Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mixed Media Crap and Technics I,.. (and many others) use.

Because you demanded it.... Mixed Media stuff Galore!

Frank Patriot, cody Megan Rose and Casey Crow (among others)  mentioned what I use in various paintings. Yeah, Prismacolor watercolor pencils are a nice easy way to throw down color and blend with water..

I guess the reason i never bothered to get into this stuff, is there are only so many tools out there, aren't there? I mean, after Watercolor (some say difficult, but my personal favorite), Acrylic, Oils (which i tend to void as the always me a headache), what else.. Gouache? Markers, Pastel, Charcoal, Ink, Glazes..

I mean, the list is endless..

In some ways I think i tend to downplay what tools i use, because it strikes me we all use the same crap, more or less. To me, it's less *what* tools they use, and more *how* they use them.

I age old question we all ask".. how to you get it to look that way?" It's a great question, and one i have no really good answer for.

However, here's a few things i've monkeyed around with...

Powered Graphite & Alcohol:
Here's the old Powered Graphite mixed with Denatured Alcohol trick. Sometimes it's called Wood Alcohol, you may have to get it at a hardware store. It's not the drinking kind either. : )

Something about how the Alcohol and Graphite resist each other looks like oil and water sometimes.

I'll sometimes add water or india Ink too. All tend to pool up, eddy and resist each other. Here's one treated with a blue watercolor wash afterwards.

Do it outside though, because the Alcohol can really stinks up a studio.


Oxidising chemicals like Sodium Sulphide, or Asphaltum on Dutch Metal for example, can cause a cool eroded effect. Cupric Nitrate on a copper surface, looks like every other sepia Dave Mckean background painting. 

Bad news is, most of these hard core Oxidized chemicals are Dangerous: They can BURN skin, and are NOT to be inhaled - - so be careful. I stopped using them because of the fume inducing stuff gives me headaches

So instead, above, I've had safer luck with creating similar  effects which sorta looks like eroding surfaces... the craggily texture is detergent mixed with powered graphite and Detergent, then acrylic and pastel over that.

Here's something I've fooled around with... using spray fixative or various types of glue, then watercolor (or other paints) over the surface,

You can lay down the watercolor either before, during or after drying.  In the above pics, check out how the yellow watercolor 'recoils' or dries away from the art board, which was sprayed fixative first.

Above is a combo of some cork board i found at a thrift, plus Gel medium and various Acrylics.

Gel mediums, like pumice are cool to 'build' up a surface. They have various thicknesses, rough, smooth, or sand mixed into them for a grainy effect..

Above is some Dr. Martin watercolor dies over some 'still wet' acrylic paint... notice it tends to eat into the paint in an interesting way. The rough texture in the yellow-green area is made with tissue paper crumpled in paint, then lightly dragged over the surface. Also some 'torn canvas' in there too.

Here's an old standard any watercolor freaks know, the old 'salt dropped into wet on wet watercolor' trick.. I must have used this a million times on covers and backgrounds in comics and paintings.

Most Art stores sell tons of different textured paper.  I pasted one onto my sketchbook, then tried to blend these into Acrylic Gel medium too... The lines from a whit out pen ...sorta sticks out and seem crude to me here, so I may smooth them out a little with Acrylic white paint... 

Below is a wet brown gouache paint, pressed onto a piece of brown paper with cheesecloth.

Here's an old trick too, working ocher or orange watercolor dyes into a yellow color inside the flower shape. You can work the darker watercolor dies from dark to light by, adding water to dilute it... (duh!) ..

 Remember watercolor dies like Dr. Martins (as opposed to tube watercolors)  tend to fade, but you can work that in your favor.. here's an example below.  A painting I posted a few weeks back.

Notice how the middle of a teal 'squiggly line' of watercolor seems to 'fade' in the middle? That's what I mean by using fading to advantage. Watercolor esp. fades when used over acrylic.  Once you make a line, you can go back in and beef up the saturated color on either end of the line.. giving a luminous 'dark to light to dark' effect. As if light is shinning through.

I get asked about the texture on the lower right in the one above, it's a Kleenex dipped in half acrylic paint and half water. You can drag or twirl the tissue however you want, then it dries hard onto the surface in that shape you want.

The stringy stuff above is Household 'Goop' glue. Yup, that's a pasted in piece of hardware in there.

Anything lying around the house is in danger of being used... like...

wood.. or...

Leather, springs, bolts.. anything you like.

Sometimes it's as simple ( or crude ) as ripping a surface, defacing it with smears or using sandpaper or a metal rasp to do some real damage.

Here's an (not entirely successful) experiment some paint and dirt blended in with wood.

Now you may say to yourself on a lot of these what many people say about post modern art " Hell, i can do that sam!" and you'd be totally right. I see no line between amateur and professional anymore, just 20 century blur of everyone creating what they want, using whatever inspires them. Beyond good or bad, crap or quality.

I don't think any of us who draw or creates really understand how we do it, at least not consciously. In a way i don't even WANNA necessarily analyze it too much.  I don't want my 'right brian' .. busting up the party, so to speak.

Or that may just be me.  I don't really have anything to 'teach', as i'm self taught (and suffer for it). All i can do is share crap that i've tried that works, and other stuff that fails.

For me, stuff I draw that fail miserably... is often greatest chance... greatest 'gift'. Someone once asked Paul Simon why his Graceland album was so good, and he replied the last three albums which didn't work before, it were the reason why.  I used to be so ashamed of all my mistakes and floundering.  Then i realized most everyone else can see what works and what does. there's no secrets. Now, I try befriend a bad face and a poor drawing, because it's something we all know the truth of.

There's nothing like totally screwing up a perfectly good painting, but coming away with the benefit of some fresh thoughts/ideas you never had before. Or bust up possibly bullshit artistic preconceptions you previously held.

But i agree... if i don't at least TRY trying new tools and technics, I'm bound to get bore and endlessly repeat myself.

And lastly, if you look closely, you can make out the  layers of black acrylic paint piled onto the sketchbook i do my chicken pages in. That's why I do chickens, owning and repossessing my flaws


e said...

Thanks so much for this! I'm just starting mixed media class and this is pertinent. I've loved your work for many years and recently found the trout-a-verse blog and have been enjoying getting your perspective on making art. I am particularly encouraged to read things about befriending "a bad face and a poor drawing, because it's something we all know the truth of." So very true! We relate when we share the stories of our flaws and failings. And find hope when from time to time we soar beyond them.

hugs and kisses!


Frank Patriot said...

Thanks. This may be my most favorite post you've done. I'm also self taught so this makes me feel better about my 'mistakes'. The thing that has attracted me to Sam's art is that he has shown a creative spirit that not a lot of other comic artists out there show; that you dont have to draw things the exact same way as everyone else in order to communicate what needs to be communicated. While I admit that the earlier 'style' of Epicurus and Blood Hungry are among my most favorite works, the later mixed media stuff makes me want to try other stuff and grow as an artist, without meaning to sound cheesy.

Casey Crowe said...

Awesome post, thanks Sam!! Super informative. Who'd of thunk of using Goop for texture? Not me that's for sure. It's great that you're putting this stuff out here and in this increasingly digital world it's extra cool to see someone really making use of tactile surfaces (especially to such amazing effect). Right on!

Ty Mass said...

Hey Sam, loving your website. It wasnt too long ago I'd have to hear of new work from the dark recesses of the internet or finally hear about a new batman or Lobo.

Anyway, I love your site and your work. I'm reasonably sure I have the biggest The Maxx collection, only missing the Black covers and have some really oddball stuff.

I've been thinking of getting a Maxx or Isz tattoo (Is a single Isz an Is? Remember there being some confusion somewhere) but haven't found the right design. You think that's too hokey?

cody said...

Thanks for the tips. you really do use anything.

Chris said...

Hello Mr. Kieth, I am a fan of yours for a few years now, my brother got me started in your work with The Maxx. I fell in love with your art style and even your story telling and continued on to your other works, My Inner Bimbo, Four Women, Ojo and so forth. I recently purchased your art books, it has random sketches and painting in it. I was shocked when I looked through it, because I have to warn you right now (And my brother can validate this for you if you so wish) I utterly hate most forms of abstract art. I do not see the emotion in a lot of the pieces, I have been to many art exhibits and gone to the fancy places such as the TATE in England and I have been upset by some of the abstract pieces (The famous Adam and Eve painting in the TATE with only red and burgundy lines is a particularly disliked painting). A lot of abstract is done as if the artist just threw something on the paper and went, "Let's see how much it'll make." I know this is a highly opinionated...opinion but I just cannot sense the emotion invested in the painting and what it is trying to convey. In that regard, I hold the highest respect and admiration for your art pieces. In short: I love it. I'm not sure why exactly I do, but whenever I look at your abstract paintings I can see emotions being conveyed, I love the textures you construct and I love the materials you use (Yes even the leather and the springs and other gizmos.) I am looking forward to more of these kind of posts in the future as they also inspire me to keep trying to do my own art. Thank you for your work and showing it to the public Mr. Kieth. Don't stop anytime soon!

Anonymous said...

Would love to know more about the graphite powder and alcohol trick! :) What is the exact procedure, care to tell? :)


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