My friend Ruth Inman gave us another challenge this week. It was to use text as a background for a piece of art. She offered some pieces of text to use, but I wanted to do my own. I used some stencils that I just got last week and went over the letters in waterproof ink.
I got my acrylic paints and an old credit card and scraped some color over the words.
One thing I really like about art, and the artistic process, is that you learn as you go along. If something isn’t right, you work on it until it is. In this case, the pink made it even more Spring-y, but was way too intense. The letters were fighting with the colors! Help!
Auntie Bridgett suggested I put some white outlines around the letters, which helped a bit, but not enough. So I darkened the letters with some watercolor pencil and lightened the red bits up with tiny dots of Posca marker. It was better!
I still need to work on getting my stencils letters straight, but that will come with practice.
It has been a fun, happy, busy weekend! I made a stencil I really like to use in my Art Journal. So far I haven’t finished with it yet, but it is showing promise.
I also started whacking away at the two dozen or so blogs I have written about our wonderful, historic Lone Fir Cemetery. I started simply copying them, then realized that with just a little tweaking, there is a story there about Portland’s history that could be worth telling. I am currently paddling in some very deep water, and enjoying it very much.
There was also a delightful surprise purchase from Jehnee Rains, who runs Suzette, our nearby Creperie. Since she has has greatly reduced business for the ten months of quarantine, she is selling a lot of her catering supplies to raise a bit of cash and simplify her life. Auntie Bridgett saw some ‘bee’ themed bottles she wanted, and I saw cookie cutters, so we threw on clothes some and walked over.
I now have these great beauties to play with, and the cookie dough mixed for delivery to Auntie Katie and the cousins.
I also found a map of Portland I was sewing on last winter and ran out of inspiration for, which is looking more promising now.
I feel like I’m gunning my engine at the starting line, and can’t decide which race track to run first. I need to take a breath and focus…. or not. I’m sure it will all work out.
There is nothing like art to change your world. I don’t necessarily mean it changes the world on the outside, although that could be nice.
I’m talking about when looking at art changes the way you see the world in general. Spend an hour or so in an art museum, staring at shapes and shadows and reflections. Then go outside, and what do you see? More shapes and shadows and reflections, art forming from reality right in front of your eyes.
It is wondrous, and it has happened to me many times.
Making art is a newer experience, but it has the same effect of altering my observation. It’s like my brain has created a new network that allows me to connect different parts, seeing a new whole.
A few weeks ago I made a collage based on Julianna Paradisi’s “Quickened Towards all Celestial Things”. I wanted the shape of the crow to be just right, so I cut a prototype out of cheap paper and then traced that onto card stock for the collage.
Then I had this perfectly good template. Just sitting there. Being a crow.
I kept looking at it over a few days, knowing I wanted to use it but not knowing how. Over the last however-many-months of quarantine I have learned that if I take my time, the right idea will come. Finally, it did.
Starting with watercolors and working up to acrylics, I laid down some patches of color and then used an old toothbrush to flick paint, layer by layer, around my crow stencil. It took days, flicking and staring and adjusting. And last night, it was finished. The background layers of crow silhouettes became dense enough just as the built-up speckles on the crow became dark enough. So I glued the crow in her final position, and …. done.
I wish now that I had taken pictures of each stage, but I think I was afraid of jinxing the process. This sort of creation is still new enough to me that it feels like a delicate magic.
I am still doing the Art-Ober challenge with my friend Ruth Inman. The Facebook page is called “Art journaling Secrets Unleashed” and there are quite a few folks playing along.
Some of the challenges, like “sea life” or “alcohol”, have connected with me, a memory or a place I love. But others are more generic, like “stars” and “circles”.
So, for those, I have been trying out new techniques, new ways of making pictures besides just painting with a brush. Tracing, splattering, sponge printing… these are new to me and I am figuring them out.
Tuesday’s challenge was “pumpkins”. I like pumpkins, but couldn’t think of any interesting way to paint one. So I made some stencils. First, I painted the night sky and some ground in watercolors.
Then I cut a pumpkin stencil and started layering on colors in acrylic. I used a brush, a sponge, and even that netting that is used to bag avocados.
The purple background kept showing through my orange, but I persevered, layering on the colors. Wanting to distract myself from the muddy looking pumpkin, I cut a stencil for the moon and laid down some white and blue with a bit of rubber mat. I liked how that turned out, because it was fine that some of the sky showed through.
Looking back at the pumpkin, I realized it was muddy from the purple AND flat. I laid in lines for shadows with acrylic and when that didn’t work, tried some micron lines and Posca market highlights.
But the darn purple still showed through! After a long walk to the market and lunch, Auntie Bridgett Spicer suggested an orange Posca marker to bring some really bright orange to the picture. It was finally good enough for me to stop.
If I were to do this same picture again, I would use the pumpkin shaped cut-out from the stencil to mask the paper way back when I put in the sky, so the pumpkin would have been painted on white instead of purple, which would eliminate the muddiness.
I still am not totally happy with it, but it is better. And better, every day, is all I can ask.