3/18/09

TO SAVE OR NOT TO SAVE?

Three weeks ago, this started out as a bubble print. It was not at all what I'd envisioned so I darkened the background hoping to save it. It looked worse, as you can see here.

Still hoping to salvage something, I headed to the sink to wash off whatever would come loose. I knew most of the bubbles would stay since they were acrylic, but I figured I'd loose that precious white paper in the process. After running water over it for quite a while, I rubbed off as much paint as I could with my fingertips and a sponge.

The results were a softer but paler picture that had no impact and looked really wimpy. When all else fails, it's time to crop.

Below you can see how the painting has been cropped off of the left hand side of the original. The paper was still a bit damp from all that scrubbing, so I used my version of Nicholas Simmon's sewing machine stitch - kind of hoping the old adage would be true - a stitch in time ... It helped. I continued by adding some more detail, a few birch branches, and some splatters.

While it's a huge improvement over the intial attempt, it does look more like a pastel than a watercolor. The finished piece is only an eighth of a sheet of paper.

The last pix here is an upclose of the details so you can see the bubbled textures on the trunk. The other half of that painting was my next challenge, and you'll see it in the tomorrow's post.
Several people have emailed me about the details of bubble print making so here's one of my responses back. It's a little wordy but gives more info about this process.

Mixing up the bubbles - I use those almost disposable plastic Glad containers that are big squares or rectangles, the shallower the better. In each one, I put in 6 oz. water, 3 oz. clear Dawn dishwashing soap, and 2 oz. fluid acrylics (or craft acrylics - just use a bit more or test the color to see how dark it'll be.) Mix really well, and plan to re-stir right before blowing the bubbles since the paint settles on the bottom.

Use hot press watercolor paper if you have it, but any w/c surface will do. With the paper beside you, blow into the freshly stirred bubble mixture until the bubbles reach over the top of the container. I often tip the container so I have more water to blow into. As soon as the bubbles are stacked high, place your paper down into the top layer or so of bubbles. Some of the best prints come from just pressing into a few bubbles rather than pushing the paper far down into the stack of bubbles. (You have less than 15 seconds from when the bubbles are blown to get a good print of bubbles, before the color starts to fade.) Lift straight back up, trying not to move the paper from side to side while it's touching the bubbles. Then, blow more bubbles since those are already loosing their color. Repeat with new bubbles and new colors as much as you want. Printing more bubbles into wet bubbles can create some neat effects if you're lucky.

Then the hard part is deciding how to use the bubble printed surface in a painting. Some 'look' for an image - which is hardly ever successful - usually looks too contrived. Others consider things that are curvilinear which will lend themselves to the surface texture of the bubbles. There's no limit to what will work - so stretch your imagination. The bubbles create a wonderful surprising texture to whatever part of the painting you don't repaint, and they still show through where darker paint is added. It's actually super easy to do this, and I keep the bubble solution sealed up in the containers for a month or so to re-use. Good luck and have fun.

9 comments:

Chris Beck said...

I like it. Maybe not what you had in mind to start with, but it works.

Deb L├ęger said...

Wow! That cropped version is just soooooo impressive! Gorgeous! And thanks very much for explaining in detail how to do the bubbles technique. I'm definitely going to try it.

Anita Davies said...

Nice save Sandy!

Vicki Greene said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and thought processes. You are a wonderful artist and teacher.

shicat said...

This is so enlightning,I will never look at a failed painting the same again. Washing,scrubbing, cropping,and my favorite is the very last picture,the close-up.

Janet said...

Thank you for being so generous and sharing your processes. I really enjoy seeing how you work.

debwardart said...

Just a word about darkening those backgrounds - DON'T!!! It's just like you to keep going, and going, and . . . . I liked it to begin with!
Will have to try the bubbles!
(Just took me 3 tries to publish - you know you are old when you forget your own email!!!)

Sandy Maudlin said...

Chris, It's really not what I had inmind but that often is the norm.

Deb, Do give it a try and post your results. Check out yesterday's references too of the bubble paintings done by others.

Thanks, Anita. Might make a delicious background for your drawings if you kept the bubble solution really pale???

Vicki, you are so kind and always encouraging in your comments. I so enjoy your blog, too. Keep producing beauty.

Cathy, Glad you liked the close up. All were challenging yet a lot of fun to do.

Hi Janet, Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

Thanks, Deb, for stopping by. The original really was sad...amateur, and the darks of course did nothing more than darken a bad painting. I had hope they'd help. The final results were worth the effort and you know I love challenges, too.

Liana Yarckin said...

this sounds like so much fun!!! thanks for sharing the details. i want to try this with my kids for a summer outdoor project.