Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mixing It All Up

I just finished up week two of Misty Mawn's portrait class. I am so loving this workshop! There are a variety of new (to me) techniques that she teaches in addition to the portrait drawing and painting. This is definitely one of the best classes I have ever taken.

The top piece is a mix of many different things. The girl is my first attempt at painting one of my sketches with oil paint; specifically, Shiva Paintstiks. I then scanned the painting onto one of my CitraSolv backgrounds, added a few digital brushes and a few other layers to get the finished piece. Here is the original oil painting on watercolor paper:

One of the challenges, for me, of working with the paintstiks is getting the colors to blend to achieve the color I want. Lots of trial and error went into a few discarded attempts. Finally I was somewhat happy with this finished one. I love the buttery softness of the paintstiks and once I got a little more familiar with how much to lay down for a base layer, I was very happy with how they blended together.

One thing I found out was the iridescent paintstiks do not blend very well at all for the effect I was wanting to achieve. Of course, all I had when I started out was a set of iridescents. I had to order the regular stiks and then wait for them to arrive before I could try this lesson. Have I mentioned before that I'm impatient?! Anyway, once I had the correct type of paintstiks, they worked beautifully (after much practice). There is still a lot about this piece I don't like but for a first attempt, it'll do.

The lessons using the paintstiks were from the second week of class. The first week, we sketched many different faces with our pencils and practiced shading them. I can never get enough instruction on the nuances of shading. I took one of my favorite sketches and put her into another CitraSolv background in this digital piece:

Here was my original sketch:

So we are now entering our third week of class and the videos were just posted. I watched them all this morning and am excited about yet another group of new techniques to mix with our paintings. Stay tuned for more to come.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blueprint: More CitraSolv Backgrounds

I have been busy making more backgrounds from the CitraSolv technique that I mentioned in my last post. I think I love this latest batch even more than the first! I want to use some of these in my art journals as backgrounds and also experiment with using some of them in mixed media.

What I love to do first is scan my favorite pages into Photoshop to have a "clean" version always available. Then I can either print it out or add to it digitally. The piece above started out with this CitraSolv background:

This photo doesn't do it justice. The colors are much richer and it just looks so full of texture. I think this is my favorite one of all, so far. I added a lot of layers, brushes, images, etc. to get the finished piece but I love that I have this one saved in my archive.

Here are a few of my other favorites from this batch:

And there's usually a surprise or two that surfaces when I'm working with this technique. While I am coating the pages with the CitraSolv, every once in a while I'll come across a page that just has text on it. I usually don't bother to put any of the solvent on that page since there is no color present to blend. What I will usually do is just coat the page opposite the text page and see how that one blends. That's what I did in this instance. I thought the colors around the man would blend into a beautiful background.

I was working pretty quickly and evidently I didn't saturate the page. Much to my delight when I went to remove the pages, this happened:

The photo of the man transferred to the opposite page! How cool is that? And the fact that one eye was left with a blank circle...this all happened by chance! What are the odds of having an inkblot form and cover just the one eye so perfectly! Kind of spooky if you think about it. I couldn't have planned it better if I thought of this myself. I was just wanting the colors to all bleed together...wasn't even thinking about the man. That's what is so fun about this technique. There are so many little "accidents" or things that you discover as you go along. I will definitely be using this guy in more of my art!

And speaking of surprises, after I posted my last entry I heard from the folks at CitraSolv. What a wonderful group of people they are! They were so kind in commenting on my post and I was excited to learn of their website where they post the artists' results using their product!

Check out all of the info they have posted about different ways to use CitraSolv in your art. But the biggest surprise of all was this package that arrived in the mail a few days later. Notice that they also included a few National Geographic magazines, as well:

Thanks again to Melissa and the gang at CitraSolv. I will definitely put these products to good use! Now I don't even mind doing a little cleaning here and there...this stuff smells heavenly! ;)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dropping In

I had every intention of working on my current project when I started out the day. But I happened to browse through the current copy of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine and ended up taking a slight detour. There is a little workshop in there about the CitraSolv technique. I've read about this technique before and have seen the gorgeous results. But this time it really got my attention. So I headed out in search of CitraSolv (found at local health food store) and a National Geographic magazine (had to buy one; couldn't find any at the local thrift stores).

The photo at the top of this post uses one of my favorite backgrounds that I achieved with this technique. The digital characters are provided by Granny Art. While I was doing some digital work, I tried a short tutorial on "zipping" a photo:

Back to the CitraSolv papers. I scanned in all of my results. Here I've included a few of my favorites. This one, by far, is my favorite one of all. I've not only used it in these digital pieces but I've printed it out onto a sheet of silk. Gorgeous!

Here are a few more with lots of possibilities:

The hardest part about the technique is finding the materials! I did manage to find CitraSolv pretty easily once I located a health food store. None of the area groceries carried it. I tried this technique Thursday and today (Sunday) the house still has a faint smell of oranges. The CitraSolv is concentrated and you don't dilute it for the technique so you will have a very strong orange smell in your space for a few days.

Now I'm on the hunt for some used National Geographic magazines. I tried this with a few of my fashion mags but with no luck. There must be something specific in these pages that reacts with the solvent. I definitely want to build up a little stash of these for collages, painting, etc.

Now, back to my original project! I am beginning to see why finishing some things is very hard for me: need to stay focused on the task at hand!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reflections On A Hornet's Nest

This is a shot I took of a huge hornet's nest near my Dad's home. We took a walk the morning of December 26 (my Dad's wedding day!). He lives near a state park with lots of pretty areas to walk. This was hanging down over the lane we were walking down. I was a little nervous approaching it. But it was something you had to stare at. How in the world did they build it?

I've been thinking about this image ever since I took that photo. Actually, hubby took a better shot of it. This is a great example of why you should carry your camera when you're out walking. You never know what surprises await you! Here is the original image:

I'm definitely going to use it in some more of my art. I have a few ideas I'm playing with. I did quite a few digital manipulations in the top image. In this second one you can get a clearer view of just how cool this thing is!

So I did a little reading on them. Evidently the nest is made from chewed bark and hornet's saliva. It looks just like paper mache when you're standing under it. I am just amazed at how they did this. All the workers build the nest for the queen...( Ahh...what a life!) ;) It's hard to gauge by this photo, but this nest was huge. It hung way down off the branch. You couldn't reach it from the road because the tree is so tall. Evidently after the first freeze all the hornets die. So we didn't need to worry about getting swarmed when we came upon it in late December. Good thing because my Dad is allergic to bee stings.

Anyway, I've been wanting to do something with this image and you'll probably be seeing it again in some form or another. I have a lot of projects in the mix right now and will be talking about those soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

FINISHED: Fabric Paper Wall Hanging

I finished the fabric paper wall hanging! Yay! Here it is freshly installed on one of the walls in my living room. You can click on the photo to get a better view of each square. The lighting isn't perfect but I wanted to take a photo as soon it was up. I'll take more photos of it in it's surroundings today. I love looking at it as I sit in my favorite room.

I'm very pleased with the colors I chose as I was dying the sheets of fabric paper. I think they all go together beautifully and tie-in really well with the colors in my living room. Even hubby got excited as I was joining the last few jump rings together. He said he couldn't visualize what I was trying to do as I worked on the individual parts. Now he gets it! :) I ended up with 94 squares (3" x 3"), all beaded, with 4 eyelets and jump rings to each square.

Here is a closeup of a few of the squares:

And another shot. Sorry, this one is a little blurry:

It felt so good to complete this project. It turned out just as I had envisioned it! I fell in love with the smaller version of this in the book, Stitch Alchemy, by Kelli Perkins. It wouldn't leave my head! As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it. But I knew I wanted to do a much larger version of it than what was in the book. And I'd have to figure out how to hang it on something larger. It all worked out just fine. The rod is 36" wide and the finished piece fits perfectly in the space I wanted to put it into.

If finishing every project gives me such a feeling of satisfaction, I'm off to a good start for the New Year. I think I picked the perfect word of intent as my focus.

Monday, January 4, 2010

One Word

I've noticed the trend in a lot of my favorite blogs to select a "word for the year". I like that idea. You pick a word that you would like to focus your intentions on for the coming year. My word this year: finish. That's a big one for me. And a close second would be "believe"; as in, believe you CAN finish what you set out to do!

It's no secret that I LOVE new projects and new challenges. I LOVE to start them. I LOVE to keep starting them...I fall a little short on the finishing part. ;) I really, really want to concentrate on that aspect this year. Involved in all of that will be my art journal. It will be my ally and my confidante through this journey. I set my intentions there...the follow through, the finishing will be recorded there as well.

And on that note: I am almost finished with my fabric paper wall hanging! Yay!! I need to get some larger jump rings and a bigger dowel for the mechanical logistics of it. The squares are all finished and beaded. The rows are all laid out in stacks. Now I have to connect all of the jumprings together (4 for each square x 96 squares) and assemble it. It looks awesome laid out on the floor. Though keeping the cat away from it is a full-time job.

I'm very pleased with the colors I chose as I was dying the fabric paper for this project. They all go together beautifully. Even hubby was excited after seeing the whole thing pre-assembled. He said he couldn't visualize what I was doing as I was working on it. But now he gets it! Though he can't believe how many jumprings I have to join! So, off to the store today to get the right sized dowels and a few more jumprings. The completed piece will be shown here soon!

I'm also working on some projects behind the scenes that I haven't really talked about yet. I'll be featuring those soon. But for now I concentrate on my word of the year: Finish! Lots of goals are tied into that one word and I'll share those goals when I'm ready. Stay tuned, it's going to be a full year!

By the way, the cute little girl sketch is by Maya of Scrapbook I LOVE that site. Lots of great elements to use digital art. More on a project I'm involved with on that site later.