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Grey Matters–Tonal Paper

One of the things I most like to do in my Art Adventures is to experiment. I read an article recommending tonal papers for watercolor, grey or tan papers, or even colored papers. I said “H-m-m-m-m-m-m-m.”

Then I bought a pad of Strathmore papers which had white, light grey, grey, dark grey, and black paper. Clearly I could now discover how the color of the paper affected the finished work.

I drew a funky bird sitting in a nest. Then I colored the back of that drawing with pencil and transferred the drawing to the white, lt. grey, and grey paper. Pencil won’t show up on my dark grey and black paper. That was my first problem to solve. Aha! I finally have found out what the white charcoal pencil is for. I had to trace a new copy of my test drawing and cover the back of it with white charcoal and transfer it to the darker papers.

Finally, I traced over the drawings with pen (1-3) and a Sakura white glaze pen (4-5). Now I could paint.1
I began the process of painting the birds using my Derwent Inktense artbars. They are like watercolors except the pigment is ink. They are brighter and I’m all about that. First I painted the blue bodies (1000-ultramarine) and the orange dots (300). First lesson–Ultramarine doesn’t show well on darker papers. I overpainted the two darkest with a lighter shade (900) and this was better.  Immediately I noticed that the ultramarine did not show well on the darkest papers.

I overpainted the two darkest with a lighter shade (900) and this was better.



Step 2: Painted the breast and head of each with a medium green (1300). The black paper got two coats.  Then I painted the beaks yellow—oops—-


I next spilled my water over the two darkest colors. I was testing the waterproofness of the dried paint. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



Step 4: Using a dark brown (2000) I painted the inner nest and some “twiggy” lines on the outer nest.

Step 5: I painted the outer nest with a three lighter colors: 1900-a chocolate, 1800-burnt sienna, and 1700-a mustard gold. As I added these three layers, it became harder and harder to get the paper to accept the color. Perhaps the paper had absorbed all the wet media it could. I really don’t know. I rechecked the tablet notes and saw the paper was designed for “dry” media. Such statements never stop me from trying. You never know . . .
I did note that the resulting nests were painted with different amounts of dark and light colors.


The final details were added with Prismacolor pencils which are waxy. They are more intense that my regular pencils and are easy to use. I added shading and some highlights with some pens. Finally I was satisfied I had done all I could do.

Ideas to take forward–
1. Lighter areas\colors have more impact on darker backgrounds.
2. Shading can be deeper tones (values), greys, or complimentary colors.
3. Dark paper does not always indicate gloom and doom.
4. Unexpected benefit—-By using my favorite colors, this project helps me see the effects of the value of the background and can be a reference for the future.
5—12. These will dawn on me later when I am working on something else.

Hope you learned something or got an idea for an experiment of your own.

More later–


Citrasolv and National Geographic Mania

The Miracle Art Product which will also clean your tires.

The Miracle Art Product which will also clean your tires.

Do you make cards or scrapbook? Do you do collage or art journaling?  Do you wrap packages or just like making a mess that surprises?  If yes to any of these, you need to know about Citrasolv.  Citrasolv is a solvent that will dissolve certain inks and make wonderfully subtle patterns out of magazine pictures, not just any magazine, but a National Geographic magazine is what you really want to use.  Not even a new one, but the older style.  They have changed the clay based paper ones for a cheaper printing cost.

Well, I didn’t have A National Geographic magazine, or at least, I couldn’t find the one that my son-in-law had given me, so I just grabbed what was around.  I used some calendars, magazine covers,
some slick dark magazine ads, even some of that day’s junk mail.

A freebie calendar from a favorite yarn shop.

A freebie calendar from a favorite yarn shop.

First, I used Citrasolv on a few pages and I tested it right away. See the fingerpainting on this particular calendar print.  Once I saw that it would dissolve this ink, I began to play. I just put it on everything I had and waited to see what would happen.

The three-finger painting technique

The three-finger painting technique

I wasn’t sure anything was happening so I used my fingers to smear around on this W Magazine.  I thought it looked like really cool finger paint.

Note: My manicurist always says to wear rubber gloves when you paint like this. I didn’t. Had to scrub hands for a long time. Suggestion: wear gloves.

Pour then stack--or close magazine.

Pour then stack–or close magazine.

Second, after smearing the Citrasolv over the various papers, I stacked them and smushed them, and rubbed them around a bit.  If the ink wasn’t dissolving, I just trashed the page.  (The orange smell was nice.)

Smush and Pull

Smush and Pull

Then, even better, I peeled them apart and got these fabulous effects as seen above.

Purple marble page

Purple marble page

Finally, I saw that I had some neat blends and effects, sort of like marbleized paper, only easier to make.  Hmmmm, I can use these in bookmaking.

Old Vogue Patterns cover drying on the porch.

Old Vogue Patterns cover drying on the porch.

Anyway, I took the papers out on my porch to dry overnight.  Once dry they are ready to use.

ESPN magazine cover

ESPN magazine cover

I am going to explore what will write and paint on them.  I do know that alcohol inks work well, and many scrapbookers use those.  They also do well as a collage base.  I would even use the purple one for the front of a card without doing anything else to it.

Text page

Text page

Can you still see the model underneath it all?

another mag ad

Now, grab a friend or relative and try this.  The only hard thing is to find the Citrasolv Concentrate.  I looked and looked in cleaner sections, even the auto parts store.  I could find the spray, but knew I needed the Concentrate.  Finally, I ordered it from Amazon.com.

Next day I walked into Binders and it was sitting on a shelf.  Try your local art supply store.

Dang, this always happens.  So it stands to reason if I buy an old National Geographic, the one I have will show up.  Well, that’s a story for another day.

Great reference video is here.  Cathy Taylor does a great job. There are 5 parts to this series to show you other ways to play with this.

More later–

Letter Love 101

I’m taking an online class–my first.  It is Joanne Sharpe‘s Letter Love 101, recommended by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer whose site I love.  Both of these women are from the “Yes, you can” school of teaching art.  Joanne says, “If you can write, you can draw.”  Hmmmm.  We’ll see.

Here’s how it works.  Pay your class fee and you get an invite to a closed group on the internet.  From here, you get access to the video lessons prepared by Joanne.  You also get to join a Yahoo group of the enrolled students to chat, ask questions, commiserate or share discount supplies you’ve found.  Then start the class at your own pace.  The original class start dates were Feb 1-Feb 29 (There are 29 lessons).  I joined it March 1st, but it will be up forever, so you can join it any time.  Joanne will still be monitoring it and will critique and advise as long as she has students.

Now I am not much of an artist with pen and paper, but Zentangling has really improved my control of the pen.  I’ve also discovered people like Joanne, Julie, and Alissa Burke who machine quilts with “messy stitches.”  I’ve preached to those of you who read this blog that it doesn’t matter if you are good at something, you can still have fun.  Living my words.

My first real creation for the class — at Lesson 5 — was hard to start.  The clean white page in a new mixed media journal was intimidating.  So was knowing that this is supposed to be a finished piece—-sort of.  Lots of people in the class are not new to either lettering or art, so that is a factor.  You can look at the pictures on the flickr group if you are curious, but I stopped doing that when the old “I’m not good enough” thoughts started up.  But Joanne just keeps saying to play with the ideas and your materials and have fun.

This is my practice for the first assignment.  It is just words that I associate with art.

I like this.  I really like the messiness.  And I used the notepad that Kate brought me from MIT.  (I collect college notebooks.  Yeah, I know it’s weird.)  I was downstairs and lazy, so I colored it in with Highlighters and the two Sharpies in my pen bag.  When I took it upstairs, I used a stamp pad and stamped the top.  I see some Tangling influence and really like the word EXTEND.

Here’s my submitted project.

First, I want to say that I have never been in a book club.  I’m a former English teacher and no one wants me there.  This was inspired by my friend Katherine who IS in a book club and always seems to be worried about having enough wine when it is her turn to hostess.  In fairness, Katherine does read the books and even recommends some to me.

I like the humor.  I like that I named the wine after the author of one of the most difficult reads ever written.  I love that I did not have the materials  Joanne recommended (Pan Pastels) but I used my noggin and colored some of this with Eye Shadow. [ I actually own three shades which will startle many of my friends who never see me in makeup.]  The rest of the color is marker and watercolor pencil without the water.  Steve liked the wine stain; I was just elated that he knew it was a wine stain.  I don’t do perspective.

This was fun.  What have I learned?  I may take some other online classes.  Hmmm. I wonder if I could teach this way . . .

More later.

Hello from the Colorado Knitting Camp

But don’t expect pictures.  Not even of the beautiful hailstorm last night that covered the lawn outside my window with golf ball size hail and made the water in the large pond splash upward about 2 feet with each strike.  I jumped up to get the camera and capture this for you.  I turned it on.  It said “No card.”  I left my flash card in my computer at home.  No place to easily get another, so I’ll just have to make do with some pics of what I’ve been doing before camp.
The House piece is about done.  I have quilted it and now have added some embellishments.  Remember this was first conceived as a retirement home on a hill with two porches–one for morning coffee and the other for evening drinks.  So much for dreaming.  Anyway, the inclusion of the spinning wheel ( a pin one of my children gifted me) immediately establishes that fiber stuff is happening here.  The hanging basket is just for decoration, but it may get some seed beads to hint at blooms.

Seriously important is Jake’s face in the window.  This is one of a pair of earrings I bought at a craft fair in Athens, Ga., some time ago.  They looked a bit like Jake to me.  The other one is somewhere in a dressing room in a Target in Brisbane, Australia.  Once you lose an earring, you are left with an embellishment.  It’s a rule of mine.  I don’t have a Bella charm, but if I find one, it will be added.

The “bugs” are beads I bought at The Sewing Bird many years ago.  I like them.  The are a bit fantastic, but this hanging is a fantasy.

I’m still wringing my hands over the border—or the non-border.  Haven’t decided.  I may just turn the edges under and whip them to the back.  Then I can change my mind if I get a better idea later.  Some famous Greek once said “Art is never finished.”  I’m keeping his philosophy alive.  Maybe I should get a T-shirt . . . .

I made paper flowers.  You just collect pretty paper; this stuff came from magazines.  Then you tear it into circles of varying sizes.  Start with some ugly pages until you get the hang of it.  Then you glue them together.   Then . . . . well, if you are interested, there is a free pdf file on the Interweave Press “Cloth, Paper, Scissors” magazine website.  It is named 4 Free Mixed Media Collage Techniques.  The fourth article is Painted Paper Collage by Serena Wilson Stubson.  She tells you exactly how to easily make these and what to do with them.

Here are closeups of my favorites:  This is the brightest one, but this silver and pink one is my favorite.

What am I going to do with them?  I don’t know why you ask.  You know I have no clue.  Maybe a picture; maybe to decorate a folder.  Hmmmm.

Oh, and I knit a new collar for Bella.  Note the pearls.  They are from an old necklace that belonged to Steve’s Mom.  It is already starting to stretch too much, so I may have to think of a different way to get pearls on her.  She is so ladylike that she deserves them.

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