Sunday, April 29, 2012

Painting With Texture Demo

Carolyn Snow, right, with some of her paintings
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of getting out of the rain to attend a free demonstration at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD).  The demonstration was taught by a friend of a friend, Carolyn Snow,   about how to add texture to acrylic and oil paintings.  Carolyn mostly uses modeling clay, pumice and sand to make the most interesting patterns on her canvas either prior to or after creating her design by mixing it with gel and applying the mixture to the canvas.  She stated that sometimes she’ll just apply the mixture randomly to the canvas first and then either use it to jump-start her creativity or manipulate it to fit the idea she has already.  Other times she’ll use it after painting to add texture in select places.

As you can see above, she took a pumice/gel mixture and combined it with different colors of paint to give her a starting point.  For another painting, she had applied sand and gel to her canvas so it was blank except for the texture.  She then went back and forth with other colors, and, to me and my friend, it looked like flowers started to appear on the canvas, without Carolyn even planning it that way.  So it ended up looking like this:

After demonstrating her process, Carolyn invited participants to take canvases that she already manipulated with the sand mixture, and make their own creations.  It was very interesting to see how everyone used their canvas to create their paintings.  Some made a simple design, like Tom, one of the participants, did here:

And others combined different colors in more of an abstract way, like this one:

My friend used her favorite colors to make this wonderful painting, shown here:

And another participant used vibrant, primary colors in her creation, here:

I had a lot of fun taking pictures of Carolyn’s process and learning something I might want to give a go someday.  If you live near beaches, like I do, it’s a free way to break out of an artistic rut and add something new to your paintings. 
This demonstration was sponsored by Ultrecht Art Supplies in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.  For information on future demos, go to

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Great Photo Race #1-3

I love photography.  I do love my own, but I especially love seeing how other photographers interpret subjects.  This is why I'm thrilled to be part of a wonderful online photography challenge group called  Every week, there is a theme that you submit 1 photograph to, and your fellow participants vote (or boost) your photo.  The one with the most boosts wins, even though it's just bragging rights.  I've only been a part of this group for the last 3 weeks, but they have already generated 70 themed challenges, including #70, Springtime (going on now).

The first one I submitted (above) was for the Lighthouse theme.  I did pretty well, getting 18 votes among my "competitors".  The best thing about is that you get feedback on your photos as the week goes by.  This is great for an amateur like me, who has never taken a photography class, and wouldn't know how to adjust shutter speed if you put a gun to my head (I'm learning though, thanks to my new Canon DSLR).  This is different from some other photo challenges, such as PhotoFriday, where you just post your URL and hope it does well.

The above picture was submitted for the Red theme.  This one didn't do so well, only getting 5 "boosts".  From seeing, and voting, on other photos from that week, I knew it just wasn't up to par.  I took the photo at about 2:00 in the afternoon on a sunny day.  Not the most optimum time of day to take any photo, much less one with such bright colors.  This was brought up to me by other photographers on the site, and the lesson was learned - if you take pictures of something bright, make sure it's an overcast day or either just after sunrise or just before sunset.

This last picture, my entry from this past week, was for the Aviation theme.  I took it at the EAA Museum (mentioned in the post below) of "Marge" and got a lot of nice comments from the other photographers.  I got lucky with this shot.  There weren't too many other planes close by to distract from the subject, and the shutter on my old point-and-shoot stayed open long enough to make sure it didn't come out blurry.  I did better with this one, getting 17 boosts.  Not the top of the list (that person got 38 boosts) but nicely situated in the middle of the pack.

This week's theme is Springtime, as I mentioned above.  If you have a great photo you would like to submit, just join the group and go for it.  The web-site is

Happy Snapping!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Photowalk #1: Bay View Milwaukee

Last Saturday, I participated in my first organized group photowalk, courtesy of the Flickr group Cream City: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  This month, the neighborhood we toured was Bay View, on the southeast side of Milwaukee.  This is by far my most favorite area of the city, full of cool restaurants and shops, mostly independently owned.  Before the photowalk I purchased two CD's at Rushmor (, in celebration of Record Store Day.  And people were actually buying albums, including the guy behind me in line who had his hands on a rare Nirvana album that used to only be available in Europe.

I had never met any of the photographers in the group before, but everyone was very nice and relaxed.  No artistic snobs amongst us.  We started out having a beer at Sugar Maple (, a restaurant/bar known for it's HUGE selection of craft beers from around the world.  From there, we meandered down Bay View's pretty streets where nearly every house is Victorian in style, down to the KK river and then back towards the shopping district.  Below are just some of the photos I took:

Here are some of my attempts at more "artistic" photos around the neighborhood:

To see more photos from all of Cream City: Milwaukee Wisconsin's photowalks and to find out where we'll be next, go to

Thursday, April 26, 2012

EAA Museum Trip

A couple of weeks ago, I drove an hour-and-a-half north to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to visit the EAA (Experimental Aviation Association) Museum for the very first time.  It was very interesting to see all of the planes, both "experimental" and historical.  There were two rooms of exhibits - one where all of the smaller, experimental planes are located, and one with nothing but WWII planes.  You can even see one of the first Wright Brothers' planes and the Spirit of St. Louis.

Below are some of the pictures I was able to take. Enjoy!