Monday, December 26, 2011

Spacious Skies: Old Works

Today as some are enjoying a quiet, relaxing day after Christmas, my industrious husband is cleaning out our garage. A box of my old art work has been sitting out there, neglected and falling prey to dust, mildew, and spiders (the main reason I have put off taking care of it). But today turned out to be the day to open the box, and realize that everything inside is still in pretty good shape. And I found some long forgotten work I'd done that looks pretty good! Here are three watercolors I found today. I see that my love of big horizons is on display in these sketches, something that comes from growing up on the prairie.

These muted scenes are a nice reminder of my ongoing love affair with watercolor and lonely, muted landscapes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Encaustic Painting

"Couldn't you just use the same griddle we use for food?" asked my practical minded husband as I was unpacking my newly purchased griddle to use for encaustic painting. My encaustic starter kit had arrived a few days earlier and now with griddle and heat gun in hand, I was ready to try encaustic painting at home. Last October I'd had the privilege of taking an encaustic workshop with Serena Barton in Portland and immediately fell in love with this medium. Even though I was somewhat hesitant to try it out at home, in the back of my mind, I knew resistance was futile.

So here is my first home effort.

Before the first layer of wax, I painted a watercolor background, and stamped with hand carved stamps. The butterfly actually began as a stamped image which I then layered over with paint, followed by some incising marks and rubbed oil paint. I also used some oil paint stick and pastel. Though you aren't able to see it, there is also a layer of collaged tissue paper from an old dress pattern with some pastel drawing in the bottom part. I love the effect of wax over watercolor! It creates a beautiful depth and luminosity to the painting.

And here is another one I did the next day.

This one includes some collage elements and image transfer. The haiku (that might not be a real haiku) collaged into the painting reads:

No one travels
Along this road but I
This autumn evening

Hence the subdued tone of the work.

So now I know I can do encaustic at home with very little mess or trouble. I don't have a studio (yet) so I bought a big plastic tub that the griddle with paint tins fits into, along with the heat gun and other supplies. When not in use, it's easily stored away on a shelf in the garage. In February, I'll be taking a class in encaustic locally to learn more about this exciting medium. I can't wait!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Time Out for Christmas Cards

One of my favorite traditions at Christmas time is sending and receiving cards. I love it even more in this digital age when so much of our communication is online. This year I decided to make cards.

To make the cards, I first made some simple styrofoam stamps and then have been using a combination of collage and painted wash backgrounds for the cards. An old Christmas song book has been a wonderful source of cheerful messages and beautiful design elements.

My homemade cards are not perfect, which to me is part of the allure in these times of the mass produced, perfectly polished aesthetic.

Making cards gives me an excuse to do art during a busy time, and share a small piece of my creativity with those I love. My paint party Friday friends may wonder about the actual painting involved in making these cards -- and I'll admit I've missed connecting with you and wanted to check in. Plus, I did use watercolor for the backgrounds and acrylic for the stamping!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you're all finding a way to make art in the busy holiday season!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Paint Past the Photo

Here's a wonderful exercise I learned from Dory Kanter in her beautiful book Art Escapes. It's called paint past the photo. Basically, you put a picture down in the middle of the page and paint past the edges. It's a wonderful way to practice color mixing and working on your ability to use a realistic style.

Here is one I did using a photo I took at Joshua Tree National Park. It was approaching sunset when I was there, and the colors and shapes of the rocks were amazing.

And this one I love, because the small person walking on the trail is my husband.

Thank you to Dory Kanter for this great idea!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beyond Self Interest: Small Mixed Media Collage

Another busy week! But I did squeeze in some time to work on some small mixed media collages. This one is collage and watercolor. I'm quite new to collage and love integrating text, patterns & textures with paint. It appeals to my love of a process-oriented approach as well, letting the composition unfold and surprise me along the way. The title jumped out at me from the text -- creating a gentle reminder.

Here's a link to another small collage I did this week, in case you're interested.

p.s. Thanks for visiting PPF friends! I hope there is enough painting here to qualify. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Working Small

I used to think I was an artist who did big paintings, which was fine, except that it became my excuse for not doing anything at all. Working big is great but it also takes bigger amounts of time and space than I often have. And as a consequence, I did nothing, for many years. Recently, I've given myself permission to work small and guess what? It's great! I can start and finish a piece in a relatively short time, and do more artwork than if I were working on a single, large piece. Of course I'll still do bigger pieces if I want to, but I'm so happy for this newfound freedom, and burst of creative energy I've found by doing something different and being willing to let go of an old, unhelpful constraint.

This is a small collage I did this week on a busy day, sandwiched in between my work and family responsibilities. In fact, on this day, I did six 4x6 collage paintings with watercolor in under two hours. While waiting for paint or medium to dry on one, I would switch to another for a time. Working back and forth this way gave me time in between to figure out what do if I was stuck on one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Crafty Interlude

I don't don't consider myself to be a crafty person, yet I love the idea of making things that can be useful. If I can repurpose some old, otherwise discarded items in the process, the more the better.

This idea was inspired by Jenny at Jennibelle studio, who makes marvelous handcrafted journals and other items. When I saw her post about turning a junk box into a beautiful new item, I was inspired to try it out myself.

I used paper scraps, including one with an inkjet image transfer, paint, and my own handmade stamps to decorate the papers. The papers were decoupaged on to the box. I then added some miscellaneous beads and buttons for a bit of embellishment.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Works in Progress

Life is busy these days now that I'm back at my day job. It's harder to find time to for art, but I"m determined to keep at it, even if it's at a slower pace. I did manage to start these two pieces this week. I love playing around with paint and had a lot of fun collaging and layering textured washes here:

At this point, I'm thinking of this as the background, but I need to decide what else to do to finish the painting.

This one is also a mixed media painting with collage elements that I've been working on. Again, I used a lot of textured washes and papers in the background. Then, I added the collaged leaf and did some more painting. It's not finished, though I'm not completely sure where I'll head with it, either by adding more collage elements, painting, or both.

Thanks for looking! I welcome and greatly appreciate your comments!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seaside Rocks

I've spent a lot of time at the beach this year and I always enjoy looking at the rocks. There are so many different colors, and depending on the lighting, different colors will stand out on different days. This weekend, I did some watercolor sketches of a few pretty rocks I found for my journal.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


This is an updated version of the abstract I was working on yesterday. To add more depth, I added a transparency left from an image transfer of a shell. Since the nautilus shell symbolizes expansion and renewal, I decided to title this piece, "Expansion." It's an apt title for the piece in more ways than one, as I am expanding beyond my comfort zone in my artwork.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Work in Progress: Abstract Collage

I'll admit it; although I love abstract compositions, I find them hard to do well. Letting go of the representational means working harder at at color, line and texture to create interest and balance. Here is a small mixed media collage I've been working on today. I was working at creating interesting layers in the background, which I'm pretty happy with, but I may still need to work more at unifying the composition.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Encaustic Painting

I had a wonderful opportunity to try my hand at encaustic painting today in Portland in a fabulous workshop by Serena Barton at the Art and Soul Retreat. Here are two of my paintings from today.

This one was very well received by the class, including the instructor! I was somewhat surprised because it wasn't at all planned and is in fact, a simple doodle, much like I do on my notepads every time I'm on the phone, or sitting in a meeting. But somehow, it works here, with a muted palette. We were supposed to be striving for a "wabi sabi" aesthetic, using a muted palette, and embracing imperfection.

Here's another one, in which I used more collage elements.

I think this is my favorite one of the day. I'm happy with balance of collage elements, paint and texture. It was fun letting these paintings evolve, without worrying too much about the outcome. The process of encaustic painting definitely suits my approach to my artwork. So now I'll need to think about whether it is worth the trouble to try this at home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday Postcard Art: Autumn Leaves

Leaves are one of my favorite subjects to draw and paint and here are two recent small works that I've done. The first one is a watercolor painting done on a vintage postcard. It was a bit of an experiment to see how the paper would hold up to the watercolor. I used a light touch, and even was able to get some nice texture effects with salt in the background.

And this one is a mixed media collage I did recently using homemade stamps and watercolor.

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to get your comments.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sunday Postcard -- Pink

Mixed media collage with watercolor and caran d'ache, using the theme "Pink." The lovely lady in white is from a vintage sewing pattern. I am the daughter of an avid seamstress and spent many unhappy hours learning to sew as a young girl. Fortunately, those hours were offset with many more hours drawing in my sketchbook. I've finally found a way to have fun with those sewing patterns! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collage with Stamps

I tried out my stamps today in a small mixed media collage with watercolor and graphite. The textured paper in the background comes from some texture rubbings I did earlier in the week with crayon to create a watercolor resist.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time Out for Stamps

I took some time out from painting and collaging today to make some stamps. I love the freedom in mixed media to integrate painting, drawing, and printmaking into a single piece of art. These stamps were a lot of fun to make and I'm sure I'll find a lot of uses for them in my artwork.

What a difference a frame makes!

This is my first framed collage and it feels great! Luckily, I had done the original collage in a standard 5 X 7 size, so I was able to use ready-made mat and frame for it. You can read more about this collage here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Sunny Day, A Sunny Collage

I started this collage with paper I'd prepared by rubbing a texture with crayon to create a resist. My first washes were in acrylic to prevent blending with subsequent layers. After that, I stuck to watercolor and gouache. What better poet to celebrate a beautiful day than Longfellow!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Illustration Friday: Disguise

Thanks for visiting! I did this painting as an exercise in creating an abstract composition from a photo. What makes a better disguise than an abstract self portrait?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Abstract Self Portrait: The Eyes Have It

I recently joined the loving mixed media website which can be found here: Today I tried the Abstract Painting challenge there, to basically take a photograph, cut it apart, rearrange into an interesting composition, and paint it. This is what I ended up with. It was a lot of fun to do! Although I love abstract composition, I'm somewhat intimidated by it and not sure how to create a successful composition. This was a fun exercise and gave me a new way to begin an abstract work. I had already prepared my panel with venetian plaster. I love the interesting textures it created!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Long Ago and Far Away

My husband and I agree that my "dark" pieces seem to be my best so far. I'm not sure why that is, but I'm not going to fight it! Even as a girl, I was drawn toward music in a minor key. This image reminds me of time I've spent in Europe, which sadly has been a quite awhile ago -- a distant and beautiful memory. I'm working to integrate more painting into my collages and here, I had a lot of fun with it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gesso Image Transfer

I love the dreamy color scheme in this painting. I started with a gesso image transfer and then added texture with collage and paint elements. Someday, I will look up the name of this beautiful plant, when I'm not busy working on another collage!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Journaling is the Thing

As I explore the world of mixed media art, I'm learning that journaling is a prominent component. I admit that I've never been consistent with any kind of journaling. Mixed media makes journaling a whole lot more fun! In these examples, I've used a combination of writing, collage, gesso and painting. What value is there in a journal like this? For one thing, it's less intimidating than a canvas or precious piece of watercolor paper. There is no pressure for it to be a finished piece. Rather, it's a place to play and experiment.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Scenes from the Coast

This summer, my family and I have been spending a lot of time at the beach. Here are a few sketches from the beach that I'm going to put into a small booklet. This will be the cover page. We always find a lot of sand dollars on the beach.

I sat on the beach and did this little watercolor. While I was working, the pelicans came and were swooping down to catch fish. It was a fantastic sight to see! In fact, I was afraid to try drawing the birds in, but then I did it, and realized a quick gesture was all I needed to do.

I'm always drawn to the interesting, organic shapes of the seaweed that washes up on shore.

A favorite activity of ours, especially with visitors, is to climb the local lighthouse.

It was fun to practice my watercolor and drawing this way! I need to do this more often.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Deja Vu!

Meadowlark, Fly your Way Down...

This meadowlark might look familiar to those who saw my earlier meadowlark collage this summer. I happened on an extra inkjet printout of it today when I was going through some papers and thought it was too good to waste. Plus, it gave me a chance to try a gel transfer with the gel medium I bought recently. I'm trying to integrate more of my own drawing and painting into my work. In this collage, I scribed leaves into gesso along the lefthand side and aimed for watercolor effects the in the background. I'm pretty happy with it as it is, yet it may be a work in progress, as I look at it and think about whether it needs anything else to feel finished.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Illustration Friday: Imperfect

I gave up perfectionism long ago, so imperfect is practically a motto for me. Almost anything I do would fit this theme! Last week, I spent some time at the beach with my family and found this battered piece of seaweed as I walked along the shore and decided to do a quick watercolor study. It seems like a great example of beauty in the imperfect.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Perennial Series

I've been working on my first Illustration Friday topic: Perennial and having a lot of fun with it. Here are two more in the series.

Illustration Friday: Perennial

"The immortality of flowers must enrich our own"
- Emily Dickinson

I love flowers, so I had to do this topic in a fairly literal way. On gloomy February days, I love looking out my window and seeing the hellebore in bloom. I had so much fun working on this topic, I actually did a small series which you can see here if you're interested.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Updated Beach Collage

After my post yesterday, I did some more painting and added a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. I also added some tissue paper in the bottom part of the landscape to soften the colors in that area a bit. This is definitely a fresh new way of working with landscape for me and I like it! For some reason, the photo is picking up the yellow sun rays and emphasizing them quite a bit; however, they are actually softer and blend in better with the rest of the composition than the photo suggests. I'm trying out Golden fluid acrylics, and find them to be fantastic. The color is intense and transparent at the same time. The intensity of the yellow seems to be emphasized in the photo.