experiments continued

Having liked the results written up in my post, experiments with plastic, I decided to try different combinations of black and bright colours.

Black gesso and black acrylic under brights (magenta vermillion and cadmium yellow medium).

Black acrylic and India ink as the top layer over the bright colours.

In each case (black under/black over) I used the medium at full viscosity or watered down.  I also used the magazine-wrap plastic as well as cling film.

The results were similar to before however the most effective, in my opinion, was when I used a diluted top coat as more of the previous layer shows through.

Diluted India ink over bright acrylics and magazine wrap plastic . . . I forgot to dilute it prior to application so I spritzed it with water. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Diluted India ink over bright acrylics and magazine wrap plastic . . . I forgot to dilute it before application so I spritzed it with water.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Bright acrylic over black acrylic and cling film. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Diluted bright acrylic over black acrylic and cling film.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Brights over black gesso and magazine-wrap plastic. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Brights over black gesso and magazine-wrap plastic. Unfortuantely I put the black smudge on after with my grubby fingers.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Even the magazine wrap plastic looked interesting after I'd used both sides . . . I'll probably use it again knowing that it will leave remants of colour behind. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Even the magazine wrap plastic looked interesting after I’d used both sides . . . I’ll probably use it again knowing that it will leave remnants of colour behind.  Hmmm . . . I wonder if I can stick down with a matt gel? 
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I used Atelier Interactive acrylics for these samples. I bought them myself however if Atelier wants to subsidise my play experiments that would be lovely!

And now that my curiosity has been satisfied it’s time to put all my paints away otherwise I won’t get some presents made and of course I can’t tell you about those because my family read this blog.  Maybe I’ll lay our some cardboard first and make gift tags . . . I’m thinking of white under and over pastels.  So just a little more playtime perhaps or is this perseverance beginning to blossom?

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

 

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?

you don’t have to like everything you do

When working with a class of 13 years old students identifying the values they held and the positive qualities they were developing, we used an art journal to record their work . . . some found it really challenging so I developed a simple way for them to critique their work when they didn’t like the results using three quick questions.

1. What, specifically, don’t you like.  It was often something quite small such as the way some lettering went off the page.  This helped me know what to teach them next or, better still, which other student could teach them something about layout or lettering etc.

2. What details do you like (so you can do it again and share it with someone struggling . . . see  #1)?  If I did this again I ask the kids to add their names to a skills list  so that others could use it as a reference for support.

3. What are some ways you can improve on what you have done?  We developed the ‘step away’ assessment to help with this question . . . prop it up, take four big steps back and look at what the work might need.

We also developed, in groups, peers critiques where people noted what really stood out for them, especially if they though it something they could do.  If a student asked for support in the form of a question such as “What would you do next if this was your work?” or “Who can anyone show me how to do XYZ better?” a suggestion could be made . . . other wise it was positive feedback only.

As a result students became adept at finding what worked well and didn’t dismiss their efforts so lightly.  They also saw that many other struggled with the same things as they did.

So why am I telling you this?  Because I attended a workshop with Gill Allen on the weekend and didn’t like every aspect of everything I did.  By applying the same three questions, I came up with just a couple of things I didn’t like and a longer list of successes.

The overall composition doesn’t really appeal to me so I learned that I should go with my first impulse when making a choice.  What It learned though, is that by sticking with the choice it was more of a challenge.  And I learned more about manipulating acrylic paint because that became the focus and not getting the composition right . . . I had no picture in my head to perfect.

I haven’t touched charcoal for years and did very little and I really enjoyed getting my fingers in there . . . it was a great way to warm up.

Charcoal on brown paper: 32 x 43 cms or12.5 x 17 inches. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Charcoal on brown paper: 32 x 43 cms or 12.5 x 17 inches.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I like details, little squiggly details . . . even in charcoal.

Little squiggly details add to the texture. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Little squiggly details add to the texture.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I enjoyed the limitations place on us by the exercise because it allowed a certain freedom to experiment.  Being pushed out of my default way of working also meant I learnt more.

I loved painting BIG with a BIG 2 inch brush and I’d like to have a go at painting BIGGER with a BIGGER brush.

Acrylic 90 x 65 cms or 35.5 x 25.5 inches Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Acrylic 65 x 90 cms or 25.5 x 35.5 inches
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Tiny pops of colour can make a big difference . . . even of a big painting.

The little scarlet dots made all the difference. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

The little scarlet dots made all the difference.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

And this morning?  How do I feel this morning about the images?  I can see what needed a little more thought when I sketched out the original image and what could be changed now so using the ‘step away’ assessment more would have been helpful yesterday.  And I still like what I liked yesterday, especially those little scarlet dots.

Goals achieved (have fun and learn something), a great day . . . thanks Gill

 

 

welcome rain

It rained for the first time in what seems like weeks yesterday, and again today.  So what? You might well ask.

New Zealand lamb and dairy products, New Zealand wines, all world-class, all contributing to this small corner of the world’s wealth . . . we began building this country and made a name with primary produce, farmers are known as ‘the backbone of the country’ and we have a clean, green image, although in reality we’re probably no greener than many other places.  Perhaps we’re a little greener though in that our native forests are  predominantly evergreen.

But I digress.  The entire North Island and much of the South is experiencing a drought, a severe drought that has everyone saving water.  There are often water restrictions through the summer however in Wellington the situation is such that there is a ban on all outdoor water use . . . no watering your garden, washing your car or windows, filling the kids paddling pool.  So the rain is very welcome even though it isn’t nearly enough.  This satellite picture, courtesy of NASA shows how parched the land is.

Satellite images from March 2012 (L) and March 2013 (R) show significant browning across the North Island. Photo / NASA

 Our lives can have their own droughts too.  It may be time, affection, money, but all, hopefully, temporary situations that will be relieved eventually – harsh circumstances are easier to accept when there is an end in sight.

Sometimes I feel as if I don’t have the time to do what I’d like to do and my weekends could be regarded as ‘drought relief’ as I relax with my family, catch up with friends, or work on some creative project.  Recently I have been making some pencil cases out of hand painted canvas.

I borrowed Canvas Remix by Alisa Burke from the library and started to play . . . with a little help. I used canvas fabric, acrylic paints, an old credit card and stencils – there’s still some more to sew up.  I even made a label for my laptop bag.

IMG_1397

Each piece will make 2 pencil cases. I did 2, and the others were done by my granddaughters aged 8 and 4 . . . I defy you to guess who did which ones!

Pencil CasesLaptop bagDrought broken!

wonderful weekends

I’ve had two fantastic weekends and a Blinding Flash of the Obvious – the BFO can wait until tomorrow.

But the weekends . . . I try to squeeze as much creativity into the day-job as I can and because I work mostly with primary school teachers, supporting their practice in the classroom, I sometimes manage more than a bit of creative problem solving.

I worked with a group of children scraping paint onto A 2 sized paper to make some books.  It was pretty slow so I finished them off over the weekend before last.A2 bookletsI am learning bookletWhile the students will be writing about the skills they are developing in class, mine will be about learning to play again!

I’ve been making these booklets in various sizes in the classroom for years and just in case you want to make one too, here’s an explanation of how to do it that I found for you on You Tube.  They can be made from any size sheet of paper – the booklet ends up 1/8 the size of the page.  I usually glue the pages after I have finished all the folding and cutting.

The painting was so much fun that I decided I would make some more the next time my grand-daughters came to stay – and that was last weekend.  So there we were, a old painting drop sheet on the floor, jars and tubes of cheap acrylic, old credit cards, brushes, corks carved into stamps and some sponges.Nonsense DreamlandBy the end of the weekend, the whole family had had a play, the dining table was covered in supplies and everyone is feeling very satisfied with two watching Milo and Otis. 

The dining table is still covered with bits and pieces . . . one of the few joys of not living there during the week is that I get to walk away and leave it all behind waiting for next weekend’s playtime. And as if having family to stay wasn’t joy enough I had mail! 

Quinn McDonald was celebrating reaching 1500 posts (I’m up to 55) and sent out these wonderful journals . . . where will I send it on to?  Any takers?  I’ve not got supplies here at my little mid-week abode so next weekend . . . there is much smiling going on here!