Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Painting With Wood - Part One

While working on my first wooden marquetry piece, I soon realised that it can share many of the concepts and theory used in painting. They don’t call it painting with wood for nothing.

Marquetry is cutting out individual pieces of veneers from a layout and connecting those pieces together with glue to form an image. Pieces of wood veneer are selected for the colour, interesting effects and grain characteristics. Once the image is assembled it is then glued to a base or structure such as a cabinet or piece of furniture. The piece is then scraped back until the surface feels smooth to the touch. A finish is then applied.

I most certainly have seen value and colour theory used in some of the more elaborate pictorial and advance pieces. I’m not sure if the craftsman was aware of these principals or through experience, intuition or gut feelings, knew what worked best. But, I know, sometimes you can over think these things. If these theories were applied to marquetry, one would have a better understanding of the pictorial and design process.

Before staring a piece, you may ask, what can be done with the materials that are available? Off cuts or left over pieces of veneer even can be used as you can find a place where they can be useful in other places or pieces even.

The Next two things to considered and is essential to the art of marquetry is the grain or defects and the colour of the wood. Colour of wood ranges in colour value (light and dark) and colour temperature (warm and cool. These can be used to help create interest and the illusion of space and distance. Value can also help establish the light and shadow in the composition.

Can the colour wheel be used with wood?

Can a value scale or a value finder be used?
Sure, why not.

"Watching Paint Dry" is a shared Flicker image by the Marquetry Society.

-Kim Bennett

Monday, 15 June 2009

Ready Set Go

Work in Progress, 10" x 10" inches, Kim Bennett

There were a few things that enticed me into the studio on Friday. First was the need to paint second was some new brushes to test and the other was to use some paint left over from a previous painting. This teapot or tea set was started on Friday and it will be one of the two unfinished works that will be travelling with me.

It has been a while since I have had a critique and I am hoping that I will be able to catch up with a couple of friends and ask them what they think about my work. We often critique each other work via e-mail and value each others opinion. This accommodation works very well but admittedly, nothing can replace seeing the work in person.

I was pleased with this painting until Sunday when an image of it was uploaded to the computer. Doing this usually gives me the opportunity to sit back and view a piece with a critical eye. It is similar to the way one would look at their work in the mirror, but the image is not reversed.

I don’t have a mirror in my studio yet. And, I am not suggesting to using the camera in place of the mirror. The mirror is more practical as it is not necessary to step away from your work or the studio and secondly, a photograph can add contrast to the look of the image.

Through this observation and having an objective eye, I am led to believe that the painting is indeed in need of more contrast. This is the opposite of what I had initially set out to do. In fact, I deliberately lowered the intensity of my darks.

Now the looming question, should I add more contrast to the painting or should I start another? Upon the revisit I should have a better understanding of what to do.

-Kim Bennett

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Travel Doodle

Awake on the plane and doodling in 2007.

Strawberries are in season and Wimbledon is probably not that far off. Our strawberries started to bloom in late April. I was out in the gardening yesterday checking them carefully but no luck yet. So it looks as if it will be another summer without indulging in some home grown strawberry goodness. All the more for my hubby Mark.

I will start my travels across the pond on Monday. I have been packing and starting to think about the necessities that are to go with me like a bathing suit, tooth brush and a sketchbook.

The sketchbook has become one of my favourite companions to take on holiday. It has a multipurpose use and comes in handy for this reason. On my journey, it becomes my travel log of keeping track of events. It records sketches of memories or those passing moments and it is my outlet to just doodle.

I have never been a serious sketcher. I am actually more of a doodler. I find it relaxing making swirls and shapes in my sketchbook or travel book. And because doodling doesn’t involve too much thinking it is particularly useful for me to get through that flight and the jet lag. It also passes the time, and has at times helps me to stay awake

Over the weekend I had purchased a new travelbook for my journey. This was just a practical and inexpensive travel book about 9 x 14 cm size with a unfinished soft cover. This is ideal to fit in my back pocket.

Now, I had made my own travel books in the past but thought, why not, would it really hurt to treat myself to one?

Then, I discovered that the company that made the sketchbook have been papermakers since 1584. Now, some may not bat an eye lid to this but, I felt blown away with this extraordinary bit of history. For a brief moment, I was taken away with the thought of people dressed in 16th century attire making paper. I’m glad that I treated myself.

My pen is poised and ready.
Happy travelling.

-Kim Bennett

Monday, 8 June 2009

Patchings Festival - 2009

I received the phone call on Friday to get ready for a journey to the Patchings Art Craft and Design Festival 2009. This was taking place near Robbin Hood country in Nottinghamshire.

The trip to Nottinghamshire was made with my art companion Ann. On the way there I had learned from Ann that the word “shire” (in Britain) means county. An area with the name followed by the word shire is a division of land. Also, “The shire in early days was governed by an ealdorman and in the later Anglo-Saxon period by royal official known as a "shire reeve" or sheriff.” From Wikipedia

When we arrived it was pouring the rain but by the afternoon it was pleasant enough to eat ice-cream at the tables. It was both of ours first time at the Patchings and we did enjoy ourselves.

With the unpredictable British weather, everything is set up inside marquees. There were hands on opportunities to play with the mediums and products. People were there demonstrating and selling their work. There were also other events or workshops running throughout the four days where individuals could attend for a token price of £2.50

The artist and crafter stalls were of quality and there were also exhibitions taking place there as well. Also we had a chance to admire a barn owl who thought he was human.

At closing time we were exhausted. Passing through Sherwood Forest on the way home, we briefly stopped near the Major Oak. According to folklore the Major Oak was used as Robin Hoods Shelter. Ok, it’s old but probably not that old! But even so, it is still a fun place to visit wearing tights.
- Kim Bennett

Related Links
The experience of Patchings was made more special by speaking with artist about their work.
These are some of the artist that could be found demonstrating at their stalls.

Martin Kinnear
Kinnear’s The Studio blog
Helen Parsley -acrylic
Linda Wain - acrylic
Mary Herbert – pastel pencils
David Curtis –watercolour and oil

Friday, 5 June 2009

Faux Madness

Today I wanted to look at and list some other applications of the faux finishes. Some of the techniques that we will be covering in my Magnolia Faux Marquetry class in June will be transferable and useful to you. Let us look at where these skills and finishes can be used and incorporated into a living space.

How can these faux finishes be used in other areas?

Give your wall variation- Accent walls are a hot item right now! The going trend is to paint the wall in the room, skirting boards and the window frames in white or neutral colour. Then choose a wall to place your accent colour. By introducing a colour or even a faux finish you can introduce warmth, textures and interest into your living space.

A faux technique on an accent wall doesn’t have to be an earth tone colour. It can be any colour or your favourite colour. In my living room there is a base coat a neutral cream with a faux of a colour that matches the carpet on top. This has introduced texture and interest in what could be considered a plain room.

Also, accent walls are great for a couple that can’t always agree on colour. Having an accent wall can allow you to introduce something bold and exciting to your wall. For example, my favourite colour is a vibrant orange. Full coverage of orange in a room may be too much for your better half. But having it in small amounts may be okay and liveable for everyone.

Box of Grapes, Acrylic on wood, ©2008 Kim Bennett & Betty Hyre, CDA

Panelling can be exotic- I love the look exotic woods they are so sheik! But how practical are they for both their use and your budget? More expensive woods can be reproduced with faux techniques.

Case in point, I toured an estate last year. When our group entered the room to the main stair case the entire area was panelled in a faux wood finish. I was told that the reason for this was to give a cheaper wood a richer look without the extra cost. They possibly also couldn’t import the wood at the time.

In more modern times, we also find that some of the exotic woods are protected but the look can be reproduced by applying faux painting techniques.

Recycled Desk, acrylic on wood, painted for KVDA Community Service Project 2007

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle- Instead of disposing of old worn furniture why not recycle and rejuvenate them by going green with faux finishing. Above is a piece I had worked on for a fundraiser. It was fast and easy project. The top is a painted white marble the remainder of the desk is a combination of several faux wood techniques.

Canvas Art- Many times I have seen printed canvas in the modern home furniture stores and have thought to myself that this can simply be made with a couple of colours and faux finish techniques. These colours can be soft tint like blue or green which is calming.

By creating you own, you are giving it a personal touch. And again, introduces texture and interest into a room.

Boy these old doors could use some sprucing up- Before embarking on painting you cabinets determine rather if it is worth it. For example, I have good quality oak doors in my kitchen. It would be nice to paint them rather than refinishing or buying new ones. Would I do it? Not a chance.

Yes, it can be a cheaper alternative but ask yourself realistically, is it really worth doing?

Mantels and columns- Make your mantel more interesting by adding rich faux techniques.

Are there other ways of using faux techniques that you would like to share?

- Kim Bennett

Related Post:
Decorative Painting Faux Finishes

Other sites of interest:

Karl-Heinz Meschbach

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Yellow Tea Cup

Yellow Tea Cup, 10" x 10" inches, acrylics on panel/MDF
©2009 Kim Bennett

Here it is! Thank you to everyone for the encouragement to get it finished.

This painting was started by blocking in the colours. The first layer of paint was applied with a palette knife. The paint was then manipulated, pushed with a bristle brush. I also borrowed colour from one place and introducing it in another with the brush. This was a good technique for me as I wanted to keep the painting loose.

This was painted on fibreboard. I am not satisfied painting on this type of surface for a couple of minor reasons. One of which is, I have noticed that the edges can easily be chipped. This is occurring in exposed areas such as the corners. When moisture gets into these areas the fibres expand. I can’t tell you how frustrating it can be when those little misshapen corners are brought to my attention.

At the moment I am trying some alternatives to this surface. I will let you know how it goes.

-Kim Bennett