Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Writer Paints...with Glue & Paper

There are lots of artists in our family and I am not one of them. At least, I wasn't until one evening last week. That's when I ventured out of the security of my personal box and attended an art class with my mom. Ma, as she is affectionately known by my generation, is one of the artists in the family. She can sketch, paint, and create original cloth dolls. She can knit and crochet. She can do most anything that warrants a creative flair.
As one of our family's creatives, Ma attends many art classes in town. Some of her pieces are framed and displayed on her walls and some become gifts for others.
Since the classes are step-by-step sessions for which anyone can participate and leave with a personal masterpiece, I decided to sign up. I was particularly interested in the wine and grape motif. The fact that most of it would be created with paper and glue was intimidating, but I really wanted to create something of my own for display in our dining room. So I met Ma downtown after work and we went to class.
The first step was to use four acrylic colors and paint the background. The background appeared to be two colors, so I assumed we were to do some blending with our sponge brushes to get the desired background. Likening it to finger painting, I began swirling my sponge brush in the blobs of color and swiping it methodically across my canvas.

Painting the background with acrylic on canvas.
I must have done something right,
because here is my canvas, sitting on the easel,
after I finished painting the background.
As our canvases dried, our instructor reviewed the papering process. We each had a bag of fiber paper scraps. We were to rip and tear the scraps to create smaller pieces and specific shapes. We then would brush watered down glue onto the canvas, place the scrap of paper onto the canvaswhich was similar to tissue paper, but more fibrous and texturedand then brush more glue over the paper. We could use the glue brush to manipulate the paper once it was on the canvas. Layering colors would give us blended colors and interesting textures. If we didn't like the way a piece of paper looked once added to the canvas, we could lift it off and place a different piece of paper in its place.

Note we clearly did a little "cheating"
by tracing the bottle and wine glass with
chalk before gluing the paper.
The process, while somewhat painstaking, was extremely relaxing. I would absolutely recommend the project as well as do another. Admittedly, the grapes were much more difficult to create than the bottle or even the wine glass. My great idea for creating swirly vine-like sprigs shooting out from underneath the grapes was more difficult in reality than when I initially pictured doing it in my head. But then, that's pretty much par for the course that is my general reality. Great ideas, frustrating processes, and, more often than not, impressive results. Of course, for this particular project, it didn't hurt that Ma and I were sharing a bottle of wine.

This is the "finished" product I left
at the studio to dry and be sprayed
with some kind of shiny sealing agent.
I look forward to hanging my masterpiece in our dining room. If you can tell me which direction the "light" is coming from in the picture, then (1) I will be really impressed with your artistic eye and (2) I will be extremely impressed with my formally latent artistic abilities. Maybe I did get a little bit of the artistic gene after all.

[Editorial note: Ma's paper and glue painting was strategically not included in this blog, so as to further convince readers I have some ability. When compared to other family members, especially Ma, my projects still have a juvenile appearance, which, during elementary school, seemed impressive, but are less than polished in my later years.]

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Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, writer and content manager is the author of Thurston T. Turtle books.
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