Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Scratching out a rainbow bird, or two, or three

This is my latest entry for the Artistic Licence CJ - and the inspirational artist this month is Nikki Monaghan.

Now, I have to admit I had never heard of her before embarking on this circle journal, but I do like her bold, colourful style.

As other entrants in the CJ had already largely covered off her recurrent motifs of patchwork trees and boats:

I decided to choose a slightly less typical "Monaghan" as my inspiration, this one is called "Bird 3":

I love how the bright colours pop against the black background, and I figured even with my distinct lack of drawing skillz, I could probably manage a simple birdie.

I was going to paint the bird or birds first, and then paint all around it in black - but then my creative director (otherwise known as my other half, Jay, who always has the best ideas) said, why not do it like we used to do at school - with coloured wax crayons under black, and then you scratch off the top layer.


Trouble was, I really couldn't get the wax on wax thing working for I experimented a bit with various materials I had to hand, and ended up with a method that seemed to work pretty well.

So just in case any of you would like to try something similar, here's a bit of a step by step.

Step 1 - lay down some lovely BRIGHT colours fairly randomly onto white smooth or glossy cardstock.  I used spray paints, but anything that dries flat and permanent would work well - like alcohol inks/markers for example.

Step 2 - not pictured.  Spray a coat of clear acrylic varnish over the colours to help protect them from the scratchy scratchy bit later on

Step 3 - scribble all over with wax crayon.  As you can see, it doesn't make a good enough top coat to use as is, but it's an important step as it will allow us to lift off our black layer later.  I've used a dark blue crayon here rather than black, as I'm going to be covering it over anyway, and I couldn't find my black crayon :)

Step 4 - cover the wax crayon layer with a thin coat of black gesso if you have it, or black acrylic paint if not.

Step 5 - once the gesso is completely dry, sketch out your design - in my case - 2 birds - in pencil

Step 6 - using a sharp tool of some sort - mine is a stainless steel burnisher used in jewellery making, but anything similar would do - eg the pointy end of a small pair of scissors - scrape off the wax and gesso layers to reveal the colourful paint beneath.  Ahhhhhh.  Purty :)

Leave some of the black showing in places, as this adds to the "woodcut" look

Step 7 - add another coat of clear sealant or matt varnish when you're done

And that's pretty much it.

Here are my birds (I added a third on a whim part way through to balance the composition):

And you can see my finished piece using them, along with some embossed copper leaves, at the top of this blog post.

It was fun to do something in a different style and devise a new twist on an old technique.  If any of you lot do give it a go, please comment with a link so I can some and have a peek.


Sue said...

How funky is that! I really like that woodcut/folk art type of look you got there. Another technique to try and find time to have a go at!!

VickiA said...

Can I have a Jay in my house please. He'd come in really handy when I get a mental block, which lets face it is most of the time.

Shirley said...

Really great technique and it looks brilliant.
Well done Jay for the idea and you for doing it so well.
I will certainly give it a try one day.

Tessa said...

Oh wow... this looks so gorgeous!! Kind of like what we did at kindergarten with ecoline and black wasco crayons. But then cooler!!

xx Tessa

Michelle S said...

So cool! Love it!

Luna Art said...

This looks really great! I love the technique, may have to have a go at that myself! The birds look so beautiful! Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog x

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah. I'm Nikki Monaghan. Luv, luv, luv your birds. I'm really touched my artwork was an inspiration to you....really like your colours and pattern. Best wishes. Nikki