Saturday, December 31, 2011

"A Way of Seeing"

($40.00....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Drawing is a way of seeing that transcends a brief and casual observation." Even if you do not draw, the principle of keen observation is applicable in all areas of life. Awareness must come before change occurs.

Trees, especially when the limbs are exposed, is a fascinating study of line. The diagonals created by the branches with abrupt changes in direction have been a source of inspiration for artists in every medium. By its very nature, the act of drawing or sketching causes the artist to consider every aspect of the shape and form of the object being drawn.

The lettering was written with a pointed pen and more or less drawn rather than using a press / release technique. I decided not to use any guidelines to practice squeezing and stretching the letters as I went along. The "white on white" effect always works especially if writing on a hazy translucent white. In several places I also used a stiff brush dipped in alcohol to remove some of the white gesso. It creates a bit of texture and an aged look along the edges. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Pine Cones"

($40.00....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Pine cones are perfect in their spontaneous texture and form." I like to compare the form and texture of pine cones to the human personality. No two are alike, but their characteristics are perfect in texture and form.

It was fun to juxtapose the very realistic image of the pine cone next to my ink drawing. The drawing is not precise, but that is the charm of expressive drawing. It could have been drawn with other materials, but this is my interpretation with an emphasis on the triangular shapes that are repeated in the form.

If you haven't tried drawing you should start. I began this drawing with my pointed pen and Moon Palace Ink (surface prepared with diluted gel matte medium). It is a contour drawing which means I just followed the outline of the basic form of the cone. I then added crosshatching, ink splatters, and black soft pastel to give it some depth.

If you have trouble quieting yourself internally so that you have the ability to focus creatively, I can guarantee that drawing will put you on the right side of your brain immediately. I like what Nick Meglin says in his book Drawing from Within...."When you are drawing from within, your chief concerns should be what and why rather than how a drawing is done....During the initial stages of drawing your concentration should be limited to what you see and feel and the act of expressing yourself.  (Just a few more things to try or think about.)

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Opposites Attract"

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Opposites attract in art and relationships." Too much of the same thing tends to create boredom. I suppose that's why opposites are attracted to each other. The evidence seems to prove that two opposites make a complete whole rather than two of the same thing.

In this extreme close up of a chandelier, the crystal next to the iron work is just about as opposite as you can get. In art, these contrasts are very important. Some of the other important contrasts to think about are: contrast in size...contrast between edges (crisp or diffused)...realism contrasted w/ abstraction...light vs. dark...contrast of line (thick / thin)...detail vs. no detail...etc.

Noticing the contrasts you see on any given day is another way to get your head wrapped around the opposites in our visual world. Too much harmony and not enough contrast is generally the number one problem of artwork that will not hold your visual interest for more than five seconds. Having too much contrast will also cause a viewer to look away quickly. The visual overload is just too much to handle. Finding the balance is the essence of integration and worth thinking about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Ivy and Berries"

($40.00......mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Ivy and berries illustrate the visual power of small things repeated incessantly." Repetition not only creates visual power, but creates power or success in any area of life. Nothing is learned without repetition.

Slowly, but surely, I am contrasting realism (as in photography) with sketching and drawing. This is becoming part of my layering process and it will be exciting to see where it ends. Certainly a sketch or drawing can stand on its own, but the "mixed media" part of me always wants to combine techniques. For me this is what process is all about.

The "sketchiness" of the lettering is also a reflection of the ivy that was sketched.  Mark making, erratic, lines, and spontaneous processes of any kind are absolutely compelling because they reveal the impulse of the artist. The way you learn to draw is by drawing anything and everything. Process in any area is all about repeating it over and over again until the skill is learned. My encouragement to all fellow artists is to "stay calm and carry on". Don't be overwhelmed by the process. Just keep comparing, analyzing, and doing....repeatedly. This is something we should all think about and then do.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Looking In or Out"

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"There's a big difference between looking in or looking out." It's also like saying that it is warm and cozy in our comfort zone, but there's is so much more to experience by walking out of the cozy environment. This is applicable on so many levels and well worth a bit of meditation.

Ready or not, I am jumping into a much freer and more expressive use of lettering, mark making, and drawing. I can attest to the fact that this is incredibly difficult for me, but what do I have to lose? Will the lettering "police" come and take me away? The fact of the matter is that blogging every day is what will hold your feet to the fire, but it will also open you up to criticism. The more important point is whether a person has the pure motivation of wanting to write expressively, but also desiring to improve in the process. In the end, it is worth the risk.

As for me, I am adopting a rather "risky" attitude and following the advice of Davy Crockett...."You may all go to hell. I will go to Texas!" (change the words that will apply)  Of course, I say that with "tongue in cheek" and those who know me are well aware that I typically do not swear, but there does come a time when you must get some backbone and determination and let the nay sayers and discouragers take a "flying leap".

I promise in the New Year to give encouragement and absolutely no negatives to anyone who has the courage to pick up the pen, pencil, paint brush, etc. Creating art is tough and fun and altogether uncertain, but definitely worth the risk. May you have the courage to do what you must! And there you have it....a whole lot to think about for the next year!

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, December 26, 2011

"Refracted Light"

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Wisdom is like refracted light that reveals truth based on the source of light." This quote passes over the physical and spiritual realm simultaneously. Our eyes can see and enjoy refracted light when it passes through cut glass, yet it also touches the deepest parts and origin of our core belief system.

Today is the beginning of my photographic techniques slowing morphing and including expressive drawing and writing. It is quite difficult to move away from "comfort zones", but it is time.

Going into a new year is generally when most people set new goals and make decisions that take them into uncharted territory. My journey will be a slow and steady approach and my hope is that by sharing my process, you will be inspired to look again at your own process of creating art.

In this piece, I altered the image a bit more. I began by printing the photo onto Arches Text Wove after doing a monoprint with Caran d'Ache Caribbean Sea Ink greatly diluted and transferred to wet paper. That changed it from a black and white image to hints of blue.

After fixing the image by spraying (3x) with Acrylic Spray Coating, I brushed slightly diluted gesso over the whole piece. I then sprayed the image with water over a disposable plate, revealing the areas that became the focus. My next step was to introduce more color with the application of soft pastels which created the purple and cobalt blue areas. (Scrape off the pastel onto a paper plate and apply with soft brush.) I discovered that soft pastels adhere to gesso quite nicely so it is a wonderful way to add color with any gesso techniques you are already including in your process. Of course, the piece had to be sprayed again (2x) with Acrylic Spray Coating and then prepared for lettering by brushing on a dilute portion of gel matte medium. (Heat will need to be applied to the surface at the same time you're brushing on the medium in order to get it to attach to the slick surface.)

These are just a few things to think about as you make plans for the new year and think about process.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Christmas Morning"

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends! Our HOPE has come!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Fountains and Flowers"

( the collection of dee day)

"Fountains and flowers are natural companions for any celebration." Not all Christmas Eve celebrations happen with snow falling. Many happen in tropical climates which can also be very special even without the snow and evergreens. I was drawn to this image in the same context of Christmas because most of my teen years was spent in the Rio Grande Valley. This would have been a typical scene in a hotel or town square. In fact, I was in bermuda shorts on many of those Christmas celebrations. So whether you are enjoying snow or tropical plants, may your Christmas Eve be festive.

This photo was actually taken in a public square in Sedona, Az. I enjoyed zooming in at many different angles to get the best composition. This one happens to be my favorite because of the interesting division of space and the flower contrasted against the neutral color of the fountain.

If you like pointed pen techniques and like to frame a piece with some simple flourishing, one of the things I think about is allowing the flourish to begin from one edge...go off of the edge and reappear from another edge as though it were one continuous line. It is a wonderful way to practice your "press / release" technique and enjoy the process at the same time. I think all of us could learn lettering a lot quicker by just playing with the pen and enjoying the tactile sensations rather than always focusing on forming the letters immediately. Once you understand what the pen will do, it is much easier to learn the letters. It also helps to learn the form of the letter with pencil first because it is very difficult to struggle with the pen, ink, and form at the same time. If you absolutely know what the letter looks like (after much pencil practice and even tracing), it will be so much easier to then deal with the pen and ink (or gouache).

As you can see (or read), I have my "teacher hat" on today. I just have a tremendous desire for those of you who want to do well with your lettering to have success and be encouraged to pick up the pen everyday. It takes courage and you have my full support. I do not despise "small beginnings" because everyone has to start somewhere. Just some more things to try or think about as we quickly approach a new year and new beginnings.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Shiny and Bright Things"

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"The spirit of joy can stay after shiny and bright things are all tucked away." We don't need to have all of the decorations on display to continue enjoying a spirit of Christmas joy year round. But if you want the constant reminder, save out one or two of those shiny and bright ornaments to display year round.

The pouring medium came back to help give the gradation from distinct to indistinct imagery. This kind of hazy, gradated look is the perfect backdrop for lettering and flourishing. I chose a close up shot for the drama. Zooming in with your camera automatically creates a more dynamic image that can be seen across the room. If you haven't had time to take some shots of your Christmas decorations, try to do it before they come down. It will also provide you with many opportunities to draw and paint reflective surfaces.

As we begin to think about goals for the new year, I hope I can convince as many of you as possible to do your utmost to improve your skills of observation. Since I happen to be older than most of you, I've had opportunities to notice many things about how students learn or don't learn. I would place at the top of the list the need to improve this particular skill of observation. It begins primarily by comparing and contrasting things. If something doesn't look right (if it's not convincing) try to figure out why. Ask yourself questions. It takes very little to change a line in drawing or lettering so pay attention to the subtle differences in both areas. Join a group (i.e. "Sketch Austin" with Sharon Zeugin) or take a class that interests you to elevate your skill level.

That's my little motivational speech for the day. Hope it gives yet a few more things to try or think about!

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"A Rich Patina"

($40.00......mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"The birth of Christ was like fresh water creating a rich patina in time." Anywhere there is a fountain or water running over a surface, patina will gradually appear creating a rich texture. This image says that loud and clear and drives home the core concept of the quote. Christ indeed created a hugh paradigm shift with His birth. That is something to really think about.

There is no pouring medium on this photographic image. However, I did switch to a 90lb. hot press watercolor paper. Before printing the image, I wrote a couple of words with pencil and then bent the paper to allow only a small strip of the paper to touch my puddle of Walnut Ink. You can see it starting at the top left hand corner and going to the bottom. The image was then printed on my printer and sprayed 3x with Spray Acrylic Coating. Most inks and gouache will definitely bleed if you don't spray it well and dry in between coats.

The next step was to prepare the surface for writing. I've explained that process before so if you check the labels at the bottom of the post and look for "surface preparation", you will find those details.

It is rare to have a photographic image with this much patina and texture already there, but this was a glorious fountain I saw in Sedona, Az. When you want to print a photo like this and keep all of the details as sharp as press paper will do that for you better than Arches Text Wove because there is literally no texture on this paper. It is as smooth as glass. It is not quite as forgiving as Text Wove, but if you're surface is prepared with gel matte medium, you will be able to remove any lettering mistakes. For instance, I started writing my first line of text on the second line and removed the first line completely. You would not know that if I hadn't told you.

The last thing you might want to notice is the excellent division of space that was in the image naturally and the placement of the lettering that provides a connection between the faucet and fountain bowl. All of these considerations are what bring a piece of art together. These are just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"The Christmas Prayer"

( the permanent collection of dee day)

"The Christmas Prayer is filled with expectant hope." This beautiful relief sculpture with scroll work and Mary praying is a reminder of the expectant hope we have in the Christ child. With Christmas quickly approaching, it is good to think deeply about the reason for the season.

The technique with this photographic image is a bit different than the previous ones I've been posting. I used a bit heavier paper (Arches Cover) and applied Golden Crackle Paste randomly with a palette knife, making sure not to cover the entire surface. This was left to dry overnight. It could have been dried with a hair dryer, but the places where the paste was thicker does not set up as well unless it dries on its own.

The next step was to create a monoprint with Caran d'Ache inks. I used a mixture of Caribbean Sea and Grand Canyon (brown). The brown knocked down the intensity of the blue.

Fortunately, the thickness of the paper as well as the crackle paste made it through my printer with no problem. The texture is extremely dynamic and overall, I was pleased with the image and the vagueness of Mary praying. The last thing I did before spraying the piece with acrylic coating was add some burnt sienna and white soft pastels separately.

This is a technique worth trying so I hope I've given you a few more things to try or think about.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Star, Bell, and Tree"

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"A star, a bell, and a tree converged on the landscape with warm greetings." This beautiful photo was taken in Silverado, Colorado. Enjoy all the beautiful images you see as you move through your day. They are everywhere!

There is a beautiful contrast in this piece between organic and manmade shapes. Both shapes extend from edge to edge vertically, making it a great division of space. They are harmonious in the sense that they're both vertical and have an apex at the top, but they also have extreme contrast in texture, color, line, and shape.

The focus on photography this month has made me even more aware of how much can be learned about composition so quickly. If you have young people in your home or life, it can also be a way to ease them into understanding composition and move into the technical aspects of drawing and painting. (It is useful to carry a small camera in your purse or backpack with a zoom lens for those unexpected things you might see while you're out and about.)

For those of you who are into offhand flourishing, note the placement and direction of the flourish. It leads your eye right to the tree, bell, star, and quote. It's almost like an invitation to come into the piece. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, December 19, 2011


( the permanent collection of dee day)

"Poinsettias say Merry Christmas by their presence alone." This piece could have been dedicated to my mother if she were still alive. On second thought, I think I will go ahead and dedicate it to her anyway. She loved poinsettias at Christmas and they did extremely well in the tropical climate of South Texas. Enjoy looking at these beautiful flowers for a few more days. I am sure you will see some, even at the grocery store.

This piece is a classic example of the two most powerful complementary colors placed in a neutral colored pot. Notice that there is only a small bit of green. In fact, when using direct complements, it is best not to allow each color to take up equal percentages of space. It is much more powerful to let one of the two complements dominant.

Another point about using white lettering if there is no white in the image. In this case, I mixed titanium white (out of the tube) with Liquitex Pouring Medium. Some of the specks of white will stay suspended in the medium which gives you a random placement of white specks to tie in with the lettering. The flourish in the upper right hand corner also unifies the color scheme. The white lettering would not have been nearly as effective if these connections were not established.

Another point, also, about cropping. I originally wanted to include the entire container in my piece. It didn't have the "wow" factor and the insignia on the pot wasn't showcased so the entire problem was resolved by zooming in and cropping the image up close. The "rule of thumb" is to allow the focal point to take up the largest percentage of your design space. Just something to think about.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Merry Christmas"

( the permanent collection of dee day)

"We wish you a Merry Christmas from our tree to yours." This special greeting is our Christmas card this year. Enjoy the celebration of the birth of Christ and all of the special events that make this time of the year so special!

Christmas trees are so unique and different from one home to another. I wanted to share the specific characteristics of our tree with all of you by choosing this close-up shot of one of our Texas Capital Ornaments. There are at least a dozen more unique Capital Ornaments on the tree.  (available from the Texas Capital Gift Store.)  There are also lots of gold stars on our tree with cascading streamers descending from the bow at the top. It would be fun to have an entire album of different trees from family and friends. (That could be a project for next year.)

This image of course began with a photograph. I am here to tell you that much more had to be done to make it what it is. The tree branches washed out a bit after the Pouring Medium was applied, so I solved that problem by using (3) different shades of soft pastels applied with a brush. The Capital Ornament also was too indistinct so I printed another copy and cut out the emblem and made it an element of collage. This is why it is important to have many techniques on hand. You just never know when you might need pastels, collage, etc.,  to bring a piece to life.

Of course, the Script Lettering and Flourishing is where I chose to spend most of my efforts. And that has been my focus this entire month. You will see a bit more and then I will shift gears in January with expressive drawing, collage, and expressive writing (hopefully). Enjoy your own celebration and truly have the merriest of Christmases!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Shiny Ornaments"

($40.00....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Shiny ornaments are the bling that dress the house at Christmas." There are so many shiny and reflective surfaces to enjoy at Christmas. It will soon be gone so enjoy the visual delight. It's everywhere!

Contrast is easy to overlook when designing a piece of artwork. Just having a subject or theme that's exciting can take us all on a flight of fancy until the entire piece is done and we realize that something is missing. More often than not, that something is probably contrast. Harmony is a wonderful thing, but too much of it can lead to boredom.

Take for instance the Christmas balls in a bowl. I think they look great in a glass bowl, but then everything is shiny and reflective. So in the case of this photo, I decided to put them in a wooden bowl which is a totally different material and surface texture. It adds a bit more drama and satisfies that need for contrast. Also consider the size of the objects in your still life shot. If all of the Christmas balls are the same size and kind, that too can be boring...and then there is contrast of color and shape. And on it goes. It sounds very easy to do, but I can tell you from experience that the failure to think about these things is easy to do when trying to make all of the other decisions that must be made to create a piece.

Christmas offers up a lot of visuals that provide ample opportunity to study the design principles of harmony and contrast. Just another thing to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 16, 2011


($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Transparency is an amazing quality that describes some types of glass as well as people with integrity." This is a close up shot of a chandelier in an antique store. The contrast between the iron and glass was stunning and the whole image brought this quote to my mind. It also has a historic look and sparkle of Christmas.

The first layer of this image created the "wow" factor. I did a monoprint on Arches Text Wove, using ink instead of Walnut Ink. It is Caran d'Ache Caribbean Sea, diluted with a bit of water and monoprinted on very wet paper. The actual photograph shows the glass as clear with little or no color. It will give you quite the adrenalin rush to experiment with these intense inks so you might want to peruse through your photos and look for some transparent glass. I suppose you could accomplish this look in Photoshop, but you would not have the "random" placement of the blue.

Just in case you may not know how to do a monoprint, let me explain. Pour or mix a bit of color, using any water media, onto a hard surface creating a puddle. Spray a piece of watercolor paper (or leave dry) and lay the paper over the puddle and press over the back with your hand. Lift and there's your monoprint. You can even do it several times until you're satisfied with the print. Dry and print your photo.

There is also a lot of gradation going on in this piece...not only in the image, but in the lettering. Gradation in lettering can happen two ways. You can either change the value of the medium as you write or you can use one value to write with and letter over several different values in the image. Either way will achieve a gradated effect. (Some viewers will hate this if it is more difficult to read, but it does achieve a nice "fading out" effect.) I will say that this quote is very readable if you are holding the original in your hand. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"The Fir Tree" (unavailable)


"The fir tree poses like a living statue and throws its fragrance into the air." This is one of those poetic quotes that is designed to stir up special memories of Christmas trees in the home or the undecorated ones still in their original setting. Have fun thinking about and enjoying the trees in or out of the house.

Today is my 280th posting and it causes me to stop and think more deeply about process and how artwork gets created. I have noticed that most people, including myself, get to a certain level of proficiency and then tend to coast. The artists that truly excel are the ones who keep pushing through to the next level, continuing to notice the little "nuances" that will make their work better.

After blogging day after day, I will admit that there are days when weariness sets in and surrounds me like a fog. But because I'm a determined "little 'cuss", I have ploughed through the fatigue and much to my amazement, it is that process of moving forward in spite of obstacles that causes me to dig deeper. So I guess my point never give up and keep honing your observation skills, keep practicing, keep taking classes, and eventually it all comes together in a way that is satisfying to you and others. Just some words of encouragement to think about.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Time Fades Away"


"Time fades away and politely bows out for special occasions." If you can remember the times when time seemed suspended because you were enjoying a very special occasion, this quote and image will speak to you on a very deep level. It could be a private moment or a time of socializing with a room full of family or friends. In either case, enjoy the recollections that come to mind.

This picture was taken in Silverado, Colorado. Capturing it again in a piece of art stirs up my own special memories. I hope you are noticing how spencerian script adds a historic feel to old buildings like this or architectural elements. The placement of the offhand flourishing was key in this piece and follows the branches of the tree that are already in the photo. I remember Hazel Dolby's words ringing in my ears about now. She advised our class to always ask the question..."Is it convincing?" Placement of flourishing, lettering, division of space, color choices, techniques, etc......all have to do with the answer to this question. If something is not convincing, the viewer will not be able to look at your work for any length of time.

So have some fun taking special photos while all of the decorations are out. Photographs can be printed on thin watercolor papers and then modified in a number of ways. What I have been doing is only one way. Try adding bits of well placed collage pieces, tea bag stains over the image, additional linework, even a drawing will transform your photograph into a piece of art. Remember that Acrylic Spray Coating will need to be sprayed over your image at some point in time to keep the toner from bleeding. It will be very susceptible to moisture if you don't do this. However, you might not want to spray anything at all. If you have printed your image on very good paper (i.e. Arches Text Wove), you will be able to write on it without spraying. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Gone to Texas"


"There is no place like home or Texas for the holidays." What can I say. A Texas theme just seems to pop up out of no where! Enjoy the flavor of our state...even in the Christmas decorations. It will make your heart proud!

This is actually a segment of a larger piece I created when Capital City Scribes had an exhibit at the Austin Airport. The letters were created with a hand cut stamp inspired by some old type I ran across. The concho was actually tied with leather strapping to the canvas. Yes, I actually poked a hole in the canvas and tied it in the back. (And that's not the only "scary" thing I've done, bringing a piece to the brink of disaster!) It's called "taking a risk" and when it doesn't work, some very creative cover-up has to take place.

This "stone and encaustic" look was achieved once again by monoprinting walnut ink on the paper before running it through my printer. I did use Titan Buff Acrylic plus Pouring Medium to achieve that "hazy" encaustic look. As for the lettering...this particular surface feels like you're writing on a light coat of wax and very often the lettering almost disappears into the surface. For that reason, it is sometimes necessary to go over the lettering an additional time to make it dark enough to see. This does cause the spencerian script to lose some of its delicate line, but it simply cannot be helped. Even so, it's worth the trouble, but will require a little bit of practice to retrace the lettering. Just a few more additional things to try or think about.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Pinnacles of Stability"

"Classical form and tradition are the pinnacles of stability." There are seasons of celebration with family, friends, and as a country. They are important as markers of stability both individually and collectively. Just something to think about during the most celebrated holiday of the year.

This is another image from the Biltmore. The largest home in America has some of the most classical architecture I've ever seen. This is part of a bannister and my favorite form in this historic home. I used the same Pouring Medium techniques, but added a bit of collage to celebrate the Christmas season.

When taking photographs, it is good to be thinking about composition. The way you divide the space in a photographic shot will give you a repertoire of images to use when back in the studio. Generally speaking, I like to divide my design space going edge to edge. Zooming in will also offer a stronger focal point. With all the lights and colorful images this time of year, it is exciting to take many pictures and practice your compositional skills in the process.

The lettering in this piece was not the primary focus. It can be read, but the white on white values cause it to merge quietly into the background. But I can assure you that this image will read quite well from across the room. So the decision to allow the lettering to take a lesser role is sometimes the best choice if the image is dominating the space. These are just some things to observe, try, and think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Spirit of Grace" (sold)


"Prayer is the spirit of grace flowing through us." This image from a cathedral in Santa Fe was the perfect background for this prayer quote. My personal prayer is that it will inspire you to pray and meditate on the grace of God today.

When writing on top of a photographic image, I think it is important to use techniques that will help the image recede into the background. Just writing on top of a photograph can often create a conflict of interest between the photo and the lettering. So if you have been captivated by this technique, refer to the late November or early December postings to review the instructions. It is a process that requires several steps of drying in between and finally drying overnight in order to be able to write on the surface.

The lettering I chose for this piece is a very unusual and compressed Spanish versal from the 1st century. I've always been fond of it because it has an "aged" quality and characteristics that are very charming. It was written with a pointed pen and Winsor Newton Bleedproof White. The little dots were fun to do and carried over into the flourishing. Yet another thing to try or think about.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Roses at Christmas" (sold)


"Roses at Christmas express feelings that cannot be uttered with words." This particular flower has exquisite form, color, and texture. Just one rose can say more than one dozen of another kind. Just try placing one red rose among your decorations and it will add a richness that cannot be achieved by other means which is probably why men tend to choose roses when they want to say what they feel in their heart.

If you are a bit weary of script at this point...never fear. I don't tend to stay on a particular track for too long. Although flourishing may remain through December. That's the beauty of a daily blog, you can go until you tire of something and then switch to something else. It seems to "morph" quite automatically.

Process is the "nuts and bolts" of creating art and any process that creates a climate of growth in your process is worth pursuing. Even taking the techniques or lettering style that you are good with is worth  going back to again and again. It helps make sure your don't forget what you do know and learn some more "nuanced" details that might have been overlooked in the first go around. That is why I've chosen to take the month of December and practice flourishing again. I don't do it everyday, but making a deliberate choice to do it for a season gets me back into it very quickly. So, the point is...that no matter what area of art you are working on, don't forget the areas where you're the most passionate in pursuit of some new thing. It is good to focus on what you do best and carefully add new skills to your repertoire.

The reason I am going on and on about this is because there are many students who have sat in my classes with an extreme desire to write with a pointed pen. Those who have stayed the course are the ones who have progressed and mastered the "press / release" technique. But there are others who continue to bounce around from one lettering hand to another. It is a proven fact that if you master one thing, you will gain more confidence than if you try to do too many things at once...mastering none. So there you have it. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"The Coast"


"Even in the snow, the palm tree offers up childhood memories of the coast." This photo was taken last year from my upstairs studio. However, as a child this is what I saw at Christmas minus the snow. Whatever your childhood memory is, it's fun to reflect and cherish particular people and places.

White is an interesting color that can be the main attraction in a piece. I have been using it a lot because of its carrying power even on top of a muted background. There is a tendency to only use white in this way when the background is extremely dark so that it will show up well. But if you want a more subtle look, try using it on muted or "grayed down" colors. The contrast is not as strong as it would be on black or other dark colors, but the viewer can then be surprised as they get closer to the piece. Everything in a piece does not need to be distinguished from across the room. It was also nice to use tube acrylic white with the pouring medium with specks of it still suspended in the medium that look like snow flurries.

Another thing to note is the placement of the flourishes in the trees as though they were an extension of the palm branches. My desire for the month of December is to practice different placements and flourishes where they might not be expected just to show that they can be part of a contemporary piece. We don't all need to do flourished birds and use typical settings reminiscent of the 1800's....although there is nothing wrong about doing that. I still enjoy studying and looking at historical references and even doing "stand alone" flourishes with no hint of contemporary techniques, but it is exciting to push it to the limit. Just something to think about.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Season of Light'

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"The warm glow of the lamp reminds us the season of light has come."  Lights have so much to do with the Christmas celebration.  They can have a deeply spiritual meaning or can be enjoyed as a thing of beauty.  Let's enjoy them together as we think of The One who brought Light to the world.

Choosing imagery is a great part of creating a piece of artwork. Each artist has to ask..."What will I choose first.. the image I am passionate about or the quote (if you're a lettering artist). For about two weeks now, I have totally been choosing the image first with no thought of what the quote will be. It is probably a bit more complicated if you are not writing the quote, but I know that if I choose architectural elements of any kind, especially the ones that have the right colors, I will be able to make it fit into a good quote for the month of December. Such was the case here, only I added the red bow. It is a piece of collage.

You might also note that more flourishing has been included every day of December so far. It definitely makes any image feel more like Christmas and it is good to practice how to include flourishing in unexpected ways. The flourishing doesn't always need to be included directly in the quote, but can come off of a corner or edge of the design space. Ideas for flourishing can be found in Michael Sull's larger volume of Spencerian Script or the Ornamental Penmanship that includes Copperplate Prints from the writing masters primarily during the 1800's. Both of these volumes can be ordered from John Neal Bookseller.

Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Berries At The Gate"

($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Berries at the gate cheer the weary and bid them come in." There are certain combinations of things that serve as a warm invitation to go in and see what's inside. Limestone, wrought iron, and red berries will do it every time. There might be other things that trigger those same kind of feelings, especially this time of year. Enjoy the good feelings that those associations create.

This might be a good time to talk about the difference between using Fluid Acrylics or more heavy bodied acrylics out of a tube. The "haze" on the photography pieces I've been posting, of course has been created by adding acrylic to pouring medium and applying to the sealed photograph with a palette knife.....followed by spraying with water until the degree of "haze" has been reached. Fluid Acrylics are typically the best choice because they are already in a fluid state and mix with the pouring medium with no problems. In this piece, however, I used Titanium White from a tube. No matter how thoroughly I seem to mix the two, there are always a few bits that stay suspended in the pouring medium. It almost looks like snow falling. After this happened the first time I decided I liked the effect for the Christmas type pieces I've been posting. (This goes back to the idea that each and every person who picks up a brush will come up with "accidental" techniques while working. All you need to do is observe and make a note.)

Also, for those of you who write with pointed pen... Spencerian Script such as you see in this piece, is much easier to write on this surface than Copperplate (or Round Hand as some call it). You also need an extremely light touch to glide across this surface or your pen will stick and not want to move at all.

These are just a few things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Unexpected" (sold)


"Beauty is often found in unexpected and barren places." When I am looking at a rather bleak and brown pasture, I am not expecting to see something of beauty. However, when the red "tunas" start blooming on the cactus, it is unexpected beauty. There are many other beautiful things that are unexpected parts of our days. Notice and enjoy those moments whenever they come.

This photograph follows the same steps as many of the others I've been doing. But something unexpected happened on this one. After mounting the photograph on a clayboard panel, I did spray it with Spray Acrylic Coating, but of course it was too cold to go outside and spray anything last night so I slightly opened and propped open the door with my foot, but my spraying wasn't even. There were a couple of places that received hardly any spray, creating a different response to the Pouring Medium + White that I applied afterwards. I do like the effect and am now wondering how I can do this on purpose.

Many techniques emerge out of this kind of experience, but you need to be very observant to what is going on as you work. Often, small things like this can be missed.

You may also have noticed that I have been lettering with white gouache for several postings and will probably continue that trend through much of December. White lettering is very elegant and ethereal looking and something you might want to try if you haven't already.  I have found a better Bleedproof White than Dr. Martin' least for my purposes on the surfaces I've been writing on. I am now using Winsor Newton Bleedproof which I found at Jerry's Artarama. It does not crystallize like Dr. Martin's and seems to have a better binder.

These are just a few more things to try or think about.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Broken Fragments" (sold)


"Place all your broken fragments into the golden bowl of prayer to be made whole." This is a quote inspired by the writings of George MacDonald. The faint imagery in the background is from a piece that I did several years ago which includes his entire piece of prose. Two of the lines from his quote were combined as the lettering coming out of the bowl. That line is..."Gather my broken fragments to a whole. Into my basket, for my golden bowl." Another interesting bit is that George MacDonald was a contemporary of C.S. Lewis and very instrumental in his conversion to Christianity.

The background for this piece came from a photo of a much larger piece. The lettering is very faint and impossible to read, but it makes for interesting texture. Even if the piece had been smaller, the lettering would not have turned out well through the camera lens. One very important thing to note when uploading images on the computer is that a scanned image is much better than a photo...especially where lettering is involved. If you have a piece that is much larger than your scanner at home, it would be wise to take it to an in house photo lab that has the equipment to scan large works. They can place your image on a disk and then you can make it whatever size you want from your computer. (If you live in Austin, Holland's Photo Lab is a good place to go.)

There is no Pouring Medium or anything else altering the imagery in this piece, but it was prepared for lettering by spraying the surface 3x with Spray Acrylic Coating and then brushing on a mixture of Gel Matte Medium (2 parts water to 1 part medium) It was an extremely difficult surface to write on because the pouring medium or even acrylic paint makes for a smoother surface.

Thanks to all of you who attended the Open Studio Event yesterday. It was great fun and now you know where I do these pieces everyday. You will need to come again when we're actually creating artwork!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"Edges and Fragments"

Today's post is an introduction to my self published book of the top 100 pieces from my blog postings from February 2011, through October 2011. Most self published books are expensive to produce, but my husband and I made a decision to order in bulk to keep the cost down. We are offering it for $40.00 (tax included) which is our cost. The remainder of my posting today is the introduction to the book which explains part of the reason I started a daily blog in the first place.

In February 2011, I committed to completing a (6" x 6") painting each day. My vehicle for displaying and commenting on my work is a blog. Each piece contains an original quote within the context of a piece of artwork. The works have been created with mixed media on archival watercolor papers and mounted on Ampersand clay board panels or 1.50" depth clay boards.

I wanted to see what this commitment would teach me about process. At this point, I have completed well over 200 pieces. It could be called the "agony and the ecstasy". Both emotions have been felt at a deep level. In the final analysis, it has been worth the effort. What I have learned about process is greater than what I've learned through any workshop, private instruction, book, video, or any other means.

Nothing compares to a daily deadline to shut down the negative internal voice that plagues most artists. To show the progression of growth, I have arranged the images in chronological order. The date of the posting and title of each piece is listed in the index at the back of the book. Extended commentary about process can then be viewed on my blog.

Please contact me personally to order a book. There will be a $5.00 fee for shipping. (There will soon be an image of the book in the right hand column with a pay pal link as well.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011


($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Reflections of trees in the window caused me to reflect on memories past." This image reminds me of something out of Little Women.   Leave all the bad memories behind and reflect on all the good ones!

If you have been following along, you will notice this is a photograph printed on Arches Text Wove after creating a monoprint with Walnut Ink. The Pouring Medium was mixed with white rather than Titan Buff. The gradated effect of the Pouring Medium is a wonderful contrast against the sharp lines of white lettering. The "white on white" effect is very exciting to me so I decided to place the flourish in the upper right hand corner to add to the ethereal quality of this piece.

There is one thing I have not mentioned in doing these pieces with photographs. Even after you spray the photograph 2 or 3 times with Spray Acrylic Coating, the Pouring Medium followed by spraying with water will cause the image to bleed a bit. It is prudent to do this part as quickly as possible or the photograph will fade too much. This seeping into the image continues because it must be dried flat and you cannot use a hair dryer until the medium is almost dry.

Also, it is difficult to achieve the "press / release" technique on this surface so I wrote the quote with no pressure and came back in to ink in the shaded strokes...just in case you were wondering how there was a shaded part in the "R" on what would typically be an upstroke with no pressure. All is fair in love and lettering. Just something to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 2, 2011


($40.00.....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Ethereal imagery transports me to a place where nothing needs to be added or taken away." This piece is based on a photograph of architectural elements above the windows that look into the atrium of the Biltmore. This quote can be interpreted from an artistic or spiritual viewpoint. Either way, it is lovely to be transported away from the cares of daily life and partake of beauty wherever it can be found. Take the time and be refreshed.

As you know, I have been creating imagery based on photographs. This one follows the same steps as I've stated in recent postings. But this time, I did use Titanium White mixed with Liquitex Pouring Medium to create the top coat. I also made the monoprint of Walnut Ink a bit darker because I wanted to write with white gouache.

For my Spencerian Script students, the lettering in this piece perfectly demonstrates how to make spencerian a bit more readable. I did increase the x-height a bit and added more weight to each of the down strokes. You still get the "poetic" feel with the added benefit of legibility. Now I would love to write everything a bit more illusive and less readable, but I am here to tell you that there are a great many people who want to read the quote. This will forever be a dilemma to those of us who do lettering art so you'll simply need to determine what audience to address. As for the bit of added flourishing. One easy way to figure out the placement is to start at an edge, going one direction, and then let the line go completely off of the design space and then reenter going the opposite direction and off of another edge.

Also, a bit of a reminder about pastels. Thanks to Georgia Deaver, those of us who took that class understand that if you want strong pigment that will stand the test of time, you must use soft pastels. Chalk pastels will not work. They just disappear into the background. You don't actually need every color on the planet, but just start with a few colors you know you will use white, raw umber, (light, med., and dark) of your favorite colors, etc. Just some more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Red and Green"

($40.00....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Red and green fuel the warm association of pleasant memories." Every year about this time, I have this urge to go buy a berry bush of some sort. Of course they promptly die when the Texas heat arrives, but they cause me to be in the Christmas spirit. You might want to try this experiment. Go anywhere where there are decorated Christmas trees, close your eyes, and then open them and see which color combination takes your breath away. It will most likely be red and green.

Direct complements deserve careful attention because they are so powerful. With red and green, it is important to pay attention to the percentage of each color used. Berry bushes are so eye catching because they have a hugh percentage of green sprinkled with bits of red. It is not as pleasing to have this reversed. And if the percentage is 50/ can be disturbing to view. It is fun to look through decorator magazines and pay attention to the percentages of the colors used and then try to duplicate those percentages in a piece of art.

Another thing I am trying to do in this piece is continue to practice with a Speedball C-4 nib. Yves Leterme thinks it is prudent to become proficient with this nib so I have been picking it up more frequently, but it is way out of my comfort zone. But to quote myself..."The learning curve is easier after realizing that all things are difficult before they are easy." My goal for next year is to include more expressive and gestural writing. (We'll see how that works out.) But for December, I would like to "kick it up a notch" with the pointed pen. It may be procrastination on my part, but what would Christmas be without all of that flourishing! Just something to think about.