Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Wet And Wetter

The expected rains have finally begun bringing with them more problems: flooding and collapsing buildings among them. T-Man dug out all the city drains around our property (several times) and fixed a downspout that had succumbed to the weight of the ice. Our basement is dry so far! Very glad we have a new roof on the house and garage though. Unfortunately Milady Daughter’s townhouse complex had roof collapse over the recreation/office area yesterday. Luckily nobody was there swimming laps in the pool or anything at the time. She called me on her way home from work to tell me she and her hubby were OK. OK? I hadn’t even heard the news yet so I hadn’t had time to worry! Flashbacks of when she snuck out at night as a teenager and got into a car accident with a group of friends. When a conversation the next morning begins “Mom, Dad, if the police call…there’s been an accident and I’m OK”! Worry can still happen in retrospect.

So instead of knitting for the last couple of days I played with my journal. You remember the one I was supposed to be keeping after taking that online class with Sharon Boggon through Joggles.com? I decided now was as good a time as any (better actually, since I was stuck in the house) to get out some of my art supplies and re-read the several books I have on journals: making, decorating and using. The best of these are the two Lark books by Gwen Diehn, “The Decorated Page” and “The Decorated Journal” (both still available in print in softcover version). They combine the What To Include with the details on actually How To Do It. The author discourages “strongly determined” materials such as cutesy stamps and commercially-packaged ephemera for more neutral or personal ones. Cut your own stamps and collect your own ephemera. Colour your own papers. Use your own photos and drawings. Don’t be afraid to Mess Up the pages. Gwen’s style is personal and adaptable and encouraging without being condescending.

Of course the problem lies with what exactly is a “journal”. One might call it a sketchbook, a scrapbook, a workhorse journal, a visual journal or an art journal. I guess it depends on how you use it and what you put into it. Do you want to practice drawing or sketching or painting, keep notes on projects past or future, explore ideas or feelings, document people or places, create a book that is a work of art in itself or all of the above? Some people have different books for different aspects of their work. You could do one with a specific theme or investigate a particular technique. Currently I’m using this book as a practice place, trying out art supplies and experimenting with the effects I can get with them. I also want to include ideas for future projects before they escape my mind.

I’m finding it hard to remember that I once had some skill with drawing and painting – at least enough to get me into art school! Of course some of the cool supplies weren’t even available way back then. That was the dark ages really. Acrylic paintings were barely acceptable as “real art”. All the fabulous grounds and mediums hadn’t even been invented yet. No wonder it’s so much fun to play with this stuff!

One fun thing is Golden fluid acrylic paint. In a way they are similar to watercolour paints except that once dry (and they dry pretty quickly) they are not water soluble. They have a lot of pigment yet can be diluted right down to barely visible with water. Or pretty much with any of the grounds and mediums depending on the effect you want. I don’t like to use them straight up because they are so intense they don’t really show the true colour. After they dry they can be worked over with water-soluble or non-water-soluble washes, paints, pens etc. and they don’t move. Unlike regular thick acrylic paint, they dry hard but flexible. Not sticky or crackly. And they come in metallics and interference colours as well as regular and matte colours. Yum.

I also played with my watercolour paint set. Mine is a Sakura Koi Water Colours Pocket Field Sketch Box. It comes with 24 half-pans of paint and a waterbrush – a nifty hollow handle that you fill with water and a synthetic brush that screws on top (backwards, it’s a little confusing). The brush keeps a very fine point and you can moisten and dilute the paint by squeezing the brush gently. Saves having a water cup with you. It’s got a nice little palette and a lid that will hold a postcard-sized sheet of watercolour paper. The price was medium (and on sale!), not too expensive or too cheap. Trust me, you don’t want cheap watercolours. Ick. All grainy and unmixable.

I still need to get some white gouache. It’s opaque as opposed to transparent like regular watercolour. You can mix it with watercolours for a more pastel effect or use it to provide highlights because otherwise you can’t make a highlight unless you leave a gap of white paper for it. Did you know there now is an acrylic gouache that is not water-soluble after it dries? Not much different than fluid acrylic paint, it seems to me. Which white do I need though? Titanium or Permanent are more opaque but the more transparent China blends better with other paints. Decisions, decisions.

And have I mentioned my Faber-Castell PITT pens? So nice to write with the Super-fine, Fine and Medium tips and the brush tips are very versatile. Unfortunately only black, sepia and sanguine (love that one!) come in all the tips. Black even has an Extra-superfine but I think only in a set. I’ve been buying them one pen at a time so I can have my own kind of funky palette. They are truly waterproof and painting over them with both watercolour and acrylic didn’t shift them at all. Nice. Need more of the 48 colours. Wish they all came in at least a medium tip as well as brush but then that would mean I would need one of each. Urp.

Yes I know this is one of the boring no-picture posts. More photos when it gets light enough around here not to need a flash. One day soon I hope!


Kay-From the Back Yard said...

Not boring at all! I hadn't heard of fluid acrylic and the brushes filled with water. Fascinating!

Hope to see some of your art work soon...

Louisa said...

Only if and when I have something to show! So far it's only testing materials, not remotely resembling anything "art".