Saturday, April 28, 2012


Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese technique (and philosophy) that refers to the qualities of imperfection. I thought this would be a fun thing to incorporate into my next painting and art prompt: paint something using a new technique because it looks like fun.

I used various patinas, torn paint and splattered paint to achieve a rustic and imperfect piece. Some wabi-sabi art prompts could be: rust, patina, peeling paint, torn papers, stained fabrics, old worn books, or chipped and broken items.

First, I created an imperfect painting surface using an acrylic sculpting medium to paint base layers onto a board. I love how textured this looks.  I alternated layers of gel medium and the sanding back of areas until I had the look and texture I wanted. It reminds me of layers of peeling paint.

I wanted to give the piece an aged and dirty look.  I achieved this by rubbing graphite paper into all the nooks and crannies of the textured background.

 Next, I added bits of torn paper.

The last thing I did was drip and splatter black and white paint over the painting.

The wonderful thing about trying a wab-sabi art piece is to be reminded that, sometimes, imperfection is simply... perfection!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chinese ink, a garage sale and a You tube video.

Art prompt of the week: create a piece of art using an art medium in your studio that you have never used before.

Several years ago my mom gifted me a set of Chinese ink sticks.  They had embossed dragons on them and they were truly lovely. And I truly had no idea what to do with them. For years they sat on a shelf in a Chinese dish, looking fraudulently like I knew what I was doing. And then my husband went to a garage sale last weekend and came home with a stone dish, two Chinese brushes and another one of these ink sticks.

 What would we do without google and You Tube, I ask you? Within minutes I had downloaded and watched multiple videos on how to use the ink sticks. The first step was to "grind" the art stick into a spot of water on the stone.  Although the term "grinding" is used, I came to learn from watching experts that very little pressure is used, merely the weight of the stick itself. The act of making ink should take 15 minutes and is meant to be a period of meditation (during which I was watching a movie on Netflix- guilty as charged!) Personally I meditate when I walk.

I also watched a series of art action videos, where ink was swirled in circles across both wet and dry paper.  It was fascinating to watch the ink spread into the wet areas.  I tried pages and pages of this while I was getting used to using Chinese brushes. Beautiful in their simplicity, the swirls and circles finally got me meditating, the movie on the computer now paused.

Eventually the swirls were reminding me of hair. I reached for one of my figure drawing resources, selected a model and quickly rendered a sketch.  The immediacy of ink is so permanent. Any mistakes are meant to be and the drawing is, long after the paint brush has been laid to rest.

Don't be shy if you come across an art medium you are not sure of. You-tube videos can be an indispensable learning tool. Set aside some time and just go for it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Silhouettes of the ones you love

Art prompt of the week: create a silhouette. Creating outline portraits of the one you love was a cheap and easy way to record their image. I'm often caught gushing about my first loves: my children, now big teen aged boys!  If you know me well you know my other loves are animals. I was a baby raised by goats and St. Bernards; a young child who slept in the hay with piglets, and a young woman madly in love with her horse. When I moved away from my Cariboo farm into an apartment in a University town I bought a rat.  A bold fellow who lived freely in my house, drank tea and rode around on my shoulder. It wasn't until I moved back out to the country in East Sooke that I slowly started to gather animals around me again. Brown Dog is old and graying at the eyes and sinking in the back.  Frankie has me convinced that she's my soul mate, my fuzzy lover and constant companion. King Louie! A small 7 lb black cat with a crooked smile, a snaggle tooth and huge yellow eyes two sizes too big for his head. And then there is Tuxedo, the comedian! A huge 15 lb oaf that sits on every open page of your book as you are reading and chews on guitar strings.

It seemed appropriate to immortalize my two cats in silhouette, as I've never painted them before. 

I wanted more than just the stark black and white outline typical of classical sillouettes.  I began by creating two paper collages of old dictionary pages onto cradled wood panels.

Then I whitewashed, scribbled, painted, sanded and distressed with carbon paper. The two panels will be mounted as a diptych once it is completed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spend 5 minutes at your worktable

Today's art prompt seemed easy enough: allow yourself to sit at your worktable for five minutes. I looked around and immediately saw my half finished octopus which HAS to be finished ASAP! He still needs eyes, shaping and attaching to the Sea Maiden project.

I continued to sit for the remainder of 5 minutes. As I sat and surveyed the rest of my studio I started to feel guilty; started to feel my Irish. I felt a confession coming on. Forgive me father, for I have sinned.  It has been 3 months since I cleaned my studio and 2 months and 4 days since I fully completed a large project. Oh, the guilt! I saw unframed works, half finished paintings, encaustic wax, driftwood, fabric and yarns strewn about. Me... with 11 art shows this year and a studio tour breathing down my neck!

This is the prefect time to embrace your inner nerd. Get out your art journal and prepare to organize and make lists. Here are some of the things I do to help prioritize and organize my various art projects:

1. Make a checklist of all the art shows I wish to participate in order of deadlines for submission.
2. Make a list of all the major pieces I need to make and give each project a deadline.
3.Make a list of frames needed with sizes. Start framing pieces as they are completed. I hate doing things at the last minute!
4.Create an inventory of all my works of art, including prices and locations of where they are showing.
5. Plan on spending a couple of hours a day on my art and at least 1-2 full days.
6. Hang completed pieces on the wall with prices, for those in between dop in visitors. That way you won't have to scramble to pull out your artwork.

I keep a master binder (nerd!) that has a section for each major art show or studio tour I participate in. I keep all the minutes to every meeting, every receipt, updated inventories, every article that has ever been written on me, and every brochure or poster to these art shows. It all helps to keep me organized, so that when I find myself just sitting at my desk, looking at all the stuff I still need to do, I can keep from feeling overwhelmed.