Sunday, 12 October 2014

Coloured Papers

Creative Sketchbook, Module 1
Chapter 4,
Activity 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and Extra Activities

Make decorative coloured papers using paint.
Somehow, as I worked, one thing led to another, and I didn’t separate out the various activities in this chapter, but you can see from the photos that I have covered them.

I scanned in the pages, but the text is difficult to read, so I've pasted it after all the pages. There are a few changes here and there between the sketchbook.


Right, this chapter was just what I needed - a real morale booster! It was fabulous, and I have had such fun, and enjoyed it so much, fiddling around with paper and paints and implements to make marks with paint…Or in paint!  I’ve followed the suggestions in the course booklet, and experimented with my own ideas (not always successfully, but there were far more good moments than bad).
Somehow, as I worked, one thing led to another, and I didn’t separate out the various activities in this chapter, but you can see from the photos that I have covered them. I have my decorated sheets of paper tucked away in a box, and there are far too many to show them all, so I’ve tried to squeeze as many as possible into photographs, to give some idea of what I’ve been doing, as well as showing pictures of some individual sheets. And I’ve written this as a kind of overview, rather than producing notes about every patterned sheet of paper.
In a bid to keep some kind of record, I tried to remember to number each piece of paper, then wrote the number and method on a large label, and stuck that on the back.
As far as paints go, I was reluctant to use my rapidly dwindling stock of watercolours, so I raided a bag of acrylics among the stash of arty goodies abandoned by my Elder Daughter when she left home. The hoard included some huge plastic tubes of cheap acrylics in all sorts of colours, as well as a range of colours in the usual small tubes. I’ve never really used acrylics before (apart from my disastrous experiment in Activity in 2.3) so it was a good opportunity to see how they handle. The big tubes seemed to be thinner than the small ones, and they were ideal for covering A4 sheets of paper. They were quick drying and could be used thick (straight from the tubes), or thinned down with water. They lack the transparent quality of watercolour, but they mix and merge OK, and thinned down they drip well, and give interesting effects on the paper. On some papers (shiny, non-porous) thick acrylics can be moved around to create patterns in the paint, and you can get textured effects by dragging implements across the surface.
I bought a set of little pots of children’s poster paints (because I felt nostalgic after mentioning them in the last chapter). And, still on a Memory Lane trip, I went online and ordered some powder paints. I hadn’t used either of these since I was a mum helper in my daughters’ school  some 20 years ago, and I’d forgotten how incredibly messy they can be, but they clean up OK with soap and water. People are always a bit dismissive of these paints, because they’re seen as being ‘just for children’ but in actual fact they are brilliant for this sort of project (and they’re dead cheap, which is an advantage) and I loved working with them. I doubt you could produce fine or subtle effects, but they provide good cover, and can be used with all kinds of other paints, inks and markers. Like the acrylics, poster paints can be used just as they are, or thinned down with water, and they mix and merge and drip and streak and splodge and splatter and spatter and smudge quite beautifully, and give textured effects. Powder paints give the same sort of effects when mixed - plus some! Dry powder can be sieved, dropped, dragged or even blown or spattered across a wet or damp surface, and you can apply on to dry paper, then spray water over it.
I’ve never really used inks before either (other than in my fountain pen, and inked pads for rubber stamping), but I succumbed to a box of Brusho powders at the embroidery exhibition at the NEC earlier this year – then got home and was too nervous to use them! So I mixed some up, and experimented. I discovered a very little powder goes a very long way, so I’m storing left-overs in foil-covered jam jars.  These don’t seem to merge together to form other colours like paints do, and they are too thin to produce textured effects, but they are just fabulous brushed or rollered over textured paints, or other markers, because they are wonderfully transparent. And you can get incredible effects with them, with a roller, on glossy paper.
I mainly used household decorating brushes  for covering pages with water, paint, ink etc, and children’s nylon brushes  (round and flat, in a variety of sizes) for adding details for patterns. I tried using a sponge roller, as suggested in the course book, but was not impressed. I got much better results with a children’s plastic rolling pin intended for modelling dough, and a Brayer look-alike which is fantastic (bit tricky to clean though), as was  a narrow plastic roller that’s meant to flatten the edges of wallpaper joins! And I found plastic tools which children use to make marks in modelling dough are great for making marks in paint. Then there were various bits and bits found around the house, including plastic knives and forks – and an old nit comb (I keep it as a good luck charm because I’m convinced if I throw it out we’ll be infested with headlice again!).
I was going to try using things like pastels, felt tips etc to make marks under layers of paint or ink, but only got round to using coloured chalk, which works best on dry paper, then water brushed over the paper, then ink or paint. And little tea lights are good for wax resist marks. And the kind of glass paints which you paint on to glass, then peel off when dry, can be used to paint a pattern, then painted or inked over (but don’t peel them off).
Other Things
I loved the patterns produced by laying clingfilm on wet paint, so I had a go with tin foil, which is every bit as wonderful. And I had a small piece of large bubble wrap, so I laid that over wet paint (bubble side down) and just loved the results – but it works best with some kind of weight on the top (I used a box of paper). There was a jar of gesso among my Elder Daughter’s old art stuff, so I painted that on some heavyish cartridge paper, made textured marks  with the nit comb, left it to dry, then brushed  blue ink over, and then purple. I loved the result so much I tried mixing paint with gesso, and made marks using the blade of a plastic knife with a serrated edge to. The pattern was great but, sadly, the gesso reduced the bright orange acrylic paint to a sickly shade of pale apricot. Better to use the gesso, let it dry, then apply paint over it I think
In addition to working on wet and dry paper, I’ve sprayed painted surfaces with plain water and salt water (I love this), as well as using a little rubber-topped dropper to drop salt water on surfaces (fantastic), and bleach (total disaster – I made the mistake of trying to blob drops of liquid on a painted surface from the nozzle on the container, and it went everywhere). Best of all was alcohol!  I read something which said alcohol brushed on as you paint makes wonderful effects, and so it does…  Colours change as they bleed into each other, and some areas fade while others darken, and you get bubbles and stars and fuzzy edges and all sorts of things. I assume you really need a pure alcohol, but I used Southern Comfort, because that’s my favoured tipple. I couldn’t get the hang of using it with a brush, but the dropper was brilliant, and it spatters nicely, and you can dip things into it and drag them across the paint. I had planned on drinking the remaining Southern Comfort, but despite my best endeavours paint got into it, and it ended up a kind of greenish khaki (bit like my efforts at making grey) which does seem to be a waste of good alcohol, but never mind. Oh, I nearly forgot, I had a go at ‘distressing’ photographic paper (before I painted it), with a nutmeg grater. And with a ‘wet and dry’ sanding block.
I used various kinds of paper, including sugar paper, photographic paper, various weights of panting paper, printer paper, plus some odd sheets from ED’s stuff that I can’t identify at all! Some curled quite badly (especially the thinner and cheaper papers), probably due to the vast quantities of water that I used.
Some things I left to dry flat, while others were pegged on an old clothes airer to drip dry!

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