Thursday, July 23, 2015

Treasure Hunting, Black and White and Feathers

encaustic and oil on birch 6x6
I've been collecting feathers.  Seems I find all kinds, shapes and sizes.  There is an eagle nest that I pass regularly and every now and again I'm lucky to find one that has fallen from there.  I have an osprey feather, crow feathers, little downy ones, stripy ones and even a little sweet gray and yellow one.  Its become my own personal treasure hunt when I'm out walking.  In the beginning I brought all the ones home that caught my eye - now I'm a bit more selective as my collection has grown.   The fine detail of all the little filaments and the lightness of their architecture is remarkable to think they are responsible for flight.

I've also been thinking in black and white.  The simplicity of removing color and creating form and detail in the space of two colors is a good lesson for me.  I'm not giving up color by any means, but I do think that removing it teaches a valuable lesson.  For those of you interested in processes - the feather is carved into the wax surface with an exacto knife creating the fine line detail.  The lines are then filled with oil paint which is then rubbed off the surface and left in the lines.  Wax is difficult to get any fine detail and this in one of the best ways to achieve that. 

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope your time in nature is also a wonderful inspirational adventure and treasure hunt that brings you much reward. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Poetry, Summer Song and Little Birds

Marsh Wren
encaustic, oil and graphite on birch 6x6
A friend sent me this lovely poem - with a note that said "I feel like Nancy wrote this poem for every artist I know".  I totally agree -

Summer Song
Tonight I break the map that says don’t sell yourself
I brag and leave the humble out of it
I kick the Minnesota-raised girl to the curb
and yell, “I am fucking awesome!”
Sing it girl, don’t be shy.
What’s the use of pretending I’m dull?
I’ve got a loud voice, I’ll use it.
I’ll not waste another minute.
Translate fear into possibility
take the gnaw in my stomach
belch it out
until my core glows orange, no pain left.
What’s doubt and dread
except stagnation to grow
up and out of? I’ll turn tiny-ness
on its head and live large, for sure
I wear my brave face
I dance in the street
with pure abandon
sing with all of my notes out of tune.
I do karaoke with no machine
until my family laughs
the neighbors come onto their doorsteps
they cheer me on.
Summer is short, its nights long
and full of sweetness; I practice daring
on the cooled concrete
while the red sun sets
an orange globe of power
that I swallow whole
voice loud with song
my body a ray of light.
Nancy Schatz Alton
Freelance Writer, Editor & Writing Coach
Co-author of The Healthy Back Book & The Healthy Knees Book

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Encaustic Painting Process, Draw-Through Printing and Tissue Paper

Kiss (detail)
encaustic, paper and ink on birch
Trying old techniques in a new way again - this time a printing technique called draw-through printing.  Keeping things fresh and loose in art can sometimes be a challenge for me.  This little chickadee is a detail from a larger modular painting.  I've been revisiting some techniques I learned a while back and finding it really fun.  Thanks to the wonderful Stephanie Hargrave for being the inspiration. 

The drawings are done on tissue paper and then put into the encaustic painting.  Its a fun process and because of its nature, it keeps the drawings loose and fresh.  The first step is to get together all the things needed
  1. printing ink - I used Akua, but there are other printing inks that work great like Daniel Smith printing inks. 
  2. Glass palette
  3. brayer
  4. bamboo skewer
  5. tissue paper

Step One - roll out the ink with the brayer - can't stress enough that it needs to be a thin layer. Think thin to win!
Step Two - gently place the tissue paper on top of the rolled out ink and weight the edges so it will not move when you do your drawings.
Step Three - Use the bamboo skewer, or end of a paint brush handle or even your finger nail - and draw.  Being careful not to touch the paper to hold it otherwise you will have finger prints which is ok, but just be mindful where they are.  You will see your line showing through the tissue as you draw your shapes. 
Step Four - carefully peel up the tissue from the printing plate and turn it over.  You will see your designs printed on the tissue. 

You can see in this photo the "noise" created in the print where the tissue stuck to the ink other than where the lines were drawn.  I don't mind a little bit of noise in the print.  A lot of noise creates a whole another look to the print.

Step Five - once the prints are dry - burnish the tissue into an encaustic painting and gently heat.  The white tissue will magically disappear into the wax and will leave only the printed lines showing.  Cover with a protective layer of wax and the tissue will totally blend into the artwork
 Noisy print on the left and only just a little noise on the right
As a side note, I did find that the tissue I was using had a shiny or hard side and a matte or soft side.  I found the hard side would stick to the ink in places that I really didn't want it to, thus, creating "noise" in the print like on the left above.  The soft side of the tissue would allow for the fine lines to show through without too much stickage (noise). I would re-brayer the inked area after every print, not necessarily adding more ink until I really needed it.  Its fun to do several when you have everything out - lots of different shapes and designs.  That way when you are ready to put the drawings into your artwork, there are lots of choices to layer and have fun with.  I'm also assuming it would work with a gel medium on an art journal page or other artwork than encaustic. 
Good luck and have fun.  Happy Friday everyone!

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