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Monthly Archives: April 2011

If you have been following me, you know I have a new found fascination for painting on masa paper and just briefly touched on layering a tissue paper drawing over another drawing and creating a painting from that.  Recently I was gifted a book titled “Watercolor & Collage Workshop”  by Gerald Brommer.  The above is my first painting following his first assignment in this book.  I was to lay down initial washes bridging them across the format. The next step involved glueing  (using matte fixative with a little water mixed in) torn pieces of  different rice papers.  The third step was to begin drybrushing color over the rice papers. I was to watch the rice papers for their different properties and level of transparency or opaqueness.  He stresses that I need to learn what each paper can do for me in the way of texture as well as transparency so that I will know when to use them to create my future landscapes. Oh what a mess I created, at first. I kept telling myself to look for something to create a center of interest around. That was strongly encouraged. He suggested I splatter and create lines somewhere. I even needed to lay more rice papers over rice papers to change certain passages. Then back to the paint. 

 Somewhere in this whole process I began thinking about this spring and the Tsunami, the landslide blocking a road in Big Sur, the flooding and the awful storms in the south this week. The fractures in this abstract began to represent the tragic circumstances some people have had to face and our land has suffered. That prompted the opaque white streaks in this as it began to represent water falling washing, moving. The spring greens I added at the very end to signify the hope and promise that the land will renew itself in spring this year.  My heart goes out to all of you who have suffered this year. I think and shed light upon your renewal and dedicate this abstract to you.

I am to do three more of these before progressing furthur in this book. I think I will do just that as I am truly interested in learning how to incorporate these papers into my paintings.

A heartfelt thank you to Eva, Kathleen, Jackie, and Linda for sharing their work in the abstract. It has helped me immensely to have read your blogs and viewed what you do in the abstract.

Thank you to Chris and Sandrine for sharing your techniques and exploratory natures throughout your blogs.  I needed a  lot of that kind of energy to keep going with this .

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I ran across a beautiful photo reference of a tiger, up close and personal, on the wet canvas site a while back.  I think I just wanted to see what his face would look like painted on masa paper. I also experimented with black and white watercolor and dribbled other colors into them. The inspiration for a tiger came from Francis’s painting of a tiger last summer found here.

The above image was designed using a photo that my sister sent me of her cat, “BOO”, thinking he had hidden himself in the grasses around her home.  The image was somewhat fuzzy and I felt I would not do him justice in watercolor. My creative drawing class will soon be working on a project  where they will be asked to draw or paint with paper so I decided to give this image of Boo a go with that in mind. I decided to use papers that I created from National Geographics treated with the cleaning agent Citrasolv.  For a tutorial on how to create these papers click here. I usually spend some time preparing and drying these papers, in advance, so that I have them stored for when I need them.

    first step

The above is the first step in my process of creating Boo. I drew him on a piece of 140 lb coldpress watercolor paper. I only include those lines that I feel are necessary to guide the bolder shapes as they are soon buried by the papers. I began with his eyes. I found a yellow page that had turqouise bubbles to use for his eyes. In order to get the shape correct, I first traced the shape of his eyes using tracing paper, cut them out and used those cut outs as a pattern over the colored paper to cut out the shapes I needed. This is how I work.

1.  Trace the shape.

2. Cut out the shape on tracing paper.

3. Lay tracing paper over the colored paper I wish to use and cut that shape out again.

4. Glue it to the surface where needed.

I am careful not to cut out HUGE shapes as they tend to wrinkle more. I use acrylic matte medium as my adhesive. Sometimes I mix small amounts of water with it if it begins to thicken while I am working.

I then began cutting and glueing shapes for the background. I chose papers of the same value range as I was going to use for the cat because I wanted him to appear somewhat hidden.  I chose warm colors for the background of the earth and cool colors for the cat so that there would be some differentiation and so the viewer could find the image. I tried very hard to create an interesting composition of colors so that the background looked like a painting.

  second step

I then begin to draw and paint the cat’s shapes with paper. Note that I cut crescent shapes of paper for his belly and several pie shapes for his haunches.  This helped to give him a three-dimensional quality through the use of cross contours.  Had I cut out one large piece of paper for the entire body of the cat, he would look fat and the paper would have wrinkled. I did not want him to appear as a silhouette.

 third step

The next step was the most difficult. This was because there were many variations of values and shapes needed to describe the face and paws. The paper shapes were tiny and difficult to glue down without them sliding around.  I used a q-tip on some of them to rub them down flat, rather than my paintbrush. (I save aside several brushes to be used only for glueing with matte medium as they become stiff and damaged over time). There are 53 pieces of paper in the cat image, alone.  By this time, I am actually feeling as though I am drawing and painting with the paper, for sure.

  finished collage

The final step was the most fun. I divorced myself from the photo reference and designed my own grasses and plant shapes to furthur camouflaging Boo. I worked them in and out and through his form to furthur increase depth. I was very careful to save parts of him that I wanted to show thru. The final step was to add whiskers and highlights to the eyes with white acrylic paint.

I have used these papers once previously to create a selfportrait, found here.

I thank Carol King for having originally introduced this process to me here.

More  Citrasolv art may be viewed on the artist gallery page of the Citrasolv website here.

Have you ever had a painting you disliked so much that it was destined for the trash?  Well, this one almost made it there.

I was so excited at this stage. I had a fantastic piece of masa paper that I had toned and glued down complete with all those fantastic wrinkles. I had a photo reference of the base of the driveway where I painted last summer and a good start on laying in the broken color of the woods surrounding the driveway.

UGH!!! The yellow was absolutely sickening to me. There was yellow and a lot of it in the reference and it took me “HOURS” to get to this point. Everything was too much the same value and I had painted those shadows on the drive three times, already. Nothing seemed to be going “my way” with this. I let it rest for a couple days and kept staring at the reference I had.  I began to see more things in the reference like shadows and flickers of darks to the left. I saw some branches and some more broken tree trunks. Even though I did not see much orange on the left a little voice inside me said, “put some orange on the left to balance this painting”. My mind kept saying “NO. You are going to muddy it”.  At some point, I decided it was going in the trash as is, anyway, so why not risk the mud. Why not risk going for it and see what I come up with?

Well, here is the painting once I risked the mud and painted what I had seen from my above thoughts. See how utterly blinded by our own thoughts we become, at times?  I don’t think I have ever pushed myself this far with broken color so I have learned something with this painting. I sat it back up for a day and stared at it from time to time. I wanted more value change. I still wasn’t getting the darkness of the blacktop and the flickering of the sunlight thru the trees as much as I wanted.

   finished painting

To finish, I deepened all the shadows, found some more leafy shapes that were dark and pulled out the feeling of standing at the base of the drive at about “coming home” time on a fall evening.

In looking back, I am glad that I did not quit on this one.  It is still teaching me things. When I walk up to it and look at it close, I can’t tell what everything is. It looks like blobs of color across the paper.  The tree trunks and the road are the only defined elements. The furthur I step back from it, the more clarity the scene has. What fun!

Don’t give up. Have a great weekend!

I could not believe my good fortune when I found a photo of Grandpa Elliot posted to the wet canvas photo reference library for artists.  It was a must-do for me.

Several bloggers have made mention of underpaintings; the most recent being Amy from Souldipper found here. She asked me about an artist’s use of an underpainting.  I responded something like it is the foundation that we build our final work on. That made me think more on the subject as we were also talking about underpainting our lives with love and kindness.  Then I came across the photo of Grandpa Elliot who has actually underpainted his life with sharing music to millions in New Orleans and becoming part of the project, “Playing for Change”, a CD whose proceeds go to helping others.

The other connection I can make about an underpainting is that it always, for me, sets the tone for where the light will fall in it. BINGO! I see the same in life with passing on kindness. Light is passed on through our kindness to others.  The above stage of my painting illustrates how I carved out areas where I wanted the light to fall.

The above image is the finished result.

I can not think of a better way to start the weekend than this:

This smile is for all of you who visit, here. 

I have read on other blogs, from time to time, a request for viewers to be helpful in their comments and to critique the work there, honestly. Oh yes, I sense what they are asking for. How can we do that?  How can we take someone’s vision and, … and make it different? 

That caused me to pause and review my blog and page through some of my work. I noticed that I had been blogging for two years, now.  Something I had been strongly encouraged to do and had to be talked into.  I also noticed a steady increase in my ability as an artist.  I noticed that I had tried new techniques and stretched my vision.  That means a lot more than one critique that may have burst my “bubble” and sent me home with my tail between my legs.

I owe that to you who visit and comment and encourage. I am smiling on you. Thank you.