Friday, July 19, 2013

Putting on the Mask

My last blogging entry was regarding authenticity and what I feel it means to be real. This one is about making the artwork that spawned that post. 
First, I'll begin with my inspiration. As I've mentioned previously, I have lots of sketch/notebooks (yes LOTS of sketch/notebooks) which when ever the light bulb in my head blinks, I immediately pick up. Sometimes it is a quote or just a word, other times it is a full blown drawing down to the last detail but usually it something in-between. (This keeps the stress down since I know that if I have a day when the creative muscle is not cooperating, all I have to do is pick up any one of them and Ta-da I have my Mojo ready and waiting)

Well, this particular inspiration is a combination of a sketch I did over a splatter of purple paint, a beautiful b/w photo of some roses, a rather bland painting of a girl I had done over an old paperback page for valentine's day but wan't quite happy with and a rerun I caught of HGTV's Secrets of a Stylist. The first three inspiration images you can see right above. The tv show which actually triggered the sketchbook drawing had a lovely bedroom make-over for an actress named April (she is the best friend on Drop Dead Diva) The colors in the room were in shades of lavender, gray and white with a bright orange pillow pop.
I still had one of the collaged boards I created while doing the previous friendship painting so I was ready to go. If you ever don't feel up to painting but still want to spend art time, I highly recommend getting some backgrounds going that way when you do want to paint, you are already one step ahead and no intimidating white canvas creeping you out. I draw up some flowers, cut them out and add them to the board then start painting messily. I begin with mostly purples and grays. Next I scan the Valentine girl page (I never know when I might want to come back to her and let's face it, I am a natural documenter and scan pretty much everything -now finding it on the computer later, that is a different story) then cut the girl and hearts out of the original paperback page. I position the face on the board and use matte media to "glue" it down. I add more purples to her hair and decide to put the hearts away for a later project. 
The painting is getting a little muted and dull. So I roll on some orange polkadots, still not loving it so I pull in some blue. That, while going away from my initial color concept, starts to add some much needed life. Now I see it going more in a New Orleans Courtyard sort of direction. I cut out a bird shape from some old sheet music and paint the details with fluid acrylics. Then add some stamping in black of music notes, graphic flowers, and butterflies. I use purple, black and blue watercolor crayons to outline the girl and the bird. I paint over much of my girl's face to blend it in. I deepen the darks and lighten the lights but the background is really competing with the figures so I add glaze of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold (a burnt rust color) fluid acrylic to settle it back down. Most of the original collage is completely covered up but paintings are like that -they have a life of their own.
Next, I have to decide what my birdcage is going to look like. Thanks goodness for Google. There are hundreds of birdcage images. I just absorb for a while. Then I take my roll of bumwad (trash paper, tracing paper, whatever you want to call it) and sketch over my painting to figure out how big, how detailed and exactly at what location I want to put the cage. I'm actually happy with my first option. Often at this point, I will completely change my mind and decide to add a fish instead of a bird or a building instead of a flower, or a key instead of a heart, ..... but today I stay with my original plan.
After painting on the birdcage, I scan in the image. I told you I am a scan fanatic -love me some scans. I decide take my image in to photoshop and up the saturation then print out a larger version. I actually use this print to complete the art piece. I'll probably come back to the original in the future and modify it differently, who knows.
I need a mask for my lady but the scrap of gridded acetate I planned on using competes with the more decorative lines of the birdcage. I wish I had some black lace then brrr ring ... It's my Mom on the phone. Would she like to go with me to the fabric store -no, it is late but she just might have something in her sewing basket that could do. Yeah. No late night fabric run to the next town. I drive over to my Mom and Dad's house, bringing my print to try out the lace. The lace is really big and heavy but if I cut just a small section of the center of a scallop it will work. Bedtime. Next morning I glue on the lace and add jewels to the corners. Another scan. I want to add my words but my computer fonts are too perfect and my rubber stamp letters are too small. What to do? There is an old newspaper besides me, the joys of a messy art room, so I stamp the words the way I want them, blow them up on the copier, grunge them up with an ink pad and a little paint. Re-blacken the letters that blur too much, glue them on, then outline with black and blue watercolor crayons. A few more jewels on the birdcage, iridescent paint on lips, bird's breast, and under the lace at the eyes. Voila ...all done.

Life is a Masquerade, My Friend. 
Won't You Join Me in My Masquerade?

Don't leave quite yet, there is just a bit more. One of the last little things I like to do is play around with my artwork in Photoshop. Such a deviant little time sucker it is. Well, below are a few of my variations.
First is an Oxblood rendition. I think it has a more mysterious nighttime feel. The middle one is over bright and intense. I think it has a youthful kick. The last is blend of purple and tangerine. I think it is the most cheerful and light-hearted. Some or all will soon be available in my Etsy Store so drop on by.
I hope you've enjoyed this peek inside my process and will come again -bye for now :)
Music to go along with the Art: Masquerade

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