Sunday, August 29, 2010

I am so easily distracted.  I sat down over an hour ago to write a quick post and upload a picture.  That was all I was going to do.  While I was making a quick edit on the picture, I thought "I really should post that to the ning group  Lovin Mixed Media (which is a fantastic group by the way.  Gary is incredibly creative and shares wonderful techniques) because I'm new to the group and I haven't shared any work yet.  While I had the picture up on the screen it seemed a reasonable thing to do because I have a terrible memory and who knows when I'd be likely to think of it again?

Sooooo, I went to Google Reader and opened the site I wanted and was immediately caught be a posting, more like a rant, about abstract art.  What caught my eye was this:
I was happily reading the front page of LMM as I do every day. And I found miss Butlers piece there, having never heard of her I read on while sipping a nice cup of coffee. First thing was boy she has a lot of grants and awards,must be a great artist. Then the pictures invaded my screen..ok I am not going there again. To each it's own,remember the modern art thread I made lol. nope not this time,let that bear rest...for now. No, what made my toes curl the wrong way was this:



"Working larger than I have in recent years, I’m engaged with the slightly off-kilter, the not-quite-right, the un-straight line,discordant color, and awkward alliances. The visual language derives loosely from ideas inspired by everyday objects and imagery, like ships-in-bottles, car dealer flags, construction materials, mind maps, fireworks, floor plans, the number eight, Lily Pulitzer dresses, geometric motifs from my father’s old paintings, vomit, cage-like
crosshatched lines, and, of course, art history"



So.."I’m engaged with the slightly off-kilter, the not-quite-right, the un-straight line,
discordant color, and awkward alliances" uhm..yeah. granted it was early in the morning so my brain was not yet in full gear..I read the same thing again,later that day...yeah no..WHAT are you saying there? So I read on..

"The visual language derives loosely from ideas inspired by everyday objects and imagery, like
ships-in-bottles, car dealer flags, construction materials, mind maps, fireworks, floor plans, the number eight, Lily Pulitzer dresses, geometric motifs from my father’s old paintings, vomit, cage-like crosshatched lines, and, of course, art history""



Well, once I started reading that, I just had to finish and then go to my ning group and see what the follow up discussion was like.  It seems it is a well worn abstract vs realism in art debate with a sidebar on artist statements and philosophies. I had to admit that I couldn't really understand what her description actually meant so I had to go and look up her artwork as well.  And that lead to her her CV because it was there on her site.  It wouldn't be art work that I would choose because I find it jarring rather than interesting but then that is what she seems to be saying. 

By the time I actually posted my picture and wrote a description (and by this time it wasn't feeling anything like art) the hands of the clock had been quite busy in their rotations.

And that was a fairly quick return to task for me.  I just took one side trip.  Well, maybe two if you count the artist's site.  Maybe three if you count her blog as a separate site.  I'm just glad that I didn't really like her art or I might never have gotten back to my real goal.

I find it hard to believe that a few short years ago I was a very on task person.  Now I have the memory span and focus of a goldfish.  Not good.

Back to point.  The picture I am going to post is the result of a mixed media workshop I took at Sarnia Craft Supply, our local craft shop, that involved painting with acrylics.  It was my first time trying to use this medium to create realistic flowers and I still need a lot of work.  

I can't draw or paint - realistically. I know, I know, everyone can draw in some form or another but I have trouble with getting objects to look realistic. What I envision seldom appears on the page. I just can't seem to get my hand to draw what I want. I can trace or copy, however. When it comes to painting I haven't yet grasped the concept of building up layers to create the shading that I want.





This was a large canvas, about 24" x 36". To begin with, we prepared the canvas by adding a small box to the back of the canvas as a recess for the poppy pods and then adding a thin, smooth coat of Frescalina to the entire surface. This is a texture substance that accepts paint like a fresco. We used heat guns to speed up the drying process.

I used a large template and graphite paper to trace the poppies (they were taken from the Altered Art magazine, I think). Thicker layers of texture were added around the poppies towards the outer edges of the canvas. We used sea sponges to dab on our background colours. I was using ochre, and raw umber and raw sienna. I liked the earth toned background.

The instructor walked us through the painting of the poppies. She was doing a canvas as a demonstration so that we could see how she used the colours for shading. Her poppies looked a lot better than mine and I did have to get her help in rescuing a petal on the large poppy. To me it still looks like it is bending out rather than up when I first look at it. We actually sanded the poppies to bring back some of the lighter colours that were underneath and add a distressed texture to the canvas.

I found that the leaves and stem were much easier to shade, though I think I'm most pleased with the bud or poppy pod or whatever the green thing hanging down is. I like the subtle shading on that. I can see the depth and shape of it.

We used large foam stamps (I chose the diamond pattern) to stamp a painted design on the canvas. I also had some finer flourish stamps that I used to embellish the areas around the actual pods and the text. I added more Frescalina to the area around the text and stamped the flourishes into the texture medium. When you look at the canvas you can see the embossing.

The quote was supposed to be painted with a script brush but my hand is just not steady enough for that -- not if you want to read it that is. I ended up using a paint pen.

Finally, to add an extra touch we put sizing on several areas around the poppies and when the sizing was tacky we added gold leaf and burnished it.

So I didn't actually draw the poppies freehand - I used a template. The entire group did. Though maybe others could have drawn their own poppies, it made it easier to coordinate the instructions for shading if our poppies all had petals opened in the same way.

I had a great time at this workshop and Melanie was a very, very patient instructor. She's also a very good painter.

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