Wednesday, March 31, 2021

One of the many ways to use a color wheel is to visually isolate analogous colors -- colors lying next to one another on the wheel.  On the right side of the photo below lies one of my color wheels.  With red dots I've designated my chosen 5 analogous colors ....

... and my reasons for choosing these colors are (1) analogous colors play well together and (2) I'm working on a sheet off Yupo faintly stained from an earlier project; those pale stains are in this analogous color range.  I wanted a background close to white, but not perfectly white because I wanted to show a somewhat different way of using Abstract Composition Backbones Masks to create "light paths" across a piece of art.    

The above photo shows the stained Yupo covered with Abstract Composition Backbones Mask 1 s864, now cut free from its outer border.  In the lower center lies Abstract Composition Backbones Mask 2 s865, also cut free from its border and stained from earlier painting projects.  In the center top and along the far right side are two halves of Abstract Composition Backbones Mask 4 s867.  I've secured the masks in place with masking tape.

Below is a photo showing the analogous colors spread across  my tablet of white palate paper.  I'm using heavy body acrylics because I want to apply paint with sponge brayers (far right in the photo) and this type of paint works well with these brayers.


Below:  The first color has been added.

Above: All colors have been added.  Below:  the masks have been lifted off.

Now the stage has been set.  My light-paths are clearly established and so are my main areas of color.

The painting itself now sits unfinished, but I have a plan...

... and to show, rather than tell, what this plan looks like, I've Photoshopped it to show the direction I have in mind:

Above:  As I continue to develop this piece, I'll apply paint to mute/fog some of the areas, while allowing some of the near- white lines to stay as they are.  

After I've muted out some areas (visually moving them into the background), I'll leave alone the lines that will visually connect, moving from the upper left, thru the middle, and down into the right bottom.  

Muting out selected areas will bring more overall order, as well as provide resting places for the viewer's gaze.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

What Makes Successful Artwork? These Artists Show Us.

The January 2021 StencilGirl Stencil of the Month set was one of 5 StencilGirl Products stencils that artist Barbara McLawhorn chose, in developing this complex and intriguing artwork -- a piece that draws the viewer right in, providing entertainment in every detail.  Notice the clever use of colors!

And I'm delighted to add that another of the five stencils was a cat stencil that's included in L768 ATC Mixup Swatton #1....

L768 ATC Mixup Swatton #1, shown above, was derived from a collection of my bigger stencils and masks.  In particular, the cat stencil drew its inspiration from my 6" x 6" stencil Cats s183.

When StencilGirlProducts laser-cuts its sturdy sheets of Mylar in creating stencils and masks, the byproducts are what we cheerfully call "stencil guts."  It was with a "stencil gut" -- one that had been cut from my 6" x 6" stencil Cats s183 -- that artist Luci Sweet used in bringing together this artwork:

Above:  A "stencil gut" is a small mask, automatically created when a stencil is cut from a sheet of Mylar.  After using other StencilGirl stencils to print colorful background papers for this 2-page art journal spread, Luci Sweet used the Cats "stencil gut" as a tool:  On a stencil-printed sheet of handwriting, she traced around the shape, using a bold black to give the cat its dramatic border, visible here.  Luci then cut out the cat shape and glued it onto her background, a finishing touch that brings the viewer's attention directly to a focal area.  What makes this art especially successful?  It's the fact that viewers automatically look for recognizable shapes or images; everything else is background.  Here the background is a variety of geometric shapes that give the overall look of stability.  This visually stable background and its off-center focal area combine to make this an artwork to remember. Note: An off-center focal area is a good thing!

To mix a metaphor:  Pictures speak louder than words.  The photo below shows (on the left) 2 "stencil guts" and (on the right) my 6" x 6" Osprey Wings Stencil.  "Stencil guts" are actually masks -- they're the exact opposites of the stencils from which they were cut.....

So okay, "stencil guts" are mini-masks.  More on "masks vs. stencils" comes up later in today's post.

For now, swinging back to the artist Barbara McLawhorn, I'm showing (below) Barbara's photo of an art journal page that she brought to life using another stencil of mine, 9" x 12" Thistle.

Above:  And as you can see,  when Barbara used 9" x 12" Thistle she chose color combinations that really pop!  Warm yellows and whimsical orange curls have a lot of sparkle when set against a subtle blue background.  Viewers see cool colors, such as this muted pale blue, as "receding"; and warm colors, including these yellows and oranges, are visually perceived as "coming forward."  Cool hues and warm hues, when placed next to one another, are perceived as a visual "tension" or "vibration" -- and this catches the viewer's interest.  Hence, the above photo shows another successful painting.

Above:  Barbara has used 9" x 12" Longwood Florals Mask in combination with her Gelli Plate to create this stunning piece.  Its bold pairing of black against cream make it a visual masterpiece.  The "tickles" of red add warmth and visual energy that engage the viewer.

Below, this photo from artist Carol McGowan shows a totally different kind of print likewise created with 9" x 12" Longwood Florals Mask.  Her skill at entertaining the viewer shows in these rich textures set against metallic gleam.  (Her skill at photography also takes a lead role here, because the successful capture of  metallic surfaces presents a challenge.)  I've always loved fossils and fossils are what I'm reminded of as I enjoy lingering over this artwork.  I want to run my fingers over its textures.  How will Carol use this piece of art?  Personally I'd be delighted to see it mounted on matboard and set into a "floating" frame.

Today's next masterpiece comes from StencilClub member Heather Thompson Lynn.  My placing it here is done with purpose; my  9" x 12" Longwood Florals Mask was used by the two artists above, Carol McGowan and Barbara McLawhorn.

Heather, however, has chosen my 9" x 12" Longwood Florals Stencil in creating a gorgeous 2-page art journal spread.

Before I show Heather's artwork, let me skip into tangent-mode to further explain what differentiates a stencil from a mask.  They are exact opposites.  See the examples below --

Above: 6" x 6" Garden at Nemours Mask (S658)

Above:  6" x 6" Garden at Nemours Stencil (S844)

White = the areas that WILL be covered by the Mylar when paint is applied.  Black = the areas that WON'T be covered by Mylar when paint is applied.  

StencilClub member Heather Thompson Lynn was so clever in using Longwood Florals Stencil that at first glance I thought she'd used the mask, not the stencil.  She invited me to take a closer look and sure enough, it was indeed the stencil that she'd used.  Just barely visible are the tiny gaps between leaves and stems that are characteristic of a stencil, not a mask --

Heather is another artist who knows how to make images pop -- you see this in the fluorescent pink that surrounds the purple-black.  I see a number of successes here.  Heather has wisely chosen to avoid creating an area that's entirely pitch-black all the way across.  Instead she has mixed black with purple and gray, a rich, visually satisfying blend. Against that field she's placed 3 images that appear to be swaying in a happy breeze.  The scattered sprinkles of white add to this visual sensation of movement.  Last but not least, Heather has chosen to use an odd number of images.  Odd numbers are generally more visually pleasing than even numbers.

It knocks me for a loop to see what others have done with my StencilGirl masks and stencil -- using them with creativity, imagination and flair -- far exceeding the basic ideas I'd had, back when originally developing these designs.  My hat is off to them!  And I'm grateful for their permission to re-post their artworks here.

For today's last -- yet far from least! -- teaching aid, I'm circling back to Barbara McLawhorn:

Here, Barbara shows us a dazzle of an example of abstract composition.  Notice how Barbara's monochromatic brown pieces work together as a bold unit with movement that guides attention from the upper left to middle right and then to far left at the bottom.  She's taking us for a visual ride thru the artwork with something exciting to view, all along the way.  This visual path was created by using dark-value papers (monochromatic browns) in contrast with those of light-value (blues and pinks.)  Besides using the design strategy of light vs. dark, Barbara has shown us how effective it is when the artist uses the color wheel, placing the brown pieces straight across that wheel from the pale blues.  In other words, to heighten viewers' interest, she's used complementary colors (colors that visually "complete" one another; this is something we look for in an artwork, either consciously or unconsciously.)  Whether or not Barbara hauled out a color wheel while working on this piece of art, is beside the point.  Every artist has intuition.  As experience builds upon experience, an artist learns to trust intuition. 

Barbara's monochromatic browns were created using my 9" x 12" mask Garden Montage....

Garden Montage (9" x 12")

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Art From StencilGirl's Stencil Club Artists

I'm seeing today's post as a runway.  The next post, in a few days, will be the take-off.

In today's first glimpse of art, I introduce with a smile a member of StencilGirlProducts' StencilClub, artist Barbara McLawhorn. 

This bright and bold piece of Barbara's begins its statement with a gold-on-red print made using part of Garden at Nemours Stencil in the upper left.  All stencils and masks that she used came, like mine, from StencilGirl -- Triangle Transitions 1, designed by Mary Beth Shaw, and Travel Note by Rae Missigman.

Today's second eye-catcher, also created by Barbara McLawhorn, features gold metallic paint on a black background--

-- and the mask Barbara used here was my 9" x 12" Palm Fronds Silhouette Large L781.

My 9" x 12" Palm Fronds Silhouette Large L781 is one of three in a series....

9" x 12" Palm Fronds Silhouette Large L781


In printing today's next artwork -- below -- artist Kathy Waldo brought together the palm fronds theme and Cathedral Floor by Tina Walker....

.... and as you can see above, Kathy's results hold the height of drama.  Her keen eye spotted the fact that the base of Cathedral Floor segues naturally into the similar patterns of my palm fronds series.  And she underlined this segue in her use of black for the cathedral as well as for her bottom print; this leads attention directly into the cathedral.  The unity of this overall image is priceless!

Another artist from StencilGirl's Stencil Club, Betsy Harting has, likewise, used more than one stencil in creating the inspiring artwork below.  Betsy's focus on cool greens gives viewers a sense of calm; a glimpse of peace -- she gently brings us these twin gifts so very needed in today's world!  The print dominating the far left was made with My 6" x 6" stencil Pressed Leaves

Along with other StencilGirl stencils (cited below), Pressed Leaves was again used -- with a solid shade of dark green -- in the pair of artworks below, both from the skilled fingers of artist Mary Beth Shaw:   

Today's post closes with an ad!

Thank you for stopping to check out my blog today!  To scroll thru the pages of my StencilGirl stencils and masks, please start here.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Clustered Leaves 9" x 12" Mask in the Artistic Hands of Jennifer Tobin!

 Jennifer Tobin, a member of StencilGirl's StencilClub, has delighted me not only with this art project but also, as a special favor, allowed me to share this video she's made--

On a cradled wood panel, Jennifer worked with acrylic paint, acrylic ink, a Gelly Roll pen and my 9" x 12" mask Clustered Leaves.

9" x 12" mask Clustered Leaves

Jennifer's photos below treat us with these views of blues wonderfully blending into pale greens on a stunning example of 3-dimensional artwork ....

Bouquets of thanks to Jennifer Tobin for allowing me to share this art of hers with readers today!

Monday, March 15, 2021

How to Teach Yourself -- And What A Ride That Is!

I invite my blog followers to ask questions in the Comments that follow each post.  And I enjoy giving answers!  Today's post is a long-winded answer that I hope will be helpful for those who need it.

Commander James Lawrence, during a battle in the War of 1812, goes down in history as having said,  "Don't give up the ship!"

That goes for artworks that at first may seem "failures."  My outlook is that the goal of art-making is to have fun.  If I've enjoyed myself during the process as the art has evolved, it's not failure; instead it's (1) additional challenge to my creativity and (2) a valuable learning experience that will pay off in some way, someday.  

For me, art-making is a process of making changes -- then viewing those changes as challenges to creativity.  My art-making process is to continue making changes in response to each new challenge.  It's a progressive adventure!   

You can ask successful artists questions and they will answer out of their own individual experiences.  When you ask a number of successful artists, sometimes their answers will be similar but at other times they will differ.  This is the nature of creative art-making.  

Creativity is a gift that varies, at least somewhat, with each individual.   

My outlook is that you can ask a lot of questions, read a lot of books and visit a lot of galleries -- and yes, you should! -- yet I believe that at the end of the day, nothing can give you as much value for time spent as actually making art yourself.

Before covid-19, in-person art-making classes/workshops were a whole lot of fun, and I highly recommended them.  Every teacher had something of value to offer and every workshop participant likewise had something valuable to contribute.  This still holds true in today's world, thanks to technology having given us inspiring and creative on-line teachers like MaryBeth Shaw.

But, once inspired, I think the bottom line is that you teach yourself to paint or make mixed-media art; with hands-on experience, you become your own teacher.

And you never stop learning, which brings me back to my point that this whole process is meant to be a fun challenge.  What a ride!

So what's the answer -- or answers -- when you happen to make art that fails to satisfy you?  (Let me emphasize the word YOU.  I make art to satisfy myself, nobody else, and I suggest you do the same.)

I ask your indulgent patience as I go thru one of my art-making processes in today's post.  It's here because I think it helps to make my point.

I pulled out Abstract Backbones Composition Mask 1 s864 and  Abstract Backbones Composition Mask 2 s865 (both having been cut from their original 6" x 6" frames.)  

My photo below shows the first-step prints I've made using heavy-body Titanium White by Golden Paints.  (Middle left:  an additional black paper scrap printed with  Abstract Backbones Composition Mask 1 s864.)

Below:  I've re-applied the masks to the substrate, placing them in different places, and with a small sponge applicator, I've started to add copper metallic paint. 

My next step, shown below....

... shows another layer has been added, using the same masks, this time with heavy-body Golden Paints Titan Buff.

Today's next photo, below, shows that I decided to downsize the artwork, cutting it down to show off the areas that I felt were successful.  

Besides reducing it in size, I added collage paper that I'd made using Abstract Composition Backbones Mask 3 s866, combining that print with copper acrylic paint, black marker and Gelato.  This collage paper had originally been a larger print, but it too was trimmed; I "whittled" it down to the area that I'd felt most successful.

Not all prints, or series of multiple prints, are going to be successful, and that's okay.  Unsuccessful pieces can be cut down as I've done here, or they can be painted over or covered with collage papers. 

The shot above shows that I'm testing the piece to see how it will look matted, but doing this test doesn't mean I've finished.  

It does however help guide me to take the next step --

Above:  I've made additions:  (1) novelty black "lacy" paper in the upper right and lower left; (2) a vertical strip of paper decorated with copper and black alcohol inks; and (3) a small piece of novelty paper that's black and printed with copper metallic paint.

Below is a photo showing more embellishments I added -- a square of paper colored with black and copper alcohol inks, a brown-and-black paper, a few circles of textured off-white paper, and two strips of pinkish papers. 

To repeat something I wrote a few paragraphs ago, not all prints, or series of multiple prints, are going to be successful, and that's okay.  Unsuccessful pieces can be cut down, or they can be painted over, or covered with collage papers.

Originally I was happy with the piece as it appears in the photo directly above.  But after I'd set it aside for a week or so, I came to see it with new eyes.  To me at that point, it looked too cluttered.  At first I was going to cover some key areas with translucent high-fiber mulberry paper that's pale beige in color.

That might have worked.

But instead, I decided to canibalize it. 

With my heavy-duty paper cutter, I sliced it into pieces in varied sizes....

.... and I started to combine these scraps with other scraps in the same color scheme.  My combinations ended up on greeting card covers, but they could just as easily been pages in an art journal.  Here they are --

Above: two greeting cards side-by-side.  The card on the right has just a small piece of the newly chopped-up artwork, placed in the lower right area.  The larger area, filling the left half of this card, was printed with my 6" x 6" Looking Up Through Trees Small s793.

Below:  two more cards, side-by-side.

Below:  today's last mini-collage, likewise created on a greeting card blank.  (The card is cut from heavy-weight gold metallic cardstock available at  LCI Paper.)


Just remember:  Creativity is a gift that varies with each individual.  This is your unique journey.  Make it with joy! 

Thanks for stopping here at my blog today!  To scroll thru the pages of my StencilGirl stencils and masks, please start here.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Color -- Again!

Here is a must-read article for everyone using Golden Paints -- they make it so easy to know what you're getting when you lay your money down!

My March 7 post showed a print that began with s867 Abstract Composition Backbone Mask # 4.....

..... and its next version, a multi-layered print that I developed using scissor-customized s864 Abstract Composition Backbones # 1.

Now, that multi-print has been cropped and added to the front of a greeting card.  

And over that background, I've added a cut-out from a print I'd made using 9" x 12" Tangled Pods L344. 

The photo below shows the collage on my completed greeting card cover.

One easy way to make people-shaped cut-outs is to use Valerie Sjodin's Small Figures People.  

Another way is to flip thru a clothing catalog or magazine and pick out a photo of a model.  Below:  a catalog figure and a print created with s864 Abstract Composition Backbones # 1 and s867 Abstract Composition Backbone Mask # 4.

Below:  I've used masking tape to secure the figure to the printed background.

Below:  Using fine-detail scissors, I'm cutting around the outer edges of the figure.

Below:  The figure is cut from the print.

Below:  The catalog photo is lifted off the cut-out figure.

Below:  The figure cut from the print is placed onto background paper.

Altho this figure differs from the one shown near the top of this post, the method I used was the same.  It's handy to keep in mind whenever you want to do something new and exciting with your stencil prints.  Just imagine a series of these cut-outs, cut from in a variety of colors made with a variety of stencils and masks!

Abstract Composition Backbones Masks 1, 2, 3 and 4 look like this, when still enclosed in their original 6" x 6" borders--





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