As a designer I feel that I am always learning something new. With so many new products available, it is always fun and exciting for me to learn different ways to be creative. Many times just seeing a new product will spur things for me. But other times I learn from others, and then put my own spin on things to make them work for my own purposes.
I think it is important to continually take classes and seek out new information. No matter how accomplished an artist is, I think there is always the opportunity to learn more from others. This includes not only attending classes, but also teaching others, as I always maintain that there is much to be gained from keeping in tune with your students. Sometimes the questions they ask help us realize where we may be lacking in our instructions, and gives us a fresh viewpoint and perspective. This helps us fine tune the way we teach and in the end, makes everyone happier.
I love taking online classes. I used to attend classes a great deal through my painting group in Chicago, but living here in rural Nova Scotia doesn't allow me to do that. Fortunately, there are so many online classes and videos, as well as networking options that the opportunities that in many ways, we are better off than ever, as we are able to learn from the best teachers from all over the world right from our own homes. Teaching videos are becoming more and more popular as well as necessary not only to gain new interest in our craft, but to keep our business growing.
One of my favorite sites for learning is called Interactive Artists Magazine. I have been a subscriber to IAM for about a year and a half now, and I love the articles, teachers, and online classes that are offered every month. I think for the small cost of a yearly subscription, you receive in return a wealth of helpful information and patterns on many different styles and techniques of painting. It is really a great value.
This month at IAM, one of my favorite designers offered a project and accompanying video and pattern. I have mentioned Tracy Moreau previously and I absolutely love her style of painting and teaching. I am currently in the middle of one of my favorite projects of hers, and I will be showing it as I complete it. Even though I am in the midst of doing many other things, when I saw Tracy's video the other day, I knew I just had to try the project. Tracy makes it look to fun and easy and her designs just turn out fabulous!
The design that she taught was called "Le Petit Jardin". It is a painting of three little bees on a distressed background. It looks very involved, but it really is very simple and EASY to paint. You use stencils and texture paste to create a beautiful dimensional background, and then paint the three easy and adorable bees.
I love this style of artwork, which is why Tracy has become one of my favorite designers. It looks like this painting took quite a long time, but it really only took a couple of hours. (I am sure it is even quicker for most – I am such a SLOW painter!)
I had a great time painting it, and as usual I changed some of the things around to suit my surface and supplies. I had a small cigar box that I purchased from the dollar store and I decided to try the technique out on it. To make the Damask motifs on the left side, you use a stencil and texture paste. I had a ton of different types of texture paste, but I decided to try this out with Margot Clark's MUD. I had used Margo's MUD on other projects in the past and I love it because it really dries hard and doesn't crack or flake. Margo works extensively in fired glass as well as painting and she developed her MUD to be fired or not and it is a wonderfully superior product. It air dries in minutes and is hard as a rock and can be sanded without fear of it cracking or flaking. It really adds to the dimension and EASE of doing this design.
However, I didn't finish this project without some stupidity on my part. I was so excited about trying this technique, that I accidentally applied the design to the BOTTOM of the box!
I felt like a real idiot when I realized that this was the bottom. At least I didn't go ahead and paint it before I figured it out! I suppose the way to look at it was that it gave me a bit more practice in the technique!
Anyway – I made a couple of changes how I did things. That is the wonderful part of painting – you can pick up the information you want and make it work for you any way you wish. I have always been a rebel like that and that is probably why I became a designer.
I am simply obsessed with bees this summer, and I loved Tracy's adorable version of them!
I even added some gold metallic paint to the Damask part of the design to give it a beautiful, soft shimmer:
I strongly recommend you visit Tracy's site and see the awesome patterns she offers. She has many of her patterns in PDF format so you can play with them right away and even offers some freebies.
I also hope you take a look at Margot's site and watch her video on MUD. There are many wonderful applications for this product and I am going to be doing some things with woodworking and MUD as well in the near future.
And finally – be sure to check out what Interactive Artists Magazine has to offer. No matter how much experience you have, you will certainly benefit from the wonderful array of top notch teachers and information that the magazine offers. And at a very reasonable cost as well.
I still need to finish my box bottom, and I will blog about that when I am done. I am not sure if I will get to it today or not, as I need to start drawing on my next designs.
Whatever you choose for your hobby, I hope you continue to seek out and learn new techniques. It is not only a great way to expand your abilities, but it also is a great deal of fun as well.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"