More Abstract Gel Printing

I’m really enjoying making these prints, not only the process (pulling the paper up is so satisfying!) but seeing where it can go adding different types of media and techniques.

I admit that I have not really been called to abstract art. I enjoy looking at it – my favorites are Larry Poons, Helen Frankenthaler and Gunther Fjorg. And, I’m crazy about them, but the list is pretty short after that. But, I also admit that I’m not the best at drawing, so I get frustrated when what’s on the page doesn’t match what’s in my head.

In loosening up my notions of what I do and don’t like and trying more abstract pieces, I have learned that I enjoy making color combinations, marks and other abstract techniques while I work over the more figurative stuff to get it just right.

In other words, where art is concerned, never say never and rule nothing out.


I am also experimenting with adding other types of art techniques and media to the page, incorporating Gel Pen details:

Acrylic, block ink, gel pen and gold leaf Gel print by Stephanie Khattak.

And Gold Leaf:


As is my process to avoid wasting products, I pulled a second print that came out with much lighter ink. To add interest here, I incorporated a portrait.


We will see where it takes me next.


“The courage to imagine the otherwise is our greatest resource, adding color and suspense to all our life.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

Abstract Gel Prints

I don’t have a lot of time this week, but it’s important to commit to at least a few hours in the studio, both as a commitment to my art, and a way to make sure I prioritize something important to me. So, yesterday afternoon, I took out my Gelli plate and made some quick prints. I’m still learning this method and I really love it! It’s great for making quick pieces and having the validation of finishing something while taking my time with other things in the background.

I started with a few colors. Payne’s Gray is my all-time favorite color. I believe I have it in every medium – it’s just so versatile. Sometimes it looks blue, other times gray…it’s a good way to paint something “black” and still keep some nuance in the shade. I also used gold and a pale lilac. I use a mix of block print ink and acrylic paints, because I didn’t want to invest too much into the inks right away. As far as I know, they both work fine – I’m happy with my finished pieces, and both mediums wash easily off the plate.

Next, I take a small brayer and spread the colors. As you can see, a little goes a long way.

This is the first print. Pretty Straightforward.

One thing I really appreciate about this type of art, is that I can make many different pieces from the same paint spreads, and each looks a little different. (I could also have done more pulls of the first print for more similarity or a series.) Nothing is wasted. Here, I’ve laid out paper of different sizes, just to see what comes out of the process.

Before I placed the paper, I scratched some designs into the color. While I am sure there are specific tools or methods for this, I just used a plain palette knife, very gently.

Pretty cool. I like how, similar to clouds or ink blots, there are a lot of things to discover in these abstract shapes.

For example, I see a lot of city scapes or even highways here. The middle two remind me of a city and mountains. Maybe because I’ve had the Pacific NW on my mind. (I live in Texas – great barbecue, no mountains haha.)

I used a white gel pen to add in the smallest of details to guide the eye into seeing what I see here.

By now, the plate is pretty faded. But there’s still enough for one more pull. I use plain craft paper for the final print each time. Eventually, there will be enough to look like a series of abstracts that would look good displayed together.

Ta-Da!

All of this, plus cleaning the plate and tidying my materials took roughly an hour. While my heart will always be in figures and more narrative work, this was a great way to spend an afternoon, and got my wheels turning on how I can start selling art again without making it a whole “big thing” as they say. Stay tuned…

Practice & Patchwork

Collage Supplies

“You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” – Miles Davis

Miles Davis was a musician, but his quote can be applied to any creative endeavor. It takes a while to get the basics right before a real sense of style and individuality comes through.

I’ve been a “practicing” artist coming up on three years in July. That seems like a long time, but I’ve needed every one of those years to evolve, first looking to others for inspiration and learning different techniques, tools and processes, and then using that knowledge to communicate my own message.

When I started writing Pine Curtain Stories, I identified a story I wanted to tell. The more I write it, the more I want to refine my art to support those stories and say exactly what I want to with the images and not just with the words. So, I’ve started taking more time with my art, both physical (time in the studio) and mental (time with my thoughts and intentions.) It makes for a longer road, but rather than being disheartening, it’s actually very exciting.

Earlier this week, I dug into my supply box and found all sorts of things I used in the beginning of this journey and hadn’t found a way to incorporate lately. I had a great time with it all, and I’m so pleased that nothing has gone to waste.

I’m incorporating more collage into my work, and I’m happy with the results. I’ve used packing tape collages, tape transfer methods and plain-old cut paper and glue/gloss gel methods to achieve the look I want. As a bonus, it’s also motivated me to find new resources, so on Friday I took myself on a field trip to Paper Arts and disappeared into its wonderful stacks for a half-hour or so.

Here’s my first “patchwork” piece. I’m happy with the way it turned out, and look forward to creating more.

Travel Art Archives

In the spirit of consolidating and simplifying my digital platforms, I’ve moved my “Have Paintbrush Will Travel” content to this site. Click here to see past posts, and stay tuned for new travel content as our travel season picks up again. We do most of our traveling from April – December, to coincide with James’ work travel schedule and tag on sightseeing to the places he goes. On the 2019 agenda so far: Houston, New York City, Palm Springs (Fingers Crossed!) and Washington, DC.

Demo: Brea Reese Watercolor Cream

Trying some fun new supplies this week! They’re metallic Brea Reese Watercolor Creams, a water soluble medium similar to oil pastels. I found them at Target here in Dallas.

The first swatch is an opaque square that I colored in and then painted over. The middle square is an opaque frame that I painted over and used the remaining color on my brush to fill in the middle. The third square is just color that my brush picked up from the other swatches, for a watercolor effect.

The figure was painted by loading color onto a wet brush directly from the stick.

These are pretty cool and while there are higher end items that are similar (Caran D’ache Neocolor II) these are the first metallic options I’ve seen. This was just one of several new items I saw in Target’s art supply aisle. I love that cool supplies like these are becoming more accessible in price and location, and that the quality is good! The more people are able to make art, the more art we will have in the world!

New Mexico Palette

Custom Paint Palette: Shades of Santa Fe

I recently began making my own paint with gouache binder medium and pigment powders. It’s very rewarding to see the medium and powder combine into the final result, and to be able to personalize the color exactly how I want for any given project.

The ability to make my own custom paint palette inspired me to create specific colors for the places I visit. The mixing supplies are too cumbersome to take on the road with me, so I pack lightweight tools in my artist travel kit, then rely on memory and the sketches I make on the go to recreate the colors once I am back in my studio.

Our recent road trip through West Texas and New Mexico focused mainly on Santa Fe with a day trip up to Taos and the Rio Grande Gorge.  The landscape changed constantly, from the plains and desert conditions of the Texas Panhandle into Santa Fe, to the mountains, evergreen and birch trees as we headed north toward Taos. Just a few miles from Taos, at the gorge, it was flat again. Coming from Dallas where you’ll drive a similar distance and see mostly concrete, this diverse scenery was a special treat to experience.

This inspired me to create the colors shown above: Rio Grande Russet, Adobe Peach, La Posada Plum, Evergreen, Desert Sky, Horizon Blue and Sparkling Shadow.  These colors are made from Earth Pigments and Pearl-Ex, combined with gouache medium. For the painting below, I embellished with gold drawing ink and used an off-the-shelf warm gray watercolor for the background.