How many lessons can you learn from one art piece?

At least three, I have discovered!  Thinking ahead to my upcoming show in July at our local Dunn Bros, I’ve been working really hard thinking through ideas and creating new pieces.  One would think that after 5-plus years of making art, there would be a few lessons that that I wouldn’t need to revisit….but noooo!

Living in northern Minnesota, white-tail deer are abundant, and seeing them is always a delight…except if they’re crossing the road while one is driving…then, not so much!

I’ve been wanting to make some deer art for a long time.  After seeing Kent Youngstrom’s “drippy deer”, I was inspired to use one of my photos to create my interpretation of a “drippy deer”.  Thanks to my husband, I have several deer photos that could be made into art.

My process is almost always to begin with a layer of collage papers from my collection.  This is one of the most enjoyable phases, as I love to look through old books to find suitable material.  I also go through my boxes of maps, calendars and decorative paper until I find what I think is the right balance of these items.


Base layer of collage papers plus a bit of white paint.

I learned from another artist that it’s good to adhere papers with gel medium, but to wait and add a topcoat of the gel after initial layer has dried.  That was the first lesson I re-learned from this piece.  I got impatient and didn’t add a coat of gel medium after the base layer had dried.  When I started to add additional layers of paint, they just sunk into the paper, which made it difficult to remove bits I didn’t like.  Lesson #1  – Always seal your collage papers with a layer of gel medium!  I won’t make that mistake again.


Adding paint and pattern. This is where it would have been nice to be able to remove what I didn’t like.

However, part of being an artist is learning to work with mistakes.  It’s amazing what a little titan buff or white paint can do to tone things down.  After muting the background a bit, I used Saral paper to transfer a deer photo that I had enlarged at the local copy shop.


My deer photo in turquoise paint. I splattered some rubbing alcohol while the paint was still wet to create more interest.

What I learned at this stage was in regards to the drips at the top of the piece.  Always make sure you have the correct consistency of paint or ink to make good drips!  I struggled, trying to use what I had on hand, and couldn’t wipe it off easily because the underlayer hadn’t been properly sealed!  Uggh!

Next, I used another layer of turquoise ink to define the deer a bit.  My husband, who has a very good eye, thought I should also create some subtle shading to define the eye and mouth areas.


The subtle shading of the eyes and mouth makes the deer look like it has a very small head! (18x24x1.5 inches on wood panel)

Yes, it may be hard to see from the photo, but the shading makes the deer’s head look very small.  We actually had some good laughs about that, which leads me to lesson # three…Always keep a sense of humor about your art!  In the grand scheme of things…it’s only art.  Nobody dies if you make a mistake or don’t like what you’ve created.  Plus, the laughter will probably inspire you to come up with a great solution!

This piece is almost complete.  I just need to decide how to proceed with the shading of the deer’s face, and maybe change some details in the body.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I’d love to hear about the lesson’s you’ve learned from making art, as well.

Happy weekend,