So I was working on a gift for a little buddy of mine last week and ran into several problems. The biggest one being, I had no idea when to stop.
So when the kids and I are invited to birthday parties, I like to whip up little canvases for their friends and add art supplies to the gift bags. I believe then the gift is personal, and it gives the kiddos something to do that is creative. And for this particular little guy, designing the canvas would be easy. He was having a super hero themed birthday, so a super hero themed canvas obviously would be the design.
I knew from the little guy’s mom that an american theme would go over well, so off the races I went, painting a 12 by 12 canvas red and laying down old Japanese newspapers and printed tissue paper. I scrubbed on some white gesso, covering up a lot of the underpinning and slapped on some wide blue and white checked tape. (Needless to say, sometimes making the underpinning is my favorite part of creating a canvas.)
Again I added more red paint. I am trying to use up a lot of my old acrylic tubes lying around, and for this piece I broke out some brilliant red paint because it felt warm and youthful. Like most of my youth canvases I pulled out the molding paste and my favorite alphabet stencil from Dylusions. This time in hopes of keeping with the overall red theme of the piece I colored my molding paste red using Dylusions postbox red ink spray. I like to use my ink sprays to color molding paste. Yes, it makes the molding paste a little thiner, but it does not loose its vibrance. I find if you add acrylic paint to color molding paste, it fades quickly and badly.
Then came my main focus, the hero of the day, our super boy. Yes, I’ll admit, I cheated a little bit on this one, using the Toby stamp from Julie Nutting and coloring him with my alcohol markers. However, I added a little of my own touch to the stamp by drawing in his own personal cape. I also made each article of clothing a separate piece of artist quality card stock, and the whole thing was liberally covered in a layer of Golden Clear Tar. I LOVE clear tar. It is silky smooth and super shiny. It just gives add on focus images like this a really special feel. I then took Fiskars Kapow! stamp set and stamped out several images, coloring them in with some acrylic paint sticking to primary colors. I stenciled on my SUPER HUNTER title, glued things down and called it a day.
The problem was that it wasn’t really done. I mean it looked okay, but not great. But it felt flat. It felt static. So I dripped some red Golden high flow acrylic down the top of the canvas and almost immediately regretted doing it. All that work, and I had ruined the canvas. But if I have learned anything in mix media art, almost all things can be corrected, so I set about correcting my boo-boo. Here is where I get in trouble. I don’t always know when to stop. White acrylic got dripped down the canvas to fix the red drips. The ultramarine blue got dripped down the canvas from the bottom, and again, I shouldn’t have. So more white got dripped. Layer after layer of paint got applied in then dabbed off trying to stop the damage. And then I realized, I just had to stop. I had to step back and let time do its thing. And when I stepped back and let the whole piece just sit for a while, I realized, the piece really was done. All I really needed was to ground the super boy in with a soft shadow.
I don’t know still if the canvas would have been better if I left it alone, or mistakes really added to the whole of the piece. I’ll never really be certain. But I do know that stepping back and letting the the whole piece rest allowed me to realize it was really done. The good news was my little buddy loved seeing his name and a little boy that looked a lot like him on a canvas.