Saturday, February 28, 2015

Acrylic Experiment

In this experiment I took the process I've been using with my Gelatos and tried it with acrylics.  I had more control with the acrylics because I applied them with a brush.  The Gelatos look rather like a chapstick, and you stroke them onto the paper like a pastel.  (You can also apply them to an acrylic block and then use a wet brush to pick up the pigment, but I haven't tried that method.)

I used a background of ochre, black, and white to draw my image on.  Here it is before I applied the blue and green paint:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review - All Lovely Things: A Field Journal for the Objects that Define Us

I received a review copy of All Lovely Things:  A Field Journal for the Objects that Define Us by Lea Redmond.  The book calls us to explore our relationships with the objects we select to live with by making object-based portraits of the people in our lives.

I agreed to review this book because I found the concept intriguing.  I am not a person who accumulates objects generally, but I do have a collection of rubber stamps and scrapbook paper which I'm having trouble letting go of.  As I was cleaning out my collection of clip art, I began to wonder why some of the things that I no longer use much have such a hold on me.

This book is an easy read - only thirteen pages introduce you to the workbook pages on which you do your drawings.  Another five pages at the end of the book provide some additional guidance.

After the initial instructions, the book invites you to portray the important people in your life (including yourself) along with their objects.  (The people you choose can be dead or alive and may include famous (or fictional) people who you don't know but who you admire.)  Each double page spread is divided into 10 - 14 journaling blocks with prompts.  In the first three blocks you draw a picture of the person, name them, and write some notes about them.  The additional prompts are meant to inspire you to draw a small picture of the objects in the lives of the people being portrayed.  Several examples are provided to help you get started, and there is room in the book for you to examine about 80 people, so you'll have lots of space!

This book is due for release on March 3.  Unfortunately, I didn't receive my copy until just a few days ago, so I haven't had a lot of time to fully test-drive the workbook.  I admit that I don't quite understand how the portraits I do will help me understand the objects that define me, but the concept still intrigues me, so I'll give it a whirl and report back!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Suddenly I got the urge to draw snowdrops.  Perhaps I know these first flowers will be gone soon.  These are coloured with pencil crayon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cuban Taxi

I didn't do much sketching last week, but this photograph in the newspaper caught my eye.

Friday, February 20, 2015


This ATC describes my feeling about books:

I've been cleaning out my stash of clip art.  Much of it went into an envelope to take to the next ATC swap, but not this piece!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spring Flowers

Spring is definitely in the air here in Vancouver.  It is inspiring my layered Gelato pieces:

And here it is before I painted the final layer:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015


The daffodils are beginning to bloom here in Vancouver.  I almost feel guilty about it, given how awful the winter has been, and still is, in the rest of Canada.

Nature inspires much of my art work, though, and I couldn't help myself.  And the layered gelatos continue to captivate me.

This piece is three layers of gelatos.  Here is a picture after the first two layers, before I began to draw:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Alcohol Inks

One of the biggest things that I'm learning about alcohol inks is that you can, and should, keep applying more ink until you are happy with the piece.  I like this one a lot.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentines Day!

I made two Valentine cards this year.  Inside I put my drunken Copperplate messages:

I hope you're all spending Valentine's Day with someone you love - even if you are by yourself!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tired of Layered Gelatos Yet?

Layered Gelatos on Oil Painting Paper

You would think I'd get tired of layering Gelatos, but not yet!  I'm not sure why this medium/technique has taken hold of me the way it has, other than it is easy, fast, and I love moving the Gelatos around with my fingers.  The Stabilo pencil draws easily on top.

The first layer (orange and ochre) is a combination of finger painting and dripping.  The subsequent layers are done with a brush.  This one has more layers and took longer to do, because I originally had some red and melon on it which I covered up with more blue and green.  It is surprising to me how well the Gelatos cover.  

That's how I discovered this process initially.  It was an experiment to see how well the Gelatos would cover.  I think that I will be much more experimental in the future, and that is definitely a good thing.  I have lacked confidence in the past, preferring to follow a tried and true process from more experienced artists.  Maybe this is part of what appeals to me about this process:  the mere fact that I discovered it for myself. 

So, I guess I learned a larger lesson than just how to layer Gelatos.  A lesson about experimentation and ultimately about fear.  I have often read, "It's only paper, right?"  I understood this rhetorical question intellectually, but understanding something intellectually isn't the same as overcoming the fear of making a mistake, of ruining a piece.  As I get older I realize that real learning only comes with making mistakes.  And if I don't try new things I'll never make mistakes, will I?  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

More Layered Gelatos

Gelatos on Oil Painting Paper

The first layer of this was a green dripped mess.  Cacti have been on my mind so that's where it took the drawing.  Then I applied the top layer of colours for the background.  Very easy and fun!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Alcohol Ink on Yupo

I made this piece with the intention of cutting it into Artist Trading Cards.  I really do prefer to send my art out into the world than to keep it hidden here.  But I also like the format of it this way.

What do you think?

Monday, February 9, 2015


I'm still playing with layering my Gelatos.  This one is done on oil painting paper.  It provides a nice canvas texture and a slightly slippery surface.  This makes the Gelatos move nicely without gesso.  Does anyone else hate applying gesso?  So boring, at least compared to finger painting with Gelatos.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Forgotten Art Supplies

I have too many art supplies.  I know it is too many because sometimes I forget what I have.  I had gotten used to using white gouache for writing on dark paper, forgetting that I had managed to procure some Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White, the ink that most calligraphers agree is the best choice in white inks.  So I took it for a spin with my favorite pointed pen.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Alcohol Inks

I received a review copy of Pigments of Your Imagination: Creating With Alcohol Inks by Cathy Taylor.  As I work my way through it in preparation to write a review, I'll post some experiments here.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Colour Those Birdies!

Janice wanted all of the bird sketches coloured:

My Beloved Black-Capped Chickadees

Birdies from my Colourful Brain

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Planner Pages

I finally remembered to take photos of my planner pages before and after the dates are added.

Simple, Organic, Shapes Done in Gouache

Weaver Writing and a Date Stamp Added

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Layered Gelatos

I'm still enjoying playing with layers of gelatos, smearing them around with my fingers.  I love the bright colours, and the ease of application.  They're a cross between watercolors and oil pastels.  Positively yummy.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Version of Copperplate

Last week the Westcoast Calligraphy Society met to learn Copperplate from the talented Renee Alexander.  Copperplate is written with a pointed, dip pen and is often heavily flourished.  You see it frequently on wedding invitations, and Copperplate has always reminded me of the MacLean method of handwriting we used in school.  I like the look of it, but with all the flourishing, it is a bit too formal for my personal taste.  

Renee taught us the proper set-up to write the hand, and we worked with guidelines we placed under our paper to keep the writing at the correct angle.  She only had time to take us through the lower case letters, and we didn't do any of the flourishing.  I was intrigued enough, however, to try a bit of practice at home. 

The day after our lesson, I did a couple of practice pages using walnut ink.  The result was fine, although a bit boring without all of the flourishing.  I was ready to venture out, and wanted to do something on different kinds of paper.  I couldn't see the guidelines through the paper, and I was too impatient to draw them on the page.  I also wanted the letters to dance on the page rather than to be restricted to straight lines.

My somewhat "drunken" version of Copperplate was the result:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

When Inspiration (or Perspiration) Strikes

I also made a birthday card last week:

One of the cards I received for my birthday at the end of November inspired this one.  I liked the layout and wanted to try the technique of stamping a solid stamp in different colours to create a composition.  The card was still on display in my office/studio and it was time to clean up the old to make room for the new!  Now my mind and windowsill are clear for new inspiration.