Friday, November 5, 2021

Part 1 of 4: Background Busyness vs Background Beauty

My new Fire Cherries Mask (9" x 12") is a mask whose beauty, in my eye, exists because it offers areas of intricate detail (cherry clusters) as well as harmonious repetition of somewhat similar designs (leaves.)

However!  These very qualities can also create prints that strike the viewer as chaotic and confusing -- if the mask is used on a too-busy (ultra-detailed) background.

I bumped into this fact as I continued coupling my new mask with 9" x 12" Winter Berries Mask L677.

Below:  Having started with green-tinted watercolor paper, I made my first-layer mask print by using purple heavy-body acrylic paint and Winter Berries Mask L677....

 Below:  After the purple paint dried, I covered that first print with Fire Cherries Mask (now stained with Titan Buff and Magenta paints) and prepared to add orange paint ....

 In the photo directly below, you can see what resulted after I sponged on orange acrylic heavy-body paint, then lifted my new mask.  Altho I like the bright orange and purple, the print itself strikes me as too busy and visually confusing.


In my first moment of disappointment, I was tempted to rely on one of my go-to "first aid" actions -- to paint over this unsatisfying double print using white gesso, either as it comes from the bottle, or thinned with a little water.  I've done this many times with other paintings; it amounts to starting a whole new project on a gesso-muted background.

But this time, I decided to veer in a new direction.  To my desktop paper cutter, I brought this too-busy print along with a few others as well as some random papers.  I cut all of them into wide strips.

I glued those strips onto sturdy backing paper, then auditioned them in a mat:

They were okay that way, as a collage, but later I took the collage back to the paper cutter.  After more ruthless cutting, my results are the 3 greeting cards below:

The greeting cards brought me finally to a feeling of satisfaction, but I wasn't finished thinking about types of background to pair with Fire Cherries Mask.

To step aside momentarily, I'll show another look at busy backgrounds.  Printed with multiple applications of my Abstract Composition Backbones Mask series (s864 - s867), this full-size watercolor sheet, followed by two close-up shots, illustrates the kind of complex background that would stir up chaos if using Fire Cherries Mask in making prints.  

Above:  The full-sized sheet of watercolor paper, multi-printed using s864 - s867.

Above:  A close-up of the watercolor paper multi-printed with s864 - s867.

Above:  Another close-up of the watercolor paper multi-printed using s864 - s867.

Today's next art sample was printed on readymade beige paper pre-printed with black Chinese letters; because this paper was originally thin, I glued it to a back-sheet of sturdy paper and allowed the adhesive (acrylic matte gel medium) to dry before making a print with Fire Cherries Mask (9" x 12")--

Above:  What do you think?  Does this print look too "busy" because its multiple background elements are numerous and fully detailed?  When an artist takes a risk, the results may work out, or may not, but something of benefit always happens.

Below are 3 examples of backgrounds lively with interesting colors that mix happily across the paper -- while remaining formless enough to enhance a print made with Fire Cherries Mask.  For future prints, they provide beauty in the background....

Above:  paper dyed with "bleeding" tissue paper


Above:  This old calendar page photo was used as "catch-all" paper:  At the end of each painting project, I brush excess acrylic paints from my brushes before dipping the brushes into water, where they will soak till washed.  This is a small step toward respecting the environment since it reduces the amount of acrylic paint that goes down the drain.

Above:  This sturdy paper was used to blot up excess acrylic paint from my palette paper when I'd finished a painting session.  I water-spritzed the paint on the palette paper, then smeared the face of this paper across the surface.  It's a cross between a monoprint and an example of decalcomania.

However!  I've found that if a busy background is muted and if Fire Cherries Mask is used in printing with a bold color -- especially if that color is opposite the background on the color wheel -- the results satisfy my eye.

Above:  On the synthetic substrate Yupo,I made this background print using bleeding tissue paper and my 9" x 12" Garden Montage L652.  Notice that it's a "busy" design with lots of small details.  But when this print is pale, muted or "fogged over" in appearance, as seen here, it succeeds as a background for printing with my new Fire Cherries Mask (9" x 12").  The proof lies below!

Above:   Fire Cherries Mask, used with magenta and purple acrylic heavy-body paints, forms the top-layer image, while in the background lies a hint of beauty in the background, courtesy of Garden Montage L652.

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