Craft experiments: Photo Transfer to Canvas

I love taking photographs.  Even before the age of smartphones and selfies, I would hold my point and shoot DSL-like camera and click it framing my son and I in a photo that looks like it was taken by someone in front of me.  Friends would often wonder how I did it.  I kept telling them, it’s plain and simple practice.

  1. I would look at the lens and make sure that the reflection I saw there was the framing I was hoping to achieve.
  2. Whether I was taking a blind selfie or not, or taking the photo of another subject, I already knew not to place the subject’s head in the middle of the frame.  (A common  mistake), and instead put it on the upper center of the photo.
  3. I also knew I had to look at the lens, not at my hand.

In truth, this was really one of the skills of motherhood.  Ever since I became a Mom, I took numerous snapshots of my then little baby on a daily basis, capturing every essence of his day.  My camera and I were inseparable.  This is the reason why I have always opted for a fancy point and shoot rather than an actual DSLR.

Through the years, I’ve also learned that taking a snapshot of an actual photograph can produce better results than an actual scan.  (This, of course, is just my humble opinion.)

I have always had a deeply sentimental nature when it came to photographs.  I brought home a ton of my pictures through the years through my various trips home to Manila, and what I couldn’t take  (or chose not to take), I took photos of.  Holding a photo and looking at it, whether or not it’s me in the photo or someone else, evokes a wave of emotions and memories that a simple thought cannot bring.  It is a magical experience all its own.

Then I fell in love with the idea of photographing jeepneys and the many scenes of New York.  From the flora of Bryant Park to the gorgeous foliage of Central Park, to the never-ordinary cityscape showing any of our iconic buildings like the Empire State Building — I have amassed quite a personal trove of photos.

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One thing that the digital age has robbed us of, I think, is the need to actually produce these pictures as hard copy mementos of the moments they captured.  We have become content with visually beholding them in our smart phones or on our computer screens.  We have stopped printing them or creating a physical copy.

I’ve always wanted to incorporate these photos in my artwork but have really not had the chance to try until recently.  Again, I’m a crafter more than an artist, so my creative process is about acquiring the skill rather than cultivating a talent.  I am so green with envy of the real artists out there who can grab a pencil or a brush and with a few strokes create something others can drool over.  I call my attempts, “Personal art”.

Scouring the internet, I’ve found several resources that give tutorials on photo transfers on canvas using a gel or glue medium.  Over the previous week, I tried using regular mod podge after having painted small canvas panels with acrylic beforehand.  I’ve had some practice doing this on Artist Trading Card backgrounds half a lifetime ago, so the backgrounds were the easy piece of the puzzle.

Since this was purely experimental, I decided to go with a 4×5 canvas panel.  Aim small, miss small, as they say.

I already had future projects in mind so I decided to experiment with (1) a full-photo transfer, and (2) a collage transfer, essentially focusing on a cut out.  Below is a macro shot of Angelo when he was maybe 4 or 5, laser printed as recommended.  I printed the photo slightly larger than the canvas panel but I didn’t intend to wrap the edge of the photo print out on the sides of the frame.  From the get-go, I meant to show some of the background by exposing the edges.  I wanted it to be a distressed transfer to give the photo more drama.

The background was a hodge podge of gold, copper and silver acrylic.

This second one was a cut out of the dancing girl figure, a picture of me when I was maybe 3-4 years old.

<Untitled

Chalk it to my impatience — instead of waiting for the customary drying time of 24 hours, I wanted to see as quickly as possible if the ink would indeed be transferred by applying a generous amount of transfer medium to the print out and then pasting it onto the canvas panel.  (This was, after all, an experiment only, so I threw all caution to the wind.)

Cutting out the figure that I wanted, I pasted it onto the canvas but being careful not to let any glue get onto the backside of the picture.  Two or three tutorials I viewed warned against this because any part of the printout with glue on the backside (the reverse side) would not be rubbed out when you tried to get the transfer reveal.

I think my transfers went well for a first attempt, and as far as first attempts go.  I’ve already stocked up on regular canvas to work with bigger projects which I hope to showcase here in future posts.

MATERIALS USED:

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Art Journal Every Day – day to day

Art Journal Every Day

I’ve been meaning to write here a while but as always, life has intervened.  There are just too many things to do, and sometimes chronicling a step-by-step entry — more so on a multi-page layout like this one — can be quite the challenge.  But I try.

Art journal every day multi page layoutI’ve been rather good with the art journaling this last couple of weeks.  Maybe because I’ve needed the “release”, so to speak, with so many things happening in my life of late.  It’s given me an anchor of sorts, allowing me to keep my feelings and thoughts grounded, and also giving me a quicker and more graphic way to jot down happenings of note — or even passing feelings that come upon me in the course of the day.  As I write this, though, I haven’t touched the journal for almost a week, and there is some catching up to do.

If you’ve seen my Art Journal Every Day posts on my Flickr account, you’ll find that I have moved from two previous attempts at art journaling to my altered book which is where these pages are.

Art journal every day multi page layoutI had finished these pages waaaay ahead and am finally art journaling this multi-page spread.  I think I’m maybe a few weeks ahead, and I am already excited to finish this book and start the next altered book.  It’s a work in progress.  My first entries in this book were from 2013, and being that I journal in stops and starts, it has all of 2014 in its pages (which isn’t really all that much), but 2015 will have to “jump” to another book at some point in time.

Just to share the process I followed, I counted the approximate number of pages I would need, added 6 (for three spreads) and found the middle page of that whole set.

Art journal every day multi page layoutI started from the middle and began coloring the center most layout first and doodled the first spread and cut.  It’s important that you cut so that you can work around the layers as you go.  You’ll see that I cut around the designs, but I did not finish each layer beyond the “outline” of the flower on that particular page.  Most of the tinier details actually came much later, and some will be added as I go along, journaling on the back or hidden pages.  I’m not even half way through this entire layout yet, but I’m so excited with how it will come out later.

I’m just putting in random entries without worrying about anything beyond not writing beyond the “lines” so that I can keep it “within” the particular design of the page I’m writing on.

Art journal every day multi page layoutThere are times when I simply go through the pages of the altered book with all the journaling and I really find it fulfilling to see the previous pages almost full or rather full with entries.

I’m actually thinking of doing a video of the various pages — eventually — although there is quite a lot to see as it is. I can’t believe I’m almost halfway done. The book is bursting at the seams so I am seriously considering having it rebound, or maybe even attempting to do it by myself. (Ambitious, I know.)

I’m a little wary of photographing the finished pages because the entries can be very personal at time.

Art journal every day multi page layoutAgain, it’s supposed to be a personal exercise and I am just coasting by and pretty happy about it.  This is the kind of personal art that I can easily pull out when the mood hits me just like now.  It’s also nice to see how far I’ve gone, go back to what I had written through time, and even just in seeing a drawing or a single line, a whole slew of memories and thoughts come rushing back in.

Just a bit of art journaling every day.

 

Splashes of Color

In Mags: splashes of color
I take my everyday inspiration from splashes of color I see in magazine layouts or in everyday things I come across when I go through my day.

I don’t pretend to know the best color schemes. I am a consumer like you and I take inspiration from artists and other creative people. I often browse the colorful ads in the magazines and I take my cue from there. I look at the overall tone (dark, warm, bright) and then I look at the individual colors present.

These days I’ve been busy twisting and threading wire. I’m trying to come up with color compositions to make the stones compliment the one next to it. Sometimes I simply play it by ear.

Work in progress: agate beads and wire-wrappingBeads and color

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting but also recognize that I have to start producing my regular pieces along the way. I am hoping to post a few soon as Mother’s Day, after all, is just around the corner. At least I’m focusing on my store again.

There are also some very good sales at the moment, but I’m trying not to purchase anything beyond what I need for my experimenting.

My gauge 28 wire is a current favorite. It’s thin enough to manipulate and molds nicely to take the shape of what I’m trying to wrap. It’s getting easier but like any skill, it takes practice.