Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time in the "Kitchen" Studio

My bad humor yesterday may have been at least partly due to the beginnings of a cold. By bedtime there was a hint of a sore throat and by morning I knew I'd picked something up. Tis the season for that too.

So what does one do when feeling lousy and low on energy, but has the day
earmarked for the studio? I could not have foreseen that I'd want to paint this week, but paint is what I did. It didn't start out that way, though. It started with thinking I'd pick out buttons for my folded ornaments and led to this.

That black one bothered me because the folded design wasn't showing up very well. I'd thought about it last night and wondered if a wash of silver paint would help things stand out. Wouldn't require a lot of set up time or a lot of mess, so I decided to do it. And you can probably guess the rest...

I've been thinking about my Chinese poem challenge for several weeks now. I figured my next step might be to paint in some faces, then some sun streaks, but that seamed pretty ambitious. Today, after dipping a brush into paint, the draw to get on with that piece was very strong, so I dug it out.

Here's my inspiration for the faces to represent the part of the poem that refers to no one in sight but hearing voices. They are from 18th century Puritan gravestones found in New England (see Smithsonian Magazine article here). These images mesmerized me and have haunted me ever since. Here at last was I place where I could use them.

I've thought a lot about how I could transfer the images - always starting from the assumption that I can't draw. Perhaps I can make a stamp - but that seemed too tedious. Maybe I can paint them on - but I'd have to trace the image on first. That last one was where I was headed today, taking a piece of paper and holding it over the page against the window. Well, THAT was going to be tedious too, so I thought I'd try sketching freehand, going over the pencil lines later with black pen once I got the images the way I wanted them. Then I could use a lightbox to trace them on the fabric and paint over the tracing. Uhh, I didn't feel up to that much work today either. So I sketched the most compelling images to practice, then tried painting freehand on a scrap of fabric. Here are my sketches and I was surprised how easy it was to "sketch" on fabric with the "spotter" brush.

I chose my favorite Versatex paints, the bronze seeming to look the best. But it didn't have quite as much definition as I wanted. So I tried sketching the image with a fine black Micron permanent pen, then painting over that. It seemed to help - I'm going for subtle, but there's a limit to just how subtle you can go before you lose it altogether.

Here's a shot after painting, and a close-up. Click on any picture for a larger view. I'm a little disturbed that the one face in the center shows up so much more than the others. I either need to define the others more or tone this one down. Maybe it will blend better after the sunray wash.

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