Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Inktober Day 28 - Alcohol on Watercolors

Today, I wanted to experiment with a common technique used by watercolor artists to add texture to their painting. While your paper is still wet, you can splatter or touch the end of a Q-tip dipped in alcohol on your painting. Alcohol will "push" the water (carrying your pigment out, thereby leaving a white ring around where you placed the alcohol. 

I wanted to try this technique in my journal which has Tomoe River Paper. Watercolors dry quickly on this paper so I had to work fast. I've done dandelion art several times and I thought this technique would make a great abstract dandelion. I dipped the q-tip in alcohol and squeezed the tip so a drop would drip onto the paper. 

As you can see the effect is subtle. It is much more dramatic on watercolor paper as you can see here.

You can see the ring that forms and I used that same q-tip to rub over the center to get rid of the ring.

On the other side, I just splattered the alcohol.

You may be wondering why I just didn't use a white paint.. I could have but using paint or even a masking fluid would leave a hard edge (at least for me) and I wanted a soft edge. Definitely a fun experiment!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Inktober Day 27 - Blown Ink

Yesterday on my post, Deedles commented,

"And I quote, 'sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug' . Good luck with the new laptop, Angelcake."

So I knew what today's sketch would be. I snapped a picture of me driving my van and that was the reference photo. For the splattered bug, I used three colors of Windsor and Newton ink and blew the ink around with a cover of my paint brush. I was going to use a straw but I thought the circumference of the straw was too big. 

The last 7 days, I definitely felt like the bug dealing with our internet provider and with the folks who are replacing our carpet upstairs. But today, I'm feeling like the windshield - don't mess with me.. Lol

So are you the windshield or the bug today?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Inktober Day 26 Maneki Neko

If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you have probably seen maneki neko, or lucky cat. I've always known that maneki neko is supposed to bring food fortune to those who display it, but I didn't know that there are different meanings to its color, the position of the raised arm and other features. 

If you would like to know more about symbolism, visit here. Or if you would like to know more about its history, visit here.

We have two maneki neko, a traditional ceramic one and a plastic one.

These are actually our second and third maneki neko. Our youngest dropped the first one and unfortunately shattered to pieces. Just like Humpty Dumpty, it could not be put together again. We took great care with our second but during one of our moves, it got cracked. But I was able to glue the pieces and it has survived subsequent moves across the country. A couple of years ago when my husband was in Japan, I had asked him to buy another. He was afraid travel with a ceramic one (and also because what would it mean if we crack a third one?), he decided to get a small plastic one. This one has a solar powered arm and head so the arm waves and the head bops. And now we have one with left arm raised and one with right arm raised. Surely, both will bring us great fortune, right? I certainly hope so!

I haven't blogged in a week, not because I haven't created or I've lost interest, but because we have not had internet since last Tuesday! I won't go into details simply because I might scream again. The modem is supposed to arrive this afternoon. I am sitting at Starbucks writing this post on my phone. My cell service is very spotty at home. I've been able to post on Instagram and I could post on Facebook if I want to wait 30 minutes for FB to load. I've been able to "like" or comment on posts sometimes but the experience is so frustrating that I just didn't bother. I didn't realize how dependent we are on internet connection. Even the kids absolutely need it for homework. Do all kids have computers at home?

So here are the journal pages since my last post.

I hope you had a great week and hopefully I'll be blogging again tomorrow on my new laptop and faster internet connection! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Inktober Day 20 - Metallic Leaves

For today's Inktober piece, I knew I wanted to start with an Inktense background of fall colors.

Originally, I was thinking of doing zendalas in silver and gold. And then I saw the Diva Challenge post this morning and I ended up drawing leaves in metallic gel pens. The quote reads, 

"Delicioud Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it. And if I were a bird, I would fly about the earth seeking the successive Autumn."

By George Elliot

And here are the leaves..

I'm afraid the only fall leaves I'll see are the ones I create! (^ ^)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Inktober Day 19 - Japanese Doll

Every once in awhile, the girls and I get our origami papers and try to learn something new. I don't remember when I learned origami. I must have been at least in kindergarten as this process requires fine motor skills. Every Japanese child grows up learning how to fold a paper crane or a frog or a ball. Those are the three I remember and probably never will forget.

The frog and the ball are fairly easy to make but the crane and most flowered require much more patience and delicate hands. I know my girls get frustrated sometimes because it's difficult to follow intrusions and it seems that you need more than two hands. But now that my girls are 14 and 12, they seem to have more patience to try more difficult folds. So we tackled these flowers.

Only once did my youngest crumple the paper in frustration. Lol. If you are interested in learning how to fold these, here are the YouTube videos we watched.

If you don't have any origami papers, you need a square sheet of paper.  If you have any magazines, you can tear a sheet and square the 
sheet. The glossy magazine papers are thin but tough. They are great for origami!

So when I was looking for something to draw this morning, I decided to draw a Japanese doll that my mother's best friend made for me when we still lived in Japan. 

It's a beautiful Hina doll (traditional Japanese dolls made for Girl's Day). This is a quality made doll (you can tell by the hair line. If it's a wig glued on the head, it's cheap. But if the hair line is sewn, it's quality). 

I used my Platinum Carbon pen to draw, the Pentel Pocket brush pen to add heavier lines and some Japanese watercolors to paint.

I hope you give origami a try. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Inktober Day 18 - Fly

Today I'm using only pens. I used Uniball Vision Needle to draw the feather, Pilot G-2 to shade with an aquabrush and Pntel Pocket brush pen to hand letter. 

Featherfall is the zentangle pattern I used to create the feather. I always found this pattern hard to manage. It's not a difficult pattern but I can't make it do what I want and I can never predict the outcome.  And perhaps that's the zen part of zentangle. If you would like to learn this pattern you can find the instruction here.

Or you can watch the YouTube Instruction.

Several times in my art learning process, I felt that I was on the verge of a breakthrough, whether it was learning a technique or defining my style. But something keeps holding me back, keeps me tethered to the ground. And as you might guess, what keeps me tethered is me, my own lack of confidence or my fear of the unknown and the fear of making mistakes. 

Intellectually, I know confidence comes when you learn from making mistakes, when you let go of your fears. When I was a teacher, I was known as a risk-taker, someone who embraced change, new methods, new thinking. I helped develop processes and curriculum that made learning student-centered rather than teacher directed. I was able to do this because I was able to let go of the notion that I had to know everything and be confident to go explore things for which I had no answers.

But as an artist, I feel like I'm my own worst enemy, always holding back and it frustrates me. But I keep trying, exploring, and learning from mistakes. And I hope one day, I'll be of one of those birds what breaks away from the tether.. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Inktober Day 15 - Spirit Day

October 15th is Spirit Day, a day to stand against bullying and support our LGBT youth by going purple. I see many of my friends who colored their social media avatar to purple to commemorate the day. I wanted to honor Spirit Day in my journal.

On my way to take the kids to school, I heard the song, Flares by The Script. It's a beautiful song and I love the message that there are people out there sending out flares, that you aren't alone. And what you see above is my interpretation of the song. If I had used watercolor paper, I think the colors would have blended better but my journal has Tomoe River Paper, which I normally love. But I still the result. I used Inktense blocks to color.

Here are the lyrics:

Flares by The Script
Did you lose what won't return
Did you love but never learn
The fire is out but still it burns
But no one cares, there's no one there

Did you find it hard to breathe
Did you cry so much that you can barely see
In the darkness all alone
And no one cares, there's no one there

But did you see the flares in the sky? Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes, did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks, feel the hope?
That you are not alone
Cause someone's out there, sending out flares

Did you break but never mend
Did it hurt so much you thought it was the end
Lose your heart but don't know when
But no one cares, there's no one there

But did you see the flares in the sky? Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes, did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks, feel the hope?
That you are not alone
Cause someone's out there, sending out flares
Someone's out there, sending out flares

Did you lose what won't return
Did you love but never learn

But did you see the flares in the sky? Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes, did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks, feel the hope?
That you are not alone
cause someone's out there, sending out flares

But did you see the flares in the sky? Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes, did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks, feel the hope?
That you are not alone
Cause someone's out there, sending out flares

And here is the video.

I liked the image so much, I re-did it into watercolor paper and added the lyrics with an app called Over. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Inktober Day 14 - Everyday People

There is a person who spins a store sign (aptly called a sign spinner) who stands at a corner where I go through every morning when I take the kids to school. Since I go through that intersection 4 times every morning, I watch her sometimes as I wait for the light to turn. 

She has been there everyday for months, always covered from head to toe. She even wears a bandana or other face covering. Even in the 100+ degree weather, she's covered. I'm assuming this person to be female though I really can't be for certain.  She's always spinning the dry cleaner sign every morning listening and dancing to music (once again, I'm assuming based on her headphones). I wonder how long she's out there, I wonder what her story is. I wonder how long she will be there. 

I used the Preppy 02 fountain pen to draw and Koi watercolors to paint.i think it's time to clean my palette!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Inktober Day 13 - Using Reference Photos

For today's Inktober piece, I knew I wanted to draw a witch and I was all set to draw these cute stuffed Halloween decorations I have. 

But I wasn't feeling it. I had an image in my mind about a beautiful witch, so I searched Google for a beautiful witch. I found a couple of images I liked.

I love the background of the first and the face of the second. So I tried to combine the two for my piece. I usually save several photos that I find before deciding on which part of each photo I want to use. Mainly, I'm looking for lighting and the "shell" of the subject I'm drawing. My pieces are never an exact copy of an image I use. But many people tell me that they can spot one of my pieces and that I have a unique look.. That's always nice to hear.. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Inktober Day 12 - Memories

It was a year ago yesterday when out daughter became a Bat Mitzvah. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday when she stood on the bimah and chanted the Torah. Because she is such a private person, anytime we asked her how her Bat Mitzvah practice was going, she would only say "fine", the famous teenage catch phrase that means anything from "terrific" to "I'm about to have a nervous breakdown!" And when we asked her tutor, he would say she was doing good. And then at the rehearsal, we heard her for the first time, at least we heard some whispers. No matter how close the microphone was to her, we could barely hear her. So we were nervous for her. Her Bat Mitzvah would be in three days and there weren't much we could do. Plus, we didn't want to add to the stress. 

She looked beautiful that morning, a little nervous but otherwise good. Then the service started and we were shocked! She did a wonderful job! Not only could we hear her, but she sounded confident and she knew her stuff. As parents, we can only do so much but it really it really is up to the child to get up in front of the congregation and lead a service. It truly is an awe-inspiring moment. And I feel it every time I attend a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the sense of connecting to your history. It is such a beautiful moment.

So I'm so glad I got to spend some time remembering with my drawing. I don't know what it is about Jessica that I have never done a good job drawing her. I guess I will keep trying. Here is the original.

And finally, here is the video I put together of Jess which we showed at the party!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Inktober -Day 10. Holding on to Sunshine

As with most of my art, I saw the quote first in one of the member's post in Fauxbonichi Journalers group on Facebook. I immediately saw an image but it was different than what you see above.

My original thought was to have a child smiling, "beaming" with her hands over her heart. The child would be drawn in b/w and have the sunshine in color coming within her heart. 

But this morning (I woke up at 5:30 a.m.), my drawing took a different turn. I still drew a child, but there is little joy in this child's face. To me, she seemed devoid of all emotions.

I drew her in ink and colored her with Inktense block. I was going to use gray tones for her but instead, I went with reddish brown. I added the sunshine in yellow and orange and colored the background with the color bark. 

I probably stared at her for about 15 minutes trying to see what she was trying to tell me. Then it hit me. This little girl is me. I've been in a major funk the last 6 months or so and things are getting better. But I have major decisions to make in the coming weeks. And though I've not felt my best, I always keep a bit of sunshine in heart. Perhaps she is trying to remind me that happiness comes from within, not from external sources. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Inktober Day 9 - Pumpkin Pancakes

My family has been living a low-carb lifestyle since April. It hasn't been too difficult because I love meat and vegetables. And also because whenever I get a craving carbs, I try to find a low-carb version of that or just give in and have some. I think denying yourself makes you break your diet or worse yet, give it up all together. 

Whenever I crave pasta, I try zucchini spirals or spaghetti squash. When I crave  a pizza, I try making crust out of cauliflower. And cauliflower again for rice. They aren't perfect but they usually do the trick. And when they don't, I just have the real thing. 

This morning, I was craving pancakes... Not just any pancakes but pumpkin pancakes. So I went to my Low Carb Pinterest board for pancake recipes. There is one I've used several times and liked so that's what I chose. And just add a bit of pumpkin purée and pumpkin spice and voilà, I get pumpkin pancakes. 

Unfortunately, my first attempt was disastrous. I tried to half the recipe and when the original called for 3 eggs, I used one. And I forgot to add the baking powder. The result was this.

It wouldn't hold together and it just tasted like coconut flour. Not what I had in mind. I was tempted to get the Bisquick out but I tried the recipe again and used two eggs and remembered the baking powder. 

I added a just a touch of agave and I was satisfied. If you are interested in this recipe, you can find it here  I have lots of recipes pinned to my low carb board on Pinterest if you want other low carb recipes!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Inktober Day 8 - Tangled Pumpkin

Several years ago, I bought a few plastic-foam-like pumpkins from Michael's. I've used them to decorate the porch area of the house for Halloween. This year, I decided to paint them.

I had already done these earlier this week. I change them around too.

So I decided to tangle the other pumpkins I have. This took a lot longer than I thought it would. There is something so relaxing about drawing these zentangle patterns. I think it's the repetitive motion. 

I have one more pumpkin so I think I will paint that black and tangle with my white sharpie!

So yesterday, I wrote a bit about the leaf tortilla and the pumpkin dip. This morning, I had it for breakfast..