Work in Progress

What leads one to do creative work? I was inspired this week by being around all the cool art at ArtJam (a pop-up gallery at 19 Hulfish St., Princeton – supporting HomeFront’s art program.) I got home from volunteering at the gallery and pulled out a piece that I had stopped working on and I just gave it a new life…

I love to work in layers and have been working on this back to front method lately.

Thinking about a title, something like “Flow of Life.”

This is an acrylic painting on a gessoed cradled board. I would term it mixed media but it really doesn’t have any other media involved yet. We will see what the next layer reveals…

Collage and Mixed Media

Layers, layers, layers…When I get inspired for a project, I like to consider how I can use different materials to transform the project from a simple collage to something with more depth and richness. 

So for this Koi piece, I printed on Chinese book pages to start. These would form the body of the fish.

Then I gessoed and painted with acrylics the background of the wooden panel. I worked in several layers here to produce colors and textures that would give the underlying deep color of a koi pond. 

Then I collaged on Japanese mulberry papers and painted that. I used the natural fibers in the paper to echo the image of a underwater plant life.

Later I added the shapes of the fish which were cut from the book pages. And I painted details over them.

I sealed it all with matte medium. 

See full size image below:

Art All Day: Art Awesomeness in Trenton

Thanks to all who visited Art All Day today!

A few of the Lawrence-based Creative Collective – including myself – had a great time at the offices of New Jersey Future on W. Lafayette Street. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Here’s photos of my set up and the piece I put in Artworks main building.




Mixed Media Explorations: In Search of Matte Acrylics

Over the last year or so, I have been studying mixed media. And I have been having a blast!

Aside: If you are unfamiliar with the term “mixed media,” it has a broad definition – combining more than one media in one work – and that covers a lot of artwork. Some folks add to the definition that the media are “traditionally” distinct. So for example, an artist creates an acrylic painting on canvas, and adds touches with pastels or chalk. That would be mixed media.

My explorations have been acrylics on canvas or wood panel, then collage on painted papers or my own prints. Then I may add stamping, stenciling and mark making to and more layers to the piece. Every piece is different so it’s a little hard to describe.

Here are two examples. First, a hand pulled monoprint with marks made with acrylic paint marker.

Monoprint - Web of LIfe

Or here is a combination of collage and acrylics.

Collage - Floral Fantasy

One of my teachers loves the look of matte (non gloss or even satin finish) liquid acrylics in his mixed media pieces. Combined with a dry brush technique, the paints produce a gritty textured look. I like the look as well, although I do work with acrylics with a slight gloss and I think they look fine, too. It really depends on what you want your output to be.

My teacher emphasizes a type of “fresco” paints available from an online United Kingdom store. They are not only matte finish, but they dry down with a finish that looks kind of chalky. Of course, they are more pricey because they come from the U.K., and on top of that, you have to pay shipping. Before shipping I calculated the cost in U.S. dollars at $4.33 per 50 ml bottle. Well, being a shopper, I felt challenged to find similar or equivalent paints stateside for less cost. (If you want the real thing, it can be found here Paper Artsy Fresco Finish Paints.)

With a little research, I found two products that do perform similar to the other paints. One is available from art supply company, Dick Blick. (See Dick Blick Matte Acrylics.) The price is around $2.19 for 2 oz bottle. Yay! I ordered online, so I did have to cover shipping but not at international cost. They have a wide array of colors available and metallics! I found the paints smooth and very workable. But the finish is merely matte, not quite chalky in finish.

Dick Blick Matte Acrylics
Dick Blick Matte Acrylics

Recently in Michael’s craft store, I found an Americana Decor Chalky finish liquid acrylic paint.

Americana Decor - Chalky Finish
Americana Decor – Chalky Finish

When I tested the Americana paint, I found these really have the chalky look and feel. I grabbed some from the shelf so I didn’t explore the colorways that well, but I will be going back to the store for more. No shipping if I can get at the local store.

Here are photos of the paints and a background I did with the Americana Decor paint. See the texture. Love it!

Now to add collage elements!

Background with Americana Decor paint.
Background with Americana Decor paint.