Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tea, Milk, and Honey Technique

Artist Network Article

There is an interesting article by water colorist Marc Taro Holmes about his technique, "Tea, milk and honey", on the Artist Network website .  He begins with a pencil sketch and works from light to dark. He begins painting with the "tea", a fluid wash that doesn't cover his sketch but adds a lot of color.  The second step is the "milk". He uses more paint and color in this step, but is careful to leave the lights.  The final step is the "honey".  Just as you would not add a lot of honey to a cup of tea, the darks added in this last step are done carefully.  As he says in the article, "a little goes a long way".

This is similar to the method I use, even working in acrylic.  However, I do try to establish some of my darks in the early steps, not saving them for last.  This is easier in acrylic, because I can always paint over an area if I change my mind.  I'm still working on the portrait of Sam, but you can see my steps.  I build up my image using paint and satin acrylic glazing liquid.  Glazing liquid gives you about a half hour working time (depending on humidity and the absorbancy of your base) which allows me to use a variety of techniques both additive or subtractive.  Because of the longer drying time, I can remove the glaze in some areas with paper towel or even move the paint around with my finger.  It allows for easier wet into wet blending of the acrylic.  The glazing liquid and paint have to be used thinly or it will remain tacky for a long time.  

For me, using acrylic paint and glazing liquid offers a safer alternative to solvent-based painting and it's easy soap and water clean-up. 

"Sam" in process, acrylic on canvas
12" x 19"

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Garden Flowers

Art seems to have been placed on a back burner with the growing season in full force.  With the lawns, vegetable garden, and flower gardens, there is much that needs attention, and I'm constantly busy.  But I'm feeling a desire to do some painting, so I've begun a new portrait.  I'm transferring my subject using a grid and will soon be ready to begin with paint.

Sam, 12" x 19"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Color Removal

Using Ammonia

Pearl McGown published a written piece in 1946 (Dye Dabbler # 19) that explained experiments that were tried to change the color of wool.   She wrote that hookers might not realize the variety of colors that they had at hand because they used their wool "as is".  Pearl tried 4 different experiments, some successful, some not. 
I was interested in her use of household ammonia to draw the dye out of the wool.  In the experiment, Ms. McGown used one teaspoon of ammonia to a quart of water and boiled the wool for 20 to 30 minutes.  She stated that the ammonia did not harm the fibers of the wool and it could then be used for hooking.
Many hookers use recycled wool (I do), and if you don't over-dye the pieces you reclaim, your color choices are limited.  Often times those colors may be drab or too intense for your pattern or purpose. 
Using her formula, I tried her experiment. I simmered the wool for 20 minutes, but I found if I poured out the first bath and again simmered the wool in ammonia water, I got a greater color change. The wool was about 6" x 24".  The pieces were then washed in the machine and dried.

Starting on the left:  The deep green became a blue green (it's a softer color than appears in the photo).  Of all the wools tried, the green released the most dye into the water.  I should have had other wool presoaked so that I could have taken advantage of the remaining green dye water.  (I may try that to see what happens.)  The two bright yellows softened to tans. The blues and magenta colors softened, but these last two wools changed the least.
Pearl McGown said that you cannot predict what color you will finally have..."there is no guarantee that the colors of all materials are 'built up' in the same way."  I've read that some colored fabric is produced when multiple dyes are used and all the dyes may not react to the ammonia.  So... you could have two wools of the same color, heat them in the ammonia solution, and get two different final colors. Surprise!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lion Progress 2

Lion, 38" x 47"
Pattern by Edythe O'Neill
Adapted and Hooked by Karen

I've completed the mane and the end of the tail.  If changes are necessary, I'm not making them now.  I'll wait until I've hooked more or all of the rug.

When I change the photo to black and white, there is movement in the mane due to the varied values.  Think this will work.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


The Mane
Choosing colors from the stash is limiting, but I'm determined to use what I have as I hook Edyth O'Neill's pattern.  I chose ten colors to use in the lion's mane that are different, moving from dark to light.

However, when I change the photo of the colors to black and white, you can see there are really only four values.  The value of a color is its degree of lightness or darkness. When these ten colors are hooked into the rug and you step back to view the mane, you will only see differences between the four values.  The colors that are of the same value will blend together from a distance.  I need to remember this as I hook.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lion Progress

Lion by Edyth O'Neill
38" x 47"
This is my redraw of the lion's head for the Lion pattern by Edyth O'Neill (2/20/17).  I'm using a six cut for the face, but I used a 4 cut to hook the eyes.  I started the face by hooking the eyes. Elizabeth Black says "the eyes are the 'soul' of the animal and to give them life they must each have a highlight." (Hooked on the Wild Side, p. 16) The eyes are 3 tones of gold, a dark (not black) pupil and outline, and a white highlight. The darkest gold is at the top of the iris to show the shadow from the eyelid.  The 3 golds are easier to see in the drawing below than in the hooking.  The wools I have used to this point have come from "the stash".

Here's the color plan I did with Prismacolor colored pencils on my pattern for the lion's face. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017


The Rockefeller Rug, 2017
Original Pattern
Wool strips on rug warp, 26.5 " x 46.5"

The hooking, quillies, and shirring are done.  This rug was inspired by the Rockefeller Quilt (New Project 10/21/16).  I've enjoyed the bright colors, the animal motifs, and working in an eight cut.  
Now on to The Lion......