My ‘arts practice‘ outline talks about the processes and materials I use to undertake to complete a painting project. This can take many months overall! It took me some time, to find a process that worked well for me; and more time to refine it to a point where I felt I was achieving a standard, that I was happy with. My ultimate goal is to ensure, I have communicated the story I want to tell. Most of my inspiration comes from how I feel. Feelings that have been evoked by situations experienced throughout my life. Great family moments, career experiences, travelling adventures, current local and world events; and then my very inner personal thoughts, are the feelings that I use to create each painting.
I use photography as a form of a visual diary for my paintings. I often take a series of photographs of things I am interested in – randomly or specifically. I then download them on my computer and see which I will use, as a source of inspiration for my next painting. I spend some time thinking about the painting project, before sketching up the final outline onto the canvas.
The following YouTube “Documenting Process” discusses the importance of using a visual diary. It also discusses the benefits and disadvantages of using a hard copy or/and digital visual diary. After watching it and thinking about what it had to say, I am going to in my next painting project, be more conscious of keeping a ‘hard copy’ visual diary; along with my usual form of digital photography visual diary method.
Reference: UNSW Australia. (2013, March 19). COFA Insights Online Resources – Documenting Process Visual Diaries. YouTube. Retrieved May 5, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgT5_7038io
Penciling directly onto my canvas has become the best approach for me. I found, after experimenting with a number of different pencil types that Columbia Copperplate 700 HB gives the best result. It pencil’s on dark enough, so that it does not fade or come off after much handling of the painting canvas, during work in progress. It is also light enough so that when I paint over and around it, with three coats of acrylic paint, you can’t see the original pencil sketch line. If for some reason, a sketch line is undesirable in the first stage of penciling onto the canvas, it can be rubbed off easily with a Faber Castell 7085-20 Vinyl Eraser; leaving no residue of pencil on the canvas. For sharpening the pencil, I use a Double Hole Metal Sharpener with gives a nice pointed tip, hence ensuring the penciling onto the canvas is fine and light but is easily visible.
- At the commencement of my art journey, I used inexpensive paints. It didn’t take me long to realize that using a better quality paint along with a better quality canvas, produced better quality art work. I fell in love with the Matisse Structure Artist Acrylic Paints as they do the job well for me; and offer an impressive range of colours.
- Derivan states that “Matisse Structure Formula is a rich impasto paint that artists love. Available in 95 colours, Matisse Structure Formula paint is ideal for application with a brush or palette knife for striking textured effects, or combined with the range of Matisse Mediums for exceptional flexibility of application and finish. The intense, vibrant colours of the Structure Formula paints cover the full colour spectrum, including several uniquely Australian colours. Only the finest quality pigments and ingredients are selected for the Matisse range of premium acrylic colours. All have the highest light-fastness rating of ASTM 1 or 2 and are archival quality – so you can create with confidence knowing your artwork will stand the test of time. Each are fully compatible with the range of Matisse Artist Mediums working together to create a highly versatile painting system for all artists” (Derivan. 2014). Reference: Derivan. (2014). Matisse Structure Formula. Retrieved from: http://matisse.com.au/products/matisse-structure-formula/
- Colour and shape play a major part in my paintings. They assist me in communicating the story I am trying to tell. Colours and shapes become a way of expressing an emotion and/or thought. When they are all brought together within the painting, it becomes a journey of communication; between the viewer and me, the painter. I really enjoy using both these processes when painting. Mostly all the colours within the painting I have already worked out in my mind. But I do allow for progressive inspiration should the painting look like it could do with further input.
- In 2015, I started working with ink on paper/cotton and found it fun to work with this medium. After taking a session in working with ink I have found it to be a good process to use for quick and spontaneous productions of small art works to mostly accompany my creative writing stories on this weblog. I have been using three brands being ‘Schmincke’, ‘Derivan Matisse’ and ‘Liquitex’ and just because they were easy to purchase but I do understand that the best of the brands is ‘Schmincke’.
Cotton/Paper for Ink Creations:
- After experimenting with a number of paper types, I have started using ‘Arches Watercolour’ 100% cotton, medium 300 gsm, A3 297 x 420mm and comes in a block of 15 sheets.
- Using feathers as a tool to get ink onto paper/cotton has been interesting and a method I have come to enjoy using. It gives unexpected results which offers a different creative practice from my other art processes. These feathers below were just gathered up during my walks in the field across from my home and the larger the better I feel.
Canvas/Canvas Stretcher/Gallery Hanging Fittings:
- I now used Caravaggio Canvas – Style 528 medium texture, 100% cotton (white) which is suitable for all stretcher sizes. It is universally primed, is one of the most popular cotton canvases, and offers great value for money.
- For the actual frame base, I choose a Canvas Stretches that has a heavy-duty profile being:- timber – kiln dried Victorian Ash; profile – 42mm width, 32mm thickness; bevel – 9 degrees; join – European mitred mortice and tenon with slots for wedges. At the point of canvas/canvas stretcher purchase, I have the supplier fit to the back of the canvas/canvas stretcher, the necessary gallery standard hanging fittings. It just makes it much easier to hang the art work, once the abstract painting is finished. If the fixtures happen to get in the way of doing the work, the fixtures are very easily removed and can be re-applied, once the abstract painting is finished. For me, this also takes the worry out of having to hand over a finished piece of art for someone else to put the hanging applications on – no chance of it being damaged if done already or done by myself I feel…
- Using this quality canvas has really improved the look of my abstract paintings. I have also noticed how much easier it is to apply paint to its surface. The results are well worth the money for a better canvas. The best thing about this process is that I get a quality product and it’s all ready for me to start work on when I get it home – no head aches! NB: All these materials are archival quality.
It took some time, to work out what paint brush, I liked; would do the job I wanted it to do and was affordable. I found that the Taklon brushes worked well for me. These brushes are most suitable for acrylic paints. The Artist Edge Series 2260 that is “angled/flat” shape allows me to get into tight corners, is very manageable and comes in a range of widths and lengths. Taklon paint brushes are soft, smooth to work with and absorbent. They are very easy to clean, by just washing in warm soapy water; and the brush keeps its shape and fibers for a long time.
Please find below the process used in applying the blue tape as shown in the photo below.
To assist me with creating straight lines/edges, I learned how to use Scotch-Blue Painters Tape 3M #2080. I found that there is quiet a technique required to gain a successful outcome. After using a number of different types/brands and applications, I finally found this particular tape worked well. It is wide enough to protect paint colour contamination, meaning that colours don’t go out of the designated edging. It’s suitable for delicate surfaces, so it doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the canvas once removed. It has a low-medium adhesiveness which means that it does not remove the paint during the process of removing it from the canvas. But it is adhesive enough to stop paint bleeding through underneath the tape. It can be left on the canvas for a good period of time. I usually remove the tape, after one to two days, once I have tested that the paint is completely dry.
Please find here a video on the process used to paint the blue taped section as seen above.
Marker/Picture Varnish/Painting Story/Art Portfolio:
After applying three coats of acrylic paint to each individual colour on the painting; and after allowing all layers to dry thoroughly, I sign and date the painting with a Staedtler permanent marker. After this process, I apply a number of very fine layers of Picture Varnish in clear gloss. This helps the colours to ‘pop’ off the canvas and also preserves the painting. Once dry, the painting has its details placed on the back canvas such as: the name of the artist, the painting number, the painting name, the size, the date completed and paint type used. It is then photographed and I write the accompanying painting story. I then catalog it into my art portfolio.
Please find here an interesting YouTube “How to photograph your art” that discusses the best way to go about photographing art work. Whilst I have had some degree of success myself whilst photographing my own art work, I have not always been greatly successful and I found some of the tips given very useful.
Over time I have been able to establish a home studio for myself which has been most beneficial. I find I can start and stop with ease and without a worry about my work being left until I resume again.
Gallery: My home is my gallery!
The process of painting, painting story writing and digital photo painting has offered me a way of expressing thoughts and emotions which can be difficult to say out loud. I also came to understanding that art can be a very powerful way of communicating with others. Therapy via art gave me a voice…
My art therapy journey has been an important part of recent years and still will be an important part in years to come. I am hoping that by sharing my art therapy journey, will inspire others, to take up art therapy to find their voice – in order to be able to move forward in most difficult of times. Art Therapy has brought me now to a much better place where I find myself being able to seek joy in each day. As an ongoing process, I will be blogging about my art therapy journey “moving forward” and expand on how others have used/are using art therapy to assist physical and emotional well-being. I hope you will join me!
© Karen Robinson, March 2014
© Karen Robinson – May 2014