Thursday, April 25, 2013

Creating Authentic Community Through Art Classes

Last night, a session of my Mixed Media course ended.  I am feeling reflective and am experiencing some pangs of loss as this season ends.

Teaching and attending an in person art class is a unique experience.  It is a vulnerable process for both the students and the teacher because we see one another while our work is still "in process."  Brene Brown says that connection requires vulnerability.  I do believe that through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in our class we are also allowing for true connectivity and the formation of a community.

One of my primary beliefs is that one way to grow as artists and human beings is to start where we are and to be brave enough to try new ideas or to keep going with the ideas we already have.    As we grow, we often experience awkward stages of imperfection, vulnerability and risk.  It is most helpful, when going through those phases, to have the support of an authentic community.

Specific praise helps to foster an authentic community.  Specific praise is a form of critique.  It is looking closely at the work of another person in the class and finding specific and positive things to say about the work.  We often ask questions while we are in this process.  Through this intentional process of looking deeply at the work of another, learning their process and finding specific things to offer encouragement about, we become more adept at noticing details of artwork and also more talented at speaking specific praise into our day to day life.  We begin to take on a new way of seeing artwork and the world, as we notice the efforts and perspectives of others on a deeper level.

Hearing specific praise also allows us to see ourselves and our work from a different perspective.  As artists we can get caught up in our own internal dialog.  The offering of a different way to think about our work can break through our self-talk and help us become more graceful with ourselves as we go through our growing pain stages.  We discover that while we might have been ready to dismiss something about our work, others can see value that we might have missed.

Speaking specific praise into the lives of others feels good. Each time we have spent a session sharing specific praise the group has bonded on a deeper level and we feel invested in the well-being of one another.  This authentic community is not an accident but is as purposeful a creation as our art pieces are.

As I prepare for my next classes I do so with great expectation and I look forward to helping to foster a deeper sense of community as well as teaching art techniques.

I am offering two courses.  One in Mixed Media and the other is Intricate Doodles.  More information is available here.  I am available to answer your questions at

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Creating and Using a Color Wheel with Silks Acrylic Glazes

Tag Sampler  
Creating a Color Wheel With Silks Acrylic Glazes
Creating a Color Wheel with Silks Acrylic Glazes
I am passionate about Silks Acrylic Glazes. I can get sheer gorgeous color and shimmer with one coat or use more than one layer to achieve opaque brilliant shimmery colors. In this article I illustrate how easy it is to use color theory, create tint and shades with these beautiful paints.  
Once you have decided what colors you want to use for your Silks Acrylic Glaze Color Wheel, you can start trying out different color theories. I decided to use tags as they are small and easy to experiment with. Here are a few illustrations.

Spit-Complementary Colors
Using A Color Wheel With Silks Acrylic Glazes & a Tag

Complimentary Colors
Silks Acrylic Glazes, Girls Night Tag
Spit-Complementary Colors April Showers Tag
Silks Acrylic Glazes & April Showers Tag

For my tags I also used the following Artistcellar Products:

You can get your own free color wheel template here.  I printed mine on Bristol Board Smooth Paper.
Making Stamps from Stencils
Tutorial: Making Stamps from Stencils
Silk Spray Paint Tutorial (791x1024)
Tutorial: Making Spray Paints with Silks Acrylic Glazes

Thank you for stopping by.  I am always grateful for your comments.

 Please "like" my artist page at:  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Quirky Birds Mini Book

"Quirky Birds" for Lifebook 2013. I used selected lyrics from Annie Lennox — Little Bird. This was so much fun! This is mixed media on watercolor paper. It folds like an accordion book.

The lyrics I picked start with the bird on the top left:
I look up to the little bird
That glides across the sky

But this little bird's fallen out of that nest now
I've got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I've just got to put these wings to test

For I am just a troubled soul
Who's weighted...
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay this burden down

So I've just got to put these wings to test

Here are some close ups:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blue Moldable Stamps + Stencils + Heat Tool= Personalized Stamps!

Tag and Wrapping Paper

I have been collecting stencils for awhile now and I love them. I am always looking for new ways to use them. I was thrilled when I discovered that I could turn my stencils into stamps...(drum roll please) and the product to do that with only costs $1.50 to make 2 stamps! You need Blue Moldable Stamp, and stencils such as Brain Coral Stencil, and the Constellation Stencil. Here is the tutorial for turning your stencils into stamps! :) Making Stamps from Stencils

After I made the stamps, I decided I would have fun making my own gift paper and tags. I simply stamped deli paper with the Blue Moldable Stamp that I created and Ranger Archival Ink Pad. I heat set the ink and then added Tim Holtz Distress Stains to color my paper.

untitled-8339 (1024x685)
. Tag and Wrapping Paper

For my finished project, I wrapped a gift using this deli paper. I sprayed tags with Homemade Silks Acrylic Glazes sprays, dried, and then stamped as described above. I created roses with the stamped and stained deli paper as well. Finally, I put it all together with Burlesque Fibers and a Black Viva Decor Pearl Pen. 
For those of you who haven't tried the Home Made Silks Acrylic Spray Paints, here is the tutorial for you.  

Silk Acrylic Glazes Spray Tutorial Thank you so much for checking out my post. I would love it if you show me what you create and your comments are always gratefully received! Tammy Dial Gray

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When you smile, the stars dance in their heavens.

When I had the joy of opening up the Shooting Stars Stencil package from Artistcellar and playing with it in my studio one thought kept returning to my mind. It wasn't as much an image as it was a sentiment. When I look at the Shooting Stars Stencil it looks to me like the stars are dancing. The sentiment I kept thinking of was, "When you smile, the stars dance in their heavens."

After much thought, I realized that I wanted to make others smile. So, I sketched out one of the things that makes me smile. A dog, and a smiling dog is even better. :)

I used my regular sketching pencils and Bristol Smooth paper. I thought this dog's smile could put a smile on a young child's face. So, I decided to keep with the whimsical theme and paint my dog in bright colors.

For this 12 x 12 wood panel I used, Silks Acrylic Glazes, bleeding tissue paper, Shooting Stars Stencil, black pens, white pens, gesso, gel medium, home made Silks Acrylic Glazes Spray Paints (the tutorial is provided below,) punchinella, and white acrylic paint.

 The truth is...When you smile, the stars dance in their heavens. 

 Tammy Dial Gray