experiments with plastic

In the last post I wondered how the thickness of plastic placed over wet paint and allowed to dry, would affect the texture.  I also wondered how the thickness of the paint would affect the result.  Two variables – two experiments.

Step one was to apply gesso to some sketch paper and allow it to dry so I would have a non-porous base layer.  After that I applied a background of deep turquoise and magenta acrylic paint.   When the background was dry I used some lime acrylic paint thinned with water on one sheet and straight from the tube on the second.

The plastics I used were cling film (Glad Wrap, Saran Wrap) and the plastic that comes wrapped around magazines received through the post (there’s nothing like free resources).  I also used re-used some 25 mm or 1 inch bubble-wrap.

Diluted top coat, magazine-wrap plastic. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

1. Diluted top coat, magazine-wrap plastic.  The variation in the background looks especially good to me.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Diluted top coat, cling film. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

2. Diluted top coat, cling film.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Diluted top coat, bubble wrap. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

3. Diluted top coat, re-used bubble wrap. I just love the remnants of paint that have been left behind.  And again, the transparent top-coat allows the variations of the background to show through
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Full viscosity, magazine wrap. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

4. Full viscosity paint top coat, magazine-wrap plastic.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Full viscosty top coat, cling film. Wendy @ Late Start Studio Wendy @ Late Start Studio

5. Full viscosity top coat, cling film.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Full viscosity top coat, clean bubble wrap. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

6. Full viscosity top coat, clean bubble wrap.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Full viscosity top coat, reused bubble-wrap

7. Full viscosity top coat, re-used bubble wrap

A cose up of the previous sample. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

8. A close up from the previous sample.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I liked the effect of both parts of the experiment, I really liked how the re-used bubble wrap left remnants of paint behind.  The diluted paint gave a lovely transparent effect with an opaque paint . . . the first three images have to be my favourites.   Whether I use diluted paint or at full strength would depend on what effect I wanted to make.

As to the choice of plastic?  The thinner the plastic the finer the details and the more likelihood the results can be controlled to some extent . . . controlling cling film is difficult enough at the best of times however by twisting it slightly, bunching it up after it was laid on the wet paint, I could manage a degree of control over the number of marks but very little over where they were.  I thought it would be rather wonderful to be able to manipulate it to form the veins of a leaf.

By removing the plastic just before it was dry it would be possible to soften the edges of the marks but right now I’m thinking about colour combinations; neon over black, black over brights, various earth tones with a transparent top-coat . . . hmmm, this could keep me busy.

Did I have fun? Was it worth while?  Will I continue exploring? Will I put samples in a journal? Damn right!

practise makes perfect (if that’s what you want)

This morning after I read The Muse Whisperer on Quinn McDonald’s blog I got to thinking how all creative tasks involve skills plus ideas and then about where, or how, I get my ideas.  I realised that unless I’m working on something I don’t become inspired.  I need to be ‘thinking with my hands’ (thanks Quinn), exploring the properties of a material, in order to generate unique ideas.   Sometimes they’ll come when I’m walking the beach or working in the garden, not thinking of anything much, just noticing what is around me but usually, real inspiration comes when I’m completely engaged.   Ideas come and take on a life of their own through the materials.  Occasionally I’ll set out to make something and end up with something completely different because I listen to the idea . . . or is that the muse?

The other part of completing a creative task are the skills required to actually produce it.  I could have the most ingenious, fantastical, original idea but without the skills to carry to it out the idea would be like a bell without a clapper.

I read once in a book about Tai Chi that there are three aspects to mastering anything; talent, teaching, and perseverance.  You may have a truckload of talent and the best teacher available however if you don’t persevere you won’t master what you’re trying to learn.  You can take talent or the teacher out of the equation and a level of mastery is still possible if you persevere.  This applies to learning anything.

So what ever I want to learn to do, I can . . . as long as I show up and do the work . . . daily.

As a result of turnng up today I've learned more about acrylic paints and what effects I can get from leaving plastic on it as it dried . . . I know I can use it but I want to experiment with using plastic of different thicknesses. If you look carefully you'll see I have used a large size bubble-wrap on the magenta. Play is a great way to learn. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

As a result of turning up today I’ve added to my skills and learned more about acrylic paints and what effects I can get from leaving plastic on it as it dried . . . I know I can use it but I want to experiment with using plastic of different thicknesses. Can I control the effect?  If you look carefully you’ll see I’ve used a large size bubblewrap on the magenta. Some of the bubble wrap had traces of yellow paint on it, traces of which stayed behind when I peeled it off so I stored that bit of information away as well.   Play is a great way to learn.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

 

art for art’s sake

I’m off to investigate a pile . . . you know one of those piles you tidy things into but never quite get put away but at least they look neat(ish) even if they do become a dumping place for bits of twine picked up on the beach and threaten to take on a life of their own, growing, multiplying even..

A growing pile . . . gahering flotsam and jetsam from the beach. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A growing pile . . . beginning to gather flotsam and jetsam from the beach.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I know there are some eco-prints on paper of Banksia and pohutukawa leaves in there near to top. I’m thinking I might stitch into them and start a sample book.  I get hooked into thinking I need to make things that have a purpose other that their appearance so I reckon a sample book will be really useful for when I make something else . . . that may or may not be just for display.  I don’t mean ‘just’ as a synonym for ‘merely’ I mean that display is its sole purpose . . . like a painting or sculpture perhaps.

A piece of art that communicates with the viewer is serving a purpose however I have had many years of only giving myself permission to be creative when the object serves some utilitarian purpose as well.  Part of that drive to have a ‘use’ was financial and part just my practicality.

I’m beginning to suspect that ‘finding a use’ is just another means of procrastination, and probably another of the IC’s (Inner Critic) tricks to stop me playing. And now I can hear the IC start in about my audacity in considering what I might come up with as ‘art’ so do you know what I’m saying?  “SHUT UP! Move over and give me some room!”

excitement . . . and a little fear

The portfolio was accepted and so next year I will be a student again working towards a Diploma in Art and Creativity.  Great excitement of course but with any step into the unknown there is always a degree of fear . . . a little trepidation is possibly a good thing though because senses are heightened.  I’ll be more observant for a start!

Last weekend I took a two-day life drawing class which was a new thing for me.  I needed to send 3 drawings as part of my portfolio and realised how little I draw . . . doodle, diagrams yes but not drawing.  I had no idea what to expect, had last minute qualms but turned up anyway.  Isn’t that the point?  Turn up and participate!

The end of Day 1. Charcoal, pastels Wendy @ Late Start Studio

The end of Day 1. Charcoal, pastels
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

It’s far from finished and it’s not great but then again, it’s not bad and I’m very happy with it.  I’ve been through the “what don’t I like about it, what do I like, what do I need to do next” routine and came out feeling positive about something that, initially, I thought wouldn’t be what I would focus on next year – at all!    Minds can be changed, fears confronted and learning begin.

assembling a portfolio

Yes, I know, it’s been a while but I was away for two and a half months in the USA and settling back in at home has not been without some challenges.  But now, there is work to be done!

I need to assemble a portfolio at gain direct entry into the Diploma of Art and Creativity at The Learning Connexion in 2016 and I’m finding it an interesting and positive experience to look back at what I have achieved and the roads I’ve travelled to be where I am now.

I need to demonstrate technical competency in two of three areas: painting, drawing and 3D work.  The latter is easy, there are many examples on this blog, and although I don’t draw much, I have examples to present, it’s painting that is more the challenge.  I don’t consider myself to be a painter, but if a label is required then I’d describe myself as a mixed media artist.  For me paint is just another material to use but not the primary medium in my work.

It’s not that I haven’t painted.  I had a foray into oils and it was the lovely feel, the lustre, even the smell that I loved but now. for convenience, I use acrylics for prints and making collage fodder. I even use watercolours occasionally.

I started by copying . . . as you do . . . before attempting to work in the style of Modigliani, one of my favourites, but with originality.

Would that I could recall the artist!  If something comes to mind please let me know in the comments.

Would that I could recall the artist. Why didn’t I write a note on the back!  If something comes to mind please let me know in the comments. 400 x 325 mm, oil on recycled cardboard.

Another copy, this time by a New Zealand artist I think . . . I do wish I could give them credit. 410 x 575mm oil on recycled cardboard.

Another copy, this time by a New Zealand artist I think . . . I do wish I could give credit to the original artist. 410 x 575 mm, oil on recycled cardboard.

Inspired by a photograph and with more than a nod to Modigliani. 640 x 500 mm, oil on cardboard.

Finally, inspired by a photograph and with more than a nod to Modigliani. 640 x 500 mm, oil on cardboard.

Despite the last example being a little unresolved or incomplete (she has no nose, just nostrils), there are elements that I am well pleased with such as the background, the proportions, the tilt of her head, the shading on the neck.  No, I’m not completely satisfied but critiquing my own work, what meets my learning goal and the next step to work on, that is what drives me to improve what I do, and at the time, I was satisfied with my results.

I’m hoping these three paintings will met the requirement to demonstrate technical competence however I’m left wondering . . . Why didn’t I persevere with painting for its own sake? Why did I relegate it to the background? And, do I want painting to remain there as something I did in the past?

postcards from south of the equator

Recently I took part in Hanna Andersson’s postcard swap.  Each year I take a slightly different approach and this time around I thought to continue the work I began at the Fibre Arts NZ workshop last April, and what a wonderful week that was!  Book now for 2016.

Lines on maps and charts have always appealed . . . they have always held meaning for me, made sense, whether contour lines on a topographic map or isobars on a weather cart.   I like lines coming together, moving apart, like lines of breakers coming in to the shore, and leaving tide marks on the beach (note new idea).  I love how something complex can be expressed in a diagram.

Here are some of my offerings that have sped off around the world . . . and of course I make extra for a few other special people.

The first 6 allowed me to explore how I handled the threads, changing the colour which may not be obvious here.

The first 6 allowed me to explore how I handled the threads, changing the colour which may not be obvious here.

A more linear focus.

A more linear focus.

A change of shape . . . and of course 'up' is a matter of perspective.

A change of shape . . . and of course ‘up’ is a matter of perspective.

A departure . . . not really my usual style at all.

A departure . . . not really my usual style at all.

I love stacking stones . . . and I have a small selection to play with.  It's very soothing to just pile them up.  And the one on the right . . . I like it much better landscape so just tlt your head to the right (or left).

I love stacking stones . . . and I have a small selection to play with. It’s very soothing to just pile them up. And the one on the right . . . I like it better landscape so just tilt your head to the right (or left).

Fun . . . that’s what it’s all about.  And now I’m off to walk on the beach while the sun is out.

a job well done

I think the job has been done well but time will tell . . . it depends on my expectations about how long I have extended its use, which in turn depends on how much care I am ready to take as I spread the quilt out on my bed, whether I lie down on it to read or take the time to move it aside . . . will it last another year or five?

When I began mending my old Indian bedspread (another beginning) I knew there were quite a few rips and holes where the sun had eaten entire patches of colour away and that the fabric was whisper thin in places.  First the rips where no patches were needed were mended and then the holes, where a piece of recycled unbleached calico was underlaid and stitched in place.  As I worked I inadvertently created a few more holes . . . ending up with somewhere in excess of 120 (I stopped counting).  If the mending had not given rise to so much reflection I doubt I would have persevered . . . I have a low threshold to boredom.

As I worked I gave a lot of thought the what I hold as precious, what beauty means to me, that crossover between practical and beauty as if they were on to separate continuum and the was a sweet spot where, for me, the meet.

If something is truly practical, it does its job better than I had hope for, perhaps the look doesn’t matter so much . . . perhaps the truly ugly tights I wore under my ski pants, the rusty old bottle opener (although there is sentiment attached to it).  And if something is gobsmackingly beautiful, that alone is enough . . . beauty is its use perhaps?

And then there is age and sentiment. From newly minted, the loveliness of the just created right through to decayed, not wearing but truly worn, when an object, or person, can take on a new beauty, one where sentiment plays a part, where life is visible in every crack, every scar, every wrinkle.  Is there a sweet spot where the continuum of new to old crosses over the others?   (This could turn into a rant about human beauty, societal expectations, roles, power . . . but that is not my intention or at least not this time.)

So I pondered on all of this as I sat patching in pieces of cloth on a bedspread I am not quite ready to hand over to recycling . . . running stitch, back-stitch, simple stitches in simple cotton cloth.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed, fabric whisper thin.