The photo at the left is my still
life setup. I used a red piece of fabric, which I pushed around
to begin to create some "hills" and "valleys".
In the bottom is a woven orange placemat. I chose it simply because
I liked the texture. To this arrangement, I added the "freeways",
composed of zippers, seam tape and a tape measure. The "phone
poles and lines" are needles, threaded and stuck into the
fabric landscape. Rolling along the freeways are "cars"buttons,
standing on edge. For these fabricscape setups, I usually use
a strong light source, so that the cast shadows help create form,
and make it more interesting. Why the sewing notions? They reinforce
the fabric theme, while serving as metaphors for other objects.
Once I get the setup arranged, I take photos of it, and also do a value drawing. Then I put away the setup, and from that point on, I use my drawing and the photos to work from as I develop the actual painting.
Now I have transferred my drawing
to 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, that has been soaked
and then stapled to a board to dry tight and flat. You can see
my drawing in the top part of the painting.
Notice that I don't stick exactly to the still life photo. I've changed the position of the "highway" ribbon to go behind the "hill" of fabric, and added more needle/phone poles to help provide movement from the lower right to middle left, then to upper right.
I've protected the thin thread lines with liquid masking fluid, so that I can paint washes over them. Notice that I've also placed the two pigs (which are in reality the "dice" from the game Pigmania) in the foreground. They are checking out the journey they have yet to make through the highway twists and turns.
Now I have added some gold crayon
stripes to the hill shaped fabric in the middle ground. The crayon
will act as a resist to the wash I paint over it. I've also put
a very pale gray wash on part of this fabric to begin to give
it some shape. The background area gets a dark cool-toned wash
to help push it to the back, while the warmer tones in the foreground
come forward. The foreground red has received the beginning glazes
of color that will help give it a more three-dimensional feel,
and the textures are beginning to be defined by glazing additional
colors onto the orange mat in the bottom of the painting.
At this point, the liquid masking fluid is still on the fine thread areas connecting the needles.
With the deep turquoise wash painted
over the middle ground area, the "freeway" stands out
clearly. You can see why I moved the position of the tape measure
from in front of the fabric hill to behind and then coming back
over it. It gives the painting more depth.
This slide is a bit dark. The actual turquoise color is brighter and greener.
At this stage, the zipper, tape, needles and thread and the buttons are the only unpainted paper left. All the other areas have at least one wash of color, and some have more.
The masking fluid looks yellow at this point, but when removed, it will leave a white area that can be left white, or painted with another color.
The color is a little more accurate
in this picture. I've begun to add more shadow areas to the red
area, begun to paint in the folds of the tape and zipper, and
finished up the pigs, the buttons and the foreground "cobblestone-like"
I still haven't removed the liquid masking fluid from the fine thread and the needles, because I still have more glazing and detailing to do on the fabrics.
In the finished painting, (shown below, left) you can see what I added to make the painting complete. I used a paper lace doily as a stencil to add pattern to the dark background area. Briefly, I use wax paper to cut a mask to protect areas of the painting where I am not using a stencil. See my tip on using stencils and the spatter technique for a detailed explanation of this.
On the turquoise fabric area, I
used a hand-made stamp, carved from a piece of pink pearl eraser,
to add a geometric pattern between some of the stripe lines.
In the red fabric area, I again used a stencil, this one hand drawn and cut from waxed stencil paper with an x-acto knife, to add "tree and bush" shapes to this area.Additional glazes of dark red form the "cliff and chasm" to the right of the pigs, and emphasize the gully between the red and blue fabrics that the ribbon "bridge" crosses over.
If you want, you can imagine (as some do) the dilemma faced by our porcine travelers. They don't like heights or going out on a limb, but to get where they want to go, they've got to face their fears, and cross that bridge. Just like artists, right?
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