Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" (Draft 2)

(image 1)
(image 2)

The quote associated with this piece is Psalm 139: 14. You will see it in the final. Today you are viewing the second draft which has two layers as shown above. Artists who have not had experience in layering are amazed at how many layers can be involved in a piece. And that is why I am posting each layer so that you can see what each layer looks like. So often, an artist will get discouraged when everything doesn't look finished in the first layer. Don't despair. You simply need to keep going.

In the second layer (actually it's the third since I posted the first two layers yesterday.), I decided to add color. It's a burnt sienna color, but you will not find burnt sienna in Speedball Printing Ink unless you special order it. Just squeeze out a 1/2 tsp (app) of orange....add a touch of blue...and then add white a bit at a time until you have the value you want.  Mix it thoroughly on your printing plate with a palette knife before brayering.  Burnt Sienna is simply a "grayed down" orange.

Of course, I printed this color some time ago and had it stored in one of my gallon size baggies.  And that is the best strategy.  Printing the rice papers and designing the piece need to be separate events.  My design decision was to emphasize the horizontal bands in the lower half of the piece and add a bit of it in the top portion to create an echo. One edge of the rice papers has a straight cut and the other side was torn. I also flipped them...with the torn edge up in some places and the straight edge up in others. This creates more interesting edges and shapes throughout the piece.

After I cut and laid them where I wanted...I began to adhere each one to the support. I then lifted up an edge on each one and deconstructed by pulling the print up. This technique left a residue of the paper while revealing some of the previous layer. It creates a very integrated and ethereal look.  I also dipped by "gloved" finger into water and smudged a bit of the color around.  (Even though I sprayed it once,  thicker areas may still lift and so you will see the staining of some of the surrounding areas with that color.  I then dried all of that with a hair dryer and sprayed with Krylon Spray Acrylic Coating and dried it again. (Spray outside)  After all of that, I took a photo and that is what you see in (image 1).

My next move was to bring some more dark values in the bottom portion and add to the complexity by introducing a pattern (created with a commercial texture stamp and stamped into the ink after brayering on the printing plate.) Again I wanted to emphasize and reinforce the horizontal bands in the bottom half of the piece.

You can see that the straight edge and torn edge helped to create an interesting interplay with what was already there. I also added some plain rice paper strips to conceal and tone down some of the middle values created by the text in the first layer. I again dried the piece thoroughly....sprayed with acrylic coating and took a photo. That is what you see in (image 2)

You will notice that I've been very careful not to conceal the dynamic shapes in the upper half of the piece...while creating a very textured and woven look in the bottom half. And that's what you will want to do when designing your piece. Choose carefully the parts that you want to preserve and leave them alone.

This piece will now have all day to dry before adding additional elements. And that is the ideal way to create mixed media. It insures that each phase is "bone dry" before going to the next step. It also gives you a chance to pray about the next step and study the image. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" (Draft 1)

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." (Psalm 139:14...NIV) Today's posting is the first draft which will include this verse in the final. All of this is preparation for a summer exhibit entitled "The Psalms".

After having an Open Studio event this weekend where the class printed on rice papers, it is now time for the next phase. And that involves cropping and combining papers to create a piece. I chose an 8" x 10" gessobord with a 2" depth as my support.

It was my desire to have text pages from the Psalms to be showing through the lighter printed portions of the rice papers, so I adhered those text pages first. (with gel matte medium) After drying the pages thoroughly with a hair dryer...I then sprayed them with spray acrylic coating and dried them again.

The choice of my first layer of rice papers was a decision between static and dynamic lines with the static lines dominating (taking up more of the design space). I further emphasized the static lines by deciding to orient the piece in a horizontal format. But this is not the end of the design work. 

If you choose to not include text pages, it will still be a strong design. That choice is up to you. After these first two layers, I will think about it today and will probably have made my choice of additional papers by this evening or early tomorrow morning. So by showing the process in this fashion, it will give you an idea of how you can work on your piece layer by layer. All decisions do not necessarily need to be made all at once. 

It is a very good strategy to allow the piece and the dynamic of the first layers to speak to you. You could even take a few more days before progressing on...especially if you work full time. What I will be thinking about in my next layer is how to include more rice papers (probably in color or with a pattern or both) and determine the placement of those additional papers by looking at the lines that are already there.

I could also choose to use plain rice papers to cover up any areas I choose to eliminate visually. The very cool thing about this process is that you have the freedom of moving things around and seeing if you like it before committing and gluing them down. 

Now you know why I had you create different types of line work as well as soft and hard edges and all of the ones in between. It is difficult to construct a piece like this if your papers are not printed in advance. It will ruin your flow of creativity if you need to stop and print more papers...although it might be necessary at times. The happy discoveries come by having a good strategy. 

When adhering the rice papers to the support...make sure you lay the rice paper on wax paper and use a palette knife to apply the medium. It will help smooth out the paper as you apply the gel. It will also give you good coverage and remove more of the excess gel than if you use a sponge brush. 

After applying the gel...lift the paper carefully and lay it in place on your support. (You can also adhere your papers to 140 lb. HP and then crop it to fit the support for more options.) After layering the paper on the support...lay a piece of wax paper on top and smooth out with your hands or a clean brayer. Carefully remove the wax paper. Sometimes the rice paper will stick a bit to the wax paper. Going very slowly will prevent this. And if it does happen, don't forget that you can apply more rice papers wherever needed.  Also, if you have a predetermined support, you will need to crop your rice papers to the correct size before adhering.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Two Exemplars"

(image 1)

(image 2)

An exemplar is an example, model, or pattern to refer to when doing something. In this case I have an exemplar showing Spencerian Script miniscules (or lower case letters). The other exemplar is showing some different ways of printing on rice paper to create a pattern, texture, or both.

There was no posting yesterday because I was "knee deep" in setting up for a "mono printing on rice paper event" in my studio. I also taught two of my private students in Spencerian Script this week and that piece (image 1) also shows a technique with rice paper.

In the first strip of image two, I placed about a 1/2 tsp. of Speedball Printing Ink (water soluble) on my glass surface and brayered it out in all directions to app. the size of my print. I then created a "chevron" pattern using (3) different sizes of broad edged shaper tools. You can also use credit cards cut to the width you want.

In the second strip of image two, I used a little less ink and two different sizes of cut up credit cards. You can vary the width of these lines by the angle of the credit card. In the first stripe, I changed the angle as I was going down through the ink to create a tapered line.

In the third strip of image two, I brayered out a fair amount of ink (1/4 -1/2 tsp) and made a diagonal stroke with a very old 4" brush....pressing hard as I move through the ink. In the same ink, (before printing), I made some gestural lines with the corner of a metal palette knife which created the very thin white lines. I then made the print, dried it, and printed with white Speedball Printing Ink and a rubber segment of circles I received in a package. After printing the circle, I dabbed the edges and part of the print with a damp tissue to soften some of the edges.

In the fourth strip of image two, I placed app. 1/2 tsp. of printing ink in the middle of my printing surface and brayered evenly in all directions, approximating the size of the paper to be printed, but I went one step further by brayering outside of that thicker ink on one end to create a gradated effect since there was less ink on my brayer at that point.  A commercial texture stamp was then use in a repeat pattern over all of the ink and you can see the gradated effect quite clearly.

In the fifth strip of image two, I again brayered out some ink and used my index finger to make different size circles. (with thin latex gloves on) I also dipped my finger in water to remove more of the paint...on the largest circle. The corner of a metal palette knife was used to create the thin lines inside the circle. (It is important to press hard with your finger.)

In the first exemplar, I used some very watered down gouache or walnut ink....smooshing it around on the glass printing surface and then laid the rice paper into those very dilute puddles. (If the paper falls apart, you have too much water.)  You could also use the printing ink or transparent watercolors. After that dried and was sprayed with acrylic coating, I adhered it to a 4" x 6" piece of masonite. I then stamped the image with the same stamp you see in strip (3). The surface was again sprayed 2x with spray acrylic coating and prepared for lettering. The lettering was written with WN Venetian Red Gouache.

The first point to remember about mono printing on rice paper is that all rice papers are not created equal. In the examples you see today, I used Shanghai....purchased from Jerry's Artarama.

The second key point is that mono printing is all about the amount of ink placed on the printing surface and also how much paint is removed. Removal of painted with some kind of tool is essential if you want to have some translucency when layering with other images or text.

The third key point  is the need to have very substantial brayers. The rubber brayers with metal (not plastic) are the best. Asel's here in Austin has some and they can also be ordered from Daniel Smith. It also helps to have .... 2".....4"....and 6" sizes.

The fourth key point is the actual making of the print. When laying the paper into the ink, use a clean brayer (preferably one with a clear plastic roller) over the print to make sure it makes good contact with the ink. You can also place a sheet of wax paper over the paper and rub over it with your hands or the back of a smooth wooden spoon that is flatter than most wooden spoons.

Last, but not least, lay the print on wax paper to dry or hang on a clothes line with clips from the office supply or regular clothes pins.   They will dry faster on a line than laying flat. You will also need to spray all prints with Krylon Acrylic Spray Coating (not to be confused with Workable Fixative) before adhering to a clayboard, masonite, or other surface.  (Remember, this ink is water soluble.)

To know what to do with your stash of printed papers, refer to other blog postings showing finished work to see some of the possibilities.  You will soon have your own ideas about how to use them.  (Storing them in gallon size baggies....by color....will also make this whole process easier.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Poetic Verse"

(image 1)

(image 2)

(unavailalbe....6" x 6".....mixed media on gessobord)

"Poetic verse is music in my soul." All of the readable text pages in this piece are from The Soul's Traveller by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I am quite fond of her work and found an old volume in an antique store. Many of those text pages have appeared in my work.

I really wanted to showcase the gestural writing in the red/orange paper, but also wanted to ground it with a dark neutral. My preferred neutral is black. Another reason for choosing black is to create a good integration with the text pages.

I laid my chosen red/orange print on a 6" x 6" gessobord and cut out the three rectangular areas. That is what you see in image one. The reason I didn't just adhere the black print over the red/orange is because of the translucency. Instead, I chose to adhere text in those white rectangles to be seen through the black print.

You will notice that the red/orange touches all sides of the design space so that the gestural writing would be going edge to edge. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of that line. Additional text was then added underneath the black areas and also around some of the outside edges. This further integrated these two areas together.

The design "take away" from combining two disparate parts is to make sure there are some common denominators. In this case, gestural writing or mark making is taking place in both prints and text is under the black print and on top of the red/orange print.

Also notice that two of the rectangles are in the corners...another good place to add a paper. None of the corners are the same and that is always a good thing. In an odd way, I ended up framing the gestural writing that drew me in by placing the black printed areas around the edges. And of course, black and white plus one other color works every time it's tried. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"The Quiet"

(unavailable....6" x 6".....mixed media on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"I feel the quiet in the presence of my books." Invariably, my art and quotes emerge from whatever is going on in my life. And as it happens, I have transformed my upstairs studio in the house to a library. I feel quite pleased and very peaceful surrounded by my books. (All my work is now done in the Buck Hill Studio.)

Today's piece is a compilation of techniques that I have been demonstrating over the past few days. This is a finished piece (6"x 6") using those techniques. 

The text went down first on a black gesso board. I then added papers that including a stamped image over mono printed rice paper. The black and white papers were scraps from the demo posted on Monday. The black and white papers with various lines going from edge to edge set the stage for a horizontal bands type of format.

You can see that rhythm in the piece, but I also broke it up by including papers of both types in the opposite areas...creating a conversation between the two types of papers and also some very interesting shapes.

The ecclesiastical looking stamp works well and established the tone and feel of a "library" piece. The collaged text areas are from a bit of prose by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. My quote emerged from the mood of the piece and the content from "The Wandering Traveler".

So often students will ask how do you know where to place all of those bits of paper. Besides experience and lots of failures...it really, really helps to begin with some type of format (division of space). Just by virtue of the fact that I had decided on horizontal bands really helped to lay papers in a way to emphasize that point. I also paid attention to the lines that were already there and tried to line up additional papers to look like a continuation of the lines already there.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Reveal and Conceal" (Mono Printing Demo)

Today's posting is yet another Mono Printing Demo to show another way of using mono printed rice papers and texture stamps. The rest of the week I will be posting actual pieces (with a quote) using mono printed papers.

Printing techniques of any kind eventually end up with an inclusion of the oldest form of printing....rubber stamps. There are a myriad of different kinds of stamps on the market, but I suggest extreme caution about how they are used and what kinds are included. For fine art pieces, cute little stamps with hearts, flowers, little birds, etc. are not in the same category as fine art. Please save them for your scrap booking projects. 

The kind which will serve you well are the kind with all over texture or patterns. The one I included in today's demo looks like gauze with erratic tiny lines crisscrossing in both directions.

However, the mono printing was done first by placing app. 1/2 tsp of printing ink on the plate (a sheet of glass) and brayering that out in all directions until it sounds "squishy". I then sprayed that ink with  water and brayered over that again to create an erratic "pooling" of the color. Place the rice paper down in this mixture and smooth over it with your hand (wearing latex gloves) Lift it off and leave it on wax paper to dry.

I speeded up my drying time with a hair dryer and then brayered out some more color. I pressed the stamp into the color and began printing. Many areas were printed one on top of the other until the value was as dark as I wanted and yet you can still see a vague image of the mono print. It is also obvious that I left one rectangular area free of the stamping. That gives you an area for text underneath that will be vaguely visible or the inclusion of hand lettering or other elements. 

After drying all of this, I sprayed it 2x with spray acrylic coating and dried in between. One spraying is not enough for this amount of paint. The next step was to adhere a page of text on an 8" x 10" flat gesso board. I then adhered the mono print on top of that and then an ornate "D" printed on silk tissue paper.

The entire piece was dried thoroughly and then sprayed again with spray acrylic coating. Just an FYI....you will get a few bubbles with large areas of mono printed papers after they are adhered. I've created lots of pieces with this paper and this is quite normal. Just let it dry for several days...spray again....and then brush on a varnish 2x....drying in between. It will probably have a few more bubbles until it dries thoroughly. Over time it becomes very hard and I've had no issues. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Over and Under" (Mono Printing Demo)

(image one)

(image two)

This is only a demo piece with an interesting title. In many circles, "over and under" is referring to a shotgun! In this case, I am referring to layering techniques with text pages and mono printed rice papers.

The very first thing I created was the black mono print with a simply line drawing of two apples. This is just an extension from yesterday showing another possibility. If I were creating it for a final piece, I might have taken more care and included a bit more detail, but it does show you what you can do while practicing your drawing at the same time.

This type of printing and layering is quite dependent on the amount of paint used and the amount of paint removed before printing. I had on thin latex gloves, so after drawing the apples, I dipped my finger in water and removed more of the paint. (a kleenex was also used) Other lines were created and more paint removed. It was then dried and sprayed with spray acrylic coating.

A piece this size (8" x 10") really illustrates the fine quality of the print compared to the way it would have looked if printed with acrylics. After cropping the print with the apples, I adhered the text and mono printed red papers as seen in image one. This would be the "under" part of "over and under". It is also good to remember that the rice paper does not become translucent until sprayed with acrylic coating.

After the apple print was adhered over the text and red print, I dried it again and sprayed again. I then printed out some text on silk tissue paper and selected three segments of the red printed papers. By echoing the lines and shapes that were already there, I was able to establish some more shapes and have a very interesting division of space. This was the "over" portion of "over and under".

Knowing the next steps to take in this type of layering is informed by what is already happening in the mono print. Hopefully you can see that the red printed papers were placed where they completed and complemented the shapes in the black print with the apples. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Mono Printed Rice Paper Over Text"

March 23rd Posting Using Todays Techniques

Mono Printing Techniques Over Text

For the next three days, I will be showing examples of mono printed rice papers and the possibilities that can be achieved. Today I am showing you (5) examples of basic ways to mono print and how the method and amount of paint influences transparency. I have also included a previous posting so you can see how some of this is used in a finished piece.

The supplies are minimal for these techniques which makes them appealing and they provide a wonderful entrance into the arena of design. You will first need a printing plate which is the surface you use to brayer out the Speedball Printing Ink. Glass is the hardest and best surface in my opinion. 

The most economical way to make a printing plate is to take regular float glass like you see in framing a picture and tape around the edges with masking tape or duct tape.  (This glass can be purchased in standard sizes from Hobby Lobby.)

You will then need a rubber brayer, printing ink, and rice paper. Not all rice papers are created equal so my suggestion is to use Shanghai which comes in a roll and can be purchased from Jerry's. This paper is extremely thin, but sturdy, and created for printing.

In the first example (number one), I used barely a 1/4 of a teaspoon and brayered the Black Speedball Printing Ink out as thin as possible. Much of the ink was then removed with a section of an old credit card and also a wide palette knife. (Metal Palette knives will do a better job of this.) You can then see how transparent it is judging by the amount of text you see.

In the second example, I placed at least 1/2 tsp. of ink on the plate and brayered that out and then removed parts of the ink with credit cards and palette knives. The corner of the palette knife was used to make thin gestural lines in the paint as well. You can only see text where the paint was removed.

In the third example, I added NO additional paint, but liberally sprayed the remains of the previous printing with water. This gives you very soft and diffused edges with very little text showing.

In the fourth example, I added NO additional paint, but sprayed the previous printing area on the glass with more water. This gives you a lot more transparency and a "dripping" and "watery" look.

In the fifth example, I printed the edge of the remains of the second print...dried it....and stamped with a hand cut stamp. All of the samples were then sprayed with acrylic coating....dried with a hair dryer and adhered over the text.

For those in my mono printing class this coming Saturday, I need for you to study the different edges that you can create and the amount of transparency you desire. It is absolutely necessary to pay close attention to the amount of paint used and the amount of paint removed before printing.

Tomorrow I will demonstrate some other types of paint removal and mark making. For those who wish to take this class, I am offering an additional session on Thursday, May 2. Just e-mail me for the details. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


(Small Study in Kiln Formed Glass....3.50" x 6.50")

There is no quote associated with today's image, but there is lettering. Today's posting is all about texture and how to create it with the characteristics of line using materials involved with kiln formed glass.

Everything I say today about "line" quality also applies to the mono printed rice papers which will begin tomorrow. In this small study (3.50" x 6.50"), the line work began in conjunction with the application of black glass line paint on clear glass (Tekta). 

After applying the paint with a palette knife, I made some gestural marks in the paint when it was almost dry and with corner of a palette knife. By angling the palette knife, I was able to achieve a thicker line removed from the paint. The paint is not easily removed at this stage without it globbing up a bit, but in my mind that simply adds to the texture. 

Black and orange powders were then applied. You can also see that thinner lines and shapes were also scratched out of the paint. Paying attention to the dilution of the glass line paint is important to achieve a contrast of line or mark making in the paint. It's a combination of both types of line that adds interest to the texture. Crystal Clear powder was sprinkled over the whole sheet since glass line paint fires to a dull finish without powders.

I then composed a two layer collage using Chalky Pink (which also looks like a pale lavender depending on the light) as a base for the collage. This particular glass is a special production and may or may not be available in the future.

After firing this two layer collage which was a square shape (app. 6.50" x 6.50") I decided I didn't like it so I cut it with a glass saw on the diagonal to add a more dynamic division of space. I also added some gold purple and lavender fine frit, but it did not show up after firing. It seems that black and orange eat up other colors.

So the last textural element was the lettering done with a pointed pen using tracing black powder and clove oil. (Leonardt Principal Nib) It was then fired at a temperature not exceeding 1250 degrees. (A higher temperature will cause the lettering to spread out and sometimes dissipate.)

This is just a study for me to reference to look at the way these textures and line work appear together. For those of you who like to used mixed media to practice some possible textures that could be used in your glass work, just pretend that when you brayer out the Speedball Printing Ink and remove parts of it to make your texture....that is the equivalent of removing glass powders to create texture. It is much cheaper to experiment with mono printed rice papers than it is to experiment with glass. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, April 20, 2013



There is no quote associated with today's image because it was created to be incorporated into a mixed media piece. There are many of the same lines and edges from yesterday's posting simply because this piece was create from the leftover fragments from that study.

We are all aware that art is a process. What we know in creating a piece of art always stems from our process...the way we work. I like to work by incorporating techniques that I have discovered in isolation. For instance, if I want to see what happens when I lay one element on top of another, I will be inclined to do a small study to see what that looks like before delving into a larger piece with many components. So what you're seeing today is a small study experimenting with transparency.  This study informs me about how much texture I would want to include vs. how much transparency I want.

In yesterday's posting much of the same imagery you see today was fired again after arranging the textured black and white areas on a sheet of opaque yellow glass. In today's image, I laid those textured pieces of white and black on top of another piece of glass that had been fired with transparent powders sifted on top of Tekta (clear glass) rather than an opaque piece of glass.

However, the powders were not sifted randomly, but in a gradated fashion by starting with a heavy sifting at one end of the glass and going lighter as I continued sifting to the other end. This created a touch of color, but illuminated many of the  hard edges and shapes which you saw yesterday.

It's simply another way of being more subtle and also allowing other images to be seen through the glass. So I laid the two layer collage of fired glass over an old text page to show the level of transparency. This gives me a good idea of what to expect when I incorporate it into my mixed media work. And so it goes with my particular process. 

I think the "take away" here is to think through your process carefully and experiment in small pieces before trying to complete a more complex work. So many things in process are not particularly difficult, but must be broken down into "bite size" segments in order to get a clearer picture of how to integrate your elements together. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Lines and Edges"


There is no quote associated with this image. It is simply a study in lines and edges. It is a two layer glass collage with three firings involved.

As in the other piece called "Transformation"...this 6" x 6" was created by first texturing several pieces of glass with white and black glass line paint and black powder. My purpose was to show different types of line work and different shapes and edges.

I began with white glass line paint and used an empty Pentel pointed brush to make marks in the paint that were a bit larger than the smaller lines. This was a new technique for me because most other tools have not been effective in moving the paint and having it stay in place and it is crucial to write into the paint while it is wet to achieve larger letters or marks. Using this brush has brought another technique into play which will be useful in future projects.

The other writing and line work was created after the paint was dried. I used a corner of a palette knife to etch into very thinly applied glass line paint. In several areas, black glass line paint was applied over the dried white areas with a palette knife. Black powders were then sprinkled into the glass line and then fired. Some crystal clear course frit was also placed in some areas creating the round circle patterns you see.

After the first firings. the glass was cut into different sized strips and placed on top of a yellow opaque piece of glass. After the second firing, a lot of the white glass line faded away so I made a decision to experiment with additional glass line on top of the piece and also place some additional crystal clear course frit within the paint which created an echo of the more subdued circles in the background. I also sprinkled crystal clear powder over the entire piece so that it would be shiny.  (Glass line paint has no shine after firing unless powders are added.

 I do like the erratic shapes which include several types of edges....some soft and some hard with a variety in between. I am now focused like a laser beam on edges. They are much more important than anyone might think and they can change the work dramatically. Achieving a variety of edges in glass is also a challenge and requires a skillful selection of colors either very close in value or glass laid next to other glass with a strong contrast.

To achieve a range of edges requires the use of powders and a knowledgeable selection of any stringers used. All hard and high contrast edges can cause a few viewers (like myself) to not look at the work for more than two seconds. It is the variety of contrasting edges that most viewers will find pleasing. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Transformation" (Final Firing)

($300.00.....8" x 10"....Kiln Formed Glass.....Presented in a Limestone Base)

Even though this piece does not have a particular quote, the word written in glass is "transform". The exhibit I am working on now is "The Psalms". Consequently, this piece will be associated with a Psalm that I have not selected yet, although I have several in mind.

The very nature of the textures and imagery have numerous spiritual implications as well as just viewing it as a contrast in texture, line, transparency, edges, etc. The separate pieces of glass that I posted yesterday were cut and reassembled with more opaque and tinted glass added to create this three layer collage. (The textured section on the left is transparent where you see white....the right side where the crosses are was fired on top of an opaque glass with a pale lavender tint.)

It is exactly the same process used in creating a mixed media piece. You might be surrounded by mono printed rice papers which is equivalent to what I showed yesterday in sheets of glass. You then get out your cropping "L's" and make design decisions based on what you have created in single layers. By adding plain rice paper, text pages, or opaque glass, or tinted glass, you begin to reassemble and design your piece based on what you want to visually describe.

More often than not, you will discover that the piece tells you what it needs and your original thought may go by the wayside completely or change dramatically from your original thought. So be prepared to enter this process with joy and when you feel satisfied.....STOP! And of course, this is the hardest part. 

You can have a way of knowing when enough is enough by testing each addition to your piece. After deciding on a particular element of glass or paper, lay it down and then take it away. If the piece looks more confusing or just the same with the additional element...then remove it and be done. You might also try something totally unexpected and use the same test. If you go beyond the point where the piece is really finished, it will look contrived rather than convincing.

I am also making the case here for having adequate amounts of single layered glass that you have designed or adequate amounts of mono printed rice papers. You will need to have on hand a range of contrasting colors, values, shapes, textures and edges in order to be able to get as close as possible to the best piece you can create at this moment in time. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Transformation" (First Firings)

There is really no quote associated with this piece yet, but the idea of transformation will be a jumping off point. The word transform is actually etched into two of the glass pieces affording me the option of combining the pieces in such a way that you will see the beginning of the word in the very textured area and the remaining letters in the lighter areas.

The final piece is in the kiln being fired as we speak so I will be posting that tomorrow. For my mixed media crowd, this process is also applicable when selecting mono printed rice papers to combine in one piece of art. What you are seeing today is several sheets of single layers of glass that have been painted on and texturized with glassline paints in various dilutions along with frits, powders, minimal stamping with a traditional stamp, and a bit of deconstruction by removing parts of the paint to create a transparent space.

The lighter two pieces with less texture were created by brushing on diagonal and crossed bands of glassline paint....one in black and one in white....using various dilutions to create interesting and transparent values. Some glass powder (orange) was applied to the white one. I did write the word transform with the corner of a palette knife in the black one to create some very thin lines.You will not be able to see it very well today, but in the final, it has orange behind it with light lavender gray opaque glass underneath.

The textured areas were seriously cropped and combined to be a counterpoint with the lighter areas. So it is much like cutting and pasting in mixed media. I was particularly mindful of including a variety of values and edges. These two design elements are the most often neglected when constructing these kind of pieces. Tomorrow will be the "reveal". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Static vs. Dynamic" (Second Firing)

(inspiration image)



"Static and dynamic can also have diffused edges." There really is no quote with these particular pieces, but I am still stuck on edges.  Both of these images after their second firing have an inclusion of softer edges and color added.

This was an exercise and not the way I would typically create a glass piece. Very hard lines in a piece with no diffused or soft edges more often than not will keep the viewer from staying engaged with the image for any length of time.

Viewers are drawn in by the mood created by the artist with a more balanced inclusion of both static and dynamic directional lines and by hard and soft edges with a full range in between.

As you can see, I cropped the images from yesterday and added powders. In keeping with my original inspiration image, I rewrote some of the strokes of my original brush lettering and cut a stencil. Spring Green powders were sifted onto the stencil first, followed by Chartreuse powders. I then added "magic brown" powders (a combination of all leftover powders from other projects), Charcoal Gray, and Black in the background areas especially around the edges.  Chartreuse Frit was sprinkled over parts of that. 

And after the piece was fired, I added more black powders around the lettering and "scooted" it into place with a sponge brush. To be honest, I was not fond of this exercise, but today's images are growing on me a bit. You can see a contrast between harder edges and the more diffused edges of the Chartreuse letter fragments which created a more organic counterpoint to the very geometric shapes with super straight lines.

The emotion created by the brush lettering with the slight curve is more pronounced against those straight lines. I was the only one in the class that did not add stringers. And as you can see from the inspiration image, I simply had to confront my aversion to hard lines yesterday and this was my way of confronting them. Glass powders are your friends if you gravitate to more "arty" and "ethereal" effects. And of course....I do. The glass pieces in the next few days will be my style and approach. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Static vs. Dynamic" (First Firing)

(inspiration image)



"Static and dynamic show contrasting directional lines in a piece." There actually is not a quote on a piece today because I am showing an exercise created in a glass fusing class. 

The first image you see at the top was posted on April 7, 2013. It is a mixed media piece with large brush lettering. This was my inspiration piece for the exercise in abstraction. The assignment was to use an inspirational image to create (3) pieces of glass based on lines and shapes in the inspiration image. 

The first thing we did was crop the image. By doing that I discovered some parallel lines in the background of the inspirational piece in the upper left hand corner. That pattern was then cut in glass for the static piece. We were restricted to neutrals in gray, black, or white glass. We were also restricted to horizontal or vertical lines only to visually show the very definition of static. 

In the next piece, I show some zigzag lines which appear in the bottom of my inspiration image. Again, we were restricted to neutrals and all lines had to be diagonal. Most pieces of artwork have a combination of both, but I must say that we all understood these two words after fitting all of those pieces of glass together. (I chose not to show the combination of both.)

All of this was created on the first day, which was Saturday. Yesterday, the assignment was to crop these images by cutting them down with a glass saw. We were then able to add powders, frit, stringers, or more glass which was then tack fused. (I will show those images tomorrow.) 

The amazing thing I discovered when we were given the freedom to use other elements was that even though each person was allowed to change their piece dramatically, this predominantly glass group (their primary medium) thought nothing about having all hard edges in their piece. Even when adding stringers or frit, with different directional lines, most pieces still had hard edges. It finally dawned on me that glass artists have no issue with hard edges vs. soft edges. 

The only reason I do is because it has been drilled into my head NOT to have all soft or hard edges when creating a painting or mixed media piece. It was a stunning revelation to me. Of course, one of the reasons we all like Kari Minnick's work (the instructor) is because she does an amazing job of making her pieces look like a work of art with a full range of edge treatment. Her powders can look like watercolors. She has a full range of values which, of course, is one way to achieve hard and soft edges. It is all very instructive and I am happy to share this information with you. (You might enjoy visiting her website to see her amazing work.)   And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Alive and Active" (Final)

($125.00......6" x 12".....Mixed Media on 300 lb. HP....Mounted on a 2" Depth Clayboard)

"Words become alive and active when they take root in the heart." This quote was inspired by Psalm 119 and I chose the placement of the lettering to be in the interior of the piece and readable but not dominating the piece. This offers up a comparison with the heart being a small organ located in the interior of our being. On the other hand, all of the gestural marks and lettering visually describe words as being alive and active by the nature of their movement.

I am in a week long glass fusing class with the discussion and projects all centering around abstraction and design. The class had a rather open discussion yesterday about how often an artist creates their original concept to come out exactly as they envisioned it to be. The answer was never. 

Artists can invite disaster by expecting or trying to get their work to fit into a preconceived mold. It simply doesn't work that way. Having a general plan or concept is very wise, but the piece yields surprises as it moves along. And it's those surprises that give it the energy it needs to be successful and appreciated by the viewer.

It's really all about making design decisions along the way. More often than not, each piece gives you a bit more experience and informs the decisions for the next piece and the one after that....etc. So it is best to study your own work and see where you are with your habitual marks, textures, colors, etc. and then build upon that. It is impossible to begin your process where some other artist left off. You can only start a new piece where your last one left off.

For instance, I knew that a grid format created in an erratic fashion would create a visual punch. I also knew that silver leaf looks fantastic with black, text pages, and rice papers. I knew all of that because of my past pieces. However, I had no idea where the text would end up and this is the first time I have used pointed brush lettering and burnt sienna in this mix of elements. 

So now I have another piece under my belt and I know a bit more and I hope you have learned a bit more by observing my process. In the next few days I will be posting some of the work I am creating in the glass fusing class. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Alive and Active" (Draft 3)


"Words become alive and active when they take root in the heart." The quote is now becoming a part of the piece with the word "active" written in  pencil and pointed brush lettering. Tomorrow I will be posting the final.

After posting yesterday, I did crop this piece to its final size of 6" x 12". The paper is 300 lb. HP but I have yet to adhere it to a 2" depth clayboard. This is the beauty of working on paper or canvas that is larger than the final cropping and before it is adhered to a board or placed in a frame. (The lettering is much more difficult to achieve on a board 2" off of the table.)

In addition to cropping the piece, I also added some more pain rice papers to cover up more of the black gesso in the background. By doing this and by mounting the initial metal leaf and papers in a very erratic grid format, I now have some energetic black lines that give some definite shapes and structure to the piece.

After adhering more plain rice papers, I sprayed the entire piece with stray acrylic coating and left it to dry overnight. This morning I prepared the surface for lettering with (2) parts water to (1) part gel matte medium with hair dryer in left hand and brush in the other hand. Three coats were applied and dried thoroughly with a hair dryer.

The last thing today was some gestural writing with a pencil and then a pointed brush. It was an empty Pentel brush using burnt sienna and bit of gray gouache. Initially, it was too prominent, so I dipped a paper towel in water, squeezed out the excess and blotted the lettering to make it look aged and lighten the value. By choosing the burnt sienna, I have created an echo with the aged papers. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Alive and Active" (Draft 2)


"Words become alive and active when they take root in the heart." As the piece evolves, I am beginning to see exactly what I want to emphasize in relation to the quote. There will be one more draft tomorrow and then the final on Sunday.  

On another note,  tonight is the Opening Reception for "Fully Alive" at The Open Doors Gallery at Hill Country Bible Church of Austin.  The public is invited.  Details can be found at the following website (http://pactofaustin.com/)  Hope to see you there!

I hope you can see that a grid like format gives a lot of structure to a piece. It gives many shapes to work with. (Remember that all paintings / pieces are made up of shapes.) It is a good idea when beginning the first layer to have some kind of format in mind. And it's okay if it changes along the way, but to simply place papers anywhere with no format or layout in mind is to invite disaster. 

So yesterday, I had laid down metal leaf in an informal grid like format by cutting up the metal leaf into irregular squares and rectangles and making sure to keep slivers of the black exposed. I had also added a bit of text on some of the silver pieces...allowing the edges of the silver to be revealed and in a very irregular way.....in other words, don't get out a ruler and measure. 

Today, I added more text on the remaining silver pieces and then added plain rice paper over most of the text, but leaving some of the edges and text exposed. It is all about deciding what to reveal and conceal and to what degree. 

I then added some mono printed rice papers and deliberately covered up some of the black in the background but leaving some of the previous edge of the plain rice paper showing. I also made a conscious decision to keep the mono printed rice papers around the periphery as though it is framing the central portion. The middle top piece has no mono print to visually interpret the quote by suggesting that somewhere in the piece there is an entrance into the center.

Today I plan to add more plain rice paper and further emphasize the strong black erratic lines that you see today. I may also choose to cover up a portion of the mono printed rice papers to make more irregular shapes. The last thing I did today before photographing the piece was to spray the entire thing with spray acrylic coating which brings out the patina of the old text pages and makes the plain rice paper translucent. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Alive and Active" (Draft 1)


"Words become alive and active when they take root in the heart." This is the first draft of a new piece. My purpose is to show yet another way of beginning a mixed media piece and how the first layers help to establish the foundation.

It may seem a bit wasteful to cover an entire design surface with a particular material such as text pages or in this case...metal leaf. However, the decision to cover the entire sheet will give you options as you continue to layer and make more decisions.

The metal leaf in this piece is simulated silver leaf, purchased at an art store with a thin paper backing. You should look for metal leaf that states on the package that it has a backing because it is so much easier to apply. If buying real gold or silver leaf, you look for the word "patent" which means it has a backing.

After coating a piece of 300 lb. HP with black gesso, I began the process of adhering the leaf to the support. I began by cutting the larger sheets of metal leaf into quarters. I did this because I was trying to create a grid like pattern with the black gesso showing between the leaf in an erratic way...(in other words, there was no measuring or precision involved). The Gel Matte Medium was brushed on to small areas with a sponge brush and the leaf laid down into the medium. I then rubbed the backing of the leaf and removed the orange backing paper. So that is what you are seeing in the first draft. 

The next step was to adhere text over portions of the leaf. (I did leave half of it undone so you could see the progression.) Now as the piece progresses, you will wonder why I "wasted" the metal leaf by placing it everywhere since a fraction of what you see today will be showing in the final piece. And the reason is.....I like options. If I must worry about where the leaf is strategically placed in the beginning, it begins to narrow down my design choices dramatically.

And that is the process of layering. It is all about laying things down....covering portions up...laying down more things...etc. I may have selected a quote, but the truth of the matter is, that this piece will change dramatically as I progress. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Shepherd" (Final)

($150.00......10" x 10".....Mixed Media.....Mounted on a 2" Depth Clayboard)

"Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need." (Psalm 23:1...Living Translation) As you can clearly see, many things have changed since yesterday. After writing "Shepherd" boldly in the background, the unfolding thought was to change the title and do only the first verse using a contemporary interpretation.

It has been a very long morning. I wrote this verse in gestural writing first...had some second thoughts so I sent the image to a friend and she confirmed what I was feeling, even though it didn't seem to line up with my conventional wisdom about edges and lines. 

So without further ado, I washed the lettering off and proceeded to deal with small, understated Versals. I do like it now and I believe the word "shepherd" written in white now remains the focal point. And this goes to the heart of layering and why I hope it has been instructive to see the actual steps. The best outcomes happen when you go with whatever evolves as you proceed with some of your original concept.

It is very important to allow it to morph into what it wants to be. Mental concepts tend to be stubborn and pesky little things that want their own way come "hell or high water". The only problem with that type of thinking is that it is like fitting a square peg in a round hole. Your piece will look contrived and overworked and end up on an ash heap.

The best thing to do is simply to relax and let it flow. Consult a friend. Pray and meditate. Walk away from it for awhile. Come back later and it will magically fall into place. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Psalm 23" (Draft 2)


"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." (Psalm 23:1) In a more contemporary translation, this same verse reads..."Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need." This is a very assuring and calming truth from scripture. 

The word Shepherd has become the focal point of the piece. The final size of this piece has become a 10" x 10". Squares are good because the orientation can go either horizontally, vertically, or both. Since yesterday, I have created horizontal bands to contrast with the vertical bands. The same alternation technique was used and condensed, but by making them shorter and having them go through the upper center of the piece, they lay the foundation for the layering of other horizontal bands.

After adhering these shorter and more narrow strips, I then adhered some plain rice paper in varying heights and widths across the first layer of horizontal banding. Since the first layer of lettering is peeking through in various places, I decided to add a bit more of text on top of the plain rice paper, creating another layer. However, I did not like a solid mass of text, so after adhering them to the support, I deconstructed by slipping a palette knife underneath each piece and literally ripping it off. It now looks more subtle. 

I left all of this to dry overnight and then prepared the surface for lettering this morning with (2) parts water to (1) part gel matte medium and brushed app. (5) coats of this over the entire surface by holding a hair dryer in my left hand and brushing with my right hand. (The heat is necessary to cause the medium to adhere to a slick surface.)   I then practiced my brush lettering several times and then wrote with White Bleedproof White Gouache (WN brand) over my horizontal band of tone on tone. Using white on white creates an ethereal look and can still be seen without conflicting with the lettering that will be added today. 

At the moment I am contemplating white versals, but that could change during the course of the day. The great news is that it is easily wiped off of this surface should I change my mind. I have made a new rule for myself. I no longer write on surfaces I can't correct! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Psalm 23" (First Draft)


"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." (Psalm 23: 1) Today's posting is the first draft of a new piece entitled "Psalm 23". It is a well known psalm and I suspect that most people easily recognize verse one.

This piece began with 140 lb. HP with one coat of white gesso. It was taped to the table with masking tape to keep it from buckling. The undetermined size at this point is at least 9" x 13". I am quite sure that by tomorrow, I will have made the final decision on size.

I am showing you two images today so that you can see that I decided to adhere text over the entire sheet of HP so that text would be peeking through the white areas of the rice paper. (You cannot see it as well today as you will be able to see it tomorrow since I have not yet sprayed the adhered pieces with spray acrylic which gives it translucency.) This is an excellent way to include text for those of you who are not lettering artists and want to integrate text into your work.

In case you haven't been out into any stores lately...chartreuse and gray are very hot colors right now so I simply had to do at least one piece with those colors. (The colors are Speedball Printing Inks. The chartreuse is yellow and a tiny bit of turquoise. The gray is pewter.) And that leads me to another point. If you have no idea what to do next in your art work, it is a good idea to go with one idea or color scheme that keeps haunting you. The same is true for a particular layout. I can make that part easy for you by saying that horizontal bands either horizontally or vertically work every time they're tried.

You might also want to notice that I chose to make all of the exposed edges erratic by tearing the mono printed rice papers. It seemed to look better to me, especially with hard lines in the mono prints created with cut up credit cards or shaper tools. Mono printing is an excellent way to practice your mark making skills.

The feedback on showing process has been extremely positive even though it is uncomfortable for me to do. I much prefer to show the finished piece, but alas, I simply cannot keep that pace up if I want to do larger works...and they will be getting much larger as I go along. Hope all of this helps you and prompts some of your own ideas. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


(unavailable....6" x 6" Experimental Piece....Mounted on a Gessobord)

"Words form thoughts and habits." Words are very powerful things and I was excited to make them the centerpiece of my first foray into brush lettering. The brush is very expressive and the only regret that I have is that I didn't take it to heart much earlier in life.

This is a simple mixed media piece with mono printed rice paper mounted on a gessobord as the support. These small presentations can be framed or placed on an easel. They can also be mounted with other 6" x 6" pieces on a larger clayboard with a 2" depth. It makes a stunning display...especially if you have been working in a series. This is food for thought for any of you who are involved with The Open Doors Gallery at Hill Country Bible Church since our fall theme is "Poetic Collections". This would be one way to show a collection.

After the initial mono printed papers were adhered to the board, old text pages and plain rice paper were also added...especially where the lettering was to be placed. There is also a bit of deconstruction going on with more snippets of text placed around two edges.

Black and white is always a good choice, especially if you introduce several different textures. The first mono printed rice papers are actually (3) cropped sections of larger pieces. The energy of the line work in the mono print adds energy to any piece. 

After all the pieces were adhered to the support and sprayed with Acrylic Coating, I left it to dry overnight....(always a good idea with rice papers). This morning I prepared the surface for lettering with (2) parts water and (1) part Gel Matte Medium and (3) applications using a hair dryer and brushing on the medium at the same time. It is necessary to have the heat to cause the medium to attach to the surface since the acrylic coating is a slick surface. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.