Giving Myself an Assignment

I found a treasure at TJMaxx the other day – a small decorated box that holds little pieces of note paper.  The design on it is beautiful.  Various motifs are dotted around the surface with smaller motifs in the spaces between.  It inspired me to create my own.

Originally I have planned to paint the design and actually go ahead and make a box, but one that’s big enough to hold a 1/4 sheet of paper so that I can hide my unsightly pile of cut-up scrap paper.  But once I started painting, I thought I would just like to frame it.  I may actually do both by making prints and making boxes from them.  We’ll see.

I have long been attracted to designs like this but never quite knew how to start.  So I decided to structure an assignment for myself.  I began with a magazine – the current issue of “Birds and Blooms” – and selected several images that I liked.  I figured that the fact that all the images came from the same issue (therefore same time period) and were all related to the same subject (birds and flowers) that they would have a natural affinity for each other.

I drew each motif, cut them out, and arranged them the way I wanted them.  The next step was to trace the design and transfer it to the illustration board.   I masked out the main motifs then added glazes in the background.  It was lots of fun to blend the colors of washes, pull out some spirals from the wet paint, paint the little white feathers, then add the diamond shapes with more glaze.  When I was done with the background color I removed the mask and started painting the main motifs.  This piece is acrylic – soft bodied acrylics thinned even further with water.  I certainly enjoy working with these acrylics as thought they were watercolor.  They seem so much easier to use than watercolor, and the opaque option is always there when it’s needed.


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