Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Edges and Boundaries"

(unavailable....Water Soluble Oils)

"Edges and boundaries define everything." This is not only true in art, but also in life. Without edges in art, nothing would be distinguishable. Without boundaries in life, priorities are meaningless and nothing gets done.

For those of you who faithfully follow, thank you for your patience as I continue to experiment. Today's piece was painted using water soluble oils. The most prominent brand out there is Winsor Newton which is readily available and a bit cheaper than the prominent brands of regular oil paints. The paint has more body than regular oils and feels better using palette knife techniques. (In case you are wondering, the large white image is either a pumpkin or gourd and very prominent in North Carolina.)

For those who are into mixed media, if you have the patience to endure the drying time, the images created with printing techniques using water soluble oils is wonderful. And the important point with this paint is the fact that you can wash off your stamps, brushes, and palette knives with water. Travel by air is also easier,especially when traveling overseas, since Gamsol and other oderless turpentines are prohibited. 

I did use a stamp to create a contrast with my edges since most of the edges in this piece were soft. By changing the value slightly, the stamped lines show up without overpowering the piece. The Gessobord was also primed with black gesso before painting so that I could have the black revealed when writing with a mechanical pencil into the paint. Pointed pens can also be used, but I could not find my pen this morning! (Imagine that) And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Emotional Range"

(unavailable...acrylics with retarder)

"Nature has a range of emotions." In light of the severe weather on the East Coast contrasted with the beauty of a fall landscape, this quote was born. It is an abstract landscape with the deliberate intention of focusing on texture and shapes rather than a realistic interpretation.

It is very exciting to take an ordinary photo and use that as a jumping off point to lay down the shapes and colors in an abstract way. As I have been saying, it is much easier to get out of the comfort zone of trying to paint every leaf on the tree by using a palette knife.  You then have no choice, but to paint the broader shapes and leave out the detail.

I am definitely in a transitional stage with this and trying to accomplish several things at once. My first intention is simply to observe and see the minimal characteristics of a given image and try to translate that into as few shapes as possible. Another word for it could be "visual shorthand". But that is only the first goal.

My second goal is to see which type of media will best accomplish the goal. I have been experimenting with oils, acrylics plus retarder, and open acrylics. Each piece completed adds to my knowledge of these three approaches.

The third goal and one which is suffering a bit until I get the first two resolved is how to include lettering in the piece. I already know that lettering is going to look best with a very abstract and abbreviated image, but I'm not quite there yet. And I do emphasize the "yet" because art is a process. For instance, I had to use a Prismacolor .005 Pen because the paint was still tacky and I could never have pressed down on a pen into this surface at this stage. 

My encouragement is to ask yourself how and what you want to communicate and then chart out a plan to achieve that goal. It does take time and patience, but is well worth the effort. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Chaotic Beauty"

(unavailalbe.....acrylics with retarder)

"Chaotic beauty is found in the dried up corn stalk." I thought I had better identify what I was trying to paint in the quote just in case you were wondering. It's all about the texture and the essence of the image. Even the lettering was severely deconstructed to fit in.

Believe it or not, I really do have a vision of where I'm going, but I will readily admit it can be a "bumpy" ride. I really do like the texture of the corn stalk, but also feel like the piece as a whole could be better integrated. And since process is so important, I want you to share in my process so you can see that when learning new techniques and a new direction, it can take some time and lots of practice to get there.

One of the things that I think will help is drawing the gesture of a particular image before painting it so that the muscle memory is there. Another thing that helped in this piece was doing an underpainting of the cornstalk color first and drying that first coat before painting wet into wet with the rest of the painting. It also helps to allow enough time to have some things dry before moving on, but also blending some of the edges.

I did write the quote with a pointed pen and acryl gouache. The paint was not totally set up, but that actually worked to achieve my objective of allowing the lettering to be textural rather than totally readable. Because the pen dug into the paint and revealed the base color, I smoothed it out a bit by dabbing alcohol over it. And so the thing I took away from today's painting is that alcohol, once again, can be a hugh assist in the deconstruction of surface tension. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"According to History"


"The truth always survives the history of past failures." This piece was painted from a photo I took of a steeple on a church in North Carolina. The image inspired the quote and the truth is...that in spite of past failures...God loves you. He always has and He always will.

Of course, images like this are a bit difficult to execute with a palette knife in wet paint. It is charming, though, to have unexpected shapes and textures appear where you didn't expect them and not exactly like they were in the photo. And that is exactly the point. I have done images like this and painstakingly painted them with a brush, but there is something a bit "quirky" and very textural about painting this way. The unexpected shape or texture or part of the blue background getting mixed into the white paint helps to land everything on the spontaneous side of things rather than looking contrived.

But I believe it is all a matter of preference. I do have friends who work in ultra realism and even have some of those pieces in my collection. The joy of creating a lot of artwork is simply finding out what does it for you. 

And it is also interesting to note that many artists I have read about have eventually given up realism altogether and started working in total abstraction. So I am just letting you peek into the inner workings of me going through that journey and it's a journey every artist has to take by themselves. You will definitely know when you find the right medium, the right tool, and the techniques that help you to express what only you can express. This entire process is called "finding your artistic voice". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012


($40.00.....6" x 6".....Open Acrylics on a Gessobord)

"Determination hangs on to the bitter end." The comparisons that can be made between nature and life are stunning. This tree had only a few leaves left before being done for the winter. The remaining leaves reminded me of those persons who are determined to hang in there until the goal is reached.

By choosing a palette knife as a way of delivering the paint to the surface, many unexpected things will happen by virtue of the tool. There are some artists who do very realistic work with a palette knife, but I am not inclined to do so. The idea of capturing the essence of something and not trying to control every mark is exhilarating to me. The palette knife is the ultimate mark making tool.

I am in the process of creating some larger pieces on linen canvas so that I have cropping options and then choose the way I want to present the piece after the fact rather than before. One never knows how something will turn out, so it is quite nice to be able to mount a piece on a 1.50" depth clayboard and to even change the size. So I only share this with you in case you have not thought of these other options. If you begin with a predetermined size, you are absolutely locked into that space with no option but to start over if it doesn't turn out well.

Another thing I have been observing is the amount of visuals that come before our eyes on a daily basis. I have concluded that every artist needs to consider that fact and not create the predictable. That's why "deconstruction" and throwing very unexpected things into a piece is so mesmerizing. It simple creates more interest, and yet it still needs to be well designed. It's an interesting thing to observe and I would encourage deep thought on this issue. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, October 26, 2012


($40.00.....6" x 6"....Open Acrylics on Gessobord)

"Change is an inevitable part of life." This may sound like an overstatement of the obvious, but the thing to take away is that we are all moving forward or backward. Nothing stays the same. Comfort zones are not our friend.

This may be another palette knife painting, but it is done with Golden Open Acrylics. The advantage of using this instead of oils is that it is water soluble and other water media can be painted or written over it. It does have a faster drying time than oils, but it still gives a generous time to work wet into wet before it becomes dry to the touch. 

The quote was written with a pencil. It is running vertically up the right hand side and is barely visible. My desire after all my experimentations with oils, acrylics plus retarder, and now open acrylics is to see how they all work. In order to incorporate lettering done with a pen or brush in gouache, I will need to work ahead to allow for drying time. Another issue is the difference in viscosity. Open Acrylics do not have the same texture or body of oils or even regular heavy body acrylics. However, I was informed that I can add a Golden Medium to the Open Acrylics to achieve the texture I want, but it will speed up the drying time. So the next step is to work ahead and also to try a medium mixed into these open acrylics.

My personal preference in choosing landscape compositions is to have a strong foreground interest. So if the "fall" does not come to Texas, I will bring the "fall" in my artwork. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Fall Gesture"

($40.00.....6" x 6".....Acrylics on Gessobord)

"Fall is a gesture in color." Fall and spring seem to be the best times to enjoy an explosion of color. Because the fall is a transition for trees and plants going dormant, any color in the landscape looks spectacular amidst all of the neutrals. Enjoy the fall!

This piece was inspired by a photo I took in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There was a hugh display of pumpkins, gourds, and flowers sitting in piles of hay. And as you can plainly see, I did not choose to go with realism, but "wet into wet" with gestural strokes done with a palette knife. These types of paintings can fall in the category of an "agony and an ecstasy", but the success comes with much practice. I'm feeling small measures of success and totally enjoy the process, but have many visions in my head of where I want to go with this.

The unfortunate thing about spontaneous techniques is that there are exactly that...spontaneous. It is quite impossible to predict outcomes and if the goal is to show energy and freedom of the stroke, then it becomes counter productive to keep "fussing" with it for more than a nano second. And even if you have no desire whatsoever to paint an image, I highly recommend simply playing around with the textures and perhaps some interesting divisions of space on a gessobord just to learn what can be done with a palette knife and paint. It's a wonderful way to experiment with color and create some interesting backgrounds.

This piece was painted with acrylics mixed with "retarder" to extend the drying time. As in "pouring medium" pieces or any other acrylic work, the surface can be prepared for lettering. I did use an automatic pen to write the quote in the wet paint and then I decided to "deconstruct" it by running lines through the hay color area as well as a palette knife to break up the surface tension. If you are one of my friends who also create kiln formed glass, many of these same techniques with a palette knife can be created with Glassline Paint on glass and then fired. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Abbreviated Orange"


"Orange is the color of fall." Orange is beginning to permeate yards and landscapes with pumpkins, but very soon (hopefully), we will see leaves begin to turn and many of them will cycle through yellow, orange, and red, and then brown. The title and inspiration for this quote came from the fact that this piece is entirely created with the color "orange" in all of its tints and shades.

I attended an oil workshop this year and when any student in the class asked how to mix a particular color, the instructor would always, yellow, and blue. And she was right! Of course, white is also needed, but that's what this piece is all about. The very dark brown in the background is the color orange with a less yellow and a lot more red and blue. The light foreground color that is the color of hay is a small bit of "grayed down" orange with lots of white. And of course, the pumpkin is what we would normally identify as orange. 

When looking up the word abstract...some of the other words that describe it are words like abbreviate and summary. I like those words because they perfectly describe what happens when an image is abstracted. In this case, I am giving the viewer an abbreviated image or a summary with many details left out. For instance, the orange in this piece is definitely a pumpkin, but the "ribbing" and minute shadings in the pumpkin are absent. The stem helps to differentiate it from an orange, but even there, the details are left out. 

The foreground color represents hay by its color and value changes, but every straw in the hay bale is absent. This is an exciting approach and hope you will try it sometime. The palette knife is the perfect tool for this because it creates the erratic edges that happen, especially when painting "wet into wet". This piece was done in acrylics with retarder added to the paint. I love oils, but it is very difficult to include lettering in oils. I also have plans to make an extended return to "Open Acrylics" which stay wet for a long time, but will also enable me to write on it with water soluble media. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Memory Connections"

($40.00.....6" x 6"....Oils on Gessobord)

"Memory connections often come in the form of a structure." There are reasons why certain places and structures conjure up memories. They often remind us of special events or fond memories.

One of the most important things for me in landscape painting is looking for lines that are dynamic. Keeping in mind that all edges create lines, I gravitated to this particular viewpoint because the barn was sitting on a hill which created a diagonal as well as the roof line of the barn. And of course, trees are always compelling because the tree limbs have repeated line work going in all directions.

Another consideration is the possibility of becoming a colorist and taking expressive license to make the most use of powerful complementary colors. In this piece, I obviously have used a wide range of greens which have red mixed into them, but I also used a dark, "grayed down" red in the barn to create a dynamic with all of those greens. There were also some trees turning yellow in the background so I used a light and "grayed down" purple in the barn to create another complementary dynamic.

It is important to be able to mix up the colors that are seen in the landscape, but the most expressive landscapes are created when the "colorist" side of the artist comes into play. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"In Between"


"In between is leaving something behind and moving to the new." The quote has everything to do with the fact that today is my 600th posting! And I really do feel as though I am moving very quickly in a new direction. Life is often like that for all of us.

While I was away, I did a lot of thinking about the things I typically gravitate to in art. And because I've seen so much art and also created a variety of things in different conclusion was that my heart belongs to the "gesture". I often shied away from it because it can be very intimidating to do, but after this many postings, I am now inclined to throw caution to the wind and just do it.

The only reason I share these things is because I know (for a fact) that many of you are grappling with these same issues. You see something or you've created something that just makes you want to run to your studio everyday, but for many reasons, you simply don't think you can or you've stumbled over the next step to take. So I hope you will be encouraged by the fact that you really should just do it and get over yourself and what anyone else might think. 

For instance, I know that I still have a lot to learn about the palette knife, about gestural writing, about abstraction, but I had to tell my internal critic to go away in order to create a piece of art everyday. You will need to do the same thing. It all begins with jotting down some thoughts about what you really would like to create if there were no restrictions and see where you are by studying your own work. And then practice or find the person who can help you take the next step. That's my advice for today. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Numerous and Colorful"

($125.00....6" x 6"...Oils on Gessobord....floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Letters are as numerous and colorful as the leaves." The idea of making odd comparisons is one of the hallmarks of my quotes. This one is no different. And I think we can all agree that letters can form a lot of words that are indeed colorful.

The evolution of style in anyone's artwork is ongoing. It seemed quite natural to adhere text pages to my background, partially covered by gesso with some of the lettering peeking through the painting. In a recent posting, I talked about the idea of really thinking through the ideas and techniques that continue to appear in your own artwork. 

For me, there is a continual return to the gestural mark. I love the erratic quality of the line and the palette knife is simply one more tool that will yield a lot of spontaneous movement. That's why I decided not to make the dark background trees, but rather lay the paint down in the colors of those trees, but in a gestural way. The foreground trees, of course, do look like trees with an abstract quality. 

This way of laying down the paint helps integrate the collage elements and the quote scribbled into the foreground. There are many ways to lay down paint. You can use a brush, palette knife, brayer, mono print, etc. My thinking is to try them all and see what best fits your personal vision and style. If you desire to include lettering, it is best to keep the other elements of the piece somewhat abstract because letters are abstract. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Vivid Color"


"Vivid color pierces the eye with its intensity." Color has more power than all the other design elements. It's like a visual "sugar shock" to the senses.

It's been days and even weeks since I've created a pouring medium piece, but I have been wanting to experiment with a more controlled version of doing the pour. In this piece, I taped a segment of 140lb HP to a masonite board with gummed tape that is used for taping down paper for watercolor painting.  (Available at most art stores.)  So the first step is to cut the gummed tape so you have a segment to completely tape down each side. Using a wet sponge, wet both sides of the paper and lay it on the masonite board. Run the wet sponge down the gummed side of each segment of the paper tape (one at a time) and tape down the paper. Let this dry overnight. 

The next day, take a wet sponge and go over the 140lb HP until it's thoroughly saturated. You can then pour your Fluid Acrylics that have been mixed with Liquitex Pouring Medium across your paper from edge to edge. (Don't forget to wear latex gloves.) 

The beauty of this method is that the paper stays flat and does not create a ripple that can cause the color to pool in one spot. In this piece, I picked up the board and let the color flow in one direction only and then left it to dry overnight. 

It was completely flat the following day. So if you've had fun with this technique in the past, you might want to try this much more controlled method. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Ebb and Flow"

($40.00....300lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"The ebb and flow of seasons is an ongoing benediction to God's creation." Even though I automatically gravitate to "Fall" as my favorite season, it would probably bore me if we had "Fall" all the time. It's the variety exhibited in the ebb and flow of the seasons that gives rhythm to our lives and an ongoing benediction to what God has created. Amen!

Even though design is a very important part of the art process, it can become very predictable and contrived. For this reason, and also because I'm getting older and can't seem to remember what I do from one day to the next, I would like to share what I have come to believe as a very important part of the art process.

It is incredibly easy to "crank" out artwork without stopping to analyze why and what we're doing or to come up with new thoughts. So to combat this problem for myself, I have begun to think with a clipboard in my hand so I can jot down the answers to the questions I am asking about my own process. 

For of my favorite questions..."is it convincing?" If there is anything that gives me pause, I really do need to think about what that might be.  Another favorite question..."are the elements of design all well integrated?" If I am truly honest, I will answer that question without glossing over the one thing that may be troubling me. And on it goes. 

The thing to remember is that we can all know what our next step is in our own process by analyzing why and what we're doing. Writing down every idea that comes to mind is a must. I can guarantee you will not remember what you were thinking six months from now or maybe even one day from now. 

This makes a hugh difference in how we all work and will keep us out of that fatal "comfort zone" that keeps doing the same thing over and over again. And even when we find that one technique or one voice that we can call our own, we would be well advised to continue "kicking it up a notch." And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Blast From The Past"


"A blast from the past is often a step into the future." This old hardware store is symbolic of things in the past that often prompt new thoughts and ideas for the future. Creativity and invention keep us moving forward.

This piece is a sketch created with a fine point pen of a very old hardware store in Boone, N.C. It is a historic landmark in the area with an old gas pump and screen doors that have withstood the test of time. 

Sketching is a simple impression of a scene or subject that gives the artist a more emotional "feel" of the subject. It does not have all of the shading and other characteristics of a full scale drawing, so I added text pages partially covered with gesso to enrich the surface in the background. 

There is a lot to be learned by sketching that will enhance the scope of work that any artist wishes to create. Sketching journals have been around for a long time, but I have personally found it very difficult to carve out time just for sketching. It may just be that it needs to be viewed as a foundational part of the art process. So my encouragement is to have you join me in a commitment to pick up pen or pencil everyday and sketch at least one thing. It may even become addictive and spawn a whole new direction to your artwork. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


($40.00....6" x 6"....300lb. HP....mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Harmony is good in music, art, and life." Harmony is achieved when things work together. Apart from having personal preferences, there are ways of creating and doing things that create harmony. Wisdom is learning what those things are.

There is extreme harmony in this piece by using values that are in the same neutral range with no strong color. The contrast appears in the gestural mark making of the mono printed rice papers. All other prominent lines are very straight. 

Contrast of size is also apparent in the weight of the text in the background compared to the weight of the hand written quote and the gestural marks. The other obvious contrast is the contrast of values which of necessity has to be present in all artwork to even have a presence at all. It would have been a real "snoozer" if these contrasts had not been present. 

Harmony was further achieved by repeating design elements such as the background text, the red edge of the text pages and the gestural marks. So the focus being on harmony and contrast is a very simple way to ease into design without feeling overwhelmed. All artwork needs both. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Fresh Air"


"Fresh air is best at the top of the mountain." Taking a walk is always a refreshing thing to do, but a walk in the mountains is the best. The air is crisp and the temperature is generally cool even in the summer. Now I'm not talking about our little hills in central Texas. I'm talking about very high in the Great Smokey Mountains!

One of the other issues any artist faces when painting in oils, acrylics, watercolor, etc. is the paints they use. Even though I know several artists who work with one red, one yellow, one blue, and white...I have chosen a double palette. My oil palette includes Cad. Lemon...Cad. Yellow...Alizarin Crimson...Cad. Red Med...Ultramarine Blue...Phtalo Blue...and White.

This will keep the color harmony in tact, but of course, there are other things to know (which I am still learning) and that is the attributes of color. An artist must learn to identify the root color of any color they see in the landscape and then determine if it has been diluted or "grayed down" and where it falls on the value scale. And that root color is always going to be one of the (12) colors on the color wheel.  

It sounds so easy until you find yourself staring at a blank canvas. The only way to learn these things is to actually do them. Painting "en plein air" is the best way, but that is sometimes impossible, especially if you are in a populated area or there is no place to set up an easel. I am still amazed that the human eye can see so much more than a camera can pick up.

Never the less, the only way to progress is to actually pick up the brush or palette knife and actually do something. And of course, you need to tell your internal critic to be quiet while you work. 

I have now painted approximately (10) paintings with a palette knife and I am told that the first (100) are the real warm up. So don't be discouraged, but join me as I press on towards my first (100). And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Hay and Stubble"

($40.00.....6" x 6"......Oils on Gessobord)

"Hay and stubble is contrasted by pumpkins and gourds." All across the "Smokies", there is a prominent display of pumpkins, gourds, hay, and corn stubble. So this is a "Happy Fall" piece.

As those of you know who have followed my blog for a long time, I am trying to hone my techniques and try new things all the time. In this piece, you are at a slight disadvantage because it is overcast here in Gatlinburg and my photograph is not showing the true color of the hay. And even apart from the photography issues, hay is a difficult thing to portray. 

I began with a very dark background so that the dark areas in the hay would show through when the lighter color was applied on top. The quote was written into that area of the painting to add even more texture. I have no doubt it would have been a bit easier with a brush, but I am quite determined to use only a palette knife. Never the less, it looks convincing from across the room. 

So the lesson in this piece is to keep pressing on, even when there are issues. And it always helps to take and break and set the piece on an easel across the room. It is always advisable to stand back from the painting during various points. What I can't see a foot in front of the piece seems to always be seen from across the room. 

One compositional decision I did make early on was to have the pumpkins and gourds form an overlapping shape from edge to edge. This is generally a better option than making them really small and placing them in the middle. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Outdoor Cathedral"


"Trees can form an outdoor cathedral." I have often heard people say that they feel the presence of God even more when they are outdoors. Trees, especially large ones can definitely feel like an outdoor cathedral. It's a comforting thought.

In this piece, the stately evergreens stand in stark contrast to trees that have fully turned. Capturing that with a palette knife in a 6" x 6" space was a challenge. This is a "wet into wet" technique so it is very important to have a good strategy on which color to lay down first. My plan generally begins by thinking of the piece in layers.

Whatever appears to have the most distance from my view is what I lay down first. In addition to that strategy, I also lay down a color that will reappear if I remove some of the paint. In the case of these trees, I laid down the color of the tree trunk so that this color would reappear when I scraped back some of the additional layers. It's all very risky, but well worth the effort.

One other very important factor is realizing that only one stroke can be made before wiping off the palette knife and making another stroke. The wonderful part of this is that palette knives are much easier to clean than brushes.

Last, but definitely not least is the amount of passion brought to this process. It is well worth the effort to take care in choosing what to paint because the passion will help you bring your best effort to the painting of the piece. And if you get off to a bad start, then scrape off the panel and begin again. I guarantee you will learn something with every single piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"The Pine Cone"

($60.00......6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"Form, texture, and memories reside in the pine cone." I've always had a fascination for pine cones. They have a compelling form and texture and they bring back memories of pine trees, camp, Christmas, fall, etc. They're wonderful!

This entire piece is about texture. The drawing of the pine cone was done with a pointed pen with a simple line drawing interpretation. My desire was to have a lot of rich brown color and a lot of texture. I naturally turned to walnut ink for the brown which you can see in the stained rice papers from top to bottom.

The text fragments are a few more selections from a very old copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's book of poetry. Many of the odd textural shapes were created by deconstruction...adhering the paper and then pulling it off. Even in the lettering, my desire was to have a very textural feel that integrated with the background texture. 

The placement of the pine cone at the bottom edge of a shape created by revealing the black gesso in the background was a natural way of creating an edge to edge shape. A few more darks in and around the pine cone completed that edge to edge look. 

Also notice how the text fragments create recurring shapes throughout. Texture is compelling, adds richness to a piece, and is worth exploring. Layering, staining, deconstructing, and drawing are all ways to add texture. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Nature Poem"

($125.00.....6" x 6"....oils on a gessobord....floated on a linen mat in a custom frame.)

"Turning leaves are a nature poem." This piece is another oil painting created in Boone, N.C. I tried to capture the color of the leaves as well as the fog that hung over the mountain in the background.

It doesn't matter whether or not a collage is being created or an oil painting with a palette...the principle remains that paintings are made up of shapes.   In this piece, the shapes have many soft edges due to the subtle shift of values. Of course, the tree trunks helped create the divisions of space and consequently the shapes.

Normally, I like to work larger and then crop the image, but in this case, I had to work with a predetermined size.  It them becomes necessary to think about all of the elements of the composition in advance. Taking photos will help with this kind of work so I have taken app. 1500 so far. 

Photography is a great practice in your design thinking. And cropping the image on the computer before painting will assist in getting the composition right, especially when the option of cropping for the final painting is not possible.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Scale of Success"

($40.00......6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Doing tips the scale of success." Most things require experience in order to see achievement. It sounds easy, but it never is. Experience requires doing something.

Layering affords the artist an opportunity to choose what to reveal and what to conceal. The size of a design element also comes into play. That's why I've become so fascinated with laying down old text pages. The letters are small in size, but also give the viewer extra little things to view as they get closer to the piece. And then the artist can choose to include an entire segment of the text or hide most of it with overlays of rice paper. 

The three things that do stand out by their strong value and larger size become the central focus. Also, placing a design element over white or a tinted area also affect its prominence in the piece. In this piece there are various sizes of text placed on a black background with the quote occupying the largest shape and the flourish and capital "D" overlaying text and tinted papers on smaller shapes. 

This hierarchy of placement within the context of size is an important one. Including a flourish and expressive lettering also helps to provide contrast with the edges in the piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Seasonal Change"

($125.00....6" x 6"....Oils on Gessobord floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Seasonal change reveals itself in color." This is an oil painting done with a palette knife in Boone, North Carolina. The seasonal change here is all aglow in oranges, yellows, reds, and greens. It is a stunning display of God's creation!

Even if you might feel intimidated by painting a landscape with a palette knife, it is a tool I highly recommend just to experiment with the many different kinds of texture. And even though this piece was created with oils, it could also have been done with acrylics. Just by adding some retarder to the paint, you can have quite an extended period of drying time.

One of the many reasons I am exploring techniques with the palette knife is to force myself not to put every leaf on the tree or include all of the other details that one would actually see on location. It also helps to stand back away from the painting to get an accurate view of how the painting is viewed from a distance.

The one other thing that is always important to me is the inclusion of my quote. It is really not very readable, but I wrote it with the point of a palette knife going up vertically on the right hand side. It creates an interesting texture. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


($40.00....6" x 6".....300 lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"The person who reads has no limits." Most information can be found in books or on the internet. All that's required is the ability to read and comprehend.

Keeping collage elements contained to one particular category (or two) creates a wonderful rhythm in a piece. By laying down text pages in a different direction and using text from more than one source, the repeated lines can offer repetition with variety.

Another type of variety that seems to go along with text pages is the gestural or expressive lettering over the text. There are also some deconstructed pieces in three of the corners that add that "aged" texture that is so compelling.

If you've never tried deconstruction, you might want to experiment with a very small piece like a 5" x 5". I personally think it works best with gel matte medium applied to the collage piece chosen for this technique. Place the medium on the side of the collage that you would like to transfer. Adhere it to your support and press over it with your fingers. Leave it alone for just a few minutes and then take a palette knife and slip it under the collage and slowly remove it. It often leaves traces of what was on the collage piece and may also remove part of the piece on the support. By moving back and forth between construction and deconstruction, you can create a highly textured surface. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Life Story"

($40.00....6" x 6".....300 lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Our life story is written by our habits." What we do in a day writes one page in the story of our life. And it takes many days to write the book. We each have the power to write our own story by the habits we form.

Process is always a fascination to all artists and even to those who wonder how art is created. The one thing I have learned is that it is best learned by doing... and doing a lot of it on a continual basis. It is the doing of a lot of art that helps the artist see their habitual marks, textures, design tendencies, etc. For instance, I am very much interested in the gestural mark, spontaneous techniques, texture, edges, unusual divisions of space, etc. This is also by (582) posting so I have a lot of pieces to study to determine what I habitually do. 

Your own artwork will tell you what direction you might want to go. My encouragement is to write down the particular things that keep reoccurring in your work and really think about where you want to go. The evolution of your own work is controlled by these kinds of choices. In this piece I have included a print of one of my pen and ink interpretative drawings of a pine cone. So I can clearly see that sketching and drawing will begin to enter the mix of my process.

I have also discovered that pushing one particular technique or way of working to its limit will give you a new direction. And it will actually happen quite automatically if you just continue to follow your passion...that one thing that is holding your interest right now.

My trend right now is to go back and forth between a grid format and covering most of the supporting surface with subtle overlays and varying textures and values. Your own work will be the most important "feedback" for your ongoing direction. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


($125.00.......6" x 6" ....300 lb HP floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Our lives are sacraments to the grace of God." And really...nothing more needs to be said.

Moving away from a grid format, this piece has overall texture with two horizontal bands. The bottom shape is comprised of several overlapping segments of mono printed rice paper with the reverse side of the mono print showing and several pieces of deconstruction where the papers were adhered to the support and then removed before completely drying.

Even when using a montage of collage elements, the harmony in the piece is achieved by having strong value arrangements, keeping the main thing the main thing, and keeping the color palette simple. This piece is basically a black, white, and gold orange metallic color scheme. The inclusion of walnut ink to some of the papers also adds a bit of warmth and a textural contrast to the black and white.

Design does not need to be complicated, but the technique of layering is what makes it interesting and also a bit "edgy". This will not appeal to everyone, but it sets the stage perfectly for the expressive writing which forms another horizontal band. Try laying down some papers on a black support and see what happens. The black will allow your edges to show up and lend an ethereal look to the piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


($40.00.....6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Reality is a non negotiable." We live in a world where many would like to rewrite reality. It cannot be rewritten because it is real and therefore a non negotiable.

Collage pieces are so much more effective if previous layers are "veiled". It creates depth, mystery, and a highly enriched surface. If you only lay down one layer of anything, many of these qualities are lost. Laying a collage element down and then overlapping it with an image that is translucent or transparent is the most effective way. It can be accomplished with printed images on silk tissue paper, overlays of rice paper, or glazes of lightly tinted washes, diluted gesso, etc.

In this piece, you are looking at a grid format with some of the black gesso of the support left untouched. And there are several transparent and translucent sections that add a rich patina...especially in the center of focus where the quote has been written. This piece also has the additional movement that appears in all of the purple segments. Gestural writing written into the block printing ink before the mono print was done has created this movement. It is important to include some type of movement in these mono printed areas since the obvious and mostly straight lines of this format can become static.

Also, by tearing out a corner of the center piece, I've created a contrasting edge, line, and shape. Again, the center of focus is framed out by the placement of the purple mono printed segments on all four sides, but in varying sizes. Some of these decisions are made intuitively, but it also helps by reiterating the decisions in this commentary. Hopefully, it helps you to understand my process and know what to look for in other works by different artists. The best way to learn design is by experimenting, reading, and analyzing over and over again. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, October 5, 2012


($60.00.....6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"Fragments leave traces of the whole." Any quality or characteristic of a thing reveals the source of its origin. In art, collage is an example of this. In life, what we allow to influence our thoughts determines the source.

In this piece, there are definitely many parts of something else. I chose to use the back side of some pieces of mono printed rice papers because of the interesting texture. There is also some deconstructed pieces where the texture was created by adhering a piece to the support and then pulling it up before it dried completely. This leaves a segment of the adhered piece without having the whole piece. It's an exciting way to create spontaneous texture. 

There is also a piece or two colored with walnut ink which gives the deep rich brown colorations. So the combination of adhering papers in the traditional manner and including deconstructed pieces gives a rich "aged" and textural surface that cannot be created any other way.

Another inclusion is the white fluid acrylic drips which were poured onto rice paper and left on wax paper to dry. I then cut around these "drips" before adhering them to create a contrast of texture to what was already there. Texture is a compelling design element so learning techniques that increase the contrast between different types of texture will give you a compelling surface. 

Arranging the textures to form interesting "value shapes" is the other important consideration. Having shapes overlap and go from edge to edge to form a larger block is a good decision to make. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


($40.00......6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Dreams are harvested in a field of prayer." It can take time for many of our dreams to materialize. Waiting on God in prayer gives power to the wait and insight for the process.

Intense color can act as an informal frame around a piece. This grid format was topped off with a red tint around the edges in varying percentages. So just one intense color plus black and white will give a "punch" without overpowering the piece if the percentages of that one color are kept low.

Bringing black into the text blocks also creates a different dynamic. The torn edges are the dominant edge and provide interest to the shapes. The grid format holds out the opportunity for endless variations, but only if the shapes, sizes, and the way the grid is formed has variation. So when introducing any element of design, the repetition of that element works much better if there is variation. 

And one of the effective ways of bringing in variation is to use the same element in a different size. It is then possible to go a step further and alter the texture with mark making, technique in application of the color, or adding something of another element that is present in the piece.

So the tension between harmony and contrast really does boil down to repetition with variation. Look at these kind of things in other artwork. Being specific about what you look for in a piece is one way to learn about design. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Folding and Unfolding"

($40.00.....6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Everyday life is like the folding and unfolding of a flower." We have a hibiscus next to our front door. This quote was inspired by watching this flower unfold in the morning and then close again at night. Isn't that the way our lives play out?

If you are like me and tend to be methodical in your approach, it will be to your advantage to choose how to divide your space based on a technique that allows for the most choices. Cropping still remains a powerful choice since the tendency will be to line things up in a contrived fashion. The division of space in this piece is interesting because each block is a different size with interesting edges.

Originally, I worked on a half sheet of 300 lb HP. I consciously staggered the text pages and even laid some of them down at a slant to offset the straight horizontal and vertical look. The thing to remember is to have just a few pieces adhered at a slant. Otherwise, it can end up looking contrived. Other shapes can be altered by adding more text and image as the last layer. This step absolutely insures better integration and harmony. The color contrast in this piece is a more subtle split complementary contrast by "graying down" the yellow with a bit of purple. This allows the blue to take the leading role. 

There are many ways to handle collage. One of the best ways to experiment is to create your artwork like you normally would and then cut up those pieces into interesting fragments that can be put back together again. By doing this, you will have a brand new look with space divisions that look very spontaneous. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


($60.00....6" x 6"....300 lb HP mounted on a 1.50" depth clayboard)

"Process is all about time management." Time constraints require all of us to carefully consider time management. And just so you know, I still struggle with this myself. Just factor in that it will always take longer than you think to get anything done!

There are several more layers of papers in this piece than some of the previous ones posted. The many overlaps and the exposed edges create more depth and subtle value shifts. Notice that there is very little strong color except for the red in the area of the edge to edge shape going from top to bottom. 

And that bit of red was applied by brushing gel matte medium on the color side of the rice paper and then adhering to the support. Wait a few minutes and then carefully lift it off before it dries and the color transfers in a very erratic pattern. I also did the same thing with some of the text pages from an old book. This is commonly referred to as deconstruction.

Walnut ink created the "smudges" on and around the edges. And it is best to dilute it a bit and dab it on after the rice paper is adhered. Notice also the red line created by the edge of the text page. That is something to look for when buying old books for this type of layering. This surface creates the perfect light background for the inclusion of expressive lettering after it has been prepared for writing by brushing on a mixture of (2) parts water to (1) part gel matte medium. 

And believe it or not, the shapes are quite distinguishable from across the room. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, October 1, 2012


($40.00.....6" x 6"....300 lb. HP mounted on a 1/8" depth clayboard panel)

"Yes is the happiest word in the English language." Everyone likes to hear "yes" when trying to do anything. The word has even become an exclamation point verbally to anything that has had a successful conclusion. Yes!!!

Especially when working with a square format, it is very easy and pleasing to divide the space into four quadrants. Such is the case in today's piece. By making the four sections unequal and not having them line up evenly is what helps these four shapes speak loud and clear...even from across the room.

After laying down the orange, green, and "grayed down" yellow, it felt a bit static. When that happens, the problem can be resolved by bringing in some of the background into the color fields. It can be done by adhering fragments of the text pages onto the color which creates a conversation with the background. It becomes even more integrated by removing these fragments after they have been adhered, but not completely dried. (app. 2-3 min.) It also helps to overlay other elements over some of these fragments such as the ornate "Y" and the quote at the bottom.

It also adds energy to the piece to have contrast between the torn and straight edges and also to include exciting edges within the mono print as seen in the orange in the upper right quadrant. So it really is all about division of space, contrasting edges, conversations between design elements (which includes "echoes") and designed corners. The designed corners will happen automatically if the piece is divided into four different quadrants. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.