I was accepted to two schools during my senior year of high school: University of Maine Orono and Lesley University. I had a big interest in Lesley after learning about their art education program in conjunction with The Art Institute of Boston. At the time, I wanted to be a teacher and their art education program was well known.
The single most important thing I learned there was abstract thought. It was in college that I learned to think in a creative way and how to better craft my ideas. Abstract thinking implies contemplating outside of reason and relies on symbols and ideas.
Here’s a very detailed and clinical sounding article about what abstract thought means.
A close second to this lesson is the art of defending your work and it’s message. Twice yearly, Lesley students at the Art Institute of Boston collect their work from the previous semester for presentation in front of 4 professor jurors. “Critique Week” it was called, and we all hated it. This biannual tear-down to my soul pushed me to defend my work which proved to be very valuable later on. Art school helped me open my eyes to the value of my strange mind. I learned that there are tons of people in the world who think like me and that we add something to society by doing what comes naturally: creating!
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Does everyone remember Bob Ross? I talk about this dude constantly because I feel he was an artist genius. As a kid I was glued to the television every time his show came on PBS. (Shout out to the folks as PBS for creating educational, inspiration shit that cable-free kids like me had access to.) For those who don’t know who I am talking about: "The Joy of Painting" was a TV show hosted by Bob Ross where he stood at an easel and taught you how to paint using acrylic. He created these gorgeous nature scenes, plucked from his mind, in seemingly no time at all. Bob Ross walked us all through his personal art process in a calm and kind manner. He has undoubtedly inspired millions like myself.
Mr. Ross used acrylic so now I use this type of paint, too. His work positively shaped me over the years and influenced my own pursuit of painting. I find that I’m able to work in a freer fashion with acrylic versus oil paints which dry much slower. With this type of paint, there’s no need for mineral spirits or thinner of any kind.
Now that I’ve learned the properties of my medium, I can work with them accordingly. I like to mix additives into my paints which allows for different finishes or dry times. For instance, you can add a gloss medium to your paint and it’ll dry with a high sheen. There’s other additive mediums available to create a matte finish or slow/hasten dry times. I like the versatility of this medium because you can create a different look by easily switching up tools or by pouring paint onto the canvas. Acrylic paint is archival and easy to care for over time. Some paint additives even help your work remain dust-free over the years.
TL;DR- I paint in acrylic because it dries quickly, it’s less expensive, archival and non-toxic.
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My unique artwork is the product of a process I’ve developed over time. This post will serve as a little look into how I create my designs with some instructional photos.
First, I choose my surface. I tend to alternate between stretched canvas of varying thickness and archival canvas board. Both are treated with gesso for strength and smoothness. You can learn to stretch your own canvas, but I’ve always gotten mine from a local art store. I find it’s easier and is cost efficient if you buy in bulk and surf the periodic sales.
Second, I create a grid pattern. You can see by this photo that I started with equal quadrants that I measured out with my handy blue ruler. I made four squares this time around, but any size grid is OK.
Then, I find my tangrams and use them as stencils. I also utilize jar lids or cups for circular work. Please note that I drew this design in pencil but I use sharpie just as often.
Third, I paint my background design. Sometimes I’ll create a tie-dye pattern with watered down acrylic and others I’ll use just one color for the background.
I am strategic in my color choice and pattern creation. When creating my designs, I consider things like palette, balance, and visual weight. These considerations help me to create an aesthetically pleasing design with room for change along the way.
After filling in all the shapes I’ve created with colors from my palette, I tend to trace my design in bold black paint pen. I use a ruler to create crisp lines. This simple and final step makes the form to stand out from the background and read well from a distance.
Here's the final product:
Do you have a question about this or any other post? Feel free to email me.