Saturday, December 8, 2018

More Mosaic Madness

It's done! My tabletop mosaic project is finally ready to be varnished! It has taken so much longer than I thought it would to get to this point -- it seems like I've been working on this thing for years. Our kitchen table has been off limits for eating meals for nearly two months. It has been serving as a staging area for the construction of the mosaic. My husband, the chef in our household, deserves a trophy for his patience at losing his kitchen table to an art project that seemingly had no end. Well, honey, you're just hours away from getting it back.

So here's the finished product:

The next step is locating trim that will match or be compatible with the existing trim on the coffee table. I'm pretty sure we can find something that will work. So a trip to one of the big box home improvement stores is on next week's agenda. Meanwhile, multiple coats of clear satin varnish will be applied, which will make this mosaic tabletop pretty much impervious to moisture and other hazards.

If I change my mind about using it on the coffee table for some reason, it can always double as a large piece of art for the area over the fireplace. But given the size of the piece, and the hours and hours and hours it took to create, if I do opt to replace it with a mosaic something else, that "something else" is going to be made with glass or ceramic tiles this time around. It could be made in a lot less time!

Text and image Copyright 2018 Lynn Edwards

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mosaic Madness

Wow, time sure has flown by since my last post. The knee surgery I had in August was a life altering experience...I didn't recover from it nearly as quickly as I thought I would, and I was in a lot of pain right up until starting physical therapy last week. Hobbling up the slight incline between my house and the studio was too painful to attempt most days. But if I'm not creating something, I go stir crazy. So I looked around for an art project I could do here at the house, and came up with the idea to create a mosaic top for my coffee table. Here's a peek at what is still very much a work in progress:

The mosaic pieces aren't affixed directly to the coffee table; I hedged my bets and used a piece of quarter inch MDF cut to the exact same dimensions of the coffee table top. I figured that if I didn't like the results, or wanted the option of changing out the design, using the MDF would allow me to do so if I skirted the MDF with pieces of trim that would hold it in place over the original table top. The photo above shows the 19x40" piece of MDF laying on our kitchen table, with approximately half of the tiles in place. 


They're not your usual mosaic tiles

My mosaic pieces aren't glass or ceramic tiles --- they're made from 300 lb. watercolor paper. Originally I thought I would use glass tiles, but the more I thought about the mess that grouting tiles produces, the less inclined I was to go that route. Ditto for using broken china. Painting my own "tiles" would not generate the sloppy mess that's inevitable when using grout. Instead I could use glue and apply it to the back of each tile with a brush. No muss, no fuss.

Unanticipated consequences

Well, that part proved to be true. But I hadn't reckoned on the incredibly tedious business of having to paint the edges of every single tile after it was cut and before it was glued into place. If I left the edges unpainted, the white of the watercolor paper would show and spoil the effect.

In the photo, note the gold-color tiles laid out on wax paper. They're in the process of having their edges painted. Totaling 90 in all, they will fill in the area encircling the round motif when finished. Then it's on to the next part of the design, then another and another until it's finally done -- which I figure ought to be around this same time next year, at the rate I'm going. (Just kidding.)

The process

You wouldn't think this process would be so time consuming, but it is. Here's why: first you have to paint the watercolor paper, then cut out the individual tiles from it, fitting them into the design you've sketched out on your surface. This can take a fair amount of time in and of itself. Once each tile is the size and shape you want it, you have to paint the edges. Then you must lay all the loose tiles out in your chosen design, outline each individual tile with a fine lead mechanical pencil, and number its position on both the MDF and on the back of the corresponding tile.

After you've laid all the tiles out so that there are no overlaps and have made sure everything is in its proper place, then you apply glue and tweezer each tile into position. A word of caution: if you're hyper-impatient, take up some other activity or you'll go stark raving mad working on a project of this size. The mind numbing tedium of painting and positioning several hundred paper tiles won't do a thing for your disposition. But if you have the patience and willpower to stick with it, you'll have something unique and remarkable in the end. If you want to explore paper mosaics further, obtain a copy of Perfect Paper Mosaics by Susan Seymour. This book was the inspiration for my coffee table top, and is full of great advice and how-to info.

Text and image ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Time Out!

Why is it so difficult for artists to take an honest-to-goodness day off? I'm not talking about knocking off studio work for an afternoon, but rather not going near the studio for an entire day. Nor am I talking about using said "time off" to catch up on reading art magazines, or updating one's web site portfolio. Nope, I'm referring to treating oneself to an entire day of indolence -- maybe lolling on the sofa watching TV, or parking ourselves in a rocking chair and reading a good novel.

Maybe it's because many of us can't imagine spending an entire day without doing something artsy. That's how I feel, and from what several artist friends tell me, they do too. It might be an activity as simple as making a greeting card with leftover paper scraps and a glue stick. Or idly doodling in the margins of the morning newspaper. The creative impulse never wants to take a vacation, it would seem. Problem is, we need down time just as much as any one else to keep our imagination stoked. A "rest break" usually results in a rush of new ideas to pursue. An overworked mind is not productive, it's just tired. It needs a break as much as our bodies do. That old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," is certainly true. No one will label us slackers if we gift ourselves with a day of doing nothing. Still need validation? Then consider this: even God took the seventh day off!

©2018 Lynn Edwards 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Artist Tip: Super Easy Brush Cleanup

Sometimes we can't always clean our brushes immediately after painting with acrylics. Here's how to make cleanup much easier when you do get around to it: add a small amount of Murphy Oil Soap*to the water you're resting your brushes in. (A teaspoon should do it.) You'll find the paint washes out of the bristles more readily, making cleanup go much faster.

*I'm in no way connected to the makers of this product and receive no compensation from them. They don't even know I exist.  Murphy's happens to be the best brush cleaner I have ever come across, and is indispensable in my studio .

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

One for the Record Books

What a crazy summer it has been! More rainfall than anyone could imagine (will the soil ever dry out?); more travel than I've done in years (to three other states besides my own, with more to come); life-altering crises of every variety affecting several of my closest friends, and, most recently, undergoing knee surgery this past week. The summer of 2018 has been a real doozie.
Thoughts for Sunday fell by the wayside in many cases, unfortunately. With the arrival of Fall, and hopefully a more settled routine, I'll resume posting the Thoughts once more. Meanwhile, I'm focused on a new series of abstracts that are quite unlike any of my previous works. A change of seasons, a change in direction. (And might we hope for a change in the weather?) Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence." -- Osho

Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Achy Breaky Heart

Sometimes an artist needs to take a break from what they are known for, and delve into a whole new area of interest to interrupt their right brain's usual mode of operation. Sometimes it's good just to try one's hand at something new. Sometimes exploring a medium one doesn't usually work in can lead to a renewal of enthusiasm when our usual method of self expression starts to feel ho-hum.

Those thoughts were on my mind when I decided to re-visit an old love from my past: mosaics. About 15 years ago I had become very interested in mosaics made with broken bits of china, pottery and the like. I made a large flower pot for one friend, a gazing ball for another friend's garden, and a picture frame for my own home -- all from shards of broken dinnerware, glass marbles, and other found treasures. The fun was cut short by winter's arrival; I didn't have a studio back then, and mosaic making is horribly messy. Unable to work on my projects in the house, and with no garage or outbuilding, I had to give it up.

This past month  I was bitten by the mosaic bug once again. I had spotted a piece of heart shaped mosaic garden art on Pinterest that I thought was really cool. So I dragged out my dusty box of mosaic supplies and created a heart with a distinctly different look from the heart on Pinterest. Unlike my previous creations, this one includes bits of jewelry and beads. I had so much fun making this piece, I couldn't believe I had allowed so many years to go by without doing any mosaic work at all.
My bits 'n pieces heart                  ©2018 Lynn Edwards
What's next? It's going to be embellishing the top of our coffee table with an abstract design rendered in mosaic tiles. And after that? Well, here's the kind of mosaic piece I can only hope to aspire to:

This impressive beauty was found just outside a store in Charlottesville, Virginia on a trip there back in 2014. The photo doesn't start to do it justice. It was absolutely gorgeous-- a stunning, life sized  creation in glass. My hat's off to whoever created it, as it must have been one heckuva challenge securing all those tiny tiles...not to mention moving it. I bet it weighed as much as a compact car. Oh but it was lovely!!!

Text and images ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, July 14, 2018

"He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason." -- Cicero

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, July 1, 2018

"Liberty is a thing of the spirit -- to be free to worship, to think, to hold opinions and to speak without fear -- free to challenge wrong and oppression with surety of justice." -- Herbert Hoover

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Can Life Get Any Crazier?

Faithful readers, I apologize. You've probably noticed I've been posting less these past couple of months. The reason? I haven't figured out how to add another day to the week. Here's what life has been like around here lately:

In April I traveled to North Carolina for a weeklong art workshop at the Kanuga Center just outside Flat Rock. It was a breathtaking setting for a truly wonderful experience -- taking a workshop from one of my most favorite artists and art instructors, Jo Toye. Jo is an amazing workshop instructor and I came away from Kanuga with so many ideas and new techniques that I thought my brain would melt down.

Two weeks after returning home from the workshop, Hubs and I flew to California to attend our niece's wedding and spend vacation time with two of my brothers and their wives. We hit some of the art galleries in Laguna Beach and enjoyed lunch in a restaurant there overlooking the Pacific. Sister-in-law Barbara and I did some serious treasure hunting (Orange County has awesome thrift stores!!), and got in a fascinating tour of a dichroic glass manufacturing company that's normally off limits to the public. (That's because Barbara, who teaches silver smithing and other creative skills, is one of their customers.) All in all, it was 12 days of pure fun -- and the wedding was the stuff of fairy tales.

It had been years since I had visited Southern California, and so I didn't really know what to expect. It took me about 10 minutes after de-planing to decide I loved the climate. It was great...No bugs! No humidity! The absence of those was enough to fall in love with SoCal, but the cost of housing in California is so outrageous that three quarters of the population can't qualify for a mortgage. Houses that sell here for $200,000 go for one million out there. With bidding wars, yet.

But oh, the food! It was amazing, and everything was so fresh. We had wonderful meals every place we went, from a hole in the wall taco place to a swanky Italian restaurant to a chain of restaurants called Avila's that served up Mexican food to die for. (We hit Avila's twice.) There was also an out of the way Chinese restaurant (I forget the name) that served out of this world Honey Walnut Shrimp. We went there twice, too.

You know how Californians claim to be so laid back? We got an upclose look at just how "laid back" some of them are. Thanks to California's lenient marijuana laws, you can buy weed everywhere. It's like buying bread or milk. One afternoon we stopped in at WalMart to pick up a few supplies. Our cashier at the checkout -- a ponytailed guy who looked to be around 30-- was so stoned he could barely function. His eyelids were at half mast, his speech was distant and slow and his moves were even slower.

The woman ahead of me in line had arranged her purchases into two piles so they could be handled as separate transactions. The cashier managed to ring up one of them, but seemed to be at a total loss as to how to ring up the other one. The logistics of ringing up two separate purchases for the same person threw him for a loop. After a lot of fumbling and mumbling, he finally gestured at the second pile of merchandise and told the woman, "Oh, just take them."

She, obviously being an honest person, protested and said no, she couldn't just take the stuff because it wasn't right. The cashier replied with "I don't know how to ring those up...go head, just take them." And he indicated for her to remove them from the counter. She tried to press some bills into his hand, insisting that she couldn't just walk out with the stuff, but he refused to accept the money. She tried again, and again he told her, "No, just take them." Shaking her head in disbelief, she gave up, added the items to the bag she was holding, and left.

Watching this exchange, Hubs and I were incredulous. I just wish I had thought to capture it with my cell phone. For our purchase this cashier somehow gathered his wits sufficiently to operate the register (it was a single transaction, we were paying with cash and we weren't buying much) so we were spared our own round of Fun with Puff. But we were troubled at what we had just witnessed. A giant retailer like WalMart might be able to absorb losses to greater degree than most companies, but an employee like this could put a small mom and pop operation out of business in short order. And one more thing: Come the end of his shift, he'd be on the road and behind the wheel, driving while stoned out of his mind. What a comforting thought. I can't help but wonder...when they made marijuana as easy to buy as margarine, what in the heck were California's lawmakers thinking???

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, June 24, 2018

" There is no place in a fanatic's head where reason can enter." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, June 10, 2018

"Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, then choose that way with all his strength." -- Hasidic proverb

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, May 27, 2018

"Cats are intended to teach us .that not everything in nature has a purpose." -- Garrison Keillor

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Without Freedom or Liberty, creativity cannot exist." -- Richard Diaz

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Artist Tip: Avoid Plumbers!

It's a fact: Acrylic paint and plumbing just don't mix. Yet cleaning brushes calls for water. To avoid gumming up your pipes with globs of paint, here are some steps you can take to avoid costly clogs:

1. When you're done painting, rid your brushes of as much paint as you can by wiping them off on a piece of scrap paper. (Sometimes this results in papers you can later use for collage.)
2. Next, use a paper towel or rag to remove as much lingering paint residue as you can from the bristles.
3.Then vigorously swish the brush back and forth in a large container or tub of clean water.
4. Now proceed to clean your brush thoroughly with Murphy Oil Soap under running tap water. By the time you reach this final step, there should be only a negligible amount of paint left to find its way down your drain.

©2018 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, May 13, 2018

"If you think there's a solution, you're a part of the problem." -- George Carlin

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, May 6, 2018

"Any marriage that survives a big wedding can probably survive." -- Malcolm Forbes

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, April 29, 2018

"If you look like your passport photo, you're too ill to travel." -- Will Kommen

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Art Books I Can't Live Without

The reading nook in my studio. The bookcase just beyond the chair holds all my favorite art books .

As a mostly self taught artist, books about art are as important to me as brushes, paint and canvases. I have to confess: my addiction to them is hopeless. I troll the latest titles on Amazon, eagerly read reviews of new releases in art magazines, and browse the shelves at Barnes & Noble every chance I get. Given a choice between the gift of a luxurious designer handbag and a newly released book about abstract art, I'll choose the book. (Maybe that's why I'm not famous for looking like a fashion plate, haha.)

When younger artists ask me how they can advance their careers, I tell them to do two things: spend as much time painting as possible, and take advantage of the incredible universe of knowledge found in art books. (Yes,YouTube is a wonderful resource also. But only a book allows you time to read, mull over what you've just read, and dream up ways to apply it, even making notes in the margins.) I consider art books to be an essential part of an artist's development. Read enough of them and you'll get an education to rival that of attending art school. Maybe even better.

I paint with acrylics, I paint abstracts, and I also work in mixed media and collage. There's no shortage of terrific books out there covering every conceivable aspect of these topics. Here are some of my favorite titles. They're the books I read for information and inspiration -- the ones I consider studio essentials:

Surface Treatment Workshop by Sandra Duran and Darlene Olivia McElroy
Abstract Explorations in Acrylic Painting: Fun, Creative and Innovative Techniques by Jo Toye
Create Perfect Paintings: An Artist's Guide to Visual Thinking by Nancy Reyner
Abstracts in Acrylic and Ink: A Playful Painting Workshop by Jodi Ohl
The Art of Expressive Collage: Techniques for Creating with Paper and Glue by Crystal Neubauer
Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-Media Monoprinting Without a Press by Joan Bess
Alternative Art Surfaces: Mixed-Media Techniques for Painting on More Than 35 iDifferent Surfaces by Sandra Duran Wilson and Darlene Olivia McElroy

This is by no means a complete list. It just happens to be a list of the titles I happen to have at hand right now. If adding to your skill set is your aim, you can't go wrong with any of these titles. So grab a good book, a cup of tea, and let these authors lead you to improvements in your work.

Image and text ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, April 22, 2018

"To hate is to be enslaved by evil." -- Thomas Dreier

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Back from a Fantastic Workshop!

Just returned from a five day workshop with artist and author Jo Toye. It was the most amazing experience...Jo is an extraordinary instructor and gifted artist, and I must say her workshop was THE most helpful and informative workshop I have ever taken! (And I've had the privilege of studying with some very well known instructors in the world of art workshops!)

An 8x8 practice "sample" of a Gesso Pull on Yupo paper -- fun to do, but a bit tricky to do well! 
 Photo ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Jo's approach to teaching is a departure from the norm. Rather than working toward completion of a painting, those of us in her workshop came away from it with a number of 10x10 and 8x8 completed "samples" of  the many distinctive techniques Jo has developed. They're all depicted in her very popular book, Abstract Explorations in Acrylic Painting, released in 2016 by North Light Publishing, but actually working through each technique under the direction of its creator heightened the learning experience even more.

I found the small format approach to be does indeed relieve apprehensions that can crop up when an artist faces a large, blank, costly substrate. It doesn't take much to cover such a small piece of paper, and storing the finished samples is considerably easier than storing full sized sheets of watercolor paper or Yupo.

In this workshop I learned how to use a mouth atomizer to spray a super fine layer of paint, how to use single edge razor blades to "draw" motifs and geometric shapes onto these small surfaces, and how to use Fineline applicators to outline and brighten specific areas of the work, to build texture, and to create interest and variety. Those were just a few of the things I learned this week; there were so many other things my head was spinning from all the valuable tips and information Jo shared.

If you ever get the chance to attend one of Jo Toye's workshops, take it. You won't be disappointed, nor will your art be the same when it's over. "Transformative" is the only way I can describe it, and I feel very blessed and grateful for being able to participate in such an extraordinary experience.

Text and photo ©2018 Lynn Edwards

A Thought for Sunday, April 15, 2018

"There's nothing like staying home for real comfort." -- Jane Austen

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, April 8, 2018

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul." -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Artist Tip: Save Money on Bottles

Many liquid acrylic mediums are packaged in plastic squeeze bottles with tops that seal securely. When you use up the contents, don't throw the bottle away. Rinse it out and save it for future use in transporting mediums and other liquids to art workshops. Or fill with fluid acrylic paint and use it to dribble or fling color onto your canvas. Bought new, these plastic bottles can be pricey. Re-using them is not only thrifty, it helps keep plastic out of landfills.

©2018 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, March 18, 2018

"I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music." -- George Eliot

Monday, March 12, 2018

Artmaking and Environment: Relocating to Santa Fe

This past Saturday night we attended a retirement celebration for our friend Sam. It was a most enjoyable evening, with much laughter and good wishes for a man who is clearly loved and respected by his colleagues, church family and a wide circle of friends. Hubs and I are both very happy for Sam and his wife Molly: now that Sam has retired, he and Molly are relocating to the home of their dreams in Santa Fe, New Mexico. So the occasion was also something of a farewell party.

Santa Fe is a magnet for artists, photographers, writers, musicians and other creatives. The area's spectacular scenery and the town's art-centric vibe make it a highly desirable place for immersing oneself in whatever art form holds one's interest. For Sam, a gifted photographer, it's a longed for chance to devote himself more fully to self expression with a camera. For Molly, a wonderfully talented textile and collage artist as well as a sought after workshop instructor, it's an opportunity to expand her artistic horizons even further.

New Mexico's spectacular landscape has inspired artists for centuries.    ©2018 Lynn Edwards

In Santa Fe, simply to breathe the air is to be influenced by all things artistic. It's impossible to come away from there without a heightened appreciation for art in some form or another. Santa Fe is a place where artwork graces everything from trash cans and public restrooms to million dollar masterpieces in the area's proliferation of art galleries. In Santa Fe art permeates every aspect of life.

For those of us living in places that are not nearly so art-focused, a visit to Santa Fe is sure to send one's creative impulses into overdrive. When Hubs and I vacation there, I find sleep to be impossible. After a day of exploring, my head is filled with color combinations, ideas, images and inspirations whose details I try to capture in a notebook but, like a fast moving slide show, am unable to chronicle adequately. For non-resident artists, a trip to Santa Fe can so overwhelm the senses that it's impossible to process everything one sees and experiences. I've never used drugs, but I suspect the Santa Fe experience could be described as -- artistically speaking -- like a drug high in which everything becomes so much more impactful and fascinating that one doesn't want it to end.

This decorative garden gate is typical of gates found throughout Santa Fe. ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Molly and Sam are on the threshold of a whole new life, filled with creative potential, in one of the most pro-art destinations in America. I know they're going to be wildly happy there. In their new home, the grandeur of mountains and sunsets painting the high desert terrain in stunning colors will be an endless source of pleasure as well as inspiration.  

At some point after settling in, the wide eyed wonder artists initially experience in Santa Fe probably gives way to a calmer view, but to live and make art there will always be an extraordinary experience for those artists who become residents. Our friends Molly and Sam are fortunate indeed to be joining them, and although we will miss them dearly, we're genuinely delighted for them at the same time.

"Retiring" is another word for new beginnings. As they leave the familiar and embark upon this exciting new chapter in their lives, we can hardly wait to see what happens when every day for Sam and Molly is touched by Santa Fe's magic. However it manifests, it's bound to be amazing and extraordinary!

Text and images ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, March 11, 2018

"A poor original is better than a good imitation." -- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, March 4, 2018

"A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind." -- Eugene Ionesco

Friday, March 2, 2018

Synchronicity and Painting

Sometimes events unfold in ways that can only be described as synchronicity. Such was the case with one of my latest paintings, Blood Moon Rising.

Blood Moon Rising, 10x10x.75" acrylic and ink on paper on cradled wood panel    ©2018 Lynn Edwards

I was so immersed in painting this, I was only barely aware of last month's news coverage of the Supermoon and concurrent partial lunar eclipse. Here in the Atlanta area, we were told by forecasters that it would be necessary to have an unobstructed view of the sky to the northwest in the pre-dawn hours to be able to see this phenomenon, said to occur only once every hundred years.

The painting was 99% finished when I locked up the studio and headed down to the house that evening. All it needed was my signature and varnish. Still, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that it lacked something. I tend to be too much of a perfectionist, so I told myself to be content with it, let it go, and proceed to something else. Those were my thoughts as I fell asleep around midnight.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m. I was awakened by a bright light filtering in through the blinds in the bedroom. A very light sleeper, it doesn't take much to wake me up. In this case, it was this strange orange-tinted light shining directly in my face. Wondering if our neighbor's house was on fire, I opened the blinds. The neighbor's house was dark and appeared to be just fine. The light was coming from the largest moon I had ever seen. But the color of the moon was even more startling. If you're an artist who works in acrylic, you'll understand when I say it was Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold with a touch of Transparent Red Iron Oxide.

I couldn't take my eyes off that enormous moon. It was the most amazing sight -- the color of fire!. I had a perfect view of it, and as I watched the moon draw closer to the horizon, almost imperceptibly at first, a shadow began to slide across the face of it as the partial eclipse began. Minutes later, the moon slipped below the horizon and completely out of sight. I felt so lucky to have seen this once in a lifetime event, and awed by the extraordinarily beautiful thing I had just witnessed.

And then I realized what my painting needed. Originally I had painted its moon white with a hint of yellow -- like it usually appears when it's full and riding high in the heavens. But that wasn't what the painting wanted. As soon as the sun rose I was back in the studio, mixing up a glaze of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and Transparent Red Iron Oxide. When I brushed the glaze onto the moon in the painting, it was transformed into a tiny replica of the moon I had seen just hours earlier - a full moon the color of flame, referred to throughout the ages as the Blood Moon. Not surprisingly, the painting almost titled itself: Blood Moon Rising. Rising because that's when the energy of the moon is at its most powerful, according to ancient wisdom. And because witnessing this very rare and magnificent phenomenon was a powerful and deeply spiritual experience for me.

Text and photo ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Happiness is Blooming!

It has been a rough winter here in north Georgia. We've had extended stretches of severe cold and rain, punctuated by a heavy, 12 inch snowfall that took down trees all over the place, particularly west and northwest of Atlanta. That snowfall was weeks ago but winter's grip persisted. The past several weeks have been mostly cold, rainy and miserable.

Whether they're called jonquils or daffodils, their yellow blooms offer hope to the winter weary.

 So I've looked forward to Spring's arrival even more anxiously than usual this year. Driving to an appointment early last week I saw a cluster of yellow jonquils blooming next to someone's driveway. Instantly my spirits lifted. The first sign of Spring!!! Then on Friday, I noticed the tiniest flash of yellow in the forsythia bush growing next to where we park the cars. Two bright yellow buds were beginning to unfurl! I felt like dancing for joy!

It had not occurred to me before, but perhaps this is why the color yellow is so often associated with happiness. It's the color of blooms heralding the return of warm weather and the end of winter's gloom. In a myriad of shades, yellow signals relief from the grey that has prevailed for weeks. No wonder it represents cheerfulness, happiness and optimism. It's the color most closely associated with the sun. So yay for the color yellow!! Welcome, Spring!!!

©2018 Lynn Edwards

A Thought for Sunday, February 18, 2018

"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." -- Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, February 9, 2018

"Love makes the impossible possible." -- Indian proverb

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, February 4, 2018

"Time heals what reason cannot." - Seneca

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Drink Up! Using Tea Bags in Mixed Media Art

Last fall I became acquainted with tea bag art when I saw Ann Laser's amazing work at a gallery in Santa Fe. She turns lowly used tea bags into fascinating mixed media pieces that are so compelling they stop you in your tracks. Tea bags had never crossed my mind as a potential art material, so when I saw what this artist does with them I decided to learn more about it.

My first ever attempt at making tea bag art. The design was created with Sharpie markers.    ©2018 Lynn Edwards
First, why use tea bags at all? The answer, for me, is the variety of colors that used tea bags offer. Strawberry hibiscus tea yields a delicate rosy-hued paper, while blueberry tea produces a pale bluish-lavender color. The tea bag pictured above was obtained at a restaurant where, unfortunately, I forgot to ask my companion what kind of tea she had ordered. Whatever it was, it imparted the faintest hint of sepia to the paper, whereas the ever-popular black teas yield a darker, more robust sepia tone.

Interesting Looks

I like how the color tends to collect in the creases, and the interesting stains of color that appear randomly here and there. The tea bag paper above isn't especially colorful; I deliberately chose it for my Sharpie drawing to avoid having the marker colors skewed by an underlying hue. Contrast that paper to the one below, made by steeping two Wild Raspberry Hibiscus tea bags from Stash Tea together in a single cup:

Steeping two Wild Raspberry Hibiscus tea bags together resulted in this vivid color. Note how the creases in the tea bag are now clearly visible due to the concentration of color along the folds.           ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Tea Bags' Many Uses

Okay, you're saying, but exactly how do you go about using these tea bags in artwork? Answer: they can be used on their own to make miniature paintings (Etsy has a number of tea bag artists working in miniature scale.). Or, they can be incorporated into larger works by adhering them with an appropriate glue or medium. I've also seen installation art created entirely from tea bags. They can also be used to decorate lampshades and made into purses, among many other things.

There are any number of ways to embellish these tiny beauties: for example you can draw on them with markers, as I've done here. You can also paint on them with acrylics or watercolors. You can stitch on them; stamp or stencil them; glue on embellishments such as ribbons, buttons or charms; collage other papers over them, or use them to "veil" a photo or area in a larger work...basically, whatever your imagination dreams up. Tea bags are surprisingly sturdy, but they aren't indestructible. To avoid tearing them I don't recommend using anything sharp or heavy on them, but if you do want to tear them, the ragged edges can add a intriguing look to a project.

How to Prepare Them

Preparing tea bags for use in art is easy:
1. Brew a cup of tea, using one or two tea bags depending on how strong you want it. Steep for five minutes with the cup covered.
2. Remove the tea bag(s) and place them on a saucer to cool.
3. Park yourself in a comfy chair and enjoy your cup of tea.
4. When the tea bags are cool enough to handle, gently squeeze out as much liquid as you can from them.
5. Allow the bag and its contents to dry thoroughly. (I very gently separate the two sections of the bag to allow for better air flow, and place the tea bag on its side on a clean, dry paper towel.) Depending on temperature and humidity levels, the drying process can take from one to three days.
6. When the bag's contents are completely dry, remove the tiny staple at the top edge of the bag. To do this I VERY CAREFULLY use the tip of an old steak knife to pry open the staple, if there is one. Discard the staple, string and tag.
7. Empty out the dry tea leaves. Add them to your garden, where they will help enrich and condition the soil.
8. Very gently part the "seam" where the edges of the paper meet and slide your finger along the seam to open the bag all the way.
9. Remove any remaining leaf residue by rubbing the paper with your finger.
10. Flatten the paper, if desired, by ironing it between two pieces of parchment paper. Use low heat and turn the steam setting to OFF. Your tea bag is now ready to become art! 😊

I recommend designating one tea bag as a sacrificial "test" tea bag on which you can try out whatever medium you wish to use. For example, I discovered certain Sharpie colors tend to bleed profusely on the porous tea bag paper so I avoid using those colors.

To see more tea bag art, take a look at Pinterest's "tea bag art" section, or do a Google search using that search term or similar terms.

Text and images ©2018 Lynn Edwards

A Thought for Sunday, January 21, 2018

"It is a happy talent to know how to play." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, January 14, 2018

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18." -- Mark Twain

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hot Off My Easel!

This winter I've been working steadily on my pattern series (my goal is to create 50 patterns; I've completed over 30 so far.) It's good to take a break from them now and then since they're highly detailed and intensive to work on. That's when I turn to something larger to give my eyesight a break. In this case, I resumed work on a 24x24 painting I had started a while back, but had temporarily set aside. Now I'm pleased to say that the painting "Wide Open Spaces" is finished!

"Wide Open Spaces" acrylic on 24x24 gallery wrap canvas
©2018 Lynn Edwards

My inspiration for this painting came from my memories of living on the Great Plains, where, as plains inhabitants often quip, "You can watch your dog run away for three days." The terrain may be flatter than a pancake  (a scientific fact!) but the land is rich in history. I wanted to pay homage not only to this vast landscape but also to the animals which played a vital part in shaping that history.  

It's not apparent in the photo but, when looking at the work in person, a viewer sees multiple layers of color and pattern that impart an extraordinary degree of depth and mystery. In a way, the layers represent the prairie's layers of earth that have accumulated over time, burying its ancient secrets and spirits.

"Wide Open Spaces" was already spoken for prior to completion so it's not available to purchase. I'll be sorry to see it leave (it looks sensational in my living room) but I'm confident the collector who laid claim to it will enjoy it even more. Some paintings mean more to an artist than others, and this one falls into that category. But it's not meant to remain with me. When its new owner comes to pick it up, it will mark the beginning of its intended purpose, which is to go out into the world to bring happiness to others. So out into the world it will go!

Text and image ©2018 Lynn Edwards 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Coping with the "Januwearies"

That word certainly sums up the month of January for many of us. The first time I ever heard it was courtesy of talk radio host Neal Boortz. I don't know if Boortz actually coined the word, but whoever did, they certainly hit the nail on the head. January can be a bummer.

The sparkle and merriment of the holidays are behind us, credit card bills are rolling in, and outside it's cold, wet and often miserable...nope, January is rarely anticipated with joy. Unless of course we can spend it on a tropical beach sipping margaritas, then it's not so bad. But most of us aren't so lucky. We stare out our windows at the snow/sleet/ice/freezing rain and yearn with all our hearts for spring.

A gardening catalog arrived in the mail last week. I was entranced with its vivid images of perennial and annual flowers so stunningly beautiful they couldn't possibly be real. Or maybe I should say they couldn't possibly have been grown by mere mortals, flawless as they were in the photos. That thought didn't stop me from drooling over them, picturing in my mind how this variety or that would look in the (still imaginary) flower bed which will someday flank the path to my studio. Some might call perusing a gardening catalog mind candy, but I call it summoning inspiration. It not only presented me with plant combinations I wouldn't have thought of, it reignited my resolve to make the new garden bed a reality.

Encouraging creative inspiration is, I think, the best way to get through this often-gloomy month. Perhaps that's what the Universe had in mind when January was invented. Maybe the purpose of its rotten weather is to induce us to settle in, mug of tea in hand, to dream, plan and imagine what we would like to bring to fruition. Whether it's jotting down new techniques to play with in our studios, envisioning an overhaul of our home's decor, mulling over new marketing strategies or dreaming up layouts for a future garden, maybe January's weather-enforced downtime is actually a gift.

When ice and snow make driving to the office impossible, what better time to follow those subtle inner promptings that hectic schedules tend to drown out? Ever thought you'd like to try your hand at marbling collage papers? Decoupaging the top of that old coffee table? Carving a walking stick? Starting a journal? Now's your chance. So when blizzard conditions threaten, take a little "mind vacation." Settle in, chill out and see where your imagination takes you!

My cat's idea of chilling out. No need to take the concept quite this far!

Text and images ©2018 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Thought for Sunday, January 7, 2018

"If one says 'Red' (the name of a color) and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different." -- Josef Albers