Saturday, January 27, 2024

It's All About the Story

 Sometime simple is the best way to tell a story and, let's face it, all art tells a story. I just finished a big painting and had just enough time to do a small piece before I took off on vacation.


Creative Paperclay®
Waterslide Decal
Rust Metal Object
Fake Flower
Hand cut paper

I started by collaging old book pages with aged edges on my panel. Then I cast a man with Creative Paperclay®, letting it dry on the panel. Next, I gather collage elements and added the waterslide decal wings to the piece.

I wanted this piece to be about balance so the rusty metal ring was added.

After adding more collage details, I finished off the sides with a diamond pattern. This way it doesn't need to be framed.  I love doing these small simple pieces as it keeps me flexible and I never where it will lead me on my large pieces of art.

Dream in Color!

Darlene Olivia McElroy

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Their Love Blossomed


Time to celebrate with a gift for friends in love. For some reason I kept changing my mind about color, theme, etc. But I want you to know that it is just fine to do that and the art may come out better. Working on this art project has given me ideas for future projects. So, I have a lot to look forward to.

Creative Paperclay® 
Acrylic Paints
Hand cut gold paper
Wood panel

I started by rolling the clay out flat on a wood panel. I then used a ruler to make tile shapes. I am not a perfection kind of girl so my tiles aren't perfect but I like it. I always look for that happy accident.

Next, I stamped and made marks in the clay. Originally, I was going to put a star burst in the middle but that changed as my "story" changed. It was originally for a family member that just had a baby but then I found out about an upcoming wedding.

The background was painted multiple times as the colors never seemed righ. My color changes ranged from warm to cool and then I added a touch of gold leaf and a dark wash. I was open to color changes until the very end.

The next step was to roll out a sheet of clay, stamp it with my heart stamps then trim the heart shapes from the clay. After it was dry, the edges were sanded.

The hearts were painted with red acrylic paint then a deep red acrylic wash was applied after the first color dried. This color sank into the low points of the clay and showed off the detail of the stamps. One of the hearts is raised from the surface with a small block of wood, giving it depth.

It was missing some "pop" so I added some metallic gold paper that was hand cut and glued down a faux diamond ring I found in my box of old jewelry parts. These really completed the story and made it special.

Remember, changes are always OK to make.

Dream in Color!

Darlene Olivia McElroy

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Odds & Ends Add "POP"

I love adding a bit dimensional pop to my collage paintings and what better to it with than Creative Paperclay®. Because of the diversity of uses for the clay, I can can get different looks depending on whether I am using a slurry, stamp into the clay or shape it with a silicone mold. 

With so many old paintings laying around, I have access to paintings that I can update with techniques I may not have known when I originally created them.


Creative Paperclay®
Acrylic paint including gold
Alphabet & floral stamps
Silicone mold
Substrate (old painting used here)

You can make a slurry from all the small dried up pieces of Creative Paperclay®. I prefer to grind it into very fine pieces then add some color and a touch of acrylic medium. It makes a texture with a fine grit.
I added the slurry to an old painting of mine. One edge was taped so I could get a straight line when the tape was pulled off. Lines were added with the edge of my ruler.
The slurry color was changed to have more of a blue tint and stamped. When it dried, an umber wash was applied to the slurry. Because it was a wash the color stayed in the stamped areas more.
The top bar of clay has been stamped into with alphabet stamps, allowed to dry then sealed with polymer medium.

When the medium has dried, paint with a burnt umber paint, let dry and then rub gold paint on it with your finger so it just picks up the high areas.
Clay was applied to a silicone mold then allowed to dry thoroughly before removing it. The same technique above is used to color this and add the gold highlights.

And the painting continues.

Dream in Color!

Darlene Olivia McElroy

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Making Molds and Milagros

I love to add dimensional details to my art with Creative Paperclay®. These little items are the sweet part of my paintings that add POP to the piece like the heart in this piece of art.

This lesson shows how to make a mold with Creative Paperclay® and then use the clay to make multiples. You get two tricks for the price of one


Milagros or dimensional objects
Creative Paperclay®
PAM no-stick cooking spray or talcum powder
Polymer Medium
Black acrylic paint
Krylon's foil metallic spray (in silver)

After rolling out the clay, I impress a vintage milagro into the clay before letting it dry. When dry, I seal it with polymer medium to seal the surface.

To use this as a mold, I either spray PAM on it as a mold release or apply talcum powder to it. Then I apply my clay to the mold and pull it out immediately.

The cast object is cleaned up with an exacto knife and edges are smoothed with water.

I am a happy accident kind of person so when this heart came out of the mold with a crack through the center, I was thrilled. This will go into a piece about a broken heart.

I use sandpaper or Sand-Its to clean up the edges. Sometimes, I like a raw, aged look.

Now it's time to paint. For my milagros, I spray Krylon's silver foil metallic spray paint. When that has dried, I apply a black acrylic paint that I wipe off while wet. This sticks in the crevices and gives it an aged look.

Of, course, Creative Paperclay® can be painted any color, gold leafed and more.

Dream in Color!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Can we be Friends?

 If you don't like clowns, turn back now!

I had the opportunity to submit art for a Stephen King project in a local gallery.  I have loved Stephen King novels for years, much more than the movies.  I decided to use the image of one of his craziest characters and mix it with a one of his sweetest characters.  

If you are not a fan of clowns, especially Pennywise, click away and I'll be posting another cuter Halloween project soon.  

It all started with the idea of a sculpture, but I wanted it to hang on the gallery walls.  So I joined the sculpture with the canvas and I really enjoyed the process.  

1. cutting cardboard in the shape and size of the sculpture and making sure it fits within the size of the canvas

I layed tracing paper on the cardboard so I could draw out where the hands would be holding the paper boat.  

Originally I was going to have the boat covering some of the face.  That idea changed a lot.

building up the armatures for arms and face by using wire and masking tape.  

Putting on the first layers of Creative Paperclay

I downloaded some photos of gloves and started creating the hands.  


Here I'm playing with the size of the boat and making a hood for the raincoat he'll be wearing.  

I lost so many of my face sculpting photos.  I have to say I was getting frustrated with him.  

This face went through so many changes.  I made the eyes by using molds and resin.  They turned out pretty creepy and seem to follow you around.

Silly clown shoes coming up

Added some waxed thread to create the shoe laces.  

creepy eyes


The hardest part is waiting for the paint to dry so I could add the textiles and put him all together.

Wanna be friends?

Starting to add the lace of the clown suit and then creating the raincoat out of a plastic table cloth.  

This video is a quick slide show of the process.  Unfortunately I lost all my still photos.  

Materials that I used:
18" X 46" Canvas
Large piece of cardboard
masking tape
Heavy wire for armature
Creative Paperclay ( 2 large bricks)
acrylic paints
eyes / or create your own resin eyes or paint your eyes in.
card stock for the boat
Lace for collar, pant and wrist ruffles
yellow plastic party table cloth
red balloon
red ribbon
red hair or yarn
waxed thread for shoe laces

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Making Faces!

I love people and painting them. This is my first attempt at a dimensional character and it was enjoyable experimenting and adding the humor in creating this piece. And, what a great way to gift your friends with a crazy portrait of themselves.

Creative Paperclay®
Acrylic paint
Chartpak colorless blender
Laser print

I started by laying Creative Paperclay® into my basic shape on a panel I had laying around the studio. I could have smoothed it out with a little water but I wanted it be remain clay-like. It was left to dry overnight.

Wet clay was added to the dry clay shape to give dimension to my character and texture was added to the bow tie and eye. When this was dry, I applied gesso to my character. This sealed the clay and prepared it for painting.

I always sit with a piece before I decide if it is finished or not. After painting it with acrylics, I felt it needed more elements to tell the story of this crazy guy.

I brought out Delight® and rolled out a thin sheet. Next, came a laser print and a Chartpak colorless marker so that I could make an image transfer. The laser print was placed face down and the blender was applied to the back of the print several times. This was then cut into a shape and added to the painting. I have shown this to you previously but it is my latest favorite technique.

Here is the finished piece, Flowery Words. You never know what you will discover when you experiments with your art tools.

Dream in Color!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

I love image transfers so much that I wrote a book about them. The texture and whiteness of Delight® is the perfect substrate to use a colorless blender pen and toner image transfer on.

Colorless Blender Pen
Substrate (masonite panel shown here)
Scissors & mark making tools
Polymer medium
Toner Image

After rolling the Delight® into a thin sheet, I placed the toner image face down. The image will be in reverse which was fine with me. I then applying the colorless blender pen on the back of the toner image. As I did this, the image starts to appear on the back of the paper. Lift the paper to see how well it is transferring. If it looks light, apply the blender pen some more. Save the toner image to put in a collage. Nothing goes to waste in my world.

After cutting my transfer into a loose shape, I added curtains to give the feel of a stage and used my tracing wheel to add texture to them. To make sure that the Delight® adhered tightly to the background, the surface was coated with polymer medium before laying down the pieces. I love the opera so I am naming this Sweetheart of the Opera.

After painting the piece, dimensional letters were added. What else can you do with this technique besides using it in art? Gift tags, holiday banners, etc.

For other transfer techniques, see

Dream in Color!

Darlene Olivia McElroy