Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ACEO/ATC Pastel Experiment

The painting here is one painting of multiple experiments!  We have a shamrock plant that has tiny white flowers on it and I've always wanted to try to paint them and I finally did it.  I also used this painting as a basis to experiment with 1) using pastel pencils on a very small  support  2) using PastelMat as that support and 3) steaming as an alternative to spray fixative.

Even keeping the pastel pencils as sharp as possible, I still had problems with this small painting.

ACEOs (art card editions and originals if sold) or ATCs (art trading cards if traded) have only one rule and that is a size rule - they must be 2.5 x3.5 inches (or 3.5 x 2.5 as in my painting).  That's a mighty small space to work in especially if you're as "ham-fisted" as I am.  My hands are pretty large which makes it very difficult to work in small spaces but I managed fairly well with this and am pretty pleased with the way it came out.  I could not get a super smooth finish but think that's as much the support as anything else.

Which brings me to the PastelMat that I used for this.  I've worked on this paper before (remember Belle?) and really struggled with it.  I had some difficulty this time also as it's nearly impossible to blend on it which is really my only complaint with it.  The nappy surface holds pastel extremely well and there's very little dust which is wonderful in my opinion!  I think the color of the support should be carefully considered though.  It seems to make a difference since you can't really "tone" the surface easily.  I used the Anthracite color for this painting although I used pastel on the whole surface.  

Although the PastelMat really holds the pastel, I decided to try to fix it more by using steam.  I wasn't sure how to do it exactly but I basically just heated a small pan of water until it produced consistent steam then held the painting face down over the pan.  The PastelMat is a card instead of a flimsy/floppy paper so I was able to hold it by the edges (plus this is a small painting).  I steamed it just long enough to get the surface damp but not wet.  The pastel did not permanently change color although it darkened until the painting dried (which only took a minute or less).

I don't know what, if any, benefit there is to steaming as the pastel will still rub off but I may not have done it correctly either.  There's no loose pastel dust but there was just a minute amount before steaming anyway.  I think I may have to try this with another support to fully gauge the effectiveness.  It would stand to reason that steaming would work as using water or alcohol in the painting process tends to compact and "set" the pastel.  If it does work well, I may invest in one of those hand-held steamers so I can steam without having to hold the painting while I steam it.

I hope you've benefited from these experiments and if you have anything to add, I hope you'll let me know.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring! Lovely Spring!

After such an abnormally nasty winter, it's been a delight to spend time outside these past few days.  The temps have been in the high 60's and it even got up to 80 degrees one day!  More and more flowers are coming into bloom and the wildlife is on the move again.

Here are some of the turkeys we've been seeing on a regular basis recently.  I don't know what it is in that back hayfield that's keeping them coming back, but they're there off and on all day and don't even seem to mind when I take their picture.  Before, they would scurry back into the woods but they're a bit braver now.  Yesterday evening they were all out there along with a small herd of deer and it reminded me of a drive-through zoo with several species intermingling.

While we haven't actually seen a live skunk yet this year, there's ample evidence that they're still around!  They're on the move also and many times get stuck on one of our country roads in the path of an on-coming car or truck. While I have a hard time with any animal getting killed, I don't want skunks around our place either!

Anyway, I may not do so well at keeping up my blog for a while.  And I've been too restless to do much art - the great outdoors has such a siren call that I've been grabbing my camera and spending more time with it than either art supplies or computers!

Maybe it's time to try a little plein air painting!  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Signs of Spring - Finally!

This winter has been one of the coldest, wettest and snowiest that we've had in a very long time.  It has been the kind of winter that keeps me cuddled up in  heavy sweats and wool socks and in a listless, "don't want to do anything" kind of mood.

Our camellias (first pink flower) have been in bud all winter and these usually bloom in February.  The crocus and Lenten Rose are usually in bloom in February also.  However, they're all just now coming into their full beauty, almost a month late. 

No matter when they arrive, they're a welcome and uplifting sight!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chinese Brush Painting

One of the art forums I belong to (Designing  Artist's Women Group or DAWG) has started a discussion about Chinese Brush Painting and I just finished a watercolor after that style.  I don't think I can call it a true CBP as it's on regular 140# cp watercolor paper and not rice or bamboo paper.  Also, I used watercolors and not true Chinese ink.  I also think it's certainly overworked and not a truly spontaneous piece.

However, I like the way it came out even if it's not at all authentic!

Uh Oh, I just noticed that the legs don't look quite right - the original does look better.  The legs are actually bluish in color and I do have a sort of scaly texture on them!