Pinch me! After 45 Years, a Printmaker Once Again

A Printmaking Studio?

Mary Jo visited my studio this weekend. She's like a magic fairy. I saw in her a youthful version of my self. If I could wind back the clock and tell my younger self that everything would be ok. To offer guidance, compassion and encouragement at a time when it matters so much ~ what a gift she allowed me to give and receive all at once. This is what true, pure Divine Creative energy is. What an honor to call her my daughter!
Mary Jo visited my studio this weekend. She’s like a magic fairy. I saw in her a youthful version of my self. If I could wind back the clock and tell my younger self that everything would be ok. To offer guidance, compassion and encouragement at a time when it matters so much ~ what a gift she allowed me to give and receive all at once. This is what Divine Creative energy is.

I haven’t been in a printmaking studio since college. Funny I spent Sunday with a young woman who reminds me of myself in my early twenties. What would you say to yourself if you could go back and offer yourself the guidance of your older, wiser self?

I met Mary Jo at the art show in Massachusetts this spring. Yesterday she gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a young vibrant soul sister. Before she left, she bought my Soul Sister painting.  We loaded it and Embrace of the Mountain into her car, lot of hugs and promises to stay in touch. She had embraced her mountain too.

A magic fairy? I don’t know.

But today ~ you could knock me over with a feather! Who would have thought I would suddenly be the printmaker I was 45 years ago? Yet here it is, my first limited edition handmade print with inspirational story to inspire the Creator within.

And as I sit here finishing up this story, Rod Stewart is on the radio singing, Forever Young!

The story ~ The Magic Connection Between Painting & Dreams ~ is my story. I hope you will see yourself when you read it. So many people tell me stories of how their dreams have suffered at the words of others. I truly believe that this story is for you. Why else would so many tell me this story ~ if it were not my calling to help you rewrite it with a different ending?

printmaking studio
Joy’s Garden Folio Book with Tuscan Sun dream painting, limited edition of 10

The cover looks like hand painted fabric. Maybe that’s because it kind of is ~ my fabric. I printed my oil painting, A Lily Pond of My Own, on a sheet of uncoated domestic etching paper. It’s so soft and absorbent, it drinks in my pigmented inks like fabric. You can see in the photo below, how each of the folios is a different piece of the fabric.

Inside in my story, The Magic Connection between Painting & Dreams ~ and of course, my hand printed limited edition of Tuscan Sun.

The story is the thing. Last week it started as a blog post. This week it’s expanded into this first edition folio book. It would make a fabulous gift. I think I will give my daughters-in-law each one. They have August birthdays. I think I will give them watercolor journals to go with it. If you want one of the other eight, you can purchase one here>

printmaking studio
Printmaking area is a clean white table with supplies for printing.

The whole studio is turned upside down. Now I have a ‘clean area’ right in front of the presses. The not so clean area is still set up on the other side. This is where I create the special surfaces to print on.


printmaking studio
Like paint, my pigment based inks look different depending on what kind of surface they are applied to. I have created a collage from several different textured papers. I painted it with gesso to make it white. I love the brush strokes showing in the final print.


Tuscan Sun has a hand painted gesso surface painted on Arches Watercolor Paper. This gives the finished prints a rich, vibrant feel. I mounted each in the folio with rag paper tabs so it can be easily removed for framing. The story could be mounted on the back of the frame or tucked into a special drawer.


printmaking studio
I hope you can see the texture of the collage and painted gesso in this photo.

I have been experimenting with the idea of creating a small edition of The Little Black Dress and Jack Russell. This is my last project before I leave for Tuscany. I finished up the Tuscan Sun folios today. They are ready to ship, so I am running a special sale of 20% Off with the code: JOYFUL. Expires Sunday August 23 at midnight.

Maybe The Little Black Dress with Jack Russell edition will come together tomorrow? I’ll put her in the shop feed if she does!


[shop_section_listings section_id = 17666572]

Don’t Miss a Post>
See all of my Tuscan Painting Adventure>

Painting Quick and Easy on the Fly ~ 3 Expert Tips

Painting Quick and Easy on the Fly

3 Expert Tips for Easy, Clean & Quick Paintings

Painting quick and easy on-the-fly is simplest with watercolor and a pack or two of watercolor postcards. With a tiny watercolor palette in my satchel during my residency in France, I was able to create 15-minute paintings while waiting for lunch or resting on a park bench.

Painting Quick and Easy
watercolor painted on the fly

These magic postcard paintings are now a huge source of inspiration at home. See how just one of them led to a series of garden paintings>

Preparing for my Tuscan residency, three simple additions will make it even easier to bring home great paintings.

For Tuscan.  I need light-weight, portable, easy and clean-to-use panels which can be mounted and displayed quickly when I return for the holidays.

I am staying in a two bedroom apartment 20 kilometers south of Florence in the heart of the Chianti hills.  I don’t have a studio for two months. I paint en plein air and set my paintings up to dry around the apartment.

1 ~ Butterfly Panels

Painting Quick and Easy
linen and canvas mounted to multi-media art board makes a flexible, yet light-weight rigid painting panel.

I’ve been researching the perfect, light weight panel. In France, I used pads of linen canvas 11 x 14, thumb tacked to the cork board in the residency studio to dry. Without a studio I need a rigid panel which I can prop up along the counter top or baseboard.

Butterfly painting panels are available ready made by a couple different manufacturers. I am creating my own with Multi-Media Art Board and linen canvas. To create them, I am making use of supplies I already have on hand for a fraction of the cost.

Multi media boards are paper impregnated with resin. This makes them archival, dimensionally stable and rigid ~ yet feather weight. A piece of heavy-weight cardboard behind them will make sure they don’t bend when I attach them to my easel. Yet they are rigid enough to sit up against the wall to dry without additional support.

There are several ways to use these for painting. They can be painted on directly with oil, acrylic, watercolor or drawing media. They can also be gessoed with white or tinted gesso for a more customized painting surface. The surface can be further customized  by mounting canvas or linen on them. I am making some of each in different sizes.

2 ~ Mounting Canvas or Linen

Heat Press Method
Painting Quick and Easy
Heat Mounting Press

To mount them, I used archival heat mounting tissue and my mounting press. I used up an old pad of linen 12 x 16s. I trimmed my mounting tissue to fit the linen, with a little excess on all sides. I put it in the heat press for a few minutes, then let it cool. When cooled, I trimmed each one to size., So far I have made some 11 x 14s and 12 x 16s. I will also make some 16 x 20s. These will all fit flat in my suitcase.

Wet Mount Method
Painting Quick and Easy
Finished oil paintings on 300# gessoed watercolor paper (left) and Guerilla Panel (right) bounted to Cradled Wood Panels 1 1/2″ deep

If you don’t have a mounting press, you can use acrylic soft gel or matte medium to wet mount the canvas to panel. I used this method when I returned from France with my unmounted linen paintings. Finished oil or acrylic paintings cannot go in a heat press.

To wet mount, paint both sides with acrylic soft gel or matte medium. Lay them medium sides together and roll with a brayer from the center out to remove any air pockets. Wipe all excess medium away with a damp paper towel. Stack on a rigid table (covered with wax paper), interleave with wax paper, top with board, and weight with a heavy paint can. Allow to dry several hours or overnight. Cut to size when dry.

3 ~ Double Duty Gesso Panels

Dorothy Fagan
My satchel was large enough for watercolors, postcards and water bottle.

In France, I found a small watercolor palette and a stack of watercolor postcards fit perfectly into my satchel. On the spur of the moment, I could whip out my colors and paint . . . while waiting for lunch in a cafe or resting on a Paris park bench.

The only problem with this was that the watercolor postcards curled up. I could buy heavier watercolor paper and cut it into custom postcards. But maybe there’s something better . . .

Painting Quick and Easy
Absorbent white Gesso painted on a Guerilla Panel

It would be wonderful to have the same rigid panels do double duty for watercolor or oil (or drawing, acrylic, inks etc.) To do this, I am using Golden’s Absorbent Ground Gesso.  I like this gesso because it has some tooth, so is also good for drawing with pen, pencil or  charcoal. And guess what? It is intended for watercolor.

Since the multi-media panels (above) are white, they only need one coat. I also have some Guerrilla Plein Air Panels (also thin resin impregnated paper) which are brown, so they need two if you are planning to use watercolor on them. I am particularly fond of the texture created by the brush strokes in the gesso. This creates a much more interesting surface to paint on than a machined finish. I will show you examples of this in a later article.

The gessoed panels are for my small paintings, 5 x 7s, 6 x 8s and 8 x 10s. My larger oil paintings will be painted on  canvas or linen panels.

 Cradled Wood Panels for Presentation

Painting Quick and Easy
Golden Absorbent Gesso on multi media board

When I return from Tuscany it will be November and everyone will be focused on holidays. I’ve researched and tested several presentation methods which will make a nice, clean, contemporary and quick to ship presentation for my finished paintings.

During my French residency, I painted small paintings on 300 # Arches gessoed watercolor paper. At home, I mounted some of them on deep, cradled wood panels with Soft Gel Medium. This worked ok, though it would have been easier to mount a thinner 140# watercolor paper.

Painting Quick and Easy
3/4″ deep cradled panel mounted with 5 x 7 oil painting on canvas panel

Since then, I have tested mounting both the multi media and Guerrilla panels. I am pleased that they were much easier to mount than watercolor paper. They did not even require weighting  while they dried!

Painting Quick and Easy
1 1/2″ cradled wood panel with 300# watercolor paper mounted. Painting is done in oil on gessoed wc paper.

So this time I will mount my 5 x 7s and 6 x 8s on 3/4″ cradled panels. 8 x 10s and larger paintings will mount better on the deeper 1 1/2″ ones. These will make it quick and easy for me to present my finished works for sale in a professional, ready-to-hang way.

Play Along with the Muses

See how I set up my Watercolor Palette >
Sign up to Win my Tuscan Sun Original Watercolor>
Don’t Miss a Post>
See all of my Tuscan Painting Adventure>
Greve in Chianti ~ Taking Off Soon
Postcard Painting Inspiration
Create Your Own Experimental Watercolor Palette and Paint Along>

Postcard Painting Inspiration ~ Life Affirming Action

Postcard Painting Inspiration

How Could One Small Painting Make Such an Impact?

Will this story inspire you
to pick up the brush
and try an experiment?

postcard painting inspiration
experimental watercolor postcard, Hollyhock Dream

I haven’t thought about this postcard painting inspiration since I painted it two years ago in France. I found it stuck down in a drawer when I went searching for my Tuscan Sun watercolor. When I pulled it out, it looked better than I remembered it. I threw it on the worktable thinking I might mount it and hang it beside my bed.

It floated around on my studio worktable niggling at me for a week or so. Finally the urge to paint it again ~ bigger ~ became so overwhelming it distracted me at every turn. I figured if I just gave in and painted it I’d get it out of my way. Wow, was I in for a surprise!

postcard painting inspiration
Hollyhock Dream, oil on canvas

When I set up the first canvas, two others nearby shouted to be next. I gave in and blocked them in with toned primer. Letting go never felt so comfortable!

It was then that I remembered planting a small water lily in a crock on my deck last summer. I  had just moved it to a pond of its own because its roots overflowed the small crock. When I repotted it I discovered it had sprouted four lilies. Recognizing myself in the lily made me smile inside. Assured I was in the right place I kept painting.

postcard painting inspiration
Something Blooming, oil on canvas

It took a week or so to finish painting all three of these. Snippets of time between other obligations were hard to find. Yet each time I touched them ~they came to life ~ and so did I.

 Hollyhock Dream led to Something Blooming, then to A Lily Pond of My Own. ~ I am astounded to see the abstract floral landscapes I painted in pastel as a young woman dripping with wet paint before me .  I never dreamed I would find her again. I truly thought she was lost forever.

postcard painting inspiration
A Lily Pond of My Own, oil 

How is it that painting such a small insignificant watercolor could be such a life affirming action?

This is the inspiration that leads me to create The Painting Lesson Virtual Artist Residency. If my small story inspires one person to pick up a brush and stroke color on paper, to feel the color energy beating in their heart a little faster ~ my joy will double.

perhaps you will pick up a brush and try an experiment.

Play Along with the Muses

Postcard Painting Inspiration
Create Your Own Experimental Watercolor Palette 

Painting Dreams>