Tuesday, 28 February 2017

'The Impatient Painter'

I am an 'Impatient' painter today....this isn't the first time, nor will it be the last. I have been picking away at this painting for a couple of days - a little bit here, a little bit there. It is not that big, but it was causing me a lot of grief - of my own making! I am challenging myself by working with value first and adding colour at the end - you know the saying - 'value does all the work and colour gets all the credit'. I did mix the colours with a limited palette and tried to keep them more on the neutral side. Went with a very dark value right away for the vessels and tried working my way up the value scale.

These are a couple of scans of the painting in progress

Putting in some dark values

A ways in to the painting process. A bit too enthusiastic and painted out most of the darks. Experiencing a certain level of frustration so starting playing with the background

....I couldn't wait any longer and had to add some colour (these are not even my go to colours!)....

'Vessels #10'
Acrylic mixed media on
Canson watercolour paper

This painting isn't quite the end result I was looking for, but I think it is a good first start. I am going to continue working with value in a more mindful way, on a daily basis and as time allows. Practice, practice, practice!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Painting - The 'Palette Cleaner'

I know I am not the only one who does not like to waste paint. I don't like to waste anything and some of the 'stuff' I am uncovering in my studio is evidence of this....a conversation for another day. This 'palette cleaner' was done at the end of the day. A small painting, limited colours and painted quickly. No time for picking away! Some make great studies to use for something bigger and some when matted end up being a lovely little gem to display. I think these might make an interesting series to do over the year.

'Palette Cleaner #1'
acrylic mixed media on
Somerset printmaking paper

Thanks again for taking the time to visit and leave a comment - your support is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Painting and Reorganizing

It seems that January and February are a time for cleaning up and sorting out artist studios. I have noticed a couple of artists that I follow have been working on this. I have been doing a slow and methodical sort this month. Today I went through a couple of boxes of frames in my studio. I use to do my own framing (monoprints, watercolours and water colour collages) but am not doing as much now that I am painting with acrylics and using birch panels and canvas as my supports. The frames have been catalogued according to size and colour and put in a more accessible storage spot. I might even have freed up 'one square foot'!! Might seem like more work than it is worth, but I feel pretty good having done it and putting a check mark beside that task. Only about 25 items to go!

I have been painting though. Going through workshop notes dating back to 2014 - a bit of a refresher and is well worth the time. Sticking with a smaller format and experimenting with colour themes (example...complementary, monochromatic, etc), mixing colours and neutrals and rereading for the umpteenth time the elements and principles of design. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you have a great day!

Before the background on the left was adjusted

'Vessels 9'
Acrylic mixed media on
Canson mixed media paper
The background could use a bit more work, but I think I will leave it as is and 'paint another'! Used two blues, an orange, black and white. Good practice for colour mixing. Did add a bit of pencil and watercolour crayon for some finer details.

Acrylic mixed media on
Canson mixed media paper

This is still a work in progress. Want to tone down the foreground even more. Will try mixing a dark grey and see if that works. If not can always add more neutral or get out the rubbing alcohol and strip some of the paint off.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Painting - 'Which way is the right way'

'Which way is the right way' can apply to a lot of things in the art world. What I am thinking about is - which way should the painting be hung? When I paint, I am now constantly turning the painting (that wasn't always the case). I have learned that it keeps me from getting bogged down in details and a fixed idea of what things should look like - it opens up the possibility to discover an even better painting than what I first thought was the right way. Even once I have decided what is the right way, I will continue to paint and turn right up to the final few strokes. I actually think my line work is much freer and more spontaneous working this way. Just for fun I am posting the painting in 4 different positions.

Acrylic mixed media on 
Arches140lb hotpress paper



Image 'B' is what I was originally thinking was the finish, but now I am not sure......kind of like 'C' as well. One thing I  notice viewing the image - I want to extend or change the magenta shape (lower right).

Acrylic mixed media on
Arches 140lb hotpress paper

Please share you ideas about this topic and also which way you think is the 'right way' - I will be interested to hear.

Have a great weekend - we are enjoying sunny weather and above 0 temp's - will definitely be spending some time outdoors.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Mono Printing - Materials and Techniques

Victoria & Albert
6"X8 1/2"
Monoprint on BFK

Thanks to everyone who visited yesterday's post. Lots of questions about some of the materials and techniques I used for the monoprint. Would like to follow up and answer those questions and provide a bit more detail. Will try to keep this to a reasonable length! So, I cannot take credit for all the info shared in this post. I attended a 5 day monoprint workshop in the mid 90's with Canadian artist Jeremy Mayne and this info is from notes I took during the workshop. I have done some of my own experimenting with materials and pigments but the basics were generously shared by Jeremy during the workshop.

I use water based materials for monoprinting. (easy to clean up, not as toxic as some materials) Mainly gouache (has good viscosity, stickier, tackier and can turn transparent once printed), sometimes watercolour (depends on the colour - quins print well), any water soluble pencils (will print, but not putting down a lot of pigment, good for working back into the print), crayons and inks, graphite sticks (4B or higher if you want to print), chalk pastels (use a good quality, can grate and rub on). You can give water soluble oils a try, but you must print them while still moist. If you use a non-soluble material (ex. ink) it will not not print and will act as a resist. **Put more pigment on than you think you will need. There are lots of interesting water based materials available and I would encourage you to experiment and have some fun.

I use a metal plate for my support - off set litho sheets will last a lifetime. You can use wood (have to seal first), plexiglass (cannot leave paint on for any length of time, need to print same day), glass, lino, mylar, acetate, even paper (one use only). Because I use metal I am more familiar with prepping it before printing - needs to be sanded (I use a barbeque scrubber)- sand horizontally, vertically and diagonally. This will last for a long time before you have to do it again.

Before I paint on the plate I apply a mixture of glycerin and gum arabic (approx. 4oz gum arabic to 26 drops of glycerine). The gum arabic increases the viscosity of the pigment and helps release the image from the plate, retains the integrity of your marks and prevents bleeding. The glycerine slows down the drying time of the paint. This mixture has to be dry before you can start painting.

*It is important to sand and apply the glycerin/gum mixture to the plate - if you don't will end up with imagery that bleeds.

So, now you are ready to print...Soaking the paper is the most important aspect of printing. This has to be right. Not too wet - not too dry! Do not over-wet your paper as this will cause your pigment to run! You will need to experiment with the soaking time -  I live in a very dry climate so my average time for soaking the paper is 4 and 1/2 minutes. Remove excess water after soaking with a squeegee (on the wrong side of the paper) then placing between 2 sheets of blotting paper and roll with a rolling pin and finally using a clean brush to raise the nape on the right side of the paper before printing. Check for dry spots and the paper should be 'cool' to the touch.

You can print by hand, but I have an etching press that I use -much less labor intensive. My favourite printmaking paper is BFK Rives. I have tried other printmaking papers but for me the BFK works like a charm every time!

This is really just a barebones description of how I like to make a mono print. I would encourage you to check for workshops where you live, on-line videos, books, etc. There are lots of different techniques and thoughts on mono printing. I make detailed notes on all my monoprints - sketches, pigments used,  what did and didn't work, colour swatches, how long the paper was soaked, etc - this is invaluable info to have. Most of all enjoy trying something new and the adventure of experimenting!

Below are some of the mono prints I have enjoyed creating. Have a wonderful day

Monoprint journal entry

'Bye the Sea'
Monoprint on BFK Rives

'The Philosopher'
Monoprint on
BFK Rives

Monoprint on BFK Rives

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


Took the better part of the day to organize supplies (ie find them in the bottomless pit I call my studio), prep the plate, paint it, set the press, find, cut and soak the paper, print it and dry it (will take at least 24 hours to dry completely). Oh....and make sure both the right and left sides of my brain were engaged! It was fun to do a print - my favourite part - is pulling the print - like opening a present, it is always a surprise to see how well the pigment has transferred and how it looks on paper versus the metal plate. Didn't plan anything just painted. I've included a few pics from start to finish to give you an idea of how I am working. Few surprises for me as to what pigments did and didn't transfer - white does not usually transfer, but most that was on the plate did print (that was a surprise, was thinking it would work as a resist), the grey C'aran d'Ache crayon and the yellow chalk pastel did not print well (acted as a resist). Also - what you put down first is the layer that will sit on top when you pull the print. Because I am using water soluble pigments the plate doesn't need to be printed right away (I have left plates for a week) - but you can't leave it for too long or the paint will start to flake off. For this print I probably could have soaked the paper for another minute.

Plate and materials ready for some
mono-print making

Pigment on plate
Masking tape is still on edges
Plate ready for printing. Masking tape
has been removed and edges have been
given a wipe

Plate after printing. You can see the pigments
that didn't print - not uncommon - some just don't. But you don't know
until you try. Anything that is water soluble should print and
materials that aren't water soluble will act as a resist. You will see
in the next picture where the grey acted as a resist and you
have the white of the paper showing.

Finished image size 5"X7"
on BFK Rives paper
You can always go back in and rework the print once it is dry

Printmaking is one of my favourite art mediums. I had forgotten this and realize that I have missed it a lot. Love the creative freedom of working on the plate - if you don't like what is happening, you can always rinse it off and start again. Takes away the pressure of that blank piece of paper and the 'what if this doesn't work out and I have wasted a piece of 'expensive' paper!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Painting - More Practice...

Have cut back on the 'daily' painting. That doesn't mean that I'm not painting but spending more time on some of things that I like to do that lead up to painting. For me it means going for longer walks, reading more - fiction and non-fiction (ie art books), sorting through art supplies and doing some art in other mediums. Today I am sorting through my mono-printing materials. Looking for the glycerin and gum arabic mix, getting out the water-based materials I use, sorting the metal plates to find some sizes I want to work on and going through journal entries to refresh my memory on the technical side of mono-printing. I am excited returning to some printmaking. It has been a couple of years since my etching press has been used and now seems like a good time to have another go at printmaking.

On my Friday, February 10th post I included the start that I was going to use for my next 'daily' painting. There are a couple of other paintings that I worked on at the same time (works in progress), so I did not work exclusively on this one image. What you see is the original image - no cropping or other manipulation - it is what it is. Painted out quite a bit of the start and decided to veil the larger vessel on the right. Does it work? Some of it does, not all but it will be a good reference painting to refer back to.

Painting start

'Vessels #8'
11 1/4"X6 3/4"
Acrylic mixed media on
Arches 140lb hotpress paper

Friday, 10 February 2017

Painting - Another Daily

Slowly getting back into a painting routine. Stayed up late last night to finish today's offering. Wanted to start a new painting today and this painting was so close to being finished. This wasn't what I had in mind when I started but am pleased with how it turned out. Still working with neutrals - trying to put them in at the beginning and middle of the painting process and then adding some colour and line work at the 'end'.

8 1/2"X10"
'February Chinook'
Acrylic mixed media on
Arches 140lb hot press
watercolour paper

I am also sharing the start for Friday's studio efforts. This is from one of my first acrylic workshops (2013). We spent the first day making backgrounds to use over this 4 day workshop. I couldn't get paint, mediums, pencil, crayons, etc. on fast enough. I was so out of my comfort zone and experience level at this workshop. Yikes!....there is a lot happening on this small piece of paper. A good challenge to make something out of the chaos. Hopefully I will have time to work on this during the weekend and post perhaps on Sunday. Stay tuned........

11 1/4"X15"
Acrylic mixed media on
140lb cold press watercolour paper

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Daily Painting

I have struggled to get back to my studio and some painting. Playing catchup with day to day commitments after a pretty intensive month of daily painting in January.

I use up any left over paint on my palette to get some colour, shapes, marks etc down on pre-cut papers and have a variety of starts to choose from. I am finding that I like some of the shapes and pattern that are in the first layer(s) of paint but eventually most of it gets painted out. I am going to experiment putting more of these patterns and shapes in later as I'm painting, but I don't want to become constrained by them. I went back and looked at some of the work done during January and there were a few things I was neglecting to do and some things I should have been doing more of. Was finding the foregrounds were very 'white' (light!) - needed more paint, texture and neutrals, glazing would create more depth and richness in the paint layers and being bolder with my mark making. If you don't push the boundaries painting these I feel things will become 'safe' and 'boring' and moving on to larger more finished work will leave me wth a strong feeling of dissatisfaction.

So here is the start and where I am going to end this painting. The finish seems somewhat disjointed, - with the large dark shape on left and lighter area on right - but I am happy to be getting back into a more thoughtful and experimental mindset.


Thought it was done. Added some glazing and 'cleaned up'
the neutral area on the right hand side and reintroduced
line work and some coloured pencil

10"X8 1/4"
Acrylic mixed media on
140lb hotpress watercolour paper

In the weeks ahead I will (or hope to!) be experimenting with neutral mixes and glazing and seeing where that takes me with my daily painting. Neutrals are so important and I really need to be more confident in mixing and using these. Enjoy your day wherever you are and whatever you are doing!