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Strathmore Journaling Class

29 Jan

Though I haven’t been posting here in quite a while, I have been doing art. It seems like when I’m on an internet “phase” I really don’t get as much art done. Anyway, I want to share some of it with anyone who cares to have a peek, so here goes:


Spread Your Wings

This is a project for an on-line art journaling class I’ve been participating in over at Strathmore Artist Studios. You can sign up for these classes too if you like. They’re free, and are being offered to promote the Strathmore Visual Artist Journals, a new product of theirs. They come in several different kinds of paper (I chose the 140lb watercolor paper ones in 9 x 12″ size), and are beautifully spiral bound with quite a lovely cover. It’s very nice not having the typical sewn or perfect bound book format although the spiral binding makes a break between the pages you might not like if you’re doing a two-page spread. It’s worth it to me not to have the pages sticking together and coming unbound at the juncture between them, and the paper is so nice and stiff.

As you can see, I blurred the writing because it’s all personal and stuff. This is a picture of my daughter that I took of her a couple of years ago in her Halloween get-up. I painted it in acrylics, then made a copy for this journal page and cut it out, then went over it with oil pastel. Because it is cold in my art room, I heated it up as I was going with my little hair dryer and found that this seems to have hardened the pastel and made it possible to work over it with some colored pencil and other media. I sealed it all with acrylic matte varnish, which you aren’t supposed to be able to do over oil, but it worked well. Maybe because of the hair dryer? Anyway, I am now in love with my Sennelier oil pastels and intend to buy a portrait set.


River of Life

Another journal page for the same class. We were really only supposed to be working on one page, but I kept thinking that my choices weren’t working for the tutorial, so I ended up with a total of four pages for the four weeks. Really, you needed a figure of a person (like the one of my daughter) to make it work, only more of a pastel thing than any of the pages I ended up with.

We started by photocopying some of our old artwork either in color or in black and white. This one was in color; the one of my daughter was black and white. Then we arranged it on a journal page with some torn strips in the background and glued under and over everything with matte medium. Some people used Mod Podge, but they later complained that the next step (using oil pastels) didn’t want to go down, so I’m glad I chose to use the matte medium (though I expected either to work).

The next step was to add some shadows with charcoal pencil to indicate a light source and give the collage some visual depth.  After this, we added color and more shading with oil pastels. The oil is important because it was to act as a resist for paint in the next step. So I suppose crayons or wax-based colored pencils would also work at least to some extent.


Day of the Lord

After adding the resist, we covered the whole thing with diluted gesso. I ended up diluting it by putting a big puddle of water on my palette, dipping my brush in the gesso, and then mixing it in. Otherwise it was too thick. The resist wasn’t as successful as I had expected, and I had to wipe quite a lot of the gesso off with a damp paper towel. In the end, it made for quite a nice effect, though.

Next step was to go back over everything with oil pastel, graphite and charcoal and brighten it back up. I didn’t find that the charcoal or graphite worked real well, though. Too messy for me. I ended up using black Faber Castell Pit Artist pens (waterproof after drying) and Derwint Inktense Pencils (water soluble but permanent when it has dried) to punch it back up.

This scan doesn’t do the colors justice. It looks a little washed out here, and I tried to fix it up in my image editing program but I suppose I should just have photographed it to begin with. Anyway, you get the idea. 😉

Puppy Under the Mushrooms

This one is actually the first page I worked on. Instead of copying the cloudy background strips I tore up an actual watercolor painting — a practice one with only sky — and pasted it down with YES! paste. I used this instead of matte medium for this whole picture, and it worked quite well, but I didn’t paint over the top of the papers. I did, however, make liberal use of a workable fixative both for the inkjet prints and the watercolor strips in all of these journal pages. I found that the red inkjet colors tended to move a little bit when I painted over them with the acrylic matte medium.

I think I have a previous post of the puppy (our new little lab/golden mix who is now significantly bigger) and the mushrooms. They’re both ATCs reproduced quite a lot larger than the originals. I printed them out on plain computer printing paper and it was a little lightweight for this project, especially pasted over strips of 140lb watercolor paper. I would probably use 80lb card at least if I were doing this again, but it worked okay.

In the next step we were supposed to add some stenciling and little details. I took some diluted acrylic paint and added in the rectangles. I punched up the shadows again, this time with gray pit pens, brush tip. I also added shadows to the rectangles. For the dots on the mushrooms and around the fairy, I used paint pens — Hobby Lobby’s store brand for around $3 each — cheap for buying them in an actual store as opposed to on-line, which is what I usually do.

I enjoyed the class, and I think you can still sign up for it if you’re interested. It’s finished, but you should still be able to access the videos. It will be better seeing all the videos at once anyhow. That way you’ll be better able to make choices as to which of your previously created artwork you’d like to use for this particular technique. There are two more similar workshops scheduled for the next several months and they’ve been very popular. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Watercolor Pencils

30 Apr

I just got a new set of Derwent Inktense water soluble pencils. I already had a smaller set of Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils, but the inktense pencils were supposed to be a lot brighter and also to become permanent after they’ve been dissolved once. So I put it out that I’d like to try them and lo and behold they showed up on my birthday. Yay!

I did two artist trading cards using Bristol board cards. Here’s the one I did with Caran d’Ache.

Overhanging Spruce

To be fair, keep in mind I don’t have nearly as many colors available in this set, and also that I did this one on site, in a rush in between appointments so I didn’t take a lot of time to work on darkening the dark areas as I might have done otherwise.

Here’s the one I did the night before using the Inktense pencils by Derwent:

High Tide

It’s just a little doodle from my imagination, but I was really pleased at how bright the pencils are. No struggle here getting truly dark darks.  The trick is not to accidentally go too dark. I tried re-wetting some trial marks with these pencils, and it is possible to fade the colors I tried a bit, so they’re not as permanent as inks. Still, they stay down pretty stubbornly, which is either a blessing or an inconvenience depending on what you want to do. And they become semi-permanent quickly, making it difficult to lift color even moments after it’s been applied.

I also have some Prismacolor water soluble pencils, but I don’t have a trading card on them yet. Maybe I’ll modify this post in a day or two to include one so you can see all three.

I’ve tried to get the photographs as close as possible to the way the paintings actually look, but that’s kind of difficult to do. Still, I think you can see the different effects with the two types of pencils. Here’s another one I did a week or so ago using both the Caran d’Ache and the Prismacolor pencils:

Black-Eyed Susan

This is on a Strathmore 140 lb cold press greeting card blank, and as you can see, the tooth of the paper did help me to apply more pigment. Most of the brighter colors came from the Prismacolor pencils, though. I wasn’t real happy with the background on this one, and I kind of wished I hadn’t identified the plant on the front, but hey, nobody’s perfect. I love these flowers, so I may try this one again another time.

Colored Pencils–Not Just for Second Grade

3 Apr

Colored pencils are a lot of fun. I remember not liking them in school because of the pale colors. I like bright. Not psychedelic so much, but bright for sure. The world is bright and rich and deep with colors and my favorite art is, too. So colored pencils . . . well, don’t buy the ones in the office supply aisle at Walmart and don’t settle for 16 colors. I’ve just been messing around with them and here’s a project I did with Prismacolors from a book called Colored and Water Color Pencils by Gary Greene.

Tea Rose Photo

This is the photograph the author used to design his project.

The author's interpretation of the photo

The author's rose above and mine below

And this is my finished rose--after I made a few more changes from the one above.

The reason mine is brighter is that I read ahead and learned about burnishing. You use a white or a colorless pencil to go over everything and fill in all the gaps in the paper. It makes your colors deeper. Only once you’ve burnished the picture, it limits how many more changes you can make to the colors. At some point the paper won’t hold any more pigment. Looking at these pictures I’m kind of happy to notice that mine looks like I traced it–and I didn’t! Yay! ‘Course it’s just a rose. A face would be a lot harder.

Anyhow, Hurray for colored pencils–good ones, anyway. 🙂