Fun & Fright Night

Col Mitchell Contemporary Paper Artist Zee Mixed & Motley 0 Comments

I thought I would share some recent experimental activity in my studio as inspiration for my fellow Fun & Fright Night party goers.

This particular party has an art element requirement: 


Every guest must bring a drawing or a photo 
or a painting…on theme!


And there are additional challenges! 



  • You may only use black. Black ink, or pen, or pastel, or chalk, or string, or yarn, or oil, or acrylic, or a black and white photo etc.
  • Your work must be on theme: Halloween
  • Your work must be on white paper
  • The paper size must be 18 inches tall by 12 inches wide OR 12 inches tall by 18 inches wide. 
  • Your work can fill the paper or only take up a small portion of the surface

Problem solving in the studio (or at the kitchen table..whatever!) can be so much fun!

The following work, “Ghost Owl,” is made up of 3 sheets of vellum, tar gel tinted black, and skins of gel mediums (glass bead gel, and mica gel) tinted with black acrylic ink or black acrylic paint. I’ve also thrown micaceous iron oxide into the mix. 

As you can probably guess, I painted branches in black ink on varying levels of the vellum. Lighter tinting of the mica gel gave me a mid grey, which you can just tell around the eyes.


Ghost Owl © Col Mitchell 18″ x 12″

While I was working on Ghost Owl, I played around with some powdered charcoal. I think I bought it a year ago but never even opened it. It was a perfect fit of medium for this challenge so I thought its time had come. I did a line drawing with ink, applied the powdered charcoal and erased for highlights. 


(((YAWN)))

I felt the entire process was rather ho-hum
Ho Hum Pumpkin (detail) © Col Mitchell 18″ x 12″

I decided to shake it up a bit! 
Literally.
I worked on artist quality white construction paper. I shook the charcoal out of it’s jar randomly onto the page, then I tilted the paper and let some of it slide off. 

What to do, what to do…

Heck, cover it with plastic wrap! So I gently covered the charcoal with some loosely bunched plastic wrap. Then I covered the whole thing with a another sheet of construction paper and rubbed over the entire surface with my hands, pressing hard, and mixing up the direction. 

I could see the charcoal shooting out the sides! 

When I removed the sheet and wrap, uncovering the charcoal, there were these gorgeous soft and fine patterns left!

The best part was that I could “see” potential images within. I just had to bring them out a bit more, work up to greater contrast with a charcoal pencil and black ink.

The following “Halloween Fairy” is the second piece in this technique. 




Halloween Fairy © Col Mitchell 18″ x 12″

And this, for me, underscores the magic of throwing caution to the wind, proceeding with zero plan, to simply see what happens when you do this…to that!


Oh…and even more play opportunity is up for grabs!

Everyone attending should know that there will be blacklights set up as well. 
Apparently papers without brightners (such as some water colour papers) simply will not glow under black light. But Rob Gill has dug up the following ways to get around that:

from About.com: Common Materials That Glow Under Black Lights that contain fluorescent molecules include:

  • White Paper: White paper is treated with fluorescent compounds to help it appear brighter and therefore whiter
  • Petroleum Jelly: Petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, glows a bright blue color under a fluorescent light
  • Club Soda or Tonic Water: The bitter flavoring of tonic water is due to the presence of quinine, which glows blue-white when placed under a black light
  • Body Fluids: Many body fluids contain fluorescent molecules. Forensic scientists use ultraviolet lights at crime scenes to find blood, urine, or semen
  • Vitamins: Vitamin A and the B vitamins thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin are strongly fluorescent
  • Chlorophyll: Chlorophyll makes plants green, but it fluoresces a blood red color
  • Antifreeze: Manufacturers purposely include fluorescent additives in antifreeze fluid so that black lights can be used to find antifreeze splashes to help investigators reconstruct automobile accident scenes
  • Laundry Detergents: Some of the whiteners in detergent work by making your clothing a bit fluorescent
  • Other Cleaners: Other types of cleaners that glow under black light include Irish Spring soap and Mr. Clean
  • Emperor Scorpion: The emperor scorpion normally is dark brown or black, but it glows a bright blue-green when exposed to black light
  • Tooth Whiteners: Tooth whiteners contain compounds that glow blue to keep teeth from appearing yellow

SO Go PLAY! Get a little daring and experimental! Treat your paper with club soda or mix your paints with it! 

And have some fun with the theme, too! 
Below is an earlier work I did under an instruction to “draw something you are afraid of.” (Yes, there is something in those woods!)

I find taking moments to work outside of my norm, or explore new mediums, with no intent of making some kind of “saleable masterpiece” revitalizes and refreshes creative energies, and always leaves me with some gift for the experience.


So go give yourself a gift! 

And lets ROCK this Artist’s party!



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