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Catherine's Art Studio

My time in the studio has been a bit limited lately while I have been taking care of my grandson Ethan so when I do get out there I have to make the most of my time.  Having the studio and work space clean, organized and ready to work is very important for me.  I had about an hour one day last week so I decided to clean up my work area and organize my painting supplies.  In doing so I thought I would share some photos of palette and layout of my work space.  Having my art supplies organized and easily accessible makes it so much easier to get started when I do get to “play” in my studio.  I have made a diagram of my palette layout and also taken a photo of it while it was clean and untouched.  After trying many stay wet palettes systems I have finally decided on the 12” x 16” Masterson Sta-Wet Palette Seal. First I lay in a yellow Stay-Wet Handy Palette Sponge.  These sponges are super thin, you soak them, squeeze out the excess water and place in the bottom of the palette.  Next I place a sheet of palette paper over the sponge, this helps keep the paints moist from underneath and easier to lift up the amount of paint you need with your brush or palette knife.  I took an 8 x 10 piece of glass out of an old frame and placed that on top of the paper near the bottom edge but centered between the two sides.  Finally as you can see in the diagram below I place my colors on the palette paper in a clockwise direction starting in the lower left corner and following around to the lower right corner.

Diagram of Catherine's Acrylic Palette

The brands of acrylic paint I use are Liquitex and Golden Acrylic.  I like both of their qualities and I lean toward Liquitex because the caps are larger and easier to handle.  The tubes are vinyl and don’t crack like the metal paint tubes, I hate leaky tubes! I have made a wish list that I carry in my wallet of the paint colors I need and the brush sizes I want so when I get a 50% off coupon at one of the craft stores I can get what I need at half the cost.  If I need more than a few colors or brushes I order from Dick Blick Online Discount Art Supply and save on shipping.  They also let me make a wish list so when I am ready to order I can pull it up on their site and click away.

At the top of this blog is a photo of my work space while it was clean, below is a close up photo. I am left handed so this would be reversed for a right-handed artist. In the work space photo you will see that I have made my own brush holder out of medical syringe holders glued into a pencil tray.  It works great to separate all the different types of brushes and I can locate what I want very quickly. I did have to crowd these things a bit to get them in the photo so you could see the general layout. You can click on any of these photos to see a larger view.

At this time I am painting on old banquet tables because my son-in-law Scott wants to make me a custom desk and cabinets but we haven’t had the time nor the money quite yet.  I have to be patient because Scott does an awesome job on any project he works on so I know it will be perfect.  You can see some of his handy work in the photos below of my studio he finished out of an empty garage.  As you can see I also work on my porcelain painting,  jewelry and beading all in one studio and still  have lots of room for student work areas.

It is nice to have everything set up, clean and ready to work as soon as I get an Art Break!  Since my Art Breaks have been short and sweet lately I have been working on small pieces.  I discovered “Artist Trading Cards” recently and whenever I am working on a larger painting I try to create a similar painting on one of them.  They are 2” x 3” cards made out of water color paper. I am not real sure what to do with them yet but here are some of my finished ones:

I hope to hold a class soon for beginners on “How to Paint Flowers with Acrylics” in my studio.  If you are interested contact me by email at: artdesign@catherinetonning.com and I will let you know when I get it scheduled.  Painting with acrylic paint is very versatile and satisfying once you get a system down. One of the most important factors is keeping the paints moist and cleaning your brushes frequently with soap and water.

I hope I have inspired you to paint with Acrylics!

Still playing with Acrylic Painting Techniques

The more time I get to escape into my studio this week to play and experiment with my Acrylics the more I realize how much I am learning and enjoying working with them.  I can’t stress enough times how I like the fact that acrylics are odorless and non toxic.  Don’t have to worry about odors in the studio and everything cleans up with soap and water.  Can’t get any simpler than that!

Rose of Sharon /Acrylics with Blending Medium on Canvas Board

Acrylic Blending Medium

As I have said before, my Porcelain Art seemed to come very easy to me but trying something new at this stage in my life seems a bit scary and I feel a little unsure of my painting ability.  So I started rethinking what my style is.  I looked back thru my career as a Porcelain Artist and found some of my published art pieces.  I decided to try to duplicate this style with Acrylics. I had to think why I was struggling and what could make this transition smoother.  I decided to explore Wet on Wet painting techniques with the use of blending mediums.  I had a jar of Acrylic Blending Medium and Watercolor blending medium.   These mediums slow down the drying process of the acrylic paint and allow the artist to blend colors, make a smoother transition from light to dark and soften hard edges.

I found that the Acrylic Blending Medium could make the finished product a bit too shiny for me so I tried the Watercolor Blending Medium to see if I liked that better and I did.  I put a small amount in a small plastic cup used for medicine, as I have an abundance of them, and I dipped my brush into it and then into my paint.  I found I liked this medium much better and it allowed me the smooth transitions I was looking for.  Of course I am still not 100% happy with the painting but I am getting closer to my goal.

My hopes for this blog is to let people out there know that it is never too late to learn.  Don’t be afraid to try Acrylic Painting or any painting technique you might have wanted to try.  I would normally not share my experiments with the world but I want to touch anyone who might be struggling a bit like me and to learn as we go along together.   I still have a list of things I want to do when I grow up!

Acrylic Gel Medium Transfers

One thing on my list is to try photo transfers.  I don’t know much about them but have always been interested in the look.  I did some searching and I found a young man’s site that explained how he did it step by step.  I have never tried them because of the caustic solutions I had heard you had to use.  Paul Fujita says you can make transfers with just Acrylic Gel Medium, photo copies and water.  Check out his site to see the step by step directions with photos.  There are so many possibilities here and I can’t wait to try this.   http://www.calsk8.com/zeitgeist/acrylicgeltransfers.htm

I hope by sharing my journey I have inspired at least one person to jump in there and start painting.  Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions or just want to share.  Have a great painting experience!


Re-Invention of an Artist | Acrylic Painting Techniques

Wild Rose -Acrylic on Claybord©

Acrylic Painting Tips

I would like you to join me as I transition into Acrylics.  For many years my main medium was Porcelain Art, but as my time in the studio is a bit limited for now I find that acrylic painting techniques provides me with a finished product in less time.  Don’t get me wrong I still hope to have time to do my Porcelain painting and hopefully teach here in my home studio.  Porcelain Art, also know as China Painting, is and has been my first love in the art world.  It all came very easy for me and I taught many seminars on it.  I hope to excel in acrylic painting as well and get a chance to set up classes in it also.  I have always felt that my art was like therapy for me, as I can become very involved in painting the beautiful nature around me and forget all the craziness in the world, at least for a short time anyway.

I enjoy teaching others almost as much as painting so I hope to share some of my painting techniques, struggles, triumphs and “masterpieces” with you.  Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions.

Acrylic Painting Techniques

As I make this transition I would like to share with you what I have discovered to make the process a little easier.  Acrylic paints dry very quickly, this is good for getting a piece finished in a short time but can be bad when your paints dry up before you have finished your masterpiece.  What I have found through my research is that you have to use a wet pallet system.  You can purchase a wet pallet from any of the craft stores but I have found a simple plastic tray works if set up correctly.  There is a thin yellow pallet sponge you can purchase that works very well but wet paper towels work almost as good.  You have to decide what you are comfortable spending to get set up.  You will also need to have a squirt bottle close by to mist your paints and keep them moist and creamy.  I purchased a tablet of pallet paper.  This is paper that is coated on the top side to help with mixing the paints.  First I place the damp sponge on the tray and then place a sheet of the pallet paper on top of the sponge.  Once I have decided on a color scheme I place  the paints onto the paper in an order similar to my color wheel.  Depending on the size of my painting I try not to get too carried away with large dollops of paint.  You can always add more but if you don’t keep the paints moist they will form a thick skin on top and you can’t rework it.

My best advice to you is get a few paint colors, some of the supplies I mentioned above and jump in there and start painting.  Acrylic painting techniques can  be applied to almost any surface so you don’t need an expensive canvas to start on.  I use watercolor paper, illustration board and of course my favorite Claybord© by Ampersand.  I have even painted on an electric guitar!

Happy painting,

Catherine Tonning-Popowich – Artist