Friday, June 20, 2014

Pouring Watercolor Paint

The beautiful patterns and colors of traditional Batik have been calling my name lately.  I wanted to get the materials and supplies and get going on it this summer, but haven't had the time or money to take on a new medium.  The whole idea of using layers of color over some kind of resist has been playing in the back of my mind for weeks.

Last week I was reading this month's issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine and came upon an article by Amy Dean McKittrick entitled, "Let it Flow."  In the article she gives the steps for pouring watercolor paints onto paper and letting them blend and flow together to create luminous colors.  She uses a resist, or mask to keep certain parts of the painting lighter in value as the poured layers build up.  
It looked a lot like batik!

I was intrigued and did some more research on Youtube and decided I'd better give it a go.  Well, I did and had a marvelous time.  I think I've headed in a whole new direction with my work as I am pretty excited to explore this concept further.  Here are two results:

Two pours in and masking after each pour
Next to last pour dry and ready for one more layer of mask.  At this point, I used a brush to darken the shirts and pants of the figures, but not in a traditional way.  Wetting the areas, I dropped blue and burnt sienna off of the end of the brush into the wet areas and let them flow together.  I love the way the colors flowed and mixed.

To finish the piece, I held a piece of scrap paper over the figures and splattered dark paint over the lower half of the painting.

I didn't want very bright color for this piece, but used pure colors for the first pour or two to establish the light areas

I began to muddy the colors to express the quietness of a forest floor, adding more mask each time.

The finished piece.  I feel like this has a real batik feel to it.  I don't love it as much as the one above, but I am thinking in a new way about the process of painting, and seeing light and dark areas differently, too.  Fun, fun, fun!  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Learning Curve

Boy, do I have a lot to learn!  That's why I'm doing this project, though, right?  By the time I've fought my way through this, I should have a pretty good handle on using a Navajo style loom.  The first piece on it is presenting problems that tempt me to toss the whole kit and caboodle right out the front door, but I WANT this; I want it badly enough to stick with it.

Issue number one is the design of the loom frame.  We placed the bars to hold the weaving in the center of the loom, which makes getting a shed stick in and out a problem.  I fixed that by using a wooden yard stick because it's flexible.

I was inexperienced in winding the warp on the warping sticks and used thinner dowels than I should have, which caused them to bow resulting in uneven tension in the warp.  This has caused trouble throughout the whole process and is now resulting in the weft on each end to ride higher than the center.  Not sure how to fix that problem.

The book I have mentioned using floating selvedge yarns, but suggested not trying it as a beginner.  I think that would have helped me keep the piece from having the draw in I am experiencing. (see photo above)

I am now at the point of deciding whether to carry on and finish this piece, or start over using all that I've learned so far and do it right.  On the one hand, I know I'll learn even more as I go if I stay with this piece and I hate to waste the time I've invested.  On the other hand, the materials are expensive.  If I use the beautiful yarn I've bought up in a piece that's not going to be something to keep, I'll kick myself.  

Whichever way this goes, I'll post about it when it's worked out.  In the meantime, posting will be sporadic again as summer is NOT the easy, slow time I've been telling myself it was going to be.  Surprise!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Small loom..

We made a small loom to practice on.  It's portable. Since we'd be gone most of the past month and I didn't want to wait to begin learning to weave, we made it to haul it along.  This is the beginning of the first project.
Beginning.  The loom is just a frame with nails set every 1/4".  I wrapped the wool warp yarn back and forth from nail to nail without leaving a crossover in the center for the different shed.  Instead, I just wove the shed stick under every other warp, then added the stick for the pull shed.  Because of the size of the piece, it was quick and painless.

You can see the  nail heads better here...

THEN- the pressure from the warp yarns split the wood.  The nails so close together weakened the soft fir of the frame!  I about freaked clear out.

After calming down, I decided to pick up each warp and attach it to a wooden slat, then reattach the slat to the frame.

This is how it looked after the repairs.  Works just as well and I can keep going.  I've got stripes figured out, patterns have been more challenging.  I'll write more about them when I'm sure I have it worked out!  

End of Semester Art Show

The end of semester art show this spring was fun for me because I had a chance to give private watercolor painting lessons to another student-  It was as fun to have her work hanging as it was mine! The art building is fairly small, we we crowd a LOT of work into the space.  My paintings were hung in a grouping instead of separately like I'd have hung them.  However, I thought it was interesting to see them in comparison to each other.  They look quite different as a group than they do alone. I will probably look at paintings in this way again as I think it added to their context. Not a bad semester's worth of work done, so I feel like it was a successful one.

The teacher who handles the show did not hang my work crooked, it's the angle I stood at to take the photos that caused the wonky angle.  

My student, Karyn Neil, worked so hard to learn watercolor painting techniques.  I am quite tickled with what she's accomplished.  I think I learned at least as much by teaching as she did from the class.  She has a nice touch and it'll be so exciting to see what she does from this point.  I can't wait to see how her style develops.  Here are her paintings:

Karyn Neil, watercolor painter, WNMU- Pretty great work, you wouldn't think she's new to the medium!