and other braindrops


comforts of home

It's been forever since I've written a "how to" and it feels good to organize my thoughts this way. As you may have gathered I am infatuated with the idea of controlling the entire presentation and narrative of my paintings. It's not just enough for me to paint anymore. I want to extend the paintings onto the wall and present collectors with an entire package. It's also an excuse to brush off my textile design skills and add more pattern, color, and texture to the overall compositions. While everyone else is painting minimalist abstract splashes of color on clean edged box canvases, I'm over here in my corner pushing the idea of more is more is more. Seems I'm destined to exist outside of the mainstream but I'm cool with it.

The idea for this particular painting literally came to me as I was waking up one morning. Nothing too complex in it's construction and conception, but impact from pattern. I recently completed this small painting in miniature and I really like the look of these flowers against the collaged ground. Continuing in this theme I wanted to combine the idea of the stamped flowers with the crocheted border from another painting.

Ages ago I picked up this book by Kaffe Fassett and I'm always referring to it for color ideas. I started to add a link on Amazon for you to pick up a copy for yourselves but it ranged from $104-$800 and don't get me wrong, while I think it's a great book, I think a triple digit investment might be pushing it. So here's a link Kaffe's online presence. Free!

Originally I was inspired by the colors in this neutral photo spread below. Honestly, if you look at enough of his photos and creations you start to see a part of my inspiration for large portions of my work. I love a lot of color but I don't care for garish and bright cheap color. I prefer nuanced softer brights and chalky pastels. However, after I looked at this neutral combo I'd painted it wasn't giving me the warm cozy feeling I was after. I'm planning on recreating the neutral version for a different piece, so don't be alarmed :~) After much experimenting the red border is where I ended up. Like a warm hug hanging on the wall. Can't you just feel it?! (You should be able to click scroll on this mini gallery below and see the full photos.) Tell me what you think!

So who wants a little quick tutorial? This isn't going to be rife with photos and step by step instructions. It's more of an overview of how I got from A to B. I have one caveat. Please create your own designs. Look around your world and come up with something other than block printed flowers and crochet granny squares. Your inspirations should come filtered thru your own personal experiences--not mine. I look forward to seeing what you do.

Ok. The fun stuff.

Instructions for Layered frame and collage presentation.

I create my frames out of primed lumber from a big box home store. I usually buy 4" and 6" wide boards. I usually cut them using rail and stile method meaning the 2 top boards are one length and the 2 side boards are smaller. Because I'm using scrap pieces for these smaller works I cut them all the same length and arranged accordingly.

Using a Kreg Pocket Hole jig I drill holes and attach the boards together on the back.

Once the 4 boards are screwed together I screw a piece of luan to the back. This creates a nice sturdy unit. (Luan is basic floor underlayment.)

Here's where it gets fun. Personally I love texture and how it enhances the way I layer colors. I will often use GOLDEN Fiber Paste applied with a palette knife. I don't cover the entire surface of the frame. Just bits and pieces in well chosen areas. This needs to be left to dry for a few hours if not overnight.

A base coat unifies the surface and serves as the beginnings of an underpainting. Here I chose black but I often use red or leftover paint from my palette. Now the frame ready to paint and design. You could gild it or add copper foil for a modern rustic frame. Faux finish it with layers and layers of color maybe? This is now just another surface on which to paint so think outside of the box.

For my artwork in the center of the composition I started with a cut linoleum block I made at the studio in Ireland. You can find easy cut blocks on all of the online art shops like Dick Blick and Jerry's Artarama. Google "E Z cut linoleum". Simple designs are the best if you're just starting out. And ALWAYS keep your hands BEHIND the knife and cut away from you!!!

(If you folks are interested in more specific instructions for these art making techniques please let me know.)

I boogered up the first flower print so edited him out of my final composition. Printing for me is like cooking pancakes--one for the pan sacrificed in the beginning.

After adding some color around the block prints I experimented with shapes of scrap collage fodder. You can see in this mini composition what I referenced earlier about color. A little bright green is fine but I always temper the brights with softness. If you can ignore the first flower you can see how the composition starts to add the illusion of depth with that diagonal line on the left. Using GOLDEN soft gel I attached the composition to a piece of luan cut about 1" smaller than the inside measurement of my frame.

While you're working on painting the frame, don't forget to paint the outside and inside edges of your frame as well as the outside edges of the base luan that you attached to the back.

Attach the artwork to the base with wood glue or similar appropriate adhesive. Affix hanging hardware to the back.

That's all I've got for you today. No idea what brain drops await for next week. I really need to start filming for my online course. Maybe I'll write about what I've got in mind and you can chime in.

~staci xo


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staci at staciswider dot com