To The Second Floor
Apparently I'm Working in a Series

Second Floor Challenge #1: Gold Paint


Today is the first Second Floor challenge!  Are you ready to take it to the second floor?

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The challenge this time around is to use gold paint.  Whatever that means to you or however it inspires you.  The prompt is simply meant to get you started.  The level of challenge you aim for is entirely internal and up to you.

Click here to see what Nat did.

As for me, I decided to play around with some gelatin printing.  I used my Gelli Plate (I got mine from The Ink Pad here in NYC) and made a bunch of cool prints: 


I had done a bit of printing with the Gelli Plate before, but this was my first time creating layered prints and I was thrilled with the results!   

I could have stopped there.  It was already a bit of a push. In my original envisioning of the project I thought the printing would be my experiment with gold paint.

But embracing the idea of taking it to the second floor, I decided to do something very far outside my comfort zone: formal collage.  I started to play around with some stitching and layering and....  

Uh Oh.

I really *hated* how it turned out.  Just sort of all over the place.  No focus.  The print that was so beautiful had been "ruined" by my messing around with it.  Picture a super sad Julie here.

In writing this blog post today I realize that I should have taken a photo at this point.  But I'm a never-say-die kind of girl and as soon as I hated it, I resolved to fix it.  I read a quote on Roben-Marie's blog last week that said, "When you discover what you fear most, run towards it."  Right on.  This is a life philosophy I try very hard to embrace -- don't always succeed at it -- but it's a goal of mine, especially artistically.

I experimented and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  And it wasn't good.  So now I had two choices:

  1. Stop, photograph, and write about what I learned from the failure.
  2. Never-say-die and keep going.

You can probably guess which road I chose.

Rescue came in the form of this little book: 








Most of my fumblings are somehow magically hidden by folding the ugly collage in half and turning it into a book cover.  Although I will tell you that despite the pretty pictures, the book has a few issues of its own.

Here are just a few of the things I learned from this challenge:

  1. A collage requires a certain amount of unity whereas a book cover can just be bright colors and interesting patterns.  This is congruent with an old art trick of taking something you hate and cutting it into the pieces.  The smaller pieces almost always work better than the large piece.
  2. The print I started with was one hundred times more interesting than the collage I ended up with.  Perhaps collage is something better done with either (a) smaller pieces of layered prints or (b) simple prints.  In fact, I think collage (for me) works best with manufactured prints because it's the contrast between the hard manufactured line and my own soft line that makes it interesting.
  3. As far as the book is concerned, I took the easy way out and used a tape runner to secure the end papers (inside the covers).  Bad idea.  The book pages they're made from are fragile.  I should have taken the time to properly wet glue them.
  4. Also the binding of the book.  I just shoved it through my sewing machine.  I much prefer the feeling of a book that has been handstitched and it really doesn't take much longer, especially with a little pamphlet style book like this.
  5. One of the things I really like about the book is that I mixed watercolor paper with deli paper for a neat mix of surfaces to work on. I like the translucent/opaque contrast between them.
  6. As far as the Gelli Printing is concerned, there's so much to love there.  I loved cutting out the feather shapes (from my 12x12 Peacock Feather stencil) and using them as masks.  Definitely going to do that again.  Taking the time to cut them out was totally worth the result. 
  7. And I loved having the painted feathers around, though collaging them on top of the print was probably not that smart.
  8. Another Gelli Printing thing I loved was printing time after time onto watercolor paper, deli paper, book pages, whatever was around.  Lots of cool variation.  Another good one to try again.
  9. Something I learned about myself: it's really hard for me to share something that failed without a positive resolution.  Really super duper hard.  But that's what this Second Floor project is all about.  And if I was really good at doing it, I wouldn't need this challenge, would I?  I'm not sure I'm leading by example today, but I'm trying my very best.

Who knew you could learn so much from an evening spent playing with paper and paint?  Well, now I do.  And now you do too.  Imagine how much we can all learn from each other's experiments?!

If you decide to play along with our Second Floor challenge (we'd love to have you) please leave a link to your blog or wherever you decide to share your project!  Of course, I would love it if you'd share a line or two in your blog post or flickr photo comment about something you learned from the project.  (If Nat and I have done this linky list correctly, when you leave a link on Nat's blog it should show up on this blog and vice versa.)

If you're not up for sharing 100% publicly, we have set up a totally private flickr group.  It's a way of sharing within a safe space.

Thanks for stopping by!