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Hi, I'm Cyndi, and I've been writing and updating  Mixed Media Artist since 2005.  If you're a new visitor, welcome! Come tr...

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Painted Hills 1 - a collage painting and tutorial

Painted Hills 1
by Cyndi Lavin, 2016

Mike and I like to travel out to Oregon to see our daughter each year, and we usually go sometime in September, when the temperature tends to be just perfect and the rainy season hasn't started yet.  Each time we go, we leave her home in Portland and head off in a different direction to see what we can find.  This year, we headed inland to the desert, and in particular, to the Painted Hills.  

The shot above is just one of 10 million (it seemed like, anyway) that I took of the beautiful high desert and the Painted Hills themselves.  So far, I have created two collages inspired by the Hills, and I kind of expect there may be more to come in the future.  Or maybe a quilt...

Anyway, I thought I'd share a bit about the technique that I use to get the textures in this piece.  When I'm on site, one of the things I shoot a lot of are close ups of great texture.  Besides images of landscapes with interesting composition, like the one above, I shoot a lot like this:

Using whatever method of creating a simplified line drawing that you like (here are a few ideas using Photoshop), reduce it to something like this:

From here you can print them out onto heavy paper and do an image transfer, you can use it as a reference and physically draw (pen and ink) onto your collage pieces, or you can print it out onto tissue paper and add it directly to your collage.  I'm sure there are other ways, too, but these are my preferred methods.

Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Book review: Arftul Improv

Cindy Grisdela, author of Artful Improv, started out by doing traditional designs, then began tweaking them.  Eventually she arrived at the place where she no longer wanted to use patterns or precise measurements, even though her personal designs where still heavily influenced by the traditional designs that she loved.  In this new volume by C+T Publishing, Cindy shares the building blocks that she uses, teaches you how to work without precise patterns, shares color recipes that will ensure the designs actually do work, and covers free-motion quilting.  The quilting is extremely important in these quilts, because the solid color fabrics she favors do not have the same degree of complexity as prints.  

The topics covered in this playful book are as follows: organizing your fabrics, creating a color "recipe", using design elements and principles in your work, working improvisationally, creating the building blocks (stripes, circles, blocks, and curves), using negative space, balance, and texture effectively, and quilting/finishing choices.  This is a fine choice of a book for anyone who wants to just cut loose and see what happens!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Venice - a collage painting and tutorial

Years ago, Mike and I traveled to Italy to pick up Dani after her semester abroad.  Some of you might remember that my poor poor baby had to go study oil painting and sculpture in Italy as part of her art degree.  And of course Mike and I couldn't possibly let her travel back all on her own ;-)

I took possibly 2 million pictures while we were there, and fully 1 million of those were of doors, windows, and textured walls.  Venice was captivating in a way that's like no where else on earth.  I have made quilts, other collages, digital pieces, and jewelry all inspired by Venice.  And now here is the latest...I just can't seem to shake these colors!

1. Take large pieces of tissue paper (white) and gesso both the front and the back of each.  You'll need to wait till one side dries before doing the second.

2. Print out a grayscale sketch of your inspiration photo and use it to plan a grid.  I divided up the shapes, and also used it to plan the color placement in rudimentary form.

3. Use a small brayer with acrylics to paint the papers once they're dry.  Allow the paint to hit just the high points.

4. Paint a background piece of watercolor paper (cold press, 140 lb), again using the brayer and a couple different colors of paint.

5. Carefully cut out the delicate gesso papers and adhere them to the background with gloss medium.  Top coat with matte medium and acrylic matte or satin varnish.

Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book review: Painted Paper Art Workshop

Elizabeth St Hilaire (Beth) began painting her own collage papers because of her concern over light-fastness, but the practice soon led her to a collection of hues and a range of values and textures that convinced her to never go back to commercial papers for her collages. Now, in her new book Painted Paper Art Workshop published by North Light Books, you can learn to create gorgeous collage paintings like Beth's. 

Forty full-color pages of this book teach the additive, subtractive, resist, and monoprint techniques that Beth finds most helpful for adding glorious color to your papers.  Additive techniques (adding paint to paper) are probably the most familiar.  They include such things as stamping, stenciling, sponging, and splattering.  Resist techniques include using alcohol, texture rubbings, soup bubbles, metallics, glue, and gesso. 

The next (almost) forty pages cover Beth's signature method of creating her painted paper collages.  Starting with choosing a substrate and priming it, she takes you through composition, sketching and underpainting, the collage process itself, and adding the finishing touches.  Composition is the basis for everything that follows, and a full range of values is key to a successful piece.  

I feel the most valuable information by far is how Beth takes you through examples that show how to build your collage piece from the background to the foreground so that the composition looks 3D instead of flat.  Further, she takes you through an exercise that teaches you how to construct an image that has the look of actual volume.  Together, these skills help you to end up with a piece that looks more like a painting than a collage!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ready to Fly - a collage painting

Another mixed media abstraction from a photo, perhaps more clear as to the subject than the last few!

Ready to Fly
Cyndi Lavin, 2016

Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book review: Making Art From Maps

Raise your hand if maps don't intrigue you as an art-making material.  Ok, you two people are excused...all the thousands of others may stay and learn about Jill K Berry's new book Making Art From Maps, published by Quarto/Rockport.  Bits and pieces of awesome maps are shown throughout the book, and sometimes you will get to see a vintage or novelty map in its entirety.  It starts off with a quick section on tools, materials, and basic techniques.  Before you start in on the projects, you'll want to familiarize yourself with making cones, flowers of various types, leaves, and tapes.

The how-to's that follow in the rest of the book are not super detailed, but if you have any experience working with paper, you won't have any trouble following along.  It's very unlikely that you will have the exact materials shown anyway...these projects are just begging for personalization!  The six main chapters contain projects that cover home decor; books, journals, and boxes; fashion; collage and illustration; sculpture and installations; and interiors and lighting.  Each chapter is closed out by a wonderful gallery section that showcases the work of dozens of other artists.

As you work your way through this book, I'm sure that dozens (hundreds?) of other ideas will occur to you for how you can incorporate wonderful maps into your own artwork!  The hats and shoes shown in the Fashion chapter have gotten my mind going.  The examples shown are fun, but I don't want to duplicate them exactly...I want to grab my own maps and start creating!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reaching 2 - a collage painting

A multi-layered collage painting, another abstraction from a photo.

Reaching 2
Cyndi Lavin, 2016

Reaching 1 can be seen at the link.

Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit.
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