Archive for the ‘drawing into ink blots’ Category

mushroomfairy

I spent most of yesterday morning playing with dendritic monoprinting on pieces of blank or previously painted Rives BFK® printmaking paper. Remember I am doing a Daily Art project and I have an hour to get it all done (or as done as it’s going to get). Even though the paper here was pre-painted, I was still pushed by the clock to get it finished.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I particularly enjoy expressive art practice. I don’t draw well enough to plan and execute a design. Somehow when I start with a rough random pattern I do much better. If you can imagine the image before I outlined and worked into it you might see that there were three pieces of dentritic printing on the page. (The dendritic patterns are the indigo fern-ish marks). The first is the large focal point that I turned into a mushroom. It really did look mushroom-like from the get go. The second painted shape was the small circle at bottom left, and at top middle there was an oblong shape. Then there was the predominant rainbow striping to deal with. Before I worked into it, it was a hodge-podge-lodge of dramatic patterns. I actually despaired of it, thinking it was a hard challenge under any circumstances. But I persevered and started on the mushroom and it went pretty well. The I thought the smaller circle could be a less mature sprout; some mushrooms have that puff ball look when they are babies. I duplicated the colors except to make the yellow bolder with a tad of orange.

Now, I have two finished mushrooms on a striped rainbow with an obnoxious small oblong shape. It had all these little dentrites on the edges and the inside was empty. I decided to try a face shape around it and that meant I had to try and match a drawn eye to the painted one (or produce a Cyclops. EEEWW). This always fills me with horror; matching eyes is always problematic.  I am great with ONE eye (well, great might be an overstatement).  One looks good, and the other one that should match gets lumpy or squinty or looks like the subject is giving the Stink Eye. I braved through it with a colored pencil and actually got a pretty good match, if I do say so myself. And I just did. The nose and mouth weren’t much of anything to do, and I figured we’d carry that dentritic pattern up to the hair; looks like a root crown to me. Unless this is a self-portrait of me getting down on my belly to see a mushroom (and that does happen pretty frequently; there are photos involved to prove it) I figured she to be a fairy and gave her dragonfly wings or a reasonable facsimile of them. With all the detail and red up top, the bottom needed some red for balance so I did little tulips and added green and ochre around the base of the mushrooms to ground them. I then ran out of time.

I don’t know if I would have done more given the time. I very much like this piece. It was a challenge and I did some drawing which is always a good thing. I resist drawing most of the time but this was the perfect situation to do some expressive work. I do think the mushroom and face compete because of the details and size. Generally we conceive of fairies SITTING on a mushroom, not looming over them like Godzilla. But who are we to know what a nature spirit looks like? She looks benevolent enough, if a little pensive, as if she has a big “To Do” list today. Definitely not giving the dreaded Stink Eye.

You probably want to know how I came to do dendritic painting, or what it is. I don’t know what got me there, but I watched Shannon Green on YouTube University demonstrating it. She got it from somebody else which is how we all learn. Basically, it involves two pieces of strong glass, acrylic paint, pressure and lift, then two prints. You can sometimes get two prints off each plate, but the second prints are not great. Good for scrap paper, though.

I have way too much scrapbook paper for someone who doesn’t scrapbook. I probably have way too much scrapbook paper for someone who DOES scrapbook. And to be honest, I don’t know why I do because I have no interest in it. I think most of it was just there, like Mount Everest. I decided the dentritic monoprinting was going to feel very good on all that scrapbook paper. And it does. I made good use of it in today’s Daily project, but that is for later to show.

If you have a bunch of paper you want to make more attractive, get yourself the supplies I listed above and watch Shannon’s video. It’s easy, inexpensive and fun. No two patterns are the same. If you don’t like glass, or have kids involved, try it on sheet protectors or transparencies, or maybe use cut acrylic sheet. It is the stucked-ness and air bubbles and release of pressure (suction) that makes the dendrites.  I plan on trying transparencies because I hate glass and sharp stuff like grim death.

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meerimagic

I worked for the first time in this book, Fireside Children’s Songs illustrated by John Alcorn. I bought this book in a thrift; it had no dust jacket and a loose/torn spine. The illustrations were of the sort I grew up with. This book was printed in 1965 (I was ten that year). John Alcorn was an illustrator who was widely published in ads, posters, and books throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He had several dominant “styles”: psychedelic, folk artsy and some realistic drawings. The illustrations in this particular book I would classify as a mix of folk art/circus/turn of the century style. There are only four colors used: harvest gold, hot pink, medium orange and black (all on white paper except a couple on black background).

Because I bought the book for the illustrations and subject matter (I love old children’s songs) I couldn’t bring myself to destroy his work. So I had to figure out how to work around it in each spread. Most pages in the book contain some sort of illustration; often a two-page spread has a relationship between the images. The song here was “There was a Crooked Man.” I decided not to use any of the existing text on these pages.

I gesso’d the pages both to strengthen them and cover up the text. The pages of this book are not slick so gessoing was not a problem and it dried quickly. Because I love border and edge work I started by drawing this bold geometric “flag” design. I ran color along the top smaller border but didn’t want to do that all the way around, so I filled the rest of it in with a permanent pen. I scraped a small amount of neon pink, black, yellow and orange paint onto the pages with a credit card. I used the neon for two reasons: I had it and it was the closest to the colors Alcorn used, and I wanted to update his colors to more current tastes.  I prefer brights and neons, so I went with it; I think they work with his colors. The black also helps unify them.

Two creatures appeared to me in the paint scrapes. On the right is a five-legged doggish sort of guy. On the left under Alcorn’s crooked cat is a fox-like animal. I enjoyed making the five-legged creatures feet–one of them looks like a toilet plunger. Good suction in a wind storm. The other feet look like giraffe and horse hooves and a duck’s foot.

After I penciled the outlines for the creatures I knew I needed a central focal point. Since the pages so far had a bunch of animals and a house, I figured the resident of the house was a good start. I am very fond of this stencil from Dina Wakeley. It has three faces, all about the same size, similar but with slightly different expressions. She had the sweetness and folksy look to complement Alcorn’s designs and my decision to create a story. I made her the heroine of my tale. Her body is an inkblot stencil pattern, which gives her a kind of creature-y look as well. Perhaps a shapeshifter?

The spread needed some filler and incidental color pops. I used a rubber stamp set of playing card suits. I stamped the diamond suite on her forehead in the “third eye” area and that cinched her magic qualities.

I don’t know where the name Meeri came from. No doubt there are people named that but I wanted something unusual with a sing-song quality. I stamped the text, “Meeri is legendary for her magic and the company she keeps.” I finished it off with three page reinforcements that I painted black. My very last addition was one of the little creatures I traced from the Dollar Tree Monster stencil set and I placed him in an empty area that needed him.

I love this piece and think my additions hold their own against John Alcorn’s wonderful work, at least in the story-telling department.

styro1-13-16

The carved styrofoam plate on left, my selected print on the right.

My Here’s my Daily Art practice for today. As one of my legions of fans, you are well  acquainted with my love of styrofoam printing, even though it is certainly among my top two on the list of Unpredictable Techniques I practice. Ink blotting is the first, if you are interested and I know you are. A pattern appears to be presenting itself; I am thrilled with the surprise and frustration of uncertainty. The surprise rather more than the uncertainty, but one has to take the chalk with the cheese.

So, I return to styrofoam printing after a long absence. And, of course, I’ve forgotten everything I knew about it. Seriously. Besides which, there has been one most Unfortunate Incident–I developed an allergy to, or at least a big physical aversion to tempera paint. This was a blow to me. I had developed quite a passion for, love of, and dependence on tempera paint for numerous techniques. I used it instead of gesso. I used it to do expressive finger painting. I used it to create paint blots (those were gorgeous). I used it to print styrofoam plates. It is quick drying, one of the most reasonably priced art materials and widely available.

After investing a goodly sum on tempera paints for a venture different from standard art making (preparing papers for my Interactive Intuitive Readings), and using them for about six months, I happened to leave town for a couple weeks and came back to my studio to notice a nauseating smell. And suddenly I had headaches and sinus problems. Bob did not smell the smell. Even the papers I had previously prepared became unusable. When opening the bottles I was literally assaulted by the stench and this was heartbreaking. I did some online research and there was a small mention of tempera turning moldy and developing odor, but I opened bottles and poured and I couldn’t see anything at all.

Not only had I spent money on the paint I couldn’t use, I had to scramble to find a media to replace it. That took a lot of effort and ended up costing me another goodly sum for Dr.Ph.Martins® Bombay India inks–which are beautiful and Dr. Martin has been making them since 1934, apparently with liquid gold if the price is any indication of the ingredients. But I digress.

I was thrown back into using gesso or acrylic paint for backgrounds. I stopped doing finger painting; I just don’t enjoy it with acrylic paint. Plus it is shiny and one thing I loved about tempera is its matte finish. (There is a good bit of raving about the wonders of tempera elsewhere on this blog.)

So, I took a break from styrofoam printing, except for a fling using ink pads. I either decided dye pads or pigment pads were the best and I can’t remember which it was. That’s a problem because mostly all ink pads are either dye or pigment ink. This is one problem with advancing age or being an artist. Or maybe both. I don’t make notes, or I do make notes and samples and then can’t find them.

Beginning ANEW today, and working with what I have, I cut a styrofoam plate to a good size to print on my 5×7 paper. I brought a stack of that Allstate found paper I spoke about recently to use as scrap practice printings. First, I used a pigment ink pad and that didn’t work one little bit. Feeling encouraged, I used a dye ink pad and that didn’t work either. Feeling desperate, I reached for my Staz-on® ink pad and, of course, that worked best, but not good enough. Just a note, there really isn’t any reason to have any ink pads except Staz-on®.

I next put a blob of black gesso on a piece of wax paper and spread it with a credit card. This is the same technique I used with tempera, back in the Good Old Days. I put the plate on and applied moderate pressure. The print was without definition. I took some paint off the wax paper and pressed the stamp again. Still too much paint. Took almost all the paint off and came up with the print I settled on. At some point I also scraped paint directly on the styrofoam, but that didn’t work, too much paint. Each time between experiment prints I had to wash the paint off the stamp. Luckily, this is quick and easy with styrofoam. Just blot the water off and have another run at it.

Luckily, I was truly happy with the print I got. Clock is ticking friends. I had just enough time to heat gun it dry, wipe the back with gel medium and mount it on my Rives BFK® printmaking paper. This print looks to me like a dark night, a window through which we are seeing the ghostly outline of a tree. Perhaps you see it differently and that is ok by me. Also, I show you the plate.  The plates can be used as elements on their own.

Here’s a picture of the “waste” prints. They are going into my journal. The print shown in landscape orientation has shapes that I will probably work back into to make a separate Daily Art. printpractices

Nothing goes to waste playing with styrofoam printing. If you have a a junk book to alter print into that for instant backgrounds. If you have junk mail or envies print on them. Sometimes an unsuccessful print is amazing. Actually, the print I loved has no relationship back to the plate. I was trying for the decorative border, not the interior of the plate.

Here’s the thing about styrofoam. It is slick as owl shit. Paint doesn’t really want to stick to it. I am facing the ugly fact that I am going to be pressured into pulling out a glass surface, a brayer and some printmaking ink and give that a go. I do not want to do this, that is why I have never done it. It’s too darn much effort and too darn much clean up. It just takes all the fun out of it and who knows if it will work, anyway?

P.S. After I boxed up some of my tempera papers and they sat for a while, Bob opened the box and nearly lost his lunch. Vindicated, but I still miss my dear ole temperas.

 

story

Ok, this piece sure as Sam Hill doesn’t know what to be when it grows up.

It started Innocently Enough, as these things often do. I painted the paper with watercolor, dried it. Squiggled over the top with Sharpie™ fine line black pen. Then I stenciled (of course) with the alphabet set I’ve been bragging about for several months. The one that came from the  Dollar Tree. This set, as you can see, is not a “ransom note” style, but the letters fall into a few distinct styles. The simpler block style as you see in the “Stor” and the simpler, larger more cursive style as in the “Y”. Because I did not view the letters beforehand, the Y dips dangerously close to the bottom of the paper. After I penciled the letters in, I used my Stabilio® All Water Soluble pencils and wet it with my fingertips.

I cannot even describe to you what a hot mess this was. All those squiggles behind the letters were confusing; my eyeballs were jittering in their sockets. I thought about ways I know to make layers recede and pop forward. There were so many lines as compared to the amount of letters I decided that the lines needed to be subordinate. I embark upon a Doodling Journey. The important part of the process was not to doodle OVER the letters, but under and around them. This makes the letters appear to be the topmost layer. Developing some continuity in the pattern helped as well (following the thickness and “trail” of a pair of lines).

Early on I saw the “creature” represented by the spikes, a lizard/aardvark cross that I colored green and outlined a bit. It has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the piece except, perhaps, confuse it and lend a tad of narrative. Is it the story of the creature? Or did the creature haplessly wander into The Story and couldn’t escape? Probably, there was a lot of that going around.

In some ways the image is successful but ultimately unsatisfactory. While the squiggles did help unify the image, they are still too much of a distraction. So is the green creature. But I wanted to use my Stabilo® All pencils and that alphabet stencil package, and I felt like doodling so it was satisfactory in that respect and that is the purpose of making art, right?

begin to date

Here’s my Daily Art for the first day of 2016. Happy  New Year!

Today I started with the 5×7 Rives BFK printmaking paper. I worked with navy acrylic yesterday in different piece and I felt good about this color. It’s not been a favorite of mine in the past, even though it so represents the clear night sky. I wet the paper so that the acrylic would wash the paper and be less opaque. The fan helped to get it dried in time to meet my one hour time limit.

I have Sharpie Paint Pens™, both oil and water-based. The oil-based are transparent, the water-based are opaque. Usually I go for the water-based; they do a great job over acrylic paint and not all pens do. But I wanted to try the oil-based because it’s been a long time since I’d used them. As I thought, the paint went on looking somewhat opaque but it faded as it dried. I continued to write “Begin to Dare, Dare to Begin” over the navy and all that showed was the barest grey letter outlines. I then switched to the white water-based opaque pen and began adding viewable text.

If you are unfamiliar with asemic writing, it is writing that is without content. Asemic writing resembles mark-making; it compels one to look and look, trying to find words that can be made out, to construct a meaning. It’s handy for me to enjoy the look of asemic writing because my handwriting doesn’t enhance my artwork at the level I’d like it to, especially in this era of carefully and creatively hand lettered journal pages. When I do hand letter a piece, I’m not aiming for highly decorative or readable text; rather, I work to my weakness (strength?) of indecipherable messy lettering. But in contrast to asemic writing, rather than being without content, my content is simply unreadable. I have a Pinterest page where I collect asemic images, if you’d like to explore it.

I began to encircle the center image with white Sharpie™ water-based pen. At first the navy shape inside the white center looked like a long-haired female with an arm outstretched. But I also saw trails like a comet, so I went with that idea, which seemed more expressive. I didn’t want to write with black, so I found a Sharpie™ extra-fine pen in purple. I thought purple looked more like the cosmos. I wrote with it in a different size in order to create greater contrast to the white writing. At this point, the image looked as if it needed more gravity on the page, so I did imperfect circles around the center. The empty center and outer circles created a mandal; a Begin and Dare mandala. I signed and dated it which is another “rule” of the Daily Art Initiative.

The subject matter of “daring” relates to Lisa Sonora ‘s current 30 Day Journal Project that began today. The prompts today were about achievements and what had to be dared to accomplish them. My journaling was about commitment and beginnings, so I brought those ideas into this piece. It’s possible that this 30 day challenge will inform other Daily Art projects.

 

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.