State of the Art: Open Minded Curiosity

It is important if you are an artist to have an open minded curiosity about the world, people, places, and especially your art. The minute you stop being curious is the moment you start to stagnate. My curiosity leads me down many paths. I like to learn about things unrelated to art and creativity but I also will do deep dives into specific artmaking activities.

Like gelli/gel/gelatin printing.

I’ve been watching every Yeates Makes video available. (And you should too!) Unlike many YouTubers he does everything DIY style- his own masks, stencils, and transfers. You won’t be surprised to find out that his DIY artsy aesthetic matches mine.

I’m a strong believer in the idea that commercial stencils and tid bits are there to jumpstart you. Sadly, I see a great deal of people getting locked into the use of commercial materials. I say sadly because the goal of every instructor should be to help the artists in their classes unlock and discover their creativity. * When an instructor gets bogged down and locked into the use of ONLY commercial materials through contracts and sales of said materials, well. I have some thoughts but this post isn’t about that.

It’s about the idea of systematically exploring a material.

One of the things I miss about my (some) old college classes was the idea that you should explore the materials completely.

This brings me back to gelli/gel/gelatin printing. I really want to know everything these plates will do when I use them, how far can I push them? And most importantly, what materials and tools will work with them to ensure my success when I do have an idea?

I picked up a 3×5 inch gel press awhile back, this creates a perfectly sized print on half a US letter sized sheet of paper. It’s also a perfect size for testing. It fits into my 6×9 sketchbook pretty well, and leaves room for notes. Perfect. I gave myself a few hours with the various materials and filled a few pages in my sketchbook. Below are a few pictures and my notes.


Let yourself play and explore all the materials you have around you, you never know what you’ll stumble onto that just WORKS for you and your style.

Some of these techniques were used in creating this art for my ko-fi supporter packs:

*I do not discount the idea that one can be creative commercial stencils, but I strongly believe that these tools should flip a switch inside the artist to want to make their own.

This post was made possible through Ko-Fi support. My supporters make posts like these possible through one time or recurring purchases of coffee. And this site definitely runs on coffee. The monetary support means that I no longer have to use ‘zon affiliate links (though I still use them on occasion, but mostly if I want to link to a product so y’all know what it is) and can just focus on the art of things.