Several weeks ago I was at the art supply store trolling for canvases for  my next project, when there I discovered black canvases stocked on shelves. I don’t ever remember seeing any primed in black before and thought that if anyone wanted a black background that they would paint the standard white canvas in black.

I purchased one small 8″ x 10″ to experiment.   I figured that using the black canvas would serve as the perfect background for my next painting in the  “Black and White and Red All Over” series.

This is my dapper dude, my first study in black canvas and was the only study I completed before launching into the final piece. One thing to note about black canvas is its ability to absorb paint color. The only color that stands out on its own against black is white. The rest of  the colors need a little help, and that typically entails painting the object first with white or a light color before applying the top color.

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First, I outlined the drawing with a white charcoal pencil, then layered my dapper dude and the umbrella in white.  Once that dried, I painted over the white with red, making the top coat more visible.  Had I painted the red directly on the canvas the color would have been lost.

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The next painting was a little more ambitious. I purchased a 12″ x 16″ black canvas for my new piece “Red Hoodie.”  “Red Hoodie” was inspired by a small digital sketch that I drew on the iPhone that was actually a picture of a yellow hoodie.   I always wanted to a create larger version of that so this was my chance.

I sketched everything out in a charcoal pencil, although not before erasing it a million times until everything was laid out to my satisfaction. I was worried that the charcoal would smear and never come off of the canvas but I was able to erase a lot of the sketchy lines with my big white eraser.

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I tinted the white with a little black and painted the first layer of  the red hoodie in white, leaving the negative space of the black to define the sleeve and pocket.  To be honest, I really liked the hoodie in white because of  the contrast, and that it gave the piece a bit of comic book vibe.

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Then I tinted the red with a black because I really didn’t want the red to be so bright.  This worked out beautifully.

I drew the rain in chalk trying to create long thin lines like I see in the comic books.  Using a rubber tip blade with a long handle ( I don’t know what it’s called), I dipped the edge in paint and did a stamp effect on top of the charcoal lines.  Prior to that I did a few practice runs on a separate piece of paper but it still took me a while to get it right.  When I applied it to the canvas some were a little messy so I just used some black paint to clean up some of the lines.

Lastly, I added the splashes to the back and sides of the hoodie, signed off on it and called it a day.

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I just finished a new acrylic painting last week called “Breakthrough.”   This is another addition to my “Black and White, and Red All Over” series.  Clearly the color gray is present in this piece instead of black, however black is a key ingredient of gray.  Cheating? Probably.

Here I’ve depicted the balloons making their escape and ascending upward through the cloudy skies, far away from whatever has been holding them back.

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This is the fourth acrylic painting that I’ve completed and I’m gaining a better understanding of this medium.   Here’s some additional lessons that I’ve learned:

Layer in Neutrals

I didn’t layer in neutrals when I created my earlier paintings and because of that I had to work harder at applying color into the canvas.  It’s amazing how difficult it is to cover a white or a light color with a darker one.

There were two painters who told me that they always layered in neutrals before applying other colors.   Heeding their advice,  I layered the background in a light gray and added the white clouds. Then I layered the balloons in a slightly darker gray and then painted them over in red.

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The red in the balloons was still vibrant but deeper and richer thanks to the neutral undercoat.  Unfortunately though I made another painting mishap.

Don’t Overdo White In A Painting

I was concerned that the gray background might make the overall work look somber, and that caused me to go overboard with the clouds.  I didn’t realize this until after I painted the balloons red.  The piece looked stark, almost as if I would have been better off painting the balloons directly on the white primed canvas.

The following day I saw a post on Facebook  from Jerry’s Art-A-Rama that mentioned that painters make the common mistake of adding too much white to their pieces making the work look cold, chalky or dull.  The timing of this post couldn’t have been better. So what did I do?

Acrylics Are Forgiving

I repainted the entire background in gray and re-applied the clouds with a little less vigor.  With acrylics you can hide your mistakes and make corrections.

Hindsight, I wished that  I would have done that with “Ninja” where I botched a splatter technique more than once.  I trashed two canvases when I should have just continued to rework the same one.

At any rate, I’ve enjoyed the process of creating “Breakthrough.” I am inspired to work on another piece using the black, red, and white color palette, although this time I am going to try my hand at working on a black canvas. Pray for me.

I’m happy to announce that I’m the featured artist for the month of June at the Charlotte Art League.  The opening reception took place last Friday and included other works on display for the June show, “South End Street Culture.”   The turnout was great!  Here are some shots of the event including one with myself as the proud mama in front of my art.

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So far this year I’ve met my goal of displaying artwork in at least one venue each month.  I jokingly call this, “My Art’s On A Wall, Y’all” tour.   My list of venues have included  a local movie theater, my eye doctor’s office, a public branch library, a gallery, and the Charlotte Art League.

On another happy note, I sold my kite-flying piece, “Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me” at CAL’s May show.  What an awesome blessing that was!

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Slowly but surely I am gaining more self-confidence as I continue to seek new places to display my work.  What do I have to lose? Better to try and face rejection than to not try at all.

 

For the past couple of years I’ve been a church doodler.   It all started out with scribbling on the church programs using a black Faber-Castell brush pen. I liked the challenge of drawing within the limited white spaces of the bulletin.  When I finished, the doodles looked as if they were part of the print!

As of recent, I’ve converted to a small sketch book. What prompted the change was that the one time that I really felt like doodling during the service. I didn’t have a church program nor did I have any old ones stashed away.  I did, however, find a random piece of paper and immediately started using that.  It was fun being able to draw on a blank space without being hindered by surrounding print.

I’ve been using the same pens that I used for life drawing (see previous post), often interchanging colors as I write out the words.   The sketches are made to further drive the point of the sermon.  It’s been a lot of fun doodling notes in a sketchpad and it’s even captured the attention of some of  the ministerial staff.

So here are a few weeks’ worth of my notes!  Enjoy!

Sermon Notes 4.27.14

Sermon Notes 4.27.14a

Sermon Notes 5.4.14

Sermon Notes 5.4.14a

Sermon Notes 5.11.14

Sermon Notes 5.11.14a

Sermon Notes 5.18.14

Sermon Notes 5.18.14a

Sermon Notes 5.25.14

Sermon Notes 5.25.14a

Sermon Notes 5.25.14b

For the past few months I’ve attended weekly free life drawing sessions hosted by Twenty-Two, a combined bar and gallery.  I practically break my neck to get there early in order to find the best seat.

For several weeks now I’ve been drawing the human form in pen.  Pen is scary and yet wonderful at the same time.  It gives the work some boldness, like an inked comic book.   To me it’s an unforgiving medium leaving little, if any room for mistakes. Ultimately, I had to attack it fearlessly with the understanding that I was going to make errors.  It was that feeling of, “Yeah, I screwed that up, so WHAT?”  It’s very liberating.

An artist who frequently works in pen told me that if you make a mistake, you just draw around it.  Well I took his advice to heart and drew around a LOT of stuff, although over time I seem to be doing less of that.  I’m nowhere near perfect with the pen, but I’m improving.  I’m also taking my time by studying the subject a little more in order to improve my accuracy.

One of my favorite things to do is to use crosshatching to define shading on the model and folds in the fabric covered props.  I can control how light or how dark I want to make the subject by drawing the crosshatching lines tight together or further apart.

 

Nude leaning  Nude one leg pose  Sitting nude

reclining nude1   recliningnude2

 Here are my tools,  a set of  four ballpoint pens  that I purchased from Office Depot.  Initially I was drawing the model in one color, however lately, I’ve been experimenting by using two different colors.
Pens

 

 

 

 

After three attempts, I finally finished my acrylic painting, “Ninja” on my birthday. Yes, two canvases died in the making of this piece, thanks to my lack of experience with acrylics.

This  is a seemingly violent departure from my other work which is typically joyous, gentle and peaceful.  “Ninja” is part of my on-going series called “Black and White and Red All Over” that I started awhile back and includes my two other pieces, “Chat Noir” and “Angry Kitty.”

Ninja

The look is pretty dramatic with the stars zipping through the air, as they make extreme contact with their targets.  It reminds of a scene in an action movie where everything is happening in slow motion.  This is where my love of comic books is evident.

I worked in layers by first tinting the white paint, and then applying it to the entire canvas.  Afterwards, I applied a second layer of white horizontal streaks for some added texture and to make the stars appear as if they were flying at light speed.  Then there was the application of nerve-wracking details such as the black streaks around and behind the stars, followed by the red splatters. On my second attempt, the splatters ended up being my demise because I didn’t dilute the paint and it resulted in huge clumps on the canvas.  I was smarter this third go round.

So yes, “Ninja” was a rough customer but I persevered and completed it.   This was the one time where I felt that creating art was very much like a sparring match.

Making Ugly Art

Julia Cameron, the author of  The Artist’s Way, was right.  There will be times when you will make ugly art. Yesterday was one of those days and I have to accept it.

I was working in a medium that I hadn’t dabbled in since about a year and half ago – acrylics.  My latest piece was “Angry Kitty” back in 2012 and that turned out fairly well, mostly because the subject matter wasn’t too complicated.

It was this past Saturday when I felt the need to paint “Ninja” or “Assassin ( actually I don’t know what to really call the thing).”  The following day was Palm Sunday and one would think that I would have wanted to do something more contemplative.

I made a rough drawing in my sketch book nearly two years ago.  I created three throwing stars flying in the air towards their target.  I painted a trial throwing star on a smaller canvas for practice but never got around to doing the final work because I wasn’t comfortable with executing it.

         Ninja Stars     Star Final

Saturday, I drew the throwing stars on canvas and then painted the background.

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Sunday, I tinted the white to give a light gray or dirty white base and then I applied white streaks as a second layer for some added texture.

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It wasn’t until I started working on the stars that my problems began.  I struggled with using the brushes to create a sense of motion.  The swirls around the stars were muddy and the black streaks trailing the stars were just too big.  My lack of skill as an acrylic painter became quite obvious.

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Creating ugly art is one of those things that will happen at some point in any artist’s life.  It’s a letdown considering the amount of the time one puts into their work, and in my case it happened to be a good bit of the day yesterday.  I had such high hopes.  Hindsight, I should have stopped right before painting the stars to give myself more time to think about my technique, but I was feeling pretty confident.

On the upside, making ugly art is a learning experience. Once I screwed up and was unable to find a resolution, I just went into “the heck with it” mode and just started playing with it.  I discovered that there were some things that worked that could be applied to future works and other things that didn’t.

I’m debating on whether or not to fix this hot mess.  I mean why miss an opportunity to REALLY jack it up further?  Most likely I will just scrap it and start over. That wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this and thanks to the learning curve, I can probably finish it in less time.  Well, shoot, maybe I just solved my own problem right there! Just start over.  It’s okay.  It’s what the creative process is about.

 

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