Monday, July 24, 2017

Creativity On Little Spaces

     At 5" high, there is a kind of whimsey
     in small, mini birdhouses that invites
     you to ... experiment. At a buck each
     what is there to lose?

As I struggle to get my mojo again ... after all that I had to do to get settled here again, I have struggled on working up my interest in painting canvases again. Instead I seem to have gravitated to mini wooden birdhouses, you know, those little dollar apiece birdhouses you can buy at just about any craft store, now even in Walmart and Target who seem to be muscling into the craft market. In fact, I have discovered these small birdhouses offer some really interesting shapes and provide a mini platform learning experience that I have been able to use on their larger cousins.
   There is a new kind of discipline, for me at least, being able to come up with a variety of new (and sometimes) old designs used in new ways ... often using a new combination of colors.
   I have always been fascinated with the vivid colors found in some of the Mexican crafts, most notably the hand carved and painted Oaxacan "Monsters" that are painted in wild color combinations that go against everything we are taught in regular western oriented art classes. I seem to remember that vibrant colors are used in India as well.
      Facing front with its folk art flowers 
      and leaves in three tones each.
   However, there is a sensibility that artists must usually respect attracting the widest audience available. Yet I wonder; do we give up some of our own uniqueness in trying to be average?
   Rather than use red with FolkArt's Cobalt Blue I decided to try DecoArts Traditions Vermillion with a butter color as the main triad.  To me, at least, the colors seemed to work well and by using gold as an accent it all started to fall together.
     Sides and back mirror the design
     elements that are used on the front.
     Color is important as well as their
   Once the main body was painted, the top was divided into 8 sides, rather than four using the butter and Vermillion colors as contrasts against the blue side.
    Because the use of the propellor  - windmill effect is so strong, I decided that I would repeat this on the sides as well. Flowers with leaves climbed up the sides to the pseudo blades and the back was allowed it's climbing flowers from base to top.
    The tops of birdhouses are as important
    as the sides in creating a total look. Many
    times the design goes up into the roof. 
   Even top views have to provide a kind of backdrop to complete the complete view, the complete effect.    
  And as always, I coat the entire surface with an antiqued layer of something like burnt raw umber, that tends to blend the colors while toning any color that is a bit too bright helping to create a more harmonious whole. If you have never tried this effect, give it a try. I have learned that I can use bright, even glaring colors that suddenly seem to fade and / age when a wash of brown is applied a bit strongly at the edges and faded towards the center. It works every time!
   To give the flowers a bit more depth I frequently dry wash white creating brighter and darker tones so that it doesn't have a flat depth. I find that giving things either a shadow or a bright area, this tends to make the design float on top the the background surface. 
   All in all, 11 colors were used here plus the brown tone used to antique the birdhouse. Black and orange Sharpies were used to outline some of the forms and green Sharpies were used to give the leaves veins.
   The brushes you use are important as well. I used a liner a lot, a #8 Filbert to apply the larger flat areas of color and each end of a chopstick for the different sized dots. Sharpies are useful for defining areas of color you to define shapes.
   It's great fun ... the material surface is cheap, really cheap, you usually already have the materials needed so all you need is the time. I have learned so many techniques I was afraid to use on a larger birdhouse and best of all, if it's that bad, sand and repaint with a new base coat!!!

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to read earlier blogs where the emphasis is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always have. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ...

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