Saturday, February 12, 2011

Opposites Used For Contrast

Hi all, Judi, here!

My favorite use of opposites in my work is in creating high contrast with color.

I like to use many, many layers of transparent color (I admit to a weakness for Golden Fluid Acrylics) and one of the beauties of working directly into the pages of a sketchbook is the ability- days, weeks, even months or years later- to work back into the pages, deepening and tweaking the composition. This week, the two-page spread above was reworked for the millionth time with magenta, lemon yellow, and pthalo blue and green to punch up the contrast.

I love to express myself by using colors that are opposites on the color wheel. Fiery oranges and reds contrasting sharply with cool, soothing blues and greens epitomize to me the experience of living on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Here, the extreme heat and sun of spring and summer can only be combated by cool, blue waters. I crave both things equally, and my experience with these two powerful forces of nature inform my most favorite color choices.

As you can see, my sketchbooks are often messy and unruly. I welcome that, encourage it even, and am never happier than when the book becomes grungy with wear, tear, and colors all splashed together.

But my sketchbooks are also incredibly useful tools. For instance, this previous sketch...

... became the inspiration for some new ideas on fabric.

The fabric was painted with MX dyes and then drawn into with Stacked Journaling using a fabric pen. I even used a similar color scheme as I had painted into this sketchbook page, and then emphasized the color contrast (opposite) with black and blue ink.

These types of sketches and samples can be elemental in uncovering your personal color palette, texture choices and favorite design motifs.

Here I did some sketches exploring the idea of using opposites in shapes and colors, and this theme will most likely carry over into future surface design explorations on fabric, just as the "bubble" sketch above did.

Your sketchbook can be the place you escape to when you're stressed for doodling and mind mapping, or it could be a genuine work of art, or it could simply be a utility that moves you along on your way to bigger and more detailed design ideas!


  1. Hi Judy, THANKS so much for sharing these. The colors in the top picture are so yummy, my favorite pair of opposites. The process photos are really eye-opening and inspiring, showing how the sketch relates to your thoughts and development of an idea.

  2. Judi, let's have a play date! SOON!!!
    I just got a huge amount of Golden Colors and texture gels (my fave), there's a bolt of bamboo cotton arriving soon and yesterday I ironed brown paper .
    This is a really good past. It lets us see your studio process, how your environment informs your art, suggests a multitude of ways to use the sketchbook. ave fun this weekend.

  3. I 'see' says the blind man! I appreciate seeing/hearing your process. I can understand better that sketchbook/journal is not a finished perfect product in lots of ways but sketching the journey. And then actually revisiting it. Thanks!

  4. Jane and Ele, thanks! :D Laura: name the date. *g*

  5. Thanks Judi, this is such a wonderful lesson in how to use the journal for reference. So far I am only making "pretty" pages, but I love the idea of play and return to play again. Then when you are ready for the fabric there is so much inspiration waiting.

  6. Cheryl, that's exactly right... future inspiration! :D

  7. I had an art question I was hoping you could answer; actually 3:) 1. Some of my favorite supplies to work with are just simple crayola stuff because I don't have to care about ruining them with my experiments. But I also sell my work. Is there any sort of fixative or varnish that would lock in the color so I know it wouldn't end up fading over time? 2. I have done some 8X10 ink drawings tht I want to mount onto cavas to sell as art gifts. What type of adhesive would I use so that the paper doesn't buckle or wrinkle? It's 80lb paper. Okay, third question:P 3. I love painting on canvas board because of the hardness and stretched canvas because of the look...but I also like working on smooth surfaces. Is there any medium I can paint onto the canvas to give it a smooth texture and allow me to do mixed media (pastel, permanant marker etc)? Thanks so much if you take the time to answer this!*L* Also, I'm a starving artist so economical definitly helps:)

  8. Sarah, wow, let me see if I can answer some of those questions for you! :D

    I'm all about economy, as well, but there are also times when I depend the value of high quality products. You'll need to decide for yourself how much or how little to spend, of course. :D

    Ok, question 1, about "simple crayola stuff." Can you tell me what you mean by that?

    Question 2: This is going to sound weird, and I HIGHLY recommend you test this first on a small stretched canvas and a small piece of the 80# paper, but I would try acid-free rubber cement. You can get inexpensive but effective stuff in craft stores, or you can find a larger variety of brands and sizes in an art store. The key is to put rubber cement on both the back of the 80# paper AND on the canvas where you want to mount the paper. LET BOTH CANVAS AND PAPER DRY FULLY. Then carefully place your paper onto the canvas... the bond should be strong, particularly if the canvas has been primed and sanded several times (also highly recommended.... paint stretched canvas with Gesso from side to side, allow to dry, sand lightly, paint Gesso from top to bottom, dry, sand, paint Gesso corner to corner, dry, sand. That should give you a flexible, smooth surface with good tooth.)

    Question 3: see above LOL... You can get a smooth surface on stretched canvas with a good quality Gesso (I love Golden for that, as well), careful painting and sanding, and proper curing of each layer.

    Have fun!


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