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Welcome (back) to Mixed Media Artist!

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, December 05, 2016

Onions

Cyndi Lavin, 2015

Black marker, Derwent Inktense pencils, watercolor paper.

Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Beading Arts book reviews - part one


Most of the books that I read and review on the topic of wearable arts or beading on fabric can be found on Beading Arts blog.  But since many people who enjoy quilting, collage, digital arts, and more also like to play with beads, wire, and lots of other fun stuff, I feel I should update the list of books that I've reviewed there!  Part two will post next week.

Here they are in chronological order:

Learn to Make Bead Jewelry

Quilting and Sewing books

Jewel Loom Inspirations

Wonderful Wire Jewelry

Fast Peyote Stitch Jewelry

Bags for Fashionistas

Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples: Motifs

Kumihimo Jewelry Simplified

Sensational Soutache

Play with Chain Mail


Monday, November 07, 2016

Beading Arts tutorials - part one


Most of my beading and wearable arts tutorials reside on the Beading Arts blog.  Here is the first part of a chronological list of tutorials from this past year.  Part two will be posted next week!

Cellini spiral beaded beads

A wire bracelet featuring beaded beads

Another wire and bead bracelet variation

Crazy for beaded beads

Beaded bead - an alien flying saucer!

New life to a boring bangle bracelet

Another reclaimed bangle bracelet

How to stitch a Dutch spiral

Dutch spiral earrings

Blue Rainbow - a bead embroidery and wirework necklace


Hydrangeas + Peaches

Cyndi Lavin, 2015

Black marker, Derwent Inktense pencils, watercolor paper.


Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Painted Hills 2 - a collage painting and tutorial

Painted Hills 2
by Cyndi Lavin, 2016
Here is the second collage painting inspired by our recent trip to Oregon's fabulous Painted Hills.  You can see the first one here.  At that link, I explained how I added the texture to the pieces.  This week, I want to talk about a couple other things.

I was asked by a friend what inspired the lavender color in the collages...was it flowers?  No!  It's close to the color of some of the rocks there.  I don't remember exactly what the chemicals are that cause this coloration, but it's striking, especially next to the usual ochres and reds:



The other addition to this piece is a line image of a catfish fossil.  This area is known for amazingly abundant deposits of all sorts of fossils.  If you want to create a simplified line drawing of one of your photos, the tutorial at the link shows you how to do it in Photoshop.



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 26, 2016

Book review: Fabricadabra - Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric


Paula Nadelstern wants to teach you the most straightforward ways possible of creating eye-catching kaleidoscopic quilts.  To that end, she wrote Fabricadabra - Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric for C+T Publishing.  She teaches you how to see the seams and she unwraps the mysteries of symmetry.  The results are simple, but not easy: they still require much thought and work once you understand the simple patterns behind them.


Reversing the usual organizational order, the gallery is right up front, each quilt accompanied by a line grid illustration to show you how to "read" the quilt and find the simple seams.  As I worked by way through the book, I found myself increasingly able to predict "how she did it" before seeing the grid.

The second part of the book covers design strategies and how to work with complex prints.  Paula likes to camouflage the seams, so to speak, so that the eye flows over them .  The third part of the book covers using your tools and templates properly.  This type of design is precise, and Paula helps you hone your skills.

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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Book review: Pigments of Your Imagination, 2nd edition


I don't often find it necessary to post about updated art technique books, but in this case I just have to make an exception!  My original review of Pigments of Your Imagination is at the link, and everything I said there still stands, but...

But.  Now there is Pigments of Your Imagination, 2nd edition.  There are additional breath-taking images included throughout the entire book.  I was worried at first because the cover says 50 bonus gallery images, but that's not all.  There are additional images included in the techniques and step-by-step sections, making it even easier to follow along.  There are also fourteen brand NEW techniques and tips added that nicely round out the instructional sections.  Cathy Taylor's work, of course, is exquisite, and the gallery section includes her work plus much more by other artists.

So there!  If you bought the first edition, definitely at least look at the new one to see the new techniques.  If you didn't buy it back then, and you'd like to work with alcohol inks, then don't delay this time!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Apples - a simple collage

Black gesso, acrylic paints and inks, black marker pen.  Something from last year that I forgot to share :-)

Apples
Cyndi Lavin, 2015



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

Monday, September 05, 2016

Bricks - a collage painting

Watercolor paper, acrylic paint, tissue paper, India ink

Bricks
Cyndi Lavin, 2016

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Happy end of the summer and Labor Day!


Late summer bounty


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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Reaching 1 - a collage painting

Reaching 1 has been abstracted from a photo...but I won't tell you want it is!  If you guess correctly, I will tell you that you're right :-)

Reaching 1
Cyndi Lavin, 2016
Watercolor paper, tissue paper, digital printout, acrylics, India ink, gesso.


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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book review: Art Quilt Collage


Would you like to try art quilting, but you're not sure where to start?  Art Quilt Collage by Deborah Boschert shows you how to make works of art from bits of cloth, stitched motifs, and painted details.   Deborah shares mixed-media techniques, practice exercises, checklists, and work-along projects that will help you unlock your own artistic vision as you quilt in a series, finish small art pieces, and incorporate meaningful symbols into your work.  Published by C&T Publishing, the book is now ready for pre-order.

A really awesome part of this book if you have not designed for yourself are the 8 design guides that Deborah suggests.  She calls them Landscape, Grid, Third Plus, Symmetrical, Magic Three, One Amazing Line, Dancing Grid, and Modular.  She then also shows you how to create variations on each!  No more fumbling with composition!

In addition, you will find chapters on adding personal symbols to your work, playing with surface design techniques, and of course, construction, stitching, and finishing!

Monday, August 22, 2016

California Coast - mixed media

I used a couple of gesso resist painted papers that I made a long time ago, scanning them to create some of the layers in this digital piece.  I love mixing physical painting and collage with digital.

California Coast
Cyndi Lavin, 2016


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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book review: Double Vision Quilts


Did you know that there is a way to make circles and ovals from squares and rectangles without having to do any curved piecing?  I am totally in love with Louisa L. Smith's techniques for layering and creating amazing patterns in Double Vision Quilts.  Her mind-blowing colors don't hurt either!  Published by C&T Publishing.

There are three methods that Louisa teaches in this awesome book: basting, fusing, and piecing.  So if you are truly a piecing fanatic, don't worry, you won't be left out.  But seriously, why don't you just try fusing?  You'll be able to make a lot more quilts :-)


Monday, August 15, 2016

Digging Deep - a collage painting

Acrylics, India ink, tissue paper collage, gesso.

Digging Deep
Cyndi Lavin, 2016


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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book review: Acrylic Expressions



North Light Books, publisher of beautiful art books, has another winner.  Are you interested in learning how to paint more intuitively?  Do you enjoy abstract designs, but haven't a clue how to approach painting them yourself?  Staci Swider has written Acrylic Expressions to do just this: "This book is a collection of methods for working intuitively and organically in order to let paintings evolve rather than push a preconceived idea," states Staci in her introduction.

To do this, Staci takes you through a series of demonstrations on how she works.  Rather than trying to duplicate her pieces exactly, you are encouraged to think about your own favorite items, symbols, phrases, and such.  A typical project will have you laying down texture and color somewhat randomly, looking for what emerges and sketch-painting it in, and then filling in the background with colors that will make the showcased colors pop.  It's an interesting approach, and can definitely be paired with planning rather than done completely randomly if that is your preference.

Later on in the book, Staci tackles power tools and using unusually shaped pieces of wood as substrates.  She also teaches you how to edge your piece with copper tape, which is a really nifty trick for giving the piece an "important" finished look.  Even the first chapter is fun, covering tools, materials, color palettes, and texture-making products.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1440344485/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mazeltovjewelryt&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1440344485&linkId=b76810e54f5f099a880264a06d15525b

Monday, August 08, 2016

Melted Options - a collage painting

Acrylic paint mixed with dressmaker tissue, inks, and gesso.

Melted Options
Cyndi Lavin, 2016

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

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Book review: Creative Strength Training


 

Who doesn't like Jane Dunnewold's work?  If you don't, I'm sorry but you're just plain wrong!  Jane has authored so many lessons, articles, and books on creating wonderful mixed media art, but Creative Strength Training, published by North Light Books, is like no other.  In this book, Jane gives you her step-by-step strategy for unleashing the creative potential that resides within you.

Feeling stuck?  Feeling uninspired?  Feeling like nothing you do is quite good enough?  Jane has a cure for that!  As you work your way through the book, and I do recommend doing it sequentially, you will do a series of exercises that ultimately will help you figure out how to make your work truly your own, not a copy of someone else's.  These exercises most often include journaling, making lists, and exploring avenues that you might not have thought of before.

As Jane says, you will learn first of all how to engage your inner art rebel and how to dismantle the destructive committee that keeps you second guessing yourself and your abilities.  This is not a book that teaches you a lot of new art techniques...it teaches you how to take the ones you know and love even further into uncharted territory!  And the strategy works too.  The proof is in the "Artists Respond" section of each chapter, where participants in Jane's workshops tell about some of the breakthroughs they achieved.

So get ready for some strength training of a different sort...Creative Strength Training!!

Monday, August 01, 2016

Sunflower

I took this shot of sunflowers slightly past their prime in Oregon a couple of years ago.  I don't know about you, but sunflowers always make me happy!

Sunflower
Cyndi Lavin, 2016
  
I added several layers in Photoshop, including a grayscale posterized layer and a thick edges layer.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Edge of Tomorrow

An experimental painting, with many layers of acrylic paint, ink, and gesso.

The Edge of Tomorrow
Cyndi Lavin, 2016


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

Monday, July 25, 2016

"They toil not"

They Toil Not
Cyndi Lavin, 2016


I was never quite satisfied with the piece I made back in February, called Intentional (there's a tutorial at the link).  After messing around with it for awhile, I decided that I simply needed to crop it and do a bit of digital rearrangement, adding the bottom horizontal stripe up higher.  Of course, my new version only exists digitally, but I am much happier with it for some reason!

Matthew 6:28 (KJV):
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin

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.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A "honeycomb" collage piece


Just playing around with bubble wrap one day, I painted this simple piece. No, it doesn't really look like honeycomb until you crop it and use it in a piece that suggests that!  But for lack of a better name, honeycomb has stuck :-)



I morphed the colors in Photoshop and cropped it severely to use in The Pedigree of Honey, which I showed you a few weeks ago.  So maybe you'll find it useful to have a piece like this in your pile of papers, ready to use for digital or physical collage.


Acrylic paints:
Burnt sienna
Raw umber
Red oxide
Phthalo blue
Phthalo green

1. Using a wet in wet technique, I covered the entire watercolor paper with the first three colors listed above.  Then I scrunched up waxed paper and allowed the paints to dry with it on top.

2. I mixed Phthalo blue and Phthalo green, and applied it with bubble wrap.

3. Add a raw sienna glaze, and before it's completely dry, spray with water and alcohol.

4.  When the piece is dry, go back in and sponge with red oxide and burnt sienna as desired.

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.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Torn paper towel flowers


Nothing gets my juices flowing quite like a beautiful bouquet of flowers!  And since my garden has been overflowing, I've had lots of inspiration recently.  I don't do realism...I just can't...but I wanted something that would at least be recognizable this time!

Materials & Tools

Watercolor paper
Gesso
Matte medium
Tissue paper
Paper towels
Spray bottle with water

Acrylic paints:
Hansa yellow medium
Pyrrole orange
Quinacridone magenta
Dioxazine purple
Jenkins green
Sap green
Green gold

Pitt pen, black
Acrylic spray fixative


1. Pick a reference photo or quickly sketch a plan.  My drawing ability is non-existent, but I still do this part.



2. Prepare watercolor paper with a thin layer of gesso, a layer of dilute matte medium, and crinkled tissue paper.  Let it dry.



3. Drip dilute color on paper towels and allow to dry.



4. Add dilute sap green to the paper and use a spray bottle of water to move it around.  Top it with a layer of matte medium and allow to dry thoroughly.



5. Use water on a small brush to outline the flowers, and tear them out.



6. Arrange, adhering with a drop of medium when satisfied.



7. Iron in place.  Add small paper towel details, like the leaves.  Iron in place again and carefully cover with medium.



8. Add desired details with a pen.  spray with fixative, and add a final layer of matte medium.



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.
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