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Botanical studies and marbled paper.

For some time, I have been attracted to botanical studies framed in marbleized mats. Marbled papers were once used for end papers in books that illustrated botanicals. Eventually, these studies were brought out of books and used as artworks. The marbled end papers were transformed into a decorative framing device that continued to complement this style of artwork.

In the spring when tree blossoms are everywhere and many homegrown garden flowers arc available, my Design and Illustration classes concentrate on drawing flowers from observation. With dogwood blossoms, pansies, bleeding hearts, etc., the students practice several warm-up pencil sketches on newsprint. Then, they draw a lifesize or larger pencil drawing of one or two flowers on watercolor paper. Wetting only the area to be painted, the students use watercolor paints to color the flower in a realistic manner. After the studies were complete, the students diluted acrylic paints with water coordinating the paint colors to the colors of their studies. I demonstrated how to tap a broom corn whisk filled with watered down acrylic paint onto a tray containing prepared carragheenin.

Then, I showed the students how to create a stone-patterned, marbled paper by holding the whisk with one hand and tapping it on top of the index finger of their other hand. To pick up the marbled pattern, a paper is held in diagonally opposite corners and then gently placed on top of the carragheenin size so that the middle of the paper touches the solution first.

I demonstrated how to rake the splattered colors to create a get-gel pattern and how to rake and comb the floating colors to create a nonpareil pattern. The students custom marbled a sheet paper with the pattern of their choice. Then, they measured and cut out a mat to fit their artwork.

The simplicity of the botanical illustrations on the white background was enhanced by the decorative hand-marbled border. This is a unique way to combine art and craft techniques, each one complementing the other.
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Title Annotation:includes related article on marbling
Author:Levine, Barbara
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1995
Previous Article:The Electronic Gallery.
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