Thursday, July 19, 2007


Found an artist that I would recommend: Leighanna
Her figures and collages are nostalgic, gothic, almost creepy but at the same time illuminated. Just thought I'd mention her :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


In this tutorial we will learn how to make a collage. Things we will need:

1. Acrylic paints (or other paints of your choice).
2. Some brushes.
3. Golden Gel Mediums (you don't have to use this particular brand, but I find it to be better than other mediums on the market).
4. Gator Foam (a piece of wood will do as well, or hard paper although paper tends to warp).
5. Crafts Roller.
6. Scraps: images, printouts, nicknacks etc.

Before doing anything, I suggest gathering your scraps and picking a theme. It could be a color theme, a particular concept, a certain style - pick one. A theme will give your work a more organized professional (for the lack of better words), unified look. I don't want this to be a mish mash of colors that clash together or images that don't relate to each other. To me such things are distracting. (THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. FEEL FREE TO EXPERIMENT WITH JUST THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAID).

I like earth tones and I love red and yellow. Most of my work tends to circulate around these colors. I picked the topic of World War II and the memorabilia of that time. So my theme is pretty much set. Lay out your scraps, see what you like, what you don't like, what goes good with what. There is no sense in laying out the whole collage, because I guarantee that no matter what you pictured in your head, your end result is going to be different. In fact, I never know what I am going to end up with. It takes a life of it's own. I lay things out, I play with them, but in the process, I remove images, I add other images, I remove colors, I add colors. At one point I look at it and decide that it's done. After that, I end up staring at my work for a while because what appeared before me is not what I intended and so I stare at it and either like it...or hate it :-))

Before I do anything, I usually paint my surface. I mix the paint with a gel medium to make it a little translucent in case some spots are visible through the images later on. Whether to use use gloss or matte is up to you. Pick a couple of colors or one color and apply it to the surface. I picked red and yellow.

Don't try to be perfect. Just slap it on. Wait until everything is dry and lay out your images again just to get some idea of where things are going. Once again, perfection is of no issue here.

From looking at it I eliminate a few things. The kneeling lady has to go. I don't like her there. The tanks with the soldiers are not sitting with me well also. I will remove these and save them for some other time. Now before I search for more images, I am going to apply the ones that I definitely like. This will give me a starting point. I applied them using the same gel medium. Gel mediums serve as an excellent glue.

I applied the picture of a crying girl. I love that image. I always use it. The girl must be about 80 years old now if alive at all. In it's original format, the photo is black and white. I found some old white sheets and transferred the picture of a girl onto the sheet using the gel medium (I will explain how to do it later). Then I dipped it in colored water and let it dry. Moving on. If anyone is wondering how I got the paper to appear stained and old - I used coffee. Take a plate large enough to fit a standard piece of paper. I used a basin because I was making a whole stack of papers and envelopes for future use. Put some water in and dump some cheap instant coffee in it. I put a lot. Mixed it up. Submerge the paper (or whatever you want to color) in the water. How long to keep the paper in the water is up to you. If you want it darker, keep it longer. To get the dark spots, just sprinkle the grains of coffee where you want them. They will dissolve slowly with the water and form those dark spots you see in the picture. I would suggest doing the sprinkling after you take the paper out of the water but before it is dry. Lay it flat to dry and sprinkle coffee on it. If you want those spots a little lighter, just rub it a little with your finger while paper is still wet. Experiment with it.

I laid everything out again. I found some new images to use.

I glued on a couple of more pieces.

And some more. Don't worry about not liking what you see just yet. You can always apply other images on top of the ones you don't like. That will only give your piece more depth.

Before we continue, I will show you how to transfer images onto other surfaces. In this case I am transferring onto a cotton sheet. I like the way images transfer onto fabrics. Print your image but raise the contrast a bit. I am going to use this image of an eagle. Dip your finger into the gel medium and apply it directly to the image. Make sure to cover everything.

Flip the image over with the ink side down (you should have the gel medium on the ink side) and press into the fabric. Use a roller and go over it a couple of times. Make sure it's glued to the fabric.

Wait until everything is completely dry. Dip your finger in water and start rubbing the paper.

Use more water if necessary. After a while you should see an imprint start to appear on the fabric. Be careful not to rub off the ink. Continue until all the paper is gone and you are left with the image imprinted on your fabric. Now add some color into the water that you just used and dip the fabric into it. I put a little bit of red color that sank to the bottom

When I dipped the fabric into the dish, I rubbed it against the bottom of the plate to get some red on the fabric. This is what the end result looked like after it was dry.

I glued some more pieces on:

And some more images on.

This is not done yet. I am going to stop for now. I'm tired. Will continue tomorrow :-)

If you would like me to do a different tutorial, leave a comment. If I am able, I will do it. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wall Art

In this tutorial we will learn how to create a simple wall plaque similar to the one shown below:

Keep in mind that you don't have to use the colors that I use or the mounting material. I usually use gator foam, but you can use anything you find around the house like wood or plastic. Just make sure that what you choose has a good enough surface for spackle to stick to. As far as colors go, I tend to gravitate towards the earth tones, but that's just me. Don't be afraid to try other things.
This project will actually go on my wall. I have an empty spot in my bedroom that is just begging for a matching piece.

I am going to cut a long piece of gator foam amounting to the combined length of the two plaques that are already on the wall. Here is the stuff we will need:

1. Regular Spackle (don't buy the light stuff).
2. Spackling knife.
3. Golden gel medium (matte) or any other type of sealer like polycrylic protective finish (water base ones will produce less harmful fumes) or polyurethane (stinks to high heaven). Whether you want gloss or satin is up to you. I used semi gloss on my previous pieces, but I think for this one I will use satin.
4. Gator foam or another material of your choice. Note: if you pick gator foam, make sure to buy the stronger one. The light stuff might warp a bit under the weight of the spackle.
5. Paint - Cheap acrylic crafts paint will do. If you want you can also use gel stains. Sometimes I use color washes.
6. A couple of pieces of appliques. You can purchase them for a couple of dollars in lumber yards or on the internet. They don't have to be wood. The cheaper ones are made of urethane (high density foam). Since we are going to paint them anyway, the material that the appliques are made out of will not make a significant difference.

Let's get started. Lay out your piece of foam or wood and play around with the position of the appliques.

Once you are satisfied with the look, remove the appliques and start applying spackle to the surface. Don't worry about it being perfect or even. We are trying to achieve just the opposite effect, so put that spackle on as sporadically and unevenly as possible. Make sure it's a thick enough layer for the appliques to stick to, although even if they fall off, you can glue them on later. Don't wait for the spackle to dry. Take the appliques and push them in where you initially planed to put them. Make sure they're fit nice and snug into into the spackle.

Wait until everything is completely dry. Here you will have to make some choices as far as the colors goes. What color do you want your appliques to be? What color background? Do you want a solid coat or a transparent wash? If we want solid colors, then we simply paint it with the color of choice. If we want transparency, the we will use color washes and stains, but before we start with any of these, let's cover our piece with a coat of satin polycrylic protective finish (don't cover the appliques). This will seal the spackle and make it a bit smoother to work with. Now, let's take a color (i picked yellow) and apply it to the surface. Again, don't try to make it perfect. This is just a base coat. Wait until dry. Take a gel medium and apply on top of the base coat. Make it a very thin layer. The reason I put the gel medium on it is to make a smoother surface. You can use matte or semi gloss. It's up to you.

Now what we are going to do is apply another color mixed with a "gel stain medium". I work in small patches. Put it on, then wipe it off with a rag leaving more color in cracks and crevices. Note that for this step you can use regular gel stain that you can purchase in any hardware store. I didn't have any on hand, so I mixed the paint with the gel stain medium to give it some flexibility when wiping it off. You can also use color washes. Put it on, wipe it off. You can't screw this up because like I said before, the more uneven it is, the better. After you're done, pick a color for your appliques, or paint them the same color. It's all up to you. After everything has dried, apply a protective finish of your choice.

That's it. You're done. If you're wondering how to hang this on the wall, I use Velcro if the material is light enough. If you would like me to do a different tutorial, leave a comment. If I am able, I will do it. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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Distressing A Picture Frame

In this tutorial we will learn how to distress a picture frame. If you're into shabby chic, then this project will be perfect for you. For those of you that are not familiar with this style, shabby chic look basically involves taking new objects and giving them an old worn out look that you would see in your grandmothers house. I know this does not sound appealing, but when done correctly, it turns your surroundings into an inviting and cozy place. Nostalgia can be extremely cozy. Whether it is a picture frame or a piece of furniture, our goal is to make it look as though we had it for years. I have a side table in a hallway that was done this way. My grandmother, upon seeing it, offered to cover it with a coat of paint. I had a hard time explaining to her that this was done on purpose. She just couldn't understand it. To her this type of furniture means poverty. When I told her that some of these pieces are sold in trendy stores for hundreds of dollars, she was shocked. I don't think she beleived me. In any case, enough talk and let's get to distressing. Things you will need:
1. sand paper fine and coarse
2. painting brush (the cheaper the better)
3. wooden picture frame
4. candle (or wax)
5. reguar paint in two different colors plus white (here you can use any combination you want. One color and white will do just as well)

If your frame has a glossy finish on it, do sand it a little bit so that the paint will stick. Start painting the frame. It doesn't matter whether you choose red or green. I chose red first. I use satin finish because there isn't too much gloss in satin. Allow paint to dry completely to the touch - about 25 minutes depending on the paint.

Before we put the second coat on, we have to rub some candle wax on the frame. Our goal is to later expose corners and edges because these are the places that would normally see heavy wear and tear over the years. You can rub in other spot as well to give it a really beat up look. The reason for using candle wax is to prevent the second coat from sticking to the first. Some people use paper cement which works good too, but I try to stay away from it due to the smell and fumes. Don't be shy with the wax. Put on a lot. Later on you will take a piece of coarse sandpaper and scrach off at the places where you rubbed the candle wax on.

Now put on a coat of green (in your case it might be red if you started of with green). Wait until the paint is dry.

Take that sand paper and fold it to form a sharp edge. Start scratching at the spots where you put the candle wax. Once you see the red coming through - stop. You don't want to scratch the red off. Scratch next to the exposed red if you want more red to show through. How much you want to expose is up to you.

Once you're done with the sand paper, we are going to rub candle wax again but with a little trick. Make sure you put a lot on the exposed red and on the green surrounding it. In the end you want red and green to show through the white, so put that wax on both colors. We want the picture frame to look as though it's been painted many times over the years with different colors and now some colors peeled off and we see all three. Put a coat of white. Wait until it is dry to the touch. Grab that sand paper again and start scratching where you previously rubbed the candle wax on. You should see both colors coming through now.

When you are satisfied with the look you might want to lightly rub with fine sand paper just to get rid of any loose pieces of paint if there are any. You're almost done. In order to keep paint from scratching during use, I usually throw a coat of water based minwax polycrylic protective finish (clear satin) on it. It will seal the paint and give it a matte, slightly off white finish.

Hope you have fun with this. If you like me to do a tutorial that is not listed here, leave a comment. If I can, I will post one. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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