acrylic textures

Early Spring Musings

Sometimes I just want to look at the blossoms and not remember the storms that brought us here. Look at the green and the lacy morning dew and imagine that this world is mine, as is, right now. Not just in process and needing to be weeded. Not because it all will soon enough disappear, torched by summer’s draught. But just because it is right now. . .mine.


acrylic textures (molding pastes), acrylic inks and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

It is apple blossom season here in Sonoma County. You don’t want to blink and miss it! You don’t want to miss the butterflies fluttering through the garden, drinking apple blossom nectar, mating, and laying eggs on the pipevine. Gardening is a great excuse to be outside with hands in the dirt, and art making gravitates always to these spring colors and forms.

In Muse group we were playing with a wide variety of texture making tools and many of the acrylic mediums now on the market, from molding paste and crackle paste to gels with clear flakes and pumice. You could spend a fortune in the art store gathering up the various mediums to get texture. It’s what happens when you put fluid paint over them that excites me.

I’ll be teaching a weekend mixed media workshop June 24 and 25 where we’ll be using textures like these to achieve the light casting sparkle of Patina!  For more information and to register please visit my website.



inks, gesso, pencil, and collage on canvas 24″ X 24″

A continuation of my contemplation of the Japanese esthetic of wabi sabi that treasures the passage of time and a sense of impermanence. I was going for the patina of rustic, aged surfaces, and in the process called forth an image which honors the natural cycle of birth and death.

Where do images come from? There is an obvious answer when I am out sketching people and events, doing the pictorial storytelling or reportage which I’ve come to love so much. But when I explore the surface of the canvas, and something appears, I find that I am at a loss to answer. The painted surface has its own life then.

There is always some thread I can follow back to the circumstances of my life at the moment. I have this spring been witnessing the colorful life cycle of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly in my studio garden. And in the past two weeks I have lost count of the number of people known to me who have passed. It gives one pause, and that gives one paintings I suppose.

Later this month,June 25, 26,  I’ll be teaching a weekend workshop: Mixed Media Painting: The Visual Poetry of Wabi Sabi  at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. We will be accessing this rich esthetic with mixed media painting techniques, poetry, meditation and writing.  There is still space if you want to come! For more information or to register, please visit my website.

Mixed Media Painting Workshop

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There’s still some space in my weekend workshop coming up in 1 1/2 weeks at the lovely Firehouse Art Center in Pleasanton, CA.  I’m particularly excited about sharing some discoveries about getting that “patina” glow in paintings.  To find out more and register please visit the Pleasanton Art League’s website.

Gold in my veins

Thank you for hanging in there with me as I’ve shared the (one month) Assisi adventure for the past two months!

Meanwhile in the month of October, my Artful Muse classes have resumed along with new event sketch-ventures, and a new series of paintings is being birthed.  Lots to get caught up on here!

But first, people have been asking me how the residency has effected my art.  As yet that remains to be seen, but in the spirit of disclosure I will offer one of the themes that has been working on me.


class demo:  acrylic inks and gold paint, molding paste texture, fabric collage on w/c paper

It never comes at once but accumulates in drifts of startling recognition.

I have been here before. My feet have walked on these stones.  My hands have made their way across these marble folds and fissures.  I’ve leaned out this window to watch my lover blow me a kiss, and locked this door against invaders. 

I have been here before, and my broom has swept these cobbles, and my hands have formed loaves to slide into stone ovens.  Now when I walk these streets, the stones speak to me of all this and more.

It comes with the territory of spending time in medieval towns with their elaborate churches and golden haloed saints. It still lingers in my consciousness the desire to steal the gold and convert it into something that has meaning today. This piece was a remnant of something I painted in Italy, a playful way to digest more of the experience. The netting was something I found in the studio there and the gold paint, one of my purchases in an Italian art store.


While in Italy I confined my artmaking to my travel sketchbooks and anything that felt playful and free. Acrylic inks became my passion because I could use the dropper to draw.  Favorite colors:  Daler Rowney’s Antelope Brown, Sepia and Indigo. I would make accordian “books” with watercolor paper cut and glued together in strips, and draw from memory and imagination in ink, not stopping until the whole strip was finished.

The following piece was done after I got home, and still wanted to play with my inks.


Acrylic inks and postcard collage on w/c paper

Is it only the saints who can redeem us?  Or can we also look to the leaves that cast their own golden glow at sunset, that wend their way across our paths and into our food, and die a silent death, and come to us again as glorious buds and shoots? Are they not enough to remind us of resurrection?

. . .and find a way to weave some postcard art into the design (using an exacto knife).


One particularly playful afternoon in Italy I decided to doodle, paint and collage my way through the narrow scraps of paper left after making the wider “book”.  Using some pieces of gold leafed paper and painted netting in combination with  my gouache paints, it became a reminder of the places I’d visited – not from sketches or pictures, but imagination. My husband Bob added the beautiful book binding after I got home.


Next: a month of sketches around town – rose garden and tea leaves and music, Healdsburg plaza, and “Capturing Chaos” with Suhita at the Sausalito Ferry!



“Fecundus”, acrylic textures, fluid acrylics, phone book “hair”, 14″ X 18″ on canvas

This painting was one of my demos in the Experimental Painting workshop I taught last month at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (CA).  I finally had a chance to finish it yesterday.  It’s not so hard to demonstrate these mixed media techniques, like creating textures with acrylic mediums and glazing over them.  The difficult part is finishing the painting, since my style is to take it step by step and wait for the painting to tell me what it wants.  (That’s right, I listen for the faint whisper to come from the paper and spend a great deal of time staring and waiting for the slightest rustling!)

 I started out with the idea of nests and eggs, a common theme for me.  My studio is decorated with real birds’ nests in every corner, and they are all collages of great intricacy and beauty which I try to emulate. Acrylics and collage are such perfect media for this.  My “eggs” here are round because they may also be the fruits or vegetables of harvest. I want them to elicit the sensation of “fecundus” (Latin for fruitfulness) which is my feeling about the act of painting itself.

The Experimental Acrylic and Mixed Media Painting Workshop was so popular that I’ve scheduled another one at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts for January 23-25, 2015.  It will be posted soon and you can sign up by calling the Center.

Wear It or Ride It

I’m woefully behind on posting!  So I’ll be playing a bit of catch up, because the art keeps happening regardless. My Experimental Acrylic and Mixed Media Painting Workshop at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts was over a week ago. Students came from as close as Sebastopol and as far as Little Rock, Arkansas and the creative sparks were flying!


We started out with warm ups and getting the paint on in expressive ways involving squirting, splattering, scraping, finger smooshing, oh and a bit of brush painting as well.


Demo: acrylic inks and gesso on w/c paper, 10 x 10″

The title of this little piece is Wear It or Ride it, though I didn’t see the figure until I looked at the picture I’d taken.

We went on to create ground textures with acrylic mediums and papers. Then, paying attention to design and color factors,we developed the textured beginning by glazing with acrylics.

Free Demo

Join me next Friday afternoon at Rileystreet Art Supply, 103 Maxwell Court, Santa Rosa, CA for a demonstration I’m doing.  It’s free, but make sure you register. Here’s the scoop!

Acrylic Glazing With Textures
Presenter: Susan Cornelis
Friday, November 22

Oh, the variety of fun textures you can achieve with any of the acrylic gels, pastes or gessos! You will feel emboldened when you see fluid acrylics and inks mixing and settling into the textural designs in surprising ways.

Debossing, embossing, decalcomania and other textures will be demonstrated and combined with glazes of fluid acrylics and inks for dramatic effect. Stencils, stamps, color shapers and some household items will be employed! Hopefully you’ll go home and be inspired to find your own texture making tools.

Susan Cornelis is a mixed media painter and popular workshop teacher with a studio in Sebastopol. Visit her gallery at For information about her workshops, newsletters and videos 

To register, please contact Rileystreet Art at: (707) 526-2416