Monday, September 22, 2014

Butterfly Outlines and Indigo Fabric Design

I have all these outlines of butterfly wing patterns I have been sketching on and off for the last couple years.  

I use them as a reference when doing butterfly artwork. I thought one day it might look interesting to create a simple black and white fabric pattern using the butterfly outlines. I just needed to do a few things like create digital and neater complete versions of some of the outlines, import them into Photoshop, clean it up, arrange it and slice and dice that to make it into a seamless repeat pattern.  That's all...  I let that stew in my brain awhile and played with different art apps on my iPad until I found one that had a line I liked and the controls I needed to make the reflected drawing. Once I solved that problem I made a few butterfly outlines.

The next step is to import them into Photoshop (I use PSE8), extract the line objects so I can move them around and change their size or clean up edges. Fairly simple things easily done in PSE. Somewhere along the line though I decided that instead of doing black on white I would do white outlines on a dark background.  I choose a dark indigo blue as the background color. So the next step was to make my butterfly objects white.

Add some more butterflies and throw in a little crosshatching texture with a Photoshop brush tool.

Add some little flowers.

Now I'm getting somewhere.

Now do it all again in a perfect square. Try to make a balanced arrangement, slice it, rearrange the pieces, fill the center, finish the crosshatching and tadah...  

an indigo butterfly seamless repeat pattern.

And I will probably do this all again, make more flowers, add vines and dots, draw new butterflies. This was a first draft exercise. I want to refine it and eventually have it printed on fabric to see how it looks for real.

You can find instructions on the web for creating a seamless repeat pattern.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where is my Round TUIT II

In my last post I summarized my projects up to around June. Now I'll finish that list to get to where I am today, maybe. But I am never doing just one thing at a time and most projects span days, weeks, months, sometimes years. They come in and out of rotation depending on my mood, interest, or outside events like holidays or gift giving moments. Some of what I do is just for the fun of doing it and learning something new. Sometimes I have new materials (paint, yarn, paper, pencils, etc.) I want to experiment with. Sometimes I actually want to make something to use in my home like a bed quilt, place mats, wall art or a photo collage of the family. And holidays, usually Christmas, always inspire me to make something, usually many things. 

June, July, August...

* Tray collage from an old cookie sheet
What do you do with an old cookie sheet that has seen its last cookie? It's still a piece of metal, it should be useful for something. It may be scratched, stained, dented, rusted or you just don't want to use it anymore because you got fancy new cookie sheets. I had one I was using as a shelf on a wire bakers rack. Not pretty but functional. I never really thought about painting it. I think I just automatically dismissed that idea because I didn't think the paint would stick, it probably would scratch too easily and maybe peel off.  But I've been doing a lot of collage with acrylic gels and paper lately and find that combination seems to stick to anything and creates a great surface to paint and do more collage on. So I took that old cookie sheet to my craft room and completely covered it front and back with a base paper collage layer, painted it some and collaged some colorful cutout papers on the top. It actually came out better than I ever expected. It's not something that can be washed anymore, but it can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Acrylic paint is really tough, it's basically plastic. I wouldn't submerge this tray in water but I would have no problem keeping it clean.

* Streets and blocks collage
This was the collage I started back when I was still trying to make something to put the red harts on mentioned in an earlier post. Like many of my mixed medial projects it became something other than I first imagined as I worked on it. I called it streets and blocks because the first layer of papers were squares of security envelope papers and strips of text pasted in a grid like configuration.  I was playing with an idea but didn't know where I would end up. I still had those hearts I want to put somewhere. After several go rounds with paint and auditioning the hearts I settled on color, placement and the addition of some painted string for accents. I don't love it but I'm moving on to other projects. 

* Inktense blocks, butterflies and Photoshop
I don't do watercolor. My self-taught art experiments are typically acrylic paint over a pencil sketch. As a kid I loved to color and I like making art and improving my skills. I dusted off my drawing pencils and colored pencils a couple years ago and started drawing butterflies. They aren't exactly realistic but I was focusing on the wing patterns and colors. That's really what I wanted to capture. To me, the body is just an oblong shape the wing is attached to. While working on these drawings I saw a blog post or something about colored pencils that were water soluble and that intrigued me. I've been experimenting with them ever since. I first got the Staedtler watercolor crayons and the Derwent Aquatone pencils.  Later on I got the Derwent Intense pencils which are, exactly as they advertise, intense color. Recently I finally got the Derwent Intense Blocks and you can use them in so many ways, they are very nice for making watercolor like artwork. 

This butterfly is one of my little experiments. Of course, one of my pictures is never done until I scan it and create a digital composition with it in photoshop. Then I can print it on a card or something else or post it online.  Then I'm happy with my amateur art. 

*Just painting and playing 
I've been reading a number of books on mixed media techniques and acrylic painting. They inspire me to try different things with color, texture, materials and composition. I never know when an idea will hit me. I absorb all the information and wait for inspiration.  I woke one day up with an idea for a collage and was squirting paint on a canvas in my PJ's before I even had my morning coffee. It wasn't suppose to just be a painting, I had planned other layers of papers and paint, but after adding some alcohol inks and acrylic gloss I liked the result and left it as simply a painting. 

I've also been experimenting with texture base layers for my artwork. This painting had a texture layer I created with wall texture compound. Last year I covered a wall in one of our bedrooms with this stuff and created a stucco texture to cover damage and other imperfections in the wall. It turned out really well but now I have a ton of this stuff leftover. I'll be doing more experimenting using this as a texture base layer for paintings and collage. 

*Star Trek fabric
I love fabric and I love Star Trek. How could I resist Star Trek fabric. Of course I couldn't. It didn't matter what I might end up making with it, if anything. If I had it I would make something, eventually. I first got the fat quarter bundle with a sample of all the prints because I wanted them all. Then I decided I needed more of some of the prints because I liked them the best. Finally I decided I was going to make a single bed size quilt with this fabric and bought extra fabric of some prints. At this point I have enough fabric to make the quilt top and a design planned. Making it is on my To Do list. 

*And a few othr things
To be continued...