Category Archives: Paintings

Heartbeat

Here is another neurographics-related painting I made.

(If you wonder what I’m talking about, here is a post I wrote explaining how I got to this place along the art road.)

This one is called “Heartbeat”.

I did this painting in March, 2022. It’s 24″ x 18″ on Masonite, painted in acrylics and acrylic paint markers.

Engine

Here is another painting I made following (very loosely) the structure of doing a painting while considering neurographics. (If you wonder what I mean, here is a post I wrote explaining how I got to this place along the art road.)

It’s called “Engine”.

I did this painting in March, 2022. It’s 24″ x 18 on masonite, painted in acrylics and acrylic paint markers.

Paste Papers and Paste Painting

You may remember I’ve taken a couple of Zoom classes at the Kalamazoo (MI) Book Arts Center with Lorrie Grainger Abdo. She’s a great teacher, informative and fun to learn from. I also like the subject matter she presents – topics that stem from her work in book arts but are applicable to any artist’s work. (Look here for posts I’ve written on mark-making and circles/squares.

So when I saw that the Smithsonian was offering a Zoom class on paste papers and paste painting, taught by Lorrie, I was ready to sign up for two reasons. One, the teacher! and Two – I’ve wanted to try this technique ever since some students I taught in college classes showed me paste papers they had made. They were beautiful and quite different from the collage papers I make by simply painting with acrylic paints. I’d never had the chance to try the technique and now, here it was right in front of me.

All right. What is paste painting? Basically, it’s a surface decoration process that involves using a mix of paste and paint, applied to paper. It’s very amenable to layering and to texturing. I won’t go into much more detail since information is readily available on the internet. Let me tell you how we did things in the class.

The paste used is this product, Elmer’s Art Paste. It’s readily available and very inexpensive. This whole box can go through quite a few painting sessions, and once water is added, it lasts a very long time, so you don’t have to use it all up right away.

We needed to prepare the paste a day before the class, and it must be made with refrigerated cold water (to avoid lumps), which should chill overnight at least. For the class on Thursday, I started cooling the water on Tuesday and made the paste on Wednesday.

Here are Lorrie’s full directions on how to prepare the paste. I appreciated her thorough explanation.

I made half a box of paste and it just fit into a large plastic multi-serving container. I thought the paste would be white, but it’s actually clear. In fact I thought my paste had not gelled until I stuck my finger into it, between that and it not being opaque white, I had a bit of a fright, thinking I’d have to start over.

All right. Next, I gathered my materials and set up my work space. Lorrie had sent us a photo of how the materials might be arranged, along with written notes as to what was needed. Here is my set-up with her photo in the middle of the picture.

You see that I have craft acrylic paints for this session. Craft paints work perfectly well, but they have less pigment than better paints, so that you would use more paint. However, since I didn’t know if I’d ever do this process again, I just grabbed my existing assortment of $1.19 paint bottles and it worked out fine. For future reference, Lorrie used a student grade acrylic and I would think that if I kept up with paste painting I would do so as well.

You also see

  • plastic tubs to mix the paint and paste;
  • a variety of texturing tools;
  • foam brushes to spread the paste paint on the papers;
  • sketch papers, which is what I used in this session;
  • rags and water (the brushes and so on will get glued up if they don’t stand in water when not in use).
  • And of course the paste, in the yogurt container to the back right.

OK. After Lorrie explained the process to us, we got to work (our class was a group of about 10, and we were from all over the US). Basically, you glop paste into your container, then add paint until you like the opacity (this is where the use of better paints comes into play). If you want to mix a custom color, you just get the paints you want, mix the color, and add it to the paste.

Or, if you are me, you use up some of your color, red, let’s say, and then you add more paste and some blue paint and you get purple. Use that up, add more paste, add white, now you have lavender…

Once you have your colors, you spread paste paint on the paper with your foam brush (for overall coverage) or maybe with a palette knife or other tool (for mark making, usually in later layers, but…no rules! ).

The paste paint dries pretty quickly, so you can layer another color on not too much later. You can also paint in stripes, or blobs of color randomly scattered, or…really, do whatever you like.

All along the way, you can use your tools for texture. I was astounded by the transparency of layering possible, and the dimensionality this paste paint gives. You can scrape into the paint or you can add on to the top layer with stamps or a paintbrush, etc.

Let me just show you want I mean rather than using words.

The class focused on painting for the purpose of making collage papers or paper to be used in bookmaking. I also experimented with painting a “scene”:

I love the transparency and the layering. I’d like to try more things like this image. There is an ethereal quality to this image that I really enjoy. What did I use to make this image?

  • /Foam brush, both for spreading paint and for daubing straight lines with the end of the brush
  • plastic spackle tool
  • pencil eraser (at the end of a pencil)
  • plastic soap holder, flexible and grooved
  • plastic grout spreader
  • rubber-tipped tools intended for making marks into clay (I have a variety with different tips that make different marks)

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Well, that’s pretty much it. I’m thrilled to have learned this process, and I can see I will be experimenting with it and finding uses for it as time goes on.

Thank you to Lorrie Grainger Abdo and my classmates for a very informative and fun session!

Puffy Cloud Sky

I made this tiny painting (it is 6″ x 6″ on Masonite, in acrylics) by putting a bit of paint on the gessoed board and using a roller to apply it to the surface. I did several layers to achieve this landscape effect.

I scribbled and scraped into the layers to get some interesting marks that look like some kind of vegetation, and I used markers to scribble between layers of pain as well. I also smudged things a bit with my finger if the hard edges made by the roller looked too harsh to me.

As for the puffy clouds, the roller picked up the small dab of white paint I put on the surface and made spots rather than a full line across the image, because there was of course too little paint to coat the roller. I really like this effect, especially if I keep going over the surface until the paint is all gone.

You could get a similar effect by sticking your finger into some paint and then tapping all around the picture. I have done this sometimes, too.

Three small paintings

Here are three more of those tiny 4″ x 4″ paintings I have been doing on 3/8″ thick board – with the idea of them being useful for art drop offs in parks and the like (look here if you wonder what I am talking about).

I think these were my favorites from the group of twelve I recently made, so I have kept them here at home for a while to enjoy them.

Half-a dozen

Back in February or so, I got out this assortment of 6″ x 6″ Masonite boards and let my inner painting person have her say. In other words, I had no plan, I just felt like painting, and what emerged were these colors and shapes.

There is a great sense of freedom when you are using boards that cost less than a dollar each.

Well, I’ve got this assortment now and it seems to me they ought to stay together, but I’m not sure in what way to configure them or combine them. I sort of feel like making them into a cube, if I can figure out a good way to do that. Then I could set it on a table and as I pass by, turn it to see something new.

Hmmm…if I do go in this direction, I’ll check back and let you know.

Mark-making and where it led

Back in February, I took a Zoom workshop on mark-making. One topic that came up was neurographic art.

Our instructor, Lorrie Grainger Abdo, explained it as an art therapy that follows a specific set of instructions that the individual can use to reduce stress, work out problems, etc. In our session, she focused on explaining the actual mark-making that is used to accomplish it in showing us the technique.

Basically, you make a scribbly or swirling line on your paper, with crossings and intersections. Your paper can be plain or have colors or designs already on it.

Where those crossings occur, you fill them in to round them off. You extend any dangling lines to the edge of the paper. Then you do whatever you want with the result – fill in with color, with marks, add or subtract items, whatever you like.

This technique intrigued me as another example of providing artistic freedom within boundaries to guide me. Often, I want to paint, to let out feelings, but I need a place to start. For me, this idea really was exciting. I tried it out right away.

I had a masonite board 14″ x 11″ that I had painted with some colors. I drew in my lines and went from there. Here is the result.

I called it “Woman” because that was what first ocurred to me when I stopped working and looked at it as a whole.

I really enjoyed this process of working and it’s perfect for opening a door to an abstract painting, I think. I will be doing it again.

Going to Go Out into the World

I made these little images as a test case for possible art drop offs (if you want to know what I am talking about, look here).

They are done in acrylics/acrylic markers on 4″ x 4″ boards that are 3/8″ thick. I’ve used this support before and I thought it might be good for handling some amount of inclement weather. Because art outdoors, you have to be ready.

In actual use, I put the couple of paintings I’ve set out already into plastic sleeves (I happened to already have some that were a good fit). I think of these as little raincoats.

I also put a note inside that lets the curious viewer know it’s ok to take the art home with them, if they want to.

Waiting Room

Between August 2021 and February 2022, I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms of all kinds of eye doctor offices, but mostly at the hospital, for treatment of my eye problems. So, you can see from where I got the inspiration to do this painting.

Acrylics and acrylic markers, 20 x 16, January 2022.

Wasp Control

…is the name of today’s story at Fictive Dream.

Throughout the month of February 2022 I will be showing you illustrations I did for Flash Fiction February 2022 at Fictive Dream, an online magazine devoted to the short story.

Here’s the image editor Laura Black chose for this story, Wasp Control, by Jude Higgins.

And here is the artwork with the banner. Take a look at this image. And then…

Read the story at Fictive Dream.