Learning from other artists and getting an inside look at their process is beneficial in so many ways. There are always tips and tricks to learn, and we can also get a glimmer of their own inspiration. The following interview is from Painted Blossoms by Carrie Schmitt, who has a colorful Q&A with mixed-media artist Jessica Swift. See how Jessica employs stamping techniques and bravely uses color to create the gorgeous pieces you see featured here.
Then, take advantage of North Light Shop’s “Buy One Get One” sale on video downloads (click here!). There are almost 200 to choose from, including mixed-media workshops with Carrie herself! Enjoy! ~Cherie
Stamping Techniques, Color, Patterns: Interview With a “Surface Pattern Design Diva”
by Carrie Schmitt, as seen in Painted Blossoms
Carrie Schmitt: Describe how you create your gorgeous, colorful paintings.
Jessica Swift: My painting process is very intuitive. I begin with a blank canvas or wood panel and start covering it with patches of color without thinking about it too much. The goal is to quickly cover all the white space. I use a combination of medium bodied acrylics and fluid acrylics, spraying the fluid acrylics to create drips. I often create a lot of these patchy, drippy backgrounds at the same time, working quickly to cover many canvases with color.
The next step I often take is to stamp a repeating pattern using one of my hand-carved rubber block stamps. The backgrounds look so pretty to me at this point that sometimes I have a hard time painting on top of them in the next step! But once this patterned layer is dry, it’s time to start painting on top of the first layer.
CS: What do you do if your painting is not going smoothly?
JS: I let the process guide me, constantly asking my painting what it needs. I step back and look, and wait until the next move presents itself.
I often paint over areas that are not working, and I layer lots of shapes and patterns and colors on top of one another. Sometimes I scratch or paint words onto the surface. The painting is in charge, not me. One of my favorite ways to work is painting over an old painting that I don’t like anymore. The fun surprises that come when I leave pieces of the old work poking through are so exciting. These are often my favorite paintings.
CS: How do you make colors sing?
JS:My paintings are nothing BUT color! From start to finish, my paintings are composed of color upon color upon color. Putting certain colors next to one another can make them sing; using complementary colors is one of the easiest ways to achieve this type of resonant song. Red next to green, orange next to blue, etc.
It gets really interesting when you think of all the infinite types of each complementary color that you could combine. How would a rusty red and a lime green look next to one another? What about a vermilion red and a forest green? I think about these types of color questions often when I feel like my painting is missing something. I ask myself, What is the most unusual color I could add into this palette right now? Unusual color combinations add so much visual interest to a painting!
If you want to get a little more daring with your color, go to an art supply store and buy a color you would never think to buy. Then mix it with the paints you currently have and see what interesting colors you can come up with. Try not to use paint straight out of the tube – you can create so many interesting colors with the paint you’ve got, and it’ll make for much more dynamic paintings.
CS: You’re a surface pattern design diva. How do you incorporate pattern in your paintings?
JS: I often stamp patterns onto the backgrounds of my paintings, pieces of which I leave poking through the final painting. I love how it adds some depth and texture to my finished paintings. I also layer lots of hand-painted patterns into my paintings, often one right on top of the other. Dots, fingermarks, triangles . . . I paint a lot of repetitive shapes into my work. Sometimes I use stencils and spray paint! Using patterns within my paintings is definitely part of my signature look.
How to Make Rubber Stamps
by Carrie Schmitt
Stamp Carving Materials: • acrylic paint • craft knife • high-density rubber block (Speedball) • paintbrush paper • paper towel • pen or permanent marker • soft block carving tool
Tip: Because of all the shavings, this can get a bit messy. I like to carve my stamps outside and over paper for easy cleanup.
1. With a pen or marker, draw a unique design directly on a high-density rubber block.
2. Use a carving tool to gently carve into the block, etching out the top of your design. You don’t want to press too deeply at first to avoid tearing into the block. This repetition of the carving process can be a meditative one as well.
3. When you’re finished carving, trim off the excess rubber with a craft knife. Rinse off the excess rubber with water and blot dry with a paper towel.
4. Paint directly on the stamp with a brush and acrylic paint.
5. Firmly press the rubber stamp to paper and pull back to reveal!