Archive for the ‘Weaving’ Category

I have two artist friends who do not dislike YUPO paper, they hate it!  Now I was taught from little on, that one only uses the word “hate” for things that are truly horrible and hateful—like race prejudice or war.  But with YUPO, it seems there is no middle road.  It’s either “hate” or “love”.  I Love YUPO paper, with a capital “L“.

Still controversial in high end circles, the use of this synthetic painting ground has infused the art world with fresh energy and boundless potential.  YUPO paper is not really paper at all; it is a chemically created polypropolene* surface:  archival, tree-free, pollution free, bio-degradable, recyclable, and everything else one could want—environmentally speaking.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out just why the anti-YUPO people hate the product so vehemently:  it is nearly impossible to control.  If you begin your painting with a firm idea fixed in mind, great flexibility is needed to make the experience a happy one for you.  As the accomplished YUPO artist Taylor Ikin affirms, you simply have to let the paint tell you where it wants to go! 

(Many artists eschew watercolors altogether for their carefree, unpredictable qualities.  Traditional painting with watercolors is frequently considered to be “harder” than painting with oils.)

From the beginning of my adventures with YUPO, I discovered that a “still life” rendering on this ground is seldom “still”!  Waterfalls and turbulent skies abound, as paint slithers hither and thither on YUPO’s glass-like surface.  For those of us who don’t give a hoot for control, that’s the joy of it!

Although my YUPO paintings may look random and unplanned, I can assure you that time and consideration have gone into the completion of them.  Here is how I work on the paper which is not really paper: 

For starters, I spritz the YUPO with my WINDEX® bottle (filled with pure water, not the cleaning solution).  Into the blotches of water, I charge a few colors—normally primaries:  Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow, and French Ultramarine Blue.  (Sometimes I substitute Permanent Magenta and Dioxazine Purple for the Alizarin and Ultramarine—and Lemon Yellow for the Cadmium.)

Next, I lift the sheet (I always paint on a flat surface—although I have an easel).  I flip, jiggle, and wiggle the YUPO back and forth,  causing the paint to run in rivulets and fan out in feathers.  As we all know, most any color can result from blending primaries—and any form can evolve from flipping, jiggling, and wiggling one’s paint.  With all of that, I’ve never seen the same outcome twice!

Then I return the YUPO to my table, to dry.  When the surface has dried, a subject or theme typically emerges in the form of a definitive shape or shapes:  rocks, flowers, rushing water, perhaps a cliff or a cavern, and frequently creatures—mythical or identifiable birds or animals, or something faintly homo sapiens (often leaning toward the humanoid).  Hence, my penchant for fantasy awakens.  I’m up and away—and frequently way out!

In the above piece, “Pirates’ Lair”, the initially emerging shapes were those gemlike forms in the approximate center and upper center—separated by vertical lines caused by rivulets of paint.  The other form fashioned by wet paint sliding around on the slick surface was that attractive yellow oval, complete with some of the stairs, toward the lower right of the picture.  With those features already in place, I could proceed with a theme created by the mingling of YUPO and watercolors:  a pirates’ lair of precious gems, with an escape—that ready-made oval of light with its built-in staircase.

I considered how I could amplify the existing features of the piece, adding enhancing shapes and eliminating anything extraneous.  With a clean, damp brush I phased out distracting elements—filling the resulting spaces with alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, and dioxazine purple (colors of gems I love—rubies, garnets, sapphires, and amethysts).  While the paint was still wet, I sprinkled those areas with 1) salt on the crimson parts on the left and 2) lavender-tinted cosmetic pigment powder on much of the purple paint.  (The pigment powder was lifted from my soap-making supplies; I use high grade cosmetic pigments to color my soap.  Not every artist has access to a saponifier’s stash, but happily I do have! 🙂 )

Finally, additional interest was needed in the top third of the painting, a bit to the left of center.  So I included another window in the lair—one more view to the way out, replete with its diminutive stairway.  Also, I inserted more stairs into the lower right oval of light.

All of this took about three hours to complete—three hours of actual work, not counting the drying time.  Thus you can see that a considerable amount of analysis, cogitation, and consideration are necessary “givens” between brush strokes, when using the capricious and fiercely independent medium of watercolor on that capricious and fiercely independent surface known as wonderful YUPO!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*According to the Wisegeek website, “Polypropylene is a plastic polymer used in everything from carpets to car parts”.  And we know that includes art!

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I love to show off my beautiful homemade complexion soap.  The soap is everywhere, in antique bowls, on platters, and stacked on shelves throughout our home.

Our daughter Laura, daughter-in-law Cheri, and I are producing heart soaps for Cheri and Eric’s daughter Nicole’s August 7th wedding.  The soaps will be wrapped in pretty net bags, and placed at each plate for the reception which is to be held at Whitnall Park Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee.

Homemade!  There is nothing better!  We live in an age of communication via words–and quite frankly sometimes I’ve had words up to my eyeballs!  Literary words, as in classic poetry and novels, YES!  I can’t get enough of those words.  But today’s words–text messaged, emailed, and even blogged like my words–get old fast.  How refreshing to be still and make things with one’s hands.  I believe I could survive without talking (although some might doubt that!) but I know I’d go bonkers if I couldn’t make things with my hands.

At a ladies’ luncheon party this week, we talked about how–when we were brides back in the 1950s–we embroidered our kitchen towels.  These bits of memory make my heart sing. 

Now despite all that is wrong with our culture, the magazine racks tell me something is right!  There’s a plethora of periodicals available on the subjects of knitting, crocheting, scrap-booking, quilting, beading, cooking, gardening, home decorating, etc.  I am not the only one on this planet who derives sustenance and life energy from making things.

The desire to create with our hands is part of our birthright, for we are made in the image of a creative God.  Whereas He created Heaven and earth out of nothing, we make things out of materials already made.  Yet the desire to create is evidence of God’s imprint on our lives.

Pictured below is our grandson Joelly, who cannot “play it straight” for a photo shoot.  (I love his silly faces!)  🙂  Joelly is wearing a scarf and hat ensemble which I made him for Christmas a few years back.

Hands that knit, and weave, and spin, and make soap (and many other venerable home products) are happy hands! 

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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