Here are some of the sample tags I've made with the new Ink Pad stencils, along with brief descriptions. These are just pigment ink pads + stencils.
TIP: if you use wedge make-up sponges, cut off the hard edge so you don't get 'lines' when dabbing off the ink onto your tag.
I've never been one to pick a Word of the Year. However, a few weeks ago I had an epiphany, and that came with a word. PURPOSE. I've launched a mission that has kept us busy here at home. I will reveal the details soon, with a few teasers as it gets closer. It's one of those ideas that was lingering around in the corner of my mind and I wasn't sure it could work, but once I started saying it out loud and sharing the plan with loved ones it became something real, something tangible, something do-able.
First, you stretch your way of thinking to consider all possibilities, no matter how far-fetched. Then you reign it in and determine what can be accomplished in reality. You weigh pros and cons, do some research, and begin to visualize a successful outcome. You gather the supplies you need, set up a schedule, and jump in.
As a sign that we are on a mission, I scored a handsome Word of the Year Rock + Amulet from my friend Kim Mailhot (aka The Rock Fairy) who makes and sells these in her Etsy shop HERE. Isn't she a clever one? This hangs over our work table and reminds us that what we do is important.
I'm so excited to finally be able to share this news - the first four in a series of New York stencils, exclusively for The Ink Pad. Shop online at their newly launched site....it's only a few minutes old. Congrats Anna and Barbara!!
The March/April issue of Somerset Studio just arrived. I am thrilled for my friend Anna who is on the cover and inside with the Artist Profile - her signature work is lovely and unique. Since the theme is Mail Art my column features art made with security envelopes, and then I segued into using postage stamps. If you've been following my blog you know I love these security paper patterns, found on the inside of the dreaded bills. I've been collecting and cataloging for years - now I can't stop making stuff with them.
See my other posts using security envelopes last year.
Recently scored from Etsy - an origami ball geniusly folded by FANSHEFOLDS
There are patterns here I don't have!! Maybe it would be fun to show you my collection and if you have a pattern I don't have we could trade!!
Yes, we are ready for the big game. Graham has the menu planned and good smells are coming from the kitchen. My neighbor Emma came over to make Valentines. This year I taught her about dry embossing. We did it the real way, with brass stencils, a lightbox, and a stylus tool. After one I knew she'd be antsy because it takes alot of handpower and patience to complete. So then I introduced her to embossing folders and the short-cut for embossing. We will ran our die-cut hearts through the hand-cranked pasta machine (typically used for polymer clay - I've never made pasta). She finished a dozen in no time and then we moved on to addressing and decorating envelopes. Assignments are finished so we will open some of the Girl Scout cookies she delivered.
A reminder of using embossing folders with a pasta machine from 2011. Such a fun and fast way to get texture!
I said it last year, and have advocated for the same concept several years before that....making a TaDa list is way more fun than a ToDo list. Of course they go hand-in-hand. However, I'm much more about celebrating the past year as motivation for the upcoming year, rather than fussing over what didn't get done or what is still left to begin.
I'm not one for making resolutions at the beginning of the year. My philosophy is that I'd much rather reflect on the past year and recognize all I have done. I find that to be empowering and motivating. Each January I have a ritual of making a Ta-Da list. I start with the end of December and work my way back to the first of the year, making notes of everything that I can remember doing during the year. It is easier to start with the most recent self-imposed assignments. (I'm not always good about maintaining To-Do lists during the year, but I have been known to keep them month-by-month.) Eventually I recall a full list of achievements, missions, chores, and projects that leaves me feeling really good. Sure, there are always things left on my To-Do list....there is always more to do, and ideas that are still in-process. However, when you move items from your To-Do list to your Ta-Da list you celebrate what you've completed - that's much more affirming than worrying about the tasks ahead, or announcing an official pledge to make changes with the turn of the calendar page. Maybe you could start 2016 by patting yourself on the back for all the work you completed in 2015, from art projects to self-improvement, then carry forward the positive energy into the brand new year.
Make a Ta-Da list, because it's way more fun than a To-Do list!
Download printable lists here -
I hope that however you handle the turning of the page to 2016 that it is a wonderful year filled with blessings, love, friendship, and creativity.
If you're thinking you could use a little boost to get you rolling in January, the offer of $5 off the Creative JumpStart event in January ends at 11:59 EST 12/31. Visit http://nathaliesstudio.com/cjs to sign up and use the code CJS2016.
The January/February issue of Somerset Studio has arrived. If you've taken the Compose Yourself workshop with me then you've tried the exercise I illustrate and describe in my column. I first learned of it back in grade school - didn't know the term for it until a few years ago. Notan - the Japanese word for dark/light harmony. (I could insert a HIM reference here, as they have an album called Dark Light, but I will refrain.) You can see I used my chess stencil again. The full set of stencils/masks will be released in January.
Compose Yourself is on my schedule in 2016. It will be offered through Pratt School of Continuing and Professional Studies on February 13. Registration is open. CALL 855.551.7727 or follow link to register: HERE (type in Michelle Ward, using caps as shown)
Here is a sampling of my Pratt workshops this Spring. Visit my WORKSHOPS page for full descriptions and schedule.
And don't forget - if you plan on joining Creative JumpStart the $45 fee is good through 12/31. It will be $50 after that. Visit Nathalie's site HERE for all the details. My first video will be included!! HCIT?
Who would ever expect that December would permit and extended season for spray paint in NJ? We've been lucky with the unseasonably mild weather, so I took advantage. If you follow me on facebook you've already seen the facelift to our coffee table. It was time for a sprucing up with a change of palette to coordinate with our revised colors in the living room. First painted in 2007, the composition included many of my favorite stencils from that time. Since then I've designed over 100 stencils for Green Pepper Press and Stencil Girl Products. My intention with the do-over was to use the new stuff, but it ended up taking a turn and I went with some hand-cut chess stencils+masks from 2008 as the focus, with multiple size checkerboards, alphabets, and my damask patterns as "noise". After revisiting the chess stencils I've decided I will be releasing them in a smaller size in January. Stay tuned!
I admit it was hard to say goodbye to the old table top, but I had a great time spray painting the new one, and I'm pleased with the results. You can see my post about the 2007 version HERE. Below are the before and after views:
And some close-ups, plus a view of my outdoor work space, near the rose garden. I finish the surface with acrylic spray varnish, and a glass top.
I cut these chess pieces stencil/mask sets in three sizes back in 2008. Loved using in my journals and for art-making. HERE is an archived blog post illustrating how the chess theme has been one of my favorites.
I'm going to be getting the chess stencils and masks into production soon - to be released in January. There will be coordinating checkerboards too! They won't be as large as the ones I used on my table, but they will be fun to work with on all kinds of surfaces. Can't wait!!
I'm excited to announce that I'll be participating as an artist in 5th annual Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2016, hosted by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2016. Nathalie has extended an invitation to me for several years and I always declined as I'm not a video girl. So how cool is this? I made my first one!!
Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with artists and crafters.
Throughout January participants get 25 downloadable videos from 24 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:
Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and for more details:
You get 25 videos for just $45 (USD) for a limited time if you sign up before December 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm (EST)! After that the fee will be $50.
But wait – it gets better: as my valued reader, you’ll get $5 extra off today. Just use this coupon code during checkout:
*This is a limited offer valid from 10:00 am Dec 4, 2015 to 11:59 pm EST on Dec 11, 2015.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up here nathaliesstudio.com/cjs, and apply the coupon code during check out process.
Chime in below if you have any questions or if you want to share your enthusiasm for jumping along with us.
What an honor to be invited to participate as a Guest Artist for The Documented Life Project. These girls have been inspiring artists for almost two years with their wonderful art and generous weekly challenge site. When Roben-Marie sent my assignment back in January I was thrilled. Stamps, Stencils & Masks are right up my alley. Not only do I love using retail products, but I also love to custom make all of these tools for making art. I have tutorials on both Stamp Carving and Stencil Cutting if the process is new to you or you want a refresher.
A few words about process....I love to work spontaneously, with no plan, no agenda. But I also love thinking about a project in specific detail, especially if I have an assignment. I make notes and some sketches, and try to discern what I want to express, or more importantly, what is channeling into my thoughts after being prompted with a subject. I love being immersed in the pre-project-thought-process as you give consideration to all the ways your ideas could be manifested. Here are my notes from January:
Last week I revisited the prompts, handcarved stamp and tapestry, and still found myself focused on a mental visual of the things I jotted down earlier in the year. Tapestry > foliage > trees > leaves > Autumn.
This is what I imagine when I think Tapestry. Woven, worn, rich. Lots of color, but a subtle range.
A word that kept repeating itself in my notes - Autumn. A strong influence - we are in full Fall colors here.... although most leaves are now on the ground. I am drawn in by the vibrant colors....especially the reds. I have a favorite quote that I think I will include. We'll see.
So how to interpret this through my own filters, with my own style? Make a few color selections and build a palette, then draw a few things that could be transferred to soft block and carved. Then start painting and see what happens.
The tree I carved is 4" with alot of intricate details so there may be an issue getting a good imprint on a page that has already been layered with gesso and acrylic. Going into this I knew that I wouldn't attempt to stamp the entire tree directly on the page. Through an experience of working on a project with a large (12" x 12") carving, I stumbled upon a trick that I like to rely on when applying an image to a page. Pre-paint loose paper (I used gessoed tissue paper) then stamp with black paint onto several sheets (paint on paint is better than ink on paint). Cut up all the "good" portions and splice together to recreate the image. It's like a paper quilt and makes the composition more interesting. Here is the piece where I learned my lesson of layering, 12" square framed collage painting made from a carved stamp:
My plan was to be tapestry-like but I ended up more quilt-like. This is a good example of how you can take inspiration from a prompt and have some loose intentions, then let the piece begin to work itself out while you are in-process.
I really admire these girls for launching their challenge site in 2014, then beginning again with weekly prompts for 2015. Having hosted my own monthly challenge site for six years I know how much work it is AND I know how much it means to get feedback. It's validating and encouraging. So be sure to chime in when you visit their site and offer your kind words.
Again, here is the link to The Documented Life Project: Art to the 5th Stop by and see what magic the hostesses have conjured up for this week's prompt.
This just in, November/December issue of Somerset Studio. My article "Creating Opportunities" is about making the commitment to dimensional elements on your page before you start adding your layers of paint and collage. One of my favorite mantras, as a teacher, is to tell you to "Commit". Just start with one thing, then each decision you make is informed by the previous commitment. That's easy to say when you are working on a painted or collaged foundation. But once you have invested time in making a background it may be a little stressful to cut into it. I've observed this in workshops - we start with paint, then I hope to encourage some slight-of-hand tricks with cutting and folding, but there is a reluctance. So I changed my method of teaching, and we begin with the deliberate cuts and folds, then add the paint, collage, and stencils. The commitment to adding cut-out shapes, and the placement of where they are positioned, is not influenced by anything since the canvas is blank. With dimensional features established, you've created opportunities for how to proceed. See the magazine for more details, and many other terrific articles.
I've been enjoying these glorious days here in Jersey. Cool nights and sunny days. Not alot of leaf color changes yet - although there is an ample quantity of orange, but that's because we have construction everywhere. My roses are mostly done showing off, a few buds are trying to break out. Since I've fallen behind in trimming many of the old blooms have filled out as hips. I admit that I kinda like when I see the color change from green to deep orange, plus I love their shape.
Here are some hips from 2009, and some masks I made from Tyvek.
And an old journal page from November 2009.
Hope you're enjoying the Autumn, wherever you are. It's a motivating time of year - I'm always brimming with energy in October.
Hey there. Just surfacing from my studio overhaul to talk about my next class. I'm really excited to be teaching at Pratt School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Manhattan this fall. It's such a cool place, and the studios are amazing. How cool would be to say you took a class at Pratt?
So first up is ROLL WITH IT, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4TH. I started teaching this one over ten years ago and it is still one of my favorites. It has evolved over the years to include new tricks. First debuting at Artfest 2004, then Artwerx, Valley Ridge, The Ink Pad, CREATE,...it's definitely a crowd pleaser. If you want a fun day of learning lots of painting tricks, or you want to refresh your view of using paint, come roll with me! (Scroll down for some evidence of past workshops).
ROLL WITH IT workshop, is fast moving class where I demo a technique and then you try it. In my own experiments with creating texture I have found the magic properties of gesso. Gesso affords movement, lifting, resisting, but most of all it allows forgiveness. We will learn why it's an important foundation. For example, on a section of roll, we will try a two-step painting process. Next, we’ll reverse the process with step two first, followed by step one. This will allow us to learn from our observations. There is no right or wrong way to lay paint, but hopefully these exercises will inform your future work. We will scrape, stencil, resist, stamp, and so much more. The swift pace will leave the inner critique out of the process as it's all about doing the work. The completed length will then be assembled as a journal. As you fold the page you end up with serendipitous compositions that you never would have planned as the techniques segue from one to another.
FORMAT: I will demo a technique then you will try it on your paper. Then I demo again, and you try it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We will be moving fast so we can complete many different things. It’s important to let go of your concern for perfect composition since this is not the focus of the class. There are no rules here, except to move swiftly so we can plow through the assignments, leaving time toward the end of class for the finishing touch of creating a book from our roll. It always amazes me, with each time I teach this class, how different each journal can look even though we all followed the same directions. Each artist has a different hand and an unique way of interpreting the exercises with their own color palette.
ORIGIN: When I was in college, one of my drawing classes began each morning with an exercise in gesture drawing of the nude models. The models made quick, thirty second poses, which we scribbled onto a roll of paper. After about five minutes(ten gesture drawings), we rolled the paper back up and continued with the day’s assignment. At the end of the course, we posted our rolls of paper onto a display wall, and it was amazing to chart our growth as sketch artists, across the length of the roll. Remembering the impact of this exercise, I began imagining how cool it would be to compose something similar with paint, for a short amount of time everyday, on a roll of paper. I could experiment randomly on the roll, and also use it to catch evidence of work-in-progress on my studio table (cleaning off my brush, clippings of collage, etc).....then, the completed roll could be manipulated into a book, a foundation for journaling. I ended up finishing about 30 feet of painted roll and got excited to see what it would look like as a journal so I stopped and figured out how to fold the length into a book - and a class was born!
Hope you'll join me!
I've updated my Workshop page with details about my classes at Pratt this Fall. I'm so excited about this new venue! You can see the entire catalog HERE. To find my classes, type in Michelle Ward in the search box. Registration begins 7/27. To enroll, click HERE and insert course code number.
I shared this quote a long time ago and it's how I still feel about teaching. Being in class with other curious creative individuals who want to expand their visual vocabulary and experience is so rewarding - we all learn something from each other because we all have unique ways of interpreting the assignments. As Jefferson wisely speaks about light spreading rather than diminishing, so too do ideas multiply when we learn something in an enthusiastic, safe and nurturing group environment.
Using a grid as a foundation for a painting is a default process for me. I love that grids can break down a larger surface into smaller assignments. Wanting to move toward interpreting inspiration with paint, I started with a gesso and acrylic background, plotted my lines, then started stamping with handcut circles and squares. My intention was to introduce my carvings of landforms but I ended up sticking with just the basic shapes and felt myself moving toward moon phases. Sometimes you start out with a plan, but once you are immersed in the process another opportunity reveals itself. Since I painted several backgrounds on accordion folded substrates I can use one to go in the direction that is unplanned and the other to go with the original idea. It's all good - nothing is wasted when you are open to discovery.
When testing out some ideas I will often make some quick collages with remnants from my studio table. I showed you some grid studies using paper punches and security envelopes (HERE), and with the leftovers I went organic, cutting free-form shapes....again, land shows its influence.
These posts are a little out of order as I showed you my white on black drawings since the article is out - those were actually done after the security envelope collages.
(This time I made sure my signature was embedded over the image. Last time it was marked just over the photo and someone cut it off before posting to tumblr. While it's nice to be noticed, it's not so nice to have your graphic altered and name removed. The image was then pinned to pinterest without my signature and it's off and running with links back to the tumblr post, not me. It's a good lesson to always mark your work so as the originator, you are findable.)
I will be getting back to my ongoing posts on The Evolution of an Idea. This week I have a few deadlines - both concrete and self-imposed so I'm tending to business. One thing I wanted to share - very exciting news...I will be teaching five workshops this fall in the big apple. I can't begin to describe the thrill of being invited to teach at Pratt Institute's School of Continuing and Professional Studies this fall. Thank you to my friend Karen for facilitating this connection. Below is an infographic with the dates. I will be uploading the class descriptions and photos to my Workshop page soon - they selected some of my faves plus a new one, Sticks & Stones, inspired by the current mindset I'm in. Pratt's fall catalog is in the works and as soon as I have details for registration I will post here.
There has already been some interest since I posted this on my workshop page a week or two ago. I'm collecting email addresses from anyone that wants updates on registration. If you want to be added to the list send me a note or comment below.
There are some mixed media courses available at Pratt this summer! Take a class with my friends Nathalie Kalbach (July 12, July 19) or Seth Apter (July 18-19) or both! See the Pratt CCPS summer catalog HERE. It is a fabulous venue and the classrooms are superb.
Hope to see you this fall!!
I had so much fun using the white pen (Uniball Signo UM-153) on black that I wanted to keep going. Like, I wanted it to go on and on. So it made sense to move on from flat panels to an accordion. I could loosely plan an overall concept for the evolution of the design, but then work page by page. To me, the format meant it should read well as a whole when unfolded, and that was exciting to me...each portion or panel segueing forward.
What prompted an accordion? Back in April 2014 I shared how I had an epiphany and turned my favorite Escher poster(s) into a folded book. See HERE. Since I did not have a place to hang the four long horizontal posters, they sat gathering dust (for several years) and were in danger of getting damaged or worse, discarded. Now I can hold his masterpiece in my hands and page through blissfully. Escher definitely influenced my desire to work in a connected series of drawings and patterns. I love his panoramic morphing and transitioning of imagery. Genius.
Being in a mindset of two camps, linear and organic, I took two different paths - starting one with a grid, and one totally free-form. You can read about these projects in the July/August Somerset Studio. My copy arrived Friday so if you subscribe yours will arrive any day. If you don't, the magazine should be on the shelves of your favorite supplier very soon. The theme for this issue is Black and White, and it is fabulous!!
I'm not done yet....more to come.
After doing some idea sketches I will pause where I am to test out some options. For instance, I showed you some drawings (here), which I combined through layers in photoshop with a background painting. A few manipulations (layer option: screen) as part of the investigation to determine if I should introduce color are shown below. Turns out I really liked trying one of my simple sketches on black paper with white pen. So I took that information and ran with it.
Results of that part of the process will be next.
I am both architect + artist. So often I cling to the linear approach. I crave order. But I am also drawn to the organic. Using my manipulatives (here), like the sand garden with a rake, has been a motivator to veer off the grid. In an effort to try to be looser, I fed myself with additional aerial visuals. I can't stop visiting Google maps for a bird's eye view of land. I have always loved looking at cities this way, but now I'm obsessed with investigating natural forms. I showed you my collections of images where the central pivot irrigation systems were rampant (here), now check these out....meandering, terraced, winding...ooh! This time we are hovering over Wisconsin.
As the ideas evolve, I'm branching out in several areas of study. More to follow. Thanks for coming along.
Can't stop. Kind of cheating with pattern-making, no pens required. No carving or ink pads. Studying how the simple shapes of a circle and a square interact and behave when they aren't a solid color. Security envelopes, which I can never discard, are an easy material to manipulate. Thin enough to punch out then attach with a gluestick.
Very therapeutic, especially when paired with my zen music. Relaxing. Enjoyable. Addictive. Always lessons in composition as you consider the markings, the color, direction, shape, balance of dark/light and positive/negative. I'm off to complete a few more spreads. I bet you'll be looking at your incoming bills differently now :)
This is still part of my Evolution of an Idea series - illustrating how curiosity about certain concepts can take you in unexpected directions. The work we do in our journals can be just plain fun, or purposely expressive, or may inform future work.
p.s. for those of you who are going to call me out or tease me for using blue, couldn't be helped...it's how the envelopes arrived. I almost took artistic license and photoshopped to teal.
Last time I showed you some of my research and sketches....the intention was to start painting, to see where the fresh perspective and forming ideas would take me. However, I couldn't find solid blocks of time to paint so I spent little blocks of time carving more stamps. Test prints go into my journal.
On an evening walk I came upon the decaying leaf. I can't even see anything up close anymore without glasses so I love that I can zoom in with my camera for a magnified view. The skeleton veins look like maps, don't you think? The thicker ones could be rivers...the smaller ones might be divisions of farmland?
I'm curious to know more about shapes and details and I want to feed my need for more visuals. I turn to books. I go down a deep rabbit hole when I find the WoodenBooks.com site. Lovely little books, beautifully presented, and packed with fabulous images. BTW, they are not made of wood. The site gives thorough previews - you'll want them all. Let me recommend their "epic bind-ups", Sciencia, Quadrivium, and Designa - more than 400 pages per book! The other titles are much smaller - 64 pages each.
Along the way I got interested in Andy Goldsworthy. Ordered a few books and a dvd. This man is amazing. Poke around online and look at his installations if you aren't familiar with his work. Love his rock formations. Hope to go visit Storm King this summer! I had told Lynne about my interest in his work and she sent a photo she took of his cairn/cone she got to see! Into the journal it went.
more to come....evolution of an idea....thoughts behind the process....
As I said earlier, the new sounds prompted a shift - in my imagination, and in my drive to create visuals that were prompted by what I was hearing. I began collecting what I call "manipulatives". Remember using those in grade school? Colored rods of varying lengths, foam die-cuts of geometric shapes, and even building blocks - meant to reinforce mathematical concepts.
So here are some manipulatives for grown-ups....organic and natural materials that will support my visions, assist me in creating compositions, and inform and inspire the new direction for my artmaking. I even set up a little zen sanctuary at the entrance to my studio. Love clanging the chimes as a ritual on my way in to play.
Next: the process of evolving ideas continue
I think the universe knows when we are ready for a shift. An opportunity presents itself and we can either pay attention, or shrug it off and carry on. What is it that makes us engage and embrace? Timing perhaps. Being open minded. Recognizing a connection, whether defined or abstract. Our willingness to dive into new territory can be driven by many different forces, interior or exterior or both. Why do we impulsively get distracted by a new concept when we already have enough commitments and responsibilities and unfinished work? The universe knows.
So we are still back in September 2014 and I’m teaching Frond Chronicles for the San Diego Book Arts group. Pnina Gold, a wonderful artist and warm soul, hosted the workshop in her studio. She gifted me with Six Healing Sounds, a cd produced by her husband, Richard. The intention of her generous gesture was that I would play it for my son Sam. I learned from his website: Dr. Richard Gold is a psychologist and a teacher, practitioner, writer, researcher, and life-long student of the Asian Healing Arts, including acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi, shiatsu and traditional Thai bodywork. He has studied neuroscience and the evolving scientific understanding of the effects of sound and meditation on brain function. Foreign stuff to me, but fancy and fascinating.
Upon my return home I played the cd. Immediately I had a connection to the sounds. Peaceful. Relaxing. Piled on my nightstand there are collections of zen category discs – falling rain, gentle ocean waves, whale calls…. Each work their magic and lull me into restful sleep. However, Six Healing Sounds was even better. I listen to it every night, and nearly every morning. It makes me feel centered, balanced, deliberate, focused. You can hear a sampling here: MettaMindfulnessMusic.com
From the liner notes (Six Healing Sounds), ways to use this music: Enhancement of mental focus and openness to artistic inspiration while immersed in the creative process of writing, creating visual art, dancing, writing poetry, etc. They were talking to me!
The music had a profound impact on me. I didn't feel a gradual shift of influence; it was drastic. I postponed all plans and projects that were on my desk or still developing in my mind, and blasted head on into unfamiliar territory. I yearned to explore and discover more about the impressions that were forming in my imagination simply because I was listening to new sounds. I’ve always had that sensory connection between sound and visuals. I welcomed the bombardment of ideas that were channeling in, and was curious to know how this direction would manifest in my art.
So my crop circles and farmland got shelved for a bit....had to make room for the introduction of another new perspective, a shift in awareness. Lots of things will eventually collide and overlap as the Evolution of an Idea continues to unfold. More on that soon.
In the meantime, go have a listen to Six Healing Sounds and see if it resonates with you as deeply as it did with me.