Monday, July 30, 2012

"Daring Adventures in Paint" Giveaway and Tutorial

I was experimenting again yesterday.  This time after reading "Daring Adventures in Paint" by Mati Rose McDonough.

End result,  this painted collage and I will be trying this out with Grade5/6 next year I think.

"Daring Adventures in Paint" by Mati Rose McDonough is a new book from Quarry.

- 128 pgs
- soft cover
- roughly 8.5 x 9 inches
- suggested retail $22.99US/$24.99CAN

Lots of great photography which in any art instruction book is always appreciated.

Mati touches on quite a few techniques to try including;

 using silver leaf, spray painting with doilies. transferring sketches onto specific areas of a painting and developing your narrative.

Where this book shines is in it's practical take on the developing do you take that "Wouldn't it be great to paint my own canvas for my bedroom"  to identifying how to locate inspiration, finding your voice and confidence as an artist, and then transferring that into completed work.

I will be giving away a copy of this book later this week, see the end of this post for details but first let's go thru the painted college using some techniques from Mati.


- canvas, piece of masonite, or paper/cardboard as a base (substrate)
- assorted papers from recycling, junk mail, etc.
- acrylic paint
- glue
- alphabet stamps
- craft foam
- scissors
- scraps of cardboard
- sealer, optional.  I like Mod Podge!

Before I started this collage I decided to make some homemade stamps.  Now this is not discussed in the book but it's so easy.

Take some craft foam and a piece of corrugated cardboard (or foamboard, or gatorboard). You want it the size of your stamp.

Cut out your design.  This is different than the other stamps I make by etching designs in foam with a pencil.

Glue into place on the cardboard.  You can skip this step if you use the craft foam with the sticky backing.

Let dry.

Gather some supplies for printmaking.

- plain paper
- paintbrush or roller, whatever you have on hand

- acrylic paint
- disposable plate or even newspaper, waxpaper to squeeze your paint onto to load your brush or roller.  If I use a plate I will wash it and reuse it again and again.

Apply paint to your stamp and turn it facedown onto your paper. Rub all over the stamp with your hand applying a bit of pressure.  You can also use a brayer here.

Lift to see your impression.  The one on the left was using a paintbrush, the one on the right was a roller.

Let dry.
Keep your stamp as you can use it over and over again.
Take your base, (canvas, board, paper) and glue down some of your collected papers.

Some of my edges are cut some torn.  I know what colors I want to use in the final piece so I'm choosing very neutral colored papers.

Start adding paint to your background.  No rules here.  Paint over some of the paper while leaving some areas untouched.

Remember to do the sides if using a board or canvas.

I want to add my stamped paper.

So I cut out the part I want.  I then tint it with paint and glue into position.

Add details with more acrylic.  Here I'm stamping circles using an old spool dipped in paint.

Add more paper details if you want.  I cut the circles out of this scrapbooking paper as they were in my color scheme.

I added some sharpie and stamped on the word CROW using the R that was already there in the map paper.

Fiddle with it until you are satisfied.

Finally when everything is dry add a sealer over top to glue everything down.  I used Mod Podge matte finish this time.  It still has a bit of a sheen to it.

That's it.  I love the way I really did not have a plan but the work just came together......this will be a great lesson for the kids!

If you would like to win your own copy of "Daring Adventures in Paint" please do one of the following:

- leave a comment on this post
- like or comment on this link on my Facebook page
- send me an email at

I will be making the random draw on Friday Aug 3rd/12.

In the spirit of the Olympics I am opening this draw up to everyone.  Good luck.

Thanks to my friends at Quayside Publications for sponsoring this giveaway.

See you soon.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Experiments in Watercolor: Background Stencils

 Part of what I was looking forward to this summer was having time to go back to my daily painting practice.

After designing projects and teaching these to the kids all year I have little time for my own work, not to mention the housework, the daily walk I'd love to take, extra homework with my own kids, etc, etc.

....enough complaining already....

I have been wanting to try this for a while so today was the day.

I was at the Dollar Store and I picked all these letter and number stencils.  Some are hard plastic some are mylar (thin like a transparency).

I thought they would be great as paint stencils for doing mixed media collage (don't worry that post will show up soon).

For a buck I decided to pick up quite a few, some I left full size and others I cut down for doing small areas.

For background papers I would normally use acrylic but I wanted to do some watercolor practice today so I thought I would experiment.

Using different stencils I painted a background on watercolor paper.  The paint was just tube wc that I had left in my palette to dry.

I did this randomly.

Let dry.

I found it too overwhelming.  I wanted to minimize it a bit,  push it back into the background so using a plain water wash I painted over it and let it blur.

Let dry.

I then did my pencil sketch on top...

....and then did my painting adding a little ink and extra pencil where needed.

People who visit my house are always searching for new paintings of I decided to have a frame on display where I would switch out those daily paintings.

Have a good weekend and check back Monday for a new book giveaway and project.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Aztec File Folder books

Another project from the "Writing and the Visual Arts" program was these Aztec File Folder books. 

I'm always amazed with the possibilities of these books and it seems every teacher I introduce them to begins seeing all the applications they can use in the classroom.

So let's go thru this one shall we:

Now don't freak out with the supply list.  This just lists what I used to make this book but you can use what you have on hand and modify as you need to.  As always it's a work in progress!


- letter sized file folder, you could use legal sized your book would just be taller
- tacky glue, glue stick
- glue stick
- paint (acrylic, disk and liquid tempera), markers, pencil crayons, whatever mediums you have on hand
- clothespins
- single hole punch, press punch
- tags
- cardstock in assorted colors
- kraft paper or brown paper bags
- coffee stir stick
- stamps
- craft foam
- eggshells
- Mod podge, optional
- tissue paper
- embroidery floss

Open up the folder.

We need to re-fold the folder otherwise our book will be uneven.  Take one end of the folder and match up the tabs on the side so they are even.  You will then have to make a new fold line.  Use your finger or a ruler to make a nice flat fold.

Open up the folder again.  Fold the bottom edge up so that the bottom edge of the tab on the right meets up to it's top edge.

Use your finger or a ruler to make a nice flat fold.

Now we need to make our accordion folds.

When making these folds forget about the side tabs.  You want the main body of the folder to match up with that new fold line you made in the center.

It should look like this.

Open up the folder and unfold the bottom.  You want to put some glue on each vertical fold line on that bottom section including the 2 sides.

I like to sew my 2 sides but that is optional.

Now you know how to make the basic file folder book.


For the Aztec book we started by painting our inside with disk tempera paint.

I like to paint the pocket part different from the page.

Let dry ( only takes a few minutes)

Now on to the front and back covers.  Turn the folder over.  The far right hand side is the front cover and the far left is the back cover.

Using acrylic paint we painted the front and one of the middle sections turquoise.  The back cover and other middle section we painted yellow.

Let dry.

While the book is drying we worked on our Sun stone that will grace the front cover.

Take a square of kraft paper or brown paper bag.  It should be no wider than the front of the book.

Trace a circle on it.  I used a masking tape roll.  Paint in some sun colors with disk tempera.

Let dry

We are going to make stamps using craft foam.  Draw a circle onto your craft foam.  Mine is about 1 inch smaller than my kraft paper circle.

Using a pencil draw out your design onto the foam.  Push down fairly hard to indent the foam but not enough to poke a hole in it.

Now you can use these clear acrylic blocks if you have them or just some thick cardboard.

I buy some of the small squares every time I go to Michael's as they are usually under a $1.00.  I now have a class set.

The advantage of the clear block is it allows you to see exactly where you are making the print.

Tape on the stamp to the block or your piece of cardboard.

Paint on a little liquid tempera onto the stamp.  Have some paper nearby.

The first print is usually too dark and you want the second one.

Stamp one of those second prints onto your painted kraft paper.

While you have the paint out stamp a few extras onto the paper as we will use them to make our fan.

Using a little piece of cardboard you can add some rays to your sun and some dots with the end of a pencil dipped in paint.

For the front cover I want the sun up in the sky so I add some clouds with a sponge dipped in white paint.

Let the clouds and sun dry.

Before gluing my sun on the cover I added some extra rays onto the blue paint.

I glued on the sun with tacky glue.

I stamped on the word CODEX as that is what Aztec books are called.  Basically any book that has pages is called a codex.  The Aztec books were early examples of a folded codex.

I used an 'inchie' and made a stepped pyramid which I painted gold and then added an "A" to it is sharpie.  I added the other letters for "AZTEC".  I painted in some ground in green and a few stick people.

The inside of the book can be as elaborate as you want.  This is where all your info will be stored.  For our Aztec one we had sheets of hieroglyphics, maps, a Patolli game, tags, bookmarks, and a mini fan.

I won't go thru everything but here are some highlights.

For the second page we added some stencil.  Lay down a homemade stencil or bought one and pounce on some paint.

I often save the leftover sheet from cutting with the cricut for stencils.

For the mini fan.  Paint 2 of the extra prints you made and cut them out.

Take a strip of tissue paper about 1 inch wide. Cut in a fringe.

Apply some glue on the back of one of the prints and press the tissue into the glue gathering it here and there.

You can add a few feathers if you want.  Put a long coffee stir stick in the middle, add more glue and then put second print circle on top like a sandwich.

I wanted to add some interest to the stick so I tied on some embroidery floss, spread a little tacky glue on the stick and then wound the floss around.

The last thing I want to show you is the back cover.  We did an eggshell mosaic of the double headed serpent.

I describe the technique in this post.

Basically you collect some eggshells and you can either paint them or dye them.  I always keep my Easter egg or Pysanky dye thru the year.  You can make amazing dyed papers with it by the way.

Cut out a base shape out of cardstock.  It will show up like the grout in the mosaic so pick a color accordingly.

Lay it on some wax paper.  Brush on a little Mod podge or tacky glue.  Take a thumb sized piece of shell, place onto the Mod podge and then squish it down with you finger.  Continue until you have covered your shape.  Don't worry about going over the edges you can trim that with scissors when dry.  When the Mod podge or glue has set up enough on the bottom add a top coat.  If you do it too soon all the eggshell will move around.

Let dry, remove from wax paper, trim any excess.  glue into place on the back cover and add teeth and eyes.  For the kids, we cut out the mouth something I neglected to do in the sample.

That's it.  You can paint a clothespin to hold the book closed or to hold extra info and art.

You can continue to add to this book as you go along.

I just love these books!
See you next time!