Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fluttering About

I seem be an artistic butterfly lately, fluttering from one craft to another, barely staying long at any one.

Last year my curiosity about bookbinding focused on taking classes and learning different binding styles. Here is a recent effort, my first try using coptic binding with hard covers.

Binding signatures into leather covers blossomed into designing book closures and adornments, so I landed in the green field of wire and jewelry-making. Here are some of my designs in copper and wire.

Gliding over to join a friendly sewing group, I am starting to darn socks and take up a crochet hook again, wondering if I might make a giant migration and try a sewing machine.

Which is a bit strange, given my history. With a grandmother renown for her skillful and creative stitching skills, a mother who often made us clothes, and an artistic sister, I was a bookworm not interested at all in sewing. Yet, I tried embroidery as a teenager and my step-Mom taught us how to crochet one summer and I made simple throws and bed spreads.

I am intrigued by sewing paper as described in craft magazines and books, art blog posts and online class offering. Rhonda Miller sews Christmas cards into a book and sparked an examination of my hoard of cards and postcards from decades past. Mary Ann Moss has an online class “Remains of the Day” that utilizes daily paper ephemera and special photos to machine stitch a journal together. Both D.J. Pettitt's and L.K. Ludwig's online classes, although different in approach, encourage introducing your own photos to create meaningful, authentic journals. Although I have not taken any of those classes, I am moved by their general concepts.

Rationalizing that I only have so much time and room to create, I have resisted learning how to sew. But, given how butterfly fickle I've been lately, perhaps I'll soon relent and begin sewing old cards and letters onto journal pages, start making photo transfers onto fabric as well as paper, and maybe appliqué a memento to adorn a book cover.

Re-reading books about art journals, I like ideas that use personally significant pieces. Sorting old paper and fabric pieces, I am gathering ideas how to showcase them in mixed-media journals or paintings instead of filing or boxing them away.

But, first and foremost, I need to clean up my studio. You don’t know what a mess a fluttering butterfly, with projects all over the place, can make!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What’s So Great About Fluid Acrylics?

In the Tall Grasses Behind the Dunes
9" x 12"
acrylic on paper

Having bought small bottles of fluid acrylics--first for learning color theory and later for a watercolor workshop--I have been experimenting lately.

Using ideas from Celebrate Your Creative Self by Mary Todd Beam, I used the acrylics watered down and washed over various dried mediums and gesso with good results. She also has interesting projects using an acrylic retarder medium.

But having handled them for about two weeks, I wonder what all the fuss is about. I find them cumbersome to work with. When diluted with water, they can be like watercolors (I’m guessing here since I haven’t tried tube watercolors). Undiluted, they are very slippery and glossy. They do not travel well and dried paint clogs the spout openings. Often, flecks of paint splash onto a piece I’m working on rather than in a tray; both of these paintings have them! When wanting to only use a few drops, some bottles squirt a long stream instead.

Although I have mixed them with my heavy bodied acrylics, I honestly don’t understand the attraction of using fluid acrylics. I do not like the way the big washes and dilution warps even watercolor blocks (glued on all four edges). While some of the unintentional puddling can later add some exciting features in an abstract painting, they can almost ruin landscapes. Their drying time varies greatly.

Once I use these bottles up, I’m not greatly encouraged to buy more. Am I missing something? Who wants to relate their love for fluid acrylics?

Full Moon at the Dunes
12" x 18"
acrylic on paper