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A Cure for the Mid-Summer Blues (Newsletter 7/30/16)

by Niki Hilsabeck in Recent Posts
Well, we’ve hit the sticky middle of summer with a vengeance this year in Southern California!  Ordinarily the early sunrises would inspire me to wake up and get some painting done in the mornings, but I have children who seem to pop out of bed the minute the sun is out.  So, painting time gets pushed further back each day.
                              “Blaue Blume” Miniature Acrylic Painting
                                            See it in wearable form!
One of the better parts of summer is that there is a bit more time to clean up after myself, so I get to play with some of the messier items in my art cabinet.   This year, it’s leftover acrylic paint skins from the palette and found metal from the 2007 wildfire that went through our property.    
I had started a couple of floral paintings on tiny flat canvasses a while back.  As usual, I didn’t feel like the paintings were big and bold enough, so this summer I began playing around with the paint skins for added texture.  I used matte medium to stick the skins onto the painting, and built them up into layers to complete the flowers and backgrounds.  It felt like I was working on a puzzle!  I kept the paintings and materials in  flat trays, so I could pop pieces of acrylic onto the paintings whenever I got a few moments.  The unique textures of the skins gave “Sonnenblume” and “Blaue Blume” a touchable, relief-like finish when done (German names– “Sunflower” and “Blue Flower didn’t sound as appealing to me for these).
For the butterflies, I used the tray method as well– toning the small canvasses with paint before arranging the metal pieces into compositions. Some of the metal pieces are quite sharp to the touch before they’re painted, so this is definitely not a kid-friendly activity.
These pieces take much longer to dry, because I use a lot of matte medium to make sure the metal stuck to the painted canvas.  Once it was dry, I used a palette knife to load on the paint for an ultra-textured look.
Metal layer on toned canvas–                                      “Mini-Butterfly 2” 
 Similar to when I work with the pastels over acrylic, I enjoy finding the textures that are already there and building on them to create a finished painting.  I call the butterflies part of my “Metal-Minis” collection.  I have been waiting a long time to use the found metal pieces– our old garage had a tin roof, which of course became molten metal and ended up in pieces everywhere once the fire got to our property and ripped through the building.  I always thought the old tin roof was ugly, but in its new form, I found the pieces quite inspiring and stowed them away for future artwork.  
If you find yourself creatively stuck in the summer, try using some of those materials you’ve stored away for experimentation!  Give yourself an hour a day to play with something new, and you’ll be surprised at what you might discover.

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