Layering with Gesso Stamping

This week’s Life Book lesson was another exploration of layering, this time tutored by Kristin Van Valkenburgh.  I took careful notes while watching the videos and followed the directions for each of the layers.  I was forced to improvise a little since I do not own all of the materials used.  Maybe that is where I went wrong because I did not manage to pull this piece together very effectively.  I ended up with what looks like a puddle of brightly coloured ice cream as opposed to the lovely piece Van Valkenburgh ended up with.  Oops.  That said, the piece is incomplete.  I am supposed to add a heart shaped pocket to the background to hold a letter written to my younger self.  However, I don’t have any suitable material for constructing the pocket at present so that will have to wait until a future date.  This piece, therefore, is the background.

This was a great learning opportunity though and I have a few things I can take away from this piece and apply it to future art projects.  One layer involved stamping with and into gesso using a tool constructed from a cardboard tube.  That is responsible for the textured circles in this piece and I liked the technique so I can see me using that again.  The second layer was a liberal spraying with Dylusions ink and, because it can be reactivated, it was a bit of a pain to work with in subsequent layers.  I am sure more experienced mixed media artists can manage with that quality of the product but in my case that is why everything became so overwhelmingly pink.  I think, therefore, if I am to use Dylusions ink in a layered piece then it has to be one of the last layers.  I feel as though I am taking one step forward and two steps back when it comes to layering but at least that means I am making some gradual progress, however plodding.

Week 41 - Layering with Gesso Stamping

Layering Colourful Chaos

This week’s Life Book lesson was entitled “From Here to There”.  Taught by Roben-Marie Smith, it was all about her particular process of taking a page from being a daunting blank sheet to being a many layered riot of texture and colour.  Smith led we tutees through each mixed media layer, step by step, which I found to be incredibly useful scaffolding since layering does not come easily to me at all.  The idea of colourful chaos was emphasised, the need to be playful and intuitive – which I struggle with as much as I do with layering – but I think I slipped out of the realm of aesthetically pleasing chaos and into a hodge-podge of a mess.  I managed to avoid making sludgy mud out of all the different colours, which is a definite success story, but I think the whole thing really needed pulling together with a focal point to draw the eye and provide coherence instead of the eye darting around from one area to the next.  However, I used many more layers than I usually use and I didn’t create ugly mud so I will still claim this as a small success.

Week 39 - Layering


Shadow and Light

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Jessica Swift.  The idea was to explore visual contrasts and dualities through having “shadow and light” pages that mirrored each other.  The creative element was the instruction for us to carve our own stamps and to use these in our piece.  I had kept some decent sized chunks of lino from block printing and also had some circular discs of soft carve so I set about carving a few stamps.  This is something I have been meaning to do for a while now so it was great to have this lesson give me the impetus to crack on with it.  I carved a circular pattern into the disc and fashioned a shape that could be a leaf or feather out of one lino scrap.  I had two smaller lino scraps that I turned into a trio of curved shapes and a trio of triangles.

In the video tutorial, Swift had used the stamps to create a border for each of her pages – using contrasting inks – and had then written in the centre of each page.  I am not big into writing in my art, not even in my art journal, so I decided to try using a lino block of a whale I had carved last year as if it was a stamp.  I chose my colour palette based simply on the colours of block printing ink I had available that would provide good contrast.  I could have gone black and white with the ink but I decided to go with blue and white so shades of blue acrylic paint then became the palette for my background page.  I was short on time this week (I seem to write that phrase a lot) so I decided to actually work on one page split in half rather than on two pages, the smaller scale making it manageable.

Week 19 - Light & Dark

Treating the whale block print like a stamp did not quite work.  Although I applied pressure to it, I placed it down on the paper rather than vice versa as I would when block printing and I did not, therefore, use my baren.  Clearly the pressure was uneven since the print quality is patchy – especially with the white version.  The smaller stamps I carved worked a lot better presumably because I could apply more even pressure to them.  I am not convinced this page turned out so well but carving my own stamps was fun and is something I shall try to do more of.