Thursday, September 27, 2007

Zetti Postcard Process

Zetti Postcard 6 (Mine)
Originally uploaded by gemgirlart

I just finished a set of postcards for a Zetti-themed swap at Swap-Bot and thought I'd share my process step by step, so you can see how easy (and fun!) it is to make some really cool art. I originally made 5 cards but I am documenting the process on the 6th card (the one I decided I had to make and keep for myself 'cause I was getting very attached to the others and feeling like I didn't wanna send them off ... ) I added pictured of each step, like I usually do - I tried to keep them small here but click on them to view fullsize and see the details better. So here we go!

I start almost all my collage pieces - but the Zetti-inspired work specifically - with a handpainted background paper. Whenever I have some extra time with no projects going on (or I'm just bored & in the mood to make BGs!) I make a batch of handpainted papers so I always have a stash handy for other projects - most are watercolor or acrylic washes on watercolor paper, the kind I make using the "salt" effect. (If I haven't posted a technique tutorial on that yet, I will try to get one up soon). I cut the paper down to size for whatever I am making, in this case 4x6 cards for a postcard swap. I build my layers starting with the base (the cut-down BG paper, prepainted) then add some rubberstamping, usually with a large background or text-block type stamp, or a foam stamp in one of those architectural designs (fleur-de-lis, gothic crosses, whatever looks cool at the time). I switch off between using ink colors that coordinate or contrast, depending on my mood. Here I am using a golden yellow chalk ink and a large harlequin BG stamp:

Next I move on to the collage pieces. I work with alot of different image sources - from vintage image CDs or collage sheets I have purchased, vintage photos I've found or bought and then scanned, magazines of all kinds: high fashion mags are great for interesting faces and eyes, plus the clothing has cool patterns for turning into crowns or hats or even new "clothes" for your collage person; I love using fishing magazines for fishbodies and eyes; garden mags for birds and butterflies - even junk mail gets saved if it has cool images I can use later. Another great source for images, especially vintage ones is in the Flick'r groups. Now, I don't mean go into Flick'r and just use anyones images whenever you like - I am talking about specific groups that are set up for this and allow access to their images for use in artwork (alot of times they are public domain images that people have uploaded, but please read all the rules of whatever group you join before ya just download & print, mmmkay?)
So! In this case what I've done is cut out some ladies heads from fashion mags and then worked on finding new eyes to go with each face. I look for ones that give the face some odd character or an unusual expression (TIP: turn the new eyes UPSIDE DOWN, it gives them that real weirdly creeped out effect), even if they are too big for the head, you can either leave them if you like that look, or trim them to fit the face, whatever you want. Cutout a bunch of eyes and mix and match them to the faces until you get the perfect one (You'll know, it's the one that grabs your attention and makes you say "Yep, that's it!")

After I get the faces done - eyes chosen and glued down, faces cutout and trimmed down if need be, I sometimes edge them with ink or a Sharpie - then I move on to the bodies. I like to use fish or bird bodies, or cutout some kind of random body-blob shape from a magazine page (look for cool patterns on clothing, textured-y backgrounds like hair from shampoo ads, a blue sky with some clouds, whatever!) I decided to go with text background (from an old Jules Verne biography thats in French) for the vintagey look of the paper, the texture of the text, - it's interesting in itself but still with a sorta neutral nature that will let the rest of the collage stand out. I cut them into triangular shapes and gave the pieces a bit of color with a chocolate brown dye-ink pad, just randomly swiping it around a little and edging all the sides real good. I attach the heads, and look: my little beauties are starting to take shape!

At this point I have my final layout pretty much set; once I get the basic collage shapes done, I can see what their sizes are in relation to each other and I take a minute to arrange them on my background, moving them around a bit, maybe flipping or turning the BG paper to see what looks best. Once I have it in my mind how they'll be going onto the page, I can add the other elements - this way I can make sure I keep everything sized right and in balance. So! I work on finishing the bodies now, adding wings or arms or legs ... I use alot of butterfly wings!, I know! but the trick so they don't always look the same, is to maybe only use half the wing, and just on one side of the body - or, turn them upside down - or, add two pairs together ... you know: be creative! I made a pair of wings out of a dog's ears from a magazine ad (he was a ... what's the one? Papillon? and doesn't that mean butterfly in French? HAHA! figures ...) Also mascara ads are great - the "swipes" from the wand, you cut them into the right shape and tada! black & white striped wings, hooray! Anyway here's what they look like so far (and yes I work a bit messy. It's okay.)

Time for some accessories - if you're a fan of Zetti you know a big part of that is usually the incorporation of crowns and dunce-cap style hats. Now, not everyone likes those and that's cool - I don't think they HAVE to be included to be considered Zetti, 'cause you're supposed to do whatever comes to you creatively and not just stick to some set of "rules", right? Right now I do add them 'cause I DO like them. But you do whatever ya want, ya herr me? Look, see: I gave one gal a headband instead (cause I really loved her red hair and didn't wanna cover it all up)

Nowwwww were starting to look like something, here! In between steps I always put the figures back in their places in my layout, to keep testing if I still like it that way and make sure everything is fitting together well. In this case I actually found something I wanted to change (see if you can spot it in the next picture!), so I made that adjustment and then when I was sure everything was just how I wanted it, I glued the collage pieces down to the background. By the way I am just using a glue stick for all this work, in case you were wondering. And my current favorite is this Extra Strength glue stick by Elmers - it's about an inch wide, goes on sooooo nice and smooth, has excellent adhesion, and - IT'S NOT COLORED BLUE OR PURPLE! (well, actually if you really look at it, it's got a very faint blueishgreen tint, but ... nothin' like those creepy blue or purple ones. ewww.) And now that my pieces are glued down, it's time for the finish work:

What I do is gather up some assorted markers and gel pens - metallic, glittery, opaque white gelpen, neutral brown Sharpies to edge things for shadow effects, pinks for cheeks & lips and maybe even blue or green for eyes and random highlights of color. Then, ya just go to town! Add accents to eyes, eyelashes, paint in cheeks or lips or eyes, add color or lines to wings or hats, add jewels to crowns - whatever you think might look good, probably will! For these cards I went a step further: I scanned a copy of this card I made here (since I am keeping it, no one will get to see this one) and in my image editor I lowered the opacity to about 25% then printed it at 4x6 size, and attached those copies to the back of the cards. It's clear enough to see the image but faint enough that I can write my message and the addresses on the back of the cards and they're still readable. Very last step is to press them flat and make sure that back print is well adhered, I put them in between layers of wax paper and put the whole bunch under a stack of books at least overnight. And since these are postcards that will actually travel through the mail, I will finish them by sealing them with a coat or two of acrylic sealer and let that dry/cure before mailing. The final version is the top-right image up there, the one I have in my Flick'r.

Well! Hope you liked reading my card making process, but what I really hope is that you were inspired to go right now and make your own Zetti collage creation! You can use this technique for postcards, ATCs, 4x4 art squares, journal book pages, decos, pretty much anything you wanna make a collage on or in! So, have fun and see ya soon!

** by the way ~ if you viewed any of the Zetti postcards in my Flick'r, you should know that my two favorites were #1 and #2 ... they came out just a little nicer and brighter, and that's because I started those on a smaller piece of handpainted BG paper, and when I got to the rest I didn't have any more of that exact paper so I had to use a piece that was similar - but it was lighter so those just don't pop as well as the first two. Jus'saying ...

~ gem ~

OH YEAH! and the part I changed in case you didn't catch it - the gal on the far right - I had to change her wings out ... the first pair just weren't working with the rest of the piece once I got that far, so I swapped'em for some yellow one and put them both to one side. Muuuuch better!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SuziBlu, I Heart You

Heya, quickquickQUICK flyby posting ~
(Zetti postcard steps coming later in the week, just no can do today)

So I was wandering around over at Flick'r, and through some collage group that had a companion website of it's own, I found a link to this gal: SuziBlu - and I had to run right over and share her 'cause She.Is.The.Most.Cutiest.Thing.EVER! Watch ALLLL the videos. Right now!
Save her blog in your faves!

Okay, seriously - I am not typically one of those people who finds it hard to get motivated or inspired or am too afraid to make art ... I do some kinda art practically every day, any time I can. I don't run out of ideas or desires to try something new, or something old in a new way. But even I was comPLETEly inspired and motivated and just generally excited about making art by this snappy lil chick. Something about her entire attitude & presentation is just irresistable.

So for anyone who STILL thinks they can't make art - you'll really enjoy the journal making videos, go watch'em again and then go do art!

~ gem ~

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Red, White & Black ATCs With a Twist

Pop-in posting before dinner, 'cause I just finished a new mini set of ATCs and wanted to get them up here before I forget ... (I've kinda been rationing out my Flick'r uploads because I keep hitting my 200 image "free account" limit, and having to delete stuff. A PRO account is on my Christmas list -already- ... think I can hold out 'til then!?) so I'm posting more stuff here for now.

Alot of my previous swap partners know I realllly like to use the red, white & black color scheme in my Sharpie doodle art. I recently did a whole slew of ATCs like this for trade at and after a couple batches I came up with a slight variation on my usual "doodles in a box" format - instead of a rectangle I make a freeform shape, then apply the same process I normally use to complete the design. THEN I cut the shape out, and using popdots I attach it to textured black cardstock for the ATC base. Here's the four I did this afternoon:

Hard to see the 3D nature of the cards here, and my scanner has been doing a really bad job on these lately (overlighting the scans and showing every minor imperfection which I can't even see with my naked eye) - so as we all like to say: "they look much better in person" :D So enjoy! and now I hafta go get with the gettin' ...

~ gem ~

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Klimt ATC Project

As promised, here is the process breakdown of the ATC project I just finished for a swap at "Klimt; 9 Easy Pieces II" ... The hostess provided the players with a downloadable background page divided into 9 ATCs, and watermarked with a major portion of the Gustav Klimt painting "Tree of Life". Players were to interpret it however they saw fit, with the end goal being an entirely new "whole" artwork once all the pieces were swapped and we reassembled our returns. I know not everyone went the same route, but I decided to keep as close to the original as possible as far as shape and overall design. I worked off an image of the original painting from a book I have here at home, Klimt: Life & Work by Susanna Partsch.

I started by printing the downloaded BG onto plain white cardstock (took a few tries to get it sized exactly right) and used a regular old yellow marker to trace the outlines of the tree and branches. I kind of reversed the tree and background colors from the original painting (Klimt's tree is a darker golden brown and the BG is a creamier pale gold/tan, also the ground is a dark brown in his and I used red.) for no other reason than I needed to see the tree form and the details while working, but also wanted it to be easily blended away into the finished piece. I then cut it apart into 9 seperate ATCs and moved on to my next step: Torn tissue paper collage. I used yellow, light orange, red and some aqua tissue paper for this and just randomly tore bits and glued them down with some gel meduim - I wasn't even really following the original painting at this point but just filling in and adding depth and texture. The red paper was very opaque and didn't bleed like I expected it would so I limited how much of it I used.


After I papered as much as I wanted (I didn't bother with the skinniest tendrils of the branches, just left them marker-yellow for now since I'd be painting it later.) I moved on to painting in the background, using a mix of acrylic paints (I like to use regular ol' craft paints) in assorted browns with some antique white and metallic gold. I did the same thing with the tree and branches using yellows and golds.


The next part of the process was the longest and most tedious (though that tissue paper section got on my nerves after awhile, too) - the addition of all the little details on the tree and ground. I did a mix of collage and painting here, but mostly collage, using random papers out of my scrap box. EVERY PIECE was handcut, except for some of the stars and circles - they were punched. Though one of my circle punches wasn't sharp so I had to trim the edges anyway -eyeroll-. My original idea was to use an assortment of magazine cutout eyeballs for all the tree accents, but in the end I used those only on the little mushroomy lookin' dudes. I mostly followed the watermarkings and the image from the book, though I did add or change just a couple things. A few dabs here and there of paint to finish off some of the details and to meld other places together, and I was done with the bulk of the piece. All that was left to do was add in some highlighting on the background (mixture of whites and light gold paints) and then I outlined the major sections of the tree and ground with a white gelpen.


I tissue paper collaged the reverse and added an info backplate, then scanned'em and packed 'em up for shipping. Like another participant mentioned on her Flick'r page (I know! check hers out, right? how cool is that?), I too wish I had thought to keep one of my own pieces back so it could be part of the final work, but ... who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and get one back in my returns!

Anyway, that's basically it - I had fun on this one even though at times it was tedious work (I managed to score a shoulder rubdown during the last night I was working on it - all bunched up I was!) and I REALLY look forward to seeing the returns and just how they're all gonna fit together.

Have a day, now!
~ gem ~

***UPDATE OCT 2007***
Here are the return cards I rec'd and how they look all put "back" together - pretty cool!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bucket O' Fun

Wanted to quickly share a few deals I got in the Dollar Store section of my local SuperTarget - they've had scrapbooking supplies stocked recently and while I don't actually scrapbook, we all know they are great for a wide variety of other altered art projects like ATCs, decos, journals, etc, so I tend to snap stuff up when it's a decent price. Here's today's haul (each item was $1):

The cute yellow bucket ~ will be used to hold markers
100pc container of felt flower stickers ~ 3 shapes in hotpink, purple and moss green
Mini alphabet rubberstamp set ~ woodmounted, about 1/4" ... the PERFECT size for ATCs and decos
2pk of embellishments in fun test tube containers ~ one set has multicolored jewel brads and flower shaped jewels in blue & green - the other has the same flower embellishments in pink & green and a tube of regular flatbacked jewels. I like that you get the embellishments, plus cool tubes to use in another project later! BONUS!

~ gem ~

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Birdhouse ATC Set

Birdhouse ATC Set
Originally uploaded by gemgirlart
I just wanted to write a quick note about this set - done for a swap at, and for the life of me I don't know why I decided to not only DRAW the birdhouses, but draw from scratch, thinking up the images myself. That's like my worst type of art to attempt (I can draw okay enough if I copy a photo or recreate a "still life" setup, but straight out of my head is super hard for me) So yes, I know they look pretty juvenile, and the perspectives and proportions are all weirdly off, but - I am NOT going to let it bother me. Can ya tell.
-=teethclentched=- I am soooo not bothered by that upper addition to the white birdhouse that is just sort of ... floating behind the main part. Whyyy would I be irritated by the altogether WRONG shadowing of the birdholes? Don't care. So what. They're fiiiine.

ANYWAY: Quick-sketched the shapes with mechanical pencil then outlined and colored in with regular old colored pencils, using a Prismacolor blender to sorta meld the colors a bit. I actually LIKE the colors, and yes the horizon lines are off-kilter on purpose but I think it works. And there ya go. Hopefully whoever gets one will be quite happy to overlook it's shortcomings. Like I am. Sorta.


~ gem ~

Ibex Ryhton project

Haven't had time to post anything new in the past few weeks since kids went back to school (you'd think I'd have MORE free time with them away all day but it's been back to back appointments and errands with hardly time to breathe in between!) Anyway, here's one I've been meaning to post all summer - since school let OUT at the end of last year in fact.

James had a project to do for reading class that involved them selecting a piece from the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art online gallery, and writing a report on it, as well as recreating the artwork. He chose this sculpture from the Ancient Near Eastern collection - we thought it was really interesting and didn't look too impossible to sculpt a replica. We worked with some plain white modeling clay and used an empty plastic water bottle as a form since it had almost the exact shape as the ibex's body. He sculpted & painted it and it turned out great (even though parts of the body had to be retouched several times due to cracking, and the legs had to be made a bit shorter & thicker in order to support the piece) but probably the best part was during the weeks we were working on it, there was an episode of Planet Earth that featured a short bit about ibexes, and also one day I noticed a posting by a Flick'r friend of mine - of a sketch she did of a similar Iranian rhyton from a museum she was visiting. Pretty cool to be able to relate these random snatches of info to an actual project we were working on at the time.

All the artwork the kids made was displayed at school the rest of the year and I was bummed to think we wouldn't get it back, but! turns out on the last day of school they did get to take their artwork home. Only problem was - as much as he KNEW I wanted that sculpture back (I'd been asking about it almost daily the last couple weeks of school) what does my son do but shove the thing randomly into his backpack (!!!) and didn't even tell me ... of course the horns were both broken off but luckily were swimming around loose in the bottom of the bag. I set it aside to be repaired and then summer promptly got away from us, so I only tackled it like the week before school started up again. ANYWAY! Here it is, with horns reattached and a fresh coat of paint - and shown compared to the original version from the Met's website photo -
(you maybe can't tell for sure, butours is the second one, hehe)

Not too bad for a 4th grade project, I thought! and one of the more interesting ones they've gotten to do - and now it sits proudly on my shelf, my very own piece of ancient sculpture. Take that, Met!
So thats all I have time for today, have a good one ...
~ gem ~

Ok, so as of right now, I am going post-by-post through my blog and fixing all the broken image links (since I deleted & quit my Flickr account, all those pictures went *poof!* here, obviously) LUCKILY I actually still have most of them - but in this case I had to take a new photo. And the fourth grade kid who made this project (that I obviously still have, and still display on a shelf in my art room - even though it has since lost an ear and suffered more horn damage ...) is now nearly a 17 year old high school senior. Whaaaaaaat?! SIGH :*)