Studio Saturday: Studio Inspiration

What’s your favorite way to read Cloth Paper Scissors? From front to back? Featured projects first? Straight to the table of contents? I ask because there’s a fun article in the September/October 2017 issue I don’t want you to miss, especially if you’re a skipper-arounder. In Collage (page 7), artist Cathy Nichols shows off a beautiful studio inspiration piece she recycled from an unwanted painting. Her work motivated me to make one of my own, and it’s the best addition to my own studio.

Cathy’s artwork was created on a large cradled wood panel with a crossbar in the back. When she turned it around, she discovered that “It suddenly looked like shelf space and a mood board for my favorite bits of inspiration.” In the photo, you’ll see that she uses it to display a number of things: her beautiful artwork, a bottle of ink, and some mementos. Cathy explains how she painted the panel, and I incorporated her instructions for my piece.

Here’s the one that Cathy created. She painted the inside with white gesso to give her artwork a clean backdrop:

Studio inspiration display by Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols upcycled a cradled wood panel into this great studio inspiration piece. (Art and photo by Cathy Nichols)

I had a stretched canvas with a half-finished painting on it that I knew I wasn’t going back to, and decided to use that. It was smaller than the one Cathy used, but large enough to display small items. I started by placing scrap paper inside the canvas to keep it pristine, and painted the back and sides of the frame with two coats of black gesso. You can see that part of the frame is unfinished wood, and the other part is canvas, and the different surfaces intrigued me.

Painting a stretched canvas for a studio inspiration piece
To start my studio inspiration piece, I painted the frame of a stretched canvas with two coats of black gesso.

When the gesso was dry I started painting vines on the wood surface with a small round brush and acrylic paint. Truth be told, I had no grand plan in mind, and vines seemed like a good place to start. I mixed paint with glazing medium and spread it in spots on the wood with my finger, just so the black wouldn’t be so intense. If I didn’t like it, I could always paint over it, and that’s important to remember when you’re making a studio inspiration piece—if this holds your very favorite pieces, you should enjoy looking at it!

Painting vines on a stretched canvas frame
Simple vines were painted first.

Small flowers were added to the vines, in a quasi-folk art style. Still just going with the flow. After painting leaves and flowers, I went back with darker and lighter hues, plus white, to add depth and shadows. This made the greenery start to come to life.

Painting flowers on a studio inspiration piece
Simple flowers were painted with acrylic paint, using a round brush.

I modified the flowers as I went, making the red ones a big larger. I also painted a few green stripes on the border on the canvas part of the frame. It looked good, so I continued around the entire canvas.

Painting a striped border on a stretched canvas
This studio inspiration piece was painted with no grand plan in mind; a striped border seemed like a good idea!

When everything was dry, I brushed on two coats of gloss varnish to protect the painting and give it a bit of shine.

Finishing a studio inspiration piece with gloss varnish
To shine or not to shine? I opted for shine, and gave the piece two coats of gloss varnish.

There still seemed to be something missing, so I created some tiny dots in a few areas with a fine-tip white paint pen. That satisfied my eye.

The finishing touch to the studio inspiration piece
Some white dots, made with a paint pen, added the finishing touch.

Here is the finished canvas:

Upcycled studio inspiration piece
This studio inspiration piece is a great way to upcycle unwanted canvases.

And here it is on my shelf, filled with a couple of pieces of my artwork, a painted twig, and beautiful hand-painted stones by Regina Lord, whose doodled rocks appear in the Spring 2016 issue of Zen Doodle Workshop magazine (with full instructions, so check it out!).

Studio inspiration frame
Being able to change up the bits of inspiration is a plus!

The canvas backing makes it easy to pin things, and you can even add decorative stitching, or stitch pieces to the canvas. I love having this studio inspiration piece, and I encourage you to create one that will make you happy too. Try incorporating collage, assemblage, doodling, stamping, or stenciling whatever designs you like.

Don’t miss Cathy’s featured project in the issue that features her encaustic techniques! Here are a few more fun items to inspire you:

September/October 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
See more of Cathy’s studio inspiration piece, and her encaustic art project, in the September/October 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
Storytelling Art Studio by Cathy Nichols
Discover ways to tell your story in mixed media in Cathy’s new book Storytelling Art Studio.
Collage & Painting Techniques for Storytelling Art video with Cathy Nichols
Learn fantastic techniques to bring your stories to life through mixed media in the video Collage & Painting Techniques for Storytelling Art with Cathy Nichols.
Studios and Artists & Makers Collection 2014 CD
Need more studio inspiration? The Studios and Artists & Makers Collection 2014 CD has tons of great photos and interviews with talented artists.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques

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