Earlier in the year I created some of my favorite recent batik artwork, using verses from the Psalms as my inspiration. I had been working my way through the Psalms and writing scripture that spoke to me in my journal along the way, making the selection process easy!
Each piece began by writing the verse in some sort of circular form on Unryu paper that had pieces of gold thread imbedded in it. As always I used my trusty Sharpie for that, knowing it can withstand the rest of the batik process without fading.
I took a wide brush and dipped it into melted wax and blocked off streaks of the pieces so they would remain white and then added light strokes of color with a feathery brush and India inks. Next all the pieces were entirely covered with the wax, crumpled to create cracks for more color to seep in randomly and then sprayed with liquid watercolors.
After that application the pieces dried and then the wax was removed to reveal the final outcome of each. All four have been framed in 12×12″ barn wood frames. Here they are:
I love to include words, quotes and text in my art but, despite some instruction and practice, I’m not always thrilled with the way my hand drawn letters turn out. This little hack is a favorite of mine and I thought you might find it useful as well! This was just an impromptu, messy fingers project that popped into my head one day. The first step was to add acrylic paint to the board I was painting. Somedays my favorite paint tools are my fingers, and this was no exception.
I have accumulated a large selection of fonts on my computer (there are many resources for free downloadable fonts available online) and have fun using different ones in digital creations, advertising and such. They are especially handy when lettering on artwork! Some of my batik work is done on Unryu paper which is transparent enough you can actually just trace the letters onto the paper as they are visible when placed underneath.
If I’m working on wood or canvas I have a way of getting the letters on my art that works very well. First I measure the space where I want the words placed and create a blank file in Photoshop Elements that is the same size. Then, using the type function I type, resize and arrange the letters to suit my project. This is what the file looked like for the project I am showing you:
I printed it the exact size as the file (which meant it had to be printed in two sections) and then taped together the pieces. The next step was to turn it over and take either pencil or charcoal and cover the back of the paper where the letters were printed.
You want to cover it fully, the pencil or charcoal is going to be used like copy paper to make outlines of your letters onto your art. Turn it over and position it where you want the letters to be on your art and then take a ball point pen and trace the outlines of each letter. I get excited and always want to rush things so come to find out my paint wasn’t as dry as usual, I ended up lifting some of it from the wood when I applied the marks. It still worked!
Now that I had the outline on the artwork I could use markers, paint pens or a really steady brush to add the colors and outline for the lettering and any details I decided to include. I decided to just handwrite the “hello” portion of the lettering and kind of wish I’d have traced that too. Oh well! Here is the final piece.
Let me know if you try this technique for adding letters, I hope it’s inspired you to get creative!
I’ve been working on two large pieces of art featuring butterflies. Today as I was waiting for some of the layers to dry on those two pieces I took time to create three smaller butterfly pieces. Using the batik style I’ve been fond of lately I started by drawing them with a Sharpie on some hand made paper.
After the outlines were down I added color with my Pitt pens that are full of india ink. Love me some Pitt pens!!
The next couple of steps involve wax being applied on the surface to make a resist when I spray liquid watercolor onto the paper. The first layer of wax just covers the part of the the drawings I don’t want to blend with the background color. After that has been sprayed on and dried I cover the entire piece with wax. Then comes the part that continues to make me nervous – wadding up the paper into a tight little ball to crack the wax in a random kind of way. Then (gently) unfolding it and spraying the piece again, this time with a contrast color to make random lines throughout the piece. I used black watercolor on these pieces but have some white ink on order than I’m anxious to try for a different result.
The final step is to place the waxy art between sheets of newspaper and iron it with a hot iron, which pulls the wax out of the art and leaves it on the newspaper. Sometimes this takes a few ironings before it’s totally wax free. Ta-da! Art! Well, okay, I did go back in with some gel pens and add a few details. Then the ta-da happened. 🙂
Rather amusing is that these quick little pieces are more exciting to me than the larger ones are right now! Go figure. I’ve added these three to the “Giftables” page on my website so go pick out your favorite and give it a home!
Getting back to sharing the process images of the artwork I created for last November’s show at ArtSplash Gallery in Carmel, Indiana.
All the pieces had materials and inspiration drawn from nature, this particular piece started as a fallen branch that my grandson found for me while he was playing back in our woods. I was given instructions to “make some art” with it, so that’s what I did.
Most of the bark had fallen off, whatever hadn’t I striped and then smoothed off any rough spots. The very bottom of the branch was split so I ended up cutting that portion off. I still ended up being four foot in length! After it was cleaned up I began adding designs to it in black.
Once the entire piece was covered then it was time to fill in the designs. Much of it was done using Pitt Artist markers, which lay a nice layer of India ink into tiny places. The black & white areas were painted with F&W artist acrylic inks with designs added on top of the white sections with Gelli glaze pens.
After the painting was done it was looking pretty good but I just felt like it was too tall & skinny and needed a little variety to it, width wise. Out came the drill and I (carefully!!) drilled holes in it, gradually using larger bits until I could fit this aluminum wire through, bending and curling it in different directions until I was happy with it.
Ta-da! This is one of several “branch” pieces in the body of work. I’ll be posting more down the line.
On Tuesday’s post I showed you how I made some stamps to use with my gelli plate. Today I thought I’d share some of the results once the stamps were dry enough to play with. These were all stamped on card stock, some white and some buff colored. Here we go….
First I used my brayer and a couple of orange/yellow/red acrylics and rolled them all over the plate. Then I stamped the dot/hole stamps on the gelli plate and printed them directly on the paper from the stamps until I’d covered the entire play and most of the paper with a random design.
I pulled the first print on a new sheet of paper without putting a lot of pressure on the paper since there was plenty of paint on the plate.
I like to do that so that there is quite a bit of paint left for a second, lighter print. The second print I made on top of the paper I had stamped on in the beginning of this process. Here’s a pic of both of them after printing:
Here is another series using the same process with different colors & stamps….
I discovered that piece of wood was a bit warped and it was hard to get the middle to print. Once I realized what the problem was I was able to press the stamp hard enough to make it work, it just wasn’t quite as effortless as the other ones! A few more random shots from the day:
I also used some of the lighter prints as an under-layer then used a stencil and black paint over them:
At the end of the session I ended up with some very colorful stamps and some nice prints too!
Last weekend in the studio I decided to do a little side project while I was there. I’ve got a nice stash of scrap wood from the studio construction that I’ve squirreled away so I dipped into it and pulled out a selection of different size pieces. I spent a few minutes with my hand sander knocking off the rough edges (I hate getting splinters!) before I continued.
Then I rounded up the rest of the materials I’d need:
A sheet of block printing foam, white glue
Pen, ruler, scissors, hole punches
Exacto knive/Cutting mat
The first step was to trace around the blocks of wood on the block printing foam and cut them to size, at least for the first few.
For the larger two stamps I created the designs with a pen, the rest I just kind of “winged” as I went along. After drawing the design I marked out the pieces I’d be removing from the foam with the exacto knife.
I kept all the removed/marked pieces to use on the second large stamp. I felt like I should seal the wood somehow before adding the foam so I sprayed the wood block with some clear spray paint. After assembling that stamp it dawned on me that by covering the entire surface with glue that was probably enough of a seal so I skipped that step on the rest of the pieces. One or two already had paint on them so they were going to be fine anyhow. The gluing was easy and straightforward, the drying time always takes the longest!
For the second stamp I used the cut-aways and arranged them randomly. With the pen marks they leave a fun print! The next few stamps were all random lines and curves to fit the sizes of the stamps.
The last two stamps I brought out a few hole punches. Circles, holes, dots, squares and rectangles, all just willy-nilly random fun.
I ended up with eight new stamps for just a bit of work, a few materials and a little time. The best part? No one else has one like them. 🙂 Later this week I’ll share some of the prints I made with these new stamps and a gelli plate that added the fun colors you see in the top image!
Just for fun I thought I’d share with you how I take photos of my artwork. (Disclaimer: The photos I’m sharing here were taken with my cell phone and would not be the ones I’d submit for shows, etc.!) Since I’ve set my website up to have all the images on a black background that is how I always photograph them. Occasionally I’ll do them on both black and white backgrounds if one just really needs the white to look good. I don’t keep my photography backdrops, stands, etc. set up in the studio so I pretty much drape the black cloth over whatever I can find. Depending on the size of the art I’m photographing some creativity might be needed to get it large enough to surround the artwork. Here’s ares pictures from this morning showing both the front & back of the set up.
As you can tell from the shot of the back this is one of those “creative” set ups since a few of the pieces were over three foot tall. As long as it works no one (normally) sees how it’s put together so who cares? I placed it up on the table so I wouldn’t be bending over so much to get the pics, plus there was more available light coming in through the windows & doors at that height. Unless it’s a late-night desperate situation I prefer to take these shots with natural window light instead of room lights or using a flash. Today was cloudy out so it was perfect conditions…not too dark but no hot spot of sun shining in to deal with. Here is a pic of a new art piece sitting in the photo area:
Doesn’t look too spectacular at this point but, as I said earlier, this was taken with my cell phone so I didn’t have a lot of control over the amount of light, etc. that was being captured.
One of the hardest parts of photographing square or rectangle images is to get the perspective correct so they actually look like squares or rectangles. Aiming your camera at the center of the piece and keeping it parallel with the artwork helps a lot, plus just being aware of that it’s not skewed when you shoot helps too. (Multiple shots up the odds as well!) If all else fails you can straighten while you’re making adjustments to the image with your computer, but that’s extra work so I try to get mine lined up correctly when shooting.
This final image was still on the cell phone but was taken closely to the art and then I also tweaked the lighting/color in photoshop before I uploaded it here. It’s an improvement over the previous image!
The one taken on my Nikon will be even better than this! Since this is a semi-flat (it hangs on the wall, anyhow!) piece of art with black borders on it I didn’t care that it blended right into the black background. With more dimensional pieces I try to place them with a space between them and background to help emphasis the depth and give them some separation.
So that’s that…
I’ll be sharing more new work as I get a chance, heck I’ve still got a couple of pieces from this summer I haven’t gotten on the blog yet.