O.K. confession time..I have been working on an abstract painting for way too many months. Each time I return to this painting I declare that on that particular day, if I resolve just a few more problem areas that my work will be finished! Sometimes I even take pictures of work in progress and look at it on my cell phone in the evening when I am home. I often convince myself that the next time I return to my studio... bingo I will just need to add a little of this or that and I'll be done. But even with some tinkering, that "finish" bell may not ring as I expected. How does one know when an abstract painting is done? One of my mentors said in a critique session "that a painting is not finished...it just stops in interesting places". So with that comment in mind, I'm returning to my studio and I am going to have a talk with my painting and ask it what would make you more interesting?
Many artists will say that all drawing and painting involves some form of mark making. A general viewpoint is that as soon as your brush (or whatever tool you use) touches your canvas or paper, you are making a mark! Marks can be lines, scribbles, scratches, smudges, dots, dashes, patterns, textures. All different types of artists use a variety of mark making approaches in their work. Artists may use expressive and intuitive marks in non-objective work, meaning that the work does not represent anything in the natural world. Or perhaps an abstract artist using a dry brush technique might make short, fast lines suggestive of blades of grass even though that association was not intended. The viewer has attributed their own meaning to the lines. On the other hand, the Impressionists used mark making in the form of dabs, hatching and cross hatching to add movement, texture, light and life to the scenes they depicted in their paintings. Marks can be soft and subtle and barely noticeable in some work or they can be bold and intense, occupying a sense of grandness in a work.
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 might seem simple to paint or collage a Minimalist piece, but as many artists have discovered, it is very difficult to be simple! Minimalism looks at how objects relate to the physical space of the paper. Working in a minimalist mode you are eliminating all nonessential forms, colors, elements, textures, features etc. You are bringing your work down to the basics and conveying a calming tone. One way to learn how to "find" a minimalist composition is to take a piece of drawing paper and to randomly and quickly apply paint, marks, scribbles leaving some areas of white space. Try not to think too much when doing this. Next take a scissor and cut the piece up into small squares (without thinking too much...just cut up!) Now examine your squares and isolate compositions which are nice and simple. You can than use those thumbnails for inspiration for larger pieces.
Con-Tact Shelving paper has multiple uses both in the home and in the art studio. Because this shelving paper has an adhesive backing, you can cut out shapes from the paper and position on a Mixed mMedia piece where you would like to leave white space showing. Or if you would like to add a new color on top of an underlying layer, you use your stencil to apply the new paint color. You can buy Con-Tact shelving paper in most home stores. Con-Tact Creative Covering Multipurpose Shelf Liner also allows you to reposition the paper so that you can easily lift off your artwork without damaging your project. Thank you to Susan Spaniol for sharing this technique in our WHAL Wednesday afternoon class on Abstract Mark Making.
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.
One of my students introduced me to Honeycomb Boards or packing material in our last Mark Making class. I was so excited about finding a new texture maker, that I had to beg her for a piece for my own work. This versatile corrugated pad is a light weight packing supply which is used as protective cushioning for many industries. The Honeycomb generally has a flat piece of heavy paper on the top of it. You will need to peel the top layer off to expose the Honeycomb and cut a small portion of the packing material to print or stamp with. Apply paint directly onto the Honeycomb with a brush or dip it into a paper plate with paint and then proceed to print or stamp the Honeycomb onto your art work.
When you are making painted papers for Mixed Media collages or working directly on a support (paper, canvas, art board etc.) you may want to add texture to your piece. In MIxed media, many different types of wet and dry media are used to offer a variety of marks, strokes and textures. A really cool way to create texture is to roll your brayer into a puddle of paint and than to roll the brayer again over a remnant of plastic mesh before finally rolling the brayer onto your work. The result will be the creation of nibs on the brush that will create a wonderful pattern once the brayer is rolled onto a Mixed Media piece. You can also try rolling the brayer (with paint already on) onto other interesting objects that you use for texture such as corrugated cardboard or patterned wallpaper samples.
Don't feel guilty if you are a Mixed media artist who pokes through bundles targeted for charity . Even though I donate toys, clothes, linens, household items to local organizations, I also keep in mind whether a particular object can be used in my art making projects and I separate it out form the giveaways. Let's call it like it is, Mixed media artists are scavengers. In the photo shown, I saved this blue game part to use to create circular patterns in my Mixed media collages. While it looks like a stencil, it was actually part of a child's game unrelated to art. You can draw into the circles or paint over the circles leaving an impression with the paint.
Next time you come across remnants of ceramic tiles, take a look at the back of the tile. Often there is a very interesting pattern on the backside of the tile which can be used as a printmaking tool in Mixed media art. In the tile shown, I painted orange paint on the underneath side of the tile and then stamped or printed with the tile onto my work. I will use this tile over and over again, adding different colors when needed. You can also over stamp with the same color creating more patterning and textures on your work.
What a treat visiting Rosalie and Ray Gustafson, both artists who have a whimsical gallery and Frame shop called "Ray's" at 53 Poqonock Avenue in Windsor, CT. Rosalie always shares lots of her art tips and makes you feel right at home in her showroom. The shop is small but carefully planned to make to make every nook and cranny count. Rosalie enjoys variety in her work and often mixes her media to create interesting textures. One of her favorite techniques is to cut a landscape or cityscape design into a piece of Styrofoam (the kind found in the meat section of the grocery store) and to coat with paint and print with. She has done many paintings with a city scape theme that she starts out with the technique just mentioned. Than she collages painted or printed papers onto the original painting.
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/
Random Acts of Color
Contemporary Abstract Mixed Media
C. Dianne Zweig
Inspired by 1950's colors, shapes, and designs, “Random Acts of Color" features C. Dianne Zweig's Contemporary Mixed Media abstracts which are anything but "random" as Dianne playfully re-works Mid-Century style for today's collector. You will find almost 50 works of art on display assembled in Dianne's first Solo Show. This playful collection showcases Dianne's bold use of color and Mark making.
Opening Reception with the artist:
Sunday, December 11, 2016
December 4, 2016 – January 15, 2017
For more information visit: JCC 860-231-4571
It seemed to me that there needed to be a hub for obsessive and casual mark makers who enjoy adding wonderful lines, symbols, strokes, movement to their work. With that in mind, I started a new Facebook Group called "The Art of Mark Making in Abstract Art". Response to establishing this group has been very exciting ! Artists from all over the world are joining this lively group. To add a wide range of mark makers to the group, I have been scouting my other FB groups and inviting artists to join and spread the word. While, I know that a lot of "doodlers" are also Mark makers, causal doodlers were not my prime audience. my My goal is to bring together Fine Artists who work in as variety of media such as paint, pastels, crayons, ink, Watercolor, digital etc. The art exercise shown is one of my Midcentury inspired Watercolor and ink quickie pieces done on the beach during the summer on a Strathmore Bristol board "Visual Journal".
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.
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
I am trying to come up with a title for an upcoming Art show. Some days it seems like every good name has been used. I have done what so many artists do when they are searching for a name that will grab attention and hopefully bring interest in their work.... they stare at their body of work hoping the paintings will begin speaking with a brilliant answer! I've talked to my abstract mixed media collages all week and so far nuttin'. My watercolors were silent too and my pastels and ink pieces are also keeping under the radar. I've considered following the advice of a favorite author and blogger, Austin Kleon who suggests that one "Steal Like an Artist". Should I refer to the big box of old Art show promotional postcard from others and recycle a name? Would I be better thinking of a name without referencing others so that I can pretend i was original? At this moment in time, I am Ferklempt! Hey that has a certain ring to it....maybe that's going to be my name for my show.
A great way to learn about cool design when making abstract art is to take a look at Jazz album covers from the 1950s for examples of hip style, design, color and composition. Many people get STUCK in making the same shapes and sometimes even make the same size shapes over and over. That is not art, it is wallpaper. And I should know, because I have been a member of that club for years. So I began going online and looking at lots and lots of album covers form the 1940s-1950s. This album cover shown, was designed by Burt Goldblatt for American jazz tenor saxophonist Don Byas. In particular I am interested in Goldblatt's use of the very large pink/white boomerang shape (a very common 1950s) element and it's relationship to the green background. Take a good look at this album and notice how line, shape, color, value relate to each other. You can indeed learn so much by exploring old jazz albums for inspiration for your own artwork.