Fifty Phrases Series – #1 “Relax”

This piece was part of my preparation to send my first daughter to college, which happened yesterday.  It was also inspired by our current journey through the teen years with my younger two children, now almost 14 and 17.


“Relax” – 12x12x1.5 in. Mixed media on cradled birch panel


detail photo

This piece was fun to create.  I started with a base layer of collage papers and created a peeled paint effect with Vaseline and layers of contrasting color.  I finished by adding the stenciled word with drips and yellow stenciled designs to make the color story more cohesive.

I’d love to hear what word or phrase you say to yourself when family life gets stressful or challenging.

Thanks for visiting my blog and have a great day!



“Sunburst” – working with mistakes

Measure twice, cut once!  Elementary, isn’t it?  And yet I failed to do so when creating this piece.  This piece was my first attempt at creating a colorful version of a photo I had seen that used laminate pieces on a plain white background.  I didn’t print the original photo, as I wanted to use my own measurements and design sense.


Working out design with colors and values on 24x24in scrap plywood


Super heavy gesso was used to create texture on a cradled birch panel. I used different texture tools, as these stencils didn’t give the effect I was looking for.


Detail of texture and base layer of yellow.

When I started to collage my design onto the prepared background, I realized that some of my strips weren’t the right width, and I was going to have gaps where the strips weren’t wide enough.  At that point I decided to work with this mistake rather than recut strips.  My motivation was to embrace the opportunities that come with mistakes, and hopefully create something even better than my original idea.  (Hmm…the parallels between art and life are striking sometimes!)

The gold center and thin strips were my answer to this dilemma, and I think served to make the piece much better.


detail photo


“Sunburst” – mixed media collage on 24x24in cradled birch panel.

After warming up the yellow background with naples yellow and adding a little distress ink, the piece is finished.

Thanks again for visiting my blog.  Have a great day!


“Branching Out” – trying a new color scheme

I recently saw a photo of an interesting collage that featured what looked like thin pieces of laminate on a plain white background.  My mind immediately started translating it into “mixed media” and I thought it would be fun to create a similar piece in a bright color scheme.  My quilting background came in handy as I chose patterned papers, figured out appropriate widths for cutting strips and created a new design.  My original color scheme was bright pink, orange, lavender and white.  However, after getting a little crazy preparing the background, that color scheme just didn’t seem to work.

Many art experts say you should never fall in love with your background….but I did!  Rather than viewing the disparate background as a problem, I chose to go with it and make a whole new design in a new color scheme to use it.


Base layer of papers on 24x24in cradled birch panel


The glue – I prefer the gloss heavy gel, but didn’t have enough. I’ve found that the heavy gel adheres papers flatter than lighter versions.


Design in place. I forgot to take a photo of the background before adhering strips.


After applying a base coat of Mod Podge, and letting it dry completely, I used Faber Castell Big Brush Pens to add shading to the strips.  The Mod Podge works better than other mediums to allow smudging of color before the ink dries and becomes permanent.


“Branching Out” – mixed media collage on 24x24in cradled birch panel

The final photo shows the piece with a bit of blue added to background and a layer of brown glaze to unify the background color.  I think it’s finished, but may tweak the glaze tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting.  Have a great day!