Sunday, November 30, 2008


8" x 7"
acrylic on paper

Out my studio window there's a unique alignment of the crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter. November is turning into December in a matter of hours. The long Thanksgiving holiday is winding down and the work week looms.

Inspired by watching the art DVD of Virginia Cobb called Acrylic Abstract Painting: The Evolving Image, I set out to try some of her techniques. The funny thing is that my piece, a full-sheet of 300 lb. watercolor paper, didn't want to become an abstract but a landscape set in the Southwest, requiring a lot more work.

In the meantime, here are some quick brayer paintings I did last week.

Windows of Opportunity
8 1/2" x 7"
acrylic on paper

8" x 7"
acrylic on paper

Sacred Chambers
8 1/2" x 7"
acrylic on paper

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some New Brayer Paintings

Recently, I've thrown some new colors into my quick brayer paintings. A few years ago, I ordered a book on color theory and, as suggested, ordered a selection of professional artist paints. Problem was that I started but never completed the workbook and just dove in experimenting with colors that appealed to me.

My first experiments weren't pretty but I began seeing colors that played nicely with each other. Favoring several layers of warm transparent colors and adding a few cool opaque ones, I filled watercolor sketchbooks using a limited palette, occasionally adding a new color.

Now, I am trying out some opaques I hadn't really liked before--Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Red Light, Naples Yellow Hue, Turner's Yellow--a transparent I hadn't played with before--Acra Blue Violet--and one gorgeous semi-transparent--Deep Magenta.

So much more fun to lay color down with a brayer than to do those color swatches!

Peering Out
9" x 12"
acrylic on paper

Starry Desert Night at the Reservoir
7" x 8"
acrylic on paper

7 1/2" x 7"
acrylic on paper

Witness to Unraveling
8" x 7"
acrylic on paper

Becoming Whole
8" x 7"
acrylic on paper

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Friend's Art Exhibit

Nancy Elliott has an exhibit near where we both work. It's a wonderful and inventive showcase of her art and it's good to see pieces once only described now on display. Since she will soon move to Missouri, I'm glad she is sharing her vision.

Artist Statement

Mark (above)

UnMark (below)


Nidus (close-up)

Neither Here Nor There

A Bad Penny...

A Bad Penny... (close-up)


Obscure (with black fabric lifted)


Landscape (close-up)

Faces Found

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Mixed-Media Ideas

After experimenting recently with bits of leather, suede, and velvet, I was in a resale/vintage store Friday looking at the clothing in a different light. Some leather and suede skirts could be re-purposed as a journal cover, key chain fob, or eyeglass holder. Similar thoughts occurred when I looked at purses. It was exciting to imagine the already-broken-in leather recycled in some new art form.

But, I refrained from buying anything since I lack skills, knowledge, and tools for working extensively in leather. It seems when mixed-media calls to me, I often have to turn a deaf ear!

Since I don’t know how to sew and don’t plan to learn, I only use fabric remnants in paintings and books. Recycling some painted fragments onto watercolor pages evolved into a book called “Touch”.

"Touch" cover
7 1/2" x 6 1/2"
screw post book
painted fabric pieces on watercolor paper
One page in "Touch"
6" x 6"
2-page spread in "Touch"
12" x 6"
A single page in "Touch"
6" x 6"
I love the texture elements as well as tactile interaction in mixed-media pieces, though. That’s a big appeal in creating books, shrines, 3-D calendars, and dream boxes because how often can you or do you run your hand over texture in a painting?

As I said in my last post, I greatly admire mixed-media artist that have the techniques, tools, time, and tenacity to turn out a successful project using more than one medium. I’ve had this discussion before with my art friend Nancy, especially with all the tempting things to learn out there—precious metal clay, fiber arts, jewelry-making, etc. But since we both have full-time jobs and so little free time, it seems wiser to limit our energy and focus.

Until we can’t resist just trying something!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Painter or Mixed-Media Artist?

Loughcrew Hillside, Ireland
computer-altered photo

Inspired by an exhibit of computer-manipulated photos, I spent one weekend last month altering some of my travel photos (see above).

This weekend, however, I experimented with materials quite unfamiliar to me, just because it sounded like a challenge. Some were complete failures, some not-so-bad.

Which brings me to a question I often ask myself—am I a painter or a mixed media artist?

Whenever I venture in more “crafty” things, I feel like I’m floundering. I greatly admire those artists who work in mixed media. Not only do they have to know techniques with one material, but several. And have to know how to blend them together to make a satisfying whole. Not an easy accomplishment!

One of my favorite art magazines is actually a mixed-media craft magazine. Some suggestion in a book or article can spark an idea in a different direction. I get a lot of inspiration from crafts and most ideas in my notebook do not involve sketches for paintings.

But I wonder if mixed-media informs or dilutes my art? It can take a long time away from painting. I remember how long I struggled to create a workable design for an everlasting, hand-made calendar I envisioned. Countless sketches and notes and experiments and failures occurred until I wood-burned some cubes and wire-bound a set of my paintings to flip weekly.

Often, I am intrigued by and challenged to create in 3-D. Yet, for me, such art requires planning and sorting and preparing whereas painting is more spontaneous and joyful and experimental. Mixed media, or anything other than painting, often feels too detailed, too regimented, reminding me too much of my daytime job. Since I have to be so precise and logical at work, I embrace being wild and intuitive in my paintings. If a project gets too bogged down, I can loose interest quickly.

So, I’m back where I started. Still fascinated by switching media and still somewhat baffled and frustrated with it. How do you resolve being pulled away from your primary art form? How do you limit yourself-- or do you?