Monday, September 12, 2016

Crafting A Yellow Birdhouse: Additions Make All The Difference

Basic birdhouse, new feet, wooden
hearts and wooden trees.
One of the things I have to be aware of, when you are on blood thinners, is to beware of very sharp objects. Anyone who takes this medicine knows what I am talking about. A cut to the average person becomes a slasher movie in very short order for me. Yet, I am never completely happy with the items that I can buy.

Even though I forgot to photograph the birdhouse in its raw state, it still looks pretty bleak here. Adding the feet takes it a step above the original state and the addition of wooden hearts gives a dimensional embellishment to the painting that will follow.

Thinking the sides were a bit boring, I added wooden cutout trees and planned to paint them "treelike" and would glue them at the end of the project.

Armed with a pencil, pen and soft eraser the birdhouse takes shape!
This project started off as a sketch, one that I worked on at the new Palm Springs Art Group's studio, Studio 9. It happened quickly and during that afternoon I was able to create two designs!

Choosing a body color is often quite difficult. I try to decide on a basic color and based on that add other colors that I think compliment both the body color and what I envision in minds-eye. It may sound easy but can lead to all kinds of problems, especially when the colors don't work out the way you thought they would.

Putting the colors together
When we were decorating the new upstairs master bedroom after completing a second story on our home, we spent many hours deciding what colors we wanted up there. By dormering the roof front and back we would have lots of light but how could we tame the south facing windows? We settled on a peach paint for the ceilings and some of the walls but the bedroom portion was to have a forest green wallpaper and curtains. The wallpaper had small flowers arching across the walls yet went well with the peach paint. Trust me ... you had to see it. For carpeting we picked a medium coral color that won out over a pale mint green seen in the wallpaper. We felt the mint green would have made it look too dead. Since we couldn't find anyone to paint this new area, I would spend hours every night, after work, painting peach paint on new drywalled ceilings and walls. Next we had the wallpaper man come to put up the wallpaper and the next day the carpeting man so we could move upstairs before Christmas.

I will never forget the night after the wallpaper was put up. I dashed upstairs and looked at what had been done. I thought I had been sucker punched it looked so ugly. The deep green didn't go with the walls at all. With the carpeting man coming first thing in the morning all I could think of was that I was going to have to paint another color all over again and this time on top of the carpet and wallpapered walls. When my mother-in-law, there to let the carpet man in, called me the next day, urging me to come home for lunch, I went with a heavy, HEAVY heart. She was all smiles when I walked in the door and motioned me to go up and look. I can remember trudging up those stairs thinking, can it get worse?
I tend to paint the back to
mirror the front, many times with
a fake black bird-hole.

When I opened the door and beheld the carpeted room, I was stunned at how wonderful it looked. It was simply perfect. Somehow, that coral carpet pulled it all together just like the samples we had looked at and agonized over. Two of the three were disasters. When all the pieces were put together it worked. For artists, for many other people as well, colors work that way.

Painting the roof makes a difference.
I started this birdhouse at home, trying out the colors to see what would happen. The yellow was very bright but could handle the red and white as well as the three greens I chose ... black green, a Hauser Green and a citrus green. The dark green on the base was a wonderful contrast to the red feet and the various "leaves" were used from dark to light up the red hearts.

Once I got the front, back and sides painted, I stumbled yet again. What to do with the roof? For many years I would ignore the roof and either draw tiles, straw or use a multi colored series of strokes on top of a dark color ... usually an uninspired brown. I have moved away from that but what to do here. Like my home, the roof is very prominent. Finally after a bit of experimenting, I decided to try using the same colors for the roof as well as the trees setting them both off against the yellow.

Picking up the dark green from the base, I used teals and raw sienna stokes picked up from the tree to see what it would look like. The wonderful thing with acrylics is that you are merely another coat away from perfection! Putting two hearts on each side of the roof picked up the hearts on the front and back and made it look more unified. It is so tempting to add color and then more colors before you realize you are dealing with 15 or 20 colors.
Painted but not aged.

Just like the wild layouts in the early days of desktop publishing where a page might have 6 or 7 fonts and was usually unreadable (they had to call in retired typesetters to teach a new generation the secrets of typesetting) adding more and more colors does not make a craft lovely. If you study the finest pieces, the ones you might like the most you will see there are only 8 or 9 basic colors. Much Chinese and Japanese pottery used just blue on a white base to create some of the loveliest designs ever seen.

The antiqued final
What makes it lovely is those colors are repeated over and over yet in different and exciting pairings. I've had classes where just the face of a Santa had 15 different colors. It took so long to get those colors for just a dab, that I mixed them to the horror of my table mates. Coco Chanel had it right, "Less is more." It really is.

My style and yes it my alone is that while I use bright, vibrant colors, I really want each of my pieces to look old not new. I have always tended to antique each piece after taking a class that showed how bright, maybe discordant colors can be brought together when the whole is toned down. I loved the concept and couldn't wait to go home and put a few of my already finished, and admittedly garish pieces, to the test. I loved the effect and was especially pleased when people would ask where I had found this lovely old birdhouse, tray or platter.  When I said it was something I had done, they would stare, pick up the piece and give it the once over.

So, we don't have to just settle for what is out there in the marketplace. Just like scrapbooking I would guess, it is what you add to the project that makes a delightful whole.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to explore earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design affects our lives ... and always has. 

1 comment:

  1. It's beautiful, Alan, as is all of your work. I, too, have a tendency to lead towards the bright and vibrant. I've used different mediums to 'antique' my work but always come back to my original style. We are what we are. You make me want to practice my stroke work more. Have a lovely day.