Archive for the ‘expressive painting’ 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.

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.

Hare Moon

Posted: January 7, 2014 in expressive painting, New Mixed Media art

haremoonOk, here’s the kind of day it’s been. I’ve been working on a website since 7am and I have not managed to load even one page. I’ve MADE pages, but they refuse to publish. I’m using Weebly, which I used to create the Pisces Rising website a few years ago. I had that site built with pages, subpages and about 300 images in the same time I’ve spent today getting nada. Hopefully Bob can figure something out when he gets home. For now, I’m about over-frazzled trying to figure it out. (BTW, those of you who have looked for the Pisces Rising site, it is gone. They put the domain name in jail and we could not afford to bail it out. Someone in Japan owns it now).

I finished this painting yesterday. I do not know any more about it than you do. It started out much more literal but design and early execution problems made the original drawing impossible to render. So  I added a bonfire, made the rabbit peek around the central figure and the entire grove was added. Really all that came from the original was the figures and moon. As you can easily see, I’ve forgotten just about everything I knew about painting.

Much of the work is paper collage–the dresses, bonfire and trees, then over-painted or washed with acrylic. I had the idea for poppy seeds as inspiration for heads, the masks appeared later in the drawing. I think it is mostly an over-spill of all the fairy tales I’ve been reading, listening to Dr. Pinkola-Estes CD’s while painting and some sort of dream. Keep warm!

madonnapereiraMerry Christmas!

I received this gorgeous Madonna and Child image from my friend, the artist Pereira. I love the Madonna image, and no more so than at this time of year. In this image, I see similarities to two distinct styles, with a mixture that is a refreshing and intriguing POV. These styles are two of my very favorites.

My initial thought was to the illuminated manuscripts of the Medieval ages. Obviously the Madonna/Child iconography was common during the Medieval times, but it is more the detailed, botanical renderings of this painting that evoked my response. The illuminated manuscripts illustrated gorgeous flowers, vines, animals and usually the inclusion of insects, notably bees. The detail in the leaves and flowers are characteristic of the period. These elements in combination suggested to me those most reverential religious artworks.

The other stylistic reference I see is one of Latin culture and folkloric Mother images. Perhaps the full bloom flora and vibrant colors remind me of Guadeloupe. Maybe it is the invocation of holistic connection between Mother, Child and the natural world that re-minds me of milk from the breast, honey from the hive and the sweet fragrance of flowers.

But, the best thing about this piece of art, in my opinion, is the elegant merging of two disparate styles into a distinctive new vision. It is evocative and lush, and it delights me. Brava!

This is another painted print from a styrofoam plate that I did a few of last week. They are now in my cubbyhole at ARTpool Gallery for $12. The plate was printed on a 5×7 canvas board. I drew  a child, not a cherub, but the printed face looked so angelic and the clothes more like a robe than what I drew, that I turned the figure into an angel. I believe this is what is called Artistic License! haha. Have a blessed day.