Reviewing 2017: Mixed Media Art Favorites

Happy New Year! I'm very excited about all of the possibilities of 2018 - so much on the horizon! But before I dive into the new, I thought it would be fun to close out 2017 with a "best of" review of my year in art.

To start, I went to this year's "best nine" site to see my most popular posts on Instagram. This is always fascinating to me, and as usual, the top nine was about half filled with hand-carved stamps (most from Carve December, including the 2016 overview on the top-left. The bird was from earlier this year.)

2017 Best Nine on IG - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, as fun as that was to see, I wanted to take a little time to go through all of the things I've done this year and pull together my own Top 10 list. The order on these is a little loose... it's hard to pick favorites!

10. Translucent Mixed Media Assemblage

This one should look pretty familiar since it's a new project, just posted as my "Gwen's Gems" tutorial for December 2017. I'm really loving the translucent parts here - expect to see more of this in 2018!


9. Lynne Perrella Workshop Project

I think this was only posted on Instagram, but I was fortunate enough to take a 3-day workshop with Lynne Perrella last May. I loved it... so fun to learn her process, and I'm thrilled with my project! I still need to finish the second one I started in class, but that's another story...

Class Project - Gwen Lafleur

8. Seascape Shadow Box

This was a demo piece that I started during the Mixed Media Shadow Boxes class I taught in Connecticut last June. I brought it home and finished it off and I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Mixed Media Shadow Box - Ocean Scene Front Angle - Gwen Lafleur

7. "Balance" Art Journal Spread

This is another project that I only shared on Instagram. It began as an experiment with some new chalk pastels that I'd purchased recently - I wanted to see how they'd work on the cotton rag paper in this journal, so I used pastels to do the Buddha portrait on the right, then it ended up morphing into an entire spread. The lotus is from a silkscreen that I designed earlier this year and then printed onto rice paper. (In case you're wondering, the Chinese characters on the right are from one of my hand-carved stamps and mean double happiness.)


6. Mixed Media Seahorse Sculpture

Another fairly recent project, this is part of an ongoing series of 3D sculptures based on stencil designs. My favorite parts are definitely the finished paint job and all of the broken jewelry and metal pieces I added.


5. Flowers for Mom (Mixed Media Floral Still Life)

Ostensibly I made this to share as a second sample for an in-person class I offer, but in reality was was created as a gift for my mom's birthday. She loved it... I got to watch her open it over Zoom and my nieces and nephews were with her... one of my nieces said "wow, you're an even better artist than my teacher!" I'll take it. LOL.


4. Winter Cardinal Art Journal Page

I did a tutorial for this art journal page as my November "Gwen's Gems" post for StencilGirl using one of my new Christmas stencils. I just love the layers of texture and the dimensional look I was able to get here... it's one of my favorite pages to date.


3. Mixed Media Abstract with Stencils & Embossing Powder

I'm a long-time fan of heat embossing, and I love using embossing powder in mixed media so this blog hop project with StencilGirl and Emerald Creek was definitely a favorite of mine. Look for lots more fun with EP in the coming year!


2. Seth's Paper Artsy Creativation Release

Last January I had the opportunity to work with some of Seth Apter's new products from Paper Artsy - I had a lot of fun with this one, revisiting the project I'd done in Seth's "Library of Memories" class at Art is You in 2015. This is a mixed media case with some assemblage on the inside as well as a handmade art journal (all of the inside pages and many more details are in the full release post on StencilGirl Talk.)

Library of Memories Take 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Library of Memories Take 2 - Gwen Lafleur

1. November Workshop Projects

While the other projects on the list are fairly loosely ranked, this is definitely number one - the 2-day workshop I took at Mary Beth Shaw's studio in St. Louis taught by Mary Beth and Seth Apter. I learned a ton, and I love the work I did in this class... I also came home completely rejuvenated! I couldn't narrow this down to just one of the two pieces I did during the weekend, so my favorite project of the year is the combination of both pieces.

Abstract Mixed Media Collage - Gwen Lafleur

Fish Food - Mixed Media Canvas - Gwen Lafleur
Honorable mention... I have to include my pages from the ARTifacts project. It's rare for me to stick with something like this for an entire year, but this was a lot of fun to do and it's cool to look back over my year in art and see how much I was able to accomplish!

March ARTifacts Art Journal - Pages 2-3 - Gwen Lafleur

I really enjoyed going back through the year and seeing how much things have changed since last New Year's Day. I don't really do resolutions per se, but I had a lot of goals for 2017 - both personal and art-related, and I was able to check several off my list and make significant progress on a few more. It was a crazy, hard, exciting, and unusual year. And now I'm enjoying the anticipation of all of the potential that 2018 has to offer - I think it's going to be a good one.

Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year... may all of our hopes and wishes for 2018 all be granted!


Gwen's Gems - Translucent Mixed Media with Stencils!

Hi all, just popping in to let you know that I'm up on the StencilGirl blog today with the December edition of Gwen's Gems. This month I experimented with using translucent elements in a mixed media piece, and I'm loving the results!


Here you can better see the translucent part of the piece:


Head on over to StencilGirl Talk to see more photos as well as a tutorial!

PS... in case you haven't heard, I'm also going to be an artist instructor in Creative JumpStart 2018! Join me and 30 other teachers to get a jump on your creative year with daily mixed media video lessons... it says $50 in the image below, but from now until December 31st, it's only $45 - that works out to just $1.45 per lesson, and you can download them to keep forever!



From The Artist Tribe - A Sage Shrine by Jackie Neal

Today I'm excited to share another fabulous project from The Artist Tribe! Jackie Neal has made a beautiful mixed media shrine using a whole bunch of shop goodies!

Sage box 1st post (23)

Here you can see where she's used my Art Deco Flower Medallion stencil as the main pattern, along with hand-printed papers and some jacquard ribbon from the Enchanting Elephants Mixed Media Collage & Embellishment Pack. She also accented the top with Turkmen jewelry parts and a bronze Hamsa charm.

Sage box 1st post (31)

On the back, there's more from the Enchanting Elephants pack, along with some washi tape and images cut from the Lovely Lotus downloadable collage sheet.

Make sure you head over to Jackie's blog to see more photos, along with lots of details about how she made this gorgeous project!



"Choose Love" Mixed Media Panel

Hi all! I'm up on StencilGirl Talk today with this month's edition of Gwen's Gems! This month I'm making a large mixed media panel featuring clay, collage, painting, and lots of stencils, of course!

Here's my project:


Make sure you head over for more photos and a tutorial!

(P.S. - for those who are interested, this piece is now available for sale on my website.)


Making a Decorative Clay Flower with Stencils

Hi all! I'm up on StencilGirl Talk today with the July edition of Gwen's Gems. This month I used Aves Apoxie Clay and stencils to make a fun, decorative flower that you can use on an art journal cover, in mixed media projects, or add to home decor. You can even make a smaller version to create your own statement pendants to use in jewelry making!

Here's my flower:

Stenciled Clay Flower - Gwen Lafleur

Head on over to StencilGirl Talk for lots more photos and a full project tutorial. Enjoy!

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class Recap

I wanted to post a little recap of the Mixed Media Shadow Boxes class I taught two weeks ago at Papercraft Clubhouse in Connecticut. It was such a fun day, and I was overwhelmed by how many people came out on a Wednesday during the day for a workshop!

Here's a quick photo of my samples of what type of project we were going to do:

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Shrines - Class Samples - Gwen Lafleur

We had six hours, and we did some dimensional stenciling on the inside and outside of our boxes, we worked on creating a sculptural focal point (which most everyone made themselves!) and we also had a lot of fun embellishing the whole thing.

I did actually remember to take a few photos this time (I'm terrible about remembering to take photos during class!) and fortunately Patty also took several.

Here are a few candids I took of class members, hard at work:

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class in Progress 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class in Progress 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class in Progress 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class in Progress 1 - Gwen Lafleur

A few more from Patty...

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Classroom Antics - Gwen Lafleur Studios

She also got a few of me during demos throughout the day:

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class Demos - Gwen Lafleur

Also a fun shot of our goody table where I spread out some of the embellishments, tools, and stencils that were available for the class to use:

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class Goodie Table - Gwen Lafleur

And, of course, there's all of the amazing and creative artwork that everyone did! I remembered to take pictures at the end, but I MISSED ONE! I'm so upset! There's also a gorgeous seahorse / ocean themed box that I somehow missed photographing (please send a photo so I can add it to the gallery!)

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Class Project Collage

I added a student gallery to the class page (scroll down) so that you can see each individual project and, if you'd like you can click through to a larger version. They were all unique, creative, and so beautiful! I was very impressed by what everyone did and how each person put their own style into their piece.

A few shots with friends throughout the day... me with the uber-talented Fran...

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Fran and I - Gwen Lafleur

Then Jill and I - (hi Jill!)

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes Class - Me and Jill - Gwen Lafleur

Finally, a fun little selfie with me, Patty, Kim, and Fran:

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes Class - Me-Patty-Kim-Fran

It was such a wonderful day and a great class where I think I learned just as much as the students! I've been working on finishing up my demo piece from class, so I'll share that in the near future :)

In the meantime, I'll be back at the Clubhouse in June for three more classes (June 16-17.) You can see the events on my Facebook page, or check out the class pages on my website.


Mini Mixed Media Medallions

Mini Mixed Media Medallions - Gwen Lafleur

Boho Art Journaling

Boho Art Journaling - Class Preview - Gwen Lafleur


Of Angels and Icons


Space in the classes is filling quickly, so make sure to call soon if you're interested in joining us! Also, if you have questions about the classes feel free to message me, leave comments, etc... 


Open for Business!

Over the past several weeks, I've shared photos here and there of things I've been collecting with the intent to sell them. I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking - I'm super busy with all of the obligations I've already taken on, but this is something that I really felt driven to try and do. So I've jumped straight in to starting my own business. A small one. Very small. But I've thought many times over the years how much I would love to be a buyer since I really enjoy the process of seeking out unique items and getting good prices. (Not to mention having said items land on my doorstep!) While I love mixed media products made by big companies as much as the next person, not to mention raiding Blick during their sales, I've been sourcing a lot of my more unique items from outside the country for quite some time now. When it finally hit me that most people aren't willing or maybe not able to find reputable vendors in foreign countries and buy supplies directly from the source, the idea to open some kind of shop started to germinate. In typical Gwen fashion, thought and action weren't all that far apart...


It's been a lot of hard work and late nights, not to mention shopping on a pretty small budget, but I finally launched an online store! It's not huge, and what's there is... odd eclectic. LOL. If you know my work at all, this shouldn't surprise you. If this is a success (and I'm hoping it will be!) I'd like to expand - I've already been researching vendors for the products I'd like to carry and my tax ID should be coming in the mail any day! But in the meantime, I've started with a kit concept based around themes and supplies that I love and use myself. I wanted to do something where I could include unique, hand-crafted items along with cool products from other countries that are either expensive in the states, or hard to order - especially in small quantities. (Of course, there are some not-quite-as-hard-to-get-but-still-fairly-unique-items too!)

Going Global Collage and Embellishment Pack - Gwen Lafleur Studios

This is my Going Global Collage & Embellishment Pack - lots of papers, trims, and fun embellishments in here (you can click through and read all about each element - what they are and where they're from.)

Every pack (so far,) has at least one sheet of hand-printed paper (printed by me, of course!) I really like the idea of not only using my woodblocks instead of just admiring them on the shelf, but making these prints accessible so that you don't have to go out and buy the woodblock yourself in order to use hand printed paper in your own artwork.

My favorite find by far, are these absolutely AMAZING vintage Afghan Kuchi patches that I managed to buy in a big job lot from a vendor in England. (You might have seen the project I posted Monday where I used one of these on my mixed media canvas.)

Going Global Large Kuchi Patches - Gwen Lafleur Studios

Of course, there are also peacocks. Lots of peacocks. An entire peacock-themed pack, in fact, along with several different individual embellishments. My absolute favorites are the sequined peacock sari patches that I discovered about two years ago, I think? They come in many sizes and styles and they're so cool. (I must admit, however... I do a lot more hoarding than using when it comes to these.)

Peacock Sari Patches - Gold Flower Tails - Gwen Lafleur Studios

Some of you have also already found my new collection of downloadable collage cut-outs. I have a hard time finding images that I can use in my collage work or in my art journals, so I finally decided to just make my own collage sheets. I scoured the web for public domain images that I like and would use, then edited them and cleaned them up so that they would print well. I figured that since I'd done all the work, I may as well make them available to others who might be running into the same issues!

Collage Cut-Outs Category Header
I could go on and on... I'm super excited about what's here. If all goes well, I'm hoping to be able to buy in larger quantities so that I can standardize things and expand my offerings. I'd also like to bring in products like washi tape, carry my own stencils, and there are plans to do my own rubber stamps as well. We'll see! Of course, I'm thinking I'm already so busy I don't know how I'll handle it if things go well (you know, demanding full-time job and existing art commitments?) But when has any of that stopped me before? Bring it on! LOL.

If you have requests, please let me know! Types of products you've seen me use or that are similar that you'd like to see... things in packs that you really want individually... do you want just paper packs? etc... No promises, but if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right!

In any case... check it out - I hope you like it!



Mixed Media Shadow Boxes / Shrines Workshop

Hi all! As you probably know, I've been working hard over the last few months to get new classes available to be scheduled for in-person workshops. I'm excited to announce that my first workshop of 2017 is now open for registration!

I'll be teaching Mixed Media Shadow Boxes / Shrines at Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook, CT. The class will be Wednesday, May 3 from 10am to 5pm (there's a 1-hour break in there for lunch,) and the class is $100 for the day, which includes the cost of the supplies I'll provide (clay, shared tools, a few other goodies...)

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Shrines - Class Samples - Gwen LafleurHopefully I'll see plenty of you there! I know it's a weekday, but I'll be in the area for an art retreat that weekend and Tracie was kind enough to invite me to teach while I'm there. As a little teaser, I'll also be back at the Clubhouse June 16-17 with more classes! (We're still working out details, but watch for another announcement soon!)

In the meantime, you can get all of the class details and lots of close-up photos of the samples on my website, or you can call the store at 860-399-4443 to register today!

Hope to see you there!


Top 5 favorite things from my Creative JumpStart project

I was lucky enough to be included, for the 2nd year in a row, amongst the amazing talent that Nathalie has lined up for Creative JumpStart 2017! I can't share my actual project with you - you can only see the whole thing if you sign up, but I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things about the process so you could get a peek (or better yet, decide to sign up and join us!)

1. I got to use my Ornamental Peacock Feathers stencil from StencilGirl. You know the saying "put a bird on it?" For me, it's "put a peacock on it!" (Or at least a feather.) I may have also experimented a little with embossing powder for this bit.

CJS2017 Project - Peacock Feathers Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

2. Clay! and beads! and gold! and more beads! The main tutorial video shows the process of making these guys... one of my favorite parts of the whole thing. Plus, a little vintage applique never hurts ;)

CJS2017 Sneek Peek 2 - Gwen Lafleur

3. Assemblage (pronounced like Collage, a la Michael deMeng.) Wood, resin, sculpture, more wood, bling, paint... I seriously had so much fun making this project.

CJS2017 Sneek Peek - Gwen Lafleur

4. Sculpture! I couldn't resist adding two bonus videos showing my entire start-to-finish process for making the beaded sculpture that becomes the centerpiece of my project. Huge thanks to Nathalie who offered to add them as a bonus to my workshop and make them downloadable!

CJS2017 Project - Beaded Sculpture Centerpiece - Gwen Lafleur

5. All of the other artists! So many wonderful and inspiring teachers... one of my favorite things about being a participating artist is that I also get to be a student... Dina Wakley, Michelle Ward, Rae Missigman, Mary Beth Shaw, Jodi Ohl, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, Andy Skinner, Nathalie Kalbach (of course!) In all there are 27 amazing teachers (I wish I had space to list them all! but that would be a very long paragraph,) and I'm excited to learn from each and every one of them! (Make sure you check out all of the artist interviews on the CJS site.)

Hopefully I'll see you there, but if not... I hope you enjoyed the sneaks of my project! 


Making Bird Sculptures with n*Studio Foam Stamps

If you're looking for the original post and tutorial from this blog hop, it has been updated and moved to my website.

3 Bird Sculptures from Foam Stamp 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Handmade Card with Bird Foam Stamp Set - Gwen Lafleur

The tutorial for the bird sculptures is now available on my website, or you can see all of my mixed media tutorials. If you'd like to see the posts from the original blog hop, those are still listed here:


Meet Curly Joe Magillicutty

I realize that I've been a slacker about posting the projects from the rest of the classes I took at Art is You Stamford back in October. I posted all the photos from my masterclass, but none of the others! So I'm starting with my little mini evening class that Patty and I took with the awesome and talented Michael deMeng - Dirty Rotten East Coast Eggs (based on his Dirty Rotten Eggs series.) In the class, we took a regular old plastic Easter egg along with some Aves Apoxy Sculpt and sculpted our own characters. Because of the time it takes the clay to cure we didn't finish the painting in class, but I finished my little sculpture! We each went around the room and shared our little characters and what we'd decided to name them. Mine was Curly Joe Magillicutty. There was really no other name for him. When you see him, you know why.

Of course, I didn't realize that I had neglected to take any decent before photos until after I'd started painting him. Oops! So here you can see one where Curly Joe accompanied me in my car on my move to Utah with the thought that I'd paint him while waiting for the moving truck.

Curly Joe before Painting

Obviously, that didn't actually happen - I got distracted with a totally different project that took the entire time up until the movers came and delivered all my stuff. So he sat on a shelf in my studio until this week when I pulled him down to paint... at last!

Without further ado, meet the finished version of Curly Joe:

Curly Joe - Dirty Rotten Egg Sculpture - Gwen Lafleur

In class, Michael had demonstrated how to get what he calls "creepy baby doll glow" with paints. Which he demonstrated on a baby doll head, so it all made sense, of course. It's been a few months, but fortunately I had a few notes and a good memory, so I think I got it fairly close to the correct process!

Curly Joe - Dirty Rotten Egg Sculpture - side view 2 - Gwen Lafleur

From the back... I added some molding paste to get the non-curly hair:

Curly Joe - Dirty Rotten Egg Sculpture - back view - Gwen Lafleur

At this point in the modeling session, Curly Joe was feeling like striking a pose:

Curly Joe - Dirty Rotten Egg Sculpture - side view - Gwen Lafleur

His eye is just a plastic doll's eye that came in the class kit. 

Curly Joe is Watching You

I feel so much better now that he's painted. He just seemed naked before. So now he's done and sitting back on his shelf... he still watches over my studio, only in color now :D