Thursday, August 7, 2014

Frida Kahlo Postcard Art

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! 

Here are the results of last night's art session (well rather...this morning). 

Frida Kahlo homemade scratchboard postcard art
Frida Kahlo Scratchboard - Postcard Art
homemade diy scratchboard art ATC stained glass
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 diy homemade scratchboard
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. 

oil pastels diy homemade scratchboard bamboo skewer
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:

oil pastel etching rainbow colors

oil pastels etching rainbow colors
Lots of swirlies and loop-de-loops
Etching at any stage is messy. I had to use my old makeup brush to clean up the messies. 

old makeup brush for art and dusting away oil pastels
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

diy homemade scratchboard black acrylic paint dish soap
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. 

diy homemade scratchboard oil pastels black acrylic paint dish soap
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. 

etching diy homemade scratchboard oil pastels dish soap
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! 

Happy Creating!
Sandra Lee