Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Groove: A Review

I was recently contacted by a representative of Momenta and asked if I might review the new GROOVE tool by ArtC. Always interested in new artful goodies, I quickly agreed. My Groove tool arrived along with an assortment of mixed media embellishments to use in future projects: tags, twine, stencils, etc. The box states that this tool is "for mixed-media exploration," so what better place for exploration, I thought, than my art journal.

I covered a journal page with vintage papers and gave them a coat of gel medium as I usually do before adding acrylic paint.


The GROOVE tool comes with four inter-changeable heads: brush, pad, fine gauge sandpaper and coarse grade. They are very easy to change; a simple push on/pull off. The GROOVE tool runs on 2 AA batteries (not included) and is operated with a simple slide switch: low, high, off.


I began with the brush tool and light blue acrylic paint. Wanting to cover the entire background with the paint, I found the brush needed to be re-loaded often and therefore the 9" x 12" area was more efficiently covered simply by using a foam brush.


After drying, I snapped on the pad tip to use with ink and the stencils provided by ArtC. I used a water-soluble ink, knowing that with only one pad tip I would need to be washing it out for frequent use with different color inks.


I used the GROOVE tool on the high setting and turned it on to load the ink. It gave good coverage through the stencils when I applied some pressure. At times it felt as if it were slightly "fighting" me as I moved it over the stencil, but nothing that interfered with the end result. I did find that as I was unable to see the back-side of the spinning pad, there were times when I went off the stencil and had ink where I didn't want it to be.


I found the ink tip handy for applying ink to the edge of a tag. Easy to do when held to the tag at a 45 degree angle.


Back to the brush tip, I used the GROOVE tool on low with acrylic paint and found that it worked quite nicely with stencils.


It worked best for me without a heavy application of paint. The heavier the paint application and the more intricate the stencil, the more likelihood of brush-unders.


When I backed off on the amount of paint, I had less of an issue with brush-unders. Again, using on the low setting worked best in this case. I think that with this spinning tool, adhesive backed stencils are really a must.


I tried both sanding tips and started with the fine grit against a card stock tag. It didn't seem to remove that much from the edge so I switched to the coarse tip , and on the high setting, it did rough up the card stock. I can see the convenience of having a sanding tool at the ready; I often sand the edges of Scrabble tiles to distress, and the GROOVE tool will be quite handy.


Once the card stock was distressed with the sanding tip, it received the ink with the pad tip that much more readily.


The brush and pad tips cleaned up easily with soap and water. The brush tip actually sat for quite a while, with dried paint, and still cleaned up with no trouble at all. I used the pad tip for more than one color before cleaning; it performed well and cleaned up with minimal staining.


My finished journal page represents what can be accomplished with paint, ink and this helpful tool. The GROOVE tool is easy to use, making it something that could easily be used by children and might especially appeal to young boys who love gadgets!


Overall, the GROOVE is a handy tool that's fun and easy to use. The brush and pad tips clean up easily, provided you use water-soluble ink and paint. The sanding tips give you easy access to sanding material without the nuisance of heading to the basement or garage for a piece of sandpaper; this feature also saves on the elbow grease usually necessary for sanding.

Although the GROOVE tool may not be a necessity in your creative arsenal, it does make the process fun and in some cases easier.

© Nancy Lefko

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lobster Art from Start to Finish

I don't often create art expressly for my own home, but inspiration struck and I just went with it!

I have long wanted a piece for our screen porch that reminds me of my favorite family vacation spot, so Mr. Lobster was born.

It's often fun...for me, and MAYBE for you...to see how a piece evolves over time. Here goes...

The 13" x 16" canvas actually began as a floral still life I'd purchased at a thrift store. I never hung the painting and eventually no longer wanted to, so a little gesso and some ephemera collage and I was on my way to a new piece of original art.


Using inspiration from my art journal, I sketched the lobster onto the collaged background.


Using acrylics, I filled in the background.


Using mark-makers...bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard...I added design elements to the background.


A dry brush application of antique white acrylic adds a little interest.


Using gouache, I filled in the lobster.


The lobster was outlined with a black Stabilo pencil; letters were added using stencils, filled in with gouache paint and outlined with charcoal pencil.


The deep edges of the canvas were painted in a black & white checkerboard pattern...


...and finally Mr. Lobster took up residence on our screen porch...a perfect reminder of a very happy place.


© Nancy Lefko

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Spring Art Journal from Start to Finish


Creating an art journal following Pam Carriker's journal-making directions from "Art at the Speed of Life," has proven to be quite the enjoyable undertaking. So enjoyable that I made it a year-long project, creating a journal for each season.

When the first warm and sunny day of Spring arrived, I headed outside with my gathered supplies and added color and design elements to sheets of 90 lb. watercolor paper, then turned those sheets of paper into a journal with a simple pamphlet stitch.


As the trees leafed out and the world outside my window grew greener every day, I didn't have far to go for inspiration.


With the arrival of the warm weather, my thoughts often shift to the spring fashions and the bright colors of the season.


Spring also means the return of the animals and the opportunity for all of us to venture out into the great outdoors again. I celebrated all that Spring has to offer with each journal page.






As the weather warms up, the children's minds begin to drift outside the classroom to the wonders of the upcoming summer vacation.



Really, everything about the season is rejuvenating!














And before long, we are all too ready for summer and all that it has in store.


It has been a most rewarding journaling exercise...one that I'll continue in some fashion as I create many more 6 x 6 art journals.


© Nancy Lefko



Friday, March 20, 2015

A Review: Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces


The following is my review of Pam Carriker's latest book, supported by photos from my own sketchbook and art journal as I begin my portraiture journey.

"Creating portraits can often be a daunting proposition, even to the seasoned artist. Folks who can draw a still life or paint a landscape can find the human face much more challenging. But artists are drawn to the human face as a subject to draw and paint, so they seek guidance along their journey. Pam Carriker's book offers that guidance in a thorough and unique manner. Pam covers the essentials with her face mapping technique that breaks the face into regions and makes feature placement so much more manageable. She addresses multiple angles of the face, including side view and three-quarter view, and also focuses on each facial feature in depth.


Pam also guides the reader through lessons in color theory in a very practical and purposeful manner as it relates to the study of portraits; additionally, this information will also be helpful in a variety of creative exercises. The fifteen mixed media projects included in this book cover a wide range of techniques and materials; something to satisfy every learner, no matter what their skill level. It is very clear that Pam has an impressive working knowledge of a multitude of techniques and materials. She exposes the reader to new materials, but at the same time offers alternative, more common materials which can be substituted in the same project; thereby you can venture into the world of new materials or use those that you already have on hand. The techniques you’ll learn will be applicable in a variety of mixed media projects, so although taught in regard to portraits, there will be carry-over to any number of projects.


Throughout this book, the text is conversational and easy to follow, as if a friend were sitting by your side guiding you through lessons and projects. Helpful step-by-step color photos fully support each project. A sampling of pages are devoted to portraits and insights from a variety of artists. These segments add to, but in no way overtake the book; it is 99% Pam Carriker, which is what the reader wants. Pam’s book goes far beyond the basics of learning to draw a face. So if you are a beginner or a seasoned artist, there is much to gain from this excellent book; it has something for everyone...and then some!"

© Nancy Lefko