Friday, December 27, 2013

Gelli on my Plate

"Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous."  Bill Moyers

A few weeks ago I got a  Gelli Arts printing plate as a Hanukkah present from my husband. It wasn't a total surprise since it was on my short wish list, but nevertheless I was very excited to see it. I'd read all about it and seen many videos and pictures of prints that people had made with it. I was intrigued and figured there must be lots of ways to incorporate Zentangle with these types of prints.

For those of you who aren't familiar with a gel printing plate, you should check out my link above, but in a nutshell, it is a printing plate made out of a gel-like plastic. You apply acrylic paint to the surface and then add and subtract color and designs using many different kinds of tools, stencils, brushes, etc. Then you lay paper on top of it, rub with your hands, and lift the paper off with the print on it.

A couple of days ago it was time to play. I pulled out my small supply of acrylic paints, a pile of white cardstock, some stencils, and some wedges (the wedges were a gift from my daughter). I won't explain the process here since I certainly don't claim to be an expert, and there are plenty of videos to watch online of people who have a better idea of what they're doing. But I will say that I went through lots of paper, and was not happy with most of the prints I made. Here's a picture of one of only a couple of prints that I liked.

I used a tulip stencil from Joggles, a wedge, and another flower stencil from Crafters Workshop. I painted, brayered (to roll the paint over the gelli plate), stenciled, and printed, then painted some more, brayered some more, stenciled some more, and printed again. Adding layers gives it lots of depth, but unfortunately I was not always satisfied with my combinations. In the above picture I got the results I was going for - white tulips to tangle with a colorful, layered background.

So next (after lots of cleanup) it was on to the tangling. At this point (probably a little late to be thinking about it), I wasn't sure how my Microns would work on top of all the layers of acrylic paint. I've worked on water color before, but never acrylic. Luckily I had no problem with the pen. When I was done tangling I wasn't so sure whether or not they looked like tulips or just lollipops! I outlined the petals which helped give them more definition....still not sure if I should grow them or eat them.

Then I decided to try some pencil shading, not so sure how that would work on top of the paint. But again, like with the pen, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. I don't know if it's really visible in the picture below, but the shading did help to give the flowers some more definition.

Admittedly, I need to do lots more playing with the Gelli Plate to get better at it. There's always a learning curve when trying a new product. I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve for next time, in an attempt to make the tangling stand out more. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Now I Know My ABCs...Next Time Won't You Sing With Me

"If plan A didn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool."  Kane Arreo

When my first (and only) grandchild was born, about 22 months ago, my mind immediately started imagining all the things I could tangle for him. First was the letter "H" (his name is Hudson) with tangles all around it, to hang on his bedroom wall. Next was a little stool with a nautical theme to match the decor in his room. Then I began an ABC book. I am stenciling the letters of the alphabet, one capital and lowercase letter on each page. When they're done I'll add pictures of things that start with each letter, and then have it all made into a book. I won't be drawing those pictures - I can tangle, but I can't draw. 

Here are a few of the letters I've completed so far.

The first letter I designed had more than one tangle pattern, but I decided that made it harder to read the letters. For a little boy first learning the alphabet, I knew that one tangle per letter would make it easier for him. 

I started this about a year ago, but got sidetracked by so may things. It's time to get back to it so I'll have it finished before Hudson starts high school! And we are eagerly awaiting the birth of his little sister, Brooklyn, due May 1, so I will have to get to work soon on some tangled projects for her. Any ideas?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

"The first step to believing something is true is wanting to believe it is true."  Terry Goodkind

I decided to write a quick post because I have a cute little anecdote to share. A few days ago I got an email that someone had started an Etsy conversation with me. I sell greeting cards in my Etsy shop, including holiday cards. A woman saw my cards there and sent me this message: 

"My 8-year-old son is a huge zentangle fan after learning about it in art class. His ONLY wish from Santa this year is a "handmade zentangle card of Santa" made by the big man himself. Of course, I want it to be perfect and keep the Santa magic alive but I don't have the talent to do it myself! Is this something you would be interested in doing?"

How could I resist that? So, after discussing it with her a little further, this is what I made.

I finished it this afternoon and listed it on Etsy so she could see it and make her purchase. Thankfully, she loves it. And hopefully her son will too. Hope it keeps the magic alive for him! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blowin' in the Wind

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."     Edgar Degas

I decided to play around with something new this week. I've seen this technique demonstrated in various books, blogs, etc., and have been meaning to try it for a while. You may be wondering what I'm talking about. I'm calling it a blown ink design. Blowing ink around a paper through a straw. Here's how I started.

Well, that's not exactly how I started. First I went through many trial runs. The idea is to drop some acrylic ink on a piece of paper and then use a combination of tilting the paper and blowing through a straw to push the ink around the paper in random designs. I tested several different kinds of paper before deciding on the one that worked best. I tried 90 lb.watercolor paper, 140 lb. watercolor paper, bristol paper, mixed media paper, and canvas. The only one that seemed to work for me was the 90 lb. paper. On all the others I found the ink immediately sunk into the paper and did not move around much. So after several tries, the above design is what I ended up with. 

The next step was to add color using some watercolor medium. My choices were several different paints, watercolor pencils, liquid watercolors, and Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons. I decided on the crayons, and the result is shown below. It reminds me of stained glass, which is what I used to do in a past lifetime, so I think it's kind of pretty.

Of course the final step was to tangle. When coloring I made the decision to leave a few spaces white, and when tangling I decided to leave a few spaces untangled. It was during the tangling that I realized maybe the water soluble crayons were not the best choice for adding color. I had some problems with the Micron 01 and 02 tips getting clogged up, I assume from the wax in the crayons. When I used the Apprentice pen with an 05 plastic type nib, the results were much better. Lesson learned for next time.

I turned the paper round and round deciding which way is up, and settled on the above when I saw what looked like a boot in it. My husband says he sees a face. Anyone see something else?