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1  CRAFTSTER CRAFT CHALLENGES / CHALLENGE 116 ENTRIES / Captain Marvel - Pic Heavy on: November 07, 2016 09:05:38 AM


My husband and I always throw a huge costume party every year for halloween with all of our friends but I struggled with a costume idea for the longest time.

I finally decided on dressing up as Captain Marvel. Sifting through many reference pictures I decided to forgo the catsuit (who is comfortable in one of those anyway?) because at the end of the day, I wanted to be able to reuse all the costume components individually in everyday life.  I don't like to waste money if I can help it. 

I decided to use this photo reference for my costume:


I managed to procure blue leggings and red boots but I figured out pretty quickly that I would need to alter something for the top of the costume, which is the main identifier of the character.  That turned out to be a red fitted pleather jacket that I found on sale through Amazon:



From there, I did a bunch of research on how to alter this thing. I read everything from sewing to spray paint and ended up settling on acrylic paint.  There are a bunch of cosplay boards that claim it was the best for faux leather, since both materials are primarily comprised of plastic and super flexible.

I worried at first that the paint would flake off, but it turned out way better than I ever hoped for (after a tiny nervously applied test spot on the inside). Then it was just a matter of laying out the design and painting away:



















The "gold" coloring is actually a iridescent bronze liquid acrylic.  It has a slight metallic sheen that I liked much better than doing the primary yellow as shown in the pictures (I thought it would be too bright).

Outfit All put together:


I loved how the jacket turned out so much that I might revamp a black pleather fitted jacket I've had in my closet for years by painting the punisher skull on the back! Wink

Thanks for looking! <3
2  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Dancing Harmony - Pic Heavy on: September 09, 2016 09:36:42 AM


Hello Lovelies!

I just wanted to share my latest painting with you all.  I think it might be one of my favorites that I have done to date.  We recently had our formal dining room furnished after saving the last couple of years for it but one wall was blank and in need of something pretty.

Thus, this concept was born of several wonderful [copyright free] reference photographs provided by a reference site I'm a member of.

Without further ado -


Concept:





A few in process photographs - apologies for the poor quality since they were taken with my phone during low lighting.  I really need to invest in one of those full spectrum daylight bulbs since I find my groove in the later hours of the day.







The final:





The piece is called "Dancing Harmony" and is 16" x 20" on fabriano 300 lb completed with Van Gogh watercolors.  I added a bit of micron pen and white gel pen for edge definition and highlights in certain areas as well.

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to look! Smiley

XO

-Nichole
3  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / New Paintings! ** Lots of Pics** on: June 28, 2016 08:04:57 AM


Hiya! 

So I wanted to share my latest adventures with you lovelies!

For the last few weeks (maybe a month?) I've been slaving away at creating pages for my own adult coloring book based on my illustrations and all of the black and white was driving me a bit insane.  I took a break to do some mini paintings to purge the crazy from my system so I could get back to work with a clear head Wink

The results are below! 

While I've been shying away from recreating picture references in my own style lately, there is definitely something almost freeing about the process.  With trying to conceptualize an idea, I have to figure out every little detail to bring a composition together. 

Recreating photo references let's my brain sort of float around in white static. 

Which sounds kind of weird...

Anyway, these are all 4" x 6" in watercolor with some gel pen and fineliner for highlights and definition:


Bushtit


Cardinal


Nature's Jewel


Rainbow Succulent


Together



This next mini painting is a little bit smaller, capping at 3.5" x 5" because I found this really awesome antiquish frame that was begging for a painting and how could I possibly resist?

Mid-Flight Meal


Framed



This last one is different than the rest, but I couldn't resist sharing it with you anways.  I finished a concept that will become a page in my upcoming coloring book as well as a full painting (I have a long queue of concepts pinned to my studio wall that serves as my painting "to-do list"). 

My usual approach to paintings is to blast them with all the colors.  I like brightness, and it shows even when I don't mean to.  But I wanted to approach this particular one differently, and thought I might try to do a practice mini painting to ensure that I could, indeed, paint softer.  My results are below and I couldn't help putting my practice painting in another antique frame I had on hand. Smiley

Blinding Beauty

Concept


 In process Practice Painting


Framed



I think that's everything, for now. Thanks for taking the time to look! Smiley

XO
4  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Sweet Dreams Series on: May 27, 2016 03:56:40 PM



I wanted to share the first painting series I completed this year. I call it the 'Sweet Dreams" Series and was built around the ideas of where our minds wander to when we are asleep and the fantastical things young dreamers come up with.  This series was meant to be on the lighter and more whimsical side of things, and they all started with concept sketches first.

Concepts:
Sea Dreams



Steam-Punk Dreams



Night Dreams



Through my artistic career, the one subject matter I really struggled with [and still struggle with to some degree] is capturing the human form in an effective and somewhat believable way.  I made a personal goal at the beginning of the year to attempt to strengthen skills I felt were lacking and this series was my first foray. 

As for these pieces, I wanted to create as much movement as possible with line-work to add to the whimsical feel.  I also wanted the hair to "bleed" into dreamlike elements while still retaining their shape. 

The Final Pieces:

Sea Dreams:



Detail:





Steam-Punk Dreams:



Detail:



Night Dreams:



Detail:



These are sized at 11" x 17" and I completed them using a watercolor base with copic marker, pencil pastel, gel pen and fine liner overlay for detail and definition. 

anyway, thanks for looking! Smiley

5  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / The Totem Series - Lots of Pics on: May 24, 2016 08:03:30 PM


I wanted to share with you guys a series I just finished (literally, just completed the last one yesterday) from concept sketch to final painting.  The concept designs I created are listed below followed by the final paintings. The series is called the "Totem Series" and I use a watercolor base with a little bit of copic marker, pencil pastel, gel pen and fine liner for added definition.  The actual painting sizes are all 16" x 20" on fabriano cold press 300lb watercolor paper.

Now, let me inundate you with as many pictures I can first - then give you the analysis Smiley

My Concept Sketches:

Goat:  
Crow:
Wolf:

Finished Paintings:

"Goat Totem"


Detail shots:





"Crow Totem"


Detail Shot:



"Wolf Totem"


Detail Shot:



Analysis:

I always find the difficult part to be actually articulating what I'm trying to convey in my pieces.  I'm good at pictures not words, so bare with me as I attempt to explain myself here.

For me, most of the time I don't know how a piece will turn out, much less three pieces that are supposed to be unified in some way.  I've done a series before (which I will post later) that was pretty easy to identify and interpret based on the whimsical themes I used.  Here it's a bit more serious and I find it pretty interesting to see all three together.  

In a general sense,  the series is a conversation on the internal struggle for balance within ones self on a spiritual and mental level.

In "Goat Totem", the depiction of the goat dominates the composition and the girl is an afterthought.  She is flat, as if she is being absorbed; her ear the only part left visibly human.  This represents someone who is influenced to hold onto an idea or concept at the cost of themselves. There is no sense of self, only this thing, this "Totem".

In the "Crow Totem", The woman is presumably looking off into the distance with a black crow on her shoulder.  At first glance, you would assume this is a take on the classic concepts of devil vs angel; you can clearly see the woman being influenced by the crow and crows mean bad things right?  

Within the themes of this series, however, I use the crow as a symbol based on the context of spirit animals or guides;  the woman is gaining a higher perspective.  Her eyes are opening to possibilities.  She's looking towards the future. This piece is meant to show a sense of transition.  

Lastly, we come to the "Wolf Totem".  The woman is wearing a wolf hood, one eye piercing the viewer in complete confidence.  The wolf and woman are two halves of one whole; they both share an eye and a canine tooth.  The wolf's galaxy eye is a representation of the "third eye" which provides perception beyond ordinary sight, such as intuition or "gut instinct".  With this piece I wanted to convey a sense of strength, balance and acceptance of all the unique pieces of oneself [good and bad].

Whew, I hope that makes sense! Smiley

Thanks for taking the time to check out my stuff!

XO

Nichole

6  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Wheel of Fortune Book - PICTURE HEAVY on: May 13, 2016 10:56:00 AM


This is my first time tackling an altered shrine swap. I thought I'd give it a try after doing some substantial research (and some how ending up with a whole pinterest board dedicated to shrines).  I actually ended up making my partner (Wulf) three smaller shrines and I'd like to share one of the three with you here (I will post the other two later).

I kind of went "off road" with this one and based it more on a couple of his boards rather than any one theme he gave in his questionnaire.  I liked the concept of a book of shadows and magic so I decided to revamp a lonely Altoids tin into a 3-d layered tarot card and fit it inside a book to help disguise it.  I can never do anything the "easy" way - the whole book is made from scratch.

I started by making the inside of the tin first.  I chose the "Wheel of Fortune" tarot card because I liked the meaning of the card and I also enjoyed the illustration I found to use as a reference (please excuse the poor process photos!):



so I drew, painted, varnished and hand cut each little piece for my tin.  Here are some of the tiny pieces:



Once everything was cut out, I started to layer them into the tin by rolling up very thin strips of paper to use as "pegs" to give my card the dimension I wanted:







Once the inside was completed, I started to work on the outside. I had some thin cardboard stashed and used that to cut out the cover of the book, taking care to score the "bind" for maximum flexibility when opening and closing the book.  Then I covered the book with some stashed fabric I had been saving, using hot glue to secure the inside edges and corners.  I loved the slight sheen this fabric gave and the beautiful tree illustration printed all over.  After securing the fabric around the cardboard, I then added a deep navy card stock to cover the inside of the front and back to give the book a "finished" appearance and to cover any frayed fabric edges. Once that was finished, I glued a small stack of brown kraft paper (the kind that is sent inside packages as "filler") in the front to cushion the tin and help fit it into the binding perfectly.





Then came the tedious part of trimming another set of kraft paper down to fit around the tin for the bottom.  I wanted the tin to look nestled into the book. 



I ended up trimming down a couple sets to get the height that I wanted on the bottom but I eventually got there! After that, I added a fuzzy textured ribbon around the outside to be used as the "closure".  to finish the look off, I added a wax seal with the letter "W" to represent Wulf's name.  I've always thought wax seals look ancient and traditional and thought it would look nice and I was in luck because I had a whole heap of silver sticks leftover from doing my wedding invitations a few years ago.

So I took a regular rubber stamp letter and attached it to a clear stamp block (you can get both at michaels usually) and started playing with hot wax until I got my desired look:



I attached it to the front of the book along with a tiny branch I had created from wire and nail polish.  I thought it would look nice and add a little bit of color as well. (plus it linked nicely with the other two shrines where I used the same nail polish flower technique in the same colors).

After the outside was complete, I finished off the lid of the tin by adding some fun lacy looking material I had stashed away in a deep red - it sort of looked gyspy-ish and thought it worked well with the tarot card on the other side.  I then added another wax seal in the center in the letter "H" to represent Wulf's last name. The finishing touch was a little "book mark" with a swirly bead and star at the end. 

Here are some nicer quality photos of the finished product:













In the end, I had a lot of fun making shrines and I may consider another go if the swap comes around again Wink

Thanks for looking!! Smiley
7  IMAGE REPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES / Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects / Twin Peaks Stamp on: February 27, 2016 08:45:23 AM
I recently completed carving this stamp for my partner in the Woodland themed Swap.  She is a fan of the show "Twin Peaks" and I couldn't resist because it fit the theme so well. 



Here is the stamp up close:



It's been a while since I've had to carve anything, but the speedball pink block is super easy to carve so I was able to complete this one in a day. Regardless of the ease, I've always found that typography is a difficult and delicate process.  Especially since you have to work with backwards words. Smiley

I made her a set of notecards with the stamp and gifted her the carving as well since I won't use it. I did, however, keep a test print or two for myself. Wink



Thanks for looking!! Smiley
8  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Woodland Kodama and his Goat Friend *LOTS OF PICS* on: February 27, 2016 08:34:31 AM
This was my first go with the woodland themed swap and I loved it! My partner, Emilywilde, had such an interesting mix of inspiring pins on her pinterest board, however once I came across this image I was sold:




I knew that I needed to make this picture come to life for my medium for her! 

I started with the Kodama:





Making his body was simple enough, though I tinkered with his expression for a little bit to make sure I got the right mix of creepy and cute.  My husband definitely thought he was creepy looking so I think I achieved my goal there. (I secretly want to make more of these and hide them around his office to find)

Once I was finished with getting his body right, I knew he needed a friend and that goat is just too darn cute for me to resist!



So I switched gears and started shaping the Goats head and body.  I used the same felt roving on the goat as I did the Kodama and just covered him up with light brown roving once I was satisfied with the shape.





After getting the body shape the way I wanted it, I added the small details to his head; the eyes, nose and mouth.  Then I attached the head to the body. I think the next part was tricky getting his legs the same length and width.  I didn't use any sort of armature when building him up, so I wanted to make sure he was stable enough to stand on his own without tipping over on his head.



It took me a couple tries, but I finally got him on his own feet. Then it was time to add some fuzz to his chin, chest and belly!



I completed the last steps at a craft meetup because I needed advice on how to tackle his horns.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do them in a different type of material, like polymer clay.  Ultimately I decided against it and kept with the felt theme instead.  I was worried they might break off in shipping even if I wrapped him up.  I like how they turned out though.  I also added arms and a twig to my Kodama too.



Overall I'm pleased with how they turned out!  Smiley

Thanks for looking!!
9  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / FELTED PIRANHA PLANTS! =D on: December 24, 2015 09:15:22 AM
Allow me to preface this with the very fact that I love Nintendo.  Couple that love with spotting this item on my partner's pinterest board for the 12 days of Christmas swap, I was immediately sold!  I believe this was the first item I crafted for her because I couldn't contain my excitement.

The pin lead me to a really informative semi-tutorial, though I ended up modifying this for half a dozen instead of a whole dozen due to crafting time. the beginning steps have you hand sewing pieces of felt together to form a ball (filled with fiberfill), and from there you are basically needle felting the rest of the way until you get to the final steps of stem and leaves.



I am new to needle felting (learned earlier this year at the encouragement of one of my really good friends and fellow craftster) and found I loved it but never even thought about the regular acrylic craft felt working the same way.



The only annoyance I found with needle felting the thin acrylic sheets was the fact that it would disappear into the fiber fill if needle felted for too long when I was trying to achieve the crease in the mouth.  I think there is a type of fiber fill that works with needle felting though that may help this a bit.  Luckily the tongue hid most of that Smiley



The tricky part was how to attached the stem.  Unfortunately the explanation I was following didn't provide information on this part but I quickly found my solution by loosely coiling the end of the bendable flower stems so that the piranha head could sit inside of it.  Then I trimmed a small circle of green felt to have points to cover the coil and secured that [and the wire] with a bit of hot glue.  Bend the head a little to sit how you want and BOOM, problem solved!



Overall, the project took several hours.  It would be even longer for the whole dozen, though I am definitely keeping this one in my back pocket for future use.  Perhaps a lovely Valentines day surprise for someone in the future! Cheesy 

Just mind your fingers Wink

Thanks for taking a look!! - Nichole
10  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / The Christmas Yeti! on: December 23, 2015 08:35:47 AM
I'm currently in the opening stage of the 12 days of Christmas and my partner finally arrived at this particular item I made her so its safe to post!  I wanted to think a little bit outside the box on the whole holiday theme and thought a Yeti would fit the bill.

Who doesn't love an adorable Holiday Yeti!!???

I really did enjoy making this felt plushie so much.  Since I did not have a viable working sewing machine at the time, I hand sewed everything together.  In total, it took a few hours but it was so worth the wait for the adorableness of the final project! Smiley







(this last photo courtesy of SammyLouise since I was a dumby and didn't remember to take final photos of him!)

If I had a sewing machine my choices on material would have varied slightly (used fleece instead of actual felt), and the process would have gone a bit more smoothly on the body, horns and arms. the rest needed to be done by hand anyways.  I am definitely saving this one to make again for future use Smiley

Also - if anyone else would like to use the pattern, I found it free on Pinterest.  Here's the link:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/312437292878795687/
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