Friday 20 December 2013

Let it snow!

Well, inside the house, anyway!  I needed some snowflakes in a particular colour scheme for a project or two, and naturally reached for my Gelli Plate.

The resulting prints on mulberry paper were just delicious...

 and I made paper snowflakes from ghost prints,

 to heavily layered prints,

 each one more beautiful than the last,

 until I was scissor happy.

When I had them finished I added them to a new painting.

An Unexpected Snowfall     Mixed Media on 9 x 12 cradled wood panel     © Win Dinn
I've been cutting snowflakes since my mother taught me as a child - it's something that has, for some reason, never ceased to fascinate me.  Do you have any creative habits that have stayed with you that long?  How do they fit into your current artwork?

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Plastic is everywhere - an inexpensive pattern maker!

I love making backgrounds with plastic - plastic 'anything's-that-flat' can be used to make patterned backgrounds quite easily.

I started taking photographs halfway through this process, so I'll catch you up as I go along.  Using a palette paper and mat board surface, I painted a wash of yellow on the board, plunked down some embroidery thingies, and weighted it with an essential Van Gogh tomb.  I actually did this a couple of times with different washes of paint.  These washes were heavy body acrylic, thinned with copious quantities of water.

This repetition resulted in a lively pattern:

 Feeling a need for more pizazz, I added more quinacridone gold,

and then decided a layer of herringbone from a plastic bag would help.  The quinacridone burnt scarlet would make it pop a bit too.

The paint, thinned with air brush medium to a very fluid layer this time, was liberally splashed on the support with the plastic bag stretched over top.

I covered it with another piece of palette paper (waxy side on the paint) and plunked down my Van Gogh bible again.

 I very patiently watched it dry overnight, and the reveal in the morning showed me this.

I'd say I've gone too far, but if I decide that's the case, I can always knock it back a bit with more colour, more pattern, maybe gesso!  The air brush medium thinner works quite differently from the washes created with water in this technique, so there's my lesson for the week.

How about you?  What are you learning in your artwork?

Saturday 14 December 2013

Red is best.

With new camera in hand, I've been experimenting and getting to know it this morning...60 photos later, I'm amused to discover that about 99% of the photographs contain the colour red.

I've been a red fan since early childhood, and drove my mom near-crazy with the desire for everything red, so it's no surprise that my camera practice run was attracted to it.

From Andrea Revoy's fancy clay chicken,

to a scarlet-topped woodpecker by Liz Hale,

then a canvas of red flowers,

near a ribboned artist flag,

and even a  trio of dancing 'ladies',

the artwork around the house is bright with it.  And in the studio,

 it's everywhere, from the water bottles to ink jars,

and from paint colours,

to spray cans,

 and even in the discard pile,

it's impossible to escape.

I'll be curious to see where the next session of colour takes the camera.  At least it managed to pick a 'Christmas' colour this season!

Wednesday 4 December 2013


I've been remiss in posting these last couple of weeks, since I've been without a camera.  Mine keeled over while I was in Claresholm for the last workshop there, and I've been limping along without one since early November.

The arrival yesterday of a camera-on-loan from my daughter, Rochelle, will have me snapping photos until the one I ordered this past week arrives in the post.  In the meantime, I realized I could share some small paintings/wordings I call Wingdings.

These snippets are so named because my children started calling me that years ago when I married my husband John.  They thought my new name of Win Dinn was hilarious, and the occasional nickname stuck like glue.

For some reason, they thought the new moniker was very apt.

Because a sense of play is important to me, I did too.

Although these Wingdings are not playful in sentiment, they certainly are so from the studio aspect, because there's nothing I love better than playing in the studio (unless it's teaching what I've learned!).  My passion for colour and play cannot help but come through in some way, even in these.  You can see more of these on my Wingding page, as well as on my Win Dinn, Artist Facebook page.

If you're interested in learning how these backgrounds were created, check out the upcoming Mixed Media workshop in Kimberley and plan to join us.  I guarantee you'll have more fun than is strictly legal and with any luck you'll garner a wacky nickname in the process.

Tuesday 19 November 2013


Today's technical term is Smoosh - to press support to left-over paint to consume same

I'm a huge fan of smooshing because I do so many demos in workshops, and in the fray, it's not always easy to determine how much paint will be required.

Any time I have paint remaining on my altered book page or palette paper, I spritz it with water, drop a board or canvas on it, and smoosh.  Sometimes it's just a single colour,

 and sometimes it's a whole raft of them.

 I might pull the support off in a single direction,

or smoosh it in a circle before I lift it.

I love the unexpected surprises that appear,

 and what's left on the palette paper makes an awesome transfer as well.

These smooshes (OK, apparently I invented the term, since I couldn't find it in any reference 'book') can make a wonderful start to a painting.

Worship   2012  4.5 x 6.5" Mixed media  © Win Dinn

Between using cheesecloth, dryer sheets and smooshes, I'd be hard pressed to choose a favourite way to use up the leftovers - they all look edible.  And surely I'm not the only one out there who drools over a paint colour combo?

Friday 15 November 2013

I've been thinking...

... a great deal lately about why I do what I do, and the word that comes up more often than any other is PLAY.

Of the paintings I've done, the ones that make me really happy are those that are whimsical,

Fish Fancy 2009  Mixed Media  8" x 10"  © Win Dinn  Collection of the artist

incorporate silliness,
Watch your Step!   10" x 8"  Mixed Media  2009 © Win Dinn  Collection of R. Christensen 
include a play on words,

Keeping it Together    4" x 6"  Mixed Media  2010  © Win Dinn  Private Collection
use materials in a fun way (and in this case, an amusing shape too),

Night Train Through Creston II  2009  12" x 36"  Mixed Media  © Win Dinn  Private Collection
or pack an outrageous colour punch (I'm SO subtle!).

Harlequin Party  8.5" x 5.5" Mixed Media  © Win Dinn

It's also the reason why I love teaching so's such a thrill to encourage people to be free, open and purposely playful for a full weekend of fun.  Amazing magic invariably results.

A drying table of participants' play
I'd love to have you join me for a weekend of play.  If there's no upcoming playshop in your area, why  not email me so you can organize one (organizers receive their workshop free of charge)?  There are a wide range of playful possibilities, and some mid-week dates available in winter and spring 2014.

What's the one word that drives your creative life?  How does it surface?  Please leave your comments so readers can get a glimpse into your personal focus.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Frottage, aka...

...rubbings are something that kids are taught to do from an early age.  Somehow, though, we mostly forget about it.

I love them...they're highly textural and can be wonderful additions to mixed media.  I've done the first example with HB pencil and a wide range of textured items.  Repeated light brushes of the pencil across a paper laid on a textured surface can produce a wide range of pattern.

A light wash of lemon yellow over all adds another dimension,

so it can be used as accents in this abstracted piece.

Here I've started a pencil rubbing directly from a deeply textured painting.

This test 'frame' rubbing with coloured pencil on palette paper was made using the corners of an actual mosaic frame.

I sprayed the result with workable fixative and transferred it to a support (in this case, mat board) to frame a photo.  And now I know that coloured pencil rubbings can be done on palette paper for transfer.  This frame won't ever hit a gallery, but it'll certainly go in my bag of tricks!

Some things you might consider attempting rubbings on:  stencils, textured doilies, plastered walls (truly lovely!), a row of books with spines aligned, stamps, bricks, textured wallpaper, a collagraph, and so on, and on.....and on.  Happy frottaging!

Friday 8 November 2013

In Claresholm, AB, the group is....

...crazy about mixed media.

This past weekend was another exciting time at the Seniors' Centre there, where we stamped,

Kerry and Susan work at the stamp table
 played with plastic wrap,
Ellen smooshes her plastic wrap start
painted drywall (really!),
Isabella paints a drywall compound piece
 and re-worked other paintings in some cases.

Louise adds found leaves and iridescent acrylics to an old watercolour painting

With a wide range of backgrounds in the arts from 'none at all' to watercolour, oil, textiles and jewellery, it was exciting to see what resulted from using the twenty-some mixed media techniques.

This piece by Ellen incorporates wasp-nest walls around the edge!

These plastic wrap starts are vibrant with energetic colour.

Kerry's piece incorporates the use of eye shadow - can you tell where?

This piece by Kerry was a's truly lovely.

Louise'  revised  watercolour has a terrific moody feel after incorporating cheesecloth, an elderberry cluster tree, leaf trees and iridescent paints.

Meg's piece, started with a piece of Tyvek on a recent trip to Creston to play, has some additional hand-crafted stamps and paint layers now....looking luscious.
As often happens, the participants add and demo techniques of their own (I learn something new in EVERY workshop!).

Kerry, a strong volunteer with 4-H in Claresholm, demoed a method for painting flowers on t-shirts with Sharpie pen ink.

Meg kindly did a demo for us utilizing gold leaf and metallic papers.
As always, these workshops are a huge amount of work for many people.  Mega-thanks goes out to Alice Saltiel-Marshall, the extraordinary organizer, Kerry Hart, who acts as treasurer for the Claresholm events, and Meg Nicks of Sunny Raven Gallery who so kindly brings half of her store to supply the group.  Thanks, too goes to the Claresholm Art Club who secures and pays for the venue, which is superb.  And extra thanks to Alice, who forwarded all her photos of the weekend because my camera crashed just prior to the workshop.

Back row:  Susan, Barb, Alice, Louise, Meg
Front row:  Kerry, Win , Isabella
Missing from photo:  Ellen
I know the participants are happy when I read the comments on the satisfaction survey: 'Best day ever!', 'Thank you for a wonderful weekend.', 'Fun, fun, fun!', 'Wide variety of techniques covered!', 'A great learning experience.'  

This same workshop is going November 16 & 17 (just 8 days away) in Nelson, BC.  There are still some spots - would you like to join us?  Quick - PHONE 250 352 5905 to register with Oxygen Art Centre!

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