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ColorSparx At Play

9-24-20

ColorSparx and stenciling art journal backgrounds.

Well hello there!

Here in Kansas, fall is really beginning. Lots of leaves are falling from the trees, most of which haven’t had cold enough temperatures yet to start to change to pretty colors. However, I noticed this morning, the tips of some of the trees are beginning to turn to beautiful fall shades, which I adore and which inspire me greatly.

This week, I was trying some new techniques, experimenting with stencils and the wonderful ColorSparx powders. Before I joined the TCW Design Team, I had never used the ColorSparx powders, so I hadn’t experienced their beauty or their versatility first hand.

Since receiving my first ColorSparx powders about two months ago, I have been playing with them constantly, trying new techniques, learning what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do with them.

I thought this week I would show you some of what I tried, what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned during the process, all in the hopes that it will encourage you to experiment and try something new, too!

When you purchase ColorSparx, they come with a card of great suggestions to try. I definitely recommend giving those techniques a start. That’s how I got started. From there, I have progressed to trying the ColorSparx powders mixed into different mediums, such as modeling pastes, gessoes, and gel mediums. There are so many possibilities!

This week, I wanted to try some water techniques with the Colorsparx powders and stencils. Here’s some photos and narrative of what I tried, and how it turned out…

Recently, I learned a technique which intrigued me. After adding water to the watercolor paper page with a brush, sprinkle on the ColorSparx powders, lay the stencil on top and walk away. Yep, walk away. Let the page dry overnight.

Using this technique, the color pools under the plastic stencil, and clings to the edges of the stencil cut lines, leaving darker outlines of the cut out shapes. Once dried, I took a black Micron pigma pen and outlined the stencil shapes, and voila! One hot, and happening page! (if you turn the page upside down, it looks like flames! Good to know, right?).

For this page, I used stencil TCW568 Moving Vines with TCW ColorSparx Powders in Gamboge, Crimson, Scarlet, and Orange. For the sentiment, I used TCW9039 Copper Penny Modeling Paste which has a dreamy, creamy, spreadable texture, that is so easy to use with a palette knife. The next morning I was swooning over these gorgeous, vibrant, fall colors and shimmery copper sentiment!

ColorSparx Journal page with stenciling and copper modeling paste.

My next experiment had me using the TCW192 Gingko Stencil with the Gamboge, Fuschia, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Orange, and Scarlet ColorSparx Powders. I used exactly the same water technique as the Moving Vines experiment, above. The Yellow Ochre and Gamboge powders have a touch of green sparks in them, and I really love how that green soaked into the ginko leaf shapes. For this page, I used the same black Micron pigma pen to outline the leaves. Then, I decided I wanted the leaves to ‘pop’ out of the page more, so I outlined the leaves with a white signo pen. In places, you can see where the white ink absorbs some of the color sparks pigment, adding unexpected tints! To make the tints more noticeable, I outlined the leaves one more time with the pigma pen. I really love the way the leaves look three-dimensional, and as though they are about to pop off the page!

ColorSparx art journal page background with stenciled Gingko Leaves.

Last, I decided to use the TCW658 Mini Jungle Vines stencil with the TCW9043 Marcasite Silver Modeling paste applied using a palette knife. I used another combination of the Colorsparx powders, in Olive Green, Crimson, Gamboge, Orange, and Scarlet, and I used the same water technique that I used for the previous two pages, shown above.

This page was a good learning experience for me. I added too much water, when the modeling paste was not fully dry. I should have dried the modeling paste completely with my heat gun, then added the water and powders. Lesson learned.

The water soaked into the edges of some of the leaves, making the modeling paste dissolve overnight. When adding the water for the powder, I added too much water to the page, which caused some of the colors to blend together, turning an icky mud brown. Ooops, please, learn from my mistakes!

As a result, it took this page far longer to dry than the previous two pages, and the colors turned out much murkier and darker than I would have liked. Once dried, I used the same outlining technique for the stenciled shapes, that I did for the gingko leaves. In the end, it really didn’t turn out too badly, as you can see in the image below, on the right side.

On the right side, TCW658 Mini Jungle Vines stencil with TCW9043 Marcasite Silver Modeling paste and ColorSparx powders. On the left side, a fall mini collage named “Fall Beauty”. 6″ x 8″ mini collage.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the image on the left side of the above photo is. While I had the powders out, I played with just sprinkling powders on some other pages I had practiced on earlier with modeling paste. I left these pages to dry with the other pages shown above.
When I came to look at the pages the next morning, they were all simply too gorgeous to not be used.

What I decided to do was take the off cuts from the pages above, combined with these other pages cut into what I like to call “moments of joy and beauty”. I then created a series of seven mini collages, each collage measuring approx.. 6″ x 8″, featuring a fall theme, using these ‘left over bits’ die and hand cut into pieces. I hand poured some resin leaves, painted them with TCW9002 Black gesso and finished them with waxes. One leaf was added to each collage as a three-dimensional element. I’ve included photos of the six additional mini collages, below, for you to see.

“Fall’s Desire” and “Fall, Olive you”. 6″ x 8″ mini collages.
“Falling for you” and “Leaves Aflame”. 6″ x 8″ mini collages.
“Free Falling” and “Fall Suspension”. 6″ x 8″ mini collages.

By Michaela Butterworth

Mixed media artist and teacher. Owner of Teal Hare Creations studio. TCW International Design Team 2020-21.

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