Painting and Sunsets

Work and teaching started up again 2 weeks ago and I find that I have very little time for much else…pretty much usually for the month of September. Once I manage to get my classes in order and don’t have to teach something new in every class I will feel a little more settled. I am proud that I managed to memorize 120 names in less than 2 weeks. I will admit that it is first names only. I will recognize their last names when I look on the list but when I look them in the face I know their names…quite a task I tell you!

I have a painting downstairs that taunts me every time I walk past it but I just don’t have the time so I will walk past it and wish I had a bit more energy in the evenings and think that I will get to it on the weekends but they are always busy too. Eventually I will get it done. Probably when I decide that I want to use it for an assignment example and need to finish it!!!

I woke up to THE BEST sunrise last weekend and managed to get a few shots of it. It was spectacular and 5 minutes later it was gone.

I’d gotten up early because I couldn’t sleep anymore and when I let the dogs out I saw pink sky. I had to run for the camera because I knew it wouldn’t last long and was I every right. 5 minutes later there were just clouds and blue sky. Almost missed this one.

We had a spectacular bumper crop of red peppers this year. Perfectly formed. Bright red. They looked delicious. Except they were only an inch big. I have no clue why. Sad little things. They were cute…

They all fit inside a little, itty, bitty sieve that we have for straining the tea.

I have managed to fit in some art that is not school related. I am participating in the “Altered Brush Project” with Donna Downey here I thought it would be fun to participate in an international art project and have a little piece of me hanging in her store. It was fun to do and I should be mailing it out this week. Notice the bottom of the paintbrush where I created a scalloped edge! I really enjoy that detail.

So last week my students made thier art journals and I will have to photograph them this week and we started learning how to draw hands. This week we are drawing feet. I have two fun and unique projects planned for that and as soon as I finish the examples I will post about it. I had planned to get them done today but the brush took about 5 hours to finish and I am done for the evening.

Off to enjoy the rest of my evening!! Thanks for looking!

Fun with Gesso- Color Love #27

For those of you that don’t know I have been taking several online classes with Joanne Sharpe of Whimspirations and have been enjoying every minute of it! A huge part of the class is the Facebook group and I do have to say that they are some of the most supportive woman I have ever had the privileged to be a part of. The last class just finished and we were feeling the withdrawal so Joanne has organized that people from the Facebook group can teach everyone else a lesson. Each week until September, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a different student is going to present a lesson or a prompt to keep the color love going.

I am the second person up so I decided that I would demonstrate a little more about different ways to use gesso to create textural backgrounds using gesso and the supplies that we already have purchased for “Color Love

First I think it is important to understand exactly what gesso is and how it is different from acrylic paint. Gesso was traditionally created using rabbit glue and plaster dust (kinda gross if you ask me) and today we can enjoy knowing that it 100% acrylic (most brands) therefore no little fuzzy bunnies were harmed to make our art today. However that does not mean that gesso acts like acrylic paint.

Gesso is an absorbent ground. Meaning that it has a bit of texture or “tooth” that gives your materials something to hold onto and sink itself into. This is very different from acrylic paint which dries to a plastic finish and resists adding other art materials on top of it. Other materials such as watercolour will simply sit on top of acrylic paint and will not bond to it. You can put acrylic paint over watercolour but cannot watercolour over acrylic paint because there is nothing for the watercolour to bond with.

The advantage to gesso in the application that we are going to use today is its resistant capabilities. You don’t have to gesso over every inch of your paper or even gesso very thick in order to achieve some fantastic results. And the great thing about gesso is that if you don’t like what you have done you simply paint some gesso back over what you don’t like and start over again! Love me some gesso. Every company makes their gesso differently it comes thick or thin. smooth or textured. Adjust what you are doing according to the temperament of your gesso!

Supplies that I used for this lesson included:

  1. Golden Gesso (Use what you have!)
  2. Palette Knife (Old plastic cards work great for this)
  3. Watercolour paper
  4. paper towel for cleaning
  5. Container of water for cleaning
  6. Heat gun
  7. Paintbrushes
  8. Variety of stencils or materials that can be used as a stencil
  9. Variety of different supplies including Koi watercolours, Inktense, Peerless Watercolors, Micron Pens, Uniball Vision Pen, Gel Pens

Technique #1- Thin application of Gesso with a Stencil

In this example I simply applied a thin layer of gesso using a paintbrush over my stencil. I just wanted to see what would happen when my watercolour paint interacted with a thin layer of gesso. What I found is that the watercolour sat on the surface of the gesso longer and remained wet longer. It also automatically was lighter than the watercolour that was absorbed into the watercolour paper. You are going to find that this is a quality that is going to remain consistent no matter what material you apply on top of the watercolour.  And everything will need more time to dry properly!!!

Again! Everything needs more time to dry! Especially your markers. As long as they are waterproof and permanent they will stay put but you need to give them the time to adhere to the surface properly.

The materials that I used on the final “create” image was Koi watercolours for the background, Tombows within the letters, Uniball vision black permanent marker and my White Gel pen.

Technique #2- Thick application of Gesso With a Stencil

So the obvious next technique is what happens with a thick application of the gesso! Using the same stencil but applying the gesso with my palette knife (you can use an old credit card or other plastic card) I applied a nice thick gloppy layer of gesso and used my heat gun to dry the gesso. You have to be carful to hold your heat gun at a distance so that you don’t literally boil your gesso. I’ll show you below what happens when you dry too closely to the gesso.

After I dried my gesso I applied my Koi to the surface in a simple variety of darker blues and greens. I found that the surface had a distinct raised texture and I already knew that I wanted to try my Inktense over top of the stencilled gesso so I took a bit of fine sandpaper and gave the surface a bit of a sanding. This is one of the advantages of gesso. You can sand gesso, especially if it a bit thicker and it is going to take the material you applied off the surface but still remain absorbant. Or if you are concerned that the gesso is going to be too textury to write on you can give it a bit of a light sand to take the rough tips off. The image below is what it looked like before I sanded it. Be careful not to sand too much of the paper. It will create a texture on the paper and you will find that the paper then wants to “pill up” when you apply the water to the paper.

On this image I specifically wanted to know how the Inktense would act with the watercolour AND the gesso. I would say that the difficulty that I ran into was the transparency of the Inktense was challenging with the darkness of my base colour and did work better on the lighter gesso colour. I forgot to take a picture before I added the white outlining but I can say that I would suggest a lighter base colour if you are planning on adding the Inktense on top of watercolour.

Drying the gesso with a heat gun requires a bit of patience and care. What the heat gun is going to do is dry the surface of the gesso first and then as you bring the heat gun closer the gesso is going to start to bubble and volcano out and literally boil. While this can create some cool textures, (and if that is what you are looking for by all means do it) it also means that the gesso has not bonded with the surface of the paper. Therefore if you accidentally nick where the bubbles are you are going to be left with a patchy spot. Again you may be going for that and like that effect but it also could be frustrating if you are not going for that effect.

Now you can see in the above image where my heat gun bubbles were and what it looks like  when they get sanded off. Personally I didn’t care either way and I can see the advantages of having the bubbles and also see how a little bit if sanding is going to create an entirely different effect.

This is the last image that I created using a stencil but I used my peerless watercolours over top. The gesso really resisted absorbing the peerless and I like the contrast of the lightness of the gesso stencil and the darkness here the paper absorbed the peerless. And I love the quote!

Technique # 3- Paintbrush Application of Gesso

The final technique does not require you to use a stencil but to simply apply the gesso with a paintbrush, willy-nilly if you dare! I was interested in a simpler more organic application of the gesso. Something that was a little less texturally prominent but still interesting. Using the stencil means that the stencil is going to remain important no matter what else you do. Perhaps you just want to ability to have lighter and darker areas and by applying the gesso with a paintbrush you care going to be able to have the contrast of light (where it is sitting on the gesso) and dark (where it is absorbed into the paper) that is created when you then add your watercolour on to that surface.

I learned a couple if different things on this image. I had decided that I wanted to add a face to the image after I had applied the Tombows to the background. However I did not want a purple face. I knew from pervious experiments that the Inktense was too transparent and would not work…what to do. I thought that perhaps the gesso would allow the Tombows to be lifted off the surface and so I drew the outline of the face and a applied clean water just in that area and dabbed with some paper towel. Viola! The gesso had not absorbed much of the Tombow and I was able to pull enough off that I could paint an actual face colour. I like using my Caron D’ache to apply for a skin colour so I wet the end of a paintbrush and painted the Salmon colour onto the face. I did have to add a layer of white on top to brighten it a bit.

I did learn however that the white  Gel pen DOES NOT!!! like being applied over the Caron D’ache and adding the white pattern lines was very frustrating. Lesson learned and shared!

Finally the last image I made was to draw into the wet gesso. I wrote the word “create” but there is no reason that you couldn’t simply doodle patterns, lines for writing text, images… the possibilities are limitless.

Where I wrote the paper remained exposed so the Peerless that I applied over top was darker within the words and lighter where it sat on top of the gesso. My doodleing was done using a Uniball Vision marker a white Gel marker and a little bit of Prismacolor markers around the word to make it stand out a bit more.

I know this was a really long read so THANK YOU if you read all the way to the bottom. The problem with having chose this technique to share is that there is so much more that I could have shared and gesso really is an under appreciated material. That being said all of these techniques could be done using acrylic paints and you would have achieved an entirely different look using the same processes!

I love making art. There is so much that you can do using really basic materials and I hope that you create something beautiful! I added some larger images of my finished work below so you can see a bit more close up. The final image is just an Inktense background that I didn’t get to finishing but thought was pretty. Pardon the rock in the pictures. it was a bit windy and I didn’t want my work to blow away!

Now go Gesso something!!

Free Herself!

I have never had such  productive start to the summer. Usually I am so worn out from school it takes me two weeks to just adjust to a normal level of being. The first week of my vacation has been awesome and I feel like I have been so productive and not just sitting around watching the TV.

I have managed to be able to make and work on some art every single day. I have been bouncing around a lot but it has been productive bouncing around…if that makes sense?

This is a half finished page in one of my summer art journals. The other side continues the theme but I haven’t gotten to adding the details with the white and black pens yet.

The one that has been taking all my time and effort has been this monster! It was suppose to be a folded art journal that was 6 inches high and 4 inches wide when folded but I started it and just couldn’t bring myself to fold it all up. However now I am left with the task of figuring out how I am going to frame/mount this so that it doesn’t cost me a fortune in framing costs.

The real problem comes down to figuring out the best way to photograph it and I do have an idea for mounting it onto a canvas so i will have to blog about that later. Here are some close up shots.

I love this quote SO MUCH!!! I looked everywhere for a bit of a bio but there is really very little about the author, Monique Duval. The quote is

“She decided to free herself. Dance into the wind, create a new language.

And the birds fluttered around her writing “yes” into the sky.”

It is from her book published in 2000 called “Persistence of Yellow” found here and I do believe that I should own this book.

Well dinner is calling and I believe it is time to get busy making it! Have a great day!

Lazy Day

It’s raining again today so deck building is not going to happen and so I am having a THIRD cup of coffee (which never happens) and figured that I could do a post from my phone.

I do end up taking quite a few photos on my phone and I am lazy about transferring the 1300+ photos on my phone to the computer. So here is a good opportunity to show a bit of my days.



I had the opportunity to keep the mannequin heads from the hairdressing program and decided to push my students out of their comfort zone. These are just a couple if shots from my classroom. Some if the kids were really freaked out about it. Didn’t help when I turned all of the heads so that they were facing the freaked out kid and asked “Does it seem like they are watching you?”



These are two pages from my latest online class I am taking with Joanne Sharpe. Wonderful classes that are inspiring me so much for my own art and stuff that I want to teach next year. The awesome thing about being an art teacher I being able to innovate and change what you teach every year. I could never be one to stick to a formula and teach the same thing year after year. I can’t get bored in the classroom and changing things constantly keeps it interesting for me and the students.





Yesterday we went on a quick road trip to Dawson Creek. I have been hearing advertising from one of their stores about how they have the “Largest selection of tiles in the Peace”

No. It should say “The largest selection of tacky crap tiles in the Peace” it’s fine of you want a 80’s tacky bathroom tile with a little bit of carnival clown craziness thrown in. Who tiles with Barney purple tile or fire engine red 2 inch glass tile? I love colour but that was crazy.

Anyway there is this pretty cool garden place that we like to stop at. They had some crazy cool giant sculptures. Although I almost don’t want to write that my favorite was the giant unicorn, Pegasus. Especially after my rant about tacky tile and honestly a would probably never put it on my yard but I am sad that I didn’t take pictures. A giant horse, pigs, rooster, unicorn Pegasus, steer were cool but I can’t see someone actually buying them.

I did enjoy the giant koi fish they had in their greenhouse. I took so many pictures that I found out you can max out hipstamatic at 9 pictures.

So today is about bad disaster movies, perhaps working on the deck if the weather gods cooperate and more likely making some art!

Happy Sunday!

Painting and Cloudy Days

Went out to the lookout over the Peace River today and did a little painting  with Jen ( Hi Jen!)

There were goats….yes you read that correctly. Turn out the city hired a goat herder to bring his flock of goats to eat a noxious weed that has been growing on the hillside. I didn’t have my closeup lens with me so I didn’t get a really good picture of the goat but I might go back tomorrow to try again. They are cute with their weird little goaty eyes.

So it was windy and cold and I kept having to fight with my paper to stay still. I didn’t mind the chilly part so much but it made it hard to paint. This is the scene I was painting.

And this is my finished painting.

I’m happy with it and it was fun to do. So the rest of my evening is going to be taping together the pattern that I ordered as a download. 70 pieces of paper to tape together but it was better than driving 3 hours to go buy the pattern. My fabric is washed and dried so if I get the pattern put together this evening then I can work on it tomorrow. And maybe I can get a little more done on the mural. I am procrastinating on that one. Must get done before the end of summer!

Off to tape!

In front and behind

I went out and put a little work into the mural this evening. The nap I had this afternoon helped with being able to go out. Otherwise you might not have been able to pull me out of my chair!

So in front of me I worked on this

While behind me Lucy played with her new bucket. Every spring we get new shrubs for the yard and save the buckets for lucy to play with. And play she does. Usually loudly and roughly. There is nothing more terrifying than an 85 pound dog thundering down the yard, blindly with a bucket on her head and you in her path!

She tends to toss the bucket around a lot and it is really difficult to get a picture of it when it is happening.


It took 10 shots to get the one with her prancing with the bucket directly on her head. Nothing makes Lucy happier than running in the yard with a bucket on her head!