Self Portrait in coloured pencil

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Gold Leaf

Gold leaf diversion 
I have finished the wolf den in pen and ink but I have not had time to scan it. I have been finishing a piece of furniture that I built, and tools and other things are still sitting on top of the scanner. 
The furniture was built to hold a Nichiren Buddhist mandala called a Gohonzon. 
I started with an IKEA children's storage system because it was exactly the right size. 
The inner cupboard is made of African mahogany. I don't know what that is but it is a beautiful colour. 
The inner cupboard needed a new back, and for a long time I have dreamed of having the back coated in gold leaf. So I ordered the gold leaf and acrylic size from L. Cornelissen & Son because their website was easier to understand than others I looked at. I chose the extra thick gold leaf in hopes that it would be less fragile. After all this was my first attempt at proper gold leafing. 
I bought a big board of Ampersand Claybord because I thought it would make a great surface to gold leaf. It was. 
I thought I should let you know what I learned in case you are thinking of trying gold leaf yourself. 
I bought transfer gold leaf. The leaf is held on a wax paper, and each leaf is between the pages of a booklet. It is easy to handle and doesn't need any special tools. 
The acrylic size was in a bottle and the instructions said to leave it 15 minutes then it would stay tacky indefinitely. 
My advice, having learned from my mistakes, is: don't apply the size beyond the area that you want gold leafed, and apply the size as smoothly as possible. 
The gold leaf only sticks to the sized area. It doesn't stick to the area that already has gold on it. So you don't need to be too precious about it, and you can touch in any gaps in the gold by applying the left over bits on the wax paper. 
Because of the stickiness that was definitely persistent I had to varnish the gold leaf surface. This brings me to the last crucial lesson. The wax on the paper leaves a trace of itself on the gold and water based acrylic varnish doesn't like wax. I don't know what you can use to clean off the wax without taking off any gold. I just persevered with coats of varnish. One area ended up a bit lumpy but I don't think it will show when the mandala is hanging in place. 
I was left with one entire leaf of gold which I photographed (above). I intend to incorporate it into a miniature in the Nihonga style. I have put it away safely until I am inspired by a subject. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Work in progress: The Wolf Den

The Wolf Den work in progress 6 x 4 inches 
It may be small but there is a lot of work in this pen and ink of a wolf and her cubs in a den under tree roots. So I am showing the work in progress. 
I am drawing it behind the barricade that fends off the cat. But today he peeped round the back of the barricade to see what I was doing. I was getting ready to protect the drawing when he kind of sniffed and went back to sleep. 
I have wanted to do a drawing or painting of the wolf den for many years but I deferred it because I had commissions. Eventually that old question came up: if you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret not doing. For me the answer was so clear. I would most regret not having done this subject. 
The second thing was that I bought a new "best" pen so I bought some carbon ink cartridges for my old best pen and my hand was itching to draw with it. That is why I have started with a pen and ink of the subject. 
I have also bought an Ampersand claybord to do a painted version. But that will have to wait until the itch to use my pen stops nagging at my hand. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Solving unusual problems

I rescued a cat last November. He had been recovering from his injuries and had mainly been sleeping under the table. Now he is recovering fast and favours sleeping on the table. He is also lively enough to take an inconvenient interest in what I am doing (and eating). 
Yesterday I moved my acrylic painting upstairs out of Jet's way. I thought that using my downstairs easel slope for pen and inks would take up less space with a big cat lying on the table. 
So yesterday I tried to work on a pen and ink drawing that had been put away for a while. 
Jet stepped on it and when I tried to stop him I got scratched and he threatened to bite me. 

Today I had to find a solution that would allow me to draw without a confrontation. I climbed into the attic to try and find materials to make a barricade. I found an old slatted shelf and some bits of wood and the remains of some very old wood glue. 
Here is the result (with cat):