Second layer of acrylic paint on underside
In this photograph, I want to show you the second layer of acrylic paint I have applied to the underside of the butterfly. This layer covers any of the frisket that I applied previously. I continue to learn about acrylic and how to best to apply it. It has never been a favorite medium of mine, though it is good to know more about and get a better feel for its characteristics. Its fast drying time continues to challenge me.
So how will I finish this side of the butterfly?
...to be continued.
Reverse Side of 30lb Butterfly
Do butterflies have back and fronts or is it tops and bottoms? I suppose it is not all that important, but I seem to be getting tongue tied as I try to explain to people what part of the butterfly I am painting. Let's suffice it to say, that I have turned it over and I am doing the reverse side!
It is not a simple matter to just flip these heavy pieces over and start painting. The side that is already painted is fragile, which means that I have to move them gingerly so that my paint does not rub off or get scratched or pick up some unwanted particle. I decided that it would not be wise to place the painted side down on plastic, fearing that the plastic sheet would stick to the wings. Therefore, I retrieved large pieces of glassine paper to put down over the plastic and then laid the wings on the glassine. (Glassine is a wax-like paper that is used when I am storing or shipping my original paintings because is does not stick nor remove any media I use. It is cheap and great stuff!)
As you can see in the photograph, I have painted the first layers of the underside of the wing. I have learned through painting this project, that it takes 3 layers of paint before the color truly holds its saturation.
The swatches of green color are painted down first because this is where I will paint more musical notes and notations. Acrylic is known to be an opague paint, but in reality each layer effects the next layer. In other words, I cannot paint a bright lime green on top of a medium valued purple and expect the lime green to "shine." After the green paint dries, I then use frisket, which is a liquic rubber substance that dries, to preserve the green color in the shapes I want. After I have painted the purple edges, I will remove the frisket and paint the green again. You will see what I mean in later posts. Ahhh, the tricks of the trade!
...to be continued.
40" Metal Stand for 30lb Butterfly
..It's a Butterfly! The other day, I picked up the stand that will hold my 30lb butterfly. I almost did not get it, because I was not required to do so, but having it in my studio has facilitated my understanding of how the piece will fit together. The funny looking shape at the top of the stand is the "body" of the butterfly. The black dots you see are holes for the bolts that will attach the two wings. I will need to paint this little body to integrate it with the wings. Though you cannot tell here, the body piece slides up and out of the black metal pole.
Sure does look tiny for the support of the butterfly, does it not?
One of the many questions that periodically creeps up into my mind, is how many people will I need to attach the two wings with the body? Each bolt goes through each of the three pieces. Subtext to the question is how to do I do this with no scraping or damage to the painted surfaces?? ...and then I have to deliver it.
First layers of acrylic paint applied
Whew! I have the fist layers of paint applied to my 30lb metal butterfly!
It's taken a little more effort than I thought it would. Fortunately, it is beginning to take on the musical - whimisical feel that I want to portray. Hopefully, you can sense it as well...??
Metal Butterfly on counter in my studio
Due to some struggling & frustrations, I have had to ask myself again, why did I want to participate in the Butterfly & Friends Project? 1) To make a contribution to the Colorado Springs schools' art departments, 2) to interact with more artists in this area, and 3) to stretch myself artistically! Oh, yes, it is good to post the reminder because I have had moments when I have wanted to toss in the brushes. This project is definitely stretching me!
As I have mentioned, acrylic is not a medium I know well. Consequently, I have had to do a fair amount of experimenting to determine the best way to apply paint and how many layers I need to apply. I have also had to get a feel for the quickness in which the paint dries, which is much faster than what I am accustomed to. There is a small piece of metal that connects the butterfly wings and that is what I have experimented on. (Sorry, no photos of that messy piece. I have since sanded it.)
Because of the weight of the wings and odd shape, I had no choice but to lay it down on a counter top in my studio. Here you can see that I them on a plastic sheet, while using a paper plate palette and cottage cheese containers for mixing and holding paint. My old watercolor brushes saved the day for applying the paint.
Unfortunately, my studio mate, Paynter, has been banned from the studio during the painting process. I fear that he will "explore" the wings at an inappropriate time. His bed is located on the same counter top. Poor guy, he misses overseeing my progress and I miss his supervision.
Paynter, the cat, inspects for approval
One does not always know from where "approval" can emerge! Paynter, the ever curious and intense orange cat, is a regular in my studio. Sometimes he even paws at my legs and meows to get me to stop when he thinks I have been working too long! Invariably, he is correct, and we stop for some coffee and lap time. It's nice having a warm furry buddy looking after me.
Back to the 30lb aluminum alloy butterfly. I had to problem solve how I was going to transfer the tracing paper drawing to the metal surface. Pencil seemed too harsh and from my tests, did not look like it was going to dissolve in the paint as I painted. I was concerned that the lines would show through the paint layers. Pastel pencil seemed to be the answer. I had never tried this before, but I rubbed it on the back of the tracing using the broad side of the pastel pencil. After I had the tracing lines covered with my light gray pastel pencil on the back side, I then gently placed the paper onto the butterfly, used a weight to anchor the paper, and then re-drew the tracings. It worked well!
What would you have done instead to transfer the drawing onto the butterfly?
Tracing Paper of Butterfly Design
One of the reasons I wanted to participate in the Butterflies & Friends Project sponsored by Imagination Celebration, was to stretch myself artistically. It seems that my "wish" has come true. My first hurdle was to enlarge my colored pencil design onto tracing paper large enough to cover a 40"x36" butterfly. Then I had to figure out how to transfer the design onto the butterfly, which does not lay flat.
The photograph shows you the tracing paper upon which I have drawn my design. The double wing is of the design for inside or the top of the butterfy and single wing drawing shows the underneath part of the butterfly. They look dirty because tracing paper smudges pencil quite easily. I also had to make some drawing changes because the 8"x11" template that we were given to design upon does not exactly correspond to the actual configuation of the metal butterfly. Ar-r-rgh.......but manageable.
Now, what art material am I going to use to actually transfer these drawings onto the real butterfly? Do you see a theme for this butterfly?
Quincy Jones, age 12. Isn't he handsome?
Have you ever received a big loving face kiss from the subject of your next commissioned painting? And without provocation? I thought I had prepared myself for my interviews with Quincy Jones' owners, but that was a welcomed surprise.
Last week, as I mentioned in my most recent post, I set out to begin the commission of Quincy, a black labrador and I was greeted with a few things I had not expected, besides the lovely kiss. Surprises are good, because it means that I will learn something. When I walked into their living/dining room area, the table was filled with information about Quincy. Not only were there photographs large and small, there was also a 3-ring notebook with his name on the cover and a ribbon showing off his Junior Championship award. The notebook includes all of Quincy's lineage, along with photographs of his breeder and his parents. I had never seen such a documentation. Quincy has fathered a handsome litter as well and his son is member of another part of the family.
I learned about retrieving contests sponsored by the American Kennel Club (AKC), how lots of time was spent training Quincy of which Quincy thoroughly loved to do, that labradors are like athletes and can be overworked, and that Quincy displays his dominant personality only when he was out in the field with other dogs. Otherwise, back home, he is sensitive, well mannered, greets all visitors warmly and loves his fellow pets in the house.
Unfortunately, Quincy is not feeling well due to a tumor and his very tired joints. He does not convey his ol' perky self and prefers not to stand. Taking photographs was a challenge and I will augment them with photos I was provided.
I am grateful that I was able to spend some time with Quincy Jones before he moves onto his next chapter. Was his kiss a vote of confidence from him? I am going to take it as such!
Receiving the request for a commissioned painting always revs up my artistic juices. Connecting with someone who likes my work and wants me to capture something special for them carries a responsibility and is invigorating.
So how do I begin? The interview is key because I want to translate the client's story to the best of my ability. Before each interview, I create a list of questions unique to the request/situation. This interaction with the client deepens our connection, which inturn, strengthens the artistic energy between my paints and the resulting painting.
My current commission is of Quincy Jones, a 12 year old black labrador. Here is a sample of the 25+ questions I asked the owner. (I am leaving out the obvious questions, which have to do with size, medium, pose, etc.)
1. How old is Quincy Jones? How old was he when you took him home?
2. How did you come to own him?
3. What is the genesis of his name?
4. Describe your relationship with him.
5. Describe some of your favorite memories of him.
6. How is he different from your other pets? How does he interact with them?
7. Close you eyes. Now tell me, as quickly as you can, what are the colors you see when you think of QJ? The background colors?
8. Continue to close your eyes and tell my the music that reminds you of QJ?
9. How does Quincy make you feel?
10. Why do you want a painting of Qunicy? Where will you hang it?
11. Who else would you like me to interview?
12. What is Quincy's salient physical feature?
13. What would you like me to know that I have not asked you?
What questions would you have added?
Stay tuned for some of the answers....particularly to #13!
Have you ever experienced workshop or conference overload? Remember returning home after an invigorating class/convention/trade show and feeling numb? I just returned from two days of Alyson Stanfield's workshop on Internet marketing for artists. She is also the author of the informative & well written book I'd Rather be in the Studio!
45 plus energetic artists gathered in Estes Park, CO to soak up tons of information about how we can better market our work via the various available Internet tools & systems. Alyson provided us with many ideas, methods, do's & don'ts, links, resources, all the while we networked and benefited from the exchange of fellow artists. Networking on-line is great, but nothing can re-place that human, face-to-face connection.
Today is re-coup day. Yes, I have many "action items" and "to do's" but I decided that I would rather be in the garden to incubate all that occurred over the past several days. I know that I need to: find someone to help me format a blog on WordPress.org, connect with my accountibility group, tame the purple color on my web site, download EArtist software (my mailing list and inventory are on very old data bases), tell people about the book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, contact fellow students on Facebook, etc. They must wait a day or so.
The earth is a grounding force, so I will go out & weed, get my hands dirty, listen to the birds and enjoy the coming of a late Spring before I dive back into wonderful opportunities available on-line.