Art for Art’s sake

Once upon a time, when I started this blog, I promised how to write up’s of some kind.  I’ve never made one…I can’t really tell you how we gardened super successfully, nature did all of the work and we got lucky.  I cannot tell you how we care for our goats…we sort of just do.  But I can tell you about parts of our homeschool day and projects we do.  Today’s project was fluid painting.

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Like a week ago, on FaceBook, I was scrolling around and saw a painting that caught my eye.  It was different bands of color with these cool cells.  I was obsessed and took to youtube to figure it out.  I searched “cell paintings” and found myself in a sea of Fluid Painting videos.  The next day I watched a few with the kids and they were officially obsessed too.  It was sworn, at that moment, that we would get super messy with some paint and we would create the mesmerizing fluid paintings.

The Problem – none of the videos were super specific about the process and how they mixed and what they mixed and how much.  So we got to make it up as we go.  I am sure there are 8 kajillion methods for this medium, but the following is what we did.  I did hear the words “silicone” (which we didn’t use) and “Floetrol” (which we did use) used a lot.

On Saturday, between a wedding and a reception, Lewis and I had some time to kill, so of course we went to Meijer.  Because what else do people in a black suit and floor length sparkly dress do with their child-less free time?  I wandered into the craft aisle on accident and found a decent price on canvases, so I started to load up Lewis’s arms.  And right across from there were some acrylic paints.  So the mission to make this happen began.  I acquired an excessive amount of acrylic paint quickly because I’m me and I like choices.

Problem 2 – What the heck is Floetrol?  I drew some conclusions that it was something that made the paint “more” and helped me pour it.  That’s all I’ve got.  My deductive reasoning is pretty hardcore 😉  Did I google it?  No.  I loaded up all of my kids for a day of small business shopping in Romeo MI.  We grabbed lunch at Romeo Family Restaurant.  Then we headed over to Creative Corner Art Supply store.  The man working there is SUPER kind and friendly and helpful…but he had no Floetrol.  He seemed to know what it was though, and it was in fact some kind of pouring medium.  He gave my kids each a bottle of his discounted acrylic paints for free (because cute small town) and I bought them each one more color from their adorable shop and a homemade paper making kit…apparently we are going to make homemade paper…to be continued.  We left, sad we were headed to a chain craft store, but to make ourselves feel better we stopped at Juliet Chocolates and got some candy.  All better.

We made our way to the big craft store…they had ONE kind of pouring medium and it was $16 for a bottle smaller than the perfume I keep in my purse.  No thank you craft store.  I FINALLY turned to google.  You know where I found this mythical Floetrol???  Frickin HOME DEPOT…no joke.  $7 for a quart. Luckily it was right next door.  Floetrol in hand we headed home to finally make some art.  So skip the middle man and head straight to the house paint section at your Home Depot.

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Here’s what you need:

  1.  Excited Participants (4 children, 1 mom, and 1 nosy dog)
  2. Some sort of Acrylic paints
  3. Craft Sticks or something for mixing
  4. Mythical red solo cups…not just for beer pong and flip cup.  Or Dixie Cups or whatever little mixing cups make your heart happy.
  5. Highly recommend disposable gloves.
  6. DROP CLOTH.  Let me say that again.  GIANT DROP CLOTH!  You’re going to make a mess.  A big one.  I went with the disposable plastic sheet for house painting and covered my kitchen floor.
  7. We also used an old cookie sheet to catch the biggest part of our mess.  Worked well.  It now looks super awesome and we’re letting it dry out too so we can use it again next time.  OH THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME!
  8. Drinking straws if desired.
  9. Pushpins to put in the back corners of your canvas so that it can sit up off of whatever you leave it on to dry and have room to drain.

We started with what’s called a “dirty pour”.  It’s not alcoholic or inappropriate despite the fun name.  Basically, we mixed some paint, here’s my specific measurements:  pour in enough acrylic paint to just barely line the bottom of the cup.  Add in a few drops of water, and then add in Floetrol. I would say my final mix was about an inch in the cup.  I didn’t want to waste too much paint but wanted enough for everyone to have fun and have lots of colors to play with.  The “dirty pour” means we started with an empty cup and poured in some white.  Then some ocean teal.  Then some more white.  Then some black.  etc. etc.  in layers.  We now had one cup of paint, neither shaken nor stirred.  We put the canvas on top of it, then flipped it over quickly and pulled up the cup!  We had a puddle of paint colors in the middle.  We then tipped the canvas slowly back and forth and all around until the paint slowly started migrating all over the canvas and swirling it’s colors on it’s own.  BE READY FOR THE MASSIVE RUN OFF.  We ended up with this as our test piece:

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We were excited about it but wanted to try other things from the 7 billion tutorials we saw too.  So Renna and Sam went first and did a more controlled pour of 3 or 4 colors.  They poured little dots of white and then in the center of each dot, they poured another color, and in the center of that another and so on.  They tipped theirs too and it came out like this:

Next up was the twins, who are 4…and I was scared for the safety of the pergo floors and the clothing, but I let that go, because paint is fun.  They wanted to do a controlled pour too just because they wanted to pour paint more times…  After we tipped theirs, we grabbed a drinking straw, and they pointed it at the canvas and blew through the straw to let the under layers of paint come up and the results were pretty cool.

The air going into the paint made for some cool designs and those “cells” we were talking about.  In a lot of the tutorials they used WD40 or silicone drops in their paint mix to force up more cells.  We didn’t do that, but might try it in the future.  We were keeping it simple.

When the kids were done we had a massive amount of paint left and I was itching to do my own, so I did.  Having watched them go, I learned somethings.  I flooded the canvas of my painting with just two colors, not really mixed together but poured side by side and allowed to mingle in the middle.  I let it flood the whole thing.  Then I poured one pink circle in two corners and added a yellow circle inside of that.  I used Elliott and Lorelei’s straw trick to have a little more control and manipulate my puddles where I wanted them to go and creating a floral shape.  I didn’t tip after I added the pink or yellow. Just moved it around with the straw and let the colors mix and pull up background colors on their own.  I’m super happy with how it turned out.

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So we did 6 paintings.  Made a huge mess!  And a had a LOT of fun.  Renna discovered she wants to be a youtuber and tried to make her siblings play along…  It went Ok…and maybe with some creative editing we will start a Barnes & Boutiques YouTube Channel someday.  Our paintings are laid out on a broken down cardboard box on the kitchen table and with the amount of paint on them I estimate they will be dry in March 2019.  Ok…hopefully sooner…but you guys…it’s a LOT of paint.  They’re not even close at this point and it’s been 6 hours.  So heads up there.

Homeschooling has been such an adventure!  People ask me all the time “Well what about Art and music and things like that?”  Ummm…this is NOT where we are lacking at all.  History turns into art.  Science, English, HECK!  Even math sometimes.  We love projects and we like to get MESSY.  Bring on the spilling paint and glitter and glue and melting wax and whatever else ya got.  We are ALL IN.

So go buy some canvases and make a new masterpiece!  It’s fun and easy and everyone feels like an accomplished artist when it’s done.

Happy Creating!

-Mary

Glued

Once upon a time, I was a creative genius…

Armed with a bin full of feathers, a hot glue gun, and a 2am coffee buzz I would sit at my kitchen table with the madness of a scientist who just used the lightning to create new life where there was none before.  From the outside, I’m sure I just looked straight crazy.  But in my mind’s eye, I was expressing some deep part of my Native American roots and communing with the feathers as they told me what it was they wanted to be.  I realize now, I may have been talented, but I was also extremely sleep deprived and something was missing from my life.

I grew up a creative person.  My old friends, my parents, my teachers, etc. would probably use the words artistic and creative to describe me.  I wrote.  I drew.  I painted.  I sewed. I played piano.  I acted.  I directed.  I did none of these things perfectly.  I was not a protege.  But I did them all and they made up a piece of who I was.  WAS.  W A S.  3 painful little letters making a word that describes something gone, something that no longer IS.

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When I first started making headbands and jewelry from feathers, I was sad.  I felt like I had become a mom (a good one) but nothing more.  I am not belittling being a mom.  It’s the best job I’ve ever had.  It’s by far the most rewarding, and it’s definitely the most challenging.  Somehow, in the challenge and the hustle, I lost my identity.  I lost my ability to be anything but a mom.  At the time, I had 2 children.  I was waitressing.  I was a nanny to my nieces, and I was working opposite shifts of Lewis and doing every day the same.  So I found something that was for me.

I spent money we did not have, and time I could have used sleeping, or cleaning, or doing laundry; curling nagori goose feathers with safety scissors or twisting peacock swords into new unique shapes and images.  I burned my fingers on hot glue and I didn’t even feel it…possibly because it was some serotonin/dopamine induced haze.  I needed to create something that was mine and mine alone.  I needed something to be proud of that was not a tiny human.  ANYTHING.

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As mothers, many of us bury ourselves in our children.  We do for them.  We do because of them.  And we do to benefit THEM.  But who are you?  What do you do or do you have that is uniquely yours?   And if the answer is nothing, how do you survive?  I felt guilty at the time for being tired the next day, or for thinking about things I could make when I should have been reading Hop on Pop and doing puzzles.  I felt like I was taking something away from Renna and Sam.  So even in my joy, my mom brain was able to turn that into guilt and somehow what was entirely about me, became about them in the light of day.  But not at 2am.  At 2am I was alone in the quiet and I was creating something I saw in my head.  Something I hadn’t seen anywhere else before.   At 2am, I was gluing myself back together.  At 2am I felt whole.

I’ve changed directions with my creativity more times than I can count in this life.  And I’m sure I’m not done yet.  I went from feather creations, to hats, to dance clothes, to felted animals, to painting, to sensory toys, to websites, to a masters degree I had no idea what I would do with, to a blog 😉 . But what I do know, is that as time has passed I am able to beat that guilt away (most of the time).  I see in my children a 2am spirit.  They are creative.  They look up to me.  They imitate what I do, and they will stay glued together because of 2am.  I didn’t take anything away from them.  I showed them a spirit.  I showed them what life looks like when you’re feeling more fulfilled and you can create.  And I truly don’t think they’re any worse for the wear…yet.  This is a bit of rambling, but it’s almost 2am, and I’m pretty sure my point is, that when you hold on to those pieces of you, you ARE doing for THEM.  And they will do for themselves some day.

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-Mary

To see my feathers and glue site (down since I found out I was pregnant with the twins 5 YEARS AGO) go here:  www.fancythatfeathers.weebly.com

Also, now you know why I am always wearing hats…well that and for ALL the days I don’t wash my hair…