Friday, July 18, 2014

Paint with Paper!

The direction of my journey in art changed after a class at PlazaArt in Nashville, Tennessee with Beth Grubb, an amazing artist who uses interesting handmade papers to create gorgeous works of art.  For a year now, I have been trying to come up with a large "something" to go above the headboard of our bed.  Nothing came to me until after taking Beth's class!  The free child in me was unleashed.  You may also see these creations  on the Graphic Products Facebook page here (the sunflower is there now).

Working with Black Ink fine art papers, we tore, cut, Mod Podged, and designed works of art.  In this class, a small canvas was covered with the papers, some cardstock, and a little gold paint.  One of the papers I chose had some string that pulled out of the paper easily, adding another collage element to the design.  Our guest room, now mostly used by two little granddaughters, had recently been painted and redecorated in purples and a touch of muted teal.  So this canvas became inspiration to do three different ones with similar abstract qualities.  A decorative pillow (see photo below) gave me an idea to tie these elements together, since it had the word "SMILE" on it.  

I added die cut letters to each canvas to carry out the theme--Grin, Giggle, Laugh, --all things little girls do without restraint. 

What fun it was to create something for the sheer pleasure of combining textures and colors to make something pleasing to the eye.  Here are the three canvases a little bigger so you can see the incredible Black Ink papers a little bit better.

The Giggle painting (above)  is shown smaller than the two square ones that surround it in the wall arrangement.  It is actually larger than Grin and Laugh, but making it larger here made it lose the edges, so I kept it smaller.  The textures in all three are very similar.

Back to the class:
The class lasted long enough to design a second canvas and even a third one.  So I played around with a more graphic look inspired by some more of Black Ink's wonderful papers.  Here is the result of that second experiment.
Thanks to the generosity of Black Ink, Beth let us pick and choose extra papers from the class to take home and make more magic, so I did the third canvas at home ("Laugh" shown above).  There was enough paper left to do another graphic canvas similar to the one to the left with the gold leaves.  I used music images on another one for my daughter's newly decorated entertainment room.

It was during this class that the long awaited inspiration for the other bedroom wall was born.  Each year our garden yields massive amounts of sunflowers.  Only planted in rows for two years, they freely have scattered seed, with help from the goldfinches and other feathered sunflower connoisseurs.  My husband takes care to keep many seedlings growing inside other garden produce rows just for the sheer enjoyment they give us.  Sometimes I think they are more important than the food we grow.  They are food for the spirit!  And my idea is born!  A giant sunflower on a big square canvas, using these wonderful papers and maybe some other media has become my goal.  

Beth was excited to hear about the Tennessee Stampers' Annual Retreat after several of us had "played" in her class, and she agreed to come and teach her unique techniques to the rest of the group.  We were so lucky to have her there, and she inspired many others to branch out and add handmade papers to our projects (now those of us who have stamped for years already love our paper!) .  So I decided ahead of time to begin to plan the long-awaited project for the master bedroom wall by producing a miniature version...just to work out any kinks or problems I may have trying to achieve my goal.  I loved how it began to look as I was gluing and cutting and tearing leaves and petals.  I used a piece of paper that had a very textural reptilian hide look to it for the big center, cutting it out with a large round scalloped die.  It was mounted on chipboard before cutting, then it was elevated off the canvas with some heavy-bodied E-6000 craft glue.

I was unsatisfied with the center of the sunflower, although it was pretty fine as it was. It just needed more.  It needed to have beads added to make the center resemble the seed head in its immature state.  Besides, I just love a little "bling!"  After a couple of weeks studying this canvas, I decided to work on the center.  So using Ranger's Glossy Accents, I built up the outer edge with a variety of added textural products, including larger amber colored clear beads and some other glittery additives to resemble the stamens on the outer edge of the sunflower's center and then added more of the Glossy Accents to the center after the edge was nearly dry. On the center, I poured a generous helping of little tiny black glass beads from my stash of beads that have been in my craft room from my early teaching days.  After these were nearly dry, more Glossy Accents and black beads helped to raise the edge of the black area to resemble a sunflower.  Success!  Now, the challenge will be trying to figure out what to use on a canvas three times the size of this one!