Sunday, June 30, 2013
($50.00......6" x 6".....mixed media on 140 lb HP....mounted on a flat panel gessobord)
"A new leaf is a fresh start." Most of us have made declarations about turning over a new leaf. It is a fresh start if the goal is reached. It's a known fact that it takes 21 days to break an old habit. It has worked for me, but not in every situation. So this piece is about associating a fresh start with breaking an old habit.
Color wise I like this piece a lot, but it is very risky to include stamped designs of very particular images in a piece of fine art. Even though this is a hand cut stamp based on a real leaf, it can become a bit cliched. Actually, it is much better to paint an actual image that requires skill level than become too "cute" with these kind of devices.
When dealing with techniques that deal with texture, I prefer to stick with geometric forms which have a long history in the arts because all images (painted, stamped, or drawn) are made up of shapes. And the more an artist goes towards the pure geometry of a shape, the more abstract it becomes.
Pure color blocks with no texture, however, can become quite sterile and boring. So one of my purposes right now is to fine the happy place where I feel totally satisfied with my divisions of space and the shapes formed within shapes that are indicative of this type of work.
So instead of beating up myself too badly about using such a purely decorative device as a leaf stamped on and into the paint, I simply consider it something I will probably not do again. And there is the other reason for blogging and working on my work every day.
It is a disconnect in learning how to do art, if the creative process is interrupted for too long a period of time. It makes much more sense to do a daily analysis of your work and identify the weak and strong points so as to redirect the course of the work. It has and always will be about process. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Please contact me personally to inquire about this work.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
|(Part 1 of 2)|
The quote will come tomorrow, but what you are viewing today is a few pieces of watercolor paper with texture created with heavy body acrylics, a palette knife, commercial texture stamps, a handmade leaf stamp, and the sharp corner of an old credit card. What I will be posting tomorrow will be a finished 6" x 6". I obviously have way too many pieces, but the idea is to have a multitude of options.
The piece I completed yesterday ("The Coast") is now being displayed at Solas Gallery in Salado. There is a range of my work being displayed there with Photographic Portraiture, since it is a Photography Gallery. What the owners of the gallery and I have discovered is that abstract work with very realistic photography is a wonderful mix.
Today I want to share a few things I've learned about the "color block" pieces I've been creating. One of the primary decisions that will help to feature the blocks with more detail or strong color is to surround those particular ones with neutral colors or blocks with minimal detail. For instance, "The Coast" had a featured block that was actually a small painting that could have stood on its own. What I did was surround that particular block with colors and texture that complemented the featured block but did not compete with the fact that it was the feature.
Since many of you have experimented with pouring medium, you would not want to place blocks of pouring medium together that all had swirling color. Some of those blocks might need to be solid colors that complement the one or two blocks that had several colors.
Another example would be the large piece I created for "The Psalms". All of the old text pages, and rice paper, as well as the hand lettering of the first verse of Psalm 91 were all placed within the gray/black or neutral blocks. The yellow/green and blue/green blocks had no text...no rice paper...and minimal texture.
So it is these kind of decisions that will help to create a successful "color block"....should you want to give it a try. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Friday, June 28, 2013
(unavailable......6" x 24"......acrylics.....mounted on a 2" cradled gessobord)
"Childhood memories take me back to the color, sounds, and smell of the coast." Yes, I did change the title since yesterday. And that's how it goes with the creative process. It's like playing musical chairs until everybody is in the right chair.
This is a very unusual size, but I quite like it. (6" x 24") Since yesterday, I completely finished the piece and totally enjoyed the process of bringing texture to all of these color blocks. The section I posted yesterday is like a painting within a painting. You can see how the jagged line of the coastal rocks represented by the brown in that one section creates a totally contrasting shape from all of the the straight edges.
Of course, there are lots of contrasting lines within each block, but that one section pulls it all together. So in essence what I have done is actually fragmented the image of the first block by enlarging parts of the seascape to show more detail. For instance, the white and blue blocks represent the sky while the brown areas represent the "jetties" and detail that is not present in the abstract seascape.
In one of the blocks, I added a third layer of paint after the first two layers were dried and then brayered that color and sprayed alcohol alternately until the desired texture was achieved. You can see that block positioned directly above the burnt sienna color. The third color I added to that block was white, but you can see that as the alcohol broke up the paint underneath, that the white turned gray and created a very weathered look.
It is also helpful to have a variety of your favorite cradled clayboards on hand so you can go ahead and mount the piece. This morning, I have painted the sides of the clayboard white which gives a very fresh look and complements the coastal mood. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
There is no quote for this piece yet, but there will be after all of the other color blocks are added and arranged into a larger piece. Hang on for the ride!
Technique is defined in the dictionary as a manner of artistic execution in music, painting, etc. And yet it is so much more. It is even more than simply practicing a skill, because any skill practiced wrong will not yield the desired result.
For me, piano and art have come together in my journey. There are so many similarities. For instance, the speed at which the piano keys are struck has everything to do with the beauty as well as the loudness and softness of the tone. The same is true in palette knife painting. It's the lightness of the touch as the knife skims over another layer of wet paint that determines the quality of the edge or the revealed color underneath.
So it is instructive to practice on a scrap bit of paper or canvas and watch what happens when you press down harder while applying wet paint on top of wet paint and then compare that to doing the same thing with the lightest touch you can manage. It is the degree of attention to the touch that makes a hugh difference in both art and music.
Those lettering friends of mine will know this to be absolutely true in hand lettering as well. The graduated stroke with a pointed pen can be one of the most exasperating things to learn, but oh how lovely it is when it is done well. So part of our studio time must be spent on perfecting some of these skills by isolating them one by one. When learning a new hand, it is better to begin with pencil so you can isolate and perfect the form of the letter. Trying to add in the press/release technique and loading a pen, maintaining a consistent pen angle will drive you insane if you're not familiar with the form of the letter first.
And the same is true for the palette knife. It's all about which color is laid down first, the touch involved with the next layer, and how much paint to apply as well as the viscosity of the paint. And then trying this over and over again....every day. It is also helpful to remind ourselves that visual art means to observe with the eyes what is happening as the work is done. And then analyzing how others have accomplished similar techniques.
All that I have said today is precisely why I blog every single day. It's the act of doing it everyday before distractions pop up that speeds up the progress. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
(unavailable at this time.....finished size is 8" x 16")
"Collections of memories often reside in places like an old shack." I am not quite sure where we lived when I was around age six or seven, but I do know that there was an old shack out back that seemed like the perfect place to set up my table and chairs, along with dishes, and serve mud pies to my dolls and stuffed animals. You probably have a similar story of an old shack with tools or other paraphernalia that captured your imagination.
So forget everything I said yesterday about setting this piece aside for awhile. I kept looking at it last evening and this morning I knew that it would be better to change up the sizes of the color blocks a bit by making another cut or two and then create a larger color block on the right hand side by having the low intensity red color touch three sides of the design space. That is also true of the blue areas and by cutting a bit off of one of the other blocks, I now have some alternation going on.
I also came up with a quote that happened to fit perfectly at the top of the small painting of the shack. However, this surface (because of the heavy acrylic) was a bit "bumpy" to write on so I did not spray it this morning and if I feel the need tomorrow, I will rewrite the quote by washing it off and doing it again. (The brown lettering was written with WN VanDyke Brown.)
It's all about leaving open as many options as possible. And that's why I did adhere the pieces to a 300 lb. HP paper rather than a clayboard....just in case I have the urge to crop it up and do something else. Whatever is decided will be what the piece is telling me to do, but this morning I am satisfied with the outcome and it will probably be mounted to a clayboard on down the line. I could also opt to place it in a frame. Once again, it's all about options. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Today is the birth of a very different kind of color block piece. All of the colors were mixed on a limited palette which gives a completely different flavor to the presentation. The jury is still out on this one.
The final size of this piece is an 8" x 16". I have painted the support a medium gray color mixed from the same colors in the piece. So that means there will not be any black in the piece, but several areas of a dark brown.
This one may grow on me, but I will not be adhering it to the support until I know for sure that it's a keeper. What I've decided to do today is adhere all of the pieces to a 300 lb HP section cut to the size of the board. That allows me to study it for a while before committing. I might even tape the pieces down first so that I can keep my options open about changing any color blocks or simply moving them around. And that is the way it goes with all experimental works. To not try different designs and techniques is to stay the same and that is simply not an option for me.
I have gone on and on about the benefits of color blocking and here are some more. If any of you are like me and like a variety of techniques such as simple printmaking, sgraffito, collage, palette knife painting, sanding, etc.....then you would like doing this because all of these looks can be incorporated in the blocks. And the variety of space division possibilities is infinite.
So what I will likely do today is suspend this piece for a few days or forever and move on to a new piece while I let this one simmer on the back burner. And there your have it...just a few more things to think about.
Monday, June 24, 2013
As always, one idea leads to another and then another...etc. I love the color blocking using heavy body acrylics with a palette knife, but if you remember, I also have done quite a few palette knife paintings in oils. So what you see today is the beginning of another color block piece...with a twist.
Before beginning today's painting, I hunted down my small glass palette and large cake pan with a cover. Instead of using heavy body acrylics straight from the tube, I set up a double palette of a warm and cool of each primary and a lot of white. So the colors in this piece will be much less intense and have subtle transitions of color throughout.
If my instincts are correct, I believe this will be far more interesting than the painting by itself. Only time will tell since I haven't tried this before. I haven't even decided on the final size.
What I have been wanting to do is go more abstract landscapes by eliminating all of the minute details that appear in most landscapes. This type of painting yields a more "poetic" feel to the piece, especially when "graying" down the colors. Already, I have determined to have a lot of whitish/ gray colors throughout the piece and keep the whole thing fairly neutral.
The highlight of the completed work will remain the red/orange of the shack. I hesitate to say that I may never leave color blocking since my mind is in a whirl with all of the possibilities. Every time I make strong declarations, I live to eat my words. But for now, it has captured my heart. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
(unavailable.....8" x 8" .....mixed media....mounted on a 2" depth clayboard)
"Bravo is a word for verbal applause!" It's a magnificent word and describes a job well done with only five letters. Everyone likes to hear it and this piece is actually created for someone who truly deserves it!
A lot has taken place in this piece since yesterday. One of the most obvious things is the value change, and a slight reconfiguration of several pieces. I cut one section into three pieces to add more color and create a large block of color that touches all four sides. The grays were also changed to have a predominance of white and the dark grays went to black. There is also a sliver of black amidst the colors which I really like.
In all three black sections, I added some form of lettering. It was light gray when I wrote it, but when placed into the piece it was still a bit stark. The problem was resolved by spraying the lettering with spray acrylic coating...drying with a hair dryer...and then brushing on (sparingly) some black charcoal powder. (Just a side note about a surface freshly sprayed with acrylic coating...pastels or charcoal powder stick to them much better.)
All in all, I like the piece, especially incorporating a more methodical strategy which speeded up the process. So there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
There will be an original one line quote tomorrow. Today, you are looking at a detailed version of the process that has been streamlined since working on the very large piece.
This new way of accomplishing this type of color blocking has made it much easier. This whole process began last night. I delivered heavy body acrylic paint to the support and several larger pieces of the undercoat colors that I wanted to be revealed with the sgraffito technique of mark making or scratching into the top coat. The light gray pieces were remnants from the large piece I just finished yesterday. It takes about 20-30 minutes to apply paint to the pieces and support the night before. It greatly speeds up the process by having these pieces bone dry the next morning.
So this morning I began to cut and place the papers. I had a general idea that I wanted the bright colors from top to bottom with grays and black on the sides. After cutting each section, I used painter's tape to secure it to the support. After all the blocks were cut and taped down, I used a light and dark charcoal pencil to number all of them. I then took a photo which served as my map when determining how to reassemble after painting the top coat.
As I took each piece off of the support, I wrote the number and color of the topcoat on the back. This enables you to know where everything goes at the end. So what you see today in the second image is all of the pieces laid on the support, but not yet adhered.
I will allow it to dry all day and then determine if any color changes need to be made. And I can already tell you that the darker gray areas will need to go darker and probably to a black with the dark gray showing through. I left them as is so you can compare the image today with the final tomorrow. Values do make a hugh difference! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Friday, June 21, 2013
($400.00.....24" x 36".......Mixed Media.......Mounted on a 2" Depth Clayboard)
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty...whose power no foe can withstand." (Psalm 91:1...Amplified) And here it is....totally finished!
Most of the changes from yesterday you cannot see because they involved finishing off the edges and spraying with spray acrylic coating. You will see the quote in one of the rectangles. And that's another thing I learned since doing my first piece like this. It is better to keep the final lettering in one of the geometric shapes. It is more integrated that way.
The lettering was written with a Leonardt Principal Nib and Moon Palace Ink....after preparing the surface for lettering. (2 parts water to 1 part gel matte medium brushed on with a sponge brush) The lettering style is definitely influenced by Spencerian Script, but done in a "choppy" and expressive fashion and weighted differently than normal scripts.
I must say that after trying many, many techniques and approaches to mixed media this one is my favorite. Even though I want to throw in some smaller works now with no drafts, they will be mixed in with more of this type of mixed media pieces.
So for now, I have concluded that I love heavy applications of paint with the palette knife being the method of delivery to the surface. And that's what happens when you work on your work everyday. You will eventually have a large body of work and notice what it is that you like well enough to pursue it for the remainder of your life. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
All of the color blocks are now in their places. The entire text of Psalm 91 appears in various places three times and all text was cut from old bible pages. Tomorrow you will see the first verse written in one or two color blocks.
So much has been learned through this process. When I do another one, I will paint the undercoat on larger sections of paper (enough for the entire piece) and allow those to dry overnight. It will then be a matter of cutting up all or most of those sections and placing them on the support.
To prevent the dilemma of where to place the sections again after taking them off to paint the topcoat...I will number them on the top and back side and take a picture of the section or whole piece (depending on the size) and this will create a faster process.
Another thing that I did on this piece was change the value of a few of the blocks after they were adhered. I did this by taping off the surrounding areas and applying black with a palette knife. The brayer and alcohol were used alternately to lift the paint and create a texture that reveals part of the previous layer. In my case, I needed darker color notes sprinkled throughout the piece, but the reverse could also be true. This technique is good for any color change that's needed at the end. And very often, it is impossible to tell until everything is adhered to the support.
I would encourage anyone to try this at least once. It is much fun and infinitely engaging. If a large size is way too intimidating and you prefer immediate results....try working on a 6" x 6" size or even smaller. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Today a familiar phrase comes to mind that all parents have heard..."Are we there yet?" And this is the challenge when working on large pieces. It is a long process. By tomorrow all of the pieces will be in their places.
It is very important as you work through the process of creating a piece of art to keep an open mind about letting the piece evolve naturally. Don't feel compelled to include an element just because you like it. If it's not the right thing for the piece, it really is best to leave it out. Forcing something to be included will cause the piece to look contrived.
The reason I know that is because I've created my share of contrived work and it is not a pleasant experience to realize it after the fact. Having said all of that, I wanted desperately to include a piece of kiln formed glass, but it really isn't going to work for this piece. Fortunately, I have the good sense to realize that. It's a good thing!
You can see that I have inched my way upwards with some more pieces. So far, I am pleased. Not all of the pieces are adhered yet, so I still might do some moving around. I really didn't notice until I saw the image on the computer. So taking photos of your work in process is a very effective way of seeing what you might not see while you're working. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I have already concluded that this piece will have (2) more drafts and then the final. So you can see that this is not a super fast way of applying paint to paper. My hope is that you find it as interesting as I do.
There is not a whole lot to add to the notes I've already posted about the techniques used in this piece. You are seeing the full palette in play at this point. For the greens, I am using Green Gold, Cad. Yellow Light,Cobalt Turquoise, and Viridian, plus the addition of white or raw umber to change values.
As far as process goes, I have discovered it is best to cut up a lot of papers at a time. And then it is good to decide what the undercoat is going to be on each one and apply that with a palette knife in the evening. That way, you are ready to go the next morning with the top coat. Otherwise, you will be standing a long time with a hair dryer in your hand.
Another key point is the way the papers and colors are arranged. I like to have some of them as long verticals and others as horizontals, plus a few squares. This really adds the drama to the piece after all is said and done.
It is also a good idea to save all of the scraps. I have changed my mind a few times and had to cut pieces to a different size after they were already painted. Those little scraps will make a nice 4"x 6". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about!
Monday, June 17, 2013
|(detail of draft 5)|
Today, I am posting a detail of the lower right hand corner. This is a large piece and the detail gets lost on the blog. It may also look like nothing has changed since yesterday, but indeed there are some changes. The additions you see today are plain rice papers, old book pages and soft pastels added to some of the existing pages.
Since posting yesterday, all of the pieces touching the left hand side have been adhered to the support. This will make it much easier to place the center pieces. So it is not feasible to wait to the end to adhere everything, but the placement of everything needs to be a done deal in your mind before adhering.
In today's posting I have included a detail which shows what happens when plain rice papers are overlapped and some of the gel matte medium seeps out around the edges. Now I always wipe the excess off, but there is still a residue. That residue will show up as a very intriguing shape once you brush on some soft pastels or charcoal powder. Be sure to dry the rice papers after adhering....spray with acrylic coating...dry again....and then brush on the pastels. You will then need to spray again before adhering to the support.
Another decision I've made since yesterday is which pieces will have text and rice papers and which ones will not. None of the green areas will have text or rice paper. I have reserved most of the gray areas for text. By placing some boundaries on where elements will be or not be is essential to good design. It simply creates chaos to include everything you know in one piece.
In regards to the green color blocks, they will be creating a shape from top to bottom in between the neutral color blocks. That introduces a bit of alternation. If I chose to simply divide the piece into two major areas, I have eliminated a design principle that will actually make the piece stronger. Alternation always creates rhythm.
I hope this is not moving too slow for all of you, but there are many decisions that must be made in creating a piece of art and it is my desire to clearly show that. In fact, I strongly believe that creating a piece of art will teach more than anyone can possibly learn in a workshop. Workshops are good to learn very specific techniques, but the real learning comes into play when actually making all of the design decisions associated with every single piece. In my mind, mixed media teaches this like no other medium can. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
The piece is now inching its way over and up. Today I will begin to adhere a few of the pieces to the support. It is so much like putting a puzzle together which is probably why this technique appeals to me. The abstract representation of boulders reminds me today of the importance of fathers as the "rock" of the home. So a huge Happy Father's Day to all of you men who happen to be fathers.
Another name for this entire process is color blocking. It is much like putting a quilt together. Instead of selecting fabric, you paint and texturize paper. This could also be done with mono printed papers by adhering them to watercolor paper first and then reassembling them into a piece. You could also use found papers, a variety of different sized text pages, sheet music, or any other subject matter where you are assembling imagery or textured papers that feature a particular subject, texture, or color. It's an addictive and "user friendly way to work.
The entire process teaches the principle of repetition (also called "echoes"), how to arrange color according to percentages (how much space it will occupy), practice a particular technique over and over again, and the effectiveness of contrast of size and little detail vs. a lot of detail.
My particular focus in this piece was to play around with the sgraffito technique by using different colors of undercoating with different topcoats. This is a technique worth learning for any type of mixed media or a painting in oils or acrylics. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Today you are seeing the entire support which measures 24" x 36". Nothing is yet adhered to the support and so I am still able to move pieces around. You can see that I have moved the piece that was in the bottom left hand corner up to the top left corner. And so it will go for a few more days until all of the pieces find their places.
Two color combinations I have always been fond of are yellow/green and blue/green. So those are my two selections for greens in their various values and intensities. This choice of greens gives me a warm and a cool green which is why they look good together.
The best yellow/green I have ever mixed is Green Gold (Golden) + Cad. Yellow Light + a bit of Raw Umber. And that is the mixture your see today. The blue/green was mixed with Cobalt Turquoise + a bit of Raw Umber. Raw Umber is a perfect choice for decreasing the intensity of any color. And that is the blue/green you see today. For this type of work it is great, but if I am painting an oil, I use a limited palette and choose a bit of the direct complement to lower intensity.
Working in mixed media is like directing an orchestra. You have all of the instruments (your materials and techniques) and then it is up to you to compose the music and choose which instruments will be featured as a solo. The grays in this piece are equivalent to the instruments like the tuba, timpani, and many of the other instruments that create the deep tones and foundation for the more "flashy" instruments such as the violin, trumpet, snare drums, etc. In this piece, those sections with the yellow/green and blue/green represent those instruments that are featured.
Another way of saying it is to emphasize the brilliantly colored areas by surrounding them with neutrals. So I could expand my favorite quote on color by saying that black, white, and gray plus one or two other colors works every time it's tried.
Color is a vast subject and can be overwhelming so keeping it simple is always a good option until you become more confident. This is also a good time to re-emphasize the idea of calling colors their proper name by their description on the color wheel. If you can develop that habit, it will help you on down the road when you need to mix a color from a limited palette. For instance, rather than calling yellow/green.....lime green or green gold....it is better to call it yellow/green. That automatically informs you of what colors to mix to achieve lime green.
Of course, there are variations of intensity of all these colors that can be changed by adding white or the direct complement. By focusing on just these simple basics, color mixing will become familiar and automatic. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Friday, June 14, 2013
You are viewing the step-by-step process of Psalm 91:1. It is an abstract of boulders on a hillside and being interpreted with color and texture rather than the actual image of a boulder, grass, and trees. Today's posting represents a little less than half of the total piece. I will begin introducing yellow-green tomorrow.
One of the things that I truly believe will help any artist who is confused about the enormous selection of techniques, colors, and materials is to make a firm decision about what you want to include from the outset. For instance, I have only chosen (4) neutral colors for the representation of boulders. Even with a limited selection there is a hugh range of values to choose from. You can use any of the combinations of these colors to create the undercoat and the same for the topcoat.
These initial choices will keep the piece unified and get rid of visual overload. Nothing creates visual overload like too many disparate shapes and colors. It's similar to the person who cannot choose what to wear, so they pick out separate items with no concern for any common denominators and then wear every piece of jewelry they own. It's simply too much! And the same is true for art. It will also keep you sane as you work through your process. It's called boundaries.
You can see that I have added (4) more pieces to this collage. Nothing is adhered because I do not yet know where everything looks best...value wise. It always becomes apparent as the piece progresses and the good news about these puzzle pieces are the fact you can trim them to fit where they need to fit.
I have added some old bible text and plain rice papers to the left hand corner piece along with some charcoal powder and soft pastels. However, as I am typing this commentary, that one piece will probably end up at the the top left corner because of the text placement. (It contains the first few verses of the psalm.)
And today I will be picking up the pace a bit and adding a lot more and taking pictures intermittently so that I will have a few days of posting even after finishing the piece. (Next week is the exhibit installation.) So I hope this has helped you understand the meanderings of my thought processes. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
This is a very special piece to me because it will contain passages from one of my favorite psalms....and that would be Psalm 91. The title of the piece comes from verse one. I am using the Amplified which reads....."He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty whose power no foe can withstand."
You can see from draft one that this is the same technique as my previous series of postings. The biggest difference here is that the smaller piece I just finished was an 8" x 10" and this piece is a 24" x 36". I have decided on a vertical format. By nature of the quote (and this one will not change), this piece will be an abstract representation of a "craggy" wall of boulders dominating the left hand side with yellow/greens (and perhaps some other greens) interspersed and interlocking the grays/whites on the right hand side.
Instead of painting actual rocks, I will be representing the rocks by their color and texture. I have chosen to do this with a combination of neutral colors in various intensities, undercoating, and topcoat. The colors I am using are titanium white, ivory black, unbleached titanium, and raw umber. You can see all of those colors in the three represented in today's posting.
The undercoating was completed while working on the last piece, so it was very dry when I applied the topcoat this morning. All of the heavy body acrylics are being applied with a palette knife. And because I am representing rocks or boulders, my textural marks will be much the same throughout.
After laying in the topcoat, I used the pointed corner of a metal palette knife to inscribe a lot of erratic lines as well as some gestural marks that look like words. After drying these sections, (dry to the touch only....it will take all day to thoroughly dry), I chose one area in each section to leave as is and then sprayed rubbing alcohol on the remainder and brayered that area repeatedly. Just to give you an idea, I probably sprayed and brayered each area at least (20x).
These pieces will be drying today while I complete more sections. Tomorrow morning, I will be able to add some old bible text and plain rice paper to areas of the pieces you see today. You can see that this is a wonderful technique if you want to work large and still remain apprehensive about the process. If you don't like something, save it for another piece and do something else. It's that degree of flexibility that makes this so appealing.
If you get a chance to see the original of the last piece or this one when it's finished, you will be amazed how much it looks like metal. And that's the freedom of knowing what different paint and applications will do for you. I will even be able to take a sharp knife and scratch into this surface well after it is dried. It's all about heavy body acrylics and the sgraffito technique. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
($150.00.....8" x 10"......Mixed Media....Mounted on a 2" Depth Clayboard)
As you can see, I have changed the title of this piece again. It is a Spanish title and translates into..."Pray Without Ceasing". The handwritten verse in the piece is from psalm 55:1...."Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me."
The quote was written as though it had been scratched into metal which goes along with the technique I used to make all of the other gestural marks. I also deconstructed the letters a bit by sanding with fine sand paper. It is so true that the art wants what the art wants!
I remembered that I had carved a stamp using my ruling pen letters as my guide. (The stamp was actually carved back in the mid 90's.) And that's the beauty of hand cut stamps. They can be used again in a dfferent work. I used Speedball Printing Ink for stamping and pressed very hard since I was stamping on an uneven surface. It immediately looked like the right touch because of the weight of the letters. It provided yet another contrast of weight in all of the lettering...including the text pages.
And that was when I discovered that it made sense to change the name of the piece. Besides all of that, we have a Spanish church within our church and it's nice that they can read some of the words in Spanish. So this is a good example of allowing the piece to guide you along the way. It also became apparent that the lettering needed to be "sketchy" and fit into the mood and look of the piece. So that's the capsule version of my though processes this morning.
It has been a fun piece to work on. As always, I learned more things about technique, subtlety, integration, shapes, etc. And that's why it is so important to create as much art as possible. Each art piece is like practicing all of those etudes and scales. It's the way art is learned! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The piece is now finished all but the handwritten text. It will be Psalm 55:1. You can see that the largest letters in the piece are an "A" and an "O". It's a reminder that God is the Alpha and Omega....the beginning and the end. All of the bits of gestural mark making and writing are symbolic of the cacophony of voices vying for our attention. But right beside these pieces are selections from the Psalms that give comfort to the soul.
As I recap the techniques used in this piece, I want to throw out some tips for making it successful. The first and most obvious thing is to have a variety of sizes. And if you happen to be using some old artwork cut up and reassembled, you might also want to use some solid colors with bits of texture to break up the monotony and look of contrivance that can result from simply cutting up a piece and reassembling it. Try to look at one or more of the smaller pieces as a work of art unto itself and yet fitting in with the whole.
In this piece, I made a deliberate choice to group the yellows together, the blues together, and the whites together. By making that decision, a more solid foundation for the piece is laid by having shapes within shapes. Color is a shape maker for sure, so that is an excellent place to begin your concept and shape arranging.
There will also need to be a lot of common denominators throughout the piece that create echoes. For instance, I have used a wide range of blues in different intensities and values, but it works altogether because I have echoes (or repeats) of every single one of those colors interspersed throughout the blue section.
Also notice that the undercoat is not the same in all of the pieces...although the mark making is similar. It's all of these kind of thoughts that lead to a dramatic conclusion. The sky is the limit here, so don't be afraid to try your own version of this and I think you will enjoy the process. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Today I have changed the title of the piece. This is just one of the many things that can happen when working. All of the fragments I have included from my old bible are scriptures about crying out to God. This title just seems to be more appropriate to the piece.
A little over half of the piece is now adhered to the support with gel matte medium. I also laid wax paper, a book, and a large rock on it overnight. This definitely insures that nothing comes up as I move into the final stretch. You can now see how the white toned pieces also create their own shape as well as the yellow at the bottom. I do love the idea of staggering the separate pieces in such a way that everything seems to be interlocking. And it's much more interesting than having each color be in a straight line.
So what I have learned about when to adhere the separate pieces is to get one color section adhered at a time. It is not doable to try to keep pieces where they go and having to constantly put them back in their places. However, it is important to wait until all of the pieces in a particular color range are placed before adhering to the support.
Another point to note is that it is not necessary to lay out a double palette of colors to create this kind of piece. (Even though that is the way to achieve color harmony when creating a painting.) This technique affords you the opportunity to use up some of those odd colors you may have purchased when you didn't know better.
The yellows, for instance, are raw sienna right out of the tube. I then mixed raw sienna with some cad. yellow light. Liquitex Parchment color plus cad yellow light created a nice chartreuse. But you can see that they are interspersed throughout the yellow section to create some interesting echoes. And I am doing the same thing with the blue area. I like mixing cobalt blue with cobalt turquoise and then throwing ultramarine blue in the mix. It makes for a very interesting color arrangement.
So if you want to work larger, you might want to give this approach some serious consideration. It allows you to work section by section to create a very dynamic surface treatment. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Slowly but surely the small and the large piece are coming together. The focus is on portraying Psalm 119: 130 visually and include this verse from The Message.
The collage technique I am using is an exciting way to use color and texture in a different way. Each piece is being prepared separately which can be time consuming, but I have speeded up the process by cutting many different squares and rectangles from 140 lb. HP.
The undercoat is painted on many of them at once and left to dry. I then come back later and apply the top coat with a palette knife. If I want my marks to reveal the undercoat a great deal than I use the corner of a credit card or metal palette knife to make gestural marks in the wet paint which in turn, reveals the color underneath. If I want sharper and more subtle marks, I dry the paint first and then spray it with rubbing alcohol and brayer over and over. I can then stop and scratch into the paint with the sharp corner of a palette knife. On some of the pieces, I then sprayed with alcohol and brayered over the surface again until satisfied with the texture. All of this is then dried and sprayed with acrylic coating before placing it on the support.
In a few pieces today, I did use a stamp into the wet topcoat and also stamped half of a handcut "O" with Speedball Printing Ink after the topcoat was dry. I also plan to create a small arched doorway with a palette knife, painting wet-into-wet for one of the pieces.
This technique offers a glorious opportunity to use fragments of old paintings, try new techniques, add text and rice paper, etc. Where you see large black spaces in today's posting is the support and will eventually be totally covered with my separate pieces. Some of the pieces have been moved around, but nothing has been adhered to the support just yet.
Today, I may adhere the white toned areas since most of them have been decided upon. It is very difficult to keep everything in place when nothing is secure. Part of the experimentation process is learning what works and doesn't work as you go along. If one section of color seems satisfying, then it just makes sense to go ahead and glue that down with gel matte medium to make it easier to fit the other colors in their places.
The key to success in this type of work is having enough common denominators throughout the piece and also having specific shapes by grouping a particular color together to form a larger shape. Having specific shapes helps to ground a collage that might otherwise look like a "hodge podge". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
As you can see, my piece is now in a horizontal format. My verse will be Psalm 119: 130...(The Message) And today I have much to say about this process as I move forward creating one small and one large piece simultaneously.
The gessobord for both pieces was painted with black gesso. I then painted both of them with black heavy body acrylic straight from the tube using a palette knife. Using a palette knife to apply all of the acrylic on each section was a decision I made based on several pieces I created a few years ago. The application of heavy acrylic, thoroughly dried, and then sprayed with acrylic spray coating creates a surface that looks like metal.
But I didn't stop with just one coat of paint. Each piece has an undercoating of either black, white, and today I will be creating some with a yellow/green undercoating. After the first coat has throughly dried, I painted and am still painting the top coat (using a palette knife) with either white, unbleached titanium, parchment (Liquitex), an assortment of blues, and an assortment of yellows and several yellow/green.
The "sgraffito" technique is very much in play (scratching into the top layer to reveal the undercoat). The other technique is spraying alcohol onto the top coat after it's dry and brayering to remove some paint and create more texture.
After yesterday, I can tell you that my plan today will be to cut up all of my remaining squares and rectangles and then proceed to do the undercoat on all of them. They will be laid on wax paper to dry while I do something else. The topcoat will then be created on all of the in an assembly line fashion.
The separate pieces are then arranged on top of the support, but nothing will be adhered to the support until every piece looks good and nothing bothers me. (shape wise or value wise) I have also chosen certain pieces to have some text with overlays of plain rice paper. There will also be small bits of other imagery before all is said and done.
And this is precisely why it is important not to adhere anything until it's completed. You might decide that one little section needs some additional lettering or imagery. In essence, a lot of small pieces are being created which could stand as a piece of art on their own and then compiled to create a larger piece.
By allowing the colors to create a band or shape of color, the completed piece will have shapes forming a larger shape within the same piece. It sounds complicated, but it is really an opportunity to use several techniques in the small sections which is endlessly fascinating.
It's very similar to creating a puzzle by making your pieces and then fitting them together. So I strongly encourage playing around with this type of approach. I was wanting to come back to the palette knife and this is just one way to do that. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Today's posting is the beginning of two new pieces based on Psalm 119. I have yet to decide on which verse(s) to use and so there will be a variety of verses from this longest chapter in the bible. It's also a new process in combination with some older techniques. This is a very exciting approach!
What I will be posting over the next few days is an 8" x 10" size, but I will also be working on a 24" x 36" size concurrently. They will both have the same elements, but just a bit different arrangement. So as I share the steps, keep in mind that I'm working on both pieces simultaneously.
I began by painting the gessobord with black gesso. Today, it will be painted again with Black Heavy Body Acrylics applied with a palette knife. While all of that is drying, I will be cutting up squares and rectangles of 140 lb. HP for both pieces. Some will have all straight edges and some will be torn.
In today's posting, you can see (3) pieces already painted. I painted black acrylic on each section first and dried with a hair dryer. I selected three colors to alternate with on my smaller pieces. (Each section might be painted with titanium white...unbleached titanium...parchment (Liquitex)...etc.) After applyimg these colors over the black paint with a palette knife, I dried them....sprayed them with alcohol...brayering until satisfied with the texture and then repeating this over and over again. I then took the sharp edge of a cut up credit card and wrote a few words and then sprayed with alcohol and brayered again.
All of my palette knife painting will be done with undiluted heavy body acrylics right out of the tube. And unless otherwise noted, all of my acrylics are Golden with few exceptions. Some of my squares and rectangles will also have old bible text from Psalm 119 and also some rice paper. I may even include some mono printed rice papers if needed. I have decided on a horizontal format for both pieces with a black, white, yellow, and blue color scheme with white and yellow dominating.
There may also be some raised areas by mounting some of the shapes onto balsa wood. I also might be including some kiln formed glass pieces. The sky is the limit in this type of work. Hopefully, your mind is already whirling with the possibilities of this approach.
Just to sum it up, I am basically covering the entire support with these squares and rectangles. This allows me total freedom in what to include, leave out, or rearrange. Nothing will be adhered to the support until all of the separate pieces are done to my satisfaction. I will then have the option to write my selected verse(s) at the end after everything is adhered. This technique should take the "fear" factor out of your head since you can discard or rework any paper you don't like. This is taking collage to a whole new level. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
($250.00.......11" x 14".....Mixed Media....Kiln Formed Glass...Presented in a Custom Frame)
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." (Psalm 40:1....NIV) After (5) drafts, the piece is now done. Hope you have enjoyed watching the process. I will be doing one more psalm and it will be the largest.
The only thing I added to the piece since yesterday was the white lettering. I alternated between ruling pen and a Speedball C-5 using WN Bleedproof White Gouache. I then touched up with a Leonardt Principal Nib. My goal was to create some expressive lettering with a lot of line variation.
Just to recap some of my thought processes...I did keep everything in the realm of the book arts. All of the materials used would be elements that one might see in a book. Even the glass inclusion has some non verbal lettering. What brings it into the realm of fine art is the design, the materials used (all archival) and the presentation. It will be presented in a very historical looking frame, under glass, with a balsa wood spacer in between the glass and artwork. (This creates a shallow shadow box and is a very elegant way of presenting this type of work.)
My total focus in combining all of the elements was to integrate a wide variety of shapes and values, as well as the three focal points of all of my artwork which is opacity, transparency, and translucency. Integration was achieved by having echoes of all of the elements throughout the piece.
As I said earlier in the process, any artist could have stopped just by laying down the marbled paper....followed by the one text page and handmade paper....ending with the glass element. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing that, but it is infinitely more interesting to have many layers of papers. And by choosing what to reveal and conceal, the shapes are arranged in an interlocking fashion with a lot of variation in value which creates depth.
So if you haven't tried this type of layering, you might want to give it a try. Shapes can also be created with paint...followed by the inclusion of papers in select areas. There are some artists who collect old pieces of paper off of the ground for heaven's sake!
The sky is the limit. Just keep the main thing, the main thing and keep it simple. It will get complicated enough with the selection of just (3 or 4) elements. Remember that all I selected in the first draft was a sheet of marbled paper, a fragment of handmade paper, and a piece of kiln fired glass. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
The draft from yesterday bothered me a lot so I have spent one more day adjusting values by removing some of the darker values with a stiff brush and rubbing alcohol in addition to adding more rice paper. Today I am satisfied that I can now deal with the lettering. Notice that the shapes are much more identifiable and you can see the range of values from light to dark.
As I expected, looking at draft (3) on my iphone led to an immediate conclusion that the values were still wrong. At first I thought it would just be a matter of removing some of the darker values with rubbing alcohol, but that was not enough.
So this morning I made the decision to add more rice papers to lighten up several of the shapes that connected to the focal point and went to the edge. I also knew that placing rice paper over a semi medium value would not be light enough so I painted those shapes with (2) coats of white gesso. I dried them and then did some writing in pencil over the gesso. That's what you see in (image 1).
The next step was to place some plain rice paper over each of those areas and cut around them with a break off knife right on the piece. Those areas were slightly smaller than the previous layer so the edge of the underneath layer would show. After adhering the papers and drying them, I sprayed the piece with acrylic spray coating and brushed on (2) coats of dilute gel matte medium.
I integrated those areas into the piece by brushing over them with a light gray. There was one more area on the left edge where I laid down two more pieces of rice paper...followed by drying and brushing with soft pastels again. All of this was then sprayed again with acrylic coating and the handmade paper set into place. I then placed the piece on the floor...added the frame to check the values one last time.
The new areas were still a bit too dark so I removed some of the color with a stiff brush and rubbing alcohol. The piece was sprayed again followed by preparing the surface for lettering. I did some pointed brush lettering at the bottom, but didn't care for it, so I washed it off with a brush dipped in water followed by blotting. What you see in image (2) is the end of the background.
The lettering will be the final touch. I hope you see how the shapes are much more defined and you can actually see a range of shapes and values now. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Today's image is the third draft of "He Heard My Cry". I have done a considerable amount of adjusting the values with additional rice papers and a lot of pastel work. Today I will be viewing the piece on my iPhone which allows me to see it in a whole new perspective. There is something about viewing your work as a flat image and simply getting away from it physically that will show you what else needs to be done. So if you don't blog, at least take a photo of it and study it during the day.
At this point, everything is adhered to the support except the handmade paper and glass inclusion. Today I will adhere it to the 11" x 14" flat gessobord panel and weight it down to dry. I also will be considering any other adjustments. I have already set the stage for white lettering at the bottom and because I have subdued the background considerably, I will probably opt for gestural writing and white bleedproof white. I am also considering a bit of pencil lettering in that area before the white lettering is written.
Since yesterday, I have cropped the piece to its finished size and then positioned and repositioned the large bible page, handmade paper, and glass inclusion about a million times. I was very careful not to adhere anything until I determined where I needed some more marbled paper and plain rice paper. But even before all of that, I brushed on a lot of soft pastels to create some darker areas and integrate the piece with my frame. The frame has a brownish red and black color with a gold trim around the opening. The gold looks very good with all of the aged yellowish tones in the piece. So when you are creating a piece that will be framed, I strongly encourage you to select your frame before finishing the piece so you can adjust any of the values and colors for a better integration.
My frame also has a historical look to it which lends itself to this type of presentation. (In the past, I have referred to these type of pieces as my library pieces.) And if you think about it, all of the elements give a nod to the book arts and books are found in libraries. As time goes on, books may become obsolete so I definitely want to do my part in preserving the written word.
In this third draft, my entire focus was on shapes, edges, and values. And you do need some kind of focus and a goal as to what you are trying to achieve when creating layers. If you simply place paint or elements wherever you feel like it, you might succeed part of the time, but eventually it is important to have a focus on what you're doing.
One of the most important things I've learned to focus on is the fact that artwork is made up of shapes. All over backgrounds created with sponges and a dab here and there does not create shapes. That is precisely why the "edge to edge " concept is important. The minute you extend a line, shape, or connecting shapes from edge to edge, you have created several shapes by dividing the design space into two or more parts. That's exactly why the cruciform format (vertical and horizontal from edge to edge) is so effective.
In this piece, that thought of extending shapes from edge to edge played a role in deciding where to add my additional marbled papers. The placement of those papers connecting the handmade paper and old bible page to the top and bottom edge keep the focal point from floating in space. It's not that vignettes are wrong....they just cannot compete with the dynamic pieces that have well designed shapes and depth. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Monday, June 3, 2013
The title of my piece is now settled. It comes from Psalm 40: 1 . I have yet to decide on the translation so I will post the verse in the final. There will be one more draft before the final, but you can see that I have added some old bible pages and plain rice paper. The handmade paper and old introductory page (1911) are simply laying on the top and their placement will be decided today.
If you like this process of laying down one sheet of marbled paper and then laying down text and rice paper overlays, be sure to have extra of this paper for some final touches. Fortunately, I bought (5) sheets of this particular pattern and colors. I may be adding some pieces of that on top of some of the rice papers at the end.
So what I am trying to do with this process is create an interesting pattern with the text, rice papers, and marbled paper. And just a side note about marbled papers...even when they are mass produced, each one is different and has to be hand pulled from the floating colors in the vat. So they are essentially handmade and created on archival papers which makes them a superior paper to use unless you want to use your own handmade mono prints or other papers.
This particular pattern and colors integrates extremely well with old text pages and handmade papers. I will be adjusting the values of the plain rice papers today by brushing on some soft pastels. This will create the darks that are needed and also reveal more of the overlapping edges.
Since yesterday, I adhered the full sheet of marbled paper to 300 lb. HP. I did this so that I have cropping options. You can adhere things directly to a gessobord, but you will live with your beginning layout. I then added one layer of text pages and plain rice papers....some of them overlapping. I then took a photograph before spraying with acrylic coating so you could see how opaque those rice papers are before they are sprayed. That's what you see in (image 1).
The next step was to add more rice papers...overlapping some of the first ones, but always revealing the edge of the first one laid down. I then found the introductory page to my bible and want to include it with my handmade paper, but they are not adhered yet. I want to add my soft pastels first and adjust some of the values.
So I have more decisions to make today (including cropping the image to an 11" x 14"). I am confident it will be a well designed piece because of my initial choices of materials. It will dramatically change before tomorrow. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
A new day and the beginning of a new piece. It really isn't necessary to use all of your techniques in one piece. Visual overload is generally caused by including too much and not having the design elements well integrated. So stay tuned and watch the selection of (3) elements and how they will "morph" and change over the next few days.
All I am showing you today is the selection of three materials that please me, but more importantly, they all have common denominators and yet they contrast with each other texturally. The most common denominator in selecting materials to use in a piece is the design element of color. My first thought as I was considering a new piece was to do one more that included handmade papers, but do it in such as way that artists who might still be struggling with laying down colors and textures would find "user friendly".
So after deciding on a piece of handmade paper, I looked through my "stash" of marbled papers and found this beautiful antique paper which has a lot of white (common denominator with the handmade paper), but also has some beautiful passages of grays and a tint of red/orange.
I also like to keep true to my vision of having transparency in my work so I looked through my "stash" of kiln formed glass pieces and found some with a darker value of the red/orange, plus a bit of black. So I have contained in the glass elements some darker values of the same colors in the marbled paper. And even though I will not use all three pieces of glass...I at least have some size and shape options by pulling out all three.
And so it goes in deciding the elements to combine in creating a mixed media piece. There will be more inclusions of other elements such as some possible old text pages, as well as some plain rice papers and perhaps some pastels.
Today, I will decided whether or not to leave the marbled paper as a whole sheet cropped to fit a particular size gessobord panel or to tear it in strips and alternate between text pages and rice paper. Alternating horizontal bands of papers might give a more integrated look and also introduces the design elements of alternation and repetition which create rhythm in a piece of artwork.
The other option is to leave it in tact and cover up portions of the marbled paper with rice papers which will create different sized shapes, edges, and values which can also be adjusted with soft pastels. In either case, the next step will determine the support upon which the handmade paper will lay upon.
What I hope you can see through this commentary is that I am avoiding the most obvious choice which would be to adhere the marbled paper to the panel...followed by the handmade paper on top of that and then adhering the glass to the handmade paper.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this choice, but the piece can be infinitely more integrated and interesting by considering other choices. Keep reminding yourself that paintings and all types of artwork are make up of shapes. The way the space is divided to create those shapes is an eternal and exciting exploration and is part of the reason we do what we do. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
($125.00)....8" x 8"....Mixed Media Mounted on a Gessobord Panel....Presented in a Custom Frame)
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119: 11...NIV) So here is the final of this 8" x 8" piece presented under glass in a frame with a balsa wood spacer between glass and art. It is a spectacular way to present this kind of work rather than using a shadow box with a 2" depth.
If you like ethereal and aged looks, you will love this way of layering. In essence, it is alternating layers of white gesso over color which was dried and sprayed with spray acrylic coating and prepared for lettering. Brush lettering was added followed by soft pastels. It was then sprayed again and prepared for the next layer and another layer of white gesso (diluted) was applied with a credit card and then brayered. But the next step will give you some nice texture. You end up by spraying alcohol onto the surface and then brayering in all directions and many times...spraying again with alcohol....brayering....etc. until you're satisfied.
The final lettering was done with a Leonardt Principal nib and Winsor Newton Bleedproof White gouache. The only caution I would give in creating this type of collage / assemblage is to keep the main thing the main thing and don't add anything that is "cutesy craftsy" and don't add too many things. Simplicity is the hallmark of elegance and subtlety.
Hopefully, you have seen another way to create a piece with handmade paper inclusions. One last pointer...papers are a definite part of the book arts. So think of inclusions that go along with that category. You could include a small antique book...part of a book cover...marbled paper...wax seals...an old pen...text pages...etc. Keep it simple and get ideas for dividing your space by observing well done pieces that are elegant. If handmade papers are treated as an elegant inclusion, more than likely, it will be "gallery worthy". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.
Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.