Thursday, August 6, 2020

Time to Paint

Do you ever time your painting sessions?

In my workshop Time to Paint, we engage in exercises that require you to paint (or collage or make marks) continuously, without hesitation, for a given segment of time. These range from 20 seconds to 30 minutes, and we do a LOT of them.

I have found that given a limited time to create a compelling image or visual statement, the brain has to get out of the way, and I have to make visual decision more quickly and intuitively. We begin with fairly directed exercises, with specific parameters, then move on to open ended timed painting.

This workshop is an opportunity to give your visual response a workout (and your brain a rest). You will also have time to work on the images generated by the timed experiments, and see how the exercises have affected the fluidity of your process. 

I am offering Time to Paint as a live stream workshop on Zoom, through Port Townsend School of the Arts, September 8 - 10. No travel necessary, work from you own studio! Space is limited. Take a look at the specifics, and sign up here.

Three pieces, 19"x25", on my wall, after a thirty-minute painting session
A group of five-minute paintings, each 9"x12" on cheap drawing paper

Check out the workshop here. Or try timed paintings on your own!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Mini-Collage Series

Here is a fun little exercise I do to get in the mode of working fluidly, without hesitation or angst. It is really simple, but the key is to do it in quantity. I make these little cut-paper collages on 4.5"x6" pieces of bristol. Each collage has three shapes in three different colors.

After I have made loads of them, I crop some of them, and add a little line and pattern detail. It is fun, relaxing, and gets me out of thinking mode and into a visual groove.

I will be offering an online class on the Mini-Collage, but for now, here is an overview of the process:

Here are some of the little collage pieces:

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Painting Stripes

Here is a little bit of thinking out loud while I paint stripes.
I've been asked a few times if I would be teaching a workshop on stripes, but for now I'm just offering a little window into my own process. I'm not sure what people want to learn when they say they want me to teach a workshop on painting stripes. There aren't any tricks or special techniques involved, and it is a very slow process. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

No, It's Not Finished, and Yes, It's Too Busy

The two questions I get most frequently when asked to comment on someone's work are:
Is it finished?
Is it too busy?
The answers are NO and YES, respectively. If you have to ask, then it is not finished. Only you can say when your piece is finished. It has to speak to you, the artist, to qualify as a genuine expression of you. What counts as finished for me may not be finished for you, and vice versa.  Is it too busy? Again, if you have to ask, then it is.

Which is not to say that you don't need occasional feedback or direction from either a teacher or another artist. It is very useful and eye-opening to get someone else's take on your work. Here are a couple of ways you might re-frame the questions in a way that may elicit more useful answers:

What do you see?
Can you suggest a couple of ways I might move forward on this piece?
What stands out to you the most?

If the person says "Don't touch it; it's finished", then put it aside (out of your visual field) and look at it the next day with (your own) fresh eyes.

But don't ask the questions until you have worked on the piece over some time, come back to it with fresh eyes, and done your own looking, seeing, making decisions. It is YOUR art, and you are the only one who can really discover what that is. The discovering is an ongoing process.

For more on seeing, observing, your own work, see my book,

Sunday, July 12, 2020

New Stripes Available as Prints and Products

I delivered a batch of my new Stripes paintings to Edgewater Gallery last week, where they will be on view and for sale later this month. Meanwhile, you can see them, and purchase prints and products, on Pixels/Fine Art America.

Deep Dive #1 18x24" acrylic on panel

Deep Dive #2, 24x24" acrylic on panel

Stitched Together #1, 20x20" acrylic on canvas

Stitched Together #2, 18x24" acrylic on panel

Stitched Together, 18x24" acrylic on panel

Stitched Together #4, 18x24" acrylic on panel

Stitched Together #5, 24x24" acrylic and collage on panel

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Student Work from De-Stress

Here are a few pieces from participants in the last De-Stress class back in March and April. It is offered again, beginning on July 1. Read about it here.

Transfer drawing and collage

Transfer drawing over brayered paint

Blind contour transfer drawing

Transfer drawing and collage

Mandala magic!

Somber Stripes

Mandala oval!

Grid Collage

Embellished Stripes
Grid Collage

Animated Mandala, with FISH!!


Friday, June 26, 2020

De-Stress with Art, or at least with the fun little video

De-Stress with Art begins online next week. Read about it here. You can see some of the student work from the first project here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Handmade Brushes from Mark Making Class

I want to share with you a few images of mark-making tools people have made in my Mark Making class. I love seeing what people come up with!

Making brushes from plant material is fun when plants are abundant. But don't forget the household items like Q-tips, sponges, fabrics, netting, ribbon, string, and more.  Use chopsticks, popcicle sticks, tongue depressors, or paint stirrers for handles. Or just sticks. Have fun!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

More Stripes, Meditations on Color

Here are a few more stripe pieces. They ARE very meditative to do, and I find that I paint over them quite a lot, trying out one color, and then tweaking it or changing it altogether. Very slow and focused. One of the projects in De-Stress with Art is STRIPES.

18"x24"on wood panel

24"x24" on wood panel

18"x24" on wood panel

20"x20" on canvas

Detail of the piece below.

18"x24" on wood panel
Thanks for visiting!

Monday, June 8, 2020

New Composition Class Online

I have just published my first online class on SkillShare, called "Abstract Collage: Creating Compositions with Tissue Paper". Take a look here, and get two months of access to all of SkillShare's video tutorials free. Following the SkillShare format, the class contains ten short video lessons in 43 minutes. You can post your work on the site, ask questions, see other's work, etc.

I take you through the process of painting/staining tissue paper, cutting out the shapes, and playing with arrangement, all in the service of exploring abstract composition. Check it out! And let me know what you think. This is a new platform for me for teaching, though I have been a member of Skillshare as a learner for over a year.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Practicing Art - A Conversation

I posted a photo of my mini-collages on Instagram @janedaviesart and got an interesting question:

Is there a purpose to making these and saving them? I’m asking because I tend to purge art that is not created for display. I have mixed feelings because I enjoy the creative process, but it’s not really a piece of art, per se.

I invited an e-mail conversation so that I could address this question that many artists have: if it isn't practical or doesn't make a salable piece, what is its value? 

Here are some of the mini-collages:

These are each 4.5"x6" on Bristol, collage pieces are painted papers. My 'rule' was to use three shapes only, three different colors, on each one. The next step is to crop them, visually, at least. to see if I can make interesting negative spaces.
Here is the conversation:

Q:  My main question was if you had a purpose in mind when you created these simplified works, if you save them, and how you view the  time spent creating them.  Are you working towards a goal or just doing them for relaxation?

A:  When I need a break from whatever larger work I’m doing, OR when I’ve been out of the studio for a while and am rusty, the best way to get ideas moving is to keep my hands and eyes DOING something in the studio. Not thinking, but doing. And that takes on many forms. This little exercise I just made up and did a LOT of them. The main point is to do SOMETHING with hands and eyes to generate ideas, see where it goes, keep in practice, jog something loose, get back to some basic ideas, etc. It is not for relaxation, though it might be relaxing.

Q:  I tend to feel guilty if I spend a lot of time and money on materials with art ‘just for fun and relaxation’ vs. a finished piece.  I could make dozens of simpler works, but I’m not sure what I’d do with them except throw them in the trash eventually!  My Inner Critic tells me that it’s silly to waste time just doing things for the fun in the moment and then throwing them away, since there is no practical use for them.  

A:  Yeah. I hear you. And probably so does every other artist, especially women. 'Be Useful, Be Practical, Be Thrifty or you are wasting time, wasting space, wasting money', etc. is a strong inner voice in our culture. It reveals our own lack of confidence in the value of our work, and in the value of art generally. In my view, the value has to start with YOU, the artist, not someone else putting a price on it or putting it to practical use. This shift in attitude takes years and constant vigilance. When there is stuff To Be Done (practical), and I am in my studio making useless little collages, my belief in their value has to be stronger than the voice saying I Should Weed The Garden.

I can not make good, real, art that is truly mine unless I constantly explore, constantly make and observe, and allow myself the space-time-money to make work that does not see the light of day. 

To tell you the truth I do not know what will become of my little collages, and that is the furthest thing from my mind as I am creating them. It’s paint, paper, matte medium (for the glue), a little time, a little process-focus. To me the value is in doing it and “keeping in shape” as an artist. 

Q:  I’d love to hear your take on it; why you create so many simple, practice works, with good materials. What is the purpose, what do you do with them, etc.,  so that I can stop feeling guilty when I “play” and spend time lots of time just for the sake of enjoying my materials, and the end product has no real purpose other than the joy of creating in the moment, unworthy of sharing as a piece of art.

A:  I don’t think of them as ‘practice works’. Doing them is just part of Doing The Work as an artist. I recommend to my students to keep the focus on process and on developing and maintaining a HEALTHY ART PRACTICE. The good, genuine pieces of art, art that is yours, is a byproduct of your healthy art practice. Let it show up on its own, don’t force it.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Stripes Morph into Grids

I am still working, slowly, on my Stripes, but I started some smaller works that are becoming grids. They are very much inspired by the Quilts of Gee's Bend, in particular, the ones made from work clothes. I want faded, neutralized colors, like the worn out clothing that is given a new life in a handmade quilt.

I started by painting the center of the 9x12" bristol substrate in a kind of variegated neutral, and then started adding collage bits and some paint to the border. Not sure where this is going.

This is an example of the beginning, in this new series.

Beginning to add collage around the edge. I love the wonky stripes of gray on gray.

This is another one at Stage 2. I want to use minimal color, and emphasize the subtleties in the neutrals.

Still in progress

This one is resting.

This and the next one are a little more colorful. I like the wonky edge around the neutral center. Maybe I'll play with that a little.