Monday, August 29, 2016

"Did you get the Joy Spark?!"

The Joy Spark

One of my favorite people and closest friends in Tokyo – also an artist – often talks of the “Joy Spark”.  Whenever I finish a painting, she asks me, “Did you get the Joy Spark?”  If my answer is anything but “YES!” – she says “You are not done.”

She is right. 

The concept of Joy affiliated with an experience is also used in a book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  The Author basically suggests that if something doesn't bring you "Joy", it doesn't belong in your home, closet, etc.

In fact, I could apply that philosophy to everything I do – not just the creation of art. But! That is a topic for another blog!

I haven’t blogged since May – all summer.  And all summer, I wanted to because I was having such great experiences, but I just didn’t have the time.  So – here we are – finally…  It is the end of August and I have a few minutes to highlight one of my experiences this summer that led to a consistent array of “Joy Sparks”.

Being back in New Jersey for these past months allowed me the opportunity to take some one-on-one workshops in Acrylic.  Acrylic is a new medium for me.  (The bulk of my experience is in Pastels, Oil and Nihonga painting, which is a water-based medium).  I always wanted to learn how to use Acrylics – another water-based medium – but it is hard to find English-speaking classes in Tokyo.  So, I swallowed the hefty price and went to 4 private sessions with Roy Kinzer at Hudson Acrylics.  It was a whole new world for me!

There is so much one can do with Acrylics.  Aside from the benefit of the faster drying time – there are so many possibilities with all the different types of Acrylic grounds!  The most wonderful thing about it all is that it dries quickly – AND I can paint on TOP of it – Pastels, Oils and Nihonga!  SO COOL!!!  The other wonderful thing: I can apply the metal leaf to it all as well!  The combinations are endless!  While there are many brands of Acyrlics (i.e. Liquitex and Holbein); but the Hudson Acrylic School teaches mainly with Golden. So, those the products I learned to use and will probably keep using until I feel comfortable to experiment.  (For those of you who are artists, Golden also has a wonderful customer service department – where you can ask just about any technical questions you wish!)

There are things such as – Fiber Paste, Acyrlic Grounds for Pastel, Pumice Stone, Glass Bead Gel, Self-Leveling Gel, Molding Paste, Glazing….  And then there are all the colors!

My favorite grounds were the Fiber Paste (as I can experiment with applying the Nihonga and Pastel on top), the Acrylic Grounds for pastels (this is literally the name Golden calls it), the Glass Bead Gel and the Self-Leveling Gels.

I did a lot of experimenting in my studio before, during and after my classes.  The textures achieved are amazing! And I can’t wait to apply Oil over them!  Here are a few examples….

You can add color to any of these grounds, including molding
paste and pumice stone - and you get an effect!
Micaceous Iron Oxide on Canvas
with Acrylic and Golden Mica Powder
Can you see the beginnings of the
Bamboo Stalks?

The Micaceous Iron Oxide has a gritty texture - it is already Black in color.  It can take Oil, Water-based paints and/or pastels.  Although I am not sure if the Japanese Brushes can be used on the textured surface as the hairs are immensely delicate.

I was playing around with the Glass Bead Gel and
applying it with a knife on Canvas.  This is a complete

The other important point I have learned is to experiment.  Buy small canvasses and try different things - different combinations and see what works together and what brings me the "Joy Spark".  I love working with metal leaf and using its luminosity as a background for paintings.

This is a board with variegated red gold leaf, a self-leveling gel
and a copper and gold Mica Powder sprinkled on top. I had a
happy accident when sprinkling the mica powder - it brushed
into the gel. I loved the effect so much, I incorporated it into
the composition.  I am still going to paint something on top of this!

Here is Fiber Paste sprinkled with White Mica Powder
on a board which I painted a silvery blue.  The fiber paste
allows for Oil or a water-based medium on top.

My next step in this process is to figure out WHAT I will paint on top of these "foundations".  I will have to go through my photographs from my latest artistic adventures to see what lends to the "Joy Spark" as I think of the composition.  It's been a lot of fun applying the various grounds to different surfaces.  I am looking forward to the finished products!

Until Next Time!

Peace. ART. Soul.
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R. Shah Studio

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