Category Archives: abstract

Abstract self portrait.

Over on Artist Demo Days on facebook, Ali Hargreaves did a few demos on cubism (it is also on you tube here .   Now, although I don’t like cubism, I thought I would give the self portrait a go as Ali’s finished painting was really good. Cubism uses geometric shapes and lots of straight lines and for someone like me, who likes soft and fluffy, this was difficult.  My hair had grown a lot during the last lockdown and was quite wavy so I used crescent shapes to depict the waves and so that meant it didn’t look too harsh and jaggy.  I used  my Bockingford NOT block 300g as I was going to be using watercolour but I should possibly have used a smoother paper to get smoother outlines.  I ended up using a mixture of watercolour, Marvy le Plume pens, Copic pens, Stabilo pens,  Posca  pens, inktense pencils, gold and silver Pilot pens.  In a few places I added a little sparkle using a gel glitter pen and the outline is in black Faber Castell Pitt pen.  The pale colours in some Copic pens don’t show up well in the photograph, and the dark English red Marvy le Plume looks almost black in places..

You start by jotting down a few things you like and try to incorporate them into your painting.  You don’t have to use them all.

list of happy things


You begin with a soft pencil sketch then go over the outline with a permanent pen.

abstract self portrait outline


One you have your outline, it is just a matter of colouring in and adding some patterns – great fun.

abstract self portrait

My abstract self portrait is almost zentangle and not really cubism in my opinion.  At the end I added a bit of sparkle and a few gold and silver highlights but they don’t show up on the photo.  The whole process was a lot of fun.

My husband really likes this painting and wants it framed and hung on our wall.  Even though I really like it, I can see all the wee mistakes that I made.  Also I have painted right up to the edges and a mount will cover the detail at the edges.  So my dilemma is: do I start it again using smoother paper and leave a border for a mount, or,  just go ahead and get it framed?  I am quite a lazy artist and don’t like the thought of doing it all again, but I don’t really want to hang something with mistakes in it.  Anyhooo, there is no rush to make the decision as we are in another lockdown, and as we are shielding we aren’t going anywhere.

Encaustic cards

Just recently someone gave me a hot tray that they no longer used so I had a go at an encaustic art technique that I saw John Buckland using in an encaustic art DVD. Basically you put your card on the hot tray then apply your wax. You then move the melted wax around with various tools or just a piece of scrunched up tissue. The hot plate that John uses is much larger, has a glass top and a thermostat. Mine is just a narrow hot tray with a steel top and only and on/off switch but it was still fun to try. I made 2 A5 pieces which I cut down to make a few cards. Before I cut them however I photographed them so I can now print them and use them as background papers for other projects.

futuristic encaustic art using a hot tray

A6 artwork in card

Encaustic abstract using hot tray

A7 artwork in card

Draw backs of the hot tray I have:


  • The top of the hot tray has a slight grain to it which makes it difficult and time consuming  to clean
  • It is long and narrow limiting the size of card
  • No thermostat control so you have to keep turning it off all the time
  • It stays quite hot for quite a while


but then it was built for keeping plates and food warm and not for encaustic art.

Abstract encaustic card


Well you would never guess what this started off as….I was trying to do some hot air encaustic cards which I had hoped to would like flowers.  I think I managed every mistake possible: too much clear wax, held the heat gun too close and not only did I blow most of the wax off the card but I also managed to make a big bubble on one side.  Not to worry I added more colours then just scribbled with the stylus tool and threw some wax to make runs of dots with it too.  I cropped the bubble away then used my scribbled abstract for a colourful card.

Card:  white, black, encaustic card
Wax:  various colours, wax sealer
Other:  matching fibres

Abstract card


The last time Carey was up for a visit with the family we got talking about abstract painting and although I have never painted an abstract painting before it struck me that the backgrounds I do for some of my art journals are just that.  So I did this painting for Carey’s card using the same methods I would for a background but with really bright blocks of colour and almost filling the page.  I am quite pleased with the results but it is hard to know when to stop adding bits.

Inks/paint:  blue, yellow, red, black and white acrylic paint, coloured pens
Card:  water colour card and a large aperture card
Other:  stencils, sequin waste, bottle caps, daubers