Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where have you gone, Mr. Robin...

I don't know about you, but I am extremely ready for spring.  We have had snow on the ground since October 22 - that is five months of winter.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm glad it is melting slowly.  No one needs flooding.  But ohhh how I long to dig in the dirt and stick my naked toes in the green grass.  Or even just smell the green grass and hear the birds sing their spring songs.  I guess we got a little spoiled with some easy winters and early springs a couple of years ago.  Hopefully we will reap the payoff with fewer bugs this summer. 

I saw a few robins back in February along the side of the road.  But, so far, I haven't seen a single one in our yard. (Just as well, I am sure, since it would be pretty hard to dig for worms in the frozen ground.)  So I decided to paint my own 'sign of spring'.

I used a photo I found on the internet on a Wikipedia page about state birds.  I first drew the bird freehand, but then I wasn't satisfied with the proportions so I went ahead and printed out the photo sized for my watercolor paper and traced the outline.  Lazy, I know, but using a computer to size things is just too darn easy - and quick.  And I wanted to get on with the painting.

Before layering the light washes on the background
Once I had the image outlined on the paper, I wet the background and added color.  My initial attempt looked very splotchy so I went over the entire background with a couple of light washes of Ultramarine Blue to blend and smooth things a bit.  I made sure the painting was completely dry (using a small hair dryer) before adding the washes and dried the paper again between each layer.

Here are some photos of how the background looked before and after I added the washes.  Big improvement and now the background doesn't distract from the main attraction - Mr. Robin.

After adding two light washes of Ultramarine Blue.

Before painting the robin, I applied masking fluid around the eye and on the white areas of his breast to retain the whites.  The white areas on his wings (feathers) I was able to create by picking up the paint with a slightly damp brush.  Here again, you want to make sure the painting is dry and that you are using a brush that is very clean and just slightly moist.  I use the chisel edge of a small flat brush for this.

I always use good watercolor paper even if it is just a small or experimental project.  You can't learn technique on cheap paper - it only frustrates you.  My favorite is Aquarelle Artist grade paper or Kilimanjaro, which is a brand sold by Cheap Joe's.  Both are excellent.

Here's hoping everyone has a beautiful Spring - and soon!  As always, thanks for stopping and I would love to hear from you if you have time to leave a comment.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March Tim Tag

This month Tim demonstrated a stamp and smudge method, as well as, getting more than one impression from your inked stamp.  The second impression turns out more subtle and muted.  You can take a look at his demo and sample tags here.

I finished my tag shortly after Tim posted the instructions, but as my second project I decided to complete a shadow box that I had been wanting to make for my sewing room.  This took me a little longer to find the time to complete.  Then I just sort of got side-tracked and didn't get them posted -   sorry about that.  But no worries, I'm here now and ready to share.

The stamps in the upper right and along the bottom are TH stamps.  The others are from various designers.  Unfortunately, I took them out of the packaging and put them in empty CD cases some time back, so I no longer know the brand or designer.  The phrase is a combination of a couple of different phrases.  I read somewhere that you can get a lot more use out of your stamps if you are willing to cut them apart and change them up a bit.  I do that quite often now - especially with phrases.

The background stencil is one I cut using a design from the Silhouette online store and my Silhouette Cameo.  The inks I used are TH Distress inks.

I tied on a miniature wooden spool with some gold cording and used the same cording to wind around the ribbon for a tassel effect.  The safety pin was silver-colored metal so I dressed it up with a little TH Distress paint and then pinned it to the card and strung one of the ribbon ends through it.

Here is the shadow box I made and some closeups of the details:

I had a lot of fun choosing items to fill the compartments of the shadow box.  The background papers are from a 6x6 paper pad from MME called 'Blush'.  The little pattern pieces are cut from 'The Mod Retro Stack' papers by DCWV. 

The little wooden spools, buttons, and brass charms were ones that I had in my stash from years past.  Most likely purchased at Hobby Lobby.  The little sewing machine came from Hobby Lobby, as well.

The metal hanger was from some jewelry charms and the dress I cut from glitter cardstock with my Silhouette and one of their online designs.  The little roses on the dress were cut from some of the leftover background paper.

The main phrase I cut with my Silhouette out of more paper from the 'Blush' collection.  Everything was inked and aged with TH Distress inks.  The stitching I did with my sewing machine.

I would love to hear from you, so leave a comment if you have the time.  And as always, thanks for stopping!