Friday, August 29, 2014

Studio Notes

I have been spending most of this week on a big reorganizing of my studio.  This seems to be necessary every couple of years as my work changes and evolves.  The current challenge is that I would like to continue working larger (up to 3'x3' so far), and I have very little vertical wall space (my studio is under a gable, think attic with knee walls).  I'll take pix when the project is done, or at least workable.  Meanwhile, I continue to work on "100 Drawings on Cheap Paper", which is just an idea, not a real goal.  I don't care how many of these things I do, it's just fun to work this way.
A dozen in process.  Some might be finished.  Each 9"x12"

Another shot of same.

#31, 9"x12", acrylic, crayon, graphite, ink on cheap drawing paper

#32, 9"x12", acrylic, crayon, graphite, ink on cheap drawing paper

#33, 9"x12", acrylic, crayon, graphite, ink on cheap drawing paper

#34, 9"x12", acrylic, crayon, graphite, ink on cheap drawing paper

#35, 9"x12", acrylic, crayon, graphite, ink on cheap drawing paper

Previous posts on this topic include An Attitude of Practice, Addressing Your Inner Critic (speed painting demo), More Stacks of Shapes, and more.  Each one of these links to a previous post on same topic.  For information on materials used in these pieces, see My Favorite Materials.

I will be offering a "100 Drawings" class online starting in January.  IT IS POSTED NOW.  Go to Online Workshops, and it is at the top.  Extreme Composition and Sketchbook Practice are scheduled and open for registration 100.  "100 Drawings" will run concurrent with Extreme Composition, but it will be a 10-week course, not the usual 6-week format.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Winner of Blick Studio Acrylics GIveaway Is....

 Sara Evans!  Congratulations.  I chose this entry at random from the pieces that met the criteria, NOT because the others are not as good.  All of the entries were quite beautiful and interesting. 

I got lots of great submissions for this project, and I am posting a representative sample.  Some readers seemed to have the impression that the instructions included actually cutting up the piece, but they don't.  You just make a piece in which the four quadrants are enough different from each other so that IF you cut it in four, the pieces would not look like they all came from the same piece.  It is a lot harder than it looks because our natural (or cultivated) tendency is to unify, to make things balanced and matchy matchy.  Variety, diversity, elements that contrast, combinations that produce tension or dissonance, THAT is hard.  But in doing so, we have an opportunity to observe the inner friction, and also to expand our mark-making vocabulary.  Here are a few samples of the entries:

Sara Evans, our WINNER!

Barbara Bytwerk

Jacqueline Quinn
Debbie, who blogged about this project here.
And now for a video of me doing this project:

Here are the two pieces that resulted:

This is the main one in the video; you can see I painted over that section on the left that was giving me trouble.  Lot of editing there.

This is the piece that I started at the end of the video.  I was more relaxed with this one.




THANK YOU to all who participated!  If you have any suggestions for other projects I might offer in this way (take submissions, offer a giveaway), please make suggestions.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Challenge for your Inner Critic - and a giveaway

I do this exercise as a warm-up in some of my longer workshops, and also in Art Therapy For Your Inner Critic.  It is fun, more challenging than you would think, and it engages your Inner Critic in a way that is actually helpful rather than discouraging. I use this approach in my Art of the Postcard class too, but it's a little different.

Here is how it goes:

Create a piece (or better yet, a series of pieces) in which each quadrant is distinctly different from the others.  Do not simply divide the substrate into four equal parts and make separate compositions.  It has to be one composition, but if you were to divide it in four, the pieces would NOT look like they were cut from the same piece.   Use paint, collage, drawing, stamping, or any other technique.

You can see two examples in the second half of this post.  And here are a few more:

Acrylic paint, watercolor crayon, graphite, collage on 10"x11" printmaking paper

Acrylic paint, Pitt pen, watercolor crayon, graphite on 10"x11" printmaking paper

Acrylic paint, graphite, watercolor crayon, collage on 10"x11" printmaking paper.  For links to my materials see "My Favorite Materials" in the right margin of this blog.

E-mail me your examples (scan or photograph, send jpgs) and I will post a selection.  Tell me what challenges you faced, if you made any discoveries, or if it was simply fun and easy.  I will choose a winner, who will receive a set of Blick Studio Acrylics.  These are good student-quality paints, much much better than craft paints, and much less expensive than professional quality paints. 

Have fun, and good luck!  I will post a winner on Friday, August 22, so don't hesitate.  Take out your art materials and get to work.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Winner, and a Workshop in Progress

We have a winner for the giveaway in Monday's post:  It is Jo Murray from Australia.  I decided not to limit the giveaway to the US or to North America, so it is going to the other side of the world to Jo Murray.  Congratulations Jo!  E-mail me your mailing address, and I hope it doesn't break me to get this prize package to you.

On another topic, my Collage Journeys in Vermont Workshop is in progress, and so I'm going to share a few pictures of it with you.  This is works in progress:

Eva's Exuberance

Sharon's in progress

Sandy painting over marks with a brayer

Marilyn adding more collage

Nancy's First Layer

Lynn working

Peggy's First Layer of Collage

Stephanie's Teeny Tiny Art Series

Are we having fun yet??? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Printmaking Unleashed - a Giveaway

Well, Traci Bautista has done it again, produced a book packed with inspiration, ideas, and techniques.  This time her focus is printmaking.  In the broad sense.  It includes techniques on making rubbing plates, stencils, stamps, and other tools for creative mark making, as well as inspiration for using them. 
Browse this book on Amazon.
One technique that was quick-and-easy, but totally caught my eye, was a method for stamping lines using rolled up cardboard.

Here is a rolled up piece of corrugated card that I used as a stamp in the piece below.

The black lines are made by stamping the corrugated card.  The white marks in the upper right are made using a piece of mat board.

This is just a strip of ordinary corrugated cardboard I used as a stamp in the following pieces.

More of my mark-making practice

Here I used both the corrugated card and the regular cardboard, in the lower section of this piece.  They make very different line qualities.

More cardboard lines, in black

And more, in the upper right, contrasting with the paint marker, crayon, and graphite marks.

Here is the giveaway package!
I am offering a giveaway that includes:
  • a copy of Traci's book
  • A kit of printmaking tools (provided by Traci, actually)
  • A pad of Strathmore Printmaking paper, 8"x10"
  • and a set of Koi brush pens (think: markers)
Just comment on this post with your thoughts on any of the above, and I will do a random drawing on Friday, August 15.  YOU MUST CHECK THE BLOG ON FRIDAY and contact me if you are the winner, or provide a contact e-mail in your comment.  Please make sure your name uniquely identifies you.  Not just "Mary", but "Mary K in Indiana", or something like that.

Take a look at this book even if you don't win the giveaway.  It is lots of fun to dip into for new technique ideas.  Traci uses EVERYTHING in service of mark making! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

An Attitude of Practice

Here are a few examples of pieces that started with Speed Painting.  These are on 9"x12" Cheap Drawing Paper.  I consider them practice.  Practice making marks, practice working in series, practice questioning and exploring*.  Paradoxically, though not surprisingly, when I work with this attitude of practice, I loosen up and make my best work.  Continuing to cultivate this approach, in all my work, is what I strive for.





 The following are demonstration pieces I made in Santa Fe.   These are the fall out from the same approach to the speed painting, though using different techniques.








Any approach that gets you going, gets you making marks without trying so hard to make Good Art, can be used to cultivate this practice, help you get out of your own way and find a freer path to creative expression.  We explore lots of these exercises in Big Fat Art and Art Therapy for your Inner Critic, coming up in October.  See Drawing Blind and Stacks of Shapes for two other ways to explore mark making on cheap paper.  It's FUN!

*If they turn into "pieces", pieces I would keep/exhibit/sell/frame, I simply coat the back side of the paper with acrylic matte medium.  This makes the piece archival and sturdy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Demonstrating a Cruciform Format

In Santa Fe at Valdes Art Workshops one student asked me to demonstrate, start to finish, how I would approach a cruciform format.  We were working on creating busy/active areas - areas that catch and move your eye - and contrasting quiet spaces.  Here is the piece I did; it is 8"x8".

I began with collage, using lots of contrasting papers.

I added some pattern, scribbling, more papers, and bright paint, just to give myself a lot to work with.

Painting Over, adding more, subduing more...

Here is the piece, provisionally finished. 
In this format, the active areas form a cross shape, each arm reaching to the edge of the page.  A cruciform format can be used in anything from a simple cross-on-background, to a figure, still-life, or landscape.  As an abstract format it poses interesting challenges, and I use it in my Keys To Dynamic Composition online class.

The contrast, or balance, of busy areas with quiet (but not boring) space is an interesting lens through which to view abstract pieces.  We tackle this in my class "Balancing Opposites: The Yin and Yang of Abstract Composition".  My next offering of this is at AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire. I also address this issue in Big Fat Art, which I am offering at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach on October 3.  I have a Pinterest board where I collect examples of art that I find interesting in this respect.  Take a look.  When you look at art this way, it's interesting to see how relative the terms "busy" and "quiet" are.  An area that looks quiet in one context may be the most active area in another.  

Often a workshop participant will come to me and say "I know, my piece is too busy. I overworked it."  To which my response is often: you haven't worked it enough.  Most of my pieces are "too busy" before they even begin to take shape.  I tend to throw a lot at a piece, let it get a bit chaotic, and then paint over sections selectively and gradually until a direction emerges. 

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.