Archive for the ‘Black Walnut Ink’ Category

ask for help

Another Daily Art practice piece with a vintage photo as a focal point. The reason I went to a photo again is because I am (again) rearranging and sorting materials and tools in my studio. In my Daily practice I’ve gotten to the point where I simply reach in and pull out something to use.

When I was sorting through shelves of old journals and books I could alter, I ran across some Canson Manga kits. I don’t know if they are still available. They are a beginner set for artists trying the comic book style. There are paper stencils to prepare layouts and one stencil is a “thought bubble” or narrative block. I liked them back in the day to create easy quick grids. They were buried in the journal shelves and I was glad to run across them. This week’s art seems to be a “Hey friend, so glad to see you!” week.

The photo is an odd size and in the portrait orientation. I put it up in the left hand corner and liked the way it went 3/4’s onto the page. But the bottom right was just filler and there wasn’t a lot of room to do any text, which isn’t necessary but the picture warranted something. So I cut the bottom right off and decided to grid it out. Gridding it seemed to help the story. Frame 1, guy on ledge watching Frame 2, guy trying to climb to ledge. Frame 3, rest the eye, Frame 4, narration. I had a piece of brittle aged brown drawing paper laying on top of the work island so I used the Canson stencil to cut out the window frame. The frame breaks up a bunch of non-narrative space and helps the viewer grasp the story. At least I hope so.

In recovery we learn to ask for help, and also learn to be willing to receive it, the way it comes. The guy that’s climbing isn’t asking for help and the guy on the ledge isn’t offering any. Maybe in the next second something happened, but right now I’m looking at what IS preserved and it seemed a good time to remind myself to Ask for Help. I don’t need help right now, but one day when I’m looking back on my Daily practice papers I might and this will remind me.

The wash is walnut ink, the rubber stamp text is StazOn Saddle Brown. The handwriting is Sepia Pitt Pen. As I did yesterday, I doodled a bit outside the photo to extend lines. I added some flowers because they got cut off by the frame.

In the second frame running down the center you might be able to see a stitch line. A few years ago I got froggy and took a bunch of old photos out and stitched them together on the sewing machine. I used them to make fabric/paper hanging collages and some were left over when I got bored doing that. Old photos can be very fragile. They were often glued to scrapbooks and then get taken out and the force of removing them weakens the paper. As I was gelling this photo to the foundation paper, the bottom tore off. No big deal, just wanted to mention that they can get very delicate.

Talk to you tomorrow, I reckon.

dailywolfracesredweb

My Daily Art Initiative is detailed here. This post is to discuss the process of making the above pictured piece.

This image was made in one hour on a 5×7 sheet of damp Rives BFK printmaking paper. The background is Pelikan’s gouache paint. I used colors intuitively and when I was finished painting I held a small fan close to the paper to dry it. (Obviously the fan is completely enclosed in a heavy wire cage for safety).  It took longer to dry than I thought it would. Remember, I’m on a one hour clock.

If you’ve read previous posts you know I have been experimenting with walnut ink and ink crystals. I use a waxed paper sheet (like deli paper only more see through) underneath any inking projects; walnut ink stains everything. I keep the paper because, well, you know. Because it’s paper and it has walnut ink on it.

A cat, let’s say, Peter Pan, knocked one such walnut ink paper off my desktop. I can’t swear in a court of law that it was Peter Pan, but I have a strong feeling it was. In this case, and likely ONLY in this case, I should thank him for it, because as I was bending to pick the paper off the floor (in order to prevent a vaudeville-like slip resulting in a worker’s comp case AGAINST MYSELF) I distinctly saw a running wolf with it’s mouth open showing his teeth. It was the head and mouth that was the easiest for me to see…although the tail and back leg were also prominent. It was just the proper size for a 5×7. I copied it on my Brother All-In-One inkjet printer. I am going to pause here to discuss this printer.

After some discussion and research Bob and I decided to get the Brother Work Smart series model MFC-J885DW inkjet printer not too long ago. I have not had an inkjet printer for quite some time. Previously I had a Canon inkjet which printed very nicely when it would print. Which considering the print head failed after 10 hours of printing wasn’t very often. I was given the first one, and it printed nicely and so when the print head failed I figured it might have been used a lot before I was given it. Just a note: if your print head fails, it costs 2x as much to replace it as it does to get a new printer. So I bought a new Canon, and that print head failed as well, unfortunately after it couldn’t be returned. I gave up on inkjets after that. We all know why, but for the five of you out there that might not, I’ll go ahead and say why. It’s because that you can purchase an inkjet printer for $19.95 and it will print very nicely, and the print head might last longer than 10 hours, in which case you are grateful. But then the fun begins. Long about 10 copies in, the dinky starter cartridges of ink that came with the printer are all drained, then you have to replace them with full size cartridges, sometimes each color separately, but at LEAST two cartridges, one black and another tri-colored. Actually, it is better if the three colors ARE separate because at least then one doesn’t have to replace a tri-colored cartridge just because you got all into yellow for awhile and now there is no yellow left, just the other two colors that have to be tossed like the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Whether you have the tri-color refill or the individual refills hardly matters, because all of them are going to require a second mortgage to replace. You see, it’s the bait and switch deal. They pull you in with a cheap printer that’s head will fail right after the time you buy the refill inks.

So, we’ve struggled along with our most excellent laser all-in-one. Laser printing is most economical but, alas, just black and white copies. Actually, it is most economical but the toner cartridge, which will last well into the next Presidency, costs $80. Sigh.

It started to seem as if I wanted color copies. I considered scanning and sending to an office supply store; color copies have gotten less expensive than they used to be ($1). However, to do this I would have to scan each item. Meaning, if I had an inkjet all-in-one I could just photocopy which is more efficient. The Brother had great reviews and the ink tests and prices were decent. And it was a great decision because I seriously love this machine, for a bunch of reasons that I didn’t even anticipate. It is fast copying and printing. All good. It is wireless and it works. Very nice. It has a touchscreen that runs it. Wow. I don’t even need a computer on to use it. It saves right to a stick drive. I control everything it does on that touchscreen. And the scanning, oh the scanning. Perhaps it doesn’t have truly professional scanning options but who the hell cares? I can scan in about 15 seconds, with no computer. I. Can. Scan. In. 15. Seconds. And, because it’s Bluetooth wireless, I can go in the other room, use that computer, use Adobe and send it to the Brother.

In short, I am in Brother All-In-One Worksmart heaven. This could be the single, most revolutionary thing to hit my studio in a long time (besides me being in there). I am not kidding.

So back to the art. Blots on paper are odd. When you use the copy machine, sometimes the blots look different than IRL. Maybe it’s the difference in the paper texture, I don’t really know. I copied the blot but it didn’t clear up the image, it was almost the same. I did use the inkjet copy to trace the image of the wolf as I saw it and decided to use that tracing as my cut out. Remember, I’m on a one hour clock. If I wasn’t on the clock I might have taken the time to redraw on the original blot, but I didn’t have the time.

The wolf needed a context. With Little Red Riding Hood uppermost in my mind these days, he was placed in the woods. Just black paper strip trees. I found a tiny piece of red paper and I colored over it with a red Copic marker. I tried for some perspective by varying the depth of field of the trees. I finished with one minute to spare.

This piece could use more detail work. I might put some grass and stones under the wolf to get him further into the foreground. I would have to do something with where Red is. The watercolor background is not very suited to the woods, it is way too bright. Red actually looks like she’s standing on the edge of an orange cliff, not picking flowers for Grandma. One more step to the right and the least of Red’s  problems is that wolf. Yes, in it’s current state, all told, it is woefully inadequate. But it does have that urgency, not withstanding it’s flaws. And it got made, all by me, in one hour.

Ok, how did I get this image. Besides the inkjet and paper, I mean. A big part of the how is obviously the obsession and research into LRRH. Pursuing a search of LRRH in my local library’s catalog, I found a book called Picture This, Perception and Composition, by Molly Bang. I had no real grasp of what this book was about, but I requested it. Turns out, Ms. Bang had done some research of her own, into shapes and colors. I am talking extremely abstract shapes. Normally this wouldn’t interest me much, except that she used LRRH as an example of how to build a narrative illustration using ONLY simple shapes and minimal color.

Step by step, shape by shape and piece by piece she takes us through building an image. If the triangle leans in, it feels this way. If it’s smaller, it feels this way. What will make the wolf scarier? How can we put Red into more danger? She ends up using white teeth, mauve background, black trees and wolf shape. Red triangle for Red and red in the wolf’s eyes and a big lolling red tongue. OMG people. In a million years I would not have put this together, EVEN THOUGH, I’ve studied color and universal shape meanings for 30+ years. This is a book that demands re-visiting, re-reading and direct application over a period of time and many experiments.

BangLRRH

This photo copyright 1991 by Molly Bang, from the book “Picture This, Perception and Composition.

It is obvious that this author knows her subject. She has personal knowledge and has used the technique with students of all ages. The book is simple because she made it that way. The concepts are complex, her presentation is digestible. Look at what I did, after just exposure to her concepts. I simply do not believe I could have rendered this work before. I urge you to give yourself the gift of this book if you are interested in the emotional, psychological and perceptional aspects of shapes and colors.

Astonishingly, this book is available used on Amazon for .01 plus shipping. You know where I’m going.

Afterword: I receive no compensation from Brother, nor am I an affiliate for Amazon. Molly Bang is a prolific illustrator of children’s books. The illustration from the book Picture This is used as an example for education and review only.

fabric paper copies

When last we met, Fabric Paper Part 1, I promised a follow up about my uses for the paper. Well, my purpose in making the paper was to cut it up and make bracelet cuffs from it. I still intend to do that, but I  haven’t gotten to it yet. So this post is about art journaling.

I don’t usually decorate the cover of a journal first. To be honest, I  rarely get past the first three pages of a journal so nearly no covers get done. It’s not unusual for journal makers to leave the cover for last. Perhaps the idea is that after the journal is completed there is more of a tone to bring to the cover than might have been apparent at first. Perhaps the idea is that the cover might get so monumentally messed up that nothing could fix it and it would be forever lost. Not a very good way to start a journal. My feeling is, I need to love that book to the point that I can’t leave it alone.

I don’t usually follow the market for supplies. I’ve used various mixed media sketchbooks, hardbound and spiral bound. For some reason, spiral bound journals started to bug me. I actually used to LIKE spiral bindings, so I have no idea what that is about. And, the hardbound journals I had would not stay open or lie flat. That started to bother me, too. Wet pages had a mind of their own and would flip closed to the other side. (Don’t write to me about clips). Anyhow, I saw a few videos by Ranger for the Dylusions Creative Journal. It is a bound journal that opens and stays perfectly flat on it’s own with No Clip. The paper is heavyweight and suitable for wet applications; the cover is heavy chipboard. The 8.5×11 journal retails for $25 at Michaels, so I wait for a 50% off coupon and buy it; at $12.50 this 64 page journal is an excellent buy.

If you’ve been keeping up with my Mythos blog, you know I’ve developed an obsession with Little Red Riding Hood. Since I posted over there about Red last week, I’ve gotten an obsession with all the Grimm Bros. tales, and the Grimm Bros. themselves. I plan next week to get an obsession with Hans Christian Anderson, to be followed by Charles Perrault. Ultimately Mother Goose will be involved, at which time if I’m decorating my bedroom as a nursery I expect professionals will be called in.

So, I procured me a new journal: hope springs eternal. And I decided to tackle the cover first. Mother of Pearl, what a confunction.  I have no hand-lettering skills. (Could this be at the base of why I am a journal writer that does not write journals?) How was I going to get the text on? Was I going to collage a cover? (Treacherous). Was I going to draw a cover? (Unlikely). Was I going to paint a cover? (Unlikeli-er). Maybe I wasn’t thinking out of the box enough, but it seemed that about covered it, technique-wise.

Finally, I considered stencils. It’s hard to imagine that I didn’t think of stencils right away, because there is a good portion of my grey matter dedicated to thinking about stencils. I have several tree stencils of the right size.  Then the decision: paint or ink?

Acrylic paint has drawbacks; it creates a slick “dimensional” coat. I felt it could limit my options later, both for material and technique. Ink also has drawbacks, the first being, I don’t like the look of sprayed ink. It CAN be very inconsistent and temperamental. Like, I spritz it off-project a couple times and everything is good, then I move onto the money shot and it fires out blobby and drippy and with extreme prejudice. One time it actually blew the stencil off!

I didn’t want the cover black, and I didn’t want it colored, either. I wanted it natural, so my mind went to walnut ink crystals. I had some ink made up already. I also had one of those Mini Mister applicators. I thought the smaller mister might give a more consistent spray.

I had to take it outside because walnut ink stains just about everything. Particularly cats, and they seem to jump on my work island just as I am executing a critical treatment. My experience with spraying any ink is that it goes all over the place, even though you think it couldn’t possibly. (A good idea for you is to put the ink-ee into a box; that is, if you, as a well-prepared artist, can put your hands on a box that doesn’t have black widow spiders inside it. I am not so lucky. I am not making that up.)

Outside I went. I had applied TAPE to keep the stencil laying down. I tell you, I was firing on all cylinders. I got the mister going and I was right, the Mini-Mister did a good job with a fine spray, consistent and very much enhancing the detailed stencil. However, mysteriously I did produce two large drips. The biggest one ended up spreading out and isn’t too noticeable. The smaller one is at the bottom. While I was out there I sprayed the edges of the journal all the way around. The edges always get messed up on my journals anyway, so I figured I’d grunge them up from the beginning. woodsjournalstenciled

I left off working on it last night to let it dry properly.Today I was faced with Now What? There were many options. I considered collage for the tree trunk and limbs with small pieces of paper. That’s why I copied the fabric paper–some of the designs worked for tree bark and texture. I tore a couple pieces up and tried it and I didn’t like it. Not One Bit. I tried a teeny dictionary with tiny type to collage the trees. That was better, but with the busy all-over stencil design I was concerned the collage would be overwhelming and make the tree look stiff and clunky.

I decided to take a break so I sat down and outlined the tree with a fine line black marker (Artline) and that created considerable depth to the image. At this point I considered doing very very very small handwritten text along the tree trunk and limbs. I was very tempted to do it, being that it is one of my favorite activities, but it might be even busier than the collage. No go.

It’s not possible for me to hand-letter the journal title. I considered transferring toner or inkjet computer text to the cover. (Treacherous). I thought maybe I’d do a packing tape or Contact Paper transfer. (Easier, but the stickers can look clunky). I did not want to stencil again, even I know when to stop. So I went into the stamp hoard and found this alphabet (I cannot tell you who made it, the packaging is long gone). It was amazing that I bought both the capital and lowercase set of this font. I must have realized 15 years ago that This Day Would Come-And It Did.

woodsjournallettering

Isn’t it nice? You can see that I had to do a pre-stamp trial run…better safe than sorry. I have been sorry SO many times. I loved the font and the color (StazOn Saddle Brown). I took the plunge….wait for it…

woodsjournalcover

This is where I stopped. You will notice that I optimistically added the “Vol. 1” notation as an afterthought. I’m pulling out the stops to get this journal on a good trajectory. I Winter Solstice-ed it up for you by adding a cheery pine cone. I know how you appreciate that Martha touch. (I reread this post and see I’ve mentioned two Ranger products. I do not receive any compensation from them and actually use very few of their products).

The cat is Peter Pan. During the above process, I listened to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, “The Theater of the Imagination”. Today it was Bluebeard. Her telling and analysis is a must hear for women.

fabric paper step 1

I will apologize first off for the blown out image. I hate shooting in the sun but today there was no alternative. Also, the cat would not move and he weighs about 45#.

Fabric paper offers a lot of opportunities, and I have exploited them often and with great enjoyment. Any fabric will work and I have variously used vintage linen and new fabric. Keep in mind you can cover the fabric up as much as you want with the paper. If you use a print or solid that you want to show, leave gaps between and/or around the images.

After you decide on your fabric the next step is to decide on your images. I find that working with too-thick images doesn’t work, i.e. postcards. They are too thick and too inflexible, but go ahead and experiment if you want to use them. They would be cool but I find the thickness frustrating.

Let’s also say this now: My intention at this stage is not to make a masterpiece. This is the foundation of my ultimate use for the fabric. My mode is to look for texture now, or interest in a background sort of way. Later it will be embellished with whatever you decide, thread, more detailed images, sewing, beads.

I use Mod Podge™. I’ve said this before on this blog. It is an inexpensive alternative medium, thick, with good body when dry and it does the job. I pour the Podge™ out on the fabric, squeegee it around with a credit card and quickly apply the papers. It’s a good idea not to work with too much real estate at one time. Podge™ dries fast, but don’t worry, put on more if  you need to.

Concentrate primarily on getting the papers stuck in place. There isn’t a need to go over them with Podge™, but if you get some on top, just swipe it with the credit card. The reason you don’t want a bunch of Podge™ on the top is because it will make your Fabric Paper more sealed and plastic-y. If you want it this way, go for it. But any ink, paint or dye you want to put on later is not going to get absorbed well. Actually thinking now about it, if you want a streak or texture you can exploit the “resist” aspect by deliberately creating marks with Podge™ that the liquid color won’t cover. That would be fun.

Get all your paper glued down. If there are ends or edges that aren’t glued well, get some Podge™ on there and smooth them down, especially if you are not going to sew at all. Sewing helps get everything put down that you might leave unglued. I like to have some edges not stuck but this could bother you. If you are going to sew on top and you aren’t sure, do some looser to see later how it works for you. Remember, it’s just fabric and stuff you’ve got around the place giving you allergies.

There will be wrinkle-age. Deal with it! Some of them will flatten as they dry but some of them won’t. That’s the way the cornbread crumbles.

The humidity, thickness of fabric, amount of Podge™ you used and the phase of the moon will determine how long it will take to dry. It has to dry through all the layers, so don’t push it. Better safe than sorry. You do NOT want to run damp Podge™ fabric through your sewing machine. I can’t EVEN tell you what that mess would be. Learn patience.

After your fabric is dry, decide if you want a unifier besides sewing. By unifier, I mean a layer of paint, ink or dye. I am currently experimenting with walnut ink that I make from crystals. I love this stuff (you can find it and other wonderful things at animadesigns) and get a real kick out of throwing everything in there to see if it will work. (See another example here). More about those experiments at a later time. For now, I made a strong brew, about 1/2 tsp in a salsa container. I ate the salsa first. I used a large paintbrush to apply the ink. It beads up on any spot that has heavy Podge™. It will also puddle in low spots and I like this. I try to get a coat on every part and especially between the images and around the edges of the fabric. After Coat 1 is dry, apply Coat 2, really getting into any areas you want darker. I want it unified, but not all the same tone.

Now, if you use acrylic paint instead as your unifer, work in a small area, paint over top of the images and wipe down quickly. Use the same heavy/light application technique, but layer and go slow. It’s easier to add more, impossible to get rid of unless you sand and there goes your paper. With acrylic paint you can also add an acrylic medium to make more of a glaze and longer working time, that’s more like inking. Remember, acrylic is plastic. It’s a permanent coat.Fabric Paper step 2

Walnut ink is a subtle dye. Also, it is a purplish brown dye, keep that in mind. It looks murky in the container and when it goes on, but it dries light. I trust you can see in this picture how the papers seem more one tone, how the muslin is toned, and a few paper edges are really dark.

I decided that I wanted two coats for now. It got hung on the washing line to dry. In the Florida sun it was probably dry by the time I got the last clothespin on, but I wanted to write this up so it’s still out there.

It’s coming along nicely. In Part 2 I’ll tell you what I’m using it for and we’ll see what I decide to do before I sew it on the machine. I know you are busting with anticipation. Get a grip on yourself!

Fabric Paper Washing Line

Great things happen when listening to Jane Siberry’s “When I Was a Boy”.