Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mixed Media Workahop

I do love these workshops! This time it was at our local art center and lasted 5 days. Several of the participants, as well as the teacher, are good friends which made it even more fun. What messes we made! And this time, for a first, I am happy with more of what I did than unhappy. And Rhonda, one of these is for you! A good number of these are old paintings which I no longer liked (if I ever did). What a great way to fix bombs. Not all of these are finished, but then, with this stuff when is it ever finished? And as usual, if you click on an image it will get much bigger.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I've been working non-objectively (abstractly) for a few months now. It's hard (has to come entirely out of my head and/or gut) but fun. Generally I do these with mixed media: collage, acrylic paint and inks, drawing, gesso . . . whatever seems to work. It's awfully difficult to know when one is finished, though. I usually paint (or glue or draw) then prop it up for a while until it tells me what to do next, fiddle, prop, etc.
Sometimes they feel finished but I'm never entirely sure. Anyway, here are three paintings in the prop phase waiting for inspiration. Critiques? Suggestions?

River Birch

I think this is finished now, or at least I can't figure out where to go next. I'm not thrilled with the overall shape of the collaged parts but I love the texture! It will take a very deep frame.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


We have some birch trees just down the walk that have very peel-y bark. The other day I broke some of the peels off and brought them home to use as collage material. I soaked the bark in very dilute matte medium in hopes of sealing it so it won't deteriorate quickly, then I glued it to a half-sheet of paper onto which I'd spread some gesso and then a dilute wash of acrylic paint. I put the gesso on so it might suggest birch trees and I used colored pencils to bring those shapes up a bit. I also, obviously, stuck on a piece of paper which I'd painted for collage. I don't know whether it's finished or not and if not, where to go next. Suggestions?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mining and Cropping

Mining? That's when you take mat corners or a mat with a smaller hole than the original painting and move it around to find gems. Cropping is the actual cutting of the original for framing. At least that's the way I define those words. Anyway, I spent some time this morning mining the first painting I did last week at the mixed media workshop. The original is 18 x 24 and most of these minings would be framed so they show something like 4 x 6. I'm aware that some of these possibilities overlap so they couldn't all be framed as they look. That's the beauty of Photoshop! Do you have favorites?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mixed Media

I just spent 3 days at a mixed media workshop taught by my friend Nancy Barch. It was in Easton, MD, and the three of us from here who went as students stayed at some friends' house about an hour away from Easton. The workshop was a blast and so was the eating and visiting at Cheryl and Paul's house.

Here's what I did, in the order I did them (more or less). They're small images here but will get much bigger if you click on them. I invite critiques and suggestions.

This is full sheet size and will probably be cropped or mined for smaller paintings but I don't know how yet.

I've already cropped this but it may get some more. Collaging over and under the gold paint.

I don't like this one so it will get something done to it. It's mostly tissue paper glued to a half sheet then painted over. The darks are collaged over the tissue.

Most of the class was a bit lost doing the non-representational work the first day so Nancy did a demo of abstracted flowers. This has paint first, then collage and some pastel to make the checkerboard. Fun but a little too cute. 

This is unfinished. I started with lots of texture on plain paper mostly made with white collage and heavy, textured gel medium, then slopped paint all over. There was such a deep puddle that I threw a length of waxed paper over it to take up some of the color. Waxed paper with color put on it like this makes wonderful collage paper. But with this one I liked the look of the waxed paper over it so I stopped there. I'll glue the waxed paper down around the edges and then see where I want to go next.

Nancy does wonderful monochromatic work so she did a demo of what she does to get the gray backgrounds. The woodcut-looking collage in the middle here is waxed paper again, this time laid over wet black gesso then picked up. It's been living in my collage box for ages waiting for the perfect spot. The hard part of these is the restraint it takes not to add a lot of color!

Several layers of collage over paper with a wash on it. On the top I printed the net-like look by painting some rug hooking scrim and using it like a stamp. There's more work to be done here.

For the texture on this one, I used gesso rather than the gel medium. Before it was completely dry I floated some black ink over the whole thing, mixing in a bit of blue. Then it looks like I used waxed paper again to pick up some of the ink that didn't soak into the gesso (after three days of this work it's hard to remember exactly what I did). My next step will be to blacken all around the shape and probably collage some more solid paper into the shape. Or not. Depends on what inspires me at the time.

Nancy has a friend who does incredible silk screening and he gives her test pieces. She uses, and shares, the test pieces of backgrounds. So that's what's the delicious gradation in the background. I threw on some collage pieces (painted tissue and waxed paper) then it was time to clean up and come home. I've given you two versions here. The first is the whole sheet and the second is cropped. Which one do you like and why?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Long time!

Well, the move is essentially over. We've been in for 6 weeks. I still haven't found a home for all the framed paintings we moved, but other that that we're pretty well settled.

I have been painting, some, but just not posting. Here are some of the paintings I've done that I'm willing to own up to:

I bought some daffodils at Trader Joe's the other day and have painted them all sorts of different ways. I'm working on a collage that I hope will give the feel of daffodils without having to delineate them quite as much as these.

I found a piece of illustration board which I'd sprayed various textures on and decided that it was a perfect underpainting for a Tuscan scene. This painting with watercolor, conté crayon and pastel is loosely based on a photo taken in Siena.

Late afternoon one day after it had snowed, I looked out the sliders into our backyard and was taken by the abstract quality and glow of this (rather ugly) bush and the fence. This one is all watercolor.

I did most of this painting by masking the white and painting everywhere else, then masking the next lightest areas and painting everywhere else, etc, until the paper was almost completely covered with masking fluid and the buildup of paint layers made the very dark. I then used soft pastels to put detail in, especially in the eyes and noses. Amari on the left and Numa on the right.

This is soft pastel. I like it a lot although I think it needs a tweak or two.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We're moving and I've started a moving blog

Thursday, November 11, 2010

long time!

It's been way too long since I've posted. So Helen (who nags me every time I see her), here's some recent work.

The photo for this one was taken from a friend's deck a couple of weekends ago. We had spectacular sunsets, as you can see.

These two are 1/8th-sheet demos for my watercolor class. The woods was especially quick with no drawing except the too-dark paint outlines of the light tree trunks.

I started this one several weeks ago as a pastel but when I did the watercolor underpainting the paper buckled too much so I collaged, right over the sanded paper. I pulled it out today and tweaked it a lot with pastel over the collage. You might possibly perhaps recognize that it was done from the same reference photo as my previous post.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A pastel and underpainting

I've been working in watercolor only for the last six weeks or so. Yesterday I took a photo on my way home from teaching my watercolor class that just called out for pastel, so that's what I did today. I started with a wild, watercolor underpainting which got almost completely covered with the pastel: probably a good thing! You probably won't believe that the underpainting provided a map for the pastel, but it did. It was fun to do this one. I don't think I'm quite finished (no pastel is totally finished until it's framed) and I invite critiques.

This is the day after the miners in Chile were successfully rescued from their mine. I'm proud to say that my oldest son works for the company that made the equipment that both drilled the small hole which found that the miners were alive, and that drilled the large hole through which they were rescued. He didn't go to Chile but they did send a service tech. Here's a link to our local Fox TV channel and their feature on Schramm, Inc.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Watercolor

After a summer of mostly painting with pastels, I'm painting in watercolor again. I'll be teaching watercolor this fall; I needed to rewet my brushes. Then on Sunday I attended a fabulous demo, part of the Philadelphia Water Color Society's annual meeting. The artist is Sarah Yeoman. Here's her web site: As a start, I've been working on eighth sheets, about 7" x 10". I would love to have critiques.