All in how you look at it

Gel Print plate with acrylic painting, post-printing.

I’ve wanted to create on bigger canvases for a while now, and made my first 16 x 20 print using a large gel plate. I wasn’t sure how it would go, as I had only printed on paper, and never paper as large as this canvas.

As with my other work, I wanted to keep it loose and a little abstract. I enjoy it when the piece tells me where it’s going. But where was this going? For a while, it was hard to tell. Maybe nowhere good!

I added layers and pattern until I was happy with it. But as I became happier with the flowers, I realized there was still a lot of space to fill. My flowers looked like they were floating in space! Not the look I was going for. And yet, I knew if I wasn’t careful, I would overwork the piece.

I walked away for a few hours, then came back and started to rotate the canvas, something pretty easy to do with these more abstract pieces. I also added some marks, which I admit are not my best work. 😀 But, that’s okay, that’s why we experiment!

I turned it on its side, and found the perfect spot for a vase or pot to go. So, that balances out the painting a bit more, and now I can begin adding the finishing touches and fix the marks that I don’t like as much. This is still a work in progress, for sure.

The lesson here is to look at your art from all angles! I stared at this painting for a while before I realized I could turn the actual canvas. It was that easy to change perspective and find a solution. Especially in more abstract works, don’t forget to use ALL of the tools in your box, even the ones that in hindsight, seem pretty obvious.


Working on a larger piece is fun, and poses new challenges to overcome. My biggest challenges were filling the space, and balancing enough definition to make it look “finished” at that size, while keeping it in my loose style without going too abstract. In general, I like the piece and think it’s a great start. This is more for practice and won’t be for sale, but I plan to have at least three large canvases available when I open my art shop next month.

Art on a Monday

Abstract floral monotype by Stephanie Khattak.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton , No Man Is an Island

It’s Monday in “Studio No-Name,” and I’m still thinking on what to call my creative space. It won’t be Studio No-Name!

The process of naming my studio makes me think of the saying, “you must name it to claim it.” I have struggled with “claiming” my identity as an artist over the years, for all the reasons that many people do. I’m not conventionally educated. It’s not my primary income. I’m just not “there yet.” It doesn’t feel like “work”. But art is art and artists are artists. I think it’s important to take steps to legitimize the work that we do, whether our pieces are hung in galleries, displayed proudly at Mom’s house or decorating our own spaces. I’m trying to be better at claiming my practice, and so should you! (Even if we’ve never met, if you’re an artist, I suspect that you can relate to this.)

With that in mind, earlier today, I renewed my Texas Visual Arts Association membership and made a spreadsheet for places to submit work to in the next few months. This isn’t something I have done before, and I’m excited to try! It’s not an easy season of life to be an artist, especially an emerging artist, but opportunities are still there.


I have started a series of work that will be ready for sale in October. I closed my store at the beginning of the year, but I miss having it as a goal to work toward. The sales are nice, of course, but so is the self-directed goal of making enough work to post.

Because my Pine Curtain project is so specific, those pieces won’t be for sale, at least not right away. So, that frees my mind to switch to different subject matter and processes for a while. The above abstract floral is one of a few smaller works on paper that will be available, and I am also working, for the first time, on some larger pieces!

Relational Abstraction

“I have been continuously aware that in painting, I am always dealing with… a relational structure. Which in turn makes permission ‘to be abstract’ no problem at all.”
Robert Motherwell

This is another plexiglass print based off an old family photo. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I am still comfortable and happy with the idea that the abstraction is a bonus, if not the entire point. With that in mind, when I embellish the pieces (this time with Posca markers) I try to do so using texture or pattern versus filling in the blank spots or going over the lines to make them look more real.

I like this Motherwell quote and feel that it does a good job of summarizing what I’m doing with this art project. Relational structure vs. a copy or exact representation. In this print, for instance, the way the two figures relate to each other and the lilac sky’s relationship to the gold grass are the important parts of the work. The colors invoke not only the vintage photograph source material, but also a very specific type of “magic hour” that you get in East Texas, when the light is warm, soft and golden. The figures, my mother and uncle, are dressed up and posed in their Sunday best, the clothing and details are abstract, but I believe their relationship to each other and the moment is captured pretty well. (If I say so myself, haha!)

Printed Family Portraits

As I get older and time passes, I am always exploring ways to use art to communicate and share my East Texas roots and young adulthood. I write about some of this in my occasional Pine Curtain Stories project, but have also been thinking of ways to make art around the theme that is a little less illustrative. But I am not a portraitist or skilled in realistic painting , and I want to keep some of the figurative/narrative theme.

Since I have so enjoyed my recent plexiglass printmaking, I decided to expand that work to make abstract prints of family photographs. The first one is of my grandfather and uncle, sometime in the 1960s. It’s a work in progress, as I still need to do some embellishing.

I love making these, and using family and community images gives the work a deeper purpose. I also like this type of printmaking, because the final result is nothing like the original guide piece. It comes out more blurry in some ways, brighter in others. Fitting for such memories.

Plexiglass plate over a copied photo. I add the color one layer/spot at a time and quickly pull two prints, touching up the paint a little in between.
Background prints.
Print process complete. Next step will be to add some finishing touches with pastel and ink.