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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...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book review: Create Perfect Paintings


Fair warning: I am highly prejudiced in favor of this book!  Why?  Because not only does it contain the very best explanation and practical plan for critiquing your own work that I've ever found, but also because I am absolutely in awe of Nancy Reyner's personal painting work.  Fear not, though.  You can paint (or color, or collage) in a totally different style from Nancy and still learn everything you need from Create Perfect Paintings, because the subtext is to create perfect paintings for YOU.  

Still...if you don't happen to like Nancy's work, you are just plain wrong.  Just sayin'...

This is not a painting techniques book.  Instead, it focuses on teaching you how to look deeply into an image (yours or someone else's) and to analyze the effects that it has on you as a viewer.  Technique is important, but being able to manipulate your viewer's eye movements and perception is what Nancy says separates an amateur from an experienced artist.

The book starts with a short but necessary section on "Essentials," that is, the definition of artistic terms and concepts.  Section two discusses the "Play Phase" of painting, in which you work from your right brain, shut off the inner critic for a spell, and avoid falling into the same old-same old trap.

Section three is my favorite.  I have never been exactly sure what I should be looking for when I critique my own work.  Yeah, I know that I need to look at the composition, the lines, the color, etc, etc...but so what?  Nancy teaches you how exactly to look for opposites and contrast, entrances and pathways, dead zones, hot spots, spatial depth, and how to know when it's finished.  She calls this The Viewing Game...which I find much less scary than the word critique!

This queen of all sections is followed by two more, which focus on check lists, color information, framing, freeing creative blocks, discovering new ideas, and forming a critique group.  You just won't believe how much Nancy has managed to pack into this book!    


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Walls Come Tumbling Down - a mixed media painting tutorial


This piece started with a piece of watercolor paper that was wet.  I used dilute acrylics to paint a watercolor-type of background.  When dry, I figured out where the central shape was going to be and I added some lines with resist fluid.



1. Create a mask from card stock and painter's tape.  Roll over the exposed painting with a light coat of white gesso on a small foam roller.




2. Use painter's tape to create an outer frame which will be rolled with black gesso.




3. Remove the masks and tape, and remove the resist from the lines.




4. Use painter's tape to position black bars across the central shape.  Use black gesso.




5. I liked it on end the best of all the orientations.

Copyright 2017 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, April 17, 2017

Schism - a mixed media painting tutorial

Schism
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
Here is another example of a piece that almost got abandoned, ripped in two, or just plain thrown out.  I started with colors and techniques that had served me well in the past, but just didn't seem to work this time. 



1. I failed to write down the colors that I used for the background, but I would guess that they were probably cobalt teal, ochre or hansa yellow, and red oxide.  I used black India ink to create some directional lines, and then rolled a mixture of white gesso and titan buff over a paper mask.  I was a bit underwhelmed.



2. Since I hated the way it looked, I decided to try using more black ink to tie the piece together.  Not so much...



3. I used an ochre glaze to unify the colors a bit.  Now we're getting somewhere.
Over that, I added more black ink lines.  There's a certain freedom you feel when you believe that a piece is ruined anyway!



4. I re-masked the central shape and rolled it with a light layer of white gesso.  Then I used tape to create the second boundary and rolled it with black gesso.  The colors didn't turn out true in this photo, so I scanned the piece, and (at least on my computer monitor), the scan below it true to life :-)





Copyright 2017 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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

On the Wing - a mixed media painting tutorial

On the Wing
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
I neglected to take a whole lot of step-out photos for this piece, mostly because at one point it went terribly wrong and I almost abandoned it.  Instead, since I had nothing to lose, I gambled on a new direction, and it is now easily one of my favorite pieces from the past few months!  It was honestly not until I got to step 7 that I realized what it was, because I had it turned on it's side the whole time I was working on it.

1. The substrate is wide vinyl tape in a brushed steel finish, over stiff paper.  I sandpapered it lightly.



2. Acrylics used: turquoise phthalo, cobalt teal, titan buff, and quinacridone gold.



3. Mark out where the shape will go, and use black ink and tar gel to outline some random shapes.

4. Cover the entire piece with dilute white gesso, and scrape it off with a plastic card.

5. Flood the line area with dilute colors, letting them mingle.

6. Cover the background areas with polymer medium, and embed kosher salt in it.  Add a wash of dilute blue interference and allow to dry.  Brush away the salt.

7. Add black ink lines with a razor blade.

8. Strengthen and adjust colors in the line area.

Copyright 2017 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, April 05, 2017

Books: fabulous color for Spring!

I am tired of the browns and grays and blacks and whites in my New England landscape. I want COLOR!!  These two new books from C&T Publishing are just what the doctor ordered!



Take the first steps to becoming an art quilter with popular teacher and best-selling author Katie Pasquini Masopust in her new book, Artful Log Cabin Quilts. Starting with an inspiration photo or painting, choose fabrics to create your own artistic log cabin quilts.


Learn to navigate visual pathways and composition, applying easy techniques and experimenting with color. Student work is presented, showing that anyone can create an art quilt! Design and make your masterpiece with freeform log cabin blocks using this versatile method.





Become a skilled foundation piecer with New York Beauties and Flying Geese blocks that amaze! Carl Hentsch simplifies a technique loved by many with his straightforward approach to curved piecing, foundation piecing, and simple machine appliqué.



Stitch your way through 31 architectural block patterns, ideal for advanced beginners and intermediate quilters. Then it's time to practice on 10 full-size quilts and 27 bonus pillow projects with lively color combinations to provide movement and drama. 

Monday, April 03, 2017

The View Out My Window - a tutorial

The View Out My Window
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
Late last fall, I visited the Boston Museum of Science with some friends.  It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that my two favorite things were the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit (the intersection of art and science) and the large glass wall looking out over Boston Harbor.  Especially the view from the second floor.  I probably took more pictures of that view than of anything else.

This piece is pretty obviously not an exact representation of what I saw out the window, even though most of my pictures were enlarged past the point of blurriness (deliberately).  I did a black marker "sketch" of the major shapes and textures to start off with.  Then, I did some acrylic pours with yellow, turquoise, and violet.


Less than satisfied with the look of the pours, I tried making glazes of some of the colors and painting them in window pane sized blocks.  Still not thrilled, although I did like it better when I tipped it vertically.

What finally brought it together was deciding that since it was ruined anyway, why not...??  I strengthened the color blocks, and then mixed a glazing medium with white gesso and a touch of Quinacridone violet.  This mixture was applied all over the piece with a foam roller.  I spritzed it lightly with rubbing alcohol to texture it and blotted gently.  As a final touch, I added a few India ink lines, using a tiny pipette.



Copyright 2017 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, March 27, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart - a tutorial

Total Eclipse of the Heart
Cyndi Lavin, 2017




1. Paint watercolor paper with mixture of black gesso and turquoise acrylic.  Let dry thoroughly.  Spread on watered down white gesso and cover with plastic wrap.  Peel off slowly before completely dry.


2. Working on one half at a time, run a bead of India ink along the center and allow to drip towards the edges.  Use black on the upper half and white on the lower.  The white will mix a bit with the black.  Spray the ink with two coats of Krylon acrylic spray.  



3. Paint the piece with very watered down acrylics, adding and blotting to build up the layers.   

Copyright 2017 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, March 20, 2017

Spring Snow - a tutorial

Spring Snow
Cyndi Lavin, 2017


1. Apply tissue paper to watercolor paper with gloss medium.  Spray paper to wet it, and add India ink drips from near the top (piece shown upside down from the way it was worked).  Smudge crimson and turquoise acrylics near top and use white gesso on a foam brush to smear it down the page.  Add yellow with fingers to any white areas and to highlight the tissue paper.



2. Mist with water and allow colors to mingle.  Dig circle shapes through the upper layers of paint with biscuit cutters.  Add some smears of interference violet paint.  Add magenta paint to what is now the bottom of the piece.



3. Stamp with bubble wrap.  Use masking tape to create plant shapes.  



4. Use a foam roller to lightly roll white gesso over plant shapes.  When dry, remove them.



5. Cut out pieces from the whole, and mount them on large piece of paper covered by a mix of black gesso and dark turquoise.

Copyright 2017 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, March 13, 2017

Experiments with gesso masks


Instead of using just acrylics and gesso, I wanted to try Inktense acrylic ink pencils to see what gesso masks would look like with them as the background.  My recommendations from these experiments is that whether you want your colors to blend or to stay put, you will have quite a bit of control with the pencils.


I grabbed some of the brightest colors and scribbled all over a small piece of watercolor paper.  Then I misted them with a spray bottle of water and moved them around slightly to blend some of the edges.


For my first experiment, I cut out some leaf shapes from card stock and rolled over them with white gesso, applying it heavily enough to obscure the background, but not entirely.


I added the vine after the fact :-)




On a second smaller piece, cut from the end of the first, I rearranged the leaves into petals.  This time, I added some opaque magenta to the white gesso before the first rolling.

  
After rolling with white, I left the petals in place, and added some painter's tape around the edges.  I rolled the center portion a second time, using black gesso this time.


To finish, I outlined the petals with a black permopaque pen.


Copyright 2017 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, March 06, 2017

Justice - a mixed media painting

Justice
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
A few weeks ago, I got to hear a recording of Martin Luther King's wonderful speech that is commonly known as the "I have a dream" speech.  It always stirs me.  Although I didn't have this in mind specifically when I painted the background, I soon decided to add the lettering for the portion of the speech that King paraphrased from Amos 5:24:
No, no, we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.

The technique for painting this is basically the same as Firefly's Dance from a few weeks ago.  The major difference is that I first adhered a layer of wrinkled tissue paper to my substrate before painting.  



Copyright 2017 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, February 27, 2017

Psalm journal - an altered book journal project

I decided at the end of last year that I wanted to do one long-term project this year.  More or less this year.  I'm not going to stress about the time frame at all, just enjoy the process.  This is my Psalm journal.  In it, I'm devoting one page to each Psalm (150 of them), writing out the lines that particularly strike me, adding the Hebrew words and definitions when they seem important, and illustrating them as I choose.  Or as I don't choose :-)


One of the simplest types of altered books that you can make involves cutting out all the pages from a book, leaving a tab of an inch or so.  These tabs can then be used in pairs to glue in whatever pages you wish, whether you use the original pages or create new ones from other papers.  I picked an old atlas with beautiful, but out-of-date maps for my journal.  I will end up with approximately half the number of pages as there were originally, which should leave some room for any collaged inclusions.


A number of years ago, I wrote a beginner's guide to doing altered books, so if you'd like more info, start here :-)






Copyright 2017 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, February 22, 2017

Book review: Digital Fiber Art


Wen Redmond's book, Digital Fiber Art, published by C&T Publishing, is packed full of more information than you can possibly believe.  And throughout, each technique, tip, and idea is decorated by Wen's photos and digital pieces.  It's a complete visual feast.


The book begins with inspirational chapters that help you get your images and backgrounds ready for printing and combining.  Using digital filters, digital and physical collage, painting papers and fabrics, Wen shows you how to combine these for truly unique results in your art quilts.  Though she focuses throughout on quilts, so many of these techniques can also be used for paper-based collages.

The technical information covers using your printer in some unique ways, pre-coats for your fabrics and papers, making carrier sheets for printing, underpainting and overpainting the substrate, using sheers, recycled fabrics and papers, and various specialty products (like Lutradur).  Wen shows you how to include transparent and translucent overlays in your work, plain, printed, and/or painted. She also covers acrylic mediums, especially the specialty ones, and how to add natural materials like tea leaves and sand to your medium.  Oh, and don't forget the molding paste and paint skins!


Finally, finishing your work is not neglected either, with a chapter on post-coats, sealers, wax, metallic and luster powders.  And last, mounting and displaying work rounds out this jam-packed volume.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Firefly's Dance - a mixed media painting

Firefly's Dance
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

I've got a couple of step-out photos for you, but no real tutorial.  Quinacridone gold, cobalt teal, black India ink, and white gesso:




More color added in, permopaque black and white markers, acrylic glaze:




Colors adjusted, more lines:


Copyright 2017 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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