Saturday, August 28, 2010

Enough Lollygagging, Back to Work!

With the bears now in the rear view mirror, another creature calls out to be painted.  Only one of these is planned, the thought of one hundred of anything else right now makes me woozy. 

A 12" x 24" board was gessoed, and a thin layer of Fiber Paste was applied.

A favorite creature of choice, the enigmatic giraffe, was sketched on the board. This particular giraffe is of the Reticulated variety, and her name is Jasiri.

Another layer of Fiber Paste was applied with palette knives, sculpting the giraffe, and starting to 'raise' her from the background.  Parts of her anatomy, like the nose, are getting thicker paste layers to 'force' the perspective a bit.

Two more layers of paste trowled on.  I'm going to need a cement truck full of Fiber Paste at this rate.  I wonder if they sell it by the tanker full.

And since I like working on a black background to create a somewhat 'batik' look.....

Her raised outline is my guide now.  Tomorrow I'll chalk in some more guidelines.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Finish of the Last Bear in the Challenge. #100 - Depth

Here it is my friends.  The last of the light values were added, and now the challenge is complete.

Depth Bear

I can't thank you all enough for following this for the last one hundred and some odd days, for your words of critique, support, encouragement, and just plain making me laugh out loud.  All of it played an integral part in the completion of this challenge, and you have my gratitude.

Another project looms on the horizon in the immediate future, but until that one gets started...

...I need a nap.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Artistic Polar Bea......Oh, You Know.

A quick update from the easel -

A layer of wax and a layer of paint later...

Another layer of wax (a little too thick) and paint...

He's looking very mosaic-y because I'm trying not to completely cover the layers below.  I'm thinking one more thin layer and a satin top coat, and we can bid a fond farewell to our ursine friend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In A Bit More Than 100 Days. #100 - Continued

Well...things didn't go so well with Bear 100.  You see, when I was doing the Acrylic Encaustic Bear, I made two batches of the acrylic 'wax'.  One was the 'refined beeswax', which was used on the Encaustic Bear.  The other was an 'unrefined beeswax', a thicker, denser, more opaque mixture that I was planning on experimenting with later.  Guess which one I mistakenly used on Bear 100?  When the 'wax' finally dried, the bear was almost completely obliterated.

Humph.  Bear 100 - take two.

As I cleaned the studio today, finding piles of bear art everywhere, I was mulling over the whole 'texture and depth' conundrum.  Maybe I was trying to do too much at once.  Perhaps the texture part of it should be separated into 'visual texture', like the layers in the Encaustic Bear, and 'physical texture', like the use of the Fiber and Molding pastes ( inner High School Science Geek is rearing her ugly head!).

So, let's go with trying to create visual texture and depth with Bear 100.  Taking what was learned from doing the Encaustic Bear and sort of turning it on it's side, I decided to start with dark values.  The plan is, as each layer is put on, the values will lighten, causing the lightest areas to come 'forward' physically and visually.   Hopefully that will create the sense of depth and texture I'm looking for.

Step 1:  Drawing the bear on a black gessoed canvas board, outlining each area that has a different value.

Step 2:  Painting in the first values.

I just whipped up a new batch of acrylic wax, less opaque than the batch that was used on Encaustic Bear (and much less opaque than the wax that now covers the previous Bear 100).  The wax needs to sit overnight to let bubbles escape, so first thing in the morning, our new Bear 100 gets waxed.

It's becoming the Neverending Bears.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #100 - The Start of the Very Last Bear

Well, the grey matter seems to be in more of a working order today.  Time to finish up on yesterday's bear, and continue on to today.

Once the gel had dried on yesterday's bear, it was peeled off of the glass, and flipped over.  Thin color washed were applied, letting them glide and pool over the slick gel surface.

Once that had dried, the image was flipped again, and color washes were added to the front of the image, letting the colors visually mix with the background colors.

 Totally Acrylic Bear

Yes, I know, this one is pretty awful.  Well, they can't all be successes.  I'm laughing at the absurdness of it myself.  You know where this one is headed....

Now...onto the final, the ultimate, the number 100 of 100, the concluding...yes.. the very last bear.

I thought about this one quite a bit.  What to do for the final bear?  I wanted something fantastically eye-popping to end the series, but decided that the whole idea behind doing the series was to stretch myself artistically, and try methods I probably would not have tried before.  What did I like?  What caught my eye and make me say "Wow, I'd really like to incorporate that technique into future works?"

There are two things that really rev my artistic engine: texture and depth.  So I'm going to experiment with combining some of the 99 previous methods to achieve this.

The first step is a little texture, as used in the Batik Bear.  Fiber paste was loosely applied to a wood panel, and when dry, the bear was blocked in.

Once that was dry, like the Encaustic Bear, a layer of acrylic "wax" was applied, thick and textural.

And that's where we'll leave it for tonight.  I want to play with this final bear, think about the combination of methods, learn what works and what doesn't.  Whatever works out of this experiment is going to be used in future pieces, and define where I'm headed style-wise.

Stay tuned, we're not done yet.  And yes, maybe I feel a little bear withdrawl coming on, and can't quite give him up yet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #99 - Drawing With Acrylic....Sort Of

I woke up this morning with an unexplainable case of Fuzz Brain.  Basic Brain was taking care of all of it's usual tasks - I was able to breathe, stand, walk, and talk somewhat coherently, but anything much beyond that was taking a concentrated effort.  I found myself standing in the middle of my kitchen, knowing I needed to do something but couldn't remember what it was.  Thankfully, the loudly meowing, cranky fuzzball undulating around my ankles awakened me from my stupor, and reminded me of the task I set out to do ("...oh yeah, feed the cat"). 

I was at least able to find my way into the studio, but fresh ideas about how to create today's bear were not forthcoming.  I poked Right Brain with a mental stick several times, but all that issued were used ideas of past bears (...."collage"...*poke*..."color scheme"..*poke*..."substrate"...*poke*.."just do another collage, and stop poking me, dammit, I'm tired.").  A CAT scan taken of my skull would show Right Brain lying in a deflated, amorphous heap, currently incapable of creating a novel concept. 

In desperation, I grabbed the nearest thing within reach - the Clear Tar Gel.  I poured a puddle of it on the glass palette, then drew the bear into the wet gel. 

Acrylic Drawing Bear

Rather than swirling color through the wet gel, I wanted to paint transparent color on the front and back of the dried gel, creating optical color mixes.  The problem with this logic is that it takes the gel a full day to dry thoroughly enough to lift off of the glass, so it won't be dry until tomorrow.

Apparently Left Brain isn't functioning up to capacity, either.  Anyone know where I can get a new one?

So while we wait for the gel to dry, a guest artist has offered their take on the bear for today's blog.

Annette's Bear

Tomorrow - the finish of #99, and the final bear of the series.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #98 - Faux Stained Glass

Ahhhhh.  There's nothing like spending a beautiful Sunday at the Gold Coast Art Fair.  In it's 53rd year, it's the oldest and largest art festival in Chicago.  Set in Grant Park  right across from the Art Institute, it's a beautiful setting to stroll and admire the wares of about 500 fabulous artists.

 A speed painting performance artist plies his trade

Being immersed in so many incredible works of art kicked Right Brain into high gear.  Friends of mine are going to be starting a stained glass class soon, and that planted a little kernel of an idea.

I mixed some heavy body acrylic paint with some Micaceous Iron Oxide.  I put the mixture in a squeeze bottle with a tapered tip, and used it to create the stained glass 'lead lines'.

Then Clear Tar gel was poured into an outlined area.  The heavy body paint lines acted as 'dams' to corral the gel.  A toothpick was dipped in fluid acrylics mixed with more tar gel, and swirled through the uncolored gel in the outlined areas.

Each little section was completed one at a time, until the whole piece was finished.
Faux Stained Glass Bear

I didn't know that tar gel could be so much darned fun.  This is one of my favorites.

We're down to the last two bears!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #97 - Color Copycat

An interesting way I find to stretch myself artistically is to try new color schemes.  It gets me to use hues I don't normally use in ways I don't normally use them. 

One artist that I like that has a distinct and interesting use of color is Daniel Corey.  To me, his paintings always seem to have an underlying illumination to them, even without a wide range of values.  I wanted to take the colors from one of his paintings, and use them on the bear.  Dan graciously gave me permission to do this, and even provided his color palette.

For the color scheme, I used one of Dan's paintings that had distinct warm and cool color areas.

The Last Of The Monhegans
Daniel Corey

Dan uses the Phthalos, distinctly powerful little blue and green jewels that can be color bullies against the stouter but less intense cadmiums if not reined in a bit.  The Phthalos are not normally on my palette, so using them was a learning experience in and of itself.

I wanted to use all of the major color spots in Dan's painting on the bear, even the greens of the shrubs.  Since the bear lacks shrubbery, they had to be added in where value permitted.  I used my high tech Index Card Color Isolator to examine all of the color variations.

Color Copycat Bear

A fun, thought provoking exercise that pulled me out of my habitual comfort zone of color use.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #96 - Paint Into Gel

Well, the fridge is chillin', and so am I.  Thankfully a simple part, and not major mechanical surgery got the fridge back on it's feet.  So it's all good.

Today I wanted to explore working wet paint into wet gel.  A simple underpainting was the start.

A layer of Clear Tar Gel was then applied over the whole piece.  I took a small round brush, some fluid acrylics, and started adding paint lines and designs into the wet gel.   It was like drawing into poured honey.

Once dried, it looked like this.

And a close up view:

Oodles of fun with an interesting effect.  More depth could be created with more layers, or a thicker layer of gel, but I wanted to be sure it would dry to clarity within a day.

96 down, four more to go!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #95 - Acrylic ImageTransfer

This is a great way to add  images to your paintings.  For some chemically scientific ink-y reason or other, this only works with a photocopy, and not images printed on an ink-jet printer.

I ran the photo of the bear through Photoshop, reducing it to a black and white line image, and then dutifully photocopied it.  Then it was covered with a thick layer of Clear Tar Gel.

The gel was left to dry overnight.  The following day, the bear took a bath.

 This softened up the paper so it could be scraped from the back of the transfer.

Transfer Bear

Ta-daaaa!  It worked!

And...that's as far as I got.  I had grand plans to add color to the reverse side of the image, and collage it on a painted board, but life got in the way.  Our refrigerator  hiccupped, sputtered, made all kinds of wheezy noises, and with a final clank, ceased it's cooling duties.  It's only five years old.  I'm not sure how old that is in refrigerator years, but it's much too young to die.  Thankfully we have a freezer in the basement, so those items were easy to transplant, but that left us running around the neighborhood begging fridge space from the neighbors.  A visit from the repairman tomorrow will determine if the fridge can be revived.

Ain't life fun?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #94 - Faux Encaustic

I was perusing Patti Brady's Rethinking Acrylic book, looking for bear ideas for the home stretch.  I came across acrylic encaustic, and it looked like something fun to try.  The transparent and translucent layers create a wonderful sense of depth.

First I made up a batch of bleached acrylic 'beeswax', using the recipe provided.  First a layer of paint was put down, then a layer of the 'faux wax'.

For this study, I repeated the layering process three times.

Acrylic Encaustic Bear

The layers aren't something that photograph well, but there is a really nice sense of depth and softness to the study.  For the sake of expediency I was layering similar colors, but this would be a great method to create optical mixes.  Yet another process to be added to the list of "Techniques To Be Explored In Depth Later".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #93 - Sculpted Molding Paste

I had a hankerin' to explore texture in a little more depth today.  I needed something to hold up to the mounds of molding paste I had in mind, so I gessoed a canvas board.  For someone who is a texture addict, I don't like working with canvas.  Something about those thousands of repeating little squares makes my teeth ache.  Anyway, then molding paste was applied in the shape of the bear.  Which of course I forgot to photograph. underpainting would make the texture stand out, but what to use?  Maybe the iron oxide?  Nah, not what I see for this.  Blue?  Red-orange?  Um... not quite.  I'd seen quite a few artists using a light, cool, orangy-magenta underpainting that gave a nice glow to the final work.  Hey, we're almost at the end of this challenge, why not throw caution to the wind.

This I did manage to remember to photograph, with low angle lighting so the bear was visible.  Okay, maybe it's not mounds of molding paste, but ya have to climb some hills before you tackle Everest.

The idea was to use a subtle, evening-ish color scheme, but something about that bubblegum colored substrate awakened every color neuron in my brain.

Molding Paste Bear, part deaux

The camera just didn't pick up all the hue variations, darn it.  I even photographed it outside.  I think he looks like a piñata.  Or an expatriate polar bear living out his retirement in the Caribbean.

It was one year ago today (cue scary music)...

...that I started this blog.

Thanks to all of you out there who pour a cup of coffee (or other favorite beverage), sit down at your computer, and make a stop during your Interweb browsings to peruse this little blog.  I am grateful for that.  Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment and critique, review and remark.  I have found some wonderful artists and blog buddies out here thanks to this little venture.  I hope I have been able to provide a little entertainment, a touch of insight, maybe an iota of knowledge, and hopefully a laugh or two during the past year.  Thanks for being there to share the experience.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways in 100 Days. #92 - Metallics

Shimmery things generally don't thrill me.  I have never put glitter anywhere on my person, have never owned any gold lamé clothing, I'm not into 'bling' or anything that 'sparkles' (vampires included).  But I have seen artists who incorporate glimmer and metals into their work with interesting and effective results. 

I found myself particularly enthralled by the possibilities that something like an iron oxide could produce, so off to the art supply store I went in hopes of mining some metals.

I picked up small bottles of Golden's Micacious Iron Oxide, Iridescent Bronze and Iridescent Copper.  To keep the glitz from overwhelming the bear, the metallic paints were brushed on thinly with lots of water added.

Metallic Bear

The bronze was quite the pleasant surprise, as when it was watered down, it separated into the bronze mica flakes, and an unexpected greenish-blue binder.  That allowed me to float the greenish color around without overdoing the bronze.  The copper and iron oxide didn't contain any surprise undertones, but were still fun to swirl around on the paper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #91 - Chicago Bear

I generally don't fathom sports fandom per se, but many friends forego sanity, and faithfully follow the follies and falderal of the football force in our fair city.  Since the pre-season has begun, without fear of being facetious, I offer the following form in friendly hope that this season may be fruitful and not futile.

Chicago Bear

Fair to say, I have an fabled fondness for foolishness and flippancy.  

And obviously, a thesaurus.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #90 - Acrylic Skins

Are we really at #90 already?!  I feel as if we've just begun. :-P

One of the things I love about acrylics is their versatility.  There are almost countless oodles of things you can do with them, which makes my inner Mad Scientist cackle with glee.  Today we're going to play with acrylic skins, which are sheets of dried acrylic paint.

Yesterday, I applied paint in various colors to two tempered glass cutting boards that I use as palettes.   The paint was left overnight to dry.

Today, the paint patches were peeled up off of the glass intact.  One of the myriad of things these skins can be used for is collage.

 Acrylics by their very nature lose volume when drying, and thicker skins are much easier to work with.  When I applied the paint to the cutting boards, I thought I applied it thickly enough.  Oh...not so.  When dry, these skins were almost paper thin.  The skins also retain a bit of stickiness until they're fully cured, which means they stick to themselves, to you, and to almost anything else they come in contact with.  The only place they weren't sticking is where I wanted them to.  So the whole exercise was akin to trying to tear sheets of Saran Wrap into little pieces, and glue them to a board.  The words that were flying out of the studio today were not words that you would find in any dictionary.

 Acrylic Skins Bear

Now if you'll excuse me, I believe I'm stuck to my keyboard, and need to go wash up. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Artistic Polar Bear Challenge: 100 Ways In 100 Days. #89 - Jackson Pollock Drips

The heat index is over one hundred degrees.  Some yahoo who obviously failed elementary physics thought that his van and my little SUV could safely occupy the same space in the same lane at the same time.  He was sooooo wrong.  I'm sleep deprived and writing this only through the magic of caffeine and sugar.

What better time to leave the world behind and head into the studio and paint!

For this project, I mixed several different colors with Golden's Clear Tar Gel, a stringy, sticky gel perfectly suited for this purpose.  Then a palette knife was used to drizzle it on the surface.

Pollock Drip Bear

I didn't realize I should have let one color dry before applying the next, which explains the globs of paint homogenizing on the bear's neck.  Oops.  Time to go take a nap before everything within arm's reach is coated with this stuff.