Saturday, January 30, 2010

GPP Street Team ~ Crusade #36

My introduction to Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press Crusades came from my good friend Pam Carriker. Pam has participated in these challenges on her blog and I thought they'd be wonderful exercises for my journal. However, it was quite awhile before I found the time to participate.

"Crusade #36 ~ Braving the Elements" is a great exercise in creating your own masks (stencils) and then using those as collage elements on a journal page. Using snowflakes as masks is a wonderful idea, as we all remember how to create these from our elementary school days. I am so glad that I took the time to participate and learn some new techniques in the process.

Michelle Ward offers up wonderful exercises at the GPP blog and I encourage you to check it out. Everyone's welcome!

Logo © Michelle Ward
Artwork © Nancy Lefko

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Collage Play with Crowabout #63

It has been a number of weeks since I have enjoyed taking part in Collage Play with Crowabout. It felt good to play in my journal with the wonderful collage elements that Nancy B. provides.

If you haven't yet visited the Collage Play with Crowabout blog, you really must do so. There is an abundance of inspiration and fun waiting for you there.

© Nancy Lefko

Monday, January 25, 2010

Product Reviews

"Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur" by Lesley Riley is an all-encompassing how-to guide to working with this revolutionary product. That’s the tag-line on the book cover -- “Revolutionize Your Craft Experience,” and I certainly see how this could be so, through the addition of Lutradur to your arsenal.

Lesley has organized the book into two sections: one containing “27 Things To Do with Lutradur” and the second devoted to 14 projects using Lutradur, all with detailed step-by-step instructions and materials listed.

“A versatile cross between fabric and paper,” Lutradur can be colored, stitched, fused, glued, printed or transferred upon. And that’s just the beginning. It comes in 8 1/2” x 11” sheets; regular (70 gram) and heavyweight (100 gram.)

In working with Lutradur, I added color with acrylic paints, oil pastels and water-soluble crayons. I stamped upon it with Staz-On inks and did rubbings over raised elements, using oil pastels, to add texture to the Lutradur. I think I was most impressed by the printing of images onto the Lutradur via my ink-jet printer. I experimented with printing on treated and untreated Lutradur and definitely like the crispness of the images on the treated Lutradur better. (It can be treated with matte medium, gesso or as I did, spray matte sealant.) I also printed onto painted (and then sealed) Lutradur and really liked the effect.

I certainly only scratched the surface of the possibilities Lutradur offers and the techniques which Lesley Riley guides the reader through in her book.

Although the non-fray quality of Lutradur is what attracts so many artists and quilters, I actually would have liked a torn edge on some of my Lutradur pieces. However, one can manipulate the Lutradur with heat to achieve a less than sharp edge or lacy quality.

Lesley Riley has succeeded in writing a thorough resource for newcomers to this “revolutionary” product. Readers can take their experimentation with Lutradur as far as they like; using as few or as many materials and techniques as suits them. There are enough techniques and sample projects to keep multiple levels of artists interested.

“Ready To Go” Blank Canvas Book

For the artist who likes to add a little stitching to their altered books, the canvas book is a wonderful product. This “ready to go” book measures 8 1/2” x 11” and has six pocketed pages (which can be cut to make a 12 page book.) The unprimed 100% cotton canvas is ready for all you can dish out -- painting, stamping, embellishing, journaling and more. The zig-zagged edges prevent fraying and there is a spine that can accommodate a dowel should that be desired.

Before starting to alter my canvas book I cut it in half to make two 6 1/2” x 8 1/2” books. I also cut open the pockets to give myself 12 pages (including front and back covers) to decorate. Because I cut the book down in size, I went around the cut edges with a zig-zag stitch.

I used a variety of mediums to color the pages: acrylic paints, oil pastels and water soluble crayons. I collaged papers and Lutradur onto pages with gel medium, stitched, stamped and sewed on buttons.

Canvas books hold a host of possibilities. I can envision creating books to commemorate special occasions such as weddings or babies’ births. They would also be a great venue for art journaling or could be used for children’s art projects.

Product Images © C&T Publishing
Artwork © Nancy Lefko

Friday, January 22, 2010

Something New

I haven't had much time in my studio of late, so it felt good to finally finish a piece I had begun quite a while ago.

I played around with my Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons on this painting and really like the way they respond.

This image makes me long for spring and the scent of purple coneflowers in my garden. Ahh well, to everything there is a season.

Mixed media collage available in my Etsy shop.

© Nancy Lefko

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mixed Media Monday ~ WINGS

This week's challenge offered by Mixed Media Monday is WINGS. This was an easy one for me; I love to use the image of wings in my artwork. The text reads, "My heart sailed with open wings."

I encourage you to visit the Mixed Media Monday blog and view the wonderful creations inspired by this prompt.

Collage available in my Etsy shop.

© Nancy Lefko

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Mix It Up with Melange" Challenge ~ TIMELESS

This week's challenge over at the Melange Team Blog is TIMELESS. When I think of things that defy time, I think of friendships that endure despite distance and life changes.

The collage pictured was made as a gift for my friend of almost 40 years, and our friendship is indeed timeless. We have lived as much as 3000 miles apart and have been "out of touch" for as long as two years, but we have always managed to find each other again. A friendship that began in the sixth grade is as strong and sustaining as ever. And now we are blessed to watch the friendship between our boys blossom and grow. A timeless gift.

© Nancy Lefko

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Melange Team Bottle Challenge

The Melange Team is hosting an altered art bottle/jar challenge over at our blog. The challenge is open to anyone and runs through January 22. (There are prizes, too :)

When I first learned of this challenge, I wasn't sure I would participate as I really haven't created much in the way of 3D art. But when cleaning out a cupboard I found an old maple syrup bottle that I had saved for some reason. Right then and there, I knew it was kismet.

I didn't have any trouble coming up with an idea for this challenge, as the very first thing that popped into my head was the Jim Croce song, "Time in a Bottle." And I knew that I would use images of my three boys. As I ready my oldest for college in the fall, it has become startling clear how quickly these years have gone by. If only I could save that time in a bottle.

For the flip side, I knew the text from Rod Stewart's "Forever Young," was the right choice; especially when I heard son #2 singing it as I was working on the bottle in my studio. Kismet again.

The bottle was covered in stamped dressmaker's tissue and given an acrylic wash, followed by printing with bubble wrap and pieces of an onion bag for texture. Images, text and hearts were added, along with fibers to embellish.

I encourage you to join in on this challenge. The Melange Team at Etsy is a wonderful group of artists who always have some fun up their sleeves.

© Nancy Lefko

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Somerset Studio

The January/February issue of Somerset Studio is currently in bookstores. I was fortunate to have my mixed media collage entitled, "Quite Beautiful," selected for publication. What makes this joy so much more fun is to share the same page in this issue with my friend and fellow artist, Alisa Nordholt-Dean. Alisa is a talented mixed media/collage artist with whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating. What fun to open the magazine and find our two collages side by side! (Alisa's collage is top right on the page below.)

"She was quite beautiful. Everyone had seen her innumerable pictures."

© Nancy Lefko

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Have You Tried ZENTANGLES?

After reading an article in the Nov/Dec Cloth, Paper, Scissors about the art of Zentangles, I was intrigued. I have always loved to doodle, with my journal the perfect place to do so. I gathered my Pitt pens and started off, enjoying the mindless joy of doodling. As I understand it, most Zentangles are created strictly in black and white; but then again, there really are no rules to doodling, so I indulged my need for color with a little punch from Prismacolor pencils.

There is a Zentangle site which explains all one would ever need to know about the art form and even more intriguing is the Zentangle Flickr group with oodles of patterns to satisfy your curiosity. As I compared my first attempt with the fine work at the Flickr group, I see there is a long way to go before I reach that level of intricacy, but I surely did enjoy my first go-round.

© Nancy Lefko

New Melange Team Slideshow

You can also visit Melange teams members via their blogs posted at the Melange Team Blog.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cloth, Paper, Scissors

January is a wonderful month for me in terms of publications; not one I imagine I'll ever be fortunate enough to duplicate.

The January/February issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors features my painted fabric collages (aka "scrappy valentines") in the Muse Flash section. This type of collaging is taught in my current workshop at Creative Workshops, so if it appeals to you, come on over to Creative Workshops and join the fun.

Images © Interweave Press

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's Play Time!

What does one do for fun while the boys play with their new Christmas loot and the snow piles up outside? Well, journal, of course.

Gathering up my journaling supplies: watercolor pencils, markers, collage elements, glue stick and Moleskine journal, I was ready to settle down by the fire. The falling snow and the sheer beauty of winter (and knowing that I wasn't the one who'd be shoveling) was all the inspiration I needed.

The snow has been falling for days and, with nowhere to go, I have enjoyed a great deal of journaling time. Today the aroma of a roast in the crock-pot and the sight of boys playing in the snow was the calm that my muse needed to create page after page.

In addition to my watercolor pencils, I played around with my Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons and water soluble oil pastels for a bit of bold color.

Gee, winter can be fun after all, even for those who prefer the fireside to Jack Frost nipping at your nose.

© Nancy Lefko