Power of Stillness

I’m trying to digest using watercolor on rice masa paper like we did in  Helen Schaeffer Garcia’s class at the recent Create Mixed Media Retreat in Seattle by doing several paintings of my own.  This is my first effort.

For some crazy reason I don’t like the feel of painting on canvas – I don’t like the way the surface gives under my brush.  So now I’m putting the masa paper on board instead.  I’m just using 1/4″ thick hardboard that I get from the local home improvement store.  I buy it in 2′ by 4′ pieces and cut it to the size I need.  I made up two 8″ x 10″ panels and three 6″ x 8″ panels.  This owl is 8″ x 10″.

To prepare the panels, I first sprayed them with primer (also from the home improvement store) then coated them top and edges with Gesso using a small foam paint roller.  I crumpled and soaked the masa paper, squeezed the excess water out of it, uncrumpled it, and applied it straight to the wet gesso which acted as an adherent.  After drying the panels overnight, I had lovely surfaces to paint on.

In Helen’s class, due to time restraints, we were painting on a surface that was always at least a little wet.  But at home I could use as much drying time as I wanted – not to mention a hair dryer – so had the option of painting on wet, damp, or dry paper.  This allowed me to control the bleed of color somewhat, so that I could – to some extent – choose whether or not I wanted a hard or a soft edge.

I used watercolors (including iridescents), Lumiere acrylics (which are metallic), black and white Uniball pens, and a bit of colored pencil.  I’m very happy with the result and look forward to doing more.

By the way, the lettering is the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet which I used to transliterate the English “power of stillness” which is a mystical meaning sometimes attributed to the snowy owl.  I like the look of writing without being distracted by the meaning.  But I also like for the message to be real.


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