Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mixed Media at School

Claresholm high school students, Bella, Lindsay and Andrea with parent liaison and patron of the arts, Karen Linderman, have formed a Student's Art Club. On February 8th, I had the pleasure of being the artist/instructor at their inaugural Friday afternoon. The high school is supporting the program in a most generous way by making the art room, their abundant collection of acrylic paints and brushes available to us. Art teacher, Reed Spencer, cut and provided 50 pieces of  8" x 10" mat boards to use as painting surfaces.

The techniques I demonstrated needed to be ones that could be worked on within our three hours. The day before, I had painted a piece of cheesecloth on a mat board, for each student, so that they would be able to see the resulting patterns when they pulled the dry cheesecloth off. They also painted a cheesecloth start, of their own, which would be dry for removal the following day.  

Kerry Hart (left) and Judy Dahl (standing) provided indispensable assistance

A huge thanks go out to my artist friends and volunteer helpers. I would have been hard pressed to do this session on my own especially since we had a couple of gals who needed extra help. The other ladies also brought stamps and embellishments to share, greatly increasing the selection of items to work with.    

Reading a note from Chandler who is deaf, mute and a remarkably gifted young artist!

Fellow artist, Betty Mainprize, (in the photo above) who plans to give a drawing class another Friday, sat in to get a feel for the space, the students and the program. It was wonderful to have her join in the making of mixed media art.

After my third demonstration, the girls were eager to finish their "starts" and I simply couldn't get them to leave what they were doing to come and watch a fourth! The industry and energy in the room ran high. I was so pleased with everyone and delighted over their interest, enthusiasm and results.



Many thanks to, Moni, Shannon, Sarah, Chandler, Andrea, Lindsey, Bella, Dalyce and Erin for providing me with the opportunity to spread the mixed media mania!

Here are some of the pieces that were created ...  


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Altered Books

Judy Dahl's top left, Kerry Hart's top centre, mine top right, Kari Martin's bottom left and Don Campbell's two bottom right 

As part of the Claresholm Library's 75th anniversary festivities the Claresholm Artists and Artisans Club was invited to create altered books.  We are a small group of only a dozen or so members but five of us took up the challenge.

My book

At Win Dinn's workshop, last May, each participant was given an old law book. In our spare time ... I'm still asking "What spare time?" ... we were encouraged to alter these books; to make marks in them, to deposit left over paint and whatever else we could lay our hands on onto the pages. Mine was scarcely started when the library request came in but I felt it would be the perfect format in which to tell my mixed media story ...

Upper right; a smaller print of my first mixed media piece

Once I had a focus for my book transforming the pages became pure delight for it embraced so much of what I love; designing, chronicling, painting, photography and my latest obsession of mixed media messing. I reveled in the stamping, pasting and scouring for appropriate embellishments!

In all, my book has 24 layouts (2 page spreads). It is meant to be handled, read and pondered over. If you find yourself at the Claresholm Library be sure to take it down from the display and look through it. I'd love it if you would.

Judy Dahl took a similar approach with her book, she painted and adorned 28 layouts.  Originally focusing on what a pretty witch, at the begining of the 20th century, might be found looking at.

As these mixed media projects are wont to do, Judy's bewitched book changed direction during it's creation and the final pages became a personal and family history.

 The exquisite, rich textures of Judy's book beg to be handled too ...

 I'm sure many would agree with me about how Kerry Hart's book is indeed the most original of all ...

A brilliant concept masterfully rendered! 

After her cat ate her first elaborately folded and painted book, Kari Martin turned around and created this clever and cheerful flower pot book ...

Don Campbell excelled in creating not one but three books! His star masterpiece, with the number 75 artfully cut through it's many pages, graces the welcoming table at the libray's entrance where it makes the perfect centrepiece greeting.  

Don's Garden Book
Don's Beatrix Potter library

The books will remain on display at the Claresholm Public Library for the entire month of February, 2013.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Happened?

Last year, as some would say, I went over to the dark side by being seduced into mixed media.  Some would say something in me snapped four and a half years ago when I walked away from a reasonably successful painting career, a real studio and moved from Canmore, a small town with a large thriving arts community, to Claresholm (where's that?).  You can't call it a mid life crisis, I'm not going to live to 120 years old, but right after the move I turned 60, became a first time grandparent and became a snowbird.  My focus changed.  Now, to quote a friend's mother, I paint for my own amazement.  I have became a dilettante!

Oh, I could blame all this mixed media mania on Win Dinn, but clearly there was a shift coming down the pipe because when the student is ready the teacher appears.  I've rattled on before about how much joy we find in each others company and the pleasure we take in working together. Win and John came to stay with us in November and she wrote a delightful summary of that visit here.

After that tandem painting blitz I conceived the notion that there ought to be more such side-by-side paintings.  Maybe one day we'll have an exhibition of them?  We could call it Seeing Double or maybe Double Trouble would be more appropriate?  Last month, Win and John returned to Claresholm and here is what we got into this time...

Inspired by Veronique Bottaro's work we decided we'd paint a feather 

There was plenty of  paint splattering and my new found technique which Win has coined  paint feathering

Now paint feathering is when you spritz water on wet paint then wipe the beads of water off, using a brush, with the most delicate feather touch.

I'M CLIPPING YOUR WINGS   16" x 12"  in progress

Win had me demonstrate the cob webbing technique which I learned from Ursula Reynolds last October.  It involves a lot of random paint dropped on wet paper that you have strategically stretched store-bought, artificial cob webbing over, letting the colours flow into and around one another. Splashing, splattering and in the picture below double fisted spray-spritzing more colour!

When it is dry, you peel off the webbing and look at the delightful paper you get!

I cut this sheet in half so that, another day, we can each paint a sea turtle.

Since giving her mixed media workshop in Claresholm last spring, Win is somewhat of a celebrity in this town.  We all want to play with her!  Just know that Win is back for a return engagement, her next mixed media workshop is May 4th and 5th.  Email me at for details. 

We spent an afternoon at Judy Dahl's studio where Kerry Hart joined us in making ever more messes

We do remember to eat, and of course, drink.  One night I made what I call the artist's dessert ...

Bosc pears poached in red wine.

... and to spend time with our spouses, who are incredibly good at understanding as well as indulging us in our need to paint so much of the time!

Breakfast on the morning of the Dinn's departure

Last week I learned that I'd sold my first mixed media piece out of Willowtree Designs.  Pretty exciting!