An Artistic Journey

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Creating Texi-Plexi

Looks cool! How do you do it??

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I call my prepared Plexiglas Texi-Plexi. It’s a process of creating texture and a paint-receptive surface on up-cycled Plexiglas. I’ve developed this technique from experimentation. So far, I haven’t heard of anyone else doing anything quite like it!

Plexiglass, watercolor paints, and brushes. Tools for inspiration

Plexiglass, watercolor paints, and brushes. Tools for inspiration

I’m excited to say I’ve used only upcycled-plexi. Frame shops usually have plexi that is scratched, removed from old frames, and/or unusable in some way. Most of the time, the frame shops are happy to not throw it in the landfill and often give me the sheet free of charge. If I ask them to cut it, however, they might charge me a small cutting fee. Works for everyone!

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Coating Plexiglass with Gesso

I cover my table with some sort of tablecloth to protect the surface from any goo. Then, with a large brush (anything cheap…around 2 inches wide), I coat the plexi with Cheap Joes’ American Journey Gesso. A 16 oz jar will last about 1-3 months, depending on how much I paint. I make sure to coat the edges, as well.

I brush the gesso all in one direction for the first coat. I let the gesso dry, then apply the next coat going the opposite direction.

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Painting gesso onto plexiglass

I usually apply three coats before moving onto the next step. Each coat is dry before layering the next. Most of the time, I wait a full day and continue the next. If I’m producing many paintings, I’ll usually coat several sheets at a time.

Next, comes the fun part. Okay, okay…it’s ALL fun! I mean, we are playing with ART here, people!

Collaging textures onto the surface of the plexi is fun and intuitive. Using Acrylic Matte Medium, I layer and adhere various items onto the gessoed plexi.

Collaging square paper onto the prepared plexiglass

Collaging square paper onto the prepared plexiglass

The collage items should be fairly 2-dimensional, the goal being to create random texture on the surface of the board. I might use feathers, shaped paper, string, sheet music, petalsseeds, or other items. Tracing paper wrinkles directionally and dramatically, so it is a favorite of mine (see the tracing paper texture in GatheringsTexture detail of background trees, grass, and foreground chair). Random placement keeps me from painting too tight while I create my painting.

Onion netting cut in squares and added to the canvas creates a grid-texture

Onion netting cut in squares and added to the canvas creates a grid-texture

Once it’s dry, I coat the surface again with gesso. I may add more texture in the wet gesso by dragging a plaster tool through it or scribbling in it with the end of a paintbrush (to see the effects of the plaster tool, check out the grid-like pattern in the grapefruits in Grapefruit Splash).

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Dragging a plaster tool through the wet gesso to create textured lines

After the textured surface dries for a day or two, I select a photo from my travel log and print it out. I do small thumbnails, making decisions on large vs. small shapes, value placement and focal point strength. Plenty of cropping is done at this point. As I’m working through the design phase, I am also thinking about a color palette and whether I want the painting to be high key, middle key, or low key.

Before I transfer the drawing to the Plexiglas, I rotate the plexiglass until its surface texture and collage shapes are in the best locations possible for the drawing.

Once I transfer the drawing with a graphite pencil, I can begin the painting process.

I usually mask off the major or detailed whites with a liquid masking fluid, then let it dry. This allows me to paint with a big brush and not worry about losing bright whites of the background. I do not use white paint.

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Painting dark purple around the cat, with the liquid mask protecting the whites of the fur and whisker edges

Once the painting is about 90% done, I begin to remove or add areas of paint to enhance the textural surface. This is a symbolic mixture of squares, checkerboard designs, geometric marks, maps, tree shapes, calligraphic designs and/or words.

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Detail of “Siblings”, illustrating the calligraphic marks, texture, and painted squares

As I move through the painting, I design the patterned surface based on where I want the eye to move, or to settle. I enjoy a painting that dances from spot to spot, with realistic painting in several areas, including the focal point and patterns to create the dance around the focus.

Siblings, 16x20 original watercolor on textured Plexiglas.

Siblings, 16×20 original watercolor on textured Plexiglas.

The resulting unique, beautiful and textural watercolor paintings have been sealed with archival varnish and do not need to be sealed behind glass. They are simply remarkable to view up-close and will provide any home with a joyful, gorgeous work of art.

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Painting complete!

In my studio in Bend, Oregon, I paint a wide array of subjects. Using images from meaningful moments that I’ve gathered throughout my travels, I focus on establishing a connection with my viewers. With a sense of human presence, my paintings do not focus on relaying perfection, but instead reflect flaws, mars, scribbles, and textures of life. In creating beauty from the chaos of the painting surface, they reflect our bumpy roads, our pasts, the pain and the love we live through, and the connections with others we establish. Out of the chaos, a unique beauty emerges. The textures and the flaws make our lives and my paintings rich with meaning. We can begin to connect to each other and acknowledge that we are unique and beautiful, not in spite of our flaws, but because of them.

Come see me at my events and check out the texture!

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