Friday, August 31, 2012

"Change Course"


"When something is not working...change course." In any area of life, this is a good thing to do. What sense does it make to keep doing things that continue to produce failure?

This piece brings me back to something I've learned in oil painting. Paintings are made up of shapes. This is the best advice I can give anyone who is creating a collage. The key is to make sure there is a conversation between the shapes, colors, patterns, line work, etc. These conversations are called "echoes". The shape and direction of the flowers echoes the gestural lines in the mono printed rice paper. The detail in the vertical patterned collage echoes the flowers and the gestural marks. The colors are echoed throughout the piece.

Edges are another important consideration. There are some very straight lines in this piece, but they are contrasted by the torn edges and the curved lines that appear in the flowers, patterned detail and gestural marks.

A lot of movement can be introduced into a collage with the inclusion of gestural marks created in the printing ink and mono printed onto rice paper. Speedball Printing Ink remains my choice because it creates such a nice print (much better than acrylics) and the use of rice paper will give you the sharpness you are looking for. Rice paper is made for printing and it is thick enough to really absorb the ink. Begin by brayering the color onto a piece of glass until it sounds "squishy" and then make your marks with shaper tools or old credit cards. Lay the rice paper onto this surface and print by running a clean brayer over the rice paper. Lift up and set aside to dry. (Don't forget that this ink is water soluble and you will need to spray with Acrylic Spray Coating before adhering to the support.)

Some of you have encouraged me to do more expressive lettering and move away from Spencerian Script. There is a good reason why I can't always do that. Space is one factor and often a straight line of script has a calming effect on the piece. I promise to mix in some more 6" x 6" pieces so that I can have an opportunity to do different lettering. The 4" x 6" are being created for a "give away" for an upcoming exhibit. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, August 30, 2012



"Focus and practice equal skill." Another one of my favorite quotes is..."Wishing will not make it so". Only focus and practice will get the job done!

We have all learned that placing the focal point in the middle of the piece is never a good idea unless it is a vignette. The way the pouring medium flowed and the way the piece was cropped made all of the directional lines of the moving color go right to the center. Placing the focal point anywhere else would have been akin to moving the eye of the hurricane to the periphery. (no pun intended!) It would never work because the force of the "pull" of the lines is too great. So in this case...if you can't "lick"'em"....join them.

I hope you can imagine what that central image would have looked like if it were not transparent. It is so much more effective to use transparency whenever possible because it totally marries that image to the background. The viewer is still able to see quite clearly the total movement of the color.

Another reason this works harkens back to the traditional layout of many documents where there is a heading or seal and the lettering right below. Even the dark shape at the bottom acts as a border and conclusion to the piece. And there you have it....just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Aspirations and Habits"


"Aspirations live or die based on the habits we form." An aspiration is a strong desire to achieve a particular outcome. We all have them and the only way to achieve them is to form the habits that will insure the desired outcome.

The movement in this piece is very interesting and determined the placement of the additional collage pieces. The penciled lower case "a" and the lettering to the left center was done first on blank 140 lb HP. The pouring medium + fluid acrylic was done next and the the additional collage pieces were printed on silk tissue paper and adhered on top of the pour.

There are so many places where collage pieces can be placed, but it is best to pay close attention to what is going on in the pouring medium and the directional lines that flow from that. The black color block appears to ascend upward and around which made it obvious that the decorated capital needed to end up at the end of those diagonal lines of black. The black lettering adhered to the bottom was a nice final touch.

And even though this is only a 4" x 6"... there is interest and detail with some areas left alone. In summary, there are echoes of lettering in different sizes and styles. The color percentages are varied and in different shapes. The contemporary "nod" to the book arts is the main thing. Nothing was included that does not contribute to that theme. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Color Personality"


"Blue and yellow have a joyous color personality." The infinite variety of color combinations can create all kinds of moods and personalities. Just choosing what colors to wear can influence the way you feel and move through your day.

My long standing advice about color selection for anyone who does not know what colors to choose is this..."Black and white plus one or two other colors works every time it's tried." The important thing is to vary the percentage of space that the colors occupy.

Often, when creating pouring medium pieces or any other spontaneous techniques, the color does not always land where you want. That was the case in this piece. The lower left hand corner was white after being cropped from a larger sheet. And I felt like it needed a bit of a power punch and a smaller echo of the blue and yellow so I made a color copy on silk tissue paper of a portion of my parent sheet of this pour. After it was adhered in place, it was totally integrated into the piece and provided the color echo and alternating effect I was looking for. I will freely admit that this works well if you are adhering the extra bit on top of a white or extremely light area, but will probably not work on top of darker colors.

The creating of most artwork requires this type of "trouble shooting". So it is imperative to gather as many techniques and tools in your toolbox to accomplish this type of thing. Very few pieces simply come together effortlessly. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Verbal Music"


"Poetry is verbal music for my soul." Words that are arranged to describe an emotion or an image can so change a person's outlook that it is magical. Poetry helps the visual artist as well as the composer to create deeper works. All three are needed...poetry, music, and visual art.

This piece is a great lesson in controlling a very active background of color and composing a piece that will work visually.

Line engravings continue to be one of the best ways to accomplish very definite shapes out of a pool of multitudinous color. An artist could use their own ink drawings, but I think the precision of these engravings makes it more sophisticated unless the artist takes the time and effort to create a very detailed ink drawing with shading. It takes more than a single line drawing. Also, by choosing a line engraving that has a definite repeat of a geometric shape gives the piece rhythm and stability.

The collage fragments of poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson also bring a light value with no detail that causes it to stand out as the focal point of the piece.

And the last thing is very straight Spencerian Script written from edge to edge in a tinted white gouache that connects with the other light areas and cools down some of the very warm orange color notes. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"A Peaceful State"


"Music has the power to bring the soul to a peaceful state." Isn't it surprising how quickly a sad mood can disappear when music fills the air. We all need to remember how powerful it is and let the music play when stress and sadness come.

This is another 4 x 6 give away for an upcoming exhibit. It has been interesting to work in a format that isn't square. I would like to say a few words about some of the design issues in this piece.

It began with a blank sheet of 140 lb HP. I adhered a fragment of a concert program from 1935. You can actually read the date in some of the translucent black area. It was adhered with gel matte medium right out of the jar and dried with a hair dryer so I could immediately do the pouring medium.

What can happen when using black is that it can do what some people can do....suck up all of the oxygen in the room. In this case, I ended up with more black than I really wanted. The solution to this problem is to select another collage item (preferably something opaque rather than silk tissue prints) and place it somewhere in that block of color. This will break up the surface tension and then the black color block acts as a frame around the collage. The selection of the collage is very important and needs to echo the colors and theme of the piece. In this case I referenced a piece of music from medieval times where the music notation was a lot different from what we have to do.

Another more complex part of this piece is the idea of placing collage on the paper before the pouring medium to create a semi "veiled" effect. That effect combined with the transparent and opaque collage on top of the pouring medium creates a lot of depth and interest. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Knowing and Doing"


"Doing comes before knowing." I still find myself and others thinking we can know something before doing it. More often than not, I may not be thinking I am trying something and expecting to know it before doing it, but it seems to sneak up on me. Practicing and doing are mandatory before knowing anything.

It is always a good thing to experiment and see where the experimentation takes you. But even when experimenting with new things, there are stubborn facts that will stop you in your tracks. Those stubborn facts are the elements and principles of design. Things work or don't work for a reason. It can be terribly frustrating and liberating at the same time.

One item in your studio will help you more than any other. That one item is removable tape. If you are in a quandary about where an element of your design should go, tape it in the place that seems the most logical and then look at it from across the room. Then try taping it in several other places and compare. If it doesn't look good anywhere, then it probably doesn't belong on that particular piece.

Save yourself some heart aches and head aches by making a quick decision to exclude that element and move on to what does work. It's the constant indecision that hangs up a lot of artists. I can tell you from experience that placing a time limit on yourself will assist you in making those kind of decisions quickly...i.e....working on your work every day, even when you don't feel like it.

Fear and your internal critic are getting some of you "hamstrung". I know that because I've watched you work through your process in some of my classes. If you go through all of the elements and principles of design as you look at your piece and ask a few questions. you will soon figure out the problem. Let me help you out a bit. Color values are the "sneakiest" of all of the elements of design that you will most likely overlook, so check that out first. Make a black and white c opy of your entire piece or just a portion (if it's too large) and you will know right away if you have a value issue. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Hand In Hand"


"Good things and good habits go hand in hand." Close attention to daily habits will yield very good things in life.

The color selection in this piece has a bit of a retro feel. My inspiration came from a photo of an interior dining room with vintage fabrics. The entire room was designed based on that fabric. The important thing was to get the color percentages right. The walls in the room were painted this mint green and the blue, red, and brown / black were the accent colors. The stencil look in the "collaged" pattern and hand lettering also give a nod to that period of time in history.

The border at the bottom overlapped into the dark area which can be problematic...even with silk tissue paper because the transparency ends up looking translucent. I resolved the problem by brushing on some black charcoal powder in those dark areas. Soft pastels can also be used to match what ever color is needed.

This is a 4" x 6" piece created for a "give away" at an upcoming exhibit. Will post the details as the date gets closer. It is the evening of September 21st, if you want to mark your calendar. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Color Conversations"

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

"Colors have conversations in every piece of artwork." If you are an artist and you think of colors having conversations, it will help you in your color placement and decisions. Some pieces have quiet conversations and in other pieces, the colors are constantly interrupting and everything is chaos...very much like all of us when we're talking, talking, talking etc.

In using a technique like pouring medium...the way the color is applied to the paper from edge to edge accomplishes a lot of the color placement issues for you. You can then make a few more changes when you crop your final piece.

In a technique like the one used in today's piece, it is quite a different story. After mono printing your rice paper, the papers are then adhered to a support. (In this case, it is 140 lb. HP) When I cropped the piece from a larger sheet, there was the large blue shape on the right, but there was no connection with the other half of the piece other than the text collage done in the first layer.

In order to have both sides of the piece actually have a conversation, it was quite necessary to adhere a piece or two of the blue to the left side. That keeps the conversation going and also keeps your viewer engaged in your piece. The eye is always...always...looking for connections and so the visual artist must have these echoes of color running through the design. Also notice that the Gold Orange (Holbein Acryl Gouache) is also entering the conversation along with the silver leaf. It's a whole new way of viewing color and I hope it helps you consider what kind of conversations are happening in your own artwork. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"The Vellum"

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

"The vellum stretched over our hearts contains the most emotional inscription." There are some events that are more deeply etched on the vellum of our hearts. To be emotionally healthy, we must treat some of them as old friends, have a brief visit, and then enjoy the creation of new memories.

I drifted into a mono printing "frenzy" yesterday and this piece is one of the results. Glass is my favorite surface for this technique. I began by adhering some text and other ornamentation on my rice paper that gives a "nod" to the book arts. The very next step was to lay out some wax paper to lay the mono printed rice paper to dry.

The actual mono print began by brayering on some Speedball Printing Ink onto my glass. I then took a slice of a credit card and made expressive marks in the paint. The rice paper was laid on top of this texturized paint and I then used a clean brayer to press it into the paint. Lift with a palette knife and lay aside to dry. The fun part of this is making lots of different sheets and then cut and tear them and attach to 140 lb. HP. (For a medium to large size piece...switch to 300 lb. HP.)

All of this was quite spontaneous, but cropping was the thing that really brought it together. By working larger, you give yourself many different ways to crop and will end up with a division of space and shapes that you would never have come up with by carefully planning all of your moves.

Of course, the papers had to be sprayed with spray acrylic coating before adhering to the support because they're water soluble. I simply laid them into a foam core tray to spray them.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Seeing Beauty"


"Seeing beauty is a call to worship." Seeing beauty is a habit that can foster a thankful heart. Beauty can be noticed anywhere. It can be a smile on a child's face or the sun filtering through the trees. It's everywhere!

This 4" x 6" piece has been created for an upcoming exhibit at Hill Country Bible Church NW. It will be given away the night of the Opening Reception. There will be more to follow until the week of Sept. 17. The Opening Reception is Friday, Sept. 21, so please mark the date. It will be a spectacular Opening in our newly renovated gallery. Invitation will be posted on our website in two weeks.  (

Pouring Medium plus Fluid Acrylics creates a tremendous amount of depth with a single pour. This kind of depth requires several layers when working with other techniques in mixed media. One of the reasons for the depth is the way the acrylic paint is suspended in the medium. However, there is also another reason for the depth and that reason is transparency. On every bottle of Golden Fluid Acrylics, you will find a small chart telling you the degree of transparency or opacity of that particular color.

The Green Gold is one of my favorite selections (color on the left) because of its transparency. You can see the gestural writing that was placed on the paper before the pour. And because I poured white over the entire sheet first, there is more of a gradation of that color than you might see without white being the first layer. So it is definitely worth taking note of this tiny point when buying your paint. I try to use a transparent color in every pour. The look is very similar to peering into a sheet of glass.

And for those of you who have leftover bits from you pouring medium pieces, consider those for smaller works like a 4" x 4" or 4" x 6". It will be difficult to find a clayboard panel to mount a 4"x 6", but a thin piece of MDF board will also work well. And there you have it....just a few more things to think about.

Monday, August 20, 2012


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

"Renewal can be a continual feast for the hungry mind." Growth does not happen unless there is a strong desire to renew the mind and stay out of comfort zones. Easier said than done, but a great way to begin the week.

This piece is a contemporary "nod" to the book arts. I placed text (printed on silk tissue paper) behind the butterfly to create that connection. The baroque line engraved border also harkens back to a "flourished" time in history. What makes line engravings so compelling is the way the movement and color of the pouring medium comes through, highlighting certain areas and the illusion of light passing through. In addition to copyright free books that contain line engravings, they can also be found in old books or you could create similar looks with pen and ink drawings.

I have discovered that "chewing" on a technique by staying with it day after day, continues to yield new discoveries. So if you think for one minute that pouring medium techniques are learned in one workshop and there's not much to might want to rethink your position. Every time I think I've tried everything, something else happens that changes my opinion. So whatever technique you're learning, stay with it day after day and you will discover far more than you ever dreamed you would. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Zoom In"

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

"Zoom in and crop the image and your thoughts to see with fresh eyes." Most everyone understands what it means to crop an image, but the idea of cropping your thoughts may sound a bit odd. When I crop my thoughts, I focus on one thought and give it my full attention. It's just something to think about.

I've talked endlessly about division of space and color percentages, so today I want to throw out a few reminders concerning process. Process is always much easier if it is something you practice everyday. The problems arise when work is created sporadically and you might be scrambling around to find all of your supplies and forget the sequence of the steps.

If you have a designated space to create your artwork... then congratulations are in order. You can organize things in such a way that you know exactly where they are...but only if you keep them in the same place religiously (which will speed up your process dramatically)

With pouring medium in particular, it is crucial to think through the steps before you begin. In every class, I have noticed that there is confusion about when to wet the paper. There is a strong tendency to wet the paper first and then mix the paint with medium. This sequence will result in an unsuccessful "pour". You must have everything mixed and lined up in front of you before wetting the paper. The reason being is that wet paper is what causes the colors to flow. The color will always stop moving wherever the paper is dry. Also make sure your wax paper is laid down wherever the piece will be left to dry.

The bottom line is that you will save yourself many heartaches by thinking through the sequence of the steps before you even begin. And if you do not have a studio yet, shop around for a rolling taboret of some sort. Move some of that food out of the pantry and make room for your rolling cart. (After all, what is more or art? Get your priorities straight!) The kitchen counter can then become your work space. Even having a glass cut (for the most durable surface)  would be good. Glass is easy to store in a portfolio. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Sparkling Life"

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

"Sparkling life moves parallel to darkness and gives birth to grace." Everyone has encountered periods of darkness in life. This is a quote and a visual showing the sparkling life called "grace" during those times.

The very heartbeat of abstraction is capturing the essence of an image or concept without showing all of the detail. Abstract means to summarize. Abstract Expressionism goes a step further and aims at a subjective emotional expression of an ideal rather than a picture of a physical object. It is nonrepresentational.

What I have been doing with my "moving color" pieces is to land somewhere between being a colorist and having a line engraving or graphic element to ground the piece and tone down the power of all that moving color. A very good way to learn how to use color is to pretend you are a "colorist" and design pieces using color with absolutely nothing else added.

The act of doing this will eliminate all of the other design decisions that could come into play and help you focus on color shapes, color percentages, and different techniques of applying the color. Besides pouring medium, some very nice effects can be achieved by layering with thin glazes of color...using a brayer, palette knife, or adding mediums to the paint to create textured color. And if any of you will be involved with the upcoming exhibit..."Visual Rhapsody", this would be a good time to do a piece consisting only of color. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, August 17, 2012


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

"Prayer changes everything." Many quotes have been written on prayer. The closest wording to this one says..."Prayer changes things." I like this one because the word "everything" is all inclusive. What a comforting thought.

In searching through my old books for collage elements for this piece, I had a nice surprise by finding a four leaf clover tucked between the pages. It was quite fragile, but by carefully adhering and coating it with gel matte medium, it is be preserved.

I was very interested in the forward to this book which is entitled Two Searches. The two searches reference God's search for man and man's search for God. By covering up a portion of the text, the mystery of the meaning is made more difficult to read and adding flourished overlays simply adds to that mystery. The important decisions with the placement of collage elements was an effort to create more shapes and still leave enough of the background in tact for visual relief. It is also a good idea to place a vertical element like the book spine in a left or right of center position to create lost and found edges in the pouring medium. This is an important design tip that creates depth.

The text collage is also framed out by adding the ornate "P" going from the edge of the space to the edge of the spine and likewise with the placement of the quote at the bottom. The clover is important because it is a contrast to any of the shapes in the piece yet it echoes the color of the book spine. I hope none of this is boring, but I've always liked for artists to explain why they do the things they do because it helps me process my own design decisions. For that reason, I hope you've been helped if you are into creating collage pieces. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"A Quest"

(125.00.....5" x 5"......mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel....floated on a linen mat in a custom frame.)

"A quest to know begins with a desire to listen." A quest means to seek something. To seek to know something requires that the seeker of the knowledge listen. But listening means infinitely more than auditory listening. It also means to act on what is read or heard.

The one other color in this piece besides black and white is Green Gold (Golden). It is one of my favorites not only because of its hue, but because it's transparent. It creates a bit of a glow and any lettering created with pencil in the first layer will show through if the pour is not too thick.

I broke up the surface tension of a large black shape by adding collage with a flourished overlay. The principle here is that any line work crossing over one or more shapes in a piece will integrate it to the previous layer, but only if the color of the previous layer is echoed.

Notice, also, that all of the corners are designed which keeps the eye from wandering out of the design space. And this piece was totally inspired by an interior room with only these colors. If you want drama, just try black and white plus one other color and the drama will be there. The only exception is if the color is too close in value to black or too light to contrast with white. Red is always a good option since red, white, and black have historically been a top choice for many illuminated manuscripts. It's also good to vary the percentages of each color to avoid monotony. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


($150.00........6" x 6".....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard and floated on a linen mat in a custom frame.)

"Authors have dipped their pens in history to give us their view of the world." This quote is simply giving honor to the many authors who have enriched our lives by connecting us to the past and letting us see who they are through their experiences.

This pouring medium piece was manipulated quite a bit. After the colors were poured over a white base of pouring medium, I lifted the diagonal corners and began to let the color move, but never too far in one direction. This is what creates the subtle marbling effect. However, it is very easy to overdo this and end up with one mass of "muddied" color. I felt like I did just a tiny bit of over mixing so I then added some more turquoise and green gold from my premixed bottles. (The pouring medium was already mixed with the color and stored in bottles which will keep indefinitely.) You can see the brighter color in the upper left hand corner where it was added much later in the process, followed by very little movement. So this is something you will want to remember when over mixing occurs. This is also a good technique for those of you who prefer more subtle colors.

The collage pieces from an old book are the focal point of this piece and add that "library" look that I am so fond of. It is also fun to actually read enough of the text to include a pertinent part. In this case, it prompted the quote and the rest is history.

After talking endlessly about spontaneous techniques, I wanted to say that in this piece, I did predetermine the colors of the piece by choosing to include the spine of this particular book, although I had no idea what other elements would be included. So there is a time to make a few decisions before doing your pour so the piece can come together. Just leave yourself open to other inclusions that would be dictated by the spontaneity of the pour. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


($40.00.....6" x 6".....mounted on a 1/8" depth gesso board)

"Words have the power to set people's hair on fire or be the arms of hope." This is my contemporary rewording of a proverb from the Bible. That verse reads..."Words have the power of life and death." It's something worth thinking about.

This piece is a classic case of letting the piece tell me what I need to do next. I liked the flourishing in "Words" at the bottom because it "echoed some of the movement of lines in the piece. So as I began to think about a quote base on words, I let the colors tell me the rest of the story. The red and blue stand for the two opposites in the quote.

By adding even more flourishing to the piece, I was symbolizing the continual flow of words that seem to be everywhere these days. With radio and television or being in a work environment with others, you could literally not have more than 30 min. a day (or less) without hearing words.

I am becoming more convinced by the day that it is much more powerful to begin a piece of artwork with spontaneous techniques and allow the textures, unplanned shapes, and colors dictate the final outcome. Certainly decisions can be made about color and textural choices in advance, but the use of spontaneous techniques will allow for many unexpected "jewels" to take place. Some of the spontaneous techniques I like are mono printing, pouring medium, gestural writing, mark making, applying color with a brayer, and the best of all is cropping. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, August 13, 2012


($40.00.....5" x 5".....mounted on a 3/4" depth clayboard)

"Color is the caffeine of art." On a Monday morning, you might need more than coffee to wake up. If so, try some color. I call it the caffeine of art!

Cropping is a spontaneous process. It is so much better to work larger than the intended size so that the option of "cropping" is fully on the table. It is a spontaneous process because of the many choices and placement decisions that happen as a result of cutting something off in an unusual place that you might not have thought of if working from a predetermined size.

The piece today was cropped on a diagonal of the larger piece. I was able to decide to allow more blue to show and cut off the red running along side of the blue vertically. By cropping in this way I was able   to create a corner pattern which acts as arrows pointing to the decorative element in the right hand corner. The black showing at the top also acts as an "echo" of the other black areas and completes a framing out of the three strong colors.

The one other thing that was done to create a black + white + color scheme is to pour the colors with enough space in between to allow the white to show through. (White plus pouring medium was applied to entire sheet before colors were poured.) This creates an alternating effect as well as some softly diffused edges. In mixed media, design is the name of the game. And there you have it, just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Agony and Ecstasy"

($40.00......5" x 5"......mounted on a 3/4" depth clayboard)

"Learning a new process falls somewhere between agony and ecstasy." It takes grit and determination to push through the learning curve of a new process. The only way to fail is to quit.

This pouring medium piece looks like the "agony and the ecstasy" with the extreme rise and fall of the color. The iron work in the background is symbolic of the idea of pressing on.

Journals are very popular these days so here is a new thing to journal...especially if you are just learning a new medium in the arts. Try writing down just ONE thing each day that you've learned or realized from your own experience with this new "process" that feels like trying to hold jello. And if you can't think of anything, just write down one thing to focus on for that day. In one month's time, you will be amazed at how much you've noticed and learned and that particular skill or way of seeing will become part of the way you work.

For instance, the ironwork in this piece stabilizes the piece and it gives depth because it was collaged in such a way as to appear like it is behind the moving color. The principle: any image placed behind something else that appears and disappears creates depth. Write it down as something to remember. It is one way to connect disparate parts and create depth.

Most of all, embrace any failures as a hugh learning opportunity and grapple with it until you know why it didnn't work. When you answer that question, you have made more progress than if everything worked out perfectly. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, August 11, 2012



"Allegro is not a sustainable tempo." We also need "adagio". Today might be a good "adagio" day.

In several recent postings, I've talked a lot about "echoes". They are very important, but it is also important to have contrast. In this piece I have echoed the color black, but with a contrast of the straight lines of the music. And then I echoed the shape of the colors in the detail at the top.

There is also a bit of alternation going on with the blue and white diagonal stripes. That decision has to be made before doing the pour, but gives you another design option. The white was placed over the whole paper first. By leaving space between the lines of color, you can create a white strip and a bit of "bleed through" in the other colors for a nice variation. So even though this is a spontaneous process, you can still exert quite a bit of creative control. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Pass It On!"


"Share what you know and watch yourself grow." This quote is born out of my desire to teach. But even if you've never taught a structured class, each of us has a special gift(s) that needs to be passed on to others. So pass it on what you know!

This is a very compelling color combination. The orange color block is a combination of Pyrrole Orange and Burnt Sienna. The Burnt Sienna knocks down some of the intensity of the orange. The lime green is Green Gold (Golden) undiluted by any other color. And of course, the first layer of this pour was Titanium White over the entire sheet of paper which influenced the gradation of both color blocks and peeks through in various places.

The gestural quality of the black lines running through the orange and green were created with an energetic movement of a toothpick pulling the black out into the other color blocks. Pencil lines showing through the color also give energy with their underlying movement.

One other thing about percentages of color. In this piece, the orange and green are very close in the percentages they occupy with the green having a slight edge. When two color blocks are this close together in their size, the tension in the piece is much greater. It can be reduced by making one of those colors occupy a much greater area than the other. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Purchasing Power"


"What we value determines how much purchasing power we have in life." This is the equivalent of the principle of give and it shall be given you. Think about it.

The subtle shapes in this piece are punctuated by a very prominent black and brown shape. To create an echo of that shape, I chose two images that also have a "v" shape with a different weight and style.

The blue color block softens the piece and the soft yellow in the background is a nice split complement to the blue. That softness is a great contrast to the prominent dark lines and shapes. I also chose to include the tiny detailed image underneath the ornate "V" to soften the impact of the strong graphic of the ornate letter. It was too stark before that "lacy" pattern was included.

Even the shape of the blue going down into a "v" determined the placement of the collage elements. And at the risk of seeming redundant, it's the process of looking for the "echose" that will tell you what to do next and where to place elements in your piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012



"Opportunity unfolds each and every day." There is not a day that doesn't have at least one opportunity. It's up to us to seize the opportunities when they come.

This very dynamic pouring medium piece has two sets of direct complements, but the colors are in tones that are unexpected. The blue and orange are both "grayed down" colors with the blue trending towards gray. The red and green are not your typical red and green. The red is contrasted with a medium to dark turquoise. Black and white plus two sets of direct complements will always deliver a "power punch". The proportions are also a key factor in the way the colors are perceived. They are dynamic because of the shapes and the unequal space they occupy.

It was most fortunate to have the white show up in three areas of unequal proportion and providing the "bling" by punctuating the colors. And, of course, the black is framing the detail of the marbling effect with a large ornate "O" echoing the swirling lines of the other colors. The proportional distribution of the colors into unequal shapes and the "O" fitting so naturally into the black line and then one line of straight lettering is the essence of integration. Everything fits. Nothing needs to be added. Nothing needs to be taken away. There is harmony and contrast. And there you have it...a few more things to think about.  And just so you know....I did another piece this very morning that simply did not work, but I kept trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  I finally had the good sense enough to move on!  The moral of this story is to keep moving forward!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Important Issues"


"Don't let the most important issues get pushed to the edge." I once read a book called "Tyranny of the Urgent. It was all about those incessant details that eat up all of our time. Sometimes those details must be pushed aside to make room for the important things.

This is a much darker piece than I typically like to do, but the details at the edges (hence the quote) gave me a green light. I would have preferred a bit more white in the large brown color block, but with pouring medium...what you pour is what you get. I still like it very much because I'm a Burnt Sienna type of gal and this piece has a bit of a "western feel" to me.

So the point I'm trying to make is not to give up on all of your pouring medium pieces even when the colors don't land exactly where you want them to. What does work in this piece is the contrast of size in the color blocks. Brown obviously takes up the most space, but that sets the stage for the Burnt Sienna and Pthalo Green to be the "bling" in the piece with a sparkle of white in both areas. The unequal distribution of color is probably more important than if I had all the same of amount of colors showing equally. And, of course, those two special areas were the perfect place to add a bit of line work to bring attention to those areas and also be an echo of the shapes of those two color blocks.

In fact, that large brown color block compels me to look at the bright colors where there is also some detail. It's quite fascinating to notice why the human eye gravitates to particular areas where there is a "push pull" effect going on with color, values, and division of space. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, August 6, 2012



"The foundation of joy is thankfulness." Thankfulness is easy when everything is going well. It is an entirely different situation when life gets messy and difficult. But the truth remains that even in those times... joy is a result of thankfulness.

Integration often shows up in an echo. Remember that an echo is a repeated element of design. What makes it more compelling is the use of an echo that is a variation on the theme. An example of this is the flourishing in the bottom right corner of this piece. The flourished element is an echo of the black shape. The flourish is an echo of the shape, but in a different style. All of the bands of color in this piece have the same undulating curves that are present in both flourishes.

So it is crucial to look for possible "echoes" in order to determine the type and placement of more elements to the initial first layer. It is a wonderful starting point for your design and is applicable to realistic and abstract imagery. This whole process of repeating echoes is one of the foundations of integration. It is a whole new way of looking at things as you go through your day. Without being in your studio, you can practice by noticing echoes in everything you see. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


($125.00.....5" x 5"...mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel...floated on a linen mat in a custom frame.)

"Color performs a rhapsody in all of creation." As much as I love my neutrals such as black, browns, grays, and whites.... full bore color stops me in my tracks.   Isn't it grand!

For all of you pouring medium aficionados out there, you are looking at a piece that had some "not so lovely" edges along the right hand side where you see the black patterning. But I am completely satisfied now that the problem is resolved by placing the lace like pattern over that black edge and allowing it to spill out over the other two color blocks. The butterfly provides another pattern and emphasizes the swirl of pink at the top edge of the pink shape.

So if you have pouring medium pieces that have some areas that didn't turn out so well, this is one way to resolve that problem. You will need to make sure that if you use black line work, that you have an echo of black in the piece. Both of these images came out of Dover Publication Books and are copyright free. And most of these type of books now have a CD in which case you could print the patterns in a different color. Certainly this broadens the range of what you might do.

And many of my lettering arts friends spend all of their free hours creating Zentangles which is also an option. You will need to prepare this surface as for lettering to accomplish that, but the results would be unique and totally original. (Of course, some of my friends have way too much time on their hands, but they love this contemporary form of doodling so I wish them well.) If you don't know what a Zentangle is, just google the name. It will open up a whole new world. And there you have it...a few more things to think about.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"The Color Red"


"The color red is reserved for those who love drama." Just think back on any environment.  If the color red is visible, that is exactly where your eye goes. Test it out and look for the color red.  You'll see.

If you have been seduced by pouring medium and wonder if there is any part of your larger sheet that holds out a good possibly for a smaller "cropped" section, let me share my criteria of judging when a "good pour" has taken place.

Strong shapes with a slight bit of marbling is my personal preference. In this piece, I was thrilled that both the black and red color blocks touched three sides of the design space. It might have been slightly better if one of those colors had taken up less space than the other, but because of the marbling which broke up the surface tension in those areas, it proved to be very effective. I also check to make sure my corners are all different with interesting color variations in each one. Also, the light turquoise color has graduated sizes of shapes which I found extremely interesting. There were also small hints of white around the edges which gave me the opportunity to echo that color in the lettering and break up the large color blocks of the black and red.

You will also notice that there was enough space in the blue to add the decorated cap and have an echo of black repeated in a different style and texture creating a wonderful focal point.

What will not make a good pour is one with ill defined shapes and the colors taking up equal amounts of space. Echoes are simply "repeats" of a design element such as color, line, shapes, values, texture, size, and direction. If the "repeats" are not exactly the same, the design will be more sophisticated and create a better "echo". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Practice and Perseverance"


"Practice and perseverance are the bread and water of success." Often we think of practice in relationship to learning a skill. Equal attention given to developing and practicing good habits is also important even if a particular skill is not involved.

After creating pouring medium pieces non stop for almost three weeks now, I am even more aware of the importance of "echoes" and contrasts. An echo is simply a repeat of something that is always there, but it doesn't need to be an identical repeat. In the piece today, I consider the line engraving an echo of the erratic band of brown and black at the bottom because of the shapes. But it is also a very good contrast between precise lines and erratic lines and contemporary vs. antique. The two shapes play off of each other very well. And even though the line engraving could be considered a floating shape with no connection, it is integrated because of its transparency and precisely because it is an echo of something already there.

This is the "tricky" part of design that is only realized after doing something over and over again. Placement of the line engraving was also important. By placing it high on the page and almost dead center, it mimics the format of a traditional document where there were headings like this and perhaps a similar ending at the bottom. So I brought it into a contemporary format by having the band of color at the bottom mimic the line engravings I've seen in so many historical documents. And, of course, this look is one I am passionate about and hence the Spencerian Script rather than gestural writing which would have been inappropriate for this look. And if my thought processes have worn you out, be encouraged. They wear me out everyday as well, but fortunately or unfortunately for me, I have a very analytical brain! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Soft Whispers"

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

"Soft whispers in my heart release the wildest color in my art." This is just a fun piece to show that I'm not always serious. It's a wild and crazy kind of piece to simply enjoy.

Since the first part of this year, I discovered that my pieces came together in a much more cohesive way if I simply had fun with technique(s) and then came up with the quote or final touches at the end with no preconceived concept in mind. Only a mood. I always think about the mood of a piece which governs the color selection and selected techniques.

However, there are times when writing freely in the background with a pencil that a phrase or particular word will come to mind. In this case, it was "whispers in my heart". And since those words are discernible, I thought it wise to actually include them in the quote. It has a decidedly Spanish feel with the color selection and ornate "S" and that was the most intentional part of the process.

I know there are artists who will balk at the idea of working this way and still want to plan out their concept to the "hilt", but experience has taught me that the more spontaneous I can be in the beginning, the more spontaneous and cohesive the piece will be. It also allows for surprises to happen along the way. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Honor and Integrity"

($80.00......5" x 5"......mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard and floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Lasting friendship is crowned with honor and integrity." These two character qualities seem to be in short supply these days. This is a good day to be thankful for any friend in your life who possesses them. (The quote was inspired by an inscription in a book from the 1880's.)

This is a pouring medium piece which I manipulated to create a marbled paper effect like the end papers found on the inside covers of many old books. I began by covering the entire paper with Titanium White + Pouring Medium. (You will need to hold it up over a cookie sheet and turn it repeatedly to get good coverage over the whole sheet.)

The other colors were poured over this first layer of white and then I picked it up by diagonal corners and let the colors mingle together by tilting the paper slowly in several directions until I was satisfied that the strong color blocks were dissipated. My intent was not to have such bold and solid color shapes in this background, but a marbled look instead.

I knew I wanted to create a "library piece" so I turned to my collection of old books until I found this dedication to a friend in the front of the book. The actual torn piece of this quote was covering too much of the background so I opted to print it on silk tissue paper for the purposes of transparency. But I did decide to include the embossed seal which is opaque because of the texture. However, it looked a bit out of place until I figured out that I needed a line engraved transparent print over laying the seal. Once that was done, and all the pieces were in place, I then wrote the quote. Experience has taught me to establish a particular look or mood in the piece first before coming up with a precise concept. Everything will flow together better and look a lot more convincing than trying to force a particular concept in the beginning.  It's all about letting go and responding to the passion of the look and the spontaneous techniques that bring about a strong visual. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.