Friday, February 25, 2011

Abstract Expression Indeed!

These pictures are from the last night of a four week long Acrylic Painting class in the studio with Master Painter John Stillmunks. Our students Abby and Chris created two colorful and expressive abstract paintings from beginning to end. Starting with stretcher bars and a piece of canvas, the two assembled and prepped their own canvases and laid down an undercoat of black. Under the direction of a talented professional, they were shown how to view the textures and brushstrokes in the under-painting which then allowed them to ‘chalk’ a design. The outline was then enhanced by walking through several simple directions (find a circle, add a triangle, connect two entities, etc.).  Next they layered over colors and added other surface shapes. Lastly, they learned to preserve the painting with a top coat and add the finishing hooks and wires.  Beautiful.

The attached video shows Chris completing a second painting on paper following the same process.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Brush With Reality

I have an acrylic painting student that is interested in improving her landscapes. We’ve been working on some techniques that I don’t often use in my more abstract pieces and I’ve found a new appreciation for them. It has been fun to explore more traditional painting with her and I thought I’d share a few tips that seemed to help make a painted landscape (especially clouds and tree branches) appear more realistic.

The clouds: After brushing on the base color (a loose mix of grey and white), I used a fan brush to soften the lines. The fan brush (kept fairly dry and used like a paddle or dauber) allows you to spread and blend the original wet layer creating some texture and further blending harsh paint strokes and lines. You will notice in the picture that the clouds and sky appear more natural as if they are floating intertwined rather than each as a separate entity.

The Tree: To create those fine branches that haunt a winter scene, I select a small round brush. Then while holding it at the very end of the brush handle, I roll it between my fingers while dragging it up and off the canvas.   

If you have a technique to share, please send it as a comment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fantasy Film

Olivia came to the studio empty handed and left, a mere hour later, with a handmade necklace and bracelet to match.  I work with a wide range of ages for individual lessons and try to offer a variety of artistic techniques that are age appropriate and which we can later expand on as the student gains experience with tools and methodologies.  I will often make use of Fantasy Film and Friendly Plastic bead making as a precursor to glass bead making. The principles are the same…a bead mandrel, bead release, a medium, and heat. In the case of Fantasy Film and Friendly Plastic, the mandrel is a wood dowel, the bead release is a piece of paper over the dowel, and the heat is provided by an embossing gun.  Students learn how to prepare materials for each bead, prepare the dowel for the bead, and use the embossing gun to ‘fire’ each bead. In the case of glass bead-making, the mandrel is a metal dowel which is prepared by coating of bead release (clay mud), and then ‘fired’ with a MAP gas torch.  The student pictured below is 8 year old Olivia Holt. Olivia was able to complete enough beads in one hour to make the necklace she is wearing as well as a bracelet. Impressive!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hot Art - Really!

We had another wonderful weekend in the studio. Our encaustic painting class on Saturday was a great experience for students and instructor alike. The photo below is of student Amanda Huisman creating an art piece with the hot wax and oil pigment paint used in the process. Some of the pieces created with this method are also shown in the photos.  Encaustic painting can incorporate a number of techniques and often appears to be sculptural. The multi-color piece below incorporated masking and relief carving. The white piece at the bottom employed some sculpture processes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Felting Class

This past Saturday we held a fiber class on felting in the studio. Students created several projects in needle felting and wet felting...beads, balls, small 3d animal figures, frameable art pieces, and felted soaps.  It was a busy four hour overview of a variety of techniques and materials.  The photograph above shows students Mariko Wilson and Lynda Hammond prepare the casing for 'sushi roll' beads.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The last DsM Ad - Glass Tower

So this is the picture from the last DsM ad. It is kiln formed glass in a vertical metal frame. It stands six feet tall and sells for $2250 in our gallery. My husband John just cringes when we sell one of these. He's the one who gets to make deliveries and installs them. He has never broken or damage a piece... yet! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Ad in DsM Magazine

The next issue of DsM magazine has just arrived. Near the back you can find the ad for the education arm of Madhaus Gallery, we call it the Art Academy. We've had over 700 students in the past three years and look to expand even further. That's me in the background watching one of our high school students work with molten glass while bead making.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New to ETSY

Just posted seven new items to ETSY today including this one... I love the glass. It reminds me of Tie-Dye so I named it Grateful Dream (Grateful Dead, get it?)

HeartFest at Valley West Mall today

Here is a example of my booth at a fine art show from last year. Several of our friends and former Des Moines Public Schools Adult Ed students participate in art shows. You can find a few at Valley West Mall today taking part in HeartFest, a Fine Art Show. Art is a wonderful way to say, "I love you," to a valentine.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ETSY works!

This is one of my newer pieces hanging in our gallery in Winterset, Iowa. It's a departure from my non-traditional window hangings, but requires different discipline and a nasty came saw that cuts the zinc outer frame.
I call in Cathedral Glass and you can find it and almost two dozen other items under the MadMadWorld storefront on ETSY.

Since I'm new and have only made a couple of sales since opening up a couple of weeks ago, I'd like to hear what people think of ETSY and if anyone is having consistently good results selling there. My husband John calls it the 24/7/365 Art Fair. It may be where we're all headed with $3 gas.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Opening Post

Hello everyone. I've opened up this blog for a couple of reasons. One is to reach out to friends and students, sharing triumph and challenges so we can all help our artistic endeavors.
The second is to let you know there are several ways to keep in touch and see our gallery work. You can also find us at and my work on under the store MadMadWorld (hence the logo above).

I'm going to share some work by students in a few minutes, but thought I'd catch my breath after figuring out how to get the blog up and running.

Tomorrow I teach a felting class at Madhaus... a video is attached. Enjoy and let me know if you want to contribute to the blog. Everyone is welcome and strongly encouraged to share their work and thoughts.

Hello Everyone