Deadline Dilemmas

Publishing deadlines are looming over my head as magazine production turns its focus on preparations for their Christmas issues.

My Christmas designs are now due. I’m busily putting my schedule in order by prioritising each project by its cut off date.

And one by one each project will go through the same process;

After finalising the design; a pattern is created, step by step instructions are typed; patterns and outlines are drawn, then measured and checked. Next, the entire work is reviewed. Finally, the completed project is safely packed and posted; making its way to the editor’s desk- hopefully before the clock stops.

Understandably all deadline situations are different and we all need to find what strategies work best for our circumstances.

 Here are some tips that work for me when facing a deadline

 

  1. Make a List

Keep a list of each project along with its due date. I write mine on a whiteboard near my workstation and refer to it daily.

 

  1. Prioritise

Be sure to prioritise each project in order of its due date. Work on one project at a time. I find I work faster by staying focused on the same subject. Once it’s finished and turned in I can clear my head and start fresh on the next one.

 

  1. Break up the project into smaller tasks

A big chunk of work can seem intimidating. I prefer to divide this into smaller sections of separate tasks.                    So … I make another list – this time I break up the project into smaller chunks.  Completing a smaller piece of a large project and checking it off shows me that I have made progress.

 

  1. Take regular breaks

A fresh eye always helps me eliminate mistakes that can cost me more time later.

 

  1. Allow time to Reassess

Leave reasonable time to re evaluate the entire project, just to be sure it flows well and meets expectations.

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Happy planning,

Effie

Choosing wood wash as a background for your painting

As a decorative artist I rarely paint over a wooden surface with a solid colour. Allowing the woodgrain to remain visible can add so much character, interest and natural charm to a painting.

And the good news is… there is no basecoating required!

A wash of colour over natural timber takes very little effort. It can be as easy as a light sand, a coat of sealer and one thin, even coat of acrylic paint. If you like you can apply a coat of glazing medium; this will protect the background from mistakes and accidental splashes while painting the design.

Here I have used a cheap (& nasty) store bought chopping/serving board.

Now, for the price I paid, well I just couldn’t believe it would last too long as a functional board. But I loved the shape… so… I purposely purchased it to paint it so I can display it as a decorative item in my kitchen.

 Because this product came “ready for use”, a protective finish was previously applied. So in this case you do need to do a little bit of prep work before you start … and that’s just a bit of extra sanding to remove the previous finish.

 

Let’s begin wood wash…

Material

Fine sand paper

Dust mask

Lint free cloth

Basecoating brush

DecoArt Americana Multi-Purpose Sealer

DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint– Raw Sienna, Bittersweet Chocolate

DecoArt Americana Glazing Medium

Instructions
  1. Sand the surface till it’s smooth with fine grit sand paper. Always sand in the same direction of the wood grain. Never sand against the grain.  Sanding against the grain may create scratches and mark the surface which the paint may not cover no matter how many coats you apply. Always wear a good dust mask when sanding to prevent inhalation of dust particles.
  2. Wipe the surface with a dry cloth to remove the sanding dust.
  3. Prime the wood with the clear sealer.
  4. Lightly sand the surface after priming to remove any roughness in the wood.
  5. Mix Raw Sienna with a little Bittersweet Chocolate. Then add a little water to this to thin it out a little. Next, apply one thin coat evenly with the basecoating brush in the same direction of the grain. Allow it to dry.
  6. Apply a coat of glazing medium, this will protect the background from mistakes and accidental splashes while painting the design. Glazing medium helps to prevent the paint from soaking into the wood, yet the surface remains paintable.

 

Now you’re ready to begin your artwork.

I kept mine simple by using a stencil for the letters and then added a quick and easy cutlery set design.

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This post is part of the series “Experimenting with creative materials”

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Happy painting,

Effie

 

Experimenting with creative materials – Applying Texture Medium

What is Texture medium?

Acrylic Texture Medium is used to build up surface texture or add exaggerated dimension to a painting.  It has a thick, “Polyfilla” like consistency which will hold its shape when applied to almost any surface that you can use acrylic paints on. It won’t flop or droop. You can create anything with it – from high peaks to dug out valleys; it will remain put until dry. Texture medium can be applied with almost anything, as different tools create different effects.

Texture medium is such a versatile product but for the purpose of this series I will be focusing on its appliance as the background of a painting. When using texture medium as a background you really don’t need to basecoat the surface prior to its application. But you do need to prime your surface with gesso. Once the gesso is dry, you can begin adding texture medium. There are basically two ways to do this:

  • straight out of the jar and onto your surface, or
  • scooped from the jar and onto your palette – so it can be thinned with water or other mediums, or mixed with acrylic paints; these will need to be mixed well before applied to a surface.

    Please note; A white based texture medium when mixed with paint will reduce the paint’s colour intensity

    Depending on the thickness applied will depend on how long it takes texture medium to dry once applied. The thicker the application the longer it will take. You just need to experiment. Personally I prefer to let it dry overnight. Texture medium is also sandable when it’s dry, so any minor flaws can be smoothed back.

    How to Apply Acrylic Texture Medium

    Note:  There are many different brands of texture medium out there so always – read the instructions on the label before you begin

    As a background to a painting this would have to be my favourite texture medium technique

Material

Basecoating brush

Palette knife

White Gesso

DecoArt Dimensional Effects Paintable Texture Paste

DecoArt Americana Acrylics: choice of colour/s

Instructions

Apply two coats of Gesso, lightly sanding between each coat. Mix Dimensional Effects with enough water until a soft icing consistency is achieved. Spread over the surface with the palette knife – like icing a cake- to create a textured effect. Let it dry thoroughly then give it a light sand if required.

Basecoat with your choice of acrylic paint colour.

 

Abandoned

Texture medium mixed with water then spread over the surface with the palette knife

Abandoned

Built up dimension on rocks in the foreground with additional texture medium

Other ways of applying texture medium;
  • Apply it with a stiff bristle brush
  • Push texture medium through a stencil and the design pattern will stay put when dry.
  • Apply texture medium using a foam roller
  • Spread it onto a surface with a hand torn piece of thick cardboard.
  • After spreading it over the surface, you may scrape some of it off here and there before it dries.
  • Spread it out then scratch patterns into the paste.
  • Use a sponge, dip it into the texture medium, no need to blend just turn and twist it to avoid a repetitive pattern and away you go
  • After spreading with a palette knife use the back of a spoon to create small craters,
  • Use your fingers
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools…..
Once texture medium is dry you can;
  • add more texture medium over it to build it up
  • shape it by sanding it
  • carefully carve into it
  • paint over it

…And once you’ve finished your masterpiece you will need to varnish it.

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Happy painting,

Effie

Experimenting with creative materials- Sponging technique

The sponging technique would have to be one of the quickest background techniques you can master.  It can be applied onto any type of surface. It may even assist in concealing uneven and slightly damaged surfaces.

When I started my painting journey it was nearly always recommended to use a sea sponge when sponging. It’s natural and uneven imprint allows a more natural effect while avoiding a visible distinct pattern in your art work. After much trial and error over many years of experience in the art industry, I have found that sea sponges disintegrate rather quickly, leaving little pieces of themselves behind in my work which are impossible to remove. They are also relatively costly compared to the humble synthetic ones. So, personally, I prefer the synthetic type.

I have trained my wrist to flip, turn and twist while holding a synthetic sponge in its hand in a synchronised “uncoordinated” way – to avoid a repetitive pattern. Adding pressure when required, using a lighter hand in other instances. Loading at the right time to achieve the effect I’m after.

Materials required for the sponging background technique

Surface of your choice

Base coating brush

Synthetic sponge

Two colours of Acrylic paint that work well together- Hint: White works well with any colour

Instructions

With the brush basecoat the surface using the dominant colour.  Wet the sponge, remove excess water then dip into your chosen paints keeping the colours separate on the same sponge and blend onto the surface simultaneously. Move the sponge around by turning and twisting it to avoid a repetitive pattern. Dry thoroughly.

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 Tips on sponging with acrylics

  • Try: adding three or more colours
  • Don’t over blend, make sure you can still see each distinct colour you have used on the surface (as well as the new mixes you have created)
  • Let it dry, then sponge over with thick uneven blotches of metallic paint here and there
  • Remember to cover the entire surface, even the edges.

Here are some examples of my completed work using the sponging technique as the background.

Please note; the background is there to complement rather than compete with the main artwork.

Porthole

I wanted to recreate the feel of an old and worn out nautical porthole. This MDF framed mirror has lots and lots of sponged layers of acrylics (including metallic paints)

Metallic border

a variety of metallic paints sponged over black acrylic

Ribbon holder

Two colours of acrylics sponged over each MDF board

Sponging technique used to conceal a damaged frame 

using small fragments of DecoArt Metallic Lustre over the black background helped to conceal the uneven surface

Dragon fly Notebook

 sponging technique applied on fabric

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Happy Painting,

Effie

On a Sunny Afternoon…

 

I decided to relax and make the most of our last few sunny autumn days. It won’t be long now before winter takes charge and these opportunities will become improbable.

Revamping an old wobbly rustic consol table was my choice of outdoor relaxation. And changing my creative environment allows me some play time; just to see what happens. Nothing too serious…

…no due date, no master plan, no goal in mind.

Just a creative experiment.

After removing the draws.

And the hardware,

Then, I gave it a good clean. “No sanding required”, was the advise written on the paint tin.

Yep, I’ll go with that.

I was a little concerned about the previous dark coloured stain bleeding through, so I decided to apply a couple of coats of stain blocker.

Next, I applied two coats of Americana Décor Chalky Finish; Whisper

AJ. The quality control watchdog was on patrol…

I added a few more finishing touches with stencils

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And now I’m waiting…

What’s the verdict?  … Hmm

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Happy revamping,

Effie

Let’s paint Easter Eggs

When Inspiration strikes! … It’s usually when it’s least expected.

finished eggs 2

While I was browsing the frozen food aisle of our local supermarket, a disposable small paper Ice Cream container with a paper lid caught my eye.

Now, it wasn’t the flavoursome contents that had me salivating, nor was I astounded by the OVERSIZED low calorie logo printed on the front of it (supposedly there to draw my attention). I was moved by the boundless beauty of the colours on the packaging. I was in creative mode! Woohoo!

I placed the product in my shopping basket, I couldn’t even recall the price on it…it just didn’t matter… I paid for it and raced off to my happy place.

Now, it may not be the first thing one would think of after purchasing Ice Cream, but all I could imagine was – Painting Easter eggs…

Luckily I had some pre blown ostrich eggs in my stash, they were half painted with designs I had lost interest in.

 I carefully sanded them and began redecorating them…taking inspiration from the pretty container before me.

finished eggs 1

Materials

Pre blown ostrich eggs or any type of egg with contents removed. You may use paper mache or wooden eggs for this project.

White coloured putty

Sandpaper – fine grit

DecoArt Americana Acrylics – Cool White, Desert Turquoise, Silver Sage Green, Pistachio Mint, Soft Black

Americana Décor, Chalky Finish –Refreshing

DecoArt Dazzling Metallics – Emperor’s Gold

½ inch flat brush

Old toothbrush

Americana DuraClear Varnish – Gloss

Instructions

Step 1

(My eggs were empty shells when purchased. So I was able to skip this step.)

If you are using fresh eggs, pierce both ends of each egg and remove the contents from inside. Then give them a good rinse with water and let them dry.

Step 2

Fill the holes on both ends of each egg with the putty. Let them dry then carefully– remember eggs are fragile- sand to a smooth finish.

Step 3

basecoat eggs

I chose to paint each egg in a different shade of aqua/blue. I painted one egg with Cool White/Desert Turquoise 3:1. The second egg was painted with Cool White/Silver Sage/ Desert Turquoise 3:1:touch. With the third egg I wanted to try something different. I don’t usually stray from my favourite paints- DecoArt Americana Acrylics, but I wanted to try chalk paint.

I wasn’t sure if this would be appropriate for painting eggs, but I was enthused by the colour –Refreshing… one of the lovely colours in the Americana Décor, Chalky Finish range. I just had to try it!

As you can see I was so eager to paint I actually started experimenting with the paint colours before I filled the holes. Tat-tat

The chalk paint was my favourite, the coverage was perfect. Just one coat was enough for a decent coverage.

Step 4

speckled egg

Load the toothbrush with Soft Black and hold it in one hand a few inches away from the eggs surface; run your finger across the bristles of the toothbrush to create the splatter. I didn’t use water to thin the paint, as this may cause the paint to become too runny and the splattered specks may drip and run down the eggs. Then let them dry.

Step 5

finished eggs 1

I drew a curvy outline about one third of the way from the base of the egg. Then I painted this area with three coats of Emperor’s Gold. Then let them try.

Step 6

Then you can apply several coats of varnish with the brush.

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Happy Easter,

Effie

Experimenting with creative materials

Last year I shared many of my experiences using acrylics in art painting. I included information on choosing your art material, painting hints and tips, brushes and brush care, and a five part series on suitable surfaces for acrylics (part one, part two, part three, part four, part five).

Now, I would really like to centre my attention on experimenting with these creative materials.

So, let’s begin with the first step – base coating a surface. The basecoat is the fundament of any background. Before any painting effects and painting techniques are added you need to basecoat. This also applies to fine art and decorative art projects. In most cases the basecoat may not be visible when the work is finished, but it is the first layer of colour which support’s (in this case, visually) a completed work of art.

 But….before I start I want to go back a step, as I need to reiterate the most important issue before you begin base coating.

       PREPARING THE SURFACE YOU WILL BE USING.

  1. Always prime your surface with Gesso or an appropriate Sealer. These products prevent paint from soaking through fibres, they save you on paint and they create a good tooth for your painting.
  2. Although some canvases come already primed, I still prefer to give them a couple of coats of Gesso using my own products. I never know what type or quality primer they have used.
  3. If you need to sand the surface (I prefer to sand almost all surfaces) always wear a mask to prevent dust inhalation.
  4. Always sand outside.
  5. If using MDF as your painting surface, it is really important that you prime all sides and edges of the board before sanding to help prevent any harmful chemicals from inhalation.
  6. Keep food and any food preparation areas separate from paints and brushes.

How to base coat after preparing a surface

As a decorative artist it is important to me that my base coating is smooth and even. I don’t like ridges in my work and I don’t want visible brush marks, unless they are intended to be part of a project which requires texture.

Here are some tips on base coating;

  • Several thin coats of paint will give a smoother finish than one thick one.
  • Brush on each subsequent coat in the opposite direction of the previous coat (first coat – side to side, second coat – top to bottom)
  • Use a good quality base coating brush (1 inch taklon brush should be sufficient).

Let’s begin base coating

Step 1.

Add water to your acrylic paint to thin it out a little, do this a little at a time until you have the right consistency, then brush on a coat. Allow to dry.

Step 2.

Sand lightly with a fine grit sandpaper to remove any ridges or lumps. Brush on a second coat. Allow to dry.

Step 3.

Sand using a very fine grit sandpaper then brush on a third coat and let it dry.

Three coats are usually sufficient when base coating, but this depends on the opaqueness of the paint you are using. If your surface is darker than the base coating paint colour, more coats may be required. There have been times I have applied countless amounts of coats just to achieve the desired finish I’m content with.

Always sand between each coat no matter how many are required. It’s worth the effort.

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Now, you are ready to add the background to your surface.

I’ll be sharing some of my favourite background techniques later on in future posts.

Happy painting,

Effie