Category Archives: How-to

Crop to Find a New Creation

I really love the idea of notecards.  Personally, I only send them as thank you notes or birthday cards.  The rest of my communications are via email.   There are still some Baby Boomers out there who don’t use the internet all that much, or consider it too impersonal a way to communicate.  Those are the people who should buy your notecards or receive a pack of them as a gift from a loving friend or child!

Not all paintings or collages look good as notecards.  But portions of a painting might look great.  Case in point is my painting Evolution. The texture and colors are so magnificent in person that a print of it just doesn’t give you the same Wow.

Evolution - collage, acrylic ink, varnished, framed and sold

But, a part of this same painting looks great as a notecard image.  What do you think?

Digital clip of original painting "Evolution"

I took a portion of Jody’s collage from the last post and clipped it digitally to make an image that could be nice on a notecard.

Digital clip of Jody's original collage "A New Beginning"

See anything you can do with some of your paintings and collages?  Let me know what you think.

Collaging with Kids

Red, Blue and Yellow inks again produced lots of color

Collaging with Kids, again – very fun.  I managed to get a couple of videos in here for you along with some photos of the finished collages.

My friend Jody is genuinely generous and full of love.  One example of this is what she’s doing right now – enjoying her 6-year old grandson, Zander.  He lives in California.  We live in South Carolina.  She got on a plane a couple of weeks ago and went to California to pick him up.  This kind of trip takes an entire day each way.  In a couple of more weeks she will get on a plane with him and take him home.  Then she will cry for about half the trip home and the rest of the trip she will be thinking of other generosities we, as her friends, will benefit from. If you don’t have a friend like this, drop everything and go seek one out.  The best way I know to become loving and generous is to be in the presence of someone who treats you as if you already are.

Yesterday Jody and Zander and I played at collaging.  I did things a little different this time.  We collaged the paper first, and then we dripped the diluted acrylic ink.  The reason for this change of order is that I noticed people have trouble covering up a painted paper with washi or other paper.  They think they are destroying the Mona Lisa, rather than just creating a surface.  For some people, this is the first time they’ve put any paint onto paper in many years and are so excited to see how interesting it looks.

What we did to get ready was to watch a DVD called “Return to the Ice Planet.”  It’s about 10 minutes long and was written and created by my two grandsons.  It’s a spoof on “Star Wars” and starts out as Episode 0.  It was shot in their backyard, family room and the hills of Woodland Hills CA. It’s a fine example of brilliant kid humor and creativity. Zander loved it.

Then we got down to painting!

Step 1:  We mixed a little glue and water onto a cardboard and then painted the glue mixture onto our paper where we planned to put the washi paper.  Then we put down the washi paper and painted a very light coating of glue and water over it.  We kept doing this until we had about 10 or 15 pieces of washi paper all connected to each other in some way – a corner or a side.

Step 2:  We sprayed the entire paper with water until it was covered, but mostly around the non-collaged areas.

Step 3:  With small squirt bottles of red, blue and yellow diluted acrylic ink, we dripped a little ink onto the paper and watched it run into the crevices of the washi paper and run around the watercolor paper.  The more you squirt with water next to the ink you dropped, the more it moves.  Usually at this point, we would let it dry for a few hours or overnight.  But since there was nothing on there that would blow off, I used a hairdryer, mainly blowing onto the back of the painting.  If you really want some interesting ink movement, let your piece dry naturally.  Once the hair dryer hits it, the ink stops moving.

Step 4:  Next we put three circular shapes onto our paintings.  We used a metal ring, jar lids, embroidery hoops and a yogurt container. Then we squirted more ink around the edges.  These we let dry overnight to be ironed in the morning.

We got in the mood this morning by watching the first episode of “Picasso” – a video that shows him using a marking pen on paper to create an image of him as the artist, painting a nude model.  What’s so amazing about all of the episodes on this video is how much black he uses.  He thinks in negative space, evidenced by the way he started the drawings.

Step 5:  The final steps can be a variety of things:  Ink an image over the interesting background (line on shape), paint around the shapes with watercolor pens and then squirt to make the paint run some more, or add more collage paper and then drip ink or draw.

Zander drew animals and faces and around some square shapes with watercolor pens, squirted a few and declared himself finished.

Zander age 6, has given himself the stage name of Alexander Best

Jody put a few little dabs of watercolor onto her piece using the watercolor pens, squirted it a bit and decided she liked it the way it was.  She did spend a lot of her painting time just enjoying Zander laughing and playing around with his piece.

Jody’s Black Hole, Chess piece or Rocket – or whatever your think it might be for you!

Sharing Experimental Painting

Wednesday and Thursday I spent a couple of really fun hours with my neighbor’s daughter (age 50) and her granddaughters (age 14 and 10). They had wanted to do an art project while they were here, so I set them all up in the dining room with trays,a sheet of watercolor paper, squirt bottles of water and acrylic ink. We also had some fun shapes and washi paper that would resist the paint and make interesting designs. See their finished works below.

This technique, with a few slight changes, I learned from Terry Balady at The Atelier in Chatsworth, CA. Next time I do something like this,  I will take pictures along the way.  It will make it easier to understand and I won’t have to use so many words.

Here’s how it worked:
DAY 1:
We all used the same three colors of diluted acrylic ink: red, blue and yellow; and all had access to the same materials. But, you guessed it, we created completely different works of art. Here’s the process:

1. Spray the paper to get it wet.

2. Drop ink one color at a time onto the paper in different places. Just a few drops so the paint runs and leaves a lot of light spaces.

3. Spray the paper again if the paint isn’t moving. You want the colors to run into each other so that you end up with red, blue, yellow, purple, green and orange.

4. Let it sit for a few minutes while you select some shapes to put onto the paper. We used embroidery supports – those round things with holes all around in a circle, bottle and jar lids, yogurt cups and torn up wrapping paper. We also glued on strips of paper bags and different textures of washi papers.

5. Once you have the shapes you like, put them down on the slightly damp paper and then squirt a little more ink around them. The shapes will push the ink away and make some really interesting designs. You can glue on some shapes and just place others if you think you might want to remove them the next day.

HINT: Dilute the glue or acrylic matte medium with half water. Mix up on old pieces of cardboard which you can throw away later. Use an old stiff paintbrush to apply the glue onto the support (the thing we just ironed). Just put enough glue on so the paper sticks. Then paint a light coat of the glue mixture over the paper. Get out all the bubbles.

Here’s the hard part: You need to leave it alone overnight so that it dries completely. If you don’t the paint will get muddy.

DAY 2:

1  Check to see if the painting is dry, and then remove everything that isn’t glued on.

2. Iron the painting on the back, using medium temp iron. Be sure to put facedown onto a thin cotton dish towel so that paint doesn’t come off onto your ironing board cover.

3. HINT: If the painting is still very wet in places, you can use a hairdryer on it. But beware that it will blow off any pieces that aren’t glued on.

4. Once the painting is fairly flat, and completely dry, you’re ready to put more collage pieces on.

5. Take a look at your painting from all angles. See if you think it has a direction. If not, just keep gluing on papers. You can stain the papers with ink and dry them, or you can paint a little diluted ink onto the papers. Don’t be afraid to cover up things. The washi paper designs and shapes show through and makes it interesting.

6. Use lots of paper in different shapes and sizes, put down in different directions. In the picture above you can see that I didn’t think too much about where I put the papers. I was just interested in them being different sizes and shapes. What emerged, at least when the painting is in this direction, is a woman walking. I can see her, maybe you can too?

7. Once you have glued on a lot of pieces of paper (like 20 or 30 on a 12″ x 15″ support) and you’ve added all a few more drops of ink, call it a day.

8. Let it dry for a day or two and then turn it around a few times and see what shows up.

9. Ask friends and family to tell you what they see in your painting. If you want to define it more, then get out the paintbrush and paint around what you see to make it more obvious. Add more collage pieces or more paint. I have one piece that has 10 different collages underneath it. I just kept gessoing over it until I did something I liked.

You can’t get a good result with this process unless you PLAY and MOVE around and just throw things down on the paper. What happened with our group was that the 50-year old had a wonderful experience of letting go and playing. Once she got into it, she didn’t want to stop. The other two, being kids, got it right away. After they all left yesterday, I dried their pieces with a hair dryer and ironed them on the back to straighten them out and then matted them. Last night I took them over to my neighbor’s house and we played “Stump the Grammy” to see if Grammy could tell who did which painting. She got it 100%. Here are their awesome pieces!!

Kenesha, age 14Hallie, age 10

Lori, the Mom

Ok, now go PAINT and PLAY!!