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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

The Allure of Grunge

I’m working on a new project – a series of mixed media art project videos featuring spirit animals. There will also be a workbook to help students identify and describe their own special animal connections along with some tips for converting the projects to use with their own animals. As of now, I have the prototype for my badger piece. I wrote about this one last week. I’m starting with a goal of three of which the second is this one, squirrel, and the third will be bear.

Here's my prototype (in its earlier stages) for the squirrel project, but what I really want to share here is its grungy background and how much fun - and frustrating at times - it was to create.

The only colors I used were Anthraquinone Blue, Van Dyck Brown, and Sepia. Nice grungy ones, don't you think? The first stage was collage, all text except for the squirrel drawing and the upside-down window looking things. The text papers were varying shades of off-white, buff, and tan. Next came extra heavy gesso, applied here and there with a palette knife (off white behind the white).

Next came color washes. I used fluid acrylic. My three are transparent - what's underneath shows through in various degrees, depending on how thickly I apply the paint. One of my favorite techniques is to drop or blob clear water over the still-wet paint then, after a few minutes, blot it up. The wet paint underneath comes up with the water. An example is the uneven area in the lower left quadrant.

Scratches are fun too. I find them especially effective when the paint is still a bit damp. The mark just left of center is a combination of a lifted water drop and scratches with, in this case, a knitting needle. The small peach blob near center and the Sienna one a little lower and to the right are drops of alcohol ink. On, and there's the one non-text collage piece in addition to the squirrel drawing.

I really liked the background at this stage. I worked quite a bit more on the squirrels, then added white pen work and continued messing with the background. Here's the finished piece, but I'm thinking I should have had a lighter hand with the background. That's the hard part, isn't it? Knowing when to finish.

In any case, I really had fun creating grunge and I think I may do more of it, perhaps for collage papers. Or maybe a journal cover: I can see just grunge with a simple off-white rectangle with a title.

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