acrylic painting

Wisdom of Kabir

A couple of weeks ago, I began a new mini series as part of a seven day Instagram art challenge established by the wonderful, Tara Leaver. I decided to use the week to step back into playing with canvas after a half year intermission of just creating works on paper. After considering a few other project ideas, I chose to paint 6” x 6” acrylic paintings, first prepared with cut and frayed canvas cloth, and each one featuring a short quote from the 15th century mystic and poet, Kabir.

The process combines the Ancient Wisdom and text of the Transcriptions series along with the use of cloth in the Canvas on Canvas paintings.

The prepared canvases before they are painted.

The prepared canvases before they are painted.

This project was perfect to get me back into my flow again and reconnect with stretched and raw canvas… by cutting it, shaping it, and stringifying it before any paint touches the surface. (In case you’re wondering, stringifying is not a word but it perfectly describes what I love to do with raw canvas.)

“The Release” 6” x 6” mixed media on canvas

“The Release” 6” x 6” mixed media on canvas

Since creating the six small canvases for the mini challenge, I’ve completed two more and I'm confident I'll be adding to the Ancient Wisdom series with larger pieces. I’ve also begun to collect the words of those who have touched the hearts of generations through the centuries… Rumi and Hafez to name a couple. I'm looking forward to seeing what unfolds from here.

The Ancient Wisdom Minis can be found at the Minis gallery on my website.

And… Check Out the art created by the other participants of the 7 day mini series. Tara Leaver did a great job of posting the work on her blog.

The 100 Day Project

“Explorations” series in process.

“Explorations” series in process.

I was just beginning a new mini-series when I learned of the 100 Day Project on Instagram and it peeked my interest. As I write this, it is day 24 and I had committed to creating 25 pieces in the “Explorations” series to get me started. For the “Explorations” paintings, I’m using magazine images to inspire a daily exercise on pieces of 6” x 6” canvas paper.

My focus for the 100 days: I absolutely love to paint on canvas, raw or primed, stretched or unstretched. So, since this project is designed to take me out of my comfort zone, instead, I will be creating (mostly) small works on PAPER. I intend to play with paint, some collage, pastels, pencils, and any other materials or process I can have fun with.

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I see the time spent on this project as an intermission between the work I've done in the past and what I will create in the future.

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I'm curious to see how far I will go in this. One hundred days takes us to JULY! I don't know if I'll complete the full 100 days, but for now it’s my daily focus, allowing me to stretch my creative muscles.

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The project came up for me at the perfect time… just as I was taking a break from producing paintings on canvas and instead finding and exploring various ways to develop and grow as an artist. It ties into my current need to play, experiment, and try new things.

Note: The artwork shown above is a selection of 9 pieces from the “Explorations” series. And at this time, I know I will be creating ten additional minis as part of that collection. Posts for the 100 day project and “Explorations” can be found and followed on Instagram and on my Facebook artist page.

The Explorations Mini Series

“Explorations” mini series, paintings on paper.

“Explorations” mini series, paintings on paper.

I began a new mini series on the first day of April… the “Explorations series.” This group of small paintings was inspired because of spring cleaning. After spending time clearing out my parent’s home, I came back to my house and immediately began to clean out drawers and cabinets.

One cabinet was filled with magazines. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown out a magazine. There must have been somewhere around 70 magazines in that cabinet. Many of them had been cut up and used when my daughter was younger, for collages and creative projects. It was time for that pile to go. They’ve been taking up space for years. But first I wanted to flip through the pages of each magazine… and as I did so, I was inspired to create one more project with them.

“Explorations” series in process.

“Explorations” series in process.

I began pulling out any page with an image or part of an image that I found interesting. The magazines went into the recycle bin and I ended up with a fairly good sized pile of pages to consider using in some way. Before I knew it, I had glued one or more pieces of an image onto eight 6” x 6” sheets of canvas paper. They were ready to be painted.

The Goal: for the attached magazine image to inspire and challenge me to create something new each day. The “Explorations” give me an opportunity to shake things up, experience a personal art exercise. and see where it might lead.

“Explorations #12” 6” x 6” mixed media on paper.

“Explorations #12” 6” x 6” mixed media on paper.

My original intention was to complete ten of these and then decide if I wanted to continue. But the day I posted the first one, I decided to join the 100 day project on Instagram and made a commitment to create 25 in the series.

Posts for the 100 day project and the “Explorations” can be found and followed on Instagram and on my Facebook artist page.

In the next blog-post, I will share more about the project.

Breath and Beyond

“Breath and Beyond” 12" x 12" acrylic, cloth, threads, and paper on canvas.

“Breath and Beyond” 12" x 12" acrylic, cloth, threads, and paper on canvas.

“Breath and Beyond” was the first painting I worked on and completed after returning from packing up my parent’s home. (We were getting it ready for sale.) Although I returned with several new projects in mind, I decided to get busy with the raw canvas I had prepared before leaving. My first goal was to create a thread filled environment in which to paint.

“Breath and Beyond” in process.

“Breath and Beyond” in process.

I began by sewing lines of stitches in something of a checkerboard pattern, leaving loose threads at the ends of each line. I had already cut five squares into the cloth before the trip.

“Breath and Beyond” didn’t develop as I had originally envisioned. So, I let go, allowing the process to lead me, and I was able to enjoy every step along the way.

I kept adding color, then some text, and then more color. The background canvas became a deep brownish mauve to peek through the openings in the cloth.

The text in the painting is the mantra, So Hum, meaning: "I Am That." It is used in meditation as one focuses on their breath.

“Breath and Beyond” in process.

“Breath and Beyond” in process.

I always have a title in mind by the time a painting is complete… but not this time. The painting had journeyed so far from the original idea and I felt like I was just along for the ride, not knowing where we were going. I had to brainstorm ideas for a name.

When the title, “Breath and Beyond” came to mind, I knew it was right. I could see how the painted cloth had become a tapestry OR a tapestry of life. I had chosen a mantra that represents the breath OR breath of life. And the cutouts had become windows to the beyond.

Breath and Beyond is available for purchase, here.

“Breath and Beyond” in process. Sewing the painted cloth to the back canvas.

“Breath and Beyond” in process. Sewing the painted cloth to the back canvas.

Small Bites

Small Bites 12" x 12" acrylic and cloth on canvas.

Small Bites 12" x 12" acrylic and cloth on canvas.

A dream became the inspiration for Small Bites… an original painting that is now part of my Canvas on Canvas series. First I prepared the piece of raw canvas by fraying the edges and cutting out holes in the cloth. I attached it to the stretched canvas and then it was time to take out the acrylics and brushes and choose some colors.

Small Bites in process. Choosing the color palette.

Small Bites in process. Choosing the color palette.

Choosing the color palette:

I only had a vague idea of the colors I would use. So, I began with one of my favorite starter color palettes: yellow oxide, titanium white, and Payne’s grey. (Oh, but since I have very little Payne's grey around, I'm using ivory black.) I love the way these colors mix together!

Now I had to choose the rest of the colors. I have a small collection of color cards that I’ve created and add to from time to time. I find it very helpful in choosing a color palette when I don't have one immediately in mind. I went back and forth on different color ideas for this one.

It took me a while to get comfortable with the reds I had chosen, but I really like the idea of stretching my “color comfort zone.” And by the time I was finished, I had grown much more comfortable with the reds in this color palette. (0f course, I did soften the intensity of the color, somewhat.)

Small Bites is available for purchase, here.

Twas Brillig

“Twas Brillig” 24” x 30” Acrylic, canvas cloth, and paper on canvas.

“Twas Brillig” 24” x 30” Acrylic, canvas cloth, and paper on canvas.

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

Painting brings me joy. I love my time in the studio and the relationship I develop with each of my creations… but once and awhile I create something that significantly increases the joy. “Twas Brillig” did just that. It turned up the “Joy Meter” and I was in no rush to complete it. I found myself savoring every moment I spent playing with this canvas.

For years I have wanted to create a painting with a focus on Lewis Carroll’s, Jabberwocky. I have loved it since high school. In fact, in one of my art classes back then, we had to illustrate a children’s book for a painting and drawing class. I chose to illustrate The Jabberwocky. (Thank you, Mr. Foo)

Closeup of the attached book on “Twas Brillig”

Closeup of the attached book on “Twas Brillig”

I so enjoyed playing with the text of the poem as I incorporated Carroll’s unique and wonderful words into the constructed cloth book. I took my time developing the background of the stretched canvas that became the setting for the “book.” This one gave me an opportunity to explore with color and structure.

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

Detail image of “Twas Brillig”

My original goal was to, in some way, allow the words of Lewis Carroll to spill from the book, as if the boundaries of the books could not contain it. I would love to do more canvases like this one. Playing with text as it pours from the painting surface. These are the types of images that keep coming up in my mind, calling to be created.

I enjoyed every moment I spent on this painting. And I can’t help but wonder if this one may be something of a bridge between the work that has come before and the artwork I will be creating, moving forward. I definitely approached the painting process differently than I might have in the past… and that had been my goal.

Here are the words of the first and last stanzas of the poem for those of you unfamiliar with Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll and for those who would enjoy a reread:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”

Twas Brillig is available for purchase, here.

Above and Below

“Above and Below” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

“Above and Below” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

After a couple of months away from the studio, it was so good to hold a paintbrush in my hands again. To get back into the flow, I chose to play with a work in progress I had begun awhile ago. It had been waiting for months for me to return to complete it. Back then, I had cut a piece of raw canvas cloth and gessoed it onto a 12" x 12" canvas. The cutouts were inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's clouds.

This was the perfect project for my return and I so enjoyed the process. I didn’t care how it turned out. All that mattered was the delight of being busy in the studio.

“Above and Below” in progress.

“Above and Below” in progress.

Originally, I had a whole different color palette in mind when I first attached the cut cloth to the canvas, months ago. But now is a different time and place. So, the process of painting this one took me on an unexpected path. I like watching as paintings unfold before me. And I'm delighted to be back in process.

Inspired by: Georgia O'Keefe's, "Sky Above the Clouds"

Above and Below is available for purchase, here.

Autumn Shade

“Autumn Shade” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

“Autumn Shade” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

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Autumn Shade was the first painting I completed after ten days of playing with crayons. So, I can’t help but wonder how much that experience influenced my choice of colors for this canvas. Of course, I was also craving the fall colors as I sat in my studio, in October, looking out on the evergreen trees that surround our home. I’m loving these colors.

This is another one of the Canvas on Canvas series that I have so enjoyed painting. Unlike the Transcriptions series and the Text-tures, there is minimal construction and no sewing of elements onto canvas. It provides me with pure painting joy.

Autumn Shade is available for purchase, here.