This month I was privileged to visit Vietnam and Cambodia with my church. A small team of artists are working on a book of photos, designs, and inspiring stories from people in those countries. It’s shaping up to be quite the body of work, but I’ll write more about that as it develops.
It was my first time in Southeast Asia, and I would highly recommend visiting if you have the chance. Of course things were much more busy, dirty, and chaotic than my western mind could handle. But once you dig in, you find a vast and storied history with a vibrant culture and high hopes for the future.
What instantly struck me was the life and history that saturated every square inch of the cities. Hanoi recently celebrated their 1000th birthday (for comparison my own city, Portland, has existed for 1/7th as many years) and it really shows. Every square inch of stone and concrete shows bears witness to the countless lives lived out there.
It became my mission to catalog as much of this texture as possible, to share with you for use in your designs. What you’ll find here are few of my favorites, and I hope you find them inspiring useful.
As a designer, if you find beauty in the grunge and imperfections of life, I can imagine no better source for that than Vietnam and Cambodia.
Here’s a preview my favorite textures from this collection:
Download full resolution textures.
Magical backgrounds are created before the painting is conceived!
Colorful spring flowers were today’s topic, but enthusiasm got sidetracked. I’m really excited about “underpaintings” or “pre-paintings.” Not equal to real flowers, but colorful, organic, and beautiful like flowers. And a satisfying triumph for those of us who are intimidated by blank white surfaces or the “how shall I paint the background” dilemma.
Underpaintings work for watercolors, acrylics, and probably can be adapted for oils and other media. Exciting underpainting techniques I’ve tried thus far include: tissue pours, wax paper and plastic wrap pours, batik, charcoal powder washes, and mono-prints. And I hear that my favorite painting instructor, Susan Cowan, has more up her sleeves. I will convey any you are interested in.
Pre-paintings, or underpaintings, can set the mood for imagery to come, or can become finished abstract paintings themselves. And since the painting may not yet be in mind, pre-painting is pure play with colors!
Laying down crushed dress-pattern tissue over a wet paint pour, to be removed when nearly dry.
“Mozambique” background was a facial tissue pour.
“Michael & Loki” I think I pulled the tissue when the paint was a bit wet.
Six Steps to do “a tissue paper pour” pre-painting:
- Gather a few sheet of facial tissue — use 1-ply (or take 2-ply and hand separate it to 1-ply). Old dress-pattern tissue can be used, or gift tissue, feel free to be creative.
- Tear each tissue sheet into a few irregular shaped pieces and crinkle them.
- Mix up three to five of your favorite colors of paint (acrylics, watercolors, or maybe oils) in little paper cups or smallcontainers — thin them to the consistency of cream.
- Pour the colors here and there onto your paper or canvas.
- Lay the crinkled tissue, strewn here and there over the poured paint colors. Then allow it to ALMOST dry. This takes some time… Less patient people use a hairdryer, but I prefer sun if I can find any here in the Pacific NW. Peek under a tissue corner to see if it is still wet. The paint should be dry enough to hold it’s shape, but very slightly damp in order to pull the tissue off — if it is too dry the tissue will not come off (which adds interesting texture, but not what we’re going after here).
- When the paint is nearly dry, gently pull off the tissue, to discover amazing crinkle patterns and colors!
Rock of Cashel in Ireland — thanks to Lismacue
Visualize trees, grass, ferns, and new Spring growth. Verdant nature is topmost in the imagery for the color green. Green connotations are fresh and soothing, like: renewal, regeneration, and relaxation. “Green” is also a buzzword for protecting our environment, standing out for nature conservancy and ecological preservation. More meanings and symbolism for green are found at About2.com and Squidoo.com.
Vast green hillsides of Ireland — the Emerald Isle — and shamrocks acclaim St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. Ireland’s patron saint reputedly used the three-leafed shamrock as an illustration of the holy Trinity. Early observations of the day included good works performed to honor St. Patrick. The celebration spread throughout the world, ranging from the Catholic feast day to activities honoring Irish culture, as well as high-spirited shenanigans. Many St. Patrick’s Day activities worldwide are listed on wikipedia. In the US, parades became a feature of the day. In Chicago, 40 gallons of green vegetable dye change the color of the Chicago River for a few hours, an annual tradition since 1961. Savannah, GA, dyes its water fountains green. In New London, Wisconsin, leprechauns change the town’s name to New Dublin the week of St. Patrick’s Day.
I have a goodly chunk of Irish ancestry and our baby daughter arrived with an Irish complexion and fine red hair that goes well with it’s complement on the color wheel: Green.
Here’s something we’d like to see in our community! Greet Springtime with hope and joy and a frolic with colors for young and for old.
The festival of Colors is a celebration of Spring and the triumph of good over evil, by people in India and other countries with large Hindu populations, as well as other religions. Inhibitions are dropped as people playfully chase each other, splashing paint, tossing colorful powder and spraying colored water on one another. We found these fun photos at Boston.com.
The celebration begins with bonfires honoring the victory of good over evil, on the eve of the full moon falling in late February or March. Next day, the Festival of Colors — or “playing holi” — begins with merry-making that can continue for three to sixteen days depending on the region. In 2010, the burning of the bonfires is on Sunday February 28 and playing Holi begins Monday March 1