Today I would like to share with you a present I made for my best friend. There is a story behind why I made this canvas of course. For the last several years both myself and my friend have been feeling the stress and general 'Grinchness' that comes around the holidays. There is so much to worry about and do, and so little time. The things like outside lights and decorating a tree that were once so wonderful...are now feeling like just a chore. And wrapping...forget about it! Buy those nice bags and throw the stuff in. I don't know what has caused this grinchiness....but it makes me sad. But what I found really sad is that as a result of this feeling...my friend has just been taping a a basic tree shape cut out of wrapping paper to her wall and putting the presents under it. I do understand it of course. She and her Daughter go to the Grandparents house so why even bother with her house? But one thing I always enjoy on those December nights is turning off all the lights, except for the tree, and sitting and relaxing. So, I decided to make her a piece of art that is a Christmas tree with lights...not a real tree...but easy to put up and very decorative!
For those of you who might feel the need for one of these easy up trees...here is how I did it. I started with a canvas that is 4 X 2 feet. It was very white of course, so I did a tissue paper collage background using hand stamped tissue papers and gold metallic tissue paper. First I stamped all over the kraft colored tissue paper with a big text stamp and archival black ink. Then I used a variety of Christmas stamps in red, blue and green pigment inks. Lastly I added snowflakes with white pigment ink. I used inks that would dry non water soluble as otherwise the ink would smear all over when I used liquid medium to glue them to the canvas. I tore up the papers and applied them all over the canvas and edges.
Now time for the tree. I painted on the red pot for the tree to stand in (this is an alive tree!) using acrylic paints. I followed this with the basic bare tree design. Remember.. nature is rarely symmetrical to the eye when you are trying to paint a tree.
When I paint I tend to use a minimum of 4 shades of a color...because that is the way I like it. I did this method on the pot and the bare tree, and of course the needles. Here is an idea of what I mean. The darkest color goes first in the areas not receiving a lot of light. Then the 2 mediums, then the lightest color being last to go on.
Once the tree was done, I really felt that the background was too busy and would take away from the design, so I decided to tone it down with some watered down gesso. Once I had finished that...I was annoyed that my metallic tissue paper was now all DULL :( So I decided to add back in some shimmer using Pearl Ex powdered pigments mixed with liquid medium. This turned out great as I added first some gold all over then a darker gold and a metallic red on the edges. I also put some heavier gold around the area where the star would shine. (this photo is of another canvas...but you get the idea of the toning down)
Now my tree needed some ornaments. I had purchased some pretty glittery snowflakes at Michaels the other day because I just liked them, so I started with those. Then I made some painted and layered balls out of cardboard from a cereal box. I went over them with some glossy accents from mod podge and a bit of glitter. Then I made a glitter star, and some other drawn and painted and glossed ornaments.
To finish off the tree I added 100 little rice lights by poking a small hole for each in the canvas. Then I pressed the light through and taped it on the back to hold it. My final step was to glue a piece of felt over the whole back to cover up the wires.
This was a fun and rewarding project. I sent it to my friend already and she is putting it up the day after Thanksgiving, Also, her mother has ordered one, and she wants one for the office as well (smaller) So a little extra money for me to use to buy Christmas gifts :)