Mat Board Collagraph: Harmony House (& a new process video)

Harmony House 6x8 Collagraph with colored pencil
Available in my Etsy Shop
I've posted a new video tutorial (below) on the process to print this line-style mat board collagraph, Harmony House.  Since folks have described challenges finding small pieces of mat board for this method of printmaking, I've cut a dozen 5x7 pieces and I'll mail them (domestic only, please), first come, first served to the fastest askers, with a piece of non-skid (see the video for usage) to get you started. Leave a comment on this post if you're interested.  You can explore the More Info section beneath the video window to access resource links I've assembled for varnish, ink & paper.

Want a pice of mat board & non-skid to make a collagraph?

After you've made a mat board collagraph, post your awesome art on my facebook page so we can Oooo and Ahhhh &cheer you on.

Happy New Year!
Fresh from the press: a monochrome version of Harmony House
Pulling the print after a trip through the press
Inking & wiping the plate
Carving line-work into the mat board with my reference photo nearby
(Thanks to TC for the inspirational photo! XO)
Here is a 14 minute video tutorial of the process so you can make one too. Subscribers have asked for a longer, slower video of this process (I usually post 3-6 minutes), so I hope this helps some of you that asked for more details and specifics on the process. If it still feels too fast, remember that you can pause, rewind, take notes, watch it again (and again), and you're always welcome to leave questions in the comment section of the video.  (If you get this post via email or rss, and you don't see the video window below, you can watch it on youtube here.)

Art Quote
It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them -- with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them ...
~Eudora Welty


Mixed Media Printmaking: Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier 6x4 monotype with watercolor & colored pencil
Available in my Etsy Shop
Best Wishes from California for a Merry, Festive, Restful & Creative Holiday this Christmas & Hanukkah! I hope you get art supplies as gifts, and blocks of time to make things that excite you.  As always, I'm very grateful for your visits to this blog, your comments & encouragement, and your good company. I count you when I think about my blessings.
Happy Art-making,
Adding colored pencil
Adding watercolor

Reminder: Everything in my Etsy Shop is 20% off till Christmas eve! 

Type this code: DECEMBERSALE during check-out for the #discount.
Art Quote
Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance.
And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.
~Ranier Marie Wilke (1875-1926)


Watercolor: Study for Wine at Mandola Rosa (& Gift Ideas for Artists)

Study for Wine at Mandola Rosa 5x7 watercolor on paper (sold)

Reminder: Everything in my Etsy Shop is 20% off till Christmas eve! 

Type this code: DECEMBERSALE during check-out for the #discount.

Do you have an artist friend or family member you'd like to encourage this Christmas? I spoke with a non-artsy friend who wanted to get a gift for a sibling who dabbles in painting, and he felt too far removed from the world of art-making to choose something appropriate. If you've got an artsy friend or family member on your gift list, here are a few ideas to inspire: (if you subscribe via email or rss, visit the blog to see the links below)

Carol Marine's book Daily Painting was published a month ago, and the glowing reviews are well-founded. If anyone you know is looking to get better at painting, or they're stuck and not making art at all, this book could be a 5-course meal of Get Back in the Saddle. Inspiring imagery, simple directions, and encouraging words make these chapters a cup of tea on a cold day. Really, this is a great book. (Note: I've known Carol for a few years but our friendship hasn't cultured my bias; I read a lot of art books, and I believe this one will be dog-eared with post it notes and curled pages from repeated referencing in many artists' libraries.)
Watercolor pencils are a great gift for people who like to draw, but find watercolor a little too loosey-juicey to control. With this set, and a pad of watercolor paper, little colored drawings can be coaxed [slowly] into watercolor paintings with water and some brushes. (I used watercolor pencils to start a portrait in this post.)

The 2015 Artists & Graphic Designer's Market book is perfect for an artist who'd like to expand their reach, and explore freelance and licensing avenues to turn their images into greeting cards and posters, or maybe explore gallery representation, or illustration for advertising, magazine art or book covers, or perhaps they're considering showing work in art festivals... this fat publication (over 600 pages) of contacts, tips, articles and resources is the best place to start. The publishers update it every year, and this handy reference tome features almost 2000 articles. 
I just bought this brush set, and I love it. If someone on your gift list paints watercolors or pen and ink out doors, or while traveling, this set is wonderful. The brushes are varied in shape and size, the bristles are soft and hold a lot of pigment, and when assembled, they feel nicely balanced in-hand. The leather case is sturdy, and fits easily in a side pocket of a back pack or suitcase. I plan to do a blog post about these brushes, because I'd never heard of them before, but I think they're fabulous.
If you know someone who's just starting to paint watercolor outdoors, or they'd like to have a compact palette to take to and from college, this Winsor Newton Cotman set is a good choice. The watercolors are good quality, without being as pricey as professional grade, and the set is very compact for tucking into a back pack pocket, while still offering 12 colors. It's also easy to buy half pans of your favorite colors to replace the stock colors in this set, so you can create your own palette. I've used this palette while sitting on long flights cross-country without any trouble from TSA screenings too, so they're an excellent gift (with a block of post card watercolor paper) for someone who travels a lot for business, with little time to paint.
I love this Printmaking Bible because it covers everything from intaglio plate etching to silkscreening, and each flavor of printmaking includes history, tools, thumbnail process photos, descriptive text, variations, and icons to indicate best safety practices. A variety of printmaking artists are featured, so you get a nice cross section of styles, and methods, as well as presses and supplies. Every form of printmaking has hundreds of alternate methods, enhanced by inventive and resourceful printmakers for various effects or working conditions, and this thick book covers basics as well as some innovative approaches. One of my favorite printmaking books in my studio library.
This Speedball Block Printing kit is a basic but complete set for anyone on your list who'd like to sit down, sketch, carve, ink and print a linocut on the fly. The box has everything you need, except paper, and most of the tools will be used again and again, as part of your artist's usual repertoire of printmaking supplies. The knife has interchangeable gouge tips stored in the handle (I still use mine, 25 years after buying it), the brayer is a good size to start, and will remain the perfect size for any blocks under 8x10, etc. (I still use mine - two decades later) The bench hook makes both carving and inking (it can be used to roll out ink) so much easier - it falls in that category of The Right Tool for the Job
James Gurney's Color and Light is a treasure trove of tips, instruction, inspiration and common sense - some of it very advanced, but absorbable, and there are whole chapters full of concepts that are intuitive to a visual person, but often remain submerged till they're spelled out in words. It's chock full of little Ahh-hah's.  James Gurney is a fantastic illustrator with a rock solid work ethic. He takes his art-making seriously, but divulges his methods with humor, and a palpable sense of wonder for the basic tenants of color, light and value; one of (I think) the most challenging buckets of skill for artists to master. In this book, each element is presented in clear and concise ways, and the chapters are organized in such a way, that you can flip to a section if you're struggling, and inject fresh inspiration and guidance into your art-making day. Read the reviews on amazon. It was the #1 selling painting book for 100 weeks when it came out, and I add my voice to that chorus of praises.

Art Quote
In watercolor, it's fun to experiment with different kinds of black: bone black, lamp black, Mars black. The pigment called "ivory black" used to be made from elephant ivory. Since that is now unavailable, some paint makers create ivory black by burning and grinding up fragments of mammoth ivory from Russia, which is legal to use. Each kind of black has different qualities of texture and chroma. If you get a couple of different blacks, you can play with them and compare them by painting them in a thin glaze, tinting them with white, and mixing them with other colors.
~James Gurney


Mixed Media (watercolor & colored pencil): Cabin Getaway

Cabin Getaway
8x3.5 Watercolor
&  Colored Pencil
There's a small, barely map-worthy lake in the Connecticut town I grew up in.  I didn't spend time there as a kid, but later, after moving to California and exploring my family's history & genealogy,  I discovered photos of sailing and family gatherings from the late 1930's on the lake. With a little research, I found that my grandfather and one of his brothers purchased/built side-by-side cabins on the lake, and most of the nine siblings enjoyed summers boating, swimming and barbecuing on the water with their families, until all the men left to serve in the military during WWII.

The watercolor & colored pencil piece above is a study from a snapshot taken a few months ago, on that same Connecticut lake, in a modest, pitched-floor, 60 year old cabin I stayed in while attending a family memorial service. It seemed fitting for the occasion to sit by the water, just across from the same shore my great Aunts & Uncles used to swim and sail in, before the War, when everyone still lived in town, and family get-togethers were likely festive, loud and rambunctious.  I felt very inspired there, in a quiet and reflective way, so making art from the photos was a sweet little respite from the chaos of December to-do's.

Have you made art from photos of the places, rooms and landscapes your family has history in?

Early morning on the lake

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Type this code: DECEMBERSALE during check-out for the #discount.

Are you following my art posts on Facebook yet? Hop on over and give my page a Like so I can share art. My studio experiments will show up in your facebook feed after you've Liked the page.

Art Quote
You don't become an 'artist' unless you've got something missing somewhere. Blaise Pascal called it a God-shaped hole. Everyone's got one but some are blacker and wider than others. It's a feeling of being abandoned, cut adrift in space and time - sometimes following the loss of a loved one. You can never completely fill that hole - you can try with songs, family, faith and by living a full life...but when things are silent, you can still hear the hissing of what's missing. Bono


Watercolor: What're We Doing Today?

What're We Doing Today? 8x10 Watercolor on paper (sold)
From my archives - a watercolor of a brightly lit room in an apartment in Rome, with DCC flipping through a travel guide, plotting our path through the ancient cobblestones. It was a family trip, which was remarkable on so many levels, including a memory we joke about seven years later: all five of us paused in our exploring to indulge in a large gelato every day for 10 days (the weather was hot), and all five of us lost weight on the trip. So the moral of our story was:  Heat + Heaping plates of delicious Italian Food + Gelato + Walking = Weight Loss.  :)

When we came home, I painted images of Italy for weeks, using hundreds of photos I took on the trip, and that helped etch the beauty, the history and my sense of wonder with steadfast permanence in my mind. Painting our vacation let me stay in that beautiful country for longer than our trip, and that's just one more reason to love the gift of painting. Have you painted photos from a family vacation?  When you look at them, does it take you back to that day, in that place?

Reminder: Everything in my Etsy Shop is 20% off till Christmas eve! 

Type this code: DECEMBERSALE during check-out for the #discount.

Art Quote
I see no particular merit in the fact that I was an artist at the age of eleven. I was born with an ability, with music in me, that is all. No special credit was due me. The only credit we can claim is for the use we make of the talent we are given. That is why I urge young musicians: “Don’t be vain because you happen to have talent. You are not responsible for that; it was not of your doing. What you do with your talent is what matters. You must cherish this gift. Do not demean or waste what you have been given. Work — work constantly and nourish it. "

Of course the gift to be cherished most of all is that of life itself. One’s work should be a salute to life.
~Pablo Casals