What I'm Working On Now

I’m working on some new ways to work and display my work on paper.  I’ve mounted some heavy duty Arches cream paper on cradled wood panels.  I used archival glue and a brayer to apply the paper and get all the air out from underneath it.  What a soothing process.  And I love the way that they look.  I almost don’t want to paint on them!

I’m working on these smaller ones (6×6″ and soon to come 10×10″) for the December 2nd ArtWalk Gardiner. The larger ones are 8×10″ for the 8x10x80 show at the Harlow Gallery.

Today I’m going to paint on them and see what comes to light.  Working on some utilitarian items, too…next post!  🙂

Giveaway winners!!!

HOORAY!!! We have winners!  Cue the music!!

Thank you all for entering my giveaway!  And than you for the jokes and being nice!!!!

So here we go………  The winners are:

Prize: One (1) First Prize winner will have $75 transferred to their new or existing IPFH account
Caroline!!  Congrats, Caro! Now you can get tons of photos of your cutie offspring! 🙂  Oh yeah, and your awesome photographs & illustrations, too!

Prize: One (1) Second Prize winner will have $50 transferred to their new or existing IPFH account
Bob-o!  Congrats, BOB! I can’t wait to see you add your awesome landscape photography to your Etsy Shop!

Prize: Three (3) Third Prize winners will have $25 transferred to their new or existing IPFH account
Winners: #1- Nancy!!  My triplet twin!  Congrats!!! I know you’ll have lots of great photographs printed!! Go big!  🙂
#2- Bob again!!  Way to use your multiple entries, Bob!!!! It’s like you won first prize!
#3- Mary-Anne!  Yeah!  Hooray!! 

OK gang– so please look for my email to you and reply back with the info that I need and I will transfer some dough into your IPFH account!

Thanks for playing!!!

Giveaway: iPrintFromHome.com dollars

So I’ve told you all before how much I love ordering my giclee and photographic prints from iprintfromhome.com – It’s honestly true.  I don’t endorse many companies unless I truly love their product and service.  I actually don’t really endorse any companies.  But I joined their Ambassador Program because I truly do believe in their prints and trust them tons.  When someone says that I referred them or click on the link in my blog, I get ‘thank you dollars’ in my account that I can use to buy myself prints.  I jokingly said to them the other day that I refer to myself as a ‘whore for iprintfromhome’ to all of my friends but, when I recently checked out the balance in my ambassador account, I’d have to re-title myself as an IPFH ‘high class escort.’

I have a ton of dough in that account!  And here’s the best part….I want to share it all with you!!!

That’s right, I’m holding a giveaway and five lucky recipients will have the pleasure of ordering prints of their own work from iprintfromhome.com!  You can use the credit towards anything they have for sale…canvas prints, mounted giclee prints, giclees, photographic prints- you name it! If you’re not an artist that needs prints, no problem, you can order photographic prints of family photos.  View a full list of items and services that they offer here.

Prizes!!  My five prizes will be:
One (1) First Prize winner will have $75 transferred to their new or existing IPFH account
One (1) Second Prize winner will have $50 transferred to their new or existing IPFH account
Three (3) Third Prize winners will have $25 transferred to their new or existing IPFH account

Kinda fine print: There is no cash value. Winners will need to tell me the email address associated with their existing or new iprintfromhome.com account. I will give that email to IPFH solely for them to transfer the credit from my account to yours.

Winners will be picked at random from names drawn on Wednesday September 28, 2011 at 5:30pm Eastern Time.  I will blog the winners and contact them right away.  Please make sure that I have a way to contact you (blogger profile with contact info or include your email/website in your post).

So here’s the deal, you can enter this giveaway 3 times!  Do one or all of the following:

  • Post below and say something nice.  Anything nice at all will do! (we all like to hear something nice once in a while)
  • Do something nice for someone you know or a random stranger then tell your story below!
  • Post a joke! We could all use a laugh 🙂
That’s it!  Please feel free to share this link and get your friends in on the action- think about your artist friends.  And if you’re so inclined, please check out my etsy shop jamieribisi.etsy.com
*************GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED- look for my next post for winners!**********

Nielsen wood frames

Nielsen Wood Frame Kit – as purchased

Recently, I had 2 works on paper and a painting accepted into an exhibition “In the Shadows of the Mind” at Monkitree Gallery in Gardiner, ME (opening is this Friday, Sept 16th at 5:30pm).  I am beyond excited because these works on paper have never been exhibited in a gallery before and I can’t wait to see how they are received.

But I was also very excited and a bit intimidated to venture into the world of framing.  I’ve framed before but I wanted to find an affordable frame that was easy to assemble and to exactly the right size.  I instantly thought of Nielsen frame kits, you know, the metal frames that many photographers use.  I love their simplicity but I don’t like the coldness of the metal next to my paintings or drawings.  So I searched, and searched, and searched.  Nothing was affordable and nothing was exactly the right size.  These particular pieces are 15″ square which is a little awkward for store-bought frames.  Then I came across something I was unfamiliar with, Nielsen’s wood frame kits!  Exactly the warmth that I wanted, easy to assemble, and from a name that I trust.  They come in 3 colors: black, mahogany, or natural pine.

You purchase the kits by the interior size that you need– each kit is a set of two sides so you will need to buy two kits per frame that you are looking to make.  In my case, I purchased 2 sets of 15″ kits per frame.  (If you want an 8×10″ frame you’d buy one kit that’s 8″ and one that’s 10″)

how the sides assemble

Each kit comes with two H shaped plastic pins that you insert into each mitered corner after putting a small amount of wood glue onto the mitered edges.  I found this fairly simple to do, out of the two frames that I made, one had a corner that didn’t exactly match up but with a little finagling it was hardly noticeable.  The pins can be pushed in about half way by hand and then the rest of the way with light hammering of a mallet.

Blogger won’t upload this in the correct direction.  What jerks.

So the only other things you’ll need are: 1) glass cut to size; don’t go by the size of the frame, there will be a fraction of an inch extra on each and I recommend assembling the frames and then measuring the size of glass that you’ll need.  Most hardware stores will cut glass for you.  2) mat board; even if you are not showing the mat, you may want to still put it in there for support.  I recommend acid-free.  3) backing board; this will be visible from the back.  I used a thick black acid free mat board that went in after my mat board.  4) glazier points; again, available at the hardware store.  I got the ones that you can see above- they are shaped like a pointy heart and a raised edge on the metal, this makes it easy to push in the point with a flat head screwdriver.  5) d-rings or strap hangers with screws to tie the next item to 6) framing wire.

a full view of the back – I glued my business card to the back of the mounting board and wrote my title on it
finished products

And here are the finished products! The black frames did need to be touched up on the edges because you could see the natural color of the wood at each miter point.  Not too bad and easy to correct with a touch up pen.  I placed another order and am waiting for the natural pine frames, I think that’ll look even better and not have the need to be touched up.  I’ll report back!

Some additional specs:  The 1-1/8″ rabbet accepts stretched canvas or matted or mounted art. Has a 3/4″ face and 1-1/2″ side depth.  Sits very nicely on a wall!

Where can you find the best price on these frames– glad you asked because I found that out, too.  Jerry’s Artarama had the best price I could find.

If you wind up using these or have used them in the past, let me know!  I’d like to know what you think of them.  I still don’t love framing but this is inexpensive and relatively easy.

How to prep with Oil Ground

I’ve been working on cradled wood panels lately and thought I’d share some quick & dirty instructions on how to prep a board with oil ground. First step is taping off your edges with a thick painter’s or drafting tape. I like having the natural wood as my clean edge, you can choose to prep and paint your edges, if you wish, but I like the look and feel of a crisp clean edge. Any excess tape I just fold around the back of the panel since you’re just going to take this off when you’re done painting anyway. Be sure that the tape edge facing the front of the panel matches up to the edge and that you press it down hard. I’ve learned the hard way– don’t settle for cheap tape!! It either won’t stick and you’ll have paint seeping through everywhere or it’ll stick too much and literally pull pieces of your wood off…I never thought that was a possibility but it is!

Above is a look at my panels all taped up.

I like using Gamblin Oil Painting Ground (they have a pretty cool video there and tons of technical info if you want to read further). Now, don’t get confused… oil ground is very different from gesso. Gesso that is commonly used today is an acrylic base; oil ground is linseed oil based. Acrylic gesso is good, quick, and pretty nice but oil ground trumps it for me because oil ground has a luminosity that really shows through your paint. Since I’m painting in fairly thin layers, I want a ground that will showcase the colors that I’ve mixed. Oil ground also requires less application of layers and less material so don’t be fooled by the price when compared to gesso. If you’re prepping on canvas or linen you’ll need to size the material, first, with PVA or your choice of sizing. Since I’m painting on wood, there is no need to size.
The only materials that you really need for this job is your painting surface, oil ground, latex gloves, a stick of some sort (I use an old pencil), and an old credit card or gift card. I emphasize old because you’re not getting it back from the oil Gods. “Why a credit card,” you say? Do you think I’m not going to explain, I will, I will. Oh, and open a window, damn it! This is oil based so you need to properly ventilate your studio.
So put on your gloves and take that pencil/stick and dunk it into the pot of oil ground and then drizzle it all over your surface. It’s ok if you put too much on, you can always scrape it off and put it back in the pot during the next step, which is my favorite step.

Take the old credit card and use that to scrape the paint really thinly over the entire surface. A new painting tool!! How cool is that? Be sure to keep the bottom of the card clean in between swipes once it gets a little cakey– just wipe it off on a towel. A credit card or an old gift card or an old forgotten to be returned hotel room keycard (I swear I thought I returned it) work great because you can put even pressure on it, it’s flexible, and you don’t have to pay for it! You can also use a roller or a flat sponge brush or something but I really love using the cards for a smooth finish.

Keep doing this until your entire surface is covered with oil ground in a very thin coat. You’ll be amazed at how little you use. Let dry for about a day and then put on a second coat in the same way. You can sand with a super fine sandpaper and dust between coats if you’d like a very smooth surface. Let your second coat dry for at least 2-3 days; remember, this is oil paint so it will take some time to completely dry. Then you’re ready to paint!
Once your painting is complete, simply remove the taped edges pulling the tape towards the front of the painting.
An extra optional step: If you like having a color to your ground, you can mix any dry painter’s pigment into the ground first! Customize the color ground you want to use.
And a word of advice: to keep your can of ground lasting a long time, cut a piece of wax paper to the width of the can and place it on the top of the oil. That’ll keep the air in the can from drying it out. Then seal it tightly. This also works for home paint and is a tip I probably learned from This Old House. (If it’s latex or acrylic paint, then use a piece of plastic wrap to do the same trick.) I am all about saving you money.
Let me know if you have any questions!

New work

I really have had a great time loosening up and working on this newest grouping of paintings on paper. They helped me work through the larger paintings on board that I’ve been doing while being completed paintings of their own.
Throughout my years of painting, I’ve almost always done representational paintings. It’s how I learned to paint. It’s pretty much all I’ve known. But I’ve been so drawn to mark making, movement, and color. And I’ve also been very moved by non-representational art. I’ve been wanting to make the move to creating pieces that took the familiar representational aspects out of the composition and just focus on the movement and the color. I’m happy with what’s developing and anxious to see where it takes me next.
I’ve always been a very deliberate painter. I’m happy to let that go and to let the paint and the moment tell me where to go next.
After completing the works on paper I’m holding in the images here, I created this casein painting on cradled wood. It’s called “Haywire” and is 16″ square.
I’m really excited about this painting — the layers of casein paint mixed with graphite, litho crayon, and water soluble wax crayons really were fun to work with. There are subtle colors popping through the marks and I’m hoping to explore that more in future paintings.
Never know what will develop at the next studio session!


I’ve been in a nice rhythm the past few weeks creating new work for an upcoming Art Walk. This is one of my favorite ones so far; it’s 15″ square and is casein and mixed media on cream Arches paper.

If you’d like to see more, click here and see the rest on Flickr. And if you’re in the area, come on by to the Gardiner Art Walk on Friday May 13, 5:30pm to 9pm. I’ll be at 307 Water St.

Painting with Casein

The life of a blog tends to have its ups and downs, the moments of dead air and moments of frantic energy. I’m sure you see it in the other blogs that you follow. There are always the “I’ve been neglecting my blog” posts and they happen every so often for just about everyone that I know.
For me, it happens because I’m working on something new and I’m not yet ready to share those moments and talk about them. I want to see where they go organically and not because I’m forcing myself to share and talk about them.
“So what have you been doing lately,” you ask? So glad you asked 🙂
I’ve decided to explore yet another antiquated medium– casein. Casein paint is a material derived from milk protein. It’s water soluble and very fun to work with. The flow feels like a hybrid of watercolor and acrylic but it is certainly its own beast. I chose to explore it because I was beginning to work drawing into my paintings. I needed something that dried relatively fast but would play nicely with graphite both in the wet and dry phases.
I’ve been working on both virgin wood and a prepared ground (I’ll note the difference in the images posted here); I’ve found that I prefer the finished look in the ground. Working on a virgin wood, the paint absorbs extremely fast, which is ok but challenging at times. You certainly have to chase the painting a lot harder. Working this way created a pleasing atmospheric quality but the wood wound up getting little areas that were similar to fuzz on a good sweater. Not the look I was going for.
Working on a ground is my preferred way to paint with casein (for now, anyway!) because it gives the painting a luminosity that is unattainable on the bare wood. It also makes the paint flow like a dream. Plus, I really love applying ground to wood. That’s my new favorite prep activity. Taping off the edges on the other hand… don’t care for it too much.
(above: My Black Eye, 6″ x 8″; no ground)

Aggregate, 20″ x 24″; ground

Breaking Off The Middle Part, 16″ x 16″; no ground

Salad (Tosser), 20″ x 24″; ground

More Nature, More Squares

Nature Squares, 6″ x 6″ each, Encaustic & Photo Transfer

Loving the simplicity of high contrast photo transfers on a bed of wax! I have a total of 15 squares and 4 rectangles. The counting of which led me to wonder the amount of paintings that I made in 2010. Well, folks, I completed 36 paintings! (plus a few that I’m still on the fence about being finished) That’s definitely a record for me.

And thinking back to my days in college, especially my senior year, I had a battle with making any paintings. But having inspiration all around you really changes the game. I went to college in Boston and being in a city inspired my drawings and my photography, which I wound up being prolific in those years. But paintings? Yeah, I didn’t do much. I did spend my senior year really studying color and mixing oil paint like crazy on my palette. But that doesn’t make for finished pieces. I do think that it helped me in my profession, for sure. I’m happy to have spent the time focused on that (although I know my professor thought otherwise).
Anyway… Living in Maine, being surrounded by nature, having a studio space… it keeps me inspired! Looking forward to what the new year brings.