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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Experimenting with Thread on Watercolour Paper

When I do a watercolour, I often have small pieces of watercolour paper left over after tearing the paper to the size I want for a particular painting. As a true hoarder, I never throw these out. So this week I was trying to come up with an idea on how to use them. It came to me that I could probably put these pieces of paper into my sewing machine and stitch on them.

From this idea, I developed a new way to make greeting cards.

I took my watercolour scraps and wet them completely with water. Then I dropped a dollop of watercolour paint onto the wet paper and watched it spread and move across. Before the paper dried too much I introduced another colour and watched what happened. As is true of watercolour, when the pieces dried, they appeared much lighter in colour than when I put the paint on. However, I didn't mind the subtle colours because I could then use darker coloured thread for accents. I also experimented with a more concentrated watercolour ink which left the paintings more vibrant and this worked too. It gives a totally different feel and look to the final product.

To make the cards, I cut 8.5 X 11 inch white card stock in half to make two pieces of 8.5 X 5.5 inches. I folded them in half to make two cards. Then I went back to my mini-watercolour abstracts and tore them to fit the card. I made them smaller than the cards so they would sit on top and have room around them.

Instead of gluing the watercolour paintings onto the card, I simply used the stitching to attach them. One thing to remember when doing this is never go right to the edge of the card with the stitching. Stitching perforates the paper so if you go right to the edge, your card will rip apart fairly quickly. Another thing I learned is that using light coloured thread doesn't work because all you see then are the holes made by the needle.

Before I start stitching, I look at the little abstract watercolour and determine what shapes I see. Sometimes I see flowers or sometimes trees jump out at me and other times I get a feeling of undersea activity. This determines the direction of my stitching. The colours of watercolour paint I used determines the colour of thread I'm going to use. I always use a white lingerie thread in the bobbin so it can't be seen on the inside. For some cards I covered the inside stitching but on most, I just left it. It actually looks pretty neat from the inside as well with all the little perforations.

As you can see, I stitch off the edges of the watercolour
paper. It gives it an interesting and more playful look
and also gives more stability to the adhesion of the
watercolour paper to the cardstock.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Printing on Fabric to make your own Textile Designs

As I work more and more with fabric in my art, I am learning how I can make my art pieces truly unique by creating my own fabric designs. There are several ways to do this and I haven't experimented with them all. The first way that comes to mind is simply dyeing the fabric. I have experimented with this and it is really fun to do but it takes lots of time and you need lots of space for this. Another way to create your own fabric designs is to paint on fabric with textile paint which is something I haven't yet tried. Another way is to bleach away colour in fabric.

I once thought to myself, there are so many wonderful textiles and designs to be found in fabric stores and flea markets or even in closets. Why would I want to make my own designs? Well, I came upon a technique that I can do fairly quickly. I have everything I need to do it and it makes my fabric unique.
What is that technique? I use my home colour printer to print onto fabric. I do have to keep in mind that the designs are not permanent so I cannot wash the fabric after it has been printed but I can use it in my fabric art.

 As I look through magazines or find designs that I like on Kleenex boxes and such or even go through my stash of completed art that maybe didn't work out as well as I thought, I collect them to use as prints on my fabric. Here's my process. I find a piece of fabric that I want to print on. It could already have a design on it or it could be a plain colour, but not something with a high pile, like velvet. I iron the fabric so it's flat but you could also leave wrinkles in it for more interest. I just have to remember that it has to be able to go through my printer. I then iron a sheet of freezer paper to it and cut out an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet to fit my printer or I'll cut a few 4 by 6 inch sizes to put into the photo drawer of the printer. I then place my design onto the scanning bed of my printer and press colour copy. The fabric goes through and comes out with the design on it. You can also scan the design into your computer and alter it first before you print it. There is much experimenting that I still want to do with this technique but so far I like the results.

Freezer paper can be found in any grocery store and
I use it extensively while making my art quilts.

I used plain muslin for these prints. I made 4X6 card sized prints
of a Kleenex box design with stones and a starfish on them.
The original box pieces are on the outside and the printed fabric are
the two middle pieces.
I also printed and old cross-stitch embroidery plan onto the muslin.
On the left is the original and on the right is the fabric copy.
Here are to cards that are ready to embellish and finish off
using the prints as background.
Another card I'm working on that I used a watercolour
painting of my own to print onto fabric.
Last week I promised to post my recently finished artwork that I had made for someone so here it is.
This is titled "Ministry". I was a very different piece of
art for me to complete but I'm happy with the way it
turned out and so are the new owners.
And here is the drawing of the latest addition to our family, my grand niece.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Creation Creativity

 Often I'm inspired by Scripture and because much of my art depicts the natural world for example, landscape, flowers, trees, rocks, etc., I love the creation story found in Genesis 1 of the Bible. A few years ago I completed a Creation Series. This is a series of  six fluid acrylic paintings each about 5" X 7"; one for each day of creation as found in the Genesis passage. Each piece is framed in black with a white mat. On the mat I used calligraphy to write the verses that the images depict. I painted this series as a reminder to myself of how the world began and how powerful and wonderful our God is that he created this whole universe for us. It shows me that God loves order but also colour and variety and different sounds and smells. I think he even has a great sense of humour when you look at the different animals of his creation. It reminds me that to this day he still upholds his creation despite what the world thinks when they talk of global warming and the environment.

Day 1- Separation of light from darkness

Day 2 - Separation of seas from sky

Day 3 - Separation of land from seas

Day 4 - Separation of day from night,
sun, moon and stars

Day 5 - Birds and water creatures

Day 6 - Living creatures: livestock, wild animals,
reptiles, insects, people
He then gave us the seventh day for a day of rest and we definately need it. We need it to reflect on who God is and how he loves us and he has given us this day for our own health and well being.
What I find interesting is how Day 1 and Day 3 are similar in that they are both about light and darkness. Further to that idea, Day 2 and Day 4 have to do with the seas and the sky and Day 3 and Day 5 both have to do with the land and creatures living on the land. I won't attempt to explain why that is, I just find it interesting.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Inspiration Often Doesn't Come Easily

There are many things that inspire me and inspiration can be found almost everywhere. However, when you are trying to produce art that will be meaningful to a specific person or persons ideas can evade you. I have been trying to come up with a piece of art for someone specific since December. I have asked relatives for ideas, gathered fabric and paper and perused books. As I don't know them as well as I thought I did, it was hard to choose a theme for them. I also want it to be a piece they would like to hang in their house somewhere. Early on, I did have an idea and began to take photos of hands with the idea to draw them and use them in the piece because these people minister to others. Hands to me, are a symbol of ministry. For a long time I didn't know how to use this subject as a completed work of art. I let it percolate in my head for a long time. Finally, I thought, I just have to start something. Usually when I start something, inspiration grows from that. So I started by drawing the hands.

Next I thought about how I could incorporate the fabric and ribbon and paper I had been given. The colour scheme of them was peachy/pink. How would I integrate it with the gray scale of the drawings?
I really loved some of the fabrics and ribbon but they were very feminine and the artwork was for a couple and so I wanted to tone the feminine aspect down. I decided to paint a canvas loosely with white, grey and black paint. I used a brayer, which is a rubber roller, to apply it so that the paint didn't mix to make a solid grey but remained as blotchy areas of white, grey and black.

This was the background upon which I would put my drawings of hands and also the lace and ribbon to tie it all together.

I have finished the piece which turned out to be a mixed media piece meaning I used canvas, acrylic paint, ribbon, paper, lace and marker. I am planning to have a black frame put on it. I can't show you the finished product until it has been delivered to its owners. So you'll have to check back in a few weeks for the result of this experiment.