Sunday, February 28, 2010

Experiments In Encaustic

I've been having a lot of fun playing with my encaustics. I have to wait until the encaustic medium arrives in the mail before I can try what I really want to do: add collage papers and photos. You need the clear medium for that and that's one thing the mfr. forgot to include in my shipment. So hopefully that will be arriving early next week.

But I was able to play around with blending color and painting in different styles with different tools. The top photo is my favorite way to paint. Normally when you see encaustic paintings they are a little abstract or have the cloudy layers showing through. I was excited to see that there were some artists who had great success painting more realistic images with encaustics. The secret is in the tool you use.

For the top painting, "Wild", I used a woodburning pen tool with a very fine calligraphic point. You have to dip your point into the wax to do your painting, just like a brush. The pen doesn't fill up like a traditional calligraphy pen. It's more a dipping process: dip and paint. But you are able to get the fine lines, blend nicely (I'm still learning how to to do that) and have a smooth finish (I'm not there yet). The pen is already very hot so there's no need to do the fusing you have to do when painting with a brush.

Next, I experimented with the coarse brush strokes. I used a chip brush and scrubbed the wax on, blending as I went. Finally I just splattered white wax on the top layer. I had an image that I transferred onto muslin a while back. I adhered the edges of it with the white wax. As soon as I get the encaustic medium I'll go over that again and make sure she's adhered properly. Plus I'll get that cloudy, layered look I like so much. But here is "Attitude" minus the encaustic medium:

Along the same lines here is another one: "Bleeding Heart". The image is a very faint transfer onto muslin. I used more of the white wax to adhere it.

So I'm impatiently waiting for the rest of my shipment. When I get the last two items then I can really begin to experiment with the different methods. By the way, I've only burned myself once! ;)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Break On Through

It's funny how the Muse works. I find myself wanting to continue with the "celebrity" theme in my art. I think it's a result of all those hours working on the torn-paper collages. Plus the fact that I've been poring over the book of Andy Warhol's portraits.

In one of the free image sites that I haunt, I found the photo of an old dilapidated building with the words "the Doors" spray-painted on it's door. I loved that and knew I had to use it. Then I cut out the archway and steps from another freebie photo and merged the two. The background is a merging of about four different CitraSolv backgrounds that I made. I thought when the backgrounds were merged that they looked like a stone wall...then it all came together. The Jim Morrison image is from a Photoshop tutorial on how to make your image look like a watercolor. By the way, I'm using that portrait of Morrison (only much larger) as the base for my current torn-paper collage.

Speaking of collages, here is my "Blue Marilyn". I used Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portraits as the model for this one. At first I had all of the torn-papers showing in the background. But it became too distracting, so I covered most of them up with Shiva Paintstiks. I like this version much better:

And since he started the whole thing, I included another Andy Warhol piece. This is from the weekly challenge at Digital Whisper. We were to use the image of a ghostly swirl in our piece. Also, as part of the challenge, we were to include a watermark with our name. I did a lot of manipulation with the swirl image...I like the darker look. ;) The Warhol image is one of his many self-portraits; I just tweaked it a little to add to the ghostly theme. This is called "Warhol Ghost".

What's on the horizon: working on more collaged portraits. And something new: hubby gave me an early birthday present: the encaustic starter kit! Yay!! It should be arriving by the end of the week. DickBlick has an awesome starter kit that I've been drooling over for years. I've been itching to work with encaustic painting since I first saw Bridgette Guerzon Mills' work. My birthday isn't until May but my honey knows how to make me me art supplies! ;)

As soon as I receive the package I'll be diving into the world of encaustics. I know from others that there's a big learning curve, but I'm ready! In between learning that art form, I'll still be dabbling in whatever else my Muse throws at me...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wabi Sabi Paintings

Wabi Sabi? What is that?! I had heard the term before and remembered that it meant something like things not lasting...of the earth...something like that. If you Google it you'll get all of the definitions. Then I saw this post. Ooh, I loved those paintings and had to try one right away.

I liked her idea of starting with small canvases. These are 5" x 5"; perfect size for experiments. The first tries didn't turn out so well. I figured out that you add acrylic paint first (at least I did) then add the alcohol inks plus the glazing medium.

I was limited on my stash of alcohol inks but I was glad to finally see a use for them! I've never had much luck using them in anything but they do like this medium. Now I need more colors. ;)

Here are the closeups. The first one is called, "Summer Sunset".

This next one is called, "Kiss The Sky". I call these two my Sky Duo.

I decided to do some experimenting with one of those that didn't turn out so well. So I covered the whole thing with acrylic paint and added more tissue paper. Then added some molding paste and this stencil (which I love). Then added the paint and alcohol inks. I call this, "Waiting".

Pretty cool technique! Easy, fun and with a little trial and error could turn out very nice. I will be experimenting more with this one.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Moody Blue

I thought I'd show you a few things I've done in between working on my latest torn-paper collage portrait. These are all digital pieces and I've been experimenting with different techniques.

These first two pieces, "Moody Blue" and "Threshold" were made using some of my CitraSolv backgrounds. I started to wonder what would happen if I took two or three of the backgrounds and merged them together. I used different blending modes, opacity levels and other techniques to make these new backgrounds. I don't know why I didn't think of it before! There are one or two favorite backgrounds that I've made that I just can't bring myself to use. I scanned them into Photoshop but I still don't want to glue or paint or tear on them until I have the perfect project. Here is "Threshold" :

I used my friend Kimmie's background, merged with two of my own for "Threshold". The flowers that you barely see were from her gorgeous Citrasolv background. I found that merging certain pages gives this misty look, almost like a misty watercolor. I really like that effect.

I've also been practicing my "painting" in Photoshop. I'm slowly making progress on shading, brush types and sizes, etc. in Photoshop. This is a big learning curve for me but it's fun. Here is a sketch I drew using a fashion magazine model as my inspiration. I call this one, "Cherish" :

Still working on finding the right combination for flesh tones. I find that if I don't use some of these Photoshop effects every day that I quickly forget how to do some things. I love this program and there's just so much it can do. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface.

I'm about 3/4 of the way finished with my next torn-paper collage portrait. It's on a 12" x 12" canvas panel that is 1 1/2" deep. I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out. I wanted to add more color to this one than I did with the Warhol piece. I'm finding I have a lot of different colors in my CitraSolv background stash to work with. Once again, this portrait will be made entirely from the CitraSolv papers that I have torn into strips and different shapes. I hope to have it finished within the next couple of days but I am taking my time with it. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Soul Searching: Citra Encaustic?

This is my latest experiment: CitraSolv backgrounds plus beeswax mounted on 6" x 12" plywood. I love encaustic art. Someday I want to try my hand at it. Right now the cost of all the materials needed is too prohibitive for me. So I started thinking about what I like about encaustics: the wax layers and cloudy look on the paintings.

Thanks to Suzi Blu and her Petite Dolls Class I had worked with melting beeswax onto paintings that were mounted on wood. I thought I would try that method with the CitraSolv backgrounds just to see what effect I would get.

The page I chose to work with wasn't quite 12" long to accommodate the length of the plywood. So I tore a strip from another similar background and then mounted both to the wood. Then I just melted the wax over the piece. In some places I intentionally had more wax buildup than others to give a more opaque look to the finished piece.

I had this charm that I ordered from Judy Wilkenfeld's wonderful Etsy shop. I knew I would use it in something special one day. So I dug it out and she fit perfectly in the little area near the top. I even used the beeswax to attach her. After she was attached, I figured out the title for the piece: "Soul Searching". I have a very old dictionary with pages that are literally brown and crumbling. I carefully tore the definition for "soul" out of the page and placed it near the bottom.

I really like the look of this piece. I'm not sure the photos do it justice. Here are a few closeups I took with the light hitting it at different angles so you can see the wax better:

The cloudy areas are where the wax is built up.

Here is the original Citrasolv paper cropped to the area in the photo above. You can see how adding the wax changes the look of the paper:

I love working with the beeswax again and until I can do the authentic version of encaustics, I think I'll stick with experimenting this way!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Letters Home: Backgrounds

This is a hybrid piece: part digital, part acrylic. I call it, "Letters Home". I painted the background today and then did some digital tweaking tonight. Here is the original background on watercolor paper:

You can see I added some digital brushes and a few other elements and only used a portion of the background for the digital piece.

Monica Zuniga is teaching an incredible mixed media workshop on creating backgrounds. This is my first one from the workshop. It's got so many layers I lost count. The two figures and the post marks are stencils applied with Gesso. It took them almost a day to dry; I applied a very thick layer for those. Then the painting began.

This is on 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper. I don't really like the cold press for drawing portraits but it's pretty good for collage and painting backgrounds. So now I'll have some use for the little stash I've built up! ;)

I started the base layer with watercolors. I am not a big fan of watercolors because I usually like more bold color. But I wanted to try the exercise like Monica taught. Once the original layer was down I could see the attraction to working with watercolors. It took a while for me to get the hang of it. I actually threw this away after the first couple of layers. I just didn't like where it was going. But I persevered and kept at it.

This is a full sheet out of the pad. For most of the exercises I will be using an old atlas and altering those pages as I go. But I wanted to try my first lesson on a big sheet of paper just to play with the paints, collage, etc.

What I am really liking is the fact that every background I create will be scanned and used in my digital art, too. Her workshop will be a year long event so there should be lots of new techniques to learn and a lot of fun along the way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Andy Warhol: Torn-Paper Collage

How about something totally different and a little abstract? This is the last week of class in Misty Mawn's Portrait workshop and we are supposed to be working on self-portraits. I haven't worked up the nerve for that yet. But another lesson that I have been wanting to try was the collaged portrait.

One of my all-time favorite artists is Andy Warhol. I'm a little obsessed with him right now and have been reading everything I can find about him. I decided to do a torn-paper collage of him using some of my CitraSolv background papers. I tore a few different sheets into strips and started piecing together the collage onto a 9 x 12 canvas.

Here is the original portrait that I used as a model:

It's supposed to have an abstract look to it and mine is a little more abstract than I would like. But I have been wanting to try this lesson and now I've done it. I will be doing more of these. They are a little messy...all of those strips of paper and gel medium gets a little sticky.

Then you just use your graphite pencil to bring out some details. You can go as realistic or abstract as you'd like. I would like to try a more realistic one at some point. I have a lot of colors in my CitraSolv papers and could probably do a color version of something. I think it would be fun to try.

There are still a few lessons that I haven't been able to get a satisfactory piece out of and I'm working on those this week as well as starting the self-portrait. I think I'll use one of the older photos of myself. I don't have many that I like so it's hard to find something.

So that is what's on the agenda this week. Wrapping up the lessons I need to finish and then ending with the self-portrait assignments. We shall see what comes of it...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Doing The Happy Dance

Some days I just feel like this! ;) I used another CitraSolv background for this top digital piece. Then added a couple of fun images and some little embellishments. I call it, "Dance". That's how I feel when I finish another painting, too. I have to say that I will probably never put away my Shiva Paintstiks. They are my new best friend.

I finished another painting in Misty Mawn's Portrait Class. Here it is set into a digital background. I call this one, "After The Storm".

And here is the original painting:

I worked very hard on her. It took a few days to do just the hair! But I was very happy with it when I finished. I painted each of her dreadlocks individually using the Paintstiks and a couple of packages of blending stumps. The blending stumps are really handy for painting small areas. I could use a paintbrush but then I'd have to clean the oil out of it. So, instead I find it easier to just use up packages of blending stumps and tortillons.

This is the final week of class and that makes me sad. I've loved this class! I hope she has another one soon. Do you know she even puts up playlists of songs for us to listen to while we work on each lesson? How cool is that! Definitely one of the best classes I've ever taken.

For this last week we are working on self portraits; not my favorite subject to paint! So, I'm digging in my archives for any halfway decent photo of me that I can use. Yes, I'm procrastinating for this lesson. But I'll get it started within the next couple of days.

There are still a few lessons that I want to at least produce something that I can show. My love affair with the Shiva's will have to go on hold while I try a few more of the other media she teaches. Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

From One Sketch

Here is another painting I finished from Misty Mawn's Portrait Class. This one combines three media: Dr. Ph. Martin's inks, acrylic paint and Shiva Paint Stiks. I love the effects of combining them all together. This was done on hot press watercolor paper.

Next, I scanned the painting into Photoshop and did a few manipulations with layers and textures. This version is called, "Sad Eyes". I placed the painting onto a CitraSolv background and at the exact spot where I pasted it, I noticed a tear shape under one eye. It is just an ink spot on the background but I liked it.

All of these pieces I'm posting today came from this original graphite sketch:

I knew after I drew this one that I would be using it again and again. Here is another digital piece called, "She Talks To Angels" inspired by the song of the same name by The Black Crowes.

And, for a lighter mood, I made this one called, "Dreamer of Dreams".

Between all of the CitraSolv backgrounds I'm making and the paintings, sketches, etc. from Misty's class I am loving all of the options I now have for adding my own elements to my art. More paintings and some collage are in the works and I'll post them when I finish.

We are expecting a big snow for this weekend. I've got my art supplies and plenty of coffee. I'll be just fine! Stay tuned...