I had a coupon for Michael’s Arts and Crafts – 50% off one item! YAY!!! I didn’t really need any big ticket items, so I wandered the paint and art paper aisles. There, on the bottom shelf, I noticed a small jar of molding paste. I’ve seen people use it, but have never tried it myself. Hmmm, the perfect way to use my coupon!
I vaguely remembered someone using the paste with stencils, so I googled “how to use molding paste with stencils.” I found one video that confirmed my ideas, and then I became distracted by the tons of fabulous video links. Somehow, I came upon this one — Doodling and Painting on Canvas — by Betty Franks Krause. I LOVE her suggestion that doodling and painting go together! Like her, I’m a doodler. It gives me great joy, but as yet, had not appeared in any of my painted artwork.
So, in the spirit of Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist, I took Betty’s idea, gave her credit, and adapted it to make it my own. Perhaps she actually stole it from someone else. Who knows? I enjoy imaging she did, because I like to think of this great idea, being transformed by one artist after another, each time becoming newly joy-filled, unique and awesome.
I really like the freedom with which Betty approached her work in this video. She laid down color in an almost haphazard way. This is not to say it was without intention. Clearly there was the intention to create something beautiful. But, it seemed the painting was quite organic, and that the intention emerged as she created, rather than being planned before she worked. I found that notion very freeing! In her, and my work, I noticed that, much like my work with my colleagues ( Expected, and Unexpected, Process and Product) the layers of color added to the depth and interest.
This allowed me to approach my process with a great deal of abandon. It almost didn’t matter which color I chose – I could always change it later on. And, I could change the impact by changing the colors at different moments. If I changed colors immediately, the colors blended, or caused interesting shading. If I waited for the first color to dry, the second (or third) color was much truer in hue. It was great fun to approach my work with this freedom – embracing the unknown and unexpected — watching the piece develop, and change, throughout the process.
I combined several ideas in this piece:
- A written base layer
- Molding paste and stencils
- Acrylic paint
Here’s a bit of the process:
I decided to fill my base layer with positive thoughts. For this particular piece I chose a Scripture I find comforting and grounding — Psalm 46. I wrote it with a black sharpie. Even though it would be mostly obscured by the various other layers, I was careful to make it pleasing to my eye – and my heart.
I applied the molding paste with an old hotel room keycard. Once the paste was dry, I started to lay down paint. I worked to make each layer pleasant and satisfying, but found myself changing colors frequently. It was an unusual experience because although I enjoyed each layer, the next always seemed better! Sometimes I purposefully added a second or third layer because it seemed each layer positively impacted the final product. Finally it was time to add detail doodling.
Here it is with the detail doodling layered on top.
For this piece I used Sharpie extra fine tip paint markers. I liked the look, and the ease of application. Unfortunately the tips clogged. I was disappointed, and a bit frustrated, as I wanted to keep experimenting and exploring. However, I didn’t want to buy any more sharpie markers, as some reviews mentioned similar problems. I researched extra fine acrylic paint markers, but nothing seemed to be what I needed or wanted. I was stumped, and a none to happy with this impediment.
Thankfully, my angst was no match for my curiosity, and my enjoyment of creating. I started another canvas and figured something would occur to me. How could it not? Lol!
Finishing the stenciling and painting, I hunted around my room for something to use to doodle. I tried a permanent marker. Nope, same dilemma as before. I searched some more and came up empty. Finally, I sat at my desk, my mind fiercely rummaging through my memories for some tool I might have that would work. At the same time, my eyes searched my space. Then I saw it! A container of india ink sitting on my desk – unopened! I laughed to myself and thought “I’m so happy I wanted to have that months ago – even though I had no idea what I would do with it!”
I grabbed my nibbed calligraphy pen and set to work. It worked fabulously! Easy to use, fast drying, looks great. But, what to do for the white? “Hmmm,” I thought, “If I had white ink I’d be set.” As I sat there, I realized “who needs white ink? I have white acrylic paint. I can make ink!”
In an uncharacteristic moment of willingness to risk wrecking the canvas, I decided if it didn’t work I’d just gesso over it. So, I found an old lid, created some acrylic paint ink and set to work. When everything was dry, I held my breath for a moment as I painted a tiny spot with the mat finish varnish I wanted to use. To my great relief, the india ink and hand-fashioned acrylic paint ink, held firm and looked fabulous.
Here is the second piece.
I’m excited to explore the many possibilities that open to me by:
- stealing like an artist
- altering my own old ideas
- combining ideas and mediums
- problem solving with the tools and material on hand
- being willing to make a mistake, learn, and start again
- being free
And, I’m asking myself “How might I ...
- adapt this process
- provide and encourage freedom
- empower and provoke problem solving
- encourage and embrace mistake-making and learning
- find, and provide, this kind of space, time and a materials
for my Kindergarten artists?”
I’ll keep you posted!