Updated: May 17, 2020
April - May 2020.
I was surfing the net for inspiration for mixed media floral design, and found that Elizabeth St Hilare was offering an online workshop. I jumped right in! I've always enjoyed her work, so this would be inspiring, fun, and give me a little interaction with other COVID but-ins, as well.
Elizabeth is famous for her "Paper Paintings" — printing interesting papers in all the colors on her palette and then tearing and applying them as her "brush strokes." I love mixed media so this is right up my alley. I love to document what I do so I can remember what I did, and share it with my grands & others who may be interested in the process. After learning about and gathering supplies, this piece was done in three main stages: 1. Initial sketch & loose underpainting 2. Creating interesting papers in my color palette 4. Applying papers & finishing
INITIAL SKETCH & LOOSE UNDERPAINTING
We used a cradled wood panel (20 x24). The hard surface is easier for this technique than a soft canvas. After 2 coats of gesso and solid coat of a neutral gray, I sketched the basic design with conte crayon so I could wipe off mistakes easily. When I was satisfied, I lightly sprayed it with varnish.
(Note: I actually hated my first attempt and started all over after I had already started painting it! I'm so glad I did!)
For the underpainting, I used Golden Fluid Acrylics, but any paints would work just fine. You can tell by looking at the final piece that I left out parts and added in other pieces.
If you have any paint samples, they work great to keep you on tract with the colors you have chosen. It's worth taking a trip to your favorite paint store.
CREATING INTERESTING PAPERS
We used a Gel press and brayer with Golden Fluid Acrylics. I happened to have fluid acrylics because I like the translucent look they have when layers. This was recommended, but I could have used whatever I had on hand.
Step one was to create a myriad of colorful papers in light colors in your chosen palette. I used rice paper, old books, maps, sheet music, and eve junk mail. Use do not use anything shiny.
From here you begin to do multiple layers of colors and textures on top of the papers using masks, stencils, stamps, leaves, and other found objects around the house. [If you are interested in learning more about this process, Elizabeth St Hilare has lots of great tutorials on You Tube to get ou started.] She also has stamps for sale through Rubber Moon, and Stencils designs with Joggles. Since I was taking the class form her I decided to order some - I love them and this part was really fun. It was relaxing and I just enjoyed the process of playing with colors.
STAMPS, STENCILS, & MASKS
One thing she had us do after our papers had several light and medium shades with texture on them was to pritnt a deep color over leaves that we gathered form outside. Of course nothing was up yet here in WI so I substituted some
artificial leaves instead. She mentioned to put the veiny side down on the ink and press. after the paper is removed, you lift the leaves off and to a "ghost print" on another sheet that shows all the leaves and veins. Then we cut out our leaf prints.
Next we tried out leaf arrangements on our projects and chose one we liked. background pieces go on first on other shapes over lap them. I used Liquitex Gloss Medium - bunched it on the board where I wanted a leaf, placed the leaf, and then brushed the Medium on top to flatten out any wrinkles. This is what mine looked like.
APPLYING PAPERS AND FINISHING
Now it was time to start tearing and applying the colors on the flowers. Using the underpainting as guide for lights and darks, I chose papers to use for the petals. Again I used the Gloss medium - applied it to the board, placed the piece, and brushed Medium on top to smooth out the paper and attach it.
For each kind of flower I laid out my papers on the table so I could see my choices of lights and darks.Elizabeth says you can never have too many papers - and I now know that is TRUE!
This reminds me - I used a Masterson Wet palette for my paints - first time I tried that and wit worked great. Kept my paints usable for a couple weeks without drying out.
I continued to work on each flower, working back to front, and being careful to check my lights and darks. When I was done I wanted to loosen it up a bit so I sketched over the top with conte crayon and used a light spray of Liquitex Satin Spray Varnish to set the conte crayon. I may still brush on Satan Varnish as the big finale.
I'd highly recommend Elizabeth St Hilare's You Tube videos it you'd like to experiment with any of these techniques. She also has a variety of learning experiences available on her site - PaperPaintings.com