Monday, September 30, 2013

"An Experience"

(unavailable.....4" x 6".....watercolor on Rives BFK....mounted on masonite)

"Tasting is an experience of seeing with eyes of the heart." This quote was inspired by a segment from Psalm 34: 8...."O taste and see that the Lord is good!". Obviously "tasting" in this context means something different from the tasting of food. Tasting in this passage is an experience.

The image you see today is a 4" x 6" piece cropped from a larger piece. It was created with watercolors on Rives BFK...beginning with very wet paper and dropping in some very dilute neutral tint. After the glisten was off of the paper, I created some back runs by dropping in more color. This creates the erratic gray shapes and edges in the piece.

After the paper was thoroughly dry, I added some black gestural lettering and erratic lines with FW ink and a pointed pen. The next step was to brush on some bands of color going edge to edge in two directions with very dilute watercolor.

Last came the final quote with Moon Palace Ink and pointed pen. I left the paper unprepared for lettering, so any mistakes would have ruined the piece. It has now been sprayed with Spray Acrylic Coating (3x). It will now be mounted on masonite and spray varnished. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Rejoice" (final section)


"Rejoice always." This portion of a verse from Philippians 4 was the inspiration for all three glass pieces in this collection. What you are seeing today is the smallest piece in its final state.

If you remember the last posting, this is the same piece with some important revisions. The transitions from one value to another are much more subtle and creates a more harmonious piece. It is also great to have quieter areas where not much is going on. It actually enhances the part where you want the viewer to look.  Notice the blue now dominates the piece.

 After changing out a few pieces of glass, this piece was placed in the kiln and fired at a full fuse. The addition of the script lettering was written with tracing black powder and clove oil and the same pointed pen I use for lettering on paper. The nice thing about lettering on glass is that you can wipe it off and start over until you're satisfied with the result.

The image you see today was photographed this morning. It will now go back into the kiln at a medium fuse (no hotter than 1350 degrees) to set the lettering. The other important integration factor was splattering some of the writing medium on and around the lettering and allowing some bits to fall into the solid blue areas.

Another point about the lettering is that my goal was to also have it subliminally in the background. In the white area in the top right hand corner, you can faintly recognize the word rejoice carved out of the glass line paint with a bamboo pen. It is another way to achieve texture and reinforce the focus of the piece.

The repetitive writing of the one word "rejoice" appears in all three pieces of this collection. I actually tried writing bolder and with a ruling pen, but it looked contrived and really did not integrate well at all. Fine lines are the appeal in glass and this is one way to achieve them and have texture at the same time. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Rejoice" (Preliminary Textures 3)

(Preliminary Textures 3)

Today's posting is the first cut and reassembled piece and ready to go in the kiln. Since I added amber powder in some of the first textures, I have included amber tint glass to complement the blue. There are (16) separate pieces of cut glass in this 5" x 7" piece.

If you now look back at some of the watercolor becomes clear that glass is the inspiration for me. Of course, this is only one way to do it. It is interesting to see the similarities between mediums. There really isn't much to say about today's process except to emphasize how important it is to create several pieces with the same textures in order to have enough at the end. This is especially important when working on a collection. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Rejoice" (Preliminary Textures 2)

(Preliminary Glass Texture for "Rejoice")

Glass is still flying out of the kiln at a fast clip....but no faster than (12) hours. For that reason, every kiln load has to be carefully considered when creating a three layer glass collage. You can see the addition of readable lettering today.

Tomorrow, I will have some that will be even more readable on the top layer of at least one of the three separate sections making up this collaboration. In the final presentation, these pieces will be in a steel wall sculpture with three different sized openings.

Unlike yesterday's posting, the image today is the beginning of cutting and layering glass in such a way as to have texture and lettering in different depths of the collage. And this is the advantage of layering in glass. As hard as I've tried to achieve this in mixed media, it simply cannot compare to the richness of glass.  Having said that, there are also some things that can be done with papers and mixed media techniques that cannot be done in glass. It's all a great journey and ever so much fun to experiment with.

So today...instead of having three pieces of glass laying on top of each other in the same size...I have cut glass and inserted textures from other pieces and also used the white opaque as the bottom piece. Tomorrow, I hope to have some smaller areas that have clear glass on the bottom layer with slight texture on the other two layers to create a contrast between pure transparency and opacity. There will also be some areas that are quite translucent. For this reason it is wise to have a multitude of choices before you.

Since I already have a lot of textured pieces, I am presently firing some pieces with very simple additions of glass line paint mixed with powders and thinned to a translucent mixture. This is then brushed on to the glass, but not over the entire glass. It is very important to keep some areas as clear glass so that the layering effect has the potential of creating more depth.

You can now see why my brain is tired from thinking. Hopefully, this will encourage my glass loving friends to carry on with the knowledge that you are not the only one turning yourself into a pretzel by this type of thought process. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Rejoice" (Preliminary Textures)

(Preliminary Textures)

The image today is three layers of glass. I am working on a collaboration with another artist who works in steel. What you see today may end up as only a portion of the piece with different layers of transparency and opacity. The key word will be "rejoice", which will appear throughout the piece.

Today you can see only a semblance of letters in the background. Even if you are not a glass artist, I am sure you can see the strong similarities between mixed media and three layer glass collage work. The advantage of glass is the transparent and reflective qualities that make it so seductive.

The layer of texture you see on the top of the image was created with glass line paint applied with a palette knife right out of the jar. Parts of it were thick which created the crackle. After drying this with a hair dryer, I flipped the glass over and applied the same paint diluted with water and driftwood powder mixed in. A bamboo pen was used to write into the paint. This piece was then fired at a full fuse.

In the next fuse, I flipped this same piece of glass so that the thicker "crackle" area was on the top and added some opaque white powder followed by crystal clear powder over the whole piece. It was then refired at a full fuse and that is what you see today.

Of course, what makes the lettering show up is the transparent blue tint glass underneath which is laying on the third piece of glass which is opaque white. What this selection of glass will do is allow me to have some places that are totally transparent with perhaps a bit of texture in one of the layers in contrast to completely opaque.

If it sounds confusing, it is. The thought process of thinking in layers is exhausting, but also rewarding. Experimentation is the key. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"A Poetic Collection"

(unavailable....4" x 6".....watercolor on Fabriano 140 lb. CP....mounted on masonite)

"A poetic collection fell to the ground." The fall is a perfect time to see all kinds of poetic collections while taking a walk. The very small leaf in this piece had three seed pods sitting on top so I brought it back to the studio. What was so interesting to me is that these three small pods have not moved from that leaf. It is like a still life found.

Noticing small things in nature and in art is the chief business of the artist. For instance, this piece has a variety of different types of edges. And edges can make or break a piece. The first set of edges were created with masking fluid over the first initial wash and the paper being thoroughly dried. So after all of the glazes were finished, and the masking fluid removed, there is softer and harder edges based on the gradated color in the lettering. So many different effects can be achieved by when you decide to include masking fluid.

The second set of edges were created in the initial wash using "neutral tint". This is actually the name of the color and turns into a beautiful gray on wet paper. After the sheen of the water leaves the paper, these letters were written with a more concentrated amount of pigment and a pointed brush. The edges became softly diffused.

I then created some black erratic lines with pen and FW ink which created a few more shapes and some very hard edges. The seed pods on the leaf were then painted followed by the pencil lettering. The lettering was "beefed up" a bit after initially being written. All done with an extremely sharp pencil (sharpened on a sandpaper block) to create very thin lines. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Wait and Listen"

(unavailable...4" x 6"....Watercolor on Fabriano 140 lb. CP....mounted on masonite)

"Wait and listen to go deeper." This is true in many decision making situations, but especially true in spiritual matters. Waiting is a matter of shifting down to first gear and perhaps placing your activity on "pause" until hearing the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. That's when the very best things happen.

This small piece began as a larger mono print. And what a fun and relaxing technique this is to just loosen up and let yourself go with your favorite colors. Of course, black and white plus one other color works every time it's tried. (In case you have trouble making a decision.)

You can tell that the mono printing was created on dry paper because of the hard edges and the stark white of the paper creating smaller shapes. And I cropped this particular section because I love it when a shape touches three sides of the design space.

I also had some neutral tint that was placed on the glass and not completely mixed before the print. That's how the circles were created. There is also some lettering that was written with a bamboo pen while the blue print was still wet. The amount of pressure used to write those words determines the subtlety of the mark.

After the initial print was dried, I used masking fluid to create the lines and gestural writing in the lower corner. I glazed over it with a dilute portion of neutral tint...blotted the upper line with a kleenex....let it dry and removed the masking fluid. 

The quote was inspired by the look of deep water and the lines. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Atmosphere of Quiet"

(unavailable....6" x 6".....Watercolor on Fabriano 140 lb. CP....mounted on a flat panel)

"Neutrals create an atmosphere of quiet." Eliminating a lot of detail and using neutrals is just one way of creating visual quietness. Rainy days and gray skies do the same thing. I think it's time to curl up with a good book. (Dream on!)

Since it is raining (praise God!), I thought I would slosh around in mono printing today. And if the first mono print isn't enough color and texture...let it dry slightly and do another print on the part you need more color. In fact, you can do this a few times and push it to the limit. I also wrote into the wet paint with a bamboo pen and a few erratic lines to create some movement.

And that is it for today. Kiln formed glass is on my agenda today. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Open Hands"

(unavailable....4" x 6"....Fabriano 140 lb. CP....mounted on masonite)

"Open hands lead to joy." The idea of open hands implies generosity to others. This is one of those life principles that may feel like an oxymoron, but actually leads to joy. The tendency so often in all of us is to think that holding on to something with a tight fist is the way to keep it. It's actually the opposite.

If you like contemporary watercolor and don't know how to begin...try wetting the paper thoroughly on both sides and then wiping off the excess water with a sponge. You can then choose one of two techniques I particularly like. Sometimes I like to place watercolor randomly on a glass table or piece of glass and then lay the wet paper into the paint to create a soft mono print. The other way is to mix up a color such as "neutral tint" and use a mop brush to lay in some color randomly on the wet color without covering the entire sheet. Lay the color down and be done. (Not more than (2) passes of the brush in any other.)

Let this layer dry somewhat and then use a more concentrated amount of color, make some gestural strokes or words with a small pointed brush as well as some erratic lines. Also create the same marks with a bamboo pen into the wet paint. Go away and let these layers dry completely or at least until the water and pigment have stopped moving. At that time, you can finish drying with a hair dryer.

Some criss cross bands of other colors can then be laid at a time...and drying in between. Last, but not least create some marks with a stick or pen dipped into FW Ink as well as some erratic lines going from edge to edge.

You can then finish the piece with some lettering or leave as is. It's just one way to create a contemporary look with shapes, lines, and color. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"The Details"

(unavailable....4" x 6"....Watercolor on Fabriano 300 lb. CP...mounted on masonite)

"Make sure God is in the details." We have all heard the phrase...."The devil's in the details." I would rather look at the quote from a different perspective.

This posting is a cropped section from a watercolor that didn't work out. I brought it to life by using white bleedproof white gouache to "echo" some of the design elements already existing in the piece. By doing that, I was able to write in white to unify the piece. It is another "give away" for the upcoming Opening Reception.

I have been teased relentlessly for the quote I have used on many occasions...especially when anyone asked me what colors to use. My standard reply is that...."black and white plus one or two other colors works every time it's tried." So when you have a crop like the one I chose today and there is already black and color on the piece, the introduction of white will give the entire piece a much needed "value lift". A very good thing to know and do.

Sometimes, beginning artists may not know where to place additional color and this piece is a very good lesson. I already had an image from the first layer of a bottle that was placed in masking fluid and stamped on the paper. It gave the perfect spot to place a stamped image of the same bottle dipped into bleedproof white gouache. (WN brand) The reason I always say bleedproof white rather than other kinds of white is because bleedproof white (comes in a jar) has more covering power. The white dot happened quite spontaneously so I just left it there. The addition of some more erratic lines and the lettering completes the echo effect.

So the "take away" for today is to pay attention to the design elements that are already there rather than introducing different ones. It creates a more integrated and unified effect. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Give Thanks"

(unavailable....4" x 6".....on Fabriano 140lb. CP....mounted on masonite)

"Give thanks in all things." (I Thessalonians 5: 18) This is one of many 4" x 6" pieces I have been creating for an upcoming exhibit called "Poetic Collections". Save the date for October 4th. That date marks the Opening Reception. Check out the website for complete information. (

This particular size is a good one for creating small works and test driving any new techniques you are interested in before committing to a larger work. Today's piece is actually a cropped portion of a larger work that was not totally successful. It is a watercolor created on Fabriano 140lb. CP. It will now be mounted on masonite.

The idea of creating artwork on a daily basis is a stepping stone to improving skill level and then having the fortitude to try larger things. In fact, today's article from Artist's Daily is all about the idea of creating a page each day in an art journal. The following link will give you the complete article which is quite inspirational. ( You can actually sign up to receive this everyday if you're interested. A range of topics are covered and books are offered at a reasonable price.

I can attest to the fact that daily blogging has taken me to new places in my art journey. My friend Sue, also began blogging at app. the same time and she has a similar story about her work. Check out her blog at (

However, if blogging is a bit too intimidating, an art journal is definitely a more "user friendly" way of creating your work on a daily basis. Whatever you decide, it is absolutely true that repetitive practice elevates skill level. The water is warm so jump right in! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Notice" (final)

($125.00.......6" x 12".....Watercolor on 300 lb. Fabriano CP....Mounted on a 2" depth cradled board)

"Noticing, naming, and writing things down makes them visible to the heart." The piece is now finished, but there will probably be more quotes and pieces inspired by One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She documents her grateful observations by writing them down and also with a digital camera.

And I will document mine with pieces of art. The idea of painting small observations from our created world in the context of abstraction really appeals to me. Of course, the problem is.....everything seems to appeal to me! It is quite the dilemma, but I am muddling my way through and making every effort to observe and notate that which inspires me more than all of the others. Alas, there are only so many hours in the day and one cannot do everything on this side of eternity.

There really isn't a whole lot to add to what I've already said about the techniques used to create this piece. The lettering is the only new addition, so I will say something about that. Values are important, even when lettering. After preparing this surface for lettering since it had (3) layers of spray acrylic coating, I wrote the quote with a Leonardt Principal nib and Bleeedproof White (WN brand). For the byline and my signature, I added just a bit of black gouache to the white to make a gray. This keeps the viewer focused on the actual quote rather than an extreme white byline and signature.

Too often, artists write their signature in such a contrasting value that it becomes a distraction. It all goes back to hierarchy of script. The most important things should be the most visible in size and value. From there on, any additional writing needs to drop down in size and value. It's just a good tip for all artists, even if you don't do lettering. Most artists have a signature on their work. That signature cannot be the first thing that the viewer notices. Otherwise, the focus of the visual communication has been compromised.

Just as a recap....the key components of this piece include a combination of different shapes and sizes...a full range of values...a full range of edges and erratic lines...transparency and opacity. That hits all of my favorite things. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Notice" (draft 2)

(draft 2)

Since I explained the quote in the first draft, I will not repeat it again today. The final will be posted tomorrow with the quote written in white to the left of the feather. The values are the biggest change since yesterday.

It is a temptation in watercolor to keep the values on the light side and have that extreme "watercolor" look as in the first posting. However, it is the range of values that brings a piece together. If everything is too much at one end of the gray scale, then the piece falls short of having balanced visual weight. It was a bit scary, but I did (4) separate glazes over the darkest area in this piece...losing one edge with a brush dipped in water.

You can clearly see today that the masking fluid used in the second layer never gets completely lost, even under the darkest areas. In fact, those areas can look luminous after they're glazed with a dark tint. The only area that remained virtually untouched with the exception of one and then another partial glaze is the shape to the right of the feather.

In looking back at some of my earliest work in the first year of blogging, I realized that I habitually like to create shapes using a "plaid" pattern approach. By using different sized brushes and creating bands of color from edge to edge in both directions, many shapes are created...with a range of rectangular shapes.

And this is what it is interesting about every artist. Each one has their own habitual marks that seem to crop up in any style or medium. It might be a fun exercise to look at all of your work together and see what habitual marks keep showing up. It definitely will give you an insight into your own personal voice. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Notice" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

"Noticing, naming, and writing things down makes them visible in our heart." This quote is a paraphrase from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This is a book that will create a paradigm shift in your life. It is all about noticing and naming the everyday things in life as an act of gratitude.

This is the second piece created in watercolor and inspired by kiln formed glass. When transparent glass is layered and then fired...a very rich surface is created. It can be all transparent or a combination of transparency and opacity.

Transparent watercolor is another way to achieve a similar look. For all of my glass fusing is also a way to practice before committing your design to glass. (And a lot cheaper!) This piece began with a monoprint on damp paper. This was allowed to dry naturally so the color could do its thing.

The next step was to lay down some masking fluid. The erratic lines and lettering were created by decanting the masking fluid into a small bottle with a tip. However, the little metal tips that come with those bottles is much too small for the masking fluid to come out of so it is best to just use the bottle without the tip. The quality of the line can be controlled by the speed at which it is applied. After drying the masking fluid with a hair dryer, I applied two glazes...drying in between.

The next part requires more serious thought. I will need to decide how much glazing needs to be done...decide whether to add more words and lines with black ink and a pen...and then decide where to place the actual lettering of the quote. And there you have it...must a few more things to think about.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Essential Ingredients" (final)

($420.00.....cropped portion of ...18" x 24".......Mixed Media on Canvas with a 2"00 depth)

"Essential ingredients create growth." The key word in this quote is "essential". There are essential steps or ingredients that must be present to have growth. This was a piece created for the 30th Anniversary of Capital City Scribes. This organization has definitely been an essential ingredient for my growth in the lettering arts.

I don't often create a piece with quite this much texture, but this particular design element was my passion for this piece. What you saw in the previous posting was burlap fabric primed with gesso. It's hard to capture the richness of the texture in a photo or the richness of the color. My inspiration was a picture of an interior room with a view of the forest outside. The colors in the piece represent most of the color notes in the photograph.

One of the problems of creating a piece with horizontal (or vertical) bands is the straight and hard edges. For that reason, I took the bands of color that have "splotches" of paint outside and sanded between layers and ended up slinging paint onto these strips and adding water to some of the edges to give some vertical and erratic lines with some diffused edges. The dark green in the burlap carried over into this slinging process also creates an "echo" of that color.

Even though I like vertical and horizontal bands, I am now ready to do a piece where the fabric is placed very randomly and without a precise shape or pattern. By the time I finished this piece, I was feeling a bit confined. Never the less, I am glad I followed my vision because it will definitely inform the next piece I create with fabric collage on canvas.

The last element added was the kiln formed glass elements in the openings of the burlap. It does add a lot of reflective quality to the piece and I am glad I tried it, but today, my inner creative voice is screaming for asymmetrical. And so shall it the very next piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Essential Ingredients" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

This is the beginning of a highly textured piece. Today's draft is only one part of a horizontal band of fibers adhered to canvas. The entire piece is created with bands of texture and color. The white you see today ends up becoming a very dark green with the bright green showing through.

The particular fiber you see today is a very loose weave of burlap with some of the threads removed and coated with gesso on both sides. A format of horizontal bands is an excellent way to showcase color and texture. It is best, of course, to have the bands in different widths and different textures and colors. This automatically opens the door to alternating the bands.

In addition to three different bands of this particular fiber, I am also including duck cloth which has also been coated with gesso on both sides. It is risky to add fiber to a canvas without it first being washed and dried or coated with gesso first. Adhering it before taking these steps can leave some puckering. This is unlikely to happen on a cradled board, but I have not tried that, but other artists have with success.

Basically, anything can be gessoed and adhered to a support to create texture. It is probably a good idea to keep the main thing, the main thing rather than adhering anything and everything in a haphazard fashion. Another option is to adhere fibers on select areas of the canvas to create some texture with a majority of the design space left free of too much detail. It's all a process. Look at rugs and quilt designs for inspiration images.

Going in this direction clearly places the artist in the "colorist" camp which can be a great place to land since color is the most emotional of the design elements. I believe texture is a close second. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Mark Making" (1)

Today's posting is a "take off" on a workshop I recently taught. So many times, it is hard to remember or to come up with ways of texturizing and layering in a piece of artwork. This is one way of organizing your "mark making" techniques as a ready reference while working on your work.

What you are viewing today is (4) samples of mark making on different papers with a hole punched in the upper left hand corner. These notes can then be added to a very large binder ring (available at office supplies) to create a compact and easy reference. They can be stored on a decorative hook in your studio or laid in a basket or bowl. They actually add an artistic flavor to your space.

The data on each of the cards needs to have some key information. The most important info. is the name and description of the paper since different mediums and tools can react differently. The next bit of information is the steps used in making the mark(s) and other descriptive details like....wet or dry paper....diluted or undiluted medium...whether the tool was dipped into the medium...."sloshed" on...etc.

Since all visual arts have a vocabulary, it is good to have notations about your own personal marks so that you can build on your vocabulary. There is a point when three word sentences don't adequately describe what you want to say. This is a good way to increase your sentence structure visually and eventually expand your note taking to describe moods and textures represented. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Gratitude" (final)

($300.00......11" x 14".....Watercolor on Fabriano 300 lb. CP.....presented on a 2" depth cradled board)

"Seeing and noticing are the heartbeat of a thankful heart. Writing it down makes it visible." (paraphrase from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp) It's done at last....unless something else comes to mind during the day. You never know. Thanks for hanging in there through the process on this one.

Any artist trying to juggle lettering and fine art and integrating them into one piece has some difficult decisions. For a long time now, I have opted to have my artwork look like a fine art piece from across the room. And the viewer then has the option of coming closer and reading the text, but that would not be absolutely necessary. It could also work the other way around. The lettering could be read from a distance and the background art taking a supporting role. It has been an interesting process and one which leads to endless variations on the theme.

Another point to consider is the color of the text. If I had chosen black text and painted a black feather on the piece, it would have looked completely different. However, I like the ethereal quality of white so that was my first choice. I also chose Spencerian Script because it has a "quieting" effect on dynamic backgrounds. It also has a poetic feel and much of my work trends in that direction.

The piece will now be sprayed with varnish (3x) and then varnish will be brushed on (3x). This varnish (Golden Acrylic Spray Varnish with UV filters) will ensure that the piece can be mounted on a 2" depth cradled board and be impervious to touching or spills.

My next move is to use similar techniques with more vibrant color and see how it goes. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Gratitude" (draft 3)

(draft 3)

Almost there. The lettering with the quote and final will be posted tomorrow. Layering takes time and it is good to have time to "mull" things over before continuing to the next step.

You may notice that some of the colors are brighter today. That is because I glazed over them one more time after cropping the piece. However, you can still see the luminosity and the sparkle created by masking out some of the erratic lines and lettering before applying any washes. (One...not more than twice over with the glazing.)

The feather took a great deal of time in order to achieve the opacity and different shadings within the feather itself. The spine of the feather is also the same as painting any bone or antler image. It may look white, but it is not. Neutral Tint, Quinacridone Gold (Sennelier) and Bleedproof White Gouache were the colors used to create this feather. It also helped to have a liner brush which helps to lay in the numerous layers required to achieve opacity and depth. So I went back and forth between these colors to create subtlety.

Today, I will study the feather and see if there is anything else that needs to be done. This is the part of the process where the tough questions need to be asked. Is the image convincing? Or does it look contrived? It takes time and space to ascertain these things. I am not yet convinced of the feather, so it will probably receive some additional work after I have been away from it for a few hours. This would be a good time to begin another piece and allow the preliminary washes to dry.

What I am satisfied with is the layered glass look which was my inspiration in the first place. The whites and softly diffused lines from the very first layers are still giving that glass look that I am also working with for another piece.

Even in very representational work, the imagery that is in the distance is not as well defined as the imagery that is in the foreground. So the "take away" from today is to stop working at intervals and take a break when the final details are being decided. The very free "stuff" can be done very intuitively and quickly, but then there is a time to go slow in order to decide the final steps and not to go beyond the finish line.

Going too far is just as bad as not going far enough. And frankly, I've done my fair share of going too far. It's time to slow down. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Gratitude" (draft 2)

(draft 2)

This second draft has three more layers. Two of them are watercolor glazes and one is lettering with a pointed pen and FW Ink.

Before adding the glazes, I laid in some more erratic lines and a few words with masking fluid. You can now see how these additional layers push the first layers way back into the background to create depth.

Even though this is a contemporary watercolor piece, there are still identifiable shapes and a lot of expressive writing and erratic line work. The next step will be the introduction of a focal point by painting in the identifiable shape of a feather followed by the quote.

This type of work requires transparency and the inclusion of many different lines and edges plus the writing. These three elements give the illusion of glass and depth. And even if you're not a lettering artist, creative stamping into wet washes followed by a more identifiable stamping in the following layers will achieve a great deal of imagery.

If using a commercial stamp, try sloshing on some FW Ink and stamping that image several times. You will see only portions of the stamp which will give it a more ethereal and mysterious look. For fine art, it is best not to use a commercial stamp and stamp the entire image. It will look contrived. And if you use Speedball Printing Ink in the final stamping, you can blot portions of the image completely away with a damp paper towel.

There are really so many options with layering. Even though there are numerous techniques, it is best to use a limited palette of techniques and then leave the others for some other piece. It is incredibly easy to get into the "weeds".   And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Gratitude" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

This is the beginning of what I hope will be a very exciting and gestural piece. There will eventually be a white feather in the piece....or not. That will depend on what happens in the next layers.

My inspiration, mood, and look for this piece is definitely being informed from my kiln formed glass work. Transparent watercolor is the perfect medium for emulating layers of transparent glass fused in a three layer stack.

Opaque glass will eventually become a part of my watercolor voice as well. I will be able to create that by painting a rather dark value over a portion of the piece first, followed by thin glazes.

In this first draft, I began with a half sheet of Fabriano 300 lb. CP. By pouring some masking fluid in a small bottle with a tip, I was able to write the word gratitude twice and create a few erratic lines and "splotches".

After that layer dried, I wet the sheet of paper on both sides with a sponge and some water. I then mixed up a rather saturated amount of Neutral Tint (Daniel Smith Brand). After removing the excess water with a dry brush, I charged in the neutral tint. This was followed by inscribing lines into the paper with a bamboo pen. As the paper began to dry a bit, I used a more concentrated amount of the neutral tint and created more line work and a few words written with a pointed brush.

Finally, I ended this part by charging in a bit darker neutral tint in the central area where most of the lines cross. "Charging in" with more color can be risky when the paper is already losing its sheen because it could create a bloom. Sometimes that is preferred. In this case, I did get a small bloom which creates a hard and ragged edge. I like the texture of it, so for me, it was a preferred thing.

What I am attempting to do here is create the same depth as I can achieve in glass work. By having soft and diffused edges in the background and even some of the white showing through is also easily achieved in glass by beginning with clear glass...sifting powders on and spraying with water to get a watercolor effect and soft edges. On another piece of glass...powders can be sifted on and then removed by writing gesturally with a shaper tool or corner of a credit card. When these are fired separately and then stacked, they can create a similar look to what I just did in watercolor. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Experimental Watercolor"

Today's posting is simply an experimental piece that may get finished....or not. This was created as a demo piece in a mark making class I taught yesterday. Lots of marks were made and the atmosphere was "electric"!

We worked on several types of papers because papers receive the medium differently from each other. The paper used for today's piece was Rives BFK. It is a print making paper and a bit softer than other papers used for watercolor.

Because of its ability to receive impressions, it is a natural choice for inscribing into the paper and paint while it is wet. And you can clearly see those marks in the background. They can often look like pencil marks, but the inscribed erratic lines that are a bit diffused were written with a bamboo pen into wet watercolor. That first color is a neutral tint.

After leaving this first layer completely alone until it was dry (no hair dryer)...I added some darker erratic lines and gestural marks with a pointed pen and FW Ink. This particular ink is a good choice for this application because it is acrylic and will not bleed when a watercolor wash is brushed over. These lines can be dried with a hair dryer and then shapes of color can be applied with a broad watercolor brush on dry paper.

It is good to leave some of the paper white and not to make more than two passes with the water color in the same area. (Over brushing is the death of this technique.) If you choose to use two colors...dry the first layer of color before applying the second color. It might be fun to see how these very same techniques work on Arches 140 lb. HP or Fabriano 140 lb. CP. These papers are thin enough to ripple when wet, so if working too may want to consider taping your paper to a masonite board with watercolor tape.

This whole process reminds me of layered glass, so I am deeply interested. It's definitely worth a try. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.