Thursday, January 24, 2013

Side Note: What the Heck Golden Reg. Gel?!

Just a couple of days ago I was singing the drying-clear praises of Golden's Matte Medium. Well, it's a different story for the Regular Gel. Booooooooo. See the above smudges? That is the Gel Medium fully dried.

I need to do a dry test to see which of the products dry clear and which do not. And I have to remind myself that even though I've been waiting for layers on this particular project to dry over a week that these owls are all in the name of education and the weird smudging, while yes, means that it's a bit ruined, doesn't mean that the experiment has been ruined.

But seriously, booooooooooooooo.

Picture Note: Boooooooooooooooooo.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Horizontal Storage Space

For the time being, I have limited my personal art time to two-dimensional art. But using the word limited is probably a bit inaccurate. In the past few weeks I have found that I can embed almost anything into my collage work and now I have to be careful about filling up my craft coffers with a bunch of material I just got rid of for the sake of focusing on two- dimensional art.

The problem I'm facing however, is that because I have a lot of pieces in progress right now, I'm not painting. I do about 20 minutes of work and think, "Ah these have to dry and I've done collage today. Check!"

Not so fast Artist-Wanna-Be-Me. Just because I've touched an acrylic medium doesn't mean I've improved my ability to draw a cheek bone. Or know how to mix colors any better. On the contrary. I'm figuring out some technical issues but not the bigger deeper issues that allow you to become a better artist.

The solution? Clean up after myself. (Booooooooo.) These collage pieces take hours to dry over various layers. While they are drying, I leave them scattered across my desk and the supplies I use equally scattered. All of this means that if I have 10 minutes to kill, I can't just come into my studio and practice drawing....not without moving a lot of crap around...probably about 10 minutes of crap removal.

I know myself pretty well, and I need to use that knowledge to create systems that give me the best chance possible to practice painting and drawing. That will probably include a night clean up of my work space. Lame? Yes, it feels totally lame. But I'm going to try it for the rest of this week and see how it feels. It means that when I leave my studio for the day, I need to have access to my painting surface.

Image Note: A desk is not long term or short term storage. You would never know I believe that by looking at this.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Finding The Line

(And yes, I'm talking about an actual line. In this case slightly dotted.)

I find acrylic mediums amazing. You can pile loads of matte medium and then it just dries clear. Clear! Like nothing was there in the first place.

Example, on the right side of the figures in the left image, little piles of matte medium. Image on the right? Vanished!

But back to the real point here: Line. I'm always looking for ways to add lines to my pieces. Sharpies, while come in thin points, tend to bleed (waterproof my ass) and also change to a purplish color. If I wanted purple in my pieces, I'd use a purple pen. So obviously I'm venting some of my love hate (hate) relationship with those damn sharpies.

So a few days ago I thought, "I have black stuff around my studio." And I began to pull out anything that could potentially make a line. Cut up black paper. Trimmed ribbon. And thread. The heavy thread worked the best. However, I don't know how well my hands would fair between the close cutting and then the tweezer lifts to the piece. It's a bit of a fight, but oh my gosh the outcome looks so great! I can't help myself, I'm going to have to try it again. (Also, if a piece of artwork involved tweezers in any form, the price should go up. This is why tiny pieces can be expensive. Because, seriously, TWEEZERS.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Self Leveling Gel

It can take awhile to fully implement any new technique. Some are fast, like everything in Anne Bagby's DVDS. Those techniques fit in with what I was already doing. Figuring out how to use true layers and then do it through self level gel (SLG), isn't quite so intuitive. I've tried new styles. I've tried adding more lines and new textures I'd normally avoided (like fabric), and now I can tell I'm looping back around to figuring out how to add it (and additional collage elements) to my cupcake owls. Oooooh the learning curves and decision making curves are a constant tripping hazard.

However, in all of this creative confusion, I am learning a few things about SLG.

What I'm learned (or am learning):

1. Bottle Approach
I currently squeeze the self leveling gel out of a squeeze bottle. This works great. I can create a border and then fill it in. I then run a credit card back and forth over it like I'm spreading frosting.

However, getting it into that particular squeeze bottle was a DISASTER including probably losing a half of cup to spillage that I couldn't scoop up. (And there was a lot of scooping up in this process.) Once it's in the bottle it's fantastic. But because that process is so difficult, once this bottle runs out, I may just try getting it out of the jar with a credit card and going directly onto my surface. TBD.

2. Spreading
If you're using the squeeze bottle method and you have a frame of SLG around your border, start with your edges. Scrape out to the edge to make sure you've got it all the way out. Then begins working left to right or top to bottom. I find it really easy to add more SLG to the center of a piece where maybe it's a little thin. The edges I find a bit more tricky so if the first thing I do is make sure they are set, I can move on.

3. Layering
This may not be true for other artists but by God it is true for me. I can layer SLG and then place something down on top of it so that the two (element and SLG) can dry together. Except in the case of embedding glitter, this is the wrong approach for me. I should pour a layer of SLG, allow it to dry, and then add my element with matte medium or gel medium. Once the element is dry, then do another SLG pour.

Now that this third truth is in writing, maybe I'll remember it.

Image: This is self leveling gel out of the squeeze bottle before I've moved it around. Notice how blue it is. That's a bit because I'm bad at color correction, but also it's because many of these mediums start with a tint of blue and then dry clear. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sketch Practice

Last night I sat at my local coffee shop and sort of stared out into the traffic beyond the window. I was thinking about art and my current frustrations. And then I did something I rarely do in public. I drew. I had my black and white photocopies of faces, and I pulled them out and began sketching with the ballpoint pen on hand. Very quickly I began to feel better. I didn't have any deep insights into what the hell I'm doing with myself or my art. There was nothing profound happening, but sometimes going through the motions isn't just what we can muster, it's also the solution.

In art, as in life probably (damn), sometimes you don't have to have each and every step mapped out before you move. (Although we all would like to.)  Sometimes you know only the step directly in front of you. Sometimes the solution to confusion about your art, is to pull out your crappy photocopies and draw some crappy (but less crappy than before) sketches. And it reminds you that the process is a huge part of what you're enjoying even when you have no idea about any kind of product.

Above: Top left is a sketch I did back in the summer. The other three are yesterday's. The latter three may not look a whole lot different, but they felt very (very) different to draw. They felt better, and that in itself is incentive to keep going.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Art Walls

Today was a frustrating art day. Or maybe an everything day. Or maybe just an art day.

The layered pieces take so long it feels like watching the creative process in slow motion. It's hard to build on knowledge because it takes so long for each layer to dry. (About a day.) One of the things I love about art is that it's dynamic, and nothing about the layering in this approach is dynamic.

I still like starting with the fabric background, but I'm having terrible trouble adding color to the line drawings. Color is so hit or miss for me. Because the layering does take so long I need to have a more complete picture before I start including color. That's what I'm attempting from a pattern standpoint in the workspace picture above but I need to figure out how to plan color ahead of time as well.

All and all, I will try and give it another few weeks to decide if I keep going down this path. Cloudy days are not days to decide direction.

The faces portion of the art was equally frustrating, but it's my own fault for trying to use a face from a magazine. Soft lighting makes everything from magazines useless. They strip away the features that give a face shape. Lesson learned. (And side lesson: I need to start collecting my own face images. The introvert inside me shudders.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Avenues of Focus

Today was the first day since the start of the show run where I feel truly excited about art again. Apparently, focus takes a little getting back into.

I'm working along two avenues: Small layering pieces and faces. The layering pieces are small and have more elements of hand drawn and whimsy. The faces are larger and acrylic. I'm not sure where either are going yet, but it's still early. The important thing at this point is to keep experimenting with each. To see where it takes me.

A few things I'm running into for the smaller pieces:
-Black lines bleed. This is why I loved the wax. Pen lines don't bleed in wax. With the acrylic mediums they bleed to varying degrees, and it's totally frustrating. Even sharpie bleeds. Some of the inks turn slightly purple in color. I've found that gel pens on paper and then into acrylic have decent staying power. Sharpie on clear sticker does pretty well too. I bought an acrylic pen tonight, and we'll see how unruly that it.

-Photocopies. I photocopied some line drawings tonight at FedEx, and they are in varying stages of acrylic at this point. I forgot to photocopy the *one* that I actually wanted to make into a project, and it's taking all of my self control to not glue it down. Luckily I have a bleeding turtle (see image) to remind me of the repercussions. At times I think the toner copies are bleeding, but it's my paranoia.

-I put down a layer of self leveling gel (my new best friend) and then just sort of floated a pen and ink drawing down on top of it. I think it worked pretty successfully. I won't be able to tell fully until it's completely dry.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Clearing Out the Final Scraps

Layer practice in progress
Most of today was spent cleaning out the art studio. I'm still not to a wholly functioning studio, but I am three trash bags filled with ribbon, fabric, and cookie cutters closer. Oh how we hold on to the useless.

My husband made a really helpful suggestion: He told me to choose an art form. It didn't matter what it was and that I was allowed to change my mind later on, but that I should choose something. Choose a path. He's been telling me this for years, but for some reason it clicked in a new way. Maybe it was his giving me permission to change my mind later on that was the freeing bit. I started to think about my work space and all the things in it that have nothing to do with 2D visual art. I thought of my Mom's studio and how there is a sense of calm inside its walls. How she doesn't fill it with random projects here and there. She fills it with the art she's working on and the things that inspire that art.

I want my studio to be representative of where I'm focused. And for right now for an undisclosed amount of time, it's going to be painting.

This narrowing still leaves a lot open for collection, and I still do have too much fabric. But it's a start.