Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stencils - before and after

Before - Owl stencil

After - Owl Stencil plus acrylic painting and extra fine glitter

Before - Lamp Stencil

After - Lamp Stencil plus acrylic painting and extra fine glitter

Before - Stack of books stencil

After - Stack of book stencil
I chose to keep this stencil very minimalistic and almost ghost-like in the painting,
to convey the message that mystery and imagination can come from reading.

Glimmering Light Painting

Glimmering Light
Acrylic on canvas with extra fine glitter.
My own hand-cut stencils were used in the production of this work.
18" x 24"

Detail images from my new painting Glimmering Light

Glimmering Light Stencils

I just finished this new painting today.  You might recognize one of these hand cut stencils from earlier in the month.  Well, here are my finished hand cut original stencils:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dreams of Flying

This work entitled Dreams of Flying began with searching through mary Joe's Fabric store in Gastonia N.C. for a heavy duty fabric with texture and a feeling of age.  I decided upon a fabric, purchased it and brought it home.  The fabric was a light grey, heavy duty, linen with text sown in a dark textured thread.  For my taste the color was all wrong, but I couldn't deny the date 1756 sown in and the over all feel of age from the script.  

The first thing I did was stretch the new fabric over an existing canvas.  Then it was my task to change the color of the fabric.  After layers of thinned out acrylic paints, used more like a stain than a paint, I felt the background color would work.  After painting the background, I covered the entire piece with a layer of acrylic medium to seal the fabric.

I actually cut numerous stencils intending on using them on this work, but after experimenting with them, I learned the fabric was not rigid enough for my stencil process and thought about other ideas.  My wife Cara is a gifted seamstress in addition to her many other talents.  I found she had a collection of fabric scraps and I wanted this French looking red on white patterned fabric for my art. 

I then collected images of flying birds and cut them out to use as stencils for my fabric birds.  Cara helped with this because it was the first time I was cutting fabric to use in a mixed media artwork.  10 birds later and it was time to attach the birds to the canvas.  the first went on very slowly, hand stitched and sealed with acrylic medium.  after it dried I realized the acrylic sealed the fabric well enough that I didn't believe I needed to hand sew the birds on.  the other nine birds were attached by first laying down a layer of acrylic medium onto the canvas, then onto the back of the birds, and then to seal them on, I painted the medium once or twice more on top.  

In addition to attaching the fabric, the acrylic also seals dirt and dust out of the fabric so that the painting could be cleaned much more easily if something were to splash onto it.

I had the birds and I had the back ground, but the birds didn't pop. I painted around every bird with burnt umber acrylic paint to outline each one.  I blended the paint into the background to prevent the appearance of a simple contour line.

I liked it and for an hour or so, I thought I might be finished.  Then I went on google.com and saw that today Google was honoring Bob Ross, the famous painter who painted on P.B.S. in The Joy of Painting.  I clicked on the image and was brought to a page of Bob Ross links.  I clicked onto the youtube tab and found the very first video was Bob Ross painting clouds.  That led me on an extravaganza of watching one video on cloud painting after another.  I moved from one artist to another and found one I liked very much.  He is an artist named Tim Gagnon.  I will embed one of his videos at the bottom.

Ultimately, I painted clouds and found myself very pleased. The last thing I need to do is build a frame and trim the fabric strands hanging off the edge.

I hope you like it.  If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them! 

Tim Gagnon's video:

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Endeavor

Throughout my schooling at Winthrop University, painting had been a variety of things. What started out as paint on a canvas via a paintbrush morphed into slinging watercolor onto paper, then canned spray paint, then painting with spray foam insulation for highly volumed and textured three dimensional wall sculptures.  In February of 2010 I had a solo show of these wall sculptures and I was dissatisfied by the physical response of the 60+ viewers who moved through the gallery.  They stood back from a distance without coming closer to examine the art.  This experience lead to a reactionary move back to drawing to achieve the detail I had forfeited in order to experiment with looser styles and materials.  I learned from my experiences and experimentation, that for me, I need to harness my imagery with detail, in order to say what I want to say.

Now in my painting.  I am thinking of ways to further incorporate students into my work.  Currently at Donna Downey Studios, classes are held multiple times a week and I have noticed that stencils are regularly used to add detail and imagery in a highly efficient way.  Stencils enable anyone to efficiently understand the process of imagery creation, if in fact the original artist incorporated stencils in their exemplified design.  But the problem for me is the limited variety in specific stencil templates that fit the direction I want to take.  Why does this matter?  Because I too want to teach classes on my art as well!

In conversations with Donna's husband Bill, he has encouraged me numerous times to stay true to my own form of art in all that that means.  He says this because he knows of my temptation to conform to how Donna works, for the sake of selling my classes which translates into dollars and sense to pay back the student loans.  Donna has proven her way is successful because it is a perfect combination of necessary opposites, challenge and ease, fun and work,  imagery and text, chaos and control, etc.  All understandable of course except that by changing my direction for a temporary goal, I rob the students themselves to learn anything authentic from me in our classes.  

So as a result of thinking this through I have decided to make a list of what I have learned so far in a very short time.

1. I want to create art recognized as my own.

2. I want to be able to teach others to make similar works in a class environment regardless of artistic backgrounds.

3. Artistic tools make art production more efficient concerning time.  (a digital photographer or videographer is able to achieve a finished product faster than film because no processing time is required.  An acrylic painter has less dry time than an oil painter.  A glass maker can make a work of art in only minutes because of the technology used. etc.)

So my conclusion? 

I have decided to make a series of my own hand cut stencils which will be used in the production of my next series of art.  These stencils will allow me to paint in a way that I clearly understand what I am doing, with the intention of communicating those steps and lessons on to others.  All-the-while, I will make paintings that I find very interesting and original to my own style and vision.

Here is an example of my first hand cut stencil.  This took me about 4 hours to completely cut out with an x-acto blade! Can't wait for a computer to do the job faster! :)

Detail of Stencil

Finished stencil.
Now onto the next stencil! I'll keep you posted.  If you come to my stencil class later in the month or in November, you will have access to using my hand cut stencils in your own works of art!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Watercolor Demonstration!

Watercolor painting – October 6th, 2012
Time: 1pm - 3pm
Where: Donna Downey Studios, Huntersville, NC.
Price: Free!!!

When I think of watercolors, I think “atmospheric, light, bright, vivid and subdued, Asian style, landscape, color fields, natural, and much more!”  Watercolors have been around so long and been used by so many different cultures.  Have you ever loved a watercolor painting and thought you wanted to learn how to do it yourself?

Stop in anytime between 1pm and 3pm, this Saturday October 6th, to get a brief lesson in how to use watercolor paint to achieve the look you want in a watercolor painting!  I’ll show you some cool effects that can be achieved by watercolor paint!

Shining Whimsy

Shining Whimsy – Date: In November 2012
Time: T.B.A. (3 hour class)
Where: Donna Downey Studios
Price: $50.00
All supplies included

Paint directly from the imagination.  Taking inspiration from artists from the past, the stars in the sky, and a love of whimsy, you can create a painting all your own.

Join me, Stephen Lursen, for an evening to paint a work of art reflective of your dreams, thoughts, and feelings without the hard rules of needing to represent something really specific.  I’ll help you express the image you want to make!  What makes this unique?!? In this painting you will actually be able to install a string of lights into the back of the painting. The lights will shine through holes drilled so that the image literally has lights like stars shining. 

This type of artwork is perfect for anyone with an imagination and a passion to light up the night!  In the daytime, while the sun shines, you can hardly even tell there are lights in the painting, but when all the other lights are out, this will glow!

Check out the Class Calendar @ http://www.donnadowney.com/studio?limit=all&mode=list

"Nighttime and Dreaming"
Oil on panel with white lights inserted into the stars from the back.
20" x 36"

Paint Like a Pro: Preprinted Canvas Class

Birds, Flowers, and Cities – Select Saturdays @ Donna Downey Studios!
Time: 1pm - 4pm.
Where: Donna Downey Studios
Price: $40.00
All supplies included

When you think about your favorite things in life, can you sum them up in one image?  I can’t! When thinking about how to fill a wall in a way that really expresses who I am, I think of having a series of paintings hung like a collage on the wall.  They each relate to each other visually, but also vary to show my love of life in areas like world travel, wildlife, nature, and more!

Join me, Stephen Lursen, at Donna Downey Studios in Huntersville, NC, on select Saturdays (check the calendar @ http://www.donnadowney.com/studio?limit=all&mode=list) to paint a work of art that will begin your love for painting and allow you to see the world around you in a fresh way! 

The goal of this class is to inspire you to make a whole series of paintings that are easy, make you happy, express yourself, and look good while relating to one another.  In this class I have designed a number of canvases that already have images printed on them to accelerate your painting process by taking away the fear of not knowing how to draw or what to do first.  That is already done! What you must draw from are qualities you have had all your life, like what your favorite colors are for instance.

When you reserve your spot for your class, you can pick out your image to start with from the ever growing options.  When you’re finished with your first painting in class or after, and you have a firm grasp on how it’s done, you can pick up more printed canvases from the store at Donna Downey Studios (http://www.donnadowney.com/preprinted-canvases.html) to complete your series installation; making your home a more vibrant expression of the life you want to see!

Here are some samples of the "birds" category.  Remember, you are going to paint over the imagery to transform it into a colorful painting of your very own!

Songbird: Preprinted version and my painted version

Songbird (another of my painted versions)

Poetic Bird: Before and After
Dowdy Owl Preprinted Version

Playful Panda (preprinted version)

Playful Panda (my painted version)

Butterfly Chase Preprinted Version

Butterfly Chase - One painted version

Contemplative Owl preprinted version


Vintage London Light

Vintage London Dark

Vintage New York City: Before and After

Vintage Paris

Fall Landscape Workshop

Fall Painting – Monday October 29th, 2012
Time: 6pm to 9pm.
Where: Donna Downey Studios
Price: $40.00
All supplies included

Do you love color? Do you love nature? Would you like to have a beautiful fall painting filled with energy and vibrancy to express your passion about the change of season and cool crispness in the air?  Paint your very own fall landscape!

Join me, Stephen Lursen, on Monday Oct. 29th, 2012 and I will help you paint your Fall dream landscape.  With a combination of stencils and hand painted details, you will transform your white 18” x 18” canvas into a masterpiece to express your love of color and nature, especially this time of year!
Fall Landscape
18" x 18"
Acrylic on canvas

Check out the class Calendar @

World Map Series Workshop

World Map Series – Saturdays – October 27th and November 3rd, 2012.
Time: 2:30pm to 5pm.
Where: Donna Downey Studios, Huntersville, NC.
Price: $150.00
All supplies included

Concept:  Have you ever had the dream to travel the world?  Have you traveled the world already?  Would you like to chart your course on your very own hand painted world map and then get the gratification of pressing in your map pins to mark all the memories and stories from your adventures?  Paint your very own custom world map! 

Join me, Stephen Lursen, on a two class series where I will help you apply your own dreams and creative style to the production of a large scale world map.  We will stretch your hand painted canvas over corkboard so that you can pin where you want to go or where you have been!  You can own your very own fine art interactive adventure!  And to make sure your painting will have the professional appearance we all want, a frame is included!

This is for anyone who has dreams of travel, adventure, or a love for interior design and art from around the world.

Check out the class calendar at http://www.donnadowney.com/studio?limit=all&mode=list

"The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page" - Saint Augustine
Acrylic paint and gold pen on Canvas, stretched over cork board to allow map pins. - Stephen Lursen

"Not long ago, In a Charming Dream,
I saw myself -- a king with a crown's treasure;
I was in love with you, It seamed,
and heart was beating with a pleasure.
I sang my passion's song by your enchanting knees.
Why, dreams, you didn't prolong my happiness forever?"...

The Dream by Alexander Pushkin

Acrylic paint, gold and silver pens, on chevron fabric stretched over canvas - Stephen Lursen

"With Closed eyes,
The soft sound of breeze in the leaves,
Crackle of a fire,
Warmth of the glow.

Leaning back,
With opening eyes,
Heaven's many lights!

Reminds me of a time,
When our fingers touched,
And fusion lit a star"

Lover's Dream by Stephen Lursen

Acrylic paint, gold and silver pens, on canvas stretched over a cork board panel to allow for map pins to be added. - Stephen Lursen