I recently took a class that reminded me of a watercolor painting that I did years ago. I was working on Arches 100% rag paper and learned if I had a really awful painting, I could scrub most of the paint off with a toothbrush under running water. So I did that, and ended up with a muted background. I learned to paint around shapes with a dark color and pull out stems and leaves by leaving them the muted underpainting.
Fast forward many years and Elaine Pierce presented a class she said was inspired by me. I didn’t see how, until I took the class and she gave me credit for teaching her how to use napkins in collage. As often happens with my teaching, I present a little technique and my students come up with amazing art. This is why I often brag that although I’m not that great an artist, I must be a great teacher as my students often surpass me with inspired, beautiful art.
In the class, we did a light brush-blend background using colors suited to our chosen napkin color palette. Mine was yellow, gold and white. Then we penciled in our tablecloth, vase and where our leaves would mostly be. We covered these places with bits of our separated napkins. (When using napkins in collage, you separate the white background layer(s) from the colorful top). We used mod podge. We then mixed our background color and painted around our tablecloth, vase and leaves. I had trouble seeing where to put my leaves and covering some up, so I resorted to outlining them with a black sharpie. I added some shadows and white ferns. I finished with 3 coats of varnish.
For the book page spread, I simplified the process. I skipped the underpainting and started with drawing the 3 trees with a black pen. Then I took a variety of napkins and tissue papers to make the trees distinctly different colors in the foliage. I tore the papers into tiny pieces and adhered them with mod podge. You don’t have to be careful to stay within the lines you’ve drawn as you will be redrawing them later. The tree trunks were covered with bits of the inside of a business envelope and a little napkin. We then adhered some dark green tissue at the roots of the trees to pull out some grasses. We took our black pens and redrew the trees taking advantage of the out-of-the-line bits to add a little more interesting shapes to them. We also drew in simple grass shapes. Then we poured out some acrylic paint using a big puddle of turquoise and a little dark blue to make it darker than some tissue we used. We loaded a brush with mostly turquoise and a swish of the dark to create a little variation in the painted surface (though I’m not sure it shows!). We painted around all our drawn shapes. I used the dark blue paint and an angle shader brush to float in some shadows along one side of the trunks, the bottom of the foliage and some in the middle of the leaves.
It is a fun process and you could do this with any kind of background. So go and play!
Today I wanted to see if I could make encaustic art on canvas. I used a 5×7 canvas board and an 8×10 stretched canvas. First I covered the front with handmade papers that I bought in a pack from Costco years ago. I used mod podge to adhere the papers, but only on the back of the papers and not on the front as is the usual collage process. The reason for this is to let the front be more porous to accept the wax medium. I use tiny chunks of the medium which is a mix of beeswax and damar resin from a 1 lb. bag. Ideally encaustic is done on a wood substrate, but we were having trouble finding a source for the wood for a class I plan to teach next month.
I added my signature with black permanent pen and drew the tree on the larger canvas. Then I added a layer of the wax medium with a small quilting iron to both canvas’. To the smaller canvas I used the melted wax to add pieces of gelli printed tissue paper all over. Then I added a copy of a vintage child. With puddles of wax I added the embellishments of vintage flowers, gold braid, a metal heart and buttons. I kept adding pellets of wax pushed under the edges until everything was well embedded.
To the tree I added layers of oil pastels in black, grey, brown and blues. After each layer with wax, I would make some scratches and fill them with more color. The tree now has a raised textured look and feel.
I think this technique worked just fine on canvas. Now I will wait until they set for 24 hours before I polish the wax to a beautiful shine. Now go play!
Today I’ll be teaching an inspiresdstudio class on a mixed media canvas. So I’ll share a brief description of the process. We will work on a stretched canvas. I will demo on 8×10, but the class will work on 11×14. The first step is a brush blended background. I always use a lot of warm white plus 2 or 3 other colors. It is good to keep the background light at this stage so tissue papers and napkin patterns show up. Load a large flat brush with the warm white and tip a corner in another color. Start in one corner and do criss-cross strokes covering the area and sides. Each time you re-load the brush (without adding water or rinsing in between)start with more warm white and pick up some color. Work quickly so the applications blend with each other. (When I do this at home, I just pour the paint on the canvas, but students often use waaaay too much paint. If i have too much paint, I just smoosh the excess on an altered book page spread.)
Next step is to choose an image and napkins, papers, text in your color scheme. I get my images from the book pictured below. I copy and cut them all out in advance. Then tear and arrange the papers, balancing the color, having the patterns in more than one place and including your image placement. Once you have them arranged, you can start to mod podge them in place, beginning with the papers that will be underneath others.
The last steps are to float color on the edges, float a shadow around the image and ground it if necessary, use punchinella to connect shapes and other texture if desired. I sometimes paint in the flesh with a mix of red, yellow and white. Sometimes I just float some burnt sienna in the shadows. I usually add some of my background color to her clothing in washes. You can finish with several coats of mod podge or varnish. These canvas’ can have further embellishments that are dimensional. I’ve made them with silk flowers and wood pieces.
The canvas’ pictured above are early stage and finished. Now go make art!
Today I made a sample poster for an upcoming streetfair in San Diego. We have a booth to promote the business I teach through, Inspiresdstudio. I will be selling some small encaustics and whatever else I can find around here…rocks, visors, etc. While we’re there, we will have make and takes and I’m in charge of the Inspire bookmarks. Later this week I have a class in a zentangle-inspired mixed media canvas. So we will do patterns on the bookmark. On the pics, the part I did in pencil didn’t show up…sorry. The poster was too big for the scanner, so it is in two parts.
Here is the sample for the class as well. I start by putting text all over the stretched canvas with mod podge. Then I add a copyright free image. Each person chooses their own…as well as their own saying and choice of patterns. This is why I love this company…it encourages creativity and individual expression. We include all the materials and lead you through the process so there is never any skill needed!
As promised…here is the other artwork I did yesterday. It is melted wax inchies on a black canvas. Inchies are simply art work cut into 1″x1″ pieces. The black really sets the colors off nicely. I did 2 coats of black acrylic on the white canvas. I melt crayons on a warming tray and lay paper on top and peel it off for a monoprint. I usually use 4×4″ papers, or 3″x5″ or even smaller. That way I have lots of those nice edge pieces to choose from. Sometimes I do a batch of like colors and sometimes I just play and use whatever floats my boat. This is easy enough for kids and a good way to use up old crayons. The warming trays can be found at thrift stores and were popular in the 70s.
When I was arranging these pieces, I thought they looked like flowers, as did my daughter. But then when it was all glued (I use Aleene’s tacky glue) together, both my daughter and I saw the “Monkey in the Middle” . Made us chuckle. I used a Sakura gelly roll pen for the signature and title