Thursday, September 8, 2011


Let me tell you about Tuesday night.  My index card prompt was water.  There should be a million creative ways to use the idea of water, but I was stumped.  I think it's because I'm still really hung up on using red and I'm way too literal to equate red and water in my brain.

I started painting a bunch of different red backgrounds - wavy red, spattered red, dripping red, etc.  I wanted the background to have water-like qualities, but unfortunately when you create water patterns with red paint it just ends up looking like blood.  I'm really questioning the red thing at this point, and I'm no closer to a vision for the finished card.

So I start thinking about the "path" theme, and how water follows paths.  I had vague, nagging sense of a saying or proverb related to this, but no amount of googling could find it.  Finally I realized the phrase I was looking for was "Water seeks its own level".   This seemed fitting, as I am always trying to find balance and equilibrium in my life.

Thinking of water and paths also made me think of plumbing and I have this great old DIY book about installing a second bathroom in your home.  (Found at the library book sale for $.50).  I decide to try some image transfers of pipe diagrams in spite of the fact that all my previous image transfer attempts have ended in teeth-gnashing, foot-stomping, hair-tearing tantrums.

So, if you're keeping score at home, we now have:
1. a color I don't like
2. patterns that look like blood
3. a technique that drives me insane
4.  no sense of purpose

Things are not going well.

I get some pipe images transferred on my cards with mixed results.  I seriously do not like this project.  I  wish I'd taken pictures at this point so you could see the depths of my despair.

I need a focal image.  I start flipping through magazines and googling for pictures of faucets.  I cut out some photos, I print and cut out some clip art. I try laying various images in various positions.  I try more image transfer.  Not rocking my world.

One simple clip art image kind of grabs me.  It's got a black background and a white faucet and a clean graphic look to it.

I don't like it just sitting on the page, but I'm inspired to pull out the x-acto knife and cut away blocks of white.  I'm liking this.  I lay it over one of the cards and the background shows through the part I cut away.  The black background only covers half the card, so there's red drips showing through the cutaway, and red drips on the bottom half.  I stamp my words on the bottom half and I think I kind of like it until I back away and see that it looks like a faucet picture plunked over a candy-striper uniform.  FAIL!

I am seriously ready to throw in the towel.

But then.....something shifted.  The creative juices started to flow.  The best part of the candy-striper card was the cut-out, so I wondered how else I could work with that idea.  First I traced the image onto a styrofoam tray to create a simple monoprint:

Kind of interesting, but the lines kind of ran together and it's not as crisp as I'd like.  Might be worth trying again on a different piece of foam with finer point.

But THEN I decided to turn it into a stencil.  I traced it onto a transparency and cut out all the little bits with an x-acto knife, and  I was so darn happy with the results I started stenciling faucets all over the place.  Well, look!  Here's a few now...

(except I really hate the letter "Y" that came with this alphabet set and I always forget I hate it until it's too late.  All the other letters are so angular and the Y is so curvy.  Guess the stamps were in the dollar-bin for a reason)

So what about that "candy-striper" card?  I'd been tempted to tear it up into tiny pieces and use it as confetti at my pity party, but since I'd set it aside I decided to see if I could salvage it.  I painted the cut-away part of the faucet with white gesso, and covered the ugly part at the bottom with black gesso.  It was looking dreadful, but with some smearing and some drying, it suddenly had a lot of potential.  I'm not done with it, but I'm sort of fascinated by the way it's evolving.

Suddenly it's midnight (again!) and I'm forcing myself to turn off the faucet and go to bed.  Tomorrow I might go back to the cut-out idea.  And I think the faucet image  would make a cool stamp, so maybe I'll do some carving.  And the success of my first stencil-making experiment has made me thinking of all kinds of other stencils I want to make.  If I hadn't promised myself to work within the themes and prompts for September, I would have certainly abandoned this project and gone back to my beloved-but-safe orange and turquoise paint smearing.  Instead, the initial flood of frustration (which nearly drowned me in the sea of despair) found it's level and turned into a fountain of inspiration.

1 comment:

  1. all i can say is wow, i love them, and i love the way you explained it. fantastic job