Thursday, 22 January 2015

LifeBook Week04: Tightrope

Week four of LifeBook was supposed to be a 'Bonus' lesson, less demanding than a 'Main' lesson. However, it turned out to be a full-blown big project for me. For inspiration we were shown a fast forward video by Patti Ballard, who has a unique whimsy style. You can see more of her work on her website.

The video depicted a girl on a high wire with the sentiment "courage, dear heart". We were left to decide how we wanted to build up our collaged backgrounds. I chose a piece of scrapbooking paper, which I stuck onto my 9" X 12" watercolour paper. On top of this I collaged pieced of French music paper (printed from the internet) and Chinese book paper (kindly sent to me by a fellow blogger) and a raffle ticket with the number 369, which holds personal significance to me. I brayered some white acrylic pain over this to tone down, distress and unify the background.

This is what my project looked like after these steps:

At this point I debated with myself whether I should paint the figure directly onto my backgroung or draw it on a  separate sheet of paper, instead. Since it was a rather light background, I thought I would try working on it directly. I transferred the same image presented in the lesson with the help of some carbon paper. It's a little trick I use until I'm more confident to draw my own figures. I figure, when you're a student, this is allowed.

As soon as I started  paining over my sketch, I noticed that the scrapbooking paper had lifted from the watercolour paper in several places, including the face, which was caused by not enough adhesive (gel medium) used in some areas. I almost abandoned my project because of this but used a desperate measure to solve this problem and it seemed to have worked!

If this ever happens to you, this is what you can do! Get a sharp craft knife and very carefully slice the top layer where the air bubble is, making sure not to cut through the bottom layer. Take a small piece of paper and place some gel medium on it and slide it into the opening, pressing the opening shut as you remove the piece of paper, depositing the gel medium in the process. Smooth it out making sure there's no air trapped underneath. There will be just a tiny cut visible, easily covered by subsequent layers of paint. Problem solved!

Solution to air bubbles!
This project was a bit of an experimental piece for me because the instructions didn't call for any particular supplies to be used. I decided to try Portfolio water-soluble oil pastels on the face and I quite like the results. Because these pastels are watersoluable, they blend well with gesso too.

After painting my figure, I added a few elements that were not part of the lesson to add a personal touch. For example, I put a bird in her hand instead of a heart, I added a real bow instead of drawing one, I collaged some butterflies cut from napkins, I added some stamping to the background, I wrote 'tightrope' on the line and changed the sentiment to 'be extraordinary'.

Here's the completed project. I'm quite proud of it, especially that I managed to divert disaster when my background started bubbling!