Monday, September 15, 2014

Creative Blog Hop with a Difference

If you're here for my Anni-VERVE-sary Release Retrospective Hop post, click here or scroll down.

Hi friends! Today I'm doing a different kind of post. I've been tagged recently by a couple of people in the Creative Blog Hop and the Blog Hop with a Difference by Chaitali Narla and Nancy Leppek.  Thanks for the nominations, gals!  I'm so honored.  

The main premise for both hops is similar, (answer a few questions about your creative process and then nominate a few others to continue the hop on), so I'll be answering the questions from both.  But first, it's Mojo Monday, so I'm sharing my take on this week's Mojo 363 card sketch.

I used the Small Packages set and coordinating Cupcake Frame Die Set from Verve.  The coastal cabana layer is stamped randomly with the small cupcake stamp and then accented with stardust stickles.  I embossed the belated sentiment directly onto patterned paper, then stamped the from all of us sentiment on blushing bride and hand trimmed as a banner.  The star is a resist chipboard star that I sponged with pool party and coastal cabana inks and then around the edge with black ink.  I stamped and cut out one cupcake with the die, then colored it with Copics and accented with stardust stickles.  The only other accent was a big crystal star stick pin, that I stuck through my layers to hold everything together.  Okay, now to answer the questions for the blog hop.

How does my creative process work?
I usually start with selecting a stamp set.  I'll stamp, color, die cut and create a focal point.  Then I choose cardstock to match and build the card and layers up, distressing as needed.  I don't glue anything down until the end, choosing ribbons, twine or small embellishments at the very end where needed to balance the card out.

For illustrating, it always starts with an inspiration.  Something that I hear on the radio, see on my drive to the post office, read or come across that gives me a desire to get designing.  I may just go create that one stamp and see if a set just reveals itself, or I might write the idea down and mull it over for a while, jotting down other set ideas until I have the time and motivation to sit and create. Then it's refine, refine, refine.  I spend a lot of time fine-tuning things, mulling and cutting, changing fonts, starting over.  Some sets come together in a day, others I may start and stop and start again over the course of a few years!

What project am I working on right now?
I've been going through a bit of a creative lull and have not been feeling much like stamping. When this happens I like to try something new to get the mojo going again. So I've been doing a bit of doodling and also started Bible Journaling. Hoping a little practice at sketching and doodling and hand lettering will get me more comfortable with a pen in hand. Seems I don't get much time at the computer anymore, and it would be so much easier if I could just have a sketchpad and pen when illustrating (instead of a mouse and keyboard), so I can design amongst the chaos of toddler life.  Other than that, I'm trying to decide what to make for the Coffee Lover's Blog Hop next Monday, trying to motivate myself to work on designing some Christmas stamps and starting the behind the scenes work on Verve's next release.

How long does it take to create a project?

Oh goodness, I used to be the slowest stamper ever and cards took 2-3 hours!  Then I had the twins and my time got cut so dramatically that I now create most of my cards in 30 - 45 minutes.  I think most of the decrease is spending less time deciding on things.  I use a lot less designer paper and embellishments these days, which used to take me FOREVER to choose just the right pattern/color/mix.  I just get way too overwhelmed by all the choices!  And since most of my creating lately is either for a Mojo Monday sketch or a Viva la Verve sketch, I don't have to spend any time fussing with layout.

How do I become inspired and stay inspired?
Oh, wouldn't it be nice to know exactly how to inspire yourself and stay inspired?  {grin}  I usually look for inspiration in the things around me.  Love looking at fonts and designs on packaging and advertisements that catch my eye.  Love to go to home decor stores and look at all the displays to get seasonal ideas.  I also peruse Pinterest here and there for ideas on mixed-media and art journaling techniques.  When I'm in a slump, I will often look back in my gallery to a time when I felt particularly creative and pick out something I really liked and try to recreate it in a new way.  I also try to do some positive thinking anytime I have a deadline or commitment to meet and not much time to do it in.  I'll spend the day telling myself I'm going to make an awesome card that night.  And then things always seem to go so much smoother than when I go into my stamp room  thinking, I really hope this turns out!

What is my signature style/how does my work differ from others in my genre?
They're pulling out the tough questions, huh?  I would say my style is layered and graphic with a distressed bent.  I play around with lots of styles, though, never afraid to incorporate something new.  I guess one thing that's pretty common on my cards is sponging and dimension.  Even my cleanest cards usually have some sort of sponging on them to create depth and I can't remember the last time I made a card without dimensionals.  What do you think?  Do my cards have a defining characteristic?

Why do I create what I do?
I guess the reason I make cards is to connect with others.  I'm painfully shy and hate to talk on the phone, so when I first got into stamping it was to make cards to send to friends to keep in touch. (Back before email and Facebook and texting and unlimited nationwide long distance!) My favorite cards are always the ones that I have a special person in mind for when I'm creating the card. I like to tailor it to the person's likes and think and pray about the person as I create. Although, I must admit that even though I make many of my cards with someone special in mind, they typically don't make it to the post office in a timely manner.

I do mixed-media for myself.  I love the freedom it gives to explore and experiment and mess up and cover it up and make something beautiful from so many layers, many of which are hidden and only the artist will ever know.  It's like putting a picture of what's going on in your soul out in the world, but not having to put those feelings into words, because the words are so inadequate.

One random fact about me: I think embossing folders are the coolest invention ever!  I just counted and I have 156 full card front sized embossing folders and tons more borders and smaller sized ones, too.  And in case, you were thinking it, the politically correct term is collector NOT hoarder!  LOL

Live Nominations...
Okay, it's the time in the show where I get to introduce three people that inspire me and invite them to continue on in the hop.  I ran out of time for anything last week and completely forgot to email them about this ahead of time, so as Mark said, just tell people these are the "LIVE" nominations.  haha

First up, Alma de la Rosa from The Cat's Pajamas.  I fell in love with her adorable retro comic style cat images as soon as I saw them back in winter 2006 when I first discovered SCS.  And if I hadn't loved her stamps so much, I might not have rekindled my love for stamping and Verve would never have been.  She is an amazing artist and company owner.  She gave me my first spot on a design team and was so gracious and generous and even created a new position so I could continue with the team after I started Verve.  I will forever be a fan.

Next is Claire Brennan from Waltzingmouse Stamps.  I'm so inspired by women who already have families and start their own business.  And women that tirelessly do it all themselves.  I know just how hard it is, and I doubt Verve would have come to be if I'd already had kiddos.  It's super tough running a family and a business and Claire makes it look easy.  Her stamp designs are unique and fresh and she is the sweetest person ever and always knows when to pop a message my way to lift my spirits.

Finally, Dina Kowal.  She's a stamp designer, a missionary, a mom, an instructor, Artist in Residence for Splitcoaststampers and she's just an all around amazing artist.  Her mixed-media work is the kind of stuff that you see and you realize, "that's the GOOD stuff".  The type of art that comes from a heart of passion, reflects the soul of an artist and is so much more than just a card.  More often than not lately, if I get inspired to stamp it's because I've seen something on Dina's blog and just have to put ink to paper.  

Okay, if you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading my ramblings!  Hope you enjoyed reading a little about me and my creative process.  If you aren't familiar with these amazing ladies, you should definitely go check them out!  Hope you have an amazingly creative week.

Enabler's List
Mojo Monday 363
Stamps: Small Packages (Verve Stamps)
Paper: Hello Sunshine (Echo Park), Pattern Prints, basic black and coastal cabana (SU!)
Ink: coastal cabana, pool party, blushing bride (SU!), black soot (Ranger Distress)
Accessories:  Cupcake Frame Die Set (A Cut Above by VERVE), star stick pin (Maya Road), resist chipboard star (Heidi Swapp), stardust stickles (Ranger), polka dot embossing folder (Cuttlebug)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Verve Retrospective Blog Hop

Hi friends!  I'm the designated party starter for today's Anni-VERVE-sary Release Retrospective Hop.  It's our new fun time to play with the new release and give you a bit more inspiration now that you've had a chance to get the stamps in your inky little hands!  And we're giving a $40 gift voucher to the Verve store to a lucky commenter along today's hop, so get comfy and let's take a ride!

I'm a last minuter.  Yep, that's me.  Totally squeak by in the nick of time most days.  Although since I've had the boys, I'm not always in control of WHEN the last minute is.  Sometimes I leave my stamp room, thinking I'll be right back and it's a week later before I get to enter again.  It's the new "normal", I guess. So as I was busy with my kiddos all week long and not feeling very creative after 12 hour marathons with two 2.5 year old energizer bunnies, I told myself, I'd stamp on Friday night after the boys go to bed.  But wouldn't you know it, the migraines kicked in last night right as I was reading Go Go Gorillas (the boys' new obsession, favorite book, which we MUST. READ. EVERY. NIGHT).

So, instead of stamping a new card, I'm sharing with you something I finished earlier in the week, but didn't want to use for the hop, since it featured some freehand sketching for the greenery, instead of stamping.  But here goes, anyway.  I guess it's all inspiration, right?  Maybe you like to sketch or doodle, too?  :)

The play by play:  Stamped the flower duo from Framed Lilies on cream cardstock, Sketched in the leaves and grass with a copic multiliner and colored with watercolor pencils. Muddied the colored flowers by being to impatient with the watercolors, so decided to stamp them again with early espresso, then color by stamping with the solid 2-step stamp in blushing bride, then hand cut and paper piece onto the image.  Cut the image with a Petite Oval nestability.  There was a notch missing near the top when I cut it, so decided to distress and grunge things up.  Stamped the sentiment from  Framed Lilies in the corner of a crumb cake square, tied on some taffeta ribbon.  Used a 4.25" square card base of blushing bride, inked with some walnut stain distress ink and embossed with chicken wire embossing folder.  Finished off with some paintbrush splatters using a mix of walnut stain distress ink and water.

Want to win some shiny new Verve? We're giving away a $40 gift voucher to one lucky commenter along the hop, so be sure to leave a shout out in the comments as you hop about.  Here's the full hop list.

Next up on the hop is Teresa!

1. Julee9. Janelle
2. Teresa10. Christyne
3. Amber11. Jen
4. Charmaine12. Andrea
5. Marisa 13. Betty
6. Monika {Guest} 14. Karen
7. Stacey 15. Amy
8. Maureen

Want another chance to win? Now it's your turn! We'd LOVE to see what you've done with the August release. Link up your cards using at least one product from our August release and you'll be entered in a drawing to win our entire next release! All the details and the linkup widget are on the Verve Blog today. The deadline is October 3, so there's still plenty of time to get the August release if you haven't already.

Enabler's List
Stamps:  Framed Lilies (Verve Stamps)
Paper: blushing bride, crumb cake, early espresso (SU!), cream (Neenah)
Ink: walnut stain, antique linen (Ranger Distress), blushing bride, early espresso (SU!), aquarelle watercolor pencils (Faber-Castell), Copic multiliner
Accessories:  chicken wire embossing folder (Cuttlebug), taffeta ribbon (SU!), petite and scallop petite ovals nestabilities (Spellbinders)

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Doodling Secret

Hi friends, popping in this morning to change up the scenery.  This card was inspired by last week's SCS Mix-Ability challenge to use your non-dominant hand to doodle.  So here's my secret:  I'm not even comfortable doodling with my dominant hand, let alone my non-dominant one.  I have always illustrated with a mouse, so a pen feels really intimidating to me.  So I keep it sketchy when I doodle. Lots of sketchy lines that don't have to be straight.

My flower is sketched on copy paper.  I drew some rough squiggles for the insides of the flowers with my left hand, then used my right hand for the outer shape of the petals and leaves.  I colored with watercolor pencils, then once that was dry, I scraped some distress paint daubers over the leaves in orange and yellow colors to give a color gradation.  I then did more squiggles with my left hand using a white gel pen inside the flower and leaf doodles.  Added some dots to the flower center with a stylus and some of the orange distress paint, then cut the flower out and adhered with matte medium to a tag that was an ink catcher from an art journaling page I've been working on.

The colors were so bright, I decided to keep the card itself with a white card base, scored down the vertical side twice and a simple black sentiment from Be Blessed.  I finished off with a doodled frame around the tag, using my left hand again, and then added some linen thread to accent the tag.

Enabler's List
Stamps: Be Blessed (Verve Stamps)
Paper: white card stock, white copy paper, tag
Ink: Copic Multiliner & Pitt pens, white gel pen, black, ripe persimmon, mowed lawn and squeezed lemonade distress paint daubers, gesso, dylusions sprays
Accessories: linen thread, scor-pal, water brush