Thursday, August 28, 2014

Found Objects: Creating A Cohesive Whole

Creating a masterpiece - tabletop bird sanctuary
As I mentioned earlier I have been on a tear trying to gather and organize all the accessory items I have purchased over the years. I spent a weekend gathering everything stacked in my work-hidey hole, then getting plastic boxes to put similar items together in - FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME! What a revelation that was! I found that I bought the same things over and over again, friends gave me things I already had and after I was all done, or so I thought, I find another bag filled with the newest items!

The same thing occurred with my paints. I have nearly empty bottles of favorite colors and three of something else. I guess the sale was too good to pass up. However, I discovered this is a wonderful way to "inventory" my cache and I came up with an amazing idea.
Putting on base colors

I had purchased some small, non-functional birdhouses on a stick. Knowing me, probably for a buck a piece. Once I got them home though I wondered, "Now what?" That was several years ago. In cleaning I found wood trees I've used before, a round base and these little birdhouses. Something clicked and I thought why not put the birdhouses together and create a little bird sanctuary? I would go back to my creative roots and decorate them in Pennsylvania Dutch motif. However they would be in colors those Dutch never saw. Rather than a static vertical pose I also drilled holes in the base in several angles. Maybe I am wrong but it gives it a bit of interest and they can be pulled out and moved around.

After the base coats and into the forest!
For me, and probably any artist, colors are always a challenge. After writing about the color wheel, I discovered that that bare bone one I have let me down. Using yellow, orange, cobalt and baby blue, for the bases of the birdhouses, the roof colors suggested by the color wheel just didn't make any sense. I wanted color and contrasts.

I had the same problem with the trees. I had four different shapes or sizes and I didn't want them to be the same color. Trees never are. The largest, I would guess a fir, was painted the darkest green, then moving down the line using a bit lighter green as the sizes diminished. I used the two smallest as one tree though they are painted differently.

Needless to say, this has taken days. I would have to quit because even though there were many pieces they all dried at different times and I had to literally walk away. When things started to smear it was time to quit.

Did I really use all those colors?
The shock was, clearly shown here, is how many colors it takes! I have ranted that we use too many colors and teachers spend too much time telling us to use this shade next to that one and they are so close that even I, and I am very color sensitive, can't often tell the difference nor care.

After taking that photo I decided it was time to calm down here and use those same colors in other places just like a good painting. So greens were used on the birdhouses, the Dutch motifs picked up the colors of the base and other birdhouses so that by the time it was all done, it became a unified whole. It was bright and cheerful and cohesive.

All the decoration pieces

Let me repeat this, colors need to create a unified cohesive whole. I truly believe this is what separates a nice project from a great one. There has to be a cohesion of color throughout the entire project. You can't keep introducing new colors without at least a passing glance at the colors you have already used. I learned this from painting and realized that the same rule applies to our crafts as well.

This is very similar to the beginning of desktop publishing. Suddenly graphic artists had thousands of fonts to use and did in magazines, newsletters, posters - sort of like what was done for the circus. It WAS a circus in print! Then it was realized no one could or would read this stuff so they had to hire the old, retired hot Linotype typesetters to teach the "kids" good typesetting.

Finished: Birdhouse Village Decoration
Look round your craft room and see what you might have laying around. It is so easy to get inspired if you pick up a few things and see if they work together. If one item doesn't another one might! Its fun and yes extremely creative. Remember though, it is the colors that tie these things together.

As the cleaning and discovering continues, I will next be looking at all the birdhouses I have amassed over the years. Don't ask, you don't want to know. They are stashed all over the garage. And the time has come! Where did they all come from?

Last night I dragged out two designs I have never used before and am going to try the crackle coating and see how that works.

Please visit my craft store at and my fine art store at Thank you for stopping by and reading!

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