The first verse of Edward Lear’s Nonsense Poem was the inspiration for this month’s challenge. Edward Lear was also a wonderful painter. Perhaps that is why he could conjure up such beautiful imagery and that is what I attempted to pay homage to with this months lovely kit.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
- Owl & the Pussycat MDF Cut Outs, Designer Chipboard Mats,
- Designer Flower Stencil
- Powertex Universal Medium. Colour of your choice. I used black Stone Art
- Easy Coat Varnish – Glossy
- Powercolours of your choice to embellish your work. I used titanium white, lilac and Phthalo Green
- Bister Blue
- Natural Paper Decoration
- Easy Structure
- Doll Eyes
- Modge Podge
- Styrofoam Circle
- Boom Gel – colours of your choice. I used Pearlescent – white, charcoal, mauve and Metallic Silver.
- Triangle hooks
From your useful box:
- Cardboard cut into a sail shape
- Masking Tape and waste photocopying paper.
- Fake money, medal anything medallion shape
- Wooden canvas stretchers.
- Plastic covered workspace
- Mixing Bowls
- Paint brushes (one for Powertex and one or two for pigment colours)
- Lids for Palette (or alfoil).
- Palette Knife, skewers, ﬂat spatula,
- Clay modelling tool
- Washing up Container for cleaning
- Gloves, Chux Cloth, Paper towel
- Gladwrap (to wrap Stone Art clay and to cover opened Powertex bottles)
- Air-tight container to store clay.
Step 1. Design Layout
- Push or knife out your pieces and play with positioning them.
- After surfing the internet, I noted that many of the images positioned the boat against a moon, with the pussycat rowing and the owl playing a guitar like instrument. I wanted to capture a night sky or moon for the owl and the pussycat. I wanted them to be sailing so I played with the idea of creating a sail out of cardboard and natural paper decoration.
- I toyed with the idea of using a large Styrofoam Circle as my ‘canvas’ backdrop.
- Collect the necessary Powertex products and equipment and set up your plastic covered workspace.
- Note – During the process, I couldn’t make up my mind about the moon background, so I also created my artwork to be a stand-alone piece and have you the option to do either or both.
Step 2. Make Stone Art
- In a bowl with a medium amount of Black Powertex Universal Medium (approx. 1 cup), add Stone Art (approx. 1 cup) and mix with a flat spatula.
- Keep adding small handfuls of Stone Art until it forms a kneadable dough like mixture that no longer sticks to the bowl or your gloves. Remove the sticky ball and add a little more Stone Art to the bowl to ‘flour’ the ball. Knead well until the clay can be pushed into a textured surface and be removed again without sticking. (Apologies, I used most of my stone art clay before the photograph).
- Keep the clay ball wrapped in glad wrap and in a sealed airtight container to prevent hardening until use.
Step 3. Join Boat Together & Seal MDF
- Apologies I forgot to photograph the boat and mast pole with masking tape, which I used extensively knowing I was going to cover it later with Powertex and stencilling.
- Using a paint brush, seal both the back and fronts of all the MDF Boards (including the boat and the mast pole) – note I did not seal the chipboards as I knew I wanted to bend them while they were wet to give the flowers more dimension.
Step 4. Create the Sail
- Tease your natural paper decoration apart and layout on your cardboard sail in preparation. You can paint a little bit of water on the natural paper decoration in the stiffer parts to help tease apart.
- Paint the MDF pole (first) and then the cardboard sail with black Powertex.
- While wet attach the sail to the MDF pole.
- Using a paint brush, black Powertex the back of the natural paper decoration and cover the cardboard sail entirely before painting the front.
- A skewer can be used to lift and play with the fibres.
Step 5: Stencil Boat
- Load a palette knife with a small amount of Easy Structure paste and scrap over your stencils. Easy Structure is a high quality fast drying paste that holds its form. Having said that if you are a little impatient like myself between drying times you can fiddle with the paste using a skewer. However, many imperfections will be masked in future layers (or purposely masked if they become a distraction to you).
- I wanted to play with my pea green boat idea, so I sprayed the stencils with Blue Bister (which when mixed with water is actually green). I loved it.
Step 6. Attach Styrofoam backing
Note – I decided to attach a Styrofoam back towards the end of my work when I decided my piece could be stand alone. However, I thought I would mention this step earlier as it would be easier to do before stencilling, attaching chipboard flowers and embellishing with powercolours.
- Use the MDF Boat to trace out your Styrofoam backing.
- Paint one side of the Styrofoam in Black Powertex and the back of the MDF boat and stick together. Let dry.
- Optional – a sausage of stone art clay around the edges of the Styrofoam and the MDF boat and spread using a modelling tool to improve attachment.
- I used salvaged Styrofoam.
Step 7: Attach flowers
- I sealed the chipboard flowers with black Powertex and manipulated the petals whilst wet. I positioned the flowers into place using a small ball of stone art on the back.
- Apologies, in my desire to try out the Lilac and Phthalo green colours to see if they would match, I forgot to take a photo of the process.
Step 8: Embellish the boat & Sail with Colour
- Using the dry brush technique, highlight your textures in colours of your choice. I used Phthalo green and a touch of lilac both mixed with Titanium White to brighten the tones.
- Pour a small amount of Easy Coat Varnish into a lid/palette/alfoil
- Palette out the colour pigments of your choice. I used the matt powercolour Phthalo Green and Lilac blended with White Titanium to brighten the colours.
- With a very dry brush take up a small amount of the Easy Coat Varnish into the brush tips and criss-cross your brush onto the palette to load the varnish into your brush.
- Pick up a small amount of colour pigment and criss-cross your brush with it into the palette to create a paint and apply remembering it is always easier to build colour than remove it.
Step 9: Sculpture Owl
- The kit includes some wooden eye shapes, however, I wanted to take the use of Stone Art to a sculpting level. I think it took me a week to muster the courage to begin. Or was it two?
- I started sculpting the faces first using the MDF as a guide and adding doll eyes.
- For the body, I rolled out the stone art approximately 50mm thick (just enough to be able to leave feather impressions using a simple clay modelling tool.
- Use the chipboard feather components from the kit to create tailfeathers and owl arms (In my original layout I used plaster hands in my layout but changed my mind)
- Using a paint brush, seal the chipboards with Powertex and while wet they can be gently bent and manipulated and can be positioned on your piece using stone art.
- As I wanted the hands to hold the guitar, I attached a small bit of the wing shape to the back of the body. I added clay lugs to the back of the guitar and positioned it onto the body. Then I gently bent the wing shapes into position.
- If components crack or break slightly you can mend with a bit of Stone Art or squeeze together, remembering that sometimes not being perfect can lead to wonderful textures in the final colouring stage.
Step 10: Sculpture Pussycat
- I followed a similar process with Pussy cat and started sculpting the face first using the MDF as a guide and adding animal eyes.
- Similarly, for the body, I rolled out the stone art approximately 50mm thick (just enough to be able to leave fur impressions and finger pressed it onto the Cat MDF Shapes (body, arms and leg) and the oar shape.
- Using a clay modelling tool, I created fur like impressions.
- Note on the MDF oar, I added a bit Powertex dipped string for added texture.
- I then added Stone Art to back of the arms and legs and pressed them into position holding the oar.
Step 11: Embellish the Owl and the Pussycat
- Use the dry brush technique as outlined in Step 8 to embellish your pieces using the Powercolours of your choice (or our beautiful metallic pigments). I used Orange, Lilac and Phthalo Green blended with Titanium white brighten the tones.
Step 12: Attach the Owl, Pussycat & Sail Mast
- The beauty of the Styrofoam backing is that you can push your attachment pieces right into it. Here I used chopsticks painted with black Powertex and inserted into the Styrofoam whilst wet.
- To position the Owl and the Pussycat, use masking tape, but once happy, paint both the inside and outside of the masking tape with black Powertex.
- Roll out rectangles of stoneart and attach to the back of the MDF animals over the chopstick to secure and let dry.
Step 13: Attach Sail – solve Top Heavy?
- To attach mast, push into the Styrofoam, remove and fill the hole with a bit of black Powertex and re-insert.
- You may require to problem solve if your piece becomes top heavy and if you are opting for a stand-alone piece. I used the wooden pieces that come with canvas’ to stretch it. Firstly, I inserted one behind the mast and several along the base of the ship. All pieces were painted with black Powertex and a bit of stone art to assist with attachment.
- Optional – I attached the MDF moon to the top of the sail using Stone Art.
Step 14: Optional – Pot full of Honey and Plenty of Money
- Note – happily use any suitable found objects from your useful box.
- Create a pot with masking tape, alfoil and Stone Art clay. I recycled a small medicine cup used for pouring acrylics and the cork from a whisky bottle. Embellish with colours.
- Print out a 5-pound note and modpodge for flexibility, sprayed with bister for an aged appearance. Create a pouch and insert any fake discs or medals. I painted these with Powertex, and embellished first and attached with Stone Art onto the boat.
Finished – Congratulations!
I hope you are over the moon with your artwork.
Hang on, am I getting my old rhymes mixed up?
Join me next month for Christmas in July.