Saturday, June 9, 2012

I... I Love You Like A Love Song, Baby

Somewhere on Pinterest I spied a painting that consisted of the song "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. I loved it. I still do. I found out it was painted by Matthew Heller, who does all sorts of lyrical paintings in his Homage to Music series. He uses large canvases and makes a grid and uses masking tape to create his letters.

I don't have that kind of time or patience, for that matter.

The inspiration stuck, though, and I decided to whip up my own Helleresque homage... my own version.

Armed with a sale-inclusive 20% off my entire purchase coupon, I made my way to Michael's, because their Artist Gallery canvases were 40% off. I balanced a 30"x 40" canvas on my youngest daughter's head, grabbed some paint, and was out of there for a mere $50 or so.

What I picked up:
30x40 Artist Gallery Canvas: $39.99 - 40% = 23.99
Liquitex Basics 4 oz acrylic paint in Titanium White: $5.99
Liquitex Basics 4.5 oz acrylic paint in Silver: $5.99
Golden Soft Gel acrylic medium: $14.99 (make sure it is soft and not hard gel)
Total less 20% = $40.77

What I had on hand:
Liquitex Basics acrylic paint in Ivory Black
drop cloth
silver leaf

So you can go about creating your own painting, you'll need to pick up peel and stick letters. I used 3" Vinyl Gothic letters by Duro Decal. Even though they state that they're permanent, the adhesive doesn't seal permanently to a dried acrylic paint base. In fact, you'll have to go over the letters before you put on the top coat of paint, to make sure that the edges are all stuck to the canvas. To have enough of each letter, I needed 8 packages of letters to paint the first stanza of "Better Together" by Jack Johnson. I had to get a bit creative when I needed a couple of extra "E"s and a "W". I cobbled an "F" and an "L" to make an "E"; and trimmed up an "M" to create the one "W" I was short. There is a listing of the quantities of letters; just make sure you have enough to finish your project. If you want to write an entire song on a canvas this size, you might want to go with the one-inch letters.  

8 packages of letters @ $6.74 each = $53.92; bringing my total up to $94.69.  Shipping was free, as I have Amazon Prime, and these letters were Prime-eligible.

First, you're going to have to paint the background for the letters. This can be any color of your choosing, but I do recommend blending the color with another tone, so you have a light/dark effect. Dilute some of the background paint with water; I used a half-tube of silver with about 3-5 Tablespoons of water. You want the consistency to be runny, but not liquid. Work quickly, covering the canvas, blending in some darker color as you go. Don't be neat about it, because the next step negates any neatness. I would've taken photos of this bit, but my camera battery was charging. C'est la vie.

Once your canvas is covered, wet a clean rag and wring most of the water out of it. You want it moist, but not soaked. Rub the rag over the paint, removing quite a lot of it, until your canvas looks stained, rather than painted. Put a few dollops of paint (both light and dark) on the rag, then swirl it around the canvas, to add a bit more paint to the stain. If desired, touch the wet paint with bits of silver leaf, and pat it down with a dry brush. Don't use very much at all; I'll show you why in a bit. Allow the paint to dry completely.

If you want to be neat about this bit, get a yardstick and lightly draw some pencil lines on which to place your letters. As I said before, I'm not patient, so I just winged it. Get a copy of the lyrics and put it someplace you'll see it easily. Start sticking your letters to the canvas. This takes a while....

Once that part is done, tilt your canvas to just below eye-level. Check for any letters that have lifted and press them down. Mix almost the entire tube of Titanium White with about 3 Tbsp of the gel medium. Reserve about 2 Tbsp of the Titanium White for touch ups later on. The gel medium slows down the drying process a bit, but it also creates a lovely texture by showing brush strokes. Cover the letters and exposed canvas with the white paint. You want to make sure all of the background color is covered in an opaque, but light coat. If the paint is applied too thickly, some of it will peel off as you peel the lettering off. This isn't a huge deal, since you'll be touching up any major issues afterward. It should look something like this:

Let it dry completely. Aim a fan at it, have a cup of coffee, and find a pin. Once the top coat is dry, slowly begin to peel the letters from the canvas. It is easiest if you slide the pin under an edge to lift it, grasp the edge, and peel slowly. Follow the contours of the letters if you can, to get crisp edges.

Below, you can see the brushstrokes left by the soft gel medium.

Once all of your letters are peeled, go over any spots where the top coat peeled away from between the letters, if it is noticeable.  My larger areas of silver leaf had this issue in a big way:

I touched up the spots between the letters with a very small brush and the remaining Titanium White paint:

When all of your touch-ups are completely dry, go over the entire canvas with a coat of gel medium.  Not only will it give your finished work a slight shine, it'll also protect the silver leaf and the top coat from peeling off.  I like to apply a medium-thick coat of soft gel medium.   Let this dry completely; it may take a day or two to fully dry, even with a fan on it; depending on thickness.  I like to put it out of the way and aim the fan at it overnight.  Once dry, hang your painting and revel in the creative genius that you are.

1 comment:

  1. You have so much more patience than me! I could never do this - but I really love it! Great job!


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