Artist Date: Finger Painting – Oct. 11, 2018


The end result of my “finger painting”

There’s nothing like an art class to strengthen the bond of friendship. In that spirit, my friend Sara and I made plans to take an art class together, eventually landing on “Adult Finger Painting” through Robbinsdale Community Education.

Finger painting conjures up images of stick figures and really basic shapes, but grown-ups have taken it up a notch making it all the rage in their adult circles. After spending a couple hours with our star instructor Kris Holtmeyer, I must admit that I’m totally on the finger-painting bandwagon, too! Here are just a few of the lessons I learned from trying my hand—including my fingers, of course—at it:

Draw upside down – I’ve heard of this being done, but I don’t recall ever doing it myself. I chose to use a photo of a bird as my model, but I fear my drawing would have hardly resembled a bird had I tried to actually draw a bird. By turning the photo and my drawing upside down and dissecting it into quadrants of basic shapes, the finished product turned out okay.


It all began with breaking the canvas into quadrants, then drawing the picture upside down.

Find the tool that works for you – Kris brought a grand collection of acrylic paints and latex gloves—that’s all a finger painter needs to put a concept to canvas. But she seemed to know that some of us would gravitate toward other tools beyond our fingers. Though I depended on mine for the background, it felt more natural to add thicker textures with a palette knife.

Fall in love with white – I heard it over and over again in the instructor’s critiques of our work: try adding white, use more white, fall in love with white! And what a miraculous “color” it is indeed! White created light, depth, contrast, etc. Kris suggested that no one needs more than four colors in his or her paint collection: the primaries of red, yellow and blue, as well as the biggest tube of white one can find.

With other art classes, I’ve often left feeling defeated and not at all impressed with what I take home as a finished product. Add to that the bill of supplies, and I get especially woeful. But this finger painting class was altogether different. I’m eager to keep at it!


Artist Date: Pour Painting – May 19, 2018


A dry canvas and mixed paint are ready for my first pour painting project.

Pour painting. It seems to be all the rage right now, and classes are popping up all over the place for people to try their hand at it. That’s how my husband, Terry, and I decided to explore the technique.

We found a class in Stillwater, Minnesota, led by Sharon Weiser, an accomplished painter and art instructor. Terry and I spent a couple hours with Sharon testing two different kind of pours.


Terry tilts his canvas to arrive at swirls and cells of different colors.

The first pour was on a dry canvas. Using acrylic paint, a flow agent and water, we mixed a few different colors until smooth and drippy. Upon achieving the right consistency, we added just a few drops of silicone to each mixture. Before pouring, we layered each color into a new cup, not stirring it, but allowing the colors to sit upon each other. Then we poured the paint and tilted the canvas to see what design and “cells” would appear. A blow dryer helped with developing the latter.

The second pour was on a wet canvas, which means we applied a thick solid color of paint on the canvas before mixing and pouring like we did the first time around. It was amazing to see how this simple extra step changed the effect pretty drastically!


My finished pour painting projects, one on dry canvas and one on wet.

The cons of pour painting? It’s pretty messy, and you never know how it’s going to turn out. The pros? You never know how it’s going to turn out—there is joy in surprise! Terry and I look forward to experimenting some more, even using some of our old house and wall paint and possibly trying some different surfaces—metal, wood, etc.

In addition, I couldn’t help but notice that the older students at our daughter’s childcare center are doing some pour painting on three-dimensional block sculptures. That would be fun, too!

“Psalm 104” (Mixed Media)

“Psalm 104” (Mixed Media)“Psalm 104”
Barbara Farland
Mixed Media, 2018

From Psalm 104:1-5, 10-13:

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.

He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.He makes winds his messengers; flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.

He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.


Art vs. Crafts


The raw materials for my next piece of art

So here goes…

As part of my day job as a writer, I blogged yesterday on behalf of a client about the importance of art in child development—how the process of making art helps build kids’ skills in several critical areas of learning. The post also compares “art” to “crafts,” the former being more about self-expression and the creative process, the latter focusing on achieving a specific final product. Read post>>

A few years ago, I attended one of those paint nights. You know the kind: an instructor walks you step by step through the process of painting a pre-determined picture—everyone knows what the final result will be, and everyone leaves with virtually the same piece of “art” with minimal variation. Sure, I felt a certain sense of pride for accomplishing the assignment and taking home something that resembled coneflowers against a sky of gradient hue. But it certainly doesn’t bear any kind of self-expression. It’s a sorry imitation of someone else’s creative effort. And, come to think of it, it clearly demonstrates the difference between making crafts and creating art.

So I’m going to reinvent the blasted thing and somehow make it my own. For the past several weeks, I’ve been collecting scraps of yarn from a massive scarf project (I’m still debating if that project is a craft or art in progress) and I’m aching to experiment with them a bit. My plan? To construct a similar picture on top of the existing one using yarn fibers, watered-down glue and who knows what else—to transform it into a legitimate piece of art.

I’m eager to start the process…