Thursday, January 31, 2013

"The Womb of Trust"

(unavailable......6" x 6".....Mixed Media on 300 lb HP....presented in a custom frame)

"Joy is birthed in the womb of trust." Trusting God is the core message of this quote. This is a piece that will be submitted for an Easter exhibit. So from now until the week of Easter, there will be pieces that are designed to fit in with the theme of "Fully Alive".

This piece incorporates the same materials as my posting yesterday. There is old book pages, rice paper, deconstruction techniques, and kiln formed glass. 

Today, I want to address the issue of deconstruction and patina on different surfaces. Several in my last mixed media class are still having issues with deconstruction. So I have been paying close attention to the particular elements that need to be in place to achieve optimal results. I have noticed that when I laid down plain rice paper over old book pages and then deconstructed another page of text over that (deconstruction is laying a paper down and pulling it off)...the moisture that was still present in the fresh rice paper that had just been laid down has everything to do with the deconstructed piece leaving part of its surface behind. 

So in this piece, I had laid everything under a rock overnight and all of the rice papers were extremely dry this morning. By simply brushing on some gel matte med. to the rice paper already attached to the piece....the piece you place on top of that (also coated with med) will more readily leave behind traces of the part that was laid into the damp rice paper.

Another technique I used on this piece was laying down some text in the bottom left hand corner that says "Trust in God". I did not want it to look like it was an afterthought, so I lightly sanded (with very fine grit sandpaper) the edges and brushed over the top. I then added ever more rice paper over part of that to completely imbed it into the background. After doing these things, I covered the glass part with masking tape and sprayed the text pages with Spray Acrylic Coating. This immediately makes the plain rice paper more transparent....and sometimes too transparent, especially if you are writing on top of this surface. So I added more plain rice paper strips in select areas before spraying again at least two times before preparing the surface for lettering.

Hope this helps those of you who have a keen interest in integration using deconstruction and sanding techniques. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


(unavailable.....6" x 6".....Mixed Media on 300 lb HP.....presented in a 4" width custom frame)

"Trust emerges out of faithfulness." It is easy to trust someone who has been faithful to you. This has secular and spiritual applications. In a spiritual sense, it could have said, "Trusting God emerges out of His faithfulness."

This mixed media piece involves several disciplines. There is collage with text pages, design, kiln formed glass, and lettering. Each of these requires a tremendous amount of time, but it's a beautiful thing when they come together in one piece. 

It has long been my desire to combine the transparent and reflective qualities of glass with paper. No easy task. Finally, it has emerged in the way I have envisioned. Those who have been in my mixed media classes will recognize the old text pages, rice paper and slivers of black gesso peeping through. All of this was mounted on 300 lb. HP Watercolor Paper. After completing the collage part, cropping and mounting on a Gessobord....the piece was weighted under wax paper, followed by a book, and then a rock and left to dry overnight.

I did select my piece of glass last night after rummaging through my leftovers of other kiln formed projects. This one was perfect because of the colors, gestural writing and areas that were clear so some of the lettering could show through. I did select particular words and phrases and adhered them in the areas where the clear glass would land. 

The next step was to cut leftovers of my text pieces and cut two sections for the top and two for the bottom to bring the background up to the level of the glass. These sections were adhered with Gel Matte Med. for the text pages and Durobond for the galss. All of this was then weighted down while I practiced my lettering. After (45) min....I sprayed the text page parts of the piece (covering the glass with masking tape) and then prepared those portions for lettering with (2) parts water and (1) part gel matte med. 

The lettering was done with a Speedball C-5 nib and Moon Palace Ink. I then took it outside and photographed the piece and downloaded it on the computer and posted on this blog. And that's how it's done! And there you have it...just a few more things to try or think about.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Behold the Lamb (1)"

(unavailable.....6" x 12"....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb. HP)

"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This is an experimental piece to add to my collection so that I have many choices to choose from before submitting the work for an upcoming Easter exhibition. My intent was to showcase very light values against very dark ones to visually describe the Lamb of God who is also the Light of the World.

This is my fourth sky scape in recent days, but I am still not quite ready to say "yes to the piece". I am just letting you all get a close up view of my process. 

Process is always on my mind because it involves a complex strategy of coming up with a concept and actually birthing it into a piece of art. I am learning a lot about painting a sky scape. One of the main things I'm learning is to have a strong contrast between very blended ribbons of color and some that are laid down in one spot with no blending. These are also much easier to do and more convincing (at least to me) if they are painted with a palette knife. 

The other very valuable thing to learn is that this is a pathway to creating full blown abstracts without using the typical color of the sky, but rather using any number of color combinations and staying with horizontal bands as the main format. And even placing a gestural stroke of intense color in one spot can send the piece into ecstasy.

So I am now thinking about devoting an entire afternoon with papers lined up and doing one right after the other with some very good music playing. It helps if it has a lot of passion with good rhythm. What this will do, is get rid of the internal critic and soon you will develop a rhythm.

If you choose to paint on unmounted canvas or 300 lb. HP Watercolor will have many cropping options after the paint has dried. For instance, you can have some narrow vertical pieces or some wide, but skinny horizontals that could even be viewed as a series. 

So if you're just starting out and want to see what the paint will do and give you some experience mixing color with a limited palette, this is a wonderful place to start. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, January 28, 2013


($50.00......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Unexpected places and events yield gold." Gold seems to have the highest rank in precious metals. And so it is with places and events that happen and often without much fanfare. The value is often realized after the place or event has come and gone.

This photo reference for this piece was taken in Santa Fe as I turned the corner to visit Sage Gallery. It was very unexpected and a soothing and pleasing setting. That must be why adobe and sage looking plants pair up so well together. I feel like talking about color once again since I am often asked how to go about mixing colors. And again, the best way I know to learn color is to work with a limited palette (a warm and a cool of each primary and white) If you have those colors in place, you will be able to mix any other color you see.

The other important thing is to know the three attributes of color which are hue, value, and intensity. So the very first thing is to identify the root color. It will be one of the (12) colors on the color wheel. After identifying the root color and mixing that color...determine its intensity. If it less intense than what you mixed, then knock down the intensity by adding a bit of the complementary color. After that, determine the value and add white to lighten or more of the root color with a lot more of the complementary to darken the color depending on the value. 

The only thing left to do is to paint and practice identifying the root color and then mixing it and adjusting the value and intensity. Mixing up endless color charts can be laborious and may help initially, but eventually, it is best to just paint and practice. In this piece the root color of the adobe wall is orange, but not an intense orange. I knocked down the intensity with ultramarine blue (the complement of orange) and then added a lot of white. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Off In The Distance"

(unavailable......6" x 12".....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb HP)

"Off in the distance is the answer to my dreams." As we travel towards our dream the distance becomes closer and closer. We eventually see our dreams realized. 

This is a reference photo taken by a good friend of mine on one of her visits to Utah. We painted it together and she gave me permission to post it on my blog. It was an experimental piece for me and I would probably need to do it again to submit it for an exhibit. But I will leave that task up to my friend. She is totally capable of capturing the essence of this scene in a panoramic abstract landscape. 

We both worked on 300 lb. HP Watercolor Paper with Water Soluble Oils and palette knives. It is good to paint with other people because no two people think alike or notice the same things. In fact, we noticed several things after we painted that we should have noticed beforehand. That's why it is so instructive to paint the same image or one in the same category until the eye is trained to see all of the subtleties  in the image. 

Some of those important things to notice would be the actual size of the background mountains and bluffs in comparison to all of the other elements. It's called "scale". When the right "scale" is off, the whole painting can look a bit strange. Other words to describe "scale" would be proportion or ratio. It's a comparing of one thing to another. This is one of the pre-eminent things to study in your real life image or reference photo before beginning the painting.

 Alas, none of us done it well every single time, so take heart, go back to the studio and do it again. When you have a half dozen of the same one under your belt, then you are likely to have one that works. Or, you can simply make this one thing your priority and do six different images if you are easily bored. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


(unavailable....6" x 12"........Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb HP)

"Splendid bands of color describe the sky." Even though the sky changes all through the day, horizontal bands of color are the way it is often depicted, especially if the horizon line is included. There are some artists who omit the clouds altogether and paint contemporary landscapes with bands of color. Either way is splendid and brings a calm attitude to any environment. 

This is my third experimental painting of a sky scape. So far, my favorite one was the posting from yesterday. However, the jury is still out since I plan to paint at least three more before making a final judgement on which one to mount for an exhibit. I rather enjoy seeing all three of them together. It enables me to ask myself why I like one over the other and see where I need to improve on the sequence of laying down the paint and improving my technique. This is an optimal way of working that generally has a good outcome as opposed to trying to make a perfect piece with the first try. The important thing is to stay with it and continue practicing your technique of mixing the color and laying down the paint.

Artists from all disciplines often have one piece out of (10) that is exceptional and as long as you're practicing every day that will happen. The theory here is to work on a different piece each time because creative energy tends to dissipate by painting the same thing over and over. No matter which process works for you, the important thing is to do it consistently and passionately. It is unlikely that great pieces result from painting something you have little or no interest in painting.

Another thought is that you might be working in the wrong medium if everything you're doing goes against your "grain" (or the way you're wired). I've know people who created flat work, but everything that came out of their mouth was a passion for dimensional work or sculpture. So pay attention to the materials and techniques that excite you.  Life is short and creating artwork does require effort, but it should also be rewarding.   And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"Burn Off"

(unavailable......6" x 12".....Water Soluble Oils on 300 lb. HP)

"Clouds burn off with time." Many mornings begin with an overcast sky, but within a few hours, all is well and the sun comes out. The same is true in life.  Circumstances get us down, but as we change our focus, all is well again.

This is my second experimental piece in a 6" x 12" size. You are simply seeing my practice pieces until I get one that passes my inspection. It's really quite a fun exercise. The practice of how to mix and lay down the paint is invaluable and at the end of the day...there are several pieces to choose from.

Leana Fay was an established lettering artist and a mentor of mine. She has since passed away, but her influence still reverberates in my head. Even though she was an excellent lettering artist, she spent three days practicing the lettering for a particular piece before committing it to the final piece. With my experience in piano and mentors like Leana Fay, I have learned that it is futile to think any of us will paint that one perfect piece. More often than not, it is the practice of doing a lot of work that creates the best artwork. So I guess my encouragement is to create art consistently and frequently and you will be rewarded with pieces to choose from. There really is a tremendous satisfaction in this kind of process. 

Another key to successful artwork is learning to work with a limited palette.  I still see work that is "jarring" in the color harmony because the colors really are not that harmonious. It really is worth the effort to change course and quit trying to use the particular green, blue, yellow, etc that you want by squeezing it out of a tube. It is totally possible to have intense color that is pleasing to the viewer by using a double palette of the primaries.

More than one established oil painter has told me that and most are willing to share their preferred palette. If you want to succeed as a painter, you must learn to work with a limited palette. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Flower Portrait"

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

"A single flower is a portrait of beauty." I don't think I've ever met anyone that doesn't like flowers. This one will not fade away and that's a comforting thought.

There was no reference photo for this flower, but I did have a small arrangement of white and lime green flowers in the studio. At first, I had seven flowers painted, but that didn't please me, so I swiped them off, added a bit more green to the background and decided on one larger flower. There was no need to paint the vase and every tiny detail of the flower. The gestural strokes in the painting are my goal. 

After smoothing out the background a bit, I did mix some dark and medium grays to lay down where the flower was to go. That helped establish some darks and give depth to a white flower. The strategy for what colors to lay down in sequence requires thinking through the whole painting and then working backwards. Also notice that the grays go from edge to edge vertically and horizontally which is an important part of dividing the space and establishing some strong shapes.

It probably would not have  worked as well in acrylics where the paint dries much faster. The wet into wet technique and a limited palette are the two things that bring it together and make it look convincing. The slight blending of colors when placing wet paint on top of wet paint is one of my attractions to oil paint.

If you're a lettering artist, there are more advantages to working in acrylic since you can prepare the surface for lettering with a variety of pens and gouache. Brush lettering would probably work okay in oils, but I haven't mastered anything I like yet, so I will continue to inscribe the lettering in the wet paint until I think of other ways. The inscriptions are really beginning to grow on me so I will simply wait and see what happens.  That's what practice and experimentation are all about. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Swept Away"

(unavailable...6" x 12" experimental piece)

"Swept away by ever changing clouds..." This is more of a phrase than a quote. Whether it's clouds or circumstances, being swept away aptly describes the process. And that's why I pray to an unchanging God.

This piece was painted on 300 lb. HP Watercolor Paper and is a 6" x 12" size. I plan to do several more, not just sky scapes, but abstract landscapes that I am calling "Gestural Landscapes". Even though the 300 lb. paper is $13.00 for a parent sheet, it is a wonderful surface to work on and because I haven't yet mounted it on an Ampersand Panel, I can set it aside and keep working on this size until I am certain I have my best one. (I can probably paint (8) of this size from a parent sheet.)  So this is just a tip on working on unmounted canvas or paper before mounting and then you have options by choosing the best one out of your collection.

My goal in this experimental piece was to compare the difference between painting with oils on gessobord and Hot Press Paper. I can already say that I like both surfaces. The advantage of the paper is that it is easy to crop and to store until I decide which one I am willing to mount. Anytime you can come up with more options, you will immediately understand the advantage of being able to choose the best from your own work. It gives you confidence in analyzing your own work and knowing you've done your best at this point of your art journey. 

Trying to create a perfect piece with no back up plan can be very frustrating and may weaken the desire to try over and over again. Why not do it over and over again and then have options?  It's a winning strategy!  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Art Happens"


"Art happens by design." There are rare moments when art seems to come together perfectly with no "snags".   Most of the time, artists need to know enough to put all of the elements together.  It is a lifelong study.

This is another mixed media piece showing how to incorporate fused glass into the piece. This particular glass was textured with glassline paint, using a palette knife and then adding powders to the paint, inscribing the word artwork before firing. Just so you know.... I did not create this piece of glass for this particular piece, but it was part of a number of pieces fired at the same time and done months ago. Fortunately for me, the colors happened to go with the colors in this piece.

Instead of using an old book cover to frame out the glass, I used some scraps of the the text pages mounted on 300lb. HP which accommodates the thickness of the glass. In fact, this whole piece is different sections of bits and pieces and I arranged them to create erratic edges of the black background. You can get more interesting sizes this way. Very often, the sizes of the text pages tend to be laid down too predictably and this cropping and rearranging method circumvents that issues. It will also inform the way you lay down papers in the future. It is the line work and edges created by the black background that gives these types of pieces so much drama. 

And of course, the old book pages turn colors even more when sprayed with Spray Acrylic Coating. The glass provides a different texture and is one of the most time honored mediums to include in your work. It's been around a very long time and has the transparency and reflective qualities that will always bring your artwork to another level. Stained glass or found pieces of glass could also be included. (It will be important to incase the glass in a book cover or like I did in this piece to keep sharp edges from hurting people who have an insatiable desire to touch the glass.) 

The exploration of paper and glass together is an inviting thought process so I would encourage any of you who are feeling adventurous to see what you can do. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Varied Heights"

($50.00......6" x6"......Mixed Media on 300 lb. HP.....mounted on Gessobord)

"Raise the standard with varied heights." This quote is simply a play on words since I used varying heights of collage pieces to create this piece.

This is a variation on the theme of old book pages, rice paper, and mono printed rice papers put together to create a collage. By using some of the deleted portions from other pieces, I was able to adhere these disparate parts to a gessobord and then continue adding other elements.

If you look closely, you will see some other pieces mounted on top of the first layer of collage pieces. All of these mono printed papers were mounted on 300lb HP Watercolor Paper which gives them a depth very similar to the hard board used in bookbinding. So I ended up with (5) smaller pieces of these scraps adhered to the first layer and then added a portion of a book cover with a cut out and a piece of fused glass.

So this is just another way my mixed media followers can use as inspiration for shifting the emphasis to the mono printed papers and even getting more dimension with a second layer of several segments. Notice that to keep the design strong and cohesive, there are a lot of "echoes" of color, shapes, and gesture marks that make everything look like it belongs. There are also a combination of straight and torn edges....soft and hard edges. So if you have some text pages leftover from other pieces, this is a good way to come up with new combinations. In the first layer, there were three different sections adhered to the gessobord, just to give you an idea.

Just for further consideration and inspiration, you might want to check out the work of Lance Letscher who is an Austin artist who is renown for his works using old books in collages. Also, our very own Mandy Gregory (on the art team at Hill Country Bible Church NW) who uses her old watercolors and cuts them up to make elaborate collages. So be inspired, but it is best not to copy someone else's style precisely, but it really isn't necessary since there are a myriad of ways to work with these materials. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"A Study"


"Order holds all things together." Order implies that there is a plan, a pattern, an arrangement, a grouping, etc. In order to have order, there has to be elements to be orderly with. This is a study of shapes with different values that divide the space. Even though it is abstract, there is order in the arrangement, creating depth and a syncopated alternating effect.

There are many things that constitute a piece of art. I've seen a lot of art and no matter who the artist was or the style they chose or even if I liked the piece or not, the one thing that every artwork possessed was an arrangement of shapes. They could be very simple or very complex, but there was always a variety of shapes in particular colors with a variety of values.

It is also called form. In fact, the definition of form is....a shape; an arrangement of parts. This doesn't seem very important until you see a painting that simply has a monochromatic background with splotches of color all over. If those splotches are all very close in value to the base color, that would be a very weak painting, if you could call it that at all. Even colorists have used an analogous color scheme where the colors are extremely blended as they go from one to the other have created form within the painting.

I have this on my mind because it is very good to frequently go back to the basics and figure out these things. So shapes become something that require very careful attention. In addition to having interesting shapes that have contrast of size, it is good to then make sure the edges of those shapes have a variety of soft and hard edges. If there is too much of one or the other, (especially all hard edges), the painting would look very contrived and immature. 

So to walk through a gallery and pay particular attention to shapes and edges is a very instructive thing to do. It will serve as a reminder of what to do or not to do in your own work. It is part of learning to analyze design in order to know how to do it yourself. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

"A Variation"

($50.00......6" x6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"A variation is a transformation of an existing image." This also has an application in real life if we consider ourselves or others as an existing image in the process of transformation.

This is my third variation of a hill country scene with a large bluff in the background and green water with reflections and a twig / tree in the foreground. The last time I painted this was on January 9th. The first posting was on December 3rd, 2012, just in case you want to see the progression.

This step by step "morphing" is an excellent way to step gingerly into the world of abstraction. I do believe I could do it one more time and lose even more of the bit of detail that is there. In a "nutshell", abstraction simply means to lose the detail. The color harmonies remain the same (although the bluish gray in the bluff is really a gray in the original) and the general placement of the color notes remain the same. It's the detail and blending that goes away. 

The technique of laying these colors down is a "one shot deal". One swipe of the palette knife...wiping off the knife...another swipe....etc. Trying to touch up anything is totally out of the question. I did use a rocking motion technique to create the relfections by keeping the knife in the same place to avoid over blending.

So I am quite sure that most everyone has enough reference photos to create many abstract pieces. The beauty of doing it this way is that you at least have a reference of what color notes to mix and where to place them on the piece.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Hidden Dreams"

($50.00......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Dreams are often hidden behind urgent things." The tyranny of the urgent can obliterate the best of dreams. God clears the path for dreams to be fulfilled...especially when those dreams were placed in our hearts by Him.

This photo reference really does visually describe something that is hidden. Before I began painting landscapes in oils, I thought it would be very difficult to come up with a quote everyday that would actually go with the painting. Nothing could have been further from the truth. In fact, I have been very surprised by the way that our created world mimics life in so many ways.

The division of space in this space is quite interesting and is one of the reasons I like choosing scenes where the focal point is more in the foreground than in the background. The trees provide the diagonals and unequal divisions of space that make a piece much more interesting than the standard horizon line.

Noticing what you gravitate to goes to the heart of why it is so important to create pieces on a consistent basis so that you can personally observe and analyze the particular point of view, techniques, and personal mark making that makes a piece identifiable as your piece. If you select small pieces to work on, you will get a lot more practice at making the many decisions that must be made in every piece of artwork.

After a period of time and many pieces under your belt, the process will become much more fluid and that is the point at which you will really begin to soar. Another key ingredient, though, is actually learning how to critique or analyze your own artwork and be able to verbally describe why something works or doesn't work. It's quite like being the student and the teacher simultaneously. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Comparing Values"

($50.00....6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Comparing values helps create art and life." The ability to observe and compare is a necessary skill in order to create anything or to make good decisions in life.

Values are the one design element that can really hurt. This is the number one problem I most often observe in my own artwork as well as others. I've said this before, but it may be worth repeating that if you simply cannot see the values, then make a copy of your artwork in black and white. You will see it right away. And if you have created an oil painting and cannot make a copy right away because of wet paint, then take a photo...print it out...and then make a black and white copy of the image. If this is a consistent issue, then you will need to do this every time you finish a piece just to check yourself.

Another thing worth repeating is that this skill of comparing values needs to be practiced everyday. You will not learn all of the subtleties by painting once a month or even once a week. Today was my 86th oil painting and I can bear witness to the fact that values are still an issue. The reason I know this is because I have watched other oil painters who have painted hundreds of pieces and most of them can nail it every time. Virginia Vaughan is such a painter. She is able to match color notes perfectly. And if you can match each color note perfectly, then you have also mastered the values. 

It also helps to isolate a color if you cannot tell what it is in context. Just punch a hole in a small piece of cover stock and look through that hole to see the color you are trying to mix. It works every times it's tried. 

And if you are a mixed media artist, you will also need to check your values if you want your piece to read well. You still need some very dark values as well as the lighter ones and also the ones in between. The problem with mixed media has more to do with integration. In that case, you will also need to be well aware of the ehoes (or repetitive elements) in your work. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Sitting Pretty"

($50.00......6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Sitting pretty is all about placement." This painting was inspired by a reference photo I took in Silverado, Co. This beautiful piece of pottery was on the street sitting on a rock post with aspen leaves hanging down. It was a moment of noticing something beautiful in an unexpected place. It is true in life and in art.  It's all about placing someone or some thing in the right environment.

If anyone is not convinced that working from a limited palette is the best way to paint, I am here to try to convince you. You will never need to worry about your paintings being harmonious if you learn to do this and if you leave your tubes of Raw Umber, Black, Dioxazine Purple, Green Gold, etc. in the drawer. All of these colors can be mixed by using a double palette of primaries plus white.

I am also becoming more and more convinced that even abstract and mixed media artists should also set up a palette just as though you were painting an impressionistic or extremely realistic scene. You will learn more about color by doing this than any other way. And if you practice painting something everyday, you will learn this much more rapidly and soon you will be able to mix and match color in your sleep. 

Just to take it one step further, try painting a piece of fruit, a flower, or basically any single object and count your palette knife or brush strokes, changing the color slightly with each stroke. This is a great exercise in learning how to change values gradually, knock down the intensity by adding white or a bit of the complementary color, as well as noticing the subtle value shifts in any reference photo or real life set up. 

This is a skill that requires constant practice, but the reward is the ability to see values like you've never seen them before. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Safe and Secure"

($50.00...6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"The secret place of God is safe and secure." This is my own revision of Psalm 91:1. It's one of the most powerful chapters on dealing with God's protection. No better image comes to mind of a secure place than a hugh rock. In this case, there is a small opening in the rock where someone could easily hide.

Learning to see all paintings as broken down into shapes with a color and a value is the essence of painting. I am learning to notice each value as a shape in relationship to the other shapes and to isolate and mix that particular color. By doing that throughout the piece, it eventually turns out to be a painting. There are times when I have my doubts, but it is best to just keep painting until yo get through before making a judgement.

And if you paint often enough, it will become faster and even more abstract. If you prefer to paint more realistically, all you need to do is slow down, blend more, and add more detail. This piece is actually a "study" for a 12" x 12". I will switch to acrylics (with retarder) since I need a fast turn around. The process for painting in acrylics is very much the same with less working time. So it is very useful to try the same painting in a smaller size with oils first just to get the "lay of the land" before going to acrylics.  

My working time has speeded up which shuts down my internal critic and keeps me moving forward. One other tip...wait until you have several paintings done before doing a hard critique of your work. I often think a painting is too abstract and rather "a mess" until I view it for a few days and in context with my other work.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Fleeting Moments"


"Savor the fleeting moments." There is nothing quite so fleeting as the sky. It moves and changes continuously much like the spontaneous moments of our lives. They should be savored before they are gone forever.

This painting is an intermediate step into the world of abstraction and also an experimentation in the ideal amount of paint for expressive writing. I wiped off the paint at the bottom several times before I was able to have a suitable surface for free movement of my pen. (In this case, I used a very sharp mechanical pencil...sharpened on a sandpaper block. ) 

The reference photo for this piece was taken a few days ago after the rain. It was early morning and the sun was beginning to rise behind the trees. I have had very little experience in painting sky scenes, but that is exactly why it's a practice piece. I will keep this piece in my repertoire so that I can go back and compare with future pieces. It is very instructive to look at all your work as if looking at a collection because your next piece can only begin where the last one left off.

There is nothing wrong with analyzing other artist's work so as to improve, but the fact remains that none of us can do what someone else does. Your work is your work and will be your most comprehensive guide to notice where you are in your art journey. Trying to do exactly what someone else has done....especially without putting in the practice time...will never work and it will be a hugh discouragement in your own process. 

All of this reminds me of another favorite quote..."Doing is the one condition of knowing." The best thing any of us can to do to promote our growth is to go to the studio everyday, even if you don't have a clue what to do next. If you simply begin where your last piece left off, you will soon be inspired and will have completed one more step in this important process called creativity. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, January 12, 2013



"The evolution of an image equals abstraction." When an image is altered, it is abstracted. Today's piece is 100% abstracted from the painting posted yesterday. It is part of my experimentation with different ways to abstract an image.

In this piece, I emphasized the horizontal bands from yesterday's painting. I used the painting as my reference point rather than the original photo reference which is somewhat like "morphing" the image into something completely different. The color palette was identical from yesterday, but the blending and application of paint is different. The "sgraffito lines revealing the first layer are reminiscent of the obvious weeds in yesterday's work. I even included the snow, but the cactus image is gone except for the color. And the lettering became more prominent and really is readable in the original although you might not be able to see it on your computer screen.

The whole point of explaining this is to throw out different ways of arriving at abstract work. Since letters are abstract, this is a subject of paramount importance to me. However, even without the lettering it could stand alone as an abstract piece of artwork.  If this is too much abstraction for you, another option is to pick and choose which image to be recognizable and which ones to abstract completely. I could have done this piece and made the cactus recognizable and even a few weeds surrounding the cactus. That would also be a very interesting experiment. 

As you can see, this is where my passion is presently, and perhaps you, too, will be inspired to think about your process in a totally different way. Don't ever dismiss those fleeting insights that come to mind for they could be the impetus to a completely different way of working. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"A Visual Proverb"


"A visual proverb is seen in cactus with snow." A proverb is a pithy saying that often includes an unlikely comparison. One such example is found in Proverbs 26:1...."Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool." And it is very unlikely to see snow where prickly pear cactus is growing. (These was painted from a photo reference taken during a very rare snow storm here in Austin, Texas.)

Horizontal bands are often found in the landscape. It is an exceptionally easy format and works best if the bands have sufficient contrast in color and width. By taking this same photo reference, using the same colors, but creating more of a contrast in the band widths and including no image....only color and texture...or just color a completely abstract piece could be created.  

By looking at your reference photos from a different perspective, you probably have tons of inspiration sitting in your iphoto files. There really is no better inspiration than the created world we live in. For instance, yesterday morning was a great time to take photos of the sky after all of that rain. The size and shape of the clouds was stunning. So be on the "look out" for those special moments when the light is just right for capturing a good "shot".

There are plenty of artists out there who also take several photos and include fragments of them in the same piece by arranging them in horizontal bands or simple cutting them up...mixing and matching to create a whole new piece...very much like a puzzle.  This new reference could then be used as an inspiration for a painting or mixed media piece.  Of course, in these types of work it is good to select photos with several common denominators....such as color, theme, texture, etc.

It would probably take an eternity to complete all of the concepts that come to mind, but there is great satisfaction in experimenting with many techniques that fit into your own particular artistic voice. These are just a few. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Music, Art, and Life"

($50.00.......6" x 6".....Mixed Media on 140 lb. HP.....mounted on a Gessobord)

"Passion and tempo are the core of music, art, and life." If you can think back to the times where you were truly energized and at the top of your game, there were probably two ingredients that entered that equation. Those two things were probably passion and tempo (or pacing). Nothing gets done without them.

This is my warm up for beginning and completing a 12" x 12" mixed media piece. If all goes well, it will be posted on Sunday. 

There are several things I want to emphasize about old text pages and rice paper that you might not have noticed. Old book pages are often stained with age, spills, or simply fingerprints. Placing these text pages in a layering situation with white and pristine rice paper creates a wonderful dynamic. What really brings out the contrast, though, is spraying the piece with Spray Acrylic Coating. It's like a transformation of the piece right before your eyes. All of the "aged" qualities of the old book pages come to life and make an interesting background on which to build the piece. 

Another point about these two materials is the many different directions it can go. What you see today is only one way to use them. If you eliminate the mono printed rice papers and simply create a pen and ink drawing, you will have created a very strong piece which is totally graphic.

You could also change the base color of your support (140 lb. HP) and have a completely different look. Another way is to adhere strips of rectangular shapes in many different sizes and completely cover the support. ( I have done this on canvas.) After this first layer dries thoroughly (overnight) is then possible to paint over the entire piece with acrylic paints using a palette knife, sponge brush, or brayer.  The edges of the rice paper will always show through the paint.  I found it very useful to dilute the acrylic paint and apply it in thin layers as though it were watercolors. Fluid Acrylics would be good for this technique. You then have the option to use sgraffito effects, hand cut stamps, et. And if you're really brave, you can get out your sander and truly alter the surface. (I did learn the hard way that it is best to use a variable speed sander for more control. Otherwise you could sand straight through your piece. It would be wise to practice on a work off piece first to get the feel of the sander and what it will do.) 

My mind is whirling with all of the possibilities of rice paper and text pages so the studio will be a sea of activity today. Hopefully, you will also be in yours, working away on your work. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Seen or Unseen"

(unavailable.....12" x 18".....Acrylics on 300 lb. HP Watercolor Paper....mounted on a 2" depth Clayboard)

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV) This piece is a more abstracted version of my 6" x 6" posting on Dec. 3, 2012. The message of the verse is inscribed into the paint which makes it invisible from a distance, but can be read up close. That is perfect to illustrate the meaning. (Created for an upcomiing exhibit at Hill Country Bible Church NW.)

This was a great exercise in yet another way to arrive at abstracting an image. By viewing the piece from December 3, 2012, in its first abstracted state, I was able to take it a step further. (I may even decide to do it one more time as I view this latest effort.)  It is such a joy to discover these types of processes as I work along.  (Another reason to work on your work every single day.)  Even 15-30 min. is better than not doing anything. At least the design and process thoughts would keep coming.

Another decision I had to make for this piece was to leave the oil paints behind and switch to acrylics, since there would not be enough time for the paint to dry for this exhibition.  It was very "dicey", since the paint dries so fast (even with retarders) and I could not inscribe into the paint without working fast. 

I set up my palette with the same paints I used for the small oil painting. I made the choice to paint on 300 lb HP because I like the "drag" caused by the paper and it has a more subtle look created by the textures. (Cropping options also came into play which is always a good thing.)

The first layer was a very "grayed down" orange mixed with a lot of white to create a tint. I mixed up all the paint for the boulders / bluff in the background and painted that second and then inscribed the lettering before moving on to the bottom half of the piece. 

The advantage of working in acrylic is that I have the option of writing the quote again (in a darker green) at the bottom if I choose after mounting the piece on a 12" x 18" Ampersand Panel (2" deep).

Experimentation with an "abbreviated" image is always scary and exciting all in the same breath. It's a great path to travel if you're courageous and bold! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Peace and Simplicity"

($50.00.....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Peace washes away the clutter of life with simplicity." Have you noticed that clutter and general chaos disturbs the spirit of peace? By tackling those troublesome areas of life with simplicity, we can all have peace in our environment which will contribute to peace in the spirit.

This is an entirely experimental work in preparation for a larger piece. It was inspired by a photo of the sky that I took yesterday. I happened to be driving at the time so I pulled over and whipped out my iphone. Obviously, it is not a realistic interpretation, but a lot less blending than I was seeing with my eyes. It was meant to be an abstract piece with all of the emphasis on design.

I began with orange as my first layer. It was quickly followed by white with a tint of the blue added. The dark blues were then added followed by the process of adding a bit here and there of all the colors until I was satisfied with the texture and directional lines. Notice that the striations of light gray in the top segment are at a slight diagonal. The tinted white in the middle also has a slightly diagonal tilt while the bottom is straight. Slight diagonals in bands of color will always add more energy to the piece. 

The center of interest is in the middle band of colors where you see the darkest gray and very bright orange as well as more texture with piles of paint added in that area rather than smooth blending. The word "simplicity" is also inscribed into the paint in that area with the quote following in the lower bands of gray. 

Because the lettering at the bottom seemed to look contrived, I deliberately raked by palette knife over a part of it (deconstruction) to break up the surface tension. All in all, I am pleased because it is abstract with lettering. And that has been my goal for a long time.

However, people who do not like total abstraction will need to check out my other work. Hopefully, I can strike a happy medium as I go along. This is what experimentation is all about. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Knowing God"

($200.00......12" x 12".....Water Soluble Oils on a 1.50" depth Gessobord)

"Be still and know that I am God." This Bible verse is from Psalm 46:10. The piece is a 12" x 12" and created for an upcoming exhibit at Hill Country Bible Church NW. There is nothing quite like snow to indicate "stillness".  And being still is a prerequisite for knowing God.  (Look closely to see the quote inscribed in the snow.)

Those of you who follow this blog might remember that I did this same painting with a different quote as a 6" x 6". Doing it smaller first helped me to work out my values and techniques. Some things will change as the work goes larger. For one thing, it takes a lot more paint since this piece would be the equivalent of (4) 6" x 6"'s.

I used a larger glass palette which I think is the perfect surface for mixing up paint since the paint is much easier to remove than using a wooden palette. The hard surface is very important to me, but there are other artists who don't mind disposable palettes or stay wet palettes. I've tried them all and so if you have a desire to work with palette knife...I highly recommend a glass palette that is painted white on the flip side. You can also use regular glass and tape it to white foam core. (Just be sure to tape all of the edges since it will be very sharp.)

The dominant color in my photo reference of this piece was a "charcoal" looking gray in all of its tints and shades. However, I chose to lean my grays towards purple. The tree trunks are a deep purple and "grayed down" tints of purple were used for the sky and snow. Even the dark green trees were grayed down with purple. To me, it just gave the piece a bit more vibrancy than matching the colors of the photo precisely.

Another thing I learned about working larger, using a "wet into wet" technique, is to complete the painting all in the same day. Even coming back to it the next day will make a big difference. When that paint begins to set up, it is very difficult to paint over it using the same techniques as in the smaller versions. Fortunately, it did work out, but it would have made things much simpler to do it in one day.

If this is not possible, then paint enough of one area where you are not having to go back into that area. And those of you who are doing mixed media can greatly rejoice, because you can "string out" that process for days without consequence. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Vintage Memories"

($50.00.....6" x 6".....Mixed Media on 140 lb. HP....mounted on a Gessobord)

"Vintage memories are the remnants of days gone by." The one thing remaining in my studio that reminds me of Christmas is a poinsettia plant. So I decided to do a pen and ink drawing superimposed over some practice pencil lettering. The word happened to be vintage. It was then an easy thought process to create a quote to describe the memories of Christmas and days gone by.

This mixed media piece was created with a base of old text pages and rice paper in a grid format with slivers of the black gesso showing through. It harkens back to one of my favorites quotes...."Black and white plus one or more colors works every time it's tried." So the grid format in the background creates a foundation for another format on top. This one happens to be a cruciform format. It is nothing more than adding color and image from edges to edge both vertically and horizontally. It is one of the easeiest formats and has many variations since you have the option of dividing the space in both directions at any number of points. 

Since the ink drawing was created over my pencil practice lettering, you can see the word "vintage" written several times. The pencil writing adds a very personal touch to any piece and gives the feeling of movement as well as another layer of interest without being overpowering. (The computer can create letters and even drawings if you have the write application, but it cannot create pencil marks.)

Another important point in creating these types of pieces is to mix up very straight edges with erratic edges. So some of the original text pages were torn and some left straight which determines what kind of black line will be formed in exposing the black support. 

There is also a lot of deconstruction with extra text pages on top of the red/orange color blocks, the drawing, and some of the plain rice paper. This not only creates texture, but unifies 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, January 5, 2013

"Textured Layering"


"Textured layering with transparency creates depth." Technically speaking, all art is layering, but there is something about transparency that gives it more depth and more mystery.

This, of course, is another mixed media piece. Yesterday, I went into detail about the basic steps of how this particular process was created. Today I would like to touch on the particular techniques that create transparency. 

The most obvious transparency has to do with the materials. Rice paper is a wonderful paper because it was made for printing techniques and it has a wonderful translucence that can turn into transparency by gently rubbing over the surface, especially if it has just been glued to the support. There is just enough moisture in the top surface to "pill" off as you gently rub it with your fingers. 

The silk tissue paper (gampi) is also a beautiful material because it is totally transparent as you can see in the line engraved print of the leaves. Unusual color notes can be achieved by placing mono printed rice paper over the background, followed by the printed tissue paper. 

Deconstruction is also a way of achieving transparency by brushing gel matte medium over an old text page or a mono printed rice paper and then placing it over a section of the piece. Letting it sit for a minute or two and then removing the paper will leave behind an imprint of either the color or the text. It can be taken a step further by also rubbing over the deconstructed text and removing even more of the paper to create the transparency seen in the leaves and in the green color notes at the bottom.

This is a richly textured surface and even more can be achieved by working larger and introducing a more varied range of mono printed papers. It's extremely addictive, but I heartily recommend it as a way of show casing your personal drawings by printing them on silk tissue paper and including them in this type of mixed media setting. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Heart of Everything"


"Design is at the heart of everything." This is very true. Just think about that is not well designed can have as much visual overload (clutter) as a piece of artwork.

Mixed media is still a love of mine and so here I am again. The inkwell is a quickly done in pen and ink which was then reduced from 100% to 80% and then printed on silk tissue paper. There are actually two formats involved here. The first one is a grid format created with old text pages and overlays of plain rice paper. The black showing through between the text pages to create the grid is black gesso on 140 lb. HP. 

After this is dry, crop to the desired size...adhere with Gel Matte Med. to masonite or gessobord....lay a piece of wax paper on top followed by a book and then a rock and leave to dry overnight.

This morning I added the mono printed rice papers, the ink drawing, and did a bit of deconstruction. Note that the piece is much more interesting by allowing the previous edge to show. It creates depth and a sense of mystery. 

A new format was created when adding the colored pieces and a drawing. It is wise to gather up all the materials first and then arrange (take a picture), rearrange (take a picture) until you are satisfied you have everything well designed. The second format in this piece is essentially a modified cruciform layout. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


($50.00....6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Pacing is the most important part of process." This is not only true in art, but in life. Remember the "Tortoise and the Hare" fable. It is not always the "flash in the pan" person who progresses, but rather the one that plods along day after day. (By the way, the tortoise won the race.)

Those of us who have been part of bible study groups have heard many times that it is "line upon line" and "precept upon precept". The point being, that information must be cumulative. And "cumulative" means to increase in amount by successive additions. That's why doing something everyday is so important. When a day or many days are skipped in any process, important things are forgotten and the "cumulative process" comes to a screeching halt. 

Please know that when I share these thoughts, I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else. You could say that by blog commentaries are my way of "self talk". I am just letting everyone else in on my private conversations with myself!

So what I did today was give myself one hour to create this piece which naturally caused me to increase my speed. And it worked so well that I came in at (45 min.). The "internal critic" was completely shut down and I simply mixed and laid down those colors as quickly as possible. Second guessing cannot be part of the equation when working under these conditions so if you are indecisive and it takes you forever to create an image with paint, please give this a try. And if you think it doesn't look good after completion....that's the time to analyze and see where you might improve. Don't analyze while you're working or you'll never get done.

So it looks like you will be seeing a lot of images that are done quickly and some slowly and all of the intervals in between because I am captivated by this process and it definitely keeps me out of a rut. And if you don't know how to mix colors, then work on that while at the same time you are working on painting an image...even if you've never done it before. You might be surprised at how well you do! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.