Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Collection #1 - Salmon" -- the beginning of a new string of ideas

Oh boy, my posts on here have been few and far between this summer. I will start my catching up with this particularly exciting project that was accepted into the Kenmore Art Show last month. It was actually purchased! It was all very exciting.

So here's the skinny. First of all, in June I attended another fabulous Miniature Encaustic workshop taught by Larry Calkins at Northwest Encaustic Studio. Larry is so inspiring and full of tons of knowledge that he happily shares. Thanks Larry!! I had a new idea I wanted to work on and I was ready to roll.

I bought some chunks of sheet metal for a song and a dance at a place in Ballard called Very nice people there. My dad graciously cut my chunks up into smaller pieces for me on a large piece of metal-cutting equipment that he has access to. The metal plates that I used for this project are about 4" by 3" and probably about 1/16" thick.

About my new idea... After doing this miniature encaustic piece a little while ago -

- I wanted to do more salmon. Why not a collection of all the salmon native to the Pacific Northwest, in their beautiful spawning colors of course. I loved fixing this first salmon painting into its little protective box, and I had just the idea for a box to hold a collection of salmon paintings...

I LOVE rock collection-type specimen boxes. The kind of organization where each item has it's own spot. In an organized grid. Even the cloud chart on my dad's workshop wall. The cubbies at preschool. That was how I would organize my salmon.

I traced the outlines of the salmon onto pieces of tissue paper that I had placed on top of a thin layer of rolled-out printer's ink. I used watered-down white glue to attach the tissue paper pieces to the metal plates. Ink-side down. Then once the glue dried, I used watercolors to paint in the backgrounds, trying to make each one a little different but using the same basic colors. Here's a shot that includes one of the fish outlines without any watercolor added yet -

I kept working the backgrounds...

I eventually used watercolor to add color to the fish bodies. In this photo I've already applied a coating of clear encaustic medium to the top three pieces -

It really tones down the color of the watercolors! The wax is a bit cloudy at first but eventually clears up. But the fish images still are a bit stifled, even when the wax clears. But that is OK, because I was only half done. Or less then half-done actually, time-wise.

The next step was to add fine detail to the salmon by adding colored wax with a wood-burning tool. To do this I dipped the end of the hot tool onto a block of pigmented encaustic wax and drew and dotted the color onto my fish. I mostly accentuated the dark details in this way, but I also added color and white to the fish, too. I didn't do anymore work on any of the backgrounds after coating the watercolor with the clear wax. This photo is a great before and after example. The two fish in the middle have been "detailed", while the other four have not -

Yep, that was just the ticket to bring the fish out. What a difference!

Here is a spur of the moment picture of my wood-burning tool and the handful of different tips that it came with. And the regulator that I use to dial down the temperature. (If you use the tool plugged straight into the wall it is too hot.) -

A few close-up shots of some of the fish when they were all done and glued into the box, with "scientific" labels -

Too bad I didn't take any pictures of the creation of the box. I treated the surface in a way that Larry C. has demonstrated in a couple of his classes - you brush wood glue onto the surface and then "cook" it with a propane torch. You keep adding layers of glue and torching them until you are happy. It's a bit like roasting a marshmallow. You decide how dark you want it. I've added paint to the finished surface before, too, to make it darker.

One last shot of the finished piece -

I seem to have had a little problem with a fish-eye effect in some of the pictures. Oops.

I entered this piece in the Kenmore Art Show last month. I helped out with some of the set up of the show, and I happened to be there on the morning that the jurying took place. I saw first hand how many entries had to be juried out due the large number of beautiful submissions. I truly felt honored to be in the show. And then I was so excited to hear at the end of the week that my piece had been purchased!

I feel like this is just the beginning of a "Collections" series. I have several more collections of miniature paintings that I would like to create and put together. Now that I've said that outloud, I'll have even more motivation!