Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to make handmade paper paintings-an angled view

Another view of the painting surface with newly applied overbeaten abaca on the surface.

How to make handmade paper paintings-applying abaca

Overbeaten abaca refers to a fiber harvested from the inner bark of the banana tree, that has been beaten for approximately 20 hours.  Abaca is a gorgeous fiber, ivory in color, that will not disintegrate when wet, which is why abaca is used to make tea bags.  I strain some of the water from the abaca (the abaca is beaten in a hollander beater, which uses approximately 20 gallons of water per beating), and mix it with pure pigment, which will not fade.  I apply the abaca to the surface of the painting, shown in the pevious blog, with spoons and an old turkey baster.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to make handmade paper paintings

The painting is laid flat on the vacuum table.  Small cups of pigmented overbeaten abaca are set on top of the base painting ready to be applied to the surface.  These colors will become the "paint" for the painting.  I have gridded the surface so that I know approximately where to place the colors. Once applied, the overbeaten pulp will require 24 hours to dry, and that is with the assistance of a fan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to make handmade paper paintings

This painting will be a abstract seascape when complete.  I will be using overbeaten abaca, cotton rag pulp, pure pigments, plastic spoons, old credit cards, screening, and yogurt cups to make this painting.  The first stage of the painting is shown here.  I have poured cotton pulp onto screening and allowed it to dry.  The screening hold the pulp and prevents it from warping.  I then grid the surface so that I know where each color of the original photo needs to be placed.  I am ready to add colors into the gridded areas at this stage.  Here we go!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuscan Village Scape

A busy week in the studio! I have just completed this new painting of a Tuscan Village scape for a private patron. Made with overbeaten and cotton pulp, it was a pleasure to work on and I am pleased with the outcome.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Latest Creations from my studio

My latest work is a wall relief based on the symmetry of Ancient Greek art. The Ancient Greeks created intriguing compositions by balancing and counterbalancing shapes, colors and figures throughout their pottery. These designs told a story, and the viewer was welcome to "read" it according to their ability to interpret Greek mythology. This four panel work balancing color and shape on either end with the middle panels both playing off the end panels and acting as a resting area for the eye. In this way, the concept of Ancient Greek art is being imitated, even though the subject is considered "abstract" or "color field."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meg Black at Artful Decor Gallery

I am excited to announce that my work will be included in the opening of a new gallery next month in Minneapolis!  The gallery is called Artful Décor Gallery Art Rentals, Leasing & Sales.  Gallery owners are Lisa Powell and Stephanie Weber.  You may find out more about the gallery by visiting Lisa’ web site

Monday, August 17, 2009

Great Exhibit Opening at Cove Gallery Saturday night

I attended the opening of my latest handmade paper paintings at Cove Gallery in Wellfleet, Cape Cod Saturday night (  Nice to meet some patrons who have been collecting my work for years but I had never had the chance to meet them.  Beautiful evening: warm, dry, salty air, perfect for an art reception.  

Friday, August 14, 2009

Other News

I am excited to attend my upcoming gallery opening at Cove Gallery (  The opening is Saturday, August 15 from 6:00-8:00 pm.  I will be showing new works including seascapes and floral paintings such as the Hydrangeas painting shown above.  Hope to see new and returning clients at the opening!  Meg

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. The finished painting.

After the painting is completely dry, it can be tacked to a wall for closer viewing and inspection.  The painting can be worked on even in this stage.  I mark the areas with a colored grease pencil in which I want to make changes and then replace the painting back onto the flat work surface seen in previous blogs.  I add additional PVC glue to the pulp that I will now apply in order for it to adhere to the already dried pulp.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. A work in progress.

Let’s pause and view the in-progress painting for a moment.  The purple toned background is created largely with over-beaten abaca and treated with a mixture of water and paper sizing to prevent the surface from absorbing stained water that might leak from the addition of any new colored pulp that is applied.  In the case of this painting, that would refer to the green toned pulps in the foreground, which are a combination of cotton and abaca, beaten for 20 to 30 minutes in a hollander beater.  The sky area is created with the same cotton/abaca mix, and pigmented in blue tones.  At this stage, the painting will be allowed to dry under weights for several days, at which point another review of its completeness will be determined. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Squirting the oops away.

Another way to remove colored water before it stains the surface of the painting is to squirt it back into the desired location with water from a squirt bottle.  Notice that the pulp I am using is green for the foreground of the painting (the green will eventually represent trees).  To accentuate the rough outline that trees would naturally make, I leave the edges of the green pulp jagged, in order to mimic the trees in nature.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Controlling the oops factor.

Despite my best efforts, the pulp doesn’t always land where I want it to; it spills out from the designated area. as illustrated in the above photo.  If left untreated, the surface of the painting will absorb the colored water, thus creating a permanent stain.  To avoid the stain (I’ll never be able to avoid the recalcitrant pulp spills!), I treat the surface of the in-progress painting with a mixture of water and liquid paper sizing.  I fill a squirt bottle about 3/4 full of water, and then add a 1/4 cup of liquid sizing.  I spray the surface of the painting with this mixture and allow it to dry thoroughly.  This procedure protects the surface from absorbing the colored water as the sizing creates a tension between the water and the surface.  I simply take a rag and apply it to the colored water, and soak it up into the rag.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Using the turkey baster.

The turkey baster is used to apply larger quantities of pulp to the painting surface.  I place approximately one cup of pigmented pulp into a plastic container (such as a yogurt container) and fill the rest of the container with water.  I then suck the pulp up into the baster and squirt onto the surface of the painting.  Old plastic cards (credit cards, hotel room cards) can be used at this stage to gather the pulp into the designated area (shown in the photo above by the red marking).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Using a squeeze bottle

The squeeze bottle holds over-beaten pulp that can be used for detailed areas of the painting.  In the photo above, I am squeezing over-beaten pulp, which has been diluted in a cup of formation aid, onto the surface of the painting “Changing Seasons” shown here in completion.  

Monday, July 13, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications: Working with tools

The term “Tools” can be used to describe a lot of the made up concoctions I use to create a handmade paper painting.  In the photo above, I am using one of my favorite made up tools: an embroidery needle wedged into the eraser end of a number 2 pencil.  I use this tool to guide the pulp, usually over-beaten, into desired shapes and patterns.  For example, in the photo above, I am scratching into the surface of the painting newly applied over-beaten pulp that resembles waving reeds, the title of this particular painting, also shown complete 

in the photo on the right.   

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications: The merits of using a screen

Re-working into a handmade paper painting is tricky.  The water used in the pulp that is applied to the surface of the in-progress painting warps it, and it can take a fair amount of labor to re-stretch the painting so that it lies flat again.  To off-set the negative affects of adding water to the surface and prevent the warping, I dry the base sheet (the sheet of paper that I will ultimately work on), onto a stretched screen (shown above).  The hairs of the fiber cling to the surface of the screen and grip to it, thus preventing the the paper from warping.  When the painting is complete, I simply remove it from the screen with my finger tips. 

Friday, July 3, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications: Painting with Over-beaten pulp

Painting with over beaten pulp can take a while to get comfortable with.  Before going into a lot of detail of how to work with over-beaten pulp, let’s answer the important question of  “What is over-beaten pulp?”  Over-beaten pulp refers to pulp that has been beaten in a hollander beater for approximately 8 hours and is therefore slippery and gelatin-like.  Most artists prefer to use abaca (which originates from the banana tree) or flax as over-beaten pulp.  The consistency of over-beaten pulp allows it to be used like paint as it spreads easily onto the work surface and retains, without bleeding or fading, whatever pigment the artist chooses to add.  The advantage of using over-beaten pulp over traditional paint is the textural surface and flexibility that the artist can achiever, giving the finished product a unique and personal look.  The photo above shows pigmented over-beaten pulp in small containers and newly applied over-beaten pulp on a formed sheet of handmade paper.  I’ll go into more specifics about how to use over-beaten pulp in my next blog. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications: Tilting the screen

To aid in excess water removal from the surface of the in-progress painting, I tilt the screen the painting is adhered to so that excess water will drip off the surface and onto the vacuum table.  I leave the screen in this position for approximately 30 minutes, while I work in other areas of the studio.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Using a squirt bottle

The squirt bottle is an invaluable tool.  I use any size commercial bottle filled with tap water and spray a fine mist of water over the surface of the wet in-progress painting during the course of the creative process.  In the photo above, I am squirting water in the area where I just removed the metal ruler.  This process forces any stray bits of wet pulp back into the desired area and ensures a straighter line of newly applied pulp onto the work surface.  Sometimes I mix a little acid free glue and/or paper sizing in with the water.  This addition allows the new pulp to bond more completely with the drier pulp. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Wet pulp that has been barricaded.

Photograph of wet pulp that was barricaded with the metal ruler once the ruler is removed.  To get rid of excess moisture, I tilt the screen the painting is resting on at an angle and allow the water to drain off the screen.  Applying a dry, absorbent cloth to the edge of the wet pulp (where the wet pulp rests against the drier pulp) and allowing the water to absorb into the cloth is another option to hurry drying.  The pulp cannot be re-worked until it is dry or nearly dry.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Controlling the Uncontrollable: Part Two

A closer view of the metal ruler being used as a barricade for controlling where the wet pulp will land.  Notice the container of wet pulp with the turkey baster in it.  I lift the pulp out of the container using the baster, then , I quirt the pulp onto the designated area of the in-progress painting on the metal side of the ruler.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Handmade Paper Paintings: Process and Applications. Controlling the Uncontrollable

Wet pulp is difficult to control to say the least!  Unlike paint that can be applied with a brush, pulp dispersed in water is slippery and shapeless.  In fact, the ratio of water to pulp in the wet stage is approximately 90/10.  To help control where the pulp lands on the surface of the in-progress painting, I use a metal ruler as a barricade of sorts.  I hold the ruler in place with one hand, and, using a turkey baster to gather the pulp with, I squeeze the pulp filled baster onto the section of the painting in which I want to direct the pulp.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Handmade Paper paintings: Process and Applications. Working from an outline part II

In yesterday’s post I wrote about using an outline to guide me of where to place the colored pulp.  As I cannot work from an easel as the wet pulp would slide off the surface, instead, I work on a flat surface.  As I mentioned yesterday, I draw onto the surface of  in-progress paintings with different colored grease crayons in order to guide me as I continue to work.  I then draw the image from the photo onto the in-progress painting, which I have drawn a complimentary grid on, just at a larger scale (i.e, an inch on the photo might represent a foot on the painting surface).  This photo provides a clearer picture of a work in progress using the outline method.  The shiny areas are wet with newly laid pulp.  Once dry, I can pin the still unfinished painting to a wall surface and draw another grid!

Monday, June 15, 2009

handmade Paper Painting Process and Applications: Working from an outline

I draw onto the surface of  in-progress paintings with different colored grease crayons in order to guide me as I continue to work.  Let me explain.  My paintings originate from my own photos.  I print out a photo, and, as I learned in drawing 101, I grid the photo into sections using different colored grease crayons.  I then draw the image from the photo onto the in-progress painting.  As I need to work on a flat surface, and am unable to step away from the painting as I would an oil painting, I rely on the crayon lay-out to tell me where to place different colored pulps. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Handmade paper paintings: Processes and Applications. Collecting Water

A pail is placed at one end of the vacuum table to collect excess water that drains from a painting during the painting process.  This end of the vacuum table has a drilled hole in it in order to collect the water.  The table is slightly angled on the saw horses so that the water can drain and collect (there is a plank of board 48 inches x 2 inches propped up over the back saw horse in order to angle the table).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Handmade Paper Painting Process and Applications

During the painting process, the pulp painting rests on a sheet of egg crating.  This allows the water to drip from the painting onto the vacuum table, where it will eventually exit the table via the hole in the bottom of the table.  Small containers of pigmented pulp are available for painting, much like a traditional palette.  Two recent paintings, both 15 x 15 inch seascapes, are shown here.