Stone Coal Studio

Stone Coal Studio

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make Holiday Memories with Mixed Media Art

Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday!

Make new and old memories with old photos in your mixed media art.

I have continued to rework and play with my "Snow Buddies" series.  And here is my latest mixed media variation of my favorite old family photo. 

Hope you have a creative and inspiring 2015.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Welcome Home this Holiday Season

Welcome Home
by Judith Flynn Lochbrunner
acrylic on collage

This burro welcomed us when we set up for plein air a few months ago.  The loud braying could not be ignored.  He happily posed for many photos and enjoyed a few carrots from his owner.  The painting that day became all about him!

Last Wednesday winter welcomed us with a pre-Thanksgiving snowfall.  Although this was an early snow for us it was a pretty scene outside.   This snowfall really set the mood for the holiday season.

My wish is for you all to be "welcomed home" this holiday season.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Long Did It Take You To Paint That?

All artists have been asked this question, "How long did it take you to paint that?"  

A birthday gift for Kate
by Judith Flynn Lochbrunner

The answer is not as simple as stating how many hours.

Consider a musician playing a solo on stage.  How long did it take him/her to play the musical piece? The musician took the appropriate amount of time needed to play it whether that be two minutes or two hours.  What is not counted in the performance time consists of the many hours of practice time and study time as well countless music lessons over the years.

The same comparison can be made to the artist.  The artist worked as long as necessary on the painting to bring it to a conclusion.  This "conclusion" is a bit more ambiguous as the artist is not subject to a specific number of notes or refrains.

While there may be a few who can pick up a brush with no training or experience and produce an acceptable artwork, most artists practice, study, take lessons, paint and then repeat.   Every painting reflects the work that the artist has accomplished in previous works.

Here is my"Tale of Two Paintings"

Weather forecasters predicted 80's a couple Tuesdays ago and noted that this was probably going to be the warmest day for quite some time.

The clear skies and late fall color rewarded us immediately for "playing hooky" from our daily chores and obligations.  Mary Anne and I chose a location just down the road from the house.

I set up not far from the road so I could get a view of the large tree with the intense red foliage behind it.   A light blue painted canvas seemed to be the right choice.

 Here the painting is nearly complete.  The lower section was re-done as I had to make a decision on how to handle the shadows which had changed significantly during the two plus hours that I had been working.

After heading home and tweaking the painting in a few places, it was framed and promptly added to  the new display at Salem Terrace at Harrogate in Salem, VA.

The total time spent on this work was not as much as other works.  As a plein air painting it was all about the experience of the morning: the warmth, light, colors and enjoyment.

Last Warm Day of the Season (plein air)
by Judith Flynn Lochbrunner
lower right on wall

The second painting has a much different approach and working time.  

Because of the difficulty of painting not one but two portraits in a single work, I chose to begin the work during Vera Dickerson's portrait class at the Studio School in Roanoke, VA.   This was going to be a great opportunity to really challenge myself as well as to create a very special birthday present.   I hoped to learn as much as possible from this painting and then to apply that knowledge and practice to other artwork.

The portrait began with lots of drawing.   I chose to enlarge the photo and by using a grid I was able to create an accurate drawing of mother and baby.  This drawing was transferred to a panel.  I then added collage to the background around the two heads to add something unexpected.

Then I began painting layers and layers and even more layers working up the forms and colors.  Balancing the warm and cool skin colors was a constant challenge.  And always going back to the drawing and correcting any flaws and reworking the area.   Checking my values to a black and white copy was also helpful. 

And unlike the first painting, this one took a many, many, many hours.  And when I did work on this painting I allowed bigger blocks of time.  I divided my time between working in specific sections and working all around the work.  

This painting was all about learning from the challenge of painting two portraits (including baby Matt).  It was important to me to create portraits that are a good likeness, have beautiful warm and cool skin colors and lastly, provide something unexpected for the viewers.  I did not want to create the "usual" mother and child portrait.

According to Kate, Matt seemed fascinated by the portrait.  I think that means it is successful.  Do not think that I could ask for a better compliment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

7 Steps to Create a New Art Display

Moonlight Bouquet
by Judith F Lochbrunner
18 inches by 18 inches

Many steps or tasks are completed before an art display goes up in a gallery or storefront.  

1. The art must be created.  Future blogs will discuss the how-tos of this subject in detail.

2.  The art must be completed.  There is an old adage that it takes two people to create an artwork.  The first person does the creating while the second person tells the artist when to stop.   I tend to stop working on a painting when it is 85% (or so) complete and then let it hang in the studio for a few days or weeks or until I think of a way to finish it.

In the photo above I have taken over the sunroom to allow the varnish to dry on several paintings. 

3.  The art must be protected.  This is the best time to photograph the painting for my records and for promotion.  A protective coating or vanish is then applied.  Depending on the media, I use a variety of acrylic varnishes.  

4.  The art must be readied for display.  The work will be framed or the edges will be painted to "finish" if it is a gallery wrap canvas.  Wire for hanging, backing to protect the back of the work from dust and a label are all added.  The label also serves as my certificate of authenticity as it always has my signature.

No sleeping allowed in the guest bed when it becomes a staging place 
while I complete the inventory for an art display

5.  The art must be inventoried.  I use a spread sheet on my computer to keep track of all artwork.  The spreadsheet contains the title, size, media, price, gallery, date sold, commission paid, final sales price, sales tax information and shipping costs.  

6.  The art must be delivered.  The art is packed for safe transport in boxes and then delivered with a written inventory for the gallery or shop.  This allows the staff member to use it as a checklist to confirm the number of pieces as well as titles, sizes, media, and prices.

7.  The art is finally displayed.  Depending on the location this is sometimes completed by the artist.  In those locations I come prepared with labels, tools, hangers, nails, ladder or whatever will be helpful.

Here is my completed art display hung at 2nd Helpings Gallery in Roanoke today for everyone to enjoy and perhaps add to your wish list.

This year do your holiday shopping as well as entertain your out-of-town friends and family at 2nd Helpings.   Original art, crafts, jewelry and more plus a high-end thrift store with  sandwiches and treats at the cafe are all in one place. 

2nd Helpings at 1502 Williamson Rd in Roanoke 
is located 2 blocks north of the Roanoke Civic Center off of 460 E from I-581.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Art Technique for Works on Plaster

My last post on September 30, 2014 showcased two new works including the first of the "September at Snow Canyon" series.  The first three works of the series are now on display at Goose Creek Studio.

September at Snow Canyon
Mixed Media on Board
12 x 12 inches
by Judith F Lochbrunner

Today I will try to explain the process of creating a plaster-on-burlap surface in photos and a few short paragraphs.

I have tried to document the steps in a new (to me) technique using plaster on burlap.  This is by no means intended to be a complete discussion as sometimes I got so involved that I forget to stop and take a photo.  My hope is that it is enough to allow you to get a better idea of the process.

Step one is to gesso the wooden boxes.  I use at least three coats and then sanded them down. A strong support like wood is required for this technique.

Step two is first cutting the burlap to the size of your surface.  Any excess can be trimmed later.  No photos were taken of mixing the plaster and then pushing it into the burlap with a stiff spatula as it was so messy.  Notice that I am working on a couple plastic bags outside.   Allow the plaster to dry completely or when it no longer feels cool to the touch.   Roll up the plaster-covered burlap to create more cracks to add even more texture.  Finally, allow any extra plaster to dry and dispose in the trash.

Step three is gluing the plaster covered burlap onto the support.  I used PVA glue.  Cover the back of the burlap with glue and press firmly to attach.  Move it inside or under cover.  Then turn it upside down and place a heavy weight on it.   Leave the weight in place for at least 24-36 hours.

Step four requires a move back outside as the plaster covered burlap is very dusty.  A base color is applied with acrylic paint.  I watered the paint down to get it to completely cover and sink into the gaps.  Allow to completely dry.

Step five is a the very messy job of sanding.  Use a dust mask if necessary and sand the surface.  A good sanding by hand removes the excess plaster and dust to prepare it for the studio.

In the studio I applied preliminary layers of paint. The paint soaks into the plaster.  When the basic design is set, a layer of acrylic gel is brushed on to seal the surface.  This allows the final details to be added to complete the work.

I continue to work on this series.  Three more works are now on the work table in the studio.  

And I have the "assistance" of the kitties as I explore this new art technique.

Many thanks to Stephanie Lee and Judy Wise, authors of Plaster Studio  and to Vera Dickerson's class  at The Studio School  for guidance on how to proceed with this technique.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2 Paintings; 2 Color Palettes

As promised in my last post on September 17, 2014, I have been working with various color palettes.  The first work represents a typical "green" palette that I use for plein air in our part of Virginia.  I was able to utilize a warm golden glow in the lower right as some of the grasses had already turned yellow in the last days of summer.  That color and the warm brown of the cabin helped balance the cool greens and blues of the foliage.

Douthat (State Park) Cabin in the Woods
plein air acrylic on painted paper
12 x 12 inches
by Judith F. Lochbrunner

The second work represents the start of a new series inspired by Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.  This incredible landscape can only be expressed by using a different color palette.  I chose to work this series using plaster covered burlap attached to a wooden cradle.   That surface allowed the golden  ochres, turquoise, and burnt reds to cover the plaster as well as to sink into the burlap.

September at Snow Canyon #1
mixed media on board
12 x 12 inches
by Judith F. Lochbrunner

The "Douthat Cabin in the Woods" will be part of the art show at Ikenberry Orchard in Daleville, Va. 
Along with the other Double Line Painters of the Blue Ridge  I will set up on the covered porch from 9 AM- 3 PM.  A portion of all sales will benefit the Lord Botetourt High School FFA.  

Come for the fresh apples, pumpkins, baked goods and art!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Change the Color Palette; Change Your Space

We all have our favorite colors that always draw us to when shopping, sightseeing or even reading magazine.   Artists too have their favorite colors in paint, glazes, tile or whatever media is chosen.

Living here in Western Virginia we have lots and lots and lots of greens!  It can be a real challenge when doing plein air to capture all of the shades of green.  Most artists learn to balance the cool color green with warmer colors and warm lights.

A recent trip out West served as a good opportunity to "learn" a new color palette.  Although the areas we visited had recently had good rains as indicated by the extraordinary wildflowers, the colors of the rocky canyons still dominated.   Reds, purples, ochres, grey-blues and sunbleached yellows formed the background.

The color green looks very different surrounded by the many other greens here in Western Virginia than it does in the western canyons of Arizona and Utah.

So how does this relate to designing your space?  By changing the colors around a color a new look or palette is created.   Think about pairing that favorite color with a new color.  For example if you currently have cool greens and blues, drop the cool blue for a rusty red or an ochre.   This can be as subtle as adding accent pillows or as dramatic as adding a new work of art.

And for me as an artist, I will be pairing some of my favorite colors with colors from the western canyons in my next series of mixed media paintings.  I can't wait to get started!  Look for a progress report in my next post.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Enrich Your Daily Life with Just One Addition

All Aflutter
Mixed Media on Canvas
by Judith F Lochbrunner

The change of seasons provides the incentive to make personal changes: eat healthier, get more sleep or sign-up for an on-line class.   All are excellent but don't overlook  making a change to the space that surrounds you.

Is your space large, tiny, or somewhere in between?    Adding chairs, tables,  beds and such make it function.   But, what have you added to make the space to reflect your personality, inspire your spirit, and enrich your daily routine?

Original art can complete your space and fill your life.   It all begins with one piece of art.  Consider adding just one work this season.   It can be big or it can be small but add something to the wall above your dining table or to the shelf above your bed or anywhere in your space where you spend time.

Set you budget (art comes in all price ranges) and begin the search in your local community.    Art galleries, art fairs, school art departments, and art exhibits in public spaces are all excellent locations to explore.  Be open to all types of art as you may be surprised with your preferences.

Once you have your "short-list",  narrow your decision by checking the portfolio of additional art by the artist, doing an on-line search and contacting the gallery or artist with any questions.  Often art can be taken home to see exactly how it looks in your space before the sale is complete.

Your search is truly a treasure hunt so enjoy the process.  The reward will be a work of art that you treasure for years to come.

This season enrich your life with just one work of art.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

6 Reasons Why Art Does Not Have To Match the Sofa

Clutter on Top 
acrylic on canvas
by Judith F Lochbrunner

6  Reasons Why Art Does Not Have to Match the Sofa

The old rule that the art on your walls (or sculpture on display) needs to match the sofa is just that, old and outdated.  Welcome to the freedom to choose.  

While sofas, loveseats and chairs serve basic functions providing seating and comfort.  Choosing furniture often depends on room size and hallway limitations.   Can the sofa be carried up stairs, through the hallways, or even fit in the elevator?   The result is a furniture selection that simply practical; it is not your style.

1. Art comes in any size, shape and assembly.  Art installations composed of muli-piece works can be installed in any wall space or even from the ceiling.  It is a practical choice to fill your space.

2. Art creates unique spaces.  While all the condos in the building or houses on the block have the same floor plan, art creates exciting spaces.  Similar floor plans will create similar furniture selections but the art selection is totally individual.  No one else will have the same selection of shapes, sizes and media on display. 

3. Art makes you happy or fulfilled or engages your emotions.   Art can fulfill whatever emotion you wish.  While sofas can be comfortable, art goes beyond comfortable to make you feel contentment and peace.  Conversely while an uncomfortable sofa is not welcome, art that explores social issues may be exactly what brings fulfillment to your space.   Your space is your space and art can make it  what you want. 

4. Art can fit all budgets.  Yes, art can be an investment if you choose to pursue that direction.  However, all art choices need to "speak" to you.  If it makes you happy, fulfilled, peaceful, emotional and the list goes on, trust your judgement and choose it. You can assemble a great collection on a small budget.  Start in your community with local art.  Check my last blog on the secret designers use for more details.

And if you are not convinced from my discussion,  here are two additional posts to this debate.

5.  Need to hear this same message from an art gallery professional?  Cat Weaver writes On Art, the Ottoman, the Sofa and the Drapes.

6. Finally this passionate and lovely post in Art Designs by Sandy It's True Art Does Not Have to Match the Sofa says it all in words and photos.

But if you still feel the need to match your sofa, maybe this is the link for you: how to spray paint your sofa.  

Banish bland.  Create beautiful spaces with mixed media art by Judih F Lochbrunner at StoneCoalStudio.   Want more ideas?  Follow StoneCoalStudio on this blog, Facebook or at   

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Secret Designer's Use to Create Beautiful Spaces

South African Gem
acrylic on board, 20 by 16 inches
by Judith F Lochbrunner

The beautifully designed rooms of the rich and famous all have one element in common:
 original art.

So what does this have to do with anyone who is not rich and/or famous?

The secret interior designers know is that original art does not need to be high-priced or from an exotic location.  Original art can be found locally at reasonable prices AND still deliver the same impact, beauty or statement.

Start local.

Art galleries, frame shops and public exhibit spaces in community museums, libraries, and city halls are all excellent places to begin your search.   Note the names of the artists of work that intrigues you.  A quick internet search may yield more information and images of art by that artist.

Art fairs, festivals, and "Art Walks" or open houses organized by local art organizations are an easy way to visit many artists and view much art in a short period of time.   Gather business cards or continue to note websites on your smart phone.

Local colleges and university art programs typically offer art sales once or twice a year.  Check out their calendars online.

Follow up local leads.

Once the research is finished, contact the local art venue or the artist directly and ask questions and to see additional artwork.  Is framing available?  Can the artist do the installation?  What are the payment options: single payment or multiple payments?  Can the artwork can be taken "on approval" to see how it looks/works in the room?

Shop local.

Even when the selection and sale are complete, there still is a personal connection.  Your art is from a community that knows you by name, values your interest and appreciates your support.

And as noted at the top of this blog, your original art brings beauty, character and emotion to your room or space.  

What more could you ask?

If you enjoyed this blog, pass along to a friend, sign-up to receive this blog via e-mail or follow on Facebook.   Thanks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bundling Saves Time

As with any project with multiple steps it saves time to set up an assembly line.  Here I placed the wooden art cradles on the rock wall to gesso and dry in the sun.

Saving time is also the reason why I have re-started the StoneCoalStudio Facebook page.  The Facebook page will provide timely updates and useful links.  Please go to the link on the side of this blog and "Like" the StoneCoalStudio page; it is a little lonely.   Thank you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Organize that Closet for Your Canvas Stash

Even though the spare bedroom has become an art studio, the closet is still set up to accommodate hanging clothes and storing a few sweaters and such.    The bottom of the closet had typically been covered with boxes of canvas in various sizes.   While they were accessible, it was not easy to plan and find a specific canvas.

On a trip to the thrift store (2nd Helpings in Roanoke) last week I found this computer desk.  The simple clean (straight) legs make a perfect holder for canvas.  And yes, they are assorted by size with pieces of cardboard as dividers.  The top of the desk holds stacks of smaller canvas.  And the old keyboard tray holds my references for the works currently underway.  

No more wasting time searching and more time for making art.   

Check out all the thrift stores operated by the Rescue Mission.  
You may find what you need to be better organized too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Clutter Abstracted

"Clutter on Top"
acrylic on canvas
by Judith F Lochbrunner

Who ever thought that clutter could be inspiration for an abstract painting?  Learning to see possibilities is just one result of working with a group of artists at an art workshop.  This painting is another inspired by the workshop last month at Sunset River Marketplace with Sterling Edwards

This work is now for sale at 2nd Helpings Gallery in Roanoke along with 4 other new paintings.  Plan to stop by to see the art, eat at the cafe or find a treasure at the thrift store.  It is a unique shopping (and eating) experience.

And if you are in the area on Thursday, July 17 come by the gallery to see the Double Line Painters of the Blue Ridge work on our group entry for the upcoming Barns of Bedford Art Show in September.  

You may be surprised!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cloisonne Knock-Off, Modern Method for an Ancient Art

Cloisonne Knock-Off Vase
by Judith F Lochbrunner
mixed media on canvas
listed today at on Etsy at StoneCoalStudio

This little artwork (measures 8 by 8 inches) uses many types of acrylic inks, gels and paint to recreate  the "feel" of the ancient art of Cloisonne.  I call it a "knock-off" as it plays with this traditional art by using an abstract approach.  

Here is a close-up of the texture and colors.  The glow of the acrylic inks on the black of the vase-shapes is unexpected.

If you live in the Roanoke, VA area you can see other paintings in this series on display this Saturday (July 12, 2014) at Ikenberry Orchards in Daleville.  The Double Line Painters of the Blue Ridge will set up an art show on the porch from 9 AM until nearly 3 PM.  A portion of the proceeds from the art sales will benefit the Lord Botetourt High School FFA.  We will be painting as well that day so plan to stop by to see us.

 And it is peach season and we can't wait to get some of the delicious home-grown peaches too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

RVSPCA Best In Show 2014

Best in Show
An exhibit of animal art by local artists to benefit the Roanoke Valley SPCA.

Friday evening, February 21, 2014
6:30-9:00 PM
in the Atrium of the Taubman Museum of Art,
Roanoke, VA

Admission $5 / Children 12 and under $1

This year I have two entries for the show which I call faux block prints.  I have been experimenting with adding block printed elements to my mixed media pieces using water-soluble inks and acrylic paint. 

Title:  “Reach for the Star”
Faux Block Print
by Judith F Lochbrunner

Tremolo the kitty and Cider the rabbit are now house-mates (and former residents of the RVSPCA) at my daughter’s home.   Although they may not see Mill Mountain and the Star from their home, you can imagine them seeing the night sky from the bedroom window and realizing their dream of a “furever” home has come true.

Title: “Tip Toe Through the Tulips?”
Faux Block Print
by Judith F Lochbrunner

Anyone who has ever owned a yellow or ginger-colored cat knows to expect a dominant personality.  Ginny cat (short for Virginia Cat) is no exception.  She simply does what she pleases and will plop down wherever she chooses.

This work is based on one of my favorite oil paintings that I painted several years ago that still hangs in my home.   I decided to take the subject matter and use different art materials and techniques.  And of course, our Ginny Cat was the model.

Plan to attend the most festive and fun art event of the year.  And if you can't make it to the event,  you can still view and purchase paintings on-line through the end of March.   The animals at the RVSPCA will thank you!