Our local art club had an art challenge last month and the subject was “trees.” Here’s the piece I did, entitled “My Tree is My Temple. It’s mixed media. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos throughout the process, so all I have to show you is this finished product.
I began by developing the overall concept that the center would be a watercolor portrait of a tree on Masa paper, while the outside would be a collage with acrylic pastes and paints, then the calligraphy and birds.
So I began by applying the masa paper to the center part. I crumpled the paper and let it soak in water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, I coated the part of the board (oh, I should have said that the surface is a cradled board that I made from hardboard and pine strips) with PVA glue watered down to half strength. I wrung out the masa paper, uncrumpled it, and smoothed it over the glued area. You can, to some extent, control how smooth the surface is by rolling – or not – with a brayer. I rolled a little bit.
The next step was the collage around the edges. I collected the papers I wanted to use and “glued” them down with matte gel medium. I prefer to tear the edges. Sometimes I overlap the papers, and sometimes I fold them down over the edges. When I was done, I obscured some of the paper with a thin coat of gesso, then applied molding paste and coarse molding paste here and there, usually with a palette knife. This is how I built up the “frame” around the watercolor paper. The whole time I was working on the collage, I was careful not to get anything on the masa paper in the center.
Next I completed the watercolor of the tree. I wanted to finish it first so that I could key the values in the frame to not overpower the tree. I stenciled the diamond shapes at the bottom with a cardboard cut-out, and did the lettering with a brush.
Using Golden fluid acrylics, I then washed glazes of color over the collage area until I was happy with the color and values. The next to last step was to paint the birds, which I also did in acrylic. Finally, I applied the gold paint, which is also Golded fluid acrylic.