Thursday, December 31, 2015


The next steps of the encaustic-look painting using only acrylics and acrylic mediums - from an article written by Sandra Duran Wilson in the latest issue of the Acrylic Artist Winter 2015 issue.

After the last application dries, take soft gloss acrylic medium and, with a palette knife, spread it over the entire board and let that dry.  (This is going to take a long time to dry due to our wet wet weather lately.)

Sandra calls this an isolation interference layer which works, when dry, to isolate the color(s) underneath.  When you put a color on top of this layer and don't like it or want to change it, you can still remove it by wiping it off with a damp towel or with alcohol, and still preserve anything underneath this layer.  So, in this step, she's protecting the layers we've put down previously before doing more.  Sweetie saw this (prior to the gloss medium) and said it's perfect, looks like something in a museum.  Of course, he was just kidding about abstract art.  So onward and upward we go!

The next step advises us to mix a little cobalt teal into heavy gel matte.  (I didn't have heavy gel matte so worked with what I had = matte medium mixed with a little cobalt teal fluid acrylic and some acrylic fiber paste to add some texture.)  Apply that over the bottom area and while the mixture is still wet, scribe into it with any tools you have, creating some texture there.  Make swirls or circles or any patterns you want at this point for the bottom part.

Then apply molding paste (I had a tiny jar that, when opened, was rock hard :( so had to improvise on this, too.)  Apply the molding paste, adding a few drops of white and purple on top of the paste so it's not completely white or completely purple.  Spread the paste mixture thinly over the top of the painting so some of the bottom layer shows through.  (Before you do this, you could remove some paint from the gloss areas or apply more paint to the area, playing with that to get the look you want - or just leave it as is.)

I'll show it again when everything is dried - I'm sure it will look differently then.

That's it.  Takes some time, but you don't have to go out and buy anything but a few more acrylic colors (if you choose) and some acrylic mediums (heavy gel matte, molding paste, soft gel gloss), if you don't already have those in your studio.  You may even want to buy an Ampersand Encausticbord to use as your board.  (Looks like I'll be buying art supplies with my Christmas money!)

This demo was taken from Sandra Duran Wilson's article in the latest Acrylic Artist magazine but is also in her book, Acrylic Painting for Encaustic Effects.  She shares 45 step-by-step techniques in the book, and I think I may also be buying that soon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


There are a couple of interesting articles in this issue, and one demo I want to try.  So, after the rush of the holidays slowed down to a manageable crawl, I got out the materials and began.

The step-by-step demo, written by Sandra Duran Wilson, shows you how to create an encaustic effect painting without the wax, heat or new supplies.  

All you need is a board, some acrylic paints (not fluid acrylics), some plastic wrap, a bit of alcohol, and some acrylic mediums.  

The article says to first paint the entire board (after misting it a bit) with Apricot (I didn't have Apricot so made my own - close enough - using Alizarin Crimson Hue + Indian Yellow Hue + a little Titanium White to lighten it).  Sandra used Ampersand Encaustic board and I used birch board I had - unfinished (so I hope that isn't a problem).

The first layer of paint has to dry before doing the second step.  

Next, paint the top half with Orange (again, made my own from what I had - added a bit of Hansa Yellow to the mix to lighten the mix and make it more orange)
and the bottom half with Quinacridone Gold (used Indian Yellow) + Magenta (used Alizarin Crimson).  While that is still wet, lay down some plastic wrap, making texture as you scrunch it around in the paint.  Let that dry completely for hard edges, lift it off before drying if you want softer edges.  I wanted hard edges so left that to dry for a few hours.

After that dried and the plastic wrap is removed, apply Magenta (my color = Quinacridone Magenta) to the top half and, while the paint is still wet, add drops of alcohol across the surface and let that dry.  (I didn't see much of an effect of the drops of alcohol and I didn't blot it - it didn't say to blot it so...)

Then add Payne's Gray (I used Quinacridone Red + Ultramarine Blue) to the middle area of the painting and, while the paint is wet, apply water drops with a spray bottle across the surface.  I like spritzing so this was fun.  When the paint is dry but the water drops are still wet, blot with a paper towel.  Let that dry.  Now, if you wait until the paint is dry and water drops are still wet, that isn't going to happen - so I waited a few minutes and blotted to get the texture look of the middle.  Unlike the top part with paint and then alcohol drops, this created a neat texture look in the middle. 

Come back tomorrow for the next steps - and if this sounds good to you, pick up the latest issue of Acrylic Artist (Winter 2015 issue) and try it.  It has a lot of good articles and beautiful work from a variety of acrylic artists - which reminds me, I need to renew my subscription! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Yesterday, Peru's Tree Service arrived with 4 guys, a huge crane, a wood chipper, and a bobcat to work on cutting down our very tall, very large, very dead ash tree that sits between our house and our neighbor's house to the west.  Talk about a nerve-wracking job, just watching!!  

I don't know how these guys do this but they were A++, working quickly, efficiently, and the boss, Jesus Izquierda, was there all the way, directing, running the bobcat (to put the large trunks of the tree into the chipper).  The guy who was hoisted on the crane into the top of the tree couldn't be afraid of heights or danger, but it made me hold my breath until he got his feet placed on a solid trunk.  

The company is named Peru's Tree Service because the owner, Jesus, is from Peru.  He works 7 days a week while he is here, closes up the business December 20th and returns to Peru to see him family for a couple of months.  This job was delayed from Monday (when we had rain and wind and rain and wind get the idea), so I am so glad it could be done today.  

After the man in the tree cut large sections of the tree away, the crane lifted it up and over to the ground in the front yard or close to the road, where it was cut up into manageable pieces to stuff into the wood chipper.

You see all that junk leftover from the tree touching the ground and the limbs being cut off?  They did not wait until the end of the job to clean up, but cleaned up the roadway each time so neighbors could drive in and out without going over all that stuff.  Very good cleanup along the way and I was impressed with that.

When the parts became too large for one or two men to load it into the chipper, Jesus got into the Bobcat and lifted and pushed the larger parts in.  

After several sections were done, the trimmer finally got to the trunk of the tree (still almost even with the roof of our house).  Cutting that away, he then stood on the deck and cut away the largest trunk piece.  While this was going on, they were cutting down a yew bush that was taking over the driveway, it was growing so large; and another guy got into the oak on the other side and trimmed some dead branches away.

We didn't have them take it down to the roots, just down below the deck.  I know the shrubs and other stuff will grow up around it soon enough for the birds to still be happy - and they didn't harm the oak tree that was right beside it.  Nothing fell on the house except small limbs and sawdust and they did a great job cleaning the yard and the neighbor's yard - and even stacked and oak limbs for our neighbor to use as firewood, putting it in his backyard for him.  

This job ended a week of catching up from being away for 2 weeks (why do you always need a vacation a week after you return from vacation??), errands, doctors appointments and tests (for my mother), worry (tests turned out normal for her!), running, sending out cards, shopping, etc., and I am glad to see the end of it.  Now, on to wrapping those last-minute gifts and planning those wonderfully relaxing (pass the bourbon, please!) holiday visits with family...

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season.  Take care of yourself and each other - we're all we've got!  (And just for fun, when at a drive-thru or in line at Starbucks or a restaurant, pay it forward and make someone's day!)

See you in 2016!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


One of my favorite places to visit on Anna Maria Island is the Olive Oil Outpost, a gourmet shop that also serves the best cafe con leches.  They don't make them with just espresso and milk (or cream).  They add a secret sauce and some gourmet sugar to the mix and it's liquid heaven.  I begin my visit with a trip there - and end it with a trip there.  Yum!  If you get a cafe con leche anywhere else on the island, you get espresso and milk (and they tell you that's what cafe con leche means - like I don't know that).  Anyway...

I took a photo of the owner, Kelli, making me a cafe con leche last year and, just before leaving, I painted this small painting in sepia and raw sienna with a little lunar earth for the coffee in the cup (wanted it to have a old-timey look).

I took it to her the day she was working.  Everyone seemed to like it and I hope she puts it up somewhere in the shop at some time - but that's up to her.  

I did take my Holbein travel kit and my Stillman & Birn watercolor sketchbook - I almost always take them with me when I travel for a week or more.  But didn't get my supplies out until the 2nd week.

Did a watercolor sketch of a pelican from a photo.  Just a reminder of the visit this year.

And just some color play.  Not pointy enough on the ends to be a starfish so just a colorful thing.

And another painting in the sketchbook of a pelican.  Could use a bit more but I like to leave the sketches as is from the time I did them - just reminders of a trip.  

This is a watercolor copy of the gouache resist painting of the pelican I gave Cindy as thanks for letting us stay at her house.  That one has already been shown but I'll try to find it and show it again to compare...

Here it is - using the gouache resist technique and ink with watercolor added at the end.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Just a few more photos from our recent 2-week trip to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Our second week there, we moved a bit inland (just one street over) to our friends' house - they left to return to OH for the holidays and let us stay at their place.  It was a bit of a walk to the North Shore and Bean Point, but well worth it.  So few people around this time of year that we often felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves as we were out walking and walking and walking.

Joe, Sweetie and Cindy during a walk on the beach.  Cindy is pointing out the turtle nest and how to locate it in comparison of the houses farther back from the beach.  A turtle came ashore and laid eggs late in the year (October!) and the AMI Turtle Rescue group was going to excavate the nest while we were there to see if anything survived (nothing did out of 49 eggs).  They also had a dolphin rescue the same day where a juvenile was stranded and had to be cared for (once it was loaded onto the truck from Mote Marine Aquarium.  (We missed the whole thing since we left that morning to drive south to Punta Gorda to visit old friends of Jerry's who started the Gerace Research Center in the Bahamas - so I read about it online after the fact.)

Looking from the beach towards the land, the McMansions all in the row.  Loved that cloud mass over them!  Most of these are not rented out (or are rented for $3,000-$4,000 a week), but are owned by people who just visit occasionally- so empty a lot of the time.  Joe told me Cameron Diaz owns one of them but didn't point out which one.  I guess it's an investment?  

Little tracks around a feather.  Wonder why they didn't walk over the feather?  

Nothing more energizing and peaceful at the same time as walking on a white sandy beach with few people around, watching the waves lapping the shore, looking down for beach finds or nature's art :)

Monday, December 14, 2015


After a two-week sojourn to Anna Maria Island in Florida recently, we return to 70F all weekend!  And hear of flooding and torrential rains in the west coast.  The weather patterns are certainly moving in strange ways lately.  

We were due to have a large ash tree cut down this morning. It's very very close to our house and the neighbor's house and it was worrying us - with winter coming and windy conditions, we didn't want a large limb falling on either roof.  So after a gorgeous warm sunny 70F weekend, we get rain and rain and rain today :(  

So what are you gonna do?  

Share photos taken from our trip to Florida!

The drive from Tampa to Anna Maria Island takes us over the Skyway Bridge just south of St. Pete.  An amazing structure we can see from the beach on AMI.  It does look like we're driving up and up into...what???

Our first morning in the house on North Shore.  Warm, golden sun hitting the sand, the trees, and the Rod and Reel Pier.  The house we stayed in the first week was between the Rod and Reel Pier and the Anna Maria City Pier so good views on either side while sitting out and watching the birds.  

Unfortunately, the red tide (an algal growth that kills fish and is not healthy for humans, either) was making the rounds in Tampa Bay and all the way down to AMI every day we were there.  First time we've ever seen dead fish on the beaches - and the turkey vultures were abundant, taking advantage of the excess.  As long as the wind was up (and it was every day but 2), Sweetie and I got tickles in our throats from whatever was kicking up in the air :(  But still some crazy tourists swimming in the bay!!! thank you.  

During the second week, things settled down a bit and the air was not quite so bad to breathe.  You could see the difference in the number of birds and fishermen/women at the Anna Maria City Pier.  Many great blue herons, great white egrets, snowy egrets (they have the golden slippers), terns and gulls out.  Only a few pelicans this whole trip.

We've never eaten in the restaurant but are told it's pretty good - and the birds like to hang out and wait for the fishermen/women to bring up something nice.

Big Blue visited our part of the beach every day, morning and evening.  He could catch and swallow some pretty big fish!!

I'm not crabby to be home.  It's still warm and nice and unbelievable for December in Kentucky!  I left this little crab shell behind but I'm sure I'll find more when I return next year.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Final geode done while playing with the acrylic inks on TerraSkin covered with acrylic gloss medium and then string gel drizzled over to get the shapes.

5 x 7 inches

Geode: Blue

I think using the acrylic gloss (or matte) medium over the TerraSkin works but not the string gel because when you drop color into the area, it cleaves to the string gel and then it's hard to get value changes without disturbing the gel and making a bit of a mess on your brush.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Again, on TerraSkin "paper" that has been covered with acrylic gloss medium and allowed to dry.  Then the acrylic ink color dripped onto the paper and allowed to move into a shape of a geode.  Did not use the string gel with this one but kept lifting the color before it dried (with a damp brush).

4 x 6 inches

Geode: Red and Pink

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


More geode paintings on TerraSkin covered with acrylic gloss medium.  Lifted some of the color with a damp brush before it dried so I could get some value shifts.

4 x 6 inches

Geode: Green

(Sorry about the glare from the light.)

Monday, December 7, 2015


TerraSkin "paper" that is coated in acrylic gloss medium, allowed to dry and then dripped on acrylic inks from the bottle.  

On this one, I also drizzled string gel (acrylic) in the shape of the geode before dropping in the color.  It is not easy to get a good value shift from dark to light because the inks want to bleed together.  

The paper is cut down to 5 x 7 inches.

Geode: Golden

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Third abstract in my sketchbook.

Here it is, with the addition of the Inktense and Graphitint pencils.

The Elephant in the Room? ha ha

Not sure this one is worth carrying on with fluid acrylics on watercolor paper.

So I'll move on to the next one and see what comes from it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


I removed the masking fluid and am now directly painting the subject, lily pad and flowers/shadows.

Slow and steady wins the race with this one, I think - before, I rushed through and made a mess.

Still not finished, but getting close.

I cannot believe it is December!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


While waiting for the glazing on the water lilies to dry, I am still playing with abstracts in the Aquabee sketchbook.

First, black and white in the sketchbook.

Then adding color and texture with the graphitint and inktense pencils (water soluable).

Using this as a guide, I choose the fluid acrylics and paint it on watercolor paper, making changes as it feels right.

And what do I get?

Something turned on it's side and changed too much?  That separation from muted on the left to more distinct black lines and colors on the right will have to be fixed.  I do like the rusty bits with burnt sienna and turquoise and drizzles.  

This one may have to stew a bit...