Tag Archives: mixed media

Tuesday, 4/19/11: Anne Lukas

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post.

The limelight seems to follow artist Anne Lukas. It may be the irresistible medium of paper maché, or it may be her open disposition, or a combination of both. For example, when two of her dioramas placed as finalists two years in a row for the Washington Post Peeps contest, the online gallery garnered 2 million hits, making it one of the Post’s most viewed galleries ever. Then when she moved to the Pacific Northwest 4 years ago, her reputation as a finalist of the Washington Post peeps diorama contest preceded her, as neighbors already knew who she was. And today, as she layered paper on a mythical creature inspired by a Dr. Seuss sculpture, the Muse storefront was continually filled with people of all ages, swirling with activity and conversing all afternoon.

A native Chicagoan, Anne graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in graphic design and worked as a freelancer and for small publishing companies in layout and logo design. Four years ago, she traded in Washington D.C. for Camas, Washington when her husband’s job with Honda Corporation moved her family of four. When she arrived, she saw a need for art classes at the elementary school level. She mentioned this to a fellow mom, which was all it took to gather a roomful of eager students ready to learn art basics. She was off and running as an art teacher within her first year of living in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, the Seussian trophy head was started at home, and shaped into place with coat hangers, newspapers and tape. She then stapled the mythical beast to a wood panel. Dr. Seuss has been a fixture in Lukas’ life as a mom to an 11 and 14 year old, and a constant at Camas elementary schools, one where she was artist in residence and crafted a life-sized zebra with hundreds of children. “Did you know Dr. Seuss was a sculptor?” she asks. Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, his father worked as a zoologist and would bring home horns and antlers that young Ted would fashion into imaginary animals.

She tore strips from Fabriano paper’s Tiziano line, carried at here at Muse. The textured drawing paper is heavier weight with cotton content, making it strong and pliable, and colors that are very fade resistant. Fabriano has been crafting paper since the 1300’s.

Anne learned paper maché technique from one of the founders of Mudeye Puppet Company, who invited her to his studio and showed her the ropes. “I like that the materials are virtually free, the creations are lightweight, that you can make anything out of it, even huge sculptures. The sculpt-ability is amazing.” Plus, she added, it’s great for kids. With cornstarch and water being the bonding element, it’s nontoxic and washes right out of clothing.

Her work with the students at Grass Valley Elementary to build their mascot zebra has inspired her for her next project in which she hopes to make another life-sized animal, complete with innards out of paper maché. Stay tuned for that adventure on Anne’s website.

This summer, Anne and friend Michelle have partnered to host weeklong summer camps, tapping into the duo’s combined areas of expertise in drama, art and theater. Kids entering 3rd grade through middle school are welcome and camps run 9 to 12 and/or 1 to 4 pm weekdays. Four areas will be taught:
1. Paper maché trophy heads
2. Puppet making: Including various media including paper maché
3. Puppeteering: Using made or a supply of puppets
4. Tile mosaics: floor tile and ceramics.

The last picture shows Anne’s sculptural piece at the end of the day Tuesday.  UPDATE:  The last picture shows Anne’s finished paper mache sculpture.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

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Sunday, 4/17/11: Thérèse Murdza

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post.

Thérèse Murdza’s paintings remind me of whistling: light and playful, simple, yet unexpected; and like all good whistlers, her skill makes it look deceptively easy.

Her skill was quickly made apparent in our conversation: her knowledge of materials is considerable. “Golden acrylic paints have a high pigment load, which is why I water down the paints so much,” she says on the beginning stages of her painting. Sometimes she’ll just use the water from her brush bucket for especially soft effects. Not only does this let her feel out the form that her painting is going to take, it adds nuance as well. She tells me of a recent interview she listened to of Stephen King. “He doesn’t outline a book,” she said excitedly. “He just begins with a vague notion, and builds from there.”

In contrast to her painting, Thérèse likes to incorporate drawing into her work as well. “Drawing gives it a definition that painting doesn’t, and really, it’s just about the elemental nature of making marks,” she explained. Sometimes the pencil doesn’t make a strong enough line for her, and in those cases she uses Aquarelle watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils. They give her the flexibility of making strong marks along with being able to diffuse the line afterwards with a brush if it is too forceful. A dulled utility knife lets her subtract by scraping off the top layers of paint, and letting some of the layers beneath show through.

All the inventive line work adds a lot of physicality to her painting, but the spontaneous look belies the process. She works in the studio, exploring different methods of making marks and techniques, which she then will use later in her work.

The rhythmic nature of her painting owes to her background in music, which she says started at age 3, with an accordion. It should be no surprise, then, that after seeing her work one is left whistling a happy tune.

The last picture shows Thérèse’s piece at the end of the day Sunday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished painting. UPDATE:  The final image shows Thérèse’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.



Monday, 4/11/11: Stephen Welch

Steve Welch is an artist and designer who creates mixed-media collage-and-acrylic pieces and also works professionally in digital media.  He says he follows a similar process no matter what type of project he’s working on.  He starts with a lot of sketching to generate and explore ideas, then he starts developing his ideas with a certain visual goal in mind.  As he proceeds, he allows new ideas and discoveries to influence his path along the way until his series of artistic decisions sets a definite direction.

Like many artists who have a background in design, Steve finds inspiration from wide-ranging and diverse visual sources.  Steve has a three-year-old daughter and has been inspired a lot lately by the art in children’s books.  He sometimes finds children’s books that might be more advanced than his daughter is ready for, but that he picks up because of the ideas he gets from the subjects and style of the illustrations.  His piece today was partly inspired by illustrations in a book he found recently, and partly grew out of sketches from projects he’d done in the past — labels he designed for a line of biscuits for horses, and flowers from a collaboration on a book project.  Steve likes to save sketches and ideas that he’s worked on before to adapt and re-use in new ways. Collage is an art form that allows an artist to bring a lot of different ideas together in one piece and also lends itself to a very fluid, intuitive process of development.  These characteristics fit Steve’s style and creative process very well.

The  last picture below shows Steve’s mixed-media painting at the end of the day Tuesday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of his finished piece. UPDATE:  The final picture show Steve’s finished piece.

Click on thumbnails below to see larger pictures.

Friday, 4/8/11: Jenn Feeney

Jenn, who has primarily worked in printmaking in recent years, painted with acrylics today.  Her prints, mostly monotypes or “painterly prints” are colorful, multilayered abstract compositions. (jennfeeney.com).  Now that she’s spending more time painting with acrylics, and sometimes oils, she finds that her paintings are usually in a more representational style.

Printmaking is a very process-oriented art form, often involving experimentation and accidental discoveries.  Although Jenn’s process when painting is intuitive and not entirely planned in advance, she does find that her paintings start with more of a specific idea and follow certain steps to reach a look that she has in mind.  Her painting today was inspired by some art installations she saw a couple of years ago.  She had taken pictures of some objects and sculptures she liked and saved them thinking she’d create her own art piece sometime with some of the forms and textures that she was drawn to in the installations.  In addition to reimagining her subject  by combining ideas from different installation pieces, Jenn brought her characteristic vivid palette to her painting, using some of her favorite warm yellows, oranges, and bright greens.  She started with a charcoal outline on a wooden panel, then built up thin layers of color, using acrylic glazing liquid mixed with her paints.  Her use of transparent layers give her painting depth and luminosity, qualities that are not always seen in acrylic paintings.

The last picture below shows Jenn’s painting at the end of the day Friday.  She will continue to build add layers of color and detail to complete her painting.  UPDATE:  The final picture shows Jenn’s finished painting.  Visit anartistaday.com for information about bidding on this piece.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

One day to go, two more artists, and finished art still coming in!

The last day in April will feature oil painter Marcus Gannuscio as our guest artist.  This is a change to the schedule as Vanessa Crouch is out of town for a family emergency.  Vanessa will still contribute a piece to the exhibit and auction.  We’ll post images of her work next week.

Today  (Thursday 4/29) three more beautiful finished pieces came in from Corrine Loomis-Dietz, Joanne Licardo, and Anna Magruder. Updates to each blog posting show pictures of their final work. (click on names in previous sentence to go directly to blog postings.)

Remember that all finished works are on display at Muse Art and Design, 4224 SE Hawthorne Blvd through Thursday, May 13.  You are also invited to attend the artists’ reception on the evening of  May 13 from 6-8pm, when the auction will come to an end and the lucky high bidders will go home with new works of art by this talented and generous group of artists.  Finished pieces can also be viewed at AnArtistADay.com.

Tuesday, 4/20/10: Stephen Welch

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko for today’s post

Speaking with Stephen Welch in person, he is friendly and happy to be painting on what he considers a “personal” project in the storefront of Muse Art and Design.

With a full cart of art supplies, Sharpie paint pens and acrylic paints are his choice tools. Line matters to Stephen. Graphic, bright color defines his work. He is a natural visual communicator with a professional background in software graphics and a love for painted illustration.
A Seattle transplant now living in Portland, he “moved out when Seattle was getting too big,” he explains. That was twelve years ago and today he paints and collages the image of a bamboo chair onto a primed wooden panel. As a designer, he has worked since the nineties. He works for himself as a painter. Welch is clear on his identity, separating design work from the “personal” work he does as a fine artist.  “’Steve’, that’s what my friends call me. ‘Stephen’ is the name on my bank statement.” This reiterates for me that he knows when he is creating for himself and when he is designing for the needs of others. Looking through his work online, it’s clear to see that he excels at both icon and image. The paintings he creates are illustrative, simple and informative. He uses familiar objects and active, textured marks in paintings that are friendly and fun.

“I’m trying a new technique,” he explains. By painting with Golden soft gel (semi-gloss) over a Xerox of his original line art, he attempts to make a type of transfer. Eventually, he lays the copy onto the paint board and fills the black and white page with acrylic, never actually transferring the toner. It seems as though the process and the exploration of this work are just as enjoyable as what the result needs to be. Capturing the original line work is obtainable by painting enlarged photocopy of small sketches onto the canvas and he delights in building layers of arranged copy and cut. Yet, as in this piece, the strong image of the bamboo chair is never lost, but illuminated and rephrased.

Stephen Welch’s work can be viewed at swell-graphics.com/friends.html and his original painted works will be on display June 2010 at Portland’s North East Community Center necommunitycenter.org

Several artists have included signatures, titles or notes on the backs of their works.  The last photo shows the back side of Steve’s panel — a miniature work of art in itself!


Sunday, 4/18/10: Jenn Woodward

Jenn created her piece today using acrylic paint and graphite pencils on a primed wooden panel.  Precise definitions and categories do not always apply to art, and Jenn’s work is a good example of blurring the boundaries between “drawing” and “painting.”  Although she skillfully incorporates acrylics for color, texture, and subtle blending,  Jenn’s first love is drawing. Her use of line, pattern, and the silvery effect of graphite show how expressive, intriguing, and powerful a simple pencil can be.

Jenn is interested in the narrative, symbolism, and psychology  of fairy tales, especially those with a darker and stranger aspects.  She is interested in exploring deeper, more contemporary messages and ideas found in stories familiar from childhood.  In addition to leading viewers to think about a possible story behind her images, she wants her work to raise questions and to engage viewers at both an intellectual and emotional level.

In addition to mixed media paintings and drawings, Jenn’s work has included installations and video pieces.  Her formal art training includes an M.F.A from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  Jenn also has a background as a dancer, which is evident in the very communicative postures and body language in the figures she draws.

Jenn started her piece today by drawing figures from some photo references.  She continued to layer paint and pencil, building both physical and visual texture.  By blending the acrylic and graphite together in some areas and contrasting intricate pencil lines against solid color in other areas, she created a great deal of richness and variation throughout her piece while using a palette of only a few colors.