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DIY LUMINOUS POUR PAINTING with LIQUITEX POURING MEDIUM

Big Flow - Acrylic Pour Painting in Warm Hues copyright 2014 by Linda Ryan
Big Flow – Acrylic Pour Painting in Warm Hues copyright 2014 by Linda Ryan

www.lindaryanfineart.com  <— in case my lack of tech-ability got you lost

Hi Friend in Art-

Here’s some good stuff that can help you make Luminous Pour Paintings at Home.  To keep it luminous, make sure to use mostly transparent pigment.

 

Small Acrylic Pour Painting Copyright 2015 by Linda Ryan
“Rising”, Pour Painting Copyright 2015 by Linda Ryan – this one was built in two layers  – oranges first, allowed to dry, then blues

Basic Luminous Pour Painting

Let Go and Create Using Gravity as Your Brush

It’s an exciting, liberating way to create beautiful, movement-filled, luminous art.

It forces you to let go of total control and let the medium and the pigments frolic and play to make some flippin cool stuff.

Of course, the more you explore it, the more control you have – but never like you would with a brush.

That’s a good thing. Free up.

Let’s Get Started

Basic Supplies (general list, detailed information to follow):

  • Poly tarp (heavy duty plastic can be found at Lowes or Home Depot)
  • Gloves
  • Plexiglas scraps (for practicing)
  • Cradleboard
  • Gesso (brand suggestion: Not fussy about this)
  • Liquitex Pouring Medium (THIS IS MAGIC STUFF – WOOT WOOT!!!)
  • Acrylic paints (recommend: Golden Fluid Acrylics or Liquitex Soft Body)
  • Small plastic containers for mixing/storing variety of colors
  • Dixicups (optional, but used for propping pieces off table)
  • Tub to collect paint drippings

Colors:

First, pick your color choices for this painting. I’m providing some of mine as examples.

Paint Group Suggestions

For your first Luminous Pour Paintings, I’d suggest picking a group from the list below; a few light, transparent paints, one or two darker, and a few metallic or interference colors. In your first paintings, try to aim for a more light than dark, create movement with a smaller amount of the darks, and highlights of opaque or metallic or interference paints. Play with one group of colors before moving on so that you can start to get a feel for it

Let go of the need to be perfect!

Warm:

  • Quinacridone gold – or transparent yellow iron oxide
  • Quinacridone burnt orange
  • Mixed blacks/brown (ex Anthraquinone blue and Quinacridone burnt orange)
  • Interference gold and/or orange (mixed fairly thickly, but evenly)
  • Any metallic gold or bronze

Cool Toward Purple: 

  • Pthalo blue (blue shade)
  • Mixes of degrees of blue (blue shade) or Anthraquinone blue and Quinacridone magenta
  • Quinacridone magenta on its own, or pushed a bit with pthalo or anthraquinone blue, or shaded down with a touch of pthalo green
  • Opaques – white, or interference blue, violet, or even a little gold
  • Mixed black from Quinacridone magenta and Pthalo green (may need a touch of transparent iron oxide to push it)

Blue, sea tones:

  • Pthalo blue (green shade) some lighter, some darker
  • Pthalo green, blue shade
  • Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide
  • Transparent Red Iron Oxide or Quinacridone Burnt Orange
  • Mixed black from Pthalo Blue and Quinacridone Burnt Orange
  • Metallic golds or bronzes
  • Interference gold or green

TEST IT OUT:

Snag a Plexiglas panel and some gloves. Put the gloves on.

Pick a light and a dark paint from the group you choose. Pour three half dollar size puddles of your light, three quarter sizes of your dark. Squiggle some metallic or interference pain around.

Start tilting!!! Don’t be afraid of diagonal tilts either, or reversing a tilt. The idea here is to see what the paint does, what happens when you tilt it sharply or lightly, how they flow together, stick stubbornly, mingle, drip it off the sides, make a general mess. You can’t ruin it – this is practice.

Find what you like, (or liked, as it probably changed as you tilted it) and think about what you did to make that happen.

Stuff You Will Want to Know

Mixing Your Paint with Pouring Medium

Mixing can sometimes be the most time-consuming step, but if you do it right, your piece will be better in the end.

  • Carefully pour some medium into a jar or cup, then add a few drops of your pigment, then more medium, and more drops. Pour carefully to avoid a lot of bubbles. This medium can froth and you can end up with a frothy bubbly painting instead of the resin-like surface this medium is meant to help you create.
  • Start stirring with a plastic spoon, lifting the mix from the bottom up. If you swirl from above, you risk introducing a lot of air, creating bubbles.
  • About the bubbles – Never shake pouring medium! If you do, you have to wait for it to settle down before it’s usable.

Getting the color you want:

This medium is almost milky translucent. It won’t be when it dries – it’ll be clear. It makes your colors look lighter. This isn’t yet the forum for a lot of color theory, but these tips will help:

  • Mix black from lots of drops of transparent paints
    • Alizarin Crimson + Pthalo Green
    • Anthaquinone Blue + Quinacridone Burnt Orange (My Fav)
  • Mix Great Brown by adding more of the Alizarin Crimson or Burnt Orange
    • They won’t look black or brown – test it on white paper or the plastic tarp.
  • Really Light Colors – if you want really light colors like baby blue, instead of adding white, which makes it opaque and deadens the luminosity, just use very few drop of your blue and let the medium separate the pigment particles and bounce light between them and give you your light color. You will be using light instead of paint to make a light color – as long as you are working on a white or gessoed surface. Test it by rubbing some across white paper or your tarp.

How much do I mix up?

More than you think you will need. You always need more than you think. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

 ____

OK let’s make a beautiful mess!

In your first paintings, try to aim for more light than dark in the beginning, create movement with the darks, and highlights of opaque or metallic or interference paints. Play with one group of colors before moving on so that you can start to get a feel for it.

Let go of the need to be perfect. You are learning.

Gloves on!

  • Pour your main light first – this is the most paint you will use with this beginning project. For your first project, don’t over thing where it will end up – just pour where you’d like it to start.
  • Add another medium color if you want where you want
  • It’s a fun time to put in a bit of interference or metallic if you like that stuff
  • Using small tilts, tilt to the side, tilt it away from you, and tilt to the other side if you want, and then tilt toward you to spread it around a bit. It’s ok if some of it runs off the side.

Add Your Darks

  • Don’t be symmetrical about this!
  • Choose where you want to start your darks. Try to avoid too much symmetry. Symmetry kills motion. Balance is good, but achieve it without doing one there, one here, one there, one here …
  • Add puddles or swoops of your blacks, smaller browns perhaps next to, in or near them, and then add some small areas of bronze and/or interference gold and/or metallic bright gold … these are just starting tips. You can totally experiment one you get the concept down.
  • If you want to lighten an area, you can pour clear pouring medium in that area.
  • Note—Adding anything to an area will push the paint next to it away a bit, in general, and even more so when you tilt it toward that paint. Sometimes you may want to do that on purpose.

Time to Really Tilt that Puppy

  • Try not to do exactly the same order of tilt as before. You can try a little tilt at first, at this point can tilt it the other way if you don’t like it and a lot of it will correct itself. Diagonal tilts are often effective at this stage. You can also run a gloved finger to mingle some paints together (this is great with bronzes, golds, etc. that like to stick together and float around the top).
  • You might want to get brave and do a big tilt or a diagonal tilt – or tilt and turn and tilt and do little titls. Stop and look at it once in a while. I had no idea how often and long I just stopped and stared at a pour painting in process until I started working on YouTube demonstration videos. I think I’ll cut those parts out.
  • Try to remember where your darks may have anchored themselves to the board – you may only see a ghost of them now through this glue-like stuff, but you will see them when it all dries and it can really change the composition.
  • Don’t worry too much, through, you can do another layer later if it isn’t quite there.
  • While it’s still wet, you can squeeze, drop or pour your mixed paint into holes that are left on the surface, use a gloved finger to encourage paint to meld together or swirl, or to shore up funky edges and gaps. You might want to use that gloved finger or the back of a spoon to soften up the edges if you do that, or to bring paint out to the edge of the painting.
  • If it’s started to dry, don’t add more paint. You can do a little of this later, or do a completely new pour on top as long as it’s all dry (wait a couple of days to make sure … unless it still looks milky, and that means waiting even longer)

 

Be Done Before You Think You are Done

When you are done, wipe off the sides with your gloved finger (just to smooth it out a little) and if your working surface isn’t level, transfer it to a level surface and let it dry on top of Dixie cups (you can add extra Dixie cups to the one side to make it more level if needed). Make sure the surface is protected – this can really run if not level, and engulf whatever is in its path.

Keep Pets and Small Children Away

I know from experience that cleaning up gooky cat paws and paw prints on a floor is no fun and the cat doesn’t like it much either. Rubbing alcohol can help the floor. There’s nothing much for the cat but soap and water.

Plus it messes up your composition big time!

Bonus Tip

ITCHING TO STILL PUSH IT AROUND? After about 30 min – 2 hours depending on your humidity, heat and airflow, the cloudiness in the top surface will have cleared just a bit and formed a skin. Doesn’t mean you should touch it! BUT—if as it starts to clear you don’t like what’s going on underneath, you may be able to nudge the underlying layers in a different direction by giving it a little tilt. This is because the bottom layer is still wet and moveable.

Don’t nudge it too far, you can end up with weird buckles and bumps on your surface. Sometimes I’m ok with that. If it’s not too thick, you can correct it with a clear pour.

Tips & Tricks: Tools & Materials

General:

  • GLOVES! – Always wear gloves. This is like glue and your cuticles will hate you!! You will need more than one pair. I always end up with interruptions while my gloves are goopy and have to tear them off and grab another pair. You can use less gloves if you keep a bucket of water around and drop them in it (and remember to fish them out later for drying).
  • Yucky clothes & shoes. You will get it everywhere. If you are a very meticulous sort, definitely use yucky clothes and shoes and make sure to drop some paint on them right away. Then you’ve already been messy so you can stop worrying about it and let loose.
  • Poly tarp or large black garbage bags to protect your painting surface and the floor. Poly backed paper tarps work really well on the floor – the medium dries faster on the paper. I like poly on my work surfaces, as my friend Virginia, a found-object artist, likes to peel all of the dried goo and create new art. I love that.
  • Airtight containers to mix and save the paint and medium mixes in. I’ve heart of people using Ziploc bags, but that sounds too intensely messy even for me. When your containers get too gunky to use, you can soak them in a bucket of bathwater (I’m in California and we are in a drought) and the paint will peel off. Same with your plastic spoons.
  • Toothpicks or – best – wooden skewers for kabobs for popping bubbles and sometimes to swirl your pigments together ( also like using a gloved finger or plastic spoon better for swirling – Less chance of funky white divots from scraping the surface)
  • Plastic knives, spoons for mixing and pushing paint around (I like spoons, but knives work well for dripping paint in a controlled fashion)
  • A level. You may be unpleasantly surprised to find out what your painting has done overnight if you leave it unlevelled. This stuff likes gravity and will go where gravity dictates. Always good to check it each half hour.
  • Paper towels, or rags
  • A bucket of water for dipping your gloved hand in to clean it off
  • Rubbing alcohol, for cleaning up drops and spills and, well, sometimes we start cleaning up without our gloves on and … it does not help het it out from under your fingernails.

Medium

  • At least 16 oz. of Liquitex Pouring Medium if you are working under 16” x 16” in size. In fact, if you really want to start to learn the medium, don’t get anything less than a 32 oz. You will jut get hungry for more, and that itch to keep doing it, and run out. Stop buying café coffee for a couple of weeks, or cut something else out. You can do it. Put it into your art instead.

Paint:

  • Acrylic, artist grade. Don’t use craft paint or cheap student grade. The matting fillers in it don’t work well with the medium.
  • Fluid or high flow paints mixes best
    • If you are a careful, slow mixer, you can make thicker bodied acrylics work with interesting streakiness, or really keep mixing and make it smooth.
  • I use a lot of Golden transparents as in the paint groups section. I like them.
  • Don’t buy pre-mixed black. Just don’t. Unless you want the black to be really forward, dead, on the surface. Then you should go for it. Post me a photo. Maybe I’ll change my mind.

Your Painting Support:

  • I like using sanded cradled board, with 2 or 3 coats of gesso.
    • You can use pre-gessoed Masonite – it’s too slippery for my taste but because of that you end up using less medium, so if you are on a budget, it’s a way to explore the medium without breaking the bank. It just doesn’t turn out as thick and luminous.
    • You can also use Plexiglas – it will adhere permanently to this. Not super thin – too thin will flex while drying and distort your work. Thin is ok for practice.
    • Canvas stretched on cardboard can warp, but is fine to use for practice.
    • The above 3 options will all need framing if you have a successful piece.
    • Stretched canvas sags and the medium puddles in the middle. If you like that, try it, but I don’t like the effect. I am toying with the idea of stripping a painting off the stretchers and mounting it on board, and then pouring over it … but I haven’t done it yet so can’t tell if it would be as awesome as I think it might be. Let me know if you try it.

Get Brave. Get Pouring. It’s Good for You

(cheat sheet w/shortened steps follows – copy & print it for your personal use) 

 

 

 

 

Cheat Sheet

  • Gesso your Board so it has time to dry.
  • Make sure you have gloves, tarps, spoons, etc.
  • Set up a level drying area.
  • Choose your color palette and plan what paints you need to mix into medium.
  • Carefully mix your paint and medium into cups, squeeze bottles, etc.
  • PUT YOUR GLOVES ON!

Then

  • Pour! In the beginning, start with your light transparent color.
  • (You can tilt and tip anytime you want in this process)
  • Add a lot less of a darker color – you can always add more.
  • Add some metallic or interference or the opaque of your choice
  • Consider adding a dark or light on top of or next to your metallic/
  • Interference to get it to intermingle better, possibly even swirl it a little
  • Tilt and turn it unless you like how it looks and make sure to
  • Stop before you think you are done

After:

  • Set it on a level drying surface
  • Pop bubbles, decide if you want to do any more tilts before it forms a skin.
  • Check frequently for the first hour to make sure the paint isn’t dripping off one side – you may have to prop up that side a little.
  • After a couple of days, you can add another layer. It will take longer to dry.

To return to Linda’s website, click here.

Featured post

Quick Pour Painting Demo Video

Rather than try to explain it in words, I thought I’d just use this to answer some questions raised by potential attendees for the Pour Party Events and future classes – this is usually the size we use in Pour Parties or Basics Classes –

And see what I mean by “Wear Painting Clothes?”

 

🙂

Mendocino Sunsets

I’m writing this after just coming in from a tromp around the headlands as the sun went down, accompanied by a perfect blanket of fog and mist.

 

On clear days, there is a constant stream of sunset revelers past my studio doors, straight down Little Lake Street to the headlands. This is a great place to watch the show, with a clear view and a complement of waves thundering against the bluffs below your feet.

 

Did I say that it’s right down the street from my house? Yup.

 

I have come to prefer the misty, almost eerie sunsets, at least here at the bluffs. And it’s not just that there are less people about, although that’s part of it. It’s gentler, not blindingly bright, and full of surprise sunrays peeking through and about the clouds and washing them with swaths of color and metallic golds and coppers playing about the fog belt, the clouds…

 

As I write this, my nose and feet are just about thawed, and after I close this, I’m heading back downstairs to the studio to mix up pouring medium and this new palette of pigments I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve been mixing and pouring color swatches on mylar since I got back after the extended family holiday, trying for a more Mendocino Northern Pacific Ocean feel while still retaining a lot of the transparency that I love.

 

I think I’m close enough to just go try it out. 21sheets so far. 54 color combinations.

 

Is that getting obsessive?

Spring 2018 – Pour Painting

Before I post anymore, I want to make sure to get the upcoming schedule online, along with some helpful links.  It’s filling up quickly!

Spring 2018

Thru Late April – Artist in Residence, Mendocino Art Center

Pour Painting Demos – Open Studios/Second Saturdays – 2/10, 3/10, 4/14 at 6pm, Mendocino Art Center

First Fridays Art Tour – 2/2, 3/2, 4/6 at 5:30-7:00, Northcoast Artist Gallery, Fort Bragg

Pour Painting Parties – 2/18 & 3/18 at 4-6:30pm, Mendocino Art Center

Four Day Pour Painting Workshop – Basics to Intermediate4/6 – 4/9, Mendocino Art Center

Artist in Residence Art Exhibition – 4-3 – 4/30, Reception during Second Saturdays, 4/14 from 5-8pm, Mendocino Art Center Gallery

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Basic Pour Painting Tutorial Blog – http://www.lindaryanfineart.com

Social: @lindaryanart (Liking my FB business page is very helpful – Thanks!)

Cool Hx of Mendocino Art Center here

 

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Inward – next few months as an Artist in Residence, Mendocino

MendocinoMiddle of the image, toward the top?  See the high school track there?  I’m just below it.  The village is really only a few streets wide, and the Mendocino Art Center played a huge – no, not just huge, a vital part in revitalizing the town. I’m so happy to be a part of it.

 

And, to be part of the amazing place we are in.  When the ocean is really revving up, I can hear waves from all three sides – the most often from the Mendocino Bay, toward the bottom (south).  The waves get confused there, and pound in from several directions.  But, when the surf’s really high, the loudest boom is to the west (towards the left, here).  They pound and pound against the bluffs and that little inlet, where there’s a bit of a cavern that echoes the sound, all the way to my studio.

 

I’m so privileged to be here, to be an Artist in Residence.

 

You may be surprised by that thought, if you’ve read my blog about the anxieties of my first month. They seem so distant, now. I’m not saying it isn’t often still challenging and weirdly lonely, considering that I’ve always valued time alone – but I’ve turned my focus to challenging myself. And I know, I haven’t shared much of the experience, yet.  Even a few lines from my journal would have been nice, like – Wow, when the mist clears, the stars are so bright! or – what an amazing sunset.  That would have been nice.  It turns out that I really needed to be inward with it before I shared.  And I’ve been inward.

 

So here is what I’m doing:  The Intent of my Residence program here, as I put it in my Initial AIR Presentation in the beginning of October, is to bring my work above the surface and to paint about the experience of Mendocino.

 

I had to experience it first.  Apparently without diluting it by putting too much of it on Social Media. There’s something about sharing … don’t get me wrong, I love to share. But when something important is happening to you? I found I had to enclose myself with it, for a while. Get it inside before I give it away. Let it have weight.

 

So this is what I’ve been doing.  Trudging around a lot by the Headlands, on the beaches, working to understand sea foam and imbed the visuals of the forever booming and receding ocean as it hits in multiple directions around the hundreds of rock formations and bluffs.  And the work is really starting to happen. Starting to get a feel for layers of rocks and water and roiling kelp beds and exploring new combinations of transparent paints to form the base of a palette that works with this newish medium that is always a fascination to me.

 

And, in keeping with the AIR Presentation, for a while I began working to capture the iridescent wings of the hundreds of magnificent Ravens in the area.

 

But that’s gotten a bit sidetracked. It seems any extra painting I need to do is either pure nonobjective abstract, or abstracts about the California wildfires instead. I try not to do the fires, but I find myself with a bottle of burnt orange in one hand and quinacridone gold in the other, and I have to succumb to the urge, yet again, and mix a good pour amount up. I don’t think these are for sale, or will be anytime soon, or at least perhaps I can figure out how to also help the fire victims with them. Especially if they keep coming.

 

And, it finally occurred to me, I need to figure out a way to do the roads in and out of town. This is such a part of my experience there – anyone’s experience, really. It’s worth it to get there, but I have yet to make that drive without sweaty hands.  Almost, the last time.  Almost.

 

Mostly, I’m challenging myself to think about my experiences here (and getting here), and be here in the moment. Then, get myself into the studio and prep panels and mix up the paint and be ready.

 

And let the creativity work out how to paint about it.

 

We’ll see how this works.

 

This is gonna be interesting. I started to type out fun … but honestly, parts of it will be fun. A lot of it will be work. Engaging work, sure – and that’s fun. But, not like a party. There’s a lot of introspection and just working involved. Heck of a lot more fun than when I was a paralegal, sure, and other than when I helped out artists, more fun than managing the arts center. But work. Good work.

 

Here’s to good work, then, huh?

 

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Pour Painting as Art

I love this process, the freedom and happy accidents that occur with it. If you pour, you know what I mean.

Sometimes the results are wonderful. Sometimes parts of it are.

I saw an ad a popular arts & crafts store did for pour painting, and I thought, you know, I need to put something out there about focusing on pouring to make art, not just arts & crafts. Because it’s fun, like crafting a marble effect, and freeing, it’s become crazily popular. But man, if you saw that commercial, you might see it as fun but their examples left the art out of it.

How to make pour painting art? Simplified, I’d say keep art principles in mind –

COMPOSITION: Composition, perhaps using motion and assymetrical balance as your guide, and unity. You may have a great innate sensibility already tuned to this – don’t discount that. But the classic lessons on composition can really help you create more artful and satisfying pieces and less pieces that end up stuck in the back of the closet.

Here’s a good place to begin for internet studiers

For a more thorough read, you can’t get any better than David Lauer’s Design Basics books. I’ve burned through and given away just about every edition, including the old black and white version. It’s college level, but easy to read and for artists, the short explanations with copious amounts of illustration and photographs are easy to embrace. Visual learners, this book is key.

 

LAYERING (and gelskin hack):

As you progress, you may find that some pieces have promise but just aren’t satisfactory as they are. Yes, you can layer this stuff. I can tell you from experience that you can layer, and layer, and layer … and soon it will start taking a really long time to dry in between layers. And note – with transparent paints, it’s much easier to go darker in layers than lighter, unless you start adding some opaques, which can be tricky.

You’ll also find that you can also ruin a painting pretty easily by not really knowing what you want to do in that next layer.

Hack: Try the type of layer you want on a piece of plastic sheeting, polyethelene, or even a large Ziploc bag. Let it dry, and check it on top of the piece. If you get an effect you like, you can either recreate it on your piece, or simply peel the gelskin off, and brush on some gloss medium or pouring medium, and apply it to your art making sure to squish out any bubbles. MAKE SURE NOT TO LAY YOUR GELSKIN DIRECTLY ON YOUR WORK, especially if it’s sticky at all.  They may become one.  And, Yes, your surface will be bumpy – try doing a pour over the whole thing (I usually wait until it’s all done, do a final pour and Art Resin to clear up surface issues.

This is only one example of layering – experiment!

 

COLOR THEORY (and hack): The David Lauer book is good for a bit of this, and there are tons of books out there.  Color Matters offers a fairly concise description – but what you are interested in here is how they are going to react on the painting. And, especially, what you might want to layer on. Sometimes a very light transparent glaze is all you need to tie things together in a beautiful way.

Hack: Use sheets of mylar or scraps of plexiglass from your framer, and mix a little of your transparent paint with pouring medium. Pour a large enough puddle of each in sections on your mylar and let it dry thoroughly. Us this to hold over your painting and see what you might want to add in a layer.  They keep for long use if you put a sheet of polyethylene (painter’s tarps) around them when you store them.  Note – The paint will stick to the mylar – this is not a way to make gelskins.

 

USE THE SPECIAL PROPERTIES OF THE MEDIUM: I’d go a bit farther, too. The nature of Liquitex Pouring Medium is that it has wonderful clarity and creates spectacular light-bounce. This creates especially lovely effects with transparents, metallic and interference paints (called color-shift by some companies). If you want to use opaque paint, you might save money and try one of those cheaper alternatives like Floetrol* or Glue, like many demonstrate with this on YouTube.  I don’t use them so don’t ask me for advice on that!

 

 

Listen, however you want to paint, do it. If you hit those paintings that are pretty but just don’t make you happy, seriously consider doing a bit of study.  You might find it fascinating and fulfilling to use it in your work.

 

the-rising-6x

 

 

 

The First Month as an AIR MAC (Artist-in-Residence, Mendocino Arts Center)

I almost wasn’t going to post this – it seems so personal.  But posting anything else about this experience will feel false, if I don’t admit the truth, and I want to post about the rest of it as I go along. Being an AIR is a worthwhile experience – but the start can be rocky.

First, I should tell you that like many artists, I’ve dreamt of doing an Artist-in-Residence program for, well, since I first started really painting.  To have time to throw yourself into your work, to have your total goal to be to develop as an artist, to isolate yourself for months on end and find out what you really can do, to stretch to your limits … wow.  What artist wouldn’t want to do exactly that?

Once I was selected to participate and began telling everyone I knew (if you didn’t get the telegraph perhaps you saw the message on the blimp?), most friends and artists cheered me on, but some gave some strange feedback, like, “You are so brave!” and “I could never do that!”  At the time, I brushed those comments off, thinking that they wouldn’t apply to me.

My partner caravanned up here with me on October 1st, helped me set up my studio and studio apartment in the Mendocino Arts Center, in the lovely village of Mendocino, where we are in walking distance of bluffs and crashing waves on three sides (okay, the third is a bit more like a hike).  The night of October 3rd, I was alone for the first time in my new place, but Duane would return in just a few days with a load of finished paintings, in time for the AIR (Artists-in-Residence) Presentations, where this year’s AIR’s would present speeches and a slide presentation about what our work was and what we intended to do during our stay here.

The first week was all setup and focus on the speech, and a little sightseeing, all soaked in a thick layer of poignancy around parting with Duane.  When Duane left on Sunday the 8th, all of the sudden I was really alone.  And that’s the night when the California Wildfires ignited.

I always enjoyed time alone before.  I thought I loved being with my own thoughts.

But – I’ve never lived alone before. I always had either a child depending on me or a partner to share life with, or both.  Being alone occasionally is very, very different from really being alone.

And, being in a place where no one has any idea of who you really are, what you are capable of and what you’ve done is both familiar and new, like re-breaking a bone but not as painful.  It’s like moving to a new school, except you can hole up in your studio and avoid people completely, here, instead of having to interact during classes, lunches, all that.

Getting to know others, and others getting to know you, well, it takes time. It’s really impossible to bring up your accomplishments without being a braggart – and after all these years of being who you’ve grown into, and having a sense of confidence around all that – wow, having arranged your life so that you lose all that is, in the beginning, a bit terrifying.

Add the wildfires to the mix, and to say that first few weeks were a bit anxiety-ridden is an understatement.  Even though the fires were many miles away, there were tens of thousands of acres ablaze in this County, my new home for six and a half months. It was my new neighbors that were losing everything. I wasn’t touched except emotionally, but I had repeat evacuation dreams, night panics that felt so real but truly were nothing like what those poor people had gone through, were going through, are still trying to get through.

Plus I missed Duane. And the cats. And my son. And knowing my friends were so close.  Oh, and my crockpot and our really nice knives with edges sharpened by my partner, especially the one my best bud Marj gave us for Christmas. And the bathtub and a bunch of easy conveniences. My own studio, where I knew where everything was and how it worked (even if it was so much smaller than my space here). I missed my life. Boy, I normally had it so good.

I took a trip home and took a bajillion baths, saw my son and my cats and Duane.

Let me expound on the absence of Duane, my partner. I missed him with the keen intensity of realizing that we are both approaching old age rapidly, that anything could happen to either of us any day and the chances of that increased exponentially with each midnight … WHAT HAVE I DONE?  We could lose each other any day!  Yes, this was one of the night panics, as I’m sure you can tell.

And, I felt strange here, like I didn’t fit.  I’m so not used to this. Even tromping around the Headlands, I just didn’t fit. The beautiful pounding surf just didn’t feel real. Like a pretty backdrop without the power I normally feel around crashing waves.

It’s not just that, either. A confident Linda Ryan can be a little hard to take, I know, but it’s who I am, or at least I thought it was. Once I started painting, I’ve generally known my worth.  And that I’m a pretty decent artist. Usually. An insecure Linda Ryan? Once in a while, sure. But – every waking moment? It really made me question where that confidence comes from. From things? Paintings? From people knowing what you’ve done and can do? It should be a thing that is anchored inside you… What does it all mean, if just being isolated can change that?

I wasn’t sure how to get past it, either.  But, sometime in my fourth week, things started to click.  I began to make friends with some locals. The art started to work.  I cooked myself a real meal instead of a can of soup or a sandwich or something grabbed downtown. I tromped the headlands and it started to become real. I wish I could explain that better. And, when I headed home to help with a Halloween event, it wasn’t with my mental tail between my legs.

It’s easier to look at a wave of low self-confidence when the tide has shifted again. I think it’s probably necessary if you are going to do some serious work, to strip down to skin. Maybe even shed some skin. Get some light on who you are, underneath.  Mixed metaphors and all.

When I got back here after the Halloween Haunt, and passed the first Highway 1 amazing coastal view of those waves pounding the bluffs, the power of it took my breath away. Yes. Next day poured a big 30×30 painting that is gonna really rock when I get it done.  And I’m excited about the work and happy to be here.

Mostly. I’m still a little off.  And I still really miss Duane and the cats and my son and the bathtub. I’ll get along without the crockpot, and I did bring one of the knives with me, to make cooking for myself a more pleasant experience. It’s the Christmas knife, the one Marj gave us.

Glad to have some confidence back, too. But I think the lesson here isn’t fully realized yet. I have work to do – painting, sure. The rest of it may be more important.

Linda

Arguments Amongst Pour Painters

There are so many cool ways to pour paint out there right now – cells created from silicone and alcohol inks, lots of ways of producing beautiful, intensely different work, using materials across the spectrum – from expensive pouring medium and quality paints to PVA (think, Elmer’s Glue), latex house paints and Floetrol, and more. There are many artists out there enjoying all of these creative explorations – and some artists who see these explorations happening and cringe.

 

What’s the issue, and why the arguments on the web? I think the answer to all of this is that both sides are right. It all depends on what artists want to do with their paintings.

 

First, consider longevity, and degree of salability of the work. If a pouring artist wants to explore, give free voice to their creativity, or give paintings to friends or relatives, sell them on Etsy or festivals where the sales price isn’t going to lead a client to believe that the painting will last, in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter.

 

And, the fact that archival or lightfast materials are much more expensive than, say, white glue, means that glue is just a lot more affordable for artists on a budget to explore pouring.

 

However, artists who want to sell at galleries or at gallery prices, or who want to create work with longevity, will probably avoid using nontraditional materials that haven’t been tested. They have to worry about the long-term, and while it’s not definite, tests still haven’t determined whether a water-repellant like silicone might create delamination down the line and cause an eventual flaking of the painting; that house paint, craft paint or glue might yellow or fade, etc.

 

On the other hand, the innovators in art have classically used materials that were often questionable. But their work can lead to trouble, too. Jackson Pollock is a prime example – he used house paints and enamels a lot, and museums are having a heck of a time keeping his paint on the canvas, and keeping the colors true. But that’s really the museum’s problem – he needed to throw that paint, and drip it, and it’s what worked for him.

 

Just because a piece might not have a super long shelf-life doesn’t mean it isn’t art. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy. There is always a place for something that’s a bit ephemeral, and beautiful to look at, and maybe intensely fulfilling to create.

 

So.  If you have money issues and need to work more cheaply, or if you just love the cells silicone leaves (make sure to read the materials bullets below), there’s no reason you shouldn’t create this way.  Like I said, there’s Etsy, festivals, lots of places to sell art where you can’t guarantee a shelf-life – but also consider making prints of your work and not selling the originals, or sign onto one of the many websites that will print for you like Society6.com, redbubble.com, fineartamerica.com – the percentage of profit can be low but far less hassle and expense. They can print them on demand for the paying customer, and be aware that they may end up on coffee cups, pillows, shower curtains.

And some just want to create, no matter what.

 

 


Notes re: Products, if you are concerned-

  • Craft paints and student-grade paints don’t have a high lightfast rating, meaning, they will fade over time, much more quickly than a high grade paint.  
  • Elmer’s Glue yellows over time, as do most non-acrylic resins.  Through an email conversation, a rep for the maker of Floetrol says that while it hasn’t been tested for this application (pour painting), it should not yellow.  
  • Silicone, or the treadmill lubricant pour painters are using to create cells, repels water, according to the Liquitex rep I queried.  Acrylics are water-based, which is how the cells happen – repelled by the silicone.  The rep also stated, a bit cagily (probably considering that the demand for Liquitex Pouring Medium (LPM) is high now, and due to the pour painting craze) that silicone won’t help it be more archival – and ended with the caution that it could create delimitation in the future (meaning, the acrylic could peel or flake off).  A few artists I know are trying to remove the remnants of the silicone with things like talcum powder; two are simply encasing the paintings in several layers of resin.  Others are sticking with alcohol and alcohol inks, which the rep said was fine to use with LPM as, while it repels water, it evaporates quickly and shouldn’t cause a problem with flaking.

YouTube is ripe with how to’s on all of the above – Good luck!

 

IMG_1409

The investigation into the Mendocino Art Center was super fruitful.  I’m honored to report that, starting October 1st, I’ll be one of the Artists-in-Residence at MAC, staying in walking distance from the ocean, through late April of 2018.  My painting studio will be right next to one of the main classrooms in the building next-door.

My intent, in this 6.5 months, will be to work to bring my ocean paintings above-water, infuse the force, spray and tide pools where the North Pacific crashes into the rugged headland rocks into the art.  I don’t intend to leave my underwater/ saltwater aquarium works behind, either, as they satisfy something “deep”.

I think I’m going to try doing a Video Log VLOG thingy about the residency.  I’ll let you know.

Woot woot!

 

 

 

Art, Full-Time

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Morningtime, 2017 Acrylic Pour by Linda Ryan

It was a wonderfully fulfilling and intensely busy 10 1/2 years managing the Bothwell Arts Center, helping creatives learn, teach, practice and create.  On March 8th, I handed over the reins to the ever-capable Anne Giancola, and am now off pursuing my art and teaching.

It’s been 3 weeks, filled with everything from updating my portfolio, creating new work, doing some private classes, developing a business plan and, well, catching up on sleep and long-neglected friends.

As I write this, I’m in our camper van at Caspar Beach, between Mendocino and Fort Bragg, California.  We’re surrounded by redwoods and the ocean is a heady block away.  I’ve been doing some research on residencies at the Mendocino Art Center, a lovely and amazing center dedicated to fostering the arts.  I’d really like to stay here and absorb the headlands, the amazing tide pools and the feel of the place, and infuse it in my art.  The painting above is based on memories of my first trip to Mendocino a while back, staying in a B&B in Elk and wandering solo along the shoreline.  We’re headed to Mendocino in a couple of hours, gonna check it out.

I’ll keep you posted!

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