Archive for the ‘expressive drawing’ Category

bunnykins

Ok people, listen up. This stuff can happen to you–fair warning!

I showed a dendritic monoprint yesterday and this is another, only I didn’t work off a direct print to my Rives BFK® printmaking paper. I worked direct print to a piece of scrapbook paper that I was hoping to see the end of. The marks presented a bunny to me. I would have liked something that wasn’t a bunny, believe me. But it was unmistakably a bunny; worse, it was a toy stuffed bunny.

Actually, and in fact, I did have a stuffed bunny when I was little. It was nifty as it held my pjs when I wasn’t wearing them. So I am no stranger to a stuffed bunny but at 60 years old I have other things on my mind. Or one would think. Evidently not.

Here’s what happened. I prepared a background on the paper by scraping and dabbing several colors (pink, rust, blue), mooshing them around. They had to dry so I cut out the bunny, using the dendrite patterns as my basic outline and snipping to further accentuate the shape. I had to free cut an ear, original bunny only had one laying down on it’s back. It seemed some of the dentritic marks could be stitch lines. I drew in his laying down ear, the outline of his foot, his tail and eye with an indigo Prismacolor® pencil.

My idea was to revisit the technique whereby one paints a background, creates lettering (say, block letters) or other shapes, then paints in a darker or lighter color around everything not outlined. This creates a terrific detailed look inside the lines. In other work, I’ve done a lot more detailing on the bottom layer before adding the over paint layer, but I only have one hour to get stuff dry. My initial thought was to do a light color over top, but I didn’t think the bunny would stand out enough. So I went with the watered down darker indigo. It makes it moodier, more like a foggy memory than the piece would have been all bright and cheerful. That was definitely a way to go too, but I went with the moodier, dreamier quality. It’s the way I rolled yesterday.

But I was mindful of getting too dark. This isn’t named Donnie Darko after all. We do not want to scare the pants off ourselves. Keep telling yourself, “It’s just Bunny-kins.” I had settled on that pet name, so I couldn’t go all Big Bad with it. Just moody and dreamy is good. So I added some hearts, and a white picket fence and some clouds. Now we are reminded of the happy Bunny-kins times of our carefree  youth. The way it should be.

The black outlines are Sharpie® black paint pen. I live and die by the Sharpie®. You know this, I should not have to repeat it, but I do, for your edification. Everything here is for you and don’t forget it.

Today’s work is still in progress. It is another dendritic print, a direct print, which is so frightening to me I need to hug Bunny-kins to get through it.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

barebear

Here is my creation today. It is expressive art mixed media that began with this image:

b4croppedweb

How did this image come to be? About six months ago I bought some stencils at the Dollar Tree. There were five sets available: Sea Life, Farm Life, Alice in Wonderland, Monsters and an alphabet. (I wrote about these at Mythos in an entry Idea Farm). I bought the Alice set and opened it about a week later and it was awesome. Yes, the stencils are on lightweight cardboard, but they were detailed and cut cleanly. The images they selected were not all mainstream. On my next trip in I decided to pick up each set.

For some reason, perhaps all the children’s books I’ve been looking at, the Monster set got appealing. Actually, it started further back than that now that I’m thinking about it. About a month ago I decided to do a mixed media piece using a black silhouette. I’ve done these before (some of them are shown on this blog). Basically, I find an evocative fashion magazine image, one that will translate to being blacked out. I cut it out, paint it with black gesso and create a background to put it on. It’s fun to do and cool to look at. In this instance, I found a couple good samples. I flipped them to the back, and one of them had an image I had not planned. I decided on a different image for the piece I was working on, but I wanted to remember to try this, although as I say, it was an accident. I was going for the boxy pose on the other side. I put the image in my process journal and made notes about why/how it had happened. I left my notes on there but not sure you can make them out.

accidentalcutoutweb

I think this was backburnering, then the children’s book thing happened. The Dollar Tree stencil sets are a good size for my 5×7 Daily Art Initiative projects. During TV time, I go through books and magazine pages and hold the stencils over the pages to find ones that utilize the images on the page.

Because the Monsters (I prefer Creatures, because, really, they are more cute than scary) were abstract I started with that set. Oh, the fun that I had. I tried to use all the Creatures, but found I was partial to several. This one seemed “bearish” to me, it also reminded me of a shaman cave drawing. When I saw the word “Bare” printed on a page I couldn’t resist myself.

All the little guys and gals got gelled down to a full size piece of paper, smack dab in the middle. I’m not sure this was necessary but it seemed like it was, so that’s what I did. The idea was to scan them, crop them and then be able to stick them all on a page(s) to print out to conserve paper. Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? I do not want to use the originals.

I have about 30 0r so done. See my last post about how fast my new Brother inkjet scans. I sat down the other day and scanned them all, then I sat down yesterday and cropped them all and grouped them in files so I could do what I did today, quickly and efficiently. It was a lot of work to digitally resize them and organize them, but if I don’t do it right away, they will just get lost and not get used. Another important Initiative in 2016 is to develop the habit of Organization, but I digress.

I wanted to use Bear, so I picked this one because of the Bare fun factor. I am easily amused. As you can plainly see, the image RESEMBLES a bear, if you squint and tie your Imagination Hat firmly onto your Noggin. Colored pencils are a dry medium so I used my Prismacolor set. I adjusted his ears and they were way too big, which sure set the tone right off the bat. Then I drew the face. I swear to God, the first face made him look like a rat. I couldn’t even with it, so I erased and started again, making the face bigger and wider, and that got better. I messed about giving him paws and shading him in. But there was that awful “Farrow” word that had to go. What to do? I thought the best thing would be to cover it up with a dry, opaque something and decided on ledger paper. I wanted to write the word “Bear” out because I thought maybe the drawing wasn’t good enough to allow you to get the joke. And the paper was all lined like elementary school, so I wrote “Bear” in a childish sort of way.

About now, I have an ugly bear with a childish look and goofy word and a pretty elementary pun to boot. Then I read it. “Bare Bear.” It sounds like what a kid would name a favorite, cherished stuffed bear. This is no longer a bear, its a bear TOY. But it was standing up so tall, not like a stuffed bear. Then I thought, it’s a wind-up toy bear that walks. But how to show the winder thingy? They are called keys, and this is an old school toy, so I can just draw a key winder. I made it big to make sure you could see it and know it was a toy bear.

Man, I only had an hour and I was running out of time. That rat face put me way behind. This toy bear made no sense at all standing in the middle of space, he needed a room. A kid’s room. A boy kid’s room. So I drew some curtains and put on some sailboat wall paper and an out- of-perspective table with a sailboat set on it. I polka-dotted the curtains and was just putting the red fringed rug under Bare Bear when the timer went off.

Ok, we all know this is no Beatrix Potter but I don’t give no fiddely dee about that. I like this; I like everything about this. I especially like these things: I enjoy doing this during TV time because I don’t enjoy TV much; this is super cheap–.10 magazine, $1 for 20 or so stencil images; the process spurs on imagination; drawing practice. Mostly I like this cute little bear waiting for a little boy to wind him up and give him some animation. Good ‘ole Bare Bear, long may he bust a move.