Art Journal: Collage & Watercolor

Bird Collage

I’ve been saving this image of a bird standing on a branch, stamped in black ink on grey tissue paper for a few years. Looking through material to use in this two page spread, I came across the image and decided to use it.

I layered bits and pieces of paper with different text and music onto my pages, then scraped a thin layer of white gesso over them.  I didn’t want to use too much color for the background but I did include a little bit of green and pink.

Next I used watercolor crayons, watercolor paints and colored markers to color in the bird.  I stamped the little trio of flowers a few times and added some purple (I used an air spritzer tool with a marker) and green to the image.  I stamped a few other images and then wiped a little gesso over these extras images to keep the focus on the bird.

Bird Image

On the opposite page, I used this technique from Carson at Pine & Plum: using Thickers or other cut-out letters as masks.  I spelled out “Bird” using letters I picked up at Dollar Tree.  Then I painted a wash of blue watercolor over and around the letters, making sure to get into all the corners and curves.

I used my heat tool to dry the paint then carefully peeled the letters off the page, leaving behind the word in white in a field of blue.  The background is a printed paper with a handwriting-style design that I brushed and scraped with a thin layer of gesso.  The writing shows through but doesn’t distract.  Below “Bird” I stamped more text so there are layers of different fonts and words.

Bird Word

I’ve been looking at Art Journaling on other blogs and I like to look at the materials they use. I saw Gelly Roll pens by Sakura mentioned several times and picked up a Gelly Roll Stardust Clear and a set of Glaze 3-D Gloss Ink pens.

Shimmer Ink Close up

I used the sparkly pen which is shimmery and clear on the lower part of the letters. I also used it on the bird and the three flowers.  The I dotted the eye of the bird with the glaze pen in black and added a little purple glaze to the flowers.

Three Flowers

I added a bit of washi tape, including some with a music design.  I love using music on pages with bird designs.  I also went back o the bird and first used a bit of gesso around her then, after drying that, I painted on blue watercolor to balance the blue around the letters of the word on the other side of the page.

The last thing I put into this layout was the little feather I picked up on a walk the same day I created the spread.

feather

A few quick swipes of blue, a blast of the heat gun and lettering in white finished the page.

full page bird

Thanks for your visit.

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Art Journal Immersion

blue spiral

Sometimes when I sit down to craft I don’t have a specific project in mind.  It might be that I only have a short amount of time but I want to get my hands onto the supplies and play. Or I have the time but don’t have the mental energy to design something and I don’t want to use up all my time staring at my supplies and wondering where to start.  Here are two solutions to this kind of situation.

The first is to work on backgrounds in my Art Journal. Since I use an old textbook for my current Art Journal, the pages need some prep before they’re ready for paint, ink and/or collage (and glue).  I’ve already thinned the book down by ripping out every third or fourth page.  Since I create collages, I add thickness back to the book. I also glue two or three pages together with a glue stick on either side of the spread I am starting.  Finally, most of the time, I put a thin layer of gesso down.

Gesso is a primer and it adds a little body and stiffness to the page.  It keeps paint and ink from soaking into the paper and at the same time it has a little texture to help paint to stick. I’m using an altered book instead of a blank artist journal because I like that starting layer of text so I like having it show, at least in some of my finished pages.  So when I put gesso on the page, I’m going for a very thin layer.  A credit card (or store member card) that you don’t use is great for scraping across the just-applied gesso and leaving behind just a thin film.

A heat gun speeds drying but if you only have a very thin layer of gesso, it dries pretty quickly.  Once you’ve got the pages glued and gessoed, you can play around with putting some color on the page.  Here is a finished page (sorry, I didn’t capture the process in pictures) that I made while recovering from oral surgery.

Exercise 6

I worked on the background over two different days.  Over the white gesso I used some poppy-red and tan acrylic paint.  I scraped it back and forth over the page with an old credit card.  After it dried, I put another very thin layer of gesso over it, then scrubbed some patches off with a damp paper towel, letting more of the color through in some areas.  A water soluble crayon in red-orange added a bit more color.

When I was working on the background, I had no idea on how I was going to complete the page.  I think because my face hurt I was just putting that feeling down with my scribbles and streaks of red-orange.

Close Up Exercise 6

After a few days I went back to the background.  I decided to add some texture by painting brown paint onto bubble wrap and pressing the wrap and resulting texture onto the page. I collecting a tag I’d found on the ground while out walking, a page from an old savings account book, and a few other bits of paper with numbers on them and made this collage. I think my dislike for math suited the page that started with unhappiness and discomfort after dental work!

On another background I used watercolors, gesso and white paint.  This one has a much lighter, airy and yes, maybe even happier feeling to it.  Again, I worked on the background and came back a few days later to add to the page.  In fact, I still haven’t finished it.

Pasel background

I have some Light Molding Paste and decided to see what I could do with that.  After posting this page, a friend wrote to ask if I’d used molding paste to create the flower.  It is a pretty image from a Burt’s Bees ad in a magazine.

IMG_0162

After her comment I purchased some molding paste and I finally took the time to play with it, using the flower in the ad as inspiration.  I mixed some paint in with the paste and used a palette knife to apply it to the page.

Bloom Where You're Planted

Flower close up

I stenciled a little design with leftover molding paste but the two page spread is a work-in-progress.  When it is finished, I’ll share it again.

So prepping pages and working on backgrounds is one way to jump into your Art Journal without having a finished project in mind. The other is this patterned paper by artist Päivi Eerola on her site Peony & Parakeet.  She has a wonderful post called “How To Make Your Own Patterned Paper,” and I found the process to be very relaxing and almost meditative.

I did it in my Art Journal, so my first step was a layer of gesso to prep the pages.  Brushing it on in big, quick swipes of a brush then spreading it around and scraping it off with the plastic card.

IMG_0075-001

A quick swoosh with the heat tool to dry it.

Dry with heat tool

Then swirls of watercolor paint.

Watercolor

Purple paint

Watercolor layer

Don’t think too hard with this, just try and be loose and easy.  Swab a damp paper towel in a few spots to leave some lighter areas.

Swab with paper towel

Dry with the heat tool then start doodling with colored markers with medium tips.  You’ll be going back with finer points later in the process.

Doodle with markers

Add colored marker doodles

To be honest, at this point I wasn’t really loving the results.  I was enjoying fooling around with the colors and different media and I didn’t have any other ideas at the moment, so I continued on, using the heat tool after each new layer of color and detail so they didn’t all blend into a big, muddy mess.

The next layer was supposed to be more fine doodling using gel pens but I don’t have any so I skipped that and proceeded to colored pencils, filling in color where it was more washed out then I wanted.

pencils

I don’t have a picture that shows the results of my scribbling with colored pencil – it was more subtle.

Now I used several different white pens.  Two of them picked up some pigment from the page which was a cool effect, though not completely white. Then I went back with a white uni ball pen and added more details.  In the directions on Peony & Parakeet, she suggests using a white correction pen.  I will be experimenting with one soon!

white pens

More white detail

I decided to go back with the colored markers to bump up the color in some spots.

Once more with markers

Black and silver pens are the final detailing tools. Fine dots and little highlights add to the finished look.

black & silver pens

Flower, bubbles & heart

Swirly dots and tiny flower

bubble and dots

I’m not sure if it is done, but I like it!  I really enjoyed the process and love that it didn’t take any drawing talent or special painting skills to do this.

Wild Patterned Paper

I might try a crazy patterned fish swimming across the page or a wild bird flying over.  Or maybe this will be it.

One last thing.  I recently posted a page and realized this weekend that I had an error in the quote I used.  The quote was fine, except instead of writing “Everybody” I wrote “Everbody.”  If anyone noticed, they were kind enough not to say anything.  I don’t know how many times I looked at the page before I saw it.  So…I fixed it.

Everybody needs...

Wishing everybody beauty and time to create it in your life.  Thanks for your visit.

 

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Little Fairy Gardens

Fairy Music Garden

I’ve been working on these little fairy gardens for awhile but they were gifts and I didn’t want the recipients to see them. I’m delighted to finally share them with you.

It was the project at a recent  Tuesday night Craft Gym at Once Around (a wonderful local craft shop).  The instructor, Lauren, posted a picture of Teacup Fairy Garden that she had crafted.  My initial response was lukewarm – kind of “meh.”  What would I do with it? Where would I put it?  I don’t have a teacup!

But the next morning on a walk I started thinking of upcoming birthdays and how a sweet, miniature garden in a small bowl, pot or teacup would be. Once I began gathering twigs and pods and thinking how they could be used for the project, I was hooked.

Heart Back Chair

Everyone brought their own containers to the class and we started creating.  Each miniature plot was different.  I found a small painted pot from Mexico at Sloat Garden Center in Kentfield and filled it with Irish moss.

Twig Chair Leaf Pillow

We learned how to make chairs from twigs adhered with hot glue. A leaf cushion made from thick felt added to the charm of the twig chair I made.  Small pine cones make finials.  The twisty twig heart used for the chair back was an item I picked up in the store. A little slice of branch makes becomes the top of a small side table, a perfect spot on which the little book can rest.

Leavesall about leaves

Sea glass, a flat glass marble, a shard of abalone shell and a sparkly silver-glitter star decorate one corner of the pot.

Sea glass

Small seed pods from a liquid amber tree strung with beads in between make a festive garland.

Seed Pod garland

Once I got started, I couldn’t wait to make another.  I stumbled upon the awesome The Magic Onions site which has loads of Fairy Garden pictures, DIY’s, information and even a contest, which I’m going to enter.  Be sure and check it out!

Here is another little fairy garden in a similar pot, also planted with Irish moss.

Angel Fairy Garden

The side table in this one is made from a cork.  A tiny acorn became a goblet of wine, or maybe it is nectar.  I used ink and Diamond Glaze to fill the cup and it stained the acorn red.

Book of music with wine

The cover of the music book is made from bark, backed with paper.  An itty-bitty succulent is potted in an acorn cap.

Succulent in Acorn Pot

Washi tape makes a colorful garland and acorn caps glued to felted green balls top the twig posts.

Washi tape garland

This mini-garden was created for a friend who loves angels so I found and copied this little bead angel that works perfectly as a garden ornament.  I found the beads at Baubles  and Beads in Berkeley.

Bead Angel

I made my third fairy garden a little larger because this one needed a bit more space.  I also decided to go with dried moss instead of living moss that would need watering.

A bowl found at Cost Plus World Market is the container.  Rocks in the bottom serve as ballast to increase stability.  I filled the bowl part way up with a potting mix for cactus then topped it with dried moss.  You can find it at a garden shop or craft supply store, but I actually found mine at Cost Plus.

Bowl with rock ballast

Moss

Moss in bowl

Another twig chair but this time I added a tiny bird perched on the back.  Once Around has a “Do Dad” section with jars of a changing selection of little goodies, like sequins, bottle caps, clothespins and other items and that is where I found the bird.

Twig chair with bird

I fashioned fairy-sized musical instruments.  This garden went to my friend Jane who was having a birthday celebration in her back yard and encouraged her guests to bring instruments.  I brought instruments, but of the teeny-tiny variety.

Fairy-sized instruments

I’m very pleased how these came out.  The drum has bark sides with paper for the drum head that I colored to make it look more like an animal skin. I peeled a twig for the mallet, twisted a tuft of wool around it and covered it in fabric.

drum

The handles of the maracas and the stringed instrument are from the same seed pod, with the heads of the maracas from small acorns. There are tiny seeds inside the maracas so when you shake them you can hear the rattle.  The pan pipes are cut from a reed and glued together.  I used embroidery thread to make the oh-so-little tassels.

pan pipes

Music in the garden

I love how the sea glass looks in these fairy gardens so I included it in this one too.  Dried bougainvillea bracts, rattlesnake (or big quaking) grass and a few other dried plants I picked up on hikes complete this garden.  I even added some coriander seeds to a bit of dried berry bush that was missing its berries.  They don’t show here, it is behind the chair, but I want the garden to look good from any angle.

Here is a felted gnome I made, waiting for the fairy music to begin.

gnome and fairy garden

Thanks for stopping by.  Do let me know if you make your own fairy garden.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ratatouille in a Slow Cooker

Ratatouille Ingredients

I need to share this recipe with you.  I’ve made a batch every week for the last three weeks and think it’s delicious but I can’t seem to get any good pictures of the finished dish.  But I can’t hold out any longer.

This came about because I bought some vegetables that I planned to cook on the grill. But it was so hot that weekend, I didn’t want to cook at all.  The next weekend rolled around and I still had the vegetables, a little worse for wear.  It was still hot so I wanted a recipe for the slow cooker.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it was great!

My recipe is adapted from one I found by Geema at Food.com.  Each time I make it, I change it a bit based on what I have in the fridge.  It is pretty flexible, so if you don’t like mushrooms, by all means, leave them out.  If you have some fresh herbs to use up, put them in.

Third Batch Ratatouille ingredients

The first time I made it I didn’t take any pictures.  The top photo is from my second batch and I used 4 squash, Japanese eggplant and only one bell pepper.  The third time I made it with regular eggplant, big zucchini and bell peppers and small tomatoes.  It was delicious every time.

Here’s the recipe but don’t be too worried about measuring everything exactly.  Sprinkle in the herbs, drizzle in the oil and enjoy the way the dish melds into something greater than the individual ingredients.

Ratatouille in a Slow Cooker

Adapted from Geema at Food.com

1 large eggplant or 2 Japanese eggplant, (about 1.5 lbs. total), cut in cubes

eggplant

3 or 4 zucchini or other summer squash, cut in chunks

Zucchini

2 onions, cut into quarters and sliced

2 red bell pepper, de-seeded and cut into strips or squares

8 oz. mushrooms, cut in quarters  or if really large into 6ths or 8ths

2 large tomatoes, cut in wedges than chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

'shrooms, onions, bell pepper and garlic

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Optional:

1 teaspoon sugar (I used it twice and forgot it the third time and the difference was pretty minor)

pinch hot pepper flakes (use caution here, a little goes a long way)

Hot Pepper Flakes

Directions:

Put half the vegetables in the slow cooker.

Dot half the tomato paste over the vegetables and sprinkle half the seasonings on the vegetables.

Drizzle with half the olive oil.

Half of the recipe in slow cooker

Repeat with remaining vegetables, tomato paste, seasonings and olive oil.

Cover, set slow cooker to high and cook 3 to 6 hours or low for 7 to 9 hours.

Full Recipe in pot

I used some fresh herbs in this batch.

Covered and Cooking

The last time I made it, my zucchini and bell peppers were on the large side.  It was a very full pot and took longer to cook. Next time I’ll use smaller veggies.

The finished stew.

Ratatouille

This is good hot with some grated Parmesan.  It is also good cold on a hot day.  You can toss it with pasta or use it for a pizza topping or sandwich filling.

How about on an open-faced meatball sandwich with melted cheese over the top?

Meatball sandwich

Or add some beans to boost the protein. I like a piece of french bread (or two) on the side to sop up the juice.  I imagine you could use a stick blender to make a smoother sauce.  I like it chunky so I haven’t tried that yet.

With Beans

Thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fitbit Fitness

P & B Selfie on the GG Bridge

Yesterday I had achieved most of my 10,000 steps for the day but not quite.  I asked Rem if he would take a walk with me after dinner.  Because it has been kind of warm and humid, he suggested we drive down to the headlands.  Although it encompasses a larger area, for us that refers to the 5-mile stretch of Conzelman Road overlooking the Golden Gate Bride and the Pacific Ocean.  It is usually at least 10 degrees cooler than at our place in San Rafael.

The fog was rolling in and I decided to turn into the parking lot by the bridge and figured I’d get my steps walking around the north end of the bridge.  Rem surprised me and suggested we cross the bridge and back!  We hadn’t walked it in years and usually do it at a more leisurely pace, but the sidewalk is closed to pedestrians at 9:00 pm, so we had to keep moving.

In the picture at the top of the post, we’re at the San Francisco end and it is about 8:25.  We made it back at 9:02.  The pedestrian gate was closed but a bridge worker was “sweeping” the bridge and came up behind us in a little vehicle and opened the gate.  I added about 8,600 steps, well over the less-than-1,000 I was seeking.

Foggy Golden Gate

Fitbit rewards me with badges when I achieve different milestones and I’ve found that motivates me more than I would have expected. A few weeks ago when I was looking at my stats for the day I realized I was just short of 100 floors, with 10 feet of elevation gained counting as 1 floor.  I didn’t know how soon I would get in a hike with that much elevation, so I climbed some stairs at a parking garage to hit 100 floors.

This morning, I hiked to the same communication towers as I did that day but from a different starting point, going up the back of the hill.  I don’t get any new badges for achieving 103 floors (and didn’t get one for walking a landmark bridge last night either) but I’m still tickled with the big, green smiley face and “hooray” when I look at my Fitbit Dashboard and I’ve hit or exceeded my goals.

I was surprised by a little sprinkle of rain on my hike this morning but it didn’t really matter as I was already soaked with sweat.  This is a little ways before the top of the fire road.  Stopping to take a selfie gave me a chance to catch my breath.

Climbing

This is where I stopped for breakfast.

Swings

Yes, I did take a little swing before getting back on the trail and hiking onward and upward.

Swinging

Tam

Power Tower

Trail Marker

Back on the road in the neighborhood that I walked through to reach the trail head,  I took pictures of some of the gates I’d noticed.

Picket Fence with Arched Gateway

Wrought Iron with Acorn & Leaves

Gilded

Lion Entry

Perhaps some of these choices are a little over-the-top.

Last week, Molly was back home from Sea Ranch and joined me walking a loop starting in Deer Park, almost the same hike I enjoyed the previous week, but slightly longer and taken in the reverse direction.

Rock & Wildflowers

Molly on the trail

Deer Park to Five Corners

Trail Marker

More uphill

Fog over Tam

Sun on the hills

Walking with Molly

I realized that Molly doesn’t get the same views as I do.

IMG_0168

But she was a happy pup and didn’t seem to mind the reduced views.

I used one of my new bandanas and learned it is from the HAV-A-HANK Bandana Company.

Hav-A-Hank

The Fitbit continues to be a positive influence on my activity.   I wonder where I’ll hike next weekend.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Can He Bake a Cherry Pie?

Cherry Pie with Struesel Topping

This is a guest post by Rem O’Donnelley, my sweetheart and partner of 15 years.  We’re a great team and the other day we made pie together.  I asked him if he would write a post about it and this is what he wrote:

Who doesn’t like a good cherry pie? I didn’t see any hands raised in internet land.

I had a box of pie dough sitting in the fridge. Originally, it had two pie crusts but I used one for a pumpkin pie. I was about to do the same thing when Dianne suggested making a cherry pie. She heard on the radio that there was a one-day sale at Whole Foods so I bought a two pound bag of cherries.

Since there was only one crust that meant that there was no crust for the top. Dianne had the idea of a streusel topping. I found an oatmeal streusel recipe here which we adapted.

Cherries on hand and we began to work. I washed and stemmed the little red gems.

Cherries in Colander

Dianne pitted them.

Pitting Cherries

That done, next the cherries were put in a large bowl with sugar, tapioca granules and vanilla. We decided to stick with just cherries and omitted crystallized ginger and almond extract from the original recipe.

It didn’t look like it was enough cherries so we added the other half pound to the mix. (Note: adaptions have been included in recipe here)

Measure Cherries
Once this was mixed, I spread out the pie crust in a glass pie dish. Then the cherry mixture was poured in.
Finally came the topping.  Again, we made some changes to the recipe. It didn’t seem to have enough butter and sugar to balance the oats and flour, so we increased the amounts a bit.

Making Streusel
I mixed it with my hands until it was crumbly and then sprinkled it on the cherries.  Then it went in the oven.

Here is the recipe.

Cherry Pie with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

Adapted from Miri Rotkovitz at About.com

Baking time – 40 to 45 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

Ingredients:

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell, homemade or store-bought, thawed if frozen.  We used Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough

2 lbs. cherries, pitted (5 to 6 cups) If desired, cut cherries in half. This recipe called for “1 lb., (about 4 cups)” but we found it was more like 3 cups. Our pie had about 5 cups of cherries and it could have held 6 cups, no problem.

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons granulated (instant) tapioca or tapioca starch

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Butter and Cinnamon

For the Streusel Topping:

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, toss together the cherries, sugar, tapioca, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix just until the cherries are evenly coated with the other ingredients.

Sugary Cherries

Pour the cherry mixture into the pie crust.

Wipe out the bowl (or use another, smaller one) and mix together the oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Rub the butter pieces into the dry ingredients with your fingers,until the butter is well incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the top of the pie.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch drips. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the crust and streusel are golden and the filling is bubbly. Cool the pie in its baking dish on a rack.

Just out of the oven!

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Store leftover pie, well covered, in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Pie and Ice Cream

(Editors note: Rem made the vanilla ice cream too!)

It turned out great. The only thing I would change is cutting the cherries in half so the cherries are in smaller bites.

Thumbs up!

Thumbs Up Selfie

Thanks, Rem, for writing a post about our pie-baking and for the great selfie.

Thank you for stopping by.

 

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Everybody Needs Beauty

Everybody needs...

I was so happy to sit at my craft desk this weekend with time to work in my Art Journal.  However, I felt like I had so many ideas that I didn’t know where to start!

Solution: go to my Art Journal board on Pinterest and look at pictures that I’ve pinned for inspiration.  Once there I found this spread and put it with the John Muir quote, also pinned on the page.  I already had flower and garden pictures saved, so I just had to pull out pictures and start trimming and gluing them in place.

The quote took up a bit more room than I planned so I had less space for hearts, but in the end it all worked out.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

- John Muir

How do you get warmed up when you’re ready to craft but not sure what to do?

Thanks for reading my posts.

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