Monday, March 4, 2013

Painting With a Cone

This past weekend I went to ConNooga, which is a "multi-fandom" convention for gamers, trekkers, Star Wars fans, steampunk, anime, etc.  I did henna while I was there and I was very pleased to discover that all the art I've been doing has really increased my confidence with henna, and I had the chance to do some really nice designs.  I thought I'd share a few.  

A brief explanation of what mehndi, the art of henna, is.  It is an ancient, mainly women's art, done traditionally in the middle east, India and Africa.  The henna plant (Lawsonia inermis) is dried, ground to a very fine powder, sifted so that it is still more fine, made into a paste with an acidic something (I use lemon juice), then applied in various methods.  I, and a lot of henna artists, roll a cone out of mylar/cellophane, pipe the henna into the cone, and apply it in delicate, fine lines.   When the paste dries, it flakes off, leaving the design stained into the skin.  They last for several weeks.
About a month or so ago I had the idea to mix oil paint with Liquin impasto medium to thicken it, and then put it in a henna cone and pipe it onto a prepainted canvas.  Here is the result of my first go at this:

I played with a few more today.  The one below is prepainted with a typical brush technique and then the impasto "henna" piped onto it, the same as the one above that I did last week.  On the last one I used impasto medium in the base coat as well, giving the canvas a texture.  I think I like the smoothly painted style better.

These are little 3 x 3 mini canvases, and basically experiments, although I kind of like the way they turned out.  It occurs to me that this might work better with a still thicker medium, and acrylic paint rather than oils (plus, I won't worry quite as much if I get paint on my hands while doing it).  Since that would involve an investment in yet another set of paints, I probably won't try it in acrylic for a while.  I also need to see if the paint can be kept if I put the cone in a plastic baggie and freeze it.... that way I could do a cone-palette that I keep in the freezer rather than having to fill cones with all the colors - and color blends, can't wait to try that! - that I want to use.