Thursday, November 9, 2017

Forest Guides

After doing the collage with the young woman and ermine both wearing fascinators, I found that I enjoyed drawing people - something new for me.  So I decided to do a series of three such pieces, each with a young woman and an animal.  For this one, I chose a rabbit and wanted to make the woman a red head in a very green setting, suggestive of Ireland.  After completing theawings separately, I began the collage.

I had a beautiful magazine page with a mystical looking landscape and decided to use it as the first layer in the upper background.  As I always do, in an effort to avoid wrinkle when gluing coated papers such as magazine pages, I dampened both the front and back of the page before gluing it down.  But despite my careful preparation, it began wrinkling anyway so I kept smoothing it out with a brush.  I was completely focused on the wrinkle and missed the fact that the ink was beginning to smear, leaving the image that I liked so much largely obscured.  The lesson I learned was to spray these images with workable fixative before glueing them down.

I was discouraged, but continued with the first few layers of the collage. 

At this point I decided that her right eye looked wrong and tried to fix it.  In the process I pretty much messed it up.  I nearly threw the piece away.  I can't remember ever doing that before.  But I decided that I wouldn't learn anything that way and determined to finish it and hope for the best.

Next I began to apply color.  One of my priorities was to eliminate the white halo around the rabbit ears.  This halo is a result of tearing out the rabbit drawing then gluing it against the dark background.  I also added more collage elements to soften the bottom edge of the drawing of the woman.

At this stage I really didn't like the piece and once more almost threw it away.  I also thought that I probably should give up on drawing people and stick to animals.  I also didn't like her looking straight ahead at the viewer - it felt sort of creepy.

Nonetheless, I pushed ahead.  I decided to push the characters back and add an element to compete with them visually, namely the collaged leaf spray in front of her.  I deepened the color in her hair and stenciled a few leaves over the top of her head.  Basically, I just kept fooling with it and added more color washes, widening the color range of the background.  I was also careful to add a few subtle areas of Burnt Sienna washes to repeat the color of her hair elsewhere in the piece.

I added a few bronze paint spirals - the beginning of the final decorations which are my favorite part of the collage process.

I decided to add something of interest at her forehead and, since this piece is supposed to suggest Ireland with all the greens, the red hair, and the rabbit, I decided on a Celtic knot.  I drew the knot on a piece of tracing paper then inked the lines and painted it with gold and bronze metallic paints.  I carefully ripped the motif out of the piece of tracing paper and glued it in place.  I was expecting to see a bit of the edges of the tracing paper as a translucent blur but, surprisingly, the tracing paper completely disappeared.  

By the way, I've had trouble in the past with tracing paper wrinkling when glued, so I brushed it with water first.  After dampening the front side, it spontaneously transformed into a tight roll.  I unrolled it and dampened the back at which point it flattened out and I could glue it down.

I got the vintage green glass jewel from the Etsy shop Yummy Treasures.  I originally was going to glue it in the center of the Celtic knot but then decided to place it where you see it.  I added more little decorations including the shards of foil (from various types of chocolates) and then was done.

In the end, I'm pretty happy with it and am glad I kept going.  But I still wish I had chosen a less startling pose for her.  Next time...

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Finished Crocodile Piece

To finish the piece I detailed the birds, strengthened the colors in parts of the reeds, added the foil stars and smaller bits of foil around the crocodiles, brightened behind the heron, added gold touches including the gold starts in the sky, and placed the inscription at the bottom left.  The inscription is supposed to mean "rain over the river."

I'm quite attached to this piece but can't fully explain why.  I like the mood, but there's more to it than that.  Something mysterious.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Putting it Together

I glued the three pieces - the two crocodile strips and the larger piece with the heron - together.  This was not easy because the paper was pretty heavy (Strathmore Mixed Media paper) and a bit warped.  The moisture of the glue (I used Liquitex Matte Gel Medium) also warped the paper a bit.  I had to keep pressing the three pieces together with my fingers for quite a while until the adhesive took hold.

At that point, I had a pretty wavy and warped piece.  So I spread a towel on my kitchen counter and laid the piece upside down on the towel.  I sprayed the back with water and covered it with a few layers of paper towels.  Then I topped the whole thing off with heavy books and let it dry overnight.  In the morning, it was flat!

Then I began the painting.  I wanted a dark stormy sky and used opaque paint, using a couple of slightly different colors, and a couple of graduated layers, one over the other.  I blotted the second layer with a damp paper towel for an uneven look.

The most fun part of this painting was the reeds.  It was exacting work with a liner brush.  I used photos of ancient Egyptian tomb paintings for inspiration, but added my own touches.

I realized I needed something more, so I painted (Daler Rowney acrylic ink dropped on a shape painted with cleear water)  the two birds on a separate piece of paper.  I tore out the duck and glued it in place.  I usually prefer tearing to cutting, but I cut out other bird because I wanted to preserve all the background around it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Inspired by Crocodiles

I was watching a TV show about ancient Egypt and one of the visited sites was Seti I's tomb.  There was the most beautiful painting of a crocodile.  That inspired me.  So, using Tracy Verdugo's method of dropping acrylic ink into a shape painted with clear water, I painted three crocodiles. 

A page in a magazine about travel had a wonderful photo of a storm approaching over palm trees.  That gave me the theme of a storm approaching over the ancient Nile.  I researched several more tomb paintings, then painted this heron, again ink dropped into a wet shape..

I painted all three crocs on one sheet of Strathmore Mixed Media paper, then ripped them out, into strips.  The heron I painted on a full11" x 14" sheet.  After fiddling a bit with the composition, I decided to only use two of the crocodiles.  I glued the pieces together and let it dry over-night, ready for the next step in whatever might emerge.

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Mixed Media Class

 Earlier this month I taught a mixed media class in conjunction with our local art association's annual juried show.  I taught a method, but each student worked on her own project.  This was mine.

During the first session I worked on the background and glued down the drawings.  In preparation for the second session, I had torn out some magazine and catalog pages and had them sitting on the left side of the piece, ready to go, when I somehow managed to tip over my Diet Pepsi onto the piece.  I wiped it up, or so I thought.  But when I got to class and went to lift the torn pages, I discovered that the Diet Pepsi had partially "glued" the pages to the piece - right over my drawing of this sweet ermine.  I was so upset!  I didn't know what to do about it.  I used a wet paper towel to try to wipe away the transferred ink, but it began to lift portions of the drawing, so I stopped immediately.  Not knowing what else to try, I decided to just go ahead and work on other parts of the piece.

In the end, I touched up the ermine's eyes, and left the rest of the damage alone.  And I'm OK with it.

So, I learned two lessons.  Protect my piece - no spillables near the piece.  And, two, in mixed media, at least, go with serendipity!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Then Another

It seemed like a good idea to paint another frog.  When I was doing the first one, I didn't particularly like it - at least until I cropped it.  But now I like it more than this one!  Just couldn't resist the gold crown above this little prince.

As I look at it now, I think I'll go back in tomorrow and add two more large blue flowers.  One just doesn't seem enough.

I really like the greens I used.  Wish I had kept track of what they were/  But I think the primary one is Viridian.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

And Most Recently, a Frog

Next I did a frog.  But this time the florals were different.  I tried to depict water hyacinths.  Both the flowers and the leaves are larger than in the other pieces I've done.  Because they were larger, they were harder for me to paint in watercolor.  But the frog was hardest of all.  This required layering.  I don't have much watercolor experience, so I'm always concerned about lifting previous layers, but it turned out OK.  

I started this as an 8" x 8" piece, but wasn't satisfied with the composition, so I cropped it.  The only problem with that is that I'll have to hand cut a custom size mat.

I especially like the colors.