We had a LOT of fun on the U-stream show last Thursday night! The chat room was a buzz full of great people and lively conversation. During the show, I experimented with using heavy gloss layers in my journal. If you’ve ever seen any of Wyanne’s work, you know she adds layers of 2-part epoxy to her pieces. She will lay down an acrylic painting, put in a layer of gloss, paint, gloss, paint, embellishments and it is GORGEOUS! I wanted to try to emulate that in my journal. Obviously, I can’t add a 1″ layer of 2-part epoxy to my book though. I’d never be able to close the book. I’m having enough trouble doing that now with all the paint on the spirals.
I had gone to The Hobby Lobby to find something called Triple Thick Glaze. I thought since it put a layer in equal to three layers of standard varnish, I could put two layers of this in between my layers of paint and still maintain the flexibility of my journal. Also, it’s spray paint and I LOVES me some spray paint. However, while I was at The Hobby Lobby I discovered they had clear vinyl on sale for $2 a yard! OH MY GOODNESS! All the things I could do with that, not the least of which involved my current project in my journal.
I started by running some tests to see what might give me the effect I was looking for. This appeals to the scientist in me. Using a full text page in my Golf Digest, I sectioned off test areas for vinyl with spray adhesive on one side, vinyl with spray adhesive on two sides, vinyl with mod podge, vinyl with liquid medium, mod podge without vinyl, liquid medium without vinyl, vinyl with gel medium, triple thick varnish, and a control. Whew! Someone in the chat room said I had entirely too much time on my hands. At the time of the show, the three best adhesives that maintained transparency were the liquid medium, the gel medium, and the triple thick. The triple thick required the page to be sealed first though. I decided to continue with gel medium and liquid medium for phase II testing.
In Phase II of the testing, I took two playing cards and painted on them. starting with a foundation of watercolor and acrylic I began adding layers of vinyl using gel on one and liquid medium on the other. The second layer of paint was an acrylic flower and some paint spatters. This is where the gel medium really outshined the liquid. The gel smoothed over the edges so that there were no air bubbles around the spatters. However, a week later and the gel medium still has not dried and so is still cloudy. The liquid medium did dry clearly and quickly so it got the shot in the journal. I still want to watch the gel medium, however and see if it will eventually dry. This will be important if I ever want to do this again with larger embellishments.
I am very pleased with the final results. You can see in the close up that the layers are quite distinguished from one another, and it is all VERY shiny. I couldn’t get the vinyl across the spirals, of course, so I ended up using the triple thick spray there. I also need to treat the sides to hide the edge of the vinyl and protect them from catching on things and being peeled up. The transparencies also added a layer of atmospheric perspective that just REALLY made the foreground pop. I love that.
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We’re going through some severe shake ups at my day job so I may not be able to post regularly again for a while. It may be more of the mobile phone uploads. Today, however, I thought I’d post this sketch that I did this weekend. A friend of mine on facebook asked me to draw a hummingbird for her.
Ball point pen on Canson, 65# recycled paper, 9×12.
Whew! What a busy couple of weeks this has been. I wish I could say that more of it was art related but my day job and other responsibilities have gotten in the way more than I like lately. That kind of stuff just wears me out. Then when I sit down with my arts, I am tired and uninspired. Sometimes, that can bring your art to a complete hault. They call it writer’s block if you’re a writer. I’m not too sure if they call it sketcher’s block or not, but it’s the same thing. You know you want to draw, but you look around and can’t see anything you think is worth drawing. That was the point of the Every Day Matters challenge. Danny Gregory began drawing as a means to relieve some of the daily stress of all the bad things happening in his life. Consequently, he found that there were a whole lot more important things than worry and strife. Things like love and happiness that he was able to discover just by noticing the beauty around him.
I was disappointed from my bike trip the other week because when I was in this beautiful area of Arkansas, it was too hot to do anything at all outside for very long. So I took some pictures to use as references later. But I really wanted to paint en plein air, or sketch live. And so lethargy set in. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do so I have kind of been sulking. I have been thinking that there was nothing worth drawing around my house. Man am I spoiled!
“There is nothing I cannot draw. There are things that don’t inspire me or interest me, but that doesn’t mean I am unable to draw them.
I learn something when I try a subject that I don’t usually enjoy drawing. I learn that its not as difficult as I anticipated and that drawing is simply drawing, whether a mountain or a person or a flower.
Don’t tell anyone this part, ok? Sometimes I actually enjoy the process of drawing something outside my comfort level.”
That quickly snapped me back into the right mindset. There are lessons to be learned and New things to be experienced by doing things outside your box. I could have been following the example of Julie Oakley and drawn all of the family members that I was trapped in the vacation dwelling with. That would have been fantastic figure drawing practice. I sulked myself out of a great learning experience. Well after having read that post, we went for coffee about town to this nice little coffeeshop/museum. While my beautiful young bride and Girl2 were enjoying a snack and a beverage, I whipped out my handy dandy little sketchbook and proceeded to wander the museum where I might have just talked my way into volunteering once a week.
Then on Saturday, the girls and I loaded up and went in to “The City” with the specific purpose of buying hermit crabs. I have been pressing my lovely wife to let me have that we needed these for the children for several months now. Finally, after seeing Girl2′s reaction to them in Hot Springs, AR, my bride agreed that we needed them. So we loaded up and went to town. Just under $200 US later, we have a hermit crab paradise.
This is the kind of thing that truly inspires me. Girl2 squeals every time we talk about them. Every time she walks through the room, she has to run over and see what they’re doing, even though they are nocturnal and don’t move hardly at all during the day. Watching their antics for hours on end has kept us occupied as a family to the extent that we haven’t seen a full episode of Spongebob since we got them. I’m planning a huge luxury resort for these critters which I will of course share with you as I go along. Just don’t tell my wife.
If you have any tips or stories on what inspires you, or how you stay motivated, please feel free to share them in the comments section!
For the past few weeks I have been posting on Monday’s Discovery about my attempts to turn a glue moistener into a large waterbrush. Then intent was to be able to shape the sponges and fill them with the color paint I wanted to lay down quickly. In playing with these, however, I have found another application that I rather like. When sketching in the field with a water brush, it is difficult to lay large amounts of color down, like sky or grassy fields. Filling one of these with a blue mix for sky, or just using it to lay the backround wash seems to work fairly well!
Last week, I cut open the cap of this sucker and packed it with polyester batting to help control the flow of water. With out that, the water just streamed out of the moistener and washed the color away just as fast as it layed it on. Once the rubber cement dried to hold the batting in place, this thing worked like a charm! Being that the sponge is synthetic with no natural pits or shapes, I will have to take a pair of scissors to cut and shape it into something more interesting. But it holds paint pretty well and it was able to lay the colors down with some interesting patterns.
I threw this together just to demonstrate it’s effectiveness. I ran out of patience because this is the only thing between me and a beautiful road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas on the bike!
And welcome to week 2 of my playing around with a glue moistener bottle to make a tree sponge. When I saw these bottles on the rack at Wal*Mart a week or so ago, I immediately began wondering if they could be used in watercolors, specifically if they could be modified to make trees. What I discovered last week is that the flow of water through them is too fast and floods the color right off of the sponge. Close inspection of my other waterbrushes showed that they solved that problem by placing a small sponge directly in the flow. I decided to place some floss in the cap of the glue moistener to see if that would slow the flow enough to make it usefull in a watercolor application. I gathered my rubber cement, an X-acto knife, and some polyester filiment I had lying around from another project. Since I will be using chemicals and sharp objects I would like to take a moment to discuss “Shop Safety”. You need a well ventilated area for the rubber cement. And you need to follow all of the safe cutting practices that are outlined in the instruction pamphlet that came with your X-acto knife. Kids need adult supervision. Dad’s need Mom’s permission. Moms, dial 911 and ask to wait on hold ’til Dad finishes.
Cutting into the cap
In violation of all of the safety precautions I just lined out for you, I begin by cutting into the cap. I am cutting at a steep angle so there will be plenty of surface area for the rubber cement. This little piece of plastic was actually tough to cut this way. I think if I do it again, I will just use one of the wife’s steak knives. Lord knows my mother has a drawer full of glued up and bent steak and butter knives from the various projects I’ve done through the years. Mostly, butter knives because they make good impromptu screwdrivers, and once they’re bent they make good pallet knives.
What you can almost make out in the picture is the batting stuffed into the cut away cap. This is a part I hadn’t considered and it will prove to be the ultimate challenge of this project. To use enough batting means to over stuff the cap. This stuff is springy so I have to be careful to get it all inside the cap and keep the cap together while the rubber cement dries. Don’t do what I did. I licked my palm to get some traction and rolled it up into a little ball. It worked, but it’s gross to think about.
Things to do while glue dries
Once the batting was in place, I brushed a little of the rubber cement onto the exposed lip of the cap. Of course, when I went to put these two pieces together I realized just how small they were and how much trouble the springiness of the batting was going to give me. At this point, I consider scrapping the batting and cutting up one of the wife’s dish sponges. I decided I’m too stubborn to do that and eventually did get the them together. I intended to use a rubber band to hold this in one piece, but the pieces kept sliding apart while trying to get the rubber band in place. I ended up holding it together by hand while waiting for the glue to set. As you can see, I have become quite adept at spider solitaire for projects like this.
After several attempts at this, the batting just kept pushing the bits apart. I finally got part of the glue set. I flooded the cracked spots with rubber cement so they would remain waterproof, placed the rubber band around it, slipped the shaft of the X-acto knife in for tension, and set it aside. At 2:45 am, I decided to let the glue sit over night.
Why am I doing this? The idea I have is to cut the sponges into shapes. When I want to create a wooded landscape, I will then just grab the bottles with the right kind of tree shaped sponge, already full of the appropriate color of paint, and dab them on quickly. It’s not any faster than a brush or a regular sponge, but it has been more fun!
Tune in next week during Monday Discovery and we’ll see how it turned out.
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