Trying Something New


Donna Zagotta, Walk With You

I started 2016 with a goal of experimenting with different painting surfaces and different painting techniques because I wanted to shake things up, try something new, and break away from habitual painting methods for awhile. I wanted to just play with watercolor and see what showed up. 

Yupo paper turned out to be the perfect surface for experimenting and playing with the watercolor pigments on my palette because it requires a totally opposite painting approach than my regular Cresecnt #115 Hot Press surface, where I use watercolor and gouache in a heavily painted, multi-layered technique. Yupo is a synthetic paper with a glossy, slick surface. Because it has no tooth, I decided to use traditional transparent watercolor techniques. In my opaque watercolors I use lots of wiping off and repainting in order to create a rich picture surface. On Yupo, paint is much more easily removed and can be wiped down to reveal the original white paper. Very cool!

Because Yupo has no tooth, I couldn’t really control much of what was happening as I moved paint and water around with brushes, spray bottle, and roller. It was an experience of being totally present and engaged in the moment. I watched what was happening and responded quickly and improvisationally. It was both fun and scary and I found that moving paint and water around on Yupo in a variety of ways created beautiful textures that would be impossible to get on my regular painting surface. I added additional texture and mark making with brushes, stamps, Kleenex, paper towels, fabrics, sticks, crayons and anything else I could find in my studio that would alter the surface.  

It was fun to experiment with new ideas and new techniques and I definitely see more Yupo paintings for me in the future.

My painting above, Walk With You, is one of my Yupo paintings, which I’m happy to say was juried into this year’s Rocky Mountain National Watermedia exhibition in Colorado. 

Happy Painting!  


Fall Musings and Discovering Continuity

“I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time.”  Robert Browning

“Go to your studio and make stuff.”  Fred Babb

I love this time of year! Autumn, the season that Irish poet William Allingham called “the mellow time,” when everything slows down and we transition from summer to winter and move from the outside world to an inside world and make preparations for the cold months ahead. A long-standing autumn tradition of mine has been to look back over the year and to ask myself what I’ve accomplished, what worked and what didn’t, what I’ve learned, and what I want to accomplish in the coming year.

This time last year I was totally inspired by something I read about artist Alex Kanevsky. He talked about how winning a grant that allowed him to do nothing but paint every day for almost two years was a breakthrough experience for him because it allowed him to discover both continuity and his personal modus operandi.

Reading what he said got me in touch with how often it happens that when I look back over a year, I notice that while I can usually tally up a list of personal achievements, I’m often disappointed with what I accomplished in the studio. In unraveling that thought, I got in touch with the fact that when my personal life gets super busy and time becomes an issue, my painting life suffers because I feel like I don’t have time to spend in the studio. I began to recognize that when I stop painting for long stretches of time, I often forget where I was when last I painted. When I finally find my way back into the studio again, it usually feels like I’m back to square one again, with no idea of what square two even looks like. It’s like having to reinvent the wheel over and over again.

I’ve totally fallen in love with the idea of continuity! Merriam-Webster defines continuity as uninterrupted connection, succession, or union. My one and only art intention for 2016 was to discover continuity (OK – maybe I also wanted to discover a little more about my own personal MO as an artist – but of course that can only be found through continuous connection to one’s art; continuity). 2016 was as busy as ever, but I held the idea of continuity throughout the year. I still wasn’t in the studio as much as I would have liked, but I made a conscious effort this year to always have something percolating in the studio – something delicious to chew on that’s trying to lure me back into the studio. In looking back over 2016, I can say that the assignment I gave myself to consciously seek continuity not only made a difference in my art, it made the whole year a little more delicious as well.

Happy Painting!