Mixed media prayer flags

I’ve ended up falling behind on wanderlust which is disappointing.  I think it was because the watercolour section coincided with my nasty tramadol withdrawal.  I don’t find watercolours very good for my hands – you tend to have to do a lot of mixing and obviously you don’t get much colour for your effort which means more hand use.  I do however have a new love affair with ecolines which some people argue are watercolours, other people insist they’re inks.  Either way, beautiful products, lots of colour for your effort.

Anyway, one of the weeks I’ve just caught up on was about using watercolours to make mixed media (non traditional) prayer flags.

This caught my attention and, being in a bit of a creative slump, I quickly got onto it and although I’ve not used watercolours (except for dipping fabric in my ecolines, great tip from wanderlust) I have managed to make three flags.  The idea is that you then hang them outside and let the weather alter them.  But I only have a yard and my neighbours (not nice people) use it far more than me (I don’t use it because they do… can’t wait till they move…) so my flags are going to be indoor flags…

Traditionally, a prayer flag is a rectangle of coloured fabric with words and images on.  They are often found hung in the mountains in Tibet and are traditionally used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.  According to wikipedia:

The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space.

Our lesson asked us to choose some words to focus on and inscribe on our flags.  I choose three words which are coming up a lot for me this year; intention, awareness and synchronicity (which I keep spelling wrong and true to form, spelt wrong on my flag… a lesson there in accepting things we cannot change I guess!).

To make my flags I used squares of cardboard (amazon packaging to be precise) for the base and have used old book paper, fabric and trimming dipped in ecoline and inks, buttons, washi tape, dress patterns etc.  I’m quite pleased with how they’ve turned out, spelling mistake and all.  I’m not sure even if I had the option, I’d put them outside…

Mediums

Before wanderlust I didn’t really know anything about mediums other than online crafty people used this thing called gel medium in much the same way that I’ve always used pva glue… I’ve been using gesso for about eighteen months now but that is the extent of it.

Now, I’m only just starting to realise how much there is that I don’t know about them.  we had a lesson about some of the main types of mediums, including why we might use one over another and a second lesson where Kasia took us through the process of creating a piece using different mediums.  Both have really helped me get a better understanding. There’s lots of info out there (which I’d never bothered looking at before) so this isn’t going to be a post about the why’s, how’s and what’s of mediums.

Realising there are so many different types and not knowing which ones to start with, I treated myself to a golden starter kit which helpfully came with a wanderlust discount. It contains:

Extra heavy gel (matte)
Regular gel (semi-gloss)
Soft gel (gloss)
Light molding paste
Coarse pumice gel
Clear tar gel

My starting point was to grab a piece of card and add a bit of each, playing with creating textures, peaks etc and then seeing how it look and held its shape once it was dry – a lot of the mediums dry clear and its obviously useful to know which before you slap it onto your art. Once dry I played with adding a layer of paint and seeing how that went on.  alongside this I also mixed each medium with a bit of paint to compare the results. I’m obviously picking things up from wanderlust because this kind of experimenting and testing and comparing is not something I’ve ever done before!  Normally I just start using things and learn as I go along.

I then got started with my project for this week – creating a mixed media landscape including different mediums.  As I got working I realised that as well as the different effects you get by applying paint with and over mediums, you also get a different effect by putting the medium over the paint. And it’s good to know which dry opaque in this case!

I don’t think photos will ever do this justice because of the importance of texture but left to right we have paint with heavy gel on top, paint mixed with heavy gel and heavy gel with paint on top. Top to bottom we have dylusions turquoise, dylusions crushed grape and white opaque ink. Chosen mostly because they were what I saw first on my art table. I’d be interested to have a play with other things such as gelatos, chalk pastels and paint pens.

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On the right, where colour is over medium, you get more obvious shadows where the nooks don’t get paint cover or in the case of the ink, it pools into the nooks. The middle, where medium and colour are mixed, offers a more solid cover. On the left, medium over paint, you get a mix of texture, that of the paint and that of the medium. The medium has the effect of pushing the paint backwards in the image.

Conclusions

If you like working with texture and haven’t seen dabbled in mediums, try a taster set like the golden one so you can compare different ones, find your favourite and learn what works well for different things.  And whilst I’m normally all for jumping in and just giving it a go, I think there’s value in doing some comparison first – you can always cut it up and use it in your piece later.

Wanderlust review so far

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(My take on week 15 which is about painted memories and led by Kasia Krzymińska featuring my Grandad as a young man)

We’re on week 15 of wanderlust and already it’s been a fantastic investment! Definitely well worth the price. I’d quite easily pay more for it. As well as techniques we’re learning about tools, materials etc

One of the sessions was hosted by flora bowley. I really admire her work and approach so it was great to have her teach.  She’s all about process not outcome and managed to explain some basics of colour theory really simply. But all the teachers have been fantastic.  And it’s all really well explained. Pitched as if you’re a beginner but not at all patronising.

I’ve been introduced to new artists, techniques, materials etc as well as given a chance to link with creative people all over the world.  Everyone is at a different point in their journey and it’s lovely to see how supportive people are being.

My highlights have included learning about acrylic paints (which is something I’d never really thought about before…), Flora Bowley of course, Mystele who introduced me to a grid approach to working (I love it!) and Kate Crane who gave us four videos of doodling and book making guidance.

One of my absolute favourite bits of the course is the five minute collage. One of my principles behind my creativity is that it shouldn’t be stressful and there are no rigid rules. On the course, people are saying they’ve done prompts wrong or can they use this instead of that. For me, there is no wrong, substitutions are great (the best tool or material is the one you have) and to become an artist you need to experiment.

Predictably I’m not managing to do all of the projects and follow along with all the challenges but I’m loving getting the inspiration and ideas and knowledge for the future.

Getting my mojo back!

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It’d been about a month of okish, it’ll do, kind of pages in my journal. They weren’t especially inspired or exciting but the outcome isn’t the reason for keeping an art journal. That said, when I managed to create these pages this weekend I was pleased/proud/relieved. Relieved because a month of so so pages was starting to feed the voice that says I’m not creative, I can’t do this etc. Some pages, not necessarily the most attractive pages, feel right. They make your heart sing a little. This is how I feel about this weekend’s pages.

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These pages were in response to a wanderlust prompt: what do i see in the mirror. My face was a photo printed in grayscale, glued onto the gesso and covered with gesso, paints etc. Much easier than trying to draw it and far less painful for my hands.

And if that wasn’t enough, I even unpacked (yes, I’ve moved house, whoop! But that’s another post) my scanncut machine to make a few cards.

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Wanderlust: one collage challenge

As part of the wanderlust course, there is a one collage challenge. This is where we get a prompt twice a month and only five minutes to spend doing it to build up a collage.

I love the slow unknownness of this. The gradual unfurling of the art. Not being able to plan because you don’t know where the next prompt will take you.  In fact I’m enjoying it so much I’ve just started another canvas to follow the prompts with!

I’m not going to post an image because one of the rules of the challenge is that we don’t share until the end. Which will be so exciting to see because everyone’s will be so completely different!

I’m wondering if anyone runs a similar slow art challenge online or if readers would be interested in me hosting one?

Wanderlust: still life

Still life isn’t really my forte. But the teacher was so engaging and inspiring that I had to give it a go. I compromised on materials; she used liquitex gloss fluid medium and varnish to add depth and light to her acrylics but not having any, I used a pearlescent white transparent-ish acrylic. I’d never considered using mediums to affect the paint effect.

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Now this is far from a masterpiece but I’m feeling pretty chuffed with myself given it was my first venture into still life since the days of school. I particularly found the process for creating a background interesting and its something that is very transferable to art journaling.

Wanderlust Week 2

This weeks lesson was from the lovely Kate Crane (I’ve been desperately trying to figure out the logistics of attending one of her IRL courses but so far it’s not worked out…) and was about making a travel journal (which is a little sad because of the lack of travel in my life but I shall find another use for it…).

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I’m not very good at sticking with instructions, I like to know the concept and then I like to adapt it.

In this case, it was supposed to be made, or at least the version she showed us was made, from a sheet of A1 watercolour or cartridge paper.  Of which I have none.  And being for the most part house bound, I have no real way of getting any (except online of course but that seems a bit excessive for a piece of paper…).  I also tend to take the attitude with my art that I should use what I have, be inventive and adaptable.  Needless to say this doesn’t stop me from spending more money than I should on supplies…

I remembered that somewhere I had a sheet of A2 paper so I figured I used that instead and adapt the instructions.  I’ve tried to put together a rough outline of what I did, mostly for myself in the future, but I figured it might be helpful to other people.

journal dimensions

Black lines are cut lines and green are fold.  Essential you’ll need two long strips (a), mine are 5 inches x 20 inches which means my pages will be 5 inch squares.  Cut these out and fold each into a concertina. You then need to attach them to each other to make one long concertina.  You’re doing this so that you get more pages in your journal however if you just want 6 pages just use one strip.  There are a few ways I thought of doing joining them.  You could use washi tape, masking tape etc to tape the two short sides to each other or you could glue one end square to another end square which is what I did in the end.

I then gesso-ed all my paper as it’s not very sturdy.  I might have been better doing this first!

Then I wanted to add some extra pages, like Kate had shown us, which is where b and c come in.  I’ve got two strips of b which are 4×8 inches and although it isn’t shown, I did manage to get two strips of c which are 3×6 inches.

I’ve used two squares of card for the cover, each 6×6 inches, which I* hacked at some amazon packing to get and have since painted black.

The rest of it was completed as per Kate’s instructions which I won’t go through, you should join the course if you’re interested!
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*by which I mean my carer did, cutting card is beyond my hand capability… they get some funny requests from me… (the carers, not my hands)