Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's Finally Here! It's Christmastime!!

As we enter into the heart of the holiday season, I want to take a moment to wish you the very best of the holidays and to wish you a outrageously happy, fabulously creative, totally inspirational New Year!

Thanks to all of the creative souls that have passed my way through Imaginary Trips.
I am honored to be a part of your creative journey and
I hope to see you again soon in the Imaginary Realm!

As you celebrate the holidays, I hope you're surrounding by love,
laughter, friends, family and too many yummy things to eat!

From my house to yours, 
Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Forcing Artistic Endeavors...

...seldom works well for me.

In a very recent (as in yesterday) conversation with an art friend, we were discussing our lack of motivation to create art at this insanely busy time of year.

I'm not even sure I would call it a lack of motivation. I think it's more of a redirection of time, talent and interest and it's deadline driven.

You see, it's not that I haven't been creating. I have, I have! Just not in my journal.
Very quick sketch of my new door tree
on hot press watercolor paper
I recently purchased two new "trees" to go on either side of our front doors. I had a ball decorating them with all kinds of red and bright, acid green trims. I have also redone the wreaths that go on the doors as well.

However, when I tried to paint them....well, let's just say it became "forced fun" and it didn't go so well. It was damp outside and I had a running litany of all the things on my gotta-get'er-done list as I attempted to sketch the trees. I rushed the painting and it was taking forever for the paint to dry because of the dampness.

The result...not my finest piece of work. Do I wish it were better? Of course.

Do I wish it enough to s...l.....o.......w down enough to do a better job? Not at the moment.

Does that mean I'm slacking? Hmmm, maybe. Maybe not.

Let's take a look at the definition of creativity. Does it apply to just creating art or does it also apply to decorating the mantel, making (and decorating) adorable, delicious cookies, sewing cute stockings to be hung by the chimney with care, and wrapping each present with extra attention?

For me, it is all of the above. Well, except for the cookies. I do cakes rather than cookies.

I also find that I have ideas hitting me rapid fire—so rapid that it's hard to keep up with all those really fabulous ideas that I want to act on if I just had the time.

This is where my journal really starts coming in handy. Instead of just creating art, I capture ideas. 

When I want to remember that cool snowman I saw, but instead of a red top hat, I have the idea of adding a long scarf with a blue sky cap so it would look like my cousin when he arrives for the holiday gathering, I put it in my journal!

How about that really cute holiday display I saw down in the town square that made me think about the small village I have packed away that I could use to recreate the scene on your mantel? I can sketch out a quick idea in my journal!

Sometimes, it's just words that inspire, like an idea for a greeting card or a gift tag, maybe even a gift. I write it down!

Maybe it a gorgeous play of reds and oranges with a mix of acid green that looks so stunning that I want to remember it for next year's decorating. I. Write. It. Down!

Using our journals creatively to help us capture thoughts and ideas rather than stressing over whether we're filling enough pages or the art is good enough is the true beauty of keeping a journal.
The Finished Page with a little bit
of ink to help add definition

If you don't want to use your regular journal, create an idea journal and carry everywhere so that you can capture those wisps of inspiration when then happen to float by!

The idea here is to make our journals and sketchbooks work for us so that we can recognize all the fun ways we're using our creativity as well as to capture all the ideas that we have when we don't have the time to act on them.

Try keeping a creativity list and write down all the ways you've been using your talent and creative/artistic skills. You'll be amazed at how quickly the pages start to fill up when you start thinking about the various activities that require creative thought!

How are you using your journal this holiday season—are you creating art or capturing ideas?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No More "Mistakes"

Art Time. Precious words, aren't they? Especially this time of year when we're all so busy.

Surprisingly, I found myself with some art time on my hands and made my way to the studio.

I managed to step away from the computer a good part of the Thanksgiving weekend and I started on a couple of pieces of art that are going in a new direction for me.

Which I can't show to you just yet.

However, that's not going to stop me from talking about a very profound experience I had while painting...I made a mistake (and no, that's not the profound experience I'm talking about.)

It's been a while since I've done any work outside of my journal and I should have been expecting a slip, but I wasn't.

I was giving myself a really good tongue lashing, talking about how stupid I was to make such a mistake and that I should know better. I'm telling you, I was really giving myself a good thrashing. I was furious.

Here's the odd part—the mistake wasn't fatal to the piece of work. Mistakes are seldom fatal. Annoying, aggravating, and irritating, yes, but they are seldom fatal. It simply meant I would have to work in a different way to "fix" the piece.

In the middle of my tirade, I realized what I was doing and stopped. After all, if you've been on an Imaginary Trip with me, you know that I encourage making mistakes because that's how we learn.

Taking a breath to calm down, I asked myself, "Okay, what did I learn?"

As the question settled over me, I felt the tension ease and the feeling of defeat began to dissolve. I didn't feel quite so bad about messing up. And I was no longer tempted to quit and walk storm out of the studio.

As I started to evaluate what I had done and what I would do differently if I started over, I could easily see where I had gotten into trouble. By asking what I learned, I minimized the situation rather than make it gargantuan when I was busy insisting it a mistake.

You may be thinking semantics. But I disagree this time.

Take out a piece of your own art that you've made a mistake on and ask yourself, "what did I learn?"

Take note of your breathing, how tense you are, and how you feel about yourself when you focus in on the mistake. Are you still mad at yourself? Angry that you messed up the sketch? Now, think about what you learned. If you truly focused on figuring out what you learned, did you feel the tension and anger drain away?

Are you feeling tempted to pick up your pen again rather than being so annoyed with yourself that you had no desire to create another page?

That feeling right there, my friends, that feeling of wanting to try again rather than quitting is what I'm talking about! That feeling is the key to not only creating more art, but also to feeling good about it! For me, it's priceless. It means less downtime, less de-motivation, and more confidence!

Cool, huh?!

Now, if you're like me, you'll see a lot more application of "What did I learn?" than just art. It applies to just about any part of our lives where we're less than perfect.

So for the holidays, I am going to ask you to give yourself a gift. Remove the words mistake, mistakes, screw up, messed up and any other similar words from your vocabulary until the end of the year.

If things go in a different direction than you planned, ask yourself what you learned rather than beating yourself up. Take note of feelings, thoughts and your energy level. Take note of whether you finish the page and start another or if you still hang your brushes up until the feeling of defeat fades.

Give yourself the gift of no more "mistakes" by focusing on what you've learned. 

And please let me know what you've learned here on the blog!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Got It Covered!

I have been on a kick the last few weeks to finalize several projects that have been languishing in my studio. I'm hoping this kick will continue until at least the end of the year. 
My NOLA Live! Journal has been moved, shuffled, and piled, ignored, dropped, lost misplaced and then found rediscovered, but it still laid unfinished until this weekend.
I don't even want to tell you how many times I moved the darn thing rather than just going ahead and finishing!

It probably took that long because of the need to find the mat cutter, cut the board down, come up with an idea, paint it, unearth my binding machine in the very back, bottom corner under a stack of heavy boxes and finally do the binding and finish up the final touches on the cover.
Am I thrilled to have this done!?! YES! But talk about going from to Orlando from Tampa via Omaha?! Good grief! Since this is a Stillman & Birn sketchbook, I could have just as easily used with the original covers and glued a piece of watercolor paper onto the front and been done—months ago.
Still, I'm thrilled to have it done. The photos don't begin to do it justice as there are a lot of subtle color changes and details that are not visible. I deliberately left the title dateless as I've decided to put the second NOLA trip (November 2013) in the second half of this journal.

I still need to create a title page and a list of all the wonderful artists who joined me. Then, I think I'm done. Until November!

The cover was created using watercolor, acrylic ink a stamp, and a stencil. The title block is a separate piece of watercolor with hand lettering that's been glued down to the cover for added dimension.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go Vote!

Go and exercise your rights. 

Go vote. 

Go be a part of history in the making. 

Go vote. 

Go and be heard. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

And The Winner Is....

...well, before we get to that, some of you mentioned wanting a larger peek. Since Blogger now limits the view size of the art, I thought I'd post a couple of peeks of different sections of Nature's Classroom.
Detailed View of Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita
I noted that there was a bit of commentary on the amount of detail that I've included in this piece of work. Left to my own devices, I would paint details to the point of ad nauseam. Like most things I have found that I need to strike a balance between my need for details with other pieces that are fast and leave a lot to the imagination.
A detailed view of Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita
The really nice thing about this painting is that when I found myself craving the detail work, I could work on this piece to satisfy that obsession while continuing to do quick sketch work in my journal. When you are as attracted to (obsessed with?) details as I am, it takes time to learn that not all artwork needs to be detailed.

It comes down to what I'm trying to say in the work or a feeling I'm trying to evoke. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes, more is more. Learning to "see" what works best takes time end lots of experimentation not to mention practice!

Without further delay, our winner is....rrARTz! Congratulations, Randi! 
Send me an email with the address of where you'd like the print mailed.

For those of you that are interested, you can purchase a copy of the print below using the PayPal button. Prints will be available on the blog at a price of $24.99 USD plus $5.00 shipping in the US for the next 7 days.

After that, the print will be moved to Etsy and will be $34.99 USD plus $5.00 shipping.

As always, thanks so much for the kind words! You make my day and make me want to keep painting!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nature's Classroom - GIVEAWAY!

Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
9 x 12 inches
watercolor, acrylic, ink, gouache, and graphite
Please click to enlarge
Three or four years ago, I got an idea to paint old "specimen cards" that looked like they came out of a kid's science kit. You may remember them—they had a few slides, a small, low-powered microscope, and a manual about how to find "specimens."

I decided to start with a Google search of specimen cards. I came up with a lot of interesting hits, but nothing like I had in my imagination. I set about drawing out my idea and combined it with a paintbrush. The brush seemed more appropriate as much of my learning has been acquired at the tip of a paintbrush.

After the cards were drawn and painted, I decided to add some of the items from my personal "nature collection." Over the years, my husband and family have learned to save dead bug carcasses, butterfly wings, and bird egg shells (among other things) for me. Odd, I suppose, but each item is cherished!

From there, I was stuck. What to add next? Finally, I happen to be taking some photos of my journal with my palette sitting in the photo as well. I decided to add the palette. The palette itself is an old one from Winsor Newton that has 18 quarter-wells. A month or so later, I stumbled across a pair of binoculars my husband used to collect—into the painting they went.

Again, I lost direction and the painting laid, neglected and unfinished, for nearly a year.

The issue was that I could not figure out the background. I thought about rocks, grass, pebbles, or some other surface—outside. I wanted to get it finished, but just couldn't quite see the background working out. One day, Chris and I were in the studio and he asked why I hadn't finished the painting.
Nature's Classroom
© Laure Ferlita, All Rights Reserved
9 x 12 inches
watercolor, acrylic, ink, gouache, and graphite
Please click to enlarge
I told him about my dilemma and he immediately started making suggestions. When he suggested the surface of his antique Federal Reserve desk that he uses as an art desk in his studio I knew that was my answer! It was a reddish oak with heavy graining and years of abuse—perfect!

Well, almost perfect.

I had not taken into consideration that I might be doing a dark background and I needed to figure out a way to keep the binocs from getting "lost" against such a background. I knew a piece of paper would work, but what kind of paper?

I wanted something that would tell a story. I had recently purchased some old French letters from an online store and with them came an old air mail envelope. That became my model with sketches and notes on it as if I had gone to the post office and become captivated by the falling leaves.

For balance, the compass and leaf were added. Now I only had one "blank spot." Imagine my joy (and relief) when the new hardbound  Stillman & Birn sketchbook arrived! A sketchbook! Yes! The final piece.

Nature's Classroom was (finally!!) completed this month. It has a little bit of everything in it as fair as medium goes, but the majority of it watercolor. I love the fact that there was never a "still life" set up—it was all created piecemeal until it came together as a whole.

To celebrate the successful conclusion of the odyssey, I will be offering one 8 x 10 print* of Nature's Classroom as a giveaway!  This is a win-it-before-you-can-buy-it deal. I will be offering the prints in my Etsy shop after the giveaway.

If you'd be interested in winning this print, leave me a comment below about what you've learned in Mother Nature's classroom! 

*This giveaway is for one 8 x 10 inch print of Nature's Classroom. This is for the print only. No copyrights or rights are included. The print may not be reproduced for any reason without written consent from the artist.
Please leave a comment (just one, please!) on this post by Thursday night, November 1st, at 12:00 am EST. The winner will be announced on Friday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sassy, Rich, Decadent Reds!

Watercolor and Ink
5.5 x 7.5 inches
From "An Imaginary Visit To Autumn"
Online Class
Are you out and about taking advantage of the glorious show that Mother Nature is putting on right now!?! Whenever I go to an area that is just brimming with over-saturated reds, golds and rusts, I do my level best to try and capture all those shades, hues and tints of color on my page.

There is no better time than Autumn to really play in all those glorious colors we have in our paintbox. What happens when we mix red and green, red and gold or red and teal? Do you know? If not, or if you're not sure, get out some scrap paper similar to what you sketch on and create some color charts:
Just a few color swatches to see what I could create
with the color combos on my palette
Play, have fun, explore...this is the perfect time of year for it! What you learn in Autumn will come in handy when you go to paint the reds of the holiday season, the buds of Spring, and the blooms of summer!

There is no such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to watercolors and the occasional refresher color chart will make you glad you decide to play a little!

So, what are you painting for Autumn? Please share!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Falling Into Autumn

As I visit friends around the blogosphere, I see signs of Autumn everywhere. Fires in fireplaces, folks in sweaters and jackets and Autumn's bounty have begun to show up in images posted over at Flickr and on the blogs. 
Watercolor and Ink
3.5 x 8.5 inches
It is not yet Autumn here in Florida though we have had a few low-humidity days that makes it feel as if Autumn is just around the corner. There's also been a change in the light quality that indicates the seasons are grudgingly giving over to change. 

The art pictured above is a piece I created a few years ago. So far, we haven't had much in the way of color, but we do have a bountiful crop of acorns! I'll be working with artists in An Imaginary Visit To Autumn starting October 18th. We'll be focusing on capturing the rich, varied hues that make this time of year such a pleasure to capture in our sketchbooks!

If you're interested in joining us, please click here for more information. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ever Wonder Why?

Taking Flight
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5 inches
Who among us has not wished they could do something, like sketching or painting, with ease? 

How about draw or use color the way another artist does? 

And the perennial favorite, wished we could draw/paint/sketch just like _________________ (fill in the blank with the name of the current "art hero/heroine").

How many times have you thought about quitting, threatened to quit or actually taken the steps to quit because the process was a struggle, the work didn't turn out right, or worse, didn't turn out like that lovely piece of work in your mind or like your favorite hero/heroine's work? Again.

I've quit.

I've lost track of the number of times I've quit "art." 

But…one thing stays the same….sooner or later, I hear the siren's call and I have to pick up pen, pencil, brush and paper all over again. 

If you've quit, what made you come back?

Ever wonder why we do this "quitting" only to come back? And why do some of us quit over and over again?

Any thoughts you'd like to share on why or what you've learned? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Making the Most Out of Downtime (House Renovations)

It would seem that I'm going to get more "mileage" out of this house renovation than expected—both figuratively and literally. 
The project has"tentatively" expanded again, however, I'll be saving those details until we actually see if the product is going to work the way we want it to. But because the product is on clearance, I took myself over to the next county to pick up more boards—you've no idea how upset I would be if this works and we didn't have enough materials! It would NOT be pretty. 
It seemed only fair that if I were picking up the boards that I should have a little fun along the way. Since I had to pass a Hobby Lobby on my way to the store...I just had to stop on my way back! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), they didn't really have anything that spoke to me. 
Part of the problem was that I was hungry. There happened to be a cute little place called Firehouse Subs in the same shopping center and they were busy, busy, busy. It's a chain sub shop—you may even have one in your neighborhood. At this location, when you walk in the door, all the workers call out, "Welcome to Firehouse!" There is one woman who works there and she has a very strong northeastern (New York?) accent. It's always a treat to hear her!
"Welcome to Firehouse!"
Watercolor and Non-Permanent Ink
5.5" x 11"
Pineapple Sketchbook
I decided to do some sketching while I waited for my "Hook and Ladder" sub. One of the sandwich makers happened by as I was sketching and asked what I was doing. I replied I was sketching. She glanced at my sketch and then asked what I was sketching. I pointed to the wall with the "retired" fireman's jacket, pants, and boots. The hat was imaginary. I added it for balance. She glanced at the wall and back at the page and said, "That's pretty good...actually."

Her response made my day. I smiled the better part of the afternoon! 
I didn't have time to add color at the restaurant, so I did it last night from memory. I had used a non-waterproof pen to sketch and wasn't sure at the time if I would add color or not. 

I had lit a "autumn-season-smell-good-type of candle and as I was dousing the match in a stream of water, decided to set it aside to use later on my sketch. Once some of the water had dried, I used it to add "soot marks" to the fireman's outfit. I then used my finger to rub it in a little more. 

No one but me will ever know what I did, but that's okay. It was a fun way to add a touch of texture to the sketch!

Wishing y'all an awesome weekend...I will be embroiled in a home renovation. What will you be doing?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes and House Renovation Projects

Pumpkin Pancakes at IHOP
Watercolor and Ink
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5 Inches 
Have you ever notice that a home improvement project will take over and totally eclipse your otherwise sane life?

If you answered no, consider yourself lucky. If you answered yes, you commiseration is greatly appreciated. We are reluctant do-it-yourselfer's. We're too picky about what we want and how we want it done to hire out the job so we always end up doing it ourselves.

Chris and I have decided it was finally time to tackle the long hallway in our house. The hallway that has 7 doors and slightly resembles a hotel hallway. (What was the builder thinking?!)

So there is our first challenge...we decided we would try to "disguise" two of the doors by making them less obvious.

Our second challenge came from the fact that the people who built this house did not prime any of the walls. They used the old, thick wallpaper paste and glued wallpaper up—over drywall. Oh yay. Can you say damage?

The prior owner removed the wallpaper as it was very (VERY) dated. In the process of removing the paper all the walls were left with an "interesting" texture. If it had been a texture we could have worked with, great, but no. Instead, it looked like exactly what it was—damaged. In fairness, I have to say I don't think anybody could have removed the paper and the glue without damaging the walls.

Our third and final (?) challenge is that this hallway is in the center of our home and you don't go anywhere without accessing the hallway. That meant there was no way to shut it off and work on it. If we tried to drywall, even with wet sanding, we'd be cleaning dust long after the cows had come home and the chickens had roosted. (In case you've forgotten, I am NOT nor will I EVER be a good housekeeper—there are too many other things I would RATHER be doing!)

So, we've looked at textured paint products, heavy wallpaper, paneling, drywall textures, and something else I'm not recalling to the point of ad nauseum. Without success. Nothing looked promising as the walls are so messed up. We were quite perplexed.

Enter the power of the internet.

I was surfing the web in search of paint grade v-groove planks that were not 5/8 of an inch thick. Oh yeah, there's another challenge...the hallway's not particularly wide and it's dark. We don't want to make it narrower nor darker.

After getting frustrated with all the big DIY box store web sites, I started thinking we were going to have to "settle" for a product that neither of us were crazy about but would do the job. To blow out a little of the frustration I switched over to looking at pictures on Google.

I stumbled across a very talented woman who had used paint-grade v-groove planks to redo her dining room ceiling! Oh boy! Not only did she show a photo of the product, she also mentioned where she purchased it. A year ago.

To make a long story a little shorter, I skipped over to Lowe's yesterday to find out if they still carried the product as their web site was not answering my questions. Sure enough they had it, but it was on clearance. Yay! Oh, wait, oh no...

Luckily, I had managed to find one of those super nice, super knowledgable, super helpful sales people. He helped me source the additional planks we would need at another store nearby.

After picking up our spiffy new planks, we came home and reevaluated our project—and right before our eyes—it expanded! Poof! Just like that.


We were going to need even more boards. So bright and (too) early this morning, we hiked over to IHOP for breakfast which just happens to be conveniently located right across the street from Lowe's.

Since I love just about anything pumpkin, I was delighted to see Pumpkin Pancakes on the menu! As for the wonky sketch of them above...I can only say that I had not yet had any coffee when I started rather captures the mood of the morning with all its wonkiness! And the pancakes were delicious.

After returning to Lowe's, we bumped into Mr. Super Helpful Sales Guy and he once again helped us to locate the additional boards we need. Yay!

All this and we haven't even started the project. And yes, it has taken over our lives. I rather dread the coming month.

Have no will be hearing more about the ongoing saga, and maybe, just maybe I'll be able to wrangle some more of those pumpkin pancakes out of the deal!

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's Fall, y'all!

I am so happy Autumn has arrived! It is truly my favorite season. Life seems to start slowing (fingers crossed), at least slowing enough that I can start to savor the passing of the days. There's a sweetness to the air when I go outside—on some days. Others, it's just plain muggy.
Yay! First pumpkins are showing up on the shelves!
Colors change, growing warmer, and the light changes especially. Love the long, cool shadows and warm golden light at the end of the day.
Just a few leaves have started to change color
I find that all I want to do is sit and paint leaves and pumpkins and landscapes and harvest corn and sunflowers and coneflowers and scarecrows and ravens and naked trees and tea bags and coffee mugs and outdoor fires and and and!
Dreaming of beautiful fall colors! 
Now, if the weather would cooperate and drop about 30 degrees, it would actually feel like fall—until then, I'll just have to live vicariously through all the folks living north of the Florida state line!

And if you'd care to join me on An Imaginary Visit To Autumn, you'll find more information here! It will be 4 all new classes to sip and savor Autumn's beauty. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Info on A Journal-MAKING Workshop

© Lori Vliegen's Journal Making Class

I just came from visiting Lori Vliegen's blog, Elvie Studio, and she's going to have a Journal-MAKING class next month! I've seen one of Lori's journal's up close and they're beautiful. I would imagine she'll have all kinds of fun things to share and tips on how to get the journal you want.

P.S. She's also giving away a spot for free if you're interested!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Watercolor Painting On Old Pages - Tutorial

St. Francis of Assisi in the
Beauregard-Keyes House Garden
Watercolor on Old Book Page*
As promised as a consolation prize for those that did not win the palette, this is a tutorial on painting on old paper with watercolor! If you tried to paint on old paper without any prep work, chances are very good the paper would just fall apart on you. At the very least, it would crinkle and wrinkle to the point of not being recognizable as a book page!

With a little bit of prep work, you can turn the paper into a great painting surface!

Waste Paper to protect your work surface
Old pages* from a book, letter, etc.
Mat board cut to size for your page
Gel Medium
Clear Gesso
Large soft brush
Soft eraser

Gather all your supplies first. Reading the tutorial all the way through will also make it MUCH easier to understand the steps and come out with a success new surface to paint on in the end! (Trust me, this is the voice of experience [ahem!] speaking!)

1. I used acid-free mat board as a backing board from my pages. The pages I'm using are from a book published in 1945 so I know the paper is not acid-free. With this process, with the barriers between the board and the paint, it will help to make the surface acid-free for longer period of time.

Because my pages were 5.5 x 8 inches, I chose to put them on 8 x 10 inch boards so they would be easier to frame. Adjust your boards to whatever works best for you and your page size.

2. Lightly mark the corners of the page on the board in pencil as guides so that you'll know where to position the page once it's ready. You may need to erase those marks later if you don't line up completely on the line.
Lightly mark the corners on the board as guides
Click to enlarge
3. Protect your work surface with a piece of waste paper. I have a piece of parchment down on my desk. You can use clean newsprint or any type of paper so long as it is larger than the page you are working on. 
Waste paper
Click to enlarge
4. Using gel medium and a soft brush, start in the center of the page and work out to the edges. Be sure to cover the entire page and all the pages. You don't want any globs of medium, just a thin coverage from edge to edge. 
Paint the gel medium from the center of the page
to the outer edges. Be sure to cover the whole page.
Click to enlarge
5. Once the gel medium is on the page, pick it up, flip it over and lay it down on the board using the pencil marks as guides. Use a brayer to roll out any air bubbles and to make sure it is pressed down to the board. You can use an old credit card instead of a brayer, but be careful! That old paper will tear very easily!
Use a brayer to make sure to get out air bubbles and to
get a good seal between the two pieces.
Click to enlarge
6. If any gel oozes out from under the page, carefully wipe it up with a paper towel or tissue.

7. After I had my pages down, my mat boards started to curl and bow. To stop this, I placed all the boards down on my work surface, put down a piece of waste paper and weighted the boards down with books and magazines. They were weighted down for about 4 hours. If it's raining or humid, you may need to let them stay under the weights overnight.
Weight the pages and boards down if they start to curl.
Click to enlarge
8. Once the pages have dried, erase any guide marks on your board that may be showing. Erase carefully, the paper will bruise or tear easily.

9. Pour some clear gesso into a small container and using a soft brush, brush on the gesso. Start in the middle and work out towards the edge. While you are doing this, you may notice some air bubbles coming up between the board and the page. Mine did the same thing, but it dried flat and did not interfere with the painting process.
Paint the clear gesso out to the edges of the page.
Be sure to get an even coverage.
Click to enlarge
10. Once the page is dry it will feel a bit like sandpaper! Draw out your image and begin to paint with regular watercolors. The pencil lines will be much darker than on normal watercolor paper due to the gesso. You can lighten it some using a kneaded eraser if you choose. Be very careful erasing on the paper as it will damage quite easily and the paint will adhere differently (darker) in areas that have been erased too roughly.

I have not tried this technique using a lot of water but rather light washes to build up color. You may have to wait longer for the paper to dry than on regular watercolor paper. Once dry, there is no reason to seal it, but you can if you want to using an acrylic gloss spray sealer. Be sure to use it in a well ventilated area! It works best to use 2 or 3 coats allowing them to dry completely between applications.

I do find it easier to do several pages at one time rather than one-by-one.

Good luck with your pages and please let me know how they turn out!

*A Note About Old Pages - the pages I used came from a book published in 1945. The author died in 1970 and her estate still holds copyright to the book. The copyright on any creative work is good for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

When I checked into whether this was a copyright infringement, I was told it was not because I am not altering her story or words, you can still see them through the artwork. I was told that it may be considered by some to be a collateral work or a derivative work, but not an infringement.

However, because this work is destined (hopefully) to be donated to a museum in the author's name and the author's grandson is on the board of directors, we're trying to determine if any infringement has occurred as the museum director felt there was some question on the possibility of infringement.

I urge you to be careful in using old pages from books in your artwork. Creating the work just for yourself and not for profit does not protect you from copyright infringement but can save you from lawsuits. The laws of copyright are there to protect us, but the law is not always crystal clear because there are many instances, like this one, where the laws become an interpretation.

Drum Roll, Please!! (UPDATED)

Let me start with a great, big THANK YOU to everyone who left comments—what fun! I'm kind of sad to see it end....which tells me I'll probably be doing this again!! (I also have more art supplies that need a new home!)

As we were drawing the winner this morning, my husband commented that it was too bad we couldn't do something for 2nd and 3rd place as well. Since that's not possible, instead I have another idea....

In way of a consolation prize, I'm be posting a "how-to" tutorial on how to turn old, fragile papers into watercolor paper that can easily be painted on! Please check back later today.

So without further ado....our lovely tin watercolor palette goes to....

This is GORGEOUS! and very practical, too! I would be thrilled to win it. - jgr

jgr, please contact me via the email box on the sidebar to send me your mailing address!

THANKS again to everyone for playing!!


Update: Several of you (who do not need an intervention!) asked where I purchased the palette/tin. I bought it at the Papyrus store in San Francisco. There is an online Papyrus store as well, but they do not carry them. 

When I phoned and spoke with a woman at one of the stores in SF, she did not recognize the description of the tin and said they didn't have any more. She mentioned that these tins are usually seasonal items they receive with the graphics being season-appropriate. You might want to check anyway and see if they have something you like even better!! Good luck in your search!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1st Ever GIVEAWAY at Painted Thoughts!

What could it be!?! A pill box?

Painted Thoughts Blog's 1st Giveaway!!
I have wanted to do a GIVEAWAY for a long while now, but it had to be just the right item! I've looked for a long while, and finally, I think I've found a very special item for the 1st giveaway! I must say it's hard to let go of this little goody, too...

So, ready!?!

Love the lilacs on the top!
How about a mint tin?

Getting closer!

How about a palette made from a mint tin!?!

3 x 2.75 inches or 7.6 x 6.98 cm - perfect for your pocket!
12 pans just waiting for your preferred paints!
This sweet little palette tin is 3 x 2.75 inches (7.6 x 6.98 cm) and holds 12 half pans—the perfect size to slip into your pocket or purse so you can sketch on the go! I picked this up while I was out in California as I just loved that graphic on the top.

If I didn't already have so many palettes, I'm not sure I could part with this one, but then again, I need intervention when it comes to art supplies, so y'all are the lucky ones (unless, that is, you need intervention too)!

The inside has been prepped and painted with a white gloss enamel for easy mixing, cleaning and to tell what the color will look like on your paper. The half pans are secured with rubber cement so that if you decide to change up your palette, you can easily do so.

Now, if you'd like to be entered to win the 1st Ever Painted Thoughts' Giveway, just leave me a comment below! I will have my own personal version of the Random Number Generator (Chris) pull the lucky winner on Friday, September 14th at 8 am and I'll announce the lucky winner a little later that morning here on the blog!

Please leave comments on this post to be entered to win. Contest closes at 7:30 am, Friday, September 14th. 

Good luck!!

The Giveaway is Now Closed! Good luck to all who entered!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Artist: Sketching On Location (and Being Photographed!)

Donna Vacca, one of the artists from the Imaginary Trips online sketching classes, recently emailed me after she returned home from a three week trip to several European countries (lucky girl!!). Donna joined me earlier this year on an Imaginary Visit to a Japanese Garden and an Imaginary Trip to Greece

Donna is fairly new to watercolors (but not to art) and she wanted to combine two of her passions—travel and art–on her upcoming trip. She took the two online classes as a way to help her prepare. Take a look at her gorgeous pages! I'm posting her delightful email below:

Hi Laure, 
I want to thank you again for your fabulous online classes that helped me practice and achieve such personal satisfaction with my art skills. Working with different tools [in the classes] helped me pack my supplies knowing what would work for me. I often made use of the fountain pen and waterbrush for super quick sketches (something I had never used before your classes).
During August I traveled in France, Switzerland and Italy, sketching and painting in my journal as we went along. I managed to do 16 pages over 3 weeks.
Here are some of the pages:
Eiffel Tower - 15 min. on site and embellished later at the hotel 
Moulin Rouge - Painted leisurely from memory, 4 sessions on the bus
Venice - 50 min. on site (while being constantly photographed by tourists!)
Donna Vacca 
Eiffel Tower by Donna Vacca
Click to Enlarge
Donna Sketching at the Eiffel Tower
(Note that she's standing up!)
Click to Enlarge
Moulin Rouge by Donna Vacca
Click to Enlarge
Gondola by Donna Vacca
Click to Enlarge
Donna sketching in Venice
Click to Enlarge
Sixteen pages in 3 weeks—that's incredible! Some of the things we work on in the classes are what tools work best for quick sketching, how to take advantage of those small windows of downtime (waiting for the bus, the train, dinner, the lost passenger, etc.) and how to go with the flow and enjoy the experience.   

Thanks, Donna, for sharing your fabulous pages and experience with us!

P.S. Don't forget to check back for the GIVEAWAY tomorrow!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sketching At Lunch And A Special Announcement!

It's kind of cool to go to lunch with a friend that "gets" sketching during the meal, even if it is for celebratory reasons.
Neighborhood Bistro
sketched with pen and watercolor
in my
Pineapple Sketchbook
This was a new restaurant that I'd not been to before nor had my lunch partner. We decided we were in the mood for something different and it had come highly recommended (how many little bistros do you know that have their own chef?!).

The restaurant was at the end of a strip mall with each storefront different from the next to give the feel of a small village. I had intended to sketch my meal, but I was too busy eating to sketch it. Maybe next time.

One of the coolest things was their logo—it strongly reminded me of a logo we saw in NOLA last year, but then I've had NOLA on the brain for the last few days!

Lunch was good, the company superb and the day an absolute delight!

It's also a delight to come back after being gone nearly two weeks and see all the new folks that have joined the blog—welcome, my friends! I'm so glad you're here!

The technology war continues and it's still impossible to tell who is winning. However, I'm going to be doing the first ever Painted Thoughts' GIVEAWAY next week, so please check back next Tuesday to see what the giveaway is and whether you would like to win it!

Hope y'all have an awesome weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Meet My New Beastie!

You thought that was a typo, didn't you?
My Best Beastie Forever!
Earlier this month, Chris and I decided to replace our old "beast." Others would refer to this as exercise equipment...I would not. I started out calling our first exercise machine the Beast because, well, it was a beast.

It could give you a beastly workout. It would hurt you if you weren't careful.

But the computer brain started dying.

And it was hard to challenge yourself because according to the computer you never went faster than 1 MPH. Sometimes the clock worked, sometimes it didn't. Not much fun if you can't challenge yourself. And so the beast turned into a forgotten pile of metal and plastic parts upon which the dust faeries dance.

Enter the Millie Beast.

She is a much more brutal Beast than the prior Beast. She and I have spent the first couple of weeks circling around each other, feeling each other out, getting acquainted.

Then, one day out of the blue, she kicked my backside. All the way to the curb.

Just like that. No warning. No by the way. She just laid waste to me like I was a wimp (which I am, but don't tell her that).

And I decided that I would show her who was boss.

So she kicked my backside to the curb again, and she didn't even have the courtesy to break a sweat or breathe hard.

That made me mad. And I decided I would get even for that last like kick-butt she gave me....

I unplugged her from the wall.

Take that, Millie Beast!


And now for our guest artist's addition to the original sketch:
Thanks, Chris, for making me laugh out loud!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Imaginary Trips' Kits at Daniel Smith!!

To view the Web page, please click here
They're here, they're here, they're finally here!! The new Imaginary Trips' Basic Watercolor Kit and the Imaginary Trips' Complete Kit are now available through Daniel Smith! You can learn more about them by clicking on their names or by following the link under the graphic.

This has been a long while coming and I want to thank all of the wonderful "travelers" that made this happen. All of you who have joined me in adventures big and small, trip and visits, foundations and explorations, thanks for making this a reality!

For those of you who already have a kit, you can still shop at Daniel Smith and save! Enter the following two codes at checkout to save up to 15%! Please enter WSCHOOL2 and TRP00362 at checkout. Please note the discount will not apply to the kits as they've already been discount MORE than 15%!

Your purchases will accrue points and when the points add up, Daniel Smith will be issuing gift certificates that I will be giving away on the blog and on the live trips with Imaginary Trips Made Real!

Again, thanks to all who have helped get Imaginary Trips and Daniel Smith together!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pen Practice in my Junk Journal

Pen and watercolor
Junk Journal
8 x 10 inches
One Thanksgiving evening some years back, I was puttering around in the studio without enough live brain cells left to actually create art, but still hankering for a creative outlet. In the days prior to the holiday, I had set aside some magazines and an old journal from my college days to be recycled.

My eyes fell on the journal and I decided to get some use out of it before I recycled it. It was old, the paper cheap. The pages were beginning to yellow just a bit, but other than the first 30 pages or so, it was blank.

I grab a couple of pens and went and plopped down on the couch and started to draw out some ideas that were buzzing around in my brain. I wanted them out of my head and into the world.

Too tired to care, I grabbed a turquoise and lime green Sharpie® markers.  Rather than go with the usual black ones, I played and scribbled and scratched.

It didn't take long for me to realize there was "gold" in this old, cheap journal. Creative gold!

There was no pressure to make "good enough" art. There was NO expectations that I would do anything with the journal other than test ideas, practice pen work or do thumbnails. I tried watercolor just to see what would happen...the paper puckered up like it had kissed a lemon!

The paper was so thin I started to use a piece of cardboard between pages to keep the ink from bleeding through to the next page, but if it did, no problem, I just scribbled on the page anyway. I was free to play without worrying about wasting "good paper." It felt fabulous!

If you're anything like me (and I think you are!), how often have you bought a fabulous journal thinking this will be the one, the one that you'll really start using today...only to get home and put it on the shelf with the other fabulous journals you have bought because you can't quite bring yourself to work on the "good stuff?"  

Do you make promises to yourself (like I did) along the lines of "when I get better" or "when I learn how to," then you'll start using the good stuff?

Let me suggest a compromise...get a junk journal and one pull out one of those fabulous journals you've put up on the shelf. When you have an idea for a journal page, use the junk journal to play, test out your idea, your layout, your lettering, or anything you're not sure about. Then, create the page in the "good journal."

You may still be nervous to be using the good stuff, but having played in your junk journal, you're much more likely to get results that you like.

I highly recommend either getting a junk journal or finding a journal you've purchased in the past and not used because of the paper quality/performance. Try playing and practicing in it before jumping into the good stuff—you'll be surprised.

The other cool thing about keeping a junk journal is that it becomes a treasure trove of ideas and progress! You can look back through the journal and see ideas that may spark a new idea for today as well as see the progress you've made with your drawing and layout skills.

My junk journals have become priceless tools!
The sketch above was done the other evening when, once again, I had very few active brain cells. It was fun to play with no expectations of finished art, but rather just an opportunity to create without expectation.

Adding the watercolor on a whim, I was surprised to see that this paper didn't buckle as badly as the very first junk journal I started with, however, ink bleed through is still an issue.