Category: Studio

How to make a small studio space feel bigger

Wall easel paper bird studio & design

I am so excited about my new wall easel from Paper Bird Studio & Design (aka Tueller Easel Company) custom built for me by Jason Tueller. To maximize the space in my smallish Colorado studio, I opted for this amazing wall easel. It’s over 100″ long and I can put up to four canvases (or one huge canvas) on it at once! It is a great way to open up some floor space and still have lots of painting surface to work on. I’ve temporarily mounted some old family photos on it to try out the canvas holders.

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.

How transparent are you?

Paint color chart

I am experimenting with acrylic poured painting, a style of painting where the paint is poured onto the canvas and the paint manipulated by tilting the canvas. It’s different from painting with a brush in that the outcome can never be planned, and all sorts of interesting things can happen.  However, a downside of poured painting is that it can use up a lot of paint and that can get expensive when using professional quality materials.

Blick Fluorescent Paints
Blick Art Materials offer some fun fluorescent paints in a variety of neon colors

Luckily, these poured paintings seem to work just as well with cheaper brands like Blick Studio and Amsterdam Standard Acrylics, generally marketed for the budget conscience student or beginner artist.

One of the first things I do when getting new paint is to make a color chart to see what is looks like on paper (it’s too hard to tell in the tube).  I paint a black line first, then over that, I paint a swatch of each paint color.  If the paper covers up the black line, then the paint is opaque.  If I can see the black line, the paint is translucent.  I use this information to know which colors will cover up other paint, and which ones will make nice sheer glazes over other colors.

It’s also an indication of density which is important in poured paints.  Opaque colors are usually denser and will “sink” while lighter translucent colors will float to the top of the paint pour on a canvas.  Stay tuned, as I will be posting some of these poured paintings in the weeks to come.

What happened when the paintbrush married the pen?

Trying out different inks in my sketchbook

Why they had a baby, of course.  I just discovered an art tool called the fine line painting pen by Loew Cornell. It’s advertised as a simple yet high-quality painting pen used to draw fine lines, or for lettering when a liner brush just won’t do.  The only instructions were to fill the pen with ink or paint thinned to an inky consistency and start drawing.

Trying out different inks in my sketchbook
Trying out different inks in my sketchbook

I got out my sketchbook to try it out, grabbing some FW Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic and added a couple of drops to the painting pen well.  Try as I might, I couldn’t get the acrylic to flow out of the tip of the pen.  I was unable to draw a single line.  The acrylic was too thick to flow through the small pen tip.  I switched to the thinner basic FW Liquid Acrylic Ink, and though it did work (yellow ink), the ink had small coagulated bits that clogged the pen tip.

Next, I used a thinner product called Liquitex Professional Ink!  This product (the green and violet inks on the sketchbook) worked well but the paint color lightened the longer I drew with the pen as if the color pigment had settled to the bottom of the pen well making the first lines the darkest while continuing lines got lighter the longer I used the pen.  I would add more ink, and it would be dark again. I tried shaking the ink bottle first before loading the pen well but I got the same uneven results.

The Loew Cornell Painting Pen
The Loew Cornell Fine Line Painting Pen with Cleaning Tool

Rather discouraged, I switched to my last option, Golden’s High Flow Acrylics.  Lo and behold, the clouds parted, the sun shined through, and the angels sang.  This product (the magenta ink) flowed effortlessly through the pen with consist pigment coverage.  I also tried out some white high flow acrylic on a black swatch with good results.

To complete my experiment, I tried using the painting pen on different types of paper and canvas.  It worked beautifully on all surfaces including those covered with acrylic paint, nu-pastels, and more.  The only exceptions were the areas first covered with matte medium (which just repelled the ink from its surface).

Warning:  Be sure to rinse the pen as soon as you are finished and use the cleaning tool provided to remove any paint from the delicate tip.  If paint dries in the tip, you’ll never get it out.  You can pick up your own pen at most art stores or Amazon for about $9.

Postal carriers love artwork too

When a painting sells, the next step is to pack it in a box for shipping. Packing artwork for transport is a little more complicated than just plopping the canvas into a box.  These are the steps I use to pack my artwork.


  1. Wrap the paintings in glassine (a smooth and glossy paper that is air, water, and grease resistant) to protect the painting’s surface.
  2. Add corner protectors for extra protection.
  3. Wrap two layers of bubble wrap around the whole thing
  4. Take the bubble-wrapped bundle and sandwich it between two pieces of foam core or double-ply cardboard
  5. Place all of that into a heavy-duty shipping carton with extra paper padding around the sides.
  6. Tape it up and add the shipping label.

Now the artwork is safely boxed up for shipping, but it doesn’t convey the excitement of buying a new piece of art. I wanted to make the collector feel the thrill of receiving their new purchase! I decided to add a little something extra on the outside of these boxes. On the first one, I painted some fun, colorful abstract flowers. On the next, I added some collage papers. I hope the postman enjoyed them too!

Of course, I have started decorating my mailing envelopes now too!



How I build my painting panels

I like to paint on cradled birch panels. I like how the 2″ depth lets me show a painting without the need for additional framing. The advantages of using wood panel instead of canvas is that the wood surface gives me a hard, inflexible material on which to painting. Working on canvas, especially large ones, is like painting the surface of a trampoline and it is too “bouncy” a painting surface for my tastes. I’m starting a new 4′ x 4′ painting today so I thought I would show you how I make the cradled panel for it.

First, I cut the top panel out of a sheet of 1/4″ birch veneered plywood and the sides and braces out of pine 1 by 2’s. Then I paint the pieces with 3 coats of white gesso. Next, I attach the cradled sides to the panel using wood glue and clamps. To keep the panel from warping, I also add a center brace and corner braces . I counter sink nails at all the joints for even more stability and patch the holes with wood putty. Last, I add more gesso over the nail holes. Voila! A new painting panel waiting for painting and paper.2014-10-14 19.50.34panel 2panel3

Who wins rock, paper, scissors in your home?

In my studio, paper wins every time.  That’s because as a mixed media artist, paper is one of my favorite and most versatile mediums I use.  I am starting to work on the fourth painting in my yoga series but first, I had to print some new papers to use in this painting.   I have enjoyed using the gel plate (by Gelli Arts) I got for Christmas to print unique and multi-layered prints.  A Gel Printing Plate looks and feels like a sheet of gelatin, but is durable, reusable and stores at room temperature. It’s easy to clean and always ready for printing. Monoprinting on a gel plate is simple and fun. The gratification is immediate, and the prints are too cool.  These monoprints are only a handful of the papers I printed today using stencils, faux painting tools and more.

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You can see where I used a brayer to roll on the acrylic paint, then scraped in a design and finally pressed the paper onto the plate.  Voila!  It’s as easy and fun as that.  If I didn’t like the print, I just added another layer or two on top and ended up with some great designs.  Next post, I will show you how I used these papers in my yoga painting #4.

Gellie print standing inkingGelli print standing press

Was it me or the Starbursts?

I had a great turn out this weekend at my Open Studio.  Perfect weather, good people and lots of great art to see.  I’m not sure if my art was the big draw or perhaps that big bowl of Starburst candy I set out?  My husband and son even rode their bikes from Manhattan to Long Island City to give me a quick break so I could dash out and view some of the other artists’ studios and their art.  I snapped this photo of my husband “pitching” my paintings to a perspective collector.


My art is in MoMA!

MoMA PS1 Studio Visit

Okay, that a huge exaggeration. However, I am showcased in MoMA’s PS1 Studio Visit. This is a web initiative by MoMA that offers virtual presentations of artists’ studios. Emerging artists working in the five boroughs and greater New York area are invited to upload video or still images of their studios and work. Artists’ submissions will be present on the website for at least one month.  Studio Visit serves as an online artistic hub and give viewers a look at some exciting new work while examining the varied artistic practices located within the New York City area.  Come check it out at

Inside Studio


I just moved into a larger studio space (in the same building) and it’s chaos here! I realized I need to paint the flat files (which purchased from the previous tenant) before I can use them. But then I realized that I can’t spray paint anything until I get everything under plastic, which I can’t do until I unpack. Which I can’t do until I paint the wooden storage loft so I can store everything on it. So it’s off to Home Depot to get gallons of paint and get started.

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