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Today’s newsletter comes from guest artist Chris Cozen, who has shared her blog posts at ArtistsNetwork in the past with both inspiring advice and tried-and-true painting techniques. The Chris Cozen Acrylic Color Exploration Value Pack features three of her acrylic painting workshop DVDs, plus her new book, Acrylic Color Explorations. Here, Chris takes you behind the scenes of how she creates mixed-media art with interesting surfaces. Enjoy! ~Cherie
Mixed-Media Art: New Ideas to Spark Your Creativity by Chris Cozen
Hello again! I hope your year has been as colorfully productive as mine has been. There is always a sweet hum in my world when things are moving on course. With my new book, Acrylic Color Explorations, ready to hit the shelves, I can finally start thinking about what I want to do for my next project. There are lots of personal things brewing, which have me bubbling with creative juices. This year brought tons of travel including a recent trip to Italy and the purchase of a part-time residence in Ohio (which needs a major overhaul) so my husband and I can spend more time with the grandboys. With all of that, I’ve been a little short on studio time lately and am more than ready to get back to work to try out some new ideas.
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As a teaching artist, I’m always looking for new ways to spark the creative juices of my students. I’m also frugal about my art supplies. I always try to expand the uses of any product or tool that I own. I prefer making my own collage papers because I know if I paint the papers using artist grade paint then they won’t fade as time passes. With lightfast pigments there’s no need to worry that your pink papers will turn gray. Keep an old book or a stack of deli wrap papers next to your work surface so you can offload any extra paint from your brush. You’ll save money and build a nice pile of papers as well. Painted deli wrap papers are great for all kinds of artful purposes. Just as many mixed-media artists do, I have stacks of Gelli plate prints around, which I usually tear up to use in my mixed-media art. I’ll share a couple of my favorite ideas with you.
I used torn Gelli prints in these compositions of flowers (above), just as I would paint. Tearing neatly takes some practice, but it adds another skill to your repertoire! I usually start with a wash of color as the first layer and then introduce bits of this color and that to build up a complex color surface over the background. I then add in the flowers as they develop. The color and pattern variations on the papers lend depth and interest to the overall composition.
Recently I wanted to “recycle” some old small boards and canvases that I had previously used for teaching purposes. I started out by covering them with a coat of gesso to eliminate all the color. As I looked through my stash of full-size painted deli sheets I was struck by how painterly some of them were already. I decided to wrap these recycled small canvases with the whole sheets of paper and use them as my first color layer in a composition. Some pieces were a bit larger so I pieced the papers onto the board. I used matte medium to adhere the papers and finished up with a final coat of medium on the surface. In the end I had a nice little stash of “starts” for future pieces. I love how spontaneous these pieces are and am really excited about getting to work on them.
Just looking at them makes me start thinking about how I can further enhance the surfaces by adding various sheer or translucent layers to them. I know for sure I will add Golden’s coarse molding paste to some of them. This will give the surfaces a lovely gritty texture with barely any loss of color, plus it will allow me to use pastels, pencils, markers and more. The trick is to apply it very thinly and scrape it very flat with the blade of a palette knife or a Catalyst tool. I cover a lot of these products in two of my DVDs, Acrylic Painting Techniques: Exploring Surfaces and Creative Textures. There are so many wonderful products and unique surfaces to explore. Since acrylic paint responds uniquely to various surfaces, there’s always a new adventure waiting for you to explore.
Before I sign off I want to encourage you to make lots of mistakes when you’re artfully exploring. You will learn far more from those mistakes than you ever will by playing it safe! There are always ways to turn your “oops” into opportunities!