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Friday, May 31, 2013

"Strife" - Abstract Painting Mixed Media on Canvas

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” George Bernard Shaw

Turn on the television on any given day and examine what meets the eye - strife, greed,war of one kind or another, in the name of some noble sounding purpose or another.  I see hungry children dying. I see lives lost in the name of some jingoistic fervor, a horrible reality wrapped in fuzzy sounding abstract nouns like freedom and liberty.

I am a part of the system; the world is a reflection of me. I am a part of the whole but as I stand apart,  I realize that as a human being, I have insulated myself from the many uglinesses that we impose upon our fellow beings- war, death, hunger, torture.  I lose myself every day in the glitter and gaiety of my existence. I hide in the transient comfort of my secure life, seemingly far away from the strife that is actually very very close and personal.  I feel self righteous when I recycle my plastics and eat organic food to help "save the planet" or when I donate to a charity. I release my self from feeling any other pain because that would be the end of my glowing freedom. 

"Strife"11" by 14" Acrylic on Canvas

Close up 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Add Texture to Your Acrylic Painting - Layers of Paint

Surfaces reveal so much. The marks painters make reveal so much about their work and themselves; their sense of proportion, line, and rhythm is more telling than their signature. Looking at the surfaces of nature may offer equivalent revelations. What do these shapes and patterns reveal about the world and their creator? Surfaces hide so much... 

-John Paul Caponigro

Textures can create a powerful effect and interest in a painting, by subtly altering the surface. In the play of light and shadows, there can be created an almost meditative, calming effect. Texture can lead the eye of the observer where the artist wants it to go. The subtle difference in the edges where different textures meet and the lines and patterns they create, makes the whole composition visually appealing.

I am quite certain that there are numerous ways of achieving textures in acrylic medium. Here are some I have tried and used and found the results pleasant to the eye. Of course, I am not debating the importance of the overall composition of the painting, but we are going to see how we can make the work more visually appealing. 

So here is a little how-to post on creating texture in your painting. 

I have started with a canvas, which , as you can see has already been worked upon. It was originally mine - fresh and pristine. But my kiddo had other plans for it. He experimented with some idea he had in mind and then gave it to me to "improve" it. So I have inherited a canvas with possibilities. I recommend you start with one without. In any case, we might just be able to cover the paint completely or use it as a background for further work.


Paints - I use all kinds of paints from little craft paint bottles to artist quality acrylic paints. It just depends on what textures I am going for. Here I have used Artist's Loft paints along with Folkart brand paints from Michaels.

So let's get started. What I have planned to do is divide this canvas in to sections and I am going to attempt to show you various textures using a few different techniques. 

Canvas with Possibilities
Step 1.

For this project I am using four different paints to create a layer of paint. 

Dollops of paints

Step 2.

Using a round headed brush, gently mix the paints in a circular pattern. The goal here is not to flatten the paint on the canvas, but to mix the paints gently and create a swirl of paint, sitting thickly on top of the canvas.

Gently mix the paint in circular motion
Step 3.

Here is the result of our above handiwork. Acrylic paints tend to dry flat. So you need a good quantity of paint. It takes a little while to dry but it does so quite beautifully. We have one more layer of paint to go on top of this one. We will wait for 10 to 15 minutes before we apply that. It helps with creating thicker texture.

Let paints 1,2,3 get tacky

Step 4. 

After 10 minutes or so, when the layers of paint have become tacky, I come in with the good dollop of fourth paint. 

Paint number 4

Step 5.

Apply paint number 4 gently atop the layers of paint already there. Again, do it slowly, with an almost feather touch. The result is quite attractive, if I may say so myself.

Voila! A swirling symphony of
colors and textures
This is but one of many ways of creating textures. In the next one, we will look at combing to achieve a linen like texture on our canvas. Come back!

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Working Phases" - Acrylic and Mixed Media

Acrylics on canvas. The background texture is achieved using layers of kite paper, or paint and yarn. Acid free paper holds the writing.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A painting - " Who am I" - Acrylic and Mixed Media

There is an abundance around me, 
There is the whole world that surrounds me, 
I get some whispered hints, 
I receive quiet messages about me. 
Yet I do not know who am I?

"Who Am I?"
Flowers stitched on the canvas
Another view 

Used a glitter paint tube to write the words

Ganesha - A Study in Paper and Mixed Media

The many names of Lord Ganesha,
Pen, Ink on Handmade paper

“He is worshiped with red flowers.
 Unfailing, merciful, the origin of the worlds,
 He appears at the beginning of creation, alone, beyond Nature, beyond the Cosmic Person.
 He who meditates on His form
 becomes great among the yogis”

Ganapati Upanishad

Lord Ganesh, known by many names such as Ganapati, Atman, Vighnaraja, is worshipped in India at the beginning of any auspicious religious ceremony. Since childhood, I have a loved the happy, abundant form of Lord Ganesha.  I remember making little garlands out of flowers for worshipping him alongside my Grandmother and offering laddus to him, and wondering how his big form would fit on a small mouse that is his 
vehicle of choice..

But there is a lot of symbolism attached to this physical form of Lord Ganapati. He is the elephant God, portraying the main characteristic of the elephant, namely wisdom and effortlessness. An elephant does not let anything obstruct his path, he simply walks over it and removes it and moves ahead. That is why we worship Lord Ganesha before any important rite of passage.His big belly represents generosity and acceptance.  The mouse nibbles away at the ropes that bind us and obstruct our spiritual growth, making him the perfect vehicle for this God of All Beginnings.

So here is a humble attempt at studying his from in pen and ink and mixed media including pastels and water colors.

Dancing Ganesha - Pen, ink and pastels
Lord Ganesha relaxing - Pen, ink and pastels 
Lord Ganapati
Pen, Ink and pastel
Pen, Ink and Water Color on Handmade paper                                      

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Primp the linen cabinet - Minimum intervention

A generic cabinet in espresso gets a little make up and it sits pretty now in my art room (well, in reality it is supposed to be the formal living room, but I am not into formal).  Cruising along the aisles of the local goodwill stores, I happened upon this cabinet for $30, but I got lucky. There was 50% off sale going on. Ha! I snatched it up immediately. I brought this baby home, cleaned it up and gave it a peremptory sanding on the edges to distress it.  Then came the paints. A light coat of primer followed by painted stripes.  On the sides I gave it a layer of primer and then stenciled on the design.  It was all sealed up with a layer of water based poly urethane. Under $35, I have a very serviceable little cabinet to hold my knick knacks.

Front with stripes and some
distressing of edges

Left side with stencil - just for fun!

The right side with a different background

The door with stripes

In its proper place in the art room

So after a minimum amount of work to transform an otherwise ordinary cabinet, I am happy to present to you the fruit of my (rather zero amount of) labor.

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Ikea Moppe-like chest gets a cracklin'

Ah ! A Moppe (or a look alike) mini chest of drawers - I found it at a garage sale, still in its ikea wrapping. I brought it home, all excited to start giving it a new look. I had a bunch of different paints sitting in my studio . After staring at this little chest for a while, I decided it needed to be crackle finish. Well, easier said than done. And it had to be done yesterday as far as I was concerned. I had the requisite primer and the paints and the brushes. But the crackled effect needs a a crackling medium, which was absent from my arsenal. Did that stop me? No sir! With the power of google under my fingertips and some awesome bloggers' tips for substituting crackling medium with glue, I set out on my paint mission. Sanding down and priming are steps that need no forethought. It was done and ready for layers of paint. Here is the before. We are now entering the phase of my DIY endeavors, where I have both "before" and "after" pics. So here it is.

Moppe chest of drawers before

I started with a layer of pink and once that dried, I put random splashes of blue all over the chest. After that dried, it was time to get cracklin'....So I applied a generous layer of Elmer's Glitter Glue, because that was what I had at hand. Well, then I wandered off to play a quick game of chinese checkers that wasn't quick enough apparently, becaue when i got back the glue had dried hard. See, in order for the crackled effect, you have to apply the top layer of paint when glue is just starting to get tacky. So on went another layer and I sat there willing it to be ready fast. Then came the layer of Benjamin Moore's oops paint, a bright yellow called Sunflower or marigold or something.  It started crackling almost immediately. Once that dried, I found it to be too bright for my taste, so I dipped a rag in walnut stain and applied it atop the yellow. Yes, sounds pretty random. But I am playing, remember? So there is not method to this madness! This is the final look I got. 

Glittery cracks
Glitter of the Elmer Glue

After the walnut stain and a few layers of poly urethane


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The many faces that surround me

I have all these faces staring back at me from various walls of my home. I work mainly with acrylics, but mix things like sand, pebbles, string and found objects to add interest.Lots of textures and colors here.

What connects us? 18" * 24"

Working on love. 18" * 24"

A much loved coffee table

It was destiny. It just had to be. Here I was, looking for a coffee table that would fit in my budget and possess a distinctive style, and there just like that, I found it sitting quite forlorn at the thrift store. I fell in love with it immediately. Since this project is a part of my history that has not been documented well, I do not have the before pictures. Let's just say that it had been sitting in the thrift store with nary a second glance for quite a few weeks. It had dents and chips on its surface and there was dust by the pounds.  This surely has been a labor of love for me. And so would the lack of its pre TLC stage pictures stop me from showing off the "after"? No way!

Check out the gorgeous detail

Another view

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My very first piece of painted furniture

If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.  ~Jean Piaget

I believe that of all the various epithets used to describe me, and the one that I for a long time, misunderstood, was that I was child-like. I take that today as a great compliment. Anyhow, coming back to being all grown up and doing the adult things such as having kids and buying a home.I had many misgivings about buying a home- all the financial commitment, the work needed for its upkeep and other attendant home-owner issues. But there was a large part of me that was excited at the prospect of having a studio/workshop to play. I have always enjoyed playing with colors and textures. This home would let me have space for just that. It would relieve me of the worrying about dropping paint on a rented apartment patio, or having the kids underfoot at every moment due to the match box size of our rented place.

These days, if anyone's looking for me, all bets are that I would be found amongst the paint cans and brushes and rags in the lovely heat of the garage. I am indulging my love for painting and really fulfilling a promise I made to myself a long time ago- that when I have a home I would use all that space to make a place for play.

So here is the first piece of furniture I ever painted. This was in 2011, when we first bought the house and I went on my first prowl to the thrift store, armed with $20 and a desire to paint anything. I came back with what seems to me, in hindsight, a not so great buy, despite some lovely details on it.

The pink hallway table

A combed texture for the top and look at the detail on its face.
Love that!

 It needed a lot of structural work and ofcourse a facelift. Again, I havent the original picture but here is the after. What do you think? 

Laundry Room gets a tree

A large enough canvas was what I wanted. I wanted to move my arms in large carefree motion. And what better canvas for an experiment than a stark wall in the laundry room. Unfortunately I do not have a "before" picture of this particular room , but here is the after...Tada!!

I have free handed this with chalk and filled it in with leftover paint from another project. The black shelf was a find at the thrift store for a dollar and got some TLC by yours truly and serves as a display surface for my kids' art work.

The shoe bench, in an earlier life, had been near extinction ( that doesn't sound grammatically correct) at the hands of my hubby. But I saved it from a visit to the dump by giving it a couple of coats of paint and wax and here it sits, gloriously proud of having another lease of life. :-)

The tree that the laundry grew 

Another view

Wall shelf