Friday, October 28, 2011

Product review of Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground

For today's post I'm doing a product review of Daniel Smith's Watercolor ground. This brand new painting ground had my interest as soon as I heard about it because it claims to make it possible to paint watercolors on almost any surface including glass, metal and wood. This sounded pretty exciting to me.

I had an upcoming submission to work on where I had really wanted to submit a watercolor but the show's requirements called for an 8"x8" gallery wrapped canvas. A perfect excuse to buy the ground. I looked for it locally at Opus but they don't stock it. I tried ordering through Daniel Smith but with the cost of customs, tax and the time it would take to ship it, it wasn't worth it. As luck would have it my local art supply store, Pheonix Art Workshop stocks it. Yeah for local!

Here you can see the canvas texture.

The gesso itself is quite thick and is a bit tricky to brush on without it holding the brush strokes. I put it on a pre-primed canvass and I think I should have coated it a couple of times because some of the canvass was more absorbent than other areas. I found that I wasn't able to pool my pigment or drip in concentrated color like I can with paper so it wasn't as satisfying that way. I was able to easily lift my mistakes though with a damp brush. The paint always seemed to stay water-soluable. At $20 for a pint it's fairly expensive but I think it will last a long time. Have you tried this new ground? What things did you discover with it?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My attempt at Kitchen Lithography

There's a new printmaking video that's been going around that's gotten all sorts of printmakers excited. In this video French artist Emilion shows how he's been able to create traditional lithographs with items found around the house.  Calling it "Kitchen Lithography" Emilion uses aluminum foil, vegetable oil, castile soap, and coke to create an impressive edition. The whole process is based on chemistry. I've done something similar using xerox photocopies called paper lithography  but I had to give this a try.

The materials

I copied a couple of images in my sketch book. The one on the left was drawn with a litho crayon and I tried the soap on the right.

Next I poured on the cola. The acid in the coke reacts with the soap and litho crayon and etches the foil.

After wiping off the cola, oil is buffed down onto the plate.

Here are my plates rolled up three times with etching ink. I wiped the plates with a clean wet rag between each roll. You can see than I almost completely lost the other mushroom I did with the soap. Finger prints will easily etch too.

The printed result. I put the plate through my press but the video shows that it is possible to print solely by rubbing with the back of a spoon.

Close-up. You can see the wrinkles of the aluminum foil and I couldn't seem to "clean" my white spaces fully.

I hope you enjoyed this photo essay of this process and if you give it a try yourself, I would love to see your results. As for me, I think this technique has great potential if I'm willing to work out the kinks. Maybe a heavier foil would print cleaner? 

I do love the fact that it's another printmaking process that I can do at home for very little money. I had to laugh when a viewer commented that they were feeling ill to have spent twenty-thousand on their art tuition. Me too.  It's all  been in our cupboards! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Brewing Beer the Hard Way

As someone who creates with her hands you can well assume that I'm a big fan of DIY projects. I love looking at tutorials and how-tos to create things most people would automatically buy. Fortunately for me, I married someone else who is just as DIY as myself. Except for the lack of space all our projects create, it's great to live with someone who is just as excited to create something new with hands. Over the years we've created our own soap and shampoo, grown our own fruit and veggies, canned jam and pickled veggies, baked our own bread and pies, made candy and even did a bit of our home renovations.

One D.I.Y. project that seems to be expanding in scope at our house is the brewing of beer. At one time my husband, Francois, would buy whatever kit and create your standard home-brew. Over the years he's gotten himself quite a stash of adapted equipment and he now not only brews various types of beer at home but he has also started growing the hops and barley to put in the brews. For a couple weeks now he's been working on malting the barely to perfection. I  can also add that he's grown and processed sugar beets this year meant for a future batch. Is he hard-core or what?
All A Man Needs

Click here to getImages  &
All A Man Needs Pictures - Pictures

To keep track of all his brews and experiments Francois has started a blog Although he's brand new to the blogging scene, he's got an impressive amount of info and video footage. Take a peek at the blog or his YouTube channel and you might just see some footage of my "helper" daughters. Feel free to comment too, I know he'd love it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Silkscreened aprons for kids

Hi everyone! Today I thought I would share some pictures of some products I've been working on. I'm creating some children's aprons from tea towels that I hope to sell at some local Christmas shows. These are the designs that made me think that I needed to get a real silkscreen kit.Through my trials I found that my chiffon fabric and Modge Podge resist worked best.

I did one design for girls, "Chef du Jour" and one for boys, "Official Taste-tester". My youngest thinks the girl one is better because it's "prettier". Perfect. I personally prefer the taste-tester design I think. I will be making some for Christmas presents too but I'm not sure if they will end up in my shop. If you would like one for a young one you know, let me know and I can create a listing for you. I will be pricing them at $15 ea.
Bon Apetit!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I've been feeling guilty

My shop has been re-opened for a full month so far and while I've been doing some tweaking on my listings , I've been trying hard not to be too concerned with my views or lack of sales. Ever since Etsy has changed the way items are being searched I've found my views to be a lot lower than before. It's obvious that promoting offline and trying to get people to come directly to my shop will prove more successful than someone finding me from an Etsy search. 

So as the month has progressed and I've been busily working on new product and projects I've found myself getting more and more critical about not having any sales in the shop. I've been really trying to figure out why and when I get like this and I don't think it's solely a lack of sales that get me down. Approaching the end of last month, as I purchased some books for my illustration course and supplies for shows I'm preparing for this Christmas, we got a notice of a rent increase. We tend to squeak by right now.Ugh. This was on the same day that I had seen this real estate ad tweeted for a home near here. Yup, nearly a million dollars to own pretty much what we have now. Double ugh. It's these multiple reminders that make me feel guilty about pursuing my dream of an artistic career. My resistance to put more hours into a regular job to make ends meet. How do I justify spending the money on art and craft supplies when I find it tricky to pay my other bills? I can't stop creating but when the money is scarce I feel guilty for doing it. Luckily Christmas gives me the perfect economical excuse to create.
I think this is really going  to become a matter of faith for me to know that it's okay for me to create and that we'll be better off if I do. 
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
One of my hande-made art dolls

silkscreened napkins