painting

Playing with Paint

Hi there. How are you?

Ballpoints have started to bore me. I’m feeling limited by the color range. Yes, I can now get every color in the rainbow in a ballpoint, but there’s a limited amount of color mixing possible, and you can’t make a tint (pastel) or a shade (gray). There’s only so many color combinations possible, and that has started to annoy me.

Color has always been an important part of my work and a major form of expression for me. I needed to find a way to increase the range of colors possible in my work. So I looked backwards…

Unless you’ve been following me for an eternity, you might have not known that I was once a painter. I painted big abstract pieces and I loved to mix colors. Now, I am in no means ready to go back to painting all together, but I decided to try and incorporate some paint into my current work.

I had a set of gouache paints in my studio and one day I mixed up some olive green and painted some simple shapes on a few different types of paper. I’d never tried to draw on top of gouache, but as it’s a matte paint, I thought it might work.

My first experiment drawing on top of gouache was disappointing.

My first experiment drawing on top of gouache was disappointing.

As you can see here, the gouache chipped away as I drew on top of it. It looks kinda interesting, but that wasn’t really the look I was going for.

In an effort to add more color to my work, I’ve been experimenting with drawing on top of gouache.

In an effort to add more color to my work, I’ve been experimenting with drawing on top of gouache.

I did some more experimenting and found that if I thinned the gouache with some water, it chipped a whole lot less. There’s a little bit of chipping in some of the dark areas of this drawing, but I don’t think it detracts from the piece as a whole.

A couple of my lovely  Instagram followers  suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink.

A couple of my lovely Instagram followers suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink.

Acrylic ink is Awesome!

A couple of my lovely Instagram followers suggested I try drawing on top of acrylic ink. I am so far out of the painting world, that I had never even heard to acrylic ink. I was excited to find these Amsterdam acrylic inks at the craft store and promptly tried them out and made a whole bunch of backgrounds.

*PSST. This is an affiliate link. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase with this link. It's a small way to support the work I do without any cost to you. (Thank you!)

I had a ball MIXING colors.

The acrylic ink is super concentrated, opaque, and flows nicely. It is just what I was looking for!

I’m on a roll!

In the last few weeks, I’ve made 6 new drawings. This is the most drawing I’ve done outside of my sketchbook in at least a year!

The paint has certainly helped me to expand my color palette and it gives these drawings more dimension. I am so proud of this work and can’t wait to see it all framed and hung together. I’ve committed to doing a show at a local coffee house with some friends in April. Wish me luck! Framing is not my favorite.

What should I title this drawing series? Do tell!

What should I title this drawing series? Do tell!

Title suggestions welcomed

I need your help, friends. What should I title this series? I’m stumped. What do you see when you look at these? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

That’s all for now.

I’ll be back soon to talk about a surprise gift that has become a one of my favorite art supplies.

Ciao, Jen


Painting my Way Back

Tools of the Trade

Hi there. How are you?

If you've been following me on Instagram or Facebook lately, you've seen that I been painting again. For the first time in at least 4 years, I've put brush to canvas.

Long before I was a mixed media artist, I was a painter. I liked to paint big, bold, and intuitively.

Aloha, 2009

This was the last painting I worked on.  It was a  huge collaborative piece that Matt and I made back in 2009, shortly after we started dating. Entitled "Aloha", this piece measures 84" wide by 43" high and proudly hangs in our dining room. Prior to this piece, it had been years since I painted. I didn't really have a space to paint in and I was tired of the setup and clean up time required with painting. Especially with oils!

So now, the artistic tides have turned once again, and paint was calling to me.

In our studio there was a large canvas painted a flat aqua, that used to function as a faux headboard back in my bedroom. One day last week, I had a large block of time with nothing to do, and went to work on it.

Acrylic painting in progress

At first, painting was slow going and it felt awkward.

I put this first coat of magenta down, and left it at that. After so many years of making stuff, I've learned that if the process doesn't feel good, it's best just to step away for a time.

Painting in progress

The next day, I was back at it.

Things were beginning to flow. My painting felt less forced and more intuitive.

Painting almost complete

I added a little blue the next day.

I intended to add more, but had to go to my day job. When I came back to it the following day, it looked more complete and whole, closer to completion than it had to me the prior day. As I've talked about at length, deciding when a composition is finished is always always a struggle for me. It's especially challenging with abstract works. I hate to overdo, but I don't want things to look unfinished either.

I decided not to overdo. So instead of laying down a lot more paint, I just fixed up a couple of spots that were bothering me and called it done.

Here is the finished piece.

2015 Painting by Jennifer Johansson
2015 painting detail

 I took this canvas outside to take these shots, so that the color is more accurate. It's not easy to photograph things in my basement studio! In these photos you can see that the negative space is not white, but actually the pale aqua.

I may look at this painting for a while and decide to rework, but for now, I'm satisfied. It was a good first dive back into painting.

Do you like this piece? Get in touch if you'd like to purchase!

Ta-ta for now!