Friday, April 23, 2010

Painted Flower Box

I have a solid pine flower box that I bought a few years ago. It is made to hang over a balcony. My plan was to carve geometric patterns into the front. After one attempt I realized that the wood was not suitable and put the project aside.

Recently I stumbled upon a box of thick acrylic paints from my art classes at university. Since those days, I discovered liquid acrylics and never got back to the old medium. Suddenly, I had a brainwave: paint my pine flower box, using these relegated acrylic paints.

First, I sandpapered away my efforts at carving and filled the dents made by the screws with plastic wood putty. The next day the sandpaper was used to soften the sharp edges and rough spots and smooth out the dried putty. The box was wiped clean with a moist cloth and an hour later I applied my first coat of crimson paint to the front, back and sides only. Both sides of the bottom and the inside of the back were left unpainted.

After the paint was perfectly dry, I went to the next step: add some marble texture. Lightly and quickly, I covered the front of the box with a layer of Red Oxide acrylic paint and sprayed some rubbing alcohol over it to keep it moist. Then I scrunched up a rag and pressed it onto the paint, pulling it away after 5 seconds. This removed some of the Red Oxide and left a pattern. I repeated this process all over the painted part of the box.

Once this was dry, I proceeded to the third layer, using the color Portrait Tone and just a few brushstrokes of paint with another spraying of rubbing alcohol. I took the same crumpled rag and made swirls by twisting my wrist back and forth as I moved over the surface.

The next day I made a stencil for half the width of the box, turning it over to do the other half for a mirror effect. The design was created to imitate fretwork. After this was dry, I used the same green (Christmas green, from the $ store) mixed with a drop of black to create shadows around the patterns for a `trompe lòeil`effect. A tiny line of white on the edges of the green and of black between the fretwork pattern and the background, added more depth.

Finally, I used the Portrait Tone paint to cover all the unpainted surfaces. I was having so much fun with this project that I added a butterfly to the top of the bracket. The finishing touch was 2 coats of clear exterior satin varnish.

My flower box is ready for some pansies.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, Canada!

My last 6 weeks in India were so wonderfully quiet and fulfilling that I did not think of reaching out to write a post. Especially the last 3 weeks, when the temperatures rose to 35 degrees C., my life had a pleasant routine: wake at 5, drink tea as the sun rises, walk around the gardens till breakfast and then organize the workers for planting and maintenance projects. After lunch and at 5 p.m. I gave English classes to the Indian staff. Evenings were spent together singing, watching a movie or playing UNO, my favorite card game. The jackfruit were ripening...what a joy to experience. Now the mango, papaya and banana trees are bearing their fruit as well. India, I miss you!

Now I am back since one is quite an adjustment. So much space, so few people, so many clothes to wear! I'm shocked at how much "stuff" I have. Slowly everything will get a new home or go the way of all material things. I began with a huge fire on Easter Monday, where I burnt 30 years worth of personal diaries. Who cares anyway? Life is happening now.

I was tempted to go back to horse-back riding when I saw all my equipment stored away in the barn. Then I thought about it: 1 hour of riding lessons costs as much as one friend in India earns per month, in 200 hours of work building walls or painting window frames. No, I am beginning a new life of simplicity, needlessness and sharing.

This picture shows one of my favorite spring-time sights: a flock of Canada Geese taking off from a cornfield early in the morning. The sound and sight of them reaches back to my first days of life on this planet. The sun is rising over the Ottawa river beside my house. Thank you Nature, for this experience!