Saturday, 25 April 2009

Interactive art needs your input - updated

This has been an experiment with texture and colour. I am making a canvas as a gift for Maggi. She wanted the gift to be inspired by literature, music, or film. So many choices....

After being completely stuck, I looked at th
e books on my bookshelf today, and saw one by Sheri Tepper, called 'Beauty'. Inspired, I decided to try and create a piece of art which represented beauty. I took a 6 x 6 inch canvas, and stuck some torn and crumpled deli paper at the top left quarter and bottom right quarter. I added fibre gel medium at the top right quarter, then added fine and coarse garnet gels everywhere else - these are the brown dots you can see. It doesn't look very inspiring, but I'm hoping I've made great texture!

Next, I added a butterfly shaped area of fibre gel medium in the top left quarter, on top of the garnet gel and deli paper. I let it dry a little, then wet and unmounted stamp and stamped into the fibre gel.

The butterfly's not that easy to see on the picture above, but you get a better idea from the close up below.

Once everything had dried, I began to add colour. I added crimson, orange, turquoise and violet. It was too bright, even for me, so I went over the crimson and orange with transparent yellow to tone them down just a little. I put a couple of coats of cobalt turquoise on the butterfly, as I wanted it to be bolder to stand out from such a bright background. It's still way too bright, but I need it to be bold to show through the next step.

I added liming wax to the whole canvas. Liming wax is used on wood to make it look weathered and old. Here, it integrates all the colours and tone s the whole canvas down into a more subtle colour mix. I really like the effect. But, the butterfly doesn't stand out enough.

I've added Treasure Gold to the butterfly. It still didn't stand out enough, and the liming wax had integrated the colour just a tad too much. I took some turquoise pthalo and painted around the butterfly to give more contrast, and added a little at the top right and bottom right corners of the canvas to balance it a little.

I'm really pleased with this so far. It might even be finished. But I am undecided, which is where YOU come in. Do I leave it like this? Or do I add one of the embellishments below????? Please look, and leave a comment with your choice.

Do I add a butterfly stamped onto acetate, with the wings bent up so it looks as if it has just landed on the canvas?

Do I add a spirit of the forest?

Or a green man?

Or a bronze plaque inscribed with script? (this was the embellishment I had planned to use at the outset)

Or, can you think of an embellishment which would look even better on this canvas?

Please let me know which version you prefer, and why. If you have a different idea, please suggest it.

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts.


Those of you who know me won't be surprised to find I did something completely different to the trial pieces above. I didn't look at the canvas for 15 hours, and I read all your comments. By the way, putting the butterfly transpaency was the first thing I did when I made it - and
it looked awful LOL.

The comments which made the most impact on me were the ones about odd numbers and adding more turquoise pthalo (a girl can never have too much turquoise in her life!). And somebody mentioned size. And somebody mentioned di
mension, lifting things off the canvas. When I looked at my assorted embellishments I realised that half the problem was that they were too large for the canvas.

So, I made some smaller gold butterfly themed embellishments. I tried them on the canvas and they didn't work either.

Eventually, I fished out a tiny butterfly mould, and used some air dry clay to make two small butterflies. I painted them and added Treasure Gold, and adhered them onto the canvas with heavy gel. I painted around them. I think it's FINISHED!!!!

Thank you all for your commen
ts, ideas, and input.


  1. Adrienne, I really love how you walk us through your process, your questions, dilemmas and trials. Thank you.

    I vote for the butterfly! I love how it echoes the shadow of the 1st one and really does look like it just landed.

  2. Do I leave it like this? Or do I add one of the embellishments below?????

    Adrienne ...leave it like that! I just love it ! the embellishments would spoil it for me,but thats my opinion,its all in the eye of the beholder,I think your inner self is telling you to leave it ?,Love the way you presented this project.

  3. Lovely work Adrienne, torn between just as it is or with the butterfly.

  4. I must admit I like the butterfly myself, and knowing me, I would have put a few fibres on there as well. I like the plaque, but think the butterfly more appropriate. Very well described too Adrienne.

  5. I'd vote for either leaving it as is or with the plaque, but think the plaque should really be smaller and toned down a bit as it distracts from your butterfly.

    Love the colours and texture.

  6. As an added embellishment, I like the butterfly and the plaque, as either one, not both (LOL). I'd like to see some separation between the added embellishment and the canvas. Wondering if there is a section of the book you really like that could be printed onto some paper and then burnished or aged somehow, have it look as if it's embedded into the canvas, then layer either the butterfly of plaque on top. Maybe under the butterfly embellishment, text printed on vellum, so you still see the canvas underneath. Just ideas, they might not look like what I'm imaging. Have fun! Love seeing all your creations!!!

  7. I like the green man one but I think that I might experiment with adding something else to it as well. Not sure what - maybe a vertical element - a strip of something. May not work but I might try it. I actually like it without any of the embellishments. It has a focal point and lots of interest already. Hmmm, mind you I keep looking at them again and again and now I think I'm liking the butterfly. Oh boy, I'm no help at all am I rofl.

  8. I like it as it is, and really appreciate your step by step explanation. It gives me lots of ideas for projects I am working on. I love all the texture.


  9. Love the colours and textures!

    I would leave it as is - thinking about the principle that odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye.

    The only other suggestion is to take the script (assuming it is a stamp?) and stamp it on the canvas in a light colour to blend in to the background.

    That said, I really think you should go with your heart.

  10. I like the script. I love the way the butterfly appears to stand out from the background but it does need something to balance it and the green man doesn't go with the butterfly. My vote is with the script.

  11. Adrienne have you thought of placing the acetate butterfly on top of the other one and leaving the bottom corner as is because I rather like the texture that you have created there.

  12. I agree with Beverly ~ I love how you walk us through everything you're thinking & doing. You are generous as well as talented.

    Personally, I prefer the piece with the plaque. No embellishment comes in 2nd place. All the other embellishments compete too much with the fiber gel butterfly. Maybe toning the plaque down, as Lyn mentions, would help you get comfortable with it. Whatever you decide, it's a beautiful piece.

  13. Cyndi - Dreams Unltd26 April 2009 at 03:08

    I love your "original" piece but I do think that it needs something more. However, all of the additions you've shown, to me, compete with the butterfly, which is the focus of the piece. Also, you only have two and things always seem to be better in uneven numbers....

    How about just loosely painting a flower and some leaves in the lower right? Something really loose that isn't "definitely" a flower, but just the impression of a flower, and blended into the background, not standing out, and fairly large. I'm seeing it as both a vertical element on the right and a diagonal toward the butterfly....


    Cyndi - Dreams Unltd

  14. well I like "butterfly stamped onto acetate, with the wings bent up so it looks as if it has just landed on the canvas?"

    to me this balances it and it would look PERFECT.

  15. I think the plaque balances the whole thing perfectly.The other embellishments are too long and thin.

  16. Original plaque idea looks really good but I would add some of the turquoise colour (which I think is what looks good about the green man and the other one) - at least around the edges - I might also use a buttefly quote rather than the script?

  17. HI Adrienne - here's my 10p worth...
    I would put the bronze plaque where you had it, lower right corner. But I also wonder how the acetate butterfly would look - OVER the treasure gold butterfly. Or perhaps knock it back with a little gesso, so the gold is more tarnished-looking. But if your gut instinct is telling you to leave it, then DO.

  18. Absolutely stunning! I have to say, I love the look of the plaque. Although I did like the forest spirit too. I think the golden color of the plaque really sets everything off nicely, tho!

  19. I LOVE the finished canvas, youve really pulled it off brilliantly. The little butterflies are perfect, so small and dont hide away any of that wonderful background. The colours youve used are so dreamy and ethereal, perfection doesnt come better than this.

  20. Fascinating... love this post and your asking for input. You really are a treasure. I personally, have learned much just from reading this one Adrienne, so thanks for sharing.
    Were it mine, I'd be hard put not to add a few words or an Art Quote!! However, it is beautiful - lucky Maggi! =)

  21. late to answer!!!! i prefer the canvas just with the butterfly....
    it's very interesting to see how you did it, it's very beautiful, your friend is very lucky!

  22. I really thought that the green man looked the best. Don't ask me why!
    I think you have too much turquoise and too many butterflies in the final one; but what do I know, you have much better taste than me.

  23. Cyndi - Dreams Unltd26 April 2009 at 20:00

    YES! Now it's perfect! The small butterflies tie in, but they let the large one remain the focal point. They are muted and not "in your face," yet give added dimension to the piece.

    As far as uneven numbers, not only do you now have THREE butterflies, but if you count your obvious color blocks, you now have SEVEN (the small butterflies make the seventh color block, since they (that area) stand out from the turquoise), whereas before you had six.

    Love it!

  24. Adrienne I think the piece is beautiful and you have a focal point now some of the things mentioned in the comment may take it to 2 focal points.
    I do think the addition of 1 or 2 small butterflies would enhance your theme.

  25. Love how this turned out!!! Fab choices. You must (please!!!!) teach me mold making when you come visit.
    By the way, so glad you love turquoise as I'm working on your BD pressie and it has turquoise. Hope you like the suspense.....

  26. How cool! I am so new to this, yet, you make it sound so easy. (Other than decisions - LOL) I like the step-by-step guide to how you do this. I think your end result is perfect! I would love to do something like this.


  27. Hi Adrienne
    Only just caught up with this - really love he finished look - the size contrast and the pulling together of the colours woks great - never thought about the odd numbers thing really but looking at my stuff I do his a lot




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