Layers with a Whale

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Mary Beth Shaw who operates Stencil Girl Products.  Her lesson was all about building up a mixed media piece in layers incorporating, of course, stencils of varying scales.  Despite experimenting with mixed media techniques for two years now, I have made almost zero progress with either layering or stencilling.  I am equally inept at both.  The outcomes of such lessons are never pleasing.  I do keep trying though.

The aim of this lesson was to end up with a piece that looked colourfully grungy and textural, a graffiti, street art look.  Mine just looks like vandalism.  I had to improvise a fair bit because I don’t own many stencils and those I own tend to be small.  While I don’t like the overall effect of my finished piece, there are certainly elements from the layering I will take away and use in other projects – negative space highlighting of text, a technique for creating illegible handwriting – but not all in one piece because clearly I just make a mess when I combine too many things.

Week 10 - Layering with Text, Stencils, and Illegible Writing

Intuitive Stencilling

Those of you who have followed my mixed media efforts for long enough will know that I am kack-handed when it comes to stencilling.  I really cannot seem to get the knack of it.  If I get the pigment strong enough, there is usually blobbing around the shapes; if I keep the shapes crisper, it is usually at the expense of strong pigment.  Therefore, when I saw that this week’s Life Book lesson revolved around stencils, I knew I was in for a challenge and hopefully some progress.

This week’s lesson was taken by Lynzee Lynx and the thrust of the lesson was to use stencils we created ourselves and to use them in a layered mixed media piece.  We were encouraged to create stencils of any shapes that came to mind.  I used OHP acetates and cut one that was like a series of striped pebbles, one that was like some curvy arrowheads and one that was a trio of lozenge shapes.  The tutor used her stencils with spray paint but, having none, I sponged acrylic through the stencil shapes instead.  Oddly enough, I actually got the best results I have ever had from stencilling with good coverage and pretty crisp edges.  I wonder if it is because the shapes were larger.

We were to use the stencils intuitively and employ that same instinct to creating the background for the stencils and then layering on top of the stencil shapes.  Working instinctively never comes easily to me.  However, this time, with four kids under my feet and near constant interruptions, I did not have the luxury of time to get stuck inside my head.  Since necessity compelled me to work in a rush, I had to just reach for materials and quickly do something with them without over-analysing or planning.  Of course, I did lots of dribbling and spatter because that is something I really enjoy doing.

Interestingly, there were bits of this piece that I thought were a hideous mess at one stage.  The big cobalt blue blob was a mistake I made when distracted, dribbling the paint in one spot for far too long.  In the end, however, that pool of cobalt spattered with turquoise is one of my favourite elements in the piece.  Likewise, unlike the other spatter, I added the turquoise spatter after I had laid down the black stencilling and I worried it would look like the after-thought it was.  However, I really like the effect of the turquoise on the black.  I am not sure how I feel about the piece overall, however.  I think it lacks cohesion.  I think perhaps I ought to have stencilled the pebble shapes in black rather than gold as they draw the eye too much and the other gold elements in the page – dots created with various implements – do not successfully balance it out.  I did the doodling while watching a movie with my kids and I think in this case the not thinking about it led me to over-doodle, though I am happy with the variety of shapes I chose.

So the lessons learned this week are that I do better when stencilling larger shapes, that I need to find the right balance between working instinctively but not making a mess of things by not thinking enough, and that I need to trust that things I think are a disaster might just work out in the end.

Week 25 - 1 - Layering with own Stencils

Week 25 - 2 - Layering with own Stencils

Week 25 - 3 - Layering with own Stencils

*Apologies for the wonky angles in the first photo*

Give Thanks

This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to depict gratitude in a creative way.  A similar prompt had been given 25 weeks ago and I had used that opportunity to practise my typography and list all of the things I am grateful for in my life.  That had become a very busy and involved art journal page.  I decided, therefore, to make this week’s art journal page somewhat minimalist and simple.  This was also useful because life has been very busy of late and is only going to get busier as the season progresses.  Plus my house is upside down right now as two rooms are being painted.  Simple very much appealed.

Just as the previous gratitude page had afforded me the opportunity to practise an area of my art journalling that needed work, I decided to use this week’s prompt to practise creating backgrounds.  The obvious colours would have been rich and warm tones of yellows, oranges, reds and browns as befits the season and the Thanksgiving holiday.  Largely out of contrariness, therefore, I decided to do the opposite and use cold colours.  I started with a wash of watercolour in shades of blue and purple, the peacock jewel colours I am often drawn to.  I then decided to practise my stencilling again.  My skills in that regard are not good, not good at all.  This time my hand was a lot lighter and I remembered to dab off excess acrylic paint before applying it to the stencil.  Still there is a great deal of room for improvement.  I opted to use small stencils that were all circular designs so that there was some sort of harmony.  Nevertheless, the result was pretty chaotic and haphazard and messy.  Baby steps I suppose.  I then finished the page with writing the phrase “Give Thanks” in black gel pen, using just my own handwriting as the font.

Week 48 - Gratitude

There are not many weeks left now in the DLP project for 2014 but I am probably going to continue with the group’s weekly prompts into 2015.  It is useful to have that push to make time for experimentation in my art journal.  I have also been gifted the online art course, Life Book, for next year to further develop my mixed media skills and technique.  I will probably continue to blog about both of those here on Pict in PA but will be blogging about all of my other art – my non-art-journal stuff – on my other blog, Pict Ink.  I can hardly believe that 2014 is almost at an end and I am thinking about 2015 already.