I like the sources of inspiration be quite distant. They should not instantly make my mind figure out the result. While packing craft supplies to empty a sewing room for renovation, I found some pieces of woven upholstery fabric. Those reminded me of a Gobelin tapestry, the woven wall hangings.
You could think there’s nothing more conservative and static than those, but I was immediately inspired by two things: 1) to show how beautiful muted colors can be 2) to create a dynamic composition that still reminded of textiles.
Fiber Paste in Mixed Media Art
To get into the spirit of heavy woven tapestry, I chose to use a lot of fiber paste to create a texture on a fairly smooth watercolor paper.
Now, the rational thing would be to spread the paste evenly. Or to spread the splotches evenly. But as I wanted to create a dynamic composition, I chose to add fiber paste mostly to the left side of the work.
With fiber paste, you can create interesting, uneven surfaces by using tissue paper or various tools to spread the paste. You can also use fiber paste for creating layers and attaching collage pieces (more about those later in this post).
One more good thing in fiber paste is that once it’s dried, you can paint with watercolors over it. I find the change in the surface texture somehow good for my creativity. It is impossible to paint accurately when working on fiber pasted area. That makes me accept the imperfections right at the beginning. Too much self-control can be destructive to the creativity. So, fiber paste is one of my medicines to let go!
Here I chose to work with watercolors instead of acrylic paints because they are much faster when creating delicate color variations. I usually mix watercolors by dipping the brush to many color pans on the same go and letting them mix naturally on paper.
With watercolors, you can easily change the intensity of color. I often start with a fairly dry brush and intensive color. After a stroke or two, I then add plain water to dilute the color. This technique is shown well in the video where I paint watercolor postcards. On the fiber paste surface, you can use a lot of water for lighter shades.
I still remember my moment of mixing black with other colors. I was a teenager, and it was a warm summer day. Acrylic paints were quite new to me, and I wondered how they should be mixed to express the hot weather.
The dark shadows made me think of black. I remember the surprise of getting beautiful purples and browns. That was a moment when I realized that the power of colors is not just what I admire in other people’s work, I can learn it too. By mixing colors, I could express anything!
Just this year when I bought my newest watercolor set, I discovered browns. I wondered why there are so many brown shades in the set, but now I know: mixing colors with browns create beautiful hues! In this piece, I have mixed the colors from both browns and blacks.
I was pretty happy with most of the painting – except the lower center area. The composition of the center elements did not work. To create something totally new, I used my most common method: to make it ugly and then try to save it. I took the jar of fiber paste and began to cover the bad areas with the paste.
“You have ruined it now,” said a bitter voice in my head.
Have you ever experienced the same? It is the moment where you can truly stop pleasing others and begin creating art.
I took the pile of hand decorated papers and started cutting. Fast!
Some time ago, when I made those decorated papers, they were so ugly I almost threw them away. But now they looked like they were made for this muted color palette! And the fiber paste works as glue so it was easy to attach the pieces.
While cutting the pieces, I watched the fabric of the two chairs in the library room where most of the creating happen. I found the chairs at a recycling center a few years ago. I took them for renovation, so I was able to choose the fabric.
I love the fabric’s silky texture, romantic pattern and how well it goes with the wallpaper and William Morris’s curtains! Looking at that chair made me realize what I needed to add the feel of fabric to the artwork. To cut several similar flowers to represent a repeating pattern!
After drawing some detailed lines with colored pencils and markers, the collage seemed to be finished. But then I remembered the original idea: Gobelin wallhangings. Don’t they often have deer in them? A small deer was added in the lower left corner to wonder about the blowing winds!
I have noticed that many mixed media pieces are made from commercial products. I want to encourage you to create your own elements and textures. Your art will be much more original and complete. No factory-made flower can express your emotions as accurately as the ones you make yourself!
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