Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Then Off on My Own

Next, I decided to do quite a few more small paintings in an attempt to move away from Danielle's style and develop one of my own.  This is the first such piece and is quite small - 3 1/2" by 5 1/2".  I'll use it as the center of a 5" x 7" card.

One of the elements of Danielle's technique is to use a 3mm pencil to add tiny details and lines once the painting part is complete.  I've done a little of that here, but prefer to make my lines with a small liner brush.  So, in the future, I'll probably drop the pencil.

I like this little piece.  I like the looks of it, and it's so fun to do!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Learning from Danielle Donaldson

I discovered a wonderful site for on-line art classes,  I bought a class from her, "Compass Hearts," taught by Danielle Donaldson.  I liked Danielle's work and was interested in working with watercolor for a while.

The piece about is inspired by her class, but it is not really the class project.  Some of the motifs are similar to hers, but the bear is mine.

Danielle gets her color palette from scrapbook papers she chooses for the rings and hearts.  She embellished the watercolor paper (I used Strathmore Mixed Media paper which worked really well) with floral-inspired watercolor motifs.

I really enjoyed it and will work onwards from here.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Polar Presence

The final class I took at Art and Soul was with Kitty Miller.  We worked on canvas with a variety of DecoArt and Golden products.  I worked on three pieces.  The first I completed, and it was a fancy background with fish.  The second, I did the fancy background and based in an octopus.  This one, I only did the background for.

I didn't like either of the first two pieces, so I threw them away when I got home, but I decided to finish this one with a polar bear.  I added the painted swirls and glued spangles over the background.

So in the class, we mainly worked on the backgrounds, using stencils, alcohol to move the acrylic paint around while it was still wet, and lots of wet-in-wet and splashing work.  It was fun, but I don't think I will adopt any of the techniques that were new to me.  The results are a little brash for my tastes.

But on the positive side, Kitty is a great teacher, full of enthusiasm and knowledge that she is happy to share - altogether a good experience.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Clarissa Callesen's Class and Beyond

The photo above (except for the four chunks of text which I added later) is the piece I did in Clarissa's class.  It took me a while to figure out that we were just practicing techniques rather than completing a piece.  Once I understood that, I decided to work all the techniques on a canvas board so that I could continue working with it later and completing a piece.

Clarissa likes to use a lot of walnut ink.  But, although I like the color, I'm unlikely to use it again because it dissolves under later applications of water-based paints and mediums.  I'll just use diluted burnt umber or Van Dyck brown acrylic instead.

I was familiar with many of the techniques.  But in this case, we did collage on watercolor paper and I tore it up and collaged it to the board.  It was very thick to collage, but I liked it and would probably use the technique again - that is, collage on heavy paper, then tear it up for further collage.

The technique that was new to me was what she calls "peeling paint."  You see this in the left half of the photo above, the part that is bluish.    She lays a color down and lets it dry.  Then she applied torn strips of painter's tape and paints another color over it.  While the new paint layer is still wet, she removes the tape and lets the layer dry.  She repeats this process as many times as she wants, then sands the result with rough sandpaper.

She also introduced the technique of making what she calls rust "glitter."  She moistens steel wool in white vinegar then closes it in a plastic bag until it disintegrates.  She can then apply the rust powder over adhesive - like glitter!

This is my completed piece where I used the class exercise board for the background.  I painted the crow with a layer of thinned Indigo, side-loaded on the brush so that the edges were darker than the center.  Then I repeated with Black.  I added collage elements, included some text that I hand wrote, stars cut from paper painted in a variety of ways - with rust paint, multiple colors, or sprinkled with rust "glitter," and finished it off with accents of Jacquard Lumiere Bronze paint (one of my all-time favorites.)

I framed it with old wood that I've salvaged.  I'm considering painting the tip of the tail over the old wood frame.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Doris Arndt's class

In early April I went for four days to Art and Soul, a mixed media retreat, in Portland, Oregon.  This is one of the two pieces I did in the first class, taught by Doris Arndt.  Doris was actually teaching for someone else who withdrew, so thanks to Doris for filling in.

The project was mixed media beach houses, but I don't think anyone in the class made beach houses.  In this one, I made a butterfly house, but the house is playing rather a bit part.  The things I like about this piece are the delicate colors and, of course, the cat eyeing the butterflies.  This was a fun class, well taught, and increased my appreciation of scrapbook papers which I've seldom used.

I learned that Mod Podge is a good substitute for matte gel medium and that using it with a chip brush was gentle enough to smooth even the tissue paper without tearing it.

The other piece I made was of houses in the forest, but I didn't like it much.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

All Done and Some Lessons Learned

Here's my finished piece after many hours of tedious but enjoyable work.  I've learned a couple of lessons, which are:

This is very tedious work that requires intense concentration as every stroke must be as perfect as I can make it - so, don't work too long at a time, or at all if I feel tired or just "off."

Consider leaving some of the flowers and/or leaves less finished than others.

Be really careful about keeping the paper clean.  Keep a paper towel between the paper and my restin hand, and keep the paint palette on the same side of the piece as the water container to avoid unintended drips.

Remember that line work will blur when a wash goes over it, so plan the sequence of line work carefully.

Friday, April 21, 2017

And Yet Again

I'm finished with most of the flowers now.  It's fun adding the final detail of the veins in the petals and the white stripes at the base of the petal.  I'm outlining each petal with a thin line.  I'm on the home stretch now.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And Again

Just adding more washes, trying to enrich the color and create form through lights and darks.  I'm having trouble keeping the white of the paper clearn.  I use a paper towel under my right hand, which often rests on the paper, but I sometimes forget and then get into trouble.  I think the little spots at the top left may have been caused by my cat, Darcy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Next Layer of Washes

By the way, this is a scan as opposed to the picture in the last posting which was a photo.  The scan is much better.

Anyway, I have now finished the second set of washes as well as painting the veins in the leaves.  For the flowers, I'm using Carbazole Violet and Cobalt Blue Violet on the bluer flowers and Quinacridone Violet and Napthol Maroon on the redder flowers.  I had Rose of Ultramarine on the my pallette but wasn't using it.  I wish I hadn't overlooked it because it's a very pretty color.

I find this technique to be tedious but also to require absolute attention as too much or too little water on the brush creates a problem that can't be fixed.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A New Challenge

I'm so inspired by all the beautiful flowers, both wild and domestic, in my yard and garden that I thought I'd have a try at botanical art.

This is the first step (except for the drawing which came before) of my first piece, silver dollars in bloom.  This is a wild flower that has beautiful flat translucent seed pods that are often used in flower arrangements.  The flowers are a gorgeous blend of blue/violet and red/violet, with the newer blossoms leaning towards the blue and then turning more towards the red as they age.

I'm working with watercolor which is a medium I seldom use, but it's traditional for this type of art, so I'm going to try to learn how to use it well - a long-term endeavor, I'm sure!

The beginning is pale washes, and as I proceed I will build up the color.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Secret Life of Hens

This is the finished piece.  The lantern lights as I've installed a tiny led light.  The light switch is on the back of the base.  I've entered it in Fire Mountain Gem's current competition which is polymer or air-dry clay.

The white chicken has a great hand.  The fox has a terrible hand but he's upping the ante anyway!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fox and Chickens Play Poker

Here's an early phase of my latest project.  I started it to enter in Bead and Button's 2017 Bead Dreams Competition, but I didn't get it done in time.  I'm thinking if I do a really good job on it I can enter it next year. For the category I'm going to enter the piece must be 85% polymer clay.  It's going to be a poker game inside the chicken coop.

At this stage, I've made most of the players - the fox, five chickens, and a mouse - as well as the inverted pails that two of the chickens are standing on and the straw bale on which the game will be played.

I've sculpted and baked the pieces, then I attempted to antique them, which I where I began to run into trouble.  This is a technique that I've never been too successful with.  You have to completely seal the polymer clay or the antiquing medium soaks right in and can't be rubbed off.  So I sealed each piece with two coats of satin finish acrylic varnish.  Then I mixed acrylic paint with Golden air brush medium which I understand to be an acrylic medium.  

I had my usual few instances of places that I hadn't properly sealed.  But, worst of all is that for some reason the antiquing mixture that I used ended up giving the pieces a gloss finish which I don't like at all.  Plus, the fox is no so dark that I'm not happy with it.

For tomorrow, I'll have to think of a way to correct these problems.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My "Trade" for Art and Soul

Here's my finished "trade" for the up-coming Art and Soul retreat.  I selected three vintage buttons from my stash and sewed them on.  I was going to glue a card to the back with QR codes for my blog and Etsy shop but I decided that would be tacky.  So instead, I'm hand-writing "Art and Soul, Portland, 2017  Kaaren Poole  I figured it would be nice to have contact information but not anything hinting of a "sales pitch."

I think this is pretty cute if I do say so myself.  Oh, just thought that I should put a copyright symbol and my signature on the front.  You never know.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blue Crows

This is a very unusual painting for me.  I painted the border and the center part about a month ago as part of a program for my local art group, Placerville Art Association.  Pen Slade brought a photo she had taken and four of us volunteers painted from that photo during the meeting.

It was a challenge for me because I'm not a landscape painter and I knew that the photo would be a landscape.  I just looked for blocks of color and took it from there.  As I looked at it over the past few weeks, I determined to not do any more work on the central landscape.  As I continued to look at it, I imagined blue crows in that landscape so I did these silouhettes in a medium/dark blue.  My intention was to add some detail to the crows with glazes of Indigo to develop form and a suggestion of the main body, wing, and tail shapes.

But my sister declared the painting "finished" when she saw it this morning.  And since I don't think she's ever said that about any of my other paintings, I decided to honor her opinion.  It's finished!

I do like the use of color in this painting and my departure from "natural" color.  Perhaps I'll do more.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Welcome Spring!

I decided it needed more flowers and, to reduce the "spotty" look of the background, a darker background edge.  Once I was done with those additions, I was much happier with it.  Then I felt the need to add the dots around the edge.  And - done!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Problem

Once again, a lack of planning has created problems for me.  I've spent a fair amount of time painting the robins and the spring beauties only to realize that the composition is a problem.  Or, I guess I should say that it needs more elements to make the composition good.  So I've put it up by the TV and will be studying it tonight trying to figure out where to go from here.

But I have to say that despite the problems, I actually enjoy working in this more spontaneous way.  We'll just have to see how it turns out.

Friday, March 10, 2017


My art club is having a challenge for our March meeting - create a piece with "spring" as the theme.  Here's the beginning of mine.

I began with a collage of just text, including pieces of pages of old books as well as a bit of hand-writing.  The hand-writing expresses a few of my memories about springtime in the woods near where I grew up in northern Ohio and, drawing on those memories I decided that "spring beauty" wildflowers and baby robins would star in this piece.

After the collage dried, I added glazes with Golden fluid acrylics.  Then I did the drawing directly on the piece.  The dark dots you see are the eyes for the baby robins that I'm planning on including.

I'm painting the flowers by adding white gesso, applying with a side-loaded brush with the load of color on the highlight edges.  Then I added a bit of yellow green in the centers and the dark fuschia vein markings on the petals.  Last, I added the stamens with green stalks and Quin violet heads.  I'm doing the leaves with successive glazes, working light to dark.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Painting is Done on the Kitty

The painting is done.  Now I need to make it into cards that I can print on my Epson printer.  I'll use Photoshop Elements to size it, add text, and make a full sheet of repeats.  The problem is that I don't really know how to use Elements.  At least I'm having a hard time putting several images on the page.  I don't understand the concept of "layers" so I'm pretty much lost.  Actually, I think I get the concept, just not how to use it.

These cards should be pretty nice if I can get through the computer part!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Making a Trade

Next month I'm going to the Art and Soul retreat in Portland Oregon.  I've been to a few of these retreats before.  As I was looking through their website again I noticed a little blurb about "trades."  Apparently it's a tradition at the retreat to trade little art-related items with people you meet.  They can either be art supplies or little pieces of art.  So I decided to make some.

I'm going to make little button cards with a vintage look.  I'll have a painting of a cat in a dress and I'll sew vintage buttons on them.  So, here's the start of the card.  I'm doing the painting larger than the finished item - I'll shrink it down before I print it.  The piece of paper is about 8" x 10" and I'm aiming for an image size around 5" x 7".  I'm working with Golden fluid acrylics over my pencil drawing on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


I am having so much trouble with this one.  I added more and more glazes to the top part then worked more on the coyotes' shadows, then decided that those shadows were really bad and gesso'd over them.  The whole time I've been working on it I've been thinking to myself "I just can't do this!"  So it's time to put it aside for a while.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Big Project

I'm starting this piece with the intention of entering it in an art show at a Lutheran church in Sacramento for religious and spiritual art.  The theme of the show is "Let the Spirit Sing."  It will be two young coyotes howling at the moon and will incorporate the text (author: me) "Nature is not mere backdrop.  Each of God's creatures sings his own song, center stage."

So I began with the drawing of the coyotes.  It took quite a while because they;re big (the coyote drawing is about 20" across) and because I had trouble with the legs.  But finally I finished.  Then I was able to determine the size of the entire piece and constructed the cradled board.  I also drew the dove.  I adhered the drawings to the board with Liquitex mat gel and when it had thoroughly dried I began adding glazes of transparent acrylic using Golden fluid acrylics.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Small Study

I'm planning a large painting of two coyote pups and a night sky with a moon.  The pups were so fun to draw that I decided to do a small piece - partly as a study, and partly just for fun.  This one is 8" x 10"

It's my usual process as of late - begin with a pencil drawing then include it as the main element in a collage, and finally, add color with glazes of Golden Fluid Acrylic.  The top part turned out a bit messy, largely because I put the little foil pieces on too early in the process.  As a result, I needed to add more glazes then more little foil pieces.  But, oh well, live and learn!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

My Fox Collage

Although I've been doing a lot of art lately, I haven't been good at taking photos, so all I have are photos of several finished pieces.

I decided I wanted to do a fox with grapes, so I began by drawing the fox.  After I had the fox I could decide what size piece I would do and constructed the cradled board from 1/4" hardboard and pine strips.

This collage portion presented many challenges.  I tried to use papers that related to my subject, and to add to that stash, I ended up hand-writing Aesop's Fox and Grapes fable in Greek.  It's just to the left of the fox's face.  I also used other text fragments as well as pieces of magazine photos for the collage part.  For the photos, I selected mainly skies and centuries old buildings.

For the final layer of the collage, I added some tissue paper that I stenciled with my own designs.  In this case, they're tapestry look designs of flowers and leaves.  Of course the fox drawing was part of the collage also.  I tinted her with glazes of Golden fluid acrylics.  The word "fyxen" that you can see mid-way between the left edge of the painting and the left edge of the fox means "vixen" in old English.

So far, so good.  But the real trouble came with painting the grapes.  I cut a piece of 1/4" hardboard to paint the grapes on and would later glue it in place at the top of the piece.

I coated the grape piece with Golden Coarse Molding Paste, then painted it with Golden fluid acrylic, aiming for the look of a painting on stucco.  I think I achieved that goal, but I found it difficult to paint on this surface - difficult, but, in the end, worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Leaves and Bird Collage - Finished!

A few little touches finished the piece.

First, I added color washes to the background, using thinned fluid acrylics.

I added a minimal background to the bird drawing by adding a bit of the collaged tissue paper behind the bird.  I chose a piece of tissue with a very light green.  To add it only behind the bird, I put the adhesive all around the bird, bringing it right up to the edge, but not over, the bird.  I then pressed the tissue paper in place.  When the adhesive dried, I could cut away the part over the bird.  I deepened the green around the edge, and added some line work suggesting leaves and twining branches sort of arranged like a crown.  I then added another layer of adhesive - Liquitex Mat Gel - around the bird and sprinkled small snippets of silver foil over it.

As for the real background I stenciled the leaves with copper acrylic paint, then added the tiny light turquoise dots.

Finally, I glued the bird onto a piece of corrugated cardboard then glued the cardboard in place.  This raises the bird a bit from the surface.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Every Branch Needs a Bird

I drew and painted a little chipping sparrow for the center of the piece. I did the bird on Strathmore drawing paper - first with pencil, then added colored pencil, and finally a bit of fluid acrylic for the darkest parts.  I tore the bird out and glued it onto a backing. For the backing, I used some unusual paper I had sitting around, and don't really know what it is, but it's quite thick and textured.  To tear the piece, I dampened the paper where I wanted to tear it, then tore along the edge of a metal ruler.

Another Stencil Project

I have so enjoyed working with stencils that I make on my Cricut machine, that I've decided to do another set - this time of leaves.  I made five stencils: four different leaves and then a fifth one that was a smaller version of one of the others.  Which brings up another thing I like about the Cricut process:  once you do your drawing, you can make different sizes of it for different applications.

Anyway, I began with a simple paper collage then added washes of greens and blues.  I stenciled my leaves on several sheets of tissue paper, using white gesso.  When the gesso was dry, I applied washes of watercolor which tinted the paper but left the leaf design essentially white.  I then added pieces of the tissue paper until I had a design that I liked. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Custom Frame

Whenever I can, I like to avoid actual frames and make the painting frame itself.  Here I'm creating a "custon frame" on a piece of 1/4" thick hardboard.  I began by spraying the entire board with white primer from the hardware store.

Next I applied my first layer of collage.  I want this frame to be neutral in color, so I chose several papers from my stash that are neutral - including the very light green from an old Sunset Western Garden book because I  know the central subject will be a landscape, and green will go with that.

Before, I have always avoided the straight edges of my papers, but this time I used them along the edges and in the corners of the board.  I'm tearing my papers, and laying them down in fairly large chunks.  I just pick somewhere to begin and go from there, using Liquitex Mat gel medium as my adhesive.  I also put the medium over the paper.  My only guideline in this layer is that I generally want the bottom part to be darker than the top.

Then I used a ruler to make a light pencil mark 5" in from all the edges and applied a layer of white gesso within the center area, but being a bit fuzzy on the edges.

Then I put a wash of white gesso over the collage, thinner in some places, and thicker in others.  I also added another layer of gesso in the center part.

Now on to the next layer of collage.  I'm using smaller pieces here.  I want lots of richness in the texture.

Next, another wash of gesso, and a third layer of gesso in the center.

Now to tone the whole frame area with a wash of Raw Sienna.  I'm using Golden fluid acrylics.  I darkened a few places with a bit of Light Burnt Umber wash.

For the final step, I added a third layer of collage using tissue paper that I had stenciled with a leaf design using the white gesso.  I made the stencils from my own drawings using my Cricut machine.

Here's a detail.  You can see that in a very few places in the bottom part of the frame, I left a few small areas uncovered with the tissue - the darker pieces, like the dart shape coming in from the left at the bottom of the photo.

Now on to the main painting - hope I don't ruin this frame!

Finished with Twigs!

This is the finished piece.  The final step was to add the twigs at the top.  I've had these branches inside for several months, so I know they're really dry and won't shrink.  When I first held them in place, I didn't like them.  They were too dark.  So I got our my craft knife and whittled the bark off.  When I was done, the twigs were nicely mottled and matched the colors in the rabbits.

I didn't glue them in place.  Instead, I drilled pairs of little holes into the board and attached the twigs with small pieces of copper wire around the branch, threaded through the holes, and then twisted in back.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Almost Finished

The only part of the piece that I continued to work with was the lower left corner where I added more washes.  I also added the text around the outside edge of the curve as the top.

Then I added the gold rim by first applying an edge of Golden Coarse Molding paste, using my finger to apply it.  It took overnight to dry.  Then I painted Jaquard Lumiere Bright Gold over the molding paste, covering it carefully with a brush.

Just one more step...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Correction Needed!

If you look at the bottom of the painting in the last post you will see that the lower rabbit is cut off mid way down the body.  That's because when I did the original drawing I intended that that would be the bottom of the piece, but when I arranged things on the board I didn't like the rabbits being quite so low down, so I glued them on with a gap of about 3" at the bottom.  Now I have to do something with that gap.

I had three thoughts - I could put a band of something across the bottom, or I could finish the bottom of the rabbit, or I could put something in front of him.  I decided to finish the bottom of the rabbit.  I thought I was done!  But I put it up beside the TV to study it and immediately decided that the lower left was just too empty.

More rabbits!  I thought I'd need two more.  But I began with just this one with her back to use and looking back over her shoulder.  Once I put her in place, I was happy with the composition.  So now on to finish the piece.

By the way, this photo shows the difference between the drawing to the graphite and colored pencil stage (lower left rabbit) and the drawings with light washes of acrylic over them (all the other rabbits).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Begining the Collage

The photo quality is pretty bad, but hopefully you get the idea.  I painted the background - antique white at the bottom a few light blues and light blue-greens in the middle, and soft white at the top.  I used opaque acrylics and roughly blended the colors together.

After that I began the collage.  For the collage papers, I made several sheets of tissue paper.  I used stencils that I made with my Cricut machine and designs of blossoming almond branches and falling petals.  I stenciled the white tissue paper with gesso, then painted over it with watercolor.  The watercolor doesn't stick very well to the gesso, so the stenciled parts remain light.  For some of the pieces with falling petals, I mixed a bit of red into the gesso then used blue watercolor over it.  I really enjoyed this part!  By the way, I used Liquitex mat gel medium to adhere the tissue paper.

For the petals around and below the rabbits, I cut shapes from scraps of this tissue paper and glued them on with mat gel medium.

I've also cut pieces of 1/4" thick hardboard to back the upper rabbits and adhered the drawings to them.  The corner pieces are just taped in place for the photo.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fallen Petals - the Layout

I also wanted two rabbits for the top of the piece.  Once I had those drawn, I could decide how big the overall piece would be and construct the cradled board.  The large piece is 1/4" thick hardboard and the edges are 3/4" pine.  These boards are pretty easy to construct and, for large boards like this one, well worth making as they are expensive to buy.

I sprayed the board with primer, then applied the main group of rabbits with Liquitex matte gel medium.  The top rabbits are just taped on for the photo.  Later I'll cut corner pieces from more 1/4" thick hardboard and attach them to those corners.  But I want to finish the background - at least at the upper part of the piece - before I add the corner pieces.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A New Technique for the New Year

I'm starting a new piece.  I'm inspired by a memory from several years ago when I was visiting my parents in Arizona.  They had a small cluster of almond trees in their back yard.  The trees were full of blooms - the air was full of falling petals, and the ground was pink with almond petal "snow."  A group of cottontails were feasting on the petals.

So this will be another piece in which I will experiment with using drawing in a collage.

Here's the drawing of the rabbits.  I used HB, 2B, and 4B mechanical pencil.  then lightly added bits of color with Derwent Drawing Pencils.  I have a nice set of 24 pencils in natural, muted colors.