Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

No pumpkins or ghosts today, just a small geometric abstract in autumn's colors. Can you identify the tool I used to create the design?

©2015 Lynn Edwards
I painted this with the idea of cutting it up and using the individual pieces for art pendants. But now I'm not so sure. What do you think??

Text and image ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Thursday, October 29, 2015

An Update on the Triptych and Its Trip to California

"Rain Gods" is the 36x36" mixed media triptych that took me weeks to complete. It's shown here hanging on the wall in my studio before it was shipped to California. Materials used in its creation included acrylic paints, inks, hand painted papers, fabric, fibers, metal, foamcore, wood and beads.         ©2015 Lynn Edwards

It took weeks to create, with many hours working late in the studio, but I'm happy to report the triptych that seems to have swallowed up my summer is finally finished! I'd break open a bottle of champagne but I'm afraid the buzz would knock me flat, so I'll just have some flavored water, thank you.

What did knock me flat was the shipping fee to send this piece from Georgia to California. Both FedEx and UPS have recently adopted something called dimensional pricing, which basically means they now charge based on the number of cubic inches a large package occupies, as opposed to charging by weight. If you're shipping something large yet lightweight -- such as a painting on canvas -- be prepared to shell out a whole lot more than you're used to paying, particularly if it's going to travel any distance.

I elected to ship the piece by FedEx. I had packed it in a well constructed cardboard box specifically designed for the transport of fine art. Three plus inches of foam surrounded a sturdy interior box containing the triptych, whose panels were separated with foam lined, paper encased spacer boards to keep the canvases with their dimensional elements from rubbing against each other. Sealed and ready to go, the whole thing weighed just slightly over 17 pounds.

Being unaware of this new dimensional pricing structure (everything I've shipped this year was sent by USPS Priority Mail) the fee quoted was a bit of a shock. Two day delivery was going to cost twice what I had anticipated -- close to $300.00. I was picking up the tab, since the piece was created as a congratulatory gift for my niece. She had just graduated from law school with flying colors, aced her bar exam on the first try, and had secured an excellent position practicing law that included having her own private office. Which had bare walls in need of some art!

After mulling over my options, I decided to put my faith in FedEx and the durability of the shipping container, made by Armadillo Protective Packaging of Santa Fe, NM. Biting my nails all the while, I selected the less expensive 5-6 day delivery. This was $120, and included a signature requirement and additional insurance coverage on the artwork. I was more than a little nervous about my choice, since the longer a piece of original art is in transit, the more vulnerable to damage it is. And California is as far from here as you can get.

But as it turned out, I need not have worried. Someone at FedEx must have noticed that the shipment contained original art and decided to give it special consideration. (How else to explain it?) Much to my surprise and delight, the triptych was delivered to its destination less than 72 hours later, and according to my niece, it arrived in perfect condition. She was thrilled with her gift, and I was thrilled with the extraordinary level of service provided by FedEx, as well as the craftsmanship of the folks at Armadillo. Wow! In appreciation, I'll pop open a bottle of champagne (forget the flavored water) and raise a toast to both companies. They definitely deserve it. Thanks so much, guys, for a job very well done!

©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away." --  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Welcome, Paula Guhin -- Artist and Author Extraordinaire!

Today it's my great privilege to welcome guest blogger Paula Guhin, whose artwork and photography knocks me off my feet! Paula is not only remarkably talented with a brush and camera, she's a respected visual art educator as well as the author of six popular how-to art books: Image Art Workshop: Creative Ways to Embellish & Enhance Photographic Images; Painting with Mixed Media (with Geri Greenman); Creating Decorative Paper; The Complete Photo Guide to Creative Painting (with Geri Greenman); Glorious Glue!:Art with Adhesives and Adventures in Photo Artistry: Easy Activities for Anyone! All are available through Amazon.
Paula works in a wide variety of media. Below, she shares with us her process for creating the fascinating assemblage she has titled Time, Where Have You Gone? Be sure to visit Paula's blog, Mixed Media Manic, (links at right and below) to see more of her beautiful and amazing artwork! -- Lynn
Paula Guhin
"I'm a collage artist and painter who also adores assemblage. Here's how I begin the latter: I start with an idea, a theme. Then I gather materials to fit that concept, and a vessel of some type to contain it or to build upon. In Time, Where Have You Gone?, I used a tall wooden clock housing for structure. I always have acrylic paint and mediums, a small hand saw, and strong adhesive handy!

Found items suggesting a theme are arranged on and in a wooden clock housing.  ©2015 Paula Guhin

Two pair of thrift shop earrings reminded me of wings...time does fly! Dollar store Halloween stuff (like plaster headstones, etc.) fit right in with my thoughts of mortality as I worked on the piece. I often use doll parts, too, but I alter them (and I change most of the other materials as well).
TIP: As an assemblage is completed, the artist should feel free to add to or discard some of the collected materials. They don't ALL have to be included.

Time, Where Have You Gone? 13x5x3" mixed media assemblage on wood ©2015 Paula Guhin
I always finish the back of a free-standing piece, but of course some assemblages are meant to be wall-hung. This one took me well over a week, since each side had to dry before I continued. I finish artworks by checking all angles for contrast, variety, know, all that good stuff! (But just because this piece is formally balanced doesn't mean that all of them must be.)

The back and sides of the assemblage feature altered Halloween "tombstones" from a dollar store, earrings from a thrift shop, a clock face and other found objects.  ©2015 Paula Guhin
Now YOU try one (they're so fun!), and maybe see many more assemblages at
My thanks to Lynn for allowing me to guest here...she's a peach!"

A Thought for Sunday, October 18, 2015

"If you work with abstract painting for a period of time, you may come to think of it as a melody, a song, a piece of beautiful music." -- Judi Betts

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Coming Monday: An Exciting Treat for My Readers

If you follow this blog, you know how highly I regard Paula Guhin, author of several of my favorite art books. Paula is a woman of many talents: she's a wonderful artist and photographer, and a very fine writer. As if these accomplishments weren't enough, she's also a respected art educator and an accomplished equestrienne.

Paula's blog, Mixed Media Manic, is a fabulous resource for artists with dozens and dozens of tutorials to inspire and inform. It's also where I head when I need some cheering up. Paula's blog features humorous tidbits guaranteed to give you a good laugh, particularly if you're a woman.

So it's with great pleasure that I can announce Paula will be my special guest here on this blog next week! Be sure to check in this coming Monday to see some of her amazing work and learn how she created it. You're bound to come away with your mind spinning with fresh, exciting ideas, and a strong urge to drop everything and make a beeline for your creative space. Have I whetted your appetite? I promise you won't be disappointed! See you Monday!

©2015 Lynn Edwards

Monday, October 12, 2015

FAQs About Collage

When I first started painting, the only medium I used was acrylic paint. It didn't take me long to add collage to my artistic bag of tricks. Not only does collage add a fascinating new dimension to your work, it can be made from almost anything, anywhere, at any time. Below are the most frequently asked questions about collage posed to me when I was teaching adult art classes at Kennesaw State University. If you haven't tried collage yet, grab a few supplies and get busy!

Q: What, exactly, is collage?
A: Put simply, it is a work of art created by layering papers and/or other elements and adhering them to a substrate such as canvas, wood or heavy paper.

Q: What media are used in collage?
A: Acrylic paints and acrylic mediums are extremely popular with collage artists. Acrylic paints themselves have adhesive properties, and the enormous range of specialized acrylic mediums available offer a vast range of effects. Other choices are watercolor, ink, colored pencil, pastels, graphite, gouache, dyes, charcoal, crayon, even oils….the list is almost endless. For our purposes here we’ll confine our discussion to acrylics.

Q: What is the best adhesive to use?
A: It depends on what you’re gluing. Lightweight papers like tissue, gift wrap, and text weight papers can be glued down with liquid matte or gloss medium, sometimes diluted with a bit of water. You can also use gel medium diluted with water for those items. Heavier materials, such as 140# or 300# watercolor paper, heavy card stock, small twigs, etc. can be adhered with gel medium. Soft gel medium works well for most collage materials. Really weighty items -- rocks, large shells, tiles and the like -- require heavy or extra heavy gel mediums.

Q: What else do I need?
A: A scissors or craft knife. If you use a craft knife, you'll also need a cutting mat to keep from carving up your worktable. You'll also need brushes in a few different sizes for applying adhesive. Inexpensive flat brushes work just fine. You'll also need a container of water for your brushes and some paper towels for blotting. Baby wipes are also useful for removing glue residue from your fingers. And a soft rubber brayer comes in handy also.

Q: How can I keep my papers from wrinkling as I glue them down?
A: To minimize wrinkling of papers, smooth them onto the support by stroking gently with your fingers from the center outward. Or use the rubber brayer, stroking in one direction only. Place a piece of freezer paper, waxy side down over the work, then run your brayer over it. Then peel the freezer paper off gently. Remove excess adhesive with a damp paper towel. Let each layer dry thoroughly before applying another layer over it. You can speed things up with a hairdryer in many cases.

Q: Why use freezer paper?
A: It protects the brayer from coming into contact with the glue. The freezer paper also peels off the wet surface without taking half the collage with it.

Q: What kind of support should I use?
A: Anything from cardboard, chipboard, illustration and Bristol board to heavy watercolor paper, stretched canvas, wood panels, canvas board, or mat board can be used as a substrate. Whatever you choose, it must be of sufficient strength to support the type of materials you’re adhering to it. Canvas board is a good choice because it’s inexpensive, sturdy enough for most applications and is readily available.

Q: How is the support prepared?
A: On supports such as mat board, illustration board and Bristol board, seal the side edges by running a piece of candle wax or paraffin over them. (This keeps moisture from separating the multiple layers of paper from which they’re composed.) Then apply liquid gloss medium or liquid matte medium to the front and back. Canvas and canvas board usually come pre-gessoed so sealing the surface with gloss or matte medium isn’t required, but I do it anyway. (That’s both sides for canvas board, front surface only for stretched canvas.) If you’re using wood, sand first and remove all dust. It’s a good idea to apply GAC 100 (made by Golden), which prevents discolorations in the wood from bleeding upwards into the work, followed by gesso, followed by matte or gloss medium if desired.

Q: What materials can I use to make a collage?
A: Almost anything. Papers both “found” and hand painted, fabric and fibers, pressed and dried grasses and leaves, magazine illustrations, old correspondence, playing cards, sheet music, lichen, pebbles, rocks, shells, photographs, electronic components, game pieces, junk mail, canceled postage stamps – you name it. If you can glue it down, it’s fair game for collage.

Q: What about archival issues?
A: If you’re not concerned with the work’s longevity, use whatever materials strike your fancy – archival or not. But if you’re aiming to create heirlooms for future generations, or museum quality pieces, use only acid-free, Ph-neutral and archival materials. If this isn’t possible (and it probably won’t be) you can still protect your work by encasing each element. Encasing simply means applying liquid gloss or matte medium or diluted gel medium to both the front and back sides of the item, then gluing it into place.

Q: What about varnish?
A: Once you’ve completed your collage, brush a coat of gloss medium or gloss gel over it. When this dries thoroughly, apply a high quality varnish with UVLS protection. If you fail to varnish it your collage will feel "sticky" or "tacky" indefinitely. It will also collect dust and debris like crazy. Not good!

Q: How can I use collage?
A: Besides using it for making two dimensional fine art, collage is often used for altered books and journals, greeting cards, artists’ trading cards, scrap booking and the like. In the past I've also used it to make handmade business cards. You can take this art form even further by collaging papers onto furniture to give dressers, tables and cabinets a whole new look. When used in this way, it's referred to as decoupage. But that's a whole other topic!
©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, October 11, 2015

"I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap  for the favor of the kings of the world." -- Thomas Edison

Monday, October 5, 2015

Enhance Your Acrylic Paintings with Isolation Coats

Two acrylic paintings are hung side by side. Both are appealing, but one has a much richer, more luminous appearance. The darks are more lustrous, light areas have more "life," and areas of transparent paint almost seem to glow with an inner light. How did the artist achieve this effect? Chances are, he or she used one or more isolation coats in creating the painting. 

What is an isolation coat?

An isolation coat is a layer of clear acrylic that's applied to a painting prior to varnishing, and sometimes as the painting is progressing. An isolation coat is made from a mixture of soft gloss gel medium and water. The gel medium looks white initially, but dries crystal clear.

Here’s how to make and apply an isolation coat:
1. Mix one part water with one part Soft Gel Medium-Gloss Finish.
2. Stir gently but thoroughly to eliminate any lumps.(Gently is the key word here; vigorous agitation produces air bubbles.)
3. Brush the mixture onto the painting using a clean, wide brush with soft nylon bristles. Brush the mixture on gently and evenly, working in one direction.
4. Allow the first isolation coat to dry thoroughly before applying a second coat. (At least 24 hours if possible. More is even better.)
5. Apply a second isolation coat at an angle to the first coat to ensure good coverage. Let this second coat dry another 24 hours or longer.
6. Varnish the painting with a high quality acrylic varnish in the finish of your choice – matte, satin, semigloss, or gloss.

For best results, use only gloss finish soft gel for mixing an isolation coat. A matte formulation can cause dark tones in the painting to appear cloudy.

What does an isolation coat do for a painting?

An isolation coat gives a wonderful appearance of depth to a work. It enhances the colors, making the darks appear richer and the lighter colors more vibrant, even when those colors are opaque. And the luminosity of transparent colors is enhanced with the application of one or more isolation coats.

As if those weren't reasons enough, there are even more practical reasons for using an isolation coat:

It provides additional UV protection, which helps prevent fading
Helps protect the paint layer from scratches and abrasions
Allows the varnish coat to be removed without disturbing underlying paint layers, should the work ever need to be restored or cleaned
Offers extra protection from the effects of dust, dirt, smoke, and air pollution

The more coats the merrier

There’s no limit to the number of times you can use isolation coats in a given painting. You can sandwich paint layers between multiple isolation coats, if desired. (The renowned painter Edward Betts was a master at using multiple isolation coats in his acrylic paintings to spectacular effect.) 

Just be sure to end with an isolation coat before applying varnish. Don't use an isolation coat as a substitute for varnish, however. You’ll still need to use varnish to ensure the painting is fully sealed and adequately protected.

Of course you don’t have to use an isolation coat; you can varnish directly over a paint surface with no ill effects. But if you take the time to apply even one isolation coat, your work will not only look better, it will withstand the test of time better, too.

© 2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, October 4, 2015

 "There must be more to life than having everything." -- Maurice Sendak