"When we all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman

Friday, September 26, 2014

Recent Work

After a few very unproductive and troubling months, I decided to join a group of local artists that meets once a week at the Hearst Center for the Arts.   Not knowing what to expect, I focused on monoprinting backgrounds for future collage work.  Soon, most of the other artists were introducing themselves and new friendships were beginning.  They were all so welcoming that I felt right at home, and started this piece.    Sharing studio space and creative energies can be like magic, and was apparently just what I needed to recharge my spirit.  I was back to working in my studio several times over the next week.  So nice to feel that excitement as the work progressed.
I returned to the group again this week, and finished the piece.  
The lesson I learned is to seek out the company of other artists, and enjoy the sense of community in a shared studio space.  The exchange of ideas, inspiration and general support is a wonderful thing.

Monoprinted background, collage, paint and colored pencil.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Homemade Gelatin Printing Plate

I love printing with Gelli Plates !   I have purchased one in every size available, and they are great.
I've never tried making one of my own, because up until now, I thought you could only make the kind of gelatin plate that had to be refrigerated to retain it's firmness for printing on.  Seemed like too much work, considering how easy the commercial Gelli Plates are to store and use over and over indefinately.  
Recently I ran across some information indicating that a permanent gelatin plate could be made from simple ingredients.   Of course I just had to try it!   Here is the resulting gelatin plate that I made, and some pics of the trial run printing with it.   I will include the recipe that I used at the end of the post. 
However.... while I think this plate works fine and will hold up over time if treated with care,  it did cost around $12 to make this one which is 9x9 inches.   The cost effetiveness is really not so great, especially when you add in your time and mess, but it was so much fun to experiment.   

 You can see that the plate is like very soft plastic, and does not require refrigeration.   I would, however, store it in a protected way.   I am keeping this one on the sheet of glass, covered by the glass cake pan that I made it in.
This plate was "cured" for 2 days, and is slightly softer and a little stickier than the commercial brand.
 Acrylic paint rolls out just fine !  The plate seems to "grab" the paint nicely.  
 The first print I pulled came out crisp and clean.   Here I used some shapes cut out of Tyvek, which can be used over and over again.   The paint only makes them stronger!   I use recycled Tyvek mailing envelopes to cut shapes for masking.
 After pulling a "ghost print," I removed the masks and revealed another layer for printing.  I always work on 4 or 5 pieces of paper at one time to take advantage of all the printing possibilities.
Here are the results of my simple trial run.   The home made plate worked fine!
I did make the mistake of using a stencil that had some dye based ink residue on it, and it did stain the plate.  I'll avoid that next time.

Recipe and Instructions:

7 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin powder
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) pure glycerine   [I found glycerine at a local drugstore.]
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) boiling water

You will also need a strainer, something to stir with, 2 bowls, and a flat glass pan in which you intend to pour your final plate.

Get the water to a full boil.  (I microwaved it in a large pyrex measuring cup)
Add the powdered gelatin packets one at a time, slowly, and stirring.   At this point you will think it might clump up... and it will be lumpy.  Keep stirring and working with it.  Eventually the heat and stirring will dissolve most of the lumps.  

When you have most of the lumps worked out, strain the hot mixture into a second bowl, then strain it back again, this should remove the remaining lumps.  
You will need to use HOT water to clean out your strainer after doing this.... it's kind of messy and sticky.

Add the glycerine to your mix, and stir gently but thoroughly.   Try to avoid getting a lot of air bubbles in it.

Pour the mixture into a glass pan to set up.   If there are air bubbles, try to work them out.   I used a kitchen knife to skim them out.

Cover the pan and place in refrigerator (LEVEL) for 2 hours to start the plasticizing process.
Remove from refrigerator and allow it to set and cure for a day or so.   I let mine cure 2 days.
[ I read somewhere that it is not absolutely necessary to refrigerate it to start with, but it seemed like a good idea to do so.]

When you are ready to remove it from the pan, use a knife to release the edges, turn the pan upside down over a clean surface, and coax it out of the pan.   Gravity should make it plop right out once you get a corner started.     Place it on a flat surface, like a piece of plexiglass or glass, or a flat cookie sheet.    Keep it covered when you are not using it.

Try it out !

Again, when all is said and done, you may feel that the commercial product is easier to obtain and fairly priced, but if you enjoy experimenting and want to take control of the shape and size of your plate, this might appeal to you.    It was a fun learning adventure and I'll be using my home made plate for quite a while, along with the others in my collection.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Artist Trading Card

As this work evolved, it started to remind me of a playing card from some strange deck.  When the numeral was added in the upper right corner, it became "The Five of Fish."    
Five images were used (the fish was duplicated 5 times and manipulated in size and orientation), and layered in Adobe Photoshop.   

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mixed Media Zentangle

One of the things I love about Mixed Media is the freedom to experiment with any combination of techniques together on the same surface.   It's always a new adventure to see how one medium plays with another.  
For this journal spread, I started with layers of colored mono prints, using a Gelli Printing Plate, for the background.
Collage elements were added, and I used black and white pens and pencils to make the Zentangle drawings around the face.  
After the drawing was completed, I added the quote to the facing page, and a bit more work over all with black and white colored pencils.
There are no rules in Art Journaling, which makes it easy to work intuitively and let your ideas flow.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Gelli Plate Printing and Photoshop

 I have been playing with a layering method using the Gelli Printing Plate and inexpensive acrylic paints.   The key is to allow the first 2 layers to dry, and the third layer bonds to them and they all lift off the plate together.   The idea was presented in this video by Barbara Gray and I couldn't wait to try it out !    The above print was one of many I made today.  

Then I started thinking about all the possibilities for altering the printed image in Photoshop.   I scanned the original print and started applying different filters....
 The one above used a filter called Poster Edges, and the one below is Ink Outlines.  You can adjust the density of the filters as you wish.
    The last one used a Gradient filter to make the whole thing sepia tones.   The possibilities are almost endless for making background pages and collage papers using this method.   Have fun !                                

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nosferatu The Vampire

I've been taking an online class with one of my favorite artists, Michael DeMeng, called Punk Fiction and Cave of Pages.   In the class, we have learned some great techniques for altering a book cover, and then creating an interior using a variety of mixed media and assemblage techniques.
For my theme, I chose Nosferatu the Vampire.    
 Using a small hardbound journal as my structure, I altered the cover using layers of Aves Apoxy Clay, and a variety of metal objects, including some small brass letters that I was able to embed in the surface.  Painting techniques were then applied to create the desired effects.
The interior was then carved out to create a niche for the portrait of Count Orlok, Nosferatu.  The edges of the niche are covered with pieces of an antique map, and painted with several layers of paint to enhance the aged effect.  
I began the portrait with a black and white photograph of the character as portrayed by actor Klaus Kinski in the 1979 version of the movie.  Using photoshop and acrylic paints, I altered the photograph, mounted it with a leather mat and cut a channel for a piece of clear glass to cover it.   This was then secured behind the block of pages with the carved niche, creating a box-like effect.  
The facing cover is embellished with a thick piece of brown leather on which I stitched a key and a piece of elaborate waxed linen knot work.   Two strips of black leather hold the knotwork in place and the whole piece fits nicely into the niche when closed.  
  The interior edge of the niche is covered with antique brocade, which is further "aged" with paint.
The spine of the book was reinforced with dark brown leather and decorative copper nails.
 The two teeth on the cover pay homage to the unique look of this vampire, whose trademark fangs were placed at the front of his mouth rather than in the more common canine position.  I've always thought Nosferatu had the most frightening apperance of all fictional vampires for this reason.
I think it's finished, but like all projects, it may get an additional tweak here and there as it sits on my work table a while longer.  

The class has been great fun, and I have another book in the works, waiting for the interior work to begin.
For anyone considering taking a class with Michael DeMeng, in person or online, I would highly recommend it.  You will learn so many creative techniques that can be applied to your  mixed media projects.   I've taken several of his classes and keep going back for more.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Journal Pages

 I'm experimenting with some new ways of working in my journal, using more dry mediums for the final stages.   Here is the process:    First I take a large sheet of heavy mixed media paper with which to make the journal.   I use wet mediums to paint and stain the paper on both sides.  Color choices used for this step will determine the color theme of the journal pages.  
When the paper is completely dry, I cut it into folios and bind it into a 16 page journal.  Next step is to collage some focal images onto the pages to get started.   I'm using dry adhesive in this journal, rather than matte medium.  

Next I airbrushed acrylics to continue to build imagery and background interest, and once that is finished, it's all colored pencil and pen work for the rest of the process.  
I'm finding that I really enjoy the portability of working with dry mediums.  It's easy to take a journal almost anywhere to work on, with just a pencil case full of colored pencils and markers.
I also like the smaller journal format with 16 pages of similar color themes.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Artist trading card for January...... Edgar Allen Poe theme.
I began reading the works of Poe when I was very young and he has always inspired me.
This ATC design was done in Photoshop using a black and white photograph, altered with color and a posterization filter.   The quote and heart were added as additional layers.
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