Thursday, November 5, 2020


 Let's play.

Let's make art.

Let's take a moment for time for ourselves. Art is a healer of souls.

Art therapists encourage people to make art as a way to express their feelings. Art can provide meditative calm or it can be a way to let out anger, splashing that emotion on the page instead of at other people.

I tried watercolor this week and found myself returning to old habits of rushing to finish, of dabbing with my brush instead of with confident strokes, of pushing one color across the page instead of adding color with each stroke. In the end, I took the painting I made and cut off the piece I still liked, washed the color off the rest, and placed the cut-off piece in my bin for mixed media scraps. I then took a deep breath and looked at my collection of random pieces of paper.

I  thought of harmony, one of the principles of design along with balance, repetition, proportion, movement, contrast, and unity. These principles are what make a piece of art appealing to others. They have become intrinsic to me, but they underlay every piece that I work on whether it is a painting, print, mixed media piece, or hand lettering.

How do you learn to make these principles work for you? Collage art is an easy way to apply these principles. By taking a pile of random pieces of paper and moving them around the page, you will find yourself drawn to one layout over another. In my scrap heap, there are many pieces that I either think will be a valuable start to a design or were the wrong color, pattern, shape for the original purpose. I took a bunch of them today to see if I could create some way to find balance and harmony with disparate pieces. How can I tie them together to make a whole?

From my stack of scrap papers

First, I tried the repetition of shapes: squares and rectangles. Nope.

I added a circle. Nope

Removed some of the elements and added lettering. Nope.

Tried a paper with a circle cutout. Nope.

Added calligraphy and a larger circle to unify all the shapes. Getting there! 
I like the repetition of the vertical lines in the cardboard piece contrasting with the white lines on the right bottom corner. I like the yellow ochre, aqua, and magenta that run through the entire design, which helps your eye move around the page.
Circles always help. 
A few words do too.

This is a good week to tear up some paper, get out a paint box and brushes, find unusual tools, grab some glue, and begin. Take care of yourself.


by MARTha Slavin

This piece is actually 4 small squares bunched together. Why do the four pieces work together? Repetition of patterns and lines, the green, blue-grey, and magenta that color each square, and the contrast between lights and darks.

This mixed media piece is included in Uppercase Magazine's #47 issue. Uppercase is a wonderfully creative magazine produced in Canada and filled with inspiring ideas. Take a look at issue #47 here: Uppercase Magazine #47


  1. Finding the unity in contrasting colors, shapes, ideas; Martha, have you considered public service? ;)
    Actually, your lovely posts each week ARE a public service! Thanks for keeping the beauty coming.

  2. Thank you, Teresa, for that comment. You made me smile as well as pleased that my writing can touch people.

  3. From Ginny on FB:Hello Martha! I love your blog!
    Thank you for sharing your love of ideas of all kinds, and life of all kinds, and art of all kinds, and people everywhere.
    (BTW , just saw your Bathers watercolor? pastel(?) piece - which I also love.)

    1. Thanks, Ginny, it's great to hear your words about my blog. Your art also is worth an exhibit!

  4. From Kim on FB: 💚💙I love this post, absolutely love it! I just realized that the principles of design should also be the principles of life. Every time I read your words they fill me with love & gratitude. Thank you again


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