I don not usually get very personal about myself and my life on this blog. I figure people are here to see my art and process step outs...not hear about me. But today I am sharing a very personal project I did completely for myself and for the healing art brings. Lately I have been feeling death around me in a very personal way. I am still processing my best friend and partner's battle with cancer for the last year+. You go through stages when you are a care giver of someone who is that ill. First sheer panic. Then full on warrior mode to get through. You have to power through all the doctor appointments, hospital stays, scans, and chemo treatments. Now that treatment is over and he is OK...I feel some sort of acceptance of the fact that people do actually die. And also gratefulness that he didn't. But several of my family have died. Most recently my Aunt to cancer. Another Aunt is in treatment for breast cancer. My father passed from cancer as well as my Grandmother on his side. My other Grandmother has passed and I miss her dearly. And very recently my Mom's Dashound. Other people I am close to have felt recent deaths in their close family as well. A 16 year old daughter died of cancer...a Grandfather....pets. I don't mean this as a whining session. Just trying to explain why I am feeling death at every turn. It could also be that I will be turning half a century this birthday! But ultimately I am ready to make friends with death. To invite my loved ones spirits to be near me if they want. I can say to them..I love you..I miss you..I hope you are safe and happy...and please come for a visit. As I was making my project to use on this Day of the Dead (November 1st, 2015) I thought about my Grandma, my Dad, and my Mom's little dog Rocky. I will be using this tray to place their photos and favorite foods. Blue cheese and peanut butter for my Dad, a chocolate chip cookie made with her recipe for my Grandma, and a pupperoni for Rocky. Also there will be water for drinking after the long trek from the spirit world, a scented candle to guide their way, salt, and a brush and soap for freshening up. I hope my personal spirits will feel welcome at my home on Dia de los Muertos.
I started out my project with a clearance bin wooden tray from Tuesday Morning store. It was originally priced $19.95 but I got it for $5.99. It was a tiny bit beat up but since I was covering the whole tray, I didn't care. I did a bit of light sanding on the rough edges and then gave it two coats of white gesso.
While that was drying I started on my images. I thought it would be easier to collage things on to the try then to try and draw and paint on it. I cut a piece of mixed media paper from Canson to the size of the bottom of the try (for perspective) and then started to draw in pencil. Once I had my three main images drawn (a male, female and dog sugar skull figure) then I cut them out to see how they fit and laid them on the tray.
Now for coloring them in. I used Decoarts Media line fluid acrylics for color with a small brush. Why these you say? Well, I am a member of Decoarts Blogger Outreach program and I submitted my idea for this project to them and asked for products. They agreed to my request and sent me a box of stuff I asked for ...for FREE :) However, that being said... I LOVE these paints. They are highly pigmented so it just takes a little drop of paint. I own one lonely bottle of Golden fluid acrylic..and these seem exactly the same. I didn't have to mix with water to get a paintable constancy like I do with my heavier body acrylics..so no thinning of the paint which dilutes colors. Now that I have tried these I don't want to go back to cheap paint! Luckily these are less expensive then Golden so I can maybe afford a few more :)
Once all my painting with the fluid acrylics was done, I went in and added detail using my white and black Posca paint pens. I also used some of my Posca color set of pens. I used a .005 Prismacolor black pen in some places where I needed a really fine detail line.
Fitting them on the tray again...I need lots of other elements!
A common flower to see on Dia de los Muertos alters is Marigolds. It helps guide the spirits by it's strong smell. So I went for a napkin I had that had something resembling Marigolds (although could be Chrysanthemum) and fussy cut them out. I did the same with a butterfly napkin.
I made several other flowers using a pack of paper flowers by Recollections. I sprayed them using the Media line ink sprays from Decoarts. I am having a bit of trouble taking process photos while filming video...
<~Insert photo I don't have here ~>
Next I wanted to add a blue sky with fluffy white clouds to the background of my tray. I took a scrap of the mixed media paper and tore it into a cloud shape to use a mask. Then I used a sponge to go over it, turning and moving it as needed. I used two colors of blues and a white heavy body acrylic paint from Liqutex basics to do this.
Now comes the collage part..my favorite. I used Decoarts Decou-page from the Americana line to glue all my images down. The napkins I used only a coat directly on the tray then lightly over the top. For the heavier paper pieces I put glue on the backs of the paper and the try both and smoothed with my fingers. Then brushed another coat over the top. I used the satin finish and it has a light sheen.
Once I had let my collage dry overnight, I added details. I used Inktense pencils my Derwent to make shadows around the images. I used black for the main images and mostly blues for the background images. I blended it with a wet paintbrush. I also added details using my colored set of Posca pens and other colors of Inktense. I added highlights with my white Posca.
I hope you enjoyed my project! Here are a few more close up photos.
Please leave me a comment about what you thought about this project/post :)