Artist's Prayer

Give us Your daily Inspiration
So, we can live a Creative Life.
And lead us away from self-doubt,
For to doubt our creativity
Is to doubt Your Voice within us.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Arranged Marriage ~ Mixed Media & Altered Photography....

Mixed Media & Paper on Canvas
Tatiana Kuzyk

.... 'Focus' is a completed artwork from the previous post.... B&W hand colored photo of a landscape ~ mounted on an un~streched canvas...

Historically January & February are marked by a deep introspection and a somewhat dormant extroversion in my life... hence my 'cyber absence'.... In the beginning of February I had to prepare almost all of my artwork for a solo exhibit which will conclude in a week. At that time I did a lot of framing of the pieces which up until then had been basking in a frame~less glory around my house. One thing I learned from my framing experience ~ (mostly installing open~back frames) ~ that the creative development came to a completion for the majority of my artwork, only after a long process of selecting a 'perfect mate' for every single painting and collage.... in the end the final transformation took place... and, to much of my delight, I re~discovered some of my pieces anew....

But let's talk about romancing the altered photographic images and introducing them to the ever more versatile mixed media, acrylics and waterColors... During the last six weeks I did a lot of experimentation with pushing the boundaries of stratum and mediums applied to the selection of B&W photos. As you will soon see, the majority of images are the same and that was a conscious choice on my part since the beginning.... I wanted to use the exact, same image and to discover how it comes to life, or becomes buried under the myriad of 'over~done', 'over~applied' mediums which I use with much abandon... I mostly worked with a standard full-page, letter-size images which I printed on an ink jet printer. Simplicity and ease of duplication was key for me from the perspective of an initial image preparation ~ in other words ~ my outcome was to be able to do a 'show & tell' of the process that could be repeated by anyone having an access to an ink jet printer and an image source. Then the rest, the most stimulating and fun part of the journey was left up to you, the artist....

On a side note, I'd like to address a question that's often being posed regarding the difference between using an image editor software, such as Photoshop or Picasa, and altering a photograph 'by hand.' When it comes to the almost miraculous capabilities of Photoshop in image alteration, the output is always in a ready-to-frame form that could be admired for the technical skills and aesthetic qualities of its creator. However, if you're up for a bold, adventurous journey filled with not only visual delights, but also offering you much treasured tactile feast, unexpected texture development, spontaneous applications of paint and mediums that can result in a 'creative dead~end' and an eventual 'break~through' into a newly emerged layer that turns out to be 'just~the~thing' your photo has been anxiously awaiting for.... Perhaps, in the end, the question is ~ how would like to engage your visual image development process at the moment....? Is it by using your computer mouse? By playing with your paint brushes & palette knives....? or would you forge your very own path, a hybrid of the many techniques that's uniquely yours ~ just like your Creative Self....

In order to prevent any unintentional injuries of your wrist due to excessive scrolling down;) I decided to limit the selection of images posted below.

Both of the following altered B&W photo~journeys begun with the shot I recently took from a parking lot in downtown Chicago. Just like the image from a 'ChinaTown' piece, I'm mesmerized by hanging fire escapes adorning 'the less prominent' side of an old building....
Using a Picasa software, I first cropped the desired image out of the entire photo and later I used B&W filters, sharpening options, shadows & light buttons until I felt that the image was ready to enter a mixed~media playground....

(besides my subjective preference of B&W photos, I suggest for your own project to make sure that the image is sufficiently sharpened and that there's much shadows and light contrast ~ almost to the point of 'overdoing,' because during the printing your image will 'loose' a lot of contrast, especially if printed on a more adventurous background, ie. fabric, brown paper, acrylic skins).

First, I cut out a letter-size piece of water color paper to fit into the ink jet printer and I proceeded to build the under~printing background with a diluted application of Golden Liquid Acrylics Cobalt Turquois mixed with Golden Heavy Body Cobalt Teal.
While the paint was still wet, I gently tapped a tissue against the surface to create a variation in the visual texture. Once the surface was completely dry, I printed the image ( I strongly suggest you first do a test~print to make sure the image and its placement is 'in line' with what you see on your computer screen).

In order to perform any physical manipulation with your printed image, it must first be safely preserved behind a layer of a varnish. I find that only a spray varnish will do the job right ~ it will eliminate the necessity of making any direct contact with the surface by using a brush, which will almost certainly result in an ink bleed. I like to apply a generous coat of Golden Archival Varnish with UVLs, either Satin or Matte.

After the physical 'prepping' of the surface is finally complete, we can smoothly move onto the texture development. I begun the process with two subsequent layers of Golden High Solid Gel (Gloss), followed by two, thick layers of Golden Self-Leveling Gel ~ letting each application to dry before proceeding with the subsequent one. Also, should you choose to work with these products, make sure that your artwork will stay positioned horizontally throughout this process.
By using a black paint marker by Deco Color I accentuated the structure of the building in the photo ~ I drew the lines with a skech~ing hand gestures. Next I applied the last coat of Golden Self-Leveling Gel which always dries to excellent clarity and and a high glossy sheen.

I decided to permanently mount my altered photograph on a 11x14 canvas board using a gel medium as an adhesive. Next I 'framed' the image by applying a heavy, irregular layer of Golden Hard Molding Paste to the exposed canvas board. By choosing a flat angle brush as a tool, I was able to build a ridge~like texture with the paste.

After the sculpting paste had dried overnight, I painted its surface with a black gesso to bring out even more definition form the image of the building.

Finally, a thick layer of Golden Liquid Acrylics Iridescent Silver (Fine) paid the closing credits to this altered photo.

~ the above process had added a contemporary feel to this somewhat 'rugged' imagery by juxtaposing contrasting hues of turquoise, black, and silver ~

Let's see what happens when the same image will be 'endowed' with a more 'age~appropriate' color palette....

This time around I begun with the a mixture of Golden Liquid Acrylics Quinacridone Crimson and Golden Heavy Body Quinacridone Magenta being applied to the surface of a water color paper.
I decided to test drive a Crackle Medium to see how much of an authentic aged look a $2 bottle can bestow on my altered photo.... Here's an interesting piece of information I found out about this product ~ turns out that a fine art supply store does not carry such a must~have of any altered art aficionado! None of the big brands manufacture this fun medium (perhaps one day soon Golden Acrylics or Liquitex will offer such product in their line...?) So far the only brand that blesses us with a Crackle Medium is folkArt which available at any craft store (JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc.)
After the Crackle Medium had dried I painted the surface with a somewhat watered~down layer of Golden Liquid Acrylics Titan Buff and the 'crackling metamorphosis' slowly begun to take place right in front of my eyes...

Following the printing of my photo image I sprayed a generous coat of Golden Archival Varnish w/UVLs (Matte) over the surface.

Using a fine tip, black Deco Colors paint marker I accentuated selected areas of the photo in order to bring out the inherent antiquated character of the image and to create a more 3~dimensional composition.
Nothing creates a more definite tactile texture variation like an un~even application of a High Solid Gel.... I spreaded it across the surface with a palette knife while leaving behind multiple, vertical gelly 'ridges.'
Two steps in one photo: 1. I painted the surface with Golden Liquid Acrylics Quinacridone Nickel Azo while omitting the windows areas of the photograph, 2. With a little help form a palette knife I deposited tiny bits of white gesso along those previously created 'ridges.'
The final touch of a 'once~over' with a paint marker down the fire escapes, windows and door frames....
Though the completed altered photo~painting is not permanently mounted to any particulr background, I had placed it against the surface of a black gesso painted cardboard for the time being...

As I said in the begining of this marathon post, in these two distinct alteration processes, the image itself stayed the same.... yet does it still feel the same to you?


  1. Your creative nature always fascinates me, I love checking in to see what your doing. Just love this one !!

  2. I'm very inspired by your compromising techniques and stretching limits to achieve great art. I used a hide glue to crackle furniture paint from the hardware store, took a long time to dry, but may be worth looking into. Nobody at hardware store knew that it was used to crackle paint as I believe it is for bonding leathers.