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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Playing With Texture

To take a little break and a stretch, I decided to work differently than I usually do. So I began by creating a background I couldn't possibly do fine detailed work on! I gesso'd a 1/4" hardboard panel then added a mish-mash of various gels and mediums to create my painting surface. I used fiber paste, soft gel, and coarse paste. I would have used crackle medium also, but was dismayed to find my jar had dried up!

The next step was to draw the crow with pencil. I liked it at that stage, but needed to proceed! So I added some opaque acylic all over the background - a neutral gray, blue gray, gray green, and raw Sienna. But I quickly used baby wipes to both push the paint into the texture but also wipe much of it from the surface.

Then I turned to the crow, adding more pencil work first. Then I coated her with Anthraquinone blue. Of course it would turn out quite uneven, given the surface. But that was OK - it had to be! Then I added several washes of black over the blue.

It seemed pretty dull, so I added washes of transparent color over parts of the background - Phthalo Green, Sap Green, Quinacridone Magenta, and Manganese Blue.

Finally, I picked up my micron pen and added some lines over the crow and bunched of squigglies around her and around the edge of the moon. Well, actually, that wasn't quite the last step. I got out my acrylic paint pens and made some dots - black at the end of some squiggles, and turquoise and pink randomly.

I think this would make a nice card.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Aunt Audrey the Badger

I wanted to do some needle-felting, so I chose to make one of the characters from my book, Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor. I was aiming for Gwen, the young badger who likes wearing girly dresses. But when I finished the felting I realized I needed to re-group.

To wear a dress, Gwen would be standing up, but when I stood her on her hind feet I didn't see how I could possibly make a dress for that body! Her body is so thick, her neck is nearly as thick as her body, and her upper arms are quite thick as well. So, what to do?

I finally decided to make her Gwen's mum, Audrey, and to give her a simple costume of a decorated shawl.

Roxanne, a raccoon and another character from the book, made the shawl for her from items she's collected from the manor house trash heap. She used fabric from a discarded blouse, and decorated the garment with a selection of her button collection and a very special ribbon rose.

Audrey is very proud to wear this wonderful creation!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Making Blank Books

Every once in a while I get the urge to make little books, and this group is the result of my most recent urge. They're very simple because there's no drawing or painting, just simple collage. I used pieces of scrapbook paper for the backgrounds, then just added a few elements, such as scraps of paper, metal stampings, a ribbon rose, and buttons.

They were fun and simple to do and I think turned out pretty nice. The front and back covers are glued onto a piece of denim. Leaving a 1/2" gap between the covers leaves a "spine" of denim to which I sew the signatures. The signatures are groups of pages from simple copy paper.

A piece of ribbon glued onto the inside of the back cover makes a built-in bookmark, and I used buttons and twisted cords of embroidery thread for the closures.

I was so inspired that I've decided to work on a book about making books! Stay posted!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A White Cat

I used one of my favorite techniques on this piece - collage background with painted subject.

As I scan through old magazines and catalogs looking for collage elements a color palette begins to form. In this case, I was taken by photos of some blue and white ceramics as well as a bouquet of white hydrangeas.

Once I had my collage elements selected, I applied them to an 8" x 10" board to which I had previously applied two coats of gesso. I use Liquitex matt medium as an adhesive. One of my most critical tools for collage is - surprisingly - an old magazine or catalog that I won't be using for collage elements. Here's how I use it:

To get a smooth application of the paper pieces, I apply a coat of slightly thinned medium to the board, then lay the piece I'm going to collage upside down on the catalog and apply a slightly thinned coat of medium to the back side. I brush it in really good so that the paper becomes saturated, then I can flip it over and lay it in place. I brush more matt medium over the collage element, brushing from the center outwards to force out any air bubbles trapped underneath it. (But be careful to not brush so hard that you tear the paper - tissue paper is particularly susceptible to tearing.) Brushing the back of the collage element with the medium is important because the moisture stretches the paper. That way, it won't wrinkle on you!

Sometimes I apply multiple layers of collage, letting each dry before adding the next. Sometimes I add transparent washes, or a thin coat of gesso. These paint or gesso layers somewhat obscure the images in the collage elements, and also unifies them. That done, I may want to "bring back" parts of the images as I did in this piece with the hydrangea blossoms. I accomplished this by side-loading a wide flat brush with white and redefining the edges of some of the petals.

I also enjoy embellishing the collage background with painted elements using acrylics. Examples are the leaves and linear spirals.

Finally, I'm ready for the subject. I draw the outline then paint within it with gesso. This will hide the background behind the subject. Very often, I'll need to use two coats. After it's dry, I'm ready to paint my subject. This one is painted more loosely than I usually do, and I like it!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Offerings for Sobek - An Exercise in Perseverance

I've been watching two Great Courses by Bob Brier lately. One is the history of ancient Egypt and the other is about hieroglyphs. I'm sad and ashamed to say that I put the hieroglyph one aside for a while because I just didn't make time for the homework, but I truly hope to get back to it soon.

Anyway, I've always greatly admired ancient Egyptian art, and I especially like the crocodiles! So I decided to do a painting of a crocodile taking offerings to Sobek, the god of crocodiles, the Nile, and fertility.  Actually, the bird is not part of the offering, but he too is going to give offerings.

Now that it's complete, I like this painting. But the process was grueling. Up until the very end I had strong negative feelings about what I was creating - except for the idea. By the way, this is acrylic on gesso board, 12" x 16". I started directly on the board with only the idea of what I wanted to do.

I worked on it for six sessions, 2 to 3 hours each, and at the end of each session - except the last - I was tempted to just give up. But, telling myself there's always something to learn, I just kept going. Every morning when I got up I'd look at the painting, hoping it wasn't as bad as I thought. But it always - once again, except at the end - was every bit as bad as I thought and maybe even worse.

But in the end, I pulled it off! The trick was to keep going, keep adding detail, keep adding contrast, keep darkening the sky. And in the end, I think it worked.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Repurposing Never Gets Old

I made this little polymer clay bear totem probably seven or eight years ago. For a while it sat around waiting for me to post it in my Etsy shop, then I decided I wanted to keep her. She has a little tassel of carnelian, citrine, and a tiny dragonfly charm. You can barely see it hanging down the far side of the stone at the bear's feet. She's raising her hand in blessing.

The jar is from a Yankee Candle. I just can't bring myself to throw these wonderful containers away, and now I've repurposed it.

I finished the lid with TENseconds Studio's VERday kit paints and patina. I chose the bronze. The paints are emulsions of finely ground metals. You apply a coat and let it dry. Then you apply a second coat and while it's still wet spray it with the patina. The patina reacts with the metal in the paint and gives a really nice look of aged metal.

After finishing the lid, I glued my totem on with E6000 glue and I now have a container for personal sized soaps. So fun! And it was nice to finally find a use for my little bear.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rough Stuff

These weekly "just for fun" paintings seem to go better if I think of what I'm going to do sometime during the week. But with this one, I just decided as I walked into the studio. Then, rather that use the board I had prepared, I remembered this one that had already undergone two rehashes, resulting in an extremely rough texture. It's heavy gesso over crumpled rice paper - totally unknown to me!

I quickly sketched the raccoon then, on an impulse, decided to work the background with Gelatos. These are creamy water soluble sticks by Faber-Castell and they're fun to work with, but be prepared to work loose! I applied them to the upper part, then sprayed it with water. The lower ones are on the dry surface so haven't blended. Once they're wet, you can move them around with a brush or sponge.

Here I am further along with the background and - BOLDLY - I decided to work on the raccoon a bit. Looks like a zombie, doesn't she? That's what no eyes will do for you!

But I persevered. After I finished with the Gelators, I shifted to ink pen and acrylic. Just kept working it until I was happy. I drew the outlines of the leaves with ink pen then filled them with diluted acrylic.

Amazingly, the only frustration I had with this was the whiskers. I am still searching for a fine truly opaque white pen for whiskers!

I think I'll prepare more wildly textured boards and do some more pieces like this. It was fun!