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Art & Creativity

Art & Creativity

Make It: Collage Postcards

September 21, 2015

Collaged postcards

Collages aren’t just for celebrity montages in high school— now there are numerous new emerging artists that make a living by collage-making alone. The collage process is a fun way to express your creative self, and anyone can do it.

Collage is the combination of pieces of diverse materials and media, such as newspaper, magazines, package labels, fabric, paint and photographs, thrown into one composition. The term itself derives from the French “coller,” meaning “glue.” It was coined by art buddies, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, at the beginning of the 20th century, when collage became a distinct part of modern art.

Collaged postcards are a fun and fast way to be creative and send a gift.  Here are some inspiring links for collage inspiration: one, two, three, four.

colage-1-sizedandready

Use recycled cardboard as a base (old cereal boxes and cracker boxes, etc). Cut out postcard-size pieces at least 3-1/2 inches high by 5 inches long, and no more than 4-1/4 inches high by 6 inches long by 0.016 inches thick.

Choose and cut out your inspiration with scissors or an X-Acto knife. Old magazines and books from the thrift store are inexpensive and inspiring, and you can usually find vintage science books, old Time Magazine books, and National Geographic for a few quarters. Bits of candy wrappers, ticket stubs, Japanese papers, and discarded artwork are all great materials too.

Use a glue stick or rubber cement to paste everything together on the outside of the cardboard, leaving the bare brown side to write on.

colage-2sizedandready

Once your masterpiece is pasted together you can laminate it with Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets, leaving about 1/4 inch of the laminant hanging over the edges, cutting the four corners off to leave eight 45 degree angles, and then folding the laminant over to the blank side of the postcard.  You can also protect the cover of the postcard by painting a thin layer of Elmer’s School Glue to your art with an old paintbrush. It dries clear with a matte finish.

Fin!

collagepostcard4

Art & Creativity Little Souls

Painting in Acrylics with Children

August 30, 2015

Painting with children

Watercoloring with children is fun and convenient, but working in acrylics can be quite a treat for both the littles and the adults. While the thick opacity and intense pigment makes acrylics much more daunting and nerve-wracking to watch small kids trying to navigate, if done mindfully, the collaborative process can be an inspiring, therapeutic experience. There’s nothing quite like working alongside an individual void of creative inhibitions, free from pre-conceived notions of what art is “supposed to” be. These bright, saturated paintings can also be beautiful works of legitimate art if you follow a few principles and guidelines.

Painting with children

The Space & Materials

Use smocks and drop-cloths

If you, your child, and your space are covered, then you can avoid any tense moments of cleaning up accidents, and allow yourself to drop in to the creative process.

Use a hard or thick surface

Don’t try to paint on paper that can’t handle too much water. Flooding is common with children, so avoid the trauma. Use a canvas or a board. I like to use old paintings from the thrift store.

Multiple water jars

Have a few different jars of clean water, since kids have the tendency to dunk brushes still full of paint into the rinsing jars and running to the sink to get clean water is lame.

Painting with children

The Guidelines

Always wash & wipe

Keep your brushes clean between colors, and be sure to blot them on a rag after washing to avoid mucking up the colors.

Choose an image of inspiration

A reference image is nice to pull main elements from, even if you’re going to create a non-objective piece of art. The design principles and elements are usually already present in printed photography or art books, so you don’t need to rack your brain during the creative process, trying to unify the painting before your child gets bored.

Pick out an art or picture book and choose a few images that are fairly simple. For young kids, you don’t want too many colors or interlocking lines. Then look at the chosen photos with your child and have them pick which photo to use as inspiration for the painting. This way the child still has a choice in the matter, but you don’t need to bore or offend them with why some other complex image they chose isn’t prime material. Plus, you want to have fun making the art as well!

Painting with children

Limit your color palette

To avoid getting a ton of brown smeared all over the canvas (since kids usually want to use all the colors on the palette and all colors mixed = brown), limit your colors to 2-3. Preferably they will be two compliments and then either white or black. When the paint is nearly dry you can introduce another batch of colors.

Allow for silence

While it’s nice to explain the design elements and principles here and there, demonstrating your own technique in silence is equally, if not more effective. They will likely pause and watch you work and make mental notes about what they like or don’t like about your style. Freedom to simply observe can be more enjoyable than being instructed every step of the way, for both parties involved.

Painting with children

The Steps

Dominant features

Before digging into the colors, point out to your child what the dominant features of the painting are, and how the canvas will be broken up by those features. If they are old enough, have them paint the darkest lines first which will act as lines in a coloring book. As they paint these lines, work behind them by filling in the shapes with color. For kids under 4-ish years-old, you may want to reverse the roles.

Bring in the Light

Point out where the lightest colors are and see if they agree where your next shapes of light will go. While they work on applying the light, help by blending to create mid-tones.

Cover the surface

Children usually see the world in symbols when making art, and without direction, their drawings often become line-drawings. Yet, they are often thrilled to see their work with colorful backgrounds. Throughout the process, make it a collaborative effort to cover up any canvas that peeps through.

Add the details

Dripping or globbing paint to add the detail prolongs the excitement of painting. Explore application techniques with your child using different sized brushes, amount of water, and speed. Using sounds to emphasize the movement of your brush is always fun too!

Bring it together

Instruction on contrast and balance is a bit exhaustive for young children, so take the final touches into your own hands— unless they express a desire to want to help. When you sense that your child is getting restless and is ready to be done, quickly add a bit of the darkest and lightest tones to bring out depth, and balance out the opposing corners. These final elements will really bring the piece together and make it more display-worthy.

Painting with children

Painting with children

Although the final result may not be a masterpiece, it will likely serve as a reminder of a great art-making experience. The collaborative mix of strokes and blended visions is an inspiring representation of what happens when the child-in-you mixes with the grownup-in-your-child.

Art & Creativity

How to Throw a Paint Party

July 31, 2015

How to Throw a Paint Party

Making art with a bunch of people around a table is an experience that I took for granted in school, and something I’ve really missed since graduating college. A community table allows you to appreciate and be inspired by other artists’ techniques, and encourages the cross-fertilization of ideas. While creative isolation is more convenient, and rewarding in itself, coming together to share food, conversations and art is certainly a treat for anyone.

With the gaining popularity of wine & painting businesses/events, community art-making has become more easily accessible, but it’s hard to justify spending the participation fee for such classes as an already established Creative. White canvases and cheap paint offer a very crisp opportunity to learn a new skill, yet there’s something extremely inspiring about raw scraps of wood and sharing all your friends’ favorite supplies — plus, it’s practically free.

So last night Drie (Adrienne) and I celebrated 30 days of creating for #SCcreatejuly (see my post about it here) by hosting a painting party. This is how we did it.

The Invite

Paperless Post is fabulous. You can send pretty, classic invites for free (or choose a paid option), and your guests don’t need to sign up for their service in order to RSVP. You can track who’s opening the invites, what invites got bounced back, and even share photos of the event. Click here to view our invite. Five of the ten artsy women we invited showed up, which we felt turned out to be a perfect sized group.

Supplies

  • Surfaces to paint
    My dad brought over a bunch of scrap wood and Chris sanded them all with his electric sander in about 5 minutes. I’d recommend having twice as many various surfaces for your guests to choose from, so no one feels like their’s is the worst. We had 10 boards ranging in thickness and size from 6″x10″ to 14″x16″, including an old skateboard deck.
  • Paint
    Acrylic is most friendly for a range of artistic capabilities
  • Rags for each guest
    I tore up an old drop-cloth
  • Brushes
    Make sure each guest has at least two brushes, and perhaps suggest that your guests bring their favorites with them
  • Water jars for each guest
  • Food & drinks
    You could announce a potluck. We provided the appetizers and a couple guests brought bottles of wine to share.
  • Plates, glasses, napkins & utensils
  • Music playlist

The Assignment

Concepts are intimidating for many artists, and not so much for others, so an assignment for the evening helps “level the playing field” and allows your guests to immediately jump into creating. I gave our guests the task of painting the lovely lady to their left. The assignment was broad enough to allow for extreme variation in execution, and the results were simply awesome.

At the end of your evening decide whether the subjects or the artists get to keep the portraits. The artistas brought home their original paintings after our gathering. Next party, monoprinting?

Friends from the night: Century, Christa, Betsy, Megan & Emilie.

How to Throw a Paint Party

 

Art & Creativity Body & Mind

Creativity for Emotional Wellbeing

June 29, 2015

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I haven’t been making time for art. Instead of picking up my brush at night I’ve been escaping to Instagram or Netflix or simply cleaning up my house. The guitar hasn’t sounded sweet enough in my hands, cooking has become a chore, and my concepts on my canvases feel insufficient. My temper’s been short and I haven’t sat with Amelie to collage or draw. To be honest, life has felt very dull these past several days; there’s a low vibration in my body.

When was the last time you were here? Waiting to “feel it”? Creative slumps are such a catch 22; you feel too low to create, but you’re low because you’re not creating. The difficult thing to remember is that art doesn’t need you to do anything except show up, and then it simply flows out. And the slump is a distant memory.

Even though I’m in this sort of depression, I’m familiar with the escape-route.  I was fortunate enough to have found my center at a young age: to be familiar with the grounding effects of art-making. My parents “unschooled” me by simply working alongside me, running their businesses, making their art, and answering any questions I had along the way. My mom is an artist and my dad is a jack-of-all-trades, so something was always being made. By being unschooled I basically learned how make art and then sell it. Yet, the most valuable tools I came away with from my unique upbringing were certainly not tools for economic success. They were tools for maintaining emotional wellbeing.

By remembering the lessons clarified below, I’m reminded of the closeness of high-vibrational living via art-making. Contentment is literally at our fingertips.

Creativity for Happiness

Art Shows the Soul

Art makes possible the visualization of the things that previously had no form. The things we feel but have no words for, the dreams we’ve had, subconscious memories. Therapists have children draw to reveal things that can’t be said, because making art allows them to reveal their poetic depths.

Even when a work of art is a totally realistic representation of the world, there is a life-long journey that must be carried out before the idea is sparked within one’s mind.  Making art is one of the easiest ways to get to know yourself.

When you’re busy being your own authentic self it’s more difficult to find the time to compare yourself to others. Contentment and acceptance of others begins to replace the comparison and judgement.

Creating Feels Good

The act of creation, be it through art, music, cooking, sewing, photography, or knitting,  actually releases dopamine, just like sex, sleeping, and heroin.

I am personally significantly happier when I have several artistic projects going. Luckily for me, my day-job requires me to be creative, so I usually don’t go through withdrawals.

Detachment

When I first began working in clay I quickly learned that kilns have a way of taking a large chunk of the creative process out of your hands. Sometimes things blow up. Sometimes a glaze comes out thin, or a very different color than anticipated, or it makes your pot fuze to the bottom of the kiln. With more experience you gain control over the outcome of the process, but you still must learn to accept unanticipated outcomes and enjoy the experience of uncertainty. The journey becomes the joy as you detach from the end result.

Detachment doesn’t mean that you don’t give a crap about anything. It means that you can see past the grief of loss and appreciate the greater experience. It also allows you to take more risks and not live in fear of loss or inadequacy. Less fear = more love = happiness!

Infinite Perceptions

Each work of art is the direct regurgitation of someone’s reality at that moment in time. Everyone has very specific associations related to their 5 senses that is never replicated, so a resulting work of art is a true snapshot of the soul.

When critiquing someone else’s art it is easy to see its surface-value… yet, to remember that the finished product is the product of someone’s unique experience is very humbling.  When a landscape is painted from observation, a photo, or the imagination, no one will ever replicate it.

Respecting that we are all having different experiences allows us to acknowledge the value of our selves.   This not only encourages compassion for ourselves, but for those around us. It’s harder to take things personally, and it’s easier to let go of the things we don’t understand.

Personal Responsibility & Taking Control

A mistake within a work of art can be “fixed” 99% of the time. Sometimes “fixing” the “mistake” involves completely changing the direction in which the work was initially headed, but art never has one answer.

When this mentality seeps into daily life we are inspired to take action and change the things that no longer serve us. Many people feel that they are a victim of bad luck and circumstance, but the creative knows that there are infinite possibilities to try and experiment with to manipulate time & space in order to manifest a reality worth living.

Centeredness & Meditation

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi dedicates his life to studying what makes people happy.  In his his Ted Talk below he explains that activities that bring out a state of “flow” not only provide momentary pleasure, but lasting satisfaction.

“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.” – Csikszentmihalyi

Flow, or the act of creation, produces effects within the body that are similar to Meditation. Science has shown that meditation can, among other things, reduce stress and fight/flight responses.

Meditation is a practice that reminds your body, mind and spirit what it feels like to come back to the middle. If you remember what the center feels like, it’s easier to return there when you are confronted with stressful or obnoxious situations.

Create this July

In an effort to experience the positive effects of art-making as a community, this month we challenge you to take creation into your daily life with us. Each day, try to spend at least a few minutes on something creative.

Here’s a list of 30 non-committal projects to inspire, in no particular order:

  1. Doodle your family members as animals
  2. Start an art journal
  3. Crochet x-mas presents
  4. Paint your emotions
  5. Make a puzzle & send it to someone small
  6. Instagram artistically
  7. Make outdoor art
  8. Make co okies without a recipe
  9. Write a poem to your bestie
  10. Color in a coloring book
  11. Make Shrinky Dink earrings for all your ladies
  12. Learn how to do nail art
  13. Build a rock wall
  14. Learn to play the harmonica
  15. Take a photo per day of yourself or your kids
  16. Draw your bedroom
  17. Arrange a bouquet of flowers
  18. Write new kid song lyrics to a pop song
  19. Learn to embroider
  20. Choreograph a dance to Spice Up Your Life with your niece
  21. Find an ecstatic dance venue and go
  22. Make prayer flags
  23. Dress up for the 4th of July
  24. Carve potatoes into stamps: design your own textiles
  25. Sit down with your favorite little and scribble as fast as you can, with as many different colored pens as you can, covering as much white of the paper as you can within 3 minutes
  26. Make your own memory card game
  27. Paint rocks. Or sticks. Or both.
  28. Collect like-objects, style them on the floor, and take a picture.
  29. Get some Model Magic and go wild
  30. Make a flower garland

An Instagram Challenge

If you would like to join us on Instagram (and/or Facebook), we are moving into July with a daily-inspiration list that is so vague that you can make each day work for you within your means. Take a photo (or lots) of what you’ve been working on and tag #SCcreatejuly to share with us! It doesn’t have to be related to our list, we just want to see what you’ve made.

Instagram Art Challenge