Saturday, October 31, 2009

Abstract Collage Workshop Today

This morning I'll be heading up north to Paso Robles to attend a collage workshop with Lynn Kishiyama.  The workshop will be held in her commercial studio from noon to 5pm.  I visted her studio several weeks ago as part of the Art Obispo Open Studio 2009 Tour and really liked her work.  Some of it is amazing - so I'm really looking forward to attending the workshop...

Here are several pieces of Lynn's work at her website:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Latest Collage Work

This is my most recent collage piece entitled "Grape-Label Trio."  I am currently working with vintage fruit-crate labels from the early 1900's.  I just love the look of many of the beautifully printed stone lithography vintage labels which are now collectors' items so I thought I'd try to incorporate them into some of my collage work.  So, I'm experimenting designing with the labels and having a blast while doing it...


The word collage comes from the French word ‘coller’ which means 'to glue'. A collage is made by gluing items onto a base. You can use a variety of flat items such as magazine pictures, fabric, photographs, and junk mail. The base used is usually paper or canvas. Collage is usually more of a two-dimensional art. Once you start adding more dimensional items to your collage, you are dabbling with sculpting. Art involves a lot of interpretation though, so what I call a sculpture another person might call a collage.

Pablo Picasso enjoyed doing collages, but you don't have to be a famous artist to do a collage. Collage can be as basic as cutting pictures you like out of a magazine and gluing them onto a piece of paper. You can use one type of medium, such as magazine pictures, or combine several together such as tissue paper, magazine pages, tin foil, or fabric. The process can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

Making a collage in not something you need step-by-step instructions for. There are, however, a few basic procedures you should follow to make a collage:

1. Choose a base for your collage.

The base for your collage can be as simple as a piece of paper. Using a heavier paper is a good idea as you will be using a lot of glue to make you collage. For the base of your collage, you can also use poster board, cardboard, canvas, empty picture frame, or any other flat item.

2. Collect the items to glue onto your base.

You can use almost anything you like to create your collage. A few commonly used items are magazine pictures, photographs, or fancy paper. Go through your craft cupboards, magazine racks, and even your junk drawers to find unique items you can use. There are plenty of other mediums you can use that you might not think of, check out this list of creative collage materials2.

3. Decide what glue to use.

The glue you choose to use for your collage project will depend on what items you are using in your collage. In some instances you might use a couple different kinds of glue in your collage. Follow these glue guidelines3 and choose the glue that works best for you.

4. Create your collage.

Once you have your base, the items you will use to create your collage, and the appropriate glue, you can start making your collage. You can try to plan it out a little bit by arranging your collage items on your base before you glue it down. You can also just start gluing them down all over the base. You can use a scissors4 or utility knife5 to cut the items you are using into the desired shapes and sizes. You can also experiment with tearing your items. Once your collage items are all in place, set it aside and let it dry.

If you need a little inspiration to get you started, check out some of these free collage projects6. Do one or two and then create your own masterpiece. Remember, collage is more a matter of experimenting with different mediums, colors, and images than following step-by-step directions. The more you play around with making collages, the more ideas you will get. There is now right or wrong way to do it; in fact, one of the nice things about collage is that if you don't like the way something looks, you can simply glue another item on top of it. So, what are you waiting for? Go have some collage making fun!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Painting Tips for Strong Compositions

Strong composition in a painting can be very intangible, but these painting tips will help you get to grips with it. If the composition in a painting is done well you don't notice it initially, you just know that the painting has something about it that's particularly appealing. And when a painting's composition is done badly (such as when the subject is slap bang in the center, or squeezed into a corner) the painting just feels awkward.

Initially you'll have to deliberately work at implementing these painting tips in a painting's composition, but with practice it'll become instinctive.

Tip 1: Where's the Focal Point? The focal point should draw the viewer's eye to it. Place the focal point (the thing that's the main subject of the painting) on one of the 'intersection spots' from the Rule of Thirds, then check the other elements in the painting, which should lead they eye towards this point. It doesn't have to be an overt 'path', such as a road leading to a house; it can be subtle, such as a color repeated in flowers. (Also, don't try to include too much in one painting.)

Tip 2: Did You Use a Viewfinder?  Isolate the key elements in a scene and check their placement by using a viewfinder. See Composition Class: Using a Viewfinder and Composition Class: How to Make a Viewfinder.

Tip 3: Are the Values Varied?  Do a thumbnail sketch of your painting's composition in just three values: white (light), black (dark), and grey (mid-tone). Now check how much of each value its got. For a strong composition, you want them to be in quite different amounts, not similar. Try this rule to start: "two thirds, one third, and a little bit." For example, two thirds dark in tone, one third light in tone, and a small area or object that's mid-tone.

Tip 4: How Many Elements are There?  Have an odd number of elements in the painting rather than even. For the reasons why, see Composition Class: Choosing the Number of Elements.

Tip 5: How Are the Elements Spaced?  It's rare to find neat and orderly arrangements of elements in nature. Just think of the difference between a natural forest, where the trees grow any which way, and a plantation, where the trees are planted in evenly spaced rows. Varying the space between the elements in your composition, the angles they lie at, and their sizes makes a painting more interesting.

Tip 6: Are Any Elements Kissing?  Kissing, in this context, means just touching. Elements must either be definitely apart or definitely overlapped. No kissing please, as this creates a weak, connected shape which will distract the viewer's eye, causing a momentary pause as they puzzle it out.

Tip 7: Do Warm or Cool Colors Dominate?  It doesn't matter whether the overall feeling of the color in a painting is warm or cool, it just shouldn't try to be both.

Tip 8: Is There Unity?  Do the elements in the painting's composition feel they belong together, or are they separate bits that just happen to be in the same painting? Help create unity by glazing over the whole painting with a single colour; you can always touch up the highlights again if necessary.

Tip 9: Is the Underlying Composition Obvious?  The painting isn't finished yet if the first thoughts of someone seeing your painting is going to be analytical: "There's the focal point, with a spot of yellow to highlight it, that line there leads my eye in, that object was placed there for balance, etc".

Tip 10: Is There Varity?  Don't get stuck in a rut and use the same composition all the time, no matter how successful it is. Vary where you put the horizon line, where you put the focal point, swap between portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) shaped canvases.

Steps to Becoming an Artist

Step One - Create art for the sake of art. Practice constantly and create a portfolio of your best works.

Step Two - Study art.  It's all around. Many artists pick up skills, techniques and professional contacts from other artists, classes and workshops.

Step Three - Choose a specialty. Fine painting and sculpture, illustration, cartooning, sketch artistry, restoring old art, airbrushing pictures on cars or motorcycles, teaching, making souvenir country pottery, designing billboards and making movies are all possible occupations for an artist. Some require special skills and more training than others.

Step Four - Be persistent. Most artist's success stories reflect years of courteous but constant work approaching galleries, art directors, etc. Be professional and show only your best work.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Potential to Create Exciting and Inspiring Art

Hello all!  Today is a new day - another great day to begin that new art project!  For me, one of the most exciting parts about starting a new art piece is the planning stage and thinking about the potential of creating an exciting and inspiring work.  Much of the pleasure comes from the planning process. Of course, we all strive to create pieces that are exciting and inspirational.  Many of you no doubt feel the same excitement when you begin new pieces or work on your art projects.

This week I've decided to continue my work on new collage pieces; I'll be experimenting with painted background ideas and hope to end up with a few new nice pieces...

Following are works of art I've discovered recently that I find interesting and intriguing...  Enjoy!

- Randy

Welcome to My Art Journey!

Hello! And welcome to my new blog! I've decided to create a blog to record my renewed interest and journey into the world of art. I've decided to challenging myself to work on my art every day and create at least two finished pieces each week. My goal and hope is to explore ideas and techniques and push myself beyond my current comfort zone.

I will be working on a series of pieces with several different images. My interests at this time are drawing, painting, and creating collages using mixed media. I will be posting exercises and challenges for myself on the blog. Any of you who wish to comment or join me in my pursuits are welcome to join in as you pursue your own creative art journey as well.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding what I post in the blog or the work posted here. Constructive criticism is always welcome so please feel free to send your comments! I'm really looking forward to pushing myself further with my artwork and learning along the way. Thanks for joining me...

Best wishes,