Tag Archives: painting

sketchbook sundays: dream journal nine perfection

Sometimes you have those dreams where everything feels perfect. As a tribute to the numerous dreams we’ve had flipping through boxes of never-published comic books, the colors and textures of Dream Journal Nine contain vintage comic books in their depths.

dream journal 9 - copy

This little 8×10 canvas has been a companion in the painting studio for two years, the object of many small-scale experiments we would later apply to larger canvases. It was once a light-hearted collage called “Perfect! The Master Will be Well Pleased!

We’ve had much time to consider the idea of perfection, and we have a new perspective on it now. Perfection is a process, not a static state. Perfection is a verb, not a noun. Perfection is how we shape the world ever closer to an ideal we have in our minds. In reality, nothing is ever truly perfect, but that should not disappoint us too much. We are not trying to attain a state of perfection; we work to perfect our less-than-ideal world and make it more ideal.

On the flip side, you have imperfection. The crackled textures of Dream Journal Nine suggests cracks and imperfections. In dreams, the imperfections sometimes alert the dreamer that yes, this is a dream. You notice something that doesn’t seem quite right. And when you pause to think about it, it becomes clear you are dreaming. The imperfections of the dream world make perfect signposts on the road to lucid dreaming and greater awareness in the dream.

Dream Journal Nine could just as easily bear the title Imperfection, for perfection and imperfection form two sides of the same coin, two halves of the same whole.

We recently published three years of dreams from our dream journals in a 148-page paperback, and also Kindle format, called Three Years Dreaming.

sketchbook sundays

This week’s edition of Sketchbook Sundays is all about works in progress. Between cranking out research papers at the end of the semester and a sudden influx of writing, editing, and book design gigs, some of our art projects have just had to get set aside for a bit. So, here’s what we have in progress here at our little outpost on the martian frontier.

meteor mags gasmask pole dance in progress

Above, this new drawing of Meteor Mags is coming along nicely, but we need a background. Yes, we should probably plan backgrounds first, but we get caught up in inking gasmasks and stockings and then kind of fill in the details later.

Below, our seahorse painting awaits a final phase of rendering and highlighting. Considering that the next Mags story features a seahorse, it might be time to wrap this one up soon.

seahorse painting in progress

Below, our first attempt at painting Mags dancing has proven challenging but fun to work on. She needs her star and anarchy tattoos completed, at the very least, plus some attention to lighting and shadow. And who knows, we might put in some sea creatures before calling it done.

mags dancing in progress

All that, plus we’ve plotted out the next Mags story but haven’t had the mental space to write the dang thing yet. We really thought our break between semesters would be mostly down time, but this has not been the case. Can’t complain though – it’s nice to have the work! Perhaps after this coming week gives us a chance to wrap things up in the business world, we can dive back in and get lost in some artwork.

Keep on sketching!

guitars 21 and 22

We have some large canvases to do more paintings in our guitar series. But, we also have all these used student-level canvases and almost empty tubes of paint from our other projects. So, let’s see if we can make something pretty for our walls out of them.

painting studies 2 (1)

Our art teacher had given us a tube of magenta to try last year, and its become one of our favorite colors to paint with. This was a somewhat sad occasion, as we used up the last little bit of that tube on this canvas. But we like space and cosmic stuff, so we imagined the creative forces: nebula and star formation and supernovae giving birth to the molecules of everything we are. Bob Ross liked to make worlds on his paintings. We like making universes.

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The colors really pop out with a glossy spray-on lacquer finish in outdoor light.

painting studies 2 (2a)

Starving! Time for a sandwich. Since we are so into pumas, we decided to try eating deer. A nearby store carries frozen ground venison. We have had some wild deer meat in Michigan, courtesy of the deer hunters there, but this stuff must be farm-raised. It’s nearly indistinguishable from beef and makes delicious puma-power sandwiches.

painting studies 2 (3)

The next painting used up the last of our art teacher’s yellow tube of Liquitex paint and the rest of a very lovely Van Dyke Brown made by Holbein. Also in the mix: mars yellow (a kind of brownish yellow) and violet.

painting studies 2 (5a)

painting studies 2 (5b)

Even after a pretty background of copper, black, and van dyke brown, this one said to add more layers. How about a black wash, sprayed with rubbing alcohol several times as it dries, to make hole where the colors underneath show through?

painting studies 2 (5c)

It looked sort of muddy indoors at this point, so we took it outside. Suddenly all the colors popped out.

painting studies 2 (5d)

Oh look, some new white gel pens arrived! We have been looking for something to draw in white combined with drawing in black in Sharpie. These came to us recommeded by a sketch artist on Reddit.

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Let’s see if the pens work on a painted canvas.

painting studies 2 (7)

The colors dont stand out so brilliantly indoors, but it’s a lot nicer than the old painting on it from a year and a half ago. That’s the great thing about student-level canvases. You can feel free to experiment and explore. And if you hate the results, just paint over it with white and start again!

painting studies 2 (7a)

some more of them were destroyed

Here are a couple new studies of a Jack Kirby tribute, along with some notes about making them. Enjoy!

painting studies 1 (1)

The last year and a half of painting left us with some odds and ends: almost empty tubes of paint, canvases that had a small defect, and paintings that never panned out. So, what if we take all this clutter and try to work out an idea for our next project?

painting studies 1 (1a)

We got some house paint from the hardware store – interior acrylic, semi-gloss, ultra-white house paint makes awesome primer. Can you get gesso for $30 a gallon? You can at Ace Hardware lol. Anyway, we primed the shit out our gnarly old canvases and got some blank slates for experimenting with.

painting studies 1 (2)

Then we were like, let’s just make huge colorful messes and not worry about how they turn out.

painting studies 1 (2a)

Our art teacher had given us some paints to try last year – like a bold, comic-book style yellow from Liquitex. It looks great in washes so let’s make some.

painting studies 1 (3)

Our art teacher also warns us not to fall in love with our colorful backgrounds. But, we always do it anyway. We just hang them on the walls for a few days and enjoy them as purely abstract art.

painting studies 1 (3a)

Why not try using Sharpie marker to draw the black areas on the canvas? We are working from a marker sketch of an old Jack Kirby comic book page. The working title of the piece we have in mind is a quote from the page: “and one of them was destroyed!” So all we need is black shapes on this canvas, really.

The small one came out okay. Well, we did two small ones, and one was a total disaster. It went back in the primer pile! But the other was pretty close to what we imagined, so let’s tackle a big one.

painting studies 1 (4)

painting studies 1 (4a)

These color washes came out especially nice. The yellow is a Liquitex artist paint and the dioxazine purple is Basics from the craft store. They mixed in really interesting ways with the white hardware store paint and splashes of water.

painting studies 1 (4b)

painting studies 1 (5a)

Oh, look. Mom sent us a little card with a puma drawing on it :) It now has a place of honor among other pumas we love, near the 150-watt Hafler power amplifier that drives our studio monitors.

painting studies 1 (5b)

Speaking of music, somewhere in the middle of this color explosion we got a request to be a DJ at a kind of internet fundraiser party. There was a 1960s theme, so we made a set list of freakbeat from the UK and some American retro rock. We stopped by Big Lots and picked up inexpensive yet highly psychedelic socks for the occasion.

painting studies 1 (5d)

It went over well. The attendees from the UK had some touching memories to share about hearing those freakbeat tunes on 45 RPM vinyl as kids. They shared some fun stories with us. In the midst of this cultural exchange, we also managed to raise enough funds to plant seventeen trees in Costa Rica as part of a non-profit reforestation project.

painting studies 1 (5c)

It was truly far out, man.

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Ok so let’s paint some more! After sketching only the most basic guidelines in pastel on the canvas, we just freehanded the marker.

painting studies 1 (6a)

It looked cool with the marker but just wasn’t quite there yet. So, we took black arcylic paint and went over almost all of the Sharpie. Then, we added washes of ultramarine blue and violet to the “sky” in the background, and some watered-down white to the clouds to differentiate everything a little better.

painting studies 1 (6b)

Normally we don’t like buying spray stuff, but we had accidentally come into ownership of some spray-on lacquer finishes. What the heck, let’s spray these suckers and hang them on the wall.

painting studies 1 (7)

That leaves us with an unfinished color wash, perhaps for one more comic-book themed study.

art sales today

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 (2)

You can read more about Guitar #20, or Dream Journal #8, in our archives. Their original posts include detailed close-up photos.

Dream Journal 8 (1) - Copy

Celebrating Recent Art Sales

10 guitar 7 detailThe business coach we’ve worked for the past seven years often reminds us to take time to celebrate our successes. This carries a special importance when you work independently. After all, a sole proprietor works without any sort of company hierarchy to hand out employee-of-the-month awards, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. Artists working independently face the same challenge.

Plus, you can easily focus on all the things that haven’t yet worked out the way you hoped. If you try ten different things and one succeeds wildly, you might be too caught up in your nine other failures to really appreciate it. It takes a certain mental fortitude to keep moving forward, and celebrating your successes plays an important role in that.

Last week, we had a wonderful chat with a local business owner referred to us to discuss some potential ways we could work together. We mentioned, somewhat dejectedly, that we had only sold about five pieces of artwork since we began seriously attempting it last fall. She said it was funny we viewed it negatively, since she found that number quite impressive.

That made us pause and remember to celebrate our successes. So, we hope you don’t mind if we take a moment to review what pieces have sold in the last nine months. On a side note, our little poetry book has been selling a couple of copies each month, mostly overseas. Though that isn’t a phenomenal sales figure, it certainly does make us happy that the collection is getting out there.

Let’s have a look at what we’ve sold so far.

guitar -001

Guitar #1 sold in October 2013 through Etsy to a MWSNM reader in Canada.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

8 guitar 7

Guitar #7 sold in November 2013 through Etsy to family in the USA.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

guitar 15 2

Guitar #15 sold in November 2013 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

behold the awesomizer - (13)

Behold the Awesomizer sold in February 2014 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.

ink frog 1 (1)

Diving Frog sold in June 2014 through eBay to an overseas buyer.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

seahorse dreams in progress

This week we’re taking on a new subject: a seahorse! We really enjoy the 40 x 16 inch canvas dimensions of Sedona Sunset and thought it would be fun to try some similar abstracts that size. But, the new canvas had been languishing since we put down the first layers a few months ago. Then last week, while pondering the canvas, the shape of a seahorse appeared in the color washes.

seahorse dreams in progress  (3)

It’s worth noting here that the edges of the canvas really are perpendicular, but the camera tends to make them look irregular. Something something focal length – who knows?

seahorse dreams in progress  (2)

The textures come from mixing acrylic texture paste with semi-gloss white interior house paint and applying it to the canvas with a small paint roller. When that dried, we repeated the process, then painted over that with more white semi-gloss. For the color washes, we used deep permanent green and copper, applying it in a couple different layers, and spraying the wet washes with 90% rubbing alcohol.

You can get bottles of either 70% or 90% rubbing alcohol in the ‘health and beauty’ section of the grocery store. We replaced the bottle cap with a spray nozzle. When you spray it onto wet color washes, the drops of alcohol repel water, creating some really dramatic effects. We made it even more weird by soaking up some of the liquid with bath tissue which, being highly absorbent but soft, makes a handy addition to the arsenal of color wash tools.

seahorse dreams in progress  (4)

After lightly outlining the basic shape of the seahorse with pastel, which easily washes off later, we filled in the seahorse with two layers of wash. We used deep permanent green and a spot of black for this, mixed liberally with water. You have to be careful with how much water you use: the more water, the less the paint wants to stick. We get around this by gently brushing a layer of gloss varnish once the wash dries. This seals in the paint. Even so, sticking to varnishing one color at a time becomes necessary. The wet varnish tends to pick up a little color, and if you try varnishing the whole canvas at once you can end up smearing color everywhere. You’d probably be better off with some kind of spray product, but we avoid using aerosols in the house.

To give the seahorse skin some more definition, we added a layer of black dots. We did these with a really high-tech tool… an old toothbrush. You get some black paint on the brush, gently smush it into the bristles, then swish it around in water. After letting the excess water run out, hold the toothbrush over the canvas and run your thumb along the bristles. Presto! Black dots splattering everywhere. It isn’t easy to control the splatter, so we keep a wet rag nearby to mop up stray drips and splashes before the paint dries.

seahorse dreams in progress  (6)

With the basic shape decided and a layer of speckle on it, it’s time to add another visual element to create a little depth. We went with bubbles.

seahorse dreams in progress  (5)

The blue color – Katsura Blue – is a gift from our wonderful art teacher. We should mention that all of our color wash techniques are a gift from her! It’s like a whole new world of painting opened up when we learned them last year. Katsura Blue is a really vibrant blue formerly made by Holbein. Holbein, for reasons unknown to us, decided recently to discontinue making Katsura Blue. So, if you don’t already have some, you are S.O.L. – sorry. We use our last remaining tube sparingly. We used a minimal amount of this rare color with, again, liberal amounts of water. After a light layer of pure white for the bubbles, we brushed on clean water and then sort of dabbed the wet brush in the blue and then dabbed it onto the watery circles. This created some interesting swirly effects, like tiny atmospheres. Later, we’ll come back and give the bubbles some definition and highlights.

seahorse dreams in progress  (7)

Seahorse Dreams is far from finished, but we wanted to post a few in-progress photos while waiting for a layer of varnish to dry. Ellie the Studio Cat has some dreams of her own. We often wonder what they are. She seems to have zero interest in keeping a dream journal.

ellie kitty on the couch


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