Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Bienvenidos (draft 2)

Things have calmed down since yesterday with a few less stripes and dominant color. A line of "scripty" lettering will take the eye right to the fiber. I am also planning to change the title to "Bienvenidos". The quote will be on the piece by tomorrow.

As you can see, I added another piece of fiber and painted out a few stripes with black gesso followed by black fluid acrylic. It is important to paint over the black gesso with acrylic to have the high gloss contrasting with the fiber.

The existing stripes were taped off with painter's tape and painted with two coats of fluid acrylic. When that dried thoroughly, I hand sanded (with very rough sand paper) those stripes to reveal some of the texture from the first layer that was inscribed into the Super Heavy Gesso. This particular gesso is a Liquitex product. It is expensive, but I found some at Hobby Lobby. I like the feel, the texture, and the way it receives the paint. It is also very sandable without the "rubbery" texture of some texture mediums.

The fiber has yet to be adhered until I finish the lettering. I will be preparing the surface the same way I do for paper by brushing on (2 parts water) to (1 part gel matte medium). And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Bienvenidos" (draft 1)

Today's posting is in a very rough state, but I thought it would be good to show it anyway and see how I resolve some of the chaos. I also plan to have a one line Texas quote harkening back to my roots.

I began with Super Heavy Gesso which I applied last night so it would be dry by morning. It was texturized by placing a strip of a mesh grid into the gesso and then lifting it out. After that, I wrote into the gesso with a bamboo pen really fast and not caring whether it was readable. It is simply there for texture. (It is important to apply the gesso with a palette knife as thin as possible to do this type of texturing.)

The small stripes might be gone by tomorrow or at least two rows at top and bottom close to the fiber. I would like to keep a few rows because of the texture created by the writing. And if you like that effect, it is important to paint the dried gesso with black gesso. After it dries, use fluid acrylic, but with very little paint on the brush and held at a low angle so that the paint skims over the sgraffito type lettering.

There will also be a bit more sanding after the paint dries on the fiber piece. This is an important piece because I am using this technique on my 30" x 40" canvas. I already know that I will need to have a hugh contrast of size between the bands of color based on what I've done so far. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


($60.00.....6" x 6"......Mixed Media on a 2" Depth Cradled Board)

This piece may or may not have a quote. It is acrylic paint so I could take that option tomorrow.....but probably not. Sometimes words are not needed. After taking a walk this morning and noticing a lot of underbrush around the fence line, I decided to come back to the studio and do a small abstract. Unbeknown to my conscious mind, the piece which was created very intuitively, ended up looking like the tangled "stuff" that was very impassable....just a different color. The solid yellow green that has no texture is a direct contrast to the underbrush. In case you want to go deeper in your thinking, this piece also represents the way our thoughts get tangled until we walk into a clearing where there is nothing to obstruct our path. Just chalk this soliloquy up to the meanderings of my mind today.

I began this piece by brushing on some gel matte medium over a 6" x 6" cradled gessobord, followed by the laying down of silver leaf. After I brayered over the leaf and dried it with a hair dryer, I mixed up my paint. Because it is acrylic I liberally added some retarder to the paint with a palette knife to have an open window of time before the paint dried.

After doing my first pass with all three colors of paint, I decided to start over, so swiped through the entire arrangement, knowing I wanted the yellow green to touch four sides of the design space to create a cruciform format. So I laid down the dark green first, follow by the yellow green and white. (only one pass of the knife with that untextured color.)    I then started laying in some line work with a bamboo pen to reveal the silver...swiping it out a few times before I was satisfied.

What is interesting is that I changed the orientation of the piece which revealed what looked like an open wire fence and the brush behind. It proves that we often end up with a piece that directly reflects what we are grappling with internally. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Su Camino" (final)

($180.00......12" x 12"....Mixed Media on Stretched Canvas)

"Wait for the Lord and keep his way." (Psalm 37: 34 NIV) The Spanish Gothic and Spencerian Script combination remind me of lettering on signage and labels in Mexico. This is also one of my favorite chapters from the Psalms.

The only thing left to do now is spray the fiber piece with acrylic coating (3x) followed by (3) coats of spray varnish and then (2) coats of brush on varnish. All of this requires drying time, but I have plenty to do since I just created the same background texture on a 30" x 40" canvas. However, it will be a different color.

One of the looks I particularly like is the high gloss of acrylic paint that has also been textured like the background of this piece. It has the look of rusty metal. So sandpaper and sanders are definitely a part of my studio equipment.

If you like this background, all you need for experimentation is a canvas or clayboard.... heavy gesso or molding paste that has been texturized...some black gesso....fluid acrylic...and sandpaper. Finish it off with acrylic coating and varnish and you will have a metal look.

The only other thing that might be noteworthy is the fact that there are actual holes in the fiber as well as some of the background color which create total integration between the background and fiber. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Su Camino" (draft 1)

"Espera en Jehova, y guarda su camino." This verse from Psalm 37: 34 is translated...."Wait for the Lord and keep his way." It is a short verse packed with two specific commands that give guidance in all kinds of circumstances.

This piece is a continuation of a new path I am taking with acrylics and fiber on canvas. If you look closely, you can see texture and writing in the background.

The background was created with Super Heavy Gesso (Liquitex) on a 12" x 12" stretch canvas. I used a strip of grid like mesh used in taping and bedding a wall by laying it in rows on top of the wet gesso and picking it up with a palette knife. This was repeated until the whole piece had this texture. I then used a bamboo pen to write my text in Spanish at the top and bottom.

After all was completely dry (overnight), I primed it with black gesso...allowed that to dry....and then mixed up the yellow orange color from Fluid Acrylics. This mixture was applied with a sponge brush in two applications...drying in between.

After the last coat of paint was thoroughly dry, I lightly sanded it to reveal some of the black and white gesso underneath and cause the texture to be more visible. While all of that was going on, I was also painting black gesso on my fiber followed by sanding, painting, sanding, painting, etc. until the texture you see today was achieved.

It has not been adhered to the support because I like to write on a flat, hard surface rather than fighting with a canvas. Of course, lettering will make all the difference in the world and I will be posting that tomorrow. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Bird of Paradise"

($60.00......6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on a 2" Depth Cradled Board)

Leftover paint is put to good use by creating small abstracts. It offers more practice with how to lay down paint with gestural marks, doing some writing with a bamboo pen, and then deconstructing part of the lettering by swiping through it.

So as you might guess, this piece was created with leftover paint from "Autumn Red". It has the colors of a "Bird of Paradise" without the bird. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am beginning work on a 30" x 40" canvas.....a 12" x 12" canvas....and finishing up a 24" x 30" canvas. I will be showing the process on the 12 x 12 beginning tomorrow, and cropped areas of the larger ones will come in November.

Those of you who are lettering artists know that the process always slows down when you get to the lettering. And that's the case with the 24 x 30. To make the best use of my time, I have decided to begin the other two pieces so that the heavy gesso and fluid acrylic paint can be drying while I letter. Trying to dry these types of applications with a hair dryer is like watching water boil. It drives me crazy!

Some of the other recent decisions I've made are to eliminate quotes on all of the abstracts created with a palette knife. But I'm stepping up the lettering quite a bit on all of the canvas pieces. There will be 2" versals, gestural writing, and script on all of these with some of the lettering readable from across the room. It's all very exciting and I will share bits and pieces of those works as I go along.

Another good bit of process information is to have smaller canvases and gessobords on hand for prototypes for the larger ones. Working on a range of sizes stretches the creative process and gives yourself more versatility as an artist. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Autumn Red" (final)

($400.00....12" x 18"....Water Soluble Oils on a Flat Gessobord...Presented in a Custom Frame from Balcones Frame)

The end of a painting is always a bag of mixed feelings...especially when there is an inspiration photo to compare side by side with the painting. Because of the abstract and painterly effect of palette knife painting, it is best to withhold judgement and simply place it on a easel in the studio and leave it there for a few days.

The emotional appeal of these types of paintings has nothing to do with exact representation, but has more to do with the amount of paint and the "gestural" quality of the strokes. At the end, I did leave my image on the full screen of the computer and made a side by side comparison. There is no question that the painting was inspired by the reference photo, but there are also some obvious differences.

So I guess my advice is to make sure the color notes and shapes are reasonably correct and then enjoy the movement and direction of the palette knife strokes. The absolute beauty of this type of painting is the way the light hits the painting which is due to the extreme texture and movement of the strokes.

Because I am using so much paint, I use coupons "ad nauseam" and every time I am near a Hobby Lobby or a Michaels...I buy paint. Winsor Newton Water Soluble Oils are still my favorite because they are a thicker viscosity than other brands of regular oils. It is also quite nice not to deal with Gamsol or any other type of mineral spirits.

So I now feel as though I am getting my "sea legs" to speak and encourage anyone to at least give it a try. It's very addicting and you might just find a new way to communicate visually. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Autumn Red" (draft 2)

This might be laborious for some of you, but I do have a few palette knife compadres out there and we are all curious about how each other creates our work. There is still a lot to do, but it has dramatically changed since yesterday.

The biggest problem in showing a painting in progress like the outcome. If I don't like it, it will be another "wash" and I will start over again. I do want to keep these experimental pieces rather than scraping them off because it informs all of my future work. But so far, I am not throwing in the towel yet. And those who know me well....know that I am one determined "little 'cus"!

The only thing to say about today's work is that I am continuing to mix color and lay down paint. The touch does become very important since too much pressure on the knife will disturb what's underneath. So "one swipe" in one area is it!

Seeing it on a computer screen tells me I need some more very dark areas, so that will come tomorrow. Now I am out the door to do some photography and enjoy the beautiful weather. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Autumn Red" (draft 1)

Today's posting is the first draft of an oil. (12" x 18") It shows the stroke direction and values created with the palette knife. This is representative of app. (2hrs) worth of work. Most of the time was spent mixing paint. It will eventually look like autumn in the Texas Hill Country.

Selecting an image to spend a lot of time with is very important. If there is a lukewarm response to the inspiration photo, the process will become very laborious....very fast. So the first thing I endeavor to do when out with my camera is to find shots that show a great deal of contrast and contain colors and texture that resonate deep within me.

And the fall is a very good time to go out with a camera and look for those shots that will inspire you back in the studio. The particular photo I am referencing for this piece was taken last fall on Cow Creek Trail. (Only in Texas do we have such fabulous names for back country roads!) I have almost exhausted my supply of photos, so I am ready to go out and do it again.

Since I am already familiar with the palette knife, I am now trying to be more creative with the palette knife strokes by using different sizes and changing directions slightly with each stroke. Because the paint is thick, it will reflect the light better with this approach.

This type of painting is not for the impatient person. It does take practice and confidence to lay down those strokes of paint in such a way that it communicates a semblance of the landscape.  Deciding on what values get laid down first is the hardest part.  It's almost like a chess game....calculating the next move.

I must love it because I keep doing it! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Corazon" (final)

($60.00......6" x 6".....Mixed Media on 2" Depth Cradled Board)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4: 23...NIV) One of the key words in this piece is "wellspring". A wellspring is a source or supply of anything, especially when considered inexhaustible. So whatever is flowing in our hearts (the seat of our thinking and emotions) is very important and charts the course of our lives.

So as far as the look and mood of the piece, I feel satisfied that I accomplished what I set out to do. My desire was to have an extreme contrast between textures which also results in a contrast of new vs. old. By using Fluid Acrylics (3 layers over black gesso), I was able to achieve a high gloss and very smooth color application to the background. It comes across as very contemporary and gives me the vehicle for going into my colorist voice.

The deconstruction of the fiber by painting, sanding, painting, sanding, etc. until it is aged to perfection (to the point of making holes in the fiber) goes to the heart of my artistic voice. That's why antique stores hold such a hugh appeal and this is an aging technique that is worth its weight in gold. You can see the red background peeking through the holes and stray threads veering off from the edges.

To set up a sanding station, I laid the fiber on a large section of MDF board. The fiber is much easier to sand after some paint has been applied to make it stiff. You then must hold the fiber with your left hand by spreading out your hand and sanding in the "taunt" area and this is especially true when going close to the edge. It also helps to have a variable speed palm sander and use medium to course grit sand paper. It takes a lot of grit to deconstruct fibers.

After all of the sanding was done, I turned the piece over and painted with black fluid acrylic and that's why you see the holes and threadbare areas a dark black. It also seeped to the edges in some places.

All in all, it is a very creative alliance with high gloss and dull, threadbare, and aged fiber. This piece is on a cradled board, but the large works are on canvas which gives a range of other options such as stitching the fiber on with several strands of embroidery thread followed by gesso and paint. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"South Texas Vibe" (first draft)

I haven't written the quote yet, but it will probably be spiritual in nature and I am thinking 1st century versals in black on the fiber piece. This posting is a small microcosm of what is happening in my studio on a much larger scale on canvas.

The inspiration comes straight from South Texas and the Hispanic culture. Call me a "valley girl".....or at least from the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas. The tropical climate, along with the Hispanic culture is feeding right into my art journey. It doesn't take long after living there, to realize that the Hispanics do love bright color and also striped sarapes, rugs, and bright and colorful pottery.

My direction for the large scale works is to show the extreme contrast between the aged fiber art, peeling paint on pots, walls, and fragments from tiles......and the bright and shiny colors that are interspersed among all of this. It is completely natural for me to go in this direction and now I am embracing it with all my heart.

The techniques involved in aging something, whether it's fiber or paper is effectively done with a sander. (variable speed is useful) So you can see that there is a huge contrast between texture, color intensity, and erratic edges vs. smooth edges. And the larger the piece, the more these contrasts create a dramatic effect.

So I'm having great fun in this return to my past and the nostalgia of all that is in South Texas. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Running Through" (final)

(unavailable.....12" x 18".....Water Soluble Oils on a 2" depth Cradled Gessobord)

First attempts at something are always difficult before they are easy. I did take a few liberties with this piece so that the stream flowing through the rock will be more convincing. For that reason I am not posting the photo, but eventually I will in a future piece.

The hugh "take away" from this piece are all of the lessons learned by simply laying the paint down. And that's what it takes to master something. It is a matter of learning something with each piece and making the observed corrections in the next one.

It has been my personal experience that it is better to move forward and finish the piece rather than scraping off the paint repeatedly. It is good to then use the piece as a reference and appreciate the progress made in the next one. Many of these type of pieces will need to be painted before I feel truly comfortable exhibiting it, but I will switch to flat panels to cut down the cost and then when something turns out really well, I can present it in a frame.

It is a misconception that everything created needs to be exhibited. I have fallen into that trap and am now determined to chalk those pieces off as learning experiences and keep practicing. The reasons for considering every piece as an exhibit submission are very real and often hard to overcome. Materials are expensive and there is always a tendency to want to redo endlessly until the life is literally sucked out of the piece.

However, some of the top oil painters in the country will say that an artist needs to do at least (100) smaller works just to get the hang of things. And even though I've created much more than a (100), there is still a learning curve going from small to large.

So why am I "rambling" on about this today? Because it helps me sort out my own process and hopefully helps other artists to realize that not all pieces need to be hung or sold. Those discarded pieces are memorials of "new beginnings". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Running Through" (draft 1)

(12" x 18"......Water Soluble Oils on a 2" depth Cradled Gessobord....first draft)

This is the first draft of a 12" x 18" oil painting of a scene at Bull Creek here in Austin. It's good to see it at this stage for those of you who are on a "palette knife journey" because it is easy to give up at this stage and assume that all is lost. The good news is that you simply need to keep laying in the colors until you're finished. It's a "faith" lesson.

My thought process in all of these abstract landscapes is to think backwards. In other words, I laid down a very dark brown/gray color over the entire piece first. That enables me to scrape back to that dark color when forming boulders and rocks.

The next step is to decide what shapes and colors should go down next. For me that means to study the photo (or real time image outside) and think about it in layers. In other words, the trees cannot be laid in before the ground and everything behind the trees. So by thinking backwards, it's fairly easy to know the next step.

And of course, there is a lot of color mixing going on and the larger the painting, the more space is needed to mix those colors. I now have an 18" x 24" palette which works beautifully.

If all goes well, I will post the inspiration photo with the final piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Palm Branch"

($60.00.....6" x 6".......Water Soluble Oils on 2" depth Cradled Board)

There is no quote on this piece, but the word palm is written and then deconstructed by covering up part of the word. The lettering in these type of pieces is intended to create movement and a variation of line. This is an abstract of a palm branch describing its movement and color.

I was careful to use at least three values of green and three values of the tan to give the piece some depth. So this is something that still must be considered even in an abstract piece. The piece was created very much like yesterday's posting by mixing the colors and placing them on the support in varying amounts.

The greens are taking up a greater percentage of space. The dominance of one color in a abstract will calm the somewhat chaotic nature of abstraction. Dominance of any of the design elements always brings more harmony to a piece of artwork. This is very important to remember so that you know exactly what to do in order to calm a piece down when there are too many competing elements. This is an important design principle in all mediums.

It is also important to keep the shapes in mind. I intentionally added more yellow green going from the center down to the right hand corner and connecting with the other yellow green that goes off at the top. And anytime a shape can touch three sides of the design space is a good thing.

Rhythm was created by using the same directional strokes and bringing in a slight diagonal vertically and horizontally. The gestural lettering creates some more rounded lines. And by virtue of the tool itself (palette knife), some edges are sharp and some are blended into the neighboring color.

So abstraction in general is all about design. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


($60.00......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on a 2" Depth Cradled Gesso Board)

Today began with a warm up with palette knife and oil paint. Hopefully, I will have the larger one over the finish line very soon. The inspiration for this image came from a color magazine of interior rooms. No quote.

For those who like to have fun with your palette knife, this approach is a good warm up and an excellent way to practice mixing colors from a limited palette. Of course, the palette is set up with a warm and cool of each primary plus white. That makes (7) colors on the palette. At least one of each of the three primaries plus white created the tan color. The mint green was created with Pthalo Blue (just a touch), lemon yellow, a touch of cad red light (to gray it down) and then lots of white.

Having a thorough knowledge of the color wheel and all of the direct complementary colors is essential to changing the intensity of any of the primary colors. Beginning with a small abstract such as this keeps it simple enough to focus on just (2 or 3) colors at a time rather than the full range of values typical in a still life, landscape, or figurative work.

So my double palette consists of lemon yellow, cad. yellow med, alizarin crimson, cad red med, ultramarine blue, pthalo blue, and titanium white. From this you can mix all of the other colors in all their tints and shades. I am writing about this again only because I know that some of you who follow my blog are still struggling with color. The reason I know that is because you've told me. And to quote another teacher who had a profound affect on me...."Always go back to the basics."

It's quite like a professional golfer who changed swing coaches to improve his game. The new coach started out the instruction with...."This is a golf club." And he had already won a lot of titles! So never feel bad about reviewing the basics to improve as an artist. It's the smart thing to do.

The technique I used on this small abstract was to cover the entire space with the tan color. The bottom layer was darker than what you see on top. I then swiped on a few strokes of the mint green, white, and a small bit of orange. The next step was to take a knife and make several gestural movements which mixed all of the colors a bit. I didn't like that so I kept going over it with my palette knife and then applied the mint green and white alternately with a single aggressive stroke. The word "aggressive" is important because the movement of that stroke is what gives the piece energy.  And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Gray Feather" (final)

($125.00......6" x 12".....Watercolor on Fabriano 300 lb. CP.....Mounted on a 2" Cradled Board)

"I wrote it down and my heart was healed." This quote succinctly describes what happened after our ten year old son was killed. Sometimes the only way to process something that painful is to write down the wound along with the scripture. It is often the only way that healing comes.

This piece is actually the same color range of an earlier one having to do with noticing, naming, and writing things down. I now have a desire to do a third one to make a collection. Working in a series is an excellent way to look at a similar topic or image and create it with a variation. It is much like a melodic line in music that is repeated with embellishment as in a Mozart Sonata.

For those who don't know my background, my degree is in Music Education and so the idea of comparing the two disciplines has always been fascinating to me. The parallels between music and art are stunning!

Since the first draft of this piece, the values have changed in the feather. The background mono print is darker than the first draft because of the photography. Today's image looks exactly like the original and the grays are the big attraction.

In the between doing small works like this...I have begun some larger works. It is quite a challenge to do all of this simultaneously, but I'm always up for a big challenge. I have decided to do some palette knife oil paintings with no lettering just to focus my attention completely on the technique and colors of the Texas Hill Country.

So my encouragement today is to try working in a series and see what happens. The landscape will soon be changing dramatically and offer up some opportunities to really go neutral. And that really excites me! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Gray Feather" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

Unfortunately, I did not have time to finish this piece this morning. I do love all of the gray with a very complimentary gray feather. It was one of those treasures just lying on the ground.

The background of this piece was a perfect set up for my gray feather....and it was very easy to do. I began with a small piece of Fabriano 300 lb. CP paper. I then created two mono on top of the other.

A mono print of this type is best created on a glass surface. By mixing up some watercolor and water and sloshing it around on the glass with a brush, the dry paper is then pressed into the paint. When pulled off, you have a mono print that is totally spontaneous. If you like the dark spots in the piece, I left more saturated color in several areas on the glass. After this first print was partially dry, I mixed more color and did a second print. This created a couple of back runs and several hard edges. This was a perfect contrast to all the soft watercolor areas.

The palette was the key for these beautiful grays. It was two colors....Neutral Tint,  and Alizarin Crimson. (Daniel Smith Brand) It is so easy to overwork watercolor but this is a surefire method of keeping it fresh and luminous, since none of your brushes or hands ever touch the painted side of the print.

There is another very creative option of finishing off a watercolor like this. If you create the mono print on Arches Text can then print over it with your printer and favorite photo. It creates really nice effects. (Arches Text Wove is light enough to run through your printer and available at Jerry's....Dick Blick....or Daniel Smith.) So this innovative process is the result of two different kinds of printmaking in one piece.

You will then, of course, need to mount it on a cradled board after spraying (3x) with spray acrylic coating or spray varnish. After mounting the piece, you will then be able to truly secure the surface by brushing on liquid varnish (Liquitex Gloss) (3x). And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"State Of Mind"

(Experimental Piece.....6" x 12"....Water Soluble OIls on 300 lb HP)

"Resting is a quieter state of mind." This is a deeply felt quote by me because I often struggle with maintaining a state of rest and a quieter state of mind. The word "quieter" implies that there is a comparison being made. And there is indeed. The opposite of quiet is noisy and chaotic and not a good place to be.

This is classified in the category of my gestural landscape pieces. This was yet another warm up piece in preparation for larger oil paintings based on the landscape. It is in the landscape that infinite value ranges are visible to give an artist unlimited motivation to interpret realistically or with various degrees of abstraction.

My dilemma as far as process goes is having a block of time to finish a larger work alla prima. (wet-into-wet) I don't like splitting up the time since a skin will form on the paint overnight and with the technique of palette knife this does not work well.

Since yesterday, I have made a large palette (18" x 24") out of float glass attached to the same size heavy duty white foam core with white duck tape. The important part is keeping this palette very wet until the painting is finished. I will be storing it in a shallow storage container and another one for the actual painting. This will allow me to spread out the time it takes to finish a larger piece into (2) days. Both of these containers will have a sponge in them saturated with water. A large box can also serve the same purpose if the painting is really large and simply laid on the floor with a sponge in a dish underneath the box.

This is all about strategies and process. To quote myself....."Process is the breath of creativity." So it is very useful to sit down and think about the process of any type of art you might be creating. If the process is faulty, the results will be "iffy" at best. Changing a process involves looking at the areas where there is weakness. If color is the weak link, it is worthwhile to find out everything possible about color. It could also be technique or  materials.

I have yet to meet a successful artist who uses inferior materials. Cheap oil paints, watercolors, brushes, acrylics, and papers and other supports will not yield the same results. And that's exactly where I am in my process right now. I am examining every thing I use to make sure my results are the best they can be. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Start Over"

(Experimental Study.....11" x 14".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord Panel)

"Start over and see what happens." Starting over is part of life and definitely part of the art process. It is not always fun to start over, but it is part of the "learning curve". I have noticed that artists have an innate desire to skip the "learning curve" and go straight to the successful painting.....including myself. And wouldn't that be dandy!! It is not reality.

To break new ground or even to elevate existing skill levels, it is so important to simply go to the studio or wherever else you do art and simply begin. Equally important is observing what is actually happening on the canvas, clayboard, or paper. There is generally a few things that are worth saving in an experimental piece, but there might be a need to start over. Such was the case with the piece I created this morning.

This was my third effort with a lot of wasted paint. (Some can be scraped and reused, but very often it simply needs to be tossed.) And this, too, is part of the learning curve. It can be costly, but the techniques of mark making and how to deliver the paint to the surface is experimental in nature and requires practice.

I consider today's piece an oil and palette knife study rather than a finished and polished piece. But the good news is that I now have several pieces to study and they will definitely inform me in my continuing study.

I do think I prefer paper for these types of abstract pieces because there is a drag to the surface that allows for more expression. So tomorrow I am switching to 300 lb. HP. Since I already know that I want to go in the direction of gestural abstract pieces, the only thing to do now is to continue to work with these mediums and tools until I feel my artistic voice shining through with clarity.

I also have a desire to switch to canvas and acrylics with the same goals in mind. What a journey! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Gestural Painting"

(Abstract Study with Palette Knife and Water Soluble Oils on Cradled Gessobord)

There is no quote for this piece, but I do have several recognizable words such as dynamic...serendipity...and energy. They all describe where I am trying to go now with my palette knife work. This is just the starting point and will end up looking more like an abstract landscape in much larger sizes.

I began this piece with the light blue covering the entire surface of a 16" x 20" cradled gessobord. Working in water soluble oils, I painted in some rectangular shapes of the different colors you see in the painting. After those were in place, I wrote into the paint with a pointed shaper tool since the paint was very thick.

The next part is exciting. I took a palette knife that looks very much like a spatula for spreading icing on a cake and swiped horizontally through all of the layers of paint. There was more writing created with an extremely sharp pointed palette knife followed by more swipes with the larger knife.

In addition to removing paint, I also added some of the same colors back in to make sure the light blue was dominant and the orange created some alternating effects. This type of painting is a rather chaotic process, but there are several things that make it work.

The most important is the use of a limited palette. All of these colors are appearing in various tints, shades, and intensities. If colors are used in all of their intensity throughout the painting, a "garish" look is the result.

The other important factor is the design principle of dominance. One color must dominate a piece in order to have unity. There is also a wide range of values as seen on the gray scale. That too is important. If the darks are not dark enough or the lights are not light enough, the piece lacks the contrast of value that is so critical in creating depth. And values are the most subtle of the design elements and can sneak up on any artist.

This piece may or may not ever be exhibited, but it does take me back into palette knife painting with a renewed energy. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Leaf Duet"

($80.00.......8" x 8"......watercolor on Fabriano 300 lb. CP....mounted on a flat panel)

"Fall duets hang on with fierce determination." Fall is definitely here and so I have my North Carolina leaves from last year all mounted in a journal for easy reference. This is my favorite time of the year!

If you have ever been on a trip to the "Smokies" or the East Coast during the fall, you will undoubtedly love to bring some of those treasured leaves home with you. You might even find some in Central Texas worth preserving. I will share my way of preserving them just in case you're interested.

After gathering your leaves...tuck them between wax paper and place them in a book. (preferably with a rock on top to give them a good pressing) When you return home, take them outside and spray them with Spray Acrylic Coating and lay them out to dry. (both sides)

You are then ready to mount them in a journal with gel matte medium (undiluted). Glob a lot of medium over the stem area and then leave to dry overnite. It does take awhile since you must wait for the gel matte medium to completely dry before going to the next page.  The color will stay for a long several years or longer. They also look good just piled in a wooden bowl for a centerpiece. 

The leaves today were begun with a soft neutral tint in the background on very wet paper. I did a bit of writing in the wet pigment with a bamboo pen and then left it to dry.

The leaf color was not painted with one glaze. After drawing the leaf shapes on the paper very lightly with a pencil, I painted them with a dilute portion of raw sienna on dry paper...blotting every so often with a kleenex. This first glaze was dried with a hair dryer and then I began the second glaze with green and raw sienna fairly diluted and also blotting with a kleenex. This glaze was then dried.

The last glaze was sepia + the green color + a touch of alizarin crimson. This was applied and dried in the same fashion. The last bit was the leaf tips and a few spots of sepia with a bit of the last glaze. After painting in the leaf tip, I banged the brush in water and squeezed out the excess water and then softened the edge of the leaf tip and spread the brown out a bit. The spots where placed on with the tip of the brush and then some extra was splattered very finely into the background. I also did a very, very light glaze of the yellow green mixture from top to bottom...right over the leaves.

Lettering was done with a mechanical pencil sharpened on a sandpaper block and held completely vertical to get as fine a line as possible and to shade the down strokes. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Poetic Collections" Exhibit

You and your family and friends are cordially invited to a spectacular Opening Reception tomorrow evening at Hill Country Bible Church of Austin. The image you see today is a portion of the final glass and steel piece. In recent postings you have seen the evolution of the creative process for this piece. It is only one of many glass pieces in this exhibit. (Check out the details at (

We also have our first installation of (3) floating pieces of glass work. (Glass installed directly on the wall without a frame or any other device.)

Another unique and beautiful creation is a glass birdbath with a iron base that is breathtaking!

There is also have a miniature book collection as well as a 9ft. scroll. This special scroll is an interactive piece of art where the viewer gets to be the scribe.

There is an entire panel of (8) black and white photography pieces. One of the pieces actually hung in the Austin City Hall for a year.

We have (5) beautiful oil still life pieces created by Shirley Gipson who will be published in Southwest Art Magazine in Nov. or Dec. as an upcoming still life artist to watch.

There is a glass piece of a tree branch filled with butterflies which is entirely made of glass.

One of our sculptors has created a (30") high contemporary sculpture out of limestone that looks and feels like marble.

Another sculptor has created a bronze showing the inside of a monastery.

There is another glass piece with a writing pen included in a mosaic which looks like its in flight. It is amazing!

There are at least (20) small to medium sized works and my glass piece which all have lettering.

And there you have it.....a whetting of the visual appetite to come out and see an array of 200 pieces of art, enjoy some fabulous cake from the Cake Plate.....and visit with other like minded artists. See you tomorrow evening from 7:00 - 9:00 PM.