Thursday, October 31, 2013

PPF: A Halloween Scene

Another awesomely fun Halloween has come and gone. Unfortunately, it was super rainy and windy here tonight so we had hardly any trick or treaters come to the door. I felt bad for the kids who stayed home! My daughter came home soaked but she sure had fun. In between opening the door, I managed to paint up a Halloween witch sitting on her pumpkin. Ok, I know she's not very scary, even with the BOO, but she's cute. That counts.

I managed a few decent drawings at the life drawing session today. This one is pencil on kraft paper, my usual.

I added a tutorial section to my blog this week. I wrote many articles for ArtTrader Mag over the years and thought I'd share them here occasionally, maybe update a few. I'll be writing up some new ones too as time permits.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tutorial: Day of the Dead Art Dolls

Since it's that time of year, I thought I'd pull out a tutorial I wrote for ArtTrader Mag a couple of years ago on Art Dolls for Day of the Dead.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that focuses on remembering family and friends who have died. Altars are set up in remembrance and people gather at the graves of family members with gifts of their loved ones’ favorite foods and drinks. Sugar skulls and skeletons are popular symbols of the holiday and are usually depicted as colorful and smiling.

Before we get started, there’s one thing to know about Polymer Clay—it can feel slightly hard and tough when it comes out of the package. But don’t worry. It just takes a few minutes of warm kneading in your hands and it will start to feel like putty or Playdoh. 

Materials & Tools List
  • Polymer clay, white and other colors
  • Small pliers
  • Eye pins
  • Jump rings
  • Charms
  • Dried flower(s)
  • Inking pens
  • Gel pens
  • Oven for cooking the clay (a kitchen oven is fine)

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is to gather your materials together and make sure you have the right size eye pins. I have a few different sizes in the picture above but I used the 1” silver versions for this project. If you only have larger eye pins, don’t worry about it, simply make a bit larger art doll or cut off some of the eye pin with wire cutters. There is no size requirement on these art dolls. See photo above.

Step 2: Knead your Polymer Clay to make it soft and flexible. This takes a couple of minutes usually. Using your hands, make your clay into a flat skull shape like the one pictured above. Mine is about 1/2” thick. Once you have a shape you’re happy with, you will need to insert an eye pin into each end of the skull, one in the top and one in the bottom. Make sure your pin stays within the clay. Don’t let it poke through. You will need to insert your eye pin slowly and carefully so you don’t distort the shape of your (still very bendable) molded clay.

Step 3: For making the bones, I simply rolled small, even pieces of clay and left a larger bit at either end to form the bone ends. I made my leg bones slightly larger than my arm bones. Please note that it’s not necessary to make perfect bones. Mine have fingernail scratches and are slightly different from each other. As long as they sort of look like bones, it’s all good.

Step 4a: The Body Flower Version 1 For the body of my Day of the Dead (DOTD) art doll, I made a big flower since flowers appear often in DOTD art. I used pink clay and rolled out one long snake and then cut it into fairly even 1 1/2” pieces to be used as the flower petals. For the next step, simply pinch each end of the mini snake together to form a petal shape.  You only need 5 petals by the way--one for the head and one for each of the limbs. Place the petals into a flower shape.  Create 5 new petal shapes in another color. I made mine in orange. Use another color clay to add a centerpiece on your flower. You can squish a circle and make it flat or wind some clay to give it a little texture. You might want to do the same on the other side of the flower. It’s not necessary but it looks neater.  Carefully insert your eye pins into the top center of each petal and push them in towards the center. Each petal will be attached to a limb or the head. Be careful not to allow the end of the pin to poke through the sides. It must go direct through to the flower center so it’s strong and sturdy to hold the limbs.

Step 4b: The Body Flower Version 2 If you find making petals too tedious, you could try a small cookie cutter for making your body flowers.  These can be decorated nicely with gel pens and paint so the plain, single color look is fine for now. My flowers are approximately 1/4” to 1/2” thick. My cookie cutter had 6 petals so I left one petal without an eye ring.

Step 5: Baking! Once you have all of your polymer clay parts made and the eye pins inserted, bake the doll in the oven on a baking sheet at 275 degrees for about 15 or 20 minutes. You will need to let them cool for a couple of hours or overnight before attaching them together.

Step 6: Lay out your skeleton and decide which charms you want to use for the hands and feet. In my photo above, I have some polymer clay feet I made as well as some shoe charms and other bits. I didn’t have two hand charms to use so I just used one hand and some playing cards for the second hand. The little black item in the top left of the photo is a plastic hat (from doll supplies) that I’ll be using to glue onto his head after decorating him. Using pliers to open the jump rings, attach limbs together through the eye pins. I use two pliers to open and close the jumper rings. You might have your own specialized tools for jumper rings, but I find the pliers work just as well.

Step 7: Decorate! Using your inking pen (I used Microns), draw on the eye and  nose areas along with the teeth. Give your skeleton a nice big smile. Decorate your flower with your gel pens and let dry.  Lots of flowers, swirls and dots can really dress him up quickly.  Have a look online for images of sugar skulls and Dia de los Muertos type art to give you decorating ideas and inspiration.  I used some embroidery yarn to create a hanger so my DOTD art doll could hang from a rear view mirror or on my wall.

Here are a batch of Day of the Dead art dolls I've made using the above technique!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Decos in the Art Ether

I made a bunch of decos this weekend and am sending them out into the art ether today. Maybe I'll see some of them again (I hope) and maybe others will find new homes. Who knows.

I'm fairly new to the world of decos since any art trades I make are usually ATCs but it sounded like fun so I'm giving it a whirl. Decos are little homemade art books that you send out to art friends around the world. Each person paints or decorates a single page in your book and then sends it on to someone else. Eventually, the book is filled with glorious art and returned home to you. These are a few of the themed decos I made: In the Style of Basquiat, In the Coffee Shop and Portraits & Quotes. If you want me to work in your artistic deco, send me a note! I much prefer hand drawn and painted decos since I'm not exactly skilled at collage.

Friday, October 25, 2013

PPF & Illustration Friday: Creature!

Sadly, I didn't really have much to share this week for PPF, til now. I am working on a lot of new projects but none for show yet. I did have a half done deco cover, lol. Then I saw the Illustration Friday topic and decided to paint up a quickie while I had my morning coffee. The topic is creature so I went with this easy little fellow. He's based on a painting I did ages ago on alien plants--he lived in the plants. Painted in Photoshop. And below are a couple of life drawings from yesterday's session. Both pencil on kraft paper.

Happy PPF! :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween ATCs + Gothic Beehive

Here's a few more of the ATCs made this weekend for the IllustratedATCs Halloween Art-A-Thon. I traded A LOT of cards over the past few days and have some beauties to add to my collection from my wonderful art friends. You can see some of the amazing cards people made on the front page of IllustratedATCs.

I also finished up a design for Mister Dress-up T-Shirts and hopefully, it will be available in their store soon. I'll post if/when I get details. This is a gothic beehive. I love gothic style and I adore ridiculous beehive hairdos so the two make a great combination (in my mind!). 

I used one of the faces I did for the 29 Faces challenge and reworked it a little. Saved me a bit of time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Paint Party Friday: Halloween version!

Woohoo! It's my favourite time of the year - Halloween! I love everything about it; the costumes, pumpkin carving, scary monsters, ridiculous amounts of delicious candy and chocolate and the annual Halloween Art-A-Thon at IllustratedATCs. This weekend, it's time to trade lots of Halloween ATCs with my fellow artists. Above are a few from last year's art-a-thon, all in acrylic. This year (below), I started off in markers and ink but I'm switching over to acrylic for today. No work at all today, I'm just painting pumpkins and witches.

Here's one of the sketches from my life drawing session yesterday. It's not too bad. I think this was a 15 minute pose. I didn't have the best figure drawings yesterday. Sometimes you hit a few winners and sometimes you suck. I did draw a REALLY bad set of feet with extreme foreshortening. It was tough and they still looked ridiculous. Feet are on the practice list.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fave Artist ATCs

Here are some of the Favorite Artist ATCs I made for a swap on IllustratedATCs. There's Klimt, O'Keefe, Gauguin, Kahlo, Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir.  I love this swap. It's one of my favourites since it's so much fun making and collecting mini reproductions of master class art. It's sometimes hard to fit it all in on one ATC (2.5" x 3.5") though. Mine are all done in colored pencil, except the O'Keefe which is in acrylic.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

PPF: A girl and her bird

Here's another painting for my portfolio (and Paint Party Friday). I like it but now it's really bothering me that her scarf is floating off in the breeze and her hair is sitting flat. Bit silly. Ah well.... maybe the fan is only far behind her hair, lol. Pretend you don't notice! This was painted in Photoshop.

I've been doing a lot of cool color paintings lately and wanted something warm and bright. Aside from her icy blue hair and winter scarf, she's warm. Really. Click for the bigger image.

Here are a few of the drawings from my life drawing session today with one of my favorite models. She always manages to find the good poses and best of all, she is such a still sitter. Anyone who goes to life drawing regularly appreciates a still sitter. The left two are charcoal (5 min poses) and the one on the right is colored pencil. That was a long pose.

If any of you are members are, please consider coming to join us in the Daily Drawing Group. We mostly just post art whenever we make it and provide feedback for each other. We also have weekly challenges and this week, it's Halloween Monsters. If monsters aren't your thing, then autumn scenery works just as well. I made mine (at left) as an ATC (ink and markers) and he's up for trade in the group. Come join in and trade me!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


For a special Halloween swap on iATCs , I made a set of ugly, gory zombies ATCs for my secret swap partner. These are done in ink with markers. I also made a stuffed (cute) voodoo doll for her but I didn't get a good photo of that one. From my partner, I received the most beautiful Day of the Dead calavera girl mask. I can't wait to wear it on Halloween!

If you're a member of iATCs, I hope you plan on taking part in the Halloween Art-A-Thon, happening Oct 17-20. We're making and trading art all weekend!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Paint Party Friday: Lipstick Swirl

Here's my PPF for the week. It's another painting for my portfolio called Lipstick Swirl. I'm trying to get more fashion related paintings in there since I love to paint ladies.

Next week, I'll have finished the painting I was working on for last PPF. I say that now, lol. There's always hope, right? :)

Happy PPF!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Girl with a Pearl Necklace

I finished the pretty lady with a pearl necklace that I started last week. This painting is for my portfolio and was done in Photoshop. I kept the pale skin from my WIP and went for a graphic style on the rest.

I have to do a new postcard mailing this week and wanted a few new pieces in my portfolio. Maybe a couple more before I send off the new card!