I have been spending the cold months writing gibberish with all types of fine-liners. This collage was my break out piece with writing on black paper with a Silver Uni-ball GEL IMPACT pen. The key to writing gibberish is to make your writing look like real language but truth be known, there are no real words, just flowing "scribbles" which look a lot like real words or letters. I found it much easier to pretend to write when I was passionate about my gibberish. In this case I was expressing my "words" thinking about how exasperated I was with the political climate in Washington. That inner dialogue made for some wonderful free flowing gibberish!
I have mixed feelings about sharing with you Kim Weston's approach to storing her Liquitex paint jars. Kim, an artist in New Haven, who I met at Erector Square's Open studios, recently, showed me a great trick. If you want to see the colors of your paint at a glance, you can store your jars of paint upside down. I do like the idea very much, BUT here is my one and BIG concern.....I'm very messy with my paint jars. The cap barely fits back on the jar when Im finished playing around with my paints in a Mixed Media piece. In order for me to model my studio after Kim;s, I would have to vow to work very carefully, wiping the top of the jar after each use and then screwing the cap back very intentionally. This will take some time for me to clean up my act. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share this idea with others who may be more meticulous when working.
If you sometimes need a break form washing paint brushes, consider pouring or dabbing a little paint directly onto your surface and smearing with a pice of folded up cardboard or a credit card. I like to randomly draw onto pages with a Sharpie pen and that cover some of my marks with paint. I often will go back over the dried paint and draw shapes and lines on top of the blotches. Then I tear up my painted pages and create abstract collages. I find old books at library tag sales and other places where tattered or old books are either tossed away or sold for under a dollar.
Artists are always asking each other "so what did you use to make that line ?" Lines always seem to look better on someone else's work. The truth is that oftentimes we are admiring the work of an experienced artist who has developed a certain degree of confidence in their line making. Don't get me wrong, product does indeed matter and I of course have my favorite fine-liner and heavy liner pens and products, but the key to making line and marks is practice not product. Once you have mastered the ease at drawing or scribbling a variety of lines you are probably ready to obsess over the "blackness" of these lines....that is another conversation.
How many of us buy art supplies that we put on a shelf or forget about? That is the sorry outcome of what happened to my bottle of Masking fluid....it was neglected after i bought it on a whim one day.. Then a few weeks ago one of my students brought a bottle of Masking fluid to class. She essentially "drew" with this rubber cement like product and then peeled the dried fluid off the paper leaving areas that remained white instead of painted. The fluid is very easy to work with and can be applied in numerous ways from pouring, dribbling or brushing onto work. The results were exciting and I now feel quite confident that I too will soon join the club of artists who use Masking fluid as a resist in Mixed media artwork. My bottle of Masking fluid will soon be cracked open and loved instead of abandoned.
It took me decades to learn how to make a mess and to finally relax and to stop worrying that i got paint on the floor ! Of course I needed an art studio with hard wood floors to be able to have the luxury of being able to spill, pour, fling, splatter, spray, tear etc. and not de-compensate over the collateral damage I was creating. I'm not totally freak out free yet...I do like my slop sink white and clean and Comet is my best friend. However with the pleasure one takes with channeling their Abstract Expressionism, also comes the understanding that skilled artists know how to balance chaos and control when making abstract art. Pollack didn't just splatter paint....he was keenly aware of his composition resulting in very organized and successful artwork. Franz Kline 's seemingly impulsive black and white pieces were planned out first. Many Abstract artists work hard at the process of making a wonderful mess, reigning in their work, constructing and deconstructing and ultimately modulating the tensions of spontaneity, creativity and skill.
My new Facebook group "The Art Of Mark Making in Abstract Art" is up and running and becoming a popular online meeting place for artists who work in all types of media. Mark making was very much associated with Abstract Expressionists who flourished during the 1950s and were also called Action painters. Moving away from Representational art, Abstract Expressionists were more interested in the immediacy of the work, foregoing careful planning and deliberate sketches and delighting in accidental outcomes and spontaneity. Gestural strokes, dripping paint, accidental marks and outcomes, unconventional painting and drawing tools were all part of the Abstract Expressionist's approach to making art. In the new Facebook group I started, artists from all over the world are posting examples of their work, announcements about shows, relevant articles and more. Just like the work, this is a very dynamic group worth joining. Here is the link to the new group The Art of Mark Making in Abstract Art. www.facebook.com/groups/1770476956535168/
As an artist I have very little patience, but I have learned over the years to work with that quirky trait. If I absolutely had to sit and render a very carefully executed vase of flowers sitting on a table, I'm betting over time and practice (and some skill building) , I could truly pull that off. But I'm thinking that I would frankly be worn out and not energized while TRYING to create a painting of flowers. In contrast to drawing or painting realistically, when I slop around in my studio experimenting with colors, products and applications in all the "wrong" ways I'm "unglued" but satisfied. I really do like the idea of accidentally falling into a project with little preconceived notions and few expectations (ha ha). I really have to get back to stop trying so hard, that's when my best work appears!
I love Hartford, I love the rhythms, the mix of people of different backgrounds, the energy of the Arts community and my amazing new studio at The Arbor Arts Center which is the same building as Real Art Ways. This weekend (November 12-13) is Open Studio Hartford and my new studio, suite 220 will be open for the first time to the public. Just to keep you up to date, I still have my Mid Century vibe going on and I am still working in my usual 1950s colors ...more or less.
What is new in my 56 Arbor Street studio, besides the sink which is still white and not yet covered with paint or my shiny gorgeous restored hardwood floors which are not yet smothered in splattered paint is my decision to keep my studio a workspace and not a gallery. My fantastic TALL white walls are now reserved for work in progress. Therefore.....I need to move many of my earlier Abstract Mixed Media pieces out the door....time to let go. While I am resisting calling this a "sale"....guess what it is a SALE ! Out with the old, in with the new. http://openstudiohartford.com/artists?artistID=792
Other news to report is that my friend Ginny August a very wonderful potter will be exhibiting her functional and decorative pottery in my studio. Ginny has great gifts for the holiday season.
Mixed Media artists are always using their tools in quirky ways. While the average painter holds their brush upright choosing to paint with the bristles of the brush, others have learned to get very interesting applications by using their brush handle as a roller or brayer, spreading the paint across the paper in accidental and blotting types of layering. Thank you to Peter Ganick for demonstrating this lovely technique during an exercise on Visual poetry.
If you spend a good amount of time in your art studio fussing over and over on a painting that is screaming "cover me with Gesso" or "throw me out" you have probably reached the point where you should just go ahead and "ruin it"! In other words relinquish the "plan" you had for this piece and just "let whatever happens happen".
Below is an excerpt from a five page letter the artist Sol Le Witt wrote to Eva Hesse.
"I have much confidence in you andthough you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work — the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to
In a recent class I taught at The West Hartford art League on making your own mark making tools, one of my students took a small piece of woven chair caning and attached it to a chop stick with tape and dipped the small remnant of caning into black ink and created these wonderful marks on paper. The trick is to pivot the caning in many directions to get a variety of varied black lines. For more information on upcoming workshops and classes, visit http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/
Throughout the country, especially in larger cities, older adults are finding more and more programs geared for their special needs. While I have many friends who are artists and in their eighties, with more energy and mobility than plenty of people half their age, there are plenty of older adults who need a jumpstart to leave their homes and make art! With this in mind, I developed a brand new program at The West Hartford Art League in West Hartford, CT geared for adults who may be returning to art after many decades or who finally want to try their hand at something new. My new class "Let Loose With Creative Aging" will run Wednesday mornings at the WHAL. Some unique aspects of this class is that caregivers can accompany participants to class and that individuals with early dementia can feel comfortable attending. For more information see http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/
There are many ways to organize a Mixed Media abstract collage. One way is to repeat shapes such as circles, squares, triangles etc. The trick is to come up with different versions of circular shapes that don't scream "I am a circle". What you want to achieve is the essence of the shape which might include a sense of movement, direction, orientation etc. It takes awhile to learn how to "sink" a shape so that it does not look like it is sitting smack on top of a piece of work. You can paint over your "circle" or use only a partial "circle" or vary the sizes of your circular shapes.
This retro inspired Mixed media Collage combines, acrylic paint, paint pens, scraps of vintage barkcloth fabric and pastels. The first step in this project was to paint a background using watered down acrylic paint. Next i created my floral arrangement using lots of scraps from different remnants of fabric. My favorite part was adding the marks with a white paint pen and pastels. Most of my work is abstract, so it always amazes my friends that every now and then, I create something that looks like something recognizable! This is part of a series of six very different arrangements which I had a lot of fun with.
UPCOMING SPRING CLASSES
Contemporary Mixed Media-Collage at Dick Blick Plainville CT. MAY 2016
Let Loose With Collage & Mixed Media: Leave your inner critic home and join others in the art of creating Mixed Media artwork and collages using painted papers, print making techniques, textures, mark making, dry and wet media. Emphasis on helping students “loosen up” and work more spontaneously with a variety of art materials and products. All levels of students welcomed. Day/Time: 4 sessions on Wednesdays 1:00 - 3:00, May 4,11,18, 25. Fee $120.00.
The beauty of Mixed Media collage is that you can use every thing and the kitchen sink in the process of making art. While I have my favorite products, you are welcome to bring to class what you already have and to build materials and supplies as you discover new ideas. My favorite essential materials are Canson Drawing paper ()or similar) in a gummed pad (any size works); Acrylic paint; brushes of different sizes; Sharpie Markers; Crayons; oil pastels. Other materials to collect and bring include products that can make textures such as mesh bags from onions, bubble wrap, corrugated brown packing paper that have different kinds of ridges, wallpaper that has raised texture, combs, inserts from candy boxes that have patterns and interesting surfaces etc. BTW, I also smear paint with old glossy post cards or card board that i fold to size. We will discuss adhesives in the first class. http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/
After many years of making Mixed Media collages, I have my favorite materials for adding black lines to my work. I draw with Sharpie pens (or other similar markers) of all sizes as well as my fat chunky crayon which is sacred in my studio. It is important to vary the size of the drawing tip when creating an interesting piece. Often time, I find that when I grab my really thick Sharpie pen or even a really thin one, the contrast in size and density of the mark is just what the piece needed. The painted paper shown is what I will then tear into smaller pieces to compose a new collage. Remember, water soluable products will smear if you are not careful with what other products you are using. Also, add chalk pastels as the last step when drawing into your work because they too smear.
I enjoy creating painted papers for my Mixed Media collages. When I work small I use already mixed paint and squirt onto a plastic palette which in my case is the discarded plastic tops of carry out salad containers. I use therse "palettes" over and over as acrylic paint dries from one use to another. When the palettes get so caked with paint that they begin to peel...I throw them out. Reminder, always keep your food products far away from your art products.
Most Mixed Media artists I know, never throw out anything and I'm a member of this creative group of "savers". When I am down to my smallest pieces I like to tear them into little rectangles and add a Mid-Century-ish doodle onto them with a Sharpie pen. Then when I'm in need of some "therapy" time, I create a grid-like pattern with my left over squares. I use pads of Strathmore 400 series Acrylic square paper which are just right for my smaller mixed media artwork.