Last month, I shared a few photos of a canvas piece I’ve been working on for a friend. Today, I am happy to report that I have finished it! I will warn you; this is a long post as I’ve been taking photos over the last few months (I think I started this back in April?). So, grab a blanket and a cup of coffee on this gloomy fall day, and take a look. And if you are so inclined, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments at the end.
Oh and by the way, everything used for this piece, including the canvas, is recycled (well, except the paint and adhesive). Yes, this fantastic 3′ x 3′ canvas was given to me by a good friend (her company prints photos on stretched canvas and when they are done with them, she gives them to me!)
So heres where we started. One large 3′ x 3′ canvas. First layer was of course, gesso (not pictured).
I knew my color pallet was going to be purple (my friends favorite color) and yellow (to match her office) so that part was easy. A lot of times my second layer of miscellaneous paper helps me determine the colors I’ll use. Since that wouldn’t be the case here, I went with papers that would complement my pallet.
I used Regular and Soft gel medium to adhere the papers (I used both cause I ran out of the regular part way through). I used the old gift card to smooth down the bubbles.
I used a combination of book pages and wall paper samples.
Using one of my favorite stencils, I added some texture down the left side of the canvas with Golden Course Modeling Paste. I love using the paste as it gives the piece dimension and interest (and it’s so touchable!)
Here I’m starting to add acrylic layers. I used all types of “tools”. For example, a large plastic bowl as a circle stencil.
I began adding more color using a (new) kitchen sponge. It adds great texture.
Ok, I have to be honest here. I wasn’t too happy with the the way the background was turning out. Actually I was getting frustrated. This process usually comes together nicely and I’m always pleasantly surprised at how it all comes together. Especially since it’s so random. That’s part of the fun! But, this wasn’t turning out how I pictured it in my mind and I started to panic. After all, this is going to hang in my friends office (where we both work) and everyone will see it. I know, artists; we’re kind of a mess. So, I left it alone for a bit. I imagine she thought she was never going to see it completed. And everyday, I walked by it and hated it even more. Until I realized the purple wasn’t right and that was throwing it off for me. So, I bought a new tube of purple (more blue than red this time), started over (and by that I mean new layers on top of the hated layers) and LOVED it!
Look at all that textury goodness!
This time, as I added layers of paint, I pulled some off with cling wrap. Now, I am loving the background.
Next, it was time to concentrate on the focal element. I knew I was going to use my signature flowers and my friend had given me her favorite proverb. So, I covered about a dozen pages of thick magazine pages with gesso, allowed them to dry, and drew the petals using Winsor & Newton black drawing ink.
After a few attempts to choose the right shade of yellow, I finally settled on this. Too bad the purples were all off.
As you can see here. I thought I had the petals completed but when I put them on the canvas, I realized the purples were too red compared to what I had going on in the background (a more bluish purple). So, I made new sets of petals……
And finally landed here. Or so I thought. More on that in a minute. I was really pleased with the center parts of the flowers (the anther). I used painted granola bar boxes and a circle punch to create them.
Ok, so here we are. Flower petals (before I redid them) and the proverb (printed out on printer paper) which I went over with drawing ink so it was really crisp. I’m playing with the placement (and not too happy). It seemed too heavy with this design.
Moving things around…..
Finally deciding that yes, these are the correct placements….
And that’s when I realized that I still didn’t like the insides of the flowers. The purple was too much. Yes, after I had adhered them to the canvas. Yep, I was back to hating it. Until I decided to soften it up by adding some yellow.
I also decided that the printer paper was too dull. So I cut each letter out with an exacto knife and glued them down on gesso covered book pages. Again, much better! That took an entire afternoon.
And now we have this……
I think it was a happy accident that the placement of the proverb makes an upside down abstract flower (do you see it?)
So, from start to finish, this took about 5 or 6 months. And it was quite a journey. It reinforced my love for paining and mixed media. Even though I had moments when I hated this piece, I think in the back of my mind, I knew it would all come together. That’s the beauty of it; you get to keep trying till you get it right. Kind of like life. I’m back to my much smaller canvases this week, but I am ready to challenge myself again on a large canvas when the inspiration strikes.
Oh, and my friend loves it. We’ve joked for a while now that I would know if she liked it based on where she hangs it in her office. You know, if she hangs it behind her, not so much, but if she hangs it where she can see it, then clearly she likes it. Yeah, she has it on the wall right in front of her desk so she sees it all day. Now, if she could just get me to quit parading people in her office to take a look at it. First I was afraid for people to see it and now I want everyone to see it. I say it again, artists. We’re something else!
Till next week,