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Artist Community

Written by Vickie Turner

The following technique can be used with pre-planning or no planning whatsoever. It can be controlled, completely spontaneous or any point in between. Sometimes I have something specific in mind and other times I just need to jump-start my creativity. This time I was working with a particular composition that I had arrived at using cut up paper. My goal was to make this composition work with this particular technique...
  Step 1: Using a piece of Crescent Illustration Board #310, I applied a mixture of gesso and regular gel all over the board. I then used various texturizing tools (combs, shapes, wheels, sticks - whatever) to create random texture in this mixture. The gel helps the texture to stay defined when dry. This was allowed to dry overnight.
Steps 2 &3: I get everything ready for this step ahead of time because I have to accomplish the entire composition before the paint dries. I lay out some hand carved stamps, some more texturizing tools, old credit cards, several pieces of paper toweling and my favorite two-inch w/c brush.
Acrylic matte medium is squirted in a puddle on the illustration board and fluid acrylic colours (in this case, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Carbon Black) are dropped in.
  Step 4: Lock the studio door, pull the plug on the phone, put the cat out. The next few minutes must not be interrupted! Using the brush I push the puddle and paint out over the board, randomly brushing, leaving some areas strong and dark, others greyed out.

Step 5: Quickly now, use the tools and credit cards to scrape off some of the paint. As you can see, I added more paint at the edges and then scraped out the shapes that form the composition I had pre-planned. I stamp into the wet paint with a rubber stamp and lift off some paint. You don't have a lot of time before the paint is too dry to allow you to do any more. I finish and study the painting and find a pleasant serendipitous event - a bird at the top, sideways.

Step 6: Turning the painting to the horizontal I see the bird is very well developed and a strong focal point. I stamp in some white gesso and am happy with the design.
  Step 7: The suggestion of an eye is all that is needed to complete the illusion of a bird. I give in and draw in a line to separate the upper and lower beaks but wipe most of it away. I'm ready to add colour.
  Step 8: I start glazing in colour around the outside and background, using Quinacridone Gold and Quinacridone Burnt Orange. Some of the colour is rubbed back in between layers to recover some of the texture.  
  Step 9: Colour glazing now goes into the subject and I've found a second delightful image. A totem on the left, eyes closed, facing the bird. The two seem to be in deep communication. This is getting exciting! I want colours that are dramatically different from the background, yet will marry well with it. I try Green Gold, Anthraquinone blue and Quinacridone Crimson. At first the green gold seems very acid but it teams up well with the blue and crimson. Some more rubbing back to highlight texture again.
  Step 10: Almost finished. I need a dark on the lower right to emphasize the talons on the bird, then use acrylic inks (yellow ochre, black and red earth) to draw some freeform line-work. Voila! I'm thinking "Keepers of the Legends" or "Forest Whispers" as suggestions for titles. What do you think?