Thursday 30 May 2013

Well, it's gardening time again,

...I'm gonna leave you.  It's no secret to my friends that I'm intensely allergic to all forms of gardening, unless it happens to be from the viewpoint of the deck while the husband-in-residence (aka John) does it all.

Against my personal wants/wishes/desires, I knew that the time had come to get out into the iris patch.   It presently appears as though there is only one lonely iris anywhere in the area due to the horrendous infestation of quack grass which has appeared in increasing numbers every year.

We have a lovely back yard, which John has turned into a cornucopia of heritage tomatoes,



and other soft fruits and vegetables too numerous to mention.

And while John's interest definitely lies in the direction of food (is that a guy-gardening thing?), I've a fondness for flowers, so he kindly indulges me.

The deck is awash in florals (with some handy-to-the-kitchen tomatoes thrown in for good measure) where even the barbeque is now ready for summer.

Of course you're wondering how the iris patch is looking after all my intensive weeding, so I thought I'd take a second photo...

I like it much better this way.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Feeling a little cheesy?

One of my favourite studio staples is cheesecloth.  I use it for mop-up (the coloured bits are great to incorporate into mixed media paintings), and it's a wonderful tool for creating backgrounds.

I gather my supplies, including a hard support (in this case a wooden panel), brush, paint, water, cheesecloth and water spray bottle.

I create a wash of luscious colour - quinacridone pink is my choice for this demo (the antraquinone blue is SO yesterday),

and lay the cloth over the heavily water-sprayed support.  Wetting the cheesecloth with yet more water,

I start laying in a wash of colour with my brush.  I'm not too concerned about keeping the colour even, as it will all travel where it wishes due to the watered cheesecloth.  You can, of course, also add two or more colours at a time for visual interest.

Once I've sufficient colour on the cheesecloth (and even some of the environs), I leave it to dry overnight. 

The next day I can peel the dry cheesecloth off, leaving a subtly gridded background texture behind.

A closer look reveals small bits of cheesecloth sticking to the support - they can be removed, or left there to add more texture to the painting.

With this panel, I'll add more layers of cheesecloth in additional colours, and I'll likely stretch and tear it to add layered interest to the background before continuing on to the middle and foreground portions.  And of course I'll use that lovely pink cheesecloth in this or another painting.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Artist friends...

... are a necessity in my world.

Creating anything is essentially a task that requires concentration, focus and a space that fosters experimentation.  As such, it is often a lonely task.  But it is the artists who have gone before, and the ones with whom we play, that also stir the creative juices and help us to think outside of our own patterns and ways of doing things.

I regularly play with artist friends, and more than anything, appreciate the different methods of creativity I discover by doing so.  An often-as-possible-for-one-who-lives-in-another-province playmate is Alice Saltiel-Marshall, an incomparable oil/acrylic/watercolour artist who has embraced the mixed media world with a passion.  Alice teaches me as much as my mind can absorb about the world of painting realism, and if I ever manage her feather touch with a paint brush I will feel it has been a life well-lived.

Mail from Gran  ©Alice Saltiel-Marshall
If I have questions about watercolour techniques, I call on my artist friend Laura Leeder.  Her timeless paintings evoke a feeling of years gone by, and take me to a place of quiet appreciation for still life and florals.

Summer Harvest  © Laura Leeder
When I am considering anything to do with fabrics, I'll be in touch with Eileen Gidman, whose methods of painting with dyes on fabric are rich, deep and colourful.  Her use of stitching over her painted pieces was impetus for a project created for my niece two years ago, and I'm thinking there are possibilities of working with painted dryer sheets that she can assist me with.

Birds on a Wire  © Eileen Gidman
So to these and others of my artist friends who give me such joy, I salute you, and thank you.  It's a pleasure to share this journey with you.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Renos, anyone?

Drywall compound is a great way to play in the studio - a LOT more fun than renovating a room in the house.

As long as one works on a non-flexible support, it works as well as does modelling paste, and it's a fair bit cheaper especially when you purchase by the gallon.  If you're working on a canvas, however, I recommend Liquitex Flexible Modeling Paste, which will offer the 'give' you need on a movable support.

Here I selected a mat board and some thin plastic and metal grids.

Discarding one due to the thickness of the plastic, I placed the grids over the mat board, and applied drywall compound liberally with a palette knife.

I scraped the excess off and returned it to the pail for later use, and then carefully removed the grids, washing them thoroughly for re-use later.

 I scratched back into the compound with the tip of my paintbrush, and

left the piece to dry thoroughly overnight. 

The next day I dropped fluid paint into the incised area. When it was dry, I

spritzed with diluted acrylic paints in various colours, although I often use thinned acrylics and paint them on.

I secured a found felt heart inside the painted one with liquid medium.  More paints will be dry-brushed in areas, and a week or two of observation will tell me what else is required to finish the painting.

Now tell me you'd enjoy renovating a room more than this kind of play!

Thursday 16 May 2013

One, two, three, four...

...add another to the score.

I find myself shaking my head many days in the studio.  For someone who spent many years being a meticulous accountant, highly organized and precise to a fault, I'm amazed at the way I work when I'm in the right (wrong?) side of my brain.

I bounce from project to project,  all the while glorying in the rich colour I see.

I'll move from a painting started with a book cover (a brilliant idea from one of my students, Dena Kubota)

to add a layer to a 'skin' in progress,

 smear a book page with a painty wet brayer to clean off it off,

 and then move to another book cover start.

I find a stack of works in progress, and wonder how many of them I'll get to today (eight in this pile alone),

and cast my eye on another pile of Gelli plate prints that await additional layers.  My mouth waters with anticipation.

This all takes place under the watchful eye of Opal, the studio cat.  She is very particular about anyone making too much commotion in 'her' studio.

I intersperse my studio time with workshopsshows and connecting with other artists.  Is it any wonder that I sometimes feel myself going wild with colour madness?  It's truly a wonderful life!

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Love those spiders...

or at least, their webs.  Without them, the cobweb technique would never have been created.

Laura Leeder was here on the weekend to learn this gorgeous technique, which I learned from Alice Saltiel-Marshall last fall.  You can see Alice's blog about this technique (and others) here.  I've since incorporated it into my Mixed Media II - More Playtime for Adults workshop.  It's fast becoming a favourite.

Here, I've taped a piece of 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolour paper to a sheet of butcher paper sitting over top of a thick piece of cardboard (plywood or gator board works better than cardboard, though!).

I've started pinning bits of cobwebbing (available from craft and dollar stores around Halloween) across the paper, taking care to keep it thinly spread in an interesting design.

Here, Laura tapes her paper to plywood in preparation for her sheet.  The key is ensuring that the webbing touches the paper completely in all areas.

Once the webbing is in place, water is sprayed and painted on to the paper, and thinned acrylics, watercolours and inks can be lightly painted or spritzed on to the support.  We used acrylic paints (already thinned and in 2 oz. bottles), Dylusions ink sprays from Ranger, and a metallic spritzer or two.

The wet sheet then needs to partially dry to the point where the webbing can be picked off, and then left to dry completely.  If one waits until the whole thing is completely dry, there will be a prolonged period of picking webbing from the painting, hands, pins and teeth!

The completed piece has a lovely sense of depth and texture - I can just imagine this as a background for a painting.

Unfortunately, due to a camera fail (likely due to a 1d10T error), I was unable to capture a photo of Laura's finished piece, a lovely one indeed.  You may want to keep your eye on her blog to see if she writes about her experience!

Just a note that if you're testing this out, and use watercolours rather than acrylics or inks, you'll want to finish off with a couple of good sprays with workable fixative before working over top of it.  However you do it, it's bound to be beautiful.  I KNOW there will be a run on cobwebbing wherever I am this Halloween!

Thursday 9 May 2013

That crazy, wild, Claresholm group....

... did a FINE job this past weekend in the Mixed Media II workshop.  We had so many students and so many starts that we were all totally confused by 10 am on Saturday morning (and we started at 9).  How much fun is that?!

Susan, Jean, Jean, Cathy, Glenda, Billie, Brydon & Alice working like fiends
Luckily, Alice Saltiel-Marshall had been on hand throughout the organizational process to keep us all in line.  She also presented the cobweb technique she'd taught me last fall, and bailed me out on the drywall compound technique too  (somebody forgot to make enough starts)!

Alice wows us with the richness of a cobweb technique.
One of the participants, Meg Nicks of Sunny Raven Gallery, volunteered (well, I confess she was thoroughly strong-armed) to demo gold/silver/metal leaf.  The other artists watched with great glee, and not a little awe, as a dark blue background began to sport rich metallics using three different methods.

Meg dances with gold leaf
The floors, tables and walls were covered with half-started, nearly finished and 'good Lord what stage is that?' pieces (that last one was mine) to the point where we were tippy-toeing around the Seniors' Centre like elves in  a drunken stupor.

We played with drywall compound, raw pigments, fabrics, wallpaper, alcohol (inks, not the drinking kind), papers and paint to the point where we were all inebriated with colour.

You can tell with all the help (add Kerry Hart for all the treasury work and marketing, Judy Dahl and Shannon Clay with even more marketing, and Alice Saltiel-Marshall for organization, marketing and demos) I had next to nothing to do - sounds like a GREAT gig, right?  

Back:  Meg, Jean, Dorrit, Brydon, Linda, Dominique, Betty, Sherry
Middle:  Jean, Marrika, Glenda
Front:  Kerry, Sally, Billie, Judy, Cathy
Lazing on the floor:  Yours truly
Photo by Alice Saltiel-Marshall
It could not have been a better weekend, topped off by fabulous meals from Bill Marshall, and the occasional glass of wine to celebrate.  Many thanks to you all - you are an AMAZING group!

Thursday 2 May 2013

It's final.

In spite of  (or perhaps because of ) all the activity these past three months, I've managed to complete a painting or two.  It's likely because I went on record in January to commit to 60 finished paintings this year...more fool me!  I can't quite figure out how I'm going to play with my new Gelli plate AND finish paintings.

At any rate, I did manage to complete a few of them at the end of March and throughout April.  The first is another of my 'I-am-obsessed-with-circles-in-any-form-and-number' paintings.

...Around in Circles    5.5 x 8.5"
Mixed Media on mat board    © Win Dinn
I also became intrigued with adding slightly embossed bits to paintings, and these patterns just seemed to appear out of the blue (or purple/burgundy).

Colour Ladder    8.5 x 5.5 "
Mixed Media on mat board © Win Dinn
I return again and again to the use of negatives and film strips in my work - somehow they seem to hide stories that I've long forgotten.
Snapping Old Growth   6 x 9"
Mixed Media on mat board  © Win Dinn
I call the raised paper bits in this painting 'scrambles'.  They're the rolled off bits of paper that arise when creating 'skins' (a type of transfer), and I've painted hundreds of them over the years. incorporating them into paintings en masse or in small groups.  OK, I NEVER claimed that I was sane.

When Complements Collide   6 x 9"
Mixed Media on mat board  © Win Dinn
These paper roses literally fell onto the red squares when I accidentally dropped a box of painted paper flowers on the workshop table.  I'm not sure if they glued themselves to the painting or the elves did it, but they're stuck now for sure.
Vertical Bouquet  8 x 6"
Mixed Media on board  © Win Dinn
Who doesn't love tax time?  I always get so excited when I know it's time to do the taxes, and I'm sure you do too.  And why not use those left-over instruction sheets for something that's a little more fun?

...and Taxes    9 x 7"
Mixed Media on mat board  © Win Dinn
Now maybe I can get back to playing with Gelli prints, just as soon as I finish all the other paintings on the tables.  Can I wait that long?  Maybe not, what with tearing off tomorrow to do a workshop in Claresholm - 15 participants, 20 new techniques and new friends to make.  I LOVE my life!
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