Sunday, March 15, 2015

Choosing Art Workshops: This was for fun

Whether you are a beginning or advanced artist, there are many workshop opportunities to expand your art knowledge, learn techniques, improve design and composition, or dig deeper for emotional content. When I was a beginning artist, I could make use of almost any information from a workshop, because, as a beginner, I was still searching for my own voice and my own art language and honing my skills. As I progressed and became more clear on what I had to say in my own creations, I began to realize that some workshops derailed me from my own trajectory. I would get overly influenced by a more advanced/professional artist and loose my way for awhile. It could take months to come back to my own original art-making.

Consequently, I have begun to limit myself to workshops that are: 1) mentoring in style, 2) teaching a method or technique that I already employ, 3) offering just plain fun. The marbling workshop I took from Liz Walker the past 2 days fits in the latter category. Marbling is not only fun, I now have a stack of papers to use in collage, for decorative purposes such as cards, and some to play around with as exercises with negative painting.  

The two paintings to the right, were part of day one's lesson. Liz let us choose a couple of already marbled papers to play with as she showed us ways of using a whole piece to create a painting, mostly by negative painting around the areas we wanted to keep as purely marbled. In one piece, I saw faces and figures. In the other I just wanted to preserve and enhance the beautiful marbling so I worked on a nonobjective painting.

By day two, all the workshop participants had prepared many pieces of papers to marble, which is its own process and needs to be done a day ahead of the actual marbling. After watching Liz show us several different methods of using the marbling technique, we were like horses at the starting line itching to begin.

Below are some of the examples of my own marbling. I have to tell you that I have a lot to learn and a lot of practicing to do before I could produce the kinds of papers you would buy in the art stores!

Another thing we did was marble over old paintings or starts of paintings that were either failures or uninteresting. Here are a couple examples of marbling over my own pre-painted surfaces.

There are a number of Oregon artists who very successfully take a marbled paper and create a unique piece of art by seeing subject matter in the paper, creating an abstract piece from the marbling or select parts of a paper to marble, leaving the pre-painted subject matter of the paper.

If you are interested in seeing original art using the marbling technique, check out these websites.,,

Remember my earlier comment about getting derailed? That is why I will stow away my stack of lovelies for awhile and return to the art I am already in the process of creating. The marbling will have to wait and integrate itself into my own voice and language, but boy did I have fun!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Wonders of 300 lb. Arches

The result of many washes on 300 lb Arches
For awhile now, I've been exploring ways to create deep colors through layering highly pigmented water multiple times over multiple days. I loose count, but I think it takes 7 to 10 layers to get the depth of color I want.

In this last piece I used 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper because lighter weights have a lot of warping and buckling as I do so many very wet layers. Because I don't pre-wet and stretch my papers (too lazy and impatient) I decided to see what would happen with the stronger, thicker and tougher 300 lb paper.

As expected, the multiple layering of wet washes did not result in the buckling that occurred with lighter weight paper. There was an eventual curling of the two edges, but that didn't create the unpredictable pooling I'd dealt with using the 140 lb paper.

As the painting progressed into the rocks and sand, I got much too much paint on the sandy portion in the lower part of the painting. I had created a very consistently mid-value area which required scrubbing out (making the sand lighter) with my sponge. Not a problem with the 300 lb paper. Then I realized that I needed to add washes over the sandy area to get a unity with the teal blue water. I worried my scrubbing would have created too much pilling and nubbing of the paper, but no. New washes went on like a dream.

I then realized I needed to create life and light on the rocks. Again this paper really took the workout I gave it with my little scrubber brush. This painting is a juxtaposition of many layers to the top the fear of screwing it up by dripping or touching or lifting of the paint. Versus the lower portion with working  the paper over with all sorts of scrubbing and fixing and repainting, as I struggled to make the sand, rocks, skeleton and dead fish work.

(As you can see, I had a heck of a time getting the color of the water right. It is a deep teal blue and I don't think either of these photos show the color just right.)

I really don't think you can see all the scrubbing and lifting and changing I had to make to get this painting to a finish point I'm happy with. 

This painting is part of the series "Life Cycle Imperative." The painting is about the salmon spawning, dying and providing the necessary nutrition for the new life to come.

What do you think of Salmon Story: Beginning to End?