Category: abstract

How to create an acrylic poured painting

For the past couple months, I have been experimenting with creating paintings where the paint is poured onto the canvas instead of applied with a paintbrush.  My two daughters thought it would be fun to try this style of painting too. The video below shows my daughter Darby making her first acrylic poured painting. Either I am an incredible teacher, or she has an innate talent because she rocked it on her first try!

Is it “pouring” where you are?

BLUE INVADER Poured painting

Summer is a time of artistic exploration for me. I spend most of the season in Colorado (out of the New York City heat) where I have a small studio with only a hand full of art supplies. I find having fewer art materials to work with helps me to be more creative with the ones I do have.

I have been wanted to try my hand at acrylic poured paintings.  It is a technique where the acrylic paint is poured directly onto the canvas and mingles together into interesting compositions. With only limited control over the paint, every pour gives a different result.  Adding other materials (alcohol, silicone, PVAc, and more) to the pour also changes the look of the painting. Even the paints’ opacity and density is a factor that alters the final product.

Working with all these variables has made the creation of these painting more an exercise in chemistry than art.   More challenging than I thought, I’ve encountered a number of problems.  These problems include:


Crazing – This is where the top layer of the paint dries faster than the bottom layers and causes cracking of the paint surface. This is most likely from the paint being too thick (solution: thin paint) or from not pouring enough of the excess paint off the canvas (solution: leave a thinner layer of paint on canvas.)

Broken paint cells

Broken paint cells – I add silicon to the paint to create these cells. I am either mixing the silicon into the paint too vigorously (solution: gently, lightly stir in silicone), or trying to over-extend the paint by tilting the canvas too long (solution: use more paint).

Muddy color – I get dirty, brown colors when complementary colors (red+green=mud) mix into each other (solution: be careful of which colors are poured next to each other) and over-manipulating the paint on the canvas (solution: don’t tilt the paint on the canvas back and forth over itself.)

I find I’m getting closer to my intentions with every try but I still have a long way to go.  Once I have the technical aspects worked out, I will post a video so you can see the process in action. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Advice is always appreciated.

Artwork to help your relax and renew

Incite book cover

I strongly believe the process of making art can have meditative benefits for the mind, body and soul. In Incite 4: Relax, Restore, Renew, 120 artists (myself included) share the most restorative and revitalizing aspects of their art-making through painting, collage, encaustic, art journaling, jewelry art and more. 

Over 150 pieces of mixed-media art are displayed in the fourth edition of Incite, The Best of Mixed Media.  Let the art in this book awaken your creative spirit and possibly inspire you to create unique artworks of your own.    

Inside Incite book, pg. 72
Hamsa, mixed media, 20″ x 16″, $600.


“Through yoga practice, I found my flexibility growing, but more surprisingly, I found my sense of vitality, serenity, and mindfulness growing as well. I created my yoga painting series to share this experience, capturing different aspects of practice through Sanskrit titles. Hamsa is one of many Sanskrit words used in yoga, meaning “the breath that travels within.

Close your eyes; take a deep breath; feel the energy reach out to the tips of your fingers and toes. I imagine Hamsa would look like this.”  (Book caption on pg. 72)

You can see this painting and the full yoga series at

"Art On Paper" Exhibition in NYC

File Mar 05, 6 33 04 PM
Tomas Vu, mixed media on wood panel

It was a big art week in New York City.  Ok, there is generally dozens of art exhibitions every week in the Big Apple, but this week featured some of the biggest art fairs of the year with the Armory Show at Pier 92/94 and the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side.  Additionally, one show you might not know is the “Art on Paper” art fair down on Pier 36.  I headed down to the Lower East Side to check it out.  As an artist who uses collage paper in her work, I have a special love for art created on paper and/or with paper.  This exhibition didn’t disappoint.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces from this year’s show.

Thomas McNickel, oil on paper
Mersuka Dopazo and Teresa Calderon, mixed media on canvas

Henry Jackson, mixed media on paper

Riitta Klint, Collaged Yupo paper
rex ray
Rex Ray, Lithograph of 18 colors

Finished Commissioned Painting

Almost two months ago, I started a painting commission and I wanted to share the process with you.  After getting approval on the basic composition from some simple sketches, I worked up two small studies with very different color directions.


The client picked the orange study but he wanted more orange, less red on the bottom, wasn’t fond of some of the black, and eliminated any ink “doodles”.  Armed with a better idea of my client’s taste, I began work on a larger canvas.  Here are several stages the painting went through along the way, incorporating the changes and preferences of the client’s each time.  As my process incorporates many layers of paint and hand-printed collage paper, adding more layers only enhanced the final painting by adding depth, texture, and complexity.


Though the final painting loosely resembles the original study, it took on a life of its own through the collaborative process to its finish.  It was really fun to work together to create a painting we are both happy with.

Avalanche HDAvalanche, mixed media, 36″ x 36″


Feeling Blue?  I know just the place for you

Harbor Town

The color blue evokes serenity, spirituality, infinity.  Lay back and look at heaven.  The 5th chakra:  the throat, voice and self-expression.  Deep blues: singing, listening.  Sea and shadow.  Blue symbolizes the Virgin Mary.  Krishna has blue skin.  Fifty-three percent of the world’s flags have blue.  It’s the color most commonly used in corporate identities.  Miles Davis was kind of blue.  What kind of blue are you?

Harbor Town, mixed media on cradled panel, 32″ x 32″, $1800

This painting was inspired by the Boston Harbor which I lived near a few years ago.  The water is made from many layers of translucent mulberry paper which I painted all these wonderful shades of blue.

“BLUE” Exhibition at the Front Street Gallery

I am exhibition my painting title “Harbor Town” in the BLUE exhibition at the Front Street Gallery in Patterson, New York. The show opened on October 18 and runs through December 6.  The gallery has extended hours on October 24 & 25 as part of the ArtEast Open Studio Tour.

See a BLUE slide show at the gallery website  Front Street Gallery is at 21 Front Street in Patterson, New York, across the street from the Metro North train Station.

Featuring Gretchen Hoffman Abene, Patrick J. Cicalo, Shelley Dell, Andrew Dines, Ken Dreyfack, Kathy Ferguson, Matt Frieburghaus, Sarah K. Gray, Nicole Hughes, Annette Jaret, Lise Kjaer, Sassoon Kosian, Galina Krasskova, Tanya Kukucka, Pamela Lambros, Hannah Raine Brenner-Leonard, Alex Lindquist, Amanda Lynne, Eugene Posolli, Karen Schaffel, Ilona Sirman, Jane Soodalter, Fran Traina, Meaghan Troup, Rosanne Walsh, Dayna Wenzel, Joann Zwolski.

How to say "peace" in many languages

Shanti painting

Patz, salaamata, huag totoka, rauha and taika all translate to “peace” in different languages (in order here…Spain, Ethiopia, Fiji, Russia, and Lithuania).  In Sanskrit, “shanti” means peace and is often chanted three times in a row during meditation.  The newest painting in my yoga-series is titled “Shanti”.  I started the painting by gluing down broad areas of paper that I had hand-printed on translucent deli paper.  The layout is almost symmetric with light on one side and dark on the other.

Shanti in Progress

Next, I added stenciled and hand-painted designs on both sides to connect the opposing sides with some commonality.  Isn’t obtaining peace with others about recognizing our similarities while respecting our differences.  I finished the piece with three stacked circles to represent the “chanting” of shanti three times.

Shanti Web

“Shanti”, Mixed Media on cradled panel, 20″ x 16″, $600




Watch me make a painting – Step 4

The last couple of days, I have shown you a painting in progress.  Today is the last steps where you see how I pull all the “randomness” together into a cohesive work.  I retraced my original vine sketch to scale (24″ x 24″) to fit the dimensions of the painting panel and transferred it to the surface of my paper collage surface.  Then I painting multiple layers of white acrylic paint around the outline to reveal the main subject material.  Voila!  Colorful vines and flowers appear as if out of the mist.  The surrounding white really makes the colors pop.  The last touch was to add some red-painted outlines of branches of berries.  Some of my favorite parts are actually in the white areas with their detailed but subtle textured surfaces.  See the two companion paintings are below.

Vines Revealed 3 Web

Vines Revealed 2 Web

Hanging my own art in my home

For the most part, I don’t hang my own paintings in my home.  It’s not that I don’t like them, but I see enough of my work during the day working in my studio and I really enjoy looking at other artists’ work when I’m home.  However, I recently hung an encaustic painting of mine in our New York apartment.  We have this large fuse box panel smack in the middle of the dining room.   I couldn’t find a painting that fit those dimensions to cover it so I create one of my own,  Composed of twenty-five 6″ x 6″ individual encaustic tiles.  Encaustic paint is a blend of beeswax, damar crystals and oil painted in its melted state.  The fun part about encaustic is its versatility.  You can carve back into it, embed paper into it, transfer images onto it and more.  I used these techniques in this painting.

“Circle in Science and Nature”, encaustic paint, paper, beads, fabric, transfers, and watercolor

Basic RGB

Closeups of a few of the tiles:

Circle tile 1


project4_tile 9_Ferguson




project4_tile 8_Ferguson