An Arts & Crafts Book Like You’ve Never Seen Before!

I am so excited to have been asked to contribute my art to this amazing project! “Around The World With 80 Artists” is a compilation of arts and crafts projects curated by Mahe Zehra Husain, founder of The Creative Art Academy. From budding crafters to advanced artists, there is a project here for everyone! My contributions will include not only some of the coloring pages from The Art Journal Coloring Book, but also a tutorial on how to make your own coloring pages, easy-peasy!

Best of all, 20% of the proceeds from this project will go to The Malala Fund to help girls gain an education. Girls who might otherwise not get their chance at a basic human right so many of us take for granted.

Click the image linked below to sign up for your own FREE e-copy before it goes on sale!

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FOTI: A List of 100 Suggestions on How to Live and Work as an Artist

FOTI is a new tag on my blog. It stands for Found On The Internet: things I’ve found interesting and thought you might as well.

Irwin Greenberg circulated this primer to his students at the High School of Art & Design and the Art Students League of New York. He died, age 87, in 2009.

Like a lot of realist painters, I started teaching as a way to stabilize my income. I was amazed to discover that it would be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Somehow, everything I have learned in my life found a place in the studio classroom…

1. Paint every day.

12. Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by failure. Rembrandt had failures. Success grows from failure.

 

Read the full article here.

Frozen by the Blank Page? Why Everyone Needs An Altered Art Journal

There’s something about me you may not know: when I stumble onto something awesome it kind of takes over my brain. Maybe this is why if I find one great marker I have to have the whole set of colors? In every nib size? Hmmm. My latest obsession is handmade Altered Art Journals. Full disclosure: I’m making them and they’re for sale on Etsy. But that’s not why you should continue reading. Continue reading to find out why they’re so awesome! P1050904 P1050915 I’ve discovered that there’s something wonderful about journals with pages already full of text and illustrations. The lack of blank pages! But wait, you might be asking, aren’t journals supposed to have blank pages? Fair enough. I have dozens of journals: ones I’ve purchased, been gifted or made myself. They all have blank pages. The paper quality varies, though. So depending on what you want to do in your journal, you may need several with varying paper types.

But even though you may have all those journals, you will still confront our common enemy: the dreaded blank page. You know what I’m talking about. You feel all creative, sit down with your lovely pens or brushes or pencils and that blank page stares back at you. It’s so clean and perfect. You’re sure that anything you put down on this page now is going to wreck it. Transform it from perfect to ugly. You hesitate. You lose your mojo. You move on to another activity, telling yourself you’ll leave it for another time. Maybe those stretches of time get so long that you don’t even bother anymore. YIKES

That blank page is pretty darn powerful.

Well guess what?! You can take back your power! Altered Art Journals can help you do just that because its pages are already covered with text and images, making these ‘already been started,’ a place to begin. (If you want to dive right in, clean pages await for any medium you desire – more on that below.) There’s just so much already between the covers to work with making Altered Art Journals far less daunting that a journal filled with blank pages! And while artists of all levels can create in these, this can be especially freeing for the new or uncertain artist. P1050926 I spend a lot of time choosing just the right vintage hardcover book. An artist’s eye is needed to assess binding, construction, condition, paper weight and, of course, existing art. Generally, these books have some value due to their vintage nature. Plus, they’re cool. Auditioning which illustrations are worthy enough to be in your Altered Art Journal is an intuitive process and each book is treated as though I was recreating it for myself; I have to love it to ensure it’s good enough for you.

I gently remove between 50% – 70% of the book’s pages to make room for the professional quality, 140lb hot press watercolor paper I’ve cut to fit. Of the vintage pages that remain I do my utmost to keep as much of the beautiful, original art between the covers as I possibly can. After carefully separate the book from its binding, I nestle the new signatures (sets of paper) among the original pages and bind them securely with Irish linen. P1050826 P1050831 Next, I put the book back together in such a way that the spine remains intact, making it appear as though the book has always had watercolor paper inside. I also reinforce any areas where the hinge might be vulnerable using artist’s quality, archival paper tape (which can be painted over). P1050821 If a vintage book has been particularly loved, I go a step further and reinforce the spine and cover. After all, this book is meant to be used. P1050902 At this point the one-of-a-kind Altered Art Journal is ready for sale. The watercolor paper can handle your water-based media (acrylic paint and watercolors) while the original pages are perfect for collage, stamping, sketching, paint pens, coloring… there are no limits. The original illustrations can be doodled on, painted over, collaged around… it’s yours to change in whatever way pleases you! It is possible to customize the journal further. For example, prepping some of the original pages for wet media with gesso or other mediums, tinting some of the pages to match corresponding illustrations, taping the spine… It’s also possible to request a certain size of book for altering. (Just contact me through Etsy.) I’m currently working on a commission to prep all the pages of an Altered Art Journal.

Here’s a very short video I made if you’d like to see a quick flip through of a finished art journal:

Whether you buy an Altered Art Journal or create your own, there’s just so much already between the covers to work with making Altered Art Journals far less daunting that a journal filled with blank pages!  I encourage you to give it a try. And as always, I’d LOVE to see your creations which you can share on my new Facebook Group, Art Journaling 101 with StudioSeena. xo, seena

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Art Journaling 101: An Exciting New Development on Facebook!

One of the main lessons I’m learning on my creative journey is to respect, not fear, the subjectivity of art. I used to think that a painting was only ‘good’ if it looked like it did in real life. I think I assumed that the ability to technically reproduce an image by hand equalled talent. And maybe it does. But I also came to understand that while I can respect the talent that goes into photo realism, it’s not something my spirit enjoys. I have no connection on an emotional level when I look it. ie: boring!

When I looked more closely at the artists I do enjoy I realized there were many things I could criticize, all of them technical.

Juliette Crane’s owls, for example, don’t look the way you’d expect owls to look: http://www.juliettecrane.com/art/

Jane Davenport’s faces are not proportionate, nor the ‘right’ color:https://www.pinterest.com/LenaMi/art-teacher-jane-davenport/

Teesha Moore’s collage work is just odd: http://teeshamoore.com/

Yet I LOVE all of their art. It inspires me and makes me happy when I look at it. And I’ve come to learn that it is exactly the subjectivity that each artist brings to their work that makes it interesting to me. Think of Monet, Van Gogh… I mean, how boring would the world be if we didn’t have their beautiful styles? Only Jane Davenport could make faces the way she makes them. Only Juliette Crane can make owls like Juliette Crane. There is only ONE Teesha Moore. When I look at art I now look for what makes it different, what makes it uniquely that artist’s work. How does it appeal to ME?

The kicker is, I’m challenging myself to view my own art in the same light, to teach myself to see that the things I don’t like about my own art is really more about the growth of my personal style and to start accepting them. If Jane Davenport stopped because the eyes she drew were too big, we wouldn’t have her beautiful mermaids. If Juliette Crane let her inner critic convince her that her owls were stupid, I wouldn’t be able to look at them and smile because I think they are sooooooo cute!

Ignore your inner critic and push through the negativity it creates. Force yourself to take a leap of faith and share your art. Celebrate the positive feedback that will follow. Keep doing these things and that harsh critic will get weaker, allowing your sense of flow and joy to increase when you create. xo, seena

I must confess today’s blog post is actually a Facebook post from my new Facebook Group: Art Journaling 101 with StudioSeena. I’m touched by those who have told me how it’s inspired them and that inspired me to share it with you. If you enjoyed it, I invite you join Art Journaling 101 with StudioSeena for more inspiration and encouragement. Tell your friends! You don’t have to be an artist to make art!

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On Creative Slumps and A New Etsy Shop

I’m cringing as I look at the date of my last post – more than six weeks have passed in which I’ve broken the cardinal rule of blogging – don’t ignore your blog!

Well… I haven’t been ignoring my blog exactly, but my art is another matter. And since my blog focuses on my art… you get the idea. In hindsight, which everyone agrees is 20/20 ;), I think it’s fair to say this frigid winter literally froze my creative spirit. It was reeeeeally frustrating. The harder I tried to sit down and make art, the worse it got. I bought new supplies and played with colors:

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Took a drawing class (what do you think, does it look like me?):

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Even printed collage sheets… nothing worked to get me out of my slump. If I got anything out of this winter it’s the lesson that creativity doesn’t submit to force.

Since the light in my workspace was dim at best I decided to flip my office and my studio. Big project! That resulted in lots of organizing, culling and weeding. The move did prompt an idea, but not one I was expecting.

I opened an Etsy shop.

There were a number of resources I had, most of them vintage ephemera of one sort or another, that I either wasn’t going to get to, were duplicates of things I’d already used or things that no longer fueled my creative spirit. BUT, it occured to me that others might be able to find these things useful and so my little Etsy idea took on a life of its own. As I curate the chaos of my art studio and personal stash of creative supplies I will continue to add items. Please click on over and have a look. And let me know what you think! Since the ephemera is all resources I originally bought, reclaimed or thrifted to use in my own mixed media art, I’m only listing items that I believe would work in mixed media art. I hope it inspires and generates creativity in others.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. That, and I made 3 new art journals to get myself going again. (Don’t you just love this table? My dad made it when I was about 5 years old.)

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I’m happy to say I’m starting to fill them and look forward to sharing my pages with you.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re doing. And what you think of studioseena at Etsy.

xo, seena

Follow Your Heart When Making Art: Chagall’s Paris Opera Ceiling

My husband and I visited Paris for the first time during an October eons ago where it proceeded to pour rain for the entire week. Undaunted, we worked our way through a hefty ‘must see’ list which included Chagall’s painted ceiling at the famous Paris Opera House. We arrived, soaked and chilled, propelled by memories of Phantom of the Opera we’d seen years before.

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Unable to afford the premium tickets that would take us to the performance hall to see the famous work of art, we shadowed an English tour to learn what we could about the monument. As the tour entered a side door we followed, unnoticed, with no idea of where we were headed. This is the sight that greeted us:

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Imagine our surprise. We were speechless in the midst of one of the most breathtaking works of art I’d ever seen, Chagall’s famous Paris Opera ceiling. Its beauty brought tears to my eyes.

“When Matisse dies,” Picasso said, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” To see this painting one can’t help but understand what Picasso meant. The colors are so vibrant they seem to glow. You might have no trouble convincing yourself that what you see is really a HD cinematic trick, but you’d be wrong. As my heart filled with joy my head was busy trying to puzzle it out. How could Chagall have taken something so ordinary like paint (440lbs worth) and turned it into something so extraordinary?  Yet I imagine a master like Chagall didn’t waste much time over thinking the artistic process. He understood that our head inhibits creativity. I’m endeavoring to make this quote by Chagall my mantra.

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As we strive to reframe our fear of the blank page and let go of perfectionism, who better than Chagall to encourage us to follow our heart when making art?

Battling Your Inner Critic: Turn Creative Mistakes Into OOPS

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How many times have you opened your art journal or sketchbook to ‘do some art’ and been frozen by the blank page? I know it happens to me. And more often than I care to admit. I’m usually afraid of making a mistake, marring the page or putting time into something that, in the end, I won’t like. I become a perfectionist. And it paralyzes me. If you identify with the creative process outlined below and get stuck by #5, you’re not alone.

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The wonderful Carolyn Dube has masterfully redefined “mistakes” as “OOPS” (Outstanding Opportunities Presenting Suddenly) and if you haven’t heard of this before, you really need to meet Carolyn. She was recently interviewed at Dirty Footprints Studio as a prelude to her participation in an online workshop, 21 SECRETS 2014. In the interview, Carolyn talks about how to face fear, how to get around it, how to work with it. There are so many juicy tidbits to take away!

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For example:

“I have tried everything in the aisles of Michael’s. I kept thinking it was the specific craft or art that I was doing that wasn’t right, but it was really the way I was treating myself.”

“Because I couldn’t be an expert right away, that inner critic just came ramping up… I spent 15-20 years in that battle with that inner critic.”

“I now realize that the things that I look at longingly are things that I want to do.”

Watch the free video interview here: Video Link. You’ll be inspired, learn how to begin to reframe your fear and best of all, be encouraged to create. What more can you ask for when staring at a blank page?