Monday, September 26, 2016

painting a statement wall: tips and tricks

As many of you know, I LOVE to paint walls, LIKE A LOT and after painting numerous walls (and other large surfaces), I've pulled together some of the best tips and tricks that I can offer!

MY HOME DECOR PHILOSOPHY
I am not into the latest and greatest home decor trends and I NEVER want to feel like my home is "too precious" to take risks and try something unique, creative or even weird. While I love home decor shows, magazine and blogs- I also think it is easy to fall into trendy, safe and practical thinking when it comes to your house. I am not safe nor am I practical and I tackle most DIY projects like an artist. I love color, pattern and I believe that paint is one of the most affordable and easy ways to transform just about anything in your home into art. My husband Andy is super supportive of my approach but he always asks that we try to find a long term, well thought out way of making my ideas happen.


IT'S JUST PAINT
Before painting a wall in your home I think you have to forget about trends, rules and what a home is supposed to look like. You also have to get brave! While painting a wall (even a solid color) can feel like a really big commitment, at the end of the day, it's just paint. As a artist, I know that paint is one of the easiest (and cheapest) materials to use to transform just about anything. I've painted canvas, wood, fabric, appliances, furniture, floors and walls and what I've learned is that if you have the energy and creativity, paint enables you to make all kinds of changes. The best part is if you get tired of something, if you need to sell your house, if you have another idea, you can ALWAYS paint right over the top and make that change.


PICK A SURFACE
Selecting a wall or large surface can be a little intimidating. I also know that there are likely challenges out there- like you are renting or family/spouse does not support painting a wall (totally understandable) so I like to recommend starting simple or small! Here are a few alternatives to painting a wall.
  • A door or even the inside or backside of cupboard door, closet door or extra room door.
  • The wall of a closet, laundry room or bathroom.
  • A guest room, office or spare bedroom is a little less intimidating than the wall of your living room!
  • A wall in the garage.
  • Old wood floors, a deck or even concrete floors are all an alternative to painting a wall!
  • If you are a renter, use a large piece of unstretched canvas to cover a wall and then paint.
  • Create a false wall or a moveable wall! I actually have two moveable walls that we created for my studio space just so I have something large that I can paint on!
 PREP YOUR SURFACE
I've learned over time and lots of trial and error that it will save you a lot of trouble if you take time to prep your surface. While I am a "create in the moment" type of artist, I still make time to clean, sand and if needed, prime my surface. The walls in our home have a lot of texture and they also have a glossy finish which can make painting a mural tricky. I found that painting over them with a fast coat of primer helps my process. My favorite primer that I use for everything is Bulls Eye 123 Primer

TREAT THE WALL LIKE A PIECE OF ART
Often I think we associate a mural with crisp lines and perfect proportions but when I started painting walls, I wanted to treat the surface like a painting full of color, texture and layers. When I tackle painting a wall I am thinking more about creating art. I mean, if I wanted a perfect pattern that matched my furniture and decor, I'd go spend $$ on wall paper! Don't get caught up in perfection, instead think of that surface like a GIGANTIC canvas. Let your ideas evolve, even change as you work your way across the surface. Embrace brushstrokes, expressive marks and drips.


MAKE A PLAN (OR DON'T)
Since I treat a wall like a painting, I almost never have a super detailed plan for the murals that I paint and this is my favorite way to work. Instead, I tend to plan out basic colors, a general idea of what the theme will be and how much time I have to work on a wall. Beyond that, I enjoy working spontaneous and seeing how things develop and evolve as I begin. I know this process will sound totally crazy to most people so the best advice I can offer is to make a plan that works for you and your creative style. Here are a few things to think about:
  • Knowing what colors you want to work with and how much paint you will need to cover a wall will help to decide you how much money to spend. The walls that I have painted range from $5.00-35.00 in supplies.
  • Figure out how much time you will need. I paint fast (it's one of my superpowers) so I know that if I have 1-2 days set aside I can finish the project. If you work slowly or don't have lots time, give yourself a few weeks to pick away at painting a wall.
  • Having a basic idea of what you will paint can help the process move along. If you need a plan, you can sketch out your ideas on a piece of paper and once you are happy with an idea, sketch it out on the wall.
  • Remember, if you begin painting and it doesn't look the way you imagined- thats ok! It's just paint which means you can paint over it and make changes. I do this all the time and while the process can take more time, it's a great reminder that a painting, even on a wall can evolve and change!

CREATE A MURAL THAT REFLECTS YOU AND YOUR STYLE
I think painting a statement wall is totally personal and while it's fun to seek inspiration in the things that other people create, painting a mural in your home should reflect you, your family and your style (not trends). While I love painting flowers and pattern, there are so many other themes that can be painted on a wall (people, animals, places, words, even personal themes that mean something to you and your family). Before you dive into a project like this, take some time to identify the things (and color) that you want to be surrounded by. Living with a giant wall filled with pattern, color and images is a big commitment so take time to figure what represents you and what you would enjoy looking at every day.



IT TAKES A LOT TO FILL THAT SPACE
Unless you paint big, you quite don't quite realize how much paint, supplies and stamina it takes to fill a large surface. Here are a few tips:
  • I like to use a combination of pints of colorful paint that I get mixed from the hardware store, tubes of acrylic paint and white primer. I use the pints of paint for large areas of color. I use the white primer for anything that gets painted white or to mix with color to get a lighter shade. And I use my tubes of acrylic paint for the last layers to add pops of color here and there.
  • I use rollers and large paint brushes to fill big areas with color. I use smaller brushes for  details.
  • Since I use a lot of black lines and pattern in my work, I create a custom mixture of black paint and water for all my line work. I like my black paint to be fluid and have the consistency of oil because it makes the process of painting all that pattern much smoother.
  • Keep in mind that tiny details made with tiny supplies don't translate very well when working on a large wall so using larger brushes is alway best.
  • Painting a large wall can take a toll on your body- all that stretching, bending and holding your arms up high for an extended period of time can be painful! Since I have a sensitive back and neck, I have to take lots of breaks to stretch. Even when I am in the groove, I force myself to stop every 20 minutes and stretch or even change positions- this ensures I won't wake up sore or injured the next day!

DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE A VARIETY OF SUPPLIES
I typically just stick to using paint when I am creating a mural but you can use all kinds of supplies. Stamps, palette knife, stencils, spray paint, paint pens, mark making tools or anything that you would use on a painting will work on a wall! 

TIP: Keep in mind certain supplies and materials are harder to cover up! In my experience Sharpie pens, permanent pens, paint pens and spray paint are really hard to paint over especially with white paint (it's possible it just takes a lot of paint). So take this into consideration when you are deciding what types of supplies you want to work with.



Looking for a little more inspiration when it comes to using paint and creativity in those home decor projects?




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

painting on photo paper


When it comes to making art, I'm all about the process. While I love working on a project from start to finish, I've found that it's in the "journey" and the time spent experimenting that I grow the most. There are days when I will spend hours playing with a technique, supply or process simply to learn! Lately I've been having lots of fun painting on photo paper. Photo paper has a slick surface which means the color that you apply to the surface moves and slides around creating some really amazing and beautiful effects.




All you really need for this process is photo paper and color. 

PHOTO PAPER: Just about any photo paper will work and by photo paper I mean the paper that you use for printing photos. The surface of photo paper is typically glossy and comes in a variety of different finishes from low gloss to high gloss to luster. I found in all of my experimenting that the shinier the paper, the more your color will move and change.

COLOR: You can use pretty much any type of ink or paint for this process but I found the more fluid the paint (or ink) the better results. The materials that I like to use are liquid watercolors, ink sprays, acrylic inks and fabric dye. All of these supplies are really really fluid which means they will slip and slide around on that glossy paper.

RUBBING ALCOHOL: Isopropyl Alcohol is my favorite supply to use with this process because when you drop it onto your surface, it will react with the color and repel that color leaving an area of the surface exposed.

There are so many different ways to work with these materials! Here is a peek into the  process and a few of my favorite ways to work with photo paper.


pretty paper from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.

Drop color on the surface. Use a brush and blend that color. You will notice immediately the color blends and moves on the top of the that glossy surface (instead of soaking into the paper) which allows you to hold onto the movement of those brushstrokes.
Using a dropper, drop a little bit of rubbing alcohol into that color and watch all that color move around!  I've found that the color will continue to change, blend and bleed for quite some time while it dries.

I like to work back and forth with a lot of colors by adding color on top of color and then adding alcohol on top of all that color and then repeating.

The result is all those colors moving and blending together. Keep in mind too much color can result in making mud.

You can also start with a really light layer of color where you let your bush strokes show through and then add that alcohol. This will result in a lighter surface with more of the paper showing through.

Start with a wash of water or even a wash of alcohol and then add your color to the surface.

That color will blend and bleed into each other and will create a really beautiful marbled effect.

You can even create a painting of something specific on the surface of the photo paper but because this paper is not absorbent, the painting will be really loose. This is a fun way to create expressive and abstract art.

I like to let my surface dry overnight.


Once they are dry, I like to use these colorful surfaces as pages for my art journal, backgrounds for collage and as a background for drawings.

I even like to trace over the top of the shapes in the color and turn them into abstract and unique drawings and doodles.


With a few of these simple supplies, the creative options are ENDLESS!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

a batch of messy pouches in the shop!

I am happy to announce that I have a fresh batch of messy pouches in the shop HERE.  Each pouch is hand painted, made from canvas and one of a kind! They always sell out fast so get em' while you can!




Monday, September 19, 2016

NEW class inky blooms and a GIVEAWAY




Hello Friends! My next online class Inky Blooms goes live today and today I have a tiny peek and I am giving away 5 free spots in the class. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a chance to win!




INKY BLOOMS
$15

There is something so simple and beautiful about creating with ink. In this class we will use my favorite subject: flowers, to explore a variety of expressive techniques.Using brushes  we will experiment with creating dynamic and bold floral ink brush paintings.

This class is what I like to call a "micro class" it is structured into 1 LARGE lesson.

IMPORTANT-
All of my classes have unlimited access- once the class goes live you can create and access the class at any time and work at your own pace. There is no deadline or pressure to create.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SUPPLIES: This class like all of my classes, does NOT have a required supply list. Instead I will be sharing the supplies that I like to use and then give you a variety of options and inspiration to use supplies that work best for your process and your budget.

You can head on over to the shop HERE for all class details and registration!




ENTER TO WIN A FREE SPOT IN WATERCOLOR BLOOMS!

Leave me a comment
Tell me your favorite flower
I will randomly select 5 winners and announce them at the bottom of this post tomorrow! 

UPDATE WITH WINNERS!

Email me at alisaburke@gmail.com and I will get you access to the class!









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