A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

February 24, 2013

Experimental Painting

As of last Spring, when my "King of Yellow Heart" painting was accepted to the Utah Watercolor Society (UWS) Spring Show, I became what is called a "Two Star" member of the UWS. There are levels of membership you can work for in the society. A Two Star member is someone who has been accepted to two Spring shows (which are very competitive). The shows are juried by a well-known artist the society has brought in for the Spring workshop. The next level (which I am still working towards) is to become a Signature Member, which requires being accepted into eight shows (UWS Spring Show, UWS Fall Show, or the Western Federation Show)...AND you must win a major award in one of the shows.  Obviously, this takes time to achieve as all the shows are very competitive, so this status is a mark of accomplishment.

Currently, I have three of the eight shows required, but no major awards...and this has taken me 10 years of membership to achieve so far. Though, to be fair, there have been a few years that I did not submit paintings to shows...so perhaps I could be farther along than I am. But, perhaps not. There have been plenty of times I have submitted and not been accepted. :)

Anyway, the point of all this being that, now that I have achieved Two Star status, I am eligible for participation in an additional show for UWS each year: The Two Star/Signature Show - which (as you may surmise) only Two Star and Signature members may enter.

This year, the theme of the show is "Breaking Through - Something New" and the challenge is to create and enter a painting that uses techniques or styles that are not your usual "tried and true" methods. Break out of your comfort zone. Create something new and different for you.

So I decided that now is the time to try a few techniques I have been wanting to try for a long time but never seem to get around to. I usually have such limited painting time that it is generally dedicated to a specific task such as Nibblefest, or commission work, or an entry for a show, and I rarely take time to try new and different techniques just for the experience of finding out how they work for me. This is no different. I am still time-limited. But, since the theme of this show is to try something new, I have finally found my opportunity to give it a whirl!

Inspired by Betsy Dillard Stroud and various other articles and things I have read in Watercolor Artist magazine, I decided to try some more abstract painting techniques in the way of pouring, splattering, taping, weaving, and stamping.  I also took my paper outside to the snow and threw some snow on in before pouring.  True to myself though, I did splatter some masking fluid across the paper as well. It still has to be "me" after all!

First step:  Paper prep:  I am using Arches 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. I folded the paper in half and made two halves that will be about the same size (for weaving). I attached it to my support board and then tore some random pieces of blue painter's tape and stuck them to the paper. Then I splattered it with masking fluid.

Step two:  Using four colors of Reeves Acrylic Colour (Medium Yellow, Blue Lake, Phthalo Blue, and Brilliant Red), I prep four disposable cups with one color each, dissolved in water for the pour/splatter.  (Note: this is also new for me because I typically don't use acrylic paint.)

Step three:  Take the support board with prepped paper outside and prop it against my kids' tricycle in the snow. (Hey, you have to use what's available!)  Then I threw a few handfuls of snow on the paper (which stuck kind of like snowballs). Then, throw/pour/splatter the four colors of paint.

The first round of pouring, I discovered that the paint washes were a little light for my goal and also they ran right off the paper. So...

Hospital gown makes a decent "apron" to help guard against paint splatter.

Step four:  Lay board down on snow on a slight downward slope. Re-mix the paint cups, but with more color saturation. Repeat the pour/splatter/throw process.

Results so far...
  • Places where I hit the paper with snow have made interesting ice-crystal-like designs on the paper.
  • A bit of "mud" where the colors have mixed too much rather than "mingled." (Like that Easter egg that you dipped into one too many colors.)
  • Quite a few blobs of undissolved acrylic paint (which, I hope, will be an interesting texture element to the final painting.

 Now I have to wait for it to dry. The final steps will be stamping (with a stamp I created and hand carved myself out of linoleum), and then cut and weave the paper together.

We'll see how it all turns out.  :)  Thanks for reading along!

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