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A Weekend of Classes with Seth Apter

I've posted a few peeks of this on Instagram, but last weekend I had the chance to go take classes with Seth Apter in Virginia. Not long after coming home from Art is You Stamford, my friend Patty and I started looking at other classes where we could meet up and have a weekend away to play and make art. We saw that Seth was teaching at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria Virginia, which happens to be about 30 minutes from where I grew up and where my parents still live. So we started planning the trip and this weekend we finally made it! The prospect of trying to travel cross-country in February had me a bit stressed, but fortunately the weather cooperated and both Patty and I got there with no issues.

Our first day was Friday. After a trip to show Patty Wegmans, the #1 grocery store in the country (which is now official, FYI,) we went over to Alexandria for our first class. We got there a few hours early since we were trying to dodge rush hour on the beltway, which left us plenty of time shop and settle in. We attempted to surprise Seth, but he read the class list about 20 minutes before we got there and already knew we were coming. Sigh. lol. But we got situated, did some shopping (more on the store in a bit,) ate, and were ready for the first class - Photo Opp (just a 3 hour evening class to start.) This was where we learned different techniques to alter actual printed photos and it was a lot of fun! I can see myself doing a lot of those techniques again. Here you can see the photos where I applied some of what we learned in class.

Photo Opp with Seth Apter - Class Projects - Gwen Lafleur

I love the one on the bottom right (some ancient stupas in Myanmar) - it ended up looking like a vintage postcard - very cool!

Saturday was extra special for me, since I'd persuaded my mom to come with us for her first ever mixed media class of any kind. Of course, not only was Saturday mixed media, it was STENCILS! lol. This was a full day of dimensional stenciling, and it was a lot of fun as you can see.

Here's Patty - note how clean and organized her area is:

Dimensional Stenciling with Seth Apter - PattyThen there's me. My mom took this picture just to capture my piles. It's a wonder I get anything done! (I'm much neater at home when I can put things away as I go... promise.)

Dimensional Stenciling with Seth Apter - Gwen LafleurOf course, my mom... who will not be happy that I posted this photo. (#sorrynotsorry) 

Dimensional Stenciling with Seth Apter - MomThe first half of the class is where we make our little reference guide of different techniques. This was mom's favorite part - she's got the bumping technique down pat! The second part of class is where we're let loose to take the techniques and mediums that we practiced and make a larger piece. That's my favorite part :D Here you can see the fruits of the day's work:

Dimensional Stenciling with Seth Apter - Classwork - Gwen LafleurHere's just my final piece, which I really love!

Dimensional Stenciling with Seth Apter - Final Project - Gwen LafleurHere's my mom's piece. I think it's awesome - especially considering it was her very first time doing this stuff! Of course, she wasn't happy with hers (a perfectionist... probably where I get it from... LOL) I made her sign it and told her I was going to hang it on the fridge. It mysteriously disappeared after we got home. I wonder why?

Dimensional Stenciling with Seth Apter - Mom's Project

We finished class and did a bit more shopping - mom had to see it, of course. Eventually she went to the car because she was tempted to buy things and she doesn't even do any of this stuff! lol. 

Sunday - the final day of classes - we had Collage Camp. I think this was my favorite of the three. We got to the store early because the owner, Judy, was going to give us a demo of block printing. (I have several at home and was purchasing several more at the store, but I've never had luck getting them to work so she was going to show us how.) When Seth found out she was giving us a demo, he arranged for everyone to have it, so that's how we started our morning. 

Judy Giving a Block Print Demo - Artistic ArtifactsThey send their designs to someone in India whom they pay to go to the carpenters in the area and give block carving jobs to the ones who don't have work. He goes back after a while and picks up the finished carved stamps and ships them to America. It was really cool to learn about and support that kind of fair trade! (They have a fabulous selection in their online store as well.)

Now that I know what I was doing wrong trying to stamp with my wood blocks (which was most things, I think...) we went up to the classroom to start work on collage. The morning was spent on learning and practicing Seth's 8 principles of collage. We made a little 6x6 collage for each one of them. Mine all have notes on the back so I can refer back to them later.

Collage Camp with Seth Apter - Collage Principles 1-4 - Gwen Lafleur
Collage Camp with Seth Apter - Collage Principles 1-4 - Gwen LafleurThe morning was a bit exhausting. Which I think was mostly due to my need to fussy cut and make everything a work of art instead of just illustrating the principle. But that's just how I roll, I guess.

We had a quick lunch break and I remembered to get a picture of the store:

Artistic Artificats in Alexandria VirginiaThis place is insanely awesome. It's not like any place I've been in before, in fact. There are lots of vintage goodies, a bit of mixed media, lots of fabric, beading, embroidery, and quilting. Wooden print blocks, of course, and they also make their own copper tjaps for batiking as part of their sister business and have brought in the most gorgeous batik (and aboriginal!) fabrics - many of which I believe they have made in Indonesia. There was a giant rack of amazingly detailed batik panels, all drawn and dyed multiple times to get so many layers of color. They were amazing! I admit that I bought a few - I have visions of adding all kinds of beading and a bit of embroidering and then quilting them to make wall hangings. You know, in all that spare time I have. ha! 

Anyway... quick lunch, then back to class. The afternoon was once again about taking what we'd learned and applying it to a free-form project. Of course, to do a collage we needed a background, so Seth taught us a very cool background technique that we all did before starting on our collages.

Collage Camp with Seth ApterAfter that, it was play time!  I had a LOT of fun with this one...

Collage Camp with Seth Apter - Final Project - Gwen Lafleur

They were all great classes, my mom had a fun time the day she came with us, and Patty and I both met some really delightful people. And the shopping... well, that was pretty darn amazing too. (My checkbook disagrees, of course.) We finished up our shopping and packed up all our bags and headed home where my sister and my niece Aubrey came over for a quick visit before I left the next day.

Aubrey, who is five, LOVES art projects. In fact, that's the entire reason she came over. She had bugged her mom about coming because Auntie Gwenny had promised to do an art project with her after we had our supplies back at the house. She wanted to see everything we bought (she also loves to shop) and everything we made in class. I showed her my collage and asked her if she wanted to make one. She looked at it, then looked at me and said, "yes, but something like this only for kids." She's kind of hilarious. So I gave her some paper and a magazine and scissors... we dug out the glue sticks, and she just went to town. I told her a few basics, and she selected all her own images and created her own composition (no 8 principles for a 5-year old, but she still did pretty well!)

Aubrey's Collage for Kids(Did I mention that she's also a slightly sarcastic little smart alec who refuses to give a straight pose for photos?)

She made three collages which also included some stamping. She then took them around to show to everyone and packed them up special to take home for her daddy. Pretty darn cute :) She also refused to cut off the overhanging piece of collage on the right side, even though (or maybe because?) it was driving my mom insane. haha.

We did most of our packing that night, then Monday morning I took Patty to the airport and came home to get ready for my flight that evening. Everything was looking good, but right before it was time for me to go to the airport, suddenly there were mechanical issues with the inbound airplane which still hadn't left Orlando. A few minutes later I had an alert that I'd already missed my connection in Denver, so I called the airline - it was the last flight into Salt Lake that night. So, they rebooked me for morning and I stayed another night with my parents and grandpa which was kind of a bonus, really. The next morning I got off fine - with upgraded seats, I might add, and headed out to Chicago where I managed to grab an outstanding Reuben wrap from the Berghoff Cafe in the airport, as well as two new-to-me and really cool magazines to read and then use for collage.

Home through O'Hare - Gwen LafleurI made it home late Tuesday afternoon, unpacked, and crashed! But it was worth it... fabulous weekend with great classes, new friends, and a wonderful time with Patty and my family. And if you live nearby or are ever visiting, do NOT miss out on the chance to stop in at Artistic Artifacts... you won't be sorry! I'm looking forward to having a new place on my must-visit list (beside Wegman's, of course) on my future visits back home :)

Make a Reliquary with Stencils, Clay, and Collage

Just stopping in to let everyone know that I have a new project up for my Gwen's Gems monthly post on StencilGirl Talk. This month I was inspired by an antique Roman reliquary and I made my own version using stencils, paints, collage, mica powders, and Aves Apoxy Clay.

Making a Reliquary with Stencils - Gwen Lafleur

Make sure you head over to StencilGirl Talk to see more photos of the project as well as a step-by-step tutorial!

Mini Handmade Art Journal #2

I've slowly been working on filling the second of the 4"x4" mini art journals that I made for the StencilGirl / Inchie Arts blog hop last month and I finally finished! All of the pages have been posted on Instagram and Facebook, but I like to have them all together in a single post.

First, a reminder of what the covers looked like - this is the one with all the gold crackle paste that I just loved. It's the one on the bottom in this photo:

StencilGirl - Inchie Arts - Mini Art Journals - Gwen Lafleur

Here's a little close-up of the texture - both the front and back covers looked like this. I used my Ornamental Compass Screen stencil on top of the crackle - I love how the stenciling kind of floats in there.
StencilGirl - Inchie Arts - Mini Art Journals - Gwen Lafleur

Here's the first spread in the book - inspired a bit by the work of Jill Ricci.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 1 - Gwen LafleurI used the Marrakech Mix stencil to trace the main shapes and then lightly stenciled in off white with my Ornamental Flower Screen stencil. I got a lot of questions about the lettering on the left - unfortunately I didn't do that (it would be so awesome if I could letter like that!) but it was cut from an insert in an issue of Uppercase Magazine.

Spread number two uses another word from Uppercase, along with a lot of stamping with a hand-carved stamp I made back in December. I added some diecuts from a Spellbinders set (Persian elements,) washi tape, glitter tape, and the arrows are a diecut border - I think it's an old one from KI Memories.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 2 - Gwen LafleurSpread number three was inspired by nearly 60 degree weather here on President's Day. Yet another cutout from an Uppercase Magazine insert and some fussy cut collage pieces. I went over some of the open spaces with gold ink and my Ornamental Compass Screen stencil again.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 3 - Gwen LafleurLast but not least, I kept going with the theme of cut out words that all kind of worked together. This time it was from a page in an old Smash Book that I've been using for patterned paper. The background was crackled with DecoArt Weathered Wood, and I used my Ornamental Circle Cluster stencil across the background and then heat embossed it in white and distressed with ink.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 4 - Gwen LafleurNaturally some dots, glittery stuff, and Liquid Pearls made their way onto the spread. I love this sentiment... it seemed like a great way to end the book!

So that's it for this one, but I'm working on turning this into a class so you'll be seeing more soon... we'll see how that goes!


Journaling with Mindfulness Guest Artist

Hi everyone, just popping in to let you know that today I'm the guest artist over at the Journaling with Mindfulness blog. It's a new blog that has a weekly prompt to get you thinking about including meaningful subjects in your art journaling. They have a wonderfully supportive Facebook group as well, and all styles and experience levels are represented in this group. The prompts so far this year have been great!

My prompt this week was about the place I've visited that has left the longest lasting influence on me. I chose my visit to Soweto when I was in South Africa in 2007...

  Lessons from Soweto - Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

To see more and read the story behind this spread... not to mention a tutorial, make sure you check out the Journaling with Mindfulness blog and join in if you're feeling so inclined!


February 2016 StencilClub - Mixed Media Portrait

Hi everyone, today is inspiration day for the February 2016 StencilClub stencils from StencilGirl! This month's stencils are from StencilGirl Artist Carol Wiebe, and they're pretty fabulous. 

Here's my project for this month... one of my all-time favorites. I actually ordered a frame for her - I love her so much she has to go up on the wall to be admired all the time! I was very inspired by the work of Andrea Matus deMeng for this project - I picked up some great tips while taking classes with her in Stamford back in October.

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting - Gwen Lafleur

Check out the post on StencilGirl Talk to see all of the inspiration from the team for this month! Also if you're interested, below are a few step-out photos from while I was making her, as well as a few more close-ups.

First, I painted the face using a reference from a magazine. I haven't done much with painted portraits, so I was very pleased with the results! Here it is in progress:

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I cut the finished face out (it was on mixed media paper) and then I did a little stenciling on top:

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting Step 2 - Gwen LafleurNext I started working on the background. This was an 11x14" sheet of heavy-weight vellum finish Mixed Media paper (Strathmore) and it was painted with Carbon Black. I used a protractor and ruler to do the "rays" around the stenciled area I put down from the 9x12. You can see below how I used painter's tape to mask off each section as I went - there's a different pattern in each area and I didn't want them to bleed into each other.

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting Step 3 - Gwen Lafleur

From this point I did a lot of stenciling and collaging, but I didn't take any pictures. Some of it was stuff I leaned in Andrea's class (hence the lack of tutorial,) and some of it was just getting so caught up in the process that I didn't think to take any pictures! As I got toward the end, I needed a background for the torso of the figure, so I pulled out some plain tissue paper and stenciled on it.

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting Step 4 - Gwen Lafleur

I used Archival Ink for that, and then used some permanent spray inks over the top (turquoise and gold) and crumpled it all up before distressing with black ink and then cutting and gluing it onto the background. You can't really see it unless you're looking for it, but the pattern has a nice, subtle impact.

Here are a few more close-ups of my finished piece:

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

February 2016 StencilClub Mixed Media Painting Close-up 3 - Gwen Lafleur

So that's it! I hope you like it :) Don't forget to head over to see the post on StencilGirl Talk and check out the rest of this month's inspiration! Lots of ideas and a great variety of projects being shared, as always!