Materials: Water-soluble Oil Pastels on Canvas and Shell Journey

Once upon a time I had to go to the art-supply store to get new materials. I still do, but now very rarely since I have hoarded materials over the years. My excuse for collecting was that I was teaching and needed to keep up on the newest and grooviest, but that means I have materials on hand now that I have forgotten. After switching brands of journals to the really nice paper in the Stillman & Birn black sketchbooks, I've been thinking more about drawing and watercolors because the nice paper will hold light water media without buckling. I began digging in drawers to see what implements I had. Turns out I have lots of water-soluble pens, crayons, and pastels.

Virtually untouched was a set of iridescent water-soluble oil pastels; Cretacolor makes them and calls them "Aqua Stics." Opening the little booklet inside, I noticed a suggestion for drawing on canvas. What follows are my experiments, one of which led to this mini art quilt. 

Overview: I first applied gum arabic to the canvas and let it dry, then drew some shells. I then traced around the drawings to get the outlines for a stencil. I'm presenting the finished stencil in these instructions, but more for how to make stencils are here and in my book, Painted Paper.

Stencil and drawing

Tools: clean kitchen sponge; small paintbrush; cup of water; Mylar or acetate stencil (and pencil and X-Acto or art knife if you are making a new stencil)

Materials: gum arabic; canvas; Aqua Stics

1. With a clean, damp sponge, apply gum arabic to a piece of cotton canvas.

2.  Let dry. (Just a few minutes in full sun works well.)

3.  Place the stencil (if you are using one) over the canvas.

4. Begin adding color to the shapes.

5. Dip the paintbrush in water and begin teasing out the color for each shape.

6. Remove the stencil.

The stencil gives a different look than a drawing and also allows you to repeat the shapes (although I did not do that here).

An earlier version, cut up, rearranged and stitched, became this mini art quilt I am calling "Shell Journey."

Shell Journey
14.25'w x 13.5"h (36.5 cm x 34 cm)
Hand-dyed linen and cotton, canvas, Japanese woven cotton; Aqua Stics and stencil; cotton thread; metallic thread; hand and free-motion quilting

The back. I'm getting more familiar with the free-motion foot. The backing cotton was a piece I had tea-dyed, possibly beet-dyed, a couple years ago.

Detail of the back with variegated thread.

These little projects are explorations. There is always more to learn.