Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer Afternoon

              Reading an interesting book laying on the grass under a big tree with a warm breeze blowing on a summer afternoon…aah! One of a favorite things. That feeling was what I was trying to capture in this project which is the second piece of the five part wall art composition in my daughter’s room. My daughter absolutely loves reading and is a voracious reader. This canvas will be perfect in her room.

              I love doing mixed media art projects. It allows more versatility and the visual peeling of the layers offers a rich experience to the viewer. It invites a person to come closer and touch with the thought “how did you make it?” ‘Summer Afternoon’ is a very basic mixed media art in which I have used a few different traditional mediums to express an emotion. 

Here's how to:
Before I begin I would like to introduce an important product used in this project: 
:Mod Podge: Mod Podge is an all-in-one glue, selaer, and finish miracle product. It is a decoupage medium available in a variety of finishes and can be used for bonding paper, wood, fabric, and other porous materials. 

Begin with a blank canvas, 3-4 pages of old books, mod podge, brushes, and writing pens. Instead of pages from books you can use magazine pages, comic strips from the newspaper, newspaper articles, black and white or sepia tone photographs, poetry pages, or any other sort of reading material. I had purchased these two books at the flea market (rest assured they are not originals).

Using any kind of wide bristled or foam brush spread mod podge generously on the canvas.

Place the selected pages of media on the mod podge. I chose complete pages but you can tear strips or random shapes or use scissors for clean edges. In my excitement I put down all the pages at the same time. I would suggest you lay the pages down one at a time slowly smoothing out the bumps and wrinkles. I tried to peel the pages and smooth out the bumps, mod podge is a miracle product so I wasn’t too worried at this point.

Make sure the pages go over the edges and sides of the canvas, it just gives it a complete finish.

Once the first layer is fairly dry, brush on more mod podge on top of the pages. Let dry completely. I know the bumps and wrinkling looks messed up but trust me...dont worry. Though I must say I was just very slightly worried that I might have ruined it. I applied pressure while brushing on the mod podge hoping to smooth them out. 

I was happy to note that the more my canvas dried out, the bumps and wrinkles seemed to disappear. Phew!
Now my canvas is ready for the next layer of my mixed media art. Using a pen (pencil doesn’t work on mod podge) I drew the outline of the girl reading. I looked up some images on the internet for ideas. 

Using black acrylic craft paint and a very fine brush I filled in the silhouette of the girl reading. Since mod podge is also a sealant, it is surprising that anything sticks to it. But as I said mod podge is a miracle product.  

I directly freehand painted the tree, its branches and leaves, and filled in its silhouette. I wanted the two title pages to be as visible as possible and so I tried to work my paintings around the words as much as I could. As a final detail I painted small free falling leaves.

Once the black paint is completely dry brush on mod podge all over including the sides and edges. Once this layer is dry brush on another final layer of modpodge. I used a satin finish mod podge for this project.

Here it is on the wall next to the birch trees cutout canvas. My 5-piece wall art is coming together. Yay!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Trip to the Flea Market

               Row upon row of furniture, salvaged architectural elements, metalwork, jewelry, housewares, pottery, garden items, art, and so much more…..that’s the visual treat at first glance at an antiques faire.

               This past weekend I decided to make a trip to my local flea market mostly to see if I could find some basics for future projects. It is definitely one of my favorite ways to spend a day, lazily meandering through the colorful and treasure laden stalls looking at all the goodies; seeing the wares for what they are and also seeing them for what they could be, listening to the store owners share the history behind the objects, spotting unusual objects, things that remind me of my childhood, and be struck by inspiration and ideas….absolutely wonderful way to spend some time.



               This particular one is not necessarily known for antiques or collectibles but definitely you could get lucky; one man’s trash is another’s treasure, right? The parking lot of a local college is closed off on the first Saturday of every month and rain or shine vendors set up their stalls. This flea market houses stalls by talented local crafters selling their jewelry, quilts, pottery, refurbished furniture, and other variety of handmade things. You can also find cheap made-in-***** sweatshop kind of goods and utilities, knock off make-up, shoes, bags etc. here….so it’s not a pure antiques and salvage market. I guess that’s why the distinction in the name. Nevertheless, for me the other true antique and salvage kind of displays and stations made up for the other stalls. Besides it holds true to a flea market in that there is something for everyone J.

               Anyway it was worth the trip although I did not find all that I was looking for. I was particularly looking for some wide picture frames, small mirrors, maybe some tiles, an old classics book, trays, clear glass plates in a non-round shape, and paired candlestick holders. Go with some sort of an idea of what you are looking for but also be open to things that catch your eye or ideas that come to mind as you walk around. I bought some items for projects that I had in mind and also came back with ideas for new ones.

I have always had a fascination for such gatherings of artisanal and craft displays and the treasure hunting, the DIYing, and bargain-seeking seems to be a natural extension of this interest. I almost never miss a chance to visit such events and have made it to quite a few here and in India. It is amazing to see the talent, the skills, and the creative things that people come up with. I am eager and even anxious to experience this treat in other places and destinations. The bazaars, the souks, and the street markets of the world… I come!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Birch Trees Canvas Cutout

               One of my favorite pastimes (or I could say research and education routines) is to visit craft blogs, DIY websites, related magazine pages, global product sites, artisanal initiatives, and other craft resources pages. It is an amazing feeling looking at DIY and craft projects done by other crafters and artists from all over the world. It stimulates my creative thoughts firing up ideas for projects, offers a fresh perspective, and provides valuable information on skills and new materials. Though I must say sometimes so much that it becomes difficult to focus and streamline ideas into doable projects.

               Recently I came across a relatively simple idea but with big possibilities. A canvas cutout project ….it involved few easily available supplies, an easy skill level, and could be done in little time. I wanted to try this idea out on a small scale first, so this one is to be part of a five canvas wall art composition that will go up in my daughter’s room.
I do have big plans for repeating this on a large scale probably something very elaborate with intricate details reminiscent of grill work and large carved windows and doors from the old world.

So here's my trial project of a canvas cutout:

I began with a 12x12 canvas, laid it on a thick mat so it would stay steady and also not damage the table I was working at.

Referencing birch trees on the internet, I drew lightly with a pencil what I wanted the final picture to be.
Tip: Ideally, the image for cutout should be drawn on the backside or if using a printed picture should be taped to the backside and cut from the underside. But I like to work frontside up, so while drawing my picture I had to be sure to leave the width of the frame all around on which the canvas was wrapped. You won’t have to worry about this if working from the underside.

Using a sharp exacto knife cut on the lines. I found out an up and down sawing motion works better that scoring. Since I was working top down, the canvas is raised on the frame and it will slack. You have to be careful on the thinner parts, I guess this is why it might be better working from the underside so the canvas can lay flat while cutting.  Since this is an image of trees, it was not so important to get precise cuts, I had a bit more flexibility on where I wanted to cut. I also used a small scissors as needed for more control in some of the tight spaces.

Once all the negative spaces were cut away, the cutout was complete. To highlight the ever peeling nature of the bark of birch trees, I brushed on a metallic pale pearl color acrylic craft paint in a random manner. I did not want any other color on this piece, the cutout should speak for itself.

A final cleanup of the faint pencil lines was done with an eraser. Since the edges and wood framing was visible through the frontside, I painted the frame with white paint.

Here it is in place…I think once the other canvases are in place the composition will come together nicely. 

                 Now my son wants me to do a large possibly 4ftX4ft tribal art of a tiger similarly as a canvas cutout but on a black canvas so that the orangish yellow wall color in his room can show through. That would be an impressive complement to the phoenix. As I said, possibilities are many with this canvas cutout idea!