These themes emerged while I was creating new giftable art for the annual HARK! holiday show and sale at Kaleid Gallery. I started the Theda Bara portrait at the last Two Buck Tuesday, intending it for the gold frame but realized I’d drawn it a little too large. No problem: she looks good and serious in the black frame, and I used the gold frame for a charcoal portrait of Rudolph Valentino. All in all, a little vintage Hollywood “exoticism” (appropriation) with some smoldering looks.

The other two are explorations on black paper as an excuse to use different types of materials. The first is a set of graphite pencils in metallic shades; I used a gold one for a moody monotone moonlit scene to fit in with the textured gold frame.

The second I wanted to match to a frame/mat I’ve had difficulty matching to other pieces mostly because of its reddish tone; so why not make something for it? I found the reference image on Unsplash and tried a few new techniques on this one. I knew I needed to keep the majority of the paper untouched for the right look, and also be able to apply the color in a subtle way. These are oil pastels that I blended with my fingers quite successfully, along with tape “stencils” I created for areas needing more regular shapes (the circles) or clean edges. I also used a paper towel under my hand to keep from accidentally transferring color with the side of my hand. It’s possible to erase a little bit, but not enough to get back to a pure black paper once something’s marked it.