Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reorganizing the Studio -- Again

Some artists have studios that are models of efficiency from day one. Not mine. After occupying my 240 square foot studio for the past few years, I've decided I need to make some changes. Addressing storage issues is at the top of my list. If I can't find a way to solve them soon I'm going to go bonkers.

If I did nothing but paint, there would be no need to re-arrange things. Everything could stay just as it is. The way the studio is set up right now works great for a painter. But also working in collage and mixed media as I do, as well as home decor items, jewelry, greeting cards and even mosaics on occasion, it's obvious my current arrangement is a disaster.

How can I tell? Easy. There are so many piles of "stuff" all over the place that it's impossible to find an open horizontal surface when I need one. Dozens of cardboard boxes and bags filled with "stuff" are everywhere I look. Unfortunately, unless I actually examine the contents, I have no idea what's in them much less where to house them. So they accumulate -- on the worktables, the floor, on top of cabinets, in odd nooks and crannies -- in short, everywhere.

The collage paper are the worst. Despite a large collection of lidded storage containers and a multi-bin wire storage unit intended to house them, collage papers are scattered everywhere. Looking for a tool or a tube of paint that's gone missing is like conducting an archeological dig. First you divide the room into a grid, then start excavating. If you're lucky you'll find what you're looking for the same day. If not, it'll turn up a week or a month later when you're searching for something else.

This is crazy making times ten. Something's gotta give. So now you know what I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks: working like mad to create order from chaos.Wish me luck, and if you haven't heard from me by Friday, you might want to call in the bloodhounds.

©2016 Lynn Edwards

Monday, April 25, 2016

More Gelli Plate Papers

A few days have gone by during which I've created more collage papers using my Gelli Plate. I'm discovering that this wondrous artist's tool can produce a myriad of paper designs, limited only by one's imagination. How did I ever do without it before?

Anyway, as I promised in my earlier post, here are a few more papers produced on the Gelli Plate. These were made using nothing more than paper and string to mask off certain areas, allowing the color or colors underneath to show through:

An old file folder cut into wavy strips was used to make the paper on the left, while the more intricate design on the right was obtained by punching out portions of construction paper and a file folder cut into strips.

A simple stencil made from an old file folder produced this paper, using just three colors and turning the stencil in different directions.

The papers below were made using cotton crochet string, cut into various lengths and tossed haphazardly onto multiple layers of wet paint:

The fun you can have making papers with a Gelli Plate can become so addictive that you never get around to using them -- because you're too busy making more papers! Just sayin'..........!!!

Text and images ©2016 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." -- Isak Dinesen

Friday, April 22, 2016

Making Collage Papers With a Gelli Plate

Every now and then it's good for an artist to take a workshop. A workshop can introduce artists to new techniques, expand their knowledge of the medium they use, and connects them with others in the arts community.

I've had the good fortune to study with Bob Burridge and Carrie Burns Brown in workshops consisting of five solid days of immersion in abstract painting (Burridge) and in collage (Burns-Brown). Both were remarkable experiences that benefited me in countless ways. So when another of my favorite artists, Jane Davies, announced an online collage workshop on monoprinting with a popular new tool called a Gelli Plate, I jumped at the chance to enroll.

Single color collage papers made using a gelatin plate, stamps, stencils and various household items in Jane Davies' online workshop.   ©2016 Lynn Edwards
 Monoprinting is the act of creating a single print by pressing a sheet of paper onto a "plate" onto which paint or ink has been applied, then carefully lifting or "pulling" the sheet of paper away to reveal the resulting image. Plates can be made from a variety of materials, including glass and gelatin. For Jane's workshop, I'm using a commercially made plate called a Gelli Plate that, unlike home made versions, is very sturdy and does not break down or disintegrate over time.

If you've never experimented with monoprinting on a gelatin plate, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, particularly if you're into collage and making your own papers. With it you can make papers that are uniquely yours, in endless color combinations featuring designs of your own creation, until the cows come home. For a collage artist, it's Nirvana!

The photo above shows some of the papers I made in my first effort. I quickly learned that the Gelli Plate seems to require a breaking-in period; at first, the paint coverage seemed spotty and there were odd shadowy shapes of unexplained origin on the initial prints. But now that I've made well over 75 monoprints with my Gelli Plate, it has seemed to settle down and my monoprints now have a much smoother, more pleasing appearance.

What makes this cool little tool so much fun to use? The results you get are totally unpredictable. You may think you know what something is going to turn out like, but with Gelli Plate printing, it's just one surprise after another. Often, what emerges is so much more visually interesting than what you anticipated.

For example, I discovered that a technique Jane shared with us to remove dried paint from the plate resulted in a very exciting looking design when I substituted a piece of colored card stock for plain white drawing paper. This then led to the discovery that I could get yet another whole different look by pressing some of my older, textured and painted papers onto the wet plate. I'll share  these with you in my next post, just as soon as I can get them photographed. Meanwhile, here's a sampling of some very basic, two color papers I made in the workshop. Stay tuned, there are far more exciting papers yet to come!

Papers made by layering one color over another color. The surface designs were made using combs, stencils, notched scrapers, foam stamps and other tools. © 2016 Lynn Edwards

 Text and images ©2016 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, April 17, 2016

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -- Anne Frank

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Studio Overhaul = Studio Sale!

It has been more than three years since we built my studio. So I've had lots of time to see how well the furniture arrangement and storage systems I chose would meet my needs. Recently I ditched my existing display system, which was a series of painted boards with a channel cut into the top edges to hold removable metal hooks, in favor of a more attractive, much more useful system. Which I'll be telling you more about in a future post.

This change prompted me to evaluate how well the rest of the fixtures fit, or didn't fit, my current needs. Long story short, I dove head first into a total overhaul, and am getting rid of some pieces of furniture and acquiring some additional shelving to make the studio more functional and make the space work better.

One of my goals is coming up with better storage solutions. This includes finding better ways to store my jewelry making materials as well as finished, ready to sell pieces. At present, it's a jumble of pieces in progress, disorganized collections of beads and components, with finished items housed in several places in no particular order. Basically, it's chaotic.

The degree to which it's chaotic hit me full force the other day, when I opened a shoebox that had been haphazardly stuffed onto a shelf. Inside I found a dozen finished necklaces and other pieces I had made over a year ago and completely lost track of. So something's gotta give. To make my reorganization go easier I'm doing what any sensible artist who's organization-challenged would do: I'm holding a Studio Reorganization Sale!

No, it's not taking place IN my studio. (With all the "stuff" in there right now there's hardly enough room to turn around.) Instead, I'm holding the sale in my Etsy shop, Playingwithcolors. I've marked the jewelry items waaaaay down to clear the decks for new items to come. I've been adding one sale item per day (it's an SEO thing) rather than listing them all at once. So check in each day; you might find something you can't live without. And don't forget, Mother's Day is coming up soon. All my jewelry includes a beautiful organza drawstring bag with a matching hand painted blank gift card. No additional wrapping required.

Here are a few pieces I've recently listed:

Original collage on vintage domino, now just $20 in my Etsy shop

Large hand painted pendant, now just $28 in my Etsy shop

Original mosaic paper collage under glass,now just $15 in my Etsy shop

Text and images ©2016 Lynn Edwards

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Photo to Brighten Your Day

There's nothing more beautiful than a Spring day in the South!  ©2016 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, April 10, 2016

"The world is a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks." -- Edwin Arlington Robinson

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Done and Delivered!

The large commissioned piece I've been working on for weeks and weeks is finally done and delivered! The buyer loves it. She was overwhelmed with emotion when I unveiled it. As a special surprise for her, I had worked into the collage portion a series of elements representing facets of her life. They included a photo of the house she grew up in, a cancelled Bulgarian postage stamp (she spent several years in Bulgaria as a Peace Corp volunteer, and the country is very dear to her heart). I also included a photo of the mountain peak she can view from her deck, digital images of bare tree branches in winter (she loves their silhouettes against the sky), part of a reproduction of an original painting I did of trees in summer, and many other references pertaining to her life.

"Fragments of a Journey," (4) 12x36" panels, acrylic, collage and mixed media on canvas ©2016 Lynn Edwards     
Nothing gives me more pleasure than someone responding in such a heartfelt way to something I've created. It's so gratifying to create something that touches them so deeply and makes them so happy. Nothing else in the world can compare to that feeling. Which is why, I think, most artists create, many persisting despite severe hardships. We're a determined lot, unwilling to give up even in the face of adversity. We put our self esteem on the line every time we enter an art competition, approach a gallery for representation, offer our work for sale at a festival, or present a finished commission to its new owner. What we offer through our art is an intimately personal glimpse of us. It's work derived from our innermost feelings, experiences, beliefs, dreams and memories. Presenting our work demands that we expose our self esteem to a degree of vulnerability that few others willingly face.

When a person reacts profoundly to our work, we're validated in having made a contribution to the world. It's why most of us create. Some of us attain commercial success, some of us do not, but few enter this profession expecting making millions to be our ultimate goal. One might say we aim too low. (Starving artists?) I say we artists aim higher -- much higher -- by uplifting, creating joy, and bringing beauty into being. You can't put a price tag on those things. And most of us, thank goodness, would never want to.

Text and image ©2016 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Thought for Sunday, April 3, 2016

"The biggest problem in the world could have been solved when it was small." -- Witter Bynner

Friday, April 1, 2016

Re-using Finished Artwork: How to Borrow from an Original

When I needed an image of trees for the collage I'm working on, and did not have time to draw or paint one from scratch, I decided to borrow from a finished painting of three trees I had done a few years ago. But this was a painting that I wanted to remain intact, so I came up with a way to create a paintable duplicate, and was quite happy with the result. Here's what I did:

1. I scanned the original at the highest resolution possible.

The original painting

2. Using photo editing software such as Photoshop Elements, I made any necessary adjustments or corrections. To preserve my changes I did a "Save As.".
3. I printed out a copy of the amended image on a color laser printer, using ordinary photocopier paper. (Or take your file to a photocopy shop to obtain a toner image.)
4. I encased the borrowed image, both front and back, with slightly diluted acrylic gloss medium. making sure every part of the image was completely covered.
5. Once it was thoroughly dry, I decided to change the color of the sky behind the trees to integrate it into my current project, matching the color to the painted surface of my collage. I left the trees just as they were.
6. When I "auditioned" the scanned image against my work in progress, I was happy with the match, but I decided to discard the newly painted background because I discovered I was running dangerously low on gel medium. Collaging the full sheet onto the canvas would have used up too much of it. With the project's delivery date looming and the nearest art supply store an hour's drive away, I opted to conserve what was left of my gel medium, and simply cut the trees out with a scissors. Oddly enough, ditching the background made the trees seem to "pop" just a bit more.
7. The cut out trees were collaged onto my work in progress. Here's how it turned out:

The trees were borrowed from the painting shown in Step 1.     ©2016 Lynn Edwards

By duplicating and then encasing the image in an acrylic medium, you can do just about anything to it, such as adding paint, oil pastels, Derwent Inktense pencils, Tar Gel, etc. The background I painted on the copy of the trees looked terrific, but I could have used any number of other media successfully too. (You'll need to experiment to see what would work best with whatever you're using; pastels, for example, will require that you use a ground with some "tooth." Pastels just slide right off a surface treated with gloss medium.)

So if you've got a painting you don't want to destroy, but need an image from it for another project, borrow freely!

Text and images © 2016 Lynn Edwards