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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, June 19, 2017

Wisteria - a mixed media painting tutorial

Wisteria
Cyndi Lavin, 2017


I don't have any step-out photos to show for this piece, but it is so easy, you really don't need any!  It's just a simple, joyful piece that you can make anytime you're between projects and want something fun to fill an hour or two.

1. Use polymer medium to apply wrinkled white tissue paper to a piece of watercolor paper.

2. Sponge on a background color if you like.

3. Lightly mist the paper and use a razor blade to add black ink lines from the top.  Let it dry and spray with fixative before proceeding.

4. Use your gloved fingers to make the blossoms, starting with the largest and moving to the smallest.  Add a bit of white to the larger blossoms to give some shading.

Here are the colors I used:
Hansa yellow light (background)
Phthalo blue, Dioxazine purple, Quinacricone magenta, and Titanium white - all mixed in various combinations

Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book review: Art Journey - Abstract Painting



North Light Books has a beautiful new volume out that was edited by Jamie Markle.  It's huge, and has the initial appearance of a coffee table book, but I couldn't possibly bring myself to call it that after I started reading and gazing my way through it.  Art Journey - Abstract Painting asks the featured artists to answer many probing questions that all of us probably have: what is the essence of abstract painting?  How much planning do you do?  What is your inspiration?  Let's look at how their answers broke down!

When asked about the essence of abstract painting, some artists explained that their work is totally non-representational.  Some spoke of emotions, experiences, and their own inner world.  Others focused on the elements of design like color, space, line, and texture.  But a large group of artists spoke more about "abstracted reality," with objects seen in a different way, fantasy "landscapes" or "still lifes," unrecognizable (or semi-recognizable) macro views.  These artists are inspired by everything from man-made objects to the natural world, but prefer not to be constrained by realistic representation.  



The answers to the question about planning were quite varied also.  "None at all" was not uncommon from the artists who like to work intuitively.  Others begin with an intuitive start and then work towards balance and unity in their piece.  Some others work out a basic composition and/or color palette, perhaps using an underpainting.  But some prefer to completely plan and work out their ideas with color studies, value studies, compositional sketches, etc.  The take home?  Don't think that you can't be an abstract artist just because you like to plan!

The media used in the artwork in this book included more pastels than I was expecting.  Pastel can be considered a drawing or a painting medium, and it was just a bit curious to me how many painters have adopted (at least in part) pastels.  Acrylic, watercolor, oils, ink, colored pencils, and ephemera appeared regularly.  
As for inspiration, that was a wonderful thing to read about!  There were works about everything from the "view out my kitchen window" to the perspective of an airline pilot!  The subject matter ranged from totally interior or geometry to exterior things like nature or the urban landscape.  This is a beautiful and very inspiring book!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Moon Dance - a mixed media painting tutorial

Moon Dance
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
I was still stuck on the same sort of somber palette when I went to paint Moon Dance, but I did want to make sure that it had enough variety in value since all the colors turned out very low key.  Here's how I checked that:


Isn't Photoshop a wonderful tool???

Moon Dance started out as a double gesso background (black gesso, followed by dilute white gesso, and heated under a layer of plastic wrap).  On top of that, I added a Hansa yellow stripe.  


I pulled some grayed acrylic paints top and bottom using a slightly darker mix of gray gesso.  


No matter what I tried, I just couldn't get excited about it, until it finally occurred to me to flip it.  To this, I added some black ink razor lines and some white ink lines, drying in between so that not everything would be gray!  


Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Valley of the Shadow - a mixed media painting tutorial

Valley of the Shadow
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

I painted Valley of the Shadow a few weeks ago, before the weather turned a bit nicer here in New England.  It's not that my mood was exactly down... :-)



Anyway, I used white gesso tinted with Ultramarine blue and a drop of black gesso to pull streaks of Dioxazine purple and Ultramarine blue in two distinct sections.  I added razor lines of black ink and adjusted the colors as needed.

I used a foam brush on the sky with white gesso, Cerulean blue, and a few drops of Interference blue.  I used a very scraggly stiff brush to add white gesso and white ink along the "peaks".  
Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sample birch trees - an experiment with masks and painting


I wanted to spend a little time trying several different masking methods, just for my own amusement, and also so that I'd have some samples on hand to help me make decisions on future projects.  I decided on a design, some simple birch trees, and three methods I wanted to test.


From left to right, these are the methods:
1. Wet paper, add paint and salt, add foam-core shapes, weigh them down and allow to dry.
2. Wet paper, add painter's tape shapes, add paint and salt, allow to dry.
3. Leave paper dry, add painter's tape shapes, add paint and salt, allow to dry.

Method 3, shown above, leaves you with the crispest lines.  I added the shadow and bark markings.  But I actually liked Method 1, shown below, best overall for it's unpredictability.  Method 2, not shown, was ok, but the trees turned out very dark as the tape on top of wet paper drew in and held the color.
All three methods are useful, depending upon your desires.  I would suggest doing some little experiments like this yourself when you're between larger pieces and want a little fun!
Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New books available in June from C&T Publishing


I am really really excited about one of the new books coming out in June from C&T Publishing!  I have been planning to make a t-shirt quilt, like, for-Ev-ah.  I know...it would probably be easy enough to just simply wing it, but I'm very happy to get some expert advice from Carla Hegeman Crim and Lindsay Conner in The T-Shirt Quilt Book before I start!

Info on the book says,
Capture the memories of a special time, starting with a quick pillow project or a baby quilt made from onesies, and work your way up to bed quilts in multiple sizes. Learn the secrets to choosing shirts, centering and cutting out around a logo, working with shirts that are too small, and interfacing knit fabrics with finesse. You'll practice your skills with 8 projects ranging from simple squares to pieced stars and triangles, plus easy machine-appliqu├ęd motifs. With beginner-friendly designs and truly unique layouts to entice experienced quilters, this essential guide to T-shirt quilts covers all the bases.

 

Another book that I'm very excited to read is Jean Wells's updated one called Intuitive Color & Design.  Be careful...you might already own the original, which has a different cover.
Jean Wells gives you the assignment of your life: put away your ruler and use your inner vision to design and piece spectacular, free-form quilts you'd never have guessed you could create. In this updated edition of best-selling Intuitive Color & Design, Jean’s workshop assignments get your creative juices flowing, giving you challenges to expand your quilting horizons. Start by learning to see line and color; study the nuts and bolts of design; develop your color work and composition; and when you get stuck, there’s expert advice on problem solving. You will never see quiltmaking in the same way again.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Joy Bursts Forth - a mixed media painting tutorial

Joy Bursts Forth
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

I love experimenting with the palette's of painters I admire.  Even if I'm working in different media, I've found that I can at least get close by paying attention to color temperature, transparency, and proportions.  For this piece, I was inspired by the palette that Marc Chagall used for his stained glass windows!

I added a tar gel design to a piece of heavy watercolor paper.  See my notes on Rainbow Gravity for some tips on handling tar gel.  Let the tar gel dry completely before continuing.


I used a small foam roller to cover it with black gesso mixed with a bit of Phthalo turquoise.  Again, allow it to dry.  I brushed on white gesso diluted with water and added a piece of plastic wrap over top while it was still wet.  Using a heat gun as I went, I peeled the plastic off slowly.



For the next step, I mixed the following colors with glazing medium and filled in the shapes produced by the tar gel: Primary cyan, Hansa yellow light, Pyrrole red, Permanent green light, and Quinacridone magenta.  If needed, I added a drop of white gesso to a patch to keep the colors strong.  When the piece is mostly dry, mist it and add black India ink lines with a razor blade.



Make a mask from card stock and painter's tape.  Tape it loosely to the piece and use a foam roller to paint the outside with a mixture of white gesso, black ink, and primary cyan.  Remove the mask and gently roll over the sharp outer edges with the gesso mixture to blur them slightly.



Add more black ink lines, adjust the colors as needed, and paint the tar lines with gesso and primary cyan.


Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rainbow Gravity - a mixed media painting tutorial

Rainbow Gravity
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

Cropping can be soooo important that it can even save a painting you're about ready to trash!  I had a composition idea vaguely in mind when I started this piece, but at some point it just seemed to totally go wrong.

On a piece of heavy watercolor paper, I sponged Micaceous iron oxide, and then added patches of Phthalo turquoise, Dioxazine purple, and Quinacridone violet with a small foam roller.

When it was dry, I added strings of tar gel.  Can you see the scrap paper underneath the piece?  Tar gel keeps its shape and dries to a hard finish...you don't want this stuff on your regular painting surface.  If you use a piece of scrap paper, you can run the lines off your piece, and afterwards you can spoon up the overage before it dries and pour it back into the container!  Thrifty!

Work on something else while the tar gel dries...using a heat gun or hair dryer can make it bubble.  It will be ready tomorrow!


Dilute some white gesso with water and brush it over the whole piece.  I used an old plastic card to scrape over the piece, removing the gesso from the high places and from some of the flatter places too.



When the piece is mostly dry, spritz lightly with water and add lines of lighter colors.  I used Magenta medium, Hansa yellow light, Cobalt teal, Quinacridone magenta, and Dioxazine purple mixed with white gesso.

After the acrylics dried, I added some black India ink with a razor blade, and some extra white ink.


  

Look at your piece from all four angles.  My original idea changed.  Plus, I ended up cropping it on two sides.  As a final step, adjust the colors and lines as needed.


Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial only may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Windows to Spring - a mixed media collage and painting tutorial

Windows to Spring
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
Sometimes pieces don't go the way you plan!  In this case, I was hoping to be able to paint a randomly designed background and to come up with something that I could further refine by blacking out certain sections.  But it was not to be.  Instead of continuing down that path until I had ruined the entire thing, I decided on plan b...cut it up!


The background is heavy watercolor paper that was rolled with Cobalt teal acrylic paint.  I added tar gel swirls over top of that and waited for it to dry completely.  Then I covered it with diluted white gesso and scraped that back off so that the lines and some parts of the background were revealed again.




I used Hansa yellow, Pyrrole orange, Quinacridone magenta, and Light green to augment the Cobalt teal background.  Eventually, after failing to come up with an overall design that I liked (several days worth of fooling around with it), I cut it into squares and rectangles.  Several more hours were spent figuring out how to put them together!  The new background is another piece of watercolor paper, rolled with Carbon black and Phthalo turquoise acrylics.


Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Breaking Free - a mixed media painting tutorial

Breaking Free
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

The batik texture in the background of this painting was achieved by the use of a humble kitchen product...waxed paper!



I crumbled the paper to give it cracks, painted it with black ink, and then wiped off most of it before it had a chance to dry.  I found that non-waterproof ink works best for this because the hard core India ink won't wipe off properly.  Let it dry thoroughly and iron it flat before attaching it to your substrate.


I used very diluted acrylic paints to create a watercolor-like background.  Here is a closeup of a small section, showing the ink lines that I added on top as well.


I used both paper and resist to mask off areas that would remain bright.  I used slightly tinted white gesso with a small foam roller, but left it translucent enough to allow the colors below to barely show through.


After I removed the mask and the resist, I added a few more ink lines to integrate the background and the subject.

Copyright 2017 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. The tutorial be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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. The tutorial 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. The tutorial 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. The tutorial may be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.
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