Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Wind in Your Sails"

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

"The wind in your sails is continuous prayer." There is a natural inclination, even among skeptics, to pray when threat of life or calamity enters a person's life. The big secret is that we can all have that supernatural wind in our sails when we pray to a Living God on a daily basis.

This is another collaboration between myself and Sue Costa. She prepared the board with molding paste and a bit of color and I took it from there. I revisited some of my old lino cuts. The one in this piece was originally used in a piece for a Shakespeare Exhibit.

There was no way to achieve a print on this textural surface so I turned to my silk tissue paper. Using Speedball Printing Ink, I mixed up blue, white, and a bit of brown and covered the lino cut using a brayer. The silk tissue paper was placed over the lino and gently pressed into the cut with a clean brayer. The paper was then sprayed with Spray Acrylic Coating. It was adhered to the surface by applying Gel Matte Medium straight from the jar onto the textural surface. The silk tissue was laid into the medium very carefully and gently pressed into place. Once again, this tissue paper molded right into the texture and the gray backgroud shows right through the paper.  It is completely integrated.

Placement of the ship and additional color gave me an edge to edge shape. I then used White Speedball Printing Ink to lighten the values in a few areas, creating another erratic, but edge to edge shape. The beauty of this printing ink is the ability to go back into it and blot with a damp tissue and remove parts of it to break up the surface. So it's actually a two step process. Brayer on the printing ink...dry...and then blot with the damp tissue. The surface can then be sprayed again with acrylic coating and then prepared to receive lettering. And there you have it! Another way to use silk tissue paper and a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Don't Quit!"

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

"The only way you can fail is to quit." Quitting is a cowardly way of living and stops all progress in life. The successful people are those who have their head in the game and their eye on the ball.

The only problem with edge to edge color, especially if it appears to be in motion, is that the eye is overwhelmed and doesn't know where to look first. All of that changes if you can add an image or text that becomes the focal point. Since lettering tends to be very graphic, it is a perfect juxtaposition to the moving color. If selecting an image rather than lettering, it works well to use transparent tissue paper so the image is fully integrated. Transparency is the most effective way to arrive at integration. Seeing some part of the previous layer is absolutely key.

The reason most collage pieces don't work so well is that there is not integration to the previous layer. Color is also a good integrator. Echoes of design elements already present in the piece is another good integrator. It is always a teachable moment to view how other artists integrate elements of design. You will also notice what doesn't work which is also a good way to learn. Integration is a key component of layering so think about it and keep your eyes in observation mode to see how it's done.

Please contact me personally in inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Contrived or Convincing?"

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

"The dichotomy in design and life is that it is either contrived or convincing." As humans, we are drawn to that which is convincing. It is a design or life where you have a feeling that everything works and everything belongs. However, if there is artificiality and everything seems contrived, we lose interest. So the question it contrived or convincing?

If we compared creating artwork to practicing the piano, a lot more artwork would get done. Think about the times when you may have heard someone play the piano and the notes and rhythm did not come easily. They might be a beginner or not practiced, but it is painful to listen. However, a concert pianist who has spent hours practicing is very convincing and easy on the ears.

The same things make artwork contrived or convincing. I have observed that whether a piece of artwork is realistic or abstract, it needs to have interesting shapes, perhaps a few diagonals, soft and hard edges, creative division of space, complete integration of one layer into the next, etc....before it can be convincing.

After creating almost 450 postings, my desire has boiled down to one it convincing? In this piece I began applying acrylic paint on dry, blank paper with a brayer. After covering the page, I threw alcohol on the paper and rolled it with a brayer until I achieved a random textured quality. White gesso was then applied with a credit card (a shaper tool is also effective) and parts of the first layer were left untouched. Alcohol and a stiff brush were then used to soften edges and reveal areas that needed to show through a bit. My attempt was to use techniques that would allow for the natural occurrence of random and interesting shapes. This is part of creating a piece that is convincing. It takes spontaneous techniques to create a spontaneous result. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, May 28, 2012

"The Blood of Text"

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

"Ink is the blood of text." Everyone knows that blood is the substance that gives life. In the same way, ink is the substance that gives life to the written word.

This is another piece created with gesso. After the gesso was completely dry (overnight), I used a brayer to apply some acrylic paint. The color choices are quite extensive in acrylic paint plus it enables the application of Speedball Printing Ink without fixing the first layer of color.  (I also dipped my brayer into alcohol to create a variation in color and texture.)

So what I am attempting to do is experiment with the many different ways of layering using gesso as the base, printing inks, and silk tissue paper. In fact, none of the lettering or imagery on this piece was written directly on the piece. I printed on tissue paper and layered two pieces of collage to create the focus.

There are so many possibilities so I encourage you to play around with gesso, printing inks, and tissue paper. (This would be "gampi" which is a silk tissue paper....not the kind of tissue paper found in a craft store. This kind is totally transparent.) So there you have it. Another interpretation with three compatible materials that will give you many directions to experiment with and many things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


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

"Generosity is a wonderful benediction on anyone's life." It seems fitting to talk about the incredible generosity of so many service men and women who have given their lives for our country. A benediction is a prayer of blessing that is given at the end of a church service or at the end of someone's life.

This piece has simplicity and a straight forward format. Horizontal bands going from edge to edge whether they're vertical or horizontal is a simple way to design a piece. It can be made much more interesting by adding variety and size to the bands of color, texture, or line. In this case I began with a gesso background which was textured with expressive marks and the word benediction written in the bottom black band.

Speedball Printing Ink was used to shape the values and highlight the texture in the gesso. (Check other postings for details.) The erratic band of silver leaf provided a strong statement and underlines the word "benediction" written with a ruling pen and white bleedproof gouache.

There is so much that can be expressed with gesso and printing ink so I encourage all mixed media artists to try it and see where it might take you. There are many different ways it can be textured and painted. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


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

"Process is the breath of creativity." It is absolutely true that process is the name of the game in the art world. Without process, nothing happens. Whether the art work is accomplished is directly related to the quality of the process.

This is an unusual piece and not the type I typically create. I began by applying gesso over a sheet of Arches Text Wove and adding texture with drips, blobs, and gestural marks. This was left overnight to dry. (You can drive yourself crazy trying to dry those thicker areas of gesso with a hairdryer.  It's worse than watching paint dry!))

This morning as I was looking through my writing pad, I noticed the orange circles that a container of gouache had made on my practice sheet. All of a sudden I had the brilliant idea of printing this bit on silk tissue paper. I then searched for several other bits of practice with all kinds of scratching, brush marks, testing my pen, etc. After printing them on tissue paper, I overlaid them one by one and adhered them with gel matte medium right out of the jar. And the paper is so thin that you can see everything underneath each layer. The obvious selection for a quote was to write one about process.

I was actually surprised at how well it turned out. It's very graphic and very contemporary looking from across the room. There was no need to color the gesso so I left it in its original state with just a touch of soft pastel at the bottom. I guess the moral of this posting is not to throw away any of your scribbles and bits as you work. They could become your next piece of art work. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, May 25, 2012


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

"Limes are a refreshing summer fruit." Friday is a good day to be lighthearted. Enjoy something as simple as fresh fruit with all of its color.

Today's piece is actually a collaboration. Sue Costa applied the molding paste and the stamped imagery of what became the limes. She also applied a bit of color. It was then my job to finish the piece and get it posted.

Apart from the limes, the shapes are soft and defined by color alone with no hard lines. However, when there is this much texture applied in this way, there are many smaller shapes created. After determining that her circular stamped shapes were going to be limes, I applied some newsprint with a lime green followed by some pencil lines. I then prepared the surface to receive pastels by brushing on some Liquitex Clear Gesso. The aqua and lime green pastels then formed a block of color running down the right and bottom edge. The placement of lettering was then easy to locate. It needed to be at the center of interest and connect the fruit shapes.

Working on a collaboration with another artist is a wonderful design exercise and will teach you how to give up control. I had to build this piece based on someone else's choices. Now it is my time to return the favor and begin a piece for Sue to finish and post on her blog. We'll see how that goes. Chances are it will be exciting and fantastic. So there you have it. A few thoughts about collaboration and what you can learn from this process.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Grace Note"


"The grace note of life is a beautiful melody of God's favor and blessing playing in the heart." This is quite a mouthful, yet it expresses the power of God energizing the creative spirit to do what it needs to do in life.

This is a very subtle piece of soft shapes with barely a hard edge or super strong value contrast anywhere. The lettering is definitely brighter than the background, but in hindsight I would have probably written it in the cream color that is present in the piece.

Most of these kinds of nuances concerning edges and values are best learned by simply doing a lot of art. You almost need to see it before it is truly understood what needs to be done. So I am surprised after 445 postings that I am still learning to refine these subtleties and make the piece as good as it can be. And that is precisely why it is so important to do something over and over again until these "nuanced" techniques can be mastered.

Blogging is one strategy that will keep you doing something over and over again, but if that is too much of a commitment, there are other strategies that will work. My personal experience and opinion is that an artist must create something every day. Professional artists often work (8) to (10) hours a day... just to put this whole idea of creating artwork into perspective. So my encouragement is to work out a time and place to be able to spend at least 30 min. a day doing something. That is a realistic strategy for everyone and soon you will want to add to that time allotment. And there you have it....just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Destination" (sold)

"Choices determine destination." This can be an exhilarating and terrifying thought at the same time. It is true that we all make choices that take us down a particular path. We need to make sure it's the right one.

This piece marks a return to a gesso layering technique that creates a mysterious "veiled" effect. It is very satisfying to do and requires a reaction to what is going on as you work far more than other techniques. It is important to continue realizing that paintings are made up of shapes.  The shapes in this piece were created with many layers, alternating between gesso and washes of gouache and lettering.  (I also sprayed the paper and prepared it to receive the next layer with diluted gel matte medium three separate times.)

I deliberately kept the color subdued, but also paid attention to the values which led to the olive green connecting to the edge from top to bottom in an erratic sort of line. Edge to edge creates a division of the entire design space right off the bat and is a very important part of having a good foundation to the painting. And it doesn't need to even be as prominent as I made it in this piece, but there needs to be a division created by color, line, or different shapes.

Another design decision that goes well with gesso is all of the pencil lines. All of the lettering in this piece was written with a normal .05 mechanical pencil sharpened on a sandpaper block. It is also good to hold the pencil vertically. If you are holding it at a slant, you are not writing with the sharpest point of the pencil. Just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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

"Quietness eases the artist into a highly creative state." Constant audio input or constant hand held technology is an enemy of creative output. It is necessary to intentionally cut out continual audio input if creative thought has a chance to be nourished and grow.

The beginning of this piece was a demo in a mixed media class this past weekend. I deliberately discouraged the use of any color in class. We kept it to black, white, silver, and gray. The class was instructed to place their initial over the silver.

As most of us often do, we say one thing and do another. This was a fun departure from what we did last Saturday and should give everyone in that class extra food for thought. I used Caran D'Ache Ink (Caribbean Sea) to create the block of blue. It was important to make it appear as though it was behind the silver so I brushed off the excess blue from the silver with a brush dipped in alcohol. After spraying the blue with Spray Acrylic Coating the large ornate "Q" was then positioned on top of gel matte medium to secure it to the support.

With the other negative spaces brayered with Black Speedball Printing Ink, the silver stands out brilliantly against the black and the blue. It is also important to note that this blue is brilliant in this context because it's ink and colored inks tend to be more intense than acrylic colors. (It's much more intense in the original.)  So there you have it.....another thing you can do with textured gesso, silver leaf, and color. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, May 21, 2012


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

"Actions color the declarations of our intentions." We all have a tendency to say we are going to do this, that, and the other. However, it is our actions that telegraph what are true intentions are.

This is an experimental piece in an effort to combine pouring medium and gesso to create a contrast of texture and a "veiled" effect. The surface was prepared as for lettering after the pouring medium was dried. (The surface is too slick to have any paint or gesso stick to it without dulling the slick with gel matte medium.)

Instead of using a credit card or shaper tool to apply the gesso, I used a rubber brayer. The technique involves rolling it on...followed by wiping off the brayer. Continue brayering until it looks erratic and then roll the brayer into alcohol and onto the surface which will remove part of the gesso and create the hazy texture.  (It requires lots of brayering and wiping off the brayer.)

The next step was to cover the surface with Liquitex Clear Gesso to prepare for soft pastels. The surface was then sprayed with Spray Acrylic Coating followed by preparing the surface for lettering. I used a charcoal pencil for the lettering. It is a Stabilo pencil (which sharpens well) and then I sharpened it again on a sandpaper block. It has to be sharp to make small letters and those of you who have been in my lettering classes know that I cannot stand a "dull" pencil.  This surface receives the charcoal pencil quite well.  Regular graphite will not work on this surface.  For those in the class this past weekend, this was the first pouring medium piece demo.  Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Unique" (sold)


"Patterns of creativity are fascinating, God given, and unique as fingerprints." After teaching a class, I am always amazed at how many different ways the same technique gets interpreted. That thought prompted the quote today. It is a reminder that all of us are unique and need to value our own creative voice.

This piece is all about drama and contrast. Notice that there is a thin ribbon of black in the pouring medium and also in the butterfly. It is wise to be very prudent when using black unless you are creating a black and white piece with variations of gray. In this technique, where the color still feels like it's moving even after it's dry, black can overpower the piece and scare you half to death. I'm not kidding! That actually happened to me and I immediately threw the piece in the trash.

The pencil lines in the first layer and the word fascinating written and going underneath the butterfly plus the quote offer a wonderful contrast to the intense color and very abstract piece of artwork. Pencil and charcoal lines show the human gesture and individuality of the artist. It seems to say....a human being touched this art piece. It was not created by a machine. It is very important to show your unique marks in your art.

Even in the act of pouring color on the paper, each person approaches it with a certain kind of movement unique to them. It is quite fascinating and I hope this gives you a few more things to think about.

Saturday, May 19, 2012



"Joy springs up with the right attitude." Isn't it refreshing to be around people who are joyful and always have a good attitude? I am not always like that, but I sure would like to be known as a joyful person. Wouldn't you?

Those of you who think I can blog in my sleep can let go of that thought today. I will be very honest with you on this one. (And this is something I vowed never to do!) But today's posting barely got done and there are many things wrong. So today, I will hit on a few of the wrong things.

First of all, if you are a lettering artist, and you are writing one line of text (in black) across a better be straight!! However, today's line of text is just a "hair" off, but it is enough to drive me nuts. Also, some papers are easier to correct than others. I wiped off this line of lettering twice and practically ruined the paper (140lb HP). I then thought I could make it look better with a bit of Black Charcoal Powder. Not!! It only "muddied" the waters.

So, maybe tomorrow will be better. At least I did try and didn't opt out and hopefully the quote will speak to someone today. Rest assured that not every piece you try will work out the way you want. We are only human. And that's a refreshing thought! Just a few more things to think about.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Knowing and Doing"

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

"Knowing and doing are the twins of understanding." It is impossible to learn something by osmosis. There are people who still try, but it does not work. We all must put in our 10,000 hours before we truly become skilled. Get started!

Here is an exercise you might want to try. Rule up a page of squares and then divide each square into a division of black and white. It helps in understanding division of space. The shapes created by doing this exercise will give the piece a foundation to build upon.

In this case, the silver represents the white and the rest is a combination of black with a bit of gray. I did add some Brilliant Violet Gouache to this piece, but it would have been fine without it. There is something "classy" about black and white with no color added at all. Another thing to note here is the contrast of edges. The only really hard edge in this piece (besides the lettering) is the left hand edge of the silver. The top edge is a textured and broken edge which provides the needed contrast.

Keeping the main thing, the main thing, will unify a piece of artwork, but the contrasts will give the necessary subtlety and variety that keep the viewer looking. Try identifying the contrasts in other artist's artwork. That will help you to understand why a particular element in the design is holding your interest. If something can be analyzed and identified, it can be replicated. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Life and Music"

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

"Life is like music and can be a crescendo or decrescendo." And isn't this the truth! Sometimes we're up and sometimes we're down and also in between. If you could have seen this piece before the lettering was in place, you would have noticed more chaos. It is only when the straight leveling line of the lettering was in place that everything seemed to be okay. Just stay calm and carry on.

Establishing a mood is always my first and most important step in selecting colors, technique, and division of space. My intention from the very beginning of this piece was to establish a Spanish mood and feel to the piece. In fact, that's very much where my heart is going these days. I love the Spanish language, colors, and their courtyards, haciendas, etc.

By being very careful with your pouring medium and colors, it is possible to have some very intense color blocks by simply NOT disturbing those colors after pouring them on the paper. It is so tempting to grab a plastic fork or toothpick and create some external movement of the color. But if you resist that urge and choose only ONE area where you allow yourself to disturb the line between two colors, you will be rewarded for your efforts. If you are taking the "Symphony of Layers" workshop this weekend, this is one of the techniques we will be doing. You can think about the mood you want to create.

The large ornate "L" is an old letter from one of the Dover Publications which was compiled for artists and others to use in their work. It was printed on "Gampi" silk tissue paper which is totally transparent and looks like it's written directly on the piece. Another thing that enhanced the mood of this piece was the inclusion of some soft pastels in the red-violet and also a bit of charcoal powder in the upper left hand corner surrounding the "L". So there you have it! Just a few more things to explore or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


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

"Lettering gives a voice to the deepest things we feel." Whether it's journaling, creating a one off piece of artwork or simply writing on a scrap of paper, lettering allows us to release our deepest feelings on any surface that will receive the written letter.

Today's posting is all about the leading role in the play and the supporting cast. Composition is what the artist does to organize their design space into a coherent whole.

In this piece, the obvious star of the play is the ornate "L". It is the largest letter and the only image which gives the viewer an obvious place to focus their eyes upon. As the viewer gets closer to the piece, they will recognize the supporting cast. Texture is a great supporting cast, giving the viewer some compelling and subtle gestural marks that were created in the gesso before any paint, silver leaf, or collage was applied. And the subtlety of the lime green color is a feast for the eyes against the silver and black.

The "jerky" and erratic letters of the quote were meant to emulate a person writing who is overcome with the emotions they might be feeling that initiated the writing in the first place. You can also clearly see a strong division of space with the gray and silver touching all sides of the space in an unequal fashion so that the black color blocks in all four corners are different sizes. So this is a continuuing analysis of what is happening in the piece to better understand how to enter into design intentionally rather than simply doing whatever comes to mind. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"An Opportunity"

($60.00......6" x 6"......mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"An opportunity is an unspoken invitation to do something." In order to take advantage of an opportunity, it is important to be able to recognize what the invitation looks like. It is often hidden in a unique set of circumstances that offer potential growth or advantage in your life.

This piece has a very Spanish feel because of the colors and the ornate "O". If you like intense color, it is easy to do by selecting primary and secondary colors without too much dilution. The red and green in this piece are very strong and only a slight addition of red to the green. The orange is "grayed" down with white added. And then, of course, the black and white are essential to create such a direct impact.

Also, take note that black is the "bling" in this piece, but it would have been overpowering to have anymore. Another important design point here is the strong block of red, but the orange surrounded it is very diffused with no hard edges.

What I have just done for you is analyze some of the reasons why this piece has so much impact. Learning to think analytically can speed up your learning curve dramatically. When looking at your work or someone else's work, notice the division of space...what is going on in every corner...and what color scheme is used...and whether the colors are intense, diluted, and how much space they occupy. It will open your eyes to the world of design. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"An Inquiring Spirit"

($60.00......6" x 6".....mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"Knowledge breaks out and fills the mind of an inquiring spirit." It is the person who asks questions about anything and everything that has an inquiring spirit. These persons have much knowledge, are never bored, and generally have life goals. It's a good thing!

This is a new technique I am trying with pouring medium. I poured the green gold and orange/red colors first and then blended them slightly together with a palette knife. I then added raw umber followed by titan buff and then blended those colors together and slightly overlapped the first two colors. I then dropped in a few drops (out of a bottle) of the orange/red and raw umber and left it alone.

There are many experiments that can be done with this that will create "wisps" of color due to the action of the palette knife. Even though these colors fill the entire space, I believe there can be instances where you might just want a bit of color with solid background taking up most of the space. The palette knife is the tool of the day! This technique will be demonstrated and tried in my upcoming workshop this weekend. Just a few more things to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Love Language" (unavailable)


"Flowers are a non verbal love language." Today's posting is for mothers everywhere, but today I want to dedicate this posting to a special mother in my life. She is my daughter, Alice, and mother of two of my grandsons. She is an exceptional mother who has sacrificed time, money, and personal convenience to make sure her boys have every possible opportunity to succeed in life. (The photo in this posting is a bouquet of flowers she sent to me for this Mother's Day.)

This is another piece created by texturizing gesso. That part was done first. The photo was adhered on top of the gesso with gel matte medium. It was printed on Gampi Silk Tissue paper which is totally transparent and has no edge. In other words, it becomes totally integrated on whatever background it's placed. You can only see the edge in this piece because of the application of Speedball Printing Ink over the background and the edge of the tissue which extends beyond the image. It receives the ink differently than the gesso and I quite like the effect.

In recent postings where I've used this gesso technique, I have limited myself to black, white, gray, and silver. The only difference here is that I wanted color so I removed much of the black printing ink with a damp sponge brush and by blotting with kleenex. After drying it thoroughly, I sprayed it with Krylon Acrylic Spray Coating and then applied a coat of Liquitex Clear Gesso. This application prepared the surface to receive soft pastels. It was then sprayed again with acrylic spray coating and then the surface was prepared for lettering. (see other postings for how that's done) You can see that the decisions as to where to confine the color created shapes from edge to edge. Shapes form the foundational "bones" for any piece of artwork. Just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Words have Power"

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

"The pen is mightier than the sword because words hold the power of life and death." I can't take credit for this entire quote, but the additional words magnify the meaning. Actually, both the sword and the pen have the power of life and death. The only difference is that words can kill without shedding one ounce of blood. That is the part that is sobering.

When using very dark colors with pouring medium, the piece can quickly become overpowering. This can be compensated for by placing a piece of transparent collage over a portion of the color blocks or stamping an image over them. In this case, I used a stamp with lines of texture that look like words in a foreign language. Those straight lines have a "quieting" effect over overpowering areas.

In order to stamp on this surface, you will need to prepare the piece just as you would for lettering because the surface is shiny and slick. Mix (2) parts water to (1) part gel matte medium with a palette knife. Secure your paper to a surface with removable tabs or a glue stick so that you are free to blow dry the piece with your left hand while brushing the medium on with your right hand. This is necessary to cause the medium to attach to the slick surface.

I used Speedball Printing Ink which will need to be sprayed with Spray Acrylic Coating before preparing the piece for hand lettering. (Prepare the same way as for the stamping.) Even though I have stated all of this before, it never hurts to go over it again and again. Mixed Media is all about how to go from one layer to the next. Part of that process is knowing how to secure one layer (if there's anything that will be disturbed) before moving on to the next. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Energy and Power"

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

"Deadlines create focused energy and power." Deadlines are generally viewed either positively or negatively. In my own personal experience, I've discovered that deadlines are a change agent that force me to work with focus and power.

This piece is permeated with energy and power because of all the diagonals. The direction of the diagonals all seem to be directed at a central focus where the black is intersecting from three sides of the piece. This is the power of cropping. At first I didn't like this piece because it seemed a bit overwhelming. But when you consider the quote and look at the piece, it makes perfect sense.

If you have never tried working on smaller pieces like 6" x 6" or even smaller, I strongly recommend doing so, especially with pouring medium. It will give you many ideas for larger abstract works and simply transferring the same division of space to another medium altogether. I recently took a week long class in kiln formed glass primarily using glass powders and frit. It was amazing to me how many of the same textures and glass collages were so similar to what I was already doing in mixed media. We all want our work to look spontaneous and gestural in nature with lots of movement, but that will never happen unless there is a spontaneous working method.  Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, May 10, 2012



"Boldness is the fearless attribute that attracts others with vivid and vigorous distinctions." Well, today's quote is quite a mouthful. I got all excited when I looked up the definition of "bold" and out came this quote. All effective leaders have this attribute.

The technique involved in creating this pouring medium piece has some distinct characteristics. I began as usual by mixing up my colors and wetting the paper under a faucet. Rather than covering the whole sheet with one light color, I cover about two thirds of it (in the middle) with the orange color, held up the paper, turned it and sprayed with water to get complete movement and coverage. I then layed it on wax paper and poured the red, greed gold, and black. My thought was to have intense color blocks with no external manipulation.

As I watched it began to move on its own and mingle a bit, I simply got the urge to use a toothpick and run it through the black and green. In that way, you will be able to have some detail and still have two other areas with no manipulation. Using different colors, and different textural tools in a specific portion will give you hours of productive fun. So now you have a few more things to try or think about.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Speed of Time"


"The speed of time is quite dependent on what you're doing." Have you noticed how time flies with the speed of light when you're doing something you enjoy, yet when you are doing something that you hate, time can be as slow as molasses. So if time is flying by in your life, it could be you're having a fabulous time!

Introducing a bit of color in a black, white, and gray environment can give a subtle power punch to the piece. In this piece, I began with white gesso, followed by texturizing with gestural marks. The color was introduced by applying acrylic paint in a vertical band over the gesso with a brayer. After that dried, I applied the silver leaf over gel matte medium straight from the jar. Use another brayer to roll over the silver leaf. If none of it comes up to reveal the color underneath, simply brush a bit of gel matte medium on the brayer, then roll it over the silver leaf and it will pick up some of the leaf.

After completing this part, there may be some of the color showing beyond the silver leaf. Apply some more gesso over that color to keep the color contained underneath the silver leaf. Then apply some black Speedball Printing Ink with a brayer over all of the white gesso. Dry with a hair dryer and soften the edges with water and blot with a kleenex to achieve the gray areas. Keeping color located in one area or shape is the essence of editing. Color always pops in a neutral environment and it is even more powerful if it is confined. In this case, less is definitely more. Just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


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

"A quiet and undisturbed spirit is the prerequisite for listening." In conflict resolution classes, the most important communication skill is listening. We all need to listen more intently to what others are saying.

This is a different approach to the technique of creating a pouring medium piece. The colors here are much more subdued and textures are extremely subtle.

Begin by wetting the paper under the faucet on both sides. (140lb. HP) Have a light medium and dark color premixed and ready to pour. After pouring three or four colors on the paper. Let them blend to your heart's content, holding the paper over a shallow baking dish and spraying and turning the paper until you're satisfied with your background of gradated and diffused color.

Lay the paper on wax paper laid on foam core. Now choose two colors that you used in the first pour and pour them across the paper again, leaving space in between these two colors. Take a fork, toothpick, or corner of an old credit card and run it through these two lines of color. It will not be as blended as the first pour, but will create a very pleasing and subtle texture. (In this piece, my two last colors were raw sienna and brilliant violet plus a bit of raw umber and white.) Just a few more things to think about in manipulating a very spontaneous technique.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, May 7, 2012


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

"Nothing gets done without determination." In many books I've read, determination has been the number one ingredient every successful person possesses. The best way to get determination is simply to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

Texture is a design element that immediately produces a response. The danger of texture is that too much of it without a contrast of no texture can create chaos. I love the technique in this piece of texturizing gesso and then printing over it with a brayer and Speedball Printing Ink. To "dial" back some of the texture, I make sure there are clearly defined shapes. Don't every forget that paintings are made up of shapes. Shapes are created by strong division of space. Think "edge to edge" and aggressive "dark / light" contrast. The brayer will also help you to create interesting edges and then some of them can be softened by printing with less ink on the brayer or by wetting the edge with a brush and blotting with a kleenex.

By sticking with black, white, grays, and silver, you will not get into the weeds by introducing color into an already highly textured piece. Even if color was introduced, it would need to be limited to maybe one small spot or printing very "grayed down" colors with your brayer. After looking at many different techniques and materials, I have discovered that these particular neutrals are going to help give a "power punch" to any environment and they are interesting, but also easy on the eyes. I hope you will be encouraged to try and think on these things.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Truth and Reality"


"Truth and reality merging together create an environment for change." Reality is a difficult thing to face at times, but the truth always equalizes the equation.

This is a 5" x 5" piece and I chose this size because there is often a piece left over from all the pouring medium I do that I particularly like, but there may not be enough to create a 6" x 6". So if you have already discovered the marvelous benefits of cropping, don't forget that clayboards also come in these smaller sizes. These pieces are perfect to sit on an easel in a book case or coffee table.

The black in the bottom right hand corner was my starting point for considering placement of lettering and the one collage element. This is the time to pull out the removable tape and place the collage piece in several places before committing. As it turned out, the upper left hand corner was the perfect spot and it balances out the black in the opposing diagonal corner. And if you take a few minutes to ask why this might be so, you will have a bit more design information under your belt.

After adhering the tissue paper collage (gampi tissue) with gel matte medium (applied to the support, not the paper), I then knew exactly where to place the lettering. You can see that it connects the collage piece to the black color block, creating a connection between the two and also creating another strong division of space. It is often helpful to know how someone else arrives at design decisions so these are just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Simple" (sold)


"Keep life simple to avoid unnecessary complications." I had one very insightful teacher who encouraged the class to keep our design simple because things always tend to get more complicated. If you start complicated, there is no where to go and then everything falls apart. It's called visual overload in art and stress in real life.

Simplicity in art work has everything to do with keeping the main thing, the main thing. I see a tendency in myself and in students who so want to include something very precious in a piece and yet the addition of this precious thing is simply too much.

The mark of maturity and the essence of editing is to keep it simple. It will definitely get more complicated as you go along. It is wonderful to incorporate techniques that allow you to get rid of an unwanted element if you all of a sudden find yourself in visual overload.

The technique I used in this piece allowed me to write the word simple over the script and still be able to wash it off if a letter didn't look right...or be able to make the decision to exclude it altogether. After the script was written, I sprayed the lettering with Krylon Spray Acrylic Coating and dried it with a hair dryer. A couple of brush strokes of gel matte medium ((2) parts water to (1) part medium) allowed me to write to my heart's content without disturbing the lettering underneath. So technique does really matter and more expressive pieces can be designed with a fair amount of technique under your belt. And that's just another thing to try or think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, May 4, 2012


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

"Edges and words create boundaries." Boundaries are good because they contain things and keep chaos from happening. In art, they contain the shapes. In relationships, they keep bad things out and let good things in. It is interesting that everyone loves to set their own boundaries, but not too many people like boundaries imposed on them. The mature person can set and receive boundaries with grace.

The quality and type of edges in artwork is endless. The experienced artist pays close attention to their edges because it sets the mood of their work. In this piece, there is a wide range of edges from very soft, to very hard, and much in between. In looking back at some of my own work, I can clearly see the change from very soft or very hard edges to more subtleties.

I have finally concluded that edges and values are the two elements of design that can "sneak" up and invade our artwork like a disease. In general, most artists have too many hard edges or too many soft edges and the darks are not dark enough or lights are not light enough. Just by paying attention to these two things, the problem with a piece can be figured out in a heartbeat. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Much Ado"


"Much ado about writing gives voice to my passion." My theory is that words are so important, they need to be written down. This is the last piece of a Black, White, Gray and Silver Quartet of pieces to be hung in my studio.

If you don't yet understand the power of black, white, gray, and hope is that you will very soon. Old silver is all the rage now and then to also include it in artwork is truly special.

This technique using gesso, silver leaf, photography on transparent tissue paper, Speedball printing ink applied with a brayer has the potential of being a chaotic mess. It is an excellent way to study shapes and organize your design space. The "golden rule" in the visual arts is that paintings are created with shapes...even in super realistic paintings. The values in this piece make up most of the shapes and you can see that there are horizontal bands of black, of white, and of silver. There is also a lot of texture, but it is the organization of the shapes that holds it together. It is a stunning technique and will be one of the pieces created in the upcoming "Symphony of Layers" Workshop. So if you're signed up for that workshop, this would be a good time to begin noticing shapes and how important they are in creating a work of art in any medium. Just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Associations and Connections"

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

"There is power in the associations and connections found in art and in life." Whoever or whatever we are around on a regular basis will affect us. There are associations and connections in art and in life that must be given attention. The great thing about art is that it can be changed. In life, we often need to learn to negotiate the things that cannot be changed.

The colors in this piece are pleasing to me because of the light raspberry color juxtaposed with the orange. If the orange and black are next to each other by themselves, it can be somewhat overwhelming. The raspberry color cools down the hot intensity of the orange.

It also makes a difference in this particular technique to pay close attention to the space between the bands of color. By allowing the white or titan buff color to separate the black and pick color, a connection has been made with the other light color areas. Because this color moves after it is poured, it is wise to allow a bit more space between colors unless you want them to totally mingle together.

Another thing to remember when pouring color is to notice what happens in response to external manipulation. For instance, using a plastic fork running through the colors in a zigzag or circular motion will redirect the flow of the color. Notice what happens immediately after touching the color with any tool. Also notice what happens if you continue spraying the color with water as you pick up the sheet and cause the color to move dramatically. You can greatly reduce intensity by doing this and then lay the paper down again and pour a bit of the same color into the previous color, redirect the flow with a plastic fork and achieve a completely different effect. Remember to wear plastic gloves! Use a shallow baking pan to catch the excess medium as you turn the paper and allow some of it to drip. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


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

"Creativity is a gift wrapped up in fascination." To be totally absorbed in something is to be fascinated. Most creative things do not get created unless there is a high degree of fascination in the process of getting it done. It essentially means to be held captive. Now that's fascination!

Whatever technique or process any of us choose to do to communicate visually, we had better be totally captured by the process. And some processes can be very intimidating and even daunting to tackle. However, the sooner we have the realization of what it takes to obtain that particular skill, and we can stay fascinated with it, the more likely we can overcome any obstacles along the way.

In this piece, I was intent on using Green Gold (Golden Fluid Acrylic) and Anthraquinone Blue (Fluid Acrylic). I also threw in some metallic white. When these colors merged together, the darker, warmer green was created. That's why fascination with the Pouring Medium process has been ongoing. No matter what is done to manipulate the process, there is always a spontaneous result. It seems to take on a life of its own.

In this cropped section, I ended up with a very contemporary take on an old format called horizontal bands. They do work every time they're tried, but the edges of these bands of color are far more interesting than they would have been had I simply ruled off three bands and painted the color in. Most artists I know work hard to hone their skills so that the work never looks contrived which is the exact opposite of spontaneous. If any artwork looks controlled and contrived, it will stop the viewer from connecting with your piece instantly. Just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.