Friday, December 31, 2021

Supply List For Beginners

I have been asked a few times what supplies I would suggest for a person just beginning their art practice. So I put together this list of recommendations for those interested in working with acrylic paint, collage, and drawing materials. Download the list here.

My general advice on art supplies: start with basics - paint, brushes, paper, drawing tools - and if you want to do collage, paint your own collage papers. Leave out the fancy stuff: metallic or pearlescent, fluorescent, glitter, or dimensional paints, special-purpose paints such as pouring paints, alcohol inks, and the like. Not that you won't try these products at some time in your journey, just don't rely on the bling factor to make your art for you.


Even though I use professional quality paints, I suggest the beginner use decent-quality but less expensive paints such as Liquitex Basics, Blick Studio Acrylics, or Nova Color Paints. You don't want to feel too precious about your materials. Ease into your acquisition of professional quality (expensive) paints.


 I have created a list on the Blick Art Materials website. You can order from the list, or just take a look at each product and find comparable products at your favorite art supply retailer. 


This is my Beginner's Supply List. Download it here.


Monday, December 27, 2021

Why Do You Make Art?

 I want to ask: What are your aspirations in art-making? What does your ideal art self look like? Where are you trying to get with your art? Is your goal a moving target or fixed? But... in the end it's all the same question. Why do you make art? What is your primary motivation for making art?

I am sorry that I have to moderate comments. It is because I have gotten a TON of bot-generated spam. Please do comment, though. I do check every day and publish all comments that are not spam. Thank you for your thoughts, and for visiting my blog.

Friday, December 10, 2021

How Do YOU Study Composition?

 Composition is the one aspect of painting that I am most often asked about, so I am continually evolving my approach to teaching it. There are many ways to explore composition. Cut paper collage is one of my favorites because it is very direct, and it is accessible to any level of technical skill. 

 Join me for a Technique Takeaway on Zoom, Friday, December 17, 5:00 - 6:30 pm Eastern Time.

See details at Winslow Art Center, and sign up here.  

Composition with Cut Paper Collage!


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

COLOR!!! For Cut Paper Collage

 Join me on zoom for a Technique Takeaway, hosted by Winslow Art Center. 

To make strong images in cut paper collage, it's best to start with a HUGE palette of painted papers. This includes all the colors around the color wheel - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and everything in between - and a broad range of values - very light, very dark, and everything in between.

I've noticed that when painting papers for collage most of us default to the mid-range values. Lighter values are often omitted. To make light values, start with white, add a tiny bit of color, mix thoroughly, and then paint a sample. Acrylic paint generally dries a bit darker than it is wet, so mix it to look lighter than you want.

Finally, make sure you have a range of neutrals - beige and gray, colors that you would not assign to a spot around the color wheel - in a range of values, and muted colors, again in various values. If this sounds like a lot of work instead of a lot of fun, do something else. I find painting solid colors on paper very soothing and at the same time enlightening.

Friday, December 17th,5 - 6:30 EASTERN Time (2:00 - 3:30 Pacific)

Cut paper collage is a powerful tool for exploring some elements of composition. In Composition with Cut Paper Collage we will first focus on this broad palette.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Composition with Cut Paper Collage

 Join me on zoom for a Technique Takeaway, hosted by Winslow Art Center.

Friday, December 17th,5 - 6:30 EASTERN Time (2:00 - 3:30 Pacific)

Cut paper collage is a powerful tool for exploring some elements of composition. In Composition with Cut Paper Collage I will show you how to use this simple technique to better understand shape, scale, negative space, color, and value.

Find details and sign up here.

The following are examples of student work, all-over layouts, nothing glued down.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

More New Stripes

 I am starting to explore stripes with a lot of texture, in repeated colors. 

24"x24" acrylic on panel

30"x30", acrylic on canvas

30"x30", acrylic on canvas

And some other kinds of stripes..

"Going with the Flow #5", 36"x36", acrylic on canvas

Various small stripes, 10"x10", available at Edgewater Gallery.

Thank for visiting!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Technique Takeaway - The Short Workshop Format

 The Winslow Art Center in Seattle has been offering a series of "Technique Takeaways", which are short, one-session workshops that focus on one technique or concept. The workshops are on zoom, so you can watch them from the comfort of your own computer, and ask questions of the instructor in the chat box. 

Forty bucks, an hour and a half, and you have got a 'takeaway'. I have one scheduled next month, which you can see here. I would love to know your thoughts on this short form of a workshop, whether it is Winslow Art Center's Technique Takeaway or something similar.

What is your favorite form of a workshop? A five-day intensive in-person? An online weekly video workshop with or without feedback from the instructor? A one-day crash course? Videos you follow on your own?

If you are interested in The Short Workshop (tech takeaway style), what kinds of focused topics would most interest you? Would you like to be introduced to a new tool or material? A new technique? A particular aspect of color mixing? Or something specific about composition? What would YOU want to learn in the short takeaway?

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

November Raffle

 This month for our raffle, you have your choice of three paintings. If yours is the winning ticket, then you get to pick your painting. So far, the summer and monthly raffles have raised over $2000 for Rupert Village Trust. We are building community, weaving social fabric, in the village of Rupert, Vermont, by renovating an historic general store building to create a café and community center.

Buy your raffle tickets here. Drawing is the last day of the month. These are the paintings you get to choose from if you are the winner:

Burning Bright #2, 18"x24", acrylic on paper

Floral Wannabe, 18"x24", acrylic on paper

There for the Asking, 12"x12", acrylic and collage on paper

Friday, October 8, 2021

Some New Stripes

 Fresh from the photographer, some new stripes on wood panel:




20"x29" (SOLD)


Working on a couple of 36"x36" stripes on canvas

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Raffle Winner!

 The winner for September's painting raffle, "Nowhere to Hide #2", is Rena Diana. Rena is a prolific and accomplished abstract painter. Check out her website here.

October's painting raffle is called "The Fallout". It is another in my scribbles and florals series, this one a little more landscapey in feel. It could be the autumn foliage, a forest burn, or a volcano erupting. Take your pick. Since it's October, I'll go with the autumn foliage at the edge of a marble quarry. Very Vermont.


The Fallout, 18x24"

Buy chances to win "The Fallout". The drawing will be at the end of October. All revenue from ticket sales goes to support the Rupert Village Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to creating community in Rupert, Vermont. See our website here.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Gel Printing in Tucson!

I have been experimenting with a process of assembling prints into pieces, which reminds me of stringing words together to make sentences. Each print has a few elements - they are not just all-over patterns - and combining them offers a fresh approach to 'composing'. Whereas in a collage, your substrate determines the boundaries of the piece, in creating visual sentences, you assemble the parts without a substrate and make up the boundaries as you go along.

I will be teaching "The Visual Sentence" at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, January of 2022, hosted by Madeline Island School of the Arts. Get details and sign up here.

This is just outside our studio at Tanque Verde. Check out the venue here.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Monoprint Collage

 I love combining gel plate monoprints with collage techniques. Here are a few examples, all of which are 9"x12" except the last, which is larger. Join me in Sedona next month for a 4-day workshop!!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Painting Raffle

 I have decided to offer one painting per month as a raffle item to raise money for the Rupert Village Trust, an organization dedicated to village revitalization in Rupert, Vermont, my home town. This month, the painting is "Nowhere to Hide, #2", one of a series of what I'm  calling my scribble paintings. It is 18"x24" on mixed media paper.

Nowhere to Hide #2, 18"x24", acrylic on paper

All of the money collected in the raffle goes directly into Rupert Village Trust's account to help us reach our goal of a community center and café in the Village Center. Our main focus is to upgrade the historic Sheldon General Store building to safety and accessibility standards, and build the infrastructure necessary for a café. We will lease the main floor to a café owner/operator, while Rupert Village Trust uses the upstairs space for continuing community activities. Read more about it here.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Continuous Collage - Composition as Process

 Here is a piece that I am demonstrating at my Composition as Process mini-workshop. Continuous Collage is one approach I take to composing. In this ZOOM virtual workshop,  I will be talking through my process on several pieces, demonstrating my various approaches to composition. Hope you will join me at Winslow Art Center's virtual workshop space, Friday, August 27, 5:00 - 6:30 pm Eastern, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific time. See details and sign up here.

One participant will win one of my paintings! Sign up includes you in the drawing.

What Happened Here? 9"x12", mixed media on paper

Friday, August 20, 2021

Giveaway at 'Composition as Process' workshop

 In my short and cheap ($40) online workshop next Friday I will be demonstrating this painting, narrating my compositional decisions as I go. One participant will win the painting in this giveaway!

The demo is part of Winslow Art Center's "Technique Takeaway" series. Join me on Friday, August 27, 5:00 - 6:30 pm Eastern, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific for this workshop. You will get a link to the zoom video afterwards, so even if you can't make it to the real-time demo, you can see it at your convenience.

There will be time for questions and comments too!

Burning Bright, acrylic on paper, 18"x24"

Monday, August 16, 2021

More Thoughts on Composition

 I have been thinking a lot about composition lately because it is one topic that most of my students ask about. "When do you worry about composition?",  "Is it a composition?", "What about the Rule of Thirds?", "It is pleasing to the eye, but is it a good composition?"

The questions beg other questions. 

  • Why worry? I don't worry, I just compose. That is the process, and it involves trying things, changing them, painting over things, suggesting something to the painting and then seeing if the painting accepts it or not. Composing is constant hypothesizing and questioning. Trying things, editing, revising, building, deconstructing. This is composing.
  • How can marks on a page not be a composition? "These I just made, followed your instructions; this other one I tried to make a composition".  Comment from a student in a recent workshop, not uncommon. They are all compositions. You have composed all of them.
  •  What if you don't apply the Rule of Thirds, whatever that is? Anything that calls itself a rule is begging to be challenged. Try out the opposite, or something different from, the rule in question. SEE what happens, rather than just taking the rule as a Rule.
  •  Pleasing to whose eye? "Pleasing to the eye" is often used to mean "I like it". Own your personal taste. Don't project onto others. To me, "pleasing to the eye" suggests that the artist is trying to please an audience. It's great when people like your work, but what matters most is that your work  speaks to you. Then you know it is your work, and what you send out into the world is real.

Below are two pieces that I will be demonstrating in my Technique Takeaway, Composition as Process.

This 90-minute demonstration and discussion is online, via ZOOM, hosted by Winslow Art Center. 

Friday, August 27

5:00 - 6:30 Eastern Time, 2:00 - 3:30 Pacific Time

Sign up here.

I will walk you through my compositional process on the above two pieces and more. This is not an analysis of the finished pieces themselves, but a peek into my thoughts on composition as I am composing. The above two pieces are paintings. I will be including at least one collage piece as well, so you can learn how I think through that process as well. There will be intermittent Q&A during this demonstration. If you can't make it to the live ZOOM event, sign up anyway and you will get access to the video. Find out more here.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Repeated Mark

 Those of you who have taken my workshops know that the lens through which I look at composition, composing, is contrast. Color, value, scale, quality of line or edge.... I look at contrasts, differences more than I look for repetition, "echoing", or sameness. But a crucial aspect of contrast is degree.

Contrast does not always mean 'high contrast' as in black and white or red and green (value, color). It doesn't have to mean tiny and huge, or soft and hard (edges, e.g.). I look at degrees of contrast - subtle contrasts and dramatic ones, and everything in between. How subtle can I make this contrast in value (for example) and have it read as different rather than the same. Or how little dramatic contrast can I inject to make a big difference in a piece? 

I have been looking at all-over patterns or designs that read as very compelling images, to me. Often, too much repetition creates a weak and blah piece. Nothing speaks out because everything is speaking at the same time. So what is it about these images that I find so powerful, even though they have this all-over repeating characteristic?

Here are a few images from a Pinterest board I call (tongue in cheek) "Wallpaper". Please see the board for attribution of these images and many more examples.

Check out Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery for so so so many inspiring examples of contemporary Aboriginal art, much of which makes use of a repeated mark - dots, brushstrokes, stripes. Take a look at the gorgeous (to me) work of Carbiene McDonald at Outstation, which represents contemporary Indigenous art and works directly with Aboriginal owned art centers.

Here is one of Carbiene McDonald's pieces:


Look at Emily Kame Kngwarreye's work here. These are a couple of pieces of hers. Dots and stripes! What could be simpler? But what is it that makes them so compelling?

Aboriginal art is my new inspiration, but it makes me look at art that is based on a repeated mark in a new light. The repetition, done by hand, makes you see the subtle contrasts, the subtle shifts of color or scale or angle or nuance. This is some of what I've been exploring in my stripe pieces. Thanks for visiting!

Note: be aware of cultural appropriation. The repeated mark is used EVERYWHERE, and is not confined to the art of Indigenous Peoples. However, if you are inspired by the work of a culture, read this. In general, when inspired by a culture, a movement, or an individual artist, steal, don't copy. That is, do enough work to make it your own. Make lots and lots and lots of pieces until the work is your own. Be honest with yourself.