Day 10 & Process

© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.  

© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.


This one I took the painter's tape from Day 9 and started with it almost as a monolith in the left part of the piece. Very quickly the piece took on a more "landscape" feel.

More often then not I surprise myself what comes out. This was an exquisite "perfect" day here in St. Louis with 75 degrees, bright sun and no clouds in site, but I guess I felt dark and moody.

Day 9 (& Process)

© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.  


© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.

© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.





This piece was fun cause I had an idea to start take teal paint and literally "block" it out with painter's blue tape to preserve this square and paint over it. After a few layers I took it off to reveal the teal paint and then started working around it. Oftentimes, I work in a certain way - if notice the orientation of the piece is that the teal box is upper left, and then when I end or at the very last minute of finishing, I flip it around and it's more interesting another way (the final is that the teal box is lower/right area of the painting).

I also remember feeling that this one I had an idea of inspiration but literally throughout 98% of the piece I kept thinking "this is crap!" But you have to have faith and this process of trying to get out a piece in 20 minutes really accentuates the faith part. Last decisions of take a tube of bright cadmium red and blotting it like a tool creating those circles at least pulled the piece together enough to feel finished for me.

Day 3, 4 & 5

© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved. © Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.

© Kathryn Neale Studio 2016. All Rights Reserved.


Totally not following my initial intentions AT ALL. I've already gotten little bored and wanting to stretch myself a bit - these are interesting  - ESP the last one. Felt very BOLD to just paint on the dark, dark blue-almost-black blob and then go from there. It's working I think but still kind of feels awkward. I'm always reminded when I now remember doing these paintings in only 20 minutes - that there is such an awkwardness and for sure 90-95% of the way through the painting (which means about 15 minute mark), I'm thinking - "This is crap!" And then I have to just push my analytical mind out to rush to make small changes here, then there, and then timer goes off and it's ok - it actually looks finished.

This process is SO different from making a real, much larger painting. You have time. You have all the time in the world that you want! And you can just "let it cook" so to speak. And of course I feel that a lot of the time the process of painting feels super awkward and I trust that. But these 20 minute paintings really accentuate that of course because I don't have time and I am not allowing myself to come back to the painting - which I can do for any of my other stuff.

And this is great to remind myself how this feels for a newbie. The reassurance that you are actually on the right path if you feel awkward is so important. It means you are stretching, you are growing and trying new things.

One part of me is a bit frustrated with myself that I'm just NOT working withing my "series" mentality which I thought I would be. But the other part of me just reminds myself to chill. I realistically haven't painted in a couple months. Getting back into it and then perhaps later I will make a "series" for myself. Who knows. We have a while here - 95 more days left!

How to make your own abstract Christmas cards (or work in a series of small works)

Christmas Cards 2015 from Kathryn Neale on Vimeo.

Christmas has come and gone! Wow! What a rush!

I did manage to sneak some time in (not sure how) to make about 36 Christmas cards to send to my friends and family this year. Hence the video above I actually figured out a way to tape myself with my iPhone! And it all didn't turn out to be a disaster which can definitely happen quickly if you don't really plan. Found myself thinking about making these things, ordered the stamps and the wasabi tape and when they came it was that moment of . . . "am I really going to do this?" I'm so glad I did! It was so much fun. And it was a joy to have some kind of excuse to do a little painting - which I haven't done in a few months (I always go in and out of bursts of painting energy).

So I thought I would share my thoughts on the project and how you can make your own Christmas cards - OR any kind of small series of works. I realize that there is a sort of method to the madness - especially when you're working very fast, and very small and using similar media elements and layers, I realize there are some "rules" to apply to that make it look like a cohesive series but not all look exactly the same. Each Christmas card is unique. But they all have similar elements or layers that I used and by the end I got really good at varying the beginning of each set of layers but always stuck to the last 2-3 layers by choice. And there are reasons behind all of that.

IMG_7182So first, let me introduce my supplies and materials.

1. Choose things that inspire and in this case, are quick and easy for you to apply. For example, for some reason lately I really like Christmas stamps! I'm starting to collect several kinds over the years - 1 is the large design of snowflakes that are just quite beautiful but also very versatile. You can always incorporate snowflakes!

2. In this case, having fun but being QUICK is also a factor. I didn't want to "labor" over these things so I needed to make more of a collage then an actually all out painting. For heavens' sake just making about 34 was enough! :) So choosing this super cute set of Christmas stamps (very small because my cards are small) was also a plus. I didn't have to use all of them - actually I only ended up using about 6 different ones, but it still created a cohesive look using 2 or 3 for each card. One of them (the ornament) I ended up using in all of them as a main layer because I liked the look of them "hanging" from my tree. But more on that later down in the explanation of each layer.

3. Color. Color is very important. Try to use a color palette of 2 or 4 colors. More than that really does make it over the top for the viewer. I limited my color palette with my stamp ink - light blue, red and gold.

4. And wasabi tape also introduces "POP" of color and maybe even more important, PATTERN to infuse a little Christmas atmosphere and also a graphic element. Wasabi tape is used mostly as an "accent" to the piece.

5. An off-white 4x6 card from Paper Source provided the perfect back-drop. I wanted off-white because I subtly wanted the "white" from the gesso and paint to show and not completely blend into the background.

6. Finally, gesso paint that's bright white, and fluid iridescent white pearl paint (in liquid acrylic and solid acrylic) so that I could add a little texture of abstract "snowy" elements. This is a perfect opportunity to use an iridescent paint that almost "glitters" in a way because it even more reflects the light like so many decorations this time of year.

I must add that these choices were completely intuitive. As I write them I am analyzing them with my "left brain" and each one makes sense why I would use these materials. The gold ink palelette was brand new choice for me, I usually don't like gold or am attractive to that color but it worked quite well with the other bright elements of the card.

TIP: Use again what inspires you. It could be Christmas tags, stickers, old wrapping paper elements that you can cut up and use. Parts of magazines or old books that have been torn away. Anything that is graphic--inspired, patterned or particular nostalgic is perfect for Christmas card themes. But again, try to keep it to 1-2 graphic element, 1-3 painterly media, perhaps 2-3 stamps or 2-3 drawing media. The variety comes in putting it all together because each card will end up being different and unique.



Tip #1 - Try to use about 8-10 layers at most with such a little space as this. They need to be a variety of materials/media and color. Use what INSPIRES you to HAVE FUN!d o


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  1. Light-Blue snowflakes
  2. Wasabi Tape
  3. Silhouette of abstracted tree (line quality)









4. Red stamps of either candy-cane, santa face, wreath, basic image of christmas 5. Gold ornament stamp









6. Red berry stamp









7. White gesso 8. Iridescent white liquid acrylic 9. Iridescent white solid acrylic

** Of course while I was taking these pictures I suddenly blanked and forgot the red berry (GASP!) that I usually put in about the middle before some of the stamps and definitely before the white paint at the end. that's OK though! See example below though where the "red berry" stamp is DEFINITELY ON TOP of the white paint layers but that's totally ok. It's just a slightly different effect then the one below it where it's "behind."



    1. Snowflake layering - notice that I vary how I put the stamp on the page, sometimes lining up with the entire stamp to cover most of the page, sometimes not. Notice that not all the "snowflakes" come out perfectly. But that's what I love - VARIATION.
    2. Wasabi tape - that's one of the most fun parts of these cards I think because it really brings a lot of the piece. Some of the tape is bright red, some designs, sometimes gold pattern, other times even green (although I limited the green because that can get obnoxious if used too much with this palette because I wanted to keep things pretty limited). Sometimes I used smaller "accent" pieces and sometimes used a couple different patterns/colors. Other times I ended up using a larger "strip" of tape used as a major focal point. That tape can contribute to the "tree silhouette" coming later or also counterbalance it. But it was fun to use the tape because it's very graphic and very strong piece of design.
    3. Tree silhouette - This is part of the piece that really anchors each one, otherwise the pieces of tape and the little "stamps"  of Christmas designs would just be out there floating. The tree also lends itself to a very organic element of design, we can all identify quickly with what I'm trying to depict without getting too specific. It also is fun because it adds a "hand-element" or painterly aspect which I very  much like.
    4. Red Berry - is definitely an accent graphic. I love the graphic because it's detailed and nostalgic. But I really like how I could use it to blend into the tree or rotate it around - mostly at a diagonal if you notice. It gives a lot of movement and again an accent without being too "loud" and in your face.
    5. More little stamps were fun to interchange in between all the layers and it depended on which stamps because like the Santa Face, that's very identifiable. So I didn't want to overuse it (I'm still at heart an abstract painter!). But those are fun little accent and "surprises" for the viewer and also keep in mind the over all "shape" of the stamp. A "candy-cane" is different then the wreath which is a circle, etc.
    6. The ornament stamp was fun because it brought the gold ink into the piece rather nicely. It plays a supportive role but enhances the idea that the tree has ornaments without being too literal. But the gold really helps keep a "neutral" in the midst of all that bright color etc and then also can unify the piece, and play another supportive role if the wasabi tape is gold too.
    7. White gesso - Used this in "blobs" to kind of mimic snow. I didn't want to overdue it thought because gesso is opaque and it would just block out whatever is beneath it. But because it's pure white, it was fun to use as a starting point for now.
    8. Iridescent white liquid acrylic paint is fun for "blotting" or "flicking" the paint brush to make much smaller droplets of paint and since it's iridescent it reflects the light.
    9. Iridescent white solid acrylic paint was my second favorite layer because I accidentally just started playing with "stamping" the tube of paint, using it totally as a stamp and out came these cool circles/semi-circles and created a really fun overall texture to each piece.


Tip #2 - HAVE FUN, HAVE FUN, HAVE FUN! Don't get too worked up about when you put this or where or if you (heaven forbid!) missed a step etc.  You  might want to practice 1-4 cards at the beginning to experiment freely and get your rhythm what you are going to do. At the end, "stamping" a tube of the iridescent white solid acrylic paint worked so well for about 25 of the cards and then that last 9 or so, the paint start to wear out and the "bubble" that inevitably had made this cool "circle stamp" that was totally organic and free suddenly started plopping out GOBS of paint. You just worked with it. I dabbled some of it back up with a paper towel and other times just using a brush to "paint" back in some marks that didn't have anything to do with anything. But it was fine. Not what I wanted intentionally because the first time I picked up the tube of paint I excitedly stumbled on this cool texture by accident. But also, this kind of accident not totally worth welcoming but you have to sometimes make work what are "real" accidents and not just happy ones that you delight in. It's all part of the process and it's all part of "LETTING GO."










See the final 36 pieces here in the gallery.



Can't believe it's November!

Acrylic, gesso paint and charcoal on paper, 24x18, 2012. It's amazing to think it's already November and the holidays are right around the corner. Literally. . .

But with this "turning the corner" here, I've committed myself to taking one more small step in my dream of making it on my own as an artist. And in this day and age, one way is to start your own online store. And I'm not sure why it has taken me this long to take the step but it at this moment, it actually feels quite courageous.

I've picked a couple of pieces of artwork that span almost a decade of work, all of these artworks are very special to me. It's definitely a weird, very weird, relationship - making art. I'm not sure if it's the same as composing music because at least you can always play the same piece or sing it, even if it's different in the moment etc. But it's yours, always. But a piece of artwork comes out and there's an "ending" to it. And then you have to detach and just let it be.

And then another weird aspect of it, is that someone wishes to buy your art and that's kind of weird too - in a wonderful way. But then you suddenly feel the attachment back, knowing you will never see this piece in person again.

But in the end, I still have a lot of pieces that represent a lot of different styles in the past several years and it's more then exciting, it's thrilling to think that some would find homes, to be admired instead of stored away in my basement studio. To think that they might bring some joy into someone's house for years to come, is quite special.

So perhaps this might be good timing to launch since it's the season of gift-giving, perhaps a loved-one would like to own an original piece of art, and I think that's pretty cool.

So without further ado, I submit my store to the world! Launching 20 artworks so far to start, all 40% till December 1st. Please share with anyone you might think would be interested. I also have lots of artwork in similar series still available so if there is something that is in my website but not in the store, please email me for available and price (all pre-2015 work is on sale 40% off) - shipping varies according to piece - katy[at]

You talk about courage and in the light of day it seems prosperous that I would be "nervous" to put my artwork out there. But in the middle of the night, this small step seems tentative but takes courage. Where will these pieces go and who will buy them? It's exciting to find out. Thank you again for all the support! Email me if you need more photos of any piece, etc.

Watery paint accident made better

Neale_Sketch8 Neale_Sketch7 Neale_Sketch6 Neale_Sketch5 Neale_Sketch4 Neale_Sketch3 Neale_Sketch2 So as I was working on my painting, I was not paying attention and sat my jar of water on top of the painting while I was looking at another area. When I looked up I realized all my watery paint had pooled around my jar. But instead of disparing and going "OH NO!" I just picked it up and started playing with the watery paint - spreading it out, blotting it with the jar and "pulling" it down into the canvas. Bascially using the jar as a brush. I loved it!

But the water had a mind of its own. It completing started pooled in a "swoosh" fashion to the right (perhaps my table is slightly off!) but even the final effect is fine with me.

One of my favorite aspects of paint is that I use so much water that more often than not, the final dried look is very different then what I see in the wet areas. And it always surprises me in a very nice way. I don't think I've ever come back and thought "On no! Why did it do that?" :)

It's a great reminder to go with the flow - literally. And to enjoy these small, fleeting moments. We are not in control - the Universe is. And to let go but still enjoy each moment for what it is, is a great meditation.

Today I finally did some yoga - feeling quite awesome.

Gray I, II, III acrylic series finished

Acrylic, chalk paint on canvas 20x20 2015 Acrylic, chalk paint on canvas 20x20 2015

Acrylic, chalk paint on canvas 20x20 2015

Been staring at these for weeks, perhaps couple months now thinking if there's something more I should do with these. Finally the other night I took them down and signed them. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and say - they are done.

Finding inspiration in Wreath-making

IMG_3871 IMG_3872 IMG_3873 IMG_3874 IMG_3875Such a beautiful book! Today I'm feeling quite bored actually with my 100 Day Project - I'm only on day 35. So far it's just been sooooo good to get back into the swing of painting. Things have just poured out of me for this past month. But now I'm starting to get bored with the limitations of this kind of painting. I cannot take my time or really think that much with this kind of sketching. So I must push myself and experiment more - getting more and more "uncomfortable" - practicing what you preach yes?! This blog is just the daily reminder of what I need to hear and think about. And I happen to share with the 4 people on my subscriber list! :) When I get into these spells, I slow down the painting process and then feel like cleaning up my studio and re-organizing. It's just part of the whole process and I trust it now. I go inward and start to retreat to think and just sit with stuff. Ideally in my masters' programs, I would start to look for inspiration everywhere and anywhere. And just be in reflection, quiet mode until something kind of sparked and initial - ok let's try this!

But I do not have the time here. And while picking up stuff I happened  upon this book again, The Wreath Recipe, that was given to us for free to all the participants of the 2015 Alt Summit conference in Salt Lake City (if you've ever heard of this conference it is AMAZING!). But when I got this book I thumbed through marveling at the stunning photographs and even more strikingly beautiful compositions of these wreaths. I knew I would never do any of them - this is an instructional book showing how you can make your own beautiful wreaths throughout the year. I knew I would never do this sadly because I'm just not a "crafty" type of person. I'm also pretty lazy and I HATE HATE HATE following instructions - like . . . that's one of my biggest peeves. Whatever. BUT I knew I would of course keep this book when I thought of the compositions.

Well I found it again this weekend. And so my post for Day 35 is in reference to this photo of a beautiful staging of sweet pea flowers. I love the simplicity, the soft colors and the shockingly bright fushia of the little flowers underneath. I also appreciate the vast spaciness of the gray background - my graphic design coming into influence here which I yearn for in my paintings but never seem to force myself to do - perhaps I should for fun.

But my point is that you can find virtually anything to be an inspiration to you. But I love that I didn't recreate this photo literally. It's to reference - I might do a couple of these paintings in reference to this photograph. Take some of the elements of the form, the line, the colors and practice translating it into abstract shapes. Yes my Day 35 painting is reminiscent of floral or organic shapes. But all my paintings reference this - ESP in my 100 day project series so far. Not all my paintings feel so botanical but almost all my paintings so far are organic.

So have it! Look around your world and just note what's inspiring to you - what just makes you pause. You aren't looking to render it at all. But using it for reference to start your own work.

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25 DAYS! A milestone so far

  IMG_3689 (1)IMG_3690 (1)

I've made it through 25 days so far! I thought at first, "can I really do this?" But the secret is to set yourself a goal that is manageable. My life is so busy right now with work full time and trying to spend every moment I can with my 18-month old son. But I have been thinking of getting back into painting for months and months now. And to do a challenge like this you simply must be consistent.

But I'm thrilled with myself! I love it! And of course you are hoping that you will and that it's not an overwhelming challenge but this is perfect timing for me. Just to be able to have "something" that is getting me to paint everyday is a breath of fresh air. I feel better. All throughout each day, it's my own meditation. And I know I'm putting out there into the Universe that I intend to do this and make this a priority in my life just like caring for my son. Work I have to do unfortunately! But painting and my son are top priorities. And who knows what will come my way with art, but at least I'm doing the work now.

So far though, it's been interesting to set myself some limitations. Each painting is completed within 20 minutes. This includes (most often) drying time. And drying time I'm not used to forcing with each layer -- I literally just dry with my hair dryer. So here's couple things I have noticed:

• 20 minutes is really perfect time because you are forced to make quick decisions and move on

• Frustrating to wait for things to dry - but also forces you to move on

• You are forced to just "start" and then forced to "end" it! whether you like it or not! :)

• Within the time slot, more often as you practice, your intuition completely takes over. You cannot really think a lot because you are moving fast! But you are more likely to try new things and be surprised by them.

• Teaches you to definitely not fear the "blank" paper or canvas or whatever. You just have to GO!

• Different decisions like starting with white paper, or designed paper, or pastel paper, you are "reacting" to what's in front of you from the start. It's great to change it up becuase you are starting from different decisions then always white paper which is generally what people think is expected. But it helps to challenge your brain a little bit, you are mentally looking for slightly different strategies to keep your interest and then the direct effect is that it will be new. So you will try new techniques or tactics in your paintings.

• Oftentimes, my "go-to" techniques involve lots of water dabbling and pooling of paint with water. But with these 20 minutes paintings I literally just cannot wait for things to pool and dry on their own. So I have to loose a lot of those pools of paint that I love. Instead I have used a lot of paper towels to "dabble" away the excess water/paint pools. That in itself is a newer technique for me to always be my "go-to." I also like to stamp the left over throughout the painting too which gives another effect. So it's good even though it's not preferable to me, I'm still doing something different then I'm used to.

• Using different type of paint is always fun. Mainly use Acrylic but have fallen in love with Annie Sloan's paint as well. IT is chalky, pastel paint that is super easy to work with. You can make it opaque but also transparent with just a little bit of water. And it's very easy to dry.

• 20 minute paintings every day really does teach you to detach from you artwork. It sounds strange, but you have to detach in order to just get it out and move on. Already looking at these 25 pieces, I literally forget "oh yeah I did that one!" And looking back I may like one or not like one at all. But it doesn't matter. It's just a record of my decisions that one day.

• Again, many are not good. But that's awesome! It's identical to practicing an instrument, you practice and practice and goof up and mess up your notes or your fingers on the piano and you just do it over. And sometimes things just flow out but most often it's more of a struggle perhaps. But you are practicing! Only difference is that you have a physical record of these practice sessions verses music where the audience doesn't hear your practiced mistakes when you perform at a recital.

• I realize I understand now why the Yale Professor started this project for his art students (which is where Elle Luna got the idea for herself and to start this campaign). It's awesome for newbies especially to just paint, paint, paint, paint. Get used to painting. Get used to the materials, the process, and to learn about yourself. But it's been perfect timing like I said before for myself, to get back into the habit of painting.

Ok what will 50, 75, and 100 bring? Can't wait!

Process 4.10.15_Happy Accidents!

IMG_4106 IMG_4107 Accidental marks and blobs and whatever are just a part of the painting process. Yes you can get tight, detailed and very controlled painting. But "freestyle painting" I guess it has been referred to today, means to me, free, loose, natural, organic, and barely controlled. I LOVE accidents! And you have to be totally OK with stuff going wrong. Just like raising a kid - this paint combo between tool and paint just has a mind of it's own. And your job is to roll with the unexpected and make that "accident" work for you.

The above images clearly show that as I was using a rubber patterned roller, because the paint's thickness is slippery, and the fact that the paper is not great for this kind of technique (really I should be doing this on fabric or the wall!), the roller literally slipped with the paint and smeared all over the place. The top image shows smearing top-left to the right-down areas. In this second image above, right in the middle you can see those flowers are not crisp at all! Totally smeared and blending into one another. But that's the beauty of it! It's not perfect. I'm not trying to render a beautiful pattern (although that is what these rubber rollers are meant to do of course). I love the "suggested" patterned effect. It also makes it visually more interesting, the eye is challenged and stimulated by the irregularities, and is surprised (perhaps annoyed but that is ok too) of the slight variations and always a joy to disrupt what is "expected" for the viewer. It also suggests some kind of worn, vintage look. Things eroding falling away, not perfect.  IMG_4109 This is even more obvious in the painting above. I did not "properly" even out the paint in the roller so it blobbed on in uneven marks. Super gloppy and then super faint. But still suggesting some kind of pattern and uniformity that I think is quite interesting.


And finally, the above image show that as I was completely running out of paint, rolling it over and over onto the canvas, the pattern completely disappeared leaving random, almost brush-like strokes reminiscent of a Gerald Richter painting abstract painting. An effect I totally couldn't have possibly come up with in my head! Proof you have to try and try and experiment. Roll with it. I'm never disappointed so you have to open your mind and let yourself turn those "mistakes" into those precious parts of the painting that is UNIQUE, special, one-of-a-kind, different, unexpected and beautiful.



In Process_4.2.15


This is a first in my series of "works in progress" with myself. A way to document and think about and share the process of painting. This work is an interesting piece. I started it actually with the large navy blue dark brush work about 2 years ago! It has been on my wall in my basement for that long just waiting and waiting to get worked on.

Last week, I went crazy with the patterned roller from The Painted House (Etsy shop)  which is so much fun to play with. And then my colors right now are out of the bottle copper, ochre, .......


This piece definitely has quite a bit to go but taking close ups of some of the work as it goes along is always a lot of fun. My favorite stages of a painting are these pre-middle-to-middle stages where layers are starting to overlap and play with each other. So much of this type of painting method relies on intuitive marks and the "accidental" or spontaneous, unplanned marks. It's a weird balance between initiating the layer but then knowing "when to stop!"

My favorite part of this painting too is that the paint just does what it wants too. The uncontrolled nature is what is exciting. You start the process but have no control of the final outcome. These drips and drops above exemplify the juiciness of this type of painting with lots of water (my background is watercolor). And of course you cannot deny the power of gravity with the drops dripping "down" because the piece is hanging on the wall. That seems pretty obvious, but nothing is "obvious" when it comes to painting. This is a decision I specifically made here. I could've not have drops, therefore not put that much water so it effectively drips down. I could've easily just put the whole thing on the ground and let the water "pool." So it is a deliberate decision, but how the water drips is out of my control! The middle right part of the painting is quite lovely now with the navy blue peeking through the copper drips as it's hard to tell which layer is which--this is quite intriguing. And as a viewer, that's all you want is to have the viewer stop and take a "double-take" because that's what's interesting to the eye.


TThis section you can see my brush strokes more distinctively because of the bright red, pink colors. But the same effect is also shown except you can tell that I've dipped into a couple different colors simultaneously with my large  brush and twirled it around in my hand to create "smeared" effect (especially in the middle with the red/hot pink turning into orange/copper.  There's a rhythm to this painting specifically as well. We shall see if it continues to the final look!

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