Mademoiselle du Carnaval
12″ x 9” x 1”
acrylic & mixed media on paper over
cradled masonite panel

The aesthetic quality of fluid linear mark making, whether it be gestural lines, quick scribbles, calligraphic marks and the like, creates rhythmic flow and adds dynamic action to the overall composition in some way. To transform my working surfaces with an element of surprise, I will often employ Surrealist automatism techniques and approaches to ignite spontaneous visceral responses. I listen to instrumental music, especially scores from dramatic theatre, opera or epic film production. Working in a painterly freeform approach, I innately respond to what my senses are taking in. The pacing, movement, sequence and weight of the gestural and calligraphic mark making are all drawn from the rhythmic connection I have established with the musical stimuli. The interpretive experience of automatism painting transforms the art making process into a performance where the pictorial surface becomes a theatrical stage and the paint, medium and instruments are the dramatic actors.

In my mixed-media work entitled Mademoiselle du Carnaval, I listened to The Carnival, a circus opera by Chloé Charody and Sonja Schebeck. The ethereal sounds heightened my senses, creating a transcendent, dream-like interplay of hypnotic suggestion and imaginative expression. The song entitled Elysium was composed by Charody in 2008 and was inspired by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire. Every time I listen to the musical composition, I am so emotionally overcome by the pure beauty of the work. For me, it is about truly living and being appreciative of every moment, both good and bad. In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields are where the souls of the heroic and the virtuous go to rest.

While painting a female figure emerged as an interpretation of the real, ideal and spiritual all in one being. Her vibrant and fluid headpiece transformed into a symbolic manifestation of the young woman’s spiritual awakening. A moment of divine revelation, the mystical journey of enlightenment revealed a personal, inner vision, establishing an emotional connection with the human spirit or soul. Much like Aristotle’s concept of essence, the picture is about what the female figure is meant to be and not what can be seen on the surface with observation alone. The contrast between the external world and the inner realm plays an important, symbolic role in my works.

For me, Mademoiselle du Carnaval is more about the human spirit and the ability to find power and strength from within. Even when things all around look monumental in scope, the human spirit and ingenuity always find a way to begin anew.

To infuse movement and energy, consider using linear mark making in relief! To create a linear mark in relief, I mix up various acrylic mediums as well as gesso along with liquid acrylic in a plastic bottle with an applicator tip.

Making the mixture of acrylic gesso, matte medium and liquid acylic in an applicator bottle for opaque mark making in relief.

For an opaque mark, I will use gesso mixed with medium viscosity or liquid acrylic. You can also use matte medium mixed with acrylic. The gesso mixture will give you a more dimensional mark in the end while the matte medium mixture will shrink from its original relief shown while it is wet. If your gesso is too thick, add matte medium to thin it a bit to create the desired fluidity. DO NOT use water, as that will lose the relief effect. For translucent linear relief, I use acrylic self-leveling clear gel mixed with liquid acrylic. The clear gel holds a great mark and dries clear.

Regardless of the overall look and the level of relief that you are interested in achieving, you mix up your medium and paint in a soft plastic squeeze bottle (it must be really easy to squeeze, as this will make it easier for you to work fluidly and more naturally) with an applicator tip. Mix it up really well with a stick and try not to create too many air bubbles by shaking. The air bubbles will affect the smooth application of paint onto the surface otherwise. You can also premix your paint/medium in a cup and then pour it into the bottle.

Test the flow and make adjustments ahead of time of a separate surface.

Using scissors, cut the applicator tip to the desired width that you would like to express in line. This width as shown above is considered a medium range. You can alter the line by how close you are to the surface. The farther you are away, the more delicate the line and the closer you are the heavier the line.

Get the flow going on a separate piece of paper so that your mixture is flowing in a consistent manner. You may also want to do some practice runs to get the hang of how to alter the line. The important thing to note is to not move too slow, where you are stopping and starting, as this will contradict any kind of dynamic action you’re trying to infuse into the picture plane. You need to feel confident in working fast, allowing the mark making to simulate the process of doing a gestural drawing. When you are doing a quick gestural drawing, you are not moving slow but instead the hand moves quickly to capture the essence of the movement. This is what you are trying to achieve in relief.

Also, if you want the line to command the page, you need to move the paint off the edges of the painted surface in your movement. In other words, don’t stop short on the edge of the picture plane, as that will again hinder the overall dynamic action that you are trying to achieve.

It is important that you work on a very flat and stable working surface. Once you have created interesting marks in relief on the surface of the painting, make sure to let it dry fully for several days on top of that flat hard surface. If there is any dip in the surface plane, your linear marks may slightly move, as gravity has a way of altering things. Humidity depending, heavy relief can take up to a week to dry and fully cure.

Work in Process for a small work for Everyday Original coming up in November 2020…Stay Tuned!

If you are interested in learning more about working in relief on the painted surface or working in experimental mixed-media techniques, check out my online workshops below! If you would like to be notified for future workshops, sign up for my mail list HERE!

Instructor: Lisa L. Cyr

This video-driven workshop explores bas-relief techniques onto the painted surface. Students will have private access to four high-definition videos through online streaming. In the first video, the artist demonstrates working in various gel and fluid mediums to build texture onto the painted surface. She also shows how to employ pastes, lava gel, gel pens, matter painting and crackle texture to the dimensional surface in layers. In the second video, the artist demonstrates the sculptural application of various cloth and trim to the working surface to create a unique topography. In addition, she will show how bas-relief techniques can be used to make a custom collagraph plate for embossing watercolor paper that can later be painted in acrylics. In the third video, the artist employs assemblage accents, creates flexible accents from molds, incorporates unique sculptural details and applies custom textures onto the surfaces of a unique construct. The final video in the series demonstrates how to create unique faux finishes onto assemblage accents.

In addition to the unique video access, Live Group Chats with the artist will be conducted every other Saturday to discuss each participant’s work that has been created in relief, as a result of the insights and techniques gained from watching the videos!

Required: Computer with video and audio, access to the web and a gmail account


Saturday sessions
8 weeks: Jan 16 to March 6
Live Group Chats: 10:00am to 12:30 EST online video conferencing, every other Saturday
(4 Videos and 4 Live Chats)

I also have two other online workshops that may be of interest. Check them out!

Instructor: Lisa L. Cyr

Throughout the online class, artists will work in the comfort of their own studios on mixed-media painting and drawing projects at a pace they feel comfortable with. The instructor will provide weekly assistance and guidance through live group chats. Discussions regarding artistic growth and development, nurturing the creative spirit, developing personal content, embracing a multidisciplinary mindset and creating message-driven art will also be included as a way to assist artists on their own creative path.

In addition, this exciting online workshop will provide private access to the instructor’s Mixed Media Masterclass blog, which covers a variety of topics from professional business development and promotional strategies to studio practices, experimental and traditional painting techniques as well as a vast array of inspirational artistic resources. This online workshop is for intermediate and advanced artists.

Required: Computer with video and audio, access to the web and a gmail account


Saturday sessions
8 weeks: Jan 16 to March 6, 2021
Live Group Chats: 1:00pm to 2:30pm EST online online video conferencing

WITHIN THE LAYERS: Collage Techniques for the Mixed Media Artist (ONLINE)
Instructor: Lisa L. Cyr

In this video-driven online workshop, learn how to employ mixed-media collage techniques to enhance the painted surface. From gluing, sealing, tearing, scoring, punching, die-cutting and custom inlays to wrinkling, creasing, burning, peeling-back, stitching, weaving, embossing and debossing handmade, custom treated and machine-made papers, foils and ephemera, an exciting array of innovative collage techniques will be explored. Students will have private access to high-definition videos through online streaming. Live Group Chats will be conducted every other Saturday to discuss each participant’s work that has been created using mixed-media collage techniques.

Required: Computer with video and audio, access to the web and a gmail account


Saturday sessions
8 weeks: Jan 16 to March 6, 2021

Live Chats: 10:00am to 12:30 every other Saturday. All other dates are video-driven with blog support.    (4 Videos and 4 Live Chats)


Copyright 2020 Lisa L. Cyr, CYR STUDIO LLC