which was my initial assumption. @AlliseNoble, get at me!) I recently discovered Artistically Social, and of course since it’s completely free, I couldn’t resist creating a gallery. It’s a bit bare bones right now, but I’ll be slowly adding more prints and hopefully a lot more originals for sale as well, so please check out the gallery.

I need to finish quite a few new pieces by the end of this coming summer for some solo local exhibits around town, but I had just been feeling really burnt out lately from doing so much *serious* fine art work and longed to work on some creative pursuits that were just crafty and fun. My paper dolls and stuffed creatures for sale at Imagine That, a local handmade gift shop in Midland, also got pretty cleaned out in March so I have a legitimate excuse. I’ll post photos once I get a little further on the new paper dolls, and also introduce you to some monster friends. Another “for fun” project I’ve been working on is the amazing Artist Leesy pop vinyl! I really don’t need anymore plastic toy clutter around (if you saw my apartment, you’d understand) so I’ve restrained myself from actually buying any, but I love Funko’s Pop! Vinyl characters so, so much. After Christmas, I was at the mall perusing all the after holiday discounts and I discovered they actually had DIY blank bodies. They were on clearance, and I had a Barnes and Noble gift card – score. I did buy actual books as well, not just toys, I promise. My little mini-me muse will grace my desk from this day forth.

3 of many monster friends who have found good homes

3 of many monster friends who have found good homes

So far just the paper mache hair! (Yes, my kitchen is very green)

Vinyl Pop! Leesy: So far just the paper mache hair! (Yes, my kitchen is very green)

Adding some color (complete with freckles)

Adding some color (complete with freckles)

My characteristic magical silver slippers are a go, and all painting is done - now for the details.

My characteristic magical silver slippers are a go, and all painting is done – now for the details.

Artist Leesy and her trusty resurrected brontosaurus companion, all in a day's work.

Skirt, check! Hair bow, check! Drawing utensils, check! Artist Leesy and her trusty resurrected brontosaurus companion, all in a day’s work.

Wish me luck at the Art Clash tomorrow, photos soon!