How Will You Challenge Yourself?

The interwebs are full of personal challenges to grow as an artist, writer, linguist, whatever. Many of my friends work hard on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Several of my online friends participated in National Non-stop Journaling Month(NaNoJoMo) back in November. Some of them (you know who you are) are still working on the prompt list. I try to participate in Illustration Friday and the Every Day Matters challenges.

I just found this set of challenges from 2007:

With a brand new year coming in less than a week, in what ways are you going to challenge yourself to grow? If you were to make a list of challenges what would be on it?

What have I been up to?

Wholly goodness there have been tons going on here at The Artistic Biker!  I’ve been posting art journal and video blogs on YouTube.  I’ve been building some online workshops over at Artjournaling.ning, leading art journal discussions at Artist’s Daily and Wet Canvas, and hosting a live broadcast weekly at U-Stream!  I have been sharing all of the cool art/music/creative stuff that I come across on my FaceBook Fan page, and I have been tweeting A LOT on Twitter!  I have also been accepting commissions for portraits, which I will be posting here as works in progress. I am in the middle of several personal growth challenges including the Everyday matters Challenge and my own personal 100 Days* challenge.   Not to mention my Flickr account also! Throw in a day job, a four year old that I adore, two teenagers that I’m trying to hang on to, a pregnant wife that I can’t seem to stop kissing and an eternal curiosity with gadgetry and you can see I have been busy as a … well, I’ve been really busy.

And it’s only going to get better, people!  In January I will start teaching evening classes at our local technical school.  I have multiple products poised to launch for sale in the catalog, and I will have video classes for sale that are already in production!  Whew, that’s a lot to keep up with.

So how can you, dear reader, expect to keep up when I barely can?  How about a newsletter!  I’m starting a brand new shiny newsletter because I didn’t think I had enough to do and I want you to be able to follow it all.  Simply fill out the form below and you’ll be able to follow all of The Artistic Biker antics.

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Art Journal Winter Wonderland Part Deaux

winterYou may recall that last week I painted an outdoor winter scene.  There was a cold snowy storm on the left hand side and a warm glow through the window of a house on the right hand side.  I love the view of winter like this, but I love it mostly through a picture window curled up on the couch with a frie… good book and a cup of hot chocolate (or irish coffee).  So this week I decided to bring that scene indoors.

winterdeaux1I started by separating some two-ply tissue paper and cutting it to fit the window.  I laid the pieces on a piece of wax paper and used white glue to make lace dots for curtains.  I did this first because I knew this would be one of the things that took the most time to dry.  Once I had all the dots in place I set it aside and began prepping the page in the journal.

winterdeaux2Using my X-acto knife and a phone book to protect the other pages, I carefully cut out the glass windows.  This was the hardest part of this whole project for me because I’ve always been told not to damage books in anyway.  I just have to keep telling myself over and over this is not a book.  After cutting the windows out, I used wax paper and masking tape to create a see through window for the page.  Swabbing mineral spirits in circles into the panes give it a frosted look to complete the winter window scene.

winterdeaux3Using the same background technique as last week, I rub in warm yellow and red on the fireplace side of the room and cool blue around the window.  This sets the overall temperature of the whole piece as well as provides lighting direction for the additional elements.  As I mixed paints for the floor, window sash, mantle, etc, I used this background as a guide for adding blue or yellow to control the lighting.  This ALSO has the added benefit of spotlighting the brightest thing in the room, the fireplace.

winterdeaux4Using the room background as a guide, I began spray painting my elements.  For instance in the couch shown, I first highlight the paper with yellow from the fire side, blue from the window side, black from the darkest corner of the floor and red for the glow on the upper right.  Then, when I added the green, the upholstery has a texture to it because it has captured light from multiple angles.

winteriiI drew in a wallpaper background, hung some photos on the wall, added the curtains and black spray paint for shadows and WALLAH!  This was a lot of fun.  I hope some of you try it as well.  If you do, please send me pictures of it, post about it here, or better yet, film it and post it as a video response on YouTube!

Art Journal Winter Wonderland

winterwonderlandWe finally had our first snow of the season this week!  I went outside to warm up my car and it was snowing.  I put the dog on the back porch, put on my coveralls and coat, and went back outside to see that it was all gone.  The snow lasted all of ten minutes.  However, it made me feel a little more seasonal so I thought I’d do another winter scene.

winter1I started by loosely sketching in the house and the winter scenery.  I don’t much go for photo realism in my works so I always try to keep a loose hand when working with my pencils or my brushes.  I find it gives my work a more vibrant feel.

winter2Using a shaped mask, I lay in undertones of blue and yellow to set the temperature of the scene.  I use my acrylics mixed with water in a spray bottle to lightly spray the entire page, then I wipe the paint off with a clean towel.

winter3This allows the colors to change the tone of my paper while not intruding into the painting.  The paints I lay over this will have a cooler or warmer feel to them as well as a more luminescent spotlight effect.

winter4I always start with the largest brushes first and work my way down to the smaller ones.  That way I can save the “neat” parts for last and maintain interest throughout the painting.  It also ensures that the details don’t get overwhelmed by washes of color.

You can see the whole process on YouTube or just watch it in the embedded player below:

Art Journal Fairy Princess

ATT00004This week, I continued playing around with my spray bottle backgrounds, and using spray paints and junk mail to make paper dolls and cutouts for my journal.  I like the crisp definition a cutout brings to the image.  I also like the 3-D pop-out effects like with the flower.  I want to experiment more with pop-ups.  I would like to try my hand at a dinosaur or dragon.  For now, I’m just playing around with flaps.

ATT00007As you can see, in this entry a fairy princess is hiding inside a flower. This gives me all sorts of ideas for spring entries or even a painting or two.  For now, however, I am content to continue working in my journal and creating youtube videos.

ATT00001I bought another webcam and downloaded software that lets me film Picture-in-Picture!  I will have to work on a better way to mount the cameras, though.  For now, they are hanging by wire hangers and guitar strings.  I will continue to make improvements to my video studio because that is the area that I’m most interested in right now.  I would like to create and sell a series of How To videos based on the classes I am teaching at the local trade school.  I will probably have the first of those online after the first of the year.  In the meantime, I will continue to learn this new medium!  You can see the video of this week’s journal entry at or watch it in the embedded viewer below: