Sunday, May 31, 2009


Most artwork, with the exception of sculpture, is two dimensional, let's face it. We're not talking crafts, now, (though crafts is another of my big loves). Let's talk murals.

Murals are, for the most part, huge, and hugely two-dimensional. They can be indoors or outdoors. They can be painted on with a brush or with spray paint. They can have subjects that are realistic, or decorative, or abstract. Some murals are historic in theme, some seem to be dream-like fantasies (Maxfield Parrish), some are incredible in size and stature (Michaelangelo). They can be advertisements. They can incorporate lettering or calligraphy, or they can consist entirely of such lettering.

If it is an outdoor mural, the artist would want to use non-fading outdoor paint. If it is an indoor mural the artist might want to use non-smelly types of paint!

But in any case only paint is used; no glue-ons, no paste-ons, and nothing that will not last. A mural is meant to "last forever," no matter to what kind of lighting or weather (or kids!) it is exposed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


There's a simple combo I've been turning out lately with my 6-inch tiles. A tile of course, is once again, a two-dimensional concept.......

Because I've moved down here to the American Southwest, I've discovered that the huge tall saguaro cactus (pron. sah-wah-ro) is a visual concept that is very easy to draw, or represent in two dimensions (I'll get to the tile in a minute). And this is proved by all the hundreds of published photographs of same: picturesque saguaros throughout the media-realms, in so many magazines and newspapers and ads and TV shows, and paintings and decorative themes!

And in the ceramics studio, there are some glazes that you might call "randomly explosive"glazes: there's one that turns out to look exactly like the Milky Way galaxy, and it's a perfect background for my doodled saguaro cactus in the foreground! Point is, a person can juxtapose one simple shape in the center, or foreground of, say, a 6" tile, with a crazy pattern in the background, and it works!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Let's take a piece of graph paper. Now, graph paper is not what we normally think of as paper on which we render art, but I want to show you something, and you guessed it, it's regarding two dimensions. (Granted, graph paper particularly screams "two dimensions!")

Think about a repeating pattern of your own choice. It will wind up looking like a repeating pattern on a surface design, or on a piece of fabric. Connecting-tiles comes to mind, or even the lowly linoleum patterns. Design one pattern, or simply pick a very basic design like a music staff, or a simple logo that you are familiar with, or a triangle within a circle, or vice versa, etc.

Now decide how big a rectangle or square you want to use on your graph paper for this repeating design. For example a one-inch square, or a two-inch square, or a rectangle 1"by 2".

Soon you will see, with repeating your "design-logo" throughout the squares or the rectangles you have chosen, what your two-dimensional grid looks like, or your "linoleum," or your surface design on your fabric.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Since we're on fabrics, and fabric design, let's talk about straight lines.

Straight lines are parallel to the top edge of a piece of fabric, or, they are parallel to the side edge of a piece of fabric. You can imagine that: parallel lines that are vertical or parallel lines that are horizontal on a piece of fabric, and in varying colors. You can have navy on white, or white on navy, for instance, or any number of other color combinations ad infinitum, and of any size of stripes: any sizes or colors that come to your imagination. It's an easy experiment, to try different colors and sizes along these lines, on your sketch paper. (You can use a ruler: I do.)

Now consider a piece of fabric that has straight lines going vertically and also straight lines that form the horizontal pattern. Together they mesh, along the expanse of the 2-dimensional fabric, criss-crossing endlessly, "up-and-down" along with "left-to-right". This has often been called "plaid", and, though it is not limited to this, men's shirts from time immemorial have been made from plaid flannel. These particular plaids come in "manly" colors such as shades of brown and tan and black and cream, blues and greens and yellows, and especially shades of red, with some brown and white. All with lines that are straight as an arrow, going in "two dimensions"!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ee - ko - sheek

Fabric is another 2-dimensional art form. One dimension one way, another dimension another way. That makes two! (It sometimes comes under the heading of "surface design".) Fabric is certainly a 2-dimensional aspect of our life, and worthwhile considering as an art form.

The other day I came across a fabric line called "Eco-chic". This is a fabric full of small, circular holes, and they described it as a "punched-out holey grid pattern" which says it all, except for the "ecological" part. It actually consists of holes; I would call it a "tweaked sheer" in a systematic grid. Definitely something you can see right through.

It was hanging in a looped curtain, like an aurora borealis seen in the sky during the Northern Lights-Show, and my imagination envisioned it, not just only in a beauty salon, but in a young girl's bedroom, and as a party decoration, and as part of a theatre set or a TV set, or by the pool, or as department store or retail decor, etc. Pieces of it, or scraps, could also be used effectively in design collage......

Sunday, May 24, 2009

One of the many fun experiments you can conduct with calligraphy is using this double pencil described in my last can change it to two ballpoints, or two marker-tips, or two different colors.

Now make some doodles that you feel like making, or even try a one-letter image, like a lower case "a", not letting the pen-angle change (see my last entry) as you "make your marks". Feel free to go back afterwards with a single implement to correct things: bring loose ends together as you want them. (Nobody is perfect the first time.)

Now the fun part is filling in the spaces you that you have made with your calligraphy: you can go to another media altogether, like a colored pencil or a marker, or a ball point, or watercolor, and you can make stripes, or polka dots, or wiggly lines or solid color, or whatever your heart desires, fear not! If you feel like attacking a whole word, or your name, or the name of a loved one, or a logo, you'll have even more fun.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Double Pencils

There's one thing key to calligraphy: pen angle. Not pen width; pen angle.

One easy way to talk about this is if you take two pencils and rubber-band them together so they come to two points. Kind of like chopsticks, but with one or two rubber bands. Hold them in your hand exactly as you would a regular pencil.

As you touch down on the paper with this double-pencil you will be dragging it along and drawing and experimenting with letters and doodles and of course you will quickly see the double line it makes.

If you lay the two points on the paper and turn them, that's when you are making different pen angles. This term only refers to the angle of the pen-tips in relation to the top edge of the paper. This is not a reference to your wrist movement, or to the angle of the pen itself in relation to ANYTHING. Only in reference to the angle of the pen-tips to the top edge of the paper: thus you can have a 30 degree pen angle or a 45 degree pen angle - the most common beginning pen angles in calligraphy. Try it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Names and Titles

Centuries ago, when reading and writing were not that common, the monks in the monasteries were busy reading and writing, and the writing they were doing was not on a typewriter, nor heaven forbid, on a computer or on any kind of keyboard such as we know today. I've got to say that the writing they turned out back in those days was calligraphy and calligraphy only. How many of you have seen a copy even of our [more recent] Declaration of Independence in this country, or of the Magna Carta in ancient Europe or such documents. These things were all turned out by a scribe or scribes: persons whose professions and livelihood were those of copying things down.

It may have not been as easy to read, or to decipher, as the typeset that shows up today, but it was much more beautiful. Beautiful and flowery and impressive.

Today such qualities are some of the main reasons why calligraphy is used in the various ways and places it is used: to decorate, to impact, to glorify, to draw the attention, to beautify!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


A couple chapters on "Calligraphy" will get us started on the 2-dimensional quality of calligraphy. You may have seen a spiral staircase in your day, and such a piece of architecture always reminds me of calligraphy, but let's face it: a staircase has three dimensions! Calligraphy is done on a 2-dimensional surface: a piece of paper of many different possible qualities, a scroll, a glass window in a door, a tablet or sketchbook, a piece of fabric, a ribbon, a poster, a flyer, a greeting card, a wedding invitation, advertising layouts, certificates galore, logos, letterheads, decorations, etc., etc!

I have always been interested in calligraphy, even as a child, and I played around with some experiments, but about 5 years ago I joined a Guild, since it was only $18 a year, and they only met (in Salem, Oregon) once a month. I never, ever, told them that I had never taken even the most basic calligraphy class, and so I faked my way through several years of business-meetings, potlucks and art projects. One day I had the nerve to reveal, to one of the most accomplished prize-winning calligraphers, that I had never "taken Italic" and she actually gasped. I have since remedied this situation, taking an Italic class which cost a fortune and which was taught by a friend of mine. It is always so rewarding to take a calligraphy class, no matter which font. (My friend, herself, was busy taking a watercolor class!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Design Collage

Pick a design, or an art-theme for your collage. This is for the deeper thinker. Think "color", as in shades of one color-tone, or one or more color-tones, or, think "consistency", and that would be one that expresses a particular message, be it intellectual property, or certain types of pictures, say, cartoons, or Postage Stamps, or scraps of fabric, or names, or alphabets, or flowers, or animals, or landscapes, or family pix, etc. or any combination thereof.

One time I made a postage stamp "design collage" on a tray. I applied many coates of Mod Podge afterwards, to give it a finished surface.

Another time I collected pix of pretty angels' wings from all different sources, put them all in their own folder (we're talkin hard copy, of course) and when the time was right I assembled them all into one "design collage"; I believe it was on a decoupage plaque I picked up at a thrift store.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More on Collage

I wanted to talk about glue......I spend half my life researching glue and taking glue-polls, and shopping for, and "asking around" about glue! I find that glue is like technology - blink once and there's a new, more updated, stickier, more user-friendly glue out there. It's either transparent or it dries transparent, or it's blue because you want to see where it is, or it comes out of a tiny tip, or it has its own brush, or it's like a jar of jelly.....But I'll tell you: the easiest way I've found to do collages is to paint the whole page with Mod Podge glue, and then go for it. Needless to say, you might want to make a generalized and loose "placement map" first, on your work table next to the collage, with your cut-outs and items and pix, but you will find that you and the glue will make the final and most artistic decision!..........Paint the page with Mod Podge and then start with the biggest pieces that you want to put on there, placing them for posterity - but you can do this, once again, in the blink of an eye, and be sure you get it all down and as smoothly as possible - because the glue will begin to dry if you take too long! Then, if you feel the glue is no longer tacky, paint the whole page again with the Mod Podge and go for the next smaller size, and so on, to the smallest size. Remember ModPodge dries transparent, which is one of its wonderful, wonderful qualities.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The art of COLLAGE is another 2-dimensional art form. It can be virtually any size, but sort of medium-size is a good place to start: just something that feels comfortable to you.

I advise that the first thought be of a BACKGROUND. In my experience this takes care of any last-minute quandaries in your collaging. A background can be painted on in sort of a solid color, or a more-or-less uniform treatment, OR it can be a background of something pasted on, like a map, or a sheet of newspaper, or some wrapping paper, or a piece of stationery, or a magazine page, or any kind of print-out or reproduction that you'd like to use in a background mindset.

After that you get to your main concerns, thinking bits and pieces, parts or photos, cut-outs, rip-outs, borders, old things, new things, with a color scheme or not, think stylized scissors or not, and if "scrap-booking" is a word that comes to mind, I admit I am aware of it: if anyone has had fun scrapbooking, think about how we can move on in our journey from there......

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Greetings to You!

Believe it or not department: greeting cards are a very worthy item to be considered. Here you have the tactile sense, besides the two dimensions, with the added perk of being the hand-held actuality.

I appreciate the possibilities: the flourish, the centering (not required in painting and photography), the sentiment (whichever type or quantity), and, repetition of image is acceptable; so we're talking pattern. Usually the greeting card comes in vignette style, (but certainly not always,) which to me means an image which dominates towards the center and fades off to the sides, a charming if old-fashioned mode of expression, and always effective.

Greeting cards are of course usually of a constricted size, but then again, they are not planned for the wall: but do very well on the monitor-screen! I would urge you not to feel that you are limiting yourself if you express yourself in this realm. I do it often.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Basic Surface Design

Three other 2-dimensional treatments involve photography, greeting cards, and collage. Each field has always held a fascination for me.

How can a person ignore the fact that with a camera (and thanks to my oldest son for the gift of a camera several years ago) you can transform any form of reality into two dimensions in an instant. This is not why it's nice, of course. What's nice is the focus, the composition, the emotion, the event, the contrast possible, the color, the location, the timeof day, the memory preserved, etc.

And I love magazines, especially fancy ones, glossy ones, ones filled with advertising using photography. There I see such beautiful handling of everything: the human form, fashion, landscapes and landscaping, furniture, architecture; even close-ups of products for sale are dealt with artistically and graphically. I see again, composition, fonts and scripts and lay-out, montage, beautiful natural lighting, beautiful artificial lighting, etc., etc., etc.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back to Basics

I'm strictly a 2-dimension type of artist, and, even though one of my majors in college - oh so many years ago - was building with clay, I never figured it counted.

I switched from some 60 years of watercolors, to acrylics a couple years ago, still sticking always to 2 dimensions.

And when I reached an impasse with the larger canvases last fall, I got involved with yes, more 2-dimensional stuff: ceramic tiles, 6" by 6". Joined a ceramics club with their own ceramics studio, and their own kilns, and their own glazes, and since clay was one of my majors in college! - I kind of took ahold : began to even get into abstract ceramic tiles: still 2 dimensions, and still only 6" by 6".

More tomorrow.