Piece by Piece: Behind the Scenes of “Guardian of Dreams”

I’m miserably ill with a chest cold that keeps me coughinh all night, so I though I’d share some behind the scenes views of a piece I created a few days ago.

First, I created the background by using the scraping method. I dotted the top edge of the paper with various colors of acrylic paint and dragged it down using a piece of corrugated cardboard (which created the striated effect).

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Then I used a stencil to create some birch tree trunks with white acrylic paint.

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I cut out the trees and colored on top with oil pastels.

piece-by-piece-2I used baby oil and my fingertip to blend the oil pastel over the trunks.

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I used another stencil to  trace out a fox and cut it out of cardstock.

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I used the same oil pastel and baby oil method to color the fox.

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Finally, I glued all of the elements to the background and stamped the leaves on the trees using a round sponge brush and acrylic paint. Voila!

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Watercolor Tape Resist with a Twist

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“Frozen Hearts” photo (c) Sofia Smith 2017

More snow overnight. We have a real winter wonderland in our back yard.

Another fun watercolor technique I tried recently is the tape resist. The idea is to use masking tape or painter’s tape to block off areas where you do not wish the paint to stick. When you remove the tape, the blocked areas remain white (or whatever color paper you are using). I decided to do something a little different. I used this collection of Washi tape (make sure to use Michael’s coupon to reduce the price 40-50%) to block off sections on a 4X6 inch piece of cardstock. Instead of peeling back the tape to reveal white space, I kept the tape on for a different effect because the pattern on is designed to look like watercolor painting.

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Materials: Washi tape, watercolors, cardstock

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Materials: Washi tape, watercolors, cardstock

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Materials: Washi tape, watercolors, cardstock

Marbled Paper with Shaving Cream

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“Icicles” photo (c) Sofia Smith 2017

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“Heart of Ice” photo (c) Sofia Smith 2017

A garland of dripping icicles lines the edge of the roof. Snow and ice shimmer in silver frost on branches. It is a wintry day indeed. I ventured outside for a few photographs, but am happy that I don’t have trek further in this icy weather.

It is the perfect day to stay in pajamas and create some marbled paper.With shaving cream! What? Yep. A friend of mine shared this fascinating technique with me and I had to experiment. Sounds strange, but it works and it is fun. A note of caution: make sure you like the scent of the shaving cream because it will linger in the air and embed itself in the paper. I used both food coloring and watercolors.

And here are my results…

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Watercolor Experiments

The tips of my fingers are stained violet and green, my right thumb is speckled with fuchsia, and there are turquoise streaks on my wrist. My hands now resemble my mother’s hands. Her godchildren used to inspect her fingernails at church, fascinated by the woman with pigmented digits. But genetically, I inherited my father’s hands. With these hands I am experimenting with a medium used by both parents—watercolors.

Below is a bird painted by my father, followed by flowers painted by my mother. As you can see, with endless hours of practice, each parent became quite skilled with these paints.

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Bird by Jorma Meller

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Flowers by Tiina Reed

The most vivid childhood memory I have of using watercolors involves a stuffed animal hospital where my stepbrother and I were the doctors. We mixed red with water to create blood samples for the test tubes my mom, a nurse, had smuggled from work for me. Said paints ended up staining the white table in our bedroom in Helsinki. I was sure it would wash off, but found out otherwise and ended up in some trouble with my father.

Now, as an adult, I am giving watercolors another try. (I bought a set for $5 at Michael’s. I love the fact that on my budget, where even $5 feel like a splurge, I can still buy  decent quality art supplies.) So far I’ve mainly used them for background papers. Below are some of the various techniques I have played with.

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Watercolor Techniques (left to right): pencil eraser stamping, sponge painting, paper towel stamping, cellophane stamping, bubble wrap stamping, spray bottle of dry paper

At this point, I feel ambivalent. Watercolors are versatile and (in most cases) fairly easy to clean up, but I’m not sure I have the patience required for mastering the skills I want to develop. I’m thinking I’m more of an acrylic paint girl. (On a side note,the cuffs of my bathrobe sleeves are crusty with acrylic paint. They There is nothing neat and tidy when it comes to my creative experiments.)

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Materials: watercolors and cardstock

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Materials: watercolors, paint marker, fox stencil, tissue paper