Seeing Red

Or rather, NOT seeing red...which then causes me to see red. One of the most frustrating things for me when marbling is not getting the color I want. When I want a deep blue, I WANT a deep blue--not a baby blue, not a cornflower blue, not a steel blue. Deep blue. DEEEEEEEEP BLUE. You get my point. Sometimes it takes a little playing around to get it just right...mixing paints, putting a color down on the bath in a certain order, diluting paint or making it more concentrated.  I'm generally able, with a little experimenting, to eventually get the color I want.

Except when it comes to the color red.

I get off red. I get pink. I get orange red. I get magenta red. I get something Crayola doesn't even have a name for. I get everything but a beautiful RED RED. And apparently I'm not alone in this endeavor. My marbling instructor at the Folk School, Pat, told me red is elusive for all marblers. Her trick: use red paper. Ummm, hello! That's BRILLIANT!!! Why didn't I think of that?!

In the workshop, she gave us a couple types of red paper to play with and let me tell you, I was ecstatic with the results.

Red Example 1

Red Example 2

See how that red just pops right off the page?! It is the best--trick--ever!

Side note: The really fun thing about colored paper (all colored paper, not just red) is that you're able to use REALLY COOL paints such as Golden's interference and iridescent lines. In the second example above, I used copper, bronze, and micaceous iron oxide (in addition to regular acrylic paints). These paints have ACTUAL metallic particles in them...making them sparkle right on the page. It is a really, really neat effect. Here are some of those paints on green paper:

Green Example

Anyway...back to red.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to do a little marbling after the weather folk said it was going to be cool and humid. I whipped up a batch of size and set up the studio...and could barely sleep that night I was so excited. The next day, I was up by 6 a.m. It was already 78 degrees (it would top out at 103) and the humidity was a disappointing 50% (and would steadily drop all the way down to 23%!). Not ideal for marbling. At all. But what was I to do? I couldn't change the weather so I decided it was going to be an experiment session. I had lots of scrap papers as well as canvas and wood pieces I could play with.

I have been marbling on canvas for a little while but was having problems with making the colors POP and with keeping the colors from running off the canvas during the rinse. I solved both problems by 1) aluming the heck out of the canvas and 2) letting the canvas DRY FULLY before rinsing off the size (another thing I learned from Pat at my time at the Folk School). But here's the interesting thing: marbling with red paint on canvas, even a white canvas, isn't that bad. It actually sort of turns out the way I want it to.

Red On CanvasNot too bad, right? So, emboldened by my success with canvas that day, I thought...hey, if red PAPER works so well, how about I paint the CANVAS red and then marble on that?!

Red CanvasNow, THAT'S what I'm talking about! RED RED!! Totally awesome.

And here are these canvases up on my studio wall:

Canvas on Wall

These particular canvases came already stretched on wood frames so I had the challenge of NOT screwing up the sides with size and paint while marbling the incredibly difficult and delicate process that I hope I can master after more practice since clearly it did not work out for me this time. In the mean time, I simply paint the sides afterwards to cover up my messy mistakes.

I'll post some more "interesting" works from my experimental marbling day in a few days. Canvas, sheet music, wood chips, fabric buttons...I'm having fun with everything. (I've even seem some people marble on FEATHERS!)