Sunday, July 31, 2016

I Love You More Than...

It finally happened.

I FINALLY got a Pikachu in Pokemon Go! Those of you who are playing know how exciting that is, as it is the most supremely adorable little creature on the planet!

He (I'm assuming it's a he) jumps up and says PIKACHU in a voice that is reminiscent of the Pillsbury dough boy when you catch him.

Actually I just not got curious and went and looked, and apparently there's a raging debate about whether he's a boy or a girl - who knew? People can argue about anything. Anyone who is on Facebook knows that!

Anyway, he's CUTE whatever he is.

So he inspired my card for Dina's Dare To Get Dirty challenge this week. I could not resist breaking out the Labeler Alphabet to make this game-inspired card. Still makes me laugh when I see it on my desk.

I just used a Google image search to find him, and drew him with a Pitt pen, and colored him with Copics. The Labeler Alphabet is perfect, since Pokemon is actually a bit retro.
I love you more than Pikachu Card by Understand Blue Stampin' Up!

This is actually my third "I Love You More Than" card - the first one is is here, in 2011 and the second one is here, from last year. It's just such a fun sentiment.

I even saw this on the Five Guys board where they put up kids' art.

HA! Apparently Pikachu also likes hamburgers.

Another reason to love the little guy. Or girl.

 I hope you have a great lazy Sunday today.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Your Flower = My Shell

Today is the beginning of one of my favorite weeks of the year - it's the week of the Dare to Get Dirty challenges on Splitcoast.

This is a week long event exclusively for our Fan Club members, to thank them and reward them for supporting the site with their membership. In addition to the other perks of being a Fan Club member, this is a week where all the Dirty Dozen Alumni cook up amazingly creative challenges - 5 or 6 per day, and the participants can win prizes, not just inspiration.

A few months ago, when I received my Blossom Builder punch, the second I took it out of the box, I saw shells, not flowers. I even wrote myself a note on my daily task list that said "Shells w/Blossom punch" to remind myself to try this idea out.

Then, summer happened.

But when I saw my friend Lori's challenge for today, I knew it was an idea whose time had come and so I got to work. I still have never made a flower with this punch, and actually - I have a confession to make.

Are you ready? It's scandalous.

I don't like punches.

There. I said it. I'll wait while you all recover.

I've said this to people before, and I ALWAYS get a gasp in return, so I've sort of stayed in the closet about it. It's like saying you don't like kittens or rainbows, apparently, but the fact of the matter is, I don't, and here's why:

  • They're heavy.
  • They require hand strength that I don't have. I typically don't use craft supplies that smell or cause pain.
  • Did I mention that they're heavy? Because they're heavy. If I used punches in a class I'm giving myself a herniated kidney lifting the bag.
  • They take up a lot of space in my craft room - in a room the size of mine, this is a huge deal.
  • They're heavy.
So I'm super judicious in the punches I buy.

But every now and then, one comes along that I love, and has something that I can't get in a die, and when I looked at the shapes in this one, I knew even if I just made this one card that was in my head, it would have been worth buying the punch for. So, mission accomplished. I enjoyed the heck out of this project.

To make the background, I tore a piece of Avery Repositionable Label Paper the same size as my watercolor paper, and kept both pieces to mask.

Then I used the Wrinkle-Free Distress technique to get the water (Peacock Feathers, Twisted Citron and Mermaid Lagoon) and sand (Old Paper and Tea Dye) areas, and I used the sand colors to watercolor the faux shells made with the Blossom Punch.

I went around the edges of the shells with a Soft Suede marker to make them stand out from the background a bit, and then as I was positioning them on the background - I sit facing a window, so I let the natural shadows fall on the card, and then colored where the shadows were with a WG04 Copic marker to give them some dimension. There's glitter at the shoreline, which you of course, can't see. #thehumanity

I did a little video of the process for you - it's an easier and quicker card than you'd think, I promise.

Before you head off to watch though - do come join us this week for Dare to Get Dirty - and consider being a Fan Club Member!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cuttlelola GO!

At my retreat, as you know, we all got bitten by the Pokemon Go! bug HARD. It's SUCH a fun game, and I love that suddenly I now see - wait for it - LIVE HUMAN CHILDREN OUTSIDE.

Prior to this game, it would have been impossible to detect the presence of any children within a ten mile radius of my house. Since the game launched, I have discovered that my neighborhood does, in fact, have some live young in it, and they have now discovered the OUTDOORS.

It's so strange to me that kids here never go outside, and so different from my childhood experience. I worry about their imaginations and their vitamin D levels and their lack of contact with animals. Our days were filled with lizards and snakes and ants and all manner of wildlife. I could have done without the hot water we drank from the hose, but other than that, pretty much all we knew as kids was outside, and it was delightful. I still don't consider a day to be well spent if I haven't had a walk.

On my daily walks I NEVER saw kids and teens on the trails - now the trails are full of the Pokemon hunters - and I love it.

Bravo, Nintendo. The perfect blend of today's technology and the real world. Someone in that company has a lot of soul, a lot of brains, and now, a LOT of money.

Before you get the urge to fun-squash by coming up with a story about how someone fell off a cliff playing Pokemon - stifle yourself. There were stupid people prior to this game. Shoot - I see a woman on Mopac - our expressway - SEVERAL times a week, eating soup while she drives. Just like Facebook and beer don't make you stupid, Pokemon doesn't make you stupid. These people were stupid before they downloaded the app. Now they're just famous and stupid.

You know what's not stupid? Any new technology that brings us together and gives us common interests - across every sort of cultural or temporal divide there is. That is truly the wonder and value of things like this game. People who are quick to write off or criticize these unifying fads, whether serious or silly, are missing the opportunity to find joy in unexpected places, and I think everyone can agree that the world could do with a bit more joy and wonder. 

So try looking for Pikachu and just see if you don't find a little more.

Speaking of technology - I am in love with my newest toy - an early birthday present I bought for myself, along with an art journaling class that I'm LOVING. More on that one later.

But the toy is the Cuttlelola Dots pen. It's basically an electric pointillism machine! And I LOVE stippling/pointillism, but on large projects it can be time consuming and a bit fatiguing.

So I was THRILLED to run across this little wonder and it jumped instantly into my cart. I tried it out for the very first time on this card and filmed the process, so you will see in the video how easy it is to use right out of the box. Check out this stippled version of a rose I did with it.

Cuttlelola Dots Pen Sample by Understand Blue
It's just a thicker pen body, with a little lithium battery inside that powers the stippling motion of the pen. Incredible! Just press the little button (mine is blue, not red), and you're off to the races!
I used the ArtOGraph light box and an image stamped from Rose Wonder to trace the image with the Dots Pen. To finish it off, I used the Hero Arts prayers die for the sentiment for a friend who lost her mother recently.

SO easy and fun and it just took a few minutes - it would have taken me forever manually. When I showed the etched and Zentangled Blended Bloom samples at Convention a few years ago, I had done a stippled version, and just had to show the finished card because it took so long to do by hand. You can see the video on those samples here, and here is my video showing my first time with the Cuttlelola.

I hope you enjoy that - this is quickly becoming an obsession.

So go outside with what's left of the weekend and meet your fellow Pokemon Players. Enjoy the little things. Life is too short to be a fun squasher!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Retreat + Advance

I am back from my UNWIND Retreat, July edition, and I have more things to say than I have space for, really.

We were in a spectacular setting - (we'll be back in October for the next one and registration is now open) - and we truly were isolated from the outside world, which made for a joyful and serene few days, when I know the rest of the world wasn't exactly joyful and serene, so I'm super grateful for that.

I learned some interesting things too, some of which are:
  • Country dogs are the best.
  • There is wine that has glitter in it. While not for everyone, it's super entertaining to watch other people drink it. I'm thinking their use of the word "natural" on the website might be a bit liberal, as I noticed that it looked EXACTLY like my bowling ball.
  • Royal icing isn't as intimidating as you think it is if you have the right teacher. Making iced cookies is super fun.
  • If some nearby roadway construction work should happen to sever a large portion of the entire county's water lines, 30 women CAN survive a waterless night by using leftover iced tea to flush toilets. We ARE crafters after all, and who needs tea when there's glitter wine? PS - in case you are a city slicker that has never had to survive a hurricane or I-35 construction mishaps - pour the tea in the bowl, not the tank for optimal results in an emergency. If you have ENOUGH tea, fill both. Thanks to both of our hurricane survivors for helping teach people these important life skills.
  • Taking notes during crafty events is essential - I learned a ton, including things about phone apps, new products, storage ideas - you name it. The hive mind rocks. Having one place to write all your ideas down instead of grabbing random scraps of cardstock is best. Try and guess which one I did.
  • Taking "art notes" is amazing too - my friend Meg brought one of her art journals, and for each of the eight classes we had, she would put leftover paint, ink etc. from each project into a page for future finishing. You can take notes on the techniques there too, which is what I use my art journal for - documenting experiments in technique and color.
  • Wet felting soap is easy and fun - muchas gracias to my friend Rebecca for teaching us.
  • Crafty people are the kind of people who buy raffle tickets and put other people's names on them. That actually happened. So sweet.
  • You can indeed have pineapple upside-down bread pudding for breakfast. Proven fact. Do not doubt me. 
  • Canadians get cold in air conditioning. Even when it's 103 outside. Bless their hearts. They are TROOPERS outside.
  • Take ALL the photos :).
  • I'm pretty sure Pokemon Go was released strategically to coincide with the startling number of calories consumed at this retreat - our chef Melanie is amazing. Thank you, Nintendo for recognizing we needed a little exercise after that!
It really was an incredible, peaceful, joyful experience. I can't wait to do it again in a few months.

I am now home and will unpack this week and settle back in, sadly, without my friends here. Thank goodness for the internet and texting.

I did make a card before I left though - and I really liked it - I wanted to bring the Penned & Painted stamp set with me, but ran out of time. I love the loose style of these flowers. A new online class using this set will be posted soon!

Penned & Painted Direct to Paper sample by Understand Blue (Stampin' Up!)
 After I stamped them (I'll have a video on how I placed them soon - that's one of the notes I took at the retreat) - onto a 3" inchie from Inchie Arts, I used the direct-to-paper technique with some new Clearsnap inks we released a Product Focus on today at Splitcoast. These ink pads are great if you are a planner addict because they have seasonal palettes on a single pad so you can ink small planner images separately with one ink pad. I'm not organized to be a planner addict so I used them for direct to paper instead! I loved the spring palette - the right combination of warm and bright and they blend beautifully. I'm LOVING playing with inchies right now. The matboard surface takes ink so beautifully - we used them at retreat for a few projects.

The Mixed Borders set is where I got the sentiment - I love that font - looks like the Ball / Mason Jar font to me.

So what have you been up to while I was gone? Any Pokemon Go fans out there? I have a private FB group for tips & tricks - if you want to be added, just message me on FB!

Hope whatever you're doing, it's fun and colorful. Here are some of my favorite photos from the retreat.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Cold, The Wet, The Misunderstood

I'm here today on behalf of a few misunderstood sea creatures.

When I was little, we used to go to the Texas coast occasionally for a beach vacation.

It's important to note though, that a Texas beach vacation is nothing to write home about. Our beaches are not the sugar sand, clear water beaches you find in the Caribbean and Florida. You're never going to see a Texas beach on Pinterest, unless it's a pin called "Five Ways to Remove Tar From Flip Flops" or maybe "What Makes Water Brown?" It's just a fact. We Texans only go there because it's the only beach you can get to after driving for 9 hours with a bunch of cranky people you're related to.

But you can still do all the fun things you do on pretty beaches - you can look for shells and little crabs, you can see those teeny ground squirrel thingies in the dunes, you can eat sandy hot dogs and drink canned beer and you can hear the ocean, if you like that sort of thing.

But from a very early age, I always thought the MOST dramatic and interesting thing about Texas beaches was the jellyfish. But in true Texas beach style of only doing things halfway, the jellyfish we encountered weren't even REAL jellyfish - they were Portugese Man o' War, also known - wait for it - as FLOATING TERROR. I'm not making that up.

And they are terrifying - they continue stinging you even after they're dead, even if only little pieces of them are floating around or washed up on the beach, which is where we saw them the most.

Even though we all were very careful not to come into contact with them, having been told dramatic tales by our parents, we still got as close as we could to them on the beach to look at them, because they are so strange and beautiful. They are like a deadly soap bubble - all iridescent and multi-colored. They look so delicate and improbable.

Unlike the FLOATING TERROR, real jellies can move themselves, instead of just floating on currents, and they are actually some of the most efficient swimmers of all sea creatures. It's magical to watch, and the jellies are always my favorite thing to see at aquariums. Their looks and their movements are mesmerizing. If I actually liked the water, and got to be reincarnated as a sea creature, I think I'd come back as a jellyfish.

So, lucky me, there happens to be the most gorgeous jellyfish stamp in the newest My Monthly Hero kit, among other incredible sea-themed images. There was much SQUEE when I opened the stamp set.

The jelly images are actually layering, but I thought the detail layer alone was so delicate and perfect that I used it to do some emboss resist with my beautiful Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors, which I've neglected since May!

I tried to incorporate all the dreamy colors I saw on the washed up Man o' Wars into my more peaceful floating jellyfish.

In the end, it was so pretty and serene I didn't even want to add a sentiment - I just wanted to let the jellies float, wordless, as they do.

Pin It

I don't know why, but I really think this is one of my favorite cards I've ever painted. It just is so peaceful.

I painted a bunch of watercolor backgrounds while I had the watercolor out. I used another one for the sweet sea turtles in the set. I wanted the colors to be more turtle-y on this one, so I went heavy on the greens. AREN'T THEY CUTE?

 There's something so soothing about sea images, even though I find the sea completely the opposite of soothing. (Insert screaming from all my beachy friends here. It's okay - I'll wait)

Finally, I had to make a card set with the more graphic images in the set - including an octopus with the most hilarious look in his eye! This time I did use both layers on the jelly, and I combined a few sets for the sentiments, including Hello Gorgeous and the sentiments from the kit. They crack me up.
AND, best news of all - I love it when my crafty purchases go towards a cause - Hero Arts is donating 10% of the profits from the July kit to ocean preservation through the World Wildlife Fund. Since I'm a member, this really spoke to me. I love all creatures great and small and whenever I find an animal-related crafty cause, I have to get behind that. So a big thanks to the kind people at Hero for doing this!

I made a little video for you of the watercolor process for these cards - so you'll see how I fixed a few color mistakes along the way - remember with watercolor - never give up! Contrary to popular belief, it can be a very forgiving medium.

This is a while-supplies-last kit, so move faster than a jellyfish! It's a BIG kit, and includes alllll this:

There are also add-ons, which I will be buying - this completely cracks me up. It comes with dies as well.

And I'm hopping with some friends today if you want to see some more inspiration with these lovelies - the people on this hop have my complete admiration - they are incredible artists!

The Hero Arts Blog
Yana Smakula
Amy Tsuruta
Clare Prezzia
May Park
Laura Bassen
Lydia Fiedler
Jessica Frost-Ballas
Justin Krieger
Jennifer McGuire
Jenn Shurkus
Veronica Zalis
Libby Hickson
Joan Bardee

So thanks for stopping by - I'm swimming off now. Loveyameanitbye.

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