Friday, April 23, 2010

April 22, 2010 ... Resist

resist: 1325–75; ME resisten (v.) < L resistere to remain standing,
a substance that prevents or inhibits some effect from taking place

I really like a textured looking background, but I paint in very thin washes, which isn't compatible with the thicker and more opaque layers that are usually seen in mixed media. Putting down some kind of resist before I add color helps create some dimension and interest.

I start with a very lightly gessoed canvas that is still quite porous. Too much gesso will make the canvas too slick and not porous enough. I also experimented on a lightly gessoed Moleskine page, and bare watercolor paper.

For the resist in my projects today, I used a regular glossy gel medium, an ultra heavy glossy gel medium, and modeling paste. Anything that makes a mark that is less porous than the canvas or paper will work as a resist.
There are several different ways to put the resist down. Any kind of handmade or rubber stamp lightly coated with gloss medium can be pressed into the canvas or paper. A palette knife can be used to spread an imperfect coat of modeling paste in places on the canvas ...

Using an old brush, glossy gel medium can be flicked in spots at random over the canvas.

Screens, stencils, silk screens and anything else with an open pattern can be used to press modeling paste or gel medium through.

Once the different resists are down, I add thin washes of acrylic paint. For this project, I wanted a subtle effect with the resists, so I made them fairly thin. The more porous canvas will soak up more pigment than the resist leaving an interesting design.

I wanted pink stripes and used masking tape as something of a resist. When using tape, the paint can't be too watery, otherwise it will seep under the edges of the taper. That can actually be an interesting effect, but I didn't want that here so went with a drier paint ... in pink!

My pink is made of Liquitex Quinacridone Magenta mixed with Titanum White.

I decided to use a silk screened image over the stripes ...

and added some moonflowers ...

This works the best on canvas, for me anyway. The effect is usually more subtle on paper.

Products used ...

  • Ultra Heavy Gel Medium, glossy
  • Gel Medium, glossy
  • Modeling Paste, light
  • Vivid Lime Green
  • Yellow Light Hansa
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Titanium White
  • Cobalt Teal
  • Turquoise Deep
  • Sap Green

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

When the moon blooms
Like a flower in the night
~ Mark Heard

I've always been fascinated with moonflowers ... they're evening/night blooming flowers. Unfortunately, I've already killed my moonflower seedlings for this year. I let them get chilled. They have to be kept really warm. I'll have to settle with painting them.

This is a 6" x 6" hand stretched 11 ounce canvas with 2 1/2" sides (I'll put up a tutorial on how to make these soon). I love the chunkiness of it. I lightly gessoed the canvas. Too much gesso and any watery paint will just pool on the surface. This way, the canvas stays matte and a bit porous and it's more like working on watercolor paper.

I made this for our new neighbors. We live in the country and have been smack in the middle of 40 acres for years. We finally have a neighbor, almost within shouting distance ... a nice family with little kids. Anyway, this is on a 5" x 5" hand stretched 7 ounce canvas with 1" sides. I kind of like working small sometimes.

It needs ... something. It doesn't seem finished. The spiral shape is also know as a golden spiral ... It's on a 12" x 12" hand stretched 11 ounce canvas with 2 1/2" sides. I've used tinted and untinted gel medium as a resist here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Three on Thursdays

I've been away ... playing with fairy angels ...

and making things in the kitchen ...

I've been blogging elsewhere ... at my Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!) blog ...

and even written a book ...

I've also been thinking about making art again ...

So, I'll be showing up here regularly now. On Thursdays. Like clockwork. With something to show you. Three pieces of art, I think, is a good goal. Yes, three. On Thursdays.

We've been talking about art, over at Gary Reef's ning site (which is a great site and wonderful group of people, btw) ... Gary asked the question, "Is tracing really drawing or is it cheating?" ... This was my response ... what's your opinion?

These conversations that become "this is art, but that isn't art", or "that's just craft," are always interesting.

Art is the idea. It's a noun.

Craft is a verb, it's whatever one does to make ideas reality ...To make something is to "craft" it ... we don't "art" things,we craft them. So the act of drawing or tracing or making stencils or using images or found objects is craft ... the idea as well as the final result is art ...

Kiki Smith is one of my favorite artists, and is highly respected in the international art world. She can't draw well. She can't sculpt well. She can't paint well. And she doesn't even try. She's not a craftsperson, she's an artist. One of her works is a limited edition of a big clear glass egg with a golden yellow yolk inside. She conceived the idea, and then paid crafts people to make them, but SHE is the artist of the work. She never even touched them as part of their making, but it was still her idea that made them come into being. The idea that being skilled in a craft is actually what art is all about simply isn't true. What's important with her art is what she's saying.

Also, the point isn't to make sure everyone knows how hard we slaved over a particular piece. In fact, it's the opposite. Once we become conscious of how this was done or that was done (especially if it looks like it was difficult for the artist), we've moved onto the craft part and have forgotten the art.

There's always such a difference between a drawing by someone who can't draw and who obviously labored over it, and someone who does abstract drawings ... a lot of the time the very same "deficiencies" are in both, but the abstract was intended to look that way and appears effortless. (They're both art, but the one is saying, at least in part, "look how hard I worked on this!")

If tracing is cheating, than so is using images in collage. I've always been able to draw well. In school it was my "trick" ... everyone had their thing they could do, and I could draw. But there wasn't necessarily art to it because many times all I was doing was trying to imitate what I was seeing. I wasn't saying anything. I thought it was "art" at the time because it looked good. As I became a little more sophisticated in how I think, I realized that wasn't necessarily true. And I've never been able to paint very well and have always struggled with technique, especially with acrylics, but still that's nearly always been my chosen medium, and I'm only just now bringing some more extensive drawing back into my things ... but only because it serves my purpose in what I'm trying to say.

I'm working on something right now where I had the models lie down on newsprint and I traced around them and I'm transferring that to big canvases. The paintings will be life size. Does that make it not art or cheating? Of course not. The whole point of the art was to preserve their actual shape and size in a painting.

When I look at art as art, I really don't care how it got made, I care how it makes me feel and what it says and means to me.

But the question wasn't "is it art? ... the question was actually "is it drawing?" No, tracing isn't drawing. Drawing is a specific skill and craft. Tracing is a specific skill and craft. Painting is a specific skill and craft. We don't confuse painting with drawing, right? We know which is which. The same is true for drawing and tracing. They are both skills and crafts, but they are not the same.

See you next Thursday.