Wednesday 13 September 2017

Those Russian boots, Prussian boots - Warhol-inspired Art journal background

I'll admit, this one isn't complete really, but I wanted to show it off as I love how the colours pop, and it doesn't really need much doing to it to be honest - I just need to add in some text and I thought it was easier for you to see it and work from it without that in place, plus I need to wait a bit longer for the gesso to cure enough to write on. I will add another post when this is finished and link them to one another.

Every since I saw the Dylusions couture stamps (released January 2013 and now discontinued), I've wanted the ones of the women in the 1950s dress and swingback coat (Night at the Opera and Walk in the Park), but not so much that made me rush out to get them. Sadly, they're now discontinued and any stocks globally that you may see are the last out there, so get them whilst you can! In the last week, I've taken delivery of the Mini Couture Collection set, which is now getting on for 5 years ago, and I've finally managed to buy them now they're discontinued! SO if you see them, snap them up - once they're gone, they're gone. I will be doing something with those stamps VERY soon!

The downside - they took nearly a month to arrive, and meanwhile, I just needed a 1950s frock, damn it, so when I saw Andy Skinner's DecoArt Vogue stencil and mask set, I was thrilled! If you don't know Andy's stencils, they're in a good, thick 300μm-thick biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BoPET, or Mylar as most people know it) - which is a fantastic plastic as it's really strong, flexible and it wipes clean really easily. I thought the set was a stencil and the cut-out pieces as masks, but it was actually 2 identical stencils, one of which still had the masks in place, which is just weird - I've no idea why I need 2 identical stencils! Anyway, the stencil is of two women, one in a mid-1950s frock and the other in late-1960s hat, coat and long boots. Whilst the boots are probably go-go boots, they reminded me of some Russian boots my late mother had from the 1960s that she still wore in the winters in the 1980s, made of sheepskin skin-side-out, dyed burgundy, fur visible at the seems, with a thick go-go boot-like heel. When I was a kid, my parents used to have the wireless [i.e. the radio] on most of the day, always playing WABC, which is a long-gone "classics" station that only played hits of the 1940s to 1970s, so I grew up with The Vernons Girls, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Connie Francis et al., and of course, the Honour Blackman and Patrick Macnee song "Kinky Boots" was played all the time, so I nicknamed those boots her "Kinky Boots" (being too young to know what "kinky" actually meant!). 

I decided to make a 1960s-inspired layout with the be-booted lady from the Vogue stencil.

[CAVEAT: I'm well aware I haven't touched up the upper right square and that I need to add my journalling but I haven't photographed that yet!]


Ranger Dylusions Creative Journal (Large) [BUY NOW]

Ranger Dylusions White Linen Paint Pen [BUY NOW]
(you could also use the 6 pack of coloured pens)

Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool and foam pads [BUY NOW]
(you only need one foam pad for this project and you can wash it clean after use and re-use it for other colours]

DecoArt Black Gesso [BUY NOW]

DecoArt Andy Skinner "Vogue" Stencil [BUY NOW]

Daler and Rowney CRYLA Artists' Heavy Body Acrylic in:
   009 Titanium White (PW6 Titanium Dioxide) [BUY NOW]
   615 Cadmium Orange (PO20 Cadmium selenosulfide) [BUY NOW]
   612 Cadmium Yellow (PY35 Cadmium zinc sulfide) [BUY NOW]
   410 Quinacridone Deep Purple (PR122 Quinacridone Red) [BUY NOW]
   430 Permanent Violet (PR122 Quinacridone Red and PV23 Dioxazine Violet) [BUY NOW]
   120 Primary Cyan (PB15 Phthalocyanine Blue GS [Tetrachloro copper phthalocyanine] and PG7 Phthalocyanine Green BS [Polychloro copper phthalocyanine]) [BUY NOW]
   111 Coeruleum (PB35 Cobalt stannate) [BUY NOW]
(you could equally easily use inexpensive fluid acrylics of any colours really but I've given you the pigment information above as that's useful for trying to find a close match, but I would recommend you mix fluid acrylics with a high-quality, high-pigment-load, heavy body artist's Titanium White to get the look I have here - the CRYLA one is my favourite)

Palette suited to acrylics or a disposable plastic plate (I used a plastic plate and always do - I've ruined so many £10 acrylic palettes that I no longer bother!)

Gold Taklon brushes for acrylic paint in:
   1" (for applying the gesso)
   1/2" (for applying the paint)
(any inexpensive brush suited to acrylic will do here - not too stiff though or you won't get a nice soft, smooth finish - I use very cheap ones to be honest)

Post-It notes or Post-It tape [BUY NOW]
(I like the sticky-all-over ones as they don't move around quite so much!)


STEP 1: Once I'd been inspired, I started Googling 1960s Pop Art to get a feel for what was in-keeping with the era of the go-go boots, and of course Marilyn Monroe (1967) by Andy Warhol came to mind, with its vivid CMYK colour universe and vivid, flat, bold silk-screen printing. I came up with the idea of a grid of bright squares with the Vogue stencil over the top in black, and I knew the best way to do it was to use black gesso. So, to being, I covered a page of my Dylusions journal with black gesso using a 1" golden taklon brush, making sure there were no gaps and it was nice and smooth and then I left it for 24h to cure.

STEP 2: I measured the page and drew a 6" by 6" square equal distances from each of the sides and from top and bottom, and then I divided it up to create a 3 x 3 grid of 2" by 2" squares. Easy!

STEP 3: I wanted Warhol-like colours and so I looked through Marilyn Monroe (1967) for inspiration and made a list of colours. I had originally got in mind that I would add a circle to the centre of each square in a contrasting colour and then put the stencil over it all but somehow it just felt overly busy and too much - after all, as Mrs Reaveley so sagely says, "the background is meant to be in the background", and I could not risk making too much of a feature of the grid versus the stencilled lady. I don't actually have more than a dozen fluid crafting acrylics, so I needed to get my artist's acrylics from the CRYLA line out - these are not cheap paints by any means but I was lucky - an art-store getting rid of this line sold me as many tubes as I wanted for £1 per tube (normally they are £8-20 depending on the colour) - so I don't have the full line but not far off! I picked up this armful of colours and lay them on the floor next to where I was working - I didn't use all of them but I needed options "just in case". I didn't want all of the squares to be different colours, nor did I want a nice set of even numbers. To cover a black background, I knew adding Titanium White would help as of course some of the most vivid colours like phthalo blues and quin purples are too transparent. I could have painted all the squares white first, but mixing white into the colours helped to unify them. I mixed up the following - just start with a blob of white and slowly add the colours to it until you have a nice, vivid, soft colour with a good opacity:
   CYAN: Titanium White + Primary Cyan
   YELLOW: Titanium White + Cadmium Yellow 
   LAVENDER: Titanium White + Coeruleum + Quinacridone Deep Purple
   MAGENTA: Titanium White + Permanent Violet
   ORANGE: Titanium White + Cadmium Orange
(oh, by the way, why am I working on the floor? I usually art journal on a dining chair covered in a craft sheet and sit on the floor, as that is less painful for me and art journaling requires sitting still doing slow steps for quite some time!)

STEP 4: You can see from the below photos how I arranged the colours. I used Post-It Notes around each square to give me (fairly) straight edges. It's critical if you use masking tape, paper etc with acrylic paints that you remove it when the paint is still wet, otherwise the acrylic polymer forms and when you remove the tape, the polymer layer will crack along the seem and you will get a rough and serrate edge (for watercolour, you remove when totally dry, acrylic is the opposite). I painted each one using alternating layers of horizontal and vertical strokes to build up the paint. If I saw that the mix could not cover the black gesso properly in one layer or two, I added more white and painted over the top of it with a new shade. I think the final set of colours all have similar hues and I'm pleased with the vibrancy.

STEP 5: I had a finished grid, but I needed to let it dry really well. If I was going to write on this with any kind of pen, I would wait over 24h for the acrylic to cure properly, but I waited 5h for it to dry totally hard as that was enough. I used the Vogue stencil to put the rightmost woman into place first, followed by her friend with the speech bubble (from the same stencil) and then the leftmost one that is deliberately hanging off the edge. All you need to do is apply a small (SMALL!) blob of black gesso onto your craft sheet, swirl the ink blending tool into it and then wipe off on the craft sheet a bit. To ensure full coverage, I pounced the colour on in an up-down motion instead of the usual swirling technique, as it builds up a thicker layer of colour much faster. I painted over those few gesso spots on the lavender square top right. I then washed my blending foam and left it to dry for a full 48h before I was planning to journal onto it with the Dylusions white paint pen. I'm going to write the lyrics to 3 verses of "Kinky Boots" (below) in each woman's body. To be honest I've never really considered how sexual this song was (esp. for 1964!) with lyrics like "leather is so kinky" and "sexy little school girls"!

"Kinky Boots"
Music and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and David Lee
Copyright © 1964 TRO Essex Music Ltd

Everybody's going for those kinky boots, kinky boots, (boop, boop) Kinky boots,

It's a manly kind of fashion that you borrowed from the brutes, Borrowed from the brutes, (boop, boop) Kinky boots. Fashion magazines say wear 'em, And you rush to obey like the women in a harem. Full length, half length, Fully fashion calf length, Brown boots, black boots, Patent leather jackboots, Low boots, high boots, Lovely lanky thigh boot, We all dig those boots.

Everybody's crazy for those kinky boots, kinky boots, (boop, boop) Kinky boots, And whether you're in evening dress or bathing suits, You wear boots, boots, kinky boots. There are twenty million women wearing kinky boots, kinky boots, Puss in boots, Footwear manufacturers are gathering the fruits, Gathering the fruits, (boop, boop) Kinky boots. Advertising men say try 'em, And you all run amok like a flock of sheep to buy 'em. Sweet girls, street girls, Grumpy little beat girls, Square girls, cool girls, Sexy little schoolgirls, Maiden aunties, Mayfair debutantes, They all dig those boots. Everybody's rushin' for those Russian boots, Prussian boots, (boop, boop) Kinky boots, Both: Cover up those slender little tender foots with kinky slinky, Leather is so kinky, Come and get those kinky boots, boots, kinky boots.

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