Tag Archives: painting

Update on Art Class

As you may remember I am teaching a mixed media art class at a local art center. We’ve just finished three classes. I’ve taken my students, who are all experienced adult artists in various mediums, through a grounding in collage, paint techniques, and today, in combining the two.

From this point we will spend a number of weeks approaching mixed media from the standpoint of various genres – still life, landscape, portraits, etc. But these three weeks form the basis for all the remaining work we will be doing.

During this class, one thing we did was go through the process of creating backgrounds for mixed media work. My goal was to have the students see how it works to use layers of paint and paper to build up rich visual texture.

I brought in a mixed media piece I did some years ago to illustrate what I was talking about today.

Art class 10-16-19 Abington (2)

Today, these backgrounds were not made with a specific goal – just to practice the technique, feel some ease in working this way, and to avoid turning a background into a composition.

Not that the last bit is a bad thing – I do it all the time, just start in and let the composition go where it will. But today, we needed to stop before that point in order to focus on just doing mixed media work. And, it’s also important to realize that in some cases, you will want to create a background for a specific purpose or image to follow. You don’t want to lose control and wander off.

It’s hard to do this, I think. The brain wants to see patterns, to begin to organize, to choose a direction.

Next class, I told the students! We will do it next time in our class.

When we finished,  they had done some really nice work. I want to show you. Here are a few:

Art class 10-16-19 Abington (3)

and here is a composite photo (it looks odd because I combined a couple of shots) of all our work.

Art class 10-16-19 Abington (4)

I am very excited about the work the students are doing. Next week – the topic is ABSTRACT. Let’s see where that takes us!




A Metamorphosis and Subsequent Whirlwind of Events

I’ll just tell the story the way it happened.


About three years ago I painted this image, Arbor, in acrylics. It was a large painting, 40″ x 30″.

Arbor 40 x 30 11-161

Well, I took it around to some shows, but it was hard to fit it into the car, and I had another one I liked better, the same size, and it got included if I had room, rather than Arbor. I will mention that I did use a detail of it for one of my books:

Vines Overpower Trellis and Run Book Cover 2018001

Nonetheless, I never felt Arbor had quite finished being whatever it wanted to be, but – lots of other things were more interesting for me to be doing, so I did them. Arbor waited in the basement in a box.

August 2019 rolled around and with it the Lansdale Festival of the Arts. I have participated in this show for decades and in almost all of my mediums – fabric, collage, mixed media, and now acrylics. I was packing things to go to the show on Friday, August 23, and I decided to take Arbor along. I am planning to do only limited shows with my paintings in the future and I’ve sold down my inventory. There was room for Arbor to attend this show.

As I brought it up from the basement the idea struck me to touch it up a little. Just a little. I could fix a couple of areas that have been bothering me, I thought. I worked on it the rest of the afternoon. In a devil-may-care type of mood not very typical of me, I decided to take the new Arbor to the show in the exact shape that it was now in.

So, on Saturday, August 24, we set out for the show. Let me set the scene for you – it’s held in a lovely park, and the day was pleasantly cool and sunny. Here you see the show set up but before it opened, and a shot of my booth, and then the show with its attendees.

By now you may be saying, “What about Arbor?” Let’s enter the booth and see.

Lansdale 2019 #19

You still don’t see it? Oh, I guess I forgot to say – it’s now called Queen of the Birds, and it looks like this:

Queen of the Birds 40 x 30 8-198

And here are a couple of detail shots:

Yes, I did quite a bit to this painting, didn’t I? I know, and I think the same thing – what had gotten into me? No real answer other than, well, Queen of the Birds is where we are now.

At this show, prizes are given – I was competing in the Oils and Acrylics category. Each artist selects two pieces for the judge to review. I figured, why not? Queen of the Birds is my biggest piece and it’s extra brand new. And so, partly in tribute to Arbor, who hardly ever got to go to a show, I chose Queen of the Birds as one of my two candidates.

The show got under way. The judge stopped by and looked over my display, made notes on a clipboard, and after a short chat with me, she left my booth. I appreciated it that she spoke with me; many judges won’t approach or sometimes even acknowledge the artist while reviewing work.

In the afternoon, the awards were handed out.

Lansdale 2019 #65

Yes, that is Queen of the Birds with a 3rd place ribbon in its category. Fantastic!

Then I sold the painting. Yes. I did.

Well, that’s the end of this story. I’ve been doing art and art shows for a long time but nothing like this has ever happened to me, for sure. I was thrilled. Grateful. Very surprised. Laughing. Happy. And I’ll remember this experience, you bet!

Plain Cliffs Trees Sky

This painting is an interpretation of one of those tiny line drawings I have been doing of and on in the past few months (not this exact one, since I can’t find the drawing I used for the painting, but another one, to give you the idea)

Vertical landscape drawing 12-18 #1 small

I couldn’t get a very good photo of this painting, my apologies, but you can see where I was going with the ideas of layers of landscape and sky.

I hope to make more of these. I like the restfulness of painting in layers and patterns.

Acrylics and acrylic inks, 24″ x 18″, February, 2019.

Plain Cliffs Trees Sky 24 x 18 2-192

Red Person and Fish in the Air

I created this image using the negative space methods you may remember from recent clay tiles and, further back in the past, figure practice in a sketchbook.

All it means is, I paint around the main figure or motif or whatever. It’s a little tricky – you have to pay attention to the interior shapes you are creating as you build up the outside, rather than working on the inside first and filling in around it later.

A somewhat incoherent explanation. It’s easier to do it than to tell it. Anyway, here is this image, painted in acrylics with some India ink details, 24″ x 18″ on masonite, February, 2019.

Red Person and Fish in the Air 24 x 18 2-193

This Marvelous Bird

This painting has been in process for a very long time. Especially if you count the time it spent being a previous image, or in fact, a previous one to the previous.

Yes, this version is round three on this surface. Each time I painted something, didn’t like it, sanded it off and gessoed it, I thought, why does this keep happening?

Well, there is no answer to that question. I do think this is the last version. Mostly because I am tired out by this seemingly innocuous 24″ x 26″ cradled masonite board…

Anyway, here it is – This Marvelous Bird. Acrylics and some crayon, 24″ x 36″, May 2019.

This Marvelous Bird 5-19 24 x 36 small