Monday, 25 August 2014

Shine - a canvas project for the Kraafters Kommunity 12345 Challenge

This is the first challenge I've ever taken part in. Yay! This challenge was originated by the Kraafters Kommunity on Google+.  It's a lovely crafting community growing by the day - make sure to check them out!

The challenge rules were very simple. Your project had to include the following:

1 of something - for me it's the canvas
2 dimensional items - I used foam and twine
3 papers - I chose book paper, printed tissue paper and handmade watercolour paper
4 colours - I used Liquitex Basics acrylics: cadmium yellow deep hue, cadmium orange hue, quinacridone magenta and metallic copper
5 letters - I chose the word SHINE

Simple as this challenge may sound - I did struggle to come up with a concept at the beginning. Once I chose my word, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but I found it very difficult to get started.  There was that "big" white canvas staring at me. I say "big" because it's the biggest I've ever done, but at 12" X 9" it's hardly gigantic.

When I chose my colours, I made sure that they would mix well together. I new I wanted something bright and cheerful. My word SHINE suggested yellows and oranges and I chose the magenta simply because I love it and it harmonises well with the other two. The metallic copper was to be an accent colour that I used for stamping.  When I got over my initial block, I took a deep breath and just started smudging the paint on the canvas, straight out of the tube with my fingers. And I absolutely loved it! What was the big deal? This actually turned out to be the easy part. Within just 5 minutes I created a colourful background that I instantly fell in love with.

The rest of the project turned out to be very much a "labour of love" with a lot of toing and froing between ideas, false starts and, yes, waste of materials. But it was all worth it in the end! The terms of the challenge made the project a bit more difficult for me to complete, but it also made me think outside the box and consider using materials that I wouldn't have used otherwise.

Once the background was dry, I decided to use my homemade foam stamps to lay down some random accents with the metallic copper paint. Looking back, I may have cornered myself here in terms of the composition. At one point,  I decided to turn the background stamping into doodles, which, in turn, very much restricted my possibilities. Perhaps it would have been better to think about the composition first. Then again, too much thinking takes the fun and spontaneity out of the equation. Luckily, it all worked out in the end, though at one point I was so stuck that I even considered abandoning the project altogether and start afresh.

Here are some photos of the process and end result. I hope you like it!

Canvas with Liquitex acrylics - I originally envisaged a landscape design 
I added metallic copper paint with foam stamps
I added black and white doodling over the stamp marks
The finished project
The sun is supposed to be the focal point of the design

I stamped the letters on painted and torn book paper and outlined with a white marker

I used foam as one of my dimensional items (it was originally white but was easy to paint with the acrylics)

I used printed tissue paper for the background

The twine was painted the same yellow colour as the other elements

I added bits of twine to the middle of my stamped doodles for texture

Thursday, 7 August 2014

My First (mini) Canvas

I don't know why, but I find creating on a canvas more than a little intimidating. Perhaps because it is a bit more permanent than a piece of paper. A piece of paper you can scrunch up and throw away, which is not so easy to do with a sturdy canvas. So I feel pressured to create something lasting and worthy of displaying on the wall. This pressure sometimes disables my creativity completely.

Luckily, I already had a small, flat canvas board ruined with a failed attempt at acrylic painting a few months ago (before I became interested in mixed media) which I have only just found lying at the bottom of my stash. Since it was already destined for the bin, I had nothing to lose, so I gave myself free reign to ruin it all over again if I wanted to. Yay!

I started by covering up the canvas with torn pieces of three different gelli prints. Then I cut random circles out of book pages and stuck them down with gel medium. When it was dry I gessoed over the circles just using my fingers and outlined the circles with a black pen. I also doodled around the circles of my gelli prints with a white pen. At this point I was stuck. I kind of liked the look but I didn't know how to proceed. Then I remembered that I had some rubber postage stamps lying around somewhere, approximately the same size as my circles. Bingo, that worked quite well! I still had a small problem with the focal point.

Having made no plans at all, I had no idea what the title or the focal point of my creation would be. I knew the focal point should be the largest circle but I wasn't sure what to put in it. I rummaged through my stash and I've found a sheet of printed tissue paper by DoCrafts and I really liked the image of the dragonfly, so I pasted it in the circle. The good thing about tissue paper is that it becomes transparent, allowing the background to show through. Another option would have been to do an image transfer, but I was too eager to move on and I didn't have the patience to experiment with an image transfer. The title 'Mail Art' came with the set of stamps and I used it in lack of a better idea, but I still quite like how it looks in the overall composition.

I'm thinking of doing a few more similar canvas designs and when I have five or so I can hang them one below the other, connected with a ribbon(?), for wall decoration. For now I'll just "admire" my first creation and gather the courage and inspiration to make some more!

By the way, the canvas used in this project originally came from the Works. It measures 5" X 7". A pack of 6 only costs £1.99. I think that's a really good deal at 33p per canvas. I must buy some more next time I go. The Works also sells these in bulk: 12X6= 72 canvas boards for just £16.99.  That's less than 24p per canvas! I find that unbelievably good value!

Canvas board 

Close up of canvas board - oops, it looks like I clipped the dragonfly's wings! Oh, well.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Playing with my Gelli Plate

Inspired by the arty folks over at the Google+ communities, I've dusted off my Gelli Plate and got down to work making some monoprints. I've pretty much used up all my acrylic paints - but, hey, that's what they are for, aren't they? When printing with the Gelli Plate, I would recommend using the cheapest paints you can get, so you don't have to worry about wasting it. The Reeves acrylics are excellent for this, or if you live near a Works store in the UK pop in for an acrylic starter set, which includes 18 brilliant colours in generous 36ml tubes for just £7.99. This is what I used for my prints and I will definitely buy them again. They're really good value and work well with the Gelli plate.

I've created about 100 new prints the other day. I even used some of the ones I had created a while ago and added a few more layers to them. Some of the results are better than others, but that's the fun part about the Gelli plate - you never know what you get in the end. I used various texturing tools (bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, diecut shapes and stencils and pieces of textured wall paper, which you can get as free samples from most DIY shops (I got mine from Wilkos). I just used ordinary printer paper to pull the prints.

Here's the result of my hard labour (I did get a bit of a backache by the end of the day, but it was well worth it)! I'm sharing some of my best prints as digital downloads. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the direct download links from my Google Drive account. They are A4 size 300 dpi print quality jpeg files. You can either print them or use them in your digital designs. If you have a photo editing software, you can also change the colour by playing with the hue slider (Image/Adjustments/Hue-Saturation in Photoshop).

Loads of Gelli prints!

Gelli prints for digital download

File Download from my Google Drive (22MB zip file): Download