Mixed Media artists are always looking for new surfaces to paint on for a variety of reasons from stretching their imaginations to cutting down the cost of materials. In a recent art class I invited students to practice mark making with inspiration coming from Shaman masks using ordinary brown shopping bags as their "paper" or surface. Students could use the whole bag or cut up the bag following the seams in the bag. Black and white gesso worked really well on top of the bag as well as soft pastels. Detailed marks were then made with metallic pens, paint pens, markers, oil pastels etc. While the lesson at hand was mark making, brown bags can also be used for surfaces for collage or Acrylic paintings.
The joy of teaching art is learning about so many new mark making techniques from your students. Yes, as the instructor, I am always sharing the tricks of the trade with my students in my classes. But, I must say, as I stroll around the room checking on student progress I discover quite a lot of cool methods that students share with me. Case in point is the novel approach of scraping wet paint with the bottom end of an acrylic paint tube. Look at the lovely textures and marks (right side of image) thats swiping with the end of the tube of paint makes. Thanks to Jill Pasanen for this tip.
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 is amazing how you can create so many interesting marks and textures with common ordinary objects and household materials such as an old plastic credit card. One of my students in my Wednesday WHAL Mark making class introduced me to this credit card technique. You begin by placing paper (in this case we were using waxed deli paper called Kabnet) over an old credit card and making a rubbing with a pencil or black crayon. Plastic credit cards can also be used as "a palette knife" to spread paint on paper or canvas. You can also scrape into a painted paper with the edge of the credit card to create nice lines and marks.
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.
It is very interesting to sit down with a group of artists during a critique session and to discuss one of the student's work. Discussions generally focus on the assignment at hand (printing without a press) and how each participant met the challenge. In the piece shown, there was even more discussion because this abstract evoked so many different images to the group assembled. Some students saw "fingers", others imagined a Snow-scape or Beach-scape. What type of mood and setting did this piece evoke...mysterious, peaceful, eerie etc. What about this piece led some people to think about it being a landscape (or fingers) ....the horizontal applications of paint, a horizen etc? Lines, marks, shapes, smears, blotches , intensity, negative space and how paint is applied are part of the abstract artist's toolbox. Student work shown.
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.
If I am being totally honest I can not remember if I started to doodle and I said, hey this drawing looks like a Conch shell and I ran with it. Or, I was studying the patterns and twists and turns of a Conch shell and incorporated these spirals and textures into my work. Whichever way this drawing happened, it is a reminder how helpful it is to look at the world around you. You will find so many intrinsic marks. lines, shapes and patterns in nature that you can mimic in your own way in your abstract art. This drawing was done with a simple Uniball Vision black pen on a small white sketch pad. The drawing has a nice combination of darks and lights, a repetition of shapes spiral lines and a sense of three dimension or depth because of the way the lines were created.
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/
When I am making Mixed Media artwork I like to keep a pre-cut Mat "window" nearby to help me isolate parts of my work in progress that may actually be more exciting than if I kept the "whole" piece intact. I have been criticized for giving up too soon on "resolving" a whole piece and I understand that comment. I even at times feel a little guilty for reaching for my mat window, but I also appreciate that I respect my visual eye and if cropping is what is called for....that is what my artistic intuition tells me. Some guidelines that I use when I am making this decision to crop or cut up a piece of work is does the section I have highlighted show more composition integrity and or excitement than the piece as a whole? Sometimes eliminating "noise" or complexity is helpful. Are the color relationships keener in the smaller section chosen? Do I get more drama, serenity, mystery, movement etc. in the portion of the artwork that I have chosen to feature. These are some ways to think about should you crop or not.
WINTER CLASSES 2016
MAKING YOUR MARK IN CONTEMPORARY ABSTRACT ART AT THE WEST HARTFORD ART LEAGUE
C. Dianne Zweig West Hartford Art League 6 Weeks Level: Beginner to Advanced Abstract artists who would like to add more spontaneity to their artwork will explore a variety of mark making approaches to help reinvigorate and “morph” their contemporary styles into more interesting and finished works of art. Emphasis will be on the language of line and spontaneity, chaos and control, figuration to abstraction, action versus quiet, color, shape using both traditional and unconventional art products, materials and tools. Assignments will integrate the use of wet and dry media, pen and ink products, painting and collage. Emphasis will be on resolving artistic dilemmas in creative ways which incorporate innovation as well as group critiques. All levels of students welcomed. A materials list is available at: http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/ C. Dianne Zweig is a Contemporary Mixed Media abstract artist whose artwork is influenced by the organic shapes and abstract designs of 1950s textiles. She is a member of Connecticut Women Artists and a founding member of Mixus, a group of women artists who work in Mixed media. Dianne is also enjoys teaching art classes and workshops to all ages.
DZ312|Wednesday, January 11th – February 15th|1:00 – 4:00 Clubhouse Classroom Fee: Member $138.00 Non-member $163.00
To register visit the West Hartford Art League
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".
A few years back I was totally known as the "Doodling Diva" . With a background as a compulsive doodler, word got out that I was the go to person on all matters concerning doodling. I even wrote a humorous manuscript on personality traits and doodling and continued to stay current on all aspects of doodling or automatic drawing as it is sometimes called . When I shifted from an interest in the psychology of doodling to the actual art of making intricate doodles, I was encouraged to "upgrade" my art vocabulary by shifting from talking about my work as "doodles" to referring to my Mark making as pen and ink art. Whatever you want to call it, I like to "doodle" with Sharpies of all sizes because with a lot of experience you can control your lines and movements. I am about to venture into the "real" pen and ink world by trying out "real" ink and "real" old fashioned pens. Wish me luck and check back on my progress.
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/
Hannah talks about how therapeutic it is to quiet the mind by using mark making with just black and white and leaving out color. Although I do not know what medium Hannah uses, I have spent many hours with a sketchpad and a Uni-ball Vision pen which is water and fade resistant) just mark making into the night. The beauty of the Uni-ball pen over the Sharpie pen is that it doesn't knock you over with a smell. Hannah gets much more complex in her black and white drawings, using texture and different levels of pressure, movement and "exaggeration" of her marks. Take a look at her other B&W drawings https://hannahstraw1.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/mark-making-black-and-white/
Scribbling seems so easy when you are a toddler and you just let yourself draw freely without any conscious thoughts about what you are doing. Fast forward to being an adult and all of a sudden you can't move your hand without overthinking your modus operandi. Am I making lines too soft, too long, too dark, too crooked? You get the drill, mark making becomes tedious instead of relaxed and free. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you want a very careful deliberate line or mark, but more often than not for abstract artists, making marks is a very spontaneous process. So with this concept in mind, I have developed my newest art class "MAKING YOUR MARK IN CONTEMPORARY ART" which will run at The West Hartford Art League this Fall on Wednesday afternoons. Here is the link for more information http://www.cdiannezweig.com/workshops/
I am hooked on Sharpie pens for mark making. But every time I think that I own every single black permanent marker made, I discover yet another gem from this company. My newest art "toy" is a big fat chunky oil based black paint pen marker with permanent ink. Favorites among graffiti artists this product creates a shiny thick line which appears to cover over almost all over media. You get started by shaking the paint pen and then once you remove the cover, you are good to go and can make gorgeous black marks to your heart's content. As you can see, I have really "broken in my Sharpie paint pen.
A few summers ago they were doing construction work in front of my studio and the machinery was reminding me of visits to New York City, where noise is always in the background. I found myself having a very difficult time working as my sensitive brain was feeling on overload. That summer, I channeled the "noise" of the construction into cityscapes. The black lines suggest rooftops and buildings. I particularly like the piece of paper which reminds one of bricks. That was accomplished by stamping with the backside of a broken floor tile which had raised ridges which created that pattern.