Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
I procrastinated on this project for several weeks, agonizing over how I should create them. I originally considered a DIY scratchboard technique, like I did on my Frida Kahlo postcard and Stained Glass ATC's. You can read about that process here.
But when I finally came around to completing my artist trading cards, I was inspired by something from my art paper stash, an experiment I did painting acrylic washes over crumpled paper a few years ago. It creates a type of batik effect which I loved. There was a random mix of rainbow colors I knew would be perfect to create the bodies and wings of my feathered friends. I put that aside for later.
First, for the base of each ATC, I used my cards cut from recycled food packaging. I traced and cut several rectangles from some leftover DIY scratchboard to use for a background The dark black color reminded me of night-time, and the foliage seems to glow.
I played for a while to figure out what kind of embellishments to use for eyes. I knew I wanted to use buttons, but when I spied my jar of bottle caps, I knew they would help me achieve the wide-awake look owls are famous for!
|Bottle caps and buttons held up by glue-filled fingers!|
I adhered the buttons to the bottle caps with E6000. I chose to use two layers of buttons for contrast and to create a pupil. It was important to get the right placement to give them a slightly cross-eyed look, like they're staring you down from their ferocious little beaks.
|Pieced together, awaiting glue|
I then cut out pieces from my artful "batik" paper in Matisse-like fashion, enjoying mixing and matching different colors. I wanted to make sure to make each owl unique with its own distinct personality and MOOD. Yes, owls are very moody creatures. ;-)
Since I was being a night owl myself, I decided to reach a stopping point, and let my pieced owls rest on my art table while I got some shuteye. But before I did, I snapped the picture you see above, so that I would remember the placement of my owls. The next morning, I went to work first thing gluing them together.
I grabbed my new hot glue gun...a replacement when my old one had a meltdown.
|My old hot glue gun gave me a temper tantrum|
Using my photo as a guide, I began gluing the paper pieces down for each owl. I giggled before I began each one. Their expressions were pretty funny, or maybe I was still a little giddy from staying up so late the night before. I worked quickly and tried to avoid the hot glue burn that sometimes happens when gluing fabric or paper. Because the batik paper was fairly thick and textured, it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Whew!
Here are my finished owls.
|#1 ~ Inquisitive and colorful|
I loved the color combo on this one the best, and almost kept it for myself, but I felt a small voice say to release it.
|#2 ~ Intimidating, deciding if you're dinner|
I loved adding the longer wings on this one and the bright red buttons.
|3 ~ Up too late...yup a real night owl|
I ended up keeping #3, since I have a tendency towards insomnia and late-night creating. The wide-eyed look was achieve by placing her eyebrows behind the bottle cap. She reminds me of WALL-e or Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. ("Johnny 5, alive!")
I cleaned up the glue on her mismatched-button eyes after taking her picture. I think the different buttons give her a slightly crazy, off-kilter look. Yup, that's me!
I want to show a detail of her breast feathers. I cut some v-shapes with an exacto knife to add more dimension.
And finally, #4:
|#4 ~ Mean and Lean|
Well, he doesn't look as mean as the original photo where they are pieced together. But still he lets you know, "don't mess with me!"
Before I forget, I want to show how I made the white details on the owls.
|Bistro Chalk Marker|
My number one lesson from making these owls is:
It's all about the Eyebrows.
Do you agree?
Thursday, August 7, 2014
I spent an all-nighter in the studio completing a couple mail art swaps. I've been going through a creative block lately. It's not so much that I don't have any ideas, but I haven't been able to really settle down and create. My brain is all over the place! Last night I was determined to make some art. Everything else was on hold!
Etching at any stage is messy. I had to use my old makeup brush to clean up the messies.
Here are the results of last night's art session (well rather...this morning).
|Frida Kahlo Scratchboard - Postcard Art|
|Stained Glass Scratchboard ATC's|
So, for these two projects, I decided to use a homemade scratchboard technique. I loved scratchboard art when I was in elementary and junior high. We also used a DIY method, using black tempera paint over crayons. This DIY scratchboard technique is very similar, but I used oil pastels for the base and a wash of black acrylic paint and plain old dish soap.
I began by tearing a sheet of mixed media paper from my Canson Sketchbook, a generous 11x14 inch size. Then I began scribbling with my oil pastels, pressing firmly to get good coverage on the page. I can't tell you what a stress relief this was! I enjoyed laying down a rainbow of colors from my "vintage" pastels. I thought a good deal about my late mom who bought the pastels for me from the hospital gift shop after one of her many hospital stays. She proudly presented them to me along with a pack of watercolor pencils. As I reminisced, I silently thanked her again for the gift, knowing she helped nurture my art even in my teen years.
|Mom's Gift: My "Vintage" Pentel Oil Pastels|
|Oil Pastels and etching|
As you can see in the picture above and below, I also began scratching the surface with a bamboo skewer. Yes, the same ones you use to make shish-kabobs. Now obviously I hadn't put down the black acrylic paint yet. But when I've used oil pastels in the past I enjoyed etching on the solid surface. It has a batik look to it.
|Etching with a Bamboo Skewer|
So, if you're creating a homemade scratchboard, this step above is completely unnecessary. But at this stage of creative play, I couldn't decide if I wanted to make a diy scratchboard, or simply use the paper as is for art projects and ATC's.
Here are a few details of the etching:
|Lots of swirlies and loop-de-loops|
|Makeup Brush makes a great dusting tool!|
OK, so when I finally decided to go ahead with the homemade scratchboard technique, I mixed together some black acrylic paint and dish soap. I used a ratio of 2:1; two parts black acrylic paint to one part dish soap. My dish soap was clear, but it probably doesn't matter what kind you use. I used Golden Heavy Body Acrylic in Mars Black.
|Drying DIY scratchboard with heat gun|
Now, as you can see, I didn't cover the whole surface. This is because I was using my paper for multiple projects. I also liked the textures and layers that were happening, and didn't want to disturb them. The black paint actually seeped into the lines I previously etched with the bamboo skewer. I also liked how texture was still maintained when the paint was lightly applied.
If you are trying to make a solid scratchboard, cover the entire area with a nice even coat of your scratchboard mixture.
|Texture shining through and beginnings of scratching|
I painted a generous coat on bottom half, because I knew this would be used for my four Stained Glass ATC's. The top half was my "experimental" half.
|Scratching the surface with tiny screwdriver|
Once my surface was dry, I used a variety of tools to etch the surface. Some homemade styluses included:
- 1 blade from a pair of small broken scissors (had a curved tip)
- Tiny screwdrivers in various sizes used for jewelry and watch repair
- my trusty bamboo skewer
I continued using my makeup brush to dust away the particles I scratched off. (Speaking of scratch-off's, this homemade scratchboard mix can be used to create your own scratchoff tickets, too. I saw it here on Lindsay's Frugal Crafter YouTube Channel. I told you my brain is all over the place!)
I etched a lot of abstract patterns and designs, all the while trying to capture the feel of stained glass windows. Then I took an ATC template, cut from a recycled clear package, and placed it on the scratchboard, looking for compositions I liked. I traced around it and cut out my ATC's. The final touch was adding some yellow 3D paint. I cut out a template of a gothic window and traced around it with the paint. I tried to make it sketchy and a bit uneven. I added a few yellow paint splatters for good measure!
Here are the finished pieces. These were adhered to recycled cardboard packaging with decoupage to make a sturdy Artist Trading Card. I added my ATC label on the back and filled it out. I kept the one on the top left.
|I see a school of fish and a sunset on the left. |
A choir of people sing on the right
(they look like tiny sprouts there on the bottom.)
|I see vibrant roses on the left. One the right I see music, |
movement and sound waves. Even a stringed instrument
like a harp. Make me think of a church choir.
The rest of the scratchboard was used to paint Frida Kahlo. I decided to go with a standard 4x6 inch postcard size. The emphasis of the postcard was supposed to be on her hair ornaments which she is famous for. So I really let my imagination run wild with flowers and designs. I scratched out her features, but was not happy with the results. So I ended up painting them in with acrylic paints. I also used a pencil to add texture to her hair.
One last look at Frida:
|Frida Kahlo Postcard Art with those trademark eyebrows!|
Overall, I'm pleased with how she turned out. The paper didn't hold up so well for painting after I scratched away the surface. If I hadn't been so impatient (and tired!), I should have gessoed her face and hand first. It would have created a smoother texture in those areas. After I snapped this picture, I adhered her to blue cardstock and wrote my message on the back to my swap partner in Germany. Shout-out to Andie Mayr!