Yes, you can use graphite on enamel. The basic process is to use a light colored enamel on metal and draw on it with a graphite pencil.
It’s not quite that simple. If you have ever tried to draw on glass you know that the pencil point will slide all over without leaving a mark. The idea is to create a matte finish or ‘tooth’ on the enamel that will snag the graphite. Usually, this can be done by stoning the surface or by using an etching cream. Neither technique provides instant gratification. Stoning is difficult to get a smooth even surface and etching takes time and exposure to chemicals.
I like to experiment with different things combined with enamels, just to see what it will do. I’ve used salt, sugar, sand, baking soda, vinegar, dawn dish soap and milk. While experimenting I found out that if you paint milk on to your enamel and let it dry (I use a heat gun, I hate to wait) it enables you to draw on it with a pencil, no chemicals, no elbow grease.
I find that heavy cream works the best. Paint it on, let it dry, draw on it, and fire. I use a Smith mini-torch with propane and oxygen to fire all my enamels.
White light contains all wavelengths of visible light and is the sum of all possible colors.
I’ve been reading Fred Ball’s book, Experimental Techniques in Enameling about using liquid enamels with a white overlay on sgraffito.
Sgraffito is a type of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of contrasting color, typically done in plaster or stucco on walls, or in slip on ceramics before firing. Sgraffito and Sgraffiti derive from the Italian word graffiare ("to scratch"), ultimately from the Greek γράφειν (gráphein, "to write").(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sgraffito).
When using the sgraffito technique in enameling you can sift or paint enamel onto metal and scratch through it or you can enamel a color on first and then sift or paint on top of that and scratch through to the color layer. Some of the tools you can use for scratching are toothpicks, needles, xacto knives, comb, toothbrush, Q-tip, and chain.
I generally paint a low-firing liquid white onto bare copper, let it dry and then scratch through it with one of the above mentioned tools and fire it. Then I sift several thin layers of a ground soft white on top, torch-firing each layer separately, usually overfiring. All of the enamel pieces here are fired only with white enamels.
Challenges for 2017 - Consciously creating an art piece everyday for a year can definitely be challenging! Having to do something every day starts to get tedious after a few weeks, but if you can get past the tedium and just keep going even when you don't want to you begin to see in a way that you forgot about. Everything around you becomes art and you can push your brain to a new level of thinking and questioning.
Ring A Day
drawing a day
Then of course we have the Drawing A Day Challenge, which led me back to working on a series based on Photo Booth pictures I took when I was in college. Every time I do one, I think ok I've exhausted the possibilities, but apparently I haven't!
Yes, it's happening again! Ring A Day 2017! Many of the RAD 2010ers are participating as well as many new people!
You can follow along on Instagram using the hashtag ringaday2017 or the FaceBook group Ring A Day.
Here's a little taste (literally!):
I have to admit while reading it I thought he was just making up words and ideas, but I did look them up and, yes, scientist are sitting around talking about a hypothetical particle that travels faster than light. And this was another highlight of this book - it made me think. And it made me curious to research things he said in this book. Whether he is right or wrong doesn't really matter. I mean, look at 'science' - its ideas change and expand constantly as we learn more about the world. And well, that's another thing... I have a much larger idea of the world or universe or consciousness now and really, that's not a bad thing. I have felt this need to think about some of the things I read, so I am reading it again, only stopping with each idea to write about it and think about it out loud, feel free to join in. I will of course include pictures of my art - if it has anything to do with what I am writing about... let's just say I am unaware of that.
Chapter 1 starts out with a quote from James Baldwin - The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.
For me making art is about trying to find a connection to why I am here in the first place. I feel like there is something deep inside of me that knows the answer and that answer can emerge in my art because there are no words for it. The idea is that someone else will recognize that.
Shlain talks about when we learn language/abstract-thinking that the word/symbol takes the place of the image. "When we reflect, ruminate, reminisce, muse, and imagine, generally we revert to the visual mode... ...we forget that to learn something radically new, we need first to imagine it" (p18). We forget how important and essential it is to be able to have time to daydream.
This leads to the idea of a critical mass of people coming to a consensus about how the world works and when these ideas are no longer questioned they become bedrock truths. These things you just believe because you always believed them and never think that there is a need to question them (unless of course you grew up in the 60's). That blows my mind a little bit, just because we believe that something is true, doesn't mean it was always thought about that way or that it always will be. This may date me little, but when I was in elementary school I remember learning about Pangea. It was 'one' of the 'theories' about the continents 'possibly' having all been joined together at one time. I found that really interesting as a kid and it stuck in my mind. Now I find out that it is no longer a theory, but a fact and I have a very difficult time accepting that. One of my bedrock truths has been changed. It freaks me out a little. Maybe because now it has me wondering what else I learned was wrong. Of course, this leads me to the 70's and my brother introducing me to Firesign Theater's album 'Everything You Know is Wrong.' I don't remember any of the skits from the album (after all it was the 70's - take that as you may) but that title gave me something to think about.
I liked this: "What makes any set of bedrock truths slippery is that every age and every culture defines this confirmation in its own way. When the time comes to change a paradigm–to renounce one bedrock truth and adopt another–the artist and physicist are most likely to be in the forefront" (p18). The idea of being able to imagine or think about something in another way is the beginning of changing these truths.
Ok, so when reading this book, I could only read about 3 or 4 pages at a time, so that's all I'm going to do for right now! Let me know what you think about these ideas. But before you do, take a minute to reflect or perhaps daydream a little about it!
Using borax and heat to color copper. I think the best part is watching the borax dance around the metal.
Trying to up my technological skills!! I did it all on my phone and edited as well using iMovie! It was very exciting!
A good part of the process was not melting my phone!!
One of the meanings of 'radical' is thorough-going or extreme, especially as regards to change from accepted or traditional forms. (From dictionary.com)
Well, the Center for Enamel Art has embraced that definition thoroughly with their 'Radical Enameling' workshops! And Liquid Form Enamel and Enameling on Steel with instructor Kat Cole, at the Richmond Art Center this past month definitely met that criteria.
During the 3-day workshop we learned about steel: different types (which had always confused me); which work best with enameling; resources for finding it (literally finding it, as well as buying it); and yes, you can even enamel on stainless steel - Ikea bowls were provided to us in the workshop!! We learned about porcelain enamels and how to mix them (details I had never known about while playing with it on my own.) Several different techniques for applying liquid enamels, as well as sifted, combined with mark-making and adding foreign materials to add color were demonstrated.
Continuing with the 'radical approach,' we were encouraged to experiment - forming, sandblasting, spraying, folding, torch firing, soldering, embedding, thinking outside the box. Everyone in this intimate little group went off into their own little world and direction and created some amazing works.
In addition to this amazing workshop, we were able to attend a lecture by Kat to learn more about her work and see where her inspiration comes from; attend her opening at Velvet da Vinci in SF; and explore the galleries and restaurants of Point Richmond and Oakland. A very full, informative, and fun weekend! And of course, thanks to Ed Lay for his vast supply of knowledge, expertise, help, and fun at the workshop and showing me how to use the 'Weed Burner!!"
Thank you for bringing enameling in to the 21st century!
Check out the FaceBook page for the Center for Enamel Art
What is art if not obsession?
Billy Pappas started a drawing of Marilyn Monroe in 1994, wanting to set a new standard for realistic imagery. He worked on the portrait full-time for nearly nine years. There is a documentary about his work called Waiting for Hockney.
Tim Jenison is an inventor who believed that Johannes Vermeer used a camera obscura to paint his paintings. He went on to try to replicate The Music Lesson using this technique. Talk about obsessed - he starts out by going to Buckingham Palace to view the original, then recreates the scene and makes everything in the scene by hand, including a harpsichord - BEFORE he even starts painting. The whole project took years. Check out the film about it - Tim's Vermeer.
Hell, it took Michelangelo 4 years to paint the Sistine Chapel after negotiating to do it how he wanted. He even designed his own scaffolding.
I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea.
Do artists become good because they are obsessed or do they become obsessed because they are good?
A couple of weeks ago I found a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and because we really don't eat dinner on the dinner table I found a had a place to set it up and work on it. It was a compilation of Norman Rockwell paintings - that's art, right?
Well, I became obsessed with working on this puzzle, it was all I could or wanted to do. Some nights I'd be up until 3 or 4 in the morning, looking for 'just one more piece.'
Well, needless to say, I found a whole bunch of 500 piece puzzles (of food, no less!) at the thrift store for $.50 each! I bought them all. And continued on my journey.
We all know that's not true... I have many keen observations and wisdom from my puzzledom (or puzzledumb) that I will be sharing with you... please stay tuned for Obsession - Installment 2...
In the meantime... Are YOU obsessed with something? Tell us about it in the comments below!!