STUDIO TIP #4

 Art Journals and Sketchbooks are Invaluable for the Creative Process   I have to admit that I have a love affair/addiction with art journals and sketchbooks.  The sketchbook/journal section of an art supply store always draws me in like a magnet.  It takes a lot of will power to resist buying more!  Sketchbook work was always part of my curriculum as an arts educator, even when teaching young students. Many years ago, one of my high school students who knew that I liked them even gifted me a large, beautiful, fabric covered journal that I still use today. 

Journals and sketchbooks are an invaluable part of the creative process. They are receptacles to collect the many thoughts, ideas and visual info that roll around in my mind.   I don't work in them sequentially but in a more random manner as the need arises.  In my stash, there's at least one for almost every kind of art related-purpose;  taking notes at art lectures, making paint sketches, paint recipes, title ideas for artwork, drawing, doodling and more. They are all shapes, sizes and materials. (photo below)  

©Christine Sauer , several journals from my collection

©Christine Sauer , several journals from my collection

The paint journals are used for warm-up paintings, as reference for palette ideas, to explore color mixing in a variety of ways and for experiments using paint offloaded while working on other projects.   I have competing tendencies/urges when painting so the journals are a great place to get some of that out of my system too!  Favorite types of journals are spiral bound with heavy watercolor or mixed media paper. (photo below)

©Christine Sauer,  paint journal experiments with acrylic paints.  STUDIO TIP:  Use wax paper or cooking parchment as interleaving to keep pages from sticking together.

©Christine Sauer,  paint journal experiments with acrylic paints.  STUDIO TIP:  Use wax paper or cooking parchment as interleaving to keep pages from sticking together.

I'm starting a new journal, one for mixed media collage using my stash of monoprints created on Gelli-plates.  Customizing the journal cover is so important as it sets the tone for the creative exploration and play inside.  I thought I'd share this super simple process that I used customize it.  I repurposed an old blank book made over twenty years ago at a bookmaking workshop, but any journal or sketchbook will do as long as paper and fabric can be glued to the surface.

Materials needed:  Golden Soft Gel Matte, old paint brush, a journal, scissors, variety of collage papers snd fabrics.  I like to use Matte Gel because it keeps the character of the paper and fabric and it's not sticky like the Gloss version.

Materials needed:  Golden Soft Gel Matte, old paint brush, a journal, scissors, variety of collage papers snd fabrics.  I like to use Matte Gel because it keeps the character of the paper and fabric and it's not sticky like the Gloss version.

Step 1)    Brush one layer of Golden Soft Gel Matte (GSGM) over the whole cover to seal and let dry to the touch about 5-10 minutes.

Step 2)   Choose just a couple of the fabrics and papers you might like to use as a base layer and start auditioning them to find an interesting arrangement.  In this case I am using an informal grid to organize the design.  Cut your choices to size.  In the photo I used a piece large enough to wrap around the spine of the journal to reinforce it since the journal will be opened and closed often. Cut paper so that it will also wrap around to the inside of the covers for a more finished look.  Brush a generous amount of GSGM on the journal cover and paper for good adhesison.  Burnish by hand for good contact.  

©Christine Sauer, covering repurposed journal with monoprinted fabric and paper

©Christine Sauer, covering repurposed journal with monoprinted fabric and paper

3)  Continue layering with smaller pieces of monoprinted paper and fabric until the design is satisfying.  In this case elements such as the bubble wrap and stenciled prints were added for contrast.  The collage continued inside the covers as well.

©Christine Sauer, collaged front and back journal cover using monoprinted paper and fabric.

©Christine Sauer, collaged front and back journal cover using monoprinted paper and fabric.

4)  Finished book below.  Last step is to use a generous coating or two of GSGM on top of the collage.  This will protect the paper a bit and provide a good barrier surface if you want to add a bit of paint.  If you are interested in learning more about creating collage using monoprints join me for the "Collage Explorations"  Workshop on June 16 and 17, 2017,  at David Art Center, Metairie, LA

 ©Christine Sauer  Finished journal cover ready to go or additonal layers of text, paint or stencils can be added. STUDIO TIP: Use acrylic paints with a matte finish to avoid a sticky surface. 

The Marvels and Mysteries Collection

These abstract paintings, for me, have a sense of revealing the surprising and the mysterious.  The title, “Marvels and Mysteries”, is inspired by a favorite childhood book, “Marvels and Mysteries of Our Animal World”. This was one of the many books about animals, biology and nature that I pored over as a kid.  This fascination with biology and nature often percolates up through my art in imaginative and unpredictable ways.  

Christine Sauer "Marvels and Mysteries II"  24x24"  $900, acrylic, mixed media on canvas 

As this collection of abstract paintings developed, they appeared to reveal mysterious and invented natural events or processes, a kind of organic soup of life. Complex, lively surfaces were created by layering acrylic paints and sometimes collage in an improvisational manner.  Vibrant color and lush texture coalesce to engage the viewer to take an up-close look to discover visual surprises in these invented worlds.

STUDIO TIP #1

Increase Productivity with Storage Bins   As an artist it's important to keep the work process flowing. Putting strategies in place to stay organized is key to maximizing your studio time and to reducing wasted time and frustration.  If you have to spend a lot of time organizing your supplies before starting a painting or any artwork, it’s an obstacle to productivity.  If you are a beginner, or a veteran artist, you know how easy it is for your studio/work area to devolve into chaos.  The chaos is fun and enhances creativity during the work process but the aftermath and clean-up, not so much!  

Paints are organized by type such as all High Flow Acrylics together and by warm and cool color family together. This makes it easy to find what I'm looking for without a lot of digging.

Paints are organized by type such as all High Flow Acrylics together and by warm and cool color family together. This makes it easy to find what I'm looking for without a lot of digging.

I like to start a studio session with some kind of order and to be able to clean up and put things away quickly.  Having spent many years as an art educator in schools, I got in the habit of using storage bins and drawer units of all kinds and sizes, from shoebox size to the giant 30 gallon, for almost everything.  They are affordable, easy to clean, and they are easily purchased in dollar stores or other big box chains.  Bins are also flexible to use since they can be moved around easily, fitting into nooks and crannies.

Collage materials are organized by type such as painted papers, printed papers, etc.  These drawers are convenient because they can be pulled out and taken to wherever you are working.

Collage materials are organized by type such as painted papers, printed papers, etc.  These drawers are convenient because they can be pulled out and taken to wherever you are working.

My favorites are clear plastic so that I can see what’s inside.  I tend to forget what’s in my stash if I can’t see it.  I also use a label maker. Snap top lids are great too particularly to keep out pets and dust and to make stacking easier thereby increasing your vertical storage.   I try to keep a consistent look to the bins as well, such as all lids the same color or mostly from the same brand. This cuts down on the visual clutter which can be overwhelming in a studio crammed with supplies.   And if you move, everything is organized and ready to go!

Painting Process: Keeping it Fresh and Lively

My paintings emerge out of an enjoyment of the painting process. Intuitive and improvisational, the process is a journey and the end point is always a surprise.  It usually begins by applying color and arranging paper, fabric or paint skins out of my collage stash in a freewheeling manner. Or sometimes I create a textured surface using various acrylic pastes or gels before adding the first layers of color and other materials. The unexpected, serendipitous magic that happens when working this way is what excites me as an artist and gives the work its potency.  

 Christine Sauer, " Marvels and Mysteries IV" 20x16" acrylic and mixed media on canvas   Final layers being added to this work in process.  "To pour or not to pour?"  It's important to stay brave since choices seem riskier toward the end of the process.

 Christine Sauer, " Marvels and Mysteries IV" 20x16" acrylic and mixed media on canvas   Final layers being added to this work in process.  "To pour or not to pour?"  It's important to stay brave since choices seem riskier toward the end of the process.

The images surface through the process.  Sometimes the initial layer is engaging, spontaneous and feels like a complete visual statement so it becomes a keeper.  Some paintings need more attention.  Layers of paint are added from thick impasto to dripped, scraped, and thinly glazed passages that conceal or reveal the initial layers. Complex, lively surfaces are created where vibrant color and lush texture coalesce to engage the viewer to take an up-close look to discover visual surprises.   Mark making includes loose and painterly brushwork, dripped paint, scribbled drawing, freeform printing, stenciled application and more.

©ChristineSauer, Details from paintings from the Collections on this site.

©ChristineSauer, Details from paintings from the Collections on this site.

Exploring multiple approaches to painting energizes the process for me, keeping things fresh and interesting.  I am a perpetual student, always learning and experimenting.  In the studio, there are often several works in process going on simultaneously.  They are not always from the same series or groups. The process is a spiral with exciting tangents developing along the way.  Eventually common threads emerge between artworks and they become a loosely connected collection as presented on this website.

©Christine Sauer, During painting sessions I always offload the leftover paint on my brushes and tools from the main project unto additional surfaces such as paper,  raw canvas, and fabric.   This often yields interesting materials for collage or sometimes they become artworks on their own. 

©Christine Sauer, During painting sessions I always offload the leftover paint on my brushes and tools from the main project unto additional surfaces such as paper,  raw canvas, and fabric.   This often yields interesting materials for collage or sometimes they become artworks on their own.