Thursday, May 28, 2015


I am not entirely tech-illiterate; I get by. But I may have an old-fashioned mentality when it comes to the New Era of technology. I do not own a cell phone and still have a bit of a problem with people pulling it out for a little bit of everything these days. Texting, photos, e-mail, check the's all there at a moment's notice. And with the camera now attached to the phone, why not take photos of yourself? "Self-portrait" would also take too much time to text so let's just shorten up that, too. Seems like the more things we invent to save ourselves time, just end up wasting even more.

I don't much like having my photo taken, never really have. Of the few selfies I have taken, I always wear an expression of "is this thing on?"

This selfie is much more my speed.

Selfie:  This is an 18 X 24" canvas. I had the idea on my "idea board" for a long time now and finally decided to get down to doing it. I submitted it for consideration in a local art show and it will be on display at the Gibson Gallery on the SUNY Potsdam campus for a few months this summer. AND I remembered to take photos of it as I did it! (Better photo is coming at the bottom of the post!)

I had lots of choices for the background. I wanted to try an ink spray background with some Lindy's Stamp Gang and Glimmer Mist products but my small "test" canvas didn't give me the results I wanted. While they were sort-of permanent, a light coat of ModPodge lifted some color and destroyed some of the finer details.

I thought about using acrylic paint, as I have a bunch to use, but my color palette is limited. I also considered throwing down a bunch of torn papers for a background but I knew I wanted the upper part of the canvas to be a night sky. I didn't see the sense in gluing a lot of paper down if you wouldn't be able to see it from under the paint.

Fortunately, I had just invested in a new set of gelatos (Faber-Castell). It doubled the size of the collection I had and added a lot of colors to my palette. After I watched some videos of them being used on canvas, I decided that was the way to go. (and hey, if it didn't work the way I wanted, I could go to my fall-back artist method: paint it black!)

They go on like a crayon or soft lipstick but once you add water, they thin out into a highly pigmented "paint". I tried to do a bit of blending at this point but didn't want to overdo. I also wanted to add a coat of ModPodge over the top of it to sort of seal it in. (I seem to have a hard time with the word "permanent". Some products say they become permanent, like gelatos, but I think what it means is they become "mostly" permanent. Some ink sprays are like this, too. Mostly Permanent means they stay put if you don't add more wet media over the top, I think.) I had the feeling that the ModPodge would lift some of the gelato despite the drying time and "permanency".

And it did. I was very careful, though as I added a very light coat. Some of the color lifted and blended but I worked dark to light and allowed that blend to deepen. It worked out very well as I brought the black down further and blended the blue/green line to make a wonderful jade color. I was surprised and pleased with the blending the Mod Podge provided.

My Idea Board said this: "A head with green tentacle hair that stretches up into a starry night sky."

I used torn paper to make my focal elements. I added my silvery stars and moon at the top after painting some Silks acrylic through a swirl stencil. I splattered some white paint up there as well to mimic distant stars. I then, set about placing my head and hair. This photo shows only the first layer of hair and nothing is glued down yet. I added the sunglasses in order to give the illusion that she's looking off to the side. (sigh. OK, also to avoid trying to draw my own eyes!)

This is the point where my idea ended. This was it. At this point, I had to let the canvas tell me what it needed.

The first thing that was apparent was the head/face needed some kind of just looked dreadfully dull. So I sprayed the face with Dylusions ink spray through the same swirly stencil I used in the sky. I then "sealed" the ink spray by painting over it with another Silks acrylic paint, Ice. It's not very clear in these photos but the Ice Silks is just clear with sparkles in it and it makes whatever is beneath it appear glittery. It's a delicate detail but one that I like.

Then, I needed embellishment along the bottom. I needed to ground my "floating head" and that's when I decided to pull out the stash and pick out everything that matched my colors. I attached everything there with a gel medium, specifically Multi Medium Matte from Ranger.

I crammed a lot of little 3-D embellishments at the bottom. There's an old key, small pictures under clear acrylic, metal brads and a leaf, plenty of buttons, flowers, rhinestones, and bingo pieces painted to match. I added some butterflies and a dragonfly to the hair.

I went around my torn paper edges with more gelato to blend it in and you can see I added a strip of ribbon roses around the hair line. I colored those with the gelato, too. I like how the silver gelato makes my moon and stars seem to glow in the sky. Lastly, I added some black paint splatters mostly around the hair.

Here's a few close-ups:


Dragonfly was a magazine cut-out. Butterflies are meant as sewing embellishments.

I forgot to mention that I added (at some point) Glass Bead Glitter gel to the moon and stars. This textured gel from Faber-Castell (I believe Golden makes a similar product) has glitter and tiny glass beads in a gel medium. It did warp the paper a bit and I had to go back and glue some edges back down with gel medium but the sparkle was worth it. You can also see in the above photo how the black gelato blended down over the blue and purple when I added the Mod Podge to seal the gelato.

Really happy with this canvas! Even happier to cross a project off my Idea Board as FINISHED! Now I can add about a thousand more...fortune bowl, Divination Card set, more canvases, altered bird book, haunted altered book...
Shoot, I may need a bigger board!
"Every artist dips his brush into his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures." 
--Henry Ward Beecher

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