Monday, June 23, 2014

Red Mucha Peony and Dreamworks

     Yet another productive weekend has passed and I am still loving every minute of making these glorious scarves.  This past week I got a job offer and decided to open an Etsy store later this year.  The reason for a late opening of a store is because of two things, time and money.  Which really are the deciding factors when it comes to a lot of things in life.  The time part is because each of these scarves takes me between 2-5 days to paint.  Unfortunately, I have to wait for the resist to dry before I can start any of them.  Not to mention the task of painting with multiple dyes, and then the washing ironing and photographing of each of them.  I can understand why some people give up on their passion.  Doing excellent work takes time to complete, and time is what most people cannot afford to pay for.  Nonetheless, I am hopeful that I will be able to sell my art and maybe, one day, make a living off of it. 

  This brings me to my next triumph, the "Mucha Red Peony".  This scarf was executed with raspberry and Hydrant red for the flowers.  I would have gone with the pink again; however, I wanted to switch this one up.  This scarf was not without it's challenges though.  There are a couple of different places where I can purchase the scarves, one is in Toronto, Ontario at a company called, "G&S Dye".  This is where I have purchased my silk, and were I get most of my resist and all of my dyes.  They are an excellent company and their silk measurements are always bang on; however, in 2009 when I found myself out of work, I decided to opt for a more affordable silk - Enter the "Dahrma Trading Company" from California.  At that time, they were much cheaper than "G&S Dye" even with shipping and paying duty on the incoming package.  Over the past few years as the Canadian dollar continues to lose value in the United States, it has become less affordable.  But, this leaves me with a very large order of silk from them which was not the dimensions as advertised. 

     I don't know what it is, perhaps, "You get what you pay for", would be the best answer.  When I purchased the silk the measurements stated, 11" x 60"; which is what I was ordering from Toronto; however, when I brought it home and stretched it, it was closer to 10.5" x 59.5".  I was distraught.  All of my patterns for all of my silk designs I draw to scale on paper first; so then, once slipped underneath the silk, I can copy my design.  With the silk from California, I have to improvise and this is where I ran into trouble with this "Mucha Red Peony" scarf.

     Obviously, there is a lot of line work on this scarf; and, therefore tricky if you are constantly having to move the design around the silk to get what you drew to fit.  I made a couple of mistakes with the line and while I tried to correct them, it wound up bleeding enough wax onto the unpainted surface to cause a problem.  Luckily, with painting both sides of the scarf, I was able to avoid any obvious imperfection.  The end result I find quite pleasing and I am happy with.  I hope it can find a good home.

    This eye catching scarf got away from me....3 years ago.  It was one of the scarves which never sold and I realized that I had not photographed it yet.  I am so happy I finally did and it looks incredibly striking against the black background.

     In truth, this is not the incarnation I intended for this scarf.  I originally wanted to use gold leafing as the line work on this scarf and the colour scheme was to be completely different as well.  I wanted to paint it in fiery reds, oranges and yellows with gold as the line work.  Instead, I decided to experiment with a colour palette closer to the film for which is it's inspiration and namesake. 

   My homage to Dreamwork's "The Road to El Doroado" will be re-imagined into what I originally intended.  All I need is a little more time.  Honestly, I cannot wait to continue to paint.  It is so artistically satisfying and, one day, I hope it can be all I will do. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunset Dahlia and Commissioned Iris

 Sunset Dahlia 31" x 31"

     It is such a wonderful surprise when you paint something, do not really like it; but, once it's finished you really do realize that you like it quite a bit.  This scarf has an incredible esthetic.  At the time that I painted it, I was not overly thrilled by it; however, now that I see it on the bust form, I really like it.  This one was so easy during the wash phase, almost no bleeding and it only took maybe six washed before the water was clear.

 Pink Iris Commission 8" x 48"

     My boyfriend is in the navy and works in a logistics/HR position at headquarters in Ottawa.  His trade is dominated by women, and luckily for me, some of them would like a scarf.  This one was so remarkably easy, it practically painted itself.  I love it when people order simple straight forward designs which I already have completed.  It makes the only hard part choosing the colours they like.  Not that I do not mind a challenge, I love them.  However, when you do something from scratch for someone else, there is always that pressure to be perfect; and, as I have said before many times, this is not an art form for people who expect perfection.  I have no idea how a scarf is going to turn out.  It could look amazing before the steam, then something might happen and it might not come out as I had hoped.  Luckily, this turned out exactly how I wanted it to and I hope that the lovely woman at my boyfriend's work will be pleased with it too.

Red Peony and Orange Sunflower: The bleeders

 Red Peony 31" x 31"

     Ah yes, the red.  The bleeder.  It looks just as phenomenal on the frame as it does off the frame.  The only royal pain was that it kept on bleeding.  After I steam the scarves, I have to wash them by hand.  The first bath is lukewarm and has soap in it.  I gradually make the baths colder to help wash out and fix the dyes.  The only problem is that some dyes bleed more than others.  Reds, blues, browns, and fuchsia pink; yes, fuchsia pink bleeds A LOT!.  I use Rubbermaid dish tubs in the bathtub to wash out the dyes.  Lots of time on your knees makes you impatient, especially when you have a bleeder.  You can still wear the scarf, I just wouldn't recommend it with a white shirt in the rain.

 Orange Sunflower 10" x 59"

     The second bleeder:  It was the chestnut brown which gave me the most trouble with this one.  You see, I never use straight black or straight any dark dye when I have to use a lot of one colour.  When I was in high school taking colour theory, we were taught that there was no such thing as "black" in nature.  The "black" was always a little bit....something else.  That's why I will add a little red to a black, or a pink, or a brown, or green, or blue.  Any colour which I feel will suit the scarf and make the colour a little more rich.  It's probably why I have the devil's own time trying to wash out all the dye.  

Finished Pink Peony Scarves

     These are the finished pink Peonies.  They were not without their challenges.  Unfortunately, on this scarf in particular, the old dye too it's toll.  Although, I doubt it will spoil the overall appeal of the scarf. 

Pink Peony 12" x 12"

Pink Peony 15" x 72"

     This scarf is probably the most intense I have ever completed.  The Peonies look fantastic; however, I wish that the green would have stuck a little more.  Next time, I know what to do.  I think this one is deserving of a "do over".

 Pink Peony 31" x 31"

  I love my Mucha Peony scarf.  It came out relatively unscathed and it looks marvelous no matter which way you place it.  I cannot wait to get a mannequin head so I can start styling my scarves that way.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Red Peony "The heart explosion".

     Do you have a hobby which you are good at and really wish you could do it full-time and still make a living?.  This is it for me.  Painting is so wonderful that I wish I had no other debt and I could do it for the rest of my days.  This painting came in the wake of some shocking news.  News which I will not share; but, I will only say that it will likely take me away from what has become my home for these past blissful seven months.  No matter what the outcome, I will keep painting if that happens.

     However, in spite of my heavy heart, I endured and decided to soldier on with my painting.  Looking at this photo now I almost wish I hadn't finished it.

     There it is.  Initially I wanted to have a deep red boarder and then a black interior; but, since I liked how good the bursting petals looked in my other black bordered scarves, I thought this one would look nice too.

     Here's to my "Bursting Heart".  It took me more days than I would have taken had I been in good spirits the entire week.  Nonetheless, it looks spectacular and I hope that I will be able to complete many more before my time comes to get into a full-time employment situation again.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'm a Horticultural Purist: Red Sunflower

     When I dreamed of this scarf five years ago, I pictured these marvelous explosions of orange on a black background.  Another one of my "little black dress" inspirations.  I could picture someone wearing this colourful creation during a night out at a place where colour might be lacking.  Everyone donning their penguin suits, a uniform black and white; and then, there walks by a lady with personality.  It's funny what artists think of when creating a piece of art.  No one would look at a Van Goh and says, "Yes, he pictured this hanging in a kitchen", - Although, that's what I think sometimes.

     I decided to make a few changes to this scarf when I began to resist it.  Some ladies at my boyfriend's work were mentioning that they didn't like the stems in some of my scarves.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the piece in question was a Hollyhock and the stalk of a Hollyhock is how a flower grows; therefore, I feel it essential to place it in.  Otherwise, it becomes some abstract bastardization of the glory of nature; however, as I said, if you want me to paint it without, I will paint it without.  I think I'm a horticultural purist sometimes.

     In the end, I decided to omit the stems from this design.  Not because of the opinions of others; but, because I wanted a "firework" effect.  Amazing explosions of orange, yellow and red emerging from a chocolate brown backdrop.  Admittedly, this design might have been more powerful if I had made the background black; but, somehow I wanted to make it a little less cold.  Now, instead of a night at the opera, this scarf has transcended to a less pretentious purpose.  A lady or gentleman could sport a brown leather jacket and these magnificent Sunflowers will pop against it.  I hope I will be able to make some more colourful and tropical scarves in the coming months.  The brilliant blues which can clash against fiery reds and hot pinks can be quite striking.  If you think that this scarf is vibrant now, wait until I steam it.  You're going to require sunglasses just to look at it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mucha Peony Scarf 1

     Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with a title with more creative than that.  It seems as though all of my creative juices have been squeezed from me today, and all that is left is this pulp.
      This scarf took me a couple of days to just resist.  There was so much line work that I had to go back and refill both of my bottles.

   The first picture was one full day worth of work because I had to finish the lines and then get the first of the blossoms in.  Truthfully, it didn't take as long as I thought it would.

     These last two took me a day to complete.  I think the entire scarf took me three full days of work, from resist to finished product.

     I hope I have chosen the colours correctly.  Seeing as I wanted to make all of them a part of a series, I think my decision has been a sound one.  For some strange reason, I feel that I have everything all planned out until I come to the finishing touches.  Perhaps, I'm feeling slightly frustrated with reality at the moment.  Naturally, I paint so that I one day hope to sell my creations.  Unfortunately, others have informed me that a less-than-reasonable price for my work might be extravigant.  I say this with the full realization that since the invention of the printing press, artists like myself have been rendered, pretty much, obsolete.  We are competing with a market that we cannot stand up in.  Trying to explain to people why you deserve what you price your art for feels completely absurd to me.  If you want to take minimum wadge, which in Ontario is $10.25, and apply it to how many hours it takes me to complete a scarf, such as the one that I have finished today, that is, just to paint it; you would be paying somewhere in the area of $246.  That is not including the price of materials.  If anyone would ask me to justify my price I would love to respond with this: 

  "Imagine that your employer dragged you into their office tomorrow and said that you were no longer worth whatever your hourly salary was.  Instead, your time was now worth half of what it was before.  Would that be acceptable to you?". 

     Naturally, it would not.  No one would find that kind of treatment acceptable; so, why should I?.  Why should artists be shortchanged for their time, skill, and effort?.  Is it because there are so many of us?.  Has the printing press really put us out of a job?.  I don't know.  I'm sure I will be back in love with silk painting when I start again this weekend.  I'm just feeling slightly exasperated because my feet hurt and my back aches after bending and reaching over a table for hours.  I love what I do, and I'll be damned if anyone will discourage me.