Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Perfect Elements"

($40.00.....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Nature offers the most perfect elements for a still life." So often we think of a still life as perfectly selected items arranged with a strong light and then painted. I much prefer to have a still life composed of the natural elements seen in nature. If you look closely on your next walk, you will see small still life arrangements everywhere. What a visual delight!

Notice the strong division of space created by taking a close up shot and then effectively cropping the image to create one strong positive space (the pine cones) and two strong negative space shapes (the area at the top and bottom of the pine cones). There are many diagonals created by the shape and structure of the pine cone which creates all of the drama. If you drew an outline around the outside perimeter of the cones, there would also be diagonals. Even the blue brush strokes at the bottom create more diagonals. They are very important and worth noticing.

The lettering is more of my attempts at expressive lettering with changes in the spacing and odd angles in direction. Instead of using black ink, I mixed up Perylene Violet Gouache + Prussian Blue and a bit of Raw Umber. It's much more vibrant than black and creates a bit more vibration with the gold tones of this piece. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Open the Door"

($40.00....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Open the door and give the gift of a smile." Old and interesting doors have long captured my heart. The design of this one is full of character and I can just imagine someone opening up that door with a smile. It's such a small gesture, but has the power to lift the heart of many who might have a hidden hurt. So open up the door with a smile today whether it's at home or where you work.

I am quite anxious to see how the acrylic paint added to these photographs is going to continue to morph. It is all very exciting and my desire is to share enough details so that you will be inspired to try. In previous postings, I have detailed the process of preparing the printed photograph to receive wet media.

Today I want to continue to discuss the addition of acrylic paint. After the photograph (printed on Arches Text Wove through your printer) has been sprayed (3x) with Spray Acrylic Coating (outside), your next layer could be acrylic paint. Even after cropping an image before printing, there is often extraneous stuff in the photo that you don't want to emphasize or even include. Choose a color in those areas mixed with a bit of white or black gesso to insure complete block out. Use a sponge brush to apply the paint and then immediately use a clean sponge brush dipped in water to soften the edge, followed by blotting or removing excess water / paint with the brush or kleenex. You can plainly see in this image that the turquoise edge by the door is thinned out and softened a bit. Because I added white gesso to the paint, I got complete coverage of wall sconces and other bits of stuff that did not pertain to my main idea.

So let me run through the techniques that are involved. First, you need to view your photography as an integral part of your piece and keep that in mind when you take pictures. Second, you need the ability to block out extraneous details with paint, gesso, or pouring medium. Third, you will often need to beef up the image with soft pastels. Fourth, if you plan to add lettering, you will need to know how to prepare the surface for writing. Lastly, you will need to finish your piece with spray acrylic coating followed by spray varnish suitable for acrylic paint. Just a few loose ends to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Step by Step" (unavailable)


"Step by step and line upon line lays the foundation for growth." It is so natural to want to speed through the steps of learning and be automatically at the finish line. I have noticed that even though everyone knows that you must take one step at a step, there is still that hope that it isn't so and that one of us might be the exception. Even people with seemingly natural ability must go through the steps.

This is my first photography piece where acrylic paint has been one of the layers. I like the idea of covering up extraneous detail with paint to cause the viewer to focus on the main attraction. There were trees and flowers at the top and to the sides of those stairs so I simply used the same colors and painted over them starting with the green first and then the pink over that. It also helped to soften the edges with a clean sponge brush dipped in water and then blotting with kleenex.

Other layers included erratic pencil lines and lettering...brush lettering with dilute prussian blue...monoprinting with Caran d'Ache ink...and gesso plus a water brush to remove the excess.

So if you have nothing to do this afternoon, you might want to try or think about these things.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Old and Forgotten"

($40.00.....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" clayboard panel)

"Listen to the old and oft forgotten." Old buildings have a lot in common with old people. They both have many stories and experiences within them. The younger generation would be wise to sit down and listen awhile for there is wisdom that can only be learned through experience. I have a neighbor that I like to sit and have coffee with because he knows so much about life before technology. In fact, he wrote a book called Wagons to the Moon.

My photos of old buildings are some of my favorites. I added to the look by preparing the paper with Golden Crackle Paste applied spontaneously with a palette knife. Using a stylus to create some gestural marks in it also adds to the look. Sometimes it will not crackle if applied too lightly so I just bend the paper in several directions to achieve the cracks. You can see it in the upper right hand corner. The gestural marks show up because of the gesso that was applied after the photo was printed and sprayed. Those marks are important because they not only add texture, but create an "echo" of the lettering used in the quote.

As for the lettering, I used a small broad edged pen the same size as a Mitchell #6. It is called a Rubinato Nib and can be ordered from Paper and Ink Arts. For the bolder strokes, I used a ruling pen with their erratic line, and randomly selected those marks to create a strong contrast between the thick and thin strokes. Just two or three more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Sunrise and Sunset"

($40.00....6" x 6"....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Each day hands out a new beginning marked by a sunrise and sunset." Isn't it nice that we all have a fresh start each day? Yesterday has gone and tomorrow hasn't come, but today is a new beginning. Yea!

If you could actually see the original piece, you would notice that it really does look like a sunrise over a canyon or with a large bluff in the foreground. What I am doing with all my pieces now is responding to what is there and then writing an appropriate quote. It's very absorbing and requires deep thought. So naturally I must do it very early in the morning when I have a new beginning because I can't put two words together to make a complete sentence after 7:00 in the evening!

Take note of the diagonal bands of color moving across the space. It's those diagonals that give a piece lots of energy. Even when doing traditional painting, paying attention to the brush strokes and making use of diagonals will do wonders to create an energetic piece. Just one more thing to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Bridge the Gap"

($40.00....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Bridge the gap between focused and unfocused thinking." Focused thinking means to give all of your attention to one thing. It is extremely difficult to focus if our thoughts are all over the map. Just try shutting down all audio input and focusing on a single thing. Setting a time limit will also help to make decisions quicker without "fussing" over things.

This is a piece created with Liqitex Pouring Medium and Acrylic paint. From across the room, it looks like an aerial view of water with a strip of land spanning across. I decided to have three windows that were created by cutting out from the leftover sheet that this piece was cropped from. I wanted to visually show that by breaking up the space with windows that also create a hard edge was a way to interpret my quote visually. By doing this, I control where the viewer wants to look. The white dot in the largest window is where the eye wants to go so I began the lettering in that area. Windows will also create shapes within the piece to break up all of the diffused edges from colors mingling together. In design, too much of the same thing will leave the desire for more contrast.

The impact of color from across the room is phenomenal and the lettering takes a back seat. In fact, the lettering blends in so completely that it cannot be read from across the room. I like the way the lettering blends in and quietly steps out of the design space. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Ink and Words" (sold)


"Ink and words swirling together bring comfort as they go from heart to paper." Journaling has been revived and brought to new artistic levels. My own personal experiences have definitely shown me that writing my thoughts and prayers with pen and ink (not computer) seems to bring me special comfort because it really does have a way of going from heart to paper...often with tears.

This very abstract piece of swirling color was created on wet paper with Liquitex Pouring Medium and Fluid Acrylics. Adding more water to the medium will yield more diffused edges and this piece has a combination of both. It continues to be one of the most satisfying techniques I've tried. There is something about watching color mingle together that transports me to a different place. My number one piece of advice is to have your surface covered and wear gloves. This is an extremely messy process, but well worth the effort.

In a "nutshell", I will give you the steps once again, although it really helps to watch someone else do it first. Cut or tear a manageable piece of at least 140lb. weight of watercolor paper. Mix your colors up on disposable foam plates with a ratio of 8:1 or 16:1 with medium being the high number. Run paper under a faucet on both sides. Lay it down on glass or some other protected surface. Choose one of your colors and pour across the paper creating one stripe. Add another color next to that one and then again with the third color. Pick up the paper by opposite corners and begin to tilt and move the color around. If the color stops moving, spray with a water bottle. You can also use shaper tools or combs to create patterns...much like marbling. When satisfied with the pour, lay it on wax paper to dry. It will stick to anything else and your piece will be ruined. The last step is to prepare for lettering...refer to other postings for info. Just another thing to try or think about.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


($40.00....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Solitude is where discussions with yourself take place." Having a good talk with yourself is a rare thing these days, but I expect that it would change the world if everyone engaged in this type of solitude.

This piece is an experiment with Pouring Medium "to the max". There are three layers of pouring medium with layers of flourishing and lettering in between and ending with stamping and the final lettering.

Obviously, very little color was added to the medium to keep it translucent. I added Titan Buff to the first layer of medium and Raw Umber to the second layer, and a bit of Titanium White to the third layer. With each additional layer, it became harder to write on and I would not recommend it for the faint of heart. An extremely light touch is required. It is similar to writing on encaustic wax.

Of course, the lettering had to be sprayed with acrylic coating with each layer and the pouring medium had to be prepared to receive the lettering. All in all I like the look. It resembles vellum and also encaustic wax. Just something else to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Sit and Think"

($40.00.....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Sit and think before running and doing." In an age when thinking seems to be a lost art, it can be revived with just a thought. With notepad in hand and a restful place, thinking can become your best time saver because "an ounce of thought is worth a pound of work."

Liquitex Pouring Medium was the impetus for many postings in October and November. But this is the first photo involving two colors plus pouring medium. The marbling effect will not happen unless two colors are used. When pouring the medium on the print, I did try to keep the medium off of the bench since it was the focal point. However, I realized that some of this "gooey stuff" needed to connect with the bottom so I stuck my finger in it and simply dragged it over the image.

For those who were in the Color Workshop, you will notice that this is a softer effect than what we did in class. This effect is achieved by diluting the medium with water a bit, but not so much that the color doesn't stay suspended in the medium.

This technique actually punches up the color more than soft pastels and looks very similar to encaustic painting. For now, I think I will find me a place to think because I have only begun with layering techniques using Pouring Medium. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Hope Rings Out" (unavailable)


"Hope rings out in an atmosphere of prayer." A bell ringing has always caused me to stop and listen. It indicates that something significant is happening. That's the possibility of continual prayer. It stirs up hope in the midst of all kinds of circumstances.

This very simple image taken in Santa Fe had very little detail. To make the dark area surrounding the bell a bit more interesting, I prepared the paper with some random placement of Golden Crackle Paste, using a palette knife. It cannot be applied too thick since the paper will need to go through the printer after it's dried.

Walnut Ink was applied very lightly after the paste dried and then the image was printed. I was a bit disappointed because none of the paste was visible...until I applied some gesso. The application was done with two sponge brushes. One to apply the gesso. The other to apply water and remove enough to see the image. (Remember the print must be sprayed with spray acrylic coating (3x) before applying gesso.)

I chose to leave the lettering a bit "splotchy" because I think it's more artistic looking and adds character and texture. Notice how the surround around the bell tower frames the bell by the way the photo was cropped. Part of the sky showing through a window at the bottom also provided depth and several more interesting shapes. These small details are worth your attention when photographing. This would also be a very interesting painting with all kinds of texture possibilities. Just something else to try or think about.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Out on a Limb"

($40.00....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"If you go out on a limb...make sure it will hold you." This quote is all about being prudent. Rather than blindly going into a situation, it is best to look at it from every angle and count the cost before going out on a limb that isn't strong enough to hold you. There are also times when it's prudent to take a risk and have the faith to see it through. Wisdom is knowing the difference.

This is such a simple layout and leads me to ask why I ever took a picture of a tree limb like this. It is not the typical thing that people whip out their camera for. Having said that, I think digital cameras have opened up a treasure trove of inspiration for experimenting with cropping and choosing images that have an abstract or poetic "feel" that can form the core of a piece of artwork. This image could have also been painted entirely.

It is not necessary to set up a still life or paint the traditional landscape. Why not try painting things that are totally unexpected. Today's image would make a great painting, especially if it were done much larger. Many techniques could be used and subtle color changes that would look great as an oil or acrylic painting. So my creative thought patterns keep evolving and wondering how many different ways this composition could be interpreted. If you can zoom in on very ordinary objects and then do some effective cropping, I think some very exciting artwork would emerge. Just something to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, January 20, 2012


($40.00......6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" clayboard panel)

"Stray thoughts lead to actions gone astray." There are other words that give a deeper insight to the word "astray".   Such words as wander, drift, sidetracked, and digress are just a few. Taking control of our thought life and staying focused is worth the effort. Who would want go astray and end up in the weeds?

This is the second piece in a small series that could be called "going out on a limb." The line work in this barren bush going off in all directions was a good image for the quote today. In case you missed another time when I talked about the process of coming up with quotes, let me repeat myself. Today is my 316th posting. I have tried every sequence that came to mind such as coming up with the quote first, thinking about it in the middle of the process, or waiting until the image is done. The last way is the easiest and most integrated way for me. If I am passionate about the process and the image, there is always a quote to be written. The image then becomes the metaphor for what I am saying.

You might find the writing of quotes satisfying so I encourage you to give it a try. That way you're using both sides of your brain simultaneously. Just something to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Lines and Boundaries"

($40.00.....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Lines capture visual space much like boundaries protect our goals." No one likes to be excluded so it goes against the grain of most people to set a boundary that protects the time it takes to achieve a goal. It is difficult to negotiate, but boundaries are really the only way things get done. The person who cannot say "no" is the person perpetually frustrated trying to please the whole world.

Before the spring comes and leaves cover the trees once again, try to take note, sketch, or paint some tree limbs. It is a great way to study division of space created by multiple lines. Trees will give you the opportunity to see how they intersect, form diagonals, and even very straight lines. I've been doing a study of them for a long time with my camera, but I also plan to draw some as well. It will also give you practice in how branches jut off from the main branches and how the graduated effect of how they get smaller as they get further away from the trunk. It's quite fascinating.

Even though I have been writing more expressively and experimenting with some gestural forms, this piece was screaming out for one or two lines of script. When a piece has this many diagonals, I don't think it looks good to also introduce more diagonals and freely written letters. The piece needed a couple of straight lines.

I did use a lot of soft pastels and pencil lines to accentuate the image that was already there in the photo. It was a photo taken in Sedona, Az., with rock formations in the background. Not everything can be the focal point so it is very good to edit by choosing what to emphasize. Don't hesitate....but get your camera and get some shots of those trees before the spring. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Empty Ink Bottle" (unavailable)


"An empty ink bottle could mean that nothing more needs to be written or said." We have all been in situations where we tried everything to get a person or circumstance to change. At that point, reality is the task master. Facing reality is difficult, especially when the ink bottle is empty. It's a metaphor with an implied conclusion that reality is a friend.

Yesterday's quote was "Wishing will not create growth". Today's quote is just another nail in the coffin of "wishful thinking". For instance, we have all taken workshops that we paid lots of money for and then life gets in the way while that information gathers dust. A happy day is around the corner when the reality of that sinks in. The bottom line is that if practicing a skill is not part of your daily life, then don't be surprised if your ink bottle runs dry.

Last week I took a workshop which is why I am probably thinking about growth, skill levels, etc. It was an oil painting workshop and my skill level in that medium is at square one. But one of the things we did was paint still lifes with a strong light on the set up. The last thing we painted in each of those little "treasures" (tongue in cheek) was to add the highlights on the objects with the strong light. I was amazed at how such a little stroke of the brush could add so much. We referred to it as "bling" in the class. My point is that when working in mixed media with a dark background, white lettering and lines become the bling. Anything you do that creates that stark contrast could be considered the "bling" in mixed media. Be bold and step up the contrasts. Just something to think about.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Wishing" (sold)


"Wishing will not create growth." This seems like such an obvious quote to understand, but I continue to be amazed at the tendency in human nature to assume that I might be the one who is the exception to this rule. Even people with enormous talent must work very hard to master a new skill. There is another quote in this piece by Ted Orland that reads..."It's the intensive practice of tangible skills that prepares you to make finished art." There is no shortcut!

This is a rather vague piece which is the perfect metaphor for this quote. Wishing for something that someone else spent hours and years to accomplish is a vague concept that has very little depth. It is much more prudent to face the reality that it takes 10,000 hours to master a complex skill. Even though that may seem depressing, it is much easier to accept if each of us takes time to enjoy the small successes along the way.....and be patient.

This piece was designed around a photograph, but has more gesso than image. Soft pastels helped to create depth in the areas with gesso plus the uneven coverage and larger drops of gesso enriched the texture. To keep the quote done in spencerian script at the value of a pencil...I used Derivan Graphite in a tube (Sepia) to write with. Black Ink would have been too dark. Just a few more things to think about.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Sitting Pretty"

($40.00.....6" x 6" mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Asking yourself good questions will give you understanding and leave you sitting pretty." The phrase "sitting pretty" is not one I hear much anymore, but my parents used it to describe people they knew who had a good turn of fortune in their lives. So it basically means that things are going your way. Asking good questions is a wonderful vehicle for activating your mind to find the answer. It's really quite extraordinary how well it works. Give it a try!  It will leave you sitting pretty.

On one occasion when we were visiting Silverado, Colorado, I came across this beautiful piece of glazed pottery sitting outside on a stone column. There were branches of Aspens hanging down over it and I knew it would someday be an inspiration for a piece of artwork. It was this bowl, in fact, that caused me to remember the phrase, "sitting pretty".

My focus in this piece was the bowl and the lettering. I am making great efforts to become more expressive with my lettering so I had no problem overlapping it over the image and making that unit the center of focus.

The lettering was done with a pointed pen and bleedproof white. The forms are based on spencerian script with many modifications. Exaggerations, individual letters weighted in odd places, and the bouncing effect all add to the expressiveness. It's fun and challenging all in the same breath and even though I have a long way to go...everyone has to start somewhere. If you wait until every letter is perfect, you will never learn how to do this. For me, it is very much like practicing the piano. Even after the notes are learned and played at the right time, it takes experience to be more expressive with a bit of "rubato" in the rhythm so it doesn't sound too mechanical. It also helps to work on a surface that can be corrected if necessary. This one was prepared with (2) parts water to (1) part gel matte medium and brushed on/dried with a hairdryer. It was a good thing because I removed (2) lines (3) times. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Unswerving Confidence" (sold)


"Faith steps into the unknown with unswerving confidence." This is just another way of describing faith by associating it with a particular action we can all identify with.

There are a several more layers to this than I normally do, but I think it gives more depth. I added a lot of soft pastels and then decided it was too much. After spraying with acrylic coating to fix the pastel, I brushed on slightly diluted gesso in select areas followed by a clean brush dipped in water to remove some of the gesso and soften the edges. (All of the brushes I use for these particular techniques are sponge brushes.)

Because I am quite fond of the writings of George MacDonald (contemporary of C.S. Lewis...early 1900's) I included a couple of lines from his book of prose Diary of an Old Soul. As much as I like the quote, if I had it to do over again, I probably would have left it out. I think it would have been a better design decision. But tomorrow is another day so I'll not worry about it.

If you do have script in the background and you are writing over it...spray with acrylic coating and prepare the surface for lettering with gel matte medium. (This is described in other postings.) If you don't do this...you better not make a mistake. Otherwise you will not be able to correct it without also correcting the script underneath. Just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Habitual Repetition" (unavailable)


"Habitual repetition creates good form and good habits." I've noticed that everyone gets excited when starting a new project or taking a class. But I've also noticed that it takes repetition to create the desired form or goal and few there be who keep up the repetition.  The pine cone is an example of a repeated spike in various sizes that creates a lovely cone shape.

The techniques involving gesso are many and it's worth experimenting with to come up with new effects. After initially covering the entire piece with slightly diluted gesso, followed by spraying until the desired percentage of the image was revealed, I used two sponge brushes to create a "veiled" effect. Brush on the gesso from top to bottom in one area and then use the other brush (dipped in water, but not too wet) to go over it with a light touch to remove a portion of what you laid down with the first brush. It really gives the image an ethereal look.

I would encourage anyone who loves layering techniques to do many experiments with different saturations of gesso. You can also tint it with acrylic paint. For a smooth effect, though, I would recommend fluid acrylics over tube acrylics. This is just one more thing to try or think about.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Sunny Disposition"

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

"Lemons have a sunny disposition in all the seasons of the year." Isn't it pleasant to have friends who are always full of joy? I am blessed to have a few. They are like these lemons with a sunny disposition through all the seasons of life.

Theses lemons are the remains of the "bumper crop" from our lemon tree. It is an ornamental lemon tree with beautiful little white blossoms in the spring. You can imagine our surprise when it began yielding these beautiful lemons. The total crop was eighteen!

As most oil painters know, morning and evening light are the conditions most conducive to creating the most shadows, direct light, reflected light, highlights, etc. This photo was taken in the late afternoon light which adds to its drama. It's something to think about when drawing, painting, or photographing.

Cropping is the next most important thing. By allowing the lines of the image to go from edge to edge, very dramatic shapes are created. The more subtle shapes are created with pencil lines in the background. I've said it many times and will say it again, if you want spontaneous results, you need to use spontaneous techniques. Consequently, random placement of the pencil lines on the Arches Text Wove before printing the photograph will yield a spontaneous rather than a contrived look. Take a few shots today and practice zooming in and cropping. These are just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Stone Carvings"

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

"Words are like stone carvings...very difficult to correct after they're chiseled or spoken." Words have tremendous power to build up or tear down. They should be carefully considered before speaking.

Diagonals are a very powerful use of line that create a lot of energy in a piece. Another dynamic was created by effective cropping which left unequal intersections with the edge, making every corner different. The camera can actually give the artist a ton of practice with cropping and I highly encourage the practice.

This particular image was rather weak in values until I strengthened it with soft pastels and charcoal powder. My next goal will be to paint it. So at some point, I will be posting it again in oils. But I must say that manipulating the photographic image with other media and techniques is a wonderful study and gives me a bit more time to experiment with the lettering.  Juggling two very different disciplines of image and lettering can require two life times of study, but I do enjoy trying. Carrying a small camera around in your purse or brief case with a zoom lens can be a very valuable tool. Anything that helps improve observation skills is good.  Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Quiet Reflection"

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

"A candle sets the tone for quiet reflection and prayer." There is something about a candle that creates a mood for thinking about the deeper things in life. It is part of my morning ritual and this is one of my more colorful candle holders. The symbolism of the flame representing the Holy Spirit is significant.

Because I wanted this to be a quiet and casual piece, I brushed on the gesso with abandon and then added some thicker splatters plus a gestural stroke. The lettering is much like an impromptu journal entry. It's part of the process of trying new things. Growth does not happen in a vacuum. Every artist must be willing to continually step out of their comfort zone and allow their vision to grow.

I am presently at a week long workshop with Carol Marine painting in oils...."alla prima". Alla Prima means to paint wet into wet. It is very challenging, but you will soon see some of my attempts, with lettering added to the mix. Some women wear red hats and purple dresses as they get older. I have chosen to throw caution to the wind and push everything to the limit...(in art, that is!).

My encouragement is to tell your internal negative voice to sit down and be quiet while you explore the many options at your disposal. Even if you are in a season of life that does not permit too much painting and lettering time, practice noticing values and sketch, draw, or do lettering in those odd moments of waiting. Just some things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"A Strong Brace"

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

"Hold together the broken pieces in life with the strong brace of prayer." I don't believe there is anyone who hasn't been shattered by adverse circumstances. It is a great comfort to know that prayer can tap into the resources of God to bring healing during those times. It is a strong brace indeed!

Abstract and non representational imagery can be difficult to create, but many close up shots of ordinary things can yield the most fascinating compositions. Such is the case with today's image. It is a photo, looking down, of a mesquite bench at a salvage place in Santa Fe. There was a split in the wood which was resolved by adding the steel braces. But no one could possible guess what it is without being told. In fact, there are artists who have created entire bodies of work based on this type of imagery.

The addition of soft pastels, charcoal powder, erratic lines, and lettering comprise the additional layers to allow the piece to tell a story. Other elements such as a perfect piece of collage could tell a different story. This is a great way to allow your camera and other techniques to give you a background suitable for lettering. Just something else for you to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Distinct Characteristics"

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

"The origin of everything is revealed by distinct characteristics." The image today has details and color that indicate that the origin of this raised imagery on a pot could be Italy. In the same way, the nationality of a person can be known by their coloring and speech as well as qualities about their character. It's like saying..."you can know a person by the fruit of their lives".  Noticing details is a very important part of life whether its people or things.

Texture is the name of the game in this piece. The close up image and the extreme detail give the feeling of looking at this insignia through a magnifying glass. It's more of a "power punch" than showing the whole pot that contains this detail. Texture and detail also cause the image to advance visually. But even though the insignia takes ups most of the design space...there is still a little less than half of the space that would be considered negative space. The little bit of pencil detail in the negative space was chosen to keep it in close value to the background to eliminate visual confusion and overload. From across the room, those background details and even the lettering cannot be seen.

These kind of value considerations are like the tonal range on an instrument. They are subtle in the hands of an artist who is "tuned in" to them, but lack of attention to value can cause the piece to be "clunky" or give the viewer a sense that something's not quite right.

Keeping the main thing the main thing and paying close attention to detail will keep any artist from getting "mired" in the swamp of bad design. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"The Trinity of Prayer" (sold)


"Asking, seeking, and knocking is the trinity of prayer." The persistence needed in prayer is reflected in this quote. The scripture verse that inspired me was Matthew 7:7. So many times we can forget to pray when we have needs. Asking is the key that unlocks the answers.

The initial background of this piece was created with Liquitex Pouring Medium. It looks similar to marbled paper, but the process lends itself to much more spontaneity. The collage element from an old manuscript was the ideal companion to the marbled look, giving a "nod" to the book arts. Many end papers in quality books have marbled paper so it was a fun way to bring it all together.

Rotunda was chosen for the text mainly because I like it and it is a bit more readable than other gothic hands. I had intended to include another collage piece from a different manuscript, but had a gnawing suspicion it wasn't a good idea. Generally speaking, I follow the rule that when in doubt, leave it out. It's part of the editing process and do we really need more visual overload? Just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"A Warm Welcome"


"Behind every Texas star is a warm welcome." It's been a little while, but the Texan in me doesn't stay submerged for very long. So here it is...another Texas piece to make you feel proud today. What a way to begin a Saturday!

If you look closely at this photo, you will see multiple stars in the background. The image is actually a round metal candle holder with a little door that allows the candle to be placed inside. The entire piece looks deceptively simple and it is in one respect. However, there are several layers of technique happening.

Before printing the image on Arches Text Wove, I drew some erractic pencil lines from edge to edge with a few words written here and there. That would be layer one. Layer two is the actual printing of the image on a laser printer followed by spraying the image (3x) with Spray Acrylic Coating. The photo then needs to be cut and mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel and set under a heavy book or rock to dry overnight.

The next layer (3) is covering the entire piece with slightly diluted gesso applied with a sponge brush. Immediately pick the piece up and spray with water, removing as much of the gesso as you like to reveal the image. Dry. Layer (4) is dipping a stiff brush into rubbing alcohol and removing some of the white gesso along the edge to create more texture. Layer (5) is brushing charcoal powder along the edge and corners until satisfied. (Leave some of the white to connect with the white lettering.)  Spray again with acrylic spray coating once to secure the charcoal powder. Apply (3) coats of diluted gel matte medium to prepare surface for lettering.

Layer (6) is the lettering. Spray again with Acrylic Spray Coating and allow to cure for a few days. Final spray is with Varnish specific to oils and acrylics. And that's how it's done! Just a few more things to try or think about.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"A New Baby"


"There's a new baby in the house." I am referring to a new baby grand piano. But I know I had you going there for a minute! It's lovely and the tone is exquisite. This was my way of sharing my good news with all of you.

An image of a piano is always an eye catcher. There's a reason for that. First of all, the black and white represent the opposite ends of the value scale. There is also the tiniest bit of red in the felt behind the keys. There is also the principle of alternation with the black and white keys as well as the lines created by their shape. This particular photo shows the reflection of the keys creating an "echo" of the actual keys.

This leads me to another obsession I have....analyzing. Any artist who is able to analyze and understand the reasons why certain things work or don't work in a piece of art, will be able to repeat the successful things and avoid those that don't work. That's why I like to talk about process in every posting. It helps me clarify my own thoughts and perhaps give you something to think about as well. So there it is....just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Small Beginnings"

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

"Small beginnings are infused with the power to change." It is easy to think that starting at "square one" is too difficult or that everyone else is much further ahead. But we should never despise small beginnings because everyone at some point in time had to start somewhere. Let your small beginnings infuse you with the power to change.

Yesterday I said that my aesthetic was to allow the image to cover a large percentage of the design space. Today that is definitely not the case. You can see that the eye gravitates right to the small image of berries. It helps to have direct complements in the image, but the larger issue was the negative space taking up most of the design space. There is a natural tendency when creating these small focal points to also feel the need to place elements in the negative space. I actually think it works best to focus on creating depth in this negative space with very subtle textural and value changes. The viewer then has some more interesting things to examine as they get closer to the piece.  (It is the equivalent to tonal range in music.  No one wants to hear music played at the same decibel level throughout.)

The division of space is also subtle with the pencil lettering moving from edge to edge horizontally and the focal point plus the addition of gray soft pastels going from edge to edge vertically. Paying attention to the division of space continues to be a primary consideration in every piece which is remarkable even with my 300th posting.  Just a few more important things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Encouraging Words"


"Soften the hard edges of life with encouraging words." With so many choices of words available, it is a shame that any of us would choose words with a hard edge. Perhaps this can be another New Year's Resolution. Always speak encouraging words.

This image was photographed in Buck Hill Studio where I do part of my work. It is a compelling image because of the lettering on the pillows which brings me to the point that if you have unique images like this in your home, it could be a wonderful way to repeat it in your artwork and display it in the same location.

There are other reasons to photograph certain types of imagery. Some images just lend themselves to particular techniques. Anything old looking with lettering on it or images that provide a logical place to use a bit of collage with lettering are all good choices. My personal aesthetic is to use images that take up a lot of the design space. But that is only the way I feel today. Tomorrow, I might have something small. So the fun of this process is to play around with all kinds of imagery and quotes and create many little (or big) masterpieces that you have connected with emotionally. So maybe you might be inspired to get out your digital camera and shoot! Just a few more things to try or think about.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"White and Purity'

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

"White and purity have this in common...the power to lift the human spirit." The color white has long been associated with purity. This association has deep spiritual significance and just seeing the color white has a calming effect. Walk into a room with white accents or white being the dominant color in the room and you will feel peaceful.

The power of line work to effect visual space is a wonderful design element to play around with. There may be a misconception among some lettering artists to shy away from using line work in fear of encroaching on someone else's style. I would like to dispel that fear by saying that artists have been using line work from the beginning of time. There are some artists outside the realm of lettering that base their entire body of work on lines.

Line work has the endless potential of dividing the design space into infinite shapes. There is a Spanish artist (Juan Iribarren) who uses line and color to create the most fascinating depth perceptions. It is instructive to see how other artists in all kinds of media are using line. Even beyond the elementary drawing of a line from edge to edge...all artwork consists of line because it takes a line to make a shape, although most of the time, it eludes the casual observer because the line is implied with the representation of an image rather than seeing an actual line. The point of all of this is to focus on what line work has the power to do in dividing the space.   Just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Ink Stains" (sold)

($40.00......6" x 6"......mounted on a gessobord)

"Some of the ink stains on my heart need gesso." Gesso covers up things. It is to the fine artist what "Kilz" is to the house painter. Comparing negative things that have happened to ink stains of the heart is a powerful image, but the good news is that positive, life giving thoughts of faith and hope are like the gesso that enable us to be free.

This piece, as you can see, began with a photograph printed on Arches Text Wove of two ink bottles in a window. This is a terribly addicting and creative process because it did not stop with the photo. But it did create a beautiful way to allow the piece to evolve into the inclusion of other mixed media techniques. Let me reiterate that the photo needs to be mounted on the gesso panel (Ampersand product) and sprayed (3x) with Spray Acrylic Coating. This will prepare the surface to receive gesso.

I diluted the gesso a bit with water and brushed it over the entire image with a sponge brush. It then needs to be sprayed immediately with water to remove as much of the gesso as you wish. It is then ready to be dried with a hair dryer. All of the black lines and lettering were then applied followed by brushing on some Charcoal Powder with a Hake brush. Collage elements were also added. I might add that collage works well if you only add enough of it to make the piece convincing. If too much is added, then it looks contrived.

Finally, I sprayed the piece again with Acrylic Spray Coating followed by an application of gel matte medium diluted with water. (Use hair dryer on the piece as you apply the medium...otherwise it will not attach.)

White lettering and lines were added and the piece was finished. Note that I used the lines to casually frame both ink bottles. And that gives you a few more things to try or think about.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Time and Money" (sold)


"Managing time and money is mandatory to success." Even though this quote seems like a "no brainer", it is quite amazing how many people still grapple with these two issues. Perhaps this could be the first New Year's resolution for all of us.

The division of space in this piece was first created with the clock and a few color shapes. What makes it more compelling is to run lines edge to edge both horizontally and vertically. It gives a greater feeling of depth as though there was a piece of cracked glass over the entire image. This is just a natural evolving of the process of manipulating photographs by continuing to add layers. I realized after completing the piece that I could have left more of the white gesso covering the image and do a drawing over the whole thing. This is the beauty of keeping a "thread" of creativity going on a daily basis. If the time spent on creating artwork only happens once a week or every month or so, it is much more difficult to have the natural unfolding of ideas that come from daily spending time with the process.

As for placement of the lettering...I was once again thinking of connections and shapes. It was natural to place the white lettering next to the white shape and have the lettering almost running off of the edge. It created a natural connection and shape which would not have happened if I had placed the lettering anywhere else. I am presently experimenting with freely written versals with no guidelines. It may look a little "funky", but I don't mind. In fact I rather have a satisfaction out of just writing randomly without all the fuss over perfectly straight and perfectly formed letters. These are just a few more things to think about.