Category Archives: mixed media

TBT The Blue Door

Throw Back Thursday, TBT The Blue Door.  Mixed Media Collage.

Mixed Media, collage, Running Geisha, The Blue Door, art, acrylic, TBT

Everybody’s Ocean Art Exhibit at MAH

Jellies: Mixed media 2014

Jellies: Mixed media 2014

Everybody’s Ocean, an art exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.  Wave II runs Feb 27 through Apr 19.

My submission, “Jellies”, an abstract mixed media art piece of the surreal and ghostly jellies as they drift through the upper ocean realm.

Scuba diving in Monterey Bay, we saw many jellies as they were a frequent visitor.  As jellies float slowly through the water, it was easy to get close to examine them.  Sometimes one could spot small crabs on the bell, or an unfortunate fish tangled in the tentacles.  And sometimes swarms of jellies surrounded and flowed passed us.

For me, having lived along the coast all my life, the ocean is a circadian rhythm.

To be full immersed in the ocean, to give in to the power of the ocean, and to let oneself be gently rocked in the ocean’s embrace is an incredible feeling.

The ocean is life.  The ocean provides food, water, and air.  Without the ocean we cannot exist.

Framing on a rainy day

For me framing is the most nerve wracking part of making art, and that is why it costs so much to have a professional frame your art.  I prefer the “floating” method, especially for my watercolors as I like the deckle edges to show.  This piece is for the “Everybody’s Ocean” exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Feb 27 to April 19, 2015.

Jellies: Mixed media 2014

Jellies: Mixed media 2014

Online classes

“Taking Online Classes” part 2. In July I took an online art course from Artist Network University (ANU). I had always wanted to take a workshop from Betsy Dillard Stroud,  but either the time was not right or the place was too far. An online course seemed an attractive alternative, but how well do they work?

Floral assignment, working in layers

Assignment 3: Work in progress

The setup
Signing up for the course was simple. The cost for the four week online course was $170 US, compared to a four day workshop with Betsy Dillard Stroud which usually runs more than $500. BlackBoard was used for communicating assignments, uploading your work, feedback, and sharing. I did not care for the BlackBoard interface. I found it limited in navigating efficiently to the sections I always used, taking too many links to get to the assignments, feedback, and sharing sections.

The instructor
Betsy has been teaching this module, Painting Abstraction and Abstract Realism in Acrylics, for many years. It appeared that she used the written materials from her workshop. In addition, I was able to find a YouTube video from one of her workshops.  Also she provided one video for the first assignment, learning how to make rubber stamps.

Assignment 1: Work in progress

Assignment 1: Work in progress

BlackBoard provides an interface to communicate with the instructor and Betsy was diligent in answering questions. Answers usually arrived the next day. ANU runs on EST. I am on the west coast, PDT.

The assignments
As this is a course Betsy has previously taught, the assignments were well thought out and fun. Each assignment built on one another. She provided examples of her own work for the assignment.

Each week had one assignment, though the students could do more than one piece, however only one piece could be submitted for the assignment. Some assignments gave you more than one option to choose subject or technique.  I found the assignments took me 3 to 10 hours to complete.  We worked primarily on watercolor paper, though she allowed us to work on canvas if we chose.

I am a visual person and I would have liked more video demonstrations. One for each assignment would have been terrific.

The critiques
Finished assignments were due on Fridays; this was achieved by uploading a digital image to BlackBoard. Instructor feedback came in the next day, which was great. Betsy provided in depth analysis of your painting, praising the good parts and giving valuable suggestions for making your piece stronger. This was the best part of the course.

Blackboard provided a section to share your work with other students. One

Final project: Putting it all together

could upload a work in progress or a finished piece. It is here where we asked questions or shared techniques. On this note though, it was often confusing where one was supposed to do this and often the students would receive an email saying we were posting in the wrong section. Plus the sharing only worked if other students took the time to post. Here I felt the online course was lacking, it was not like taking a break during a workshop and wandering around to view other works, sharing techniques, breakthroughs, challenges, products, and ideas.  This stimulation is invaluable, we learn not only from the instructor but also from each other.

Would I take another online course? I think I would if I were familiar with the instructor, or if it were an instructor from whom I would never be able to take a course. While there were short comings I did learn new techniques and I liked the paintings I produced. Was it worth $170? I think with the techniques I learned, I could generate that much in the paintings I will be able to sell. Could I have learned this from books? Probably, but I’m the type of person that needs an assignment to get going. For me, taking a class gets me further than I would on my own.

One would need to have experience working online.  Photographing one’s work is a challenge in itself and the topic for another course.  One needs to know how to upload images, navigate links, and post messages.  While it not impossible for a novice, it could become frustrating.

I think this course could have profited from more video content. The biggest lack I found was in student interaction. Sometimes being an artist is a lonely profession and in taking an online course, one still works alone.

School’s out

Yay, final project turned in. No more classes until August. A full 3 months to enjoy summer. Well almost…


ART 3B Life Drawing: Continues development of fundamental skills of the representation of the human figure.

Final Project:

“First learn the truth, and then deviate to your heart’s content”, a quote attributed to Mark Twain. Until the last two weeks of class, I’ve been learning the ‘language’ of drawing; how to observe, then render what I see. For my final project I proposed a series of drawings that take the skills I’ve learned and to deviate from the reality of what I see, to drawing the feeling of the pose, the grace and beauty of the figure.


My instructor often characterized my work as “careful”, and I wanted to abandon the careful lines and marks and create something more loose. Before I even began to draw, I created random marks and splatters on large format paper, 26 x 40 inches. Taking the initial gestural charcoal drawing, I began to add washes of ink and color. I moved away from local color in favor of two colors, warm and cool. Drips, water blooms, and random pastel marks created texture against quiet open white spaces.







Found Art Project II

Found Art Mandala

Found Art Mandala

For me, finding the ‘found objects’ is the fun part, assembling the pieces is harder.   Lynn declines the class field trip to the ‘Last Chance Mercantile’, “I have too much stuff already”.   LL. not only has a storage container, but also an airplane hangar.  Found objects have crowded me out of my studio.  It’s time to put that potential  to use.

Beverly Rayner, our instructor, is a fount of knowledge; she shares with us her years of trial and error with glues, paints, nuts, bolts, wire, welding, etc.  In a previous post I shared my project proposal.  The sticking point in the proposal was how to put together the rusted elements without changing the patina.  Steve recommends epoxy, which is what I end up using.  Epoxy comes not only in a 2 part liquid form but also in solid form which solved one of my major problems, attaching the heavy gear.

Side view

The finished found object mandala turned out very close to my original idea.  Along the way new ideas appear to create a solid and pleasing piece.  Circular shapes dominate the piece, creating a simple aesthetic.  The repetition of the circle reinforces the idea of the wholeness. Smaller pieces in the outer circle, composed of copper, verdigris, rust, nuts, gears, and natural wood, create variety and break up the monotony, while at the same time echoing the theme.

The patina of the rust was maintained and augment with a wonderful verdigris.  The color scheme is limited to natural tones set by the patinas, the rust and the copper green verdigris.  A simple wood frame supports the mandala.  The top border gives the piece a feeling of a gate.  The finished piece will be set in concrete and installed outdoors.

Mixing it Up is an art workshop with mixed media artist Beverly Rayner.




Love Letters project "Love Letters" project “Love Letters”

Early this year I came across a site called  It is mainly geared toward teenagers and young adults but I liked the project they put together called “Love Letters“, a collaborative effort between and Meals on Wheels to bring a bit of Valentine cheer to the elderly in the community.

The way it works is that you make a Valentine card and send it to one of the local Meals on Wheels organizations.  On Valentines Day, Meals on Wheels will deliver the cards along with their meals.

On my part it took only a little bit of time and effort.  And it was a fun and creative project.  The cards use cut-outs, with red paper inserted, and  I used a computer to print out the message.  I used ordinary 8.5 by 11 computer paper, white and red.

I will admit that the heart pins took more effort.  I knitted the hearts from left over yarn.  I found the heart pattern on MochiMochi Land and modified it slightly.  A simple pin back bought from Palace Arts was glued to the backing.

If you are looking for a community project, then check out or organizations like them.  A little bit of time and effort on your part can make a big difference to someone else.


Found Art Project Proposal

Often it is a single object that launches a project. It may not turn out to be the focal point. It may not even end up in the finished project, but the shape, material, mood, or memory that it stirs, will set the tone of the piece. It is such with the piece this proposal covers.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The basic simplicity of the shape and the rust patina is what initially caught my eye, figure 1. These two elements will be the base of the piece, creating a simple aesthetic.

Adding like objects will reinforce the shape and patina, and help to creates unity, figure 2.

In Buddhism, the circle symbolizes enlightenment and wholeness. Looking at the objects, a mandala comes to mind. The mandala represents the universe or the self. The rust patina of the objects suggests aging. My proposal is to create a mandala representing my life as I head into old age, the natural cycle of life.

Figure 2

Figure 2

The Buddhist concept of the void fits in with the negative space in the metal frame. The gears are representative of the infinite time spectrum, time marches on. The circular shapes echo the cycle of life.

One style of mandalas consists of rings, the ‘charnel grounds’, representing dying; a reminder of the impermanence and transient nature of life. Within the rings lies the mandala palace, populated by deities and Buddhas. While not adhering to the classic mandala, I will endeavor towards these ideals.

The difficulty I foresee will be the weight of the objects. The metal frame and the gears are very heavy. I would like to make a hanging piece but the weight of the objects may be too great. Alternatively a standing piece may be a possibility.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Another challenge will be assembling the pieces. As we are dealing with metal, welding comes to mind. But the wonderful rust patina may be damaged.

There is the possibility of wire or chain to place the objects. These avenues of attachment will need to be explored.

Collage: Adhesives and sealants

paper collage with corrugated circle and blue thread

Quiet Night I, mixed media collage, 2013

While researching outdoor collage/decoupage sealant, I recently came across a comment posted on a forum: “I just finished a collage on a panel made out of newsprint and magazine pages. I used a glue stick to create the piece and then tried to seal it with varnish. Unfortunately, the paper buckled and many edges peeled away from the panel. Basically it is ruined.

While glue sticks are fast and convenient, for a collage you want to finish with a liquid varnish, it is not sufficient.  In my experience, the collage image must be glued to the panel with white glue, Mod Podge, or acrylic medium.  The whole back of the image must be covered in glue. Any area of the image which is not stuck to the panel will bubble when a liquid sealant is applied and it can tear or come up.  In the case of the question above, the polymer varnish will not keep the image stuck to the panel; it is the initial gluing that will do that.  I use a rubber roller, the Speedball hard rubber brayer, to press the glued image to the panel, this helps to ensure there are no air pockets and that the entire image adheres to the panel.

When working with delicate papers that might buckle or tear, or with ink or paint that might smear with the glue or sealant, I spray the pieces with clear acrylic before I apply the glue.  This will help to seal the image and also adds a bit of body to the paper.  There is an art to spraying.  With delicate paper you will not want to spray so much that the piece is soaked.  It is a slow process, spray with a couple of even sweeps and then let it dry.  Repeat 2 more times.  Follow the safety directions printed on the acrylic spray paint.

I usually apply glue to the back of the image rather than to the panel. However when using extra thin paper such as tissue paper which could tear while applying the glue, I will apply the glue to the panel and very carefully place the image.

I prefer to use white glue with paper, but this takes longer to dry.  After the initial gluing, I like to press my collage under a stack of books overnight.  If I am using bulky papers or object, such as buttons, I use acrylic gels as the adhesive.  If objects are large and have some bulk then I use heavy duty gel, such as Liquitex Super Heavy Gel.  The heavy gels will take longer to completely dry.  Additionally you may have to prepare your object before adhering to your panel by cleaning it and sanding it to give the object “tooth”, something on to which the glue can hold. In the collage above, I used white glue for the paper images and acrylic gel medium for the corrugated cardboard circle.

Not all collages will need to be sealed.  In ‘Quiet Night I’, the collage above, it is not sealed. If you decide to seal your collage, it should be completely dry before you begin to seal it.  I use Liquitex and Golden mediums and varnishes to seal my collages.  Consider using a UV medium if you are worried about fading.  Spray varnishes are fast and work well for mixed media collages.