See Them and Weep

I was going to work on another book this weekend and then have a hiatus from mixed media, but after some discussions with Seth, I decided not to continue at this point. It is ruining this book that really got me down.

This is from the third workshop, Cover to Cover. (See the first workshop description some ways down this link.) Mine is A5, no theme, no end product in mind, just making lovely looking panels; we prepared seven sheets, but I gave away two, had one backup so ended up with six. Some classmates went on to stamping and collating, but I had time for paint/glaze only. We are meant to make a hole in one "cover" panel and thread a ribbon/fabric though to tie all together, not bind. I'm not sure of the order/orientation I want, so this is one possibility.
On one side of each sheet we were able to use fiber paste, with which we could create richer textures than with gesso only. Though I've dulled the sheen, saturation and texture of this page with cheap colors and over-glossing at home, you still get the gist. The line was created by gluing thrums.
I wasn't pleased with some of the duller pages so I added collage which instantly cheered them up, but again I over-glazed. I rubbed paint straight out of the tubes on the left panel, but they dried too quickly and look not at all subtle. The right panel was the spare; it looked quite nice before I over-glazed.
I have no idea what I want to do with the left panel. The right, again, I glazed too much, but at least I can still see the lovely stamped textures from the workshop, plus some I stenciled at home. 
The left was tampered with but not too badly. I had intended to make these simpler pages more interesting but now I treasure the simplicity. The right panel has been worked on heavily, but I can still see the Orange woman's bottom. (She was one of many that didn't make it into the exhibition. I sprayed all watercolor work to use in collages but this is the only one I used. I still have some, and I like them in these projects.)
Again, I reduced the saturation on the left panel, but I'm not ruining it any more. The right, I'm flummoxed. I'd like to wipe away the brown/red paint when I next play with it.

And now, two panels that make me weep.
The right was the page I had tremendous difficulties with; I added depth with hues and values which worked well, but I did not know when to stop, (and isn't it strange when I know I've overdone it, I keep working instead of stopping immediately,) and again I over-glazed.The base shape was made with thrums.

And the page on the right. My favorite. Ex-favorite. I only wanted to enhance the depth a little so I worked and worked and worked until I totally ruined it. You can see a very early stage here, (ninth photo,) and an intermediate stage here. At home I mixed "grit" medium, gesso and molding medium to emulate the texture of the fiber paste, which while not identical to the texture of fiber paste, worked pretty well. You can see I finally walked away. Groan.
Yes, I glazed this page, and put tube paint by finger, but I can forgive myself for this one. I may try to remove some of the reds and some glaze later.

Why mixed media? There is so much depth in Seth's works no pic can do justice; some darker ones resemble looking into an abyss and lighter ones walking in fog or mist or under Japanese cherry trees in late March when the wind blows and I know it's the last day of cherry season for the year. I enjoy experimenting, in discovering how to work with cheap materials.

Since I became more entrenched in weaving I've warmed to abstract art, and what he calls background work also satisfies my need to create my version of play-abstract art; not "real" art, not "real" in the sense I'm not devoting my life to it, but intense playing. And it doesn't require drawing, which still doesn't come naturally. And it's so much fun.

Seth suggested, "Perhaps over thinking led you in a different direction than your instincts did [at the workshop]." My highest hurdle in life has been not to take things so seriously, but as we know, part of what others call "overthinking" is a weaver's perspective, too, isn't it? We need that analytical self to weave well. And when my pages start to look bad, I can't keep the weaver out. Also true the election and the media almost deleted the memories of Australia/workshops in a very short time and the dark, dark colors are how I feel now. 

"My suggestions would be (not that you asked) for a bit more dark/light contrast and a bit more break-up of the color fields." Exactly as I thought, but the first was impossible with the cheap paints, ergo so much gesso, and the latter, my bad, I wrote in the previous post. "And you would be surprised what a little paint splattering can do!!!" Duly noted.

I am a weaver. I can say this with confidence so nowadays I don't say "no" often without trying things out first. But I'm still not completely "there" so I feel I have to defend myself; to redefine my parameters, to reorient myself. And it helps when higher power agrees.

"I think it is wise to 'step way from the pieces' for now. See what you think of them after some time away. You may surprise yourself -- or not." Thanks, Seth.

PS. I haven't touched the Foto Folio from the second workshop. I'm putting that aside, too, for now. 


"Closure" of Sorts

I've been debating in my head whether to post more Mixed Media, as the harder I worked the less attractive my stuff became.

I've learned more about acrylic paint and media by experimenting on my own, especially how to cope with cheap material and/or not having access to some we used in class, and about colors and simultaneous contrast, and that's been interesting in the way I always enjoyed Chemistry class.

Some days, (and since I've returned from Australia I worked  between five and eight hours a day most days,) though, the effort looked futile, counterproductive, and presently the overwhelming feeling is I ruined a lot of good stuff I did in Australia, albeit incomplete. In drawing, or writing, I ever knew when to stop, and this proved to be the case with my Mixed Media.
However, playing with paint proved to be wonderful "living in the moment", errrr, moments, and this, and Discworld audiobooks, proved invaluable during the weeks leading up to and in the aftermath that was the general election in New Zealand. (Maybe another post; maybe not.)  Plus, I didn't want yet another unfinished project becoming a mammoth in the stash room.

So here is the first of three books. The first Seth Apter workshop I wet to was called Mixed Media Dossier. (If you scroll down on the link, you'll see a brief explanation; it's the second one.) Mine is a tad smaller than A5, portrait, with seven inside and two cover sheets. One day workshop allowed me, and many others, to learn a few techniques and get some backgrounds done.

We could make a notebook/journal, with or without a theme/purpose, or a bound volume with lots of nice stuff to look at. I wasn't sure what mine would end up being, but I had a vague theme of destination addiction/places. The photos are positioned as if I've bound the pages.
The front cover is actually more yellow/gold than green. and far more saturated. I "unified" the look by applying a few layers of very diluted yellows with glitter medium. (Seth says cheaper paints have binders, which make the colors dull; I guess it's like obscuring the pigment.) I used Carol's expensive liquid acrylic paint in class, and tried to modify my cheap tube paint with gloss gel medium and gloss varnish, (I only found glazes after I invested in three bottles of gloss varnish,) to emulate the look, which made the parts I worked on evenly shiny, rather than delicately glistening. Luckily, in some parts, the good paint shines though beautifully.  
I unified the back of the front cover in a similar way, and added a bit of pale yellow greens and pale blues representing patina. I think it was more interesting when the white bits of the paper still showed.  Page one, I did very little; when I came home I saw these as unfinished; now I like pages like these, even though they are unfinished.
When you lift the front cover, this is the folded wings you see. Again, it's much more yellow/gold; the two sides look much better than before, but also flatter, because of the repeated layers of varnish, less delicate. 
The middle part of page two looks half-heatedly finished. But this yellow/gold page was really haphazardly done, so this is an improvement. Page three, again, I unified the look by applying a think layer of pale blue varnish, but it's possibly my favorite. I can't remember now when it had white untouched bits.
Page four is an example of how I ruined my original, bright Australian pages. It had textures, and probably a combination of yellow/gold/copper/dark blue, but wanting to increase the dark blue area, I kept applying vanish instead of straight forward blue and made the whole page very green. Then I applied 2*reds, 2*blues, purple, gray and black paints and then covered it with a diluted black glaze, then added the "badge" with gesso. It's not one of my favorites, but I like that I brought it back from the "definitely not" pile. Page five, unified with several layers of blue varnish, though I'm not sure if it looked much better before the unifying. Well maybe. I like this page.
Page six; another "why am I still doing this" page, and the "white" parts are not white/silver but very shiny. During the day it's a little like staring into a starless night. I worked on this for days and days and days. Page seven, I'm not sure if this is staying as once again, I overdid it with the blue unifying glaze; this one has three or more different blue varnishes.
Page eight was something of a revelation. It was the worst of the dark-blue-layers-gone-completely-green and doubly sad because it had my favorite gessoed textures. I piled paint, then gesso on curvy shapes, more paint, and things to progressively worse, so I applied gesso with a credit card making straight lines and rectangles, not seen in any other page.(Page four gesso came later.) Again came the cool color paints and I was lost in this tiny space, and at one point it started looking interesting to me. I want to keep this as a memento of that experience. Page nine, I gave it the smallest Payne's Gray/blue wash on the left, and I was happy.
Page ten was the worst of the unfinished pages so it was at the bottom of the pile, but after loosing the Australia/workshop feel in so many pages, I am happy to keep it as is, totally unfinished. Page eleven is the only one that looks more interesting in the photo than in real life; it looks very messy in a in-between style; I might touch it up.
I gave up on page twelve for now. Again, it's more yellow/gold/orange. I can't remember what it looked like when it came home, but I made three yellows and two browns, as well as pale yellow green and pale blue, and made up a couple of yellow oranges, mixed some with glitter medium, and used gel medium and varnish, and it looks dirty and flat and overly shiny. Page twelve didn't look so dark until late yesterday afternoon when I got so frustrated I started vanishing everything. I thought I'd do one representing sleepless nights, and what remains is an upstairs bedroom. For the night I used every blue, gray, black and a bit of dark green I had, but I might touch it up again.
Page thirteen, (and twelve) had wings but they were so terrible I cut them off! Clearly I don't like what developed; I even thought of chucking this out, but I just hate to give up, so I'll revisit this. Or not. I always loved both sides of the back cover. This inside one is my favorite gesso pattern, though I never figured out if it's a compass or a seal of some sort. 
Back cover; again I thought it was unfinished but I love it as it is now.
I'm supposed to bind the top but because I may revisit, I've connected them with yellow paper clips for now. I'm walking away from this book because I can't get over the  dread of ruining the sunny, lovely Australia/Workshop feeling, but I know I'll revisit. A glimpse of what this book looked like can be seen in the first photo here.

Blogger changed its photo update mechanism while I wasn't looking, and with that, the photos upload appear bluer than they are when see directly from my hard drive. I may come swap the yellow photos later. Or not.


Goodness Me, All the Noise! (Or Still In Between)

The last time I posted pictures of something woven, other than what I did in Kaz's class, was in May, but make no mistake I'm a weaver; contrary to some speculation, I'm not jumping ship to drawing/mixed media; they are my hobbies. (But you already knew this from the previous post which was supposed to come after this one, right?) I worked hard so far and have too much stash not to remain a weaver. Plus I luuuuuve weaving.

That said, I have been in such a limbo I'm sick of it.
* Between last September and April, after I came home from Japan I was doing alright mixing weeding, weaving and drawing. Even with the protracted problem with eyeglasses throughout January. 
* March/April, my hip started hurting but I didn't connect it with many broken cashmere warp ends.  * Came May I decided to concentrate on the drawing (exhibition), which was hung in early July. I can't remember what I focused on during the three weeks the exhibition was up, but after it came down at the end of July, I prepared, de-prepared and re-prepared for the Australia trip.
* In August, I was in Australia for two fun weeks.
* For the remainder of August Ben was home and we had one of the coldest spell this winter and didn't do much.
* The first week of September I had a pretty bad case of common cold and spent four and a half days in bed.
* This brings us to this past; Monday - Thursday I weeded between two and five hours every day. I was too tired to do much else, except housework and some cooking. I did work on the postcards, and drew once. I ran errands in town yesterday.
* Next Wednesday marks one year since I've come home from Japan. It's important to me that I know I've done some things. 

My right hip is not 100% and it got bad in Sydney, and then last Tuesday morning I woke up to it throbbing. I've been recommended a miracle osteopath but he's so popular my booking is at the end of October. I'm in pain only once in a while but I'd like this over with. Knowing the current many-grays warp is problematic and because I'm afraid of hurting myself again, I'm so reluctant to get back on the loom bench.

I feel compelled to finish the three mixed media pieces first so they don't hang over my head, but I don't have a dedicated space nor half the material I used in class. Seth continues to help me, but I can only get on limited, low-end media in town, which is fine as regards quality, but I get dissimilar and even shocking results so the "progress" has been between bumpy and stalled. I work on the postcards looking for a breakthrough, but it's not happening.

Luckily, I have reached that stage with mixed media where even though every new book, download or free online class promises to solve all my mixed media problems and then some, I know I have all I need to practice and make stuff, so I've been selective in my purchases. Like buying yarns to match to reduce stash.

I have lovely notebook-making and weaving ideas, but trying not to think about them (until I finish the uncompleted projects) has been like eating veggies before meat. Up to the point I went to Kaz's workshop I was focused on weaving so I thought I could handle a bit of fun mixed media, but they gave me so many ideas and I've been drowning in colors, textures and noise.

From time to time I am such an unsavory grumpy old hag, especially on the telephone, I even surprise myself. I've almost picked fights with two call centers in two days and I regurgitate the conversation over and over in my head, even though I know I'm no victim. Many shouty, fast-talking young people are doing their job, though they do shout and talk fast. To be sure, accents are not a problem for me. But when a cancelled appointment turns up at my door when I'm delirious from low-grade common cold fever, I ignore the gentle knocks and stomp around the house insulting call center staff. And my quick wrath surprises me; I've seen the same in Dad, wonder if we share a chemical problem, even.

I love living a weaving-focused life, and I don't like going into town unless I must, but when I am with humans other than Ben, sometimes I try too hard to fill the space with words, and I regret it almost immediately. Then, it's hard to like myself much.
(Blind, quick contours from tiny pics on the Internet or the telly.)

Still finding it hard to grow up.

Thoughts on Mixed Media at this Juncture

With all the noise in my head, I need to summarize my current thoughts/feelings towards drawing/mixed media.

1) These are techniques first and foremost to enjoy, and then to explore elements that may tie in with weaving.

2) To that end, the joy is in the making, and for me to keep/have and not to sell, (although I may give away or flog off small items later if I feel I have something "good enough" to share.)

3) To that end, my mental health postcards are already a vital genre, and I can't see not continuing for a while however sporadic. But if I abruptly stop one day, that's fine, too.

4) I am most interested in bookbinding and/or making things in a book format, be they incomplete "notebooks" to fill in later, or completed to the best of my understanding/intention.

5) I enjoy gesture drawing, but on the whole I'm still uncomfortable with drawing. I have difficulties getting started because I want to immediately end up with "nice" drawings even though I already know that some look bad while I'm drawing but interesting later, the same as weaving.

6) Just as I weave with wool, cotton, silk or these mixes, the only synthetic/artificial yarns creeping into my weaving being binders for bouclé, I like watercolor/gouache, pencils, charcoal and ink better than acrylic. One of my hangups with prototypical mixed media is the myriad of acrylic media/products. (Came home with two more yesterday so I can finish the three I started in Australia.) However, acrylic, when sufficiently dried, travels better, so in the future I shall keep a small acrylic kit for the postcards, but use what feels more natural to me for the other "me" projects. 

7) Knowing when I'm finished is difficult; I often know only when I've gone one step too far. I need to be more self-indulgent and forgiving if I am to explore and get satisfaction out of the process, which to me means making stuff anyway, pretty or ugly, and see if/how it works. By which I mean look/see, walk by, glance, glare at and mull over. See also 1) and 2).

8) I need to practice toning down my mixed media work if that is the look I prefer, and it seems that way. I like depth, but not in-your-face multitude of elements, ditto with weaving, and I haven't had enough practice to create the toned down look. 

When I looked at Seth's work in real life, they were incredibly deep to the point some almost sucked me into their tiny page, the process gazillion-layered, and yet not in-your-face. He also takes great pains to use commercial or everyday stuff to make the resultant look his own.

At present my preference is to have a good proportion of freehand, (drawn and handwritten,) elements; something like Gwen Diehn's sketchbooks but with interesting backgrounds; a heavy dose of Roz Stendahl's joy and neatness but not animals/birds but human folks and as much urban scenes as I can muster in little old Nelson; and the mystery and details of Nick Bantock without the dead, the demonic or the dark.

EDIT: 9) I want to try more printing. That is one technique I throughly enjoyed way, way back in school, and I didn't like art classes back then. 

Pity two more layers haven't done the job; a majority has been addressed and messages written but they still can't fly.
Gotto to work on the post that was supposed to come before this.