24 x 30; acrylic poured on canvas
No, it doesn’t require much technique, but it’s a fun way to cover a few square feet of empty wall. I did this as a sequel to Parallels since I had leftover paint.
Regular visitors to Mars Will Send No More know I am a big proponent of using journals and sketchbooks as tools for nurturing artistic and poetic inspirations, personal growth, and ideas for writing projects. In 2015, I published a 150-page dream journal called Three Years Dreaming; and in 2016, I published a 100-page, full-color retrospective of drawings and paintings called Sketchbooks Volume One.
But my first publication of 2017 is devoid of words and pictures of my own creation. It’s a blank book called Journal & Sketchbook: A Place for Creativity, and it features 100 lined pages and 50 unlined pages—all waiting to be filled with words and images, at a conveniently portable 8.5 x 5.5 size.
The cover to this paperback features a scan of an abstract acrylic painting, one of a dozen 8 x 10 canvases I created in the last two months with the intent of making unique, colorful backgrounds and textures for book covers, business cards, website banners, compact disc covers, and anything else that needs a personal, artistic touch.
The title page, instead of displaying my name, has a blank line where you can write in your own, and places to write the dates when you start and finish filling the book. In other words, this isn’t a book by me. It’s a book by you!
Blue & White Nebula
Notes: Created on an 8×10 canvas mounted on board. Using a trowel, I smeared on a thick layer of white semi-gloss acrylic house paint and let it dry. Then I sprayed it with water and dropped Golden brand liquid acrylic artist paint, in Prussian Blue. It made these interesting patterns as it diffused through the water.
Now let’s have some rock from the band Nebula, from the Nebula/LowRider split album:
I’ve been experimenting with a new method of creating colorful, visually interesting backgrounds for things like book covers, business cards, and blog headers. It begins with painting 8 x 11 canvasses which are mounted on a board instead of a frame. They fit nicely on my scanner, so I can digitally manipulate the images later. This one began as a collage of pages torn from a proof copy of my new poetry book. It ended up as the cover to a new book.
Throw a filter and text on it, and it comes out like this:
It looks pretty awesome in print with a matte finish. Once I get a few good scans, the canvases can be recycled by adding layers of different materials to create cracks, swirls, and other interesting textures. Below is the same canvas as above, but in the process of getting a new, messy layer of krackle over it.
Here’s one I haven’t used for any backgrounds yet, a basic color wash with acrylics.
I had some old acrylic varnish and played around with pouring it and liquid paint at the same time, splashing water on them while they were drying, and mixing them together before pouring.
It isn’t going to hang in a museum or anything, but it’s a fun way to get unique backgrounds and textures. I sampled a section of the image for the current header on this blog. The image’s right half is simply a section of the canvas with its colors inverted.
We sold two paintings today. We had our doubts that anything would ever sell due to a Craigslist ad, but we were happily proven wrong.
Guitar #20: Frozen Coast caught an art lover’s eye on Craigslist. While she was here, she took a liking to Dream Journal #8: Night at the Lake. Good choice! We are very fond of that one, and miss it already.
Guitar #20: Frozen Coast
Acrylic paint, varnish, and texture media on gallery-wrapped canvas
24 x 30 in. (60.9 x 76.2 cm)
Colors: Prussian blue, anthraquinone blue, deep permanent green, white, black.
This painting is
currently for sale on eBay SOLD.
We enjoy working at this size, even though building up the layers of color and texture on something this size takes approximately forever.
Below we have a bunch of close-ups that show just how textured this piece is. The last half-dozen or so pics illustrate its long journey from blank canvas to colorfully tactile art. Enjoy!
A John Buscema panel from Thor #200 (Marvel Comics, 1972) inspired this painting. Measuring roughly 2 feet wide by 3 feet high, it comes on unframed canvas. The canvas comes from Fredrix, intended for use as a floor mat. It didn’t make sense to us how a loose piece of canvas on the floor would become a floor mat, so we nailed it to the wall for a couple weeks to paint on it.
Unlike the small pastel study from last year of this same panel, it wears a metal bracelet, hinting at the eye in a similar tribute to Jack Kirby. The detailed reflection lines on the metal became the focal point of the painting. Frankly, that results in a somewhat unbalanced piece, with the eyes drawn to such a low center point under the mass of the open hand. It may be worth coming back and adding another visual element to balance it out: a ring or rings on the fingers, or something held in the palm. It will decorate the kitchen wall until then!
Sometimes it’s fun to paint silly things. Case in point, the galactic banana.
We did the background last summer when we got some good training on basic color wash techniques. We enjoyed it so much that painting over it became nearly impossible. It suggested many grand epic things to us, most of which seemed to lie entirely outside our ability to execute. Do you ever have projects like that? Projects whose potential scope becomes overwhelming to the point where all progress stops? Maybe it’s time to stop being so serious about them, and just go bananas!
Banana may not be a masterpiece, and it may never enjoy its own page in an art history book with a polysyllabic discussion about the conceptual meaning of it all. But, it made us smile, and sometimes that’s enough. Here are some close-ups to enjoy.
Too Bad for Them We’re Out of Here!
acrylic/enamel on canvas
16 x 20 in.
Too Bad for Them We’re Out of Here, loosely based on a panel from X-Men #5, revels in the exaggerated grittiness of 90s comic books.
Here’s to Extreme Everything!
Acrylic paint and Derwent Inktense water-based ink combine with line work done in Sharpie Paint Pen. Three coats of gloss acrylic varnish add brightness, protection, sheen, and durability.
Partially obscured by mists and fog, Winter Woman contemplates her season. Maroon suggests an inner warmth, the warmth of love and home or a comforting fire in the coldest months of the year. In her serene repose, Winter Woman expresses the season where life takes an inward focus.
Dream Journal Eight: Night at the Lake
Acrylic paint, varnish, and mixed media collage on canvas
12 x 12 in. heavy duty frame, 1.5 in. deep.
Our Dream Journal series combines collage, print media, found objects, and acrylic paint to make deeply personal expressions.
Night at the Lake recalls a memory of a dream, a dream written on pages collaged into the layers of this piece. At night, you and your love swim in this lake. Silent fish drift by in the deep waters. The clouds part their fingers to reveal the full moon at its apex above the forest. The two of you tread water together, then dive.
Tiny metal beads adorn the surface of Night at the Lake, finished with several coats gloss varnish for durability and protection, resulting in a glass-like finish. The signature appears on the back of this original piece.
The palm of this red hand contains an eye. The texture suggests a stone carving, but the point of view suggests the viewer’s hand. The image of the eye in the hand appears in many cultures and art traditions. Some believe a charm like this protects the viewer from evil. To someone who works or creates with their hands, the image speaks to the power of their creative vision. Perhaps it can even see into our future, which we also hold in the palm of our hands.
Painted in bright, primary acrylics with chrome enamel highlights, it has a protective high-gloss varnish. Behold the Awesomizer measures 16x20x1 inches, with the artwork extending uninterrupted over the edges of the canvas.
Inspiration for this work of comic book-themed pop art comes from comics legend Jack Kirby, whose style practically defined Marvel Comics art of the 60s and 70s. Best known for co-creating Captain America, the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer, the Eternals, OMAC, and the DC classics of his own Fourth World series, Kirby published Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers near the end of his career.
Behold the Awesomizer pays tribute to Kirby and to the sense of cosmic wonder found in science-fiction comic books. As the powerful hand emerges from a whirlpool of rippling energy, a metallic eye shoots beams of light into the krackling vastness of outer space. Kirby Krackle coalesces around the hand as beams of light radiate from its fingertips. Inside it all, a great cosmic brain thinks thoughts that only you can determine.
Dimensions: 11×14 in. canvas.
Materials: Acrylic paint, texture media, and varnish with metal leafing.
Guitar 5 started out as something else entirely. Twice. Maybe three times.
Sometimes, you run experiments, and they fail. Many of us fall into the trap of not experimenting or trying new things simply to avoid that failure. In life, people often respond to failure with powerful emotions of frustration, grief, or even guilt. But if you approach life like a scientist, you know you need to run lots of experiments to learn anything meaningful.
On the canvas, as in life, we need the freedom to explore and experiment. Learning and advancing never come to us without falling on our face a few times – just like when we learned to walk. Where would we be now if we had given up the first few times we failed to get on our feet?
I used to paint houses instead of canvases. Running my own painting crew included finding work for them. To find work, I walked from door to door all over the city of Ann Arbor, MI. My days often consisted of being told no and having doors shut in my face. But, enough people said yes that I was able to employ my crews, or at least find enough solo work to feed myself. My experience landed me a job with a professional crew that came out at my request to fix one of my crew’s mistakes. I had a great working relationship with them for years, and learned a lot.
In the end, people congratulated me on my success. I worked for myself, set my own hours, and got good enough at refinishing decks that I only had to work about 3-4 days per week in the summer.
What does that have to do with painting canvases? Take Guitar 5, for example. It told me “no” several times. It shot down a lot of what seemed like good ideas. But, I kept coming back to knock on its door. I ran some experiments on it and just had fun with it. What happens if we try…. this? Or that? In the end, it wasn’t what I set out to do – but it ended up rocking anyway.
As you can see in the detail below, a rich, complex, colorful surface resulted. My experiments with Croma Krackle led to even more confident use of this texture media in Guitar 7. I discovered some different ways to use water and alcohol in color washes, which served well for Guitar 15.
I’m glad I kept going. She’s pretty now, and I will miss her when she sells.