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.
It's Leap Day! An extra day on the calendar. It's like having a snow day, and thankfully there are no flakes forecasted. I'm in the studio today working on a new-to-me format with supplies from my studio stash. My fingers are sore but I'm enjoying a new process. I'm completely making this up as I go. Don't you love stretching yourself with something different? You always bring fresh perspective to your default way of working. I'll show you soon.
Take the opportunity today to leap!
Leap quotes from 2008 HERE.
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!!
(security envelope art, colorized in photoshop)
Brrrrrr. It's a cold one here today. Hope you are nice and toasty wherever you are, and wrapped in love.
My grand plan for launching my new stencils in January got side-lined. Some fun assignments came my way so I shelved my own stuff until these new things are done. I'm not sure when I can tell you about all of it with the exception of a new venture that will begin in April. I will have some sneak peeks for you in the coming weeks. Thanks for your interest in the new stencils - I will squeeze in some production when I can and will post here when they are ready. Gotta say, it can be crazy to be so busy, but I'm not complaining!
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 can't recall where I picked up my first fragrance from Ineke. It may have been from Anthropologie. I was first drawn to the package, then was sold on the scent. When I was down to the very last drop I went searching for a replacement, and landed at Ineke.com Suddenly everything looked tempting so I was thrilled by the opportunity to order the sampler sets. What a treat it was when they arrived! The two sets are packaged so handsomely, with glorious graphics and details. I ended up with another bottle of my favorite: Scarlet Larkspur. Curious? Visit the website. Be sure to stay long enough for each graphic to scroll - there are about 6 images per scent. The descriptions of the 'notes' are delicious, and as an experienced sample sniffer I can tell you that each one is a champ.
I purposely pair new fragrances with new projects. It's a little trick that assists the subliminal to retrieve the verve and enthusiasm first felt upon initiation of the process. When I'm ready to revisit or continue I take a little whiff and I'm transported. You know it works. You have memories that are associated with smells. Why not use that knowledge to help you in the studio?
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.
Merry Christmas from the Wards! The theme this year was Graham's idea. We took the photos downstairs with all our instruments (yes, that's my own bass!) and the lighting was poor so I planned on converting to black and white. However, the colored version ended up being pretty good! So here's to a colorful Christmas! It's likely we will have the windows open this year - and may be out on the deck since it's expected to be in the 70s. What? Can't complain!
I'm going to wait until Friday to post our annual Christmas picture card as they are still arriving in the mail and I don't want to foil the surprise. If you've come by hoping to see my photo review of the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows it will be here eventually. We usually visit NYC over Thanksgiving weekend with my mom but this year my parents are coming for Christmas (today!) so we are saving the event for this weekend. The digital composition below is created with some of my new stencils that will be released in 2016. I like to mess around with them in photoshop to see how useful they might be in real life. I'm excited for these too!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas. I always expect the reader interprets what I'm saying, which is: I don't know the particular holiday you are celebrating this year so please take these words as wishes for a glorious season with loved ones.
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.
For those who have served and for those who are serving, thank you.
Last year's display of poppies in England is worth revisiting. The English still honor vets with poppies. I was saying last year that I rarely see them here.
The first photo is from 2012 - we were in the UK just before 11/11 and poppies were everywhere. The next grouping chronicles the amazing ceramic poppies (888,246) that were installed at the Tower of London.
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 will get back to my series about the Evolution of an Idea once I complete my studio purge. Do you ever get to the point where you are just sick of yourself and the piles of stuff that impede your process? It has to get to a breaking point then you cave in and start organizing, sorting, putting things where they should be, and along the way you realize you just don't want some of it anymore. Why does it take so long to get started? I guess it's because I'd rather be creating than cleaning.
But you have to do it. Your style has evolved, your tastes have changes, and some of the materials you gathered are no longer candidates for inclusion in art making. You decide you would rather enjoy the space than the stuff. Don't get me wrong, I will never be a full-on minimalist. I love my stuff. I love being able to see my stuff. I just have way too much of it. I want a clear work table. I want to move stations around so that what is important to me now is easily accessible. When I first started using this space as a studio my focus was different, my supplies were different. As I evolved and accumulated new tools I didn't stop to reevaluate where they should go. Stuff got shoved in wherever there was space, without thought to making it easy for myself. As I make time to shift the supplies, I am also allowing time to really consider what I can part with and it feels so good. You know why? Attached to some of the "stuff" is an unspoken connection to projects that either never got launched or never got finished. It was like a slowly tightening noose to constantly bump into these items and visualize what potential they once had. Gathering is fun. It's part of the creative ritual. We tend to collect more than is actually needed, and that's ok. I will never regret being a collector. Being able to part with once-precious things feels like I'm making a personal and private claim for what kind of artist I am now, and what kind of artist I want to continue to be.
The dangling carrot for me in getting this studio revamped is to be able to embark on another new project. I've had gigantic drill press sitting in a box since Christmas. There is nowhere to install it. I can't begin the work until I can use the tool. A clear table means room for my drill, and the freedom to start something I've been visualizing for over a year. Be gone old stuff.....I have new things to do.
Another intention is to try filming myself. Maybe just for tutorials. Maybe for classes. If I have a clear table I will have room for a tripod. I've been visualizing that since I got a camera way too long ago.
I'm entering week three of the purge. Ok, it hasn't been a full time project, but now I am so far into it that I am getting ruthless about what stays, and what goes. As with most things that are worth the effort, it often looks worse just before it's better. That's where I'm at. One look and you'd never believe I have already pitched bags of stuff. But I know I'm getting close. There is light flickering at the end of the tunnel. And I feel lighter, more free.
You know I like rock+roll. It's usually playing in here to keep me upbeat, motivated, moving swiftly. I love that music transports me, distracts my thoughts so I can tend to tasks - whether it's creating or cleaning. However, the past few weeks have a soundtrack of a different order. I've pulled up my Zen sounds. Remember when I shared about the Six Healing Sounds gifted to me from Pnina and Richard Gold? That is what I'm listening to - peaceful, calming, and driving my enthusiasm for less chaos. I've also pulled up the New Age channel on DirectTv. (The Zen channel is too frantic, New Age is more my speed.) The music is literally compelling me to free my attachment from 'the stuff' and toss without regard. Ahhhh. Feels good.
As I said, I will be back to continue my series. Just have to stay off the computer for a few more days so I can complete this overhaul. *waves*
p.s. Love this quote. The more you use, the more you have - is about creativity, not stuff. You don't need alot of stuff to make art.
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.
Whew! It's been a busy few weeks. I haven't forgotten about the series I started a few weeks ago. Let's get back on track. We will pick up again where we began, looking at topographical maps. This time we are hovering over Ireland, Tuscany, and China. The regional variations of land forms is fascinating to me. If you've been to Ireland, you know the divisions and borders of farm land is typically walls of stones, likely gathered from the fields. In Tuscany, you can see the orderly lines of trees - or perhaps rows of vines. And then the area of China I have captured shows vegetation growing in tiers. Much different than what we saw with the crop circles of Kansas, and the undulating curves of Wisconsin.
I admit I pick a location nearly every week and just prowl around thanks to the satellite views of Google maps. It's not always farmland that I seek - love looking at cities too - especially ones I've been to or hope to visit. I think that will be enough of showing maps....I'll move on to how my painting was influenced next.
I've said this before, I choose to celebrate my sister's life on our birthday, May 17. Then comes July 10, her departure for heaven, one of those dates on the calendar that weighs heavy and I wish we could skip over. To fend off the sorrow I revisit photos that make me happy...like the one below of Shannon with Fallon from July 1998. Fallon was not quite three. In the back you can see a young Peter, nearly eight, with my brother John. We were in Minnesota for the 4th of July and spent the day doing fun stuff with the whole family. Happy memories.
I haven't shown you my rose garden yet this year. Here are two sections showing about two thirds of the roses. They were late bloomers this year but when they did finally come out it was glorious. A sign of connection. Sam and I walk the neighborhood in the evenings and we always take a path to visit the local tribe of deer...another sign.
Tonight while I was alone in a store, this song came on. I was checking out and close to tears. Escaped to the car and it was on the radio. Another sign. Chasing Cars will always tug at my heart. I listened to it on my ipod repeatedly when at the hospital with her. It's such a sweet and gentle song. Every now and then I will hear it, and I know she's there. It's good to remember the things that make you smile in remembrance, but it's good to cry too. She mattered.
A page from my sister journal, April 2009. I was so thrilled to see my roses, after their first winter, come "bursting into life".