Experimenting with Different Mediums

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11:29 AM
Last night, I had such an itch to paint and draw. I cleared the area where I usually do this which resulted in me not drawing for over a week. I tried to satiate the urge by watching a few art tutorials on YouTube, but finally in the wee hours of the night, I gave in. In times like these, I turn to my trusty altered book.  It has become a "safe haven" for me to try different techniques and mediums without inhibition.

In my art school days, I accumulated various supplies, and two of these items, Acrylic Fluid Matt Medium and Acrylic Fluid Gloss Medium, struck me as an interesting start. I have 2 oz. bottles of each, made by Windsor & Newton which were included in my art school supply kit. I also had a mysterious liquid in a baby jar that looked like watered down white acrylic paint.

First I applied the runny paint to one page to test my theory.  It was exactly what I had guessed. It just soaked into the page and made it damp. On another page, I applied Acrylic Fluid Glossy Medium with some white acrylic paint straight from the bottle and after it dried, I tried drawing on it with a mechanical led pencil, but it was too slick for my liking. On another page where I applied Acrylic Fluid Matt Medium with white acrylic paint and after it had dried, the pencil glided smoothly and eventually a doodle formed in the shape of a mermaid.  I was also able to erase my stray marks with ease.


After erasing some stray marks (I wasn't too concerned since it's just my altered book after all!), I used a black Bic pen to trace the main shape. I used a watercolor pencil inside the mermaid after wetting the page slightly. The water stayed on the surface of the page, allowing the color to be blended without soaking into the page. Then I continued drawing some doodles with the watercolor pencil in the background. After it dried overnight, I used my Koi watercolor pallet paints to darken the area around the mermaid, then after a few minutes, used Bic pen to doodle in more swirls. I outlined the mermaid with a white Gelly Roll pen but wasn't pleased at the opacity of the pen.  Using a thin brush and white acrylic paint would have worked better.

I'm pretty pleased with how the Acrylic Matt Medium made the book page sturdy and prevented the paper from pilling (when the paper fibers flake off). It also allowed the watercolor pencil and watercolors to be workable without soaking in to the paper. I will definitely be using this technique in the future! 

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Owls in my Mail Art

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12:29 PM

The mail art continues! Since March, I've been sending out mail art with my doodles and illustrations on the front. Since I draw so many little owls, I figured I will share my original illustrations by sending them out into the universe along with personalized letters!

At times, I only have a small pad of paper in my purse and a few minutes to sketch, so I quickly draw the owl.  Later on, I get back to it, tracing it with a black pen, preferably a Sakura Micron.  Then, I take a tiny brush and wet it and use the tips of my watercolor pencils to add color. Because of the tiny size, minimum water and color is used.  Despite how small these illustrations are, it's quite fulfilling seeing the end result.

Made from scrapbook paper doodled with a teal Sharpie, washi tape, and plant sticker.

Made from a magazine ad, doodled with a black Sharpie.

Above, I used a white Gelly Roll medium pen to trace around the owls to make them stand out. Since it was on glossy magazine paper, I had to go over it a few times to get a layer of white that I was happy with.

Made from scrapbook paper.

The above envelope was made from a piece of scrapbook paper that was originally a faded out yellow color. I used some inexpensive Crayola watercolors to make the blue background, since my son was right next to me playing with them. :)  The dark blue swirls on the bottom left are also Crayola watercolor.  I cut out the owl with my tiny surgical scissors I bought on eBay years ago. Next, I added some collage elements: lanterns, garden globes, and snow cone, all taken from a Bed Bath & Beyond summer sale catalog.  I used white acrylic paint and a tiny brush to add the dots and the white liner around the owl.  Then, I added the stamp and washi tape and used Sharpie to write on the washi tape.
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Writing My Blues Away

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11:43 PM

Watercolor Doodles made into an envelope from a template. 

In the past couple of months, I've noticed my severely dipping moods due to a somewhat harsh winter.  It hasn't helped that there would be some hope in the weather warming, then the snow would return the next week.  For example, today is the 2nd day of Spring, yet it snowed on and off during the day.

As a former Californian, the lack of sunlight in this East Oregon life has caught me off guard and I now know the true effects of the Winter Blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  This caused me to step away from the whole social scene, dropping off of my usual online channels, social networks and my virtual world of choice, There.com. The one thing that I have been able to focus my lacking energy into is writing letters, and creating mail art.

I drew Sad Clown, cut him & his word balloon out, stuck on a surf magazine page.

It seems like quiet activities that don't require electronics have been ideal for me lately.  The touch of paper has a strange soothing effect.  Along with letter writing, I've also been writing more and more in my journal, and slowly getting back into painting.

In a post I wrote in 2010, it looks like I was going through similar symptoms and withdrawing in the same way.  Read about it here.

How do you handle the Winter Blues? I'm curious to know, so please comment below, or better yet, send me a letter!

May Beltran
P.O. Box 1092
La Grande, OR 97850
USA
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Mail Art Doodles

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5:34 PM


Sometimes I get a hankering to write a letter or two. Last year, I put my snail mailing on the back burner and I truly felt the void, getting only bills and junk mail. This year I've been making more of an effort to write letters. Not only is it strangely therapeutic, but it's a quick fix for my doodling addiction and lets me dabble in collage if I'm up to it. It's also a non-committal art.

My process for mail art usually starts with a hand written letter.  This usually takes a few half-hour sittings. After the letter is written, I look for a magazine page I tore out previously, or a scrapbook page depending on occasion and the person I'm writing to.  I'll either use a template I made of an envelope I liked the shape of or just eyeball it and fold the page into a reasonable size, gluing it together with Tacky Glue.  Then, I'll dig through my scrap pile pick out a piece of paper that might or might not match the envelope.  Then the fun part comes with doodling all over it, affixing some stickers, washi tape, stamps, snapping a picture, and sending it off.

I'd like to correspond with more artists, illustrators, and Etsy shop owners who also like sending mail art. If you like sending and receiving bright, artistic, and colorful mail, write to me:

May Beltran
P.O. Box 1092
La Grande, OR 97850
USA



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Building Creative Habits

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3:27 PM

I've been asked recently by somebody who graduated from an art program but hasn't been working in the field how to get back into drawing. I explained to her that it's like exercising. (Just like blogging, right?) You can't just expect yourself to run a full mile when you just start up.  You have to first commit to a strict schedule, do some stretches, then walk more than run, then over time swap it, and eventually do more running than walking, then do all running. Theoretically this is easy, right runners and bloggers? I explained it this way because this particular person seems to be fit and I was trying to speak her language. I personally don't run and don't often exercise. Shame on me!



For artists who want to get started back into a creative schedule, there must be some time in your day for art. This can be the tricky part. There are always excuses that make it "OK" to put your art on the back burner. I know this for a fact as a first time mother of an almost 2 year old boy, and now recently unemployed from a place that I worked at for almost 6 months that had nothing to do with my art career. It was a hard lesson to learn and eventually passion trumps the need for money.

If you are an artist, allow yourself time to create. You are a creative person. Why would you neglect your creative needs? To me, sleep is overrated. I will stay up an extra hour or two, in bed, with an LED book light just to get my doodles onto paper. They may forever stay hidden in my sketchbooks on a dusty shelf, but at least my creative brain muscles were allowed to play. 

So, go on. Grab that envelope of an old bill and a ball point pen and doodle the next time you're on a boring phone call, or waiting for food at a restaurant with poor service. It's OK to let yourself be creative because you are an artist.
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