Friday, September 17, 2021

My Usual Morning Ritual In The Studio

It didn't happen today but I'll get to that in a bit.  Usually I start my studio day with a little collage like these two.

I have boxes and baskets of little papers, I'm trying to use them up.  These are small, the largest is 4x5 inches.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with them yet but that hasn't stopped me from making them.  It's the doing that's important.

But something else is important -- feeding my soul.  And that's why this morning instead of going into my studio I went in to our garage and blew up my new inflatable kayak.  This is a replacement.  The first one leaked but that didn't keep me from liking it.  Instead of just sending it back I asked and got a replacement.

When my paintings were realism they were usually boats. I especially love old boats; rowboats and oars had been an ongoing theme.

I love being on or in the water, it feeds my soul.  We sailed for many years but that was a long time ago.  My husband doesn't have the same need for being on the water that I do so for the past several years I've gone on an art retreat at Spider Lake where I get my water fix and do a lot of painting.  

This year that wasn't enough, I needed more time on the water.  I took skulling lessons which had been on my bucket list for more years than I care to admit.  Loved it but -- I don't have a place to keep a skull on the water and haven't seen an inflatable sooooo I bought the kayak.  

While my husband doesn't need the water, he does enjoy being out on it so this afternoon we are headed out to try this new one.  He'll rent, I'll use my own.  He enjoyed it the last time we did it, who knows, he may decide he likes it enough to get one too.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Art Of Not Knowing What The %&# Will Be Under There

It's the surprise at the end of the process that makes poured watercolors and gelli printing interesting and fun.

I love my gelli plates, I never know what I'm going to get when I pull the paper off the plate.  Sometimes it's wonderful, sometimes okay and sometimes not so much. That's part of the fun for me. (If you're interested in knowing more about gelli printing here's a link to

It's very much like my poured watercolors one of which is the first picture above.  For poured watercolors instead of an easel my paper is in a jellyroll pan.  I literally pour very wet watercolor paint onto the paper and I don't want it all over my table.  Along with the very wet paint I use a masking fluid that is much like rubber cement in that it protects an area but can be removed. The process is masking, letting the mask dry, then pour the first layer of watercolor. Let it dry. Then add another layer of masking and repeat until only the darkest value is exposed. The rest of the painting is buried under the masking which has to be removed before the painting is revealed.  Like the gelli print, it could be wonderful, sometimes just okay and sometimes not so much.

But with both processes I can keep working on a piece until I'm satisfied, or in the case of the watercolor, use it for collage.  All that excess water in the jellyroll pan makes backs that are wonderful colors blended.

I enjoy the process of pouring but I'm not the most patient person. The pourings require waiting time.  Layers have to dry and sometimes that takes all day.  I use a very heavy watercolor paper. And finally, all that dried masking has to be removed.

Gelli printing dries quickly so the next layer, if needed, can be done almost immediately.  My gelli prints are often collage material but doing them made me realize acrylics and abstract paintings could also be interesting and flexible.  Like watercolor pours and gelli prints that turned out not so well, another layer on an abstract piece that isn't working could make a huge difference.  The layers add texture and another layer of interest.  

So I'm doing lots of experimenting with gelli printing, collage and abstracts and really enjoying the journey.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Why Am I Posting A Photo Of A Shirt Sleeve you may wonder --

Because it no longer has paint on it. Since I don’t always remember to put on an apron or paint shirt when I work in the studio I often have paint on my cloths. Usually that gets covered up with a stencil design or a small painting – or sometimes several stencils. Recently a cool day at my art retreat in Traverse City got me into the only long sleeve shirt I had with me. It was a good one, I didn’t want to get paint on it so I was very careful – I thought. It wasn’t until later in the evening I saw the back of my right arm in a mirror. A long streak of turquois paint on my good navy-blue shirt. Earlier in the week I was on a hunt for Murphy’s Oil Soap which I use to clean brushes and brayers. I will even work on dried paint. When I showed my shirt to my retreat buddy Terry, she suggested soaking it in Murphy’s. “If it works for dried brushes it may work on your shirt.” Hmmm -- why didn't I think of that. When I got home I tried it. It worked! The shirt is as good as new. I wish I had taken a photo of before and after. All I have is after and what you see is it. Not a speck of turquois paint and it went from the cuff up to the first dark shadow. If you don't clean your brushes with Murphy's you should. It's so easy and keeps brushes usable for a very long time. Here's how I do it – after you’ve wiped as much paint off as you can with a paper towel or any paper (collage material,) put a drop of the soap in your palm and rub the brush into it. I rinse and repeat until no more color comes out. For dried brushes and brayers which I always seem to end up with, soak them in Murphy’s for a day. Then I use paper towel to start getting the paint off. Most of it will come off the brayer easily. For the brushes I lay them down on a paper towel and use a stiff brush to pull the paint out. The only way you can tell my brayers aren't new or at least cleaned after every use is by looking at the handle.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

I Still Remember that Sinking Feeling

I’m remembering my first poured painting. I’d seen a demonstration and wanted to try it so I started with a very complex drawing of buoys hanging from a ceiling. Once that was done I started the process of masking and pouring. First masking the lightest color, pouring my watercolor paint, letting it dry, repeat until only the darkest or brightest was left and the final pour was done. Then let it dry again before finally taking all the masking off to reveal the finished piece. Disaster! I had a real mess and was ready to give up on the process. I’m sorry I didn’t photograph it but at the time I didn’t want any memory of my failure. But I didn’t throw the piece away. It was a few days later when I looked at the disaster again and thought – what the heck, it’s already ruined, I can’t make it any worse. I got out watercolor crayons, pastel pencils, colored pencils and oil pastels and went to work on my first mixed media piece. The result – satisfaction
And it sold the first time I showed it. That was several years ago and my introduction to mixed media. I've been playing with it off and on since.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

My Annual Art Retreat


I make little cairns when I swim during the retreat.  

It started when our sons were in junior high.  They’re both in their early 40’s now. The last several years have been at Spider Lake but it began at Oxbow in Saugatuck. 

Terry and her family were visiting; they live on the other side of the state.  We were talking about our sons going to camp and I said I never got to go to do that.  Home growing up was on the shore of an inland lake and I had a rowboat and my own speedboat.  My dad was not willing to send me to camp.  “Do you know what they do at camp?  They do what you do every day here at home.”  So Terry suggested “art camp.”

So we took a painting course at Oxbow. While there we took all the meals with our classmate before driving back to Grand Haven to unwind, review the day – and go through several of my art books before a good sleep. My spouse and my son stayed at his parents so our mood wasn’t broken.    By the end of the week we decided that it had been worthwhile but we could probably get just as much out of it if we just took a week without our families and worked on our art.  I had several art books that we could use to guide us as well as the instructor at Oxbow had.

The next summer a friend of Terry’s let us use her cottage on Case’s Island in the middle of Lake Fenton.  An added benefit of that location – we could swim every day in addition to making art uninterrupted.  We could eat when we got hungry.  When we broke for a meal, we either discussed what we had been working on or looked at the art books I brought along.  After a meal and a swim it was back to work.

After two years on Case’s Island her friend sold the cottage.  While at a family gathering I was moaning about losing our spot for a retreat. My brother said he and my sister-in-law just bought a place on Spider Lake near Traverse City that we could use.  With the exception of one year when they were remodeling, we’ve been going there ever since.  Still the same routine – make art, talk, eat, swim.  This year I spent most of my time coffee dying and gelli printing papers for collage.

 I did a couple warm up exercises but will probably trash them or use them as a base for collage.  The start of two small pieces, part of my “In The Zone” series look promising.  Time to get to work on finishing those.

Friday, July 23, 2021

It's Almost Time For My Annual Retreat

 I am so ready for Spider Lake!  But, before I go -- The Art Tribe is hosting a reception this Sunday at the Gallery Uptown.  I wrote about that exhibit earlier.  Next week is the last chance to see it so the Tribe is gathering to be available to answer questions.  We'll have some cookies and punch and some excellent art so if you are in the area do stop and see us.

I leave for Spider Lake on Wednesday, after my friend Karen's Picnic, I think it's 17th Annual Remission Picnic though we missed 2020.  You all know why.  

Now it's time to start thinking about what I'm going to work on while I'm there.  I've currently reawakened an interest in archeology so I may do a bit of reading and playing with some prehistoric marks.  But I also want to play a bit more with collage and abstract.  Guess I should start a list. Or wait until Tuesday night and just start putting stuff in my bag.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Art Tribe Inspired, a New Exhibit and New Work

Art Tribe – an inspiring and supportive group of artists. The new exhibit in the Gallery Uptown's Walburg Gallery features work by one such tribe. One of its members is a world traveler. When she recently shared a boatload of travel photos with the tribe, the concept of this show came to be. Each of us selected photos that inspired at least one of their works in the show.

These are two that I picked.

The two images inspired paintings that don't look anything like what I was seeing. But that happens often.  There often is a circuitous route to the end result.  The piece below, The Lord Potted Clay & Put Words on it. Sumerian epic poem c1800 BCE  was inspired by the bottom photo above.

and this one, Sarciphagi  was inspired by the top photo.

So how did the two top photos lead me to the two totally different paintings?  It certainly wasn't what I had in mind when I picked them.  I love old walls and old cemeteries.  I also love water and arches which the curve of the brick reminded me of. 

As I began to scribble on the supports I was using I remembered a trip to San Antonio when we visited some of the missions.  Who knows why, it just did. I went digging for some of my photos.  Those I found brought me back to the photo on the top, the arch of the wall and the colors.  Recently I’ve also been studying some ancient marks and symbols that seem to be universal.  Going through my San Antonio photos I found several that included some of those universal marks so I included them in both of the pieces; however, more of them are visible in The Lord Potted... than in Sarciphagi.