Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Art: Engel der Nacht

Experimenting with collage and mixed media has been at the top of my artistic to-do list for a while now.  Last week, I finally got around to doing it.  After reading about techniques for altering magazine pages in a great book called Exhibition 36, I was eager to try them out.  So I picked up a few necessary supplies, grabbed a canvas, found a magazine page I liked, and set to work.

I used gel medium to adhere the page to the canvas and gesso to block out the parts of the image I wanted to majorly alter.  Then I used a combination of acrylic paint and colored pencils to paint over and recolor the image.  And here's what I wound up with:

Alas, I didn't think to get a picture of the pre-altered page, but it featured a young, brunette woman in pink lingerie and a big, gold heart necklace, cuddling a teddy bear.  So the pose is the only remnant of the original page that remains.  

The biggest challenge was finding something to replace the teddy bear.  It just wouldn't look right without something there.  The phrase "Engel der Nacht" (Angel of Night) popped into my head shortly after I started working on her, and I knew that was what the title of the piece would be, so I took my inspiration from that and decided to add a lovely full moon.  The image was printed separately and adhered with gel medium, then painted to better match the tone of the rest of the image.  

Another challenge I faced was a limited range of colors to work with.  My studio space is still very much a work in progress and many of my supplies are still in boxes.  I searched high and low but couldn't find either of the two full sets of acrylic paints I have, so I decided to make due with the acrylic craft paints that I could find.  I used only three colors for the entire piece - black, gold, and a lovely metallic blue.  

This was my first time working with gel medium, and I have to say, I'm hooked!  I had so much fun experimenting with the different effects it can produce, and I can't wait to play with it more.  

This is a technique I'll definitely be exploring more.  In addition, I've started working on stock for Phantasmagorium - my hopefully-soon-to-be-open shop.  You'll be seeing more about that here and on Tumblr.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Featured Shop: Jewel Renee

I am so excited to introduce you to our next featured shop, Jewel Renee.  You may not know this yet, but I am exceedingly fond of aquatic animals.  Dolphins, whales, tropical fish - and especially octopuses and squids.  So Jewel's amazing aquatic illustrations are right up my alley.

From sea horses...

to seals... 

all of her work perfectly captures the ocean's beauty - its peace and tranquility, its vibrant colors, its variety and vitality. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think mine are the cuttlefish...

and the jellyfish. 

Fortunately, if you're on a budget, like I am, owning a piece of Jewel's gorgeous art won't break the bank. She offers prints in three sizes, and you can snag a 4 x 6 for just $6.

So be sure to go immerse yourself for a moment and pick up something pretty to adorn your quarters.

And if you are of Regretsy, don't miss the Hellephants!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Featured Shop: Ant's Pottery

One of my favorite thing about being involved in the crafty community is seeing all of the unique and beautiful things my fellow crafty folks create.  It never ceases to amaze me how diverse the craft world is.  There truly is something for absolutely everyone.

Ant's Pottery provides truly gorgeous handmade pottery to fulfill a variety of purposes.  From the decorative, such as this beautiful corset-bedecked vase...

to the useful, such as this lovely stoneware tumbler.

But Ant's specialty is pagan pottery.  From cauldrons...

to totems...

Any altar would be a bit more beautiful with one of Ant's works gracing it.

There's much more to see, so be sure to pay Ant's shop a visit and pick up a piece of handcrafted goodness for your home, hearth, or altar.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Organization by the Book: Week 3

How did last week go?  Quite well!  The task was to organize my schedule, and while my day-to-day schedule was already pretty well organized, my more long-term to-do's needed a bit of attention.  I made myself a master list of Things to Get Done and prioritized it, and just getting that accomplished made me feel much better.  I put some of the big items in my planner, and I'm going to put some of the more urgent items on my dry erase board once I decide on a nicely visible home for it, so I'll see it every day and remember to work on those things.  In sight, in mind, I hope.

This week's goal:
Organize my cleaning schedule.  This is another goal I've already got a bit of a jump on.  I've been working on tidying up one room each day during the week, and it's been going pretty well.  I've made pretty good progress conquering the post-move-in chaos and clutter.  Now I just need to work on scheduling tasks like sweeping, dusting, and other actual cleaning tasks.

I'll probably make myself a To Do list for each room with things to do each week, each month, etc.  I might even make it pretty and share it here, depending on how industrious I feel.

In the meantime, there's one big tip from the book that I'd like to share.  Whenever you're cleaning, carry a basket with you and when you come across something that doesn't belong in that room, just toss it in the basket and put back where it belongs later.  I decided to put this into practice when I first saw the idea whilst flipping through the book, and simple as it is, this really makes a difference.  You don't waste valuable cleaning time running around the house to put things away, but you don't run the risk of forgetting about those little out-of-place items either.  Genius!

So now it's your turn, readers.  Got any clever cleaning tips for me?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Organizing Update + Drawing Challenge

Hi, folks!  You may remember last week's post about my plan to get organized.  Well, week one went pretty well.  I did some journaling and gave myself some "me" time and generally accomplished most of my goals for the week.  The only thing I didn't manage was finding time to exercise.  My plan was to get up early and go for a walk, but I was feeling a bit under the weather most of the week (thanks, weather) so that didn't happen.  But I'm not giving up!  I'm going to keep working on it.

This week is all about organizing my schedule.  I've been sort of organized in this area for a while, so it's nice to  get down to it and really get a handle on things.  I've started one big To Do list of everything I need to do, and I have to say, it felt great to put all of that down on paper and get it out of my head.  If I'd known just writing things down would make me feel that much better, I'd have done it a long time ago.

Now, then.  In other, more creative news, I've taken on another challenge.  I came across this 30 Day Drawing Challenge a few months ago, and with all the business of the end of the year out of the way, I decided to give it a shot.

I always loved drawing, but I never felt like I was very good at it, so I got discouraged rather easily.  Eventually it got to the point where I rarely even attempted it.  Lately, however, I've been meaning to pick it up again and try to just enjoy the process without worrying too much about whether or not my drawings were any good.  So the challenge was the perfect thing to give me a jumpstart.  I started yesterday, and I have to say, I'm quite pleased with my first two drawings.

Both were cleaned up and colored in Photoshop because I just couldn't resist.  I can't guarantee I'll upload everything I draw this month, but I'll certainly post my favorites at least.  

Anyone else done any drawing lately?  I'd love to see your work! 

Note:  You may have noticed my drawing are marked with a Tumblr URL.  That's because I posted them on my new crafty Tumblr too!  If you're on Tumblr come follow me at phantasmagoriumhandmade.tumblr.com!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Organization by the Book: Week One

Happy New Year, Folks!  I know it's a bit belated, but it still applies, right?  I hope everyone had a great holiday and you're all enjoying the start of a new year!

I've never really been one for New Year's resolutions, but this does seem to be the perfect time of year to start a new project.  And I've recently found myself with some extra motivation to get things organized, so I've decided to start a big organization project.

A few months ago, we picked up a book called Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Berry.  A lot of organizing books seem to use a whole lot of extra words just to say, "Get rid of stuff."  So finding a book that does not beat you over the head with the idea that 90% of what you own is crap and you should just get rid of it and stop being so damned sentimental was quite refreshing.  Equally refreshing is the fact that the book itself is so well organized (imagine that!).

Organize Now! focuses on one area of your life each week and gives you a handy checklist of goals to try and accomplish in that week, as well as tasks to do periodically in order to stay organized.  It is, hands down, the single most practical and useful book of its kind that I have ever laid eyes on.

I've been dying to start working my way through it since we got it, but I've waited because I felt like we ought to finish unpacking things and get settled in a bit better first.  Now we've done that and the holidays are over, it's a new year, and there seems to be no better time.

So here I am.  Day 1.  This week is pretty easy.  It's all about organizing your mind, and I've already done/am doing several of the things on the list.  For instance, I generally get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  I write out a quick To Do list every morning - if not the night before.  And I started a journal a few months ago (which I lost track of for a while and serendipitously found this afternoon).  The biggest task for me is going to be scheduling time to exercise.

Ideally, I would like to get up early enough to do some walking with Miss Kitty before she has to leave for work.  We've discovered that it's doable - it's just a matter of actually doing it and getting into the habit.

As a bit of extra motivation now and throughout the rest of this challenge, I'll be sharing my progress with you, my dear readers.  So I'll let you know next week how the whole exercising thing went, as well as getting back into the swing of journaling.  Wish me luck!

What new projects are you going to tackle this year?  Leave a comment and let me know!
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