Friday, September 30, 2016

COLOR, Day 2

No restrictions in this color lesson as to what 2-3 colors we choose to put together for our starts. In fact, we're encouraged to try colors we don't usually use.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

COLOR, Day 1

You know that knock-knock joke, the one that goes this way:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there? 
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there? 
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?


Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say black and white?!

Started Lesson 5 today:

C - O - L - O - R!

Here are three starts, per given instructions—

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Variety, B&W Day 6

A further key component of Lesson 4 involved a quadrant 'test'—i.e. isolate each quadrant of a given piece to see that it doesn't look just like any of the others; each should be reasonably distinct. You can look back at earlier posts to evaluate my quadrant variability yourself, but I've divided one of my studies into fourths and showcased it below. This quadrant differentiation test really woke up my visual attention and pushed me to add variety to my Lesson 4 studies. 

upper left

upper right

lower left

lower right

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Variety, B&W, Day 5

Stopped playing with the second group of Lesson 4 studies. Pushed myself to both expand my mark-making vocabulary and use supplies I've never used before. I've continued to practice making straight-up what-I-see observations, but I've also included a few feelings and a bit of interpreting here.

the ink-applicator black lines in the lower left and the grid-like gray format on the right  provide visual contrast
—one loose, the other structural;

this piece conveys a strong sense of narrative energy to me, with uncontrolled scribbles 'exploding' in the lower right, veiling that reads like smoke, black slashes in the upper right corner, and a black patch of foreboding sky in the upper left;
good variation in values

this piece is largely mid-tone in value—it might benefit from more range and contrast;
a diagonal veil of white divides the piece in half and engages with both side edges; its placement might enliven the piece more if placed higher or lower, but it does bring a textural element with raised lines and dots;
the diagonal veil has the abstract appearance of a wide river to me, with 'water' that allows me to see through it to the river bed; the river image is furthered by what appear to be geographical contour lines along its 'banks' and surrounding other shapes above and below

this piece has a wide variety of marks (curved, jagged, straight, loopy, dots, stamps);
the dark heavy jagged black diagonal line contrasts with fine straight vertical lines in the lower left quadrant;
once I stood back and looked at this piece, it reminded me of a landscape, with the jagged black line a river bank, the  black lines in the lower right corner ripples on the river surface, and the shapes on the far lower left tall gangly flowers spreading their seeds at season's end

this piece has a wide variety of marks (curved, jagged, straight, loopy, dots, stamps);
the dark heavy jagged black diagonal line contrasts with fine straight vertical lines in the lower left quadrant;
once I stood back and looked at this piece, it reminded me of a landscape, with the jagged black line a river bank, the  black lines in the lower right corner ripples on the river surface, and the shapes on the far lower left tall gangly flowers spreading their seeds at season's end

the large central element here leads to less difference in each quadrant than is the case in other pieces;
the collage in the upper right corner looks more brown than black and gray as it seemed in a magazine (oops!);
the background is about 4/5 white and 1/5 black, with the large gray and black figure in the center of page seeming to be adrift perhaps in outer space; the veiling behind it creates atmospheric depth

Monday, September 26, 2016

Variety, B&W, Day 4

I've stopped playing with my first five studies from Lesson 4, thereby fulfilling the following explicit parts of the instructions:

The main goal of each piece is to create variety.
Not unity. Not having it “balanced.” Not having it “hang together." 
It is totally OK to end up with pieces that feel unresolved, raw, unfinished. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Variety, B&W, Day 3

Here are the other five starts. I opted with this bunch to put black on each page and stop for the day before proceeding.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Variety, B&W, Day 2

I took several passes at each of yesterday's starts, adding line, shape, pattern, scribble, drips, opacity, and/or veiling. Now they are no longer starts but studies in progress.

I also made five new starts (will post them a different day).

I may or may not have ruined the slacks I was wearing. Black paint on khaki? Not lookin' good. The washing machine is running …

Starts appear on the left, WIPs on the right:






Friday, September 23, 2016

Variety, B&W, Day 1

What is this, a high intensity interval training class? Do we not get to catch our breath, grab a drink of water, wipe the sweat from our brow?

Not so much.

New lesson.

Variety. Black and white.


Get your heart rate up!

Today, five starts—first passes at making marks.



Thursday, September 22, 2016


Realized I hadn't tried my hand at several techniques that were introduced in Lesson 3 so I set out to do so this afternoon. Even so, I still have a few I haven't tried yet. In this piece, the new-to-me techniques were to create a shape with wax resist using a crayon and painting over it with watered down paint to reveal the shape, and to draw a shape with water soluble graphite and go over it with water in a brush to disperse and move some of the color. Turns out, I don't have only soluble wax crayons, and the graphite crayon I have is not soluble. I improvised with Elmer's glue instead of a white crayon, and a watercolor pastel pencil instead of a graphite crayon.

That said, my goal today is actually not to report on the techniques or materials I used but to be as objective as possible in looking at the finished piece to make observations—not evaluations or interpretations, but straight up observations. As part of the class I'm taking I'm practicing SEEING. Steep learning curve here, since I repeatedly fall into interpreting, often with no awareness whatsoever! Bear with me.

Shapes #11, 9x12"

I see a stack of three simple strong main shapes—a brown ovoid, a blue circle, and an irregular red triangle with torn edges. These shapes are only slightly different in size, and they're the dominant features in the piece. Three much smaller shapes also sit in the stack, two of which are red and carry the color of the rectangle at the top into the rest of the painting. All the shapes touch at least one other, connecting them into the single stack that sits on a diagonal from bottom left to top right and divides the page pretty much in half. The ovoid at the bottom and the rectangle at the top both touch the edge of the page. I see a neutral background, lighter in color than any of the shapes and having a layered quality and color gradations; the background provides softness and contrast to the stack of shapes. Some of the background appears to drift over parts of the two lower shapes, veiling them slightly. Use of line in the ovoid and circle accentuates each shape but doesn't dominate. Textural elements (scribbles, hatch marks, small grid marks) are evident throughout but also don't dominate. The piece includes mixed media—I see what looks to be colored pencil, paint, and collage.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shapes, Day 7

Made two shapes studies today.

First, I speed-painted a sheet of cheap drawing paper with leftover paints from my stay-wet palette.

Then, I created a textured, layered, relatively neutral background using a palette knife to spread white paint over my speed-start. Very satisfying.

After that, I played with a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate for the first time. Plenty to learn, and I messed up a bunch, but it offered up user-friendly beginner's success pretty quickly. Love the simple piece that emerged.

Shapes #9, 9x12"

I opted next to see what I could create using one of my mess-up sheets from the gel plate. And, while I was messing around with new supplies anyway, I tried my hand at spray paint for the first time.

Shapes #10, 9x12"

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shapes, Day 6

√ simple, varied shapes in varied sizes
√ mask to create shapes
√ smooth edges and rough edges with paint
√ scribbled shape interior, stamp-textured shape interior
√ lines over mask to create shape
√ minimal color
√ only two different shapes
√ only three shapes total

Shapes #7, 9x12"


While hiking a seaside trail in Nova Scotia in June, I could see the shape of what appeared to be a large man on a bluff in the distance. The cliff dweller was indeed a man … made of balanced rocks! I thought of him for this shapes assignment.

Shapes #8, 9x12"

Monday, September 19, 2016

Shapes, Day 5

OK, enough blather about finding my artistic voice.

Today's mantra: KISS. Keep It Simple, Silly. 

Just fulfill a few lesson guidelines:

√ use simple shapes,
√ use a variety of shapes,
√ scribble inside a stencil shape,
√ stamp inside a stencil shape,
√ make a shape outline with a paintbrush,
√ make a shape outline with a marker,
√ make a solid shape with paint,
√ vary the size of shapes in a single piece,
√ vary the techniques in a single piece, and
√ when using line or pattern, don't let either dominate.

Shapes #6, 9x12"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shapes, Day 4

A bright sunny late summer day. Vibrant blue skies, energetic warm air.

A bright sunny late summer exploration of shapes. Vibrant teal quadrilateral, energetic warm orbs.

Shapes #5, 9x12"

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Shapes, Day 3

I can hear Dave's paintbrush spiffing up the exterior trim of our home, on the other side of the wall of my studio.

He paints outdoors.

I paint indoors.

Shapes #4, 9x12"

Friday, September 16, 2016

Shapes, Day 2

Whoa. I did not expect to feel so clunky and awkward with this lesson. So all-thumbs-and-no-grace.

So … out of shape!

Yesterday, Day 1, I started by making two speed paintings to give me interesting backgrounds with which to try my hand at using negative space.

Inner voice: Well, this is not interesting. These Blick student paints are ugly. 

I went on, flew by the seat of my pants, hoped to have one mark or shape lead to the next in a pleasing way, but I had trouble using the mask I made. Painting over the background felt uneven and ungainly.

No, no, no. Why can't I get these paints to work? Why does it look so easy when Jane does it?

I noticed my inner voice.

Redirected myself to The Parameters That Define This Exploration.





Today, Day 2, I go online to look at some shapes-oriented art of others. My knee-jerk reaction: an internal impulse to imitate.

I notice. 

I catch myself.

So, my mantra for today: get centered, breathe deeply, move slowly.

What then comes to consciousness is something from deeper than the imitation impulse—the recognition that what I want to 'imitate' is not this painting or that, but any given artist's ability to express herself uniquely. 

I don't want to imitate at all—I want to still myself enough to discover, develop, and honor my own visual voice. 

Get centered, breathe deeply, move slowly. 

Just do the lesson.

Keep exploring.

Shapes #3, 9x12"