Today, I went to the Art Institute museum and did some caffeinated café sketching. (MMM hazelnut coffee. I rarely drink coffee and it seems really strong!) I decided the revisit the baby oil blending technique for colored pencils with a less cartoony piece of art. The blending works really nice with skin tones. I learned if only a spare amount of baby oil (mineral oil) is used, added colored pencil layers or lines laid over the blended layer do not blur or bleed. I used the same cold press type 130# heavy weight paper and this is an artist trading card size artwork (2.5 x 3.5 inches) the same as the prior blog post with the Manga girl cartoons.
Overall, I am still tremendously enjoying the new technique. I have had little to no problem with the baby oil bleeding through the paper since I used a heavy paper and a very tiny amount of the baby oil. Using cotton swabs and a small, round paintbrush to blend the colors is continuing to work well. I added a new step for control and blot the cotton swab on a paper towel to lower the amount of baby oil on the tip if I feel it may be too wet. Now I’m wondering what other art mediums there are where baby oil works as a solvent…
I have heard about blending colored pencils with baby oil and was skeptical to try it. I have used my share of colorless blending pencils and blending markers in the past. The markers cost a lot and get stained pretty quickly. You always have to wipe the nib on scrap paper to remove colors to go on to blend different areas of color and this burns through your marker quickly. The fabulous surprise was how much better baby oil performs for blending! It is dirt cheap and smells pleasant. I tested the process of many brands of pencils below.
I made sure to buy baby oil that was 100% mineral oil. I got a brand that had the perfume scent since the drug store near me did not have any unscented kinds for sale. Avoid other additives like aloe vera; it is the mineral oil melting the wax content in the colored pencils that makes the process work. Mineral oil is a petrochemical, so I am thinking an organic component like aloe vera would lend itself to mold or decay.
I did some Manga style cartoon portrait drawings with colored pencils. I will crop these drawings to artist trading card size later. The one above used waterproof inks for the outline: Sakura Pigma Micron pens and a Pentel Manga brush pen. This artwork has Berol Prismacolor, Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Magic, Koh-I-Noor Dry Marker Flourescent, and Rose Art Metallic brands of colored pencils. The Rose Art Metallic set is very bright; the silver looks very good. The paper I used was pretty rough, 130# Nature Sketch; it has a definite tooth similar to a cold pressed variety of watercolor paper or maybe a pastel paper.
BOOM! Here is the blended version. I think it “pops”, the colors look bolder and the art has a nice painterly effect. I used a fine synthetic paint brush and Q-tips dipped in tiny amounts of baby oil. The Q-tip cotton swabs were very nice to rub on the paper and smoothed the color out well. Interestingly, the baby oil makes the color melt down into the paper nicely. All of the blending I had done with the dry pencils was prone to stay in place. The baby oil process felt similar to using very thinned oil paints but not wildly wet like fluid inks or watercolor. The smallest amount of baby oil melts and blends the colored pencil on contact. The control was very nice. I also used a white Sakura Gellyroll pen for the reflections in the eyes, which is a nice trick.
This was my first try with the baby oil process. Most of the above art was Crayola colored pencils, a little Berol Prismacolor was used on the skin tones and the ink was Pentel Manga brush pen. I wish I had learned about this process before now; it was an interesting way to compensate for the white showing through on a toothy paper. Definitely try it out, blending colored pencils with baby oil was fun and really easy.
Adding another drawing 2/13/2015!
I am trying to get back to blogging and the usual arty things after a death in the family. My grandmother went from diagnosis to death in six weeks from cancer and my family is very sad. The day she died, I suddenly remembered video footage I had shot of a family dinner years ago; the only footage I have of my grandmother. I sat crying all day and pulled together a edit of the footage.
There are a lot of technical problems with how badly I shot the footage. I’ve learned a lot since having a video camera was a new thing, and now the only recorded video I have of her is precious no matter how poor the quality. I guess younger people, growing up in a digitally saturated environment, will have hours upon hours of video footage and recordings made of their lives by enthusiastic parents, their peers and themselves. If you have elders in your family, remember to make videos of them as well. This may be the only video footage anyone has recorded of my grandmother. Interview your elders,involve them in a video project, get your video camera or smartphone out and make recordings before illness and death come. Photographs are wonderful and valuable, yet video gives you the voice and movements of the person; video gives you a piece of time back from the person you lost.
I went on a guided hiking trip with Skokie Park District and took some nature photos this weekend! We traveled to the Jasper-Pulaski Nature Reserve in Indiana for the sandhill crane migration. The nature preserve is in a really rural area. And there is no cellular coverage there, either.
I only had a 300 mm lens on a Nikon DSLR and was looking at envy with anyone that had a 600 mm or larger lens. It turns out that sandhill cranes are sensitive to being disturbed and the nature preserve has the viewing area is well back from the feeding and roosting areas. Binoculars were really helpful for viewing; photography was difficult. At least I have some images that will be okay as visual references for drawing or painting. Also, the weekend had a big surprise; so that will be the last photo!
I came up with a new method for collage or at least a variation on the process which I published here. The intended audience is people within the hacker/maker community and are more likely to have access to laser cutting technology.
If you are enrolled at a college or university and you are not learning how to use current tech in laser cutting and 3-D printing, see if there is an available hackerspace / makerspace in your area. Laser cutting and 3-D equipment was on the campus I graduated from in 2010, in one department and locked behind closed doors, the private playthings of the professors. Students did not even know this equipment existed on campus. Demand education and access to this technology if your campus is missing it or is restricting access to the equipment. Robotics, rap rep [rapid reproduction] and being able to prototype creations on your own are current technologies that a wide range of creative and technical fields are using now. For me, becoming proficient with a laser cutter has opened new doors creatively, has been interesting and a lot of fun.
Share artist trading cards with the world! Here is a zine I made as an animation you can link to, email, tweet and send any way you want. Share the idea of artist trading cards with as many people as you can. Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/1bHjcJy
This less than 2 minute video shows two ways that I used to make hand bound art books using recycled materials for free or cheap.
I made paper for the first art book by pulping the interior pages in a blender, adding some white PVA glue and blue acrylic paint with a dash of glitter. I did not have a proper paper mold screen and used the back of a silkscreen, which made very thick, lumpy paper that took a very long time to dry. If I make paper again, I am going to use a better paper mold that lets more water flow through the mesh.
I skipped making paper for the second book and used acrylics paints and ink with a brayer to change the existing pages. Rolling colors and monoprinting using a glass plate, gelatin or Gelli plate method worked well. I got a nice, thin and fairly even coat of paint on the book pages.
The supplies to get started with book binding are very simple:
- Heavy thread like carpet thread or button thread. Embroidery floss and thin ribbon are also fairly strong and come in many nice shades,
- A large needle to make stitches. I like a heavy needle like a large embroidery type.
- A basic paper awl. If your materials are thin enough, push pins or dressmaker t-pins work.
- Having a bone folder helps to make nice folded edges.
- A block of beeswax is nice; it coats the thread and makes it easier to pull, less likely to fray.
- A jar of YES! Paste Stickflat Glue lasts a long time. It thins with water and works well for all sorts of paper crafting.
- Two marble or granite floor tiles and waxed paper to press things to dry. I bought two 12 inch polished granite floor tiles from a home outlet store for $4 each. If you put some weight on top, it makes a cheap book press.
You could skip inks and acrylic paints and use materials as you find them to make totally recycled / zero cost books. If you are piercing slimmer materials, a cork board push pin works well to make holes. An awl or needle tool works better if you need to make holes in anything more than 1/8 inch thick. I had some wrinkled pages from the paints and adhesive I used, he nice thing about book binding is that you can get starting making things for under $ 10 – although under $20 gives you a better suite of tools.
Also, check out this great bookbinding channel: Sea Lemon. The tutorial videos are great and the creator has a pattern to make a book press using two wooden cutting boards. Jennifer at Sea Lemon has very clear instructions and the videos are great.