Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Power of Glazing Acrylics

Have you ever seen a painting that seemed to glow or illuminate with color that was hard to define? Chances are the artist used layers and layers of glazes to achieve a luminosity that doesn't come out of a tube. Glazing is one of the techniques I use in every painting to achieve a depth of field that resonates with color, it is also can be a labor of love and patience as well because the process causes one to move forward  at a slow and steady pace. 

Color is an incredibly powerful force in my world. It lured me in as a child and for a lifetime, I have been at its mercy. The lack of it makes my heart grow cold, the intensity of it takes my breath away, and the manipulation of it connects me with a knowing that I was created to dance with it. Glazing gives me the steps of the dance per se, along with mark making, and as I move and undulate my layers across the paper, I sense an experience beginning to evolve and come to the surface. 

In this piece, I first layered umpteen different colors almost as a watercolor wash but I used watered down fluid acrylics mixed with a bit of glazing medium. My goal was to control the colors so that they stayed true and didn't head towards mud, but for the most part, my first layers are always about play. 

Glazing the next layers slows to a snails pace. I seek to add lights in places where the darks overpower. The dance continues as I pour complimentary colors and analogous colors to achieve a luminosity that creates its own light. These glazes are paper thin and I pour up to 30-40 at times in certain areas. 

The final steps in the glazing process is to decide which direction to go in based on cool or warm colors.  Here I opted to embrace both and glazed another 10-15 layers of them to achieve this intensity. The end result for me is total eye candy and the color evokes a power that hits me directly in the gut. Glazing is also one of the three Artistic Trinity techniques that I will teaching in depth in my online class because I love it so much. You can read more about that here. 

As I have matured as an artist over the years I have come to respect the nuances of subtle color and 
realize that in every hue or shade or tint, beauty is reflected. We are created with the magical wonder of sight, through the lenses and rods that give us the ability to take in color and be moved by it. I remain grateful beyond words for being hard wired this way.

For those of us who are impacted by color in such a way that it brings us to our knees, I smile with you in that knowing. I also sense that we as humans are meant to find our true colors, through the pathways of creativity and through the power of love like no other. Today I shine mine brightly and celebrate the excitement of what glazing can do for a painting. 

"To Reflect Love In Color" 22" by 30" acrylic on paper 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Proust, Painters, and Creativity Art Journal Page

Throughout this book "Perspectives on the Arts" 1961, I have enjoyed immensely getting to delve into the perceptions and points of view of the art establishment during this decade. Proust was showcased for his writings, and this morning, as I landed on the page which I would alter, I read this: 

"For Marcel Proust, communication was of the very essence of art. Among the multitudinous solitudes that populate the great Thebaid of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, art is the only means by which any man can enter the soul of another man. Only by art can we get outside ourselves, know what another sees of his universe, which is not the same as ours, and the different view of which would otherwise have remained as unknown to us as those there may be on the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing only one world, our own, we see it under multiple forms, and as many as there are original artists, just so may worlds have we at our disposal, differing more widely from one another than those that roll through infinite space, and years after the glowing center from which they emanated has been extinguished, be it called Rembrandt or Vermeer, they continue to send us their own rays of light." 

The worlds spilled right off the page and hit me directly in the gut as powerful and moving and so very true. I sat for the longest looking at this page spread and when I looked up, I saw one of my dolls, Found Friend, who always seem to be desperately trying to make a point. The direction for the page was found and I began sketching. 

Throughout the process I kept hearing the message of how important it is for each of us to understand our value, especially in light of being created as creative beings, and with each stroke I sent forward to the hope that everything I create and share will send forth the message which is just that....we matter, our creativity matters, and the world needs us to own that. 

When I create these pages, I alway seek to stay open to the message my heart wants me to process. I paint and write and draw with the tools in front of me, and with the addition of each one, a layer is added to that knowing and in turn gives me more creative passion to hear my own, unique voice. Young artists struggle with this I think, finding their voice, finding their style. I can only share what has worked for me: 

Stay curious. 
Look for the wonder in the world. 
Make records of it. 
Seek out that which you find fascinating. 
Study that. 
Practice every single day. 
Trust your path. 
Express your wonder through the skill set you have in the moment, the heart will follow. 

I hope, for today, those of you who are aware of how very important you and your creativity are in the world will know that in a more powerful way and begin to share that message with others. With all of the hate we find in this world, our love and creativity holds the power to change that. I do believe this with every thing I am. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Art Journal Technique Playing Through The Lines

Teaching my students the importance of play when it comes to understanding the heart of an artist is one of the most important lessons I can send forth. So many times they want to capture the realism of an object to help their minds reinforce the "I am now an artist" mindset, but I nudge them in the direction of learning they are an artist because they can create, especially when they play as they create. Realism, if their heart wants to take them there, will come.

Art journals give the creatives in the world a playground to let their true spirits soar! Modeling this, especially for the young, shows them they have their very own space to explore, learn, make messes, and find what makes their hearts buzz with excitement. Today, during Free Sketchbook practice, I modeled taking a page with random marks and turning into a raw, whimsical piece having to do with friendship, diversity, and connection. It was also a great lesson to show that 'mistake' pages can be redeemed with great value.

To Begin:  

 Use crayons, oil pastels, and graphite to make random marks on the page.

Alternate your marks using text, lines, and colors. Using fluid acrylics, start adding thin glazes of color wherever your heart leads you.

Once your page has the first layers of colors and marks, give your inner child permission to find the little beings present in your artwork. Googley eyes, big heads, crowns, or sweet lips are all elements that can enhance your these figures. Don't over think them by trying to make them look "right" just let them look like they had a romp of a good time on the playground. If it helps, use your non-dominant hand to draw them.

Once your figures are drawn, use your background to layer, mark, and glaze using blocks or chunks of color. If your figure's heads are light, make the background darker so they will come forward and vice versa. Use lines and patterns to add juicy tidbits, and pay attention to contrast as you play. 

Up Close Image of the page

My finished page  below shows my version of two best fine friends hanging out. It brings to me memories of how eclectically odd we each may be, but when we find the friend who loves us for our weirdness and has a little bit of weirdness too, we know they are meant for us and us for them. A little part of me knows that type of friendship is very rare in life, so this page, for me, celebrates the knowing of that.  

Art journaling is all about play. There are a million or so ways one can work within the pages of an art journal, but the most important one is simply to begin. Leave rules and expectations outside the book and dive in. 

Tips for Fine Artists
If you are already an artist who is working on building a body of work and achieving a looser look in your mixed media pieces this style of journaling is the PERFECT place to try some new color palettes, marking techniques, and strategies before you land on your canvas. If you look in the up close images, you can see I have glazed at least 3 different layers to achieve some of these colors. I fell in LOVE with the striped contrast and the glazing effect on the bottom of the page so I will use those again in some larger pieces. 

Using water soluble graphite is a great way to add contrast and value changes in your mark making. The black bleeds which gives a subtle greying effect to a black bleed. Deliciously yummy. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflections on Robert Burridge's Mentor Workshop

This past year was a pivotal turning point in my art career as I decided, for the very first time since teaching myself to paint 11 years ago, that I would invest in myself and take a couple of in person workshops to help me better prepare my body of work for gallery submissions and to broaden my knowledge base for the students I teach art to at St. Paul's.  With this decision came excitement and then trepidation as I set some really specific guidelines as to what type of workshop I was willing to attend, especially in light of being on a tight budget. Along with the budget, I was seeking out an experience which would give me the freedom to work on my own body of work,  rather than learning a specific technique or style from a specific artist. I also wanted to apply all the fine art concepts I would learn to the lessons I use for my 3rd - 8th graders and.... I really needed him/her to have a reputation for having a big heart. I prayed about it, let it go, and payed attention to the buzz and goings on in my art world. Thankfully...there was a great deal of buzz around The Mentor Workshop from Robert Burridge, which just so happened to meet the needs I had for a professional workshop experience...and, everything I have ever heard about him was that he had a HUGE heart, that coupled with the workshop I have booked in October and... I was sold. 

Unlike the workshops that he teaches as he travels, the mentor workshop is offered in his studio at his home, in a small group (we had 7), and over the course of several days. 

I had shipped my supplies out to California, walked in the first day after flying at length, and felt at ease as I began to set up and met the fellow artists that would share this journey with me. 

The mess was joyous, the energy exciting, and at the same time, my spirit felt right at home amongst the drips and runs and marks of color along the walls and floors. 

Bob's Figure Studies

Over the course of the next 4 days we talked and talked and questioned and talked. We slung paint, lots of it, played with glazes, talked about master artists, watched Bob paint demos and work on his own body of work, and ate some of the finest food ever  prepared by his lovely wife Kate and assistant Debra.

 Between painting sessions, which started for some, at 7 am, we enjoyed the sounds of chickens laying eggs, horses asking for carrots, and a couple of times of day watched ever so gently as the deer came up to eat and take in all the excitement between the studio and house. The setting was idillic for an art retreat, and I soaked it all in. 

Throughout the painting process I was open to trying new ideas and techniques within the scope of my own style. Because I was flying, I chose to paint on paper and opted for the 25 3/4" by 40" 260lb. Arches cold press which worked out beautifully. I was able to have full sheets, two 18" by 24" sheets, or two 12" by 40" sheets along with my smaller studies on paper.

 One of the things I found extremely valuable was understanding the importance of the four C's before each painting begins. That intention made a world of difference in my focus and completion of each piece. It will be a concept I share with my students as well, which I believe will give them a much stronger foundation in their focus. Below are some of my pieces with intention, title and/or insight. 

Figure Study with Acrylic Washing

Figure Study with Acrylic Washing Technique

Figure Sketches

Complimentary Color Quick Paints

Complimentary Color Quick Paints

Complimentary Color Quick Paints and Ink washes

Color Palette Study 12" by 12"

Acrylic Washing Technique

Texture Study 18" by 24" with glazing and Rembrandt Lighting Study

Mark Making, Glazing, and Subtlety Practice

Diebenkorn Inspired piece after studying his planes of color

"Headed For Change" 40" by 26" 

"The Tourists" 18" by 24" 

"Marks of Time and Place" 18" by 24" 

"Blue Lemons" 18" by 24" (deliciously odd texture)

"I Am An Artist" 40" by 26" (test of black gesso vs. tar paper

"Pogo Sticks and Love" 13" by 40" acrylic on paper (sold)

As the workshop came to a close, we all celebrated our finished pieces and reflected back on the experience a bit. It was worth every penny for me in the first 30 minutes.  Not simply because of all the joy that was found there, but the professional goals I set to move my career forward were met in spades. I felt confident leaving, sure of where my style lands, sure of my talent, better equipped to teach my young ones, and sure that investing in my career was a sound decision. On the heart side, mine was full to the brim with gratitude for Bob, Kate, and Debra holding that space for us and opening up their home. What a testament it was to living the life of a creative, being willing to share their knowledge, and give credence to the artists walking in their footsteps. 

Many of you have asked me about my experience and I am eager to share more specifics if you wish to message me: But first, if you haven't already, head over to Bob's website, and sign up for his Artsy Farsty Newsletter and Bob Blasts. They are chock full of his vast buckets of knowledge, techniques, product reviews, book suggestions, and some of the best music options for painting I have found. You can also find their 2015 Mentor Workshop details there, and as I understand, spots fill up quickly. 

Next month I head to my second workshop for the year in Raleigh with the also HUGE hearted Jeanne Bessette. I am looking forward to taking what I have experienced here, applying it over the next two months, and heading into that with rockets fired. Can't wait, :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

To Love Even One Giveaway

There are times in an artist's life where giving back means more than any monetary price a painting could garner. I am not talking about a donation, although those can be impactful, I am talking about a choice to gift a piece of original artwork simply for the sake of having a love fest for the day....which is exactly what happened. 

My world has been spinning in such great directions lately and that makes me deeply thankful. I was taught, and choose to life my life putting that thanks into action. As I woke the other day, I felt a nudge to show my gratitude in some way and as I did, I began to paint...and ponder...and pray. While the brushstrokes danced across the page I realized I wasn't trying to find the perfect idea, it was being created as part of the process...right in front of me, and I knew I was meant to gift it. 

The lines swirled, the paint was fluid, and I clearly saw the image of two figures, one large, one small. Now, if you know me, you know I have this thing about love. It is the force of why I paint, what I paint, and who I paint for. When I tap into this, I tap into the belief that it will change us, one person at a time, one act at a time. This painting resonated that...To Love Even One....

As the painting came close to fruition, I gave a lot of thought to how to gift it. What I landed on, and am beyond grateful I did, was to ask in my FB stream for folks to simply comment on my post how they would creatively love at least one person in their path in a 24 hour time frame. The words began to flow from folks sharing their heart, their hopes, their choices to send light into the world. I could not have asked for a more powerful response. 

Here are a few: 

whisper kind words - Lanie

I do believe so. So often in this world, there is a sense that we are just taking up space and taking up too much of it, at that. We try to make ourselves small - we slump, we hold our magnificence in and when someone positively acknowledges our existence, it can be life-changing. Just that one "little" act of kindness. - Paulissa

I always hug like I mean it....a big solid squeeze:) - Felicia

I'm a oncology nurse. Finding the courage and taking a moment to ask a patient in pain if they would like me to pray is my way of loving those in my path even if it's only for a 12 hour shift. I've only been turned down once. - Jane

The time came to pick a winner so I used the random number generator and chose #43. Lisa Tynes won! 

When I looked over the list of almost 50 friends who shared their hearts with me I decided that I wouldn't leave them empty handed. I have been painting like mad the past few months working toward a goal to land a few galleries out of my geographical area. After 11 years, it is time, I have grown artistically and I am excited about the doors opening in my art career. Because of this, there are many pieces I have that I painted several years ago, prints I have held onto, sketches etc. They are markers of my journey, practices, baby steps filled with hope and love.

I am going to be gifting some of these over the next few months...and those who posted with me, they will be gifted first, as my way of saying thank you, keep up the loving. 
(If you were in on the original post, message me your address please at 

Artists are powerful forces in this world. We can choose to use our gifts for many different reasons. I choose love, not only to be my anchor, but to let all other traits such as creativity, hope, courage etc. come from that.