Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Experiments and a Pro Tip

I've been doing more experiments with cut Stacked Journaling, playing with the scale and line thickness of my lettering. So far, these have all been done with some type of paper, from mat board to 60# copy paper. I'm also playing with contrast between the background layer, which is usually just painted, and the foreground Stacked Journaling.  

Normally, the smaller the printing I use when Journaling, the more linear the design gets, as in this piece below. This isn't a bad thing, but it isn't always what I'm looking for.

It seems that the larger I go with my printing, the better I like it, and letting it fall off the background, along with its more open shape, makes the whole process feel more liberated, to me.


My favorite pieces so far have been the ones with a vibrant colors (big surprise, huh?) but I plan to do more experimenting with neutral colors and a black-to-gray scale. 

Also, being a frugal artist, I wanted to share this little pro tip with you today. If you're like me, you've collected your fair share of alphabet stamps. Frankly, I stopped using them years ago, but I uncovered them recently, and wondered what kind of background noise they're create if they were all stacked together willy-nilly and held together with rubber bands.


As I was constructing my new tools, the little vulcanized rubber letters kept falling off the posts (these sets are probably 10+ years old by now).

Not one to waste an opportunity, I got out the Elmer's and glued the letters together on their own wooden block.

Three new mark-making tools in about 10 minutes! These little things make excellent, repetitive patterns.

Until next time, create (your own tools!)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cutting Myself A Little Slack

I wonder if I'm the only one who does this? I look back on my studio practice now and then and become convinced that I haven't been producing any work I'd be willing to show. Sometimes that's true, and sometimes it isn't.

Examining the last few weeks, I was surprised to realize that I've been very productive.

I've been returning to my earliest roots: painting paper. There was no plan for how I produced several dozen papers, except that I kept the color schemes similar so that I could collage with them later. I painted with thin, transparent layers of acrylic, monoprinted, stamped, and painted some hand-written Stacked Journaling, working from one sheet of copy paper or other old, printed material, to another.

After I had a large stack ready, I cut them up and applied them to all types of substrates. Paper...

On 6"x6" flat, canvas panels...

 And on cradled, wooden panels of various (small) sizes...

Still using the wooden panels (my favorite substrate of all, seriously), I painted directly onto the unprimed wood to get a stain effect and then applied some- follow along with me, here- monoprinted, cut Stacked Journaling. (Monoprinted, cut Stacked Journaling is described in this post.)

I've also been revisiting my love of old, yellowed papers. With this very large wooden panel (30"x40"x2"), I primed the surface and then collaged encyclopedia, dictionary, and thesaurus pages on the theme of trees and birds onto it. A couple of layers of thinned paint and a good sanding with my palm orbiter gave it a nice patina while serving to push back the background. I'm doing some studies before touching it again, because I want to be sure I know just what I want to do before start, so watch this space.

Finally, sitting on my workspace in front of me, is this gorgeous hunk of wooden panel, 16"x16"x2", in its first stages of paint.

Instead of using paper collage elements, I decided to use multi-purpose fabric, so I'm painting two large pieces at the same time as I paint the panel, again, keeping things in the same color family.

I guess I need to cut myself some slack- I'm producing plenty of work.

Until next time, paint happy!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Long Lost Artist

Hi, everyone! I know it's been a very long time since I posted to this blog, but I finally finished a project that has been literally months in the making. Back in October, I made a promise to Judy Gula, a beloved friend and proprietor of Artistic Artifacts, a brick and mortar store with an online outlet for every possible thing you might seek when creating fabric and mixed-media art, from paints to ephemera, to funky and unique add-ons.
Judy also sells gorgeous, hand-carved wooden printing blocks in both her online and B&M stores, and she generously gifted me the selection you see in the photo, below. In return for her wonderful gift, I promised to create a project with them and write a blog post.

And then this giant beauty crossed my path.

Purchased from a neighbor for the bargain price of 30 dollars, I knew I had found my project.

The upholstered arm chair, a rocker/glider combination, had been in her son's nursery, used to rock him and feed him as an infant. The chair was in spectacular condition and didn't need a thing, except maybe another baby, because it was covered in nursery fabric.

It was so precious, and the fabric so beautiful, that I almost hesitated to touch it. However, I wanted a chair for one of my upstairs guest rooms, and nursery fabric just wouldn't cut it.

So I took at it with some Jacquard fabric paint in opaque white, as a primer.

Now, let me just tell you how much I love Jacquard fabric painting products. Ok, just kidding, that would take days and days and days. Let's just say that they make an entire line of paints just for fabric alone that I could paint with exclusively, if I wasn't such a paint junkie that I buy all manner of other artist colors from other companies!

The opacity of the "opaque white" cannot be overstated- it really is thick, creamy, titanium white and the coverage it offers is phenomenal. (No, I'm not getting anything for plugging Jacquard, I promise, they're just that good!)

After getting a coat of the primer on, I dove into colors.

Knowing that I wanted heavy layering of colors and textures, I started with the lightest colors- the two yellows.

Working in mostly broad stripes, I applied the paint with a damp automotive sponge.

Then I moved onto magenta, overlapping it with a bit of the yellows, mixing color on the chair as I went.

In the above photo, you can see that I had also begun to apply the same paints in white, two yellows, and magenta with some of the wooden blocks. I used the same colors as the base colors, particularly the white, to create a resist for later, darker layers.

This is where I fell down on the job, in a number of ways. The first was that I got a bad case of Artist Lock. You know the stuff, when you've already invested a goodly amount of time on a project and now, even if you KNOW what you want to do next, you freeze for fear of destroying it. Yeah, it grabbed me for months on end, as the chair sat in my studio, mocking my inability to move forward on it. Some art is like that, it teases you and makes you feel like you couldn't possibly be up to the task. That's when it's crucial to the artist's soul to remember that the reason a particular work feels that way to you it's because it's not finished, yet.

The second is that when I finally broke my freeze, so many months had passed that I was afraid that if I stopped to take photos, I would freeze up again. Instead, I attacked the chair with dark colors like Navy and Fluorescent Violet, covering much of the white and overlapping with the yellows and reds (and their resulting oranges.)

Even then, I didn't take pictures. It wasn't until I felt like the piece was finished that I gave myself permission to commit it to photographs.

Having planned all along to pop the details and color blends by reintroducing white, I created a simple stamp with a piece of fun foam and an old stamping block. Then, using more of the opaque white paint, I began stamping.

Even at this stage, I wasn't certain that I was finished with it- or even liked it! Did it need more colors? Is it already too garish and busy?

And then I began to notice the tiny details. 

I really liked the way the stamped white shapes interacted with the colors underneath.

These are details you can't see from a distance, but up close, they're delicious. I'm satisfied.

My only regret for the whole project: that I didn't take the ottoman my neighbor was also selling!

Happy summer, happy creating!

Monday, November 2, 2015

More From The Encaustic Studio

It's been a busy few weeks, but it's been both fun and productive!

Some good work is coming out of the encaustic studio and I'm pleased with my progress for the last twelve months on this new (to me) medium.

This piece resolved itself quite nicely after hanging, unadorned, on the wall for a few weeks. A deep clean of the studio unearthed the small cardboard squares you see running down the left side of the piece. I had painted and cut them years and years ago and then held onto them because I just loved the way they looked. They finally found a home, and a frustratingly unfinished work was completed. This piece is layers of encaustic paint, plus the little cardboard embellishments, and measures 12"x24". 

Other work of various sizes and themes has been completed, as well. This 6"x6" canvas panel is a study in lines that will be carried through soon in a much larger piece.

Friends came by for the International Quilt Festival (more on that in another post), and we spent a few happy days dying fabric and paper in indigo vats. This piece, a 10"x10"x2" cradleboard took some of the paper I dyed, as well as a small, wooden blank that was used to create pattern in fabric.

Finally, this little work, which has gone to its new home, was created on a 6"x5" maple block using encaustic paint and plaster or Paris fabric (gauzy fabric embedded with plaster... think: medical cast when you break an arm).

You'll hear from me again soon, because I've been gifted with an amazing collection of wooden printing blocks from my sweet friend, Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts, and I can't wait to play with them and then talk about it here.

In the meantime, get melty with wax!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Last Week

I spent a pretty productive week in the studio, still exploring encaustic wax and paints.

I'm experimenting with color and moving the wax, seeing what kinds of effects I can achieve with the application of heat.

Trying out inks underneath and on top of the wax.

Layering Stacked Journaling by painting it and then burying it under layers of encaustic medium (clear wax.)

All of my encaustic work lately has been on cradled wooden boards, which I absolutely love. Some are more perfect than others, however. Recently, I scored a huge box full of unfinished maple blocks of wood that are normally used to mount rubber stamps. My neighbor had them (and many more that I didn't buy) for 5.00.

I've found them to be incredibly smooth and receptive to the wax, with a beautiful grain running through them, and lovely curved edges.

They are all small, meant to be hand-held, and should make for some interesting modular paintings. They're going to be a blast to work with, which will be this week's task.

Until next time, create with fun!