Mixed Media

These past two weeks, my painting classes have been working with watercolor.  The assignment was an experiment in mark making & finding inspiration outside of their normal studio habits.  To overcome the hurdle of a blank sheet of paper, students were encouraged to play with texture, transparency and pattern. In my studio over the weekend, I set out to do the same. On Saturday, I began by laying down watercolor washes, drops, brushstrokes and mists on paper measuring 6 x 8".  Sunday, the painting continued in gouache and thin layers of acrylic.  By Monday, I was drawing back into the images with gel pens.  These petite paintings were a fun way to kick off the new year in my studio.


2014 Lopez Center Painters

Art classes across the city are taught by the Go! Arts Program through Bihl Haus Arts.  Visual arts (drawing, painting) and creative writing teachers are brought to senior centers, encouraging creativity and expression.   For the past year, I've taught the advanced painting class at the Alicia Trevino Lopez Center.  The center is run by the city of San Antonio and the WellMed Charitable Foundation.  One of my students told me that since she has been painting, her health has improved immensely; she no longer needs some of her medications.  Others have expressed this same sentiment.  Their friendship, excitement to learn and create is inspirational.  Over the course of our weekly meetings, they have studied perspective, portraiture, color theory, art history and techniques in both acrylic in watercolor.
On the left, students work on their watercolor paintings.  Above, right, Tomasita adds the background to her garden scene.  I've sincerely enjoyed getting to know my students, learning about their lives through their art.

These paintings were done by married artists Lucila & Ernesto.  For the project, they chose to work on views of their yard from memory;  Lucila painted the back & Ernesto painted the front.   They didn't see each other's art until they finished!  Looks like paradise.
The National Institute of Senior Centers recognized the Go Arts! classes as a program of excellence; my class is pictured with the award in the creative and expressive arts category.
 Above, Bonita, Teresa & Brenda with their paintings.  Many students began working larger last semester, which is very exciting!  Teresa painted her sunset scene from a vacation photo for her grandson; the canvas is nearly as long as she is tall.  Below is our class from the summer session; lots of creative energy!


Nick the pirate dog

The latest of my pet portrait commissions is Nick.  I was asked to dress him as a pirate and had fun in my studio designing clothing to suit the little dog.  Whenever preparing a new commission, I always start with the background.  It helps having that first layer of paint for the other colors to build upon.  I began by making a sketch from the photo, and adjusted the scale to leave enough room for the costume.  After drawing a few possible outfits, each was overlaid in tracing paper to find the best fit.  I like to work with my drawings on tracing paper, because the pieces can be moved around to see how it all works together.  The little parrot was added as a finishing touch, to push the pirate look, balance the composition and create contrast.  The sketch was then transferred to the cradleboard (5" x 5" x 3/4") using carbon paper.  After the underpainting, details were added to finish the portrait.


DIY Fringe Necklace

I've had this pom-pom thread in my studio for a few years now, just waiting for the right project.  Before the new year, I combed through my studio and found supplies from my days using thread in my prints and collages.  I began this newest wearable art construction with a huge bundle of turquoise embroidery floss, roughly 30" in length.  I wove the magenta pom-pom thread into the braid and tied it off.  Black paracord served as the base for this necklace, looped around itself at the back so the necklace can slip on and off without a clasp.  Where the cord and braid met, it was stitched together to reinforce the seams. I added a length of black and white bungee cord along the inside of the braid and stitched it along the curve to prevent the necklace from flattening out when wearing.  I discovered this black fringe on a trip to JoAnn Fabric with my mother-in-law. The final step was to add the whips of colorful embroidery thread around the braided ends.


DIY: Tassel Necklace

I've been on a wearable art kick as of late, coming up with different designs and textures for necklaces. Supplies have been purchased at Home Depot & Lowe's (for rope and paracord) as well as JoAnn Fabric (trim and embroidery thread).  After the Christmas DIY I followed to make a necklace for my friend's daughter, I was inspired to invent my own wearable designs.

Happy making!  Tag #foundherestudio on instagram if you create one of your own!

Materials:  I began with two loops of magenta paracord (melt the ends of the paracord with a lighter to prevent fraying), about 20" each, a plait of cobalt blue trim from JoAnn Fabric, a 10" strand of black paracord, embroidery thread and baker's twine.

Getting started:  I didn't measure exactly, just tested for fit before I stitched and wrapped all the parts together.  The paracord was looped around itself to start the necklace and prevent the need for a clasp (see picture on left).  The ropes & trim were all joined around the collarbone; I used tape to hold it together and check for the right fit in the mirror first.  After determining the ideal length, the paracords and plaited trim were stitched together.  Lastly, the necklace was flipped over so the back was facing up for the tassel steps.

Tassels: I made five out of gray embroidery thread; the thread was wrapped 20 times around a piece of cardboard measuring about 6" long.  The thread was then slid off the makeshift template, the ends were cut & doubled around the black paracord (see photo above), leaving the tassel at 3" in length.  Each tassel was spaced out along the base of the necklace, tied off, then stitched through the loop to the cord.  Doing this step with the necklace flipped over backward is important, so the knot is hidden from view.  Stitching the tassels in place also prevents them from moving around and ending up in a big clump.  The last step was to hide all the seams with a whipping of embroidery thread in different colors.


Pinterest DIY: embroidery floss necklaces

Mollie Makes provided the inspiration for this necklace DIY.  My friend's daughter Mia was the recipient of my first try at the embroidery floss craft. Mia and her mom, Rikkianne, are always crafting awesome things together.  After finishing up my painting commissions, I got back to making wearable art.  This project was simple enough; I began by unwinding a handful of threads bundles in pastel shades, plus a few strands of black & white baker's twine.  My knots weren't quite as large or closely spaced as the original, but it got me thinking about different ways to adapt the design.  The images below are my subsequent attempts at these soft necklaces.  They are a little rough around the edges, but improving with each new design. The whip is helping to disguise the knots and ends.

As I continued to look online at embroidery thread necklaces, I came across a Proenza Schouler DIY on the site Honestly WTF & another inspired by Holst & Lee.

This last necklace incorporates flourescent paracord and bungee cord for variation in texture.  I began this by looping the pink paracord together to make the necklace large enough to put on over my head, eliminating the need for a clasp.  The ropes were stitched together, and then embroidery floss was whipped over to hide the seams and add more color.  Lastly, I embellished with some jade beads I had from an earlier project.