Street Art: “Be Happy” Stencil

There is a prolific stencil artist in my neighborhood.  And I love what they do.  People have really strong opinions about graffiti and graffiti art– and that’s cool.  But you can’t deny that this little stencil can make you smile… I found it while I was having a really bad day, and it perked me up. I love the nice surprises you can find when going for a walk.

Learning Linocutting

Tools of the trade

I started learning about linocut a little while ago.

From Wikipeda: “Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum (sometimes mounted on a wooden block) is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller (called a brayer), and then impressed onto paper or fabric. The actual printing can be done by hand or with a press.”  I found  great easy-cut linocut sheets at the art store.  They are softer than the sheet I first learned with.  Because they are softer though, its harder to get the amount of details you can get from tougher linoleum sheets.  The easy-cut sheets are also a little more expensive, but my less-cut-up fingers are thankful for this invention.

Before I took a class on linocutting, I tried to get the look of blockprinting without the tools.  It turned out okay, but it didn’t look as neat as the linocut does. I’ve been trying to find different materials to print with.  As a lesson for my students, we looked at printing, and created prints of our own.  Since linocut is not for people under the age of 12, we used styrofoam meat trays and a ball point pen as a stylus.  It was a good substitute, and the kids enjoyed it.  I still use Styrofoam for some prints, especially if I don’t want to keep the stamp I’ve made.

I enjoy cutting lino though.  There’s something about carving into a blank square and creating a picture out of it.  Cutting the block is kind of a zen thing for me.  I zone out, and can spend hours just cutting stamps.  I love the rough look of a print.

I use linocut in a lot in my mixed media work.  I created a tutorial about blockprinting, its located in the tutorials page, or you can click here.

I hope you give it a try.

Where do you work?

A friend of mine asked me where I work on my stuff.  We had a great conversation on how to create when you have limited space.  Living in a big, expensive city doesn’t leave a lot of room for art– and my art takes up a lot of space.  My friend has an “all-purpose” room she uses with her partner for painting.  I don’t even have that much space– I live in a one bedroom apartment.  I negotiated with my husband for a corner in the living room, and created a workspace that has turned out to be great for me!  I love having the corner cause I don’t have to worry about setting up materials, or putting stuff away– its always ready for when I have an idea.

Why art journal?

I was never very good at keeping a written journal– I would be intimidated by the lines on the page, and worried that I couldn’t fill them up with meaningful prose.  I guess that’s why I never considered blogging about my journalling either.  Trying to use words to describe the process and reasons for my sketchbooks is really difficult.  But here it goes anyways:

What are the reasons you keep an art journal, Stephanie?

1. I find using color and shape less limiting than words.  I’m not a great wordsmith, so I would rather draw my meaning.  Or create music about it.

2. I get to learn and try out new techniques in my books.  The smaller format is great for trying a little bit of watercolors; or a small amount of decoupage.

3. My journal allows me to do something creative everyday.  I can’t work on my big pieces everyday. Sometimes i get tired just thinking about some of the pieces I should finish, but you know how it is…

4. My journal is a mini portfolio of my work and my photography.  Its a great example of the art I make.

5. I can’t screw it up.  And I’m not even afraid that I might.  Art rocks.

6.  Its a great conversation piece.  I’ve met some great artists by sharing my work with them.

7. Its a visual representation of my life.  A pages tells me exactly what I was feeling that day.  No censorship there.

I am very interested to know why other artists keep art journals…  Why do you keep one?

By way of introduction…

I have been inspired.  I started my newest sketchbook a few months ago.  I have tried “traditional” journalling, but I found myself limited by my own words.  For some reason, I could never write what I meant.  The words seemed flat and inexpressive.

A friend told me to journal in pictures. I had never thought of that before.

My sketchbook has been transformed.  And I want to share my experiences in learning about mixed media and journalling.  Anything I find that is useful, will be posted here.