Wednesday, February 26, 2014


While the crocus is normally thought of as the first flower of Spring, for me it is the Pansy.
It reminds me of that first warm Spring day at the garden center.
Relieved of my winter coat I shop with other smiling gardeners
visualizing overflowing pots and walkways.

And even though we are expecting yet another snow storm,
I hope my little painting reminds you that sunny day picking garden herbs and flowers is coming!

Watercolor, 8" x 8"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Week of Flowers

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Pink Light"
Watercolor, 8" x 10"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

What better to paint during an east coast artic tundra thunder snow storm than flowers!
I don't usually work on a black background but boy does it make whatever you are painting magical.
I didn't use frisket here instead painted in the background freely after the flower was finished.
That gives some variation to the darkness which I like.

"A Gathering"
Watercolor, 11" x 14"
©Carmella Tuliszewski

It has been a week of flowers and prepping for my next larger piece (more on that to come).
Here is an addition to my Pen & Ink Watercolors.  I like doing these in between my more realistic paintings as a break.  I find the ink drawings especially relaxing.
And although they are fun I really find more satisfaction in realism.
But I will keep both approaches going and might find a way to combine them at some point.

I wonder, which do you like better?

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Copper Fish

©Carmella Tuliszewski
"The Catch"
Watercolor, 15" x 28"

I am so happy that I stuck this one out.  There were many mornings when I came down to my work table and wanted to put it aside.  It was so much more difficult than anything I've done before.
What was so hard about this?
Getting the coloring on the copper correct and dealing with the light bouncing off the molds at all different angles was my major challenge.

I always love to work in contrasts on my paintings.
Here the cool blue shadows next to the warm earthy colors of the molds in combination with
the realistic objects on top of the flat color and simple lines of the comics accomplished that for me.

As I started this piece I began to wonder about wether I might run into a copyright 
infringement issue here.
Is it ok to outright copy the comic page as it is?
My son is a lawyer, so who better to ask?
His opinion is that the subject is not transformative enough for my protection againist a lawsuit.
Even if I could argue that it was, it does not prevent the comic authors from bringing the suit.
And I also thought the authors are fellow artists and in the end I did not think it right to outright copy their work onto mine.

Although it looks like a page from the Sunday paper, it is all made up by me.
Now, I know my limits, I am no comic writer.
So the cartoons are all my own invention but if you look closely at the writing I have pluged in some of my favorite art quotes and made up little senarios with my family.
The dates on the paper is actually the start and finish dates of this painting and the 
authors names are family members.

Craziness, right? Yes, it took forever, but was fun and I feel more comfortable doing it this way.

I will be submitting this for competition so wish me luck!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

# 3 Lesson Share Sunday - SILK FISH PONDS

Carmella Tuliszewski
Silk Fish Pond
Grades 6, 7 and 8

Knowledge- Students learn that Batik is a wax-resist method of creating designs on fabric.  They also learn that early examples of batik have been found in the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia and India from over 2000 years ago.

Skill- Students learn how to create a batik design using resist on silk fabric.  Students gain color mixing skills using only primary and secondary colors as a base.

Knowledge- Students gain knowledge in a specific medium and explore a variety of usages of these materials.  Also, from learning the history of this art form they learn to appreciate the longevity of the materials and how the skill has been handed down for generations.

Prepare Ahead- Pour resist into applicator bottles.
Have photos of tropical fish available for student’s reference.
Batik cloth from the import store to show students.
Cardboard frames on which to tape cut silk while painting with the dyes.  This holds the fabric away from the sketches, avoiding paddling against the paper.  I also have silk hoops which will supply some classes.

MOTIVATION- Questions leading the students to discovery.

Imagine you are sitting on a low stone bench, in a peaceful Oriental garden, next to a pond. You look down and see flashes of bright red, silver, black, creamy white, and golden yellow gliding under the water. A school of koi inhabits the pond.  Teacher shows pictures of Koi.

Known as "living jewels," koi have been adorning garden ponds for over two thousand years. The wild carp has long been a symbol to Asian and Far Eastern countries and has been evident in their paintings, pottery and carvings and even as part of the handed down stories for generations.  Teacher shows examples of the Koi in Asian art.  She shows her photo reference of many types of tropical fish.  Although Koi is the traditional fish used in ancient times you are welcome to make use of the many photos of tropical fish I have brought for you today.

Teacher shows a Batik cloth along with other examples of Batik are passed around the room as teacher gives presentation.
Where has the color been “contained”?
Where can you see the actual mixing of colors on the fabric?
Name a color?  What colors were used to make this color?
China has a long history of batik production dating back to the sixth century.
Today you can still find batik being done by the ethnic people in Guizhou Province, in the South-West of China. Teacher directs student’s attention to the map of China.   
Teacher walks around showing the Batik cloth.  Look closely at this beautiful piece of art.
Can you see how it is made? 

Of the elements of art listed in the room, which do you think are the most important to the Batik artist?
Batik is both an art and a craft, which is becoming more popular and well known in the west as a wonderfully creative medium. The art of decorating cloth in this way, using wax and dye, has been practiced for centuries. In Java, Indonesia, batik is part of an ancient tradition, and some of the finest batik cloth in the world is still made there.

The word batik originates from the Javanese tik and means to dot.
To make a batik, selected areas of the cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax over them, and the cloth is then dyed. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and remain the original color. This process of waxing and dyeing can be repeated to create more elaborate and colorful designs. After the final dyeing the wax is removed and the cloth is ready for wearing or showing.
Evidence of early examples of batik has been found in the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia and India from over 2000 years ago. It is conceivable that these areas developed independently, without the influence from trade or cultural exchanges. However, it is more likely that the craft spread from Asia to the Middle East through the caravan route. Batik was practiced in China as early as the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618). These were silk batiks and these have also been discovered in Nara, Japan in the form of screens and ascribed to the Nara period (AD 710-794). It is probable that these were made by Chinese artists. They are decorated with trees, animals, flute players, hunting scenes and stylized mountains.

Teacher shows her “Silk Fish Pond”.  We will be creating Batik fish design into something I call silk fish ponds.  You may use any of the tropical fish reference I have here for your design.  Or you may design your own fish! Teacher shows students her sketch.  The important thing to remember as you draw is that all areas of the image that require the use of different colors be “contained” (one continuous shape).  The dye will spread on the silk to the edge of the resist so you can not have any areas left open to another color. Teacher shows students a “contained” drawing and one that is not contained.

Activity- What the students will do. (Class One)
1.  Students listen to and participate in Motivation.  They view examples of fish in Asian art and Batik in particular. Using reference materials, students sketch an underwater scene. Emphasis should be on the fish, with surroundings to include any of the following: sand, seaweed, shells, corals, and a "current" (wavy lines behind the fish to suggest sunrays or change of color in the water).  Make sure the design fits within a 9” circle.  Students will use this as a template for their silk painting.
2. Trace over lines of the drawing with dark pencil or marker so that they can see through the silk.
3. Check that all areas of the image that require the use of different colors are “contained” (one continuous shape).  The dye will spread on the silk to the edge of the resist so you can not have any areas left open to another color.

Activity- What the students will do. (Class Two)
4.  Place the silk hoop over the drawing and use the bottles of resist to trace the underwater scene on to the silk. Be sure that the resist goes through the silk to the back and that all lines are connected, so that the silk dyes will not bleed into adjacent areas. Move as you would with a marker- steady and smooth.  Do not stay in one place too long.

5.  When you are finished, check that the resist has gone through the silk to the back in all areas, and that all points of connection are closed. (To prevent dye leakage.)  Allow the resist to dry completely before painting. It takes at least 30 minutes to dry.

Activity- What the students will do. (Class Three)
Painting the silk:
 First dampen your brush with water.  When applying dye to silk brush it on within about ½” of the edge of the resist.  It will bleed out the rest of the way.  Different effects can be created using several techniques:
--- The students can paint each area within the resist a solid color.
---- Students must mix a Tertiary color from the Secondary colors some where within the painting.
                                   (ie- red & violet= red-violet)
--- They can combine colors in an area to achieve a watercolor effect.
--- Lights and darks are created based on the amount of dye placed on the silk.
--- Art salts can be added to an area while it is still wet to create starburst effects.
--- When painting a wet line or shapes over a dry area, a dark edge of color is created where the
          dye stops.
--- Salt may be added to the water or sand to create a mottled effect. Paint a small area and
          immediately add the salt to that area. (The dyes dry quickly and salt will not work on dry
          areas).  Allow piece to dry for 24 hours.
    --  Colors dry lighter
    --  Multiple coats of dye will produce more vibrant or darker colors
    --  Colors can be mixed on the fabric for interesting blending but the results are unpredictable - test on scrap fabric for color and technique. Wet on wet will fully blend; wet onto dry will blend less and will leave a water-line or stain at the intersection.

Silk stretched hoops and measured sections of silk fabric with cardboard frames, silk dyes (Jacquard), brushes, resist, resist applicator bottles,
straight pins (we put them in the tips of the resist bottles to keep them from drying out),
art salt , white drawing paper, pencils
Vocabulary- Batik, resist, contained areas, line, shape, color, Koi
Art History Reference- Silk Batik from Sui Dynasty, China, the Nara Period, Japan and Contemporary Batik.
Exemplars- One sketch and one finished Silk Batik by teacher.
What does the word Batik mean?  (From the Javanese “tik” meaning to dot.
What is the method used which enable the batik process to work?  (Resist)
Which elements of art are most important to the designing of Batik?  (Line, Shape, and Color)
NAEA STANDARDS- 1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment/Evaluation- This lesson is successful if students:
1.     Create a tropical fish design,
2.      They have made sure to “contain” all shapes within the design
3.     They have experimented with at least two of the listed techniques.
4.     Have made a Tertiary color from the colors supplied

Examples of student work

It helps to lift the silk hoop up and away from the surface of the paper.
I had students lay their hoops on top of thin rulers, one on each side, over their drawings.
They could still easily see through without saturating the surface below.

For display I cut circles slightly smaller than the hoops out of black foam core.
I was then able to wedge the hoops inside and they stayed secure without glue or tape.

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