Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Experiments: Painting Lace

A selection of paints on hand to try: Jacquard Dyna-Flow, two Pearlescent liquid acrylics, Deka Perm-Air paint, and a pearlized Createx airbrush paint.

My daughter is getting married in late spring. This is a joyous occasion, of course, and has presented me with some new opportunities to experiment in the studio. How are my studio experiments connected to a wedding, you ask? It started when my friend Susanne Gregg agreed to make my daughter's wedding dress.

My daughter is not a traditional woman, and this will not be a traditional wedding dress. It will be blue, and it will be in a sumptuous knit fabric. This is where Susanne comes in: she is not only a terrific fiber artist, she is also a fabulous seamstress who has way more experience than I do in working with knit fabrics. (Plus, she has a serger!)

The wedding dress design is floor length, and sleeveless. Over the sleeveless dress will be a fabulous sheer and lace jacket that curves its way from front to back, and has long, bell-shaped sleeves. Susanne has already measured, done a fitting, and created the patterns. Because my forte is combining multiple fabrics, I will be designing the jacket once the dress is sewn.

At $28 a yard, this gorgeous silk is worth every penny.

The dress design we came up with utilizes a gorgeous puckered silk in the bodice. The challenge presented is that the silk is a creamy white, and provides too much contrast against the blue body of the dress. It could be, and may well be, covered by an overlay of some of the laces from the jacket. It could also be dyed, but I don't have a large selection of dyes around the house. This is where paint comes in to the "what if" discussion.

I pulled out a selection of paints I had on hand in the right color-way, and decided to experiment to see how the colors looked, and how the body of the paint worked with the fabrics and trims selected. Along with a snippet of the puckered silk, I cut small pieces of pre-washed laces and trims for a test. These are samples of fabrics that will be used in conjunction with the main jacket fabrics, shown below.

I laid out the snippets, stapled to a foundation paper, and grabbed my paint brushes. Across the top, I wrote the brand and color name of each of the paints I wanted to try.

I worked with dry fabrics, because I wanted to see the intensity (and body) of the applied colors. Within those parameters, I experimented with both dabbing and brushing the paint. On the silk, after brushing the paint on the left, I used a sea sponge to dab it on the right side of the swatch.

I had expected the Dyna-Flow paints to give the best results, but that was not the case. Maybe it was the color I chose, but it was a bit "clumpy" on the multiple textures of the lace. My favorite turned out to be the Pearlescent acrylic inks, with the "waterfall green" (shown in the center of the paint swatches) seeming to offer the perfect way to pick up the light aqua color my daughter wanted to include.

Again, stay tuned. I will show you the dress and jacket as they develop. Oh, and I will be adding pictures of my Galway Circus Poster piece as I get them uploaded.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Experiments and Getting it Done

I found this poster in Galway, Ireland several years ago. When I travel, I like to find stuff to use in my artwork.

There is nothing like teaching a class to inspire some quick work in the studio. Tomorrow is Week 3 of my class Unraveling the Stories: Narrative Fiber Collage. Each week, I like to present a few new approaches in addition to the creativity exercises I hand out as 'homework.' I also like to develop a new artwork over the course of the class, so that students can see my process. In addition to giving me something to work on while the students are engrossed in their own projects, making an artwork "live" also provides an easy opening for shyer students to get their questions answered. For all the students, it helps to alleviate any fears they might have about experimenting and just starting to work.

Anyway, I have wanted to do something with this circus poster ever since I found it in a shop window in Galway. To bring it home, I packed in the bottom of my suitcase, covered top and bottom with the large sheets of paper and mat board that I always travel with. When I got home, knowing I would want to attach it to another surface, (and that would require strengthening the paper,) I fused the poster to Heat-n-bond lite.

In these two pictures, you can see the iron on adhesive on the back of the posted, with the still unremoved protective paper behind it.

The next step was to prepare a surface for the poster. Since my students are working with the same unprimed canvas that I like to use, I decided it would be great to show them what can be done with a couple applications of gesso and paint to create a background surface for other artwork.

I cut a hunk of pre-washed and pre-shrunk unprimed canvas, then positioned the poster where I wanted it, off center vertically. With a pencil, I quickly traced the edges of the poster, then removed it. I applied a layer of gesso and let it dry. Yesterday, I added another layer of gesso, and this time, I added textures to it with a bamboo skewer and a comb from my bathroom drawer.

I still have not adhered the poster to the canvas, because I want to paint it in class tomorrow. I will also want to sandpaper, draw on, collage and paint the poster itself. After that, I will finish the composition, and likely add a lot of stitching, which is something I love to do at night while watching PBS or the news.
More to come as the piece moves along. I have another experiment to show you later, too: hand coloring lace. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tristan's Celebration

Fellow blogger Tristan Robin is celebrating his 300th follower! Wow, I am really in awe of anyone who has put out that many blog posts, let alone ones that are so fun to read. If you have never read is blog, now is the time to check it out. Leave a comment, and you can also be entered in his art supply celebration giveaway. Good luck, and thanks to Tristan for the fun reading.