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Welcome (back) to Mixed Media Artist!

Hi, I'm Cyndi, and I've been writing and updating  Mixed Media Artist since 2005.  If you're a new visitor, welcome! Come tr...

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Book review: Magical Forest Fairy Crafts Through the Seasons


Today I want to introduce you to the second book that caught my eye for summer projects with the kids or the grandkids...Magical Forest Fairy Crafts Through the Seasons by Lenka Vodicka-Paredes and Asia Currie.  These ladies are awesome, and if you fall in love with their work, you'll be thrilled to know that there is another book simply called Forest Fairy Crafts that you can snag as well.

All the fairies, gnomes, and critters are made from felt, so the cutting and sewing part is super-simple.  It's the details that make the difference, and there are copious instructions given for how to make these delightful folk come to life.  The beginning section covers all the materials and techniques, and the first part of the project section suggests that you construct practice pieces: a fairy girl, fairy boy, fairy baby, and a basic gnome.  Of course if you're like me, you'll want to just skip ahead right into the projects!  Go ahead...the instructions are super-detailed, and you can always flip back to the techniques section if you get stuck.

Click on the pictures below to get enlarged images so you can see how cute these little beings are!

 Click to enlarge


Click to enlarge



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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Book review: Pretty + Playful Applique


There are two books coming out this month that I believe are perfect for not only your own amusement, but also for doing projects with children or grandchildren!  I am very excited about both of them.  I haven't yet been able to get my grands hooked on fabric art (they do like to draw and paint though), but I can see myself just casually working on a cute little project when I'm with them, and letting nature take its course!  The first one is up today, and I'll hit the second tomorrow.

The Big Book of Pretty + Playful Applique by Carol Armstrong looks like a must-have to me.  It has ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY TWO of Carol's gorgeous, realistic designs.  There are four full projects included to help you practice doing these appliques, but I don't care so much about that as I do about the incredible number and quality of the applique patterns.  Just look at the lists below and you'll see what I mean.  Click on the pictures to get a larger image that you can read through. 

You'll learn how to use a light box properly, to plan and number your pieces, to needle-turn the edges, to alter the patterns to suit yourself, and how to add details that will make your pieces come to life (like the eyes).  If you are like me, and prefer to do raw-edge applique, the patterns will work for you too.  Same goes if you like embroidery, crewel embroidery, or even drawing and painting!

So so so worthwhile.

Click to enlarge


Click to enlarge


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Monday, August 06, 2018

Water Sprite - an alcohol ink painting and tutorial

Cyndi Lavin, 2018


Following in the tradition of En PointeFire on High and Tempest, this piece was done using the wet into dry technique with alcohol ink.  I used some discreet dots of ink near the top, and swirled them around a bit near the bottom before allowing them to dry completely. 

Then, using 91% rubbing alcohol in a squeeze bottle, I dripped the solvent onto one small area at a time, manipulating the running inks by blowing through a straw.  You can use a hair dryer (set on cool), canned air, or a heat gun (at a distance) instead, but the straw will give you those really interesting spots.  This is because of spittle!  It takes longer to dry than the alcohol, so the little dots end up having concentrated color.  If you don't like the dots, choose a different air source, because it's pretty much impossible not to spit on your piece!  :-D


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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Book review: The Art of Mixing Textiles in Quilts


In July, this fun book came out that shows you how to take all your different fabrics and get them to play nicely together!  If you're like me, you've got cottons, wools, silks, upholstery fabrics, sheers, and more in your stash.

Click to see an enlargement

In The Art of Mixing Textiles in Quilts, Lynn Schmitt will show you to blend them together like a pro, including how to add great dimension to your projects by using different materials together.  There are 14 specific pieced and appliqued projects included in case you want some ideas to get you going!


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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

En Pointe - an alcohol ink painting and tutorial

Cyndi Lavin, 2018


Just like Fire on High and Tempest, this piece was done using the wet into dry technique with alcohol ink.

Drip your alcohol ink colors onto a dry background and let them dry, or at least mostly dry.  Using 91% rubbing alcohol in a squeeze bottle, add the solvent to one small area at a time, manipulating the running inks with a blower.  You can use a hair dryer (set on cool), canned air, a heat gun (at a distance), or even just a straw.

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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A watercolor approach to working with alcohol inks – a tutorial


When you work with alcohol inks using a wet-in-wet technique, you've got less control than with any other method.  At least it seems that way to me! 

Put 91% rubbing alcohol or a blending solution into a  squeeze bottle, and wet your paper thoroughly.  Drip inks onto the page, and allow them to spread for a bit.  Tilt and tip the page to allow the inks to run and blend.  Add more alcohol or solution, and more inks as needed.  Keep it wet and loose until it's blended to your satisfaction.  You could also use either a hair dryer, canned air, a straw, or a heat gun to move the inks around. 

Be careful to use colors that mix well when using this method, or you could end up with a muddy mess. Once the piece is dry, you can reactivate areas that need more work, or you can add small details like the dots that you see near the center.  All that takes is a small brush or cotton swab, dampened with alcohol or a different color of ink. 


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Monday, July 16, 2018

Lazarus Rising – an alcohol ink painting tutorial

Lazarus Rising
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

This piece was painted using the same method as Fire on High, dripping alcohol inks onto a dry background and working on a small section at a time.  Visit the link to Fire on High for more precise instructions!



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Monday, July 09, 2018

Tempest – an alcohol ink painting tutorial

Tempest
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

A piece like this uses a combination of wet and "dry" techniques.  Of course, alcohol inks are wet by nature, but it's possible to add smaller details with a damp brush and the most concentrated inks late in the process.

For Tempest, I started with a fairly heavy application of inks with a brush. After allowing them to dry, I used a squeeze bottle with rubbing alcohol to drip a small section at a time, blowing it with a heat gun.  You can use a hair drying instead.  You can also experiment with using either 91% rubbing alcohol or a blending solution in your bottle.  In some sections, I let the inks spread a bit before blowing; in others, I began blowing right away.  Variety!

The final steps after if was dry was to adjust the color with a barely damp brush.  If you drip out a drop or two of ink onto a plastic palette and let it evaporate, you can reactivate the pure ink sediment with a brush.  In this case, a brush that is barely dampened in 91% rubbing alcohol. 


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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Morning Mist – an alcohol ink painting tutorial

Morning Mist
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

Here is another watercolor-look technique you can try with alcohol inks.  First, choose the colors you want to use, and mix up a small batch of each in a squeeze bottle.  You can use either 91% rubbing alcohol or a blending solution to make a very dilute mixture of each color you plan to use. 

Apply the inks, one color at a time to your paper, and use either a hair dryer, or a heat gun to move them around.  Adding the next color will reactivate the dried inks, so be careful about your placement and direction of blowing.  The little dots were adding later with a cotton swab.


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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Semi-controlled wet-in-wet method with alcohol inks – a tutorial


Alcohol inks can be used in a similar way to watercolors, where they are dripped and manipulated on a wet substrate.  In this case, it would be wet with either 91% rubbing alcohol or a blending solution.  But there is a variation on this method that I want to show you, because you can get just a bit more control over what happens with just a slight change in technique!


Put your rubbing alcohol into a squeeze bottle and use it to make a design line on your page.  Right next to this line, but not quite touching, add lines and/or drops of alcohol inks.  Then use a straw, a hair dryer, or a heat gun to sharply blow the inks up into the rubbing alcohol line.  Manipulate them as desired and let them dry slightly.  Add more lines and more ink as desired, working either in from the other edge of the paper, or continuing along the edge of the inks already added.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Infinity rings - an alcohol ink tutorial


I had been wondering how people got multiple rings to form with alcohol inks.  Simply plopping an additional drop of ink into an already formed ring was not doing the trick, and more often was resulting in the original ring dissolving!  YouTube to the rescue :-)

It takes some practice, but it's really not difficult.  You'll want to work in one small area at a time, and when you begin, keep your starting puddles somewhere between the size of a quarter and a half dollar coin.  Follow these simple steps:

1. Put a drop or two of ink into a small puddle of 91% alcohol.  Use a squeeze bottle for your plain alcohol to control the amount.

2. Use a hair drier or a heat gun to blow around the outside of the puddle, pointing it towards the center. Move the air quickly so that the ink doesn't dry in one spot.  Try for multiple rings, and try not to let the moving alcohol lap over the edges of your puddle.

3. If you don't get as many rings as you'd like, add a small drop of additional ink to the center and repeat step 2.


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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book review: Artful Alphabets


Artful Alphabets
by Joanne Sharpe

Joanne Sharpe has done it again!  In her first book (shown below), Joanne taught the basics of creating hand lettered alphabets that didn't take years of calligraphy practice to master.  In her newest (shown above), she shares 55 new ideas and fonts that you can try, tweak, and make your own!

If you don't own the first book, don't let that stop you from getting Artful Alphabets.  The basics are covered again.  Joanne's style is light and whimsical, but you can easily morph the imagery being used to suit your own style.  Personally, I have always disliked my own handwriting, and I really appreciate Joanne's admonition to embrace it and see what comes out!  The biggest adjustment I've had to make is to remember that I am *drawing* my letters, not simply writing them!





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Monday, June 11, 2018

Wet into dry method with alcohol inks - a tutorial


Last week, I showed you the first of several techniques that I've been using to experiment with alcohol inks.  Here are some of the other pieces that I made using this wet into dry method.


To recap, you drip your alcohol ink colors onto a dry background.  They can sit there and dry, or you can begin working with them while they're still wet.  Using 91% rubbing alcohol in a squeeze bottle, you add the solvent to one small area at a time, manipulating the running inks with a blower.  You can use a hair dryer (set on cool), canned air, a heat gun (at a distance), or even just a straw.


One of the things I most like about this method is the airy, wispy, ethereal look that you can get.

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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Fire on High - an alcohol ink painting tutorial

Fire on High
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

Since I am pathologically organized, I just had to set aside time to systematically try out all of the different methods of painting the alcohol ink that I'd seen.  My favorite video tutorials are all linked up in my Alcohol ink Pinterest board, so take a look if you want even more.  Also, don't forget Cathy Taylor's excellent book, which I've reviewed here.   I'll be showing you my results over the next few weeks.

For the first go, I decided to try the technique where you drip your alcohol ink colors onto a dry background.  Using 91% rubbing alcohol in a squeeze bottle, I added the solvent to one small area at a time, manipulating the running inks with a blower.  You can use a hair dryer (set on cool), canned air, a heat gun (at a distance), or even just a straw.

Even now that I've worked through about a dozen different techniques, this continues to be one of my favorites.  You can control about 30% of the outcome, slightly more as you get more adept at handling the air.

I was super in love with Fire on High, and then I had to go and experiment further on it.  And I ruined it!  But not to worry...I scanned it at high resolution first.  Since alcohol inks don't appear to be trustworthily archival, my digital piece is more important to me in the long run than the physical piece I ruined! 

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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Mixed media + collage board on Pinterest




Just like for every other topic that interests me, I've been collecting tutorials and glorious examples of mixed media and collage work into a Pinterest board.  It is titled (surprisingly!) Mixed media + collage  :-)   The work is mostly, but not entirely, paper based.  Really, I've included everything that catches my eye that isn't pure fabric!  There are already plenty of boards there for fabric, including Art quilts, Quilting tutorials, Hand embroidery, Crazy quilt details, Fabrics transformed, Fabric + fiber art, Crochet, and more more more!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Using glossy book pages for your alcohol ink paintings

Hunter's Moon
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

In the process of fooling around with alcohol inks, I started looking for other substrates that would work besides the ever-present Yupo paper, freezer paper, and glossy photo paper (I know there are many more!), and I came up with glossy book or magazine pages.  Since most glossy magazines have gone to thinner paper these days, books seemed like the best bet.

Venice
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

Sure enough, I tore out a few pages from a coffee table book that I'd been planning to use forever to do something, anything!  The inks worked really well.  Obviously, the patterns and colors underneath show through to some extent, so you never quite know what you're gonna get.  But isn't that the case with alcohol inks anyway? :-)

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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

More inspiration...Bridges, pathways, stairs, and doors




You can never have too much inspiration.  I think the only downside for me is that very occasionally I just don't know which of my idea strings to tug on next, but that is something I put into the box of good problems to have.  As long as it doesn't make me freeze up!  If you missed it, I've also got a Pinterest board simply entitled Photo inspirations, with macros, cityscapes, landscapes, and seascapes. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Spring Synapses – an alcohol ink painting tutorial

Spring Synapses
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

This alcohol ink piece gave me a chance to experiment with several methods of adding details to a background.


The background was first created by starting with 91% rubbing alcohol all over the page.  I dropped small puddles of analogous alcohol ink colors into the plain alcohol and allowed them to spread and mix and mingle.  In a few areas, I directed traffic, but mostly I just let them do what they wanted.



When it was dry (which doesn't take that long!), I added several layers of embellishments.  I started with India ink, which does not reactivate the alcohol inks.  My favorite is the waterproof black India ink which I can apply using small pipettes.  Aiming directly at the center of the small puddle, I used a straw to forcefully blow the ink outwards in all directions.

After my initial ink splots were dry, I added more smaller tendrils with a fine point black Pitt Pen.  Pitt Pens are India ink based, so they also do not reactivate the alcohol.  The final touch, the white dots, were applied by Posca Paint markers, another opaque water-based pen that also pair well with alcohol inks.     

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Rain – an alcohol ink landscape tutorial

Rain
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

I'm not completely satisfied with this alcohol ink landscape, but it's my best so far!  I've clearly still got a lot to learn.



I started at the top and let each layer almost dry before adding the next.  Some of the sections (like the middle right side blue), I worked on texture with plastic wrap.  I added small drops of additional ink to some sections to create the pebbled effect.  For the sky, I took an old credit card and dipped the edge in rubbing alcohol.  I think I like the sky and the muted sun the best of all the sections.

The tree was the final addition, after everything was thoroughly dry and I had a chance to think about it for awhile.  I added the tree with a fine point Pitt Pen, my favorite pen to use for tiny details.  Pitt Pens are India ink based.  You could also use alcohol based markers like Permapaques.  I'm still mostly using the alcohol inks that I made myself (tutorial link), but I've also started supplementing with some Pinata inks.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Photo inspirations




If you're anything like me, you find photo images very inspiring to browse through when you're looking for your next idea for a color palette, composition, or even theme.  I've put together a Pinterest board that has several sections: Macros and close-ups, Cityscapes, Landscapes, and Seascapes. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

Alcohol inks get easier...

Hydrangeas
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

...but not much less frustrating!  I would say that at this point, I've got about 33% control and 67% luck.  I am still using mostly my own homemade alcohol inks (tutorial at the link), but I've supplemented them with some brand name metallic inks and an opaque white.

I've tried both India ink and alcohol-based markers like my beloved Pitt pens or Permapaque markers to add details after the painting dries, and I really like both about equally.  It just depends upon what exactly I want to add.  In the Hydrangeas piece shown above, I wish that I had used white ink markers instead of the black.  So in the next piece, I experimented with white.



For Spring Frenzy, I started with some plain alcohol on the page, and dropped ink puddles into it.  I covered it with plastic wrap and and allowed it to dry completely.  The wrap is what made the lines and the appearance of texture.


To the dried background, I added drops of White India ink and used a straw to blow them outward.  I finished them off by adding some small details with colored Permapaque markers.

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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Some early experiments with alcohol inks

Rainbow Gravity
Cyndi Lavin, 2018

Whenever I start up with a new medium, I always expect it to be easy.  I don't know why.  Experience has certainly not borne out this cock-eyed optimistic view of life, but nonetheless...

So, I'm humbly sharing some of my earliest "paintings" with alcohol inks.  Yikes!  Over time, I have gotten better, though I'm nowhere near the proficiency level of the best pieces that you see on Pinterest!

Please visit my tutorial on making your own alcohol inks.  It's way way cheaper than buying them ready-made, though as I get better at working with them, I may decide to add some of the Pinata or Ranger colors.  I know the pieces that follow are not that good...they are my baby beginner practice pieces!





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Monday, April 23, 2018

Falling Further In - an acrylic pour mixed media painting tutorial

Falling Further In
Cyndi Lavin, 2018


I have been trying some different swipe methods with my acrylic pours, and I recently stumbled onto a technique that I REALLY like.  A lot!  Here's what I did:


1. Since I was just experimenting, I used an old masonite board that already had some dried puddles on it.  You can see the rough surface in the middle.  After painting the background with Black gesso, I added my paints on the diagonal as you can see.  The basic formula for all of the paints is as follows:
1 part heavy bodied acrylic paint
2 parts GAC100
9 to 12 parts Floetrol or GAC800
Dash of 91% rubbing alcohol
Spray of silicone (except in the base color, white)


2. Here are the colors I used: Titanium white, Medium magenta, Hansa yellow light, Cobalt teal, Dioxazine purple



3. I used an old plastic card to drag the paint from the center towards one corner.




4. I added more paint and swiped it towards the opposite corner.



5. After living with it for awhile (and letting it dry completely), I chose an orientation and applied a paper mask to the piece.  Outside of the mask was hit by some thinned White gesso with a foam roller.  The black lines are waterproof India ink.

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Copyright 2018 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book review: Sew Creative


Do you enjoy sewing with children or grandchildren?  Do you want them to learn how to use a sewing machine but also how to do hand stitching beautifully?  My personal opinion of some books that try to do these things is...boring!  No kids want to make uncool, unhip, untrendy projects just to learn some skills.

What they do want are projects like these, which you'll find in Sew Creative by Jennifer Pol Colin:

 
Mermaid tail blanket


Chalkboard backpack

Click on this table of contents to see it larger

You'll notice that most of the projects are for beginners and intermediates.  Only one is considered difficult enough that help will probably be needed.  However, working alongside a child (either both working on one or each doing your own) will definitely add a lot to the fun!  I think a couple of Animal Neck Pillows are needed by my two grands!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Moonrise – a mixed media painting tutorial

Moonrise in December
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
Prints for sale

I showed you late last year how to do one of these deeper-toned paintings by using an underpainting (tutorial link).  For the painting at the link, I used India ink, but for this one I used a mix of a mix of black gesso and white gesso, as you can see below.  If you need additional details about how I did this painting, check the other tutorial for more step-by-steps.    

 

I used a mixed medium dark gray gesso to pull the top half with Phthalo blue and Dioxazine purple.  On the bottom, I used a lighter gray to pull Dioxazine purple, Quinacridone magenta, and Pyrrole orangeLet it dry.

   

On the bottom half, I added glazes of Hansa yellow light and Pyrrole orange.  After that dried, I touched up with the original colors mixed with White gesso.  When dry again, use a pipette to drip waterproof black India ink for trees.  My final step was to splatter the piece with a mix of Hansa yellow light and White gesso.  I should have done that before adding the trees!  Next time!



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