October Audio Story: Two Chilling Halloween Tales

I hope you enjoy the two short tales I have chosen for this month! Goosebumps will shiver down your spine... enjoy!

Have a Happy Halloween,

7 Principles of Design

Last week, I promised to give you an explanation of the seven principles of design. Well, upon reflection, I decided that I didn’t need to recreate the wheel when it comes to talking about this vast subject. Instead I am going to refer you to a website that I found helpful which explains these principles in an easy to understand way (with diagrams) and much, much better than I ever could. Here are the 7 Principles of Design…

1. Balance
2. Gradation
3. Repetition
4. Contrast
5. Harmony
6. Dominance
7. Unity

I found visiting John Lovett, a watercolourist and mixed media painter’s website a good use of my time. It helped me gain some insight and knowledge into what was “mystery meat” for me LOL around the design principles of art. If this is something that you have wondered about as well, stop by his site for a visit.

Even though I wasn’t interested in learning how to paint with watercolours, at least not right now , I found reading through some of the “lessons” on his site helped me look at my art and that of others in a much different way. It certainly gave me some food for thought! His explanations and accompanying lessons are simple and straightforward.

You don’t need to know the “jargon” of the “painting world” to benefit from what he has to say. Visit his gallery once you have gone through his “lessons”. I found that studying and looking closer at his paintings and drawings LAST helped to solidify what I learned in his virtual classroom lessons.

Learning about the different elements and principles and how they are applied to art certainly doesn’t qualify as an “art education”. However, I feel I am more knowledgeable than when I first started out on this quest and...

* It has challenged me to do and look at art from a new perspective.
* The biggest payoff has been learning how to be more spontaneous and “play” with the elements in my compositions.
* I have simplified my compositions which makes me feel good.
* I hate clutter and I found the answer to why I skip over cluttered art of any kind. It's hard for me to even look at simply because there is too much "going on". I don't seem to be able to discern the simple "beauty"/story and it frustrates me to no end just looking at a piece with an overabundance of elements.
* In creating art, I seem to have lost the need to keep fiddling with my work in order to get it “right”... that is a good's made the creation process much more enjoyable.

I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences with your art, even any tips you can pass along or other places to visit on the web that could further my/our “education”. Please don’t be shy. Shoot me an email and let me know what you have found useful for you and has helped you to “move to the next level” in your art. I'd love to get a list together of resources and "what works" in order to to share it with all of myStoryArt readers.

Thanks for stopping by today to say hi and brighten up my life! Being a solar powered “kid”, this is not my favourite time of the year in Victoria. Windy gales, cold, winter rain and short gray days are upon us once again (hey it’s Halloween this week… it’s right on schedule). I am grateful for every bit of *sunshine* that enters my life from the end of October onwards until the soft light of Spring peeks through the windows once again.

Here’s some sunshine that entered my life this morning. This U-tube video made me smile… check it out, you’ll smile too! Might even make you wish you had a set of stairs like this in your house. That's the only clue I am giving you... chuckle, chuckle.

Until we meet again next week…I wish you have a splendid, adventurous week filled with the fun of ghosts, goblins, pumpkins and chocolate.

Happy Halloween,

The Elements and Principle of Design

This past year, I have become quite interested in the elements and principle of design. Not having ever attended an art class (other than calligraphy class a gazillion years ago) or even having a clue as to what makes up a good piece of ART (I just know what I like and don’t like), my curiosity about this vast subject began to itch! When the itch didn’t go away, I decided it was high time to do something about it. Information was but a few keystrokes away… I fired up Firefox and began my Internet search.

Now I am not going to give you the last definitive words around this subject. That would certainly be out of my league. But, because for the most part, artists at all levels of talent visit my blog, I thought it would be interesting for you and them to share with you my learning and experiences so far.

It’s been more of an exciting journey than I ever expected with some surprises for me along the way. I think the one thing that has surprised me the most is how it has helped me be more spontaneous when creating art and answered some questions for me about why I do what I do when I create an art piece.

This week, I will tackle the elements of art and tell you a bit about the process I unexpectedly experienced recently creating the piece you will see in just a bit. Next week, I’ll share with you the seven principles of design.

First some “art” theory…

Elements in art can be thought of as the things that make up an art piece whether it is a drawing, a painting, or a digital piece. All works of art, I discovered, contain at the very least two but generally most of, if not all of the 7 elements.

The 7 Elements of Art

Line – the linear marks made with a pen, brush, etc. or the edge created when two shapes meet.
Shape – a positive shape automatically creates a negative space
Direction – Horizontal “arrangement” suggests calmness, stability, tranquility; Vertical suggests balance, formality, alertness and Diagonal suggests movement and action
Size – the relationship of the area occupied by one shape to another
Texture – self explanatory – texture can be rough, smooth, soft, matte, glossy, etc.
Color – sometimes referred to as hue
Value – lightness or darkness of a color. Also called Tone


Now another thing that has interested me for quite some time is the whole idea of creating simplicity in any piece of art.

For me, simplicity can be complex (sounds like an oxymoron huh?) but first and foremost it makes a statement and, as I have discovered, is often the “crux” of the story that the art piece tells. Uh huh… every piece of art I do, whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a digital collage or mixed media piece has to begin with a story that has somehow formulated itself in my mind!

Art Tells a Story

The “story” can be as simple as a word, quote or saying that pops into my mind. It can be as “complex” as the character in a story I have read or an experience I have had. The point here is that without the story, I don’t seem to be able to do anything… no matter how hard I try (and believe me I have bashed my head against the wall doing THAT… LOL ) Head bashing over “what am I going to create” is a lesson for me in how to get horribly frustrated in one easy lesson!

Another piece of simplicity I figured out was that it depends on the number of different “images” in a piece. As I looked at art pieces I really liked, I discovered that they had at the most five different “images” within it (not including the background). Ah, now THAT was a challenge for me to take on. Andy Warhol and soup cans here I come!

So now, if you are still with me. LOL, let’s take a BIG LEAP and get to the creation part ,,, the “good stuff”.

The "Back Story"

Here’s the story behind how the piece of art you will see below came into being.

Susie Ferguson of Bladerubber Stamps in London England decided to run an art contest (with some fab prizes) on one of her blogs (she has a couple) with the theme “How I Spent my Vacation (Summer)". By the way, let me give her site a plug. If you’ve never visited any of Susie’s sites, do so. She has a wealth of information and tutorials on them as well as some pretty cool art and stamps.

I was pretty busy at the time and didn’t think I had the time to enter her contest. As Susie and I correspond every now and again, I told her I would think about it but deep down I knew the chances were slim given my schedule.

A couple weeks ago, Saturday night came along. Hubby and I had decided to stay put for the evening in our abode. We had plans to go to our community garden plot and then on to the beach the next day and wanted to get an early start. An early bedtime was in order.

He was going to read, maybe watch some British crime shows he likes on T.V. and just generally chill. I decided I would mess around on the computer … maybe go surfing… maybe mess with some graphics… maybe clean up my email inbox which was pretty full (I don’t like to keep anymore than 20 emails in my inbox). I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. What I did know is that I wasn’t interested in television (I rarely am!). I had just finished a book I was reading earlier in the day and didn’t feel like reading.

Clean up always makes me feel good, so I decided to tackle that first. I came across the email from Susie. I started thinking about her prompt she had posted on her blog. Out of nowhere popped a tongue twister I loved challenging myself with as a kid: “Susie sells sea shells by the seashore.” Bet some of you also had fun with that one too!

I had a little chuckle to myself as the English Prof (yep, I was one of those way back when) in me starting thinking about how this English alliteration was also an onomatopoeia. Okay, okay, I know, an explanation of these terms is probably in order LOL:

an alliteration is a literary, rhetorical style that repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of several words in close succession (in this case “s”)

an onomatopoeia (man just spelling that is a challenge GRIN) is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound it describes. Words that follow each other have the same beginning letter also qualify.

For example common animal noises (oink, meow, woof) are onomatopoeia sounds for a pig, cat and dog. Donald Duck, busy as a bee, Marilyn Monroe and the Pittsburgh Penguins are also examples of words with the same beginning letters that follow each other. Bet you didn’t know that huh? BIG FAT JUICY GRIN

In “Susie sells sea shells at the seashore”, the s, sh and z sounds are alliterative but are also evocative of the sounds you hear at the beach… the sh of wind, the “z” of waves… at least that’s how I hear them… and this is what makes the saying an onomatopoeia as well.

End of English lesson!

One thing lead to another and I started thinking about how I had spent my summer. Well, if you have followed my blog with any regularity, you will know that my favourite spot is THE BEACH! In the next instant, this picture (more or less) along with the saying I came up with merged seamlessly into one in my mind.

There is a slight correction. The saying that popped into my mind really was: A sassy seahorse saw Susie sunning at the seashore. I don’t know why I changed it to smiling. All I can tell you is that when I was finished (it took me less than an hour to do this collage, creating it spontaneously without thinking about it very much), the thought that went through my mind was the look of lust the seahorse has plastered all over its face. LOL.

Upon Closer Examination...

After the collage was put together, I looked at what I had done. I have this “thing” lately that I will only include five “elements” (read images) in a piece (excluding the background). I counted them up. Sure enough there were only five.

I automatically started examining the art “elements” (and principles) I talked about earlier. That was a first. Up until now, I had never done this consciously. It was interesting to say the least! Here are just a few discoveries I made…

How I placed the words (diagonally) definitely denoted movement and action… which I wanted.

Plunking the woman on the sand in the bottom third of the collage, told me I had been paying attention to dividing my canvas up. Placing her horizontally on the sand evoked the sense of calmness and tranquility I experience when I am at the beach. Having her toe touch the umbrella pole and the sea horse (with its lusty look) created some excitement in an otherwise “bland” scene of sand and water.

I am not so sure about what the lighthouse is “saying” or how it contributes to the overall collage for the onlooker. But every beach scene for me has to have a lighthouse! Lighthouses have a lot of emotional significance for me. The beach I go to has one… actually it is one of the oldest lighthouses in B.C. having been built in 1860. Every time I look at that lighthouse or see it as I round the corner on the road to the beach, I experience a deep sense of connection and oneness.

Both the lighthouse and the seahorse create “stoppers” for the eye in wandering off the collage into never never land. The frame does it too!

I continued looking at the collage from the perspective of what I have learned over the past months. I was surprised at how interesting it was for me to discover what makes me tick when I create art!

It was a revelation for me that just five elements could evoke such different emotions. I am usually very critical of art that I do. This time I wasn’t (and haven’t been since). That, in itself, was a welcome change. All that really matters now seems to be whether I like the finished product. If I don’t, I just set it aside. Giving it some “breathing space” is often just what it needs to complete itself… on its timetable … when its ready!

Somehow, I am being gently guided by the “art” knowledge that I have acquired over these past months. I no longer seem to have the urge to “beat myself up” or drive myself “nuts” with that critical voice that makes “snap” (but likely unfair) judgments or even entertain the thought if anyone else will like (or let’s be really honest, in some cases, approve of) it.

At least for now, I can say, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It’s the heart, the contemplation and the story at the core that really counts for me.

A Chuckle A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

I sent the collage to Susie so she would get it first thing in the morning. She has been having some health problems lately (like, don’t we all!) and I thought a good chuckle would be just the thing to cheer her up.

It did the trick. Her return email said she had laughed and got a big kick out of it. Much to my surprise, because I hadn’t been expecting it, she decided to include it in her contest entries.

If you like it, you can vote for it on her Blade Runner blog. It’s called Seahorse in the voting list. The contest closes October 17 (this coming weekend). I checked out her site this morning and there is some very wonderful art entered in the competition. Hmmm might be interesting to look at those pieces through the eyes of elements and principles to see what else I can discover!

So I have rambled enough for one day with these musings! I sincerely hope that you have found it interesting and worthwhile reading material.

Back to re-arranging my art room… a job I have been at for darn near a week but oh my it’s worth it! I like my space much better. I have discovered some wonderful surprises of stuff in my stashes I forgot I had. Now that everything is together and slowly but surely getting sorted, I am amazed at the sheer volume of stuff I have amassed over the past couple of years.

I can literally feel the fresh air being breathed into my creativity with this cleaning up and clearing out. It will be interesting for me to see what I create next!


A Halloween "Twinchie Art" Tale

Last week, after making my first twinchies (and thanks to Debbie House, group mom of Inchies 1 x 1 for giving me the "how to" instructions because I didn't have a clue starting out), I woke up in the middle of the night wondering if any of my artist buddies in the group where I hang out the most. The Latest Trends in Mixed Media had ever made twinchies. Well I asked and one thing led to another and the Halloween Twinchie Challenge Lottery was born.

The initial challenge for this lottery was to make 31 Twinchies (either digital or handmade) and mount them on a backing board. On Halloween, one name from all those who sign up and play will be drawn. They will be declared the winner of all 31 Twinchies! Imagine what a cool collage could be made with that many twinchies!

The enthusiasm for this challenge was contagious. Artists started loading up their "twinchies" to the designated photo album before the day was out! Some couldn't stop at just one or two and loaded four, five and even more! They caught the Twinchie bug and now have "Twinchie-itis". Literally overnight, 31 twinchies were uploaded to our group photo album by these Twinchie-ites! LOL More artists wanted to play so it has been decided that now we will go for 62 twinchies and draw two names ... one for each lot of 31 twinchies!

I am absolutely blown away by the fun and creativity they are displaying with this challenge! Never in my wildest dreams had I anticipated such an outpouring of art in such a short period of time. And the art being uploaded... well it is something else indeed! You have to see it to believe it... it is absolutely fantastic. And that's when the idea of writing a short story that tells a small Halloween tale through their art popped into my head in the wee small hours of the morning...

An Artsy Fartsy Hallowe'en Tale
Once upon a time there were two witches. Sisters they were. Twins in fact.

Art by Marilyn Goodman

They lived in an old, eerie mansion called Immortality
with resident ghosts from Hallowe'en Past and spider
webs draped decoratively about in every room

Art by Cindy Powell

The mansion is situated on
the wrong side of the tracks
in a secret hideaway place
in a small town
near YOU!

Now some people say

Art by Linda Gibbons

to spook all the misbehaving children and grownups in town.

Anybody of any importance knows that the sisters Grim have

Art by Peggy Gato

in the basement with the pickles and hiding
behind the secret trap doors in all the closets.

Now, if you should accidently walk by the mansion on dark, rainy October nights, you can hear them rattling their chains when the ghosts come out to wander about the dusty, spider webbed rooms and haunt the dark, foreboding stairwells of the mansion. You will know you have discovered this secret hideaway place because the hair on your neck will stand straight right up and your body will shiver with goosebumps!

Art by Cindy Powell

Listen carefully as you are out for your evening stroll.
Owls hoot eerie warnings should a stranger get
too close to secret hideaways.

Art by Cynthia (Cyn) Stenquist

Everyone knows that those same owls hoot the daily news, events
and happenings to those creatures of the night responsible for planning
frightful acts of wickedness towards those humans who lie, cheat or steal.

Art by Linda Gibbons

Sometimes walking down a dark alley in town,
a ghost will jump out into your path and yell

Art by Gale Heritage

It's just their way of having fun when they
are bored. In September and October they are
probably getting some practice in for Hallowe-en night.

But I can tell you for certain...
many a matrons hair in town has turned
white overnight from the ghastly fright.

This year, the sisters Grim noticed that the Witch industry was having a difficult time hiring properly trained witches with the right witchy credentials. Well, they certainly could not have THAT. It would ruin all witches reputations. They decided this was the perfect time to recruit some new witch trainees and teach them how to be proper witches. To attract new customers, they put this ad in their local paper.

Art by Sharon House

The ad was very successful. Applications poured in by the droves for Witchcraft 101. The sisters Grim picked 10 lucky applicants, who each received a magic flying broom, personalized with their witchy name, on their first day of classes.

Flight training began in earnest a few weeks ago. Each night since, the sisters Grim have a cackle session in their living room. They close all the curtains, light a candle and sitting in a shadowy room, laugh until they piddle in their witchy britches about the hilarious take off and landing attempts of the new trainees in flight training! The sisters Grim have had to make extra batches of "Airhead" salve for the trainees to put on their bruises and scrapes.

Making magical brews, cures and potions and instructions on how to properly stir the cauldron while reciting secret spells began this week. The course, Magic 101, will begin next week. Lessons in brewing poisons to administer to nasty folks who cross their path will begin the week after next. How to boil and season bad little children and misbehaving adults will be covered as well before the annual bewitching day arrives! The Grim sisters are determined that these new witches will be well prepared to deal with anything that crosses their path.

Art by Lynn Stevens

Art by Bevlea Ross

At the end of their training, just in time for Halloween this year,
each witch will receive this special appointment diploma and
be invited to join "The United Witches Union"

Art by Lynn Stevens

So this October 31

Art by Carolyn Summer

Give generously of candy to all those who come to your doorway on Halloween night. Be kind, generous and giving to all those you meet this month. If you don't, you'll be sorry. The witches, goblins, ghosts, hissing cats, hooting owls, et cetera will be out in force to GET YOU.

Trick or Treat?

Art by Linda Gibbons

You decide.


Thanks to all the member artists in The Latest Trends in Mixed Media Art group who are participating in this fun lottery. They graciously gave me permission to showcase their "twinchie" art as part of this Halloween story!

Hope you have enjoyed this small sampling of "tasty" Halloween Twinchie Art. Drop by the Latest Trends to see more and/or participate in the lottery by joining the group.

If you are looking for an information rich art group to join, I can highly recommend the Latest Trends. I've been a member since 2007 when it first began and have watched it grow to over 900 members in just two years. And here's why... members enjoy all the free workshops, swaps, monthly art techniques and more offered in a warm, supportive, encouraging and friendly atmosphere. Cindy Powell, our group "mom", author, designer and "artist extraordinaire" does a fantastic job of entertaining us each month with a myriad of wonderful *FREE* workshops and projects (many of which are hosted by our generous fellow members) to strengthen our creative muscles and help us improve our art.

Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for stopping by.


P.S. Story lovers, I am a bit behind in getting this months' story recorded but a Victorian Ghost story, in keeping with the "season", should be up by the weekend.