Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Get off your butt and paint

For a long time now I've been wanting to develop my abstract painting skills and to create things on canvas that I would want to hang in my home.

I take the occasional half-hearted stab at starting a painting, but mostly I just wistfully think "maybe someday" and go off and make another batch of postcards.

I will never develop my painting skills if I don't paint!
8x10 work in progress on canvas

Plus I'm on this "use my stuff" kick, and I have all these great supplies and resources I rarely use.

Case in point:
I bought this book over a year ago and I've never even cracked the cover.

Last weekend I pulled it out and decided to work through its exercises.

a bunch of 4x6 canvas boards, in progress

I prepped about 15 canvases of different sizes that have been sitting unused in my closet, taking the time to carefully apply multiple layers of gesso (rather then just assuming the canvas would be fine straight out of the shrink wrap.)

Some of the canvases have structural elements adhered to them before they were gessoed, others were left plain.
8x10 canvas with a variety of corrugated cardboard, cheesecloth, molding paste and heavy gel medium, ready for paint.

 I'm not worrying about composition, or finished products.
8x10 canvas with a variety of ephemera glued to the canvas before the first layer of paint.

I'm taking my time to learn the differences between my fluid acrylics and my heavy bodied acrylics.  I'm playing with glazes and mediums and blending techniques.  I'm decided which types of brushes are best for each type of job.
4x6 canvas board, work in progress

I will not worry about whether my work looks original or exactly like the exercises in the book.  
It doesn't even matter if I like the way the canvas looks.
In fact, I fully expect all of these canvases to be painted over multiple times.

Right now, this journey is about playing, learning, and experimenting.  Do I like visible brush marks on the canvas?  Do these colors blend well?  What happens if I add a dab of white?

How can I get the invisible blending technique shown in the book?  Is that a look I even like?  How do my fluid acrylics get along with my heavy bodied?  Should I add another layer while the paint is still wet, or wait for it to dry?

I'm on a mission to answer all these questions and more.  Stay tuned!


  1. Love this post, Karen. I have that book, too, and love it...although I've hardly done anything with it. I really like the work you've been doing with it. Perhaps this is what's next for me.

  2. Well, you know how I feel about playing with materials to see what they can do. :-) It looks like you are having fun. And I'm really liking those canvases with things glued to them first. So interesting to look at.

  3. OMG, this could be me! I've had all these thoughts but haven't actually got off my butt yet. Once again you're my inspiration, you're my push. This summer seems like a good timeframe to commit to trying that stuff. I LOVE that book and have read it a couple times.....those are some creative ladies!

  4. Wow K. Such fantastic work. Those 4 x 6 canvasses could stand alone or in their grouping as is! Don't forget to let some sit that you like, yes? Sometimes the first time out the gate is best, and other times need the re-working. You know all this, so by all means, just keep up all your awesomeness and Gorgeous work! (So jealous of your energy! :D) XO, G

  5. Fantastic! You go girl! I'm loving what I'm seeing you creating with your play :)
    And you are giving me some interesting ideas to try, thank you!
    Stumbling across your post has made me inexplicably happy... maybe because it's always a joy to see some one else have fun playing with paint on the canvas too.

  6. You are reading my mind! I'm with Terrie on the bench thinking about painting while watching you out there rounding the bases...That's it...the large canvas is back out and in the living room where I can see it everyday. Paint WILL be applied! Thanks, as always, for the awesome inspiration!

  7. Move over, and make room on the bench. All those questions you seek the answers to are what overwhelm me and make me not try. I want some of your fortitude! And I should tattoo "no expectations" on my wrist.

  8. HA! I have the book open to page 92 today. I am going to whip up some of those metallic glazes and give them a try. That book is worth it's weight in gold. To get nice blends try using the open paints or open mediums along with the fluids. They do take some getting used to though. I like the open medium the best along with the fluids. They dry more quickly.

  9. There you go again being all inspiring and stuff.. ;) a while ago I bought 2 small canvasses to play with and there they sit.. I find myself reluctant to mess them up! What's up with that? Haha! A mess I will soon make! Thank you yet again!

  10. You go, girl! I know people buy a whole lot of stuff that they don't use...not a good thing. Good for you -- experimenting and having fun while you're at it.

  11. HOW???? can you have a new book and not crack that cover...especially by those two fab ladies. I would be devouring it....but I know you to be a most busy person. Glad you getting round to it as they say. Good stuff emerging from your studio. xox

  12. Those canvases will never be wasted...just keep adding's all good.

  13. This is exactly what I need to do. I also have that book and haven't used it much. I'm missing painting because I haven't done any in such a long time. Maybe I'll get that book out and try some techniques, too.

  14. Sounds like fun, Karen. It's funny how hard it sometimes is to let loose with our art and not care too much about how it looks. I adore these patterned pages you make (have been going through back posts). Lovely work ou do; not sure how you squeeze it all in!

  15. How wonderful. Really. This is a GREAT move. You have such a feel for color and form. You may be humble, but now that I've said it, that's enough.

    This book is truly one of the best you could use. And if you ever want to take an online class, they have really good classes. Great value, and lifelong learning. I'm so glad you've dived in!

  16. Can we get your blog post title on a bumper sticker?