Friday, February 13, 2015

Art Journal - Illustrated Alphabet - A is for Abstract

Having come up with inspired idea for a theme for my A - Z Art Journal, I then sat down to come up with my list of techniques and styles in preparation for creating page 1... the letter "A".

Some might say this is cheating but I have to beg to differ. I did this step because...

  1. I am a planner and organiser type personality;
  2. I have in mind some specific techniques and products that I want to try and I wanted to make sure that they were included... and I didn't forget about them until I got down to X, Y and Z.
  3. And because when I started to think about the list, I realised that some letters are really hard to come up with art styles and techniques for... like "Q" and "X"... so the planning stage gave me an opportunity to answer the difficult questions... up front.
  4. And because this was something I could do at work in my lunch break. (30 minutes is not really long enough to pull out paints and paint brush especially if I want to video my creative musings.)
Now before anyone starts pointing fingers and asking me what about the cover page... which I mentioned in the first video of the series about preparing the album... yes I have purposely left this until further down the track.

I happily, openly and with full disclosure admit that I am a perfectionist. I'm a Virgo. It comes with the territory. Having confessed this... I am also happy to add that I have learnt that this little personality trait means I tend to put a great deal of pressure upon myself because I have such incredibly high expectations of myself... sometimes unachievably high expectations. Over time and with a great deal of soul searching, I have learnt ways of reducing the pressure I place on myself and one of them is by not doing the first thing that you will ever see on a project, or in a book... well first. I allow myself time to get into the groove of things until such time as I can really feel the inspiration and motivation and MOJO are right there, in this moment and now is the time. I'll let you know when that time arrives...!

So let's get down to business...

Products Used:
  • Pre-gessoed page (Faber-Castell Gesso)
  • Fibatape - Drywall Joint Tape (Available at Hardware/DIY Store)
  • Printed Deli Wrap
  • Liquitex Matte Gel
  • Golden Fluid Acrylics - Pyrrole Red; Pyrrole Orange; Hansa Yellow; Quinacridone Magenta; Burnt Sienna; Green Gold; Teal; Ultramarine Violet; Ultramarine Blue; Phthalo Green (Blue Shade); Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)
  • Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Gloss)
  • 2B Pencil
  • Stabilo "All" Pencil Black
  • Faber-Castell Gelatos - Lemon; Banana; Mango; Tangerine; Blood Orange; Red Cherry; Chocolate
  • Viva Decor /Inka Gold - Gold
  • Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens - Walnut Brown; Black
Tools Used:
  • Palette Knives (various styles and sizes)
  • Paint Brushes (various styles and sizes, including Zig Water Pen)
  • Royal Sovereign Ltd - Colour Shaper #2 Taper Point - Firm
  • Water Spritz Bottle
  • Paint Palette
  • Tim Holtz Tonic Scissors
  • Baby Wipes
Process Steps:
With the theme of "Abstract" I knew I wanted this page to be bright and out there and in your face and I knew I had to have a bloody great big "A" on it, but that was pretty much all I really had in mind when I started out.
  1. Cut and adhered down some strips of drywall joint tape. I cut the tape different lengths and widths and stuck it down. Even though it is self-adhesive, I did go over the tape with some matte gel, just to be on the safe side.
  2. Tore up some of the printed deli wrap and adhered this in place with the matte gel as well. I wasn't too specific, just overlapped some of the pieces from both of these two steps.
  3. Put some drops of the warm paint colours directly on the page, spritzed a little water, then covered the entire page in colour blending the paint and water just with my finger tips.
  4. I wanted the colour to be more intense, so following the colour blocks laid down in the previous step with the acrylic paint, I added some coordinating gelatos over the top blending them in with a little water and again just using my finger tips. Some areas ended up getting three or four layers of gelatos while some only needed a couple of layers. Once I was happy with the colour intensity, I heat set the gelatos so they wouldn't move as I added the next layers.
  5. I sketched in my "A" with the 2B pencil, then went over these sketch lines with the Stabilo All Pencil when I was happy with the size and form of the outline. I then lightly painted in the pencil lines with a water brush to turn this from pencil lines into permanent India ink lines.
  6. I painted a couple of layers of white gesso inside the letter with a small brush so I would have a blank canvas to add the next layer onto. (I did actually like the plain white letter and was tempted to just leave it white but didn't think this was "abstract" enough like that.)
  7. I selected my cool colours and put three drops of each colour into my paint palette, then added equal amounts of glazing fluid. I mixed these thoroughly then painted a light coat in a random patchwork type design using a small paint brush. (I will confess that I was quite disappointed at this stage and was tempted to wipe the paint off and go back to just plain white but then I remembered that that wouldn't be abstract enough so I decided, ahh well, there's no turning back now, so just make the most of it.)
  8. I wasn't happy with the look from the paint brush so I decided to experiment with a fine tipped colour shaper. These are like a paint brush, but instead of having a brush made out of individual fibres, they have a rubber head shaped like a brush head. I figured if nothing else, at least it should be easier to clean than a paint brush. (Can you spot Miss Perfection's ugly head making an appearance??)
  9. When I tried adding the paint using the colour shaper, I couldn't get an even paint layer. Some parts came out ultra thick and some were thin and almost watercolour like. I tried emphasizing the blended areas where two paint colours met and rather than making the blended a smooth transition, I encouraged the two colours to blend, but still remain distinct. (Sorry but this bit really needs to be seen to be understood). The other thing I noticed was that this technique was making my acrylic paints act as a faux oil paint and even though they are very small peaks and troughs, the dimension is nonetheless still very evident. 
  10. Just to clarify... I am no oil painter. I don't have the patience to wait for the oil paint to dry and I'm too much of a perfectionist that I'd never get my brushes, palette knives and palettes clean enough to actually do any oil painting. My mother however, loves oil painting. (A debate that will last forever between us as neither of us will ever concede to the other's product of choice.) As a child and teenager, I used to watch her paint with oils. I watch how she created dimension using both brushes and palette knives to add interest to her sea scapes and sunsets and I guess somewhere along the way I may have learnt some techniques from her even if I did (please forgive the term) bastardize them to use with acrylic paints. Anyway I really love the end result!
  11. Once the paint inside the letter had dried I went around it again with the Stabilo All Pencil and water brush just to darken up the framing.
  12. I added some gold highlights on the raised bits of the drywall joint tape that were still just the background colours.
  13. To frame the piece I added some Chocolate gelato around the edge of the page and blended this with my finger. I then added a thin line of PITT artist pen which I also blended in with my finger and finished with edging the external edge with black just to hide any lighter bits that I might have missed earlier.
  14. I added the title "Abstract" again using the Stabilo All Pencil and water brush.
I really love the end result of the page especially the faux oil painting technique. Will be definitely trying that again!

 The finished Art Journal Page.
 Above and below - close up of the faux oil paint texture, made using fluid acrylic paints and glazing fluid.
 I really love the distinctive blending I was able to achieve with this technique, using the fine tipped colour shaper.
 Gold accents to highlight the texture of the drywall joint tape.
And a hand lettered title to finish the page.


Anita Vowell said...

I'm loving the abstract page you created. Wish I had some of your inspiration. :-)

Paula Lynne said...

Thank you Anita. I really enjoyed creating this page especially the effect I was able to get with blending the cool colours. It was quite cathartic just being in the moment. No stress of trying to make my page look a specific way.