A Mixed-Media Approach to “Four Seasons” Art: Autumn

"Creating a 'Four Seasons' Mixed-Media Collage: Autumn" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

“The Four Seasons” has been a popular theme in art for decades. From traditional approaches showing trees during each season to landscapes to Alphonse Mucha figures, various subjects have been used to depict “The Four Seasons.”

In looking to do something different, it’s hard to come up with something interesting and not too close to what has already been done. Eventually, looking at printer tray crafts — and wanting to create one — led to a new approach: a collage much like the vignettes in printers’ tray crafts but held within frames.

And one of the best things about this project is that with all the mixed-media and scrapbooking options available, personalizing this is pretty much limitless.

For those interested, some photos follow of a few supplies used, and the remaining materials are listed at the bottom.

Since this project was started around the end of the year, it actually began with autumn.

The Background

"Creating a 'Four Seasons' Mixed-Media Collage: Autumn" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comOn one side, the background was a piece of scrapbook paper from a paper pack (which I got years ago and held onto) and the right side was a piece of bristol board painted with an Americana acrylic paint in the color Desert Turquoise (a teal shade seemed like it could go well in some way with all the seasons).

"Creating a 'Four Seasons' Mixed-Media Collage: Autumn" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comFor an autumn feel, a leaf was stenciled onto the teal portion on top of the acrylic paint with some Martha Stewart stencils from Michael’s and Faber-Castell Gelatos in the pastel variety.

Michael’s also had some cute tiny stamps from Art-C. One pack had a stamp with “live” on it, and with some metallic acrylic paint applied to it lightly, it made a nice addition.

Collage and Scrapbooking Pieces

Otherwise, it was mostly a matter of shopping for pieces for the collage and finding items that would work well together.

"Creating a 'Four Seasons' Mixed-Media Collage: Autumn" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

The Art-C “Everyday” Ephemera Collage Pack had great sayings printed on cardboard stock to use for this, and the chosen phrases for autumn were “Enjoy the little things,” “fun,” “smile” and “Make every moment count.”

(Incidentally, as a happy coincidence, the song “Smile” started playing on my Pandora while working on the “smile” part of the project.)

The cardboard sayings seemed a bit harsh on the background, so a mixture of the Desert Turquoise paint and FolkArt’s Metallic Antique Copper (which was also used for the frame) was mixed and washed over the pieces lightly as a unifying border.

Metal Embellishments: Keys and Keyholes

"Creating a 'Four Seasons' Mixed-Media Collage: Autumn" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Tim Holtz had some Idea-ology pieces that were too cute to pass up: both keys and keyholes. These were fixed to the piece with e-6000 glue. It’s tough to see in the pictures, but the keys had words stamped on them, and the “heart” key seemed the right key for autumn, since the holidays start in autumn.

(The key does make the frame heavier on one side when you hang it. See here for correcting a tilted frame.)

To make the key stand out a bit, some white washi/masking tape was painted with the FolkArt Metallic Antique Copper and was just adhered to the background.

When put into the frame, the piece actually turned out really well!

"Creating a 'Four Seasons' Mixed-Media Collage: Autumn" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

The winter “Four Seasons” piece will follow shortly — and stay tuned for spring and summer!

 

Main materials used:
Tim Holtz Idea-ology Keys
Tim Holtz Idea-ology Keyholes
• Art-C Ephemera Collage Pack: “Everyday”
• Art-C Stamp: “Live”
Americana Acrylic Paint: “Desert Turquoise”
FolkArt Acrylic Paint: Metallic “Antique Copper”
4×6 frame from Michael’s

 

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Literary Holiday Food (in Theory)

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

When the holidays come around, food is at the top of everyone’s list. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are loads of joyous seasonal foods that come around to make us all pig out. So what would be the festive foods of choice for some well-known literary characters?

Count Dracula: Red Velvet Cake

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com
Though Dracula’s holiday of choice is obviously Halloween, there’s no reason he can’t enjoy a good meal — or dessert associated with the other holidays that follow. Red velvet, with its blood-tinged look, would surely be Dracula’s holiday fave.

Orpheus: Kourabiethes

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Coming from Greece, Orpheus would no doubt choose these beautiful sugary cookies — a traditional Christmas favorite.

Scrooge: Turkey

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

We all know that once Ebeneezer Scrooge takes his turn for the better at the end of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, he joyfully sends a boy to fetch a turkey for the his favorite family. Enough said.

Frodo: Pumpkin Bread

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

A vegetable of the earth, pumpkin would seem to be a favorite for Frodo. And a breaded version would be easy for him to take on his long quest to Mordor.

Winnie the Pooh: Honey-Glazed Ham

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

A bear must have his honey for Christmas — so why not enjoy on a nicely sliced ham loaf?

King Arthur: Perry

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

The King of Camelot surely took part in the medieval festivities with perry, basically a pear version of apple cider.

Dorian Gray: Spiked Egg Nog

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

A rich egg nog will do just fine for Dorian Gray for the holidays — but only if it is garnished with a bit of the best liquor there is.

***

And for one of my characters, Archaeologist Anna Purgitt: Panettone

"Hypothesizing Some Literary Characters' Favorite Holiday Foods" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Being an age-old favorite in various countries, Panettone is the perfect choice for an expert archaeologist.

Anna Purgitt is featured in the short story, “Revvel’s Tomb.”

Check out other posts in the Literary Food Series.

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Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment

"Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

Obviously, painting varnish on a conte crayon piece, with its dusty chalkiness, would only result in smudging the image. But is there a way to use varnish without smudging the conte crayon drawing?

It seemed worth a try because using fixatives with conte crayon has its disadvantages — mainly, the smell. If you live in an apartment or anywhere simply not having an open-air space for good ventilation, the fumes can be too much. Using a regular acrylic varnish gets rid of the problem of the fumes.

Adult coloring books are great for experimenting — especially when they’re licensed under Creative Commons. Conte crayon seemed to go well with an Egyptian papyrus concept, and a couple of images from SuperColoring.com were perfect for this experiment (see image credits below).

The paper used is extremely important, as we’ll get to later. The images were done on beige Strathmore textured paper (though now, the label is gone). Shown are the conte crayon drawings before they were spray varnished.

"Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

"Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comThe DIY Varnish/Fixative Experiment

Once the images were finished, a small spray bottle was filled with matte varnish: nothing special, just regular Liquitex matte varnish. I’ve used it many times for varnishing acrylic paint, and it works great.

The image was sprayed with the varnish, and the first thing that most people worry about with varnishing non-paint mediums is the pigment getting darker. The image did get slightly darker — but if you’re prepared for this, it may not be a huge deal, depending on the final result you’re looking for.

The Result: It All Depends on the Paper

The problem was obvious once the spray settled a bit, though: It made the pigments bleed. What were previously nice edges turned into blobs of color seeping outside where they were supposed to be. Clearly, the image was ruined. The paper pilled, also.

But what about mixed media paper? Would that fare any better?

It seemed it did, though that part of the experiment was quick and not as thorough. Basically, if conte crayon was drawn onto some mixed media paper and sprayed with the same varnish, everything seemed to hold up. However, the paper was pretty heavy at 140 lb. (sold in single sheets at Hobby Lobby). This quick tryout may work in the future and will maybe become a future experiment; for now, if trying it out, use with caution!

For now, it’s safe to say that DIY spray fixative is a possibility — but the paper will make all the difference.


Coloring Pages Used:
Anubis as a black-coated jackal by Jeff Dahl (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license)
Souls of Pe and Nekhen by Jeff Dahl (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license)

Materials Used:
Conte Crayon Matchbox
Conte Crayon Boxed Set

 

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