Monday, 14 December 2015

Turning Trash into Treasure - the Writer who Paints

As well as writing, my other vice is painting. There's nothing like the feel of a paintbrush in my hand to polarise my thoughts and emotions. One day that brush might make me feel like a champion and another time, the same brush could paint me a failure.

As well as commissioned landscapes of oils on canvas, my hobby is Folk Art and furniture painting. I see a piece of junk and it becomes a treasure in my mind.

So when the builder finished up for the day yesterday and I begged a number of pieces of left-over wood, obviously he looked at me oddly. 

But I have to be honest, my brown eyes lit up.

"What are you gonna do with them?" he asked, his fingers itching to throw them in the back of his truck.

"Make book ends," I said, keeping a straight face.

He didn't believe me. Nobody ever believes me, so I thought I'd photograph and blog my progress during an afternoon of complete painting bliss. So here goes...

The blocks weren't in a great state. Nothing about them screams, 'use me for something creative inside your house,' so when junk using, you have to take what you can get. The other end of this block is buried in my back garden as the support struts for the new deck. Builders, look away now...

No, I didn't want to sand this little blighter by hand. The appalling state of our shed left me no choice and so I spent ages removing the nicks and rough surfaces of my blocks, whilst swearing like a trooper and sending the step register on my Fitbit into orbit.

I picked two different sizes because extreme compulsiveness tells me that two blocks of almost the same size will never be quite equal. This fact will bother me for the rest of my days until I give away my most marvelous creation. Hence two completely different sized blocks, because they can never be compared. 

After sanding, give them a rub with turps to remove the dust and grease. Then give them another light sand, as turps raises the grain.

For this afternoon, I'll just deal with the smaller of the blocks because...because I'm in charge and that's what I've decided.

Rule the books onto the block, front and top side at the intervals you need them.

If I wanted to sell these, I would probably fill the cracks in the wood but I rather like the rustic nature it gives the overall finish, reminding me that it is after all, a piece of wood. 

Start with the base coats, filling in the sections for the different books.

I filled in the two side panels but didn't worry about the base or the back. Nobody will see it. If a visitor picks a book, they'll get a shock, won't they?

Crackle glaze the books which you wish to have a worn appearance. The bottom colour will show through. You don't have to crackle any of them, but it's my favourite medium and I use it every opportunity I get.

While the crackle glaze is drying, start decorating the spines of the other books.

Paint the top of the block to represent pages.

Put the top colours over the crackle glaze.

Start adding more detail to give an overall effect.

Finish the top of the block so that it looks like the spine wraps around the pages. I've done that part black but you could use dark grey or brown if you didn't want it to pop so much.

Notice how the crackle is beginning to work; be careful, it's fragile while it's working.

I wanted one of the sides to look crackled and have an aged appearance. 

Brush a grey wash into the pearl white to give an illusion of wear and tear on the pages and to dull the effect.

Add more detail and shading to the books to give them realism. Decide which side the light will come from and throw shadows and highlights.

I've added more detail on the spines and overlaid brown onto the gold layer in the middle with crackle glaze underneath. That spine now has brown-gold-brown on it and is making an interesting distressed look. 

I blended the book second to right as the crackle glaze went a bit crazy. 

The light's not great for the photo but I'm quite pleased with the overall affect.

It's going to sit here and dry for now while I clear up all the paint brushes and water. As you saw, I don't use professional equipment. My paint tray is an old ice cream tub lid and my water jug a mug which goes in the dishwasher afterwards.

I haven't decided what I'll do to the other block of wood but might paint it one colour and put Folk Art flowers and decorations on it. I'll see how I feel when I pick up my brush.

Hope you enjoyed the little tutorial and that it gives you the confidence to try turning your trash into treasure.

Love K T Bowes x

#art #trashtotreasure #painting

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