Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cherry Blossoms on Cardboard 'Canvas'

What's not to love about turning recycling into art? Yesterday, while participating in Paint Party Friday, and visiting Jean Zoss' lovely blog Bluebirds Living in the Meadow, I learned about Alma Stoller's tutorial on how to make a cardboard canvas. I'd been stockpiling chipboard for several months, with no particular plan, so I had everything I needed to get started right away.

The cherry blossoms are gorgeous looking out my window right now, even in the pouring rain and I love the words from John Koethe's beautiful poem, "The Late Wisconsin Spring".

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rhapsody in Blue: Experimenting with Acrylics

Over the years, I've had a love/hate relationship with acrylics. Well, to be honest, probably more hate than love. I first experimented with them long before I ever tried oils and really wanted to love the medium. The easy cleanup was a huge bonus for me. But the paint always dried so fast and my end result never seemed to look the way I wanted it to. Along the way, I did try oils, and then watercolor, which stole my heart. There is just something about the way the water flows on paper that keeps me coming back for more. But about a year ago, as I began experimenting with mixed media techniques, I kept hearing about the new fluid acrylics, so I finally decided I should give them a try. So here I am, once again experimenting with acrylic painting.

When I started out with these two paintings, I wasn't sure if I would use the painting as background for collage or just paint. I ended up liking the colors and shapes enough that I decided to just paint and see what happened. This is also part of my ongoing challenge to learn how to do abstract compositions.

I doubt that acrylics will ever become my primary medium, but they have some useful qualities for mixed media art. Their colors are more intense than watercolor, and the fact that they dry fast and are permanent is very nice for working with layers. The fluid acrylics also lend themselves to some interesting paint effects that I love in watercolor. So, I'm sure I will continue to experiment with them and use them to a certain extent in my artwork.

I recently discovered the Creative Color Challenge  on Flickr and posted my paintings there for the March color theme of tranquil blues.

Thanks so much for visiting! I really appreciate your comments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mixed Media Frenzy

One of the things I love about my teaching work at a local community college is that I get wonderful breaks between quarters to pursue other interests. I wasted no time after turning in my final grades this week to work on art projects. First up, a small painting I started awhile ago:

It's a combination of watercolor, ink and acrylic, with stencil and alcohol spritzing for texture.

 And here is a little flower sketch I did to try out my new Daniel Smith watercolor sticks.

I decided my little flower might look nice on a background I'd already painted, so I collaged it on and did some stamping with my leaf stamp.

Then it was time for encaustic class. This week was our last class, so I decided to work on painting in a representational way with the wax, something I hadn't tried much of yet. My inspiration came from this African mask:
Here is what I managed to paint in class.
 My nose avoidance technique was in full operational mode during class, so I'll definitely have to work more on that!  I'd like my colors to be more muted. The "palette" in encaustic is a black pancake griddle, so it can be difficult to see the true color until it's on the painting. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with my mask so far. I'm going to work on some more next week while the kids are in school and I am still on break! Did I mention that I love my job?

 I also set up a shop on Etsy this week -- on a very small scale -- any tips you might have are welcome.

 Thanks a lot for visiting everyone! I appreciate your comments very much.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ink Blot Painting

Today's paintings began with inkblots and swirls on prepared panels. I did some quick doodling with the ink, and then blew the ink around with a straw to help it flow around and make interesting lines.
I then added layers of wax and color, and some image transfer of text and numbers to add more texture and balance out the black from the ink.
This was really fun. I'm happy with my colors here, and I love the way the ink shows through the layers of wax. I'm pretty sure I'll do some more like this, but I'll look for some interesting poetry or words that can actually be read to add some more dimension and meaning, perhaps some haiku to go with the Asian vibe I'm getting with this color scheme and medium. Thanks so much for stopping by! Feel free to tell me what you see in those inkblots and I'll get back to you with an analysis if you'd like!

Monday, March 12, 2012

When is a Painting Finished?

How do you tell when a painting is finished? Sometimes it's easy to tell, and well, other times, not so much. This is an encaustic painting I've been working in a class I'm taking. I did most of it very quickly, without thinking much about what the final result would be. During the next class, I was working on it again, adding little bits here and there. Suddenly I heard my instructor's voice behind me saying, "You're done with that piece!" So am I? I'm not completely sure. It's not one of my favorites, but then again there are some things I like about it. Would adding more or fussing more with it improve it, or only mess it up? So here it is, for now, at least, a finished piece.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Encuastic Image Transfer Fun

I am sure loving my encaustic class. This week we learned how to do image transfers into the wax. It's quite easy and I love the effect! First you place a photocopied image into warm(not molten)wax. Then you dampen the paper to gently rub away the paper and the ink magically stays behind in the wax. Of the image transfer techniques I've tried, this definitely ranks up there in ease and speed. Of course by now there is a very good chance you're scratching your head and thinking image transfer? What image? Well, in this case, I transferred some text for some visual texture. I'm secretly amused that it comes from a handout that I used in my day job as a teacher. Perhaps on some level this bridges the gap between the competing interests in my life. I also used stencils for the leaf design and for the circle (my first, and possibly my last, homemade stencil).

Thanks for visiting! Happy Paint Party Friday!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Same Thing, Only Different

This is the same hibiscus I sketched and painted earlier here in a more realistic style. It's fun to do the same subject in a completely different style and see what happens. For this one, I traced the flower and then collaged it over a background I'd painted while practicing some paint effects. After that, I went back in and did some more line and shading work, along with some color washes and here is that same hibiscus, only very different.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Watercolor Floral

One of the things I'm trying to be more consistent with is practicing my drawing. I recently joined The Sketchbook Challenge. I love all of the different online challenges and find they can really be motivating. It's always so interesting to see what other artists are doing. The February theme was closeup, and my goal here was to practice a closeup sketch. I did a lot of drawing first and then did color washes. Normally I would just jump right into painting, but I'm quite happy with the result here.