Encaustic Painting Class

I had the pleasure of taking an encaustic painting class this past month at the Multnomah Arts Center. I hadn’t ever done encaustic (wax) painting before, so I was very eager to see what it was all about. I enjoyed the class, though I discovered that encaustic is not really my medium. I love mixed media collage and I found that in the encaustic class, all of my work was looking a lot like my mixed media work! So I decided to try and maximize the wax part of the work to see what would happen.

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So here are my 2 final pieces. I’m not as happy with the one on the left. I had lots of trouble with it. I tried to put a particular image transfer on it twice and finally had to melt it off and do something different. Now the work on the right I love. I have lots of layers buried under wax so it looked more milky. I thought this would highlight the fact I was using wax instead of matte medium (which is what I use with my regular collage work).

All in all, I’m very happy that I took the class and am now looking for a new class at Multnomah Arts Center to take!

Finding Your Artistic Voice

In my quest to go through all of my magazines, I came across this article in Somerset Studio by Gina Armfield about finding your artistic voice. And it had a quiz! I love quizzes!

  1. What are your 3 favorite colors? (teal, hot pink, metallic bronze)
  2. What kind of architecture do you like? (gothic, victorian, modern sculptural)
  3. What are 3 words that describe your personality? (intense, curious, imaginative)
  4. What is your favorite animal? (tiger)
  5. What do you collect? (books, images, paper, ideas)
  6. What is your favorite season? (autumn)
  7. Name your favorite icons. (keys, eyes, spirals, flowers)

So now I get to figure out what this means for me!

Playing with Alcohol Ink

There is just something magical about playing with alcohol ink. The way the colors slide into each other, forming new colors and creating abstract shapes. I find myself mesmerized by the process. I wish I could adequately convey just how much I love this medium!

In preparation for my upcoming class, Exploring Alcohol Ink (http://www.demicaro.com/Events.html) I decided to document my most recent experiment. Here’s how it went…I started with drops of color.x

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I then used the palette knife to swirl colors together.

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I used the tip of the palette knife to make lines.

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I added more color and used a Q-tip to make a flower. I’m not loving the flower on the left so I add some blending solution to it to make it go dreamy.

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I dislike enough that I cover over the left flower and go in a different direction.

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Now to add some yellow and pink. Hmmm…definitely broke up the blue tones I had so much of.

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I add more colors, tilting the paper to make them run. I’m looking for some lines/colors to catch my interest.

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I’ve drawn more lines. And the ink starts to impinge on the right flower. It might need to go.

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Now with the flowers gone, I am going in a new direction. It needs red.

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I add Pearl to the upper left purple to see what happens.

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I decide to use a stamp and the Snow Cap ink to add a little design. And this is the finished piece! I tried to make flowers, but in the end, I just love abstract. I went where the colors wanted to go. I’m pretty happy with it!

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Paper Dolls – Spring

I have been so inspired in my new studio! I have my books, my pens, my papers, my paint…it’s a bonanza of arty goodness! Pam and I have been discussing all the different art techniques and classes we want to offer. I can’t wait to share more with all of you once we start finalizing things.

One of the projects that I have been contemplating involves paper dolls. I don’t know exactly why, but I have always had a fascination with paper dolls. There is something about making mini people and dressing them. I have made dolls in the past, so obviously there is something appealing about personal arts and crafts.

A couple of days ago two thoughts came to mind, paper dolls and seasons. Could I make a seasonal paper doll that I would like? Here are my 2 experiments for Spring!

Paper doll Spring2
Paper and glue paper doll – Spring

 

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Digital paper doll – Spring

The first paper doll was made with paper, glue and ephemera. The second paper doll is digital. There are many resources online for paper dolls and I had quite the fun time online looking my choices.

Which do you like better? Any interest in making your own seasonal paper doll?

Winter Paper Shrine

winter shrine

I found a triptych card template that can be used to make cards that double as shrines. Here is my offering for Winter. I used PhotoShop, a poem by Mary Oliver and some iridescent glitter, because everything looks better with glitter! The image that the card is sitting on is actually the image used on the back of the card.

The poem I used, Starlings in Winter, really summed up how I feel about winter. My favorite season!

Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

 

Another Art Bra for the Bratiste’s Traveling Bra Show

After I spent a lot of time and money (I just love craft supplies!) on my first art bra, I thought I was done. I was happy with how my first effort turned out, and one art bra should be enough, right?

Wrong…apparently art bras are like chocolate chip cookies…you can’t stop at just one.

This second bra was inspired by a conversation I had at one of our Pink Phoenix parties. I was chatting with a couple of Pinks who have metastatic breast cancer. Their experience with recurrences led to a discussion of what kind of art bra might reflect their reality. I asked what kind of message they would want to share with the public, and one replied, “Please don’t kill me.” She was being a bit sarcastic, but I was really taken with the simplicity of the message. It’s what every cancer survivor wants…to not be killed by cancer.

So I created a bra of all words. The inside of the bra says “Please don’t kill me,” and “Please don’t kill my friends.” The outside is covered with words of hope…things I told myself to help me get through treatment and to combat the fear. I titled the bra, “When Words Are Not Enough.”

So when you hear a breast cancer speaking about gratitude, love, courage and how they have learned so much from their breast cancer experience (which is, in fact, all true)…just remember, on the inside, they are also saying “please don’t kill me.”

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Art Bra Project Finished!

I had such a fun time working on this project! I had to work in stages since drying was involved. This gave me time to contemplate and anticipate the next stage. I even stripped it down at one point and redid it. This was a very scary time as I was working with a glue gun and it was not easily undone and then redone!

So, after the layers of handpainted paper, I added three images of hawks (two on the front and one on the back) shell beads, wooden beads, and feathers. I also created a an amulet to hang down the front. The hawk images were in honor of the three hawks I saw on my way to the doctor’s office to get diagnosed with breast cancer. Seeing hawks is pretty common in Portland, but usually I see the birds circling high up in the sky. These three hawks were at the top of three separate trees (kind of like a Christmas tree angel) along the highway.

Part of the Art Bra guidelines was to submit the bra with a written explanation/story to accompany the bra. I based my bra on a poem I tried to write the year I was in treatment. I spent all year trying to finish this poem, and all I got was phrases and starts, but no cohesive piece. The phrase that I was really attached to was “this is where I wear my female power.” Thanks to the bra project, I was able to finish the poem and submit it with the bra.

So, here is the finished product…

 


I Wear My Female Power

by Deandra Ellerbe

I once wore my female power,
for all to see,
for all to admire.

Twin moon hung suspended in spandex and cotton;
Their gravitational pull brought many into their orbit.
These globes, full and shining bright,
knew their power,
and loved it.

I then lost my female power,
for all to see,
for all to pity.

The moons destroyed,
ground down,
pulverized;
they were reduced to dust and memory.

A scarred landscape was all that was left.
Empty,
Barren.
And I hated it.

I created my female power,
for all to see,
for all to fear.

A  breastplate of deceptive beauty,
Cups molded by steely resolve,
tempered by the fires of war.

I joined my sisters of pain and sacrifice,
battle maidens,
scar clan.

I have their power.
And I love it.

Art BRA Project Begins!

I thought I would post the first of my pictures for my art BRA that I am making for the Bratiste’s Traveling BRA Show. Since I am a mixed media artist, I decided to forgo anything resembling a real bra made out of cloth. My imagery that I am working with is the woman warrior…the amazon, the valkyrie. This was the archetype I used heavily while going through breast cancer treatment. I decided that I wanted to make a bustiere similar to a warrior’s piece of armor. I used plaster coated gauze (like what is used for casts) to wrap my model. My daughter was my model and i had to wrap her in plastic wrap first so that the plaster didn’t stick to her bra or her skin. This process turned out to be very messy!

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After I cut the plaster off of my model and patched it back together…I covered it in matte medium and let it dry. Then I began the collaging process. I handpainted tissue paper with gesso, acrylic paint and inks and then let it dry. I tore strips of the paper and using more matte medium, began to cover the bust. I also covered the inside as well. I’m letting this dry before I go on to the next stage.

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I’ll put up more photos once I get the next stage done!

Speaking Your Passion…How to Write a Great Speech

You need to write a speech and you don’t know where to start. What to do?

I start with my passion. All of my best speeches came out of my passion for the subject matter. My enthusiasm and sincerity helps me connect with the audience and promote my message.

So if you are having trouble creating a speech…start with your passion. Do some free writing about your passion. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling…just write. What do you love about your subject? What got you involved? What stories do you have that express your strong feelings for the subject? Once you feel like you’ve written thoroughly about your passion, go back and reread it. Is this your passion? If yes…then good for you! The first step is done! If no, what is standing in your way from expressing your passion? A big question to ask is, “Is this my passion?” If it’s not your passion, then why are giving a speech on it?

Once you have connected to your passion, the next step is to answer the question, “What do I want from my audience?” Pay attention to the emotions you are wanting to generate in your audience. Are you wanting to recruit members, clients or customers? Are you wanting to entertain? Are you wanting to educate?

Now go back to your writing and circle anything you wrote that might address what you want from your audience. If you are wanting to recruit members for your organization, go back to your writing and circle any parts that talk about what you have received from the organization, why you are a member, and why this organization is important to you.

Now comes the meat and bones of the speech. Make a list of facts and anecdotes and combine this with the parts of your writing that you circled. This will give you the broad view. Don’t worry too much about the order, just gather the information.

Read over the accumulated list and think like a member of your audience. Out of the list, which parts would draw you to organization/cause/product? What pieces would be most compelling to you? And which pieces address the emotions you are wanting to solicit? When you are wanting to have an audience laughing and happy, telling a sad anecdote is counterproductive.

Keep the most compelling pieces and let go of the rest. Practice the speech on yourself. Be both presenter and audience. Would you buy what you are selling?

The bottom line is to speak from your heart. Connect to your passion and trust that your message will find those people who need to hear it.

Why Collage?

I used to think that only people who could draw were “real” artists. There was something about figurative work that had that air of legitimacy. Or maybe I just elevated it because I couldn’t do it. I was lucky I could draw stick figures. So needless to say, I never really considered myself an artist. Then I discovered collage and mixed media.

It was love at first sight.

The mystery is a major part of the attraction. I like not knowing what I’m creating. I like the mess of collage, and I like the happy accidents. When done from an intuitive place, collage and mixed media is chaotic, messy and very deep.

I use layers of hand-painted tissue paper, images printed on rice paper, transparencies, modeling clay, ephemera…pretty much anything I find around the house or at the art store. I collect my supplies and then just start layering. Color is what draws me first, then images, then found objects. Working in this way helps me get around my own perfectionism. Since there is no “right” way, I can give myself the freedom to play and explore. It doesn’t always gel…but when it does, I can feel it. Somehow everything just goes together well…like a puzzle with all the pieces.

Once my piece is done, I can then look at it to see what my unconscious might be trying to communicate to me. I will often write about my art, allowing my left brain an opportunity to weigh in on the collage.

Collage for me is a practically perfect form of self-expression. The images speak to my unconscious, circumventing the linear left-brain that runs the show most of the time. After choosing the images and creating the collage, I then let my rational mind back to the forefront and do writing exercises about the collage…allowing the images to “speak” to me about their meaning.

Why collage? Because it’s a perfect blend of left and right brain activities, and the only training needed is the ability to get out of my own way.