Through out the month of February, Gwen Lafleur Studios and the Artist Tribe are celebrating Chinese New Year. I’m especially excited about this theme because 2018 is the Year of the Dog. And I’m definitely a dog person.
To spice things up a bit, I'm presenting this project to you as if I were staging a play. I turned to a thrift shop found book titled Chinese Mythology by Anthony Christie, (Hamlin, 1968) for some inspiration. It included a story about a dog who married a Princess. I began speculating about the rocky start to the dog and his father-in-law's relationship and what their public persona might be at their Chinese New Year's Celebration.
Then I conducted auditions. For the role of the Dog, my own two dogs, (Tobiwan Kenobi, an eight year old Boston Terrier and Penny Lane, a seven year old rescue) both became strong contenders. It was a tough call to make but in the end I gave Tobi the role of the Dog and cast Penny as his understudy.
I cast General Huang Zhong, an Exotic Orient Ceramic Peking Opera Mask a from Gwen’s Web shop as the Emperor.
I wanted the play to have an old world feel so I needed to prep my stars for their roles. I began with General Zhong. I coated him with a thick layer of acrylic glaze to dissolve the bright paint and was rewarded with a warm base to work with underneath. With just a little bit of sanding, some acrylic paint, and acrylic glazes the General faded away and the Emperor was born, (well at least his head was). I used an embossing pen to ink his crown and then embossed it with Emerald Creek’s Enhanced Gold Pearl Embossing Powder. Embossing the crown gave it a beautifully smooth sheen and glow.
Next it was time for Tobi’s and Penny’s transformation. I made black and white photo copies of their head shots onto everyday photocopy paper; glued the copies onto card stock; and then cut them out. Then I altered the photos with acrylic paints, glazes and colored pencils to ready both of them for their roles.
Next up was wardrobe and props. I made a sketch of the General's robe then reduced and copied it for use as the Dog's robe. I adhered both templates to card stock with a glue stick, cut them out, and then made another copy of each to use as patterns for the robes. I kept the originals to use as a base to glue everything on.
I rummaged through the papers in my stash from Gwen's Shop to find material to make the robes from. (I'll put a link to all of Gwen's Japanese papers at the end of this post)
I cut pieces from the papers and adhered them to the base with my glue stick. The pic below shows an early version of Tobi’s robe. Later I finished it with stenciling, acrylic glazes and colored pencils.
And here is a shot of Penny at dress rehearsal looking rather pitiful. Despite her best efforts, nothing untoward happened to prevent Tobi from performing his role. She spent most of her time grumbling back stage.
A stave from a broken vintage fan that I found at Brimfield made the perfect sword. I glued a small popsicle stick to the back of the sword to stabilize it. Then I stenciled it with bright red paint through a section of Gwen’s Art Deco Bookplates
I turned a gold coin from Gwen’s Exotic Orient Mixed Media Packs into the Dog’s shield. Painted red with dry brushed gold highlights and fitted with a tiny piece of gold trim, Tobi’s ready for any upcoming battle. I also stenciled his apron with Gwen' s Decorative Folk Flower Screen Stencil.
Time to make the scenery. I started by collaging some vintage pages from an old Korean book onto a 9”X12” hardboard panel with matte medium. I used a palette knife to scrape on bits of gesso and then lightly colored the panel with a spray of ink thinned with rubbing alcohol. Since I had some Exotic Orient Washi Tape in my stash, (links at the end of the post) I thought, "Why not?" so on it went. (Although most of it got covered up in the end it added texture.)
I added few rows of stenciling with gesso through Gwen’s Decorative Folk Flower Screen. I added Asian inspired marks using a stamp that I've had in my stash for ages, (sorry but I don’t know the source). And then I had fun making drips and splatters with watered down teal acrylic paint.
By this time I had realized that I needed lanterns for the Chinese New Year celebration. I stenciled mine onto canvas and then cut them out. Two stencils were used to create the look: Michelle Wards's Marrakech Mix Stencil and Gwen’s Art Deco Bookplates.
I mixed yellow and red paint in varying proportions with acrylic glazing liquid to create a "glow” and then did some shading in Bone Black. After cutting them out, I glued them onto the panel with Soft Gel Medium.
There were some last minute changes after dress rehearsal. I fashioned two "Imperial Collars" out of Calligraphy on Gold Japanese Chiyogami paper, (This paper is sold in both the Sample packs and individual sheets). I embossed them with Emerald Creek's new Seth Apter Rocky Road Baked Texture Embossing Powder. The pic below shows the start of the collars. Afterwards I glazed them with red paint mixed with glazing liquid and dry brushed them with gold acrylic paint. Lastly, I added the pattern that I had lost back in with Gwen’s Decorative Medallion Stencil.
To complete the scene I added many more layers of glazes to "redden" the background in the spirit of Chinese New Year. I also stenciled in an oriental carpet with Gwen's Ornamental Floral Screen Stencil.
Now it's opening night and the audience, (you my reader) all have been ushered to your seats. The curtain opens with the Emperor and the Dog arriving at their Chinese New Year Celebration honoring the Year of the Dog… What happens next is up to you....
Here are a few closeup shots of some of the details:
And now its curtain time and my stars can take a final bow!
Can you tell I had fun with this one? But really, Gwen’s web shop is treasure trove of unique pieces to set your imagination soaring. Many items like the Ceramic Peking Opera Mask can be altered to fit your story line. Be sure to head on over where you will find lots of inspiration and a sale. Everything in the Exotic Orient Category is 15% off through the end of February. Be sure to use the coupon code ExoticOrient15 at checkout to take advantage of the sale. See the entire Exotic Orient Collection here.
I’ll be back with another project for the Artist tribe before the month is over. Until then, Wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year! How will you be honoring your dog?
Products that I used from Gwen's web shop:
Gwen's Stencil Designs
Gwen has several option for Japanese Papers; some are sold in packs and some are available for purchase by the sheet or half sheet
I used the Gold & Red on Black Washi tape from the Exotic Orient Calligraphy Collection
Exotic Orient Ceramic Peking Opera Mask (Gwen has smaller masks too)