Monday, January 31, 2011

A Tree Grows (and a paper crane update)

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of dropping keys (even when we don't think we have any to drop - but that's another post) and about the lovely, generous souls who share the tutorials I appreciate so much.  Lucy, Alice, Mel, Pip and Elizabeth are among my favourite sharers, but there are many more!

So... I thought it would be fun to post a step-by-step of my own.  There's nothing new or ground-breaking here, but I've had a few enquiries about how they are made and thought it would be fun to share.  I spent a couple of pleasant days painting on my verandah recently, creating this work for a group exhibition, and decided to document the process as I went.

1.  First I draw my image, and colour it in with oil pastels.  My favourites are Caran d'Ache neopastels, because they're beautifully soft and pigment rich, but there are many other great brands available.  The bits that will be painted in acrylics later I leave bare, because acrylic over oil pastel is against all the rules, and well... just doesn't work too well.

2.  Here's a close-up.  The initial colouring in isn't very neat, but that doesn't matter.


3.  I use an embossing tool (or the pointy end of a knitting needle when I can't find the embossing tool!) to scratch into the oil pastel.  I wipe the excess off the end of the tool as I go.

4.  Ahhh... lovely texture :)

5.  And again... just because.

6.  I make up a very watery watercolour mix.  My favourites are these Winsor & Newton ones, and as you can see I'm nearly out of the dark brown I like best.

7.  Sometimes I add a tiny bit of tube watercolour, because it seems to have more "stickability".

8.  I smother everything in a wash of watercolour.  Remember doing these kind of paintings at school?  Lots of fun!

9.  I pat away the excess paint.  Sometimes I do this step a few times to get the look I'm after.  Some of the watercolour soaks into the oil pastel, and even though the colours stay bright, they're also nicely grungy.

10.  I paint the background of the trunk and branches in acrylic.

11.  A second layer is added to create the "bark".  These concentric patterns are fiddly, but also strangely relaxing!

12.  Finished!  I now break that rule of no water based mediums over oil based ones, by adding the gold "lights" and the circles around them over the top of the oil pastel background.  It works fine in tiny areas, as I finish the piece off with several coats of spray matte picture varnish to protect it.  For works on canvas - heaps of coats are needed.

13.  Here is where I should share a photo of the framed piece, but I forgot to take one and it's already hanging in the show!  Will share it later.


And lastly... it's been a long, long time since I posted an update on the paper crane project.  At the end of last year I had almost 1000 folded, but I'm still not quite there - so close!  The poor things are still patiently waiting to be colour sorted, hung and photographed while life busily goes on around them...  so I have officially given myself an extension on the initial deadline.  Isn't it great that we can do that? ;) 


The large one was made by Ruby, and decorated the top of our
Christmas tree!


42 comments:

Petrina McDonald said...

oh i had been wondering about how you got the texture and grunginess factor on your trees!! thanks for the visual 'aha!' moment :)

Mim Smith Faro said...

Thanks for showing us your process! It's beautiful.

Stan Hughes said...

This has been very interesting. I did not know you could do that.

Jo Munro said...

Absolutely stunning - thank you for sharing that with us; it's always lovely to see how someone got from nothing to something!

Sue said...

I love your paintings, so colourful, had spent ages trying to work out how you did them. thanks fro sharing your secret!
Can't wait to see those cranes fluttering about either. :o)

Trekky said...

Thanks for the tut. Going to have a try with putting watercolours over oil pastels now - thanks again!

Rett said...

Thank you everyone, and I'm happy the tutorial is interesting and useful for you :)

Crochet with Raymond said...

Wow Rett! that was so generous of you to share your beautiful secrets, I love your paintings so much and it is lovely to see how the evolve into the gorgeousness that they are!

Attic24 said...

oh my goodness, I just adore your art work so much, it makes me feel so FULL of happiness when i look at it!!! And seeing how you go about it just adds to the happiness somehow, that was a wonderfully inspired thing to do, thank you.

Now then, is there any chance you'll be making this latest tree into a print???? Its absolutely stunning, i'd love it to go alongside my backyard/stars print (hint hint, could it be a similar size??)

Waiting patiently for my print to arrive, it hasn't landed yet, I am mega excited ♥
love to you xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

mamaofpurl said...

Found your blog though ravelry - Your tree is absolutely stunning! LOVE the painting!

ashropshirelass said...

Hope you're okay after all the turmoil in Queensland- have been thinking about you and looking out for your next posting in your blog

nuria said...

wow!!
i love it!
it looks so great with all those colors!!

fantastic job!!

^___

DolceDreams said...

I am a big fan of your work and it is so interesting to read how you create these stunning pieces!
have a great weekend,
Nathalie

debra cooper said...

Absolutely fascinating!! Thank you so much for sharing your process. I love to learn about other artists processes and to see such beautiful step by step photos is a genuine thrill! And you are right. That texture is to die for. I am in even greater awe of your imagination and skill now!

Lisa L said...

Simply stunning!

Blue Llama said...

Very nice work!!

Renisa said...

Thank you very much for sharing! It is so inspiring, I want to start and paint at once...!

Gumnut said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I was one of those who asked and I am so happy to see this. I've learnt a lot.

And you have me drooling over your oil pastels. I think I need to upgrade mine :D

You have some wonderful wotk and I love it.

Liz
(toying with the idea of paper craning)

Dana Evans said...

I thought this was a quilt at first! Marvelous!

laurel said...

Thank you so much for sharing your process. The results are so beautiful.

Tricia said...

Wonderful tutorial - thanks for sharing - found you through a post on Book of Days Facebook. I am going to give this a try - at least some version of it! : )
Blessings,
Tricia

Ellen Wolters said...

I am totally in love with this wonderfull colorfull tree, want to give it a try, but have a few questions. At 11. you write about a second layer... A second layer of acrylic or waterbased. And: what do you mean with 'bark' (i am from the Netherlands :-S) And the last question: how do you get the lighter concentric circles? Scratched away with knitting needle? Hope you read this comment. And thanks for answering, love 'n greetz, Ellen Mail: eaj_wolters@hotmail.com

Connie said...

This is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

hello Rett,

First let me say thank you for the wonderful tutorial and that your work is BEAUTIFUL! I am a fledgling artist so have no idea what paper you used? I'm guessing that you used a ruler and pencil to make the grid yourself?

I can't wait to try to create a version of this!

Lorraine :)

Rett said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments! Lorraine - to answer your question, yes I do use a ruler to create a grid. My squares usually measure 1 inch. I like 1 inch squares... they make it so easy to work out at a glance what the finished artwork measures ;)
I use a good quality, heavy (300gsm) watercolour paper for these artworks.
Hope that helps!

joséphine said...

C'est magnifique et j'admire beaucoup votre talent!
Merci pour ce pas à pas très intéressant.

Robin said...

When I first saw the tree on FB, I thought it was a fabric quilt. Instant love! Now I'm surprised, but not at all disappointed, to find it's a painting. Thanks so much for your tutorial. I too greatly appreciate when folks do that (and have done a few myself).

BTW, your blog header is gorgeous and compelling.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely amazing. As a fellow artist who teaches little artists, I am inspired in countless ways by your art. Love the quote, "You are the sky, everything else is just the weather." I think I am going to add that to my quote wall for my students!

Nadene said...

I have fallen in love with your art and crochet, your style and colors. My daughters & I really enjoyed doing your tutorial! I featured your blog, your amazing art and our tutorial experience on my blog Loretta Grayson Inspired Art. Thank you for being so generous with your art.

Sandra said...

I've just discovered your wonderful world of colour and your beautiful talent and have become a follower. Looking forward to seeing more of your art. I am so glad I came in today!

Abby said...

Hi there, just found this fab tutorial. Love the colours and the look and have been wanting to do a tree-based project for ages, plus love pastels too so this is great! Just a question - did you just use gold acrylic for the spots, and white for the circles around them? Thanks so much.

Mrs. Lindquist said...

How do you make the concentric circles for the bark after you've painted them with acrylics? Do you paint a lighter tint over the darker solid color? Or did you scratch it out?
Thanks!!!

Rett said...

Mrs Lindquist - the concentric circles are painted with a tiny brush... light acrylic over dark, or dark over light. Hope that helps! Loretta

pinke.paints said...

This is awesome. I'm always interested in new techniques. Glad I got curious on flickr and found this. Thanks. Pinke

Leanne said...

Your work is very beautiful. I am a quilter and your images totally appeal to me. Thank you for sharing your process.

Eulita said...

thanks for sharing with us. your colors are beautiful.

perla said...

thank you for generously sharing. your work is inspiring and beautiful PLUS your tutorial beckons me to create more artwork too. I pinned your tutorial to my pinterest board, Tree of Life. http://pinterest.com/pin/87538786479635525/

Thank you.

Mabuhay-LifeLightLove, Perla
www.newfilipina.com

Elizabeth said...

Wow! I love it! It was fun to see your process. Thank you for sharing.

xo -E

Patti said...

You just acquired a new fan!

Leah Mastilock said...

Thank you so much for sharing your secrets! I love these trees and am going to do them with my students in art class. Now I don't have to guess at how you make them!

Louise Tait said...

What a perfect process for the perfect creation thanks for sharing I know I get so caught up sometimes that you forget to document along the way

imka said...

I really like your description and the result. Thanks for sharing