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Paris 14 Nov 2015//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Change in the weather

Change in the weatherSummer has arrived with its bloody hot days and super storms to end them. Everything is changing.

I have an updated OS system on my apple – and I don’t like it. My scroll bars seems to constantly go walkabout.

Flickr seems different – I’m not sure my artwork will embed.

When I text one friend, it now answers to my iPad.

Sometimes I want to take technology and throw it against the wall. A month ago everything worked fine! I blame Christmas. Most people get cranky about something at Christmas and it seems my technology is getting in early and getting cranky at me.

Rant over.

Mixed Media Evening Art: 74 Hands

74 HandsIn 2014, I’m returning to painting small. A3 or smaller to be precise. This latest piece has evolved over the past week or so. I have no idea what the device is in the hand in the top right corner… I thought perhaps it was a starter’s pistol but Andrew tells me it is not. Anyone know?

I enjoy coming home after work to a cat cuddle following by a spot of painting. It’s a way to unwind and let my brain potter along in another zone for a while. If only painting resulted in weight loss… then it would be the perfect pastime.

 

Transforming ugly paper into usable collage material

Transforming ugly paper into usable

Before (left), After (right)

OK, I am ashamed to admit that I have paper bearing glitter in my collage stash.

I know not from whence they came.

I suspect they were part of a mixed pack – they have been in my folders so long that I have quite forgotten.

These are scrapbooking papers. I am not a scrapbooker and have no interest in it. If people look down on mixed media art as not being particularly artistic, then scrapbooking is even further down the chain. Personally I remain delighted that scrapbooking became popular in the last decade because it gave me another source from which to collect papers.  That said, the lesson I have learnt is buy a ‘pack’ expecting that it will be about 2/3rds useful, 1/3 toss out. Hmm… ‘toss out’… not usually in my vocabulary when it comes to collage material. So it seems that I have kept these papers (left in each picture) and well… what a surprise… I’ve never used them.

I can’t imagine why I haven’t had call to use a prancing horse with glitter, but there you go.

So in an effort to justify these papers taking up room in my collage collection, I decided to transform them. The best part about an ugly paper is the gusto with which one can throw oneself at changing it as it can surely get no worse.

My main challenge was getting rid of the glitter as it is upraised. In the end I used a variety of media to extinguish it, including:

  • gesso over the top which ‘filled in’ the non-embossed areas and gave a new flattened surface
  • light molding paste (by Golden). This has to be one of my favourite gel / pastes to use as it is so lightweight that the paper tolerates it and it’s marshmallow finish just sucks in the colours of the glazes you put over the top.
  • opaque paints – with this you can still see the upraised pieces but at least the glitter is gone (see below)
Transforming Ugly Paper 3

Before (left), After (right)

The photographs don’t do justice the richness of colour in the reformed papers.

While I doubt that I could ever have found an artful application for purple paper with green glittered dots, the rich wine colour is something I most certainly will use. It has been completed using a number of glazes as well as some handwritten additions in my favourite crayons (Caran d’ache neocolor I’s) which shine through the subsequent layers. The greenish-glitter has now turned to an orange-gold courtesy of the quin crimson & quin nickel azo gold layers. It now has depth and intensity.

Last but not least is quite possibly the ugliest of all the papers I set about transforming this week.

Transforming Ugly Paper 2

Before (left), after (right)

The purple mermaid with green glitter. Oh, it’s just too stylish.

I had a lot of difficult photographing the piece after painting as it kept reflecting light – in particular in the bottom corner where there is some Clear Tar Gel giving it a gloss. A close up of the middle is featured below.

Of all the papers this one got the most gesso. It is also the one that looks most like a ‘piece’ rather than paper that I’m just going to put back into my stash to rip up another day. I suppose in all of this the question is, why bother transforming ugly paper… why not just start with clean paper? I think the close up below answers that well. While it looks nothing like the original, it got to where it is based on the original. The upraised elements are still present (without the sparkle), and the colour choices are in part informed by the purple as I needed something dark and high staining like the quin crimson to cover over the purple and some gesso where I wanted to knock it out altogether. Besides, there is no need to ‘cover up’ clean paper. Eliminating glittered tackiness from my stash is a good excuse to just spread paint around with abandon! I’ve got another 4 days before I go back to work and another 4 pieces of ugly paper. Fun!

Transforming ugly paper 4

Playing with fabric

Design as you go quilt (foot not included)

Design as you go quilt (foot not included)

‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ asks Andrew. I think I should reply something sensible. Buying cat food. Tidying the house. Doing the Christmas shopping (my mother has already finished – GROAN). But I don’t feel like doing any of those things. I feel like playing.

Isn’t it odd that a child who doesn’t play is considered peculiar, weird, ‘at risk’ of developing life’s essential social skills, yet playtime as adults is something we sneak into the crevices. If we can disguise our play as having a physical or social benefit, then that’s ok. None of my play does. There is nothing physically strenuous about mixed media painting, or sewing (aside from stabbing myself unintentionally with pins).

I started to write this post by taking the photograph of the partially completed quilt top to the left. I then hopped across to the daily prompt at WordPress to check out the theme. It’s a daily prompt that I use maybe six weekly! It was playtime. It surely must be a sign from the internet gods that it’s ok not to do all the things I should be doing today. (Why are your cats going hungry? Because WordPress said it was ok!)

Some people would consider Christmas shopping ‘playtime’. For me, it is when I’m inspired… but right now I’m out of ideas and that’s the problem with a deadline. My creativity doesn’t work to a deadline and I suspect many others don’t either… otherwise they wouldn’t have invented the gift card.

The quilt above has been an on again / off again project. It has been interrupted for at least 3 other items. It has one flower / mushroom / leaf / [insert whatever you call that thing here] to go. Unfortunately it must have 55 strips, using 13 different coloured fabrics. It was my dressmaking teacher who started this fibonacci number lunacy and now I am almost there I cannot skip out on it now. This will be my first – and last – fibonacci inspired effort.

I can see why people make quilts to patterns. Of course there’s the obvious benefit of knowing what the next step is, yet, I was thinking more about fabric planning. Throughout this quilt I find myself rummaging through my sewing bag counting up small strips of colour in an effort to ascertain how many more strips I need and of what colour.

Of course my squirrelling, resource hoarding brain is already planning what I can do with the leftovers. I was painting the other night and had collaged on a woman with a ‘fright’ plastered all over her face. As the only other thing in the piece was a butterfly, I felt this looked rather stupid. Andrew face-timed me in the middle of my pondering. (Is face-timed a word?).

‘I can’t find what I’m looking for… I want a gargoyle I think!’.

Seizing this opportunity he says to me – ‘See, you have too much stuff.’

‘No! I have not enough!’

Who's afraid of a butterfly

Who’s afraid of a butterfly

The postscript to that particular story is that I found a dragon, only to have a paper transfer failure. (See that mottled dark patch between her and the butterfly… that is the failed dragon. More like a decomposing dragon… hmm… wouldn’t that be smelly???)

Hmm… now I have lost my train of thought. What is a train of thought anyway? I’ve got an image of a freight train carrying alphabet soup in each carriage… ok… I think I’ve lost it now. Whatever piece of sensibleness this blog post had at the beginning is now truly up the creek with a beetroot and ham sandwich! It’s time to play for real instead of with words.

Oh… and buy cat food.

Opposites Attract

IMG_5013I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying that opposites attract. When it comes to art, Andrew and I certainly meet that criteria. He paints in oils while I continue to embrace the lowly acrylic. He hand draws and paints all his colour and imagery, while I will steal from any collage source available. He paints figures which are proportionally and tonally correct, while my figures are anatomically challenged.

This is all because we perhaps seek opposites things from art. Andrew has a drive to paint the perfect image. He has complete ideas in his head which he aims to translate onto the canvas. My only drive is to express what I feel like expressing in that moment. Unfortunately that moment is often fleeting and consequently I have many pieces which have a slightly unfinished feel to them – such as this one. It’s been hanging around for a few weeks. The top of the painting is incredibly raw. I’m not sure there’s any paint up there… just collage material. After several weeks of floating around the art table, I’ve decided that it is finished even if that means it looks unfinished. I cannot recreate an idea that was a moment in time and, in this case, I cannot extend it because I don’t want to destroy that which is core to this piece.

This would drive Andrew batty. In fact in most areas of my life it would annoy me too. I hate doing a task at work and people seeing it half-finished. Even when things are complete, I will sometimes look back at them later and wonder what on earth possessed me to think that it was ‘good enough.’ Such is the way of the perfectionist. Art is one of the few places where I can buck that voice that says it’s not good enough and it’s not right. I think that is in part because Art has no right or wrong. It isn’t like sport where you either win or lose. Or like sewing a dress – it either hangs together and fits, or it doesn’t. Sure, in art, certain things seem more valued than others. (And if I were in a cynical mood I’d say that appears to be either skill, or bullshit, or both). But value is not right or wrong. And provided something can’t be wrong, then perfectionism loses for once and the older I get, the more delight I take in that.

Rusty Paintings

The Fish CrownIt’s been a while since I posted an artwork and certainly not one with a fish on my head before.

The base of this piece is all newspaper from last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. I bought the paper thinking that I would do something else entirely. As I flipped through it there were a number of articles on bushfires including photos. I picked these out and then started to select any photograph that had a warm ‘glow.’

After creating a background, the piece hung around for a few days before I decided to draw a woman with a fish on her head (based on a blend of two drawings from a Dover Pictorial Archive book of 1930s Spot Illustrations). Unfortunately I’m very rusty. The fish was fine. The woman’s head was not.

And so it was that I fell back to my collage materials to find a head that would fit under the fish… which as it turned out was mine!

I did make some attempt to blend the photo in to the background with paint but my ear and hair remain untouched.

I wouldn’t call it a great piece, but it’s finished just the same. I of course had cat assistance throughout. This time mainly from Saffron who seems to think the art table is her table (photographic evidence below to support this accusation). There’s so much junk on the art table it’s a wonder that she fits at all.
Art help from Saff

A Monday dash of art

Don’t ask why he has an umbrella and an ancient mask… I’ve got no idea why. I don’t explain them, I just paint them.
Anticipation

Paint Sketch 1 24/6/2013
Paint Sketch 2 24/6/2013

Paw prints in paint… almost!

Mixed Media Collage June 2013Lately I’ve been stitching more than painting. I’m not convinced that they aren’t the same practice for me but in a different media. I’ve had a few paintings on the go. All very small scale (A3 or smaller) and mostly unclear in their direction. The one above has been floating around on and off as an A3 piece for ages. I had layered Golden Fluid Acrylics in my usual fashion – here using Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Transparent Red Iron Oxide and Phthalo Blue.

The choice of colour combination was extremely scientific. Those particular bottles were almost empty and I wanted to use them up so I could toss the bottles out. (My little unit is very cluttered and while on a practical day I can see that removing 3 small bottles is really not going to do much, at the time it seemed like a good idea).

However it was going nowhere fast.

It’s probably been on the table for the better part of a month. So I did what I often do when an art piece isn’t progressing – I do something drastic! In this case, I got a stanley knife and cut my A3 piece down to A4. From there, after some rummaging in my collage materials, the piece ‘appeared’. I can’t explain how this happens; it just suddenly comes together.

It was almost ‘adjusted’ by Saffron planting her bum on the table. Fortunately, she was about 1 inch from the wet paint. Of course, it’s the only time she has sat on the table in recent history. She rarely leaves the heater. Even when it’s not on she sits next to it in hope! As does her sister… here they are at it again!

Licorice and Saffron loving the heater

Impromptu art

IMG_3169 It’s been a while between impromptu art pieces and I’m clearly out of practice. Not only did I succeed in getting paint all over my hands but I also lent my arm on the heat gun and spent the next period with it under a tap, all the time hoping that Saffron was not about to take a walk across the painting table.

I started with bronze, cream and phthalo blue. I then decided I’d like to collage on the woman holding a beheaded man on a platter. Before anyone suggests it, no, Andrew has not done anything – this is not biographical! The only explanation I can give is that the colour of her skirt fit with my painting to date.

(By the way, if anyone can tell me who painted the original, I’d like to know… it’s in my miscellaneous collage pile and I have no idea where it came from).

I then wanted a tiger. That’s why I have a bird.

It really didn’t go very smoothly at all.

The best part of the whole art experience was opening up the watercolour pad to find the following piece I’d quite forgotten about.

I went to get a piece of watercolor paper from my stash and I re-discovered an old art piece. He looks better than I remember.

Acrylic, conte crayon and caran d’ache wax oil pastel on arches water colour paper.