I’ve mentioned previously that aside from Christmas my favorite thing about the end of the year is the unveiling of Pantone’s new color of the year. Since I started on youtube, I have enjoyed doing a project demo revolving around the chosen color each December. Another holiday artist tradition I have is creating a new series of whimsical, themed Santa ACEOs for my ebay shop. This year, I combined these two traditions into one project as I show you how I illustrate my miniature Santa portraits, this one with a Viva Magenta theme.
By a stroke of good fortune, one of my most popular teaching projects I developed this year features a heavy accent of this vibrant color. Pre-Covid, I was teaching a Creative Minds class to my adults with disabilities at Creative 360. After teaching, I shared many of the projects here if you’re inclined to take a look. The idea of Creative Minds is to learn about accomplished artists from the past and present and create projects based on their process with the goal of discovering our own artistic voice. Creative Minds has a special focus on artists who think differently than what is considered “typical”. They have disabilities, mental health struggles, weren’t classically educated, dealt with poverty. It’s important for people to see examples of why having different types of brains and backgrounds in our world is vital and something to be celebrated, not approached with apprehension. After Covid, like with many things, the class series died for a bit. This Fall, I brought it back successfully and opened it up as an evening workshop series to make it more available to all ages and abilities.
I covered globally exhibited artist Judith Scott previously, but streamlined the project a bit more this time. Scott is an artist who had down syndrome and was deaf, and was unfortunately discounted and underestimated for most of her life. When her twin sister became her guardian and brought her to a groundbreaking arts program near their home in California, Judith on her own grabbed any objects nearby and started wrapping them in yarn. Her eye for composition was soon recognized, and long story short her art has now been exhibited worldwide. This is why art is not a luxury. Art gives people a voice, and unlocks hidden abilities.
For this new iteration of the Judith Scott project, students were given an 8×10 canvas, a stick, and a plethora of yarn. The yarn that has a different texture like fuzziness, or that is netted and stretches apart is especially fun though the old standard would still work well. We painted the canvas with an abstract design. I used a large round brush to dab streaks across the canvas one color at a time until there was no white left. Then, while that’s drying take the stick and wrap wrap wrap! Yarn can be tied at the beginning and ends points, and the tail tucked under the wrapping. I also added some felt leaves as a finishing touch but that part is in no way necessary. If the branch has a lot of contact points where it touches the canvas, it can be glued at those points but my stick was extra twisty so I poked holes in the canvas which I threaded wire through, twisting the ends in the back of the canvas to anchor it. If any readers are in the Midland, Michigan area I’d encourage you to stop by Creative 360, we are always doing something new and fun!
Color is a fantastic starting point for inspiration. You can view my previous Color Of The Year projects below.
Being a lifelong lover of reptiles, I was always drawn to the figure of Medusa. Back in 1992 when Matchbox put out these fun little mini monster figures aptly titled “Pocket Monsters” that you could get inside cereal boxes, the Medusa figure was always my personal favorite.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t so fun being the real Medusa, cursed by Athena because Athena’s husband couldn’t keep it in his pants. I’ve always had an affinity for those fantastical beings that can’t be understood by a story told only in black and white.
In the pose I chose for her, she is attempting to shield others from that dangerous part of herself, but only halfway. Butterflies turned to stone hang in her chamber. Is it easier to be surrounded by lovely, inanimate things after what had happened to her than real living beings? Is there a hesitation before punishing others in her misery?
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about anger. Do we ever have a right to be angry? Can anger be constructive? When we unleash said anger, where is the line? Does the motive behind our expression matter? These thoughts as well as another unrelated project prompted me to finally dig out this piece that I started a little over 2 years ago that almost ended up in the garbage. I had the background done which I loved, and also had shaded in the figure. The page was filled with color and the piece was supposedly “almost done”, but for such a powerful subject there was no feeling coming out of it, none of that indescribable “spark” that makes me love art. So, in my portfolio it sat.
Over this summer I was chosen to participate in an art exhibit titled “The Chair Project” for my local United Way. Each artist was given a subject for their piece that fell into one of the major areas United Way services, with a real story from a community member. I was assigned mental health, and ended up using a lot of this similar reptilian imagery in the final project. For more details on my process and the thoughts behind my design, please check out the short video.
I spent a lot of hours outlining tiny, detailed little scales in metallic paint marker and the process became quite meditative honestly. This prompted me to give my Medusa a second look, and at least finish out her hair. The metallic accents had done so much to bring my chair design to life, that I knew it would do the same for the Medusa. Enter, silver foil and jewelry findings to the rescue!
There can be a wisdom to knowing when to let go of projects that just aren’t working, but as I always tell my art students, you have to push through that ugly phase. Every piece of art has a period in the dead center or even late middle – almost complete where it looks like a complete failure. However, sometimes even the smallest adjustment can fulfill your original vision or even surprise you with a new one. In my case, this at times can happen years later. Perseverance and faith are huge parts of creativity. So, I implore you, keep that ugly art! – At least for a little while longer.
I’ve started making a series of “mini” 5×7 mixed media works on canvas board that recreate stills from my favorite movies using a variety of materials. This is purely a “for fun” project and a way for me to do some whimsical, low-pressure creating in between my larger projects. I will likely have them available for sale in my Facebook Shop so if you use that platform, give me a like. I’m starting with childhood favorites, and the first one I have for you is Wizard of Oz. Using a printout as inspiration, I am able to do a simple graphite transfer onto the art paper of my choice. In this case, I used watercolor paper. Finding printed fabric or paper for the background that is already similar to the pattern you are seeking adds ease to the art making process.
In each of these videos, I will be using completely different materials, and I hope you will be inspired to try your own mixed media projects at home. Don’t draw or paint and the idea of trying stresses you out? You could do this same thing all collage style and just cut and paste the figure from the photo! There is always a solution, just have fun with it and as always I’m just a message or comment away with questions :). Materials used for this project are: Viviva Colorsheets Watercolors (love the portability and zero cleanup!), watercolor paper, detail paint brushes, cotton printed fabric, a 5×7 canvas board, and Weldbond glue (used because it is a strong hold for all materials since we are using thicker paper and also fabric). Let me know what you think!
What are some of the prettiest movies you remember?