Category Archives: Mixed Media

Messy Studio and Imaginary Flowers

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New page for the artists book “The Orphan Train”

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My studio is a big mess while I work on this project artist book, The Orphan Trains.  I’m going to share what a big mess I make when creating – I think because it really does bother me that I can’t maintain some kind of order when I’m creating!  I wonder if I had a separate studio that wasn’t an extra bedroom down the hall from my bedroom, would I be less constricted about mess making.  I think I probably would!

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My work table under seige.  The heavy iron/steel thing sitting on the red plaid paper is something I found at an estate sale – it weighs about ten pounds and makes a perfect paper weight to smooth paper or hold until glue sets!  I’ve no idea what it was originally intended for, but I use it all the time for weighting down glued pages.

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A close up of the paper I’ve been aging for this project.  I’ve squirted lemon juice on regular text weight copier paper and baked it in the oven til it reaches the desired aged-ness.

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The Dorothy Parker book has nothing to do with this project!

Now for something more fun than messy work tables!  Make believe flowers!

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I am ready for spring! Dreaming of planting my summer pots and creating my garden, I started to doodle some imaginary flowers that are unlikely to be found in any botanists catalog, or garden wish book.  Once I finish the  artist book project – I’ll begin to seriously do some gardening!

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A strange little kitty – not saying ‘hello’ either – maybe a naughty kitty.  I had to redo her eyes with a piece of paper pasted over the old ones.  They just looked too naughty! ( journal pages)

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New project

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Putting together a new project!  A handmade artist’s book called “Placing Out in America.”  I’m using collage, gelatin monoprint, paste paper, old photographs, gel image transfers, and found objects – oil pastels, acrylic, watercolor.

This is about the seventy-five year history of the largest migration of minor children in the history of the world, and its popularly known as the Orphan Trains.  The history is astounding in our modern age of child protection laws, privacy, and legal adoption.  Children were placed out by the Children’s Aid Society of New York City, and The Foundling Asylum later called the Foundling Hospital of the Sisters of Charity in New York.  There was no legal adoption; anyone who wanted to take a child into their home was interviewed and the child was signed over for a period of a 90 day trial, after 90-days if there were no complaints, the child became their legal property.  Most children were placed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their New York City homes into the farm country of rural America.

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I am having trouble with the gel image transfers coming away cleanly.  I’ve used this technique before with good results, but this time I am not getting such good results – however, I’ve decided to use them as it seems to work okay with this project.

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Many of the children were immigrants and had survived the trip to America only to have their parents unable to care for them once they arrived.  Poverty, destitution and death left many of the children orphaned.  The Children’s Aid Society rounded up children from the streets of New York City from 1853 through 1929 and placed them out to the rural farmlands in America by train.

Winter, Sky, Trees, Moss –

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“Winter, Sky, Trees, Moss”   7×5 inches 8 pages.  Watercolor, collage, graphite, textile, paste paper.

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In Portland, winter can be mostly gray, and doesn’t change much from day to day.  It was supposed to be dry today with a predicted weak sun, but when I woke up this morning I could hear the rain on the street as cars went rolling down the road.  So another gray day.  But standing outside later, I saw such beauty in the drape of bare tree branches, and gray sky, and here and there the brightest little green tufts of moss, clinging to rocks, and the concrete stairs leading up to the street.  I love those little tufts of tenacity; clinging patiently through the dry times, coming carefully back to brilliant color in the rain of winter.

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Paste Paper

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I’ve been making paste paper and tearing into book size pieces, and pasting other things on top if it.

Paste paper is a concoction of wheat paste, or cornstarch, and water and pigment.  You can use acrylic paint for the pigment, or watercolor, or gouache, or even powdered poster paint pigment.  I’ve been running it through the printer after its dry using scanned images over the paste background.

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The red background of this paste was made using a vintage piece from an old erector set.  You can see the little circles at the top of the photo from the edges of the metal piece.  I used a scan photo and ran it through the printer a couple of times trying to get some handwriting to show from another scan. It doesn’t show clearly enough, so i have another idea for it.

2013 Paste Paper 008These images are cut from drawing paper weight paste paper.  They are just laying on top of a large sheet, I intend to use them later, just not sure how yet.

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This scanned image is used over a piece of brown paste paper – its actually darker than this photo shows.

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If you would like to try some paste paper its very simple.  I used 1/4 cup of cornstarch and blended with 1/4 cup of water, add this mix to one cup of water and cook ’til you get a nice custardy mixture.  Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan, and try to blend it so no lumps form.  Take off the stove and add 1/2 cup cold water.  It might look too runny, but it thickens as it cools.  Put a few tablespoons of this mixture in small containers, I got mine from the $ store, and then add your color and stir up.  The recipe says to dampen your paper – but I didn’t I just painted on the color using a brush, or my fingers, or a sponge applicator.  The the fun began of making designs in the paste with various items.  A comb, making straight or wavy lines.  Rubber stamps, or handmade stamps cut from potatoes, or found objects such as leaves, or rocks, sticks or whatever you have around the house.  The paste mixture should be thick enough to hold the impression that you make giving it a kind of 3-D look.  You can save the paste covered in the fridge for a few days if you want to use that particular color again.

I’ve made it before to use as wrapping paper, but you have to use a lighter weight paper so it doesn’t crack when you fold it around a package.  I used plain white kraft paper for this – once again, from the $ store.  I’ve also used the back of regular leftover wrapping paper.  I find that my colors sometimes come out more muddy than I wanted – I suspect I was too anxious to add more color without waiting for the bottom layer to dry a little.

Work in Progress, and a 4th Birthday Collage

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I’ve been working on a painting for the last couple of months or so.  I can’t seem to finish it because I don’t know where its going.

It’s called Pearl’s Mother and below is a detail from the painting.  The medium is oils.

Below is the original sketch I did in August, on a piece of notebook paper.

On another note, my grandson celebrated his 4th birthday on the 13th of this month.  I made him a collage to celebrate Number 4, and his love of race cars.  His new bedroom decor will now be all about race cars, including his bed!  I thought this little collage would be fun to hang in his room!

I did this using a a cradled wood mixed-media art board.  My youngest daughter, the graphic design artist, helped me make the paper for the backgroud using photo shop and some stock photos from the internet.  I had a little collection of various vintage wheels,tires, and other trinkets, and I recently purchased the little racing cars from ebay just for this collage.  They are about one and a fourth inches long and made of tin, their graphics are lithographed. The green car is #4, and doesn’t show well in this photo.I covered a match box with a paper print of an old stopwatch and the number four (about 2 inches long)I’ve had for ages – just proves that artist’s eventually do find a use for all their little collected bits and pieces!  The entire size is 11 x 14 inches.

  On the back I put a cutout of the Beatle’s and a verse from “All Together Now.”

Thread

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“Thread”  Mixed Media. Oil.  Tea bag and found object collage on Pannelli Telati panel – 8 x 10 inches.   I have been intrigued by the classes Roxanne Evans Stout from  rivergardenstudio.typepad.com/is teaching called, “The Thread That Weaves.”  I think her ideas became  the inspiration behind this little painting, so I just called it “Thread.”  If you take a moment and view her website to read about the classes she has created using found materials to make beautiful little artist books you will probably surely get inspired too!

I painted the figure some time ago on a large manilla tag (7.5 x 3.5 inches), knowing I would use it for  collage eventually.  I glued the tag to the panelli panel, and then began adding other papers.  I added the very fine copper wire from some kind of electronic component I found.  The wire was so fine I had to twist several threads of it together for visibility.  The leaf is one I saved from last fall – I always save a few and dry them in my big Shakespeare book so I know where to find them when I need them!  The hand comes from a sheet of handmade paper stamped with them, which I purchased from some flea market or other.  I’ve used them several times and will miss them when they are used up!

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