Tag Archives: inspiration

Art Adventure: Boston’s MFA

After a brief hiatus the art adventures are back on! This week Jane and I headed to the MFA in Boston to see the (new to me) Art of the Americas wing. It’s pretty darn sweet. It also renewed my interest in some of the more modern American painters.

ONe of my favorites has always been Edward Hopper for his street scenes. It is directly in line with the sort of photography I’ve been doing lately as well as the paintings I’d like to produce.

From our trip Jane and I discussed a lot of things; that we miss having critiques because they push you to do more; we miss some structure of classes and assignments, to that end we’ve given ourselves an assignment (I’ll discuss this later); additionally we miss making art adventures.

We already decided that we’re going to meet again in 2 weeks.

The assignments are going to have a theme but that’s it. We can work any size and any medium as long as we stick to the theme. This week’s theme is pretty easy, “Create a piece inspired by our visit to the MFA.” It couldn’t get much more open than that, given that we looked at work on paper, sculptures, drawings, photography, and stuff from all time periods.

So far I’ve decided I’m going to go with a painting of a local business Hooper inspired, probably China River or Super Chicken and most likely work in acrylic on stretched paper. I haven’t figured out size yet, but that will come with time.

I leave you with this guy drawing in the MFA, I'll scan some of my drawings from our coffee sessions and from the train station.


Backgrounds: A Way to get past that Blank Page Part 1


It's a basic thing. I don't see it as a necessary start to all pages. Becuase it's just not. If you work with a heavier page you don't need it. It's nice, it stiffens the page and adds some texture. You can get gesso in a lot of colors now- black, clear, white various other colors. You can also mix regular white or clear gesso with colored acrylics to get any shade you want, and I'm going to tell you how to mix it with watercolor crayons later in this post.

I'm working in a great notebook my friend Jen made me for a Facebook craft exchange. It's a salvaged hardy boys mystery cover filled with recycled pages. the paper is a variety of weights- I assume around 18# and 20# bond paper, computer paper and the like Its cot some printed stuff on one side. This paper needs the love of gesso to stand up the the abuse I'm going to put it through.

So the first thing I do is get out my gesso. I use liquitex, its not too heavy and isn't too wet. It works for me. I put it on with a rather soft brush so I get a nice thin coat. The brush I'm using is a soft old watercolor wash brush, a cheap one that I've previously abused the hell out of.




thin coat done. Easy. I like to work on a bunch of pages at a time. I hate washing brushes. So I separate my pages with freezer paper or waxed if I have it, sheets of plastic, whatever I have on hand. I look at gesso'd and painted pages at this stage as part of the process, something to gain inspiration from.

Moving onto coloring the gesso. I grab my water color crayons and add a thin layer of crayon on, scribble it, no real pattern.



Here you wet your brush and thin the gesso just slightly, so it will wet the crayon and mix it. Spread it around and add more gesso until you get the color you like and the texture you want.



Coat a page with gesso, while still wet randomly drop a few drops of liquid latex paint (ore regular), just a few drops. And start brushing wildly around the page. Blend it in until you like it. I like to leave the areas of color unmixed. (I'm using making memories liquid acrylic. I snagged it on clearance with a set of sweet foam stamps. BUT it's not a bad liquid acrylic. and on clearance who can beat that price?)





All of these pages were done in about a 45 minute stretch of time. Sometimes I force myself to sit down with my jo
urnal and just color pages. It's relaxing and after a tough day at work, I need to unwind but I'm not in the frame of mine to draw, sketch or journal. Something that doesn't require thought like this, it allows me to meditate on relaxation, listen to some good music and really just enjoy a few moments in my own head with out a worry. Because really, how can I f*ck up gesso? (that's a rhetorical question and I had several art professors who were really neurotic about how gesso is applied.)

Next installment: Paint on a page, sandpaper, and watercolor crayons

Working on it…

Last night while toning some pages (that's what I call it after an art teacher who used to call coloring a canvas toning it) I decided to shoot some pictures of my process.

I did a few set ups:

  • plain gesso
  • gesso with watercolor crayons
  • gesso and acrylic
  • acrylic
  • acrylic and watercolor crayon
  • Gesso background with sharpie on top and gesso on sharpie

I'll put up a few posts with the pictures here, the pictures will only be here and NOT on my flickr stream. I"m going to shoot for Saturday to have those posts done and will post them starting then. I"ll do themm split up because they will be so image heavy.

Technique Video- Backgrounds

I hate working on a plain white page, even when I'm drawing I tend to go through my sketchbooks and tone my pages with watercolor or gouache. I like how it changes the texture of he page and leaves me with something more interesting than plain white or cream. Youtuber ricefz uses ink pads and brushes to create a soft toned background for journaling.

A toned background can also help get you past that scary "white background"syndrome so many of us have. I hate working on a plain page. The white page can be so intimidating, especially if you buy a really nice handmade journal. Last night I was starting on a journal that my friend Jen made for me. (Hardy Boys Salvaged book cover!!!) I was exhausted so I went through the first half of the journal and gesso'd the pages. Gesso is not a must do step for me. I like it but it limits the pens I cna use on the page- I find it's very rough on nibs and ruins them fast. So I stick to sharpies on gesso. I then went through the book with some colored acrylic (making memories brand- purchased on clearance) and added a touch of color to some pages, planned out an entry on one page but really randomly added color to the pages. After taht I added a touch more color to the page with my watercolor crayons. Mostly I added those becuase the acrylic tends to stick if I don't add something a little waxy to the top of them. So now I have a super cool journal about half filled with simply colored pages, ready for me to write and glue and pain in.

Totem Doodle

I found this website via the Doodler's Anonymous twitter. It's epically cool and makes you think of what you can draw in a small square. My high school art teacerh (Mrs. Friedman) had an exercise where you were asked to grid off a page in 1 inch squares, it had tobe precise, she checked it, then in each square you had to make marks, had to come up with as many different marks as possible. You scored better if your marks were all diddferent or you came up with ideas to make the grid work with itself. You could cross your lines (no crosshatching and no scribbles). It's a great exercise for a lot of different work. I feel li ke the totem project is a rift on that.

Whe I'm partilarly blocked I go back to this or a riff on it. Sometimes I draw equal sized circles on a page in my journal and fill them in with marks or faces. I"ve also folded a sheet of paper into equal sized yet small sections and done the grid exercise. I'm not as militant about no scribbles or cross hatching, after all rules were made to be broken and the idea is to free myself to get out of the rut.

try making a few 2 inch squares in your journal, go ahead now fill them in…