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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 23, 2017

Winter Sunrise - a mixed media painting tutorial

 

You can get a lovely watercolor look with acrylic paints by thinning them enough.  Certain colors are problematic when you add water, because they will separate and the binder breaks down.  But to counteract this, I painted them on top of slightly moist gesso.  Here's how it worked:

Prepare a selection of acrylic paints, placing a dab into small paper cups and adding water until they are extremely thin.  I used these colors:

Manganese blue
Permanent violet dark
Hansayellow medium
Pyrrole orange

Prepare your watercolor paper, 140 lb cold pressed, with white gesso.  I use foam brushes for this.  You might want to test your thinned paints on a scrap piece of paper with gesso before committing to the full-sized piece, to make sure you are getting the colors you want.  Thinned acrylics can be a bit deceiving! 

When the gessoed paper is still a bit damp, use pipettes to drip the paints lengthwise along the paper, holding it up vertically.  Flip the paper to the side, holding it up horizontally,  and allow the paints to drip and mingle.  Use a spray bottle if needed to encourage more running. 

Allow the piece to dry thoroughly and spray it with clear acrylic fixative.
Spray lightly with water and use a pipette to drip black waterproof India ink for trees.  Add "branches" by drawing out some of the ink in the "trunks" with the tip of an empty pipette.  Dry thoroughly and spray again with fixative.


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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, October 16, 2017

Firefly's Race - a mixed media painting tutorial

Firefly's Race
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

This painting was very loosely inspired by a gorgeous copper beech tree that lives next door to me.  It is a truly glorious tree, but since it is not a native of New England, it is always about four to five weeks out of sync with all the other trees.  Just when we think we're done raking...you guessed it!  I suppose it is lucky that it is so glorious :-)

For this simple painting, I started with a sheet of heavy watercolor paper and painted the background entirely with diluted Iridescent copper acrylic paint, using a foam roller.  I gave it several coats.  



When it was completely dry, I tinted up some tar gel with Red oxide paint in an applicator bottle, and used that to sketch in the tree.  Accuracy was NOT an issue, just a general impression.  You need to let tar gel dry on its own...it doesn't always react well to a heat gun.  So put it aside, work on something else, and come back the next day. 

The next step involves painting a scraping with ever deepening shades of the follow colors: Permanent green light, Phthalo green, Turquoise phthalo, and Phthalo blue.  Quickly drop some alcohol around the piece and lift some of the paint with a paper towel or cloth. 

Splatter the tree branches with Red oxide, Quinacridone crimson, and Pyrrole red.  Finish with some lightly drawn lines of White gesso and dots of gesso tinted with Hansa yellow light.

www.dickblick.com

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Golden Grove - a mixed media collage tutorial

Golden Grove
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
Whether you live near forest, desert, mountains, or water, trees hold an iconic place in our imagination.   People write poems about them, which is what inspired this particular piece.  I've included the text of the poem at the bottom of this post :-)

Materials + Tools
Pages of text torn from various books
Watercolor paper
Matte medium
Foam brushes
Spray bottle
Pipette
Acrylic spray
Black India ink 
Acrylic paint colors:
Yellow ochre
Red oxide
Quinacridone nickel azo gold

 

1. Use matte medium on a foam brush to lay down your torn text pieces on the watercolor paper.  Don't overthink it.  Leave the top unsealed as much as possible.  

2. Use a foam brush or sponge to add diluted (with water) Yellow ochre over most of the surface.  Let it puddle a bit and sink in unevenly.

3. Add Red oxide next, and finish with Quinacridone gold, added with your fingers in just the spots you want.  Let it dry thoroughly.  Iron flat if needed.

4. Spritz the piece lightly with water.  Using a pipette, drip in your trees and add some extra branches where you want.  Let dry and spray with acrylic spray.


 


Spring and Fall
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.



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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, October 02, 2017

Epiphany - a mixed media painting tutorial

Epiphany
Cyndi Lavin, 2017
Think about all the different colors you could use for a mixed media painting like this, depending upon the season!  I'll share the colors I used for this one, but feel free to make substitutions that suit you.

Materials + Tools
Watercolor paper
Black India ink
Pipettes
Acrylic spray
Spray bottle
Acrylic paint colors:
Hansa yellow medium
Quinacridone magenta
Permanent violet dark

1. Starting with a sheet of watercolor paper, drip black India ink from a small pipette to form the "trees".  Let it dry thoroughly and give it a light spray with acrylic fixative.

2. Mix up the colors you want to use.  I place them in small cups and dilute them with quite a bit of water to get the thin consistency.  No acrylic medium this time!

3. Spritz the surface with water.  Use pipettes (one per color) to add lines of color between the "trees".  Spray more if the paint doesn't move the way you want it to.

4. Let it dry and adjust the colors if needed. 




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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.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book review: The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design


Ok, either you love Sharon Boggon's work, or you're wrong! :-)

But seriously, how could you not love her work?  Just look at what you'll find in The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design:


Sharon's main goal, I feel, is to teach you how to tell a story with your quilts, how to make every part of the process serve the art.  To that end, she starts with an overview of the encrusted crazy quilting style, discusses how to design that journey for your viewer, and then moves to piecing and stitching.  The second half of the book teaches you how to do beautiful variations on basic stitches and how to incorporate beads, buttons, and more. 

I don't often quote parts of the books that I review, but I just want you to have an example of one of Sharon's many many (many!) tips that you will find in this book.  I recommend it for beginners and experienced quilters alike:
"A good, quick way of finding a color scheme is to select a favorite patterned fabric. The trick is to find fabrics that match the colors in the fabric. Once you have about five colors, you will have your color scheme for a block.  Look for fabrics that match a favorite photograph.  As you piece a block, don’t forget to select lace, thread, beads, and buttons to harmonize with the colors in the fabric patches. Think about color not only as you piece your project but also during the hand embroidery and embellishing phases."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Into the Woods - a mixed media painting tutorial

Into the Woods
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

I used a batik-style background for this piece.  The instructions can be found at the link above.  It's super-easy to do, using waxed paper and some non-waterproof black ink.  After adhering the textured paper to your substrate and ironing it, I would advise adding a few coats of acrylic spray to prevent any running.

 


I used heavy-bodied acrylics diluted with water (not medium) in the following colors: Permanent violet dark, Quinacridone magenta, Hansa yellow medium, Phthalo green, and Ultramarine blue.  I spread it around on my piece using pipettes.  I used paper towels to blot it frequently, and to build up layers of color.

After drying thoroughly, I spritzed the piece with water and used regular water proof India ink in a pipette to drip the trees and add thinner branches.  I let it dry and then adjusted the paint colors as needed.


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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, September 20, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Light in the Forest - a mixed media painting tutorial

 

Last week I talked a little about adding some depth to an abstract by shading the elements in a way that draws the eye into the picture rather than just across it.  Today's piece uses the same technique with a different color palette, and in a much larger size so that the elements could be spread out a bit more.  I wanted to see if that would make a difference in the perception of depth.


 

The background was rolled with Green gold and allowed to dry.  I then painted around the center, moving outward, with Sap green, Phthalo green, and Turquoise phthalo, these three being both mixed with white gesso and plain.  I then dripped in the most "distant" trees, white ink with a couple drops of turquoise paint.  After they dried, I sponged the whole piece lightly with Iridescent copper (not shown above).



 

The next step is to drip in the "middle distance" elements, this time mixing the white ink with a bit less turquoise.  When they were dry, I sponged over just the area with the existing trees.




For the last area, the "foreground", I used plain white ink with no added turquoise.  Once dry, I sponged the entire piece with the Iridescent copper.

This composition breaks a "rule" by putting the focal point right smack in the middle, but I'm ok with that.  More bothersome to me than the central placement is that the focal tree is more realistic than the others, and I do think that was a mistake.


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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, September 11, 2017

Autumn Glory - a mixed media painting tutorial

Autumn Glory
Cyndi Lavin, 2017



As my obsession with trees continued, I had a pile of paintings that just didn't work out.  I used one of those as the base for Autumn Glory, although that's not really completely accurate since I repainted the entire thing!  However, just to be completely honest, the background was very dark, and maybe a little bit of it shows through the lighter colors near the middle.  Or not :-)

This piece was the first of my experiments with adding more obvious shading to the trees to suggest distance.  I didn't want to go too far into the realm of realism, but on the other hand, it's good sometimes to apply what you know to your abstract work as well.  Abstract doesn't mean "rule-free"!



The center portion was rolled with Hansa yellow opaque and white gesso.  I let it dry and then sponged on two strengths of Pyrrole orange and gesso, and of Dioxazine purple and gesso.

 

Mix white ink with a few drops of Dioxazine purple and a drop of water if needed, and drip the distant trees.  Let them dry and sponge over them lightly with Iridescent copper, just where the trees are and the center of the piece.

Mix white ink with a bit less purple and drip in the mid-distance trees.  Sponge them and the distant trees (again) with Iridescent copper.  Don't re-sponge the middle.  




Use white ink with no purple at all for the foreground tree.  Sponge the entire piece lightly with copper one last time.  

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, September 06, 2017

Beading Arts book reviews - part three

 

The books that I am sent to review that cover wearable art, beading, bead jewelry, etc are found on the Beading Arts blog.  Every so often, I like to list them here so that if you are interested in those topics as well as painting, collage, and quilting, you can bounce over and see the ones that catch your eye!

In Chronological order:

The Embroidery Book

Micro-Macrame Jewelry

Simple Metalwork Jewelry 

Casual Bead Elegance 

Jewelry Made with Wire + Fiber 

Jewelry Making with Resin 

The Art of Quilling Paper Jewelry


Earlier lists:
Part one
Part two 

 

 

 

 




Monday, September 04, 2017

Spring Blows In 2 - a mixed media painting tutorial

Spring Blows In 2
Cyndi Lavin, 2017



I liked the colors of a piece that I shared a few weeks ago (Spring Blows In 1) so much that I did a second one using a slightly different technique.




This time I dripped the black ink trees first, allowed them to dry, and then sprayed them with fixative just to be sure.  I mixed up the following acrylic colors with silicone and medium, but instead of pouring puddles, I poured thick lines: Medium magenta, Hansa yellow opaque, Pyrrole orange, Titanium white.

I topped these with a thick line of white paint, swiped across and swirled.  The paints were not thick enough to form cells, but they still did lots of neat skittery little things that I loved.  After adjusting some of the colors, I let it dry overnight, and then dripped a few more black trees.


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, August 28, 2017

See you next week!

  

Last week was a vacation week for me, but I worked anyway.  This week I really really really mean it!  See you next week <3

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fall Aflame - a mixed media painting tutorial

Fall Aflame
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

Sometimes your silicone mixture just doesn't come out right!  I was trying for a mix of some bright colors with cells using the Pour and Swipe method of liquid acrylic painting.  Something didn't get mixed up properly, or else I mixed in the wrong proportions, because as soon as I swiped the black across the paints, they streaked instead of forming cells.  

Since it was ruined anyway, I tried an experiment, which I ended up rather liking!

  

Here is the initial set up: gesso on heavy watercolor paper, paints mixed up (I thought) like in my previous liquid paintings.  But they look grainy, don't they?




As soon as I swiped, this is what I got...a total mess with colors sliding all over each other and no cells at all.  Since it was such an irredeemable mess, I sprayed it with some more silicone and watched the colors break up and move around even more.  It was kind of cool to see, so I started moving them a bit myself. 



When I got the streaks of color into patterns that I liked, I let it dry overnight.  I blotted it to remove any silicone just sitting on the surface, and dripped black ink from the top, giving it a light mist of rubbing alcohol to encourage more fuzzy edges. 

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, August 14, 2017

The flip cup method of liquid acrylic painting - a tutorial


So far, we've gone through the steps for doing a pour and swipe liquid painting and a pour and tilt liquid painting!  This week, we'll look at the flip cup method. Each of these techniques has its benefits and its limitations.  I really like the flip cup method, but you have the least control with this one.  It's fun to not know what you're going to get, but it can be frustrating too!



For the set up, follow the first three steps from last week.  Even the paint colors that I used are the same, and are listed in step four.  Funny how totally different this one turned out from last week when they were the same colors!

4. Pour the paints from their smaller individual cups into a large disposable cup, each one on top of the previous color in this order: Titanium white, Cobalt teal, white again, Pyrrole orange, white again, and Quinacridone magenta.


5. Flip the cup upside down onto the masonite board.  Hold it down and swirl it slightly.  Remove the cup and tilt to spread the paints.  Spray lightly with rubbing alcohol or use a long-nosed lighter to bring up more cells in certain areas if you'd like.


6. When the piece is perfectly dry (overnight is best), use a pipette to apply some undiluted white ink to form underwater grasses.


Pour and swipe
Pour and tilt
Flip cup
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, August 07, 2017

The pour and tilt method of liquid acrylic painting - a tutorial


Last week, we looked at the "pour and swipe" method of liquid acrylic painting.  Today I want to share a different method that we'll call "pour and tilt".  There is no one right way to do these paintings, but you will get the best cell development if you use silicone, Floetrol, or other chemical inclusions to help them set.  Sometimes you will pour these paintings and get amazing cells, which disappear as time goes on and they set :-(  Do yourself a favor and take a picture early if you really like what you got, because it just might not last!  




1. Gesso some masonite boards and let them dry. 

2. Place a prepared board inside an aluminum pan, raised up on small cups.  Make sure the surface is completely level.




3. Mix your paints in small cups.  This is the formula I used:
Small blob of heavy bodied paint in a small cup.
  • Equal amount of GAC100 (a Golden product).  Stir well.
  • Add self-leveling medium equal to the total amount above.  Stir well
  • Water, added a small amount at a time and stirred in thoroughly until the mixture pours easily.  This is the hard part to know how much.
  • A shot or two of silicone.  Quick mix just before pouring.

4. The colors I used were titanium white, Pyrrole orange, Cobalt teal and Quinacridone magenta.  Make four puddles of white on the masonite board, and top each with a smaller puddle of orange, white, and pink.  Dribble the turquoise around the edges and in the middle.  Tilt the board and let the colors run.  Re-level it and allow the cells to start to form.

5. If there are areas where you want more cells, you can spritz it gently with rubbing alcohol and/or use a long-nosed lighter to bring some more up.


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, July 31, 2017

Eruption - a pour and swipe liquid painting tutorial

Eruption
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

A few months ago, I, like so many others, got bit by the liquid acrylic pour painting craze.  I watched many wonderful youtube videos and experimented several times before I got the mixture that worked for me...at least for what I wanted to accomplish.  My disclaimer...there is a product called Floetrol that some people are using in order to achieve larger and more stable cells in their pours.  I don't use it, so I end up with smaller lace-like effects, which I prefer.

To each his own!  This is how I did what we're going to call the "Pour and Swipe" method.



1. Gesso a masonite board and let it dry.  You may as well do several at one time, because you're for sure going to want to do more than one pour!

2. Place a prepared board inside an aluminum pan, raised up on small cups.  Make sure the surface is completely level.

3. Mix your paints.  There are dozens of formulas out there, but this is how I did it:

  • Small blob of heavy bodied paint in a small cup.
  • Equal amount of GAC100 (a Golden product).  Stir well.
  • Add self-leveling medium equal to the total amount above.  Stir well
  • Water, added a small amount at a time and stirred in thoroughly until the mixture pours easily.  This is the hard part to know how much.
  • A shot or two of silicone.  Quick mix just before pouring.


4. The colors I used for this piece are Ultramarine blue, Phthalo blue, Pyrrole orange, and Titanium white.  Pour the first three in streaks all over the board.  Pour the white along one of the edges and scrape it over top of the other colors using an old credit card.


5. Tilt to move the colors around and adjust them as needed.  If not enough cells form in certain areas, use a lighter held very near the surface to encourage them to rise.  Don't worry...it won't catch fire.  Use some of the run-off paint to color the edges of the board.

6. You'll need to let it sit for a looooong time, at least overnight is best, in order to dry clear through the thick layers of paint.  Put a large bowl or other covering over it to protect from dust, cat hairs, curious fingers, etc!  If the surface isn't level, the painting will drift, so check it from time to time.

So that's it for the Pour and Swipe method!  I'll show you other techniques in the following weeks :-)

Pour and Tilt
Flip Cup


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, July 26, 2017

Book review: Storytelling Art Studio


I really enjoyed reading through Cathy Nichols' new book Storytelling Art Studio, published by North Light Books.  I love the way she has organized the book, and I also love that her artwork is very very different from mine.  That way, I'm not as likely to fall into the mistake of copying so much as just thinking about how I can use her techniques in my own work.

Cathy's chapters build one upon another, but you can also skip around in order to simply try out the ideas that strike your fancy.  In order, the chapters cover creating characters, setting the scene, altering the mood, adding conflict, expanding the plot, adding a moral, storytelling with symbolism, repeating a motif, and titling your piece.  Each chapter has a step by step demo if you'd like to work through a similar piece.

One of the most helpful features, I think, is the broad variety of backgrounds that Cathy teaches throughout the projects.  She shows you, through the demonstrations, how to paint an emotional color field, a gradient, a collaged background, sgraffito and mishima on clayboard, vignettes, a black and white photo background, and found stories in an altered book page.

I find Cathy's art style delightful, which is another very good reason to take a long look at this book, preferably accompanied by a nice cuppa something good!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Time Passages - a mixed media triptych painting tutorial

Time Passages
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

This three paintings were all variations on a theme, as I think you can easily tell!  The backgrounds started out as gesso pulls over top of toned underpaintings.  Using the darkest one as an example, it went like this:

1. Paint concentric rings of gesso with white in the middle, gray around that, and black around the outside.



2. Use a gray mixed gesso to pull Phthalo blue and Phthalo green down the length of the page.  Adjust the colors and allow to dry.

3. Mist lightly and drip black India ink from a pipette.

4. Add "leaves" with a large craggy brush.  I used orange and violet, both plain and mixed with white gesso.

5. Splatter with a mix of Hansa yellow light and white gesso.



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, July 17, 2017

Scars + Stripes - a collage painting tutorial

Scars+Stripes
Cyndi Lavin, 2017

This piece evolved from an earlier version that didn't quite work out the way I wanted.  Many times that happens, that pieces don't look like what I had envisioned, but this one just plain failed!  But still, pieces were salvageable, and I was really happy with the way it eventually came together.



I started with a piece of brushed steel tape on paper.  After sanding it, I added 2 thin layers of Gold iridescent acrylic paint with 30% gloss medium.  This was sealed in by a layer of pure gloss medium and left to dry.  I then mixed some glazes to shift the gold color: Permanent green light and Quinacridone crimson, both in 1:1 mixtures with glazing liquid.  This is rubbed onto the gold background very thinly with a soft cloth and allowed to dry.

To this background, I added black tar gel designs, and when that was dry (overnight), I flooded it with a muddy mix of Gold interference, Gold iridescent, and Quinacridone magenta in lots of water.  It took several pourings and dryings before I got the colors I was after.


For the central piece, I used a similar technique, but started with a black gessoed background.  Here above, you see it with just the black tar gel added.



As with the other two pieces, I flooded it with the a different muddy mix, probably about four times, allowing it to dry each time.  This mix consisted of Interference violet, Iridescent gold, and Quinacridone violet.  


When the pieces were all the colors that I wanted, I cut them out with a straight edge razor and mounted them to a large piece of heavy watercolor paper that had been prepared with black acrylic.  

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.
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