Mixed Media – Exhibition Piece

It’s been a while again since I’ve posted – I’ve been busy finishing off end of year projects at college, culminating in our exhibition last night. Here’s just one of my pieces (I’ll share some more in a couple of days), for the final mixed media module, inspired by the work of Jacek Yerka, my ‘chosen’ artist for this term.

And for those that wish to know, here’s how I did it:

I started with an A2 size piece of 3mm foam core board, around which I did a three layer foam core board border, sticking down with high tack double sided tape for ease.
I then added a mitred wood frame using pine moulding from B&Q, and covered everything with a couple of layers of white gesso. I created the gold leaf effect on the frame by layering burnt sienna, red metallic, copper metallic and gold metallic acrylic paints, flicking water on each layer before it dried and dabbing off the wet bits after 30 seconds or so. This gives the mottled appearance and the depth. I sealed the frame once dry with a layer of gloss medium.
Next I added the background using water-soluble wax crayons to lay down the colour, before blending with a damp watercolour brush. Working over the gesso meant that any areas could be wiped back to the white, allowing the clouds and waterfall to be blocked in. Of course, I forgot that most of it would be obscured by the tree, but I know its there šŸ™‚ Ā I found that Matt UV Varnish for acrylics didn’t move the colour around, so I added two layers of that to seal it.
It was then time to start on the waterfall – I used a white acrylic yarn cut into lengths to form the falls and the river after, sticking them with copious quantities of matt multi medium. It took ages to dry! A layer of PVA worked better on the bottom section. The pieces of slate were nicked from the garden and adhered with hot glue.
While that was drying, I covered a lot of pages from an old Reader’s Digest garden guide with various colours of acrylics on some and distress stains on others (since they don’t mix nicely). I used lots of spritz and flicks to get mottling and ‘staining’ before stamping Tim Holtz Tattered Leaves in archival ink colours, or die cutting them with Tim Holtz tattered leaves die.
I stuck down the leaves with silicone glue decoupage style to get layers and depth. I added acrylic paint in shades of blue to the waterfall with a dry brush technique. Once that was dry I added ‘strings’ of Glossy Accents to the waterfall to try and get some highlights on it. The PVA on the bottom section helped with that, but seemed to get absorbed by the yarn on the upper section. The spray is bits of polyester wadding teased out and stuck down to the wet paint/glue/gel mix.
On the finishing straight now – I added pieces of ash twig that I had lying around the garden for branches, and stuck down paper crafted blossom and red glass beads for ‘berries’. Again I used silicone glue for this. At some point, I deepened the colour on the waterfall as it was too pale, and used a palette knife to scrape on some gloss structure gel onto it as well to add more body and highlights. I was still wondering what to do in the centre frame, and then I had a brainwave!
I took a high resolution photo of the frame to that point, and imported it into Photoshop. I layered four copies of the image together, reducing the size to fill in the frame each time. I printed this out twice on a laser colour printer for longevity of colour – one layer to stick in the frame, the other to decoupage on top to add yet more depth to the image. A few nights sewing a bead curtain for water cascading off the frame completed this piece.

In all I think it took around 10-12 hours over three weeks to complete, and I think (though I do say so myself) it’s one of my best to date. I’ve realised over the year that I enjoy all aspects of what I have learnt, but the crafting side of art is more enjoyable than the fine art side. Denise has first dibs on it for her office, but is willing to let it go to another appreciative owner if they’re willing to pay enough!

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