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1. Muffy Clark Gill_Muted Swan_2014_mixed media_24x48.75 in

Muffy Clark Gill Muted Swan, mixed media, 24 x 78.5 in

I always talk about my work being a series of “happy accidents”, but sometimes those accidents can turn into near calamities. Not every painting that I create turns out exactly the way I envision it.

For example,

I recently wanted to create a painting of a swan from a photograph that I had taken at Homosassa Springs State Park. This painting I wanted to create as a Diptych (or two panel painting ) that I visualized hanging on either side of a doorway so that the eye would look at the image and visually fill in the gap between the two panels.

I went through my usual process of redrawing a line image of the photograph onto the Habitae silk that I had stretched out on my larger Moyer Design Frame. I then started waxing and dying in each layer from light to dark to start to build up my colors. I then hit a roadblock: the black dyes that I had painted on did not get as black as I had wanted-in fact they had looked rather murky and lacked crispness. I kept working on different techniques to sharpen the black color. One which I learned from my friend, Kiranada Sterling Benjamin, was to paint over the black with red, let dry and dye again. That helped clean up that problem.

I finished the painting (or so I thought) by removing the wax and steaming the colors to set them. I then attached the two pieces of fabric (since I had just divided the painting in two) using Mod Podge (a form of white glue). I then sealed it with a topcoat of Golden GAC 100 medium. BIG MISTAKE! It looked great while applying, but immediately I noticed air bubbles forming on the surface of the panels. As the gel medium dried, the bubbles got larger and the whole painting looked horrible! I called Golden Paints for advice on what to do. Their tech support person suggested that I would have to remove the painting from the panels, clean off the offending product and mount all over again. Yikes!

It took me three days to loosen the panels with sprays of water to remove them from the canvas backing. It then took almost two weeks to physically scrape off the offending product with a plastic credit card scraper until I could get it looking half decent again. In the process the colors of the painting faded significantly and the fine details of the piece were almost bleached out. I thought the painting was a goner!

The faded left panel

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Panels with damage

The restoration in process

In the meantime I had taken pictures of the fabric panels before I mounted them and had put together an image from those photographs. Thanks goodness that I did! I was able to have a digital reproduction made of that image so that it matched how I had wanted the original painting. I then went back and embellished the two canvas panels with different painting techniques and additions to create a second painting. For a while, I thought that would become the final version of the painting.

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 Muffy Clark Gill, Swan Lake, 2014,mixed media, 24 x 78.5 in

I put the original painting aside while I tried to figure out where to go from there. I then decided to try fixing it again. This time I adhered the silk on the wrong side of the painting, as it had faded less, and adhered it to gray eco-felt as a backing. I then stretched the eco-felt over the canvas supports and remounted the pieces.

How was I going to save the image that remained? I went back to my arsenal of fabric marker pens and carefully redrew the outlines of every detail in the painting. This process took me almost another two weeks of work until I was satisfied with the result. I also had to use some fabric paint to even the level of color on both sections of the swan’s body so that the two panels would match. I finally had a painting that I felt was worthy of all of the time and labor I had put into it.

It goes to show that you can learn from your mistakes….I just don’t want to ever have that happen to me again!

The Creation of “Drake”

Image

Every once in a while, I like to let my readers see How I go about creating one of my Batik/Rozome paintings.  First off, My readers ask “What is Rozome?”  The easiest way I can explain it is that Rozome is a wax and dye resist process similar to Batik, but using Japanese bamboo brushes to paint the soy/beeswax onto the fabric, while a different style of bamboo brush pushes the dye into the dampened silk fabric, rather than immersing it in a dye tank.

For this painting I selected a photograph I took of a male Wood Duck that was take by me last spring at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Central Florida.

This beautiful park features all animals that are found in the state of Florida with the exception of  “Lu “, the Hippo, an honorary citizen.  You can see all sorts of wonderful birds, manatees, otters, alligators and much more.  Well worth a visit!

I then enlarged my photograph so that I could make a large line drawing to work from. I used this drawing to serve as a road map for my project.  Working from the drawing, I transferred the lines onto a large piece of silk, creating my own drawing on the fabric. Then, after stretching the panel to keep it taught, I applied a layer of soy and beeswax to the areas that were to remain white.  Gradually, I would wax over each successive color from light to dark as you can see from these works in progress photos.  (I did the most of the background first before I went back in and worked on the duck).Image

During this process, I am following the hundreds of fine lines I drew on the back of the fabric so I could created the water effects (My friends think I am nuts). I am still waxing as each value of color is painted onImageHere you can see the darker tones are gradually being added.

 

ImageHere is the piece almost ready to be ironed out to remove the wax.

After I have removed most of the wax by ironing and blotting, I then roll the piece up in several layers of newsprint like a jellyroll and steam it for three hours in a converted Turkey fryer.  Removing the piece from the newsprint, I then rinse it in a chemical bath to remove any excess dye before I press it dry.  The painting is then ready for a photograph and to frame it!

Now featured on Artsy Shark!

Agua XIII The Red LeafI know I haven’t written a blog posting in a while-I’ve been so wrapped up in creating and organizing my artwork (not to mention exhibiting and creating a revised website) For 2014, I decided that I wanted to get back into chronicling my ideas and inspirations for my art. I have a lot of work to do: I received a notice that I will be showing in the gallery at the Florida State Capitol in 2015– more Seminole kimonos to create.

I have submitted work for the Florida Contemporary show at the Baker Museum of Art, and next week I am venturing over to Boca Raton to see two of my “Agua” series paintings, Red Leaf 1 and Red Leaf 2 in their opening day at the Nathaniel Rosen Museum and Gallery.

A happy and busy time for me.

Meanwhile, I submitted work to Artsy Shark, an online site that helps to promote visual artists. Carolyn Edlund of Artsy Shark selected my work after I made several revisions to my website and images. the results are amazing!

You can read about my work on the article here:Artsy Shark

Many thanks to Carolyn and her webmaster Jason Stambagh for making this happen!

Back from the Dry Cleaners

After a week at my favorite dry cleaners, the painting looks bright and shiny.  The silk threads glisten.  The main panel is ready for its two soulmates to be created !

Final Image for Wet World

Final Image for Wet World

Take it all off!

I am now in the final stretch of this piece.  I have added a few more colors to paint on, and then it’s time for waxing out.  As you can see, I am placing  sheets of newsprint over portions of the image at a time,  allowing the wax to absorb into the newsprint.  This takes at least 1/2 an hour of my time.  Quite  often I am asked:”How long does it take for you to create one of these paintings”.  I actually loose track after a while, but in this case, the photo enlargement, and placing on the fabric have taken over 3 hours; the waxing of the white layer took about two hours, then the remaining layers took another 4-5  hours.  This does not count the drying time between each layer of wax and dye. So for this project, I already have at least 11 hours work before touch up and finishing to go.

Ironing out the wax

Using newsprint to remove the wax

Rubbing off the excess dye before dryingIroning out the last traces of wax

The Continuing Process

Darker blue waters are added

Darker blue waters are added

Now I am getting really excited about this painting.  The colors are holding their own.  The next few photos are showing the build-up of color, moving towards the final result

Dying Steps, part 2

Dying # 4

Dying # 4, adding more color

After these first two rounds of dying and painting are completed, I go on and add more color, working from light to dark, trying to bring out as many details as I can. the painting begins to take shape

Version three of the dying process

I now can get started with my dying process. This painting is very complex, due to the number of color combinations and waxings that must be done in order to accomplish getting the information in front of me to look like what I have envisioned. I start by painting on all of the white areas with hot wax. This time around, pure white is few and far between, so after I do the initial waxing I paint on the next few colors: yellow for the floating debris, and a pale rose pink for the basic flesh. tone While the painting is still wet, I decide that it is too intense, so I paint a layer of ecru dye over the pink over the wet fabric, to more carefully match the color I am looking for. This gets waxed, and I keep on going…

"Warren's World" in the early stages

"Warren's World" in the early stages

"Warren's World" Panting with first few dyebaths started
“Warren’s World” Painting with the first few dye baths started

I know  that asking what you were doing while on vacation is a common question, but this time, I decided to try to show one tiny part of it in a new painting series I’m christening “The Water Series”.  While snorkeling with at Sandy Cay in the Bahamas, a photograph  I took of my husband snorkeling opened up a whole slew of new ideas on how to create the moment in Batik.  I would like to show how over the next few writings I created a new wall hanging that is still in process.  The first photo I am showing is the cool picture I took of Gill in the water snorkeling.  I liked the reptilian patterning on his arm and the way the light reflected on the surface of the bright turquoise water.  I took the photograph that I liked so much, and converted it into a line drawing in Photoshop.  I then blew up the black and white image to the size I wanted to create the painting, and proceeded to draw it on to a large piece of beautiful white upholstery grade silk that I had acquired  last year.  (Oh thank heaven for yard sales).  Then I began my wax and dying process.

 

Gill snorkeling in the Abacos

The photo that started a new series

 

 

The line drawing from the photo

The base layer for the new batik

 

Tucanos Tikal

Last November, my husband Gill and I traveled to Belize and Guatemala for a vacation.  As a part of this trip, we wanted to revist the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, a place we had stopped at the previous winter.  This time we stayed on the national park grounds for two nights at the Jungle Lodge.  It was a great experience and we hope to do it again.  As a part of that stay, we took a sunrise tour with a guide who grew up on the site while his father worked as an archaeologist.  We woke up at 4:30 am and hiked onto the temple grounds by the light of a flashlight, drinking in the sounds of Howler monkeys and birdsong.  It was really impressive seeing the sun begin to rise behind the pyramids, especially so when we hiked to the top of Temple Four to watch the sun try to breakout from behind the clouds.    The whole experience gave me inspiration for some new art images.

The one I am featuring here is based on the scenes of two Fiery Billed  Aracaris (members of the Toucan family) feasting on the berries of the Christmas Palms that were growing outside our room.  They were a riot to watch, peeling the outer skins off the seeds and throwing the pits to the ground one after an another.  They were joined by some Keel Billed Toucans, so there were numerous squabbles over who would get the fruit.  I shot dozens of photographs, and chose one of these images for this painting.  I am also featuring some  works in progress images so that you can see the start to finish of this 40″ x 30″ painting.

Close-up of batik

Close-up view of Tucanos Tikal in progress

phot of new batik in progress

A view of the batik after the early stages of waxing and dyeing

2Toucans in Christmas Palms

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