Sunday, December 2, 2012

Doodle Mania!

Ahhh, collaborative art making... Last weekend I sat down to try the first prompt in the new book by Traci Bautista, Doodles Unleashed, with a friend of my daughter's who had an itch to "make something". I grabbed out colorful Utrecht alcohol markers, some Tim Holtz stamps, cat-eye chalk ink pads, a bunch of stencils and my favorite pens (Sakura brand Micron size 1 and Gelly Roll) to get the ball rolling. Using the Spontaneous Marks book ideas, we began scribbling color onto our Bristol papers with giddy abandon.

 Sarah Rodeberg "Doodles Unleashed" inspired artwork.

For my doodle page, I decided to try out some stamps I hand carved and experiment with the Sakura Souffle pens as well - they add that little bit of puffy shine to the design.

Couldn't help myself... had to add the raffle coupon!

The next prompt in Traci's book had us Finding the Doodle; randomly painting on a page and then doodling around the shapes. This was so much fun, my 13 year old, Devon, got in on the fun...

 Reminds me of Dr Seuss' Whoville. Acrylic paint and India ink.

Just amazing what kids see in the swirls!

There is sooooo much more to discover in Traci's book, I'll show you the results of my working through her prompts as I try them out.

I've also recently been working in another book, Creative Doodling and Beyond, by Stephanie Corfee. Stephanie includes examples of her stylized doodles, then gives blank pages adjacent for her doodle fans to practice with. My favorite pens for her exercises are the Micron colored fine-point markers. They give great control and don't soak through to the opposite side of the pages. I'm just in the beginning of this book, but looking ahead I am excited to try her projects using dimensional paint to doodle custom stamps, make gift bag tags, doodling on photographs, creating custom banners, embellishing fabric...and BEYOND!!! I moved into an art journal with a left over paint background to try my hand at Stephanie's doodles today and here's what was created using Sakura Gelly Roll pens:

Stephanie's book page is to the left... doodles in my journal to the right.
See the hidden protozoans with a tail I added to my design? Yes, I'm a closet scientist! :)

More of this weekend's journal play included doodles and stylized words inspired from Handcrafted magazine vol 8 (winter 2012).  [Got so much art-making done these last few days, it feels GOOD!] On this page I also created color samples of different pens (Sakura Souffle, Gelly Roll, Micron) & China markers (grease pencils) and experimented with them all on the page to chart their effects. I also pulled out the Twinkling H2O's shimmering watercolors to throw a little sparkle onto the page. My favorite text from this play is the word "wish". Will have to look for an art piece in progress to use that on... and if you're like me, that means you have at least 5 pieces in various stages of work at all times!

To perfect our ART, it helps to PRACTICE. My advice: grab a doodle book or any magazine and start playing with what you see. Keep it simple. Create fun variations of common motifs like hearts, flowers, leaves, swirls, words, houses, animals, faces, etc. Then, play with color. Eventually, you will find that... inspiration is EVERYWHERE

Happy Doodling!   Tristina

Monday, November 5, 2012

Small Steps On Our Artistic Journey

I was in Los Angeles last week and was surprised & delighted to see an interesting way to display artwork... a large painted canvas was grometted and fixed to the outside wall of a building on Sunset Blvd. Beguiling!

In addition to my reading several artful books and magazines lately, I have become enthralled with watching videos on YouTube. There is such a wealth of sharing going on in the cyber-world...for FREE! I began my online quest to look up examples of artists using one of my favorite art supplies, PanPastels, in mixed media. WOW, it was a revelation stumbling across and Donna Downey's YouTube videos. Thank you so much to these artists for allowing me and our readers to be INSPIRED by watching the art unfold right before our eyes. If you are a visual learner, there is a bounty waiting to be had online; and in easy to digest bite-sized chunks of time from one minute to a half hour and more - enough to whet or satiate everyone's appetite!

It was fun today to play Donna Downey's "Listen to your inner voice" canvas painting YouTube video with lovely background music (it ran for almost a half hour) while I created the below mixed media painting (it's not done yet, but well on it's way):

At the end of the most recent Nov/Dec Cloth Paper Scissors magazine there is a lovely article by Soraya Nulliah about finding ourselves as artistic creators. It says in part, "Every small step leads to another place where the whole world opens up and is full of exciting discoveries and possibilities. Reading an inspiring book, signing up for a class, making time and space for everyday creativity - all of these activities will support your artful journey." So much wisdom is available for us out there if we just take those first steps, then keep stepping ahead on our artistic journey...

Happy Creating!  Tristina

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Your Mind for Inspiration

I'm being inspired these days reading Sue Bleiweiss' book, "The Sketchbook Challenge". Makes me want to dig right in to my journal and create SOMETHING! Don't you sometimes find yourself staring at a blank page/canvas, or simply colored background wondering what your next step should be? Yes, I find myself there, too! Using a colorful book full of tidbits from accomplished mixed-media artists like "The Sketchbook Challenge" can really help to get unstuck.

I wrote a short paragraph on the blank page about looking at other artist's work to get inspiration and imagine what materials & techniques were used to create their pieces, then I used a brush marker to make the shoe and flowers. The colors are from Derwent Inktense water soluble colored pencils and water. A painting with a shoe attached by one of my daughters was the inspiration for this page.

Artist Lyric Kinard in Sue's book says, "My sketchbook is a place where ideas come into being, time is filled, the brain is allowed to wander freely without expectations or limits. Compositions are explored and themes are developed...but mostly it is a place to play." In that place of playfulness, I tell myself that the work is not precious; if I don't like what I create I can work over it! This frees my mind to get ideas flowing to the page/canvas. I surrender to the idea that whatever comes out of me, through me really, is OK. Don't worry that something might look dumb, or won't look 'right' (what's 'right' anyway? as long as it's YOU it's good!). Try an exercise I learned from Claudine Hellmuth to get out of having to make your work 'perfect' and do an entire project with your non-dominant hand. It makes your work look more child-like and helps free our need for perfection!

I was flipping through a drawing book and saw these exercises when I decided to do all the strokes with my left hand (I'm right handed). I love the unpredictable, jagged, organic look this gives my work.

I really appreciate the section in Sue's book where she invites her guest artists to consider everyday objects. This is a subject that every one of us can make use of at the spur of the moment. The examples from the artists of how they touchstoned from this concept to making their sketchbook studies of scissors, forks and knives helped me better observe beauty in the ordinary. I especially like what artist Kelli Nina Perkins said, "Imagining my everyday objects brings a smile." She also suggested as an idea (and it's shown in the book) to make 'clean' sketches in our journals so that later the pages can be scanned and transferred on to paper or fabric as the basis for other pieces of artwork (her sketches were scanned and put on fabric to make pillows, then she chose to paint some of the images with a vibrant transparent paint - they are gorgeous).

Here I grabbed a photo one of my friends shared on Facebook that intrigued me and played around with the shapes. Shells fascinate me! The spiral shape top right I now use in my paintings.

You can learn more about Sue and The Sketchbook Challenge by going to and Find projects at Now, go free your mind and get sketching/painting/dancing...whatever creative outlet your heart desires! Be playful and organic. Create to your heart's content. :D


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Exhilaration of Competition!

Ahh, the smell of fresh green grass and the shade of old oak trees, sharing time with my daughter on a beautiful sunny day along the waterfront... Enjoyed this real life experience Saturday in the Riverfront park Broward Art Guild sponsored Quick Draw timed painting competition. My fellow artists and I had 2 hours to make our creations in the idyllic setting while passer's by stopped to ask questions, photograph & wonder at the art making happening right before their eyes!

Working with Charcoal and Pan Pastels to make a quick underpainting.
My daughter, Devon, in the background working on her clock drawing.

This was my first timed competition. Over the several days leading up to the event, my emotions and calendar kept waffling; did I really want to stretch myself to make a full mixed-media painting in just 2 hours? Could I get done in that short time? What subject would I paint that could be portrayed quickly and tie in with the environment? The event was taking place outdoors; was it going to rain on us - it always seems to rain around 3pm in steamy Florida and the competition straddled this time?! What would I do with my two daughters, age 13 and 16; would they come or stay home - could I trust them alone? car really needs a good wash / wax and the only time the guy's available is Saturday afternoon...and on and on.

13 year old Devon drawing the clock. Photo by Sun Sentinel's Mike Stocker.

Don't you find that sometimes it just takes making the decision to bite the bullet and make it work? I finally decided to just do it! To put my fears (pesky internal dialogue (I know you have some too!)) aside and commit to having fun no matter what. I made the decision to participate in the Quick Draw early Friday evening and spent time after the kids went to bed gathering supplies: Gloves (check), Gesso (check), Liquid Matte Medium (check), Regular Gel Medium (check), Brushes, Watercolor Paper, Water and Alcohol Spray Bottles, Texture Tools, Apron, Painter's Tape, Paper Pallet, Old Dictionary, Fabric, Oranges Mesh Bag, Bubble Wrap, Scissors, Cotton Balls, Water Containers with Lids, Water Jug, Drop Cloth, Paper Towels, Trash Bag, Easel, Chairs, Table, etc.. Then for mixed media: Pan Pastels, Pastel Sponges, Acrylic Paint, Oil Pastels, Charcoal and other Pencils, Inktense Watercolor Pencils, NeoColor II Water Soluble Crayons, DecoColor Acrylic Pens and Ranger Alcohol Inks. Whew! That was a mouthful. I then selected a gallery wrap canvas and slathered it with Golden white Absorbent Ground so the surface would take pastel well, leaving it to dry overnight. By then it was late in the wee hours of the night, but I went to sleep satisfied that I would be prepared the next afternoon.

Devon and me under the beautiful shady trees on the river. Photo by Sun Sentinel's Mike Stocker.

I was thrilled that Devon chose to come with! We checked in, loaded up our supplies on a hand-truck and wandered back and forth along the riverfront searching for the "perfect subject". Settling on the clock tower, we found a beautiful area under big shady trees to set up. We had a half hour before the start of the timed competition to arrange ourselves. After I had my drop cloth down and canvas set up on the easel, you wouldn't believe it, but some parrots up in the tree above us let'r rip onto my canvas...bird poop streamed down. Thankfully I jumped out of the way, so it only got on the canvas and drop cloth. I took this as an excellent sign of good luck! Grabbed a paper towel, wiped the poop off best I could, and got my pan pastels ready for the starting horn. My adrenaline really started flowing when the piercing air-horn blasted.

Laying the underpainting with Pan Pastels. Photo by Sun Sentinel's Mike Stocker.

I had decided the night before that I would look for an architectural feature and make a somewhat abstract, loosey goosey rendering using Pan Pastels for an underpainting because they are so color rich and easy to apply in big strokes with a sponge (I was trying out the Pan Pastel brand sponges, but you can use cosmetic wedge sponges just as well). Lots of people stopped by fascinated by the Pan Pastels! I explained that they are my favorite because they are pigment rich for bold colors and barely make any dust; they don't have any dusting off the surface of the canvas, so I didn't have to wear a face mask! The underpainting took about 40 minutes. 

Then I went into mixed-media high gear... I grabbed a page out of the old dictionary with words around the definition of "circular" and cut circles that were glued to the clock face with regular gel medium. Then I added some of my hand colored tissue and fabric to the painting in the same manner. Next, I sprayed the painting in areas with rubbing alcohol and squirted the alcohol inks on to create fast-drying runny highlights; I turned the canvas upside down also while doing this to get the ethereal feel of dripping up in places. Moving on to acrylic paint, I used a champagne cork I found in the grass while setting up to stamp different color "bubbles" on the painting, then used my favorite copper and brass colored paints to paint in the clock. A charcoal pencil came in handy at that point to re-define the lines of the clock, so that I could come back in with payne's grey paint on a small brush to loosely paint in the lines. Devon was finished with her drawing / painting at this point and named it "Alternate Universe".

Devon's "Alternate Universe"

My parents had joined Devon and me during the flurry. Dad, looking with fresh eyes, suggested that my painting needed a tree! Wow, I had about 20 minutes left, so I went for the soft, creamy Sennelier oil pastels to quickly throw in some suggestion of greenery near the clock, then a little hint of Pan Pastel color over areas of the "tree" to knock down the shine worked perfectly to give my clock a counterpoint. When the last 4 minutes of the competition were called, I whipped out my titan buff off-white paint and added a few last highlights to the clock. Wow - BRUSHES  DOWN!!! 

We were given an hour to make our paintings ready for auction, which meant framing or, in my case, painting the gallery edge, cleaning up and transporting our works to a close-by restaurant for judging. I used an ink roller and payne's grey acrylic (I love the way it dries so fast!) to paint the edges of my clock tower and sent it with the easel, daughter and parents to the restaurant while I took all our gear to the car. 

Devon's "Alternate Universe" drawing/painting on the floor in front of my mixed-media clock tower.

It had been so hot out in the park, I think I lost 5 pounds from it felt heavenly to be indoors at the restaurant for dinner with my family. It was nerve wracking watching the judge walk back and forth in front of the paintings asking questions of the Broward Art Guild President. In the end, the bird poop magic worked; my painting won FIRST PLACE! What a great experience. My advice to you about competitions? ...Set aside your fears and boldly jump in, bring yourself to the competition, and enjoy the process!!!

FIRST Place Ribbon!

P.S. The 4 o'clock on the clock face is the time the contest ended. :)

Go forth boldly!  Tristina

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Linda Womack Inspires Me!

About a year ago I took an Oil PaintStick and Encaustic painting class in Kingston, NY at R&F Paints with a fabulous Artist and Teacher, Lisa Pressman. What an excellent experience that was to be inspired by and surrounded with such dedicated and talented people and...all the paintsticks and encaustic paint I could get my hands on! While there I purchased a great little book, "Embracing Encaustic", by Linda and William Womack. Wow, if you are curious about working with Encaustic Wax in your paintings, this is the perfect tool for you!!! Here are some of my 4in x 4in cradled boards painted with encaustic wax techniques from Linda's book:

 from 'Adding Texture' chapter
 from 'Incising Lines' chapter
 from 'Collage with Wax' chapter
and, this is my own creation taking the incising lines to the next level using Liquid Pencil potted water soluble graphite to fill the incised lines and give the surface of this painting a shiny depth only the graphite can give. :)

I just checked out Linda Womack's workshop website to see what she has going on. She has AWESOME online classes for all levels of encaustic wax painting! There is a fee for these classes (well worth it in my opinion), but you can get an inspirational tour of her studio for free by simply following this link:  Just watching her studio tour I was inspired to see her INSPIRATION JOURNAL (gonna have to start me one ASAP!!!) and the beautiful nature books she uses to gain insight into ideas from Mother Nature for shape / color / texture to go in to her paintings.

Thanks Linda for sharing your excellent tour! Look forward to seeing you in one of your internet classes soon.

Happy Fusing! :D    Tristina Dietz-Elmes

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Create from the heART

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been maniacally inspired lately to create my most fun pieces to-date by Mary Beth Shaw's latest book, "Flavor for Mixed Media". Here is one of the paintings on paper created over the past few days incorporating white Gesso, liquid Matte Medium, Rowney and Faber-Castell Dry Pastels, Pan Pastels, DecoColor acrylic paint pens, Sakura Gelly Roll pens, Speedball Calligraphy inks, Koh-I-Noor Trans-Mix acrylic inks, Sakura Micron and Graphic #1 pens, Sennelier Oil Pastels, and ephemera (re-purposed paper) - truly a "mixed-media" piece:

The unusual shape of the paper you see above is from some fabulous watercolor blocks that I found at Pearl's; I am so excited by the long, skinniness of it! The paper is called Fluid Watercolor Paper and comes in the interesting sizes of 4x8, 6x12, 6x18, 8x20 and 8x24, as well as others. What I really appreciate about the blocks is that they are only glued on the long sides, so the advantage of not having to size the paper (wet the paper and allow it to dry) before painting is great and yet they are super easy to separate from the block when you are done by shoving a palate knife in one of the short ends and running along the long side.

I went in Pearl's again this past weekend and inquired how best to do-it-yourself frame these paper works of art (I usually paint on Artist Panels or Gallery Wrap canvases, so those are easy to wire up for hanging). I collected the materials needed and will show you what I do to mount these latest paper works when I figure it out! There are several Art Competitions coming up in the next few months that I am choosing to submit these paintings to, so making this happen is now a priority. :)

Here are a couple pictures of the process I have been in lately:

I'm working on about the 6th / 7th painting in this series and found today I was getting a little "stuck" in my design elements rather than having the ideas flow. Do you ever find yourself staring at a begun painting and wonder what to do next? I like to take a break when this happens and flip through art books for shape/color/concept ideas to move me along. Today I was reading from the art book, "Mixed Mania -  Recipes for delicious mixed-media creations" by Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater, and found a spot-on quote  from famous artist Marc Chagall, "If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing." When I find myself thinking too much about a painting, I have to take a break, grab a snack or cup of coffee, refer to the thousands of photographs I have taken that are safely archived on my computer ready at my whim, read an art book with lots of pictures (we are working in a visual medium after all!) and come back to the work with a clear & fresh enthusiasm to be fearless in trying ANYTHING! When I hesitate to act, I remind myself that what I am doing is not so precious and I can always work OVER it or tear up the result and use pieces in other works if I'm not happy with the results...

Here's a glimpse of my work table as I was finishing up the above painting... messy, huh?

I love it when my working on art-making inspires my daughters to break out a journal or canvas and do their own work (one advantage to working on the kitchen table)! I buy hard canvas boards and artist panels when they are on sale at Michael's and Utrecht so they are always on-hand to grab when the inspiration strikes. In my home, none of my supplies are off limits; I want the girls to experiment and discover the joy of working with student and professional grade products and tools so they can see and appreciate the differences, giving them the knowing as they walk into the future of exactly what to use to get their desired creative outcome. Here is what they have done in the past week:

Devon (age 13) Oil Pastel

Samantha (age 16) Acrylic

I hope this article inspires you to pick up an art book, peruse the pictures, experiment with new materials and jump-start your next creative project. Please link to the art you create in the comments below so that we (myself and other followers in the art community) see your unique expression. Remember to share your art; I guarantee it will inspire others to joy in many ways!

Happy art-making!!! :D  Tristina

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bitten by the Bug!

It doesn't happen to me very often...I've read the gambit of art how-to books. Interesting, fun, a few ah ha moments here and there... But, I've become obsessed with the projects in the new book I just got in Michael's last week called, "Flavor for Mixed Media" by Mary Beth Shaw.

Below are the 3 pieces I created from Mary's first project in the book, "Painting Without Paint" (all on 12x12 Clayboard done together in a left to right series):

There's something about drippy drips that totally turns me on!

This book is filled with so many new techniques I haven't thought of using before, although I have all the supplies in my studio already. Mary Beth has me digging up my dusty dry pastels, slopping on the gesso, re-pumping my DecoColor paint markers, and using my luscious acrylic/alcohol inks in whole new ways! Her illustrations of the steps involved with creating her ethereal abstract paintings are spot-on and really have stretched my creative muscle. I have been painting almost non-stop (except for the trip to Pearl Paint and Utrecht to buy more supplies) for the past 4 days. HEAVEN!!!

Even though I have heard taught to me before (as I'm sure you have, too) to lay FAT  OVER  LEAN when painting with multiple painting mediums, I never really got it until Mary Beth showed and explained it to me in her book. She gave me cause to break out my fancy silky Sennelier oil pastels and dry highly-pigmented Pan Pastels and smoodge them all over the top layer of my new (paint-less) paintings...Fascinating.

I will have more paintings to show you from later projects in Mary Beth Shaw's book when I put the finishing touches on them. Happy Painting!  Tristina

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Colorful Works in Progress & Leftover Paint Projects


I am so inspired by the latest Cloth Paper Scissors magazine to CREATE! Little did I know the choice to use a 4 pack of Michael's 6x6 canvases for my latest multi-media creations would be perfect for the local Utrecht store's upcoming 6x6 challenge / show that I found out about today! Ahh, FATE. :) The canvases are not done, but here's a sneek peek:

The raised surface at the tops of these canvases are a layer of Golden Light Molding Paste into which I impressed various circle shapes from bottle tops to straws. After the molding paste was dry (I left it overnight), I used Caran D'Ache NeoColor II water soluable wax crayons to scribble areas of color onto the canvas and paste surfaces. Using a damp to wet soft paint brush, I activated the water soluable pigments and allowed them to slosh and mingle with one another. Note: I did rinse off my brush between colors and started with the light colors...working my way to the darker colors, so as not to create mud. Below is an example of a canvas where the top part has had water brushed on it and the bottom portion has not:

Next, I took various colors of Derwent Inktense water soluable pencils and followed around the grooves of the circles that I had made in the molding paste. After, I again used water and a brush to run over the pencil pigment which released their brilliant color into the grooves of the circles. I left all to dry overnight. The following day, I used Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paints to paint the sides of the canvases so that the colors on the sides would match the color swatch areas on the top of the canvases. The sides of the paintings dried in about an hour, after which I used bubble wrap, the plastic covering for oranges and a plastic pipe to put the additional markings on the top of the dried paintings using acrylic paints.


I can't stand to waste paint! Use every last drop of pigment SOMEWHERE is my motto!!! As I am painting and finish with an acrylic paint color, if there is paint left, I like to use it on paper and canvas that I make sure to have laying around my work area. Recently I had 2 journals, a wet/dry media paper pad and an unstretched canvas pad available to use on my worktable. 

To create quick paper and canvas pad backgrounds, I get my brush sopping wet, pick up some of the leftover acrylic paint and swipe it across the surface in an up and down and side to side motion, adding more water if I feel necessary to get all the pigment out of the brush. These create great, quick backgrounds to put other leftover paint on such as in these pages:

Another technique after adding the wet, sloshy paint to your paper or canvas pad is to press your brush full of water and paint along the top or side of a page and tilt the page up to get the colors to run. I recommend you put paper towels under the edge of your surface to catch the running paint. Remember, you can do the slosh and tilting in multiple directions for even more fun. Here are some examples:

This is on unmounted canvas so that I can sew through it!

And last, below is the beginning of a multi-media painting after using the dripping paint technique on paper that I had already used as a background when painting other small elements, leaving masking shapes behind  that add interest and bold colors to the back story:

If you have any questions about the above painting techniques, just leave me a comment below...

Enjoy a CREATIVE week!  Tristina :D

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Creating on the Fly

Hello! I have been away with my actress daughter in Los Angeles for the past several weeks... Here's a drawing of the beautiful sunset over California we saw as we were flying in - the colors were just too beautiful to pass up:

I took along my artists travel kit complete with drawing/painting pad, Inktense watersoluble pencils, charcoal pencils, graphite, Pentel india ink brush pen, scissors, watercolor postcard pad and my latest Somerset Studio magazine for inspiration. Well, the whole trip was such a whirlwind...I felt I was hardly able to read or make anything! Now that I'm back in Florida looking over what I did draw, I scanned into my computer the one other colorful picture I did and put the free Google program Picasa to work on it; here are the interesting results:

Original picture from my notebook using the Pentel india ink brush pen and Inktense pensils with a brush & water.

Now, here are the variations from the Picasa program...

 Infrared Film
Heat Map
 Heat Map

Gotta say, I love them all! And more variations are possible just by adjusting the sliders on the different styles in Picasa, like you see on the Heat Map above.

Please comment with any favorite photo editing programs and styles you use. :)

Happy Drawing and Editing!  Tristina