Some people can spend all day shopping, browsing for shoes, or the latest fashions, or hunting for bargains. I definitely didn't inherit the shopper gene. Normally where any type of shopping is involved, my usual behavior pattern consists of:
I figure out I need Something.
I figure out where to find the Something.
I go to wherever the Something is sold.
I buy the Something.
I go home with the Something.
There are three exceptions to this pattern:
Home improvement stores
Art supply stores
I become lost in the world of each of these places. Bookstores because I'm an avowed readaholic. Home stores, well, because some part of my Right Brain treats each home improvement as a giant art project. The art supply store reasons are self-explanatory.
When I make a pilgrimage to the local art store, I find myself wandering the aisles (deftly avoiding the gazes of the store clerks, lest they see me drooling on the merchandise) and pondering the artistic possibilities of the wealth of riches I see before me. One such pondering moment led to the purchase of a jar of Golden's Fiber Paste, which is basically an acrylic gel filled with synthetic fibers. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, but I would be assured it would be in my studio when the inevitable bolt of inspiration struck.
Well, the hoped-for bolt hasn't hit yet, but this seemed to be the perfect time to pull the jar out and at least experiment a little. I plopped a few blobs down on a piece of illustration board, and spread them out with a brush.
A palette knife can be used to smooth out the paste, but I liked the idea of leaving the surface more textured. I grabbed the ink, and off I went.
Ink Bear on Illustration Board coated with Fiber Paste
It was like painting on rough, handmade paper. The paste turned out to be nicely absorbent. I debated going over it again and defining the darks on the bear some more, but rather liked the "ghostly" appearance a single pass created. Thankfully, there was no need for swearing or primal screaming when working on this one.
Guess what? I found out that I would rather fill out IRS tax forms all day than work with this particular combination of media and ground again.
Ink Bear on Gessoed Illustration Board
I don't know if it was the ink, the gesso, or the combination, but nothing worked or flowed the way I wanted it to in this one. I won't go into detail or repeat the swearing or primal screaming. This one should be sub-titled 'Bear With Skin Condition'. 'Nuff said.
The next stop on our whirlwind cavalcade of black and white media is Koh-I-Noor black drawing ink brushed on plain old illustration board. This is the first of what will be a few experiments on grounds and substrates.
Ink Bear on Plain Board
Forgive the photograph, I don't know why it developed a green tint somewhere between my camera and the computer screen. Anyway, the illustration board didn't absorb the watery ink as quickly as I thought it would, but it didn't stay wet long either. It was just enough time to work it a bit before it soaked in. The ink bloomed a little when I went back over areas to darken them, but the effect was one of those 'happy accidents' that added a bit of character.
This is a medium I haven't touched since I was a kid, and it lends itself quite well to wildlife art. I didn't have the first clue how to transfer the drawing onto the scratchboard, so I opted to chalk the back of a copy of the photo, do a direct transfer, and go from there.
For someone who is trying to loosen her artistic style, I got waaaaaaaay too into doing this one. The close work, the definition of practically each hair, the skritch skritch sound of the X-acto blade on the board put me into a hypnotic Zen state. I gleefully worked on this for hours, and didn't even notice the passage of time or the existence of the outside world.
I decided that the background would just detract from the bear in this one. And, to be perfectly honest, I completely lacked a single inkling of how to scratch rock texture. Best to leave it out altogether before I totally mucked it up.
I definitely want to continue working in acrylic paint. I haven't even begun to put a brush on everything it can do, and right now I don't have the time or the mental wherewithal to learn the ins and outs of yet another medium. But I think I may have found a little artistic sideline drug of choice here. Maybe I do need to work highly detailed every once in a while, just to get it out of my system. Scratchboard may just be the fix for that.
As an avid gardener, I enjoy getting dirt under my fingernails. So why not use it as a medium? This is another one I did while all the neighbors were at work so they wouldn't have to wonder why the crazy lady next door was now manipulating mud on the sidewalk.
Mud on concrete
The grittiness of the mud and the texture of the sidewalk were challenging, making this bear look like some genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. But the biggest challenge was keeping my furry art critics from viewing this mess-terpiece until it was done.
A bout of baking Banana Bread and sloppy baking habits became the inspiration for this one. I debated trying to create it in salt, but decided to use sugar just in case I needed to lick my fingertips while moving the granules around.
Sugar on laminate countertop
An interesting exercise, but I wouldn't recommend the medium due to it's impermanence and high caloric content. At least the Banana Bread was delicious.
I purposely created this entry on a weekday while all the neighbors were at work, lest they see a grown woman kneeling on her driveway and chalking up a polar bear. It would probably make them wonder (yet again) about the state of my mental health. Why the driveway? To that I say...why not? It's all part of my creative self-kick in the pants.
White chalk on asphalt
Given the texture of the driveway, it was nearly impossible to create pure white areas. It was even harder to create shapes the way I wanted to, so this particular polar bear wound up looking more like a demented, misshapen badger than a bear.
Whilst roaming the house looking for inspirational possibilities, I suddenly noticed the whiteboard in the studio that I pass untold numbers of times a day, and had practically forgotten about. Thankfully the black dry erase marker had a little life left in it.
Dry Erase Marker on Whiteboard
Yes, I know this is pretty gawd awful, but it serves a purpose. I'm not finding it easy to do a study in just two values. I think that means I need to do more of them. Lots more. Just not in dry erase marker.
Another adventure in black and white. This one had the added bonus of Sharpie fumes. If Febreeze ever came out with a Sharpie scent, I would buy it by the case.
Sharpie marker on paper
You can see that I wasn't particularly worried about being mathematically precise with line spacing and direction. It comes as a direct result of sitting on the couch and watching TV with a cup of chai tea in hand and a cat sleeping in my lap while working on this. Can I multitask, or what?
Time to put a little more graphite down, a little more loose and a little more free.
Gesture Drawing Bear
Pencil on paper
I haven't done any drawing for quite some time, and I'm liking the feel of doing it again. It's like finding a comfortable old pair of shoes in the back of the closet that you haven't seen for ages, and slipping them on again.