Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gouache and Claybord-it works!

House ©2018 Debra Smith
I found out gouache can be used on Claybord. First paint a water wash over the surface. Let it dry. Use a normal consistency of gouache to paint-not right out of the tube-a little water mixed in. I also used a light yellow wash over the surface before I did the painting. I used M. Graham  & Co. gouache, which is made in the USA. It's lovely paint, even though I am brand new at using gouache, and I can't review it with much knowledge.
I also used 4B and 5B graphite and HB for the drawing.

A few more things I have learned about Claybord: scraping off the surface makes dust. Lots of it, and if you have allergies-it could be a problem. Also, brushing off that dust so it doesn't color the paint a little is not easy. I used a paper napkin because I didn't care if the color changed, but it could be a concern otherwise.
To preserve the painting, when it's warm outside I'll spray it with a fixative.

It's fun to experiment and play.
If you want to see some lovely gouache paintings on claybord, do a google image search. It really can be a beautiful surface to paint on.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

important correction-claybord

Ampersand's Claybord is NOT good for watercolors. I thought I read that it would work-but the paint sits on top of the surface in a very annoying way. About all I could do with it was to wipe it off-and it did come off except for a paint stain. I just wanted to warn anyone who might want to try it-don't. Also-with soft body acrylics-it is very tricky. The paint doesn't soak into the kaolin surface as much as you'd like it to-so if you try to remove it-parts of the painting will 'tear' off, leaving an awful hole in the paint surface that's hard to fix.
The best use for this nice surface is ink.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Two new works with no old words.

"Tree House," © 2018 Debra Smith
 These two works were done on Ampersand's Claybord. It is an amazing surface for all kinds of media. The top one is done in graphite, the bottom in soft body acrylics. 
The way this stuff works is that you can apply color or ink or pencil, and scratch it off. Or wipe it off. I found that using acrylics is very tricky unless the consistency is just right. If the paint is too thick, when you try to scratch the surface, little globs of paint come off, making flaps of the plastic paint. Not exactly what I wanted. But I got around this by just removing the blobs and repainting. I read somewhere that you get about 20 tries of scraping into the clay surface. I use the tools that are made for Scratchbord-and I recommend spending the 20 bucks for the tool set. Way more possibilities of texture than just using an Exact-o knife.
I have also tried the Scratchbord, which is coated with India ink. You have to think in a new way to use the stuff, as you need to plan what black marks will remain on the surface.
"Willows," © 2018 Debra Smith
I also used a light watercolor wash behind the tree branches in the above painting.
I love how watercolor looks on claybord. It doesn't show at all in this painting, but it goes on the surface a little like Yupo, only you get to play with the texture more.

I found a quote I loved from artist James Van Patten, in his book, The Acrylic Painter, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2016.
In his chapter entitled "The Next Painting," he writes, "One thing that is very important is to show your work to others. This is not vanity. You want people to look at your work. This is what art is about-communication. Whether your work is realist or abstract, it is your unique vision of color, shape, light and texture. And others should celebrate it with you."


Saturday, December 30, 2017

From old journals and newer artwork

Of course, around this time of year, my thoughts turn backwards. Sometimes I drag out my old journals and read. I found some stuff I'll share here, with new artwork I've done this year, perhaps they will go together somehow.

June 6, 1988
(Written when I lived alone in an ancient house that had no indoor plumbing)

Over the weekend, ants invaded my house. On looking at them from a distance, they all appear to be the same species, but a closer look tells differently, at least to my untrained entomological eye.  One clue that tuned me in to the difference was the fierce battle they have been waging. First of all, they are mostly black, about half an inch long. Looking at a close range, some of the ants have a reddish colored thorax-these are smaller by a hair than the all-black ants.

This morning I watched one poor fellow-a red belly-with his opponent's head firmly attached to one of his antlers, trying to remove his disembodied head, and failing that, to navigate, find something to eat, etc., with this horrible head in a death grip on its antler.

One of their main head quarters is in front of the bay window, under the board. They gather in the corners at night, and then spread out in day light.Their mandibles are very noticeable and have quite a hold when they use them.
Perhaps the battle is being waged over territory. Their numbers indicate they find my house suitable for their community.
A new-comer to the bird feeder is the blackbird. He has yellow eyes and is about 3 times the size of the cow birds. I think he is a very beautiful bird. They are very shiny. I watched one greet his fellowkind yesterday as they pecked corn from the ground. He ruffled up all his feathers and swung his wings up over his head, kind of bowing to his friend. I expected a loud clack or rasp to accompany this display, but out came a pitiful 'peep,' quite inadequate, I thought. 
Yesterday the wind blew most of the day. A lot of cut leaves were being blown to the ground; it looked like confetti coming from the sky. Looking closer, they were all oak leaves that had been partially eaten- I suspect by the gypsy moth. I guess those leaves had been weakened from the caterpillars feeding on them, and those were the leaves that were blown off the trees.

I will keep sharing some of my journals and stories that I have written-some of them about half my life ago....

God bless you-
Happy New Year!

stories and art © 2017 Debra Smith

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Little mitten knitting pattern

 Doves, wanting mittens!
I adapted this pattern from slightly larger little mittens. These measure about 3 inches long, and look really cute decorating a wreath. I think this is for an intermediate knitter, because using double pointed needles on such a small thing can get tricky.
  • 4 size 4 double pointed knitting needles
  • yarn. I used wool-the lovely Lion Brand 100% wool, regular weight
  • large holed needle for sewing in ends
  • scissors
scrap paper for keeping track of rows, or row counter

CO 12 stitches, divide the stitches between 3 needles, don't twist the stitches
Rows 1-6: K1,P1
Row 7:K1,M1,K10 (you have 13 sts)
Row 8:K
Row 9: K 6, M1,K1, M1, K 4 (15 sts)
Row 10: K
Row 11: K 6,M1, K  2, M1, K 5 (17 sts)
Row 12: K
Row 13: K 6,M1,K 3, M1, K 6 (19 sts)
Row 14: K
Row 15: K 6, M1,K 4,M1, K 7 (21 sts)
Row 16: K 6, place 5 sts on a safety pin for thumb, finish row with knit
Rows 17-21: Knit, pulling yarn tightly to close gap above thumb sts
Row 22: K 2 tog, K 2, repeat (you may have to transfer a st to another needle as you k 2 tog)
Row 23: K
Row 24: K 2 tog, K 2, repeat
Row 25:K
Row 26: K 2 tog, repeat
Cut yarn, leaving a tail long enough to draw through sts on needles. Weave end of yarn down through mitten, hiding end.
Thumb: Place 5 held sts on 1 dpn. Join yarn and k 1 row. Work I-cord (please look this up if you don't know how to do it) a few rows, last row, K 2 tog, repeat, cut leaving tail, weave into end of thumb. If there are any holes, weave loose yarn ends and pull up yarn to close holes. (I usually have one by the thumb)

I used little clothes pins to attach the mittens to the wreath, but you can crochet or braid loops for the mittens to hang them. A long garland of mittens in all colors would be very pretty. They also look nice as package decorations, or with little ornaments stuffed inside and hung on the tree.
*** I adapted this pattern from Interweave Knits Magazine, Winter/99/00, pattern originally by Barbara Albright, page 56.
I've made hundreds of these-one mitten this size takes less than an hour to knit.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A good place to go-PFATT- Prominent Folk Artists Trinkets and Treasures

For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me put photos on my blog today.
I guess we all have those days!

I wanted to let you know about some GOOD art sites that I did find in my research this past summer.
One of them is PFATT
I applied for admission and they accepted me-that was way back in early summer. I was so excited I about jumped to the moon. When I was getting started in doll making, that site was a goal of mine. I never thought I'd be good enough to be a part of their site.

Long story short-I backed out of being on the site once, changed my mind, was accepted again, and backed out again! I want to say that Dan Gracia, the web master, was incredibly kind to me-both times. I think that deserves some recognition in this world.

Please hop over and take a look at the beautiful prim art, folk art and beautiful HANDMADE work at PFATT.

A footnote: The reason I was so uncertain about joining this marketplace is that I was having a real battle with myself about what direction I should take with my art. It sounds so egotistic to say I feel I have a calling to paint-but that's exactly how I feel.
I hope someday my calling and my painting ability will match! Right now I am fumbling through the painting part!