Last week, I showed you how I made a drum using an old cache pot basket from Ikea. This week I'm going to demonstrate how to make a rain stick using an old fishing rod canister. I have two of these and I found it pointless to require dismantling my fishing rod in order to store it. This leaves the reel hardware needing separate storage which just makes things tedious and complicated. They were destined for the charity box until this themed dinner came up. I got an idea!
And so ends one more piece of the project! Enjoy! My last instalment will be extremely easy no sew banners!
Each time we visit Cuba for a week in winter, their Spanish Colonial architecture sets my heart racing. Forever enthralled with buildings, each trip I snap many photos of the picturesque structures in various stages of decline. The deterioration adds mystery and character, for there's nothing like cracked peeling paint, and crumbling concrete to tell a story of bygone days.
I especially love doors, and windows. The wrought iron work, atria, balusters, arches and overall Baroque ornamentation appeal to this girl's romantic heart.
The photo of the "Puerta Blanca" (white door) above was taken in Matanzas when our tour guide stopped for a museum visit. I wanted..., no..., I needed to see more, but time wouldn't allow. Eventually we planned a trip to Havana where I would click away to my heart's content.
Havana was heaven for me; dirty, crumbling and full of history. My mind fills with questions. How did this get this way? Was it just over time? How many people have walked through these doors? What's it like inside? What was it like back then? Of course the history isn't pretty and once again demonstrates how our human nature has the power to destroy civilizations. Greed is an evil cancer. Personally, I'm glad they took back their country and kicked out the intruders with a minor but annoying exception (Guantanamo). Without their neighbour's support, a return to normalcy has been painfully slow much to the chagrin of locals. No longer frozen in time, there's an ongoing restoration plan for the city much to my selfish distress. Gone will be the peeling paint that reeks of an older time. I understand the need to make buildings safe, and preserve history. I must accept that what was old will be new again. Until then I'll collect as many photos as I can!
Another therapeutic antithesis of travelling south from our bleak landscape is the intense colour everywhere. I noticed it one particular trip where we brought photos to share with locals of a record snow fall. It was then that I realized just how so very black and white Canada can become in winter. The contrast upon arrival is an instant boost to one's mood. We transform from tired, depressed souls into lively joy seekers looking to maximize our holiday by overindulging in everything from sun worshipping to imbibing. The joyful turquoise, peach, and pastel yellows adorn many homes and it got me thinking. Why don't we do it here? Why are our homes in dull browns, greys with only touch of colour in the trim? We could really use some uplifting colour for those dreary months. Hello? Is anyone listening?
At some point in time it's bound to happen. It's one of the incidents that is unfortunately quite common when carting art to and from classes, galleries and shows. Damage to canvases and frames. When it happens, we chastise ourselves for not packing our canvases more carefully, carrying too many items at once, or not listening to that little voice inside telling us "this isn't a good idea" on a windy day. When it comes to commissions nearing completion, it's heartbreaking if not a major stressor. In addition, if you repair it, you don't want something like this on your conscience. Sorry to say but disclosure is necessary, even after a flawless restoration. And then, offer the client a discount. It happened to me 3 days before delivery. What was even more ironic for me was that I had just purchased a good quality portfolio carrier thick enough for gallery canvases for that purpose! Like most artists who love stocking up on supplies I forgot I owned it! Once the shock of seeing this damaged canvas wore off, I set out to find the best possible method to restore the frayed corner I'd encountered. For the purpose of this repair guide, we are going to fix a nasty edge tear and a tricky corner dent on an unfinished painting I had kicking around.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Fresh dry tea bag emptied of course!
( I used Tetley and I liked the weave)
Flat paint brush to apply glue or use fingers
Gesso & brush
Modpodge collage glue matte or gloss finish
Touch up paint & brush
Patience and faith (you can do this!)
There are 3 layers to physically repair:
First you’ll want to smooth down any frayed canvas DO NOT TRIM OFF! I find Modpodge works well since it’s designed for collages, the glue is thick with good flexibility and works well for our purpose. It comes in gloss or matte finish. I prefer a matte finish. I used my fingers to press down the frayed threads as the glue was drying and became tacky. As you work the threads back smooth, think styling gel and unruly hair. We’ve all been there right?
Secondly, we need a patch to hold the canvas secure. I've thought about using linen or some extremely fine fabric but they are still on the thick side. I remembered reading about how to repair torn fingernails using tea bags and clear nail polish. I felt this might be the solution. I found Tetley tea bags to work well as they have a bit of a weave to them and are stronger than most. While you’re waiting for the glue to become tacky, tear off (do not cut) a large enough piece of tea bag (single layer) to support the torn canvas and extend slightly past it like a bandage.
If your first layer of glue has dried, spread more over the area to adhere the tea bag cloth while the glue is still wet. Use the flat brush or your fingers to firm down the cloth and dab more glue on to smooth everything out. Note that for the corner you need to add glue to every side of the fabric and fold things neatly before brushing more glue on top and smoothing again. This reminds me a lot of papier maché. Once you are satisfied that it's smooth, let dry thoroughly. In the case of the long edge tear, I added a second layer of tea bag cloth after it dried because it is a key spot that requires strength.
The third step is applying gesso for its thickness to help blend the edge and prime the surface for repainting. Use a flat brush and starting form the centre, brush on in the direction away from the centre of the patch. If you find the surface texture is too smooth, at the tacky stage of the gesso, you can lightly tap it with your finger to raise the texture a bit so that it better matches the canvas or dab with an old brush tip.
Once everything is good and dry, you can resume matching the paint to touch up the repaired area. I wish you success in your restoration project!
Every Monday I try to post instructional blogs on everything from crafts, decor, upcycling, repairs and how-to's on whatever I happen to be working on. As the Christmas season comes to a close many may have already taken down their live trees while other traditions require take down after January 6th. Either way, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I learned while on the job. As a former professional tree decorator, we had the joyful task of putting it all away again too. Thankfully it goes a lot quicker than setting up!
Aside from wrapping any fragile ornaments and packing them in groups by similar, size or colour, a quick tip is to use an empty liquor box or beer case. Those nifty dividers help to keep items separate and protected and they are free at your local liquor store.
The other advice is getting the lights put away neatly and to replace bulbs NOW to avoid delays in setting up next year. I always keep a spare identical string of lights on hand. Especially those half burnt ones with the other half of perfectly good lights! Waste not want not! I've finally gotten around to getting some videos done to demonstrate . (yes I'm in my onesies) Consider them late Christmas gifts from me to you!
I also wanted to demonstrate my method of getting artificial trees to behave when it comes to getting them back into their box. As fluffing was the all important foundation for a lovely looking tree at set up time, squeezing the branches back down is just as imperative. If your box is starting to show wear, don't use duct tape to hold things together. The best tape is packing tape and if you can get your hands on the reinforced stuff, all the better! Hopefully we can avoid damaging the box after watching this short video. (still in my jammies)
Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a healthy, abundant and exciting 2017!
Welcome and thanks for stopping by!
Every Wednesday I try to post updates on current painting projects. After pushing Christine aside for almost a month to complete a commission in time for Christmas, I'm free to put in the last few hours on finishing her portrait.
The last time my brush touched this canvas, I had discovered that I was not paying enough attention to colour checking. Her shirt instead of being white was actually a medium taupe when compared to white. What a shock! So I mixed up this dark colour and reluctantly applied it everywhere. I did my best to have faith that this would still look fabulous once I was done and surprise, suprise, it does! It's all about placement and how each colour reflects next to the other. The shirt miraculously still appears to be white'ish. It's the weirdest thing for a relatively new artist. I am constantly amazed at the things I discover.
Next was painting on the tiny floral pattern all over her shirt. Of course I had sketched them in at the beginning, but hindsight tells me that watercolour pencils are only good in certain applications. The first coat of paint washed out the markings and completely obliterated any sign of them. It was frustrating, but meh, a learning curve nevertheless, so on they must go ...again.
I still had some minor fixes to the leggins. I noticed my lines for the lacey holes veered off a bit and they needed straightening... and don't stockings need that in real life too? Once that was tweeked, I was much happier. It's in my nature to straighten picture frames and square things up when something feels amiss. A part of my character that makes for a good portrait artist. Detail oriented and always striving for perfection.
Next was the hair! The big dramatic finish. It has to be loose and light and free and dramatic. My rigger brushes are getting used a lot! I added many layers of dark and light to achieve texture and depth, I think I managed to recreate the mood. Don't you think? I glazed over her with the lightest of pink to tone her tinted hair and to mimic the reflections of fall foliage that bathed the room in a pink light. This has to be one of my favourite pieces. I was immediately attracted to the photo for its mood and drama and the laissez-faire attitude of the subject. I must give credit to the photographer Christine herself! Perhaps because it is my beautiful daughter and my pride and joy in real life that I'm biased? Either way, my plan is to show her off at Art Shows and as a sample of my skills for portraiture.
I feel this could be a big hit! There are other gorgeous photos of her that I'd like to paint because she photographs so well, and can pull off the funkiest outfits!
Addendum: This portrait has already sold and I made the delivery this summer. ! Her older sister purchased it before the paint dried.
After the craziness of painting lacy stockings and patterned shirts, I quickly dismissed the plaid bedding in the background, opting for a simpler grey tone while trying to keep the folds and wrinkles similar. After all, I was on a tight deadline! Knowing how things have a way of interrupting my painting time, it was a smart move.
Thankfully I own cats and am fairly familiar with their anatomy, yet the ears were still interesting to work on. I enjoyed familiarizing myself with every nook and cranny until I felt satisfied. Later I glazed over the ears with the slightest hint of blue on Blueberry (Butters chin is also black). Sorry! This photo was still wet and shows a bit of glare.
Having spent many hours on their faces with still more needed, I took a break and got the fur finished. For me, it's always a good idea to switch things up thus avoiding unneeded stressors. Here I played with a trick I discovered when creating texture as in Christine’s work socks. After applying the main colour, I added tiny streaks of white alternating with black followed by a light blending in with a flat brush. I should mention that brushing some retardant either directly on the canvas or mixing it in with the paint is a tremendous help for blending! It’s probably the only issue I have with acrylics (too fast drying for blending as opposed to oils) that has thankfully been resolved. Once the fur was done, I could see that much sought after “light at the end of the tunnel”. I knew it wouldn’t be much longer now. Another interesting development that tells me I’m close to completion is when I have trouble finding my reference photo among the progress pictures I take. A surprise benefit of photographing your work in progress, is the ease in which one can spot major flaws an how they can be fixed.
All that was left to do was finish the facial details and get the bedding folds and shadows. All that plaid was a distraction, I must admit, and it’s not an exact reproduction. Yet I feel I was able to design a realistic background for Butters and Blueberry to cuddle in. I was given some great material to study about painting fabric folds, but unfortunately I never got around to practicing. This commission taught me on the fly, with pleasing results! By December 17th, my canvas was varnished and prepped for hanging, wrapped and delivered to a very happy customer! Now it’s time to relax over the holidays and maybe play a bit. To see the finished portrait visit my Facebook page Rolande Theriault - Artist and don't forget to like my page so you can get sneek previews of what I'm up to!
Here’s wishing all of you a cuddly kind of Christmas with family and friends!
Last year our guild challenged its members to paint a chair and display it in time for our 25th anniversary Spring Show and Sale. I had seen some awesome works of art done on chairs over the internet and was quite excited to get started. Being thrifty, I wanted to find a free chair first of course! I must explain that I have a "thing" for abandonned chairs to begin with, so the idea of creatively repurposing them appeals to me.
My hopes for an antique Queen Ann style to miraculously show up on the side of the road were in vain. The approaching deadline forced me to settle on a tired 80’s style metal frame model in a dreadful dusty rose in a dirty coarse upholstery. Still after a quick inspection, I felt confident that I could transform it into a thing of beauty. Our local fabric store had the desired canvas needed for $7 and I already had some black spray paint to refinish the frame. I had tons of black gesso and I knew exactly what I was going to paint on it. I was good to go! I’ve uploaded photos of each phase with instructions in the captions for you to see how it’s done. If you're lucky, the upholstery fabric has a fine enough weave to paint directly and avoids the steps below. If so, come back next week to see how I painted mine, otherwise read on!
Here's what you'll need for a similar project:
Next week we will go over how I painted my design! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
Every Friday I try to share with you, the people, art work or places that inspire me. As one who appreciates photorealism, there are many renown Canadian artists of various media who have caught my attention over the years. In the maritimes we have the luminescent jelly jars and the multifaceted aluminum foil of Mary Pratt whose oil work I've had the privilege of seeing at our National Gallery. Montreal's Jeff Degraaf's amazing hyper realistic still life acrylics of everyday items are mind blowing as well. Carol Evans produces breathtaking landscapes, which I value more highly, due to watercolours' unforgiving nature. Which brings me to coloured pencils… an even less forgiving medium.
Recently, I came across local Ottawa artist, Amie Talbot through Facebook on a grup I belong to called Ladies Who Lunch. She has been working fiercely to make her mark (pardon the pun!) in the skillful art of coloured pencil drawings. I was immediately impressed with her amazing talent not to mention her entrepreneurial moxie. She quit a well paying job to follow her bliss and focus on her art full time. It takes someone special to overcome doubts and fears in order to do what she loves. That love is displayed front row and center in the painstaking detail and massive amount of patience that is prominently displayed in her work. From boxed chocolates (seen below) that look good enough to eat to the metallic reflections in decorative bows (below), Amie's attention to detail cannot be ignored. Her commissioned portraits, and awesome cars (above) demonstrate various skills and techniques that she's clearly mastered. Recognized as a truly accomplished artist in her field, her artwork can be seen in Ottawa galleries and has travelled across Canada with the Coloured Pencil Exhibition.
The term "starving artist" is not part of her vocabulary! Not only does she manage to create new pieces for sale on a regular basis, but she offers online workshops and coaching, generates youtube videos, and had an in-house showing for the holiday shoppers (sorry this didn't get out in time but you can always contact her). Amie's tireless efforts also find her answering Q&A's in Coloured Pencil magazine. All this while raising two children! She has marketed herself well if not persistently and consistently. Just google "Amie Talbot" and you'll see what I mean!
This wife and mother, is an inspiration to all, whether you're an artist or otherwise employed, struggling or not, she is proof that if you want something badly enough, with some faith in yourself, the drive, and some hard work (no doubt!), the universe will oblige. Be sure to visit her webpage and be prepared to drool! She is an example of persistence and courage that we all should aspire to. I for one, am rooting for Amie. I for one am inspired. Thank you for being you. You make me want to pull out my coloured pencils and play. Maybe some day we'll meet!
Last Monday I showed you how I recycled an old 80's dining room/kitchen chair into a blank canvas for today's project: chair painting. The photo on the left shows my finished project. I hope I've inspired you to try your hand at it! I chose a black gesso background instead of blue skies for added drama but you can do whatever you like.
I thought I could go through the steps I take to draw my dandelions that so many of you love. Each photo below includes some information on how I achieved each step. There are many photos online to use as a reference photo. Simply google dandelions and switch to the image tab.
I used artist acrylics (Basic, Liquitex, Windsor & Newton, Golden). I believe that the craft acrylics should work just as well, as long as they are thick enough not to bleed into the fabric. I did caution you to paint 2 coats of gesso on the canvas to ensure a better seal and reduce bleeding. My paints were thick but any excess water, might soak into the adjoining areas blurring your clean lines. Therefore, don't add water to your acrylics, use them straight from the bottle, jar, or tube. I was able to touch up any bleeding with more gesso and a fine 000 brush. It was extremely effective.
Once everything was completely dry after a few days, I used a spray on matte finish clear varnish for acrylics. Follow directions on the can and apply two coats. Once the sealant has dried, you can reassemble the cushions onto your frame and stand back to admire your work! Mine didn't sell at the Spring Show last year, but I love it so much tat I've decided to keep it and use it as my art studio chair! I had so much fun doing this that my next canvas painting project will be a pair of white running shoes! Stay tuned !
It's interesting how things come together when you least expect it.
Last summer, I shared my success of a watercolour attempt of Buster my cat on Facebook. A coworker spotted it and immediately commissioned me to do one in acrylic of his cats as a Christmas gift. I was thrilled!
Two Siamese sibling cats cuddled together on the bed, was my reference photo. They both had big, almost turquoise eyes staring up at the photographer as if they'd been caught misbehaving. Simply adorable!
I cropped the image to show more cat than bedding.
After transferring the basic proportions onto the canvas, I quickly filled in some colour just to get a feel for it. Probably not my best idea, since I'llneed to go over it again. The gallery canvas measures 18” x 24” which translates into a lot of paint! No #0 brushes allowed else I'd be painting until next Christmas LOL!
Now that the need to put paint down has subsided, I like to start with the eyes. I feel it’s important to first tackle the key focal points in a portrait so that the rest will flow. I mixed a bit of phthalo blue with ultramarine to achieve the unusual turquoise tone, and added a touch of ivory black to soften the intensity. Next, the very dark faces posed a unique challenge. I needed a brighter photo to work from. Photo editing software is indispensable for this purpose. By literally shedding light on the subject details, I could then determine where the finer features began and ended. My iPad is also great for expanding areas to get the maximum details and helps with proportions too!
Speaking of paint, I had just discovered the importance of colour checking in Christine’s portrait (Spending Time WIth Christine) when I had to stop midway to focus on this new commission. Since I can’t trust anything to memory, I decided it was time to keep some sort of record of my artwork with some information that could help me down the road.
Using my iPad, I painted sample mixes directly onto the screen but it’s still hard to see due to the back lighting. Half way through I had to print out a good sized photo because I saw in my notes that I wasted several hours correcting colours. A nasty habit I have you see is using up leftover palette paint as underpainting in other areas which then need to also be corrected. (Don’t get me started on Stay Wet Palettes either! There will be a blog on that product in the near future!) Hopefully this lesson is starting to sink in!
A creative soul writing about living and loving it in the country.