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Tag Archives: abstract

Henn Laidroo2     by Henn Laidroo


Nancy Longmate2  by Nancy Longmate

The above paintings were done as part of assignments for a six week course in composition.

We studied creating a center of interest and learning where to  place it on our format.  The students created different formats to paint on such as squares and long and narrow rectangles. They explored emphasizing one or more elements in their paintings to attract a viewer’s attention. These elements included simplification, exaggeration, repetition, emphasizing the focal point, movement and contrast. They created paintings by combining two or three photographs. They also created portraits or figures utilizing the guidelines of composition.

Please check out the results of our class by visiting the “Student Art 2” page  here.

Thank you, once again, to all my students for a great class!

My sister has recently joined our blogging community here on WordPress.  I announced here, the release of her book on yoga for the special needs child in 2009. She has continued to offer workshops, lectures and demonstrations for educators, physical and speech therapists, doctors and parents of special children. She also shares with her private clients, helping them to grow and experience the gifts that Yoga can offer them. I find her work fascinating and her perceptions new and innovating. She brings a breath of fresh air to everything she does and an element of the spiritual always comes through.   One post I really liked was when she wrote of her daughter and the rescue of a little dog, Bella. You can visit her new blog here.

Welcome to WordPress, Nancy!   🙂


Another class has ended. We had a great time exploring watercolor and Rice Paper Collage.

Nancy Longmate 3

We began with abstract and getting a feel for the different rice papers and how they accepted the pigment.

Dianna Burt

Next we created something from our minds in rice paper and watercolor.

Andrea Andis

Then we worked from a photo of a building and created a landscape out of our mind around it.

Sue Mendenhall

Then we worked from a photograph.

John Kelty 3

The last exercise was to take an old painting and turn it into something new.

A heartfelt thank you to all the participants in this class. You amaze me. To view other examples of the student work in rice paper and watercolor collage click here.


I takes me a great deal of time to create these. They are never what I set out to create. They happen on the paper.  I am still in the process of learning about the different rice papers and what the pigment does on them. I like going along the edges with my brush and a dark color, most evident in the top painting. I also like washing a transparent color over what I have created to accentuate a mood, most evident in the second painting.  As I worked on this I tried to finish them toward the vision I saw coming from the design on the paper. The first one I titled Glacial Remnants and the second one, Canopy.  I love this way of working. It is as though I am immersing myself in the art and the materials and allowing them to help me work a vision forward.

The above painting was created by using watercolor in conjunction with rice paper collage.  My watercolor students are currently exploring the use of rice papers in their paintings. For the first exercise, we painted a cruciform design on our paper. This is an exercise that Gerald Brommer suggests in his book Watercolor and Collage Workshop.

The image, above, is my initial cruciform design. He tells us we can splatter, work wet-in-wet, and  make small and large marks. One thing we needed to watch out for is to try to not “muddy” our colors in this stage. We waited for this intial design to dry before going on. If we were in a hurry this phase can be dried with a hair dryer.

We, next, tore or cut  pieces of textured manila and white rice papers and affixed them to our initial design using a glue we mixed ourselves. We used 4 parts acrylic matte medium with 1 part water as our glue. Use old brushes to brush the glue onto the paper (less is more) and then apply them to your composition in an interesting  pattern. Cut pieces of rice paper would appear to be more man-made structures and the torn pieces looked more like forms in nature. I have learned, from experience, that I need to be very careful to not brush the glue off the rice paper and onto the adjacent areas of watercolor paper as this changes the way my pigment lays on the paper.  Some rice papers are so thin that I can lay them on the surface of the watercolor paper and stroke the topside of the rice paper with my glue brush. The glue seeps through the porous paper and adheres that to the watercolor paper below. I then stroke gently and lift the excess glue from the top of that piece of rice paper. Once my pattern of glued papers is dry, I again paint into my design. I concentrate on colors that will not create “mud”, often using the colors I used in the initial design. I may, after the pigment is dry, incorporate more rice papers. Sometimes the values are not clear and the artist needs to use more papers to rescue the light values again. I decided my composition, above, fell into that category.

To finish my piece I used permanent white gouache to accent areas of lighter value and went in with my original darks and accented the shapes I wanted to darken with them.

I thoroughly enjoy working with watercolor and collage in this way. It frees me from being tied to reference material and allows for self exploration of texture, value and color. I create these with nothing in mind other than what the paper and pigment direct me to do as they mix and form in front of me.

Two other examples of this technique can be found here  and here.


I have become fascinated with the role that oriental papers can play in enhancing a watercolor.  Many of you who have followed me know I have been working with painting on masa paper as well as working with rice paper and watercolor.

I began by painting a cruciform design in watercolor, then by using acrylic matte medium with a little water (four parts medium to one part water), glue torn pieces of rice paper into that design.  I enjoy the abstract qualities this brings to a painting and the interesting things, shapes and colors, created by the textures of the paper. I NEVER know when to stop with these. After applying the papers, I paint, again and add more papers  until I have an image I like.

This one made me think of the world, at large, and what a thaw might look like. With that, it took me other places, thinking about what it might take to to mend or thaw some of our differences and connect us once again. I am glad the chakra colors come through loud and clear of orange, blue, green and violet.  I stopped, here, not wanting to disturb that thought.

painting by Henn Laidroo

The above painting was a result of one of my student’s experiments on masa paper. He felt the toning of it was too dark to develop a landscape on. He saw faces in the shapes he found in the patterns. I think it looks like our class!  🙂

A heartfelt thank you to all my students who took the watercolor landscape class this fall. Thank you to Henn Laidroo for allowing me to share the above painting. It makes me smile. The new Student Art page can be viewed here.

The above painting was inspired by the second drawing in the previous post on automatic drawing.  I allowed the paint to guide me through this creation. The first drip of burnt sienna from the figure’s left hand reminded me of a quote I had clipped from a National Geographic, years ago, and placed on my refrigerator. It read:

“What I wanted was…

         a place where dreams

did not stop at dawn.”

In this painting, I clipped pieces of masa paper for the darks in the landscape and collaged them into the piece. The wings on the figure are also clipped pieces of masa.  I left portions unfinished to give this the feel of a work in progress. I also did not want to furthur define the figure. I did this, partially out of respect for other viewers to assume what they wanted  about that figure. Was this figure a part of the landscape? Was she or he the artist?  Did the artist intend for her/him to be anyone? Was it an angel or a fairy?  So many interpretations and I wanted them all to flow. I hope I have captured that, this painting.


I have long been interested in automatic drawing. A while back Chris Carter had a post about automatic drawing and came up with this on a sleepless night. I finally decided to give it another go. As busy as I am, lately,  it is something I can do when I have a moment of time.

  click to enlarge

The above was my first attempt. I have no idea what the egg or the bird signify.  The book I read on the subject of automatic drawing said to start by making marks on your paper. They can be any marks (swooping lines, crosshatches, dots). You can use the side of your pencil and your eraser. The idea is to draw. It was suggested that you follow the shapes of what you are creating and can turn the format and view it from all angles as you work your drawing. As you begin to see something appear, shade and draw to bring that image to the foreground. I have a tendency to be judgemental, so I have to keep reminding myself to let go and let it happen.

click to enlarge

This was my second automatic drawing.  This one actually moved me as it began to appear.  I imagined a fairy- like figure shaping the landscape. I searched for what she might be fashioning. I stopped, prematurely, because I wanted to allow that landscape to become whatever the viewer wants to imagine it to be. I may try and watercolor and rice paper collage this one. I wonder if I can maintain the mystery in paint.  I will post it if I do so.

 click to enlarge

Back to another egg and figure and bird.  What is this?  I can assure you I did not set out to draw them. As it began to appear in the lines, I even had to erase back along the bird’s breast to bring the figure I saw forward. I think I’d like to paint this one, also.

If any of you try this, I’d really like to see what you come up with. I find it a great way to free me up and suggest possibilities for paintings as well practice my drawing skills.

The above painting was inspired by a poem  and painting that Val Erde offered up to writers, photographers and artists here.  Her poem is titled Tree.  As I read it, much more came through for me than a singular tree. I thought about all trees. I then thought about us as many of the words she chose, in this poem, had a human quality and then an animal quality. At that point, it dawned on me that the feeling I had and thought  was that of every living thing and what we face, this lifetime, this existence.  I chose to begin abstractly and create a piece with no reference other than her poem and the things it spoke to me.  I added rice papers and more color as I built my story of a lifetime here. When I scrolled furthur, I saw her digital painting that did have a humanesque form as well as a tree form and that was all she wrote. I was off and running. I don’t want to bore you with everything I thought as I created this as I believe an artform can mean many things more than what the artist is feeling. I will tell you that even the colors and shapes I chose spoke something of life here. I have titled this painting Renewal.

Many other artists have tagged their responses to this challenge in her comment section. You can view them by clicking on the tags the individual artists have left there.