Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Something different with pastels

I've been trying to find a minute to blog about something new I tried recently.

Like many of us, I have a stash of all different kinds of art media. That includes soft pastels and oil pastels. I've never liked using pastels, because they are so incredibly messy, and I get pastel dust everywhere. I never seem to have fixative to hand (I don't use hair spray either) and the results have never been all that satisfactory.

Then recently, I read about a different way to use pastels. First, you lay down soft pastel colour, blending several similar shades. Then you paint over the loose powder with either gesso or gel medium. I used gesso, which softens the colour considerably; apparently gel medium retains the bright colours.

This sounded like fun, so I decided to make my May trees for my journal using this method. I created a background with the soft pastels and gesso, and then used my tree stencils to add more pastel colour and gesso. On some, I raked the loose colour on the stencil from the previous time back onto the next background. I added shadows with dark and highlights with white oil pastels, once the gesso had dried.



























It was fun to do and I like the results much better than my previous attempts with pastels of any kind.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Untethered - out of hand

I meant to write more here about my work for out of hand  but I got distracted between other blogs and the Untethered Facebook group.

I'm finally about to print my silhouetted lady - this week, I hope! I know exactly what I want to do with her now, so it's just a matter of doing it. Once I have her printed, I'll post a progress photo.

What you'll see first is the lady with the bright red label Wanton. Once you get closer, you'll be able to see that the background is built up of positive words, in a font like ransom or poison pen letters. They fade into the background because of that strong label. Stay tuned for images...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Sailing to Byzantium

I finished my page for this project week or so ago. See how quick and easy it is, once you get the idea? I've added the Greek text - the beginning of John's gospel, "In the beginning was the Word..." as a second sheet behind the first, so it's partly obscured. I'm hoping they look like a couple of old sheets of parchment.


I also have a structure for my book now. I had used the last two verses of the Yeats poem of the same name as inspiration for the participants. So I decided I'd use the same verse as the structure. The actual poem is probably now just out of copyright, as Yeats died in 1939, but I don't want to use the poem itself. I may use a few words, as focus.

I'm not sure how much further I'll progress with this now, because I have other more important things to get on with!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Rhapsody in Blues

Rhapsody in Blues is the theme for the ATASDA display at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair at Glebe Island in June. Six of the members of Fibrecircle are creating a collaborative work for this stand, shortly to be unveiled over on the Fibrecircle blog. This is my section of this larger work...

This is rather deceptive of me, because the main work looks nothing like this! Well, you'll see in a few days, when it's assembled for display and I put a photo over on that blog!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

UFO Month

This month, I decided it was time to work on some of the unfinished things I have lying about here. OK, this has happened before, I know, but any progress is better than no progress. My stimulus this time was a post on SCQuilters from Prue. Her group was having a UFO challenge. Each person listed their UFOs of any kind - anything begun before this year. Then two numbers were drawn - one between one and twelve, the other between one and a hundred. You have three options with the UFOs chosen for that month; you can bin it, you can give it to someone else or a community quilt group or continue to work on it.

That seemed like a fun idea to me. I have had a list of all my various unfinished projects for a long time, so I chose all the ones that could be worked on, acquired a random number generator for my device and I was ready!

The first two numbers that came up were both quilt tops needing quilting. I am slowly hand quilting a quilt at present so I don't want to start a new one. I chose two more numbers and, unbelievably, both were also tops needing quilting. (I think I might have a few tops needing quilting, don't you think?) So much for that idea.

But as I was looking for things in my workroom, I found a UFO from Fibrecircle back here. It was a round robin book project, which had stalled because I couldn't work out what to do as my own page. (I much prefer projects that require you to make your own part first!) Once I looked at it after the passage of years, I could see that the book actually needed more pages and, in some weird way, that took the pressure off me to produce something incredible as My Page. Now I know it needs multiple pages, I could see an idea for stitching my first page.


It's based on a Byzantine church in Ravenna and shows Christ flanked by angels. I've chosen to make my image look like a leaf of a manuscript (this part yet to be stitched) and I may add some Greek text - not sure yet. More to follow... at least until I get tired of it!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Spray dyeing with the Fibrecircle group

paper stencil
These posts are a bit out of order here, as I actually did this before  my playday with Claire. It also wasn't dyeing - we were using Dala Sun Colors, which seem to fall somewhere between fabric paints and dyes. But the principle was the same.

You can read all about it on the Fibrecircle blog. Suffice it to say it was the same technique as with Claire, but I focused mostly on my paper stencils, which I had coated with Gesso to give them some heft. They were (surprise surprise!) trees. They were also experiments for the untethered piece, as I think I will probably use this technique using coated paper as stencils.
paper stencil positive and negative
This was printed over one of the thickened dye prints I did with Maz a few weeks ago. The left one is just a straight stencil; the right, rather messy one is a negative, then a positive over the top.

More weird looking trees...


This one is a print with the stencil turned over and printed from immediately. The media is really a bit wet for that. Of course, if I'd been really on the ball, I would have sprayed a different colour through the stencil while it was face down! Another good idea I had too late...

This one is a glue gun stencil - not very successful as it's small, which made it very floppy and hard to use.

This is my favourite from the day - done with a commercial stencil.
I always like layers!

Plenty of things to put in my tree book, anyway, even if God wouldn't recognise them as belonging to the plant world! And I found the gessoed paper stencils were robust enough for about seven or eight prints with this very wet media before starting to get a bit soggy, so I should be able to print my fewer prints for untethered with less runny media. Big win!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

out of hand

Moving on from the prostitutes, I started thinking about techniques.

I'd already decided that printmaking would feature in my work. I pondered how that might work.
  • The strength of screen printing is repetition and this is a single work.  Maybe partly screen printed if I need a repeat pattern somewhere? 
  • Printing in series on a single work is interesting and might work, if I use the same image repeated in some way. Not for Wanton, but maybe another one.
  • Monoprinting on fabric interests me but it's hard to do on fabric on a large scale.
  • Stencilling works on a large scale, especially with a freezer paper stencil ironed to the fabric. So that will probably be the way to go.

At this stage, homework was due. The group had decided that we would all make mood boards to bring to the first meeting, so I had been collecting all kinds of images and colours, to try to pull things together enough to articulate to a group of other artists.
I'd been collecting all sort of bits and bobs that somehow spoke to the theme.

(I'm a lot further advanced that these posts suggest - I didn't start blogging about this until I was already underway. I find it hard to talk about what I'm doing, when I'm making something from an idea - it's as if talking about it dilutes the idea.)