Monday, August 25, 2014

Owl Love You ATC's

Owls may be an overused trend, but I'm still a sucker for these wide-eyed creatures. Here are four owls I finished for an ATC swap.

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. 

Detail
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 normal Sharpie paint marker ran out, so I grabbed my Bistro Chalk Marker. I added white edging and little highlights and spots to the owls. I used a dark pencil for shading. Hoping I didn't ruin my chalk marker, but I just had to add those details to jazz up the owls.

My number one lesson from making these owls is:

It's all about the Eyebrows.

Do you agree? 

Happy Creating!
Sandra Lee