Do you need to send a gift but you don’t have any wrapping paper? I ran into just this problem while sheltering at home during the quarantine. What to do? I looked around to see what supplies I had on hand. I managed to rustle up some copy paper, watercolor paints with a brush, and some colored pens. If you don’t have paint, you could substitute food coloring instead.
I simply made little puddles of water on the paper with my brush and dropped in a couple of different paint colors into these puddles. The paint mixed itself as the colors flowed into each other. After letting the paper dry (I used a hairdryer to speed things up), I used the pens to draw some wonky circles around the paint blobs. Voila! I had some colorful wrapping paper just in time for my daughter’s birthday.
It’s weird how some paintings come into being. The artwork below is one such painting. It came about through three unrelated experiments into a single, colorful work of art.
One: I offload my leftover paints onto sheets of paper instead of throwing them out. Sometimes, I can use these paints in my collage work. This particular paper was a total mess, and I couldn’t think of any way to use it.
Two: I needed to do a transfer test to judge paper translucency. I used this messy paper for the background paper. Now it was doubly a mess.
Three: I’ve wanted to experiment with cold-wax medium. It’s different from encaustic wax, which must be used in a melted form, as it stays usable at room temperature. I needed an acrylic background to experiment on, so I grabbed this paper again.
After using masking tape to create a grid pattern, I filled in every other square with white tinted CWM. Next, I practiced removing and drawing into it. Suddenly, from all the chaos I saw order and interest. I’m as surprised as you are!
Moral of the story: Don’t throw away your failed paintings and experiments. You might find the perfect use for them one day!
The dilemma of the creative process for me is that I impose pressure to make impressive, or at least good, creations. I worry they must be meaningful and pleasing, and if they aren’t, then self-doubt, fear and discouragement paralyze me from working.
In many ways, this quarantine has been a positive experience for me. I decided to let the pressure go (with no upcoming shows or commissions to finish) and just play around with the limited materials I had on hand (acrylics and junk mail). I started small, making simple 6″ x 6″ painted collages. Working on up to 12 paintings at a time, I skipped around between them if I got stuck. I let myself step back and make work that didn’t need to be good. And you know what happened? My creativity came back. I was excited to go to my studio every day and see what would happen next. After finishing forty-two of these “Tidbits,” I was ready to move on to something more substantial.
I am writing to check-in and see how everyone is faring in their remote corners of the globe, and hoping that you are safe and well.
I’m currently sheltering in Florida with my hubby, where I’m fortunate to be able to walk and bike outside. I fill my days with art-making, cooking, reading, and enjoying game nights with friends and family (via Zoom).
As the situation has me unable to truly focus, I’m making a little bit of everything. In my studio, I have half-finished oil paintings, acrylic doodles, watercolor sketches, and cold-wax experiments. While they patiently wait for me to get back to them, I am happy to share at least one completed effort here.
There is a lot of disparity of quarantine experiences across the world, and I am genuinely grateful that we are one of the lucky families in these uncertain times. Those of you are doing essential services, you are the true heroes. You have not gone unnoticed, and we cannot thank you enough for your courage and commitment to others. Thank you.
This spring, I used my iPad, and the app Procreate to develop some painting ideas for a commissioned beach-themed artwork. Painting digitally is helpful because you can work with the client to try out different ideas without actually applying paint to canvas. You can easily go back and remove the changes with just a click of a button. In this sketch, using the client’s comments, I lightened and softened the large areas on the right. Then I add more tan and reduced the darker areas. I thought you might like to see how the final painting turned out. To the left is the revised digital sketch.
The final painting “Nantucket Summer” is now happily hanging in my client’s home on Nantucket Island.
I was thrilled to be selected for a 22-page article in the international contemporary art review magazine Art Habens. Picked to be featured in their Biennial Anniversary edition (10 years and going strong), I was given one of their longest spreads ever!
In the magazine interview, we touch on the way my artistic inquiry explores the elusive connection between reality and the dream-like. We touch how I became an artist and the people who influenced me. And finally, we discuss whether it’s important for the viewer to understand my artwork’s meaning when viewing it or if they should determine the meaning for themselves.
Click here to read the full article and see all seventeen full-color reproductions of my artwork.
Travel sketching is fun to do while on vacation. While I don’t consider myself an advanced sketcher, my sketches have a way to bring back vivid memories of my trip, much more so than photographs (which I take lots of too 🙂 Sketching requires me to be wholly present while I explore and record my new experiences.
After much trial and error, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally figured out which sketching supplies to pack, and how surprisingly few I need. Take a look at what’s in my art travel bag.
Spiral-bound watercolor journal. Use one with 140 lb. paper so it’s heavy enough that it doesn’t bleed through and can take water without warping. You can even turn your sketches into postcards to mail to your friends. (Don’t forget to pack stamps)
Mechanical pencil for the preliminary sketch. It never needs sharpening so I can eliminate bringing a sharpener.
Knead eraser. I erase my pencil marks after I’ve drawn over them with ink.
Waterproof black pen (it won’t bleed when wet). I like the Staedtler permanent Lumnocolor fine size.
Water-soluble colored pencils. Mine are Prismacolor, but Caran D’Aches are great too.
Waterbrush. Derwent #2 (brush and water all in one so I never need a water source either).
Small bag to hold it all.
That’s is. In the past, I would bring watercolor paints, a small water container, paper towels, multiple paintbrushes, and more. I’ve found water-soluble color pencils to be a simpler solution. I can layer them to create a wide variety of colors just like mixing paint.
So grab a sketchbook and some supplies, get out there, and have fun! Remember, your sketches don’t have to be perfect; it’s the act of sketching that’s important. It’s calming and lets you connect with the unique and beautiful things in this world. Focus on what moves you, and draw to remember it.
I encourage you to tuck a sketchpad in your suitcase when you’re packing for your next trip and see what pleasure it might bring for you.
A big thank you to Caroline Edlund at Artsy Shark for making me today’s “Featured Artist” on her popular arts website. The article is filled with lots of my colorful artwork and the story behind my inspiration. Click HERE to read the complete article.
It’s time to set my art business goals for 2019. I’ve been reviewing my past goals and the systems I used to achieve them, then evaluating what worked and what didn’t. Every past year, I have lower the number of major goals I set for the future year. I’ve found that setting too many goals diluted my overall success.
This year, I’m going to be super focused and pick just one big goal. The key is not to get sidetracked but keep my eye on the prize. Any other “mini” goals I might add will need to support this major goal. I’m not ready to share my goal with the world yet but it does have something to do with all these blank canvas/panels cluttering up my studio.
Do you have a “word” or intention for 2019? Mine is “focus.” Please share yours below.
If you follow the lunar New Year, you know that 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY) is hosting a really fun exhibition, the Red Envelope Show, that opened last night. This exhibition is an homage to the red celebration envelopes the Chinese community distributes during the Lunar New Year. As this is the Year of the Pig, I painted some cute portraits of pigs just peeking up from the bottom of six envelopes. There are almost 1,000 envelopes on display (and for sale) illustrated by myself, other professional artists, and local school children. Many envelopes (including mine) include a special gift inside the envelope for only the buyer to see. Don’t wait to see the show as it closes on Jan. 27. A special thank you to Bert Chau of @grumpybert who curated the exhibition. ⠀#redenvelopeshow
Opening Reception: SAT, JAN 5, 5-7 PM⠀
Gallery Dates: SAT, JAN 5 – SUN, JAN 27⠀
Gallery Hours: SAT & SUN 12-5 PM; weekdays.