Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Setbacks and Preseverence

By the title of this post, you might think I'm about to deliver a lecture on how to keep pushing forward even in the face of blah blah blah. Newp. I'm no one to lecture with authority on that subject; I only know that when badness happens, I cry in a corner for a little while and then pull my big girl panties back up.

The week started normally, with me finishing this 18" x 20" stencil that I had begun over the weekend.

I was pretty sure of my cleverness in constructing this very large and detailed stencil of my handwriting. I used a sheet of synthetic paper that had, up to this week, preformed beautifully for me. It's not prone to ripping, nor does it buckle when soaked in water or paint. But it cuts like butter, saving my hands, and my X-Acto blades, a lot of wear and tear.

 (gratudious shot of my Slicey Box Of #11 Death.)

Note the gaffer's tape around the edges to stabilize it? I thought of everything. It took three days. Three. Days.

And it gave good prints.

A few of them, anyway. But it was dry in the studio and even with the back door open to allow the famously thick SE Texas humidity inside, I was struggling to keep my paints wet enough to make the monoprints I was desperately trying to pull.

Working as I normally do, from page to page layering positive and negative images onto my papers, I laid a sheet of paper on top of the wet stencil, burnished briefly, and turned away to take my main print. I was moving fast. But not fast enough. The paper stuck like glue to the stencil and when I tried separating them, both paper and stencil tore into about 8 pieces.

I'm not going to lie to you, I was badly shaken by this. While I find cutting out Stacked Journaling to be a very Zen experience, a chance to calm my mind and focus intently on what I'm doing, it's also very taxing, physically and mentally. To have three days worth of such intense work wind up in the garbage after only a few uses crushed me. I left the studio on Monday afternoon, shaking and sick to my stomach.

But then there was Tuesday, staring me in the face. My plans for the rest of the week had been to use the stencil repeatedly on a series of 4-5 pieces of work, and then finally, perhaps place the stencil itself in one of the paintings as a collaged piece, as I did in these two completed works.

But no stencil, no plan. So I started again, this time with a piece of multi-purpose fabric that I painted on both sides with gesso (fabric stencils want to drink a lot of your paint up- don't let them, make sure to seal them well with gesso or paint, first!) and then cut to fit fully onto an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.

The beauty of creating a stencil from this fabric is that it doesn't shed or unravel. You can get clean cuts and tiny details, particularly if it's been fortified with a layer of paint. And it lasts forever, until you take your scissors to it, yourself. No amount of painting, rubbing, buffing, stretching, or pulling will tear this stencil.

It yielded some interesting results but nothing yet that has spoken to me of the direction it wants to move in to become a completed piece of art.

This process of layering paint by stenciling it onto some papers while ghost printing onto others, back and forth, over and over again creates an interesting byproduct. I use parchment paper as a surface protector, and it ends up taking on an astonishing amount of paint, allowing me yet another chance to take a print and a ghost print. When parchment paper gets wet, it wrinkles in a way that offers great background noise on any prints I take from it.

Eventually, after many uses, there's a nice layer of different colored paints built up on the parchment. Then it's time for the real fun... attempting to capture those layers in a usable fashion for later collages. This is when I use the parchment paper to make an acrylic skin.

Here on the left I have a piece of fabric that has been (badly) painted. On the right is a piece of parchment with several layers of paint built up on it. I'm going to try to transfer the paint from the parchment to the fabric.

First, I paint a thick layer of transparent fluid medium onto the painted part of the parchment. This will create the "skin". 

I could just let this dry and then hope to gently pull the whole thing off of the parchment as a single piece, or I can hedge my bets by placing the fabric directly on top of the parchment paper, weight the whole thing down so that it makes excellent contact and dries flat, and hope that time and the curing of the matte medium will achieve the transfer for me. If it works, I'll post photos next week. I have high hopes though, because I've gotten it to work before on these cool sheets of paper.

Finally this week (and thank you for sticking with me through that long and wordy post, if you did), I finished off this little series of 8" x 10" wood cradle boards.

And here's a studio cat.

Happy creating!

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