I've been busying myself making new small-format originals for a mega-update of my Etsy shop & thought I'd list the first four pieces yesterday & then post about them here in my blog this morning - & guess what? They all sold overnight! Hooray!!
So, I thought I'd show you what I've been working on anyway... I'm really interested in making these collaged geometric patterns from vintage paper lately - I'm quite happy with how they're working out. It's so satisfying to take a piece of dusty, forgotten paper, deconstruct it, & give it new life.
What interests me is how once you take a printed image out of the context of its completeness by cropping it into tiny details, you're prompted to look at it with a new objectivity - each little piece of paper becomes quite enigmatic & beautiful. Then to integrate it into this pattern that has so much depth & detail...it's really satisfying!
I love the mellow colours & textures & the way the patterns emerge. I try not to be too rigid with dictating what goes where, but I do like to try to create a sense of balance & harmony.
I have a few different designs in the pipeline, but the size & complexity of each one is limited by the brittleness of some of the paper & the fact that I hand-cut them all - in large quantities. It's tempting to get a digital diecutter to extend the scope of what I can do, but there's something nice about them being a bit wibbly & flawed. Sitting there snipping away has given me something to do in those moments where you just want to zone out & watch trash TV or engage in some chit-chat or something.
And now, to this...
THE PAPER CHASE
Finding new sources of interesting paper is not easy - so I've devised a little plan. If you have any found paper laying around that you don't mind parting with & posting to me, I will in return, make you a collage with some of the paper you send & ship it back to you, keeping the rest of the paper for my own projects. You get a little artwork, I get some paper joy!
The types of paper I'm interested in are not necessarily rare or valuable ephemera. I'm looking for mainly pre-1970 paper (although I do use more recent, & brand new paper sometimes too, so a little of that is fine) such as the following...
Extra great would be ephemera from different cultures - China, Japan, India, Mexico, etc. Colourful, decorated paper is nice, but not essential - some of my favourite pieces are regular white paper that has aged to varying shades of yellow & brown.
If you're interested in participating in the Magic Jelly Paper Chase, just send your little bundle of found paper to me with your return address. What you send me will naturally influence what I make for you (what a great challenge!) but I might also use some paper from my own collection, including some of my own test prints & illustrations. I don't expect you to send a massive bundle, but of course, it needs to be a fair exchange, so a nice little collection of bits & pieces would be good! The resulting artwork I make for you will be small-format, around 4x4" to 6x6" or thereabouts. Depending on where I need to ship it, turn around time will be 2-4 weeks.
Please send paper to:
P O Box 542
Welland. South Australia. 5007
As well as making sure to give me your return address (so I can send your collage!), if you could please enclose a little note with your package letting me know your email address, Etsy username (if you have one), site/blog url - that kind of thing - so I can contact you & mention you in my blog. Thank you!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me.
I'll be sure to post more about this project in my blog when I start receiving some paper goodies & making the collages to send out. Hooray!
...with paper continues... I've just given myself blisters from cutting hundreds of little paper shapes for a new collage project. Someone needs to invent scissors with fur-lined handles. Fake fur of course.
After cutting (what seemed like) the 40 billionth shape, I started fantasising about buying a digital die-cutter, but for this project at least, part of the beauty is in hand-cutting the paper.
I really do love paper & ink...I hope my passion for them shows in my work. The finished collages, which are bases for paintings & prints, are just so tactile & lovely...all the mellow, aged papers & the different textures & patinas. The blisters are worth it, darn it!
Notice anything different? Take a look at the top of my left sidebar...pretty spiffy, eh? Turns out Julian Lievano (of Heart-o-Matic fame) is not only the Evil Knievel of glass blowing, but the Steve McQueen of coding too. He made this nifty little gallery widget especially for my blog. Thanks Julian, I love it! :)
In other news...a new Melbourne-based online art gallery was launched last week called I Vote for Art. You can buy lots of amazing giclée prints & original artwork there, & it's nicely interactive because not only can you buy art, you can vote for your favourites & leave comments too. The artwork that receives the most votes makes it to the front page.
I'm very happy to be selling my work there, so please go & vote for me so I don't look too sad & pathetic! At the moment, I only have one piece for sale, a little original drawing called Pan Drives a Volvo, but I'm on the verge of completing a couple of new gocco prints & some more originals, so there'll be more for sale from me soon! Meanwhile, go check out all the incredible artists selling their stuff there.
I'm holding off on my next giveaway until I have my new stuff finished, so stay tuned...
Toodle-loo for now! :)
Here's a little preview of two new Gocco print designs I'm working on. Both involve quite a bit of colour & detail, using four screens each, so I'm having lots of fun (make that headaches) working out the colour separations. One of them is going to be a 6.25x9.25" print made on the larger Arts Gocco & the other is a standard 4x6" design. Still a lot of work to do, but I thought you might like to take a li'l look at my progress!
Stay tuned...I'm putting together a Gocco photo tutorial when I make these prints, & will be posting it on my blog.
I've been lucky enough to appear in four Treasury lists on Etsy's front page recently. The latest was curated by the exceptionally talented Sonia Romero, who along with the equally amazing Marissa Lee has started an Etsy Street Team for printmakers called Printsy. So if you're an Etsy seller who makes original prints, or a printmaking appreciator, go take a look! It was so great to make it to the front page of Etsy in such good company - what beautiful prints.
In other news...I'm working on sprucing up my blog, so things will be looking a wee bit different around here quite soon. I'll also be announcing the May Giveaway in a few days. Don't forget, you need to subscribe to my mailing list to be eligible to win!
Oh! Almost forgot! Fellow Etsian & super-duper artist Andy Mathis let me know I've been included in decor8's list of favourite Australian blogs - how nice is that? I'm honoured! It's brought masses of traffic to my blog & lots of new subscribers!
And I'll leave you with quite possibly the greatest video ever to grace the pages of You Tube. It was brought to my attention by my best friend's partner Stevie who found it via Eartha Kitsch on Flickr. How have I ever lived without it? Enjoy! :)
In an effort to kick start my creativity for the new year, I'm committing to making a collage a day for at least two weeks.
Take a look at my enticing box of papery goodness...old letters, receipts, maps, books, some gocco test prints of mine, & other miscellaneous bits & pieces. I've also cut up a nice little pile of 6x6" card blanks ready for my first collage in the morning. Can't wait to start!
I created a Flickr group that anyone is welcome to join who'd like to get busy with scissors & glue. No need to set strict parameters for yourself if you don't want to - it's all about having fun - so come & play!
I'll post the results in my blog as well as upload them all to the Collage a Day Flickr Group.
I was digging through some old work today & came across this 'volley' I did for a game of Photoshop Tennis. If you're not quite sure what Photoshop Tennis is, the basics are that someone makes a picture in Photoshop, then passes it to someone else, who somehow alters it, then it's sent back to the original person (or to a third player) who alters it again, & on it goes...
The element I used from the image that was sent to me was the paper hat - the rest I made in Photoshop. Apart from the photograph of the little boy on the pull-along sheep that I scanned & digitally coloured, everything else in this image I made from scratch in Photoshop - the cloudy sky, the marble, the winged heart, the floorboards, the lapis lazuli backdrop, the moon & the stars.
This picture is from years ago, & my skills have improved since then. At the time, I had trouble making convincing looking fabric - the curtains appear hard & plasticy - but with time, I worked out it was just a matter of blending modes, & I can make realistic looking fabric now.
I look at this image & feel envious of the time I had back then to play & explore & experiment. I was working for someone else at the time, & I had plenty of free time after five to fiddle around with Photoshop for my own education & amusement. Not so lucky these days - self-employment eats up a lot of my day (& night) - but I'd love to be able to make pictures just for fun sometimes, & not to pay the rent.
And I look at this image & remember the first time I ever sat down in front of Photoshop at art school. I had no intention of studying digital imaging - I didn't even own a computer. But when I walked into my first class, & opened this confusing program full of tools & palettes, it took me back to childhood Christmases when my mum would give me boxes of art materials...rows & rows of coloured pencils, oil pastels, watercolours & felt tip pens...& a big sketchbook full of crisp white pages just waiting to be scribbled in. I remember the excitement I used to feel when confronted with the infinite possibility of paper & pencil...& that's what Photoshop seemed to be when I first sat down in front of it - even before I knew how to use it - a magical paintbox of infinite possibility. And I still feel that magic.
Who would ever guess how hard it is to find a good piece of brown kraft cardboard (or pad board, or chipboard, or whatever you want to call it)? I spent months earlier this year phoning paper merchants, tapping out desperate emails, feverishly ripping open posted samples, only to be disappointed time & time again. That Goldilocks gal knew what she was talking about...it had to be just right. By right I mean the right colour (more brownish than grey), the right texture (nice & pulpy, but not too coarse) & the right weight (thick enough to hold the weight of a pocket mirror without bending). Are you bored yet?
Anywaaay...I finally found the right cardboard & we're very happy together. I know the people who buy my merch have absolutely no idea of my relentless search for (& obsession with) cardboard. They don't know how much thought & care goes into designing my packaging - or even that it's hand-printed - but I hope, when they see one of my products propped up on a shop shelf, it calls to them & makes them smile, & maybe even convinces them to spend a little money.
I'll be listing some drink coasters in my Etsy shop next week, & the week after that, some button packs. I'll also be announcing my first monthly giveaway in the next few days - only subscribers to my mailing list are eligible, so don't forget to join!
Well, yesterday was my birthday & I waved goodbye to my 30s. I also just happened to finish my current sketchbook the same day (I rip through at least one a month) & my new scanner was delivered. So put it all together & what do you get? A blog entry with some scans from my sketchbook.
I'm a perfectionist by nature (& I don't mean that in a good way) so I have to approach my sketchbooks with the attitude that they're for my eyes only & it doesn't matter how messy & unfinished they are. If I was too conscious of showing them to other people, it'd defeat the purpose of having a place to scribble down the seeds of ideas that may or may not grow into something. So for that reason, my sketchbooks are not particularly interesting...but here are a couple of the less scribbly pages.
You might recognise the fox from my Fox & Flowers print. The colour samples are gocco inks.
In other news...I've been adding more pages to my blog, including one about my mailing list (there will soon be a link to it in my sidebar). Just wanted to let you know that subscribers to my mailing list will be eligible for monthly giveaways & the first one will be held at the beginning of November, so go join my email list if you'd like to be in the running for regular Magic Jelly freebies!
People sometimes ask me about my photo manipulations - how much of them is real, & how much is digital trickery. I thought I'd post a few before & after pics...I don't know about you, but I find them interesting to look at.
Firstly is the original photo I used for Gone to Earth: Plate One. As you can see, I even gave the poor boy a new face!
Although photo manipulation, retouch & restoration aren't my main line of work, I still do some commissions from time to time, & also like to do them sometimes just for enjoyment. I find restoration very relaxing...kind of like unravelling a big ball of tangled string (but rather more creative!), you can zone out & just lose yourself in the painstaking detail of the task.
It's incredibly difficult to colourise a B & W photo convincingly. Sometimes you want that flat, over-painted look that has a kind of retro quirkiness, but other times you might want to bring the photo to life in a more realistic way. Skin tones are particularly hard to do. No one's skin is uniformly one colour, you have to add those subtle variations like a little redness on the nose & maybe blueish shadows under the eyes.
A friend of mine bought a cardboard folder full of glamour photos from the 1940s & I had a lot of fun messing with them. As you can see from this example, the original has degraded with time; the mid-tones & shadows are quite flat. I've tried to freshen it up, not only with colour, but also bringing back some dimension with tonal adjustments, & painting in some highlights. Her face & arm are quite flat in the original so I've rounded them out in the colourised version with some airbrushing. The hair is still pretty flat & there was not much I could do to bring back the lost detail. I've added a few subtle highlights, but I didn't want to overwork it & make it look too painted.
I've had these Moleskine notebooks half finished for a few months now. They need something...I'm just not sure what yet.
My love for brown kraft is bordering on obsessive. But who can blame me? It compliments almost any colour & has that beautiful, tactile texture, almost like wood. It's oldschool, low-tech & utilitarian. It takes ink really well. And it smells good.