Exploring Mixed Media Techniques

Mixed media is a unique way to express yourself through a variety of techniques. This month we shared our ideas on this art form, exploring textures, mediums, surfaces and materials. Whether you're a seasoned artist or a beginner, this was a great discussion to get inspiration.

December 11, 2019

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Audio Transcript



Hadley

Crafting Circle – Exploring Mixed Media Techniques

Presented by Leeanne Frydrychowicz and Jennifer Quinn

December 11, 2019

Jennifer Q: My name is Jennifer Quinn and I'm the graphic designer and I do event photography here at Hadley. You might have seen our Hadley newsletter, Thrive, and I designed that as well as all of our publications and invitations and all our marketing materials. I'm also an artist. Primarily, I do mixed media on canvas in my spare time. And I have a big interest in projects with texture, paper and book-making. And Leeanne who also usually hosts the discussion group, Leeanne, do you want to give us a little about yourself?

Leeanne F: Sure, sure. I think most of you have been here before, but for those that haven't, my name is Leeanne Frydrychowicz and I am one of the learning experts here at Hadley. I teach the braille literacy courses as well as all of our math courses that we're finishing up with. So I've been here five years, and I was here years ago. Took a lot of time off to raise my children but am back. Crafting has been my passion most of my life. As an adult it's been knitting and quilting, and scrapbooking. Any kind of paper craft, I'm all over that. I'm interested in lots of things but I just don't have time to dig deeper into many of them, so I kind of stick with my three for now, and then learn and love listening to what everybody else is doing and working at and all the creativity that everyone has.

Jennifer Q: Great. That's one thing about the Crafting Circle, I'm always finding new things to do. So I got to focus on the ones... I do the mixed media, so I can talk to that today.

Jennifer Q: So let's just jump right into mixed media. Then I want to get to the lines to open it up to hear about your experiences and tricks and just different techniques. Mixed media is just a really fun way to express yourself through a variety of materials and techniques. When we talk about mixed media, we're just really talking about the use of more than one medium in a work of art. So a mixed media painting might be one that combines different creative mediums and methods rather than just one. So a piece could be as simple as using acrylic paint with pastel on top, that's considered mixed media. Or it might have ten different mediums. It also might look like adding fabric, and ink to a painting or drawing on top of a photography print. Mixed media incorporates like beading, and really any kind of materials. Natural materials, materials that you can find around the house. And one of my favorite things about it is it really kind of evolves as you create it. And I love the tactile element to it. You can do so much with that. So that it really becomes something more than just visual, the entire art.

My own pieces I do, are usually first inspired by a focal point. So that can be something physical, or a visual object. I usually go with something like a vintage photo I found at an estate sale. I'm a big estate sale fan. Or maybe it's an old family photo. Just something that inspires me. After I have my focal point, I usually then create a color scheme by choosing a number or different type of papers to tear and incorporate into the piece. Now I lay this out all on top of the canvas to begin with, and when they have a good balance to the overall piece, once I have, you know, I can fill in the different parts of it that are adding up, I will start adhering it to the canvas with glue or working them in with paints and other materials.

Finally I'll add in any other pieces of interest. Like maybe an old movie ticket, or a record wrap. When I was at an estate sale a few years ago I found these really old record wrappers from probably the late 1800s. It was very interesting; it was just the papers. They were very old, but they had such a really thick texture, and I thought these are too good to not use. So I actually incorporated those into my work as well, just adds a bit of interest. I finish up with details in ink, or texture mediums, and give the piece a coat of varnish to seal it. So that's what my personal work looks like. If you're new to mixed media I encourage you to just begin with a few sessions of simply experimenting with different mediums. Acrylic, how they interact together, how do oil paint interact with watercolor or inks. Alcohol inks and acrylics. What do they do? And in all of your projects, especially in these first explorations of mixed media, just don't be afraid to make some mistakes. And for me, I found that the mistakes often turn out to be maybe a new technique, or combination that I'll use regularly. So again, just try it out with things that you find around the house. Maybe you have a box of art supplies that you haven't used. That's a perfect inspiration to start out with.

There's four main pieces to think about when you are getting started. You want to think about your surface, your subject and support matter, the mediums, and then adding that texture to a piece. The starting point could be anything like from canvas, wood, it could be wood that you found, or it could be a furniture, an old [inaudible]. It could be really be just about anything. I even seen people paint on fabrics, to make that their kind of canvas. Then you would need your subject and support matter. Maybe it's photos, like I would start out with, or maybe you have a stamp collection, you don't really know what to do with it. You don't have it in a book. It's really kind of ephemera. Which is something that isn't really meant to save but it can be used and incorporated into these pieces really well. Advertisements, or old letters. I've seen Scrabble letters used, feathers, different kinds of trinkets and keys and cards, the sky's the limit on this part. Common mediums would be acrylics, watercolors, pens and markers, oil pastels. And then you can also use things that you find around the house. One of the funnest things I've found, I've used tea bags to yellow my paper. So I get a teabag, and steep it, and make a cup of tea, then I take that tea bag when I'm finished with the tea, and I will rub that on the edges of my paper and it really makes a perfect new piece of paper look like an old vintage piece. So you really can use kind of anything from around the house.

Next, and my favorite, is the texture. You want to add texture that can give you some cool effects, tactile effects, that you wouldn't be able to really create with just paint. Sometimes you can add that with the paper or the support matter. I've used beeswax to add texture. It really gives it a milky, kind of surreal look, and a very smooth dried finish to the touch. Gesso. You can do mark making in the gesso. You can do scratches and feathering to add extra texture that's more flat. You can add layers of tissue paper with modge podge. If you're interested in collage, I'm sure you've been familiar with the modge podge which is kind of the glue and the varnish that kind of holds it all together.

You can use stencils. I've seen people use corrugated cardboard to make different textures. And then there's texture mediums which are really fun. You can find mediums that have fibers in them. Or they're made like stucco. Or modeling paste that really you can build up on the canvas and give a tactile feel to the entire that you would not be about able to get. You can get sand mediums, or glass bead mediums. So you can see there's so many things. And you can even make these with the gesso medium, you can make your own. You'd have to do a little research on that. Maybe some of you have already done some things like that. So I'm looking forward to hearing...

It can be a little addictive trying out all the different materials. Just remember it's okay to have successes and failures. You don't want to cut yourself off just because you think it's not going the way you want it. Just keep working with it and you're going to figure out a new way of doing something. It really is all about breaking boundaries between different forms of art and working in layers and adding on without completely hiding what's underneath. So again, when you start out, just try to have a session or two in the beginning where you're kind of just experimenting with the different mediums, and textures and even items that you find around the house, so if you even start to put a piece together.

Looking forward to seeing what everybody else experience is with this art form. Maybe some favorite techniques and questions that you might have. So we'll open up the lines soon-

Leeanne F: Jennifer, can I ask a question while you're paused here for a moment?

Jennifer Q: Sure.

Leeanne F: Well, you haven't had a question where they come in. Could you tell us a little bit about gesso. What it is, what does it feel like, what do you do with it. Because I don't think that many people, might not be familiar with that, that product.

Jennifer Q: Sure. Gesso, basically it's to use on, it was made to be used for painting over a blank canvas. So basically if you have a canvas, then you would put gesso on it, and it's kind of like a base coat that makes your paints kind of adhere closer to the canvas. That way it doesn't suck up or discolor the paints as much. But in recent years, people are actually adding gesso to their paints, thin it down, or to thicken it up depending on what kind of outcome you're looking for in your piece.

Leeanne F: Okay, thank you. So when I've used gesso, I've actually kept it pretty goopy. Because for me, it's kind of the texture of hair gel.

Jennifer Q: Yeah.

Leeanne F: And I think for me, I liked having it really thick. Took a long time to dry but having that thickness can help create some texture in whatever you're working with. So even if you're not so worried about the colors, but you're now focused on the texture phase, you can make parts of your piece very smooth, parts of your piece maybe almost feel like waves in the ocean, or straight lines like maybe jail bars. It's really a limitless medium that you can either add to or use on its own to just create that, related to texture.

Jennifer Q: And then with the texture mediums, and you can get those at any art store, the texture mediums, or you can find them online. It's kind of a gesso, but it's a little bit thicker so it will take less time to dry. Gesso is a really good way to make your own texture, so if you have some really tiny rocks that you want to add into gesso, you could do that, and then get a paint palette and put that right over, or with your hand, put that right over your canvas. But sometimes these texture gels, or mediums, will have like a rock, that you can buy pre-made. Or with sand, or with fibers in it. But the gesso is a really good way to kind of make your own.

Leeanne F: Jennifer do you want to open it up to questions now or do you have more that you want to add.

Jennifer Q: Yeah.

Leeanne F: Okay. Rae, with an E at the end. You are unmuted, so go ahead.

Rae: I was just wondering how you spell this... is it getso? I'm just not familiar with that, so...

Jennifer Q: It's called gesso, G-E-S-S-O, gesso.

Rae: Okay.

Jennifer Q: And I think one of the basic things that you might be able to get, I think I bought it at Walmart, in their craft section. You should be able to find the gesso at Walmart.

Rae: I think I've heard that before, so...

Jennifer Q: Yeah.

Leeanne F: Okay.

Rae: Thank you so much.

Jennifer Q: You can add it to, if you paint in acrylics, you can add it to your paint to have your paint go a little bit further as well. So it's kind of a wonder material.

Rae: Okay, thank you.

Leeanne F: Yeah, it is great, and I just checked you can even get it on the Amazon. So for those of you on your laptop and couch shoppers who like to just go online and see who has what, gesso is available there as well. Okay, thank you, Rae.

Leeanne F: Okay, the next one I have in line, I believe it's N. Fairchild?

N. Fairchild: I work a lot with paper, and different textures and items that I glue to scrapbook pages, card fronts, those types of things. But one of the toughest things that I'm dealing with is the right kind of glue or adhesive that is permanent, if I'm going to add something. I've found some squares that work pretty good. I love glue dots, but you got to know exactly where you want to put something if you're going to use a glue dot, because it's pretty stuck when you stick it. The thing that I'm not able to successfully use very well is snail glue, where it's in like a little zip thing, and you go... across a piece of ribbon, or a piece of paper, or something like that. What are your suggestions for glues or adhesives?

Jennifer Q: Well, I get this question a lot, and mainly because I use a very unusual type of glue. I use a glue stick. And all my girlfriends who are artists make fun of me, because I use a glue stick. But I actually do use something that's archivally made. It's about three dollars at the art store. And why I like it, is that you can kind of feel on the back of whatever piece you're putting down you can feel the glue on that. You can turn it over and paste it, but then it will come up for a couple of times if you need to kind of readjust it. A lot of people will use, there's the glue called YES glue, Y-E-S. It comes in a little tub and you apply it with a paint brush. As far as the glue dots or the things like that, I don't find that those hold up very well. I mean, they'll place down, but then maybe will come apart, out of wear and tear. So like I said, I use either the glue stick, or the YES glue on a bigger project that maybe is going to be a lot of glue. Another good option is modge podge. You can use that to paint with. You know, you paint that on the back of the piece, and then you can paint over it, over the entire piece to seal as well and it dries clear. Does that answer your question?

N. Fairchild: Yes. Definitely, thank you.

Jennifer Q: Okay good. Good luck.

Leeanne F: This is Leeanne. Nina, I was also going to mention, because I am a paper crafter as well, that instead of using the tape runners with those little pieces that you're struggling with, they also have a continuous roll of double-sided tape that is archival quality, which means there is not acid in it. So that's always a good option. Because you can literally rip off how much you want with the backing on it, place it where you want to. Once you're ready you can pull the backing off and stick it.

I also know that Scotch makes a mounting tape like that, but it's foamy as well so if you wanted to add just a little bit of height or additional texture to the paper that you're adding, that's a really good idea as well. And again, because it comes in a long strip, if you're attaching bigger things, those tape runners can be really tricky because a lot of times the stickiness of them, it kind of fades over the years I've found. Also depending on the brand, sometimes all of the adhesive doesn't come off when you want it to. Sometimes it just sticks on the roll and kind of rolls itself back up and then becomes unusable. So I'm a very big user of double-sided stick tape in almost any type as long as it's acid-free because I'm working with pictures for them.

Jennifer Q: Yeah. I like the height that that can give you too. When you have the puffy dots, or the puffy tails. And Nina, I want to touch on something else that you mentioned before we move on to the next caller. You were talking about placing your pieces and kind of forgetting where they go, and kind of getting them in the right spot. If you have some vision, I usually always once I get it laid out on the canvas, kind of arranged how I want it, I'll take a picture of it with my phone. And then if you don't have enough sight that you feel comfortable doing that, you can use those dots to kind of use as guides. So you could put down a dot, at the top and the bottom of a piece, three or four or five different pieces, and then kind of take them off, put your glue on and then remove the dots as you put those back on. So I find that's also a good way to tactilely feel your way through the piece.

N. Fairchild: Okay. Thanks.

Jennifer Q: Thank you, Nina.

Leeanne F: Thank you, Nina. All right, the next one that I have on our list is Elizabeth. You are unmuted. Do you have a question or comment?

Elizabeth: Yes, I do. It's actually very much in line with the other callers, so I'll switch it a little bit. What about working with pieces from nature? So I'd like to incorporate leaves, or twigs, or flowers. Any tips on how to incorporate those into the works so that I guess they're covered and conserved as well?

Jennifer Q: Yeah. I know there are certain materials, and I can look that up for you. I know there are certain materials that are specifically made for items in nature. I have done projects with leaves and what I've always used is like a varnish. I'll either put a varnish over the top and the bottom and use that kind of a way to adhere it to the layer below. Also with the modge podge. The only thing is that, you do get some crackling maybe as the leaves, depending on, if it's a dried flower, or a fresh leaf. But I think that possibly you could get some kind of varnish for objects in nature. Leeanne, have you used any natural items in your pieces?

Leeanne F: I have, and actually, when I lived in Arizona, I lived in the desert, there's no change of season really when it comes to the leaves falling and changing colors, and that was something that I truly missed from the Chicago area. So when I moved back here, it was all about the colors. Had some friends come from Arizona pick up some leaves because this is something that's so novel to them, as fall happens, and the leaves are just gorgeous on the ground. They saved them, they just dried them. And there's a medium, it's kind of a sandy-type texture that you can put flowers and leaves in to dry so that they can dry flat. But they did that, they saved the leaves and then I went out to Arizona to scrapbook, and I was scrapbooking pictures of my daughters and the leaves. They just happened to have some leaves from my front yard that I could use in my pictures. The irony was pretty funny. But they used this medium and I remember using it many, many years ago, with my mom to dry flowers. And not necessarily to dry flowers flat that you can pour a little bit in, maybe a plastic tub, and then you see the flowers in there, you pour the rest of it in so that they're completely covered. Maybe it took a week or two? I'm not exactly sure. But that preserved, that dried, I think that anytime something isn't completely dried it's going to start to decompose. So even if you get it on your work when it's fresh and beautiful, until it's fully dry, I think it's always going to be a changing element. And for things that you don't necessarily want to be perfect... I'm kind of one of those "It's good enough for me." I'm happy when things change, and I call them happy accidents when thing kind of don't turn out as I expected, but I enjoy it all the same because of the process of doing it and then seeing it change over time just makes me happy.

But I would say if you're using twigs, let them dry thoroughly so that they don't change or warp on you. Even you may want to consider instead of traditional adhesives, what about sewing them onto your canvas? You put an adhesive or a sticky dot, I call them snot dots, those really gummy dots that are sometimes hard to place, but they really hold things, and then taking a thin thread and securing it. Just going back to front, front to back with the needle and thread to help secure things. I'm just imagining a few twigs, skinny twigs that... hot glue gun. I love hot glue gun, that those would stick really well, the how glue gun. Or if you didn't want to use that, now they have the low heat hot glue guns as well so nobody gets burned. But even sewing things on, as adding another, and then the thread becomes part of the texture in there.

Jennifer Q: Great idea.

Leeanne F: Okay Elizabeth? How did we do? Do you have more questions or still more concerns?

Elizabeth: That's really interesting. I'm sure that would help a lot. I'm more looking for a fine art type of situation, so I don't want to [inaudible].

Leeanne F: Okay.

Elizabeth: But that kind go to kind of mix in to what I was going too originally ask, because you said you were an artist, for something like that, if you're making a painting and you are going for something with a beautiful type of finish to it? It doesn't have to be for nature but for other things? Do you have any other techniques or tips to give on having it... because my vision I'd rather have a smooth finish when you're incorporating different items like on top of an acrylic painting, let's say.

Jennifer Q: I usually use a liquid type of varnish. And there's three different ones that I use mostly. There's a matte, and there's a satin, and then they have a like a high-gloss, or semi-gloss.

Elizabeth: But there are so many different varnishes besides types. Oh, what's it called? There so different. If you look under Liquitex Varnish, they'll have different types. Is there one [inaudible] with the mixed media?

Jennifer Q: Well what's I'm saying. I like the either the matte, the liquid that's matte, or I use the satin quite a bit. So any of those I think would be of quality for fine art.

Elizabeth: Well what I mean is that there's one that says medium, and like they're different varnishes, not the types of texture, or the finish, but the actual product, they have different products of varnish, or maybe...

Jennifer Q: You're talking about different varnishes that-

Elizabeth: Like they might have a water based, might have a polyurethane based, they might have-

Jennifer Q: Oh, I see what you're saying.

Elizabeth: ... a Liquitex Medium Varnish it's called, and they have a couple more that's more a straight varnish.

Jennifer Q: I guess you would read the descriptions. Most of my works, I don't ever use oils, in mine. So obviously you wouldn't use a water-based varnish over an oil. But-

Elizabeth: I'm acrylic.

Jennifer Q: Yeah, I would say, I think a water-based would be fine over acrylic, just let your initial piece dry really well before applying a water-based varnish.

Elizabeth: And that would be good with mixed medias?

Jennifer Q: Yeah, yeah. And it also kind of give it, depending on what kind of effect you're looking for, you can work in flaking into that. If you want to add stuff into the varnish as well, like etching. If you want to add more texture at that late stage. But for a nice smooth wrapped-up finish, I usually go for matte because I don't like the glare on the piece, but sometimes I'll use a semi-gloss or a satin.

Elizabeth: Oh, thank you.

Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you very much, Elizabeth. And next on our raised hands, oops, I just muted you but you were already... okay, Lynn, do you have a question or comment?

Lynn: Hi! I'm totally blind, but I love to actually make tactile graphics, pictures, I like to trace things. What I want to know is thinking more from the tactile aspect, do you have any experience with puff paint or what do you recommend paint-wise to have more of a tactile sensation.

Jennifer Q: Actually, puff paint is one of my favorite things to add into my pieces. I really like the textures that it can add. I like that you are doing the tracing and focusing on tactile part, because it can turn the interest away from the visual into just the tactile, physical piece. And I really like that. The puff paints you can find that... they're dot paints really, that I use. I'm trying to think... I'll look up the name, but the puff paints that I use, they come in a lot of different colors, and it has a very fine tip, and it's just a little jar filled with the paint. And you can do a big dot, or a bunch of small tiny dots. You can even do like pin pricking to add a fine texture. But you can also do the dots where they're just larger. You can make lines out of them, or you can trace it, or it can be just part of a block of texture to represent something.

My main thing is that I don't let that dry long enough, often. Because usually that's the last part that I'll do is add that puff paint on. And then I want to go ahead and seal it, and I don't wait long enough. So I would say definitely when you're using those paints, because it might feel dry on top but underneath it's still drying in there. I'm going to look up... Lynn, have you ever used any puff paints or any tactile paints that come out just like that?

Lynn: No I haven't, but we were thinking about... I love craft stores. I just love the smell of them, and I just love being in them. So I'm always looking for things to buy, and justify the purchase of them, so...

Leeanne F: I don't think that you need to justify when it's crafting. I don't know, for me crafting and reading are kind of like, well, you just need it. Sometimes it is fun to buy something that you really have no use for it, but you're going to figure out a use for it. So you have that little stash of just your special things, and it's like, "Okay, what can I do?" and I think mixed media is the perfect canvas to play with all of those fun little finds that you may have. And I think especially, personally, when I create anything, in any medium, I do it because it makes me happy. So it's more for myself.

So I could even see doing something, not even worrying what the colors are, just something that the colors are that is completely tactile experience. And if other people find it pleasing, fantastic, if they don't, that's okay too. Something popped up in my Facebook feed, I think it was late last night or early this morning. A teacher of the visually impaired, a teacher of children, her mom was retired and she basically gave her mom a job. She said, "Mom, can you create some tactile art for the walls, for the kids, so they can actually see it and experience it. And the things that this woman used, she used colored, the low heat glue sticks, they have them in colors, which would have the similar effect as puff paint, if you wanted to outline some things.

She used Styrofoam pieces that were cut and kind of mushed them into the shapes that she wanted. She used corrugated cardboard. Ripped it open so you actually have a rough bumpy side. I mean they do sell sheets like that but being very economical just taking a cardboard and ripping it up so you have the corrugated part of that, and use that. And there were beads and buttons, and sand and shells. Finding them small enough so they don't take up the whole piece of art, but I just thought this was a completely tactile mixed media experience, and it was fascinating to see how the people that they were meant for, that's who's really going to experience. For anybody else, they may not get as much out of it, but for a tactile person that experiences most of their world either auditorily or tactilely, I think that's a fantastic thing to do.

Jennifer Q: Yeah. And I like that you can make it, you can do so much with it. It can be geometric, you can follow lines, the lines can be representational, or a field of color. The bottom half of your canvas can be filled with dots, or the dots can represent a tree. It really is fun to go along with those, that experiment.

Leeanne F: Okay Lynn, thank you so much for your question, really appreciate it.

Jennifer Q: Thank you, Lynn.

Leeanne F: Okay, so next we have, and I must not put your name in, the person that their phone number begins with 734, can you tell us your name and then ask your question?

Allison: Yes, this is Allison from Michigan. My question is do most stores have any canvases that are already pre-made that I can feel with the materials that you mentioned? Because when I was a kid, a neighbor of mine, her mom was a substitute teacher and an art teacher, and she took a little tiny square piece of construction paper and glued some popsicle sticks in the shape of a square, and then she glued beads on the popsicle sticks, and then in the middle of the square of the popsicle sticks, she made squiggly lines out of puff paint like a miniature picture frame.

Leeanne F: That's really neat.

Jennifer Q: Yeah, it's really fun with mixed media to actually make your own surface. At the art stores yes, they'll have canvases, and you can also buy a really heavy, like a watercolor board. Watercolor paper or Bristol board. They also have, to get started, if you haven't done this, and you really just want to experiment, they have what are called canvas boards. And they usually sell them, maybe they're 8" X 10", and they might come in a package of five or 10. And they're pretty cheap. They're about a dollar a piece, or maybe 50 cents apiece.

And I really like those to kind of experiment on. Because canvases can get kind of pricey depending on the size that you get. The canvas boards are still really nice to work on. And even if you decide, "I really like this piece. I was just experimenting," it's still significant enough of a piece that you can still gift it, hang it on the wall, or even frame it. I found that wood, found pieces of wood, or scrap boards are really good things to paint and do mixed media on as well. One of my projects I do are these lawn... they're about two feet tall, and they're long and thin. I get a two by four, you can find a two by four, but you can buy one at Home Depot, for... the really long two by fours, raw, at Home Depot or Lowes for two or three dollars. And they'll cut them there for you for free. And I usually get about four pieces out of those two by fours.

And then I have these long pieces and they're really elongated little people. I use watercolor pencil and acrylic, and papers and different pictures or photos. Maybe there's like a face of someone, or an animal's face, and then I do like a long dress, maybe tin paper that I put down. And of course the puff dots. I always add those in, and then give it a good varnish. But it's really fun to find just different and unusual ways to get your surface together, to kind of create a good piece.

Allison: Oh yeah. Thank you. I appreciate it. Crafting is like therapy for me, it makes me happy, that's why I do it.

Jennifer Q: Me too.

Leeanne F: Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you, Allison. Appreciate that comment, because I always say that my crafting, any kind of crafting is my therapy and it's often cheaper than therapy. So it's just a fun way to express yourself and also, it's also a very calming thing for many people.

Okay, Anne, you had a question or comment?

Anne: I didn't have a question, but what I was going to say was [inaudible] year ago, this might have been in the early 90's, it was at Walmart, I don't know if you can find these or not, but they had these stencils with the holes in them. Some of them were really tiny, but some of them were nice sized stencil. And what I would do, and I liked this one, what you do is you can color on like, if you want to decorate pillow cases or whatever kind of surface you want to do, you can get these stencils and get crayons, or whatever color pencils or whatever, and you can color inside of those to make an art piece.

Jennifer Q: Yes, stencils are a really fun way to add interest and even texture to any piece, especially those big ones. And they do still have them at Walmart. I've seen them. You can lay that over the top of the piece. I've done this to where I laid a stencil over a finished piece and painted the varnish on just over the stencil. So then you have this kind of gloss effect, but it's just the varnish of the stencil part. Now you can also add like a tactile, like a texture glaze into the stencil. You can add it on to that, so that when that dries and you take the stencil off, then you can actually feel that stencil on the piece too. But those are really a fun ways to just add background, or even a starting point depending on what your stencil is.

Anne: Yeah, because I don't even remember what, I mean I did it once, then I didn't do it anymore, but I remember coloring a pillowcase with a stencil.

Leeanne F: Neat, neat. Thank you, Anne. Okay and I have, let's see, Charles.

Charles: I like art, I saw a model. I guess you could call it a model. The artist used a piece of plywood for the piece, and he had pencils. He must of had like a thousand pencils sticking up out of the sheet of plywood. And it was a design, it looked sort of like a hurricane or a tornado, but it was made of pencils. And he must have used like a thousand pencils in the piece. And then I have some stepping stones in my yard where my son made it, and he took a bucket and poured some concrete in it, and then while the concrete was moist he took some pieces of glass, and put down in the concrete. It looks like sailboat, and seashells. He'll love it, and it's not like it's going to cut you or anything like that, but you can build a design. And I thought that was interesting. And I have a question about your beeswax. How do use that? Is this an oil painting, acrylic?

Jennifer Q: I use beeswax on top of acrylics.

Charles: Okay. So you put it on top of the acrylics.

Jennifer Q: Yes. You can add color, you can add pigment to the beeswax, but what I've done is I have like a little tiny crock pot, it probably holds, I don't know, half a pint or something like that, or half a quart. And so it's just a tiny little crock pot, and I'll get my beeswax and the good thing about that is it kind of ruins your crock pot, the little one, but you can just plug it in again next time and it will re-melt it, sort of like candle wax. But you get your beeswax, and you just paint it on in layers. So you have your color, and you can maybe then-

Charles: Do you melt the wax?

Jennifer Q: Do I what?

Charles: Melt it?

Jennifer Q: Yes, you have to melt it first in some kind of. I mean, you can melt it over the stove, but use a pan that you can dedicate just to that. Again, I melt it in the crock pot, this little crock pot.

Charles: Oh, okay. When I was in college, I took a lot of art classes. I didn't major in art but took a lot of art classes. I took a ceramic class and we did some throw; you know where you throw the clay on a wheel. And I made a pitcher that has a face in it. They call it primitive art.

Jennifer Q: Oh wow.

Charles: And I did, I believe it's a slab. Where you take a slab of clay, and I made a plate. You take little strings of clay and you go around; it gets fired you know. The art teacher, if I remember right, he made plates that he sold, and his kiln, he would use like an old washtub, you know, an old metal washtub?

Jennifer Q: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Charles: And he would build a fire over the washtub.

Jennifer Q: So he made his own kiln.

Charles: Yeah.

Jennifer Q: Wow.

Charles: And later on he went and on and bought one, but you they're so expensive. I don't know if they're still expensive. It was a thousand dollars back then, they're probably three thousand now.

Leeanne F: Interesting.

Jennifer Q: See I was an art major, and they say that's the second most expensive major, outside of medical studies.

Charles: Oh.

Jennifer Q: Because you do, yeah. The supplies can really get ya. Again, like we said, it's your therapy, so you end up saving money, right?

Charles: Right, and you were talking about the gesso, [inaudible] and I believe it was an article that Leonardo da Vinci would use wood board or about [inaudible] board-

Jennifer Q: Yes.

Charles: Real thin board, and he would paint the gesso on that then paint his picture on top of that.

Jennifer Q: Yes, and what that does is keep, first of all, the wood is porous, and it will suck that paint in over the years and kind of cause it to deteriorate. The gesso primes the surface and it also keeps your paints from discoloration. So that's really an important part. A lot of canvases today will come with gesso on them, like pre-done, but a lot of times they don't even do that step with a store-bought canvas, but it never hurts to add that first layer on there, especially with wood.

Charles: So you're not stretching your canvas? You're buying-

Jennifer Q: No, that's not anything I've ever gone into yet. But I've had some friends who've done that. I just never learned how to do that yet.

Charles: Yeah, I can believe it. Okay. Thank you very much.

Jennifer Q: Thanks, Charles.

Leeanne F: Thank you, Charles. Okay, is there anyone else have any other questions or comments for Jennifer. Jennifer you've provided a wealth of knowledge. Now I want to go get every texture I possibly can and go plan a canvas. I have four children, and three of them still live at home and they have great big ideas of what they want to do artistically, and they don't always pan out, so Mama is up with a lot of extra supplies so we probably have a dozen or so canvases in various sizes sitting in my house right now. If you're looking for a very inexpensive place to get canvases, Joann Fabric, Michael's craft stores, Michael's almost always has them on sale. I think we had 70% off when we kind of stocked up last time with all their fantastic ideas. I'm hoping over winter break they can experiment with some of those canvases. Part of their thing is they're perfectionists. They don't want to get it wrong. But I'm like, "I can just play with those canvases then."

All right, that brings us right to two o'clock. Jennifer thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us. I learned a lot and hopefully others have as well. We hope that everybody has a fantastic holiday season. So whatever holiday you celebrate, may it be peaceful and family filled and friend filled, and just hopefully we can all take a little bit of time, instead or relaxing we can all craft.