Birch as a surface

This last week or so I’ve been re-visiting the basics – painting with a brush (not my usual tool) & using gessoed birch as the surface. These are pretty traditional materials, used for centuries.

My first piece was a self-portrait. I always have trouble with these. The conflict between what a photograph shows vs. what’s in my head creates a block.


By contrast, when I look at historical photos as a reference for a painting, I’m pretty clear about how I want to approach the project. That is exactly what is going on in the second completed piece.

Jane Thompson



Image Printing – a Primer

(Still working on “Trajectory”, but following several threads of other work.)

Just a short share for those printing artwork as photos and as images on garments.

We see thousands of colors, most of which our technology cannot duplicate. RGB is what you see on the screen and is a reduced palette. CMYK is what you use when screen printing and DTG (Direct To Garment) printing for a t-shirt and the palette is just part of the RGB, another reduction. This is  explained on lots of sites in more detail. For you convenience, here is one from RGB to CMYK youtube video

Photos: I tried Fedex Kinkos and was disappointed with the results. They printed an image of a painting on 2 different copiers and they were really different from each other. It appears they had different color “profiles” from one another. This inconsistency led me to find another printer. The one I currently use requires an RBG file with 300 dpi and the image must fit withing the space allowed – they will not resize it. I have no idea if they change it to CMYK or not, but my advice is to find a local place, follow their guidelines,do a few small (inexpensive) test prints and see.

DTG: Many of the printing companies will provide advice to get a printed chart or garment from them with color swatches. That allows you to pick a color that is printed, then enter the numeric match in CMYK in Photoshop. That can work well, though you may be out a few dollars just to get the garments. You pick the region, then “fill” with the print match.

Suppose you have a solid black triangle printed on a t-shirt. Using their advice, you can actually get a “richer” black than you would using 100% K (black), 0% for C (cyan), M (magenta), and Y (yellow). Great! Similarly, printing a red can match your work pretty well to printed garment – if it’s solid, like a triangle.

Here are the problems that I don’t see a solution for. 1) Suppose that solid triangle is hot pink or some other color outside CMYK printing capability? You are left with a lackluster pink. 2) I use gradations of color and intersections of color. Their solution requires a “fill”. That is impossible with many of my colored pencil drawings and paintings. 3) Colored pencil or white conte work created on a black background? Impossible almost. To print on a black t-shirt, I removed the black by various PS techniques, so the garment color could replace the black in the image. The black in my original was so integrated that I either couldn’t remove it entirely or being more aggressive, removed adjacent coloring.  No real solution here for #3. You can print black on a black garment – the blacks will not match, but not always a problem.

For #1 and #2, I adjust my colors in the CMYK file using the histogram in Photoshop, then save it to a PNG file for the company that I use. If there is no background, you STILL may get a residue if the background opacity is anything other than 0%.  Then I pay for a test garment to be sent to me. Bit of a scam – I end up being my own best customer. Sometimes the printed image is good/adequate, sometimes not. Once in a while it is not a match, but actually is pretty interesting “interpretation” of your work. Good luck and share your experiences printing, please.

Naked Desire – “Trajectory” is done!

Trajectory - stage12final

“Trajectory” – 4ft x 6ft 9in, Oil & Acrylic on Canvas (2017)

“Letting go of preconceptions, jumping off the edge without looking, delving into a mystery.” These phrases evoke a feeling of excitement, anticipation, perhaps fear. As an artist, that is good.

By unbridled exploration of where our desires take us, perchance we create something unique and connect through that more strongly than ever before with others and with ourselves. At least this is my belief.

This week I left behind my preconceptions about presenting myself as an “artiste”, deciding that what was important to me is to get my work to the public. Does a drawing by an established artist have more value and interest than a picture by a child? Is a painting presented in a museum or gallery setting validated in some way that the same image on a throw pillow is not?

I think the answer to both of these questions is “No.” Our daughter Samantha teaches K-6 art at a public school. Looking at her students’ work is a blast! They are way more creative than most artists that I know (including me). What they lack in technique they make up for with simplicity and directness. Sammy helps them with starting points, how to manipulate various media and equipment, and most importantly, appreciates their efforts and shares it.

My daughter Carin is an avid book collector and especially likes the Edwardian period. She finds images on book covers, inside books, and elsewhere and shares them through t-shirts. It requires imagination and dedication – the images are often so degraded that it takes days to restore them. Without her work, the history they represent would be limited to a few bibliophiles.

So, my leap of the week? I have set an online store that sells reproductions of my paintings, drawings, collages, electronic art, and screen prints. It varies from schlock (yes, there are t-shirts!) to prints on museum quality fine art paper through Saatchi. I love going to the galleries and museums, but more important to me is to have art in my life at home. I think I’m not alone in this view, and at least a few people will like my work enough to purchase something to wear, hold, or hang.

Next week’s leap? A new painting – “Trajectory”. What’s it about? Staying away from preconception, so we’ll just have to see! I’ll show you when I’m done.

Meanwhile, visit my site, view the work, and spend a few bucks!

Starving artist.

I promised to chat about screen printing for this post. Though I graduated art school, I have taken screen printing class twice more. Each time I have learned more technique, improved my skills, and experimented with new approaches. It’s been good, but no more classes!

Looking back over my first class while in undergraduate school, the registration (image alignment when printing 2 or more layers) was wildly off. Surprisingly, I really liked some of the images. Perhaps not knowing what I was doing led to non-standard compositions. That class was taught by Mark Patsfall, who also owns Clay Street Press in Cinn.

Collage- final

Final collage to be made as a screen print.

The 2nd class was all about technique,and was taught by Kate Ball. She really showed us how to do pinhole registration well. She also is a fantastically good screen print artist. It is indeed her passion. I like the combination of technique and creativity that I attained.



This 3rd and final time, Kate again is the teacher. It looks as though she may not return next school year, which is UC DAAP’s loss.


My technique is pretty good (finally), but not expert. I have done lots of experimenting, using canvas and colored paper as printing surfaces. I found that for canvas, I prefer natural canvas over both gessoed and blessoed canvas. That is probably due to my liking texture in the images I make. Much of my current project effort is reproducing prior work in colored pencil, collage, etc as screen prints. So, not a lot of new work, with a resulting feeling of lack of creativity. Needed to do it, but want to make something new! The screen prints below are based on a collage that I made 10 years ago. Each is either a 2 layer or 3 layer, hand-pulled print. (The color of the paper can eliminate the need for 1 layer.)

During the last few weeks, I (with the help of my daughter Carin) have set up an online store. The goal is to take art out of the museum and put it in people’s hands. Making it affordable does this and supports the artist. Once you see the website, you’ll probably say something like, “Jeesh, FINALLY someone has art good enough to wear!”

Here’s a screenshot of the shop:


Well, I established my studio, painted, did some screen printing, had some health issues, got well, and am focused on an art career. There are no manuals for this, so you have to figure it out for yourself. Art interests, income, where to live, and friends & family make the challenge different for each of us. Here are 3 totally different examples of what works!

Our daughter Samantha became an art teacher, which is a wonderful thing. She is free of money worries, but probably doesn’t get to do as much art as she would like. Sam’s made time for painting and jewelry making, and working daily in art is a gift. With summers off, I expect she’s do even more.

Justin (he and Sammy married last autumn) is an architect and working at an international firm. Obviously he has found a way to make a living in the arts. I’m pretty sure he would like more free time to do those projects that architects always dream of doing. I’m sure that will happen.

My daughter Carin is a well-known web designer. Doing design as well as development of sites, plus her own projects, such as jewelry boxes covered in pieces of CDs gives her an opportunity to express her creative side. She also opened an online store for tees, mugs, etc featuring Edwardian images.

Compared to these three, I’m on the slow side. I completed several paintings. The brightly painted Drongo let me do a fun project in acrylics. Greg’s jacket warranted the use of interference oils. They go on over a dark base layer and interfere with light passing through and back. If you can get it right, they appear different from different angles.

Using a different approach, I completed “Bicycle Boys”, which was the largest and most time consuming. That was oil over acrylic. Days of Death was minimal use of oil on an acrylic background.

I’m currently in a show at the Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati as well as doing screen printing. It always wears me out because it is so exacting. I am getting better at it, but still….

Meanwhile, with the invaluable help of Carin, as well as advice from Sam and friends, I have created an online store to sell Fine Art and Fun Art.

Check it out:

My next post will be about screen printing, so if you’re interested, turn on, tune in, and space out!

Starting the Art Career

After getting a degree, many artists find themselves at loose ends.  This was the case for me as I decompressed a bit from the rush of a senior painting project and a senior thesis.  The knowledge that I could now devote more time to actually painting was great though, and I have set out to do just that.

I have completed 2 new paintings (shown below) in a smaller format – just 36in by 27in for the larger one.  These will appear in the Lancaster Ohio Arts Festival starting July 16, 2014, along with about 12 other paintings and 5 photographs.  As the 2013 Artist-in-Residence for the festival, my work is featured in the Lancaster Library’s gallery through August 9, 2014.