Today is the day! Today is the day! Today is the day! Whatever am I talking about? The wonderstrange Holiday Contest, of course! Submit your entries to email@example.com or use Mr. Linky. All of the entries will be showcased next Friday!
We all know what happens when a piece of art meets a piece of glass and a frame. The art doesn’t look “pretty good” anymore. It doesn’t look “halfway decent” or “kind of okay.” Framed art looks rare and elegant, more or less instantly, as if it had received an elaborate makeover and an honorary degree from Harvard. Seriously, framing a piece of work is just about the nicest thing anyone can do for it, because who (other than the President of Yale, possibly) wouldn’t want an honorary degree from Harvard?!
SO, people with walls and people who paint, why don’t we frame more of our work? There are plenty of factors, most of which rhyme with money, honey, but there’s also the time and the inconvenience of finding the right frame, especially if the muse didn’t sing in convenient 8×10 dimensions. I have a solution for both of those problems, though – and yes, it’s a bit of a cheat, but it’s a fun cheat, and it’s an affordable cheat, and it’s a perfectly timed, cheat, my lovelies, because the holidays are coming, and giving people framed art is way classier than handing them sheets of watercolor paper, I think we can all agree.
Ready for the cheat? Go to Goodwill / Salvation Army / your neighbor’s garage sale / your local charity shop. Buy something framed.
Once you have the frame, take it apart, and if necessary, separate the print / artwork from the mat.
Once you have the work itself separated out, you now have the dimensions for your piece. If you want to start fresh on a piece of acrylic or watercolor paper, go on with your bad self. If you’d rather gesso and work on top of the existing piece, that works, too.
Once I had the painting finished, I used gesso on the mat, changed the color, and distressed the paint. Then – and this part was pretty exciting, I can’t lie – I put it all back together.
If your painting is going to hang in a local museum, of course, this is not the way to go, but if it’s going to hang in Aunt Bertha’s hallway, your mother’s living room, or (fingers crossed) your very own house, this is a great way to send your work to Harvard for less than the price of a Starbucks.
Usually, in Living with Art, I focus on 1) affordable ways to display art (behold! a frame built from natural peanut butter, used matches, and teenage angst!), or 2) unexpected places to work art into your decor (hint: YOU CAN PAINT ON EVERYTHING). Since people seem most interested in posts where I make the art that will be on display, I decided to focus on the creative process today, and specifically, on making a masterboard.
What’s a masterboard? I’m betting you know exactly what it is; you just use another name. Lots of people think of a masterboard as a great big multi-layered background that you cut up to make smaller pieces: postcards (4″x6″), ATCs (3.5″x2.5″), inchies (1″x1″), chunkies (4″x4″), and other forms of mailart with fun names. I prefer to think of it as a piece in its own right, but that’s probably just a weird personal problem.
A spectacular masterboard not only makes for a cool, multi-layered background, but also inspires you to do innovative work in the foreground.
Put another way, an interesting background can inspire you to do things you wouldn’t have thought to do otherwise!
Here are some tips for making your masterboard spectacular!
- Choose durable paper. I recommend affordable watercolor paper, or at the minimum, mixed media paper. Basic card stock may not stand up to multiple washes or sprays, while drawing paper sometimes faints at the sight of water. Seriously. I’ve seen it happen.
- Select a limited color palette appropriate for the theme. For my masterboard, for example, I limited myself to a palette of rich, deep reds, blacks, and browns with hints of orange, initially achieved with acrylic washes (i.e. watered down acrylic paint). Not coincidentally, this relatively dark palette works great for my Halloween theme.
- Experiment! Making a masterboard is a joyous, intuitive, liberating experience, as well as a great excuse to play around with new media. If something dreadful happens, mistakes can be covered up with additional layers. Fabulous developments can also become lost in the mist, but if you miss them, just add them back in later!
- Vary the design from place to place. It’s not necessary – or even necessarily wise – to make the design the same all over the masterboard.
- Add contrasting elements. Like any Halloween monster, my dark masterboard could use some light and some warmth.
Similarly, of course, bright pieces can benefit from the introduction of darker elements.
- Work the edges. Applying the same treatment to all four edges of the board helps to unify the piece.
- Cut – quickly! It’s easy to fall in love with a masterboard. The best way to avoid an unhealthy attachment is to cut, cut, cut!
- Connect each foreground and each background. While the masterboard itself develops from an intuitive process, you want to put on your old, trusty thinking cap when you start working on your focal point, which should be conceived, colored, and lit with intention so that your foreground and background appear connected and integrated.
9. Make adjustments. After placing the foreground image, take a few seconds to assess the piece. Do the colors cohere? Is there sufficient variation and visual interest? Did things get covered up that you want to reintroduce?
10. Work the edges again. Now that the piece is finished, give those last, unifying touches on the edges using ink, paint, or a marker.
I followed the same process for my remaining cards and produced these pieces from my masterboard:
Feel like making a masterboard? Link it up so we can all see!
Yay welcome to October! This is my favorite month of the year, so I’m embracing my inner horror-hound and doing Halloween-themed canvases all month. WHATEVER! I DO WHAT I WANT!
Hilariously enough, Cartman and my sideshow zombie have almost the same rack.
She is indeed a ton of terror.
It is SUCH a drag to catch the zombie virus from a love bite. I mean, really.
Okay! That’s all for me for now! I have a bananas October, so I’ll start the two a week in November!
The video will be up sometime tomorrow, but, in the meantime, please to enjoy the song that is currently playing in my house as I type this:
Edit: Here’s the video!
Link ’em if you got ’em!
This summer, I was commissioned to make a wedding present for a delightfully nerdy couple who do a lot of the same things my husband and I do: Play Dungeons & Dragons, throw Magic cards around, go to Renaissance Fairs, Settle Cattan. The people commissioning the present suggested that a D&D / gaming organizer might be fun, and I fell in love with the idea – so deeply in love that I literally spent weeks tromping around the city looking for a vintage piece to alter. Finally, I stumbled upon these two candidates:
After the client picked the one on the left (those drawers are big enough for character sheets and even a monster manual!), I was off and running!
This week the challenge is to paint/draw/sculpt/whatever your favorite character in your own style. Ish. I did Jack and Sally:
I don’t know how much of this is my own style or just my typical “channeling Tim Burton” thing, but whatever.
Have some closeups!
A video will be here soon, until that time, happy autumn! WootWoot!
EDIT: OH HAY A VIDEO
Greetings, sons of the new age!
This week I freaked myself out and did an abstract. It was shockingly difficult.
It’s one of those things I can’t really wrap my brain around, abstract. But I gave it my biggest effort!
this is my favorite part.
A tiny heart since I manage to stick hearts into everything.
And that’s that!
Here’s this week’s video:
And use the linky below if you’d like to play along!
This past weekend, I was asked a question that I confess I have been asked before: What can you do to facilitate a rotating art collection? Put another way, what can you do if you’re indecisive, and you can’t figure out what you want to hang above your buffet? Even more pressing, what if your mother drops in once a week with very little notice, and she faints at the sight of nudes, which are the only thing you would hang on the wall, if given the choice?
The answer, of course, depends upon the size of the art you are displaying, but here’s one great answer: You still plant a nail in the wall, but instead of hanging a canvas, you hang a plate stand.
What’s a plate stand? It’s this doohickey, which is also commonly referred to as a tabletop stand and a tabletop easel.
The advantage of hanging this, instead of a simple nail, is that the plate stand creates a “floor” for your artwork, rather than a “ceiling.” Let’s look at this problem from another angle: If I change out an 8×10 for a 5×7, I will almost certainly want the top of each piece to be at a different height. The 5×7, after all, will have an awkward gap between the bottom of the canvas and – say – the light switch. Hanging the plate stand means that I don’t have to create a new hole in my wall if I decide to change my art every day, or even every hour. This plate stand might cost you $5-$7, but it will save you serious time in nailing, re-nailing, and spackling.
Here, for example, are two canvases, one portrait, and one landscape, one 9×11, one 8×10. Both look equally good, as does a 5×7.
I can’t guarantee that this will solve all of your problems, since mothers can be maelstroms unto themselves, but this is a start. Ladies and gentlemen, start rotating!
Okay so my quest to do two per week is failing, much like my quest for the Holy Grail. Or the world’s perfect taco. SO. Two per week starting NEXT week. This I so swear! Or something. I’m going to go have a taco.
This week the challenge is to do black and white. It was our group challenge this week on Artistcellar, so I figured.. two birds.. one nuclear bomb… you know. You can ROCK IT.
Here have a couple of close ups:
And a picture in its natural habitat, i.e., on the shelf above my couch, hanging out with a Minecraft witch and Princess Bubblegum:
Here’s this week’s video. Short and sweet.
My list of challenges is dwindling, so, if you’ve got a challenge for me, I’d love to hear it!
A few years back, 7Gypsies released a line of “Artist Printer’s Trays” that held 9 Artist Trading Cards. They were super cool, but at $25-$30 a pop, it was difficult to justify buying 217 of them, which is a minimally exaggerated version of the number I wanted to own.
On a trip to Michaels recently, I discovered that if you don’t mind having a cheap balsa-wood imitation of this tray, you can get it for under $10 – and if you have a coupon, it’s almost like you’re stealing. Once you have it, of course, you can then customize it to fit the decor in your room, the collection of cards you want to display, the banana pepper shake you had with dinner – whatever!
I decided to fill this one with nine ATCs by one single phenomenally talented artist, a woman named Carolyn who enjoys a lot of the same geeky things I enjoy, like Farscape, Stargate: Atlantis, and Star Trek. What I love about the harlequin pattern I painted on the tray is that from across the room, when I’m sitting on the futon and the light is right, the shadowbox looks dimensional, as if the white boxes were popping out and the black boxes were receding.
All that for under $10!