Friday, January 25, 2013

Interview with artist Stephanie Dalton Cowan!

This month’s Mixed Media Alchemy column presents an exciting interview with artist Stephanie Dalton Cowan, one of the featured artists from my mixed-media bestseller Art Revolution. She shares her unique insight as a multimedia artist and illustrator in this highly informative dialogue. Her innovative use of materials, surfaces and tools is inspiring!

Check out my Mixed Media Alchemy interview with artist Stephanie Dalton Cowan here:


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Create a Customized Paint Roller

Using everyday materials, custom tools can be produced to introduce signature mark-making and imprints onto the working surface. Further expanding the visual vocabulary, one-of-a-kind instruments allow for a distinctive, personal approach to picture making.

Masonite ¼-inch thick (6mm)
Heavy-duty mailing tube
Decorative fabric lace
Relief blocks
Paint rollers: 4- and 9-inch (10cm and 23cm)
Paint roller handle
Pastry spatula
Metal ruler
Acrylic matte medium
Acrylic matte gel medium
Molding paste
White gesso
Flat nylon brush
Cotton cloth
Hand saw

Making the Base
1 The plastic caps are removed from the ends of the mailing tube and put aside. Using a hand saw, a heavy-duty 2-inch (5cm) diameter mailing tube is cut to approximately 10 inches (25cm) long. A bigger trim size can also be used for larger works. Note: Bendable cardboard tubes will not work.

2 A 4-inch (10cm) paint roller is temporarily inserted part way into the tube. This is used as a holding device while the tube is coated. Three coats of acrylic matte medium are applied with a soft fl at brush all around the tube to seal the surface. To establish the imprint base, acrylic matte gel medium is applied to the surface. A thicker application of gel medium will allow for a more dimensional texture while a thinner coat will produce a more subtle relief.

Creating the Design
3 While the gel medium is still wet, the tube is slowly but fi rmly rolled over a piece of fabric lace to deboss the surface with an overall texture. For more detailed areas, various relief blocks are also imprinted into the surface. Almost any material, porous or nonporous, can be used to create texture. The tube is dried overnight in an upright position.

Assembling the Tool
4 Once the gel medium has fully cured, sandpaper is used to smooth out any unwanted peaks on the surface. The small roller is removed and a large 9-inch (23cm) roller with an attached handle is fully inserted. This will ensure an even distribution of weight and ease of use. One of the plastic caps is used to seal the other side of the tube.

5 A layer of molding paste is applied to a gesso-primed Masonite surface with a pastry spatula.

Smoothing the Substrate
6 A metal ruler is used along the vertical as well as the horizontal to thin down and evenly distribute the molding paste. A very heavy coating of molding paste will not work for this application.

Producing the Custom Imprint
7 The custom tool is employed by pressing it firmly on the surface and rolling slowly in various random directions, allowing the unique, textured pattern to appear. If any molding paste builds up on the tube, simply wipe away with a slightly damp cotton cloth. Since the tube is sealed, it can be cleaned with water and a nail brush and reused for other applications. When cleaning, the plastic caps should be inserted on both sides to protect the interior of the tube once the handle and roller have been pulled out.
Lisa Cyr
The demonstration comes from Experimental Painting.

Dimensional Substrates and Treated Surfaces

There’s a rich array of media available to creatives today, offering a wide range of possibilities for exploration and experimentation. Artists are breaking from conventional approaches, exploring alternative materials and techniques to jump-start their process and approach.
In this demonstration from my book Art Revolution, I use multiple substrates, collage, assemblage, embossing and debossing relief treatments and lushly painted patinas to draw the viewer into the piece. The finished work, The Courageous (above; mixed media, 30-1/4″x19″x2-1/2″) has been chosen to be amongst the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Spectrum 16) for 2009.

1 Preparing the Panels
A Masonite panel is attached to a poplar framework using wood glue and screws that are recessed on top. Wood filler that is sanded down helps to smooth out the surface. The panel is covered with Bookbinder’s PVA glue using a flat bristle brush. Starting from the middle, linen canvas is rolled over the glued surface in sections. A brayer is used on top to eliminate any air bubbles. When the canvas is fully attached, it is covered with wax paper and heavy books are placed on top to assist in the adhesion process. In addition, a rigid hardwood panel is also covered with canvas using the same process.

2 Securing the Canvas
To complete both dimensional panels, the sides are glued, wrapped using canvas pliers and adhered to the back temporarily with heavy-duty staples. Once the glue is dry, the staples are pulled out and replaced with small steel tacks.

3 Establishing the Values
A fully rendered value drawing of the lion is executed on the canvas-covered hardwood panel using a technical pencil and powdered graphite. Various round and flat bristle brushes are used to apply the powdered graphite to the canvas surface. A kneaded eraser and an adjustable eraser are used for lifting. When completed, the entire piece is sprayed several times with a photo lacquer using protective gear outside.

4 Creating an Aged Look
To create a weathered look, acrylic matte gel medium is applied to the canvas using a palette knife. It seals the surface, adds texture and dries clear.

5 Applying the Color
Sap Green oil paint is applied onto the textured surface with a cotton cloth in a circular fashion. Areas of light are removed with cotton swabs. When dry, the entire piece is sealed with a photo lacquer, using proper protective gear outside.

6 Applying Washes and Lifting Color
Pencil is used to mark the area where the smaller hardwood panel will be positioned on the larger substrate. Acrylic paint is thinned with water, applied to the canvas and immediately lifted out with a heavy-duty paper towel that has been randomly creased and folded. A piece of handmade paper that has been embedded with leaves is also used for lifting color. The process is repeated several times to build up the color. Transparent acrylic washes from the same color palette are added to the lion painting to unify the two pieces.

7 Treating and Adhering Collage Elements
Colored papers, in an array of finishes and textures, typographic elements and ephemera are ripped, cut, riveted and punched to create visual interest. The elements are applied to the canvas surface using PVA glue and a flat bristle brush. Painter’s tape is used to temporarily hold the pieces in place. Once they are glued into position, wax paper is placed on top and a brayer is used to remove excess glue and air bubbles. When the glue is dry, acrylic matte medium is brushed on top to seal the surface.

8 Debossing the Surface
Modeling paste mixed with gesso is applied throughout the composition using a palette knife. While still wet, the surface is debossed in an irregular fashion using heavy-duty lace with a stiff backing. The collage and modeling paste surfaces are painted with acrylic thinned with water and lifted out in areas using paper towels, handmade paper and sponges, leaving interesting patterns onto the layered surfaces.

9 Printing With Natural Objects
Several freshly-cut sprigs from various bushes are painted with a deep burgundy acrylic and laid down onto the surface of both panels. Gold acrylic paint is dripped on top and spread with a roller. The sprigs are removed before the paint dries, leaving an interesting organic impression.

10 Incorporating Typography
A typographic design is created on the computer and printed out on paper.Chalk is applied to the back for transferring purposes. By tracing over the outlines with a ballpoint pen, the lettering is transferred to the surface and painted in with gold acrylic using a paint brush.

11 Adding Paint Details
To both substrates, acrylic paint is opaquely applied using a brush and a palette knife for more dramatic mark-making. The sides are also painted to continue the image. Oil paint thinned with Liquin is used for rendering areas of detail.

12 Attaching Add-Ons
An antique metal door knocker and drawer handle are lightly sponged with copper acrylic paint and added to the panel as accents. The add-ons are secured from the back with flat screws that have been recessed into the panel. The two panels are put together using screws in the back. Sticks, wrapped with gold thread, are also added to the composition using a hot glue gun.

The book Art Revolution is at the forefront in exploring innovative mixed-media art that unites the disciplines of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, digital and new media art in inventive combinations. Throughout this highly visual book, insightful and thought-provoking profiles of leading artists and illustrators accompany stellar, multi-media work. In addition, exciting splash spreads feature demonstrations and behind-the-scene looks at groundbreaking artists at work, shedding light on signature processes and techniques. For artists who are looking for an edge, wanting to push their work further, this book will be a valuable asset and ongoing source of inspiration.

Featured Artists: Marshall Arisman, Brad Holland, Dave McKean, Barron Storey, David Mack, Kazuhiko Sano, Fred Otnes, Michael Mew, Kathleen Conover, Rudy Gutierrez, Lynne Foster, Lisa L. Cyr, Cynthia von Buhler, Robert Maloney, Susan Leopold, AE Ryan, Matt Manley, Stephanie Dalton Cowan, Richard Tuschman, Dorothy Simpson Krause and Camille Utterback.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creative Explorations in Mixed Media: 2D, 3D and Beyond!

This online workshop will explore alternative, innovative ways of conceptualizing and creating content-driven mixed-media art that is on the cutting-edge. Throughout the workshop, insightful and thought-provoking profiles of leading artists and illustrators accompany exciting in-depth, step-by-step demonstrations, shed light on signature processes and techniques. The workshop also provides insight into the historical influences behind contemporary thinking and approaches, investigating the origins of alternative, unconventional picture making throughout the decades.
Offering a wide range of possibilities for exploration and experimentation, this workshop will reveal how alternative, mixed media aesthetics is uniting the disciplines of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, digital and new media art in inventive combinations. For those wanting to venture outside the norm, this workshop will be a valuable resource and an ongoing source for creative inspiration.
Course registration comes with a digital download of Art Revolution

COURSE BEGINS: April 2, 2013
Check it out here:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Promoting Your Art

The 2013 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Art is full of great ideas when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. It is worth checking out. Editor Mary Bostic shares, “It is the must-have reference guide for any artist who wants to establish or expand a career in fine art, illustration or graphic design. Each annual edition is updated to include the most current contact and submission information for thousands of listings, including greeting card companies, magazine and book publishers, galleries, art fairs, ad agencies and more.”

There is a really great interview on me written by Neely McLaughlin called Embrace Inspiration in the book. It talks about the journey of an artist, inspiration and imagination, art and culture and promoting your creative work in the 21st century! You can read the entire interview here.
I highly encourage you to take the time in the next few weeks to think about your own work. Are you happy with the direction you are moving in? Can you make some changes that will breathe new life into your process and approach? Is there something that you always wanted to try but have not yet done? These are just some of the questions that you should ask yourself. Your responses may shed light on ways in which to improve your creative life and artistic career. To help get your creative engines turning.

A New Year with New Beginnings

As 2012 winds down, I began to contemplate about my plans and goals for the new year. In preparation, I went on a cleaning spree, going through my entire studio. I purged the things that I no longer use, need or want to do. It was quite liberating! I found things that I had forgotten about and was able to restructure and reorganize so that I have a better system in place. In addition, I am in the midst of redesigning the studio. Yes, I am in total makeover mode! The new design is going to be inspired by Professor Dumbledore’s office. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you know just the look I’m going for. There will also be a bit of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings influence as well. Since all great fantasy, world-building novels begin with a map, I’m thinking about using wallpaper of vintage maps to dress the walls. I am also on the hunt for an Art Nouveau spiral staircase that I can patina and use as a bookshelf for all my great art books and fantasy novels. In regards to decorative accents, I am utilizing lots of my treasured found objects, including a very cool door knocker on the entrance of the studio. Since this is going to be a long and involved project, I am open to any ideas and suggestions you may have that fit with my scheme.
In addition to the studio cleanup and makeover, I have also begun to contemplate on the direction of my work, developing ideas about where I would like to go in the years to come. It is very important every year to think about your work as a whole and the direction it is moving. For me, this meant developing a brand new website, and adding a boutique that would offer merchandise such as journals, cards, smartphone cases, skins and other such products featuring my work. I also have some video ideas in the works so stay tuned.