Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flying Free: Biking in Fantasy Colors

Not long ago I told you this was (to be) a painting of my sister flying down a hill on her bicycle.
We had a dangerous childhood: we actually never wore (never mind heard of) a bike helmet!!  To this day we admit to loving the wind flying free through our hair while biking.  She confessed recently that it had to be one of her favorite "guilty pleasures" as well as the way she cleared her mind and restored her soul.  Since I clear my mind by swooshing and mooshing around in color I decided to paint a tribute to both activities.  Above was the start done with acrylics and a credit card.

 Here are two details and the finished piece.  Fantasy of course but a very true story!  Where do you go to clear your mind and restore your inner peace?  Is your mini-vacay in one color or many?

This is crooked and the color may be a tad off, but it is a 12 x 12 piece done on cradled board and framed in a black shadow box with an edge inside.  If you would like to see a better photograph just email me and I can get one to you.

Colorfully Yours,

Friday, February 20, 2015

Product Testing - Painting Shoes

Putting the Best Foot Forward

I am usually guilty of putting the cart before the horse when attempting something new.  In my enthusiasm I rush right in and before I realize it I have made every possible mistake - all avoidable if I slowed down and did a little testing here and there.  So when I decided I wanted to paint a leather chair (or two) I thought I might research a couple of products first.  

Leather painting (vinyl and pleather) is a bit challenging as it tends to move and stretch and you definitely don't want the paint to crack and peel off.  So I selected a couple pair of beat up leather shoes and proceed to google everything I could on paints.

I decided to try the new sharpie oil-based paint pens as sharpie pens have always done a good job and I loved these bright colors.  These are supposed to be available at craft and office supply stores, but hmmm, I had to order mine as I could not find them locally.  These are also supposed to adhere to anything!

I also chose Angelus Leather paint as they are made specifically for leather workers.  Their web site provided info and a way to order directly.

And so I began.... first out of the gate were the sharpie pens:

I immediately realized that the point of the pen was somewhat limiting as it took a lot of strokes to cover much territory.  Also I was disappointed that the color did not show up well on the dark leather (and my chair is also dark) but with patience I realized that at least 3 coats were needed for each color to reach maximum value.

 The gold on the shoe is gesso, not marker (a desperate move when the color was slow to show but also a good test).  The orange, pink and blue colors are from the sharpie paint markers.

Next I decided to try the angelus paints so I gathered up several small tipped, soft brushes. I had inquired as to whether or not the colors could be mixed and with a YES answer I was excited to get started.

The information on-line advised applying several thin coats of paint, letting it dry between each.  I really loved working with these as I could vary the size of my brush and thus get a different line.  They were fairly quick to dry so I did not have to wait overnight to do second, or third coats of color. And, just like the sharpies, the color got more vibrant as each coat went on.  I felt I had more artistic control with a brush than I did with a pen point.

So now the research and development department has to put the paints to the real test: wear and tear!

I'm out wearing these creations now trying to see if they hold up or fade or peel off.  For a complicated project (such as my chair) I will much prefer working with the paints: they can be mixed for new colors, blended more easily and applied with different size brushes.  For a quick craft project (place cards, small wooden or terra cotta pots and the like) I think the felt tip of the sharpies will work just fine, but remember that you may only work with the colors offered by Sharpie.

So I will subject these shoes to water, dirt, crinkles, wrinkles and maybe an occasional coffee spill, all in an effort to be certain that my masterpiece, the purple leather office chair, will hold up and retain its design while in use.  Have any old, comfy shoes in need of a sprucing up?  Have at it...we can compare notes!

Experimentally yours, 

Self Portraits and Contour Lines

Continuous Line meets Contour Line meets
Wire Style Drawing

journal sketch by Carmen Beecher

It was my turn to lead a challenge with my weekly painting gang.  The moans were deafening when I announced "self portraits" and got even louder when I continued " wire-like, continuous line drawings with an emphasis on the contour."  But I passed out practice paper and we all got to howling with our first attempts, believe me, for a group discount we would have marched directly to the plastic surgeons office!

I assured the fine ladies that a likeness was not required..."interesting line" was.  Slowly they began to get a bit more adventurous in the drawings and not whine so much about the wrinkles we have been blessed with.  The idea is that once you place your pen on the paper you do not pick it up again until you are finished...thus: drawing with one long,continuous line.  Another way to imagine it is to sculpt the image as if you had one endless piece of wire.  It's a very challenge exercise.

l to r: Carmen Beecher, Carol Schiff, Mary Warnick, (below)
Kathy Garvey, Donna Vines 
MIA: Dennette Schweikert and Fay Picardi

I have learned that I can teach OR produce OR photograph the event...but rarely all three at the same time.  So my final photos are missing the end products of all 6 of us.  Here's a sample however:

l to r top: Cindy practice, Carol,
Carmen, Cindy

I love doing these, the charm of certain elements give them a Picasso-esque flavor while the eye and hand have to really work on capturing shape.  Hopefully we will all continue to work on other subjects with this same technique.

Continuously Yours,

Friday, February 13, 2015

Socks for Book Lovers

Socks? for book lovers? in an art blog?  Thought I'd give you a giggle this morning by sharing a gift I received from a very clever friend.  Carmen Beecher, artist, author and all round great gal, is a lover of books.  Look what she presented me with recently:

SOCKS! (the old mary janes are mine).  Not just any old, throw 'em on socks but "banned book" socks.  Now these take some thinking to wear.  On the left foot below are all the titles of books that have been banned at some point in the United States ( To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Tom Sawyer, The Invisible Man, etc.etc.)

On the Right foot, shown below, the books are crossed off the list, banned from public consumption. Cute aren't they? And yes, some folks have done a double take thinking I inadvertently have mixed up my pairs.  Did you figure out why I was told they are right and left specific??

Check out Carmen's website and her blog. She has recently published the story of her growing up days in Dundee, FL.  Titled "Crackers and Oranges," it's about a slice of old Florida that has not changed much to this day.

And for added color I share with you what I'll be working on this week:

Yes, that's a painting of my sister riding her bike!  Stay tuned as they say...there is much more to come!

Fondly yours,

Friday, February 6, 2015

Feeling Grounded...with art

I wondered last week if I could ever salvage my "mixed media gone poorly."  Making several more passes at it, I think I have decided to call this one done.  The photo does not show the small ties of raffia on the sticks because I have to make the picture before I spray a finish on the canvas or I get a huge glare. And the ties, alas, had to be done after the finish.

Nature's Floor
24 x 12, gallery wrapped canvas, mixed media

Have you ever slowed down long enough to just sit and study the ground?  I am always amazed at how much can be found in such a small space of earth if I take the time to closely look.  Sometimes, when I am pondering deep and wide, I find myself picking up a stick and drawing patterns in the dirt or mixing up all the contents I've discovered.  And, left to my own devises, I often will begin arranging and re-arranging the sticks and stones into little no-nonsense patterns.  My wish is that you have some time to do likewise this weekend.  Enjoy.

Doodling in Color,

Friday, January 30, 2015


(it ain't as easy as it looks...)

The term "Mixed Media" is all the rage right now.  Technically, it is appropriate to use the term when more than one media (i.e. oil, acrylic, collage, pastel) are used in one piece.  Popularly, it has come to also include lots of non-traditional art materials such as nuts, bolts, wires and scraps of wood.  When someone gathers up lots of "found" materials and creates something intriguing, it is appropriately referred to as "assemblage" (easily enough, they assembled the piece not painted it).  

This is just to put us all, painters and non-painters, on equal footing.  In case you haven't noticed, there is a lot of crappy mixed media out there.  The phrase "my grandchild could do that" comes to mind.  Just because it is fun to make and frees one's inner spirit does not mean that everyone else will consider it art.  Whether something is photo-realistic, abstract, or mixed media it should still adhere to the time proven ingredients of decent art: composition, color, eye direction, range of value etc etc.

So are all those wonderful, carefree and intriguing pieces easy to replicate? Well, just try it!!  I needed a change of pace this week so decided it would be "mixed media."

Here are two beginnings: 

both are on stretched canvas
12" x 24"
begun in similar styles with two differing color palettes

I wanted go "organic" and I wanted to do two at a time with different color palettes and yet with the similarity of starting with a canvas divided up into equal squares.  The beginning stages are kind of fun...just let the ideas flow because ultimately you are going to cover up most of the early layers anyway.

Above you see acrylic, spray ink, and papers on a gessoed canvas.

As pieces and parts come together it gets slightly more complicated.  In other words, suddenly you have a compositional dilemma to contend with...if the eye does not flow, if there is no center of interest....uh oh.  I am not satisfied (therefore not finished) with this one.  It has no real depth or direction.  Admittedly, the parts that I am attaching (sticks and rocks) are only glued right now, I want to draw attention to them with more interesting ways of adhering.

This detail shows wire wraps on the stones and I think raffia will tie the sticks.  Still, nothing really pops out of the piece or holds your attention.  Definitely needs more editing.  But the nice thing about mixed media is that corrections are part of the visual intrigue, so a few more layers is not a bad thing:  I'm not giving up yet!

My second piece got ignored for a while as I concentrated on the other. It will be a challenge to stay organic in this color palette but I did find some feathers I had from a parrot in these exact colors.  As you can see, it is still a hodge-podge of interesting parts all waiting to be brought together into some cohesive layout.  

I don't know if mixed media is my "gig" because I tend to fall in love with little parts that I  can't bear to cover up for the sake of harmony.  I prefer the method of working out a composition first and laying down only whats needed to achieve it.  But now and again it is nice to change things up and start with a bunch of "pretty" editing to achieve a composition.  Not easy!

So don't be fooled: like any other field of art there is great, good and baaaad (and debatable) mixed media.  Above are some examples of "bad" headed towards "good."  I'll let you know when they get there.

MIXing it UP,