Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Different masking technique.

This week the challenge at DLP was to use repeating elements on a page. I did that last week so I must have been ahead of my time, lol. Thinking about last weeks page I wanted to do a less structured type of masking.

 I started my page by slapping on 3 colours of paint: purple, green and pink. I laid on some cling film to make a random texture then picked the film up carefully, turned it 180 degrees and laid it back on the paint again. That meant that the colours mixed on top of each other. I peeled off the cling film and let it dry.

 For the next layer I used some stencils and added some blue paint. It was a little dark so I added some white paint with same stencil in a different position. I use clips to hold my page down when doing this type of wet work in my journal. After it dries I remove them and my page is perfectly flat.

 For the final layer I used my die cut machine to cut out a variety of butterflies from post-its. I put them all over my page and then used a sponge to apply dark blue paint. Because I used a sponge this time there was a lot less bleeding under the post-its. The lines in the blue background come from a paper towel I lightly pressed on while the paint was wet. I stamped on some white butterflies in the gaps when the paint was dry. They didn't stand out enough so I went over them with white pen.

 My writing task this week was to write a word large and add smaller writing on top of it. I used a quote but it doesn't matter what you add because it will be hard to read. It just makes interesting patterns on the letters. 

My watercolor paintings for the month of February are summer themed. I like adding these extra pages into my journal.

This was an extra page I did that was sort of related to last weeks writing exercise. The idea was to add maps, book pages etc and do lettering on top of them. I added a map and then had a large area that was crying out for a painting so I used markers to draw a palm tree. The quote was done with a white pen.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rusting fabric.

I think I have mentioned before that I love to work with textiles. I haven't shared a lot of that work because I do more art journaling these days but I have joined two local textile groups so I will probably share more textiles now. Today I am sharing a fun technique I learned the other day.It is rusting fabric. There are many examples of how to do it on the web already so I will quickly share my version.

One safety note before I begin. You are using rusty objects so you should make sure your tetanus immunization is up to date and use rubber gloves when dying so you don't absorb too much iron. It can be a health hazard.

1. I simply wet a natural fiber fabric with vinegar and then wrap it around a rusty object or else lay rusty items on top of the vinegar soaked fabric. You need to keep the fabric moist while the rust transfers so cover with plastic but not tightly. You need to allow the air in to make the rusting happen. It usually only takes a couple of hours if you use full strength vinegar. Most recipes say to dilute the vinegar 50% with water because the full strength vinegar may degrade the fabric. In my experiments I didn't find any holes in the calico that I used but some of the others that tried it said their silk turned to shreds after 2 hours.

2. After you have enough rust on your fabric rinse it off in salty water until the water is clear then dry on the line. That is it. Now you have wonderful fabric to play with.

3. When I read up on the technique I saw that many people mentioned the fabric would continue to rust over time and degrade your fabric. I found a simple way to get around this is to wash the fabric in a bicarbonate soda and water rinse (about 1/4 cup soda to 4 liters of water) to neutralise it. You need to repeat this yearly to stop the rust developing over time. If you don't want to bother with that then don't use the fabric for something special  that you want to keep for a long time.

Below are some of the samples (click on photos to make them larger) I made and some of the other techniques I tried:
The first time I did this I layered the fabric in a long plastic tub then spread over the rusty objects and sprayed each layer with vinegar. This was plain calico. It had some steel wool spread over it. The steel wool started to rust within an hour but I left it overnight to see how dark it would get. I like the random pattern it made.
This was another piece of calico that I did at the same time. You can sort of see the outline of some washers I used. On the calico the rusting makes a blurry image.

 This piece of calico was wrapped around a large bolt and left overnight in an open plastic bag. You can see some of the detail of the thread.
 Someone at the class mentioned that tea staining the rusty fabric makes a grey color. With this sample I used 5 teabags and boiling water to soak the fabric. I left it for 5 minutes and it became really dark. After I rinsed and dried the fabric it remained a dark color.
 This sample is another tea stained one. I only used 1 tea bag this time. I just dipped the right hand side in and removed it straight away. You can see it has changed the orange color of the rust to a brown shade. The left hand side was dipped for about 3 minutes and is darker in tone.

This sample was dyed on the stove with RIT liquid dye. The rust has not really changed color much. I really like the autumn tones of this piece.

The calico was fun for my first attempts but I wondered why they always say to use natural fibers. I have a huge roll of man made fabric so I wanted to try that. I don't know what it is because I picked it up at a garage sale but it looks like some sort of sheeting. It is not 100% cotton but it does feel like there is some in the mix. It is probably polyester.

The polyester fabric worked. The images of the rusty objects I used is much sharper than on the cotton calico. I am showing both sides of the fabric here. You can see that the color is softer on the side that doesn't touch the rust.

When I was pulling the steel wool apart to lay on my fabric I noticed little fibers of steel wool were covering the table so I decided to pull the steel wool apart over the top of one of the pieces of fabric. If you look at the larger version of this photo you can see the lacy pattern it made.

The man made fabric did not absorb as much rust in the open areas as the calico did so there is much more contrast in the color. I also like the high definition patterns that formed.

 This piece was wrapped around the big bolt but this time I used a skein of embroidery floss to hold the fabric on tightly. I was surprised to see it made a sort of tie dye effect on the material. It also dyed the floss a rusty color too so I can't wait to use it to make something.


 My final experiment was to dye the polyester with the same dye I used for the calico. It changed the rusty color very slightly and didn't dye evenly but I like that. I looks like it will be fun to use.


 Now that I have all this fabric I am going to make a few things. I want to keep a record of all my experiments with each technique I learn this year so I will make a fabric art journal where I will have examples and also written pages with instructions. I will be starting with a page that uses these rusty fabrics I have made. This technique is so much fun that I had to stop myself doing even more fabric. I need to find ways to use it first.      

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rescuing a failed art journal page.

This week the challenge for DLP was to cover up something you like and continue on to a finished page. I had a page in my journal that was already like that.

Sorry I only have a picture of the finished page but I didn't think of taking photos as I went. Initially I liked what I had done but thought I could change the color and then add a bit more stuff. When I sprayed the page to change it the whole thing turned to a horrible color. None of what I had done looked good anymore.

I ripped off all the elements I had glued to the page because they had turned a horrid color and looked at the torn paper left behind. I added gesso to glue down those torn bits and fill in the holes I made. The gesso picked up the sprayed dye color I had used in a way that I liked so I just added a little bit of acrylic paint in the same color to cover the areas that were still gesso colored. I added a swirl stencil with texture paste and it too picked up that dye spray so now it is a light blue color. I used a sponge to stencil flowers with Golden's Nickel Azo Gold paint. It was now a page that I liked so I used markers to add a border and a quote. It is simple but I really like it now. I am glad I changed it.

It is your journal so if you don't like something you have done then change it. If it doesn't work out keep adding gesso and starting over until it makes you happy. That is why we journal, isn't it? To make ourselves happy!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Layers of Paint

This month on the Documented Life Project it is all about layers. I didn't want to do another collage type page so I decided to try to think of a way to do paint layers.

 I used my Cuttlebug machine to cut out a whole field of flowers from some post it notes. The Post-its I used have sticky stuff across the whole page (not just the top edge) so when I stuck them down they would stay. I was able to cut through 5 layers of Post-it notes at a time with the machine. I used the flowers, leaves and a couple of butterflies. It took about 5 minutes but you could draw and cut out if you had another idea.Some other objects that would look great would be a flock of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, hearts, circles or squares for an abstract look.

  I wanted to use transparent paints so that each color is changed by the color underneath it. I started with the lightest and worked along. Oops, just realized the blues are in the wrong order. I used the manganese blue before the phthalo blue.

I masked off a border that would stay white because I like the way it looks and it stops the paint going onto other pages.  I stuck a few flowers and things down. These will be white at the end so I didn't do too many. I went over the whole lot with the lightest yellow keeping it very pale at the top of the page because I don't want to make the sky too green. I let it dry.

 I added a few more of the cut outs and went over the bottom half of the page with the medium yellow. Again I let it dry. This is important because if it is not dry the post-its might come off and you risk lifting off some of your first layers of paint.

I started to get into my painting about this time and forgot to take a photo of the first couple of blue layers. The manganese blue didn't cover very well so I did two layers of that over the whole page (making the sky color), then added more flowers and some of the leaves. This photo was taken after the first layer of phthalo blue was done. 

I did a second layer of the phthalo blue to make the background a bit darker. I let it dry. A quick note about composition here: as you add the flowers allow them to overlap and also go off the edge of the page. The overlapped flowers that are darker will look like they are further back in the finished piece. The flowers going off the edge of the page looks more natural when there are so many.

I wanted more contrast at the base of the picture so I added a few stems that I cut out with scissors and the final few leaves. I went over the base area with magenta. I knew this would make a dark brownish color so I used a paper towel to blot some of it off. I also added a tiny bit of the pink near the top of some of the flowers where the blue color would make it a purple color. It is barely noticeable.

I couldn't wait to see if it had worked out so I tried to remove one of the butterflies but the paper was too wet and split so I left it to dry.

When it was dry I removed all of the post-its carefully. Some of them were a little stuck around the edges but when I rubbed a little they all came off. You can see where some of the paint has bled under the post-its but I don't mind that look. I thought about doing some pen work around the flowers but decided not too. I like the way it is soft looking so I am calling it done.  

I think this would look good with other colors too. Try to stick with only 2 primary colors, like red and yellow, blue and yellow or red and blue. If you use all three you will make brown. I know I used red at the end but it was very limited and I knew how dark it would go. If you are not sure about your colors, layer them on scrap paper first to see what you will get. Some paints are not as transparent as the Golden fluids are and I chose only the most transparent ones.They do have a few opaques in their range that wouldn't work here.
I encourage you to give it a try, it is a lot of fun and no drawing skills are needed.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Under paper

This week the art challenge at DLP was to use under paper. At first I didn't know what that was, like a lot of other people. It turns out that it is the paper you spread out under your artwork to catch the extra paint that spills off the edge of the page. I hadn't thought of keeping it before because it doesn't look that great to me and I would prefer to make nicer paper to use but as my goal this year is to try new things I decided to give it a go.

I didn't have very much paper to choose from on my desk but managed to find a few pieces of copy paper that I had used under my pages and some of the paper towel that I blot my brushes on. The prompt this week was 'what lies beneath' which made me think of the ocean. I found a great quote so made a little under sea scene.

The copy paper with acrylics and watercolor on it was easy to use. The paper towel that had mainly watercolor on it did not work out so well. When I glued the towel to the page the water in the glue made the colors run and it looked really dull and muddy when it dried. I scribbled on some Inktense pencils in the same color as the original towel and wet them to make the colors bright again. I won't be saving paper towel to use in my future projects and only really attractive under papers. I would prefer to use gelatin plate printed papers instead.

My writing exercise for this week was to use a paint brush to do the lettering. I found that fairly easy to do but the color I used didn't stand out against the similar background so I used a fine-liner to go around each letter. Looking at it now I think I should have outlined with black to match the rest of the page. I will leave now and go do that. See you next week.