Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Getting in a groove with #100daysofcollage

So for those of you out there who haven't read my blog before, I just wanted to say welcome, glad you stopped by. You have found me in the midst of the #100dayschallenge where I have dared myself to complete 100 collages in 100-ish days (you can find other participants on Instagram by searching #100days). 
While I am still in the first quarter of this challenge, I thought I would begin to cover some of the basics about my process so far. For starters, the paper. I knew that I wanted to work in a relatively small scale because my studio space is rather small and a lot of artists will tell you that the scale of their work is often informed by the size of their work space. 

This 6x8" pad seemed like it had the perfect dimensions for what I had envisioned. Ideally, I would have purchased Arches paper and cut it down, but I was looking for something more low maintenance. I then made myself a view finder so that I could have a better idea of how my finished piece would look while I'm still in the layout phase.

Rachel Loewens: Getting in a groove with #100daysofcollage

Here is my rough draft of a collage. I can adjust the layout, change proportions and switch out papers before settling on the final design.

Rachel Loewens: Getting in a groove with #100daysofcollage

Already, I'm accumulating quite a stockpile of scraps. Think I'll have to start using these up soon before they totally take up my work space!

Rachel Loewens: Getting in a groove with #100daysofcollage

Any of you big Snap chat fans? I just joined up and am posting there on a somewhat regular basis. I'm rachelloewen with no spaces if you wanted to add me!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Biting off more than I can chew? (100 Days of Collage)

For those of you who are addicted to Instagram like I am, you are all probably aware of the #the100daysproject. For everyone else, it is a sort of challenge to creative people to do what they do for 100 days in a row. I found out about it's launch date just before it happened and made an impulse decision to join in by focusing on #100daysofcollage. At first I used papers from my collection of magazines, but then switched over to my hand-printed ones on day three. 

Rachel Loewens: #100daysofcollage
Old palette paper + drawn tissue paper.

Rache Loewens: #100daysofcollage
Monoprint + layers of drawn tissue paper + acrylic paint
My stash of monoprints was starting to get low so I started cranking them out!

Rache Loewens: #100daysofcollage

But then making them started to feel more stressful, and I was becoming more fixated on the end goal instead of enjoying the process of making them. I mean, this should be fun, right?

Rache Loewens: #100daysofcollage

So now I am taking my time making these prints and giving myself permission to take a day off if need be. 

Rache Loewens: #100daysofcollage

I still plan on completing 100 collages, but I'm ok if it takes more than 100 days. Emily Jeffords talks about sustainable creativity on her blog and started the #doitfortheprocess hashtag on Instagram and those concepts are really resonating with me. 

Are any of you participating in the #the100daysproject? 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

When life gets crazy, I collage

The past nine months have been kinda crazy for my extended family medically speaking. Biopsies, cancer diagnosis, myasthenia gravis, feeding tubes, hospice care, heart transplant, infection, DNR, DNR repeal, DNR again, more biopsies, no cancer but abnormal cells, autoimmune responses, vitreous detachment, and on and on.

This week my grandfather-in-law finally passed away. He was a dearly loved man and left behind an amazing legacy of love and family. We are all taking comfort in the fact that he is no longer in pain and was fully ready for things to end. That being said, is is just hard and sad right now.

As we run around trying to get ready for the 10 hour drive that awaits us, I stepped away to have a little time in my studio to collage. It is what I do when I need to work with my hands and engage color but am a little bit of a mess inside.

Rachel Loewens: When life gets crazy, I collage

What do these textures look like next to each other? How does this color relate to that one? This is my favorite kind of therapy. 

Rachel Loewens: When life gets crazy, I collage

Rachel Loewens: When life gets crazy, I collage

Prints of these and others are available here in my shop

What are your favorite creative coping mechanisms? Would love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring cleaning on my blog and in my shop!

After spending the last few weeks doing some spring cleaning in my house, I thought it was time to turn my attention to my blog! A new header and shop button were the first things to change on my list, and you will probably see a few other things updated over the course of the next week!

By the way, do any of you know how to get rid of the line separating my blog posts from the side bar? The one that is right over there? ---------->
It is kinda driving me nuts, and I haven't found a tutorial on how to remove it!

My shop is also getting updated! I hope you find it super easy to navigate!

After selecting the piece you like, you have several material options to choose from!

They will even mat and frame it for you before shipping out!!

I will continue to make more updates each week and will post those announcements on Instagram! Hope you are all having a productive season of cleaning/updating as well!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In my sketchbook: playing with borders

This is just one of those weeks where I am having difficulty getting any studio time. Sketching time, however, has been much easier to come by. 
(Look how nice and sweet our cat looks! Don't be deceived!! He loves to drool all over my sketches! Yet another reason why I am not much of a cat person.)

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

I really like to have parts of my designs go off the paper so that it feels like they extend beyond the work itself. Sometimes this can feel kind of awkward as I haven't always got the feel for a shape down before my pen hits the paper. I had the idea this week to draw a border about 1" around my paper so that I could have those initial movements outside the finished piece. 

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

Then I thought it would be interesting to do two pieces side by side on the same sheet.

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

After that I tried to see what would happen if I had a piece in the middle overlap both working areas. I already had multiple shapes down so it didn't work so well. 

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

The next time, I drew two shapes overlapping both work areas. The final design in the left one ended up being significantly stronger than the one on the right. 

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

Lastly, I kept things simple and had just one shape overlap. That gave me much more freedom to then work on each side individually because I want both sides to be interesting. 

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

Left side:

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

Right side:

Rachel Loewens: In my sketchbook, playing with borders

This whole, "What happens if I try this?" process is what really fuels my creativity. It keeps me from getting stuck in a rut and keeps my curiosity alive!

To make sure that you don't miss any of my posts follow me here on Blog Lovin!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

In the kitchen: Kraut-chi and other fermented veggie experiments

Do any of you have the tendency to read and book about a topic that really excites you, and then become completely obsessed with said new topic until you have a major reality check slap you in the face? 
No? Yes?
Well, I have that tendency, and it kinda kicked my butt last week!

I kept coming across blog posts about the benefits of fermented foods, but Sandor Katz's book The Art of Fermentation was what really sent me into overdrive. Particularly all of the info about making kraut-chi (combo of sour kraut and kim-chi) and other fermented vegetables. 

Kraut-chi and other fermented veggie experiments

My first attempt did not fair so well because I was trying to mash off of my cabbage using a wooden spoon. Then I found this lovely wooden mallet at my favorite thrift store for $2 and really went to town!

Kraut-chi and other fermented veggie experiments

And when I say "went to town", what I really mean is that I totally forgot that I have arthritis in most of my body and spent hours mashing away at cabbage, and then could hardly move for the next several days. Now you know why I went so long between blog posts! Oopsie!

Kraut-chi and other fermented veggie experiments

Making a brine for some brussel sprouts that were on sale last week at Aldi's was so much easier so I anticipate making more veggies like this!

I even remembered to tape notes to the jars so that I can make them again if they turn out well! 

Kraut-chi and other fermented veggie experiments

Would love to hear if any of you have tried fermented veggies, too!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Watercolor race prep

There is just something about springtime that always makes me pull out my watercolors. I think it has something to do with how light the paint feels. Does that sound weird?

Watercolor is also a very portable medium which is nice because this weekend is the first road race (cycling) of the season in Nebraska and if the weather predictions hold, I will be rooting for my husband from the car. I've got quite few of these pieces started and filled up a pencil bag with markers, pens, and pencils to take along. 

I also have like six books from the library that had been on hold for awhile that all became available this week! Anyone else have this happen? 

For those of you who do watercolor more often, I'm in need of a making fluid recommendation! I usually use rubber cement, but it kinda turns my paper yellow and I don't like that!! Thanks in advance!!

Hope you all have a blessed weekend!

Monday, March 14, 2016

More ink experiments

A few weeks ago I was messing around with ink and watercolor paper and decided to try a few more things! For instance, what happens when you combine ink, copic marker, a felt tip marker and then spray it with water?

Rachel Loewens: more ink experiments #doitfortheprocess

Or when you spray a leaf design you drew?

Rachel Loewens: more ink experiments #doitfortheprocess

Or a surface design... 

Rachel Loewens: more ink experiments #doitfortheprocess

Or an absract landscape of sorts!

Rachel Loewens: more ink experiments #doitfortheprocess

Happy creative experiments to all of you!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Toddler art takeover

The best way to know my kiddos are feeling better is when the oldest asks, " Mom, can we make acrylic skins?" For those of you who have never made them, Jane Davies does a great tutorial here

I toyed with the idea of working on the dining table, but I kinda like the idea of the kids creating in my studio. While it is really easy to fit one of them in there, but it can get kinda tricky with all three. I had two blank canvases that I adhered pieces of wax paper to (wax paper was the substrate for the skins. Note: see update at end of post before trying this yourself!) using artist tape and a third to a basic drawing board. The kids picked green and blue for their first colors, and then I let them go at it!!

A good 20-30 minutes of work time is usually all they need! I've found that limiting their color palette greatly increases the kids happiness with the final product!

I'm planning on doing some live Periscope video tutorials this weekend talking about ways to make art with your kids. My handle is @rachelloewens if you want to join in on the conversation!!

Urgent update!! Do NOT use wax paper for a substrate when making a skin. They won't come off!! Agh!! I haven't told my daughter this devastating news because I am pretty sure there will be tears. Think I will go back to using sheet protectors or my gelli plate because they are a safe bet. Much apologies to anyone who tried this with the wax paper!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

In the kitchen: comfort food for crummy colds

The Lowens Haus got hit with a round of colds this week. The drippy nose, constant cough sometimes accompanied by a fever, up several times during the night kind of colds. Bleh. 

I'm sure it won't come as a big shock that I haven't been painting much. I just don't work very well when I'm sleep deprived. There would have been a time where seeing my unfinished work just sitting there would have left me restless, but I've started to enjoy just going into my studio to look at my work, the tubes of paint lying where I left them last and my houseplants bathed in nice northern light.

The weather is just cool enough that a bowl of warm soup still sounds like the best thing after a day of using copious amounts of hand sanitizer.  For this meal I made 
Curried Lentil Soup by the Nourished Kitchen (skip the pre-soak and cook lentils in soup)
Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts (hold the bacon to make this meal vegan)
with roasted craisins and sunflower seeds to top it off.

Rachel Loewens: Comfort food for crummy colds

I had originally planned on recording on Periscope for my first time on Saturday but think that will be just too much for me. Fingers crossed that everyone gets better this weekend!!
If you want to go ahead and follow me in anticipation of my fist broadcast my handle is @rachelloewens. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

In my studio: ink experiments

Last Friday night I was hanging out with my husband when an idea hit me. What would happen if I used a spray bottle on an ink drawing? 
The black ink I draw with would do absolutely nothing because it becomes permanent so quickly, but I had no clue what would happen with my new blue-green ink. 

Rachel Loewens: ink experiments

Well, the result (I thought) was kind of amazing. The amount of bleed was definitely impacted by how close the water bottle was to the paper and the angle that I held the sketchbook. Having watercolor pencils nearby, I added some washes of blue to create depth. 

The next morning I taped down some paper that I thought was watercolor paper (but now am pretty sure isn't) and played around with washes, drips and spraying. The result was nice but different from what I achieved on the watercolor paper. 

Rachel Loewens: ink experiments

This time around I made sure to use the same sketchbook paper from the first time. I had my camera set up to record and take close ups afterwards so you could get a better idea of what I was up to. 

Rachel Loewens: ink experiments

Rachel Loewens: ink experiments

Kinda cool, right? Now I should warn you that I have not made any type of multi-media video since like the fourth grade. Seriously. Fourth grade. I'm not sure which is more shocking, that I was able to figure out how to use an app to add text to my video or that my kids were quiet while I shot it! 

Stay tuned to see where these experiments lead, or if I ever attempt to record again! :-)

Monday, February 8, 2016

In my studio: ten minutes at a time

As a wife and momma, I sometimes long for extended times to spend working in my studio. As Herman Melville wrote in a letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, " I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances. The calm, the coolness, the silent grass-growing mood in which a man ought always compose, --that, I fear, can seldom be mine."

This notion that I had to have at least three hours to work if I was going really make art was all fine and dandy when I was young and had fewer responsibilities. Now, that just isn't going to cut it. I would never make anything if that was still a requirement for art making.

In my studio: ten minutes at a time

Ten to twenty minute spurts are how I seem to best operate now. Washing machine cycle is almost over... Run!! I can glue down those collage pieces before it is finished! 
The kids are about to wake from their naps. Can I get those canvases primed in time? Yes!
Sketching while simmering soup for dinner? Of course!!

The couple of pieces I am currently working on have been made in short increments of time. 

In my studio: ten minutes at a time
(Still in the beginning phase)

Here's to making it work while still getting on with life's work!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Surviving #snomahog

Snomahog? Yes, snomahog! The Mayor of Omaha accidentally dubbed our most recent blizzard after some sort of snow/ city in Nebraska/ porcine creature. Really. I'm not clever enough to make this sort of thing up!

Anyway, my kiddos informed me last week that they were done with snow. All being to young for school, the prospect of a snow day held little appeal. That is until I mentioned that Daddy would stay home all day, that they could stay in their jammies and could pick out new art supplies at Dick Blick to keep them busy during our confinement. Instant attitude improvement!

Now while my kiddos were super pumped about their creative enterprises, I was not so excited. You may recall that I am working on this massive garter stitch blanket and should, therefore, be thrilled at the prospect of being snowed in with knitting to be done. However, I accidentally spilled hot sugar (like 300 F hot sugar) down my hand. I'm not really in any pain, but the bandages make knitting super awkward! 

I am still able to draw so I've been making some patterns on tissue paper for future collages and been playing around  with two-tone pen and ink designs in my sketchbook, too. 

Hope all of you that were snowed in, too had as much fun as we did!!