Saturday, October 3, 2015

disaster and doubt

As a complete beginner, making bad art isn't a surprise to me; but I can't help but wonder if I'm a fool for thinking that I can develop these skills at such a late age.

When I tackled my most recent project - a Day 11 Zentangle on Artist Trading Card using Pentel Color Brushes in black and in gray (the latter for shading) - I approached it with a fresh attitude: my previous Zentangles had been about filling spaces and getting the work 'done'. This time. I would open my mind to the possibilities of the card and I would let something from within guide me towards creativity.

The tangles should flow on the card, I decided, so I started with Fescu at the top. Despite having practiced with the color brushes in my sketchbook before touching the ATC, Fescu went very wrong when I tried drawing the third one as though it had wrapped around the second.

That's when the nausea set in.

I'd already torn up one ATC that I'd barely begun, something that should *never* happen in the Zentangle practice:

There are no mistakes in Zentangle, so there is no need for an eraser.

That's from Beckah Krahula, author of One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun. Her book is my Zentangle guide.

Today, I'm not sure I agree with her about mistakes. Take a look at the disaster that is my second Day 11 ATC:


Fescu Number 2 seems to be sporting a hula hoop. And Purk, in the right hand top-most corner, looks like a bad slice of pizza. I still can't make Flux (bottom right) look 'alive', and tossing the Echoism variation between Festune (bottom left) and Flukes (the diamond-like one), doesn't look natural at all. I was trying for that sense of flow but it still looks like I was just filling empty spaces.

Oh, and notice the smudging on the right side of the card? My black color brush tends to be a little inconsistent with *its* flow and I clearly moved my finger through a still-wet spot.

Ugh.

The one positive - because I have to find one - is I love how dark the ink is. It's very rich, even if the scan doesn't show that well.

About the rest, I'm not being picky, I swear. Here are some other icky productions:

Learning to do a dry on wet watercolor wash didn't go very well. I used eight 9 x 12 pieces of watercolor paper - including one very expensive piece of Arches hot press - before giving up and seeking some YouTube videos on the topic. I found one particularly helpful because I learned I could tip my paper to make excess paint flow into the spaces where I was getting streaks.





My ninth attempt at the dry wash (and a few wet on wets), was much, much better.

The good (with notations):




The bad and the ugly:

Arches paper

Canson paper


Very streaky.

But that's not all. There was my stamping project/obsession using Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

I was trying to practice the "Stamp and Blend" technique from Brush Marker Magic by Marie Browning. The idea is to paint the ridges of an outline stamp with appropriately-colored Tombows, stamp your paper to transfer the paint, then use the Tombow colorless blender to "pull the color from the stamped lines into the open areas...".

I used a stamp called "Softly" from Penny Black that I had purchased at R & R Scrapbooking.



I tried and I tried to Stamp and Blend. I experimented with several different kinds of paper - even photo paper! - and each result was either boring or icky.





That's when I turned to Google and found this:


Absolutely beautiful.


I switched up my colors, and that's when things really went to hell in a handbasket.

The photo paper disaster. The ink dries almost immediately, so blending isn't really an option.

This one looked so boring I added a halo and a wash. Ick.

Still trying to get the right orange. This one turned into practice paper.

My stamps crossed where they shouldn't have. Adding paint to the trouble spot was a 'nope'.

Crossed a leaf again.

Wash with no halo still didn't work.

It was time to find out how the cardmaker had done it. I went to Heather Telford's blog, and that's when I realized that Stamp and Blend wasn't going to get me where I wanted. Only painting would. I added the Antique Linen Distress Ink Heather used for stamping to my wish list of supplies and eventually found it in marker format at The Scrapmobile in Calgary.

Then I set myself to identifying the Tombow colors I wanted by testing them on a scrap of the same paper I'd be painting.




I'm not sure it's finished, but the current product isn't bad.



I still think there's too much white, but once I rehearse how it looks against cardstock I may find it's okay. I may also try some simple embellishments, if the right ones cross my path. Of course, I'm open to suggestions! The finished piece is intended as part of a congratulatory card for an expecting friend, complete with a message written in calligraphy ... once I learn calligraphy.

So I may not be good, but I *am* persistent. I just hope persistent gets me to good.