A look at the story behind ‘The Dream Forest’, an experimental piece that taught me all sorts of lessons along the way. Read on to see how things didn’t quite go as planned.
The Dream Forest
I wanted to build on an earlier technique I had used which involved using a plasterer’s trowel to apply layers of paint and built up texture. I wrote about it in my blog about working outside my comfort zone.
It was my intention to see how much I could achieve with the underlayer, beneath the top layer, to allow texture or an effect to ‘grin’ through. I had this whacky idea of using some glitter glue that I had left over from a craft project. From experience, I knew the glitter would add a grainy effect that might be quite attractive. I have used glitter glue before to create structure on the surface of a previous painting entitled ‘La Caverna Magica’ (The Magic Cave).
I worked on a small canvas and built up several layers of paint, predominantly white with hints of pastel shades. On top of this I applied ‘squirts’ of glitter glue in different shades, red, blue, purple, gold and silver, all applied smoothly over the surface of the canvas with a palette knife. That left a rather messy looking canvas but I felt it would provide the underlayer of interest I was looking for.
On top of the glitter I then added broad sweeps of pink going one way on the canvas. I then turned the canvas and applied thick swathes of turquoise across the bottom third. It was still wet but I took a photograph as I was really pleased with the piece and how it looked. I gave it the working title ‘The Dream Forest’ as I felt it had the look of trees in an alternative woodland.
I left the studio happy with what I had done and looking forward to seeing how much glitter showed through when it had dried.
The Next Day
Imagine my shock when I went back after 24 hours to see how ‘The Dream Forest’ was drying to find that the painting looked entirely different! I expected the acrylic paint to be less bright as it had dried. But the glitter glue was in the process of completely absorbing sections of the acrylic paint and the surface was now blotchy but shiny and shimmering and not at all what I had intended. Ah the joys of experimenting. There is a big lesson there about using something like glitter glue within a painting when everything is applied wet. I think the result would have been more what I was looking for if I had let the glitter glue layer dry first. In retrospect, for the earlier painting I mentioned ‘La Caverna Magica’ I had applied the glitter glue onto a dry surface.
The painting still had what I can only describe as wet puddles on the surface so I left it a few days to see how it would finally turn out. As you can see it looks slightly different though it has a shimmer and glittery surface that I can’t do justice too with a photograph. It is as if all the glitter and glue has come up through the paint to the surface. Worth noting should I ever actually be aiming for that effect!
Working With The Original Version
In the meantime, I wanted to create something from the original photograph I took of the wet painting as that is the look I had planned originally. Normally, of course, I might go back to a painting and touch up elements of it with a brush and paint as required. Then, normally I scan my paintings when they are dry. Of course that wasn’t possible here as the original painting no longer exists. There is a lesson there, take a large photograph of drafts just in case! Luckily the snapshot I took was large enough, it just needed some cropping and tidying up.
The point of all this is that experimenting is fun, and outcomes can be uncertain when you add in a novel element (like glitter glue). We should never take ourselves too seriously! But as we grow as artists we develop our technique and ideas through experimental sessions like this. And it wasn’t a complete failure as I did get the original image eventually. I learned that I need to either work with a dry paint surface when using glitter glue, or let the glitter glue dry completely before adding more paint on top. For another painting completed a few days after this one, I added some glitter glue as part of a top coat and it worked beautifully. I learned a valuable lesson about the photograph I take of a finished, wet painting, in case I ever need to revert to that version. And I enjoyed myself too!
Where You Can Buy A Print
You can buy a print of The Dream Forest at:
My shop on Art Heroes with free or reduced shipping in Europe.
From Pictorem with free shipping within the USA and Canada; and
At my RedBubble store with worldwide shipping.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
You can follow me on Facebook.
Thank you for reading!