Sunday, April 30, 2017

Artiscape 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017
I am a first time attendee, and depending on my schedule next year, I hope to do this again. I first heard about this event straight from the horse’s mouth, so-to-speak, from Joe Rotello, whose brainchild Artiscape is. For those not in the art circle, Artiscape is a 3½ day convention of workshops and a marketplace where you can buy art supplies and various ephemera. It’s my understanding that there’s fewer vendors this year, but you can already drop a bucket load of money on just what is there (lots and lots of stencils and different kinds of stamps, etc.). I didn’t think I’d spend as much money as I did, and there’s still plenty more items I wouldn’t mind having.

Class #1 Nature’s Palette (taught by Trish ‘Hot Mess’ McKinney)
This was a five hour class where we learned how to create texture on a canvas by using cotton webbing and wet leaves. The idea of using wet leaves (coated in glycerin) was a revelation to me as I had previously tried to achieve the same effect using fresh leaves, but just couldn’t get the veins to come through. Now that I know the secret, I am eager to begin collecting again (early autumn is apparently the best time) and have another go.

I loved Trish’s analogy of how to arrange our items on the page by explaining it’s like a dinner party. The dark background color are the waiters, which you add towards the end, while the diva is the one bright color you use. You divide the canvas into three parts called Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear with Papa being the biggest, and the Baby being the smallest.

Even though my finished product didn’t bear much resemblance to Trish’s technique (a somewhat dark background with frosted leaves in the foreground), I was still quite happy with it. In fact, one of my classmates said it was her favorite and asked to borrow it to show to her friend. I’ve never had that happen before, so I was really flattered.

Friday Night Preview Party:
As this event was considerably cheaper than the Orient Express dinner on Saturday night, I decided to spring for it, which entitled attendees to free hors d'oeuvres (pizza, fruit, vegetables, mini cream puffs, etc.) and a cash bar as well as a first crack at the marketplace room (which didn’t open to the public until Sat). I met a nice lady named Sabrina who was from Indianapolis and also chatted with some of my classmates from earlier in the day, as well as Trish herself (whose stencils from Stencil Girl were on sale too). All in all I had a pretty good time and spent a bit more money while still walking away from an assortment of stencils, rubber stamps, and a couple cute little altered books & long sleeve t-shirt at another booth.

Saturday April 29, 2017
Class #2 Creative Awakenings Altered Book Journal (taught by Trish McKinney)
This was my second class with Ms. McKinney, who is such fun to take a class from. She reminds me a bit (at least her voice) of Katy Mixon from American Housewife. Though she may not be the most organized person, I think her students (myself included) understood. My stuff is all over the place and sometimes my mind is too. I think that’s just how creative people are; some of them at least.

Unlike yesterday’s five hour class, this one was only three, and still way too short. By the time Trish got done explaining and demonstrating several techniques we could use in our altered books, we only had perhaps an hour and a half or so to work on our projects (though we could stay over for a bit). All I got done was painting two pages. Knowing myself, I can see that book going into a drawer or onto a shelf where it will probably languish for months or years until I can find a spare minute to work on it.

Today’s lesson was about Integration. Trish said it’s fine to just glue down a whole bunch of different things, but to give it cohesiveness, you need to learn integration, which she demonstrated by using stencils and paint. When she was finished, every element of the page looked perfectly natural like it had always been there. I can’t wait to watch some of her videos and learn more.

I meant to ask Trish how long it takes her, on average, to complete a two page spread. Aside from drying time, it didn’t seem to take her too long, but I guess it helps when you have lots of ideas and knowledge of how to use the various techniques and supplies to bring your inspiration to life. I saw that some people in my class had completed more than just a couple pages, but I guess they had a pretty good idea of where they wanted to go with their journals. I was pretty impressed with what I saw at my table, but didn’t get a chance to look at everyone’s. Also, it appears that each of Trish’s books have a different theme, so I guess I need to decide what my book is going to be about. That’s one to ponder…
the one page that I'm not too ashamed to show off

Class #3 Transformation (taught by Nancy Curry, a misspelled tattooed, fellow Zombie Apocalypse fan) In this class we learned how to transform a glossy magazine page into a work of art by dropping (citrus scented) solvent on it and leaving it for about 20-30 minutes. Because there was only limited ventilation in our room, and not wishing to trigger anyone’s migraines, she created some example pages we could use, so we never got a chance to do our own pages.

She then illustrated ways you could further embellish the page afterwards by using stamps, stencils, paint and ink. The easiest thing, at least how it seemed to me, was to choose a stencil, dab a paper towel in solvent, and rub the solvent on the stencil leaving an imprint on your page. Lots of people did that. I wasn’t overly impressed with my results no matter what I did, but at least I found one page that I was happy enough to frame afterward. We were each provided with a free black 5 x 7 Ikea frame. However, I will probably take mine out of the frame at some point since I really feel like I hardly contributed to the artsy effect. Maybe I’ll glue it inside the altered book I made this morning.

Although I found the technique quite interesting, Nancy reckoned this wouldn’t work on just any magazine photo as she’s only had limited success and recommends sticking to National Geographic magazines from the 1990s through 2010. Hence, I feel like this has already been done and done better, so I can’t really see myself ever trying this. Also, I felt the class definitely could have been shorter, like an hour really since we didn’t have to allow drying time for our pages or anything like that. Honestly, I wish I had taken a different class since I had to pass up some because the times overlapped.

It felt a bit strange gong to a hotel for a conference and not actually be staying there. When I drove over there my body felt excited like I was tricking it into thinking we were going on vacation (esp as I dragged in a wheeled bag all 3 days). Then I felt a little sad every time I drove home, but there’s no point in paying exorbitant rates to stay at a hotel when you live less than 5 miles away. Plus, my body was all confused as to why we were going past my company on a non-work day. I am definitely going to be sick of going to Metro Place by Monday!

Best part of the weekend, besides just making art, is meeting kindred spirits, my tribe. Though we may not all have a lot in common, loving to do art is our common thread, and for that I felt truly bonded to my sisters in substrate.

Among other people I met today was young Cathleen who lives ‘in the middle of nowhere West Virginia’ where she works at a non-profit B & B people stay at to visit friends and family who are incarcerated in the nearby prison (the same one where Martha Stewart was sent, funnily enough). Cathleen said she absolutely fell in love with Appalachia, which I guess you would have to to live where she does without going crazy (at least for those of us who consider ourselves city folk; me amongst them).

I also met Sharon who is one of those rare adults (that I still only see infrequently) with braces. She sat across from me in the Transformation class, alongside her friend, Roxie, both of whom created much better art out of their acid dappled magazine pages. They were also quite happy to take lots of photos afterwards.

Then there was Cynthia who told me about a great website called The Greater Good (foundation) where she purchased her very cute and creative apron (though I didn’t see anything like that on the website, but found some great causes to donate to). There was another Cindy who was on the Artiscape staff and was playing the role of ticket taker for the Orient Express dinner. She was dressed in a Station Master’s uniform consisting of a long black slitted skirt, underneath of which she was wearing black shorts (because she said she couldn’t fit into her black trousers at present).

There’s lots of others whose names I don’t all recall, but just know I enjoyed meeting each and every one of you and look forward to seeing you all again next year, because I definitely plan on penciling this in for 2018. 

Sunday April 30, 2017
Class #4 Lights, Camera, Action! (taught by Jen “Oh Shit!” Crossley)
This class was definitely the highlight of my weekend. The project was to make a journal out of a camera. I like cameras. I like journals. It was the best of both worlds. Throw in some chocolate (though I had plenty of that from Trish’s classes) and I would have been in heaven!

I certainly didn’t expect to make a journal out of one of those cool art deco looking Brownie cameras. I figured maybe we’d just get one of the plain black ones, so kudos to Jen for sorting those on E-bay (reimbursement via Pay Pal will be on its way shortly). Also thanks very much to Mark (Jen’s husband) for taking pity on me and helping to take apart my camera (wish I had brought pliers).

The first step to making this journal was removing most of the “guts” from the camera before measuring out our paper to make pages to fit snug inside. It took at least the best part of the morning to get our cameras disassembled. I felt bad for those (like my table mate Sheree) whose cameras had rusted a little, because they definitely had a much more difficult time getting theirs apart.

Anyway, after lunch we all got started making our pages. I assume some others might have also gotten around to gluing down a bit of ephemera here and there, but I never got that far, nor did I intend to. Instead I wanted to get the structure of the journal done, or at least assembled enough that I could then finish it later at home.

My only criticism of the class was I would have preferred to have my camera completely disassembled and ready for me to make the pages, but that’s just me. I suppose that’s in direct contradiction to what I said about Nancy’s class yesterday, but not sure the two classes are really that comparable. No offense intended against either instructor.

After about six hours I accomplished my goal, and now get to the do the fun part, which is selecting photos and ephemera to put inside (which I’ve already done to some point). I may still add or switch the paper I use inside as I would prefer to have a deckled edge to my paper, or better yet, add handmade paper, but perhaps that’s another project for another day.

Cynthia, the one with the funky apron who was in some of my other classes this weekend, was also in my class, so we exchanged pleasantries and I ended up loaning her my needle when we were ready to bound our pages.

I also enjoyed meeting my table mates, Marcia and her sister Sheree, as well as Robin, whom I share a bit of geography with as she’s also from Northeast Ohio (Kinsman, Amish country). We also both know Mary Calabro, whom I used to babysit for when I was a teenager (like 100 years ago!).

Although it would have been nice to have the camera journal completed, I look forward to working on it in my spare time and then photographing it to show Jen. I was surprised how moved I was when I said good-bye to her. I only wish I had had the funds and courage to splash out on one of her many beautiful works of art for sale in the Outsider Art Fair going on Sunday afternoon. Her table definitely drew me the most. I can easily say that I wouldn’t mind owning anything she made. I hope she and Mark have safe travels (I certainly don’t envy them their 24 hour journey back home to Australia).

Now that I’m not an Artiscape newbie anymore, I can’t wait for next year. My kudos to Joe and Joe and the rest of the planning committee for all their hard work. I may consider volunteering, but I still want to make sure I can take some classes, so we’ll have to see.

Have a great week everyone!

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