I’m Ready

Winter

Finished prepping for my booth at the Warkworth Art in the Park next weekend. It's be a whole booth of 6" x 6" landscape monoprints along with a few 12" x 12" acrylic landscape paintings. It's my first time exhibiting at this show and, as long as the weather cooperates, it should be fun. There are 30 artists, admission is free and best of all, for me, it's close by so I can sleep in my own bed!

Drop by if you have a chance. Warkworth is located just east of Toronto.

Lots of prints
Warkworth poster

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Stepping Out the Process

Mono print process - finished

Another 6″ x 6″ monoprint and this time I have a few stepouts to hopefully help explain my process.

These are the colors I used for this monoprint.

Mono print process colours

I almost always start with large shapes and work down to the smallest shapes. So, to get started, I roll a thin layer of paint over the entire plate. I use a registration board to keep each printed layer in line so I cover the edges of the board with tape while I apply paint. That keeps paint off the registration board and, when I remove the tape prior to printing, no paint will transfer to the print paper.

This image shows a single, transparent, layer of Indian Yellow Hue applied to the plate prior to printing.

Mono print process 2

Next, I usually work on the sky adding layers of different colors until I get the soft random value changes that I like. I work back and forth between colors until I’m satisified. I have a dry, clean brush nearby so after I print, if there are too many harsh edges on the printed layer, I’ll gently sweep some of those hard edges to soften them. And if the print starts to get too gummy, I let it dry overnight.

Here are a couple of shots of the first sky layer of soft green followed by a blue layer (shown on the print).

Mono print process 3

Mono print process 4

At some point, I’ll add an overall color to the land then start building layers of color letting some of the original yellow show through.

Mono print process 5

With the larger shapes filled in, I then start adding smaller shapes using a smaller brush. The green in the image above was applied with a three inch bristle brush; the highlights in the final print were painted on the plate with a #4 flat.

I use a lot of brushes – one brush for every color, and I don’t rinse or wash the brushes until I’m finished with the print. The only other tools I use are shishkabob skewers to create caligraphic marks (and to scratch back into shape an over-sized blob of color), and old credit cards for fine lines.

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Deciding What To Do With The Skins

Tree line

This painting started with a little texture and whole bunch of random blue acrylic skins. I liked the skins so much that I filled the canvas. That turned the painting ugly.

Tree line 2

So I opened a jar of light molding paste and, with a palette knife, spread the paste over most of the canvas leaving only a couple of inches of the blue skins near the top.

Tree line 3

Then, over a period of several days, I used a dry housepainting brush and some analogous color to fill the top and bottom of the canvas. I held the brush almost flat to the surface and lightly scumbled in color to make the most of the textured patterns created in the molding paste.

I switched to a smaller brush to create some of the highlights on the cliff top edge and the background blues and I darkened some the blue areas to create contrast.

Then, after a final toning of the violet, I was done…five days later but happy with the effort.

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It Starts With A Can Of Paint

Tray

Maybe it comes from looking in the mirror every morning when I’m brushing my teeth, but I’m becoming partial to old stuff.

Distressed, crackled, stained, antiqued, I’m on a mission to age almost everything I touch. I’m eyeing the dining room furniture right now. The set came from my wife’s grandmother so it’s old already, but it still has clean lines and smooth surfaces. I want to change that.

So I bought a can of Annie Sloan chalk paint in Duck Egg Blue. My wife’s first reaction was “who would ever paint their furniture duck egg blue?”. But with a little antiquing, a little distressing, I think I’ll be able to win her over.

I’m starting small to convince her.  I found this round tin tray in the same store where I bought the paint. I covered it with two coats of duck egg blue. Then, instead of ageing the tray, I added a contemporary stamped design on the floor and a wiggly black line of acrylic ink around the outside base. To create the stamp, I drew poplar trees on a piece of foam; cut out the foam and applied a metallic blue/green paint to the tree stamp using a sponge to create texture then pressed the foam, painted side down, onto the tray. That’s it! Real simple.

And my plan may have been successful. My wife purchased the bird cage at Michael’s and she made the table topper to match. Next step, the furniture.  I’ll start with the inside of the hutch!

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Blurred Lines

Valentines

I was so proud of myself. I took a photo of every step in creating this monoprint. Then I went to load them into my computer, pushed some random button, and now I can't find the photos anywhere. So we'll make do with just this one picture of the completed design.

This is "Blurred Lines" a 6" x 6" monoprint created using a Gelli plate and Golden Open Acrylics. This is my Valentines card to my wife. To me, the landscape is the perfect subject for a painting. Whether I envision that landscape large or micro, the subject always carries significant meaning to me. And I painted that meaning bolder this time by wrapping the landscape in a large heart.

Even though I don't have the stepped photos, here are the colors I used – Quinacridone Magenta; Cadmium Red Medium; Sap Green; Titanium White; Teal; Bronze Irridescent. 

And these are the applicators – a roller, a stiff-bristled brush, a small flat, a credit card and a bamboo stick. While most applicators are obvious, I used the edge of the credit card to create the smaller, horizontal shapes. The bamboo stick I used to create some vertical texture both by scraping off paint from the printed image and by adding paint either to the gel plate or the printed image. 

I started with red rolled over the entire plate then built values of red using additions of white and/or sap green. A little bit of pure white and pure teal finished the piece. I then rolled the gel plate with sap plus red; placed a heart cut from paper over the plate then pulled a last print.

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Keeping It Old

Bridgewater school

The school photograph is from 1890 so the challenge was to make the rest of the painting look old as well.

But first, I needed to create a photo transfer of the original picture. I photocopied the picture and applied a coat a day of Golden Soft Gel medium for about four or five days. I brushed the gel medium right over the image. Once the gel was set on the last day I wet the back of the image and started rubbing to remove the paper.  After two or three attempts at removing the paper I was left with a transparent image which I glued to the canvas with polymer medium.  You can paint the canvas first, and the colors you brush onto the canvas will show through the photo transfer. But I left my background white.

Next came Golden’s Crackle Paste. I applied this with a palette knife and made it thick enough that the cracks would develop. A thin application won’t show cracks. The product recommendation is that crackle paste be applied to a solid background such as Masonite or cradle board, rather than canvas. But I’ve found that if I don’t apply the paste too thickly and I varnish the completed painting to hold everything in place, then I seem to be able to use the paste on stretched canvas.

When the crackle paste dried (after a couple of days), I again used a palette knife and applied Golden’s Light Molding Paste. I applied the paste roughly to get some ridges and valleys.

When all the mediums were dry, I took sandpaper and sanded back any spots that were too thick or too rough. I paid particular attention around the edge of the transfer.

Next, I brushed Payne’s Grey acrylic over the entire piece and immediately wiped the color back using a damp shop towel. The objective was to leave a darker value in the valleys and cracks.

I brushed a glaze of Transparent Red Oxide over the photo transfer then added some stamped, stencilled and collaged elements to complete the piece.

This painting “Bridgewater School” is to be part of a group exhibition at a local gallery featuring many of the old schools of the area. The Bridgewater building still exists and is used as a community center but most of the others have disappeared.

 

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Do It Once, Then Repeat…

Hot

Enough of frost quakes, ice sheets  and layers of snow, I’m going Hot.

 No, I’m not going anywhere tropical, I won’t be taking a cruise, I’m simply changing my color palette. Time to bring out the oranges, reds and yellows to warm my heart while I ignore what’s happening outside the studio window.

 Here’s a start to my warm wanderings, appropriately titled “Hot”!  It’s a 6” x 6” monoprint created using a Gelli plate, Rives BFK paper and Golden Open Acrylics.

 With monoprints, I rely on serendipity to guide me to a final image. Seldom do I know where I’m going before I begin. And that means, often, a great many layers of color before I can say “finished”.

 To help ensure that each layer is printed on top of the previous layer, I built this simple registration system that I wanted to share. It’s my Home Depot art jig – a piece of Melamine board; lattice strips and angle brackets.  For the six inch and 8 x 10 inch Gelli Plates, I used a 12 x 14 inch piece of Melamine and attached lattice strips. Then I attached angle brackets to the lattice strips. The Gelli plate will butt up to the lattice strips. To ensure a white border around the print, I decided on the width of the border then measured that border distance from the Gelli plate and marked the spot several times along the top and side lattice pieces. I attached the  brackets so that the inside edge of the bracket lined up with the marks on the lattice.

 To use the registration jig, position your Gelli plate then tape off the lattice strips so you don’t get paint on them. Apply paint to the plate. Remove tape. Position the upper left corner of your paper into the angle bracket, making sure the paper edges also line up with the straight brackets.  Print the paper. Remove the paper without jostling the plate. Then repeat for every new color layer. The print layers should line up each time. To help with paper placement, place a pencil mark on the back of your print to indicate which corner of the paper fits into the angle bracket.

RegistrationRegistration

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The Village: A Print

The Village“The Village” 6″ x 6″ monoprint on paper. Again I used Golden Open Acrylics. I like the slow drying time of the paint…it allows me to manipulate the color on the paper after printing…and I can work slowly on the plate before printing to develop my image. This image has about 10 layers of color. And except for the initial background layer of Indian Yellow, all the colors were added to the plate using a small, half-inch flat brush.

 

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One Layer At A Time

SolitaryI’ve decided to challenge myself a bit to see if I can create a daily painting. But…I won’t be doing a painting…and I won’t be publishing it daily. Instead, I’m going to work on creating monoprints – single pieces of art built up by printing layers of color on paper until an image appears…and, with any luck and good management, it’ll be the image I had in mind when I started out! LOL Although I’ll make prints every day, I’ll only publish a completed image a couple of times a week, an image that I’m happy with.

All the images will be 6″ x 6″ and printed using Gelli Plates and many layers of acrylic paint. I’ll use brushes and rollers and paper towels and credit cards to create the image…and we’ll see what happens! I’ll talk more about the process in a later blog post.

 

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Sweet Stuff

Maple SyrupThis must mean spring. Sweet sticky syrup that I pour on everything. The syrup in the Mason jar is made by my neighbour. He taps a number of sugar maples along our streets and cooks it up in his sugar shack on his back lot. The willows from our yard have flowered so we cut them and use them amost everywhere, until the daffodils bloom.

The scones are Maple Syrup Scones (that’s partly why the maple syrup jar is half empty!). Great flavour with whole wheat pastry flour, rolled oats and maple syrup. Here’s a link to the recipe so you can try your own.

The painted project is a used sap bucket. Our local hardware store cleans them up and sells them…for sap, apparently. They were a little confused when I came in and only wanted one tin. Then when I told them I was painting the tin, they looked at me like I was something unusual.

I kept the painting steps for the bucket but they’re not yet written so anyone could understand them. If you’re interested in receiving a free download, leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll you know when the design is ready for download.

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