Monday 12 November 2018

Trois Tableaux de Forêt - by Claudia

Servus and welcome back to an "other Monday" over here on the Calico Craft Parts Blog, which means it is my time again to inspire you with a project done with quite a lot - but compared to the wide Calico range only a few - Craft Parts this time ;)

You all know about my love for the forest and autumn always is the time I love the forest most - it's as if an artist has covered a damp and soft canvas with all of his favourite tones and textures, the leaves explode in one final burst of colour before they begin to rot and fade away and all the little insects try to catch some warmth from the last shafts of sunlight before they start searching for a good place to hide and spend the winter in ... and you can almost smell it coming - but not yet.

I love old Flora and Fauna tableaux and illustrations and I wanted to create something that was a mix of that and my beloved dioramas...I hope I have succeeded!

They're all different sizes, depending on composition and on how large I wanted the mushrooms to appear. (for a larger view simply click on the images)

Calico Craft Parts used:

- Square Shape Greyboard Mixed Media Boards - Style 27 (different sizes)
- Common Toad - MDF Wood Shape
- Spotted Toadstools - Fungi MDF Wood Shape 14
- Fungi MDF Wood Shape - Style 11
- Fungi MDF Wood Shape - Style 10
- Maidenhair Fern MDF Wood Shape - Style 2
- Wild Grass MDF Wood Shape - Style 2
- Wild Grass MDF Wood Shape - Style 5
- Sheet of Mini MDF Label Holders Wood Shapes
- Sheet of Mini MDF Wood Butterflies - Style 6
- Sheet of Mini Insects - MDF Wood Shapes Style 3
- Sheet of Mini MDF Bees & Beehives

I had already prepared the panels in an extra session some days before. The greyboard squares were covered with a thorough coat of DecoArt Burnt Umber Student's Acrylic paint and once that had dried I quite randomly and loosely applied DecoArt media clear Crackle Glaze with a palette knife (and made sure some spots remained uncovered).
I left the Crackle Glaze to set over night and then went in with DecoArt media Antiquing Creams Titanium White, Patina Green and a mix of Raw Umber and Carbon Black as well. I added, wiped back, added more, wiped back...until I was content with the look. Then I sealed everything with a matte acrylic spray sealant.

To paint all my insects, mushrooms and plants, I browsed some books with illustrations and photographs to find my colour palette. Then I fetched all the according DecoArt media fluid acrylic paints (plus the large Titanium White Americana acrylic paint bottle) and created my palette, so I was ready to mix and paint away on my Craft Parts (which I had dry brushed in the first session with the left overs from the Burnt Umber acrylic paint I had used on the panels as a base layer).

DecoArt media fluid acrylic paints used:
Carbon Black, Prussian Blue Hue, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Transparent Red Iron Oxide, Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide, Yellow Oxide, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Sap Green, Green Gold, Diarylide Yellow and Titan Buff

As you can see on my palette, I used the pure paints as well as mixes of them to paint my mushrooms (and all the other pieces)...mostly I started with Titan Buff or a mix of Titanium White with a shade of brown and/or green for the base layer and then went in with additional tones while the paint was still wet.

I also mixed tones on my palette but always blended these colour tones with the ones already added directly on the pieces while the paints were still wet (which works best if you only paint a very small area at a time as the paints dry really fast) - so I got subtle shading effects and transitions. The final touches were always the highlights and the darkest shades (done in Titanium White or Titan Buff and Carbon Black or a mix of that with brown) - also done wet on wet. If I found I had added too much black I went back in with more Titan Buff or more of the adjacent tone to reduce the darkened areas. You can go back and forth this way until you are content with the look.

I wanted my three mushrooms to each have a different tone - a blue-greenish one, a brown-orange one and a yellow-green-orange one that fused all three. I think the palette shows best which mixes I used and which were the most turned to tones during the process. Most parts were also blended together by adding thin washes (the same wash for all the pieces on the same panel).

I spent a lot of time and effort on detail and shading on the mushrooms and insects, while I painted the plants quite loosely, so they would not distract the viewer's eye from the true stars on my panels (though I have to admit that Maidenhairs Fern is a star too).

Once all my pieces had been painted, I found that my background panels needed some tweaking with DecoArt premium Green Gold and media Sap Green paint to visually "ground" the painted Craft Shapes. So I scraped these on with the very tip of a thin palette knife.

I used a dark green archival stamping ink and blending foam to darken the edges of the panels.

I also wanted my tableaux to have beautiful vintage labels on them, so I hand wrote three Latin names on a left over white paper scrap with a China ink pen (with a very fine tip as I chose the thinnest label size). Once that was dry, I added a wash with Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide on top to create the look of yellowed paper. I heat dried that and then glued the labels on top with matte DecoArt Decou-Page.

I also used the Decou-Page to glue all the pieces in place.

I added a generous amount of DecoArt Triple Thick to the panels...

...and DecoArt media Liquid Glass to the ant, the bee's eye and to the caterpillar's head.

(I loooove the texture on that bee - you just have to dry brush the wings
with a bit of Titan Buff and add a wash of Yellow Oxide and they look perfect!)

I also drew a thin outline with my ultra fine tip PITT artist pen around the panels' edges to repeat the label frames' shape.

This is how my palette looked once my panels were all done. I am always amazed by how far you get with just a little paint from the media fluid acrylic line!

Some close ups as usual:

I hope you like my panels as much as I love them! It's always a great feeling to find your projects have come out the way you had planned them (or even better ;).

Thanks for stopping by and as always
hugs and happy crafting!



  1. Such beautiful paintwork on these - just like the botanical illustrations you see in books, and with fabulous earthy, grungy backgrounds into the bargain. Brilliantly done.
    Alison x

    1. Thank you so much, Alison! You've made my day! Hugs! Claudia xx

  2. Once again, Claudia, you have brought the Calico Craft Parts alive! These really evoke perfectly walks in the Autumn woods looking for fungi - and what a bonus when we come upon a toad among the roots and grasses. I adore all the textures on these panels too! Lovely work! xx

    1. Your lovely comment put a big smile on my face, Julie! Thank you so much! Mwah! xxx

  3. Your painting skills are stunning Claudia! Everything looks just like a botanical illustration as you intended and look fabulous! And the wonderful colours look superb on the very different backgrounds. A wonderful project x

    1. Many thanks, Jennie! (I think it would be a shame if I didn't know how to paint as an arts teacher ;)
      But your lovely laud definitely makes me very happy! ;) Hugs! xxx

  4. Deine Bemalung zeigt deine große Naturverbundenheit und den geschulten Blick für's Detail, einfach einmalig fantastisch!! LG Kerstin xxx

    1. Ach, wie lieb von dir, Kerstin! Vielen, herzlichen Dank! Das von einer Naturliebhaberin wie dir zu hören, bedeutet mir sehr viel! Bussis,
      Claudia xxx

  5. The way you shaded the mushrooms is wonderful: they are both alive and like coming from an old encyclopedia... I love your panels!

  6. Oh my... how marvellous, each element is a Masterpiece in it's own right. Your artistry skills are superb Claudia and it only makes me want to walk within that Forest even more. Truly magnificent.
    Creative wishes Tracey x

  7. :))) Thank you very much, Tracey! Creative wishes to you too! Claudia xx

  8. What a fabulous project, discovered by luck, Claudia!!!!!
    The scene is wonderful, your paintings, crackle and details full of life and love, I'm amazed.
    Thank you for being you! xxx

    1. Aw! Thank you so much, Coco! That really means a lot coming from you! Hugs! Claudia xxx

  9. Brilliant Claudia!! These are so lifelike and truly magical! xoxo