Playing with Texture (Mixed Media Madness)

These paintings have taken a while to complete. They were done in multiple layers, over sporadic sessions. The first one began with an acrylic knife painting on Canson Canva-paper, and was inspired by a photo of the plants at a butterfly exhibit near San Diego, CA:

"Indoor Garden" 12 x 16 Mixed Media on Paper
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I finished the painting by adding layers of chalk pastel and a bit more acrylic. It was so heavily textured, I had to knock some of the pastel back to soften the center of the piece. I wanted to show how alive the plants were: flowers swaying from the ceiling, blossoms bursting out of pots and bushes, and leaves sprouting all over the background. The large black pot and green beams help anchor all the plant life, reminding the viewers that they are experiencing an indoor garden, rather than a lush jungle.

In contrast to all this vibrant growth, the next piece was inspired by the comforting forms of a pair of pitchers:

"Big Pitcher, Little Pitcher" 8 x 10 Acrylic and Chalk Pastel on Flat Canvas
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I started this piece months earlier, in a spontaneous still life session that began with acrylic paint and a palette knife. I layered the paint on in a thick, impasto style, shaping the dollops of paint into forms with the flat part of the knife. The idea was originally to make a green and red painting; however, purple and peach tones ended up creeping into the work once I added chalk pastel. These pitchers are two of my favorite kitchen pieces. The larger was a gift when I was a newlywed; the smaller has been in the family for generations. I finally decided on the chalk pastel for the added texture because of the cracked look it gave the painting, giving it a timeworn feel.

On the other side of the spectrum, here is a mixed media piece painted from imagination:
"Coast" 9 x 12 Mixed Media on Flat Canvas
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This piece started as an oil pastel painting, but ended up with a watercolor wash and a bit of chalk pastel to blend it. It was inspired by a recent trip up north in California, and the beautiful coastal views available along the way.

My mixed media pieces usually take a bit longer to complete, mostly because I am playing with new formulas and working from less specific reference material. There's usually lots of drying time involved in these works, so it gives me time to think about each step before continuing. I tend to focus more on the process than the end result when I work with mixed media. Once the piece has been finished and is ready to sell, I can look back at the piece and have a visual record of an artistic journey I've taken with my materials.

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