Sunday 27 April 2014

Painting Inspiration in April

There have been some days when the colours of the sky and the fields were almost beyond belief and impossible to ignore or resist. When Devon looks like this I want to paint in gouache - I can make blocks of colour, layer by/on layer.

In fact the colours are even more intense in reality. April is a wonderful month and takes us from the simple skeleton outlines of trees right into the incredible abundance of blossom.
From early mornings where daffodils are seen gradually emerging into being in mist as the increasing warmth sun slowly disperses the cold, right into days of brilliant sunshine and colour.
Where grassy banks are filled with flowers to spectacular displays as the sun is setting.


Tuesday 8 April 2014

Paints and Mediums - acrylic

Every artist will have their own preferred brand of acrylic paint,    based on things such as the colours available and the consistency    of the paint that ranges from extremely buttery as they say to fluid. 

Try buy a few of Artist's Quality Acrylics rather than a whole range of cheap colours. Student Acrylic Paints are cheaper because they usually contain a lot more filler or they are made from much cheaper pigments. 

It's worth trying out some below and experiencing the difference. 

The next stage is to make your own.












Additives are used to condition paint to perform to the way you want them too.  

This range allows you to thin - thicken - rework - retard - matt and build up with Lascaux or any acrylic. 

Each paint company offers their own range of additives.

Acrylic Emulsion D-498M - Allows you to make your own acrylics and pastes. This is essentially the same binder used in Lascaux Acrylics.

Impasto Gel - Enables you to mix into paint to create translucent or semi-translucent structures. Available in 1 - Gloss and 2 - Matt.

Water-Re-soluble Medium - With this medium you can make watercolour paint with special properties by mixing with traditional acrylics. Paints will not develop a permanent paint film and may be reworked like traditional watercolour. By varying the amount of this medium, you can create colours that will be water re-soluble in heavy layers.

Lascaux Transparent Acrylic UV Varnish - transparent UV protection, through the application of at least two coats of paint, mixed with at least 25% water and with a 6-hour drying time between them.  Matt, gloss or satin finish, in two sizes. Satin lacquer also available in 5l format.

And then there is Lascaux Resonance Gouache - link

Sunday 6 April 2014

Work by Others - Mary Button Durell

I find this work extraordinary - simply wheat paste, tracing paper and occasionally - actetate.

'This body of work uses only tracing paper and wheat paste as material. At first glance these pieces appear to be built onto a rigid wire frame, however, the process is much more organic and the structure is created from my own hand building.
Individual cells or cones that comprise most of the pieces are first formed over moulds of various shapes and sizes and then joined together using wheat paste cell by cell. 

Additional layers of paper and paste are then added for strength and reinforcement which creates the net-like structure around the individual cells.

The translucent quality of the tracing paper allows light to play a significant and dynamic role in the work. In combination with the physical structure of the work, this translucent quality creates an interior as well as exterior perspective.
In certain light, however, the translucency of the paper appears to have the visual characteristics of more solid materials, such as oyster shell or marble.
Due partially to the inherent physical aspects of these materials, this body of work has evolved both in process and form along decidedly organic lines.
These shapes have often been described as biomorphic abstractions or shapes resembling cellular membranes - ethereal bodies and the skeletal structures of underwater organisms.'

Papier-Mâché Work by Others - Yuniko Studio Blog

A very simple way to make a papier-mâché bowl that I absolutely love from Anthea Carboni at Yuniko Studio Blog

1 cardboard egg carton 
bucket of water 
Hand held blender
wire sieve (around 15cm diameter)
sponge (10 cm round is ideal)

Tear the egg carton into small pieces and leave in a bucket of water (1/3 full) for a day or two. Use the blender to make a pulp. When the mixture is an even, soupy consistency, hold the sieve over the bowl and pour enough of the mixture (slowly) into the sieve to fill to the brim. Rest the sieve over the bowl and wait for the water to drain, taking care not to move the pulp around. 

Then use the sponge to gently press the pulp against the sides of the sieve, starting at the bottom and then working around the sides, lifting the sponge up gently each time. Squeeze out the excess water from the sponge as you do this. 

When you have removed most of the water, turn the sieve upside down and gently tap the sieve against your other hand to release the bowl. Reshape the edges if needed.

Dry off the bowl in a cool oven (defrost setting or around 80 degrees centigrade)for about an hour.

One egg carton makes around 5-6 bowls. Most egg cartons are grey (the one in the photo above was a surprising blue and the one below a pumpkin yellow) but you could easily colour the pulp by adding food colour or dye (food-safe powder colour).

Saturday 5 April 2014

Work by Others - Anne-Lise Koehler

An on-going series of posts that profile papier-mâché work others. Here is sculptress Anne-Lise Koehler
I have translated from her own blog - 
'Manufacturing typically takes several weeks, but sometimes months and even years because each sculpture is an adventure, which has its own ripening time and reflection.'

'Fascinated by the wild fauna and flora, I have made naturalistic sculptures from papier-mâché.  From the smallest field flower to large mammals - to fungi, insects, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles, I enjoy sculpting all that I observe and try to understand the beauty of the mystery of the presence of living beings around us. 
These beings, we often come across too quickly but hurry not - instead ask - how are they alive,  present in the world and in the light? How do they live their lives? What are their desires? What is our common destiny?  These questions arise in my daily work as a  sculptor and through scenarios that I write for my animation. This fascination for wildlife, and the pleasure I have to represent dates back to my childhood, and I do not know how to explain it. Papier-mâché is the ideal material for my sculptures. It allows me to start work at the heart of the form and shape gradually, as skeleton and muscles back up to the surface of the body. I also love finding printed paper books, that convey thoughts, human emotions, evidence of the relentlessness of our species to want to understand the world around us.  To appoint a single thing, with plant and animal forms, these strange aliens who are our neighbours and where the truth is inaccessible to us.
I always carefully selected the papers for my work, the quality of the material itself  and also as to the content of texts displayed on the sculptures.
The printed paper that I use, is almost exclusively from the works of the collection: "The Pleiade" Gallimard.
Each sculpture is the culmination of a slow development in successive layers, that takes into account the constraints of many drying times. 

My sculptures are made of patterned paper on a stainless steel frame, the lightest possible.
This process allows me to start the sculpture in the heart of the form and shape gradually skeleton and muscles back to the surface shapes. The sculpture must dry between each step of work.  Each project is an adventure-going and original art in itself. The paper sculpture also allows me to keep a large part to the colour. 

I use for my sculptures of many types of paper, according to their texture, their weight, their appearance.  Leaves of books, paper drawings, handmade papers.  I am very attentive to the quality of the paper and all the materials I use for a good conservation of sculptures in time.  

To stick my sculptures, I use a mixture with varying proportions of glue and Caparol Methyl cellulose.

To colour the sculptures, I use white and black acrylic - brand - Lascaux.  I complete my range preparing myself the rest of the colours from Lascaux Acrylic Emulsion LINK

and pigments I select for their brilliance and stability.

All sculptures are painted with a matt varnish of the same brand, to preserve their conservation.

Friday 4 April 2014

April 2014 - speeding up the drying process for papier-mache.

I tried drying out air dried papier-mache in a microwave oven last year and it worked perfectly. Also rolled loo paper beads, dipped in water, squeezed to shape.
 Now I am about to run some experiments so that I can teach a class of 6 people how to make a reasonably crisp, hard dish/platter/bowl that can then be decorated in 1 hour or even less.

All my previous workshops have taken place over a weekend in my kitchen and of course I had my trusty old Rayburn to lend a hand
overnight. People very often like to learn a craft in a day or even half a day, or at least, the beginnings of one so that they can then decide whether it's something they'd like to pursue as a hobby. I meet lots of people who love to have a day out with a friend or friends or family, learn something together, meet new, like minded people, have lunch and take a finished piece home with them. So, I'm tailoring workshops to cater for these kinds of events as well as my workshops that take place over a weekend and/or over 2 or 3 half or full days. Some simply processes demand more time.
I'm using a flat bottomed Pyrex dish in this video and putting good old Cling Film inside it by way of a release agent. It can then be removed after the first 2 or 3 layers as the dish will usually hold it's shape by then. You are the judge of it.
I ripped layers of white photo-copying paper and a cold water and plain white flour mix.
  It's simply 1 part cold water added to 1 part flour. I also added a desert spoonful of cornflour as it makes for a smoother mix. It's very important to microwave in short
  blasts of a few seconds and then let out the steam.

My smaller objects could be dry in 4 seconds, so it's 
important to really
concentrate only on 
the job in hand and 
not wander off and 
start something else!
The colours look rather darker than they are here in the photographs. In fact the bowl looks rather lovely just as it is. It's very light weight and very strong and can be made in half an hour!   This process does allow papier-mache bowls to be made in one day or even half day workshops and be able to decorate in the same day. Shapes will of course depend on the Pyrex dish being used. 
For larger pieces I would still use more traditional methods of working on large balloons, buoys, clay plaques or plaster moulds.
I found an interesting link for working with Plaster of Paris here
for anyone interested. I use PoP for a number of things and it's important to be aware that reuse of your uncontaminated Plaster of Paris can be accomplished by breaking the set plaster into small pieces, placing it in an old roasting pan and reheating it to its melting point -- 325 degrees Fahrenheit -- to remove water. When the material can easily be crushed into powder it is ready for reuse. Complete the process away from other projects and follow recommended safety precautions. These include wearing goggles for eye protection, a face mask to prevent inhalation of dust particles and gloves to prevent skin irritation. I've heard that it can also be composted but I have yet to experiment with this fact.
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