Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2016


Cyndi Lavin, 2015 Faber-Castell Pitt Pens in black , Derwent Inktense pencils , watercolor paper . This post contains affiliate links. Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 

Beading Arts book reviews - part two

Here is part two of the list of books that I've reviewed this year on Beading Arts blog.  They are in chronological order.   Part one was posted last week! 18 Beaded Jewelry Projects New Connections in Chain Mail Jewelry Discover Torch Enameling Hubble Stitch Colorful Wirework Jewelry Cool Copper Cuffs Make It Sparkle! Metalsmithing Made Easy Modern Beaded Lace Learn to Use Two-Hole Beads The Embroidery Book

Beading Arts tutorials - part two

Here is part two of the chronological list of my beading and wearable arts tutorials that can be found on the Beading Arts  blog.   Part one was posted last week! Albion stitch spark plug Fast projects for the dog days of summer Leather bracelet with oval links Free-form wire wrapped stone with beads Shamballa bracelet with larger beads A simple wire wrapped pendant Black glass bead embroidered pendant Triple cabochon bead embroidered pendant Square-cornered bead embroidered jasper pendant Bead embroidered ammonite pendant Bead embroidered leopard skin jasper pendant

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

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 Faber-Castell Pitt Pens in black , Derwent Inktense pencils , watercolor paper . This post contains affiliate links. Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 

The Painted Hills 2 - a collage painting and tutorial

Painted Hills 2 by Cyndi Lavin, 2016 Prints for sale 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

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 t

The Painted Hills 1 - a collage painting and tutorial

Painted Hills 1 by Cyndi Lavin, 2016 Prints for sale 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 composi

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

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 placem

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

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. 

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

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.

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

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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 cours

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. 

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 :-)

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. 

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 pair

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.

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 destr


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. 

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. 

"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.

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 sienna 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

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