I’m a HUGE fan of Things With Wings. This family of four (one mom, three daughters) creates gorgeous paintings and mixed media art pieces with FolkArt and Mod Podge. I love so many things about their work, including the special finishing touches like the frames that they use. I was thrilled to find out that many of the frames and surfaces they use are thrift store finds, and I was even more tickled when I saw that they did a blog entry on how to find these treasures. I’m feeling very inspired right now to head to the thrift store and get a shopping cart of frames. If I don’t like them? I can paint them. Please visit here for all the details on how the gals from TWW find their frames. I guarantee you will want to drop everything you are doing to head to the Goodwill.
by Jacki Schklar
I met mixed media and decoupage folk artist Marian Baker of Blockhead Arts at the Downtown Historic Norcross Art Fest last week as she was chatting with booth patrons about her inimitable craft pieces. I asked if I may contact her for a little more information for a story and Marian casually mentioned that there was some info posted about her being in the Stone Mountain Yellow Daisy Festival. Upon checking, Marian was the Yellow Daisy 2010 Featured Artist! She obviously remains modest about her increasing popularity.
Marian crafts with repurposed and recycled items to create decoupage pieces with distinctive character and a vintage feel. She starts with Mod Podge to secure book pages from typing manuals as a background. Next she adorns with items such as vintage trading and bingo cards as well as found printed numbers. She then embellishes with craft paint. Marian uses a lot of FolkArt Acrylics and especially likes Skintone color seen in the face in the image below. She seals with melted beeswax mixed with tint for an antique feel.
The prevelant use of numbers a trademark of her pieces. Marian started this when she had eyed some shirts around town, which had numbers on them. But the clothes line is not available in her size. Frustrated about this, she decided that she can have number motifs in her life as much as she wants in her art. And now most of her pieces have numbers.
by Jacki Schklar
Atlanta ‘burb Norcross, Georgia, has an old-fashioned historic feel complete with train tracks, iron park benches and cool shaded walkways. This community also hosts one of the brightest and best run art festivals, Downtown Historic Norcross Art Fest. Over 170 Folk, Craft and Fine Art exibitors arrived from all over the nation to be a part of this juried show. Exibitors appreciate how well organized this event is, with helpful volunteer support.
Folk artist Peggy Thibodeau from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, displays a friendly cow painting (above). Tom Blunt of Richmond, Virginia, puts his handy-man skills from reparing and restoring houses to use building delightful Funky Folk Art robot sculptures from wood, metals and scrap materials (below). Peggy and Tom both use FolkArt Acrylics in their artwork.
Marian Baker, of Blockhead Arts implements found and unconventional items to works creating vintage feel Folk Art mixed media pieces. She gives repurposed material such as game boards, trading cards and book pages new life in her art. (see image left)
Carolyn Cordell uses paint and mediums in her low relief acrylic paintings which she calls “metal paintings.” Carolyn uses FolkArt Acrylics in her inventive technique of simulating embossed sheet metal. Carolyn reminds us to live creatively in this original picture, which just might be a self portrait.
The sister festival to Downtown Historic Norcross Art Fest, Dunwoody Art Festival, will be held in May of 2011.
Arlington, Texas artist Nancy Standlee creates bright yet tranquil original paintings and mixed media pieces. Her involvement with the painting community of Texas and beyond influences her style. She inspires other artists to paint daily, and shares some tips and insight in this conversation with Plaid.
You write about a painting being a journey. How do you know when you have arrived at the destination, or when a piece is finished?
This is a question many artists struggle and ask themselves. If you’re fortunate, you have a friend that calls out “Step away from the painting.” A simple answer I agree, but one that I use is “when it looks good”. I was in a collage workshop with Gerald Brommer when the question was posed to him. He said, “You can keep working on that collage until you can’t pick it up.”
How do you approach composition for your small landscapes and other abstract works?
With the small abstract landscapes I start with a horizon line near the top or bottom of the support. I work intuitively with the abstract work and begin to cover the canvas with paint and see what develops.
As both a student and a teacher of art expression, what special advice would you give to budding painters?
Decide on what you really like and why you like it and find painters who work like that, study their work and if you can take workshops from them. If you can’t take a workshop, order a good art DVD and study it. Creative Catalyst has a great selection to study. Get good art books and do some of the exercises – don’t just look at the pictures. Paint as often as you can and get a good support group of friends so you can paint and share ideas. I belong to a group of collaborative artists, Canvas by Canvas, and all of us have grown by our association. Keep a sketchbook journal of your journey and ideas. I have a notebook from each workshop and now I wish I’d used a sketchbook and added more images to these notes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Live in the moment, not in the past and not thinking so much about plans for the next day. Give yourself some creative time each day. That’s why I encourage the students in my art journaling workshops to keep a journal and each day add an image or a notation and it helps keep them creative. I keep an art blog and contribute to several others and I’m on FaceBook and these are time consuming but they can also keep you art connected.
Your work looks influenced by Robert Burridge, and there he is in your workshop roster. What was it like to study with him?
Yes, I can pick out other students work who have studied with him, also. I found Bob’s work by way of a Cheap Joe’s catalog that featured his coffee cup painting on the cover. I immediately fell in awe and then started my research. Who is this? Does he have a website? Does he teach workshops? How can I get to one? My first one was in 2006 at Dena’s Ranch near Marble Falls, TX. and now my 8th and 9th will be in 2011. My favorite Monday is still the first day of one of his workshops. He creates a safe and sharing environment in which to work, try new techniques and have fun. I like to be around his energy and the attitude he projects. He encourages you to paint the way you’ve always wanted to paint. He is a generous instructor and shares all his secrets. He has some notes on his website about his Pep Talk to his Loosen Up class that your readers might enjoy reading
What subject material and painting techniques are you looking forward to mastering in the future?
In March I traveled to Colorado to take a 2 day Metals and Mixed Media workshop with Carol Nelson and I want to follow up with other work in this area. I haven’t taken the time to really put in use some of the techniques Carol shared. I’ve been experimenting with painted and stained paper collage and have recently finished several pieces. There are more ideas I want to pursue towards figurative collage. In December I’ve scheduled a 2 day Florida workshop with Derek Gores in figurative collage. Art is one activity where age doesn’t require retirement. You never get too old for art. You are never bored and will always have something else to learn.
- Interview by Jacki Schklar
I never thought about painting my own tiles until I saw this feature on Design*Sponge – designer Amy Adams actually makes her own tiles and then paints them with simple flowers before installing them on the side of a kitchen cabinet. She also continues this pattern on hand fired ceramics that you can see above. I’m not so industrious that I would make my own tiles (Amy is a ceramics designer after all), but I would definitely buy the pre-made ones from a home improvement store and paint them using FolkArt Enamels. They work well on ceramics as well as glass. What a great idea! Go here to see the whole process.
Meet Diana Gonzalez, the strong creative force behind Confessions of a Craftaholic. Why do we love Diana? Well, she has a very cute kid, and that is definitely a plus. We love Diana because she is a work-at-home mother, artist, writer and a very interesting person. Her art is influenced both by her spirituality and her Latina heritage, and she uses just about every medium and tool under the sky with beautiful results. I recently asked Diana my favorite crafty questions, and here’s what she had to say. Please don’t forget to visit her blog and new website. I think you’ll be impressed with her talent, and you will DEFINITELY be inspired.
What made you want to be a crafter and designer?
I’ve always been creative, even as a child. What made me realize that I wanted to design things for a living was when my daughter was born. I realized I wanted to give her something to admire. Art is healing and creates evolution within you, and as I became more serious about my career, I began to realize this. And that is what gave me the desire to pursue my career as an artist even more.
What inspires you – how do you decide what to make?
Nesessity inspires me. Life inspires me. Nature inspires me. I love doing swaps a lot because they almost “force” me to create something. That gives me a deadline, and then I can find inspiration just by digging through my stash, re-organizing my art supplies (and then finding that one new stamp, that I’d been looking for, forever).
Art inspires me a lot also. I love Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Basquiat, and I love Dadaism. When I’m completely blocked on a swap project or just all out of ideas, I go to the Museum and that helps me.
What is your studio or workspace like, and how do you work in your studio?
My workspace is a small vintage sewing desk left behind by my neighbor when she moved. Above it, I have shelf with glitter, glue, paints, rubber stamps and buttons.
It’s usually messy, depending on how busy I am, and how much time I have to clean up after myself. I normally don’t bother. It’s cluttered, but at least I know where everything is. And I like my space. I think a workspace should inspire you. Set it up in a way that makes you want to work there. It should work for you. A messy workspace is the sign of a busy artist, I always say.
How would you describe and think of your style, what kind of crafts do you make and what type of materials do you prefer?
I typically call my style, “Vintage City Grunge”, because I use vintage elements and have a rough sort of style. I love the city, and a lot of stuff that add to my style is inspired by the majestic and expensive city that I live in.
I prefer to do paper art and jewelry and do mixed media shrine boxes, jewelry, book binding, and of course, cards and bookmarks.
I like rubber stamps a lot. I like to try to incorporate them in all the mediums I love. My mediums change as I change in life, and my preference in what to work with shifts around a lot.
I knit and crochet as well, and enjoy designing my own knitwear. I love recycled materials a lot. It’s so fun to just create things from used things.
My favorite crafting website is (and why):
I love craftster. I love it because I love swaps, and I love to browse at the amazing projects there. I get ideas for myself, for workshops, and i participate in a TON of swaps there, as well. I also love Swap-bot.com for craft swaps.
I also love flickr for inspiration.
What has been the most rewarding moment in your crafty career?
My rewarding moments are each time I teach workshops. I love to teach people to create beautiful things, and encourage people to just be creative with what they already have at home. Being creative shouldn’t be about buying a ton of things, although it is fun sometimes, to buy some new supplies sometimes.
What new directions do you hope to move in the future? Do you have big plans, new ideas or designs you will be exploring soon?
My hope is to take my craft group and my workshops to a new level. I would love to reach more people around the United States and the world, and open them up to my brand of crafting, and teach them to use what they have, to create beautiful things.
I’d love to publish a book as well, and I’m working on some new online workshops that I’ll be offering in the near future.
Looking back, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently (in your crafty career)?
Nothing. I have no regrets. Everything in life happens for a reason.
What is your biggest budget crafting tip?
Use what you have. That’s the best advice my husband gave me! He’s a classically trained artist, and he’s always telling me: Diana, don’t buy stickers. Don’t buy silly things, just make your own embellishments, cut your own shapes, make everything yourself! That’s the best advice. Use what you have, and don’t buy too many embellishments. I find that buying less embellishments not only saves you money, but forces you to make your own. Stick to basic things: rubber stamps, paper, ink and scissors. When you limit yourself to basic things, you’ll be suprised at what you end up creating!
Thank you Diana – it was a pleasure!
Are you familiar with Pink Persimmon? If not, let me tell you about these crafty folks. PP makes awesome clear stamps and project kits, which they love to combine with Plaid products. The design team is out-of-this-world talented, and they have selected this week to be Plaid week on their blog. We are beyond excited! Please visit here for their entries, and you must stop by daily – there could be a giveaway or two. I’m just sayin’!
A true Folk Artist from Kalamazoo, MI, Donna Collins’ exibit at the Slotin Folk Festival takes us to a happy place. Collectors seek Donna’s work as it is becoming a cult phenomenon the likes of Susan Serandon, Roseanne and Courtney Love have all followed.
Donna Collins’ collection at the Slotin Folk Fest is full of pink and glitter and smiles. All the things that fascinate and delight little girls. Averie Olson from Woodstock, GA asks Donna about her work. Averie likes the paintings that have cupcakes. Donna has created other collections based on skeletons and other themes, but this exhibit is definitely drawing in the girls.
Donna was excited to meet us because she uses Plaid Apple Barrel Acrylics exclusively! She pulled some out of her touch up kit for the Folk Art Fest to show me. Donna shared, “Plaid does not fade. I have tested some and in my garage are paintings 10 years old. Plaid does not crinkle, fade or crack.”
Folk Fest is the world’s largest folk art show and sale hosting 100 galleries and dealers from around the nation specializing in Self-taught Art, Outsider Art, Folk Art and Southern Folk Pottery as well as Anonymous Antique Folk Art. The Slotin Folk Festival was held last weekend in the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross, Georgia. We had a chance to explore this mammoth of a folk art festival.
Popular booth display Texas Trash and Treasures (above) by Richard and Linda Hamilton at the Folk Fest is complete with ”rust and dust and unnecessary stuff.” Richard is the builder/craftsman; Linda is the designer. “Between the two of us, we make one good person,” says Richard. He makes their wares from rusty pipe, roofing material and crushed Christmas ornaments to boot and boasts his unconventional use of materials and tools, such as a plasma cutter. “Andy Warhol said, ‘Anything you can sell is art’,” he reminds me. I asked Linda who she is designing for when she is working. “For people who buy. Make what sells and let’s make a lot of it.” Richard and Linda have a more conventional persona than many artists, they even dedicate their postcards to “…our customers, without whom we would be broke and have to get a ‘real job.’” But Linda eventually admitted that she really tries to design pieces that make people smile.
The unique technique used in these paintings (above) by Sherry Cook is called “encaustic.” Oil paint is mixed with microcrystalline wax for pigmentation and then melted. The molten mixture is applied to wood panels or paper and allowed to cool, then marks and carvings are made in the layers. Multiple layers create rich surface textures.
Former Plaid designer Kathleen Taylor had been designing prints, note cards and wall art for retail production when retail hit a slump. So she started painting again and has “not been this happy in 5 years.” From Kathleen’s website, “Painting is my first love. It’s a means of expression that is a special gift. I can tell stories and work out issues on flat surfaces. When the work is going well it is truly a Zen kind of experience. When it’s not flowing, it’s best to walk away and work on something else. Or eat cake.”
Middle Tennessee artist Bebo (a.k.a. John Paul Daniel) signs a piece purchased by Sabra Barnett of Birmingham, Alabama. Sabra’s new decorative sign says “Trust God, Clean House, Help Others.” Bebo refers to his work as “outsider art” because he is an untrained artist. Many types of paint are incorporated into Bebo art. “People give me paint a lot. They send Plaid because it says Folk Art on the label.” Daniel suggests that art collectors “Buy what you like, what moves your spirit.” We agree, and add that you should craft what moves your spirit, too.
I took a road trip this past week to Brave Girls Camp from Seattle, and on my way I passed several stops for wine tastings. I didn’t stop (I’m not a big wine drinker), but I did see this project by Lilybug Designs that reminded me of my trip and I wanted to share. You can easily accomplish this project with some stencils and white acrylic paint. If you have a die cutter, that makes it even easier. Go here to get more info, and consider making something like this for a gift or a wedding!