Ocean Series Commission

Image of the completed coral reef with angel fish art work.
“Coral Reef with Angel Fish” approx. 13.5″ x 9″, 140 lb watercolor paper

Note: The art works shown in this post now belong to a private art collection, and are used with the permission of the owners. Thank you!

Last year, when I painted Albert the Otter for our Zoo Fundraiser, I first met my dear photographer friend. She and her husband recently finished remodeling a mid-century home and wanted some art to hang in their beautiful new space. She contacted me to ask me if I would consider creating an ocean inspired series for them. I was delighted to be given the opportunity!

The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.

For the background, I began with a sea mix of our fabulous cool colored ColorSparx powders, sprinkled lightly and randomly over the 12″ x 12″ TCW888 Dendritic stencil, then lightly sprayed it with water using our Spritz bottle on a medium mist.

To create more of an underwater bubble effect, once the water had dried, I sprayed it again with heavier droplets of water to create the mottled, bubbly, underwater effect that you see in the following image. I just have to tell you, I was in love with the background, and it was really hard to cover some of it up!

Image showing the completed bubbly effect water background.
Close up image showing the bubbly water effect as the completed background.

Next, I used a water soluble black stabilo all pencil to sketch the location of the rock beds and corals, as you can see in the prior image. For this artwork, it was my task to build the coral reef literally from the ground up. To create the rock outcrops, I first applied TCW9009 Black Modeling Paste for depth and dimension, and then applied TCW9043 Marcasite Silver Modeling Paste for accents and highlights. Both modeling pastes were applied randomly using our TCW9025 Plastic Palette Knife. I let these dry completely before continuing.

Close up image showing the Black Modeling Paste and Marcasite Silver Modeling Paste creating the rock outcrops of the reef.
Close up image showing the modeling pastes applied to create rock outcrops.

Now that the rock outcrops were dry, it was time to apply the texture. I used a VersaMark stamp pad reinker dauber bottle to apply the embossing liquid over the rocks randomly. I then applied the Don’t Scream Aquamarine chunky embossing powder from Lindy’s stamp gang, which I heat set using my heat gun. I love this embossing powder because it served two purposes, additional texture for the rock outcrops, and as sand on the coral reef floor.

Close up image showing the chunky embossing powder and ink pad, with an image of the completed textural effect.
Chunky embossing powder creates additional texture on the rocks and doubles as sand.

Next came the corals, which I wanted to create as dimensional and interesting as possible. I used our TCW868 Gulf Coast Flora stencil and I put our awesome new stencil butters to work. Their bright colors, metallic sheen, and bubbly when heated properties worked perfectly to give me the three dimensional effect I was going for. For some of the corals, I also pressed glass seed and delica beads into the stencil butter of the corals prior to drying them with my heat gun. The stencil butters acted as a natural glue to hold the beads in place as they were dried. I’ve included a few close up photos so you can get a visual feel for the outcome.

This image is split in half. The top half of the image shows a fuschia coral with multi colored delica beads. The bottom half of the image shows a white sea urchin with AB finish clear glass seed beads.
Top: Fuschia stencil butter with delica beads.
Bottom: White Pearl Modeling paste with seed beads.
A mid range photo showing a large portion of corals created with stencil butters. Some of the corals have bead embellishments, some do not.
Ocean blue, orchid, gamboge, chartreuse, and crimson stencil butters form corals.

Next, came the hand painted angel fish. I used fine liner paint pens from uni-ball signo in black, white, and silver to hand paint the fish. I used the black stabilo all pencil to add the shading to the fish.

Close up image of the hand painted three angel fish swimming together above the corals.
Hand painted angel fish were added using fine liner paint pens and black stabilo all pencil.

To finish, I outlined the corals with the same black pen to make them really pop against the colorful background and surrounding corals. To preserve the art work and give it a wet water look, I used our TCW9025 Plastic Palette Knife and my Gel Press gel plate to apply TCW9006 Gel Medium Gloss. Here’s an angled shot of the completed art work, in the following image.

Mid range shot of the completed coral reef and angel fish art work showing approximately three-quarters of the art work. Photo is taken at an angle.
The completed Coral Reef with Angel Fishes art work.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a series commission of five art works. Unfortunately I’m not able to go into each work in great detail here, but I thought that you might like to see each of the works and read which stencils were used for each.

Completed seahorse artwork created with Colorsparx powders, modeling pastes, micro beads, and acrylic paint pens.
TCW918 Seahorse stencil. Background is TCW924 Lush Petals stencil.
Completed Jellyfish art work created using modeling pastes, Colorsparx powders, and gel mediums.
TCW917 Jellyfish stencil. Background is TCW926 Bubble Rebound stencil.
Completed sea stars art work. Close up images showing the completed sea starts with glass bead embellishments, and embossing powder sand.
TCW867 Gulf Coast Creatures. TCW868 Gulf Coast Flora. TCW496 Sea Creatures.
Background is TCW888 Dendritic stencil.
Completed Lighthouse image created using ColorSparx powders as watercolor paints, and stencil butters for the accent colors.
TCW916 Lighthouse stencil.
Photo montage of all five completed art works together as the finished series.
And here is a photo montage of the art works all together as the finished series.

With teal as a primary color in their new home, I believe these art works will grace their new space well, don’t you? I can’t to see them once they are framed and hung!

If you want to see these photos and a quick video of the background being created, watch my video fly-by on my YouTube channel.

If you’d like to see my other portraits and art works, please hop on over to my social media accounts and my blog.

Michaela Butterworth
The Crafter’s Workshop Design Team Member

PS: I’m really trying to build my following. Will you please hop on over and follow me on my blog and social media accounts?
Thank you so much!
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