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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Trio of Monarchs

I don't know if the working title will stick and it's probably because it came about entirely as a side-effect to the Dark Canvas.
Here's the story:
As I worked along on the Dark Canvas, I became cognizant of the fact that I always seemed to mix up or put out more paint than I needed. So being the frugal artist that I am, I decided to start a smaller canvas (I think it's 6X9) to use up my stuff so it wouldn't go to waste.
So the small canvas started out with the leftover paper and too much ModPodge. I liked the "split" in the not-quite middle of it. Then, I put out too much purple Fluid acrylic so I just went over the whole canvas with that. I needed to add some water to stretch it out but I used it up. (If you've ever bought Golden Fluid Acrylics then you know that they're not cheap and I refuse to waste them!)

So the canvas sat like that as I plugged away on the Dark Canvas adding on my stars and such. Then, the next "pour over" happened. In order to get my lighted window, I mixed up some red, yellow, and white. Naturally, I mixed way too much. And I knew it was too much but I was trying to get the "right" shade. I even took some of the "too dark" orange and added more white. That was the better color but now I had a lot of two shades of orange!

Back to the little canvas.

The colors immediately struck me as the colors of a monarch butterfly. My favorite stamp(yes, hands down this is my FAVORITE hand-carved stamp that I've ever done!) just happened to be lying there within easy reach...the Monarch Butterfly. So I shrugged and figured what the heck? I stamped the image three times directly onto the canvas in StazOn Timber Brown. Granted the stamp images didn't come out very well but I didn't really care. My reasoning was that if I was going to paint them in with this leftover paint, I'd need to go over the outline again anyway. So I was basically using the stamp image as a guide.



This process was quite tedious. I tried to get the best shading that I could and you can see it best in the middle butterfly. The darker orange in closer to the body and the lighter orange is blended out toward the wingtips. You can also see in that butterfly how rotten my stamp impression was. The space between the outside line and the paint should be the ink from the stamp but it didn't make contact with the canvas. No biggie. It's a detail I can fix.

I still had orange paint left after I coated the wings twice. So I dabbed it onto some bubble wrap and gave my background some texture. (I also did this in my art journal on two pages because I STILL had paint!)



The next step occurred as I waited for paint to dry on the Dark Canvas. I colored in the missing "stamp" image with sharpie marker. I started the process with the dark purple paint but then remembered that it would go much better if I used a marker. While the Sharpie didn't work great, it did get the job done with a single coat. The Sharpie tends to gunk up and stops dispensing ink after several swipes, so I had to keep scribbling it out to keep the ink flow. But it worked REALLY well once I got the hang of it.

Once the butterflies were looking sharp, I went back to the large canvas. But then I ended up with a bunch of white paint from where I painted in the eyes on the moon. So, I used it to finish off the details in my butterflies. White dots around the black edges and a few touches on the body for dimension. Then, I coated a cardboard paper towel tube with it and made a few circles on the canvas carefully avoiding the butterflies.

I still had some white paint left! So I watered it down a touch and cut out masks for the butterflies. Putting the mask over the butterflies, I used a paintbrush to flip white spatters across the canvas. After removing the masks, I decided I had overdone it. It seemed that the butterflies were lost among the busy background. Sigh. Now what?




This was the only part of the canvas that didn't stem from the Dark Canvas. I decided to try what I see Donna Downey do. (When in doubt, do what Donna does.) I have watched her paint and it astounds me when I see her cover up her background by finger painting around a shape so that it stands out. It astounds me because I usually love the background and she just casually covers it up! So I figured: Why not?
So I took some cheap craft acrylic paint in a nice green shade and muted it with a touch of white gesso. I then proceeded to paint around the butterflies. I used a fine brush to get along the edges and into the spaces by the body but also used my finger in some spots because I was getting impatient.

Just for good measure, and because I had some of the green paint left, I watered it down and splattered in the background spaces for consistency.

It's not super perfect but that's art, eh? I was proud that the canvas was just sort of a "waste" canvas but turned out very good. I am super proud of the detailing on the butterflies and it feels pretty good to say those are hand-painted butterflies.

I'm calling this one done, though I'm almost thinking of adding a word or something to it. But nope...I'm going to refrain. I think I'll just bask in the pride of completing this Trio of Monarchs.

--Wy
"In chaos theory, the Butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state."  --Wikopedia, Butterfly effect

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