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Posts Tagged ‘YUPO paper’

ink 1

Recently I attended a workshop on the use of alcohol inks.  The class was held in a studio a few lovely country miles from our home, in a neighboring community.  There were 15 of us in the workshop.

Alcohol ink only works its great magic on a non-absorbent surface, so we used my beloved Yupo paper for our introduction to the medium.  For our first of 3 renderings, the instructor talked us through a basic technique which we all followed; we made rings of dots from drops of the ink, in colors of our choice, then blew through a straw to move the ink around.  We added more blobs, blew some more, etc.

The beautiful freckles on the above sample, my 1st, were created by holding the surface of the work up horizontally and spraying horizontally from a bottle filled with Isopropyl Alcohol.  The bottle needs to be significantly up and away from the painting so that the drops will fall gently on the paint, rather than in torrents—which would send the colors flying in additional directions.

From these humble beginnings, each of us created our first alcohol ink art, and every painting was totally unique.  Clone-type workshops are currently in vogue, where a group of people follow a formula and all come up with nearly identical paintings—wine consumption notwithstanding.  I have heard raves about these gatherings, as if they were some kind of a Renaissance Revolution.  But conformity and uniformity in art are unspeakably dull, I think:  as lackluster as painting by number.  An art class such as the one I’m describing, where each participant makes something different and one of a kind, is a GOOD CLASS!

For our second rendering we were encouraged to make a close-up of flowers popping up out of grass.  The instructor had one of her paintings as a sample.  A few in the class mimicked the leader’s choice of colors and format, but most of us simply did our own thing.  Here is my #2:

ink 2

We concluded with one more piece.  My #3 was my very favorite, but alas; the next day, I sprayed all 3 paintings with a fixative, got the spray too close to the surface of #3, and caused the ink to revitalize and run.  So #3 got altered, not to my liking.  Nonetheless, it is pictured below:

(Try to imagine that the magenta blur on the top half of the painting is not really a blur, but rather a hint of foxgloves hanging like bells—as in the lair of the Foxy Gentleman in Beatrix Potter’s TALE OF JEMINA PUDDLEDUCK.)

ink 3

Blurred foxgloves nonetheless, the alcohol ink workshop inspired me.  In July, the same instructor will show us how to apply the medium to glass, metal, and ceramic tiles.  Meanwhile, I’m eager to share this newly-discovered art with my great-grandchildren* who live nearby.  Too much fun!

Margaret L. Been  —  May 29th, 2017

*Divided between Wisconsin, Florida, Minnesota, and California, Joe and I have 18 great-grandchildren.  And #19 is scheduled to appear in South Carolina on Christmas Day, 2017. 

Now wasn’t that a sneaky way to get in a big brag?!!!  🙂

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Here is a bold venture:  a painting which turned out to be too large for the ready-made frames at our local craft stores.  I had grabbed an entire sheet of Yupo® and had a blast, painting and thinking I would crop the finished work to fit a 24″ x 20″ frame which I had on hand.  But I was pleased with the entire piece, and couldn’t figure out where, if any, I wanted to sacrifice part of it.

A brainy idea:  custom framing.  This is pricey indeed, and I will not do it very often.  But the result is satisfying.  Below you can see The Big One on a living room wall:

Wall 2

AW.JPG

Many layers of gouache were piled onto this painting, over washes of watercolor.  Actually called “Waterfall”, this rendering evokes memories of a real waterfall we had on our 14 plus acres up north, where we lived full time for eight years.

Our land bordered on two roads, one up and one down a hill.  Our home was on the downhill road, next to a lake.  In the spring, snow and ice melted from the above road and roared downhill to our back yard, over boulders and brush.  The sound was stirring, and so loud that it resonated through closed windows.  In the summer, the waterfall morphed into a trickling downhill creek—always refreshing to sit beside on one of the big boulders.

How beautiful to have mellow memories, and then to paint them (and have them framed)!

Margaret L. Been — April, 2017

NOTE:  Obviously I couldn’t scan this painting on my home scanner, so I photographed it with my cell phone.  Because the piece was framed with non-glare glass I could do that.  But I failed to get the entire bit into the top photo.  In the shot of the painting on the wall with its surrounding environment, you get a better idea of how the waterfall fans out at its base.

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Ex 4

Ex 2

Ex 3

EX 1.jpg

Years ago I giggled when I heard of art instructors telling workshop participants:  “The paper is talking.  Listen to the paper!”  But now, in my eleventh year of art-making and experimenting with different watercolor grounds, I no longer giggle.  Paper talks!  Paper says different things about the paints and techniques applied.  For a fun demonstration of this fact, I did an almost identical landscape on the above four papers using identical techniques, with a slight variation in my DaVinci artist grade* colors.

First, I applied clear water to a wide horizontal strip at the top, and a smaller swath on the bottom—leaving a dry streak between the wetted areas.  Then the top wetted strips were washed with blends of phalo and French ultramarine blues—and the sky areas were sprinkled with Kosher salt.  Avoiding the dry parts, I added color to the dampened below sections:  red, green, gold, and a bit of blue—while, as always, letting the paints mingle on the papers rather than on my palette.  On each piece, I pressed plastic food wrap onto the bottom area while the paint was still wet.

The papers represented are, from top to bottom:  1) Yupo paper with its especially unique voice, particularly in the way it talks back to applications of plastic wrap; Numbers 2) and 3) 140lb sketching pad paper—American Journey available online at CHEAP JOE’S, and Canson available at many chain craft stores; and 4) Arches 140lb cold press paper by the sheet, available at online art stores (and neighborhood fine art stores, if you have one.)  (Arches is pronounced “Arshe”.  Remember it’s French, and I may scream if you pronounce it like those golden thing-a-ma-jiggies on the MacDonald’s fast food signs!)

Yupo has no tooth whatsoever; rather it has a shiny, slippery surface so it will always make it’s own statement, without even trying to imitate.  You may notice a smoothness because of a lack of tooth on the 2 middle papers as well:  the sketch pad papers.  Also, note that on the 2nd of the smooth-surfaced sketch pad papers the food wrap film caused the paint to slide up and nearly obscure the strip which I had left white and dry.

The Arches 140lb cold press displays more texture around the salt, and somewhat more under the plastic film, due to the presence of tooth.  And on the Arches sample there is a charming bit of “cauliflowering” where wet paint has oozed into the dry area, also caused by tooth.

(Cauliflowers will normally be very prominent on paintings where wet colors collide on Arches 140lb cold press and comparable fine papers—especially when freshly painted strokes touch not-yet-dry parts.  Traditional watercolorists will practically do headstands to avoid cauliflowers, while I perform similar gymnastics just to make sure that I create and preserve them!  “Different strokes for different folks!”)

Different papers have different stories to tell.  By listening (LOOKING!) you can begin to ascertain what more you might want to add or change to complete the work, or do alternatively on another kind of paper.  In the above cases, done mainly for the purpose of illustrating variations in papers, I have done nothing more to any of the samples.

Margaret L. Been —  April, 2017

*My husband and I are blessed with many great-grandchildren.  (Dare I brag?  Well, I’m going to:  we are blessed with 18 of them—so far!)  Frequently, we have art days at our dining room table; what a delight!  Although I sometimes let the very young children slosh around on the economical sketch pad 140lb papers before launching into the high quality “Arshe” sheets which I nearly always use for my own finished work, I am terribly fussy about 2 aspects of art for all ages:  good brushes and artist grade paints.  No matter how young the beginner, good quality brushes and paints are essential.  Poor quality yields disappointing results, and the potential future joy in a pastime of art-making is not to jeopardized:  not at my table!!!

And that’s no April Fool!

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Argyl.JPG

Now and then I get the above question—always in response to that rare effort with which I’m really happy.

Some of my paintings are okay (no more than that), and some are (in my opinion) frame-able.  But occasionally (once in a red moon?) something happens that actually delights my heart.  Like this one which I have titled “Recalling Argyll”.

In this case, along with other paintings which have evoked the “How did you do that?” query,  I had to answer an interested friend with my standard reply:  “I honestly don’t know!”

What I do know is that I nearly pitched the thing in my wastebasket.  It went through several yucky stages, compounded by the fact that I had nothing whatsoever in my mind when I began painting.  Often that works beautifully, especially with transparent watercolors on YUPO paper which happily does its own thing and produces surprising results when you keep your paintbrush in check or use it lightly.

But in the above case, the transparency got buried too quickly in layers of gouache.  Gouache is my ever-ready friend, but here I let it get overly friendly.  In lieu of simply pitching the work, I decided to just let it alone so the mess of gouache could dry properly—no easy task in our famous Southeastern Wisconsin summer humidity.

Several days later, I revisited the mess and gave it one last fling—this time globs of white gouache blotched randomly to cover up the muddiest layers of the original paint.  And instantly the scene popped out at me:  Argyll.

Back in 1993, Joe and I rented a car and drove (actually Joe did all the driving since it was on “the other side of the road”) 2200 miles–mostly on back roads in Scotland, England, and Wales.  I was raising sheep here in Wisconsin at the time, for wool for my hand spinning and because I love animals—even the silliest of varieties.  So we had planned ahead to stay at sheep farms on this trip of a lifetime.

We landed at Glasgow, and spent our first two days and nights on a farm in Argyll—a  familiar household name in my childhood home.  My Grandma Kate was a Campbell* and pointed proudly back to some 11th century Duke of Argyll.

How did I do this painting?  If I can think up a more helpful answer in addition to the explanation of ruining a painting with piles of gouache and then blotching it up with white paint, I’ll let you know.”  🙂

But maybe Argyll popped up because in 1993 I felt a deep down sense of belonging there, either due to the 11th century Duke or simply because Argyll is a poignantly beautiful part of the world.

Margaret L. Been —August 3rd, 2016 

*If you read Scottish history, you will discover that the Campbells behaved atrociously to the Mac Donalds—something I would hope will stay buried in the past.  Anyway, here is my peaceful finale:  They came to the USA, where the Campbells made soup and the Mac Donalds made hamburgers.

(Do I hear groans?)

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Leonardo da Vinci’s THE LAST SUPPER is agreed by many to be the one of the most significant paintings in Western art.  Not only does it represent artistic genius, it brings to life a crucial moment in history.  Obviously THE LAST SUPPER, along with many other master works of antiquity can legitimately be categorized as “Christian Art”.

During past centuries when the masses of people did not read, and had no access to Bibles or writings of any kind, visual art was the major medium through which ideas could be expressed.  Great paintings, timeless sculptures, and magnificent cathedral murals portraying the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus were the means by which the common people could experience and consider for themselves the tenents of Scripture.  God raised up long-since-unparalled masters of art in those centuries, for the purpose of communicating truths which are now largely communicated through the Bible and other writings.

A friend who publishes an evangelical magazine once asked me if I could submit some “Christian art” for his periodical.  After scratching my head on that one for some time, I had to tell my friend that I really didn’t have anything which he would consider suitable.  He was looking for a painting with a cross, Jesus kneeling in the Garden, or a weeping woman standing by the empty tomb.

Because so many masters have “gone there, done that”,  I—an absolute neophyte at painting—would be highly presumptuous to even consider painting such a scene.  And how many people (myself included) have been turned off by ethereal attempts at portraying a Jesus who looks more like a 19th century English poet or a Swedish Hippie, than the Jewish carpenter whom He was when He walked the earth?!

Visual art differs from vocal music and poetry—or any medium where words are involved.  Words tell, and thus we do have “Christian music” and “Christian poetry”.  I have published Christian poetry, as well as essays and testimonies.  But it has been said that “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  So what kind of contemporary pictures, aside from presenting Jesus as a 19th century poet or a Swedish Hippie, can actually be deemed “Christian art”?

As an amateur artist my aim is to express joy, color, beauty plus a quality of life which includes a sense of wonder, enthusiasm, excitement, intrinsic meaning, and contentment in the moment at hand.  The Judeo-Christian worldview affirms life and presents a loving, sovereign God of creation.  I desire to celebrate life, and in so doing to celebrate the Creator.

Without making a cheesy attempt to mimic centuries of genuine artistic genius, a celebration of life is the best I can offer concerning “Christian art!”  However, I can and do add titles to my paintings, and titles are WORDS.  The following watercolor on Yupo paper is an example titled:  “By the Fiat of His Word“.

Margaret L. Been — September 19, 2015 — (First posted in another of my blogs:  http://hiswordistrue.wordpress.com in 2014. )

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***Treacherous 4

A psychologist would have a ball with the fact that I love to paint sailboats in trouble.  My most terrifying life experience happened on a small cub sailboat, tossing about in Lake Superior.  Joe and I were camping with our two teenage sons and our large dog, near the Apostle Islands on the Northern Wisconsin edge of Lake Superior.  Joe (the ready-for-anything sailor) suggested we sail out to one of the remote Apostles where it was rumored there were lots of animals.

Joe could always persuade me by presenting the idea of animals.  Maybe I expected to be cheerfully greeted (upon landing on the island) by a delegation of wolves, black bears, and a moose.  So off we sailed, from a calm bay into the big, open, and hyper-active water which is said to never give up its dead.  Suddenly we were tempest tossed—and I thought of the hapless folks on the Statue of Liberty inscription.

The guys (human guys that is) seemed to think this was great fun—although Joe admitted later that he was scared.  But my canine guy and I cowered on the bottom of the boat.  I prayed.  Obviously Duffy (dog) didn’t join me in prayer, but since he had been my shadow since puppyhood, he joined me in cowering.  Although I do love water, I prefer a canoe on a quiet stream, or a row boat with hardly any horse power—or even better with just oars.  To me, water should be a means to tranquil contemplation, rather than hectic and frantic “coming about” while being dashed every which way on a choppy sea.  Perhaps I’ve been brain-washed by Henry David Thoreau and WALDEN.

I’d gone sailing with my adventurous family for years, and gotten bopped on the head by the mast more times than I could count.  But never had I experienced abject terror like I did that day while flailing hither and thither on the largest in square miles and second deepest (1332 feet) inland freshwater lake in the world—in a very small inland boat.  I hung on to Duffy as if my life depended on him; at least I had warm, fuzzy although wet, company.  We never made it to the remote island.  Our smart captain returned to the bay and dry land.*

Now I paint storm-tossed sailboats with impunity, in my warm and dry home studio.  I love the motion of the paints, and the gracefully precarious angles of the sails—plus all the color my imagination can fling into the process.  When painting, I’m totally fulfilled—enjoying all the adventure I’ll ever need!

The above rendering, titled “Treacherous”, is on YUPO paper—that glasslike, slippery surface which is a kind of plastic rather than paper.  The temptation with YUPO is to never quit.  One can always make changes, wipe areas back to the original white, add and subtract forever.  A dab of this, a swipe of that; I can pass an entire afternoon playing with one piece of YUPO.  But finally, with this treacherous undertaking, I had to say STOP!  That’s enough.  I didn’t want to get seasick!

Margaret L. Been, ©2015

*After Lake Superior, messing about on a sailboat in our Southeastern Wisconsin lakes was quite relaxing.  Who minds getting wet or even turtling in nice warmish water?!

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Textured Scenery

Watercolor painting has undergone a revolution in recent decades.  Once the stuff of faint, delicate washes and flat photographic detail, watercolor has become a medium of vibrant shades and palpable textures.  This is somewhat due to a plethora of new paint colors by many manufacturers plus products which add granulation, impasto, and crackles to the paints—and the liberating relaxation of what is acceptable:  including the use of salt, cling film, and tools for scraping.  (The most commonly used scraping tool seems to be a defunct credit card.)

I am grateful for the revolution.  As exquisite as they may be in the hands of a pro, those faint and delicate washes with photographic detail have never appealed to this amateur.  Much as I respect the age-old skill of the traditional watercolorist, I do not want “faint and delicate” on the walls of my home!  And I would not be true to myself if faint and delicate were my only options to paint.

Along with the watercolor revolution has come a fondness for the diffusion which occurs when wet paint is applied alongside semi-wet:  those beautiful “cauliflowers” and “blooms” such as you see in the upper right corner of the above rendering.  Once considered to be terrible, these blooms are now cherished by many artists.  Sometimes the blooms occur accidentally, but often they are intentional.  They can also be achieved by spraying water on semi-wet paint.  Actually I think that’s how I got the one pictured above.

I am going batty over texture.  The ethereal white streaks just left of center were made by wisping a layer of white gouache over paint which was dried under cling film.  The weird trees or whatever along the background were salted.  Table salt is okay, but since I love most everything Jewish I prefer Kosher salt.  The wildish plantings springing up on the right were done with a new kid on my art block—Indian ink.  And of course the green area was cling filmed while drying.  Not featured in this example are watercolor crayons and water soluble ink pencils which I frequently apply for texture.  And a great way to create speckles is to sprinkle sand-papered shavings from the end of a water soluble colored pencil, into wet paint.  Too much fun!

Up until now, all of my paintings have been done on either Arches 140# cold press (as above) or slippery YUPO paper.  I have held off ordering rough textured paper due to the accelerated price thereof—feeling that I should wait until I have a reasonable idea of what I am doing with my paints.

Well, I’ve been sloshing around in the colors for eight years now and recently I decided it was time to move on.  I ordered one sheet of Arches 140# rough surface, to see if I would like it.  Today I began to work on that first sheet.  Ha!  It was love at first brush stroke.  The rough texture causes far more irregularities with its crevasses and gullies, than one can possibly achieve on other papers.  So I just ordered three more sheets.  The sheets are 22″ x 30″.  I get a lot of paintings out of the big sheets, and these will go along way toward making our Wisconsin winter more pleasant.

Also, I really took a plunge, and ordered one sheet of 300# cold press.  Again, a price leap.  A sheet of 300# rough texture paper would have been even more pricey.  One step at a time.  The 300# papers do not buckle, no matter how wet they are.  So there is no need to dampen the back of a 300# painting and weight it down between paper towels and plastic mats laden with my huge atlas.

Little by little I am getting spoiled.  But I’m into painting for the long haul.  As long as the Lord keeps me on earth I hope to dink around with my brushes and explosions of color and texture!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, December 2014

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