Tag Archives: acrylic painting

Beaver Lake

The last time I visited Beaver Lake Nature Center, I think I was about seven years old. I saw an upside down tree while on a school field trip and I couldn’t wait to tell my dad about it. We took a family trip there that weekend and when I pointed out the tree – it turned out to be an uprooted one.

At the time, I felt stupid. But now the part of this story that I truly love is that Dad wanted to experience the hike with me. I felt like he was with me when I placed these angels on the trails. I always feel like he is with me when I am hiking, but, well, you know.

The trails felt vaguely familiar. They have different names – back in 1970 they were called Trail 1, trail 2, etc. And I didn’t remember the fabulous visitor’s center complete with a shop, a library, a museum and restrooms.

Beaver Lake Nature Center is located at 8477 E. Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville, New York 13027. There is a $5.00 fee, which you pay upon exiting the park.

You can hike or jog several trails of various lengths. But no biking. It is incredibly serene with pine woods, old growth areas, a swamp trail and others that overlook the lake. I saw several deer milling about and tons of squirrels chirping like cray-cray.

They open tomorrow at 7:30 am. The park closes at dark (5:00 pm).

P.S. There is a guided tour with a naturalist scheduled for 2:00-3:00 pm on Saturday, December 3, 2022. Free with park admission.

Kline-Dine Tash Mash

I call this project the Kline-Dine Tash Mash.

First I shared information about Franz Kline. He created large scale black and white paintings. These paintings resembled Chinese Calligraphy.

My students looked at Chinese Calligraphy resource pictures. They used black oil pastels to draw lines on a 12′ x 12″ canvas that were influenced by the Chinese characters.

Next, they added white acrylic paint using sweeping brushstrokes with a 1″ flat brush. They were encouraged to occasionally crash into the oil pastel to create some gray areas.

In the following class, they placed black acrylic paint over the black lines allowing some of the texture of the oil pastel to remain on the surface.

Jim Dine was next. We looked at his heart paintings. I gave them another canvas – a 4″ x 4″ one. They created heart stencils, traced them onto this smaller canvas then painted the canvas – either white heart with black background or black heart on white background.

Students then used colorful oil pastels on the heart and its background.

I had them choose a wood block, glue it to the back of the smaller canvas then adhere it to the center of the larger one.

I call it a Tash Mash because it is a mash-up of Kline and Dine but I use the heart motif in many of my own paintings as well, and I utilize the wood riser technique when mounting my encaustic paintings onto chalkboard painted masonite boards. And I invented the lesson.

I’m thinking about doing a series of encaustics in this style. Thank you, Franz Kline and Jim Dine for your contributions to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, respectively, and for having names that rhyme.

The Italian Still-Life

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My Studio in Art students recently completed these still-life paintings based on photographs I took last year at Vince’s Gourmet Imports (440 S. Main Street, North Syracuse, New York 13212).



I have paired them here with the resource picture.  Contour line drawings made on white drawing paper were transferred to canvas panel via the magic of graphite paper.  Then students used acrylic paint.  They had their own palettes and mixed colors by adding white and raw sienna to every hue, which gives the paintings a sense of unity (the colors “go” together).  I encouraged them to maintain their own styles.  This included the option of outlining in black, consistent brush work, removing or adding text, and creating a different background.



They are 8th graders taking this high-school level course for high school credit and the opportunity to take upper level art electives next year.  We have one quarter left of the school year – I have plans for two more lessons to complete course work off-campus if necessary.  The Chittenango Central School District is temporarily closing on Tuesday with an indefinite return date at this time.


























Mandala Man


Ken Nichols‘ mandala paintings have been on display in the Chittenango Middle School library since the end of November 2016.  They are coming down on Monday.  Ken is a painter and a potter, a Syracuse artist who believes in the passion of creation.







He uses Golden Artist acrylic paints.  He begins by painting the surface of the canvas black then uses an intuitive process to shape the composition relying on color to forge a path of rhythm throughout.  The result is vibrant and fun abstracts that keep the viewer hypnotized in his psychedelic vortex.





Ken spoke to students during a 10th period art reception in December.  He had them mesmerized!  I have a short video at the bottom of this post.  It is always a win-win for students to meet artists.  A mutual admiration society of positive energy that transcends age and time.  Belief in yourself is always the message.  Taking pride in what your hand can manufacture.  Art for art’s sake and for peace of mind.  Really good conversation.


Check out more about Ken Nichols by visiting his web-site here.