I would like to share a project with you today that emerged from this compilation of hoarded treasures that I randomly spread on my desk while browsing my stash:
The home decor house shaped wooden panel on the left was a find from a dollar store. The lovely owl stamp at the top was a gift from my wonderful sister and all the other items are long hoarded finds at home decor shops or the dollar store. Then there are scraps from old books, found objects from hikes in the forest...even the packaging of the chopsticks from our traditional Sushi-TV-Friday family evenings made it into my stash...paper scraps, emptied and dried tea bags, ribbons, thread...you know I really can't throw away things and I love all those odds and ends that visually attract my attention and "talk to me" (and have a real or imaginable "history").
And while browsing my stash I just grabbed what "spoke to me" most at that moment and piled it on my desk. With no precise idea for a project at all in my head. Honestly...if I had just sat and touched and "admired" all of it and then put it back into their boxes and drawers I would have felt satisfied too. I call that "visual bathing"...almost a bit like Uncle Scrooge (="Dagobert Duck" as he is called in German) who loves to take a swim in all his hoarded money. It makes me feel good. I love to look at all the various patterns and shapes and touch the different textures.
You will also find that I didn't use all of the stuff on my desk. One of the really hard parts of creating good artwork is to know what to add and what to leave aside. There is an easy way to find out if you are looking at a well done piece of art: if there are things you can take off without them leaving an unfinished looking space they are "too much". If some spaces look unfinished, these lack interest and you should add something (painted detail, texture or something like that). This way you will always make sure that your focal points aren't drowned by too much "visual activity" around them. And you also make sure that your pieces never look unfinished. Finding the right balance is the hardest part, if you ask me. ;)
As I wanted to get my hands sticky and dirty I started with glueing some of the scraps to the house shaped panel. Creating random backgrounds from scrap often is a good start as most of the times once you have started to fuse items to create something new, new ideas evolve during the process and take you on a creative journey.
I prefer to use matte Decou-Page from DecoArt for this as it dries really fast and also gives tooth to acrylic paints once dry.
I was quite sure that I wanted to make the wonderful owl image my focal centre piece...and that I wanted to combine it with some highly textural items too. So I played around with an arrangement first before I stamped the image in place.
Then I added the piece of rough ribbon, some thread (that I formed some kind of "frame" with) and a small piece of bark, using DecoArt Matte Medium. The Matte Medium is a touch smoother and less sticky than the Decou-Page - which makes it perfect for fixing thread to a substrate.
The eye, knothole, button and some gold sequins found their way onto my project too...quite spontaneaously.
Next I spread some DecoArt Media clear Crackle Glaze with a palette knife in random spots and let that dry. Then I repeated this step with some DecoArt Media white Crackle Paint, so I would have areas with crackle where the patterns underneath would still be visible while with others they would be covered by the white of the crackle paint.
The area inside the "thread frame" was left untreated so I could paint it with DecoArt Media fluid acrylics later.
To highlight the cracks I painted a mix of DecoArt Media Antiquing Creams Raw Umber and Carbon Black over the crackled areas. After the Antqiuing Creams had dried I wiped back any excess until content using a damp soft cloth.
I started with highlighting the owl's shape by painting around it using Titan Buff and a fine tip brush.
Then I painted an outer frame using Quinacridone Gold. Prussian Blue was used to paint some of the owl's feathers and some of the spaces created by the thread.
I also painted a subtle border around the panel's edges using Quinacridone Gold. It is always good to keep the amount of different colours rather small - so they will unify easily and form a harmonical whole. Never use more than one contrasting colour (and their "colour family members") - otherwise "holding" it all together visually will become almost impossible and the focal points will get lost.
Once I was done painting my owl it was toned down using a mix of Raw Umber and English Red Oxide Antiquing Cream. The cool thing about the Antiquing Creams is that you can always wipe back as much of them as you want or need to! To make their effect permanent you should seal your artwork with a varnish. This is also a good thing to do if you want to paint over your piece again afterwards without changing the antiquing effect.
The glued on thread frame was highlighted dry brushing DecoArt Media fluid acrylics Titan Buff and Cobalt Teal Hue on with a dry stipple brush.
Using an embossing tool I added some small dots of Titan Buff here and there and then toned them down with a wash of Quinacridone Gold.
...and here's the finished project. I hope you like Mathilda!
And before I forget: I want to thank all of you deeply who took the time to reflect and write a lot of thoughtful and personal comments on my blog post about "personal style in our artwork" (over HERE) !!! Your willingness to take the time to read and also answer so openly and thoroughly touched me deeply and also showed me that I may have touched a nerve there and that there are many of us out there who constantly question themselves and their artwork. Which is good! Because with content comes comfort. And once we do not leave our comfort zones anymore our artistic journey comes to an end (or halt at least). Right?
So thank you all so much for taking part in the discussion. There is still time and opportunity to join in and also share some or your own art too. Click HERE to get to the post. I will try to answer all your comments individually as quickly as time allows!
Hugs from me and a happy "hoot hoot!" from Mathilda for now! xxx