Thursday, June 30, 2016

Long Lost Artist

Hi, everyone! I know it's been a very long time since I posted to this blog, but I finally finished a project that has been literally months in the making. Back in October, I made a promise to Judy Gula, a beloved friend and proprietor of Artistic Artifacts, a brick and mortar store with an online outlet for every possible thing you might seek when creating fabric and mixed-media art, from paints to ephemera, to funky and unique add-ons.
 
Judy also sells gorgeous, hand-carved wooden printing blocks in both her online and B&M stores, and she generously gifted me the selection you see in the photo, below. In return for her wonderful gift, I promised to create a project with them and write a blog post.


And then this giant beauty crossed my path.



Purchased from a neighbor for the bargain price of 30 dollars, I knew I had found my project.

The upholstered arm chair, a rocker/glider combination, had been in her son's nursery, used to rock him and feed him as an infant. The chair was in spectacular condition and didn't need a thing, except maybe another baby, because it was covered in nursery fabric.


It was so precious, and the fabric so beautiful, that I almost hesitated to touch it. However, I wanted a chair for one of my upstairs guest rooms, and nursery fabric just wouldn't cut it.

So I took at it with some Jacquard fabric paint in opaque white, as a primer.


Now, let me just tell you how much I love Jacquard fabric painting products. Ok, just kidding, that would take days and days and days. Let's just say that they make an entire line of paints just for fabric alone that I could paint with exclusively, if I wasn't such a paint junkie that I buy all manner of other artist colors from other companies!


The opacity of the "opaque white" cannot be overstated- it really is thick, creamy, titanium white and the coverage it offers is phenomenal. (No, I'm not getting anything for plugging Jacquard, I promise, they're just that good!)

After getting a coat of the primer on, I dove into colors.


Knowing that I wanted heavy layering of colors and textures, I started with the lightest colors- the two yellows.


Working in mostly broad stripes, I applied the paint with a damp automotive sponge.


Then I moved onto magenta, overlapping it with a bit of the yellows, mixing color on the chair as I went.


In the above photo, you can see that I had also begun to apply the same paints in white, two yellows, and magenta with some of the wooden blocks. I used the same colors as the base colors, particularly the white, to create a resist for later, darker layers.


This is where I fell down on the job, in a number of ways. The first was that I got a bad case of Artist Lock. You know the stuff, when you've already invested a goodly amount of time on a project and now, even if you KNOW what you want to do next, you freeze for fear of destroying it. Yeah, it grabbed me for months on end, as the chair sat in my studio, mocking my inability to move forward on it. Some art is like that, it teases you and makes you feel like you couldn't possibly be up to the task. That's when it's crucial to the artist's soul to remember that the reason a particular work feels that way to you it's because it's not finished, yet.

The second is that when I finally broke my freeze, so many months had passed that I was afraid that if I stopped to take photos, I would freeze up again. Instead, I attacked the chair with dark colors like Navy and Fluorescent Violet, covering much of the white and overlapping with the yellows and reds (and their resulting oranges.)

Even then, I didn't take pictures. It wasn't until I felt like the piece was finished that I gave myself permission to commit it to photographs.


Having planned all along to pop the details and color blends by reintroducing white, I created a simple stamp with a piece of fun foam and an old stamping block. Then, using more of the opaque white paint, I began stamping.


Even at this stage, I wasn't certain that I was finished with it- or even liked it! Did it need more colors? Is it already too garish and busy?


And then I began to notice the tiny details. 


I really liked the way the stamped white shapes interacted with the colors underneath.




These are details you can't see from a distance, but up close, they're delicious. I'm satisfied.

My only regret for the whole project: that I didn't take the ottoman my neighbor was also selling!

Happy summer, happy creating!

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