For Birch Trees and Butterflies I wanted to do some layering since that seems to be an important aspect to mixed media work. I have to admit right now that I don’t always enjoy layering. I mean, I like the process of layering, but I don’t like the way it often dulls the colors. It seems like the pieces I try to layer become very dark or very brown. I miss the clear, vibrant colors I usually paint with.
I am not sure if this is just something that happens to beginners. Maybe if I plan a little more to use certain colors, so I don’t end up with a grayed-out or browned-out painting, I will have more success. At the same time, I don’t want to do any planning, because the process is supposed to be intuitive. I want to let the piece unfold. I am a bit stumped right now, but I am sure I’ll figure it out through trial and error. Working in mixed media has always been a challenge for me because I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to painting. I like sketches and plans so “going-with-the-flow” is always something I have to put some effort into doing ,which probably sounds like a contradiction, but my instinct is to have a plan. Sometimes you have to do things differently to gain some knowledge, experience, and growth. I am improving, but progress is slow! I often find I don’t know where to begin or when to stop. My mixed media work often looks like it is missing something to me, but I don’t always know what to add, where to add it, or even when to put that magic something into the painting. I definitely need to consider composition more as I am going along.
I used some pages from a catalog to make the trees. I thought words in print might add to the texture of the birch trees. I like the way they came out. I wish the butterflies were brighter. I used white gesso underneath the orange paint in the hopes that it would brighten them up, but I am still disappointed in the color. For the leaves I used an old manilla envelope and some yellow mulberry paper. To begin the painting I painted the entire canvas with a sky blue. Then I put a thin layer of white gesso over the top of it and tried painting the birch trees is using the side of an old credit card. I didn’t like the way they looked so I put another thin layer of gesso on top of that. Then I started using the paper to make the trees. To make them stand out I painted around them with a darker blue.
I am still on the fence about this one. Is it finished? Is it good? Is it something I could do better if I tried to recreate it? I think I may need more branches and more yellow leaves. I’ll have to set is aside and take a look at it in a few days with fresh eyes. Maybe then I’ll know what to do!