Monday, May 16, 2016

Exploring Dendritic Painting

My online blogging and mail art friend, Jewels, over at Just Tickety-Boo, introduced me to the idea of dendritic painting.  She sent me a link to a You Tube video by Mike at Atomic Shrimp.  In under four minutes, Mike introduces a painting technique that kept me playing around for hours!

When I decided to give dendritic painting a try, I set up my workshop/play space in the kitchen, rather than my cream-color-carpeted art studio, for perhaps obvious reasons.

I gathered some favorite supplies:

         1.  paintbrushes (in a stylish storage pot)--
          2. a selection of papers (including watercolor, acrylic, Bristol, text,
          tag, and scrapbooking cardstock)--
          3. and a worktop protected by paper grocery bags, a huge supply
          of acrylic tube paints (thanks to my sister, two Christmases ago),
          and--most importantly--two pieces of 8x10 inch glass pilfered from
          some old picture frames in the basement--
Here is the basic process for how dendritic painting works:

Step 1: Squeeze a small amount of acrylic paint in one or several colors onto one piece of glass, and move it around with your paintbrush for roughly even coverage:
Step 2: Place the second piece of glass onto the first piece of glass, and hold down firmly so all parts of the surfaces touch one another. Often, but not always, I could see the interesting patterns start to emerge at this stage.
Step 3: Carefully pull the two pieces of glass apart, not letting them slide across one another; the trick is to be sure that one piece lifts directly off the top of the other.  At first I tried using the Xacto knife and the steel triangle above to help me, but I found it easier just to set the two pieces of glass off center from one another and pull them apart at the corners with my fingers.
Step 4: Take a moment to enjoy the interesting "dendritic" designs that remain on the glass.  Dendrites, as I understand it, are the branches that come out of a nerve cell. Rocks and minerals can also form these tree-like, branching patterns.  They have a wonderful organic, though amazingly precise, appearance that becomes even more evident in the next step.
Step 5: Place your chosen type of paper over the top of the paint-covered glass, and use your fingertips to gently press the paper to the paint.  I watched Mike's video, as well as videos by two different women using his technique, and everyone emphasized applying very little pressure to the paper. I found that my results were better when I was moved my fingers around slowly but firmly in all areas of the paper.  Carefully peel the paper up to see your print.
And because you have a second piece of glass, you can take a second print, which will offer something of a mirror image, with some color variables, for another piece of paper.
I think the results of this painting technique are quite amazing, especially looking close up at the branch-like effects:
In the sample above, I used three different colors, but mixed them pretty thoroughly on the glass.  For this next example, I kept three different colors in separate strips:
 Here were the resulting prints this time:
 Again, look at the amazingly detailed branch patterns:
 Some of my very favorite prints came from combinations of greens on the glass:
Greens are a natural choice for these kinds of patterns:
Don't these look like mountain ranges?
I thought for sure the paints on this glass wouldn't make a good print because they were so thick:
But the print came out very thickly textural, and still quite detailed:
After about two hours of playing around, I had a whole breakfast table full of papers using the dendritic painting technique:
Here are some other papers from the new collection:
 Gold paint on purple scrapbooking cardstock--royal!
 Black ink on French text page--interesting!
 White paint on blue cardstock--frosty!
A set of three different papers--cheerful!:
My kitchen work space survived its first experience with dendritic painting pretty well; it is surprisingly easy to clean up after (though I used a lot more paper towel than my environmentally-concerned self was totally comfortable with).  I think it will be seeing more of the technique in the future, since I had so much fun with it.
I will be using some of my prints to create mail art--at least one piece to send to Jewels!--so stay tuned for the finished results.


daisy said...

These are a-MAZING!! Had not heard of dendritic painting before. Several that you did could be very effectively framed and hung. You made it look easy, fun, and not as messy as one would think.

Jo Murray said...

That's SO cool. Have to try it.

Jewels said...

Holy Moly Andria you really went to town on this with AMAZING results - well done! It's going to be fun seeing how we use in mail art :) J

Christine said...

Oh that looks like so much fun!

Lenna Andrews said...

My friend Jewels sent me here, wow! Great tutorial and amazing results. I will also be trying this and exchanging with her! :)

iHanna said...

Dendritic, it sound rather boring to me, like something you'd have to do at the dentist... Hehe. But wow, such amazing papers you made Andria! Love the organic results!

denthe said...

Never heard of that kind of painting, but the results sure are fascinating! Thanks for sharing the technique!

monicaleeartfulrecrafter said...

This is a great post. You gave me some new ideas to try! Thank for the inspiration.