Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Interview with Louise Fletcher

I had the honor and pleasure of doing an interview with Louise Fletcher for her Art Tribe subscribers. You can see it below. Louise co-hosts, with Alice Sheridan, the Art Juice Podcast. Check it out! Enjoy the interview. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 25, 2022

A Deeper Dive: Is Cohesiveness Overrated?

 Ever feel scattered? Or as if your work is all over the map or lacks a clear style or focus? Again and again I come back to this feeling that my work should be more 'consistent'. It should be recognizable as mine. And yet I would never tell someone else that their work should be consistent. I really believe (as you'll know if you've taken any in-person workshops with me) that you should explore what interests you. WE should explore deeply and honestly, and follow our passions and interests. Otherwise we're just banging out 'production art'. 

The other end of that spectrum is skimming the surface of an idea. Try one piece, then move on. And that is not real exploration. I'm always telling people in my workshops to "do ten more" in answer to almost any question. But not "stick with that image/style/whatever for the rest of your career".

That said, some artists explore honestly and passionately in what looks to us viewers like a narrow, but deep, range of imagery. We read this as 'consistency' or 'cohesiveness' and seem to feel that this is the correct way to make art. Why the high value on recognizability and consistency? Does it make us as viewers feel good to recognize an artist's work? Or is it just more convenient for galleries and marketing?

Just like I have changed my profession several times over the span of my three decade career (potter, freelance art for manufacturers, painting and teaching), and my extracurricular interests are broad and cyclical (chicken husbandry, language learning, excel spreadsheets, graphic design, cheesemaking), my work changes in format and style pretty consistently. It is also cyclical. So I did stripes for over a year - that was the exception. But I've done stripes before, differently, with different perspectives. 

Right now I am doing what I call collage quilts or collage mosaics, and then working them into pieces. The friggin world has fallen apart, and this feels like making something meaningful or just pretty, out of the shards. Or maybe I am just trying to make up a story that connects my work to something real. Oh well, it's the work I'm doing because I'm following what interests me. I'd love to get your comments on this topic.

This is the mess, partially assembled.

This and the following three images are the 'quilts', collage on very light-weight paper.

Finished (I think) piece, as yet untitled, 24"x24", acrylic and collage on wood panel

24"x24" on wood panel

16"x20" on wood panel

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Composition and Contrast in San Miguel de Allende

Last week I taught a workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and had a really awesome group of participants. Here are a few images of student work (consider it all in-process at various stages).

The first exercise was about using pairs of complementary colors.

One student's work....

Looks just like this view down an alley.

Another exercise was about using different scales of pattern, and different degrees of contrast.

Here are a few more pix of the venue and San Miguel:

Bougainvellea EVERYWHERE
OUTDOOR work space, shaded by tarps and umbrellas

Lots of vistas like this from my walks. I love the rooftop gardens.

We did not all keep our supplies organized.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Jane's Art Basics: Acrylic Paint Quality

Use the Paints That Work for You

If you are a beginner, you may well get conflicting advice on what kind of paint to buy. Many feel that starting with the highest quality paints you can afford is necessary to have success as a beginner. If you are beginning with a teacher who requires specific, high quality, paints, then that makes sense. 

If you are starting without a teacher, your choice of paint will depend on what your goals are. Do you want to explore image-making as a way to express yourself, or just to relax and do something that takes you out of your everyday life activities? Or do you want to learn, step-by-step, how to make a certain type of painting? Is it a casual interest or a commitment to mastering something specific?

If you want to do art to relax, explore, discover what is in you as an image-maker.... my recommendation is to begin with fairly affordable paints so that you can freely experiment without worrying about 'wasting' expensive material. If high quality paint is going to intimidate you, leave it out. For now.

Once you are  comfortable with a few techniques, and you are committed to your practice, I HIGHLY recommend introducing professional quality paints, such as Golden Fluid Acrylics or Heavy Body Acrylics from Golden, Holbein, Sennelier, or other manufacturers. Start with just a couple of colors that you use a lot, or primary colors - blue, red, and yellow - that you can mix into other colors. Then add more as you grow into your commitment to painting. You will likely extend them with acrylic mediums, as they are very pigment-rich. A little goes a long way.

High Quality Professional Grade Paints

Golden Fluid Acrylics are super easy to use, and come in a huge range of colors. They are professional quality paints, with heavy pigment load, so you can extend/dilute them with any acrylic medium and still get vibrant colors. Other manufactures of high quality paint include Holbein, Sennelier, Kroma, Tri-Art, and many others.

Student Grade Paints

Liquitex Basics are one of several brands of student grade, affordable, paints, that may be a good choice for a beginner. They come in sets, and are very affordable.

Blick Studio Acrylics are similar to Liquitex Basics. They are affordable, and come in a wide variety of colors.

Arteza offers a few lines of acrylic paints. The "premium" are a decent student-grade paint. There is not a lot of information on the packaging, so it's not clear how light-fast or permanent the colors are. Still, if you are just beginning, these aspects of paint may not be your highest priority. 


Ultimately, if you are committed to a painting practice, you will want to explore the range of qualities of paints. You will find the variety of paints that work for you. I hope this gives you some guidelines.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Stained Tissue Paper

 This months raffle, see image in the right margin, features all you need to make stained tissue paper for collage: a set of ten Golden Fluid Acrylics (plus I will add a couple from my own stash), a pack of white tissue paper, a 12"x16" disposable palette, and a brush. You supply the water. 

Buy Raflle Tickets Here.

Here is a video I made a couple of years ago on staining tissue paper. 


Recently I have been using stained tissue paper along with other materials in collage. Here are a few examples:

On the Edge #1, 11"x14"

Edging Away #1, 11"x14"

Off the Edge #1, 11"x14"

On the Edge #2, 11"x14"

Off the Edge #2, 11"x14"

I would love to get your comments on staining tissue paper. Have you ever tried it? How do you use stained tissue paper in your work?  
Click here to buy raffle tickets for this tissue paper staining kit.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Workshop Preference and Advice for Beginners

 Here are the results of February's survey questions. 

The first question is: What is your preferred format for a workshop?

I was surprised to see more preferences for two- and three-day workshops than five-day workshops. The largest group was once-a-week live stream (zoom) workshops. Here are some of the "Other" responses. I like the suggestion of a once-a-month zoom format - I'd not thought of that.

Well as much as I would like to be in person, my new favorite format is zoom classes once a month-with homework. It really gives you time to dig in, practice, and figure out what your real questions are. I am also enjoying “membership” classes.

I love in-person workshops, 3 to five days. But during the last 2 years I also found the three to five day zoom workshops enjoyable becaI loved the diversity of participants - from other countries as well as the USA. I go back &review, reinforce.

I love in-person instruction over two to five days, but it's rare these days. Right now I'm enjoying different artist tutorials either via youtube or purchased through sites like Carla Sonheim where you have lifetime use of videos purchased.

Online zoom but with video catch up because life can get in way of zoom sessions.

The second question asked you to rank in order of importance the essential things a beginner should learn. That is, how important are the following for the beginner artist?

A way to start making art without much knowledge ranked #1, with All about materials and tools coming in at #2. After that Composition (#3), Techniques (#4), Color Theory (#5), Drawing (#6) and Working in a sketchbook (#7). Of course all of these topics are important, but I was curious to find out what you thought would be most important for beginners. 

The final question was about what advice you would give to your beginner self. In retrospect, what do you think would have been the best advice you could have received as a beginner. You can download all the responses here. I've kept them anonymous. Here is a summary:

Many of you advised your beginner self to:

  • Experiment a lot, play with materials
  • Suspend judgement
  • Make a lot of work
  • Focus on process, not product
  • Get out of your own way (let go of judgement)
  • Take classes, watch tutorials, etc. 
  • Relax and have fun
  • Practice a LOT - practice frequently or consistently

I really enjoyed reading your responses, and I encourage you to download the lot of them. All the respondents came up with great responses, and it was interesting to see how much we are on the same page about beginning an art practice.

Our survey questions for March are about having creative blocks and meltdowns. Find the survey here, and please offer your answers and submit! I think we could all gain from knowing how others handle creative challenges.

THANKS for visiting!