Painting Beyond the Canvas

Sometimes thinking out of the box means painting a box! (sorry for that.) But really, painting small wooden boxes (like cigar boxes) can be a fun departure from the everyday canvas or panel. In fact, painting on a box is basically the same as painting on the latter, only the end result is something that you can put stuff in!

I originally fell in love with the idea when I saw these painted boxes Wayne Thiebaud did as gifts for his wife:

Thiebaud-Ice-Cream-Cone Cigar Box


I just knew I had to do some for myself. Being cheap, I opted for the cigar box option. All I needed was my painting materials and some painters tape to cleanly section off the area for the image:

Lips Cigar Box2_Megan Koth (1000x791)

Lips Cigar Box_MeganKoth (1000x784)


I don’t know what I’m gonna put in here yet, but I feel like it should be something dirty. Like vibrators.



Steps to a Painting: Ocarina of Time


One of the first gaming systems I ever played as a kid was an N64. My sister and I would battle each other at Super Smash Bros, or take turns playing Super Mario 64, but the first game I can remember being completely engrossed by is Ocarina of Time.

The music! The adventure! The battle against good and evil! I loved it. It was the first real adventure game I ever played, with a huge, highly complex and detailed world for me to explore. I talked to every villager, explored every corner, and did every side mission. And of course, I learned every song.

Link playing ocarina

I went on to play many Zelda games that followed, but I’ll always have a special brand of nostalgic love for Ocarina of Time. Because of this, I’ve built up a small collection of antique ocarinas. My prized one is, of course, a blue one with gold accents that most closely resembles what a real-life Ocarina of Time may look like. I decided to do a fun, quick little painting of it, and here are my results:

Ocarina_MeganKoth (1000x783)

Ocarina by Megan Koth, Acrylic on Canvas, 13×11″ . Prints, tees, and more of this HERE!

I’m currently decompressing after graduating with my BFA, so I just needed to paint something fluffy and fun. Having the ability to create cool stuff to decorate your walls can be pretty awesome, I realize!

*Prints and more available on my new Redbubble store! 

Liquitex Glass Beads Medium

Glass Beads Medium banner

Recently I wanted to try out a new gel medium to experiment with, and decided on Liquitex Glass Beads Texture Gel.

Liquitex Glass Beads composite

Unfortunately, one of the first things I noticed upon using it is that it’s a bit difficult to control. I had a hard time trying to spread it evenly with a brush, as the beads started to collect in clumps, and using a palette knife means that the gel will collect in the space between the beads, losing some of the texture. However, I’ve found that spraying it with some water after using a palette knife is the best way to go (also, you have to remember that the gel will shrink when it dries.) The end result was a pretty cool texture:

009 (500x366)

I’m sure if you wanted you could save some money by just buying some gel medium and mixing in some glass beads (or really, anything you wanted), but this medium isn’t really expensive anyways. I think this is sort of a “love-it or hate-it” kind of product, as it’s not really versatile. So, if this particular texture doesn’t intrigue you, there’s really nothing else you can do with the product. I for one can’t wait for this texture to make an appearance in some future paintings!

Coming Into Focus

Lately, I’ve gotten back into the groove of working more abstractly. I tend to move in waves- I eventually get a bit bored of doing abstraction so I move to more representational work, then the cycle starts again. I’m starting to use less of the liquid acrylics and more paint of tube consistency, keeping my brushstrokes more distinct.

Lake by Megan Koth. Acrylic on Canvas

I’m also becoming even more conscious of color in my abstractions. I can even see a bit of a continuation of my desserts series in my new favor for “yummy” looking colors here.

Pink by Megan Koth. Acrylic on Canvas

I still haven’t completely abandoned my love for working with liquid acrylic and getting those kinds of effects, but I can see my starting to apply paint more thickly as a sign that I’m getting more confident in my mark making. Slowly (very slowly) building up form and color using watered-down acrylic can sometimes be a kind of crutch for avoiding bold, distinct marks. Now, I feel like I’m starting to blend the two techniques together, and am starting to get really excited about working non-objectively again!

Revisiting Old Experiments

Last year I didn’t do a whole lot of my usual acrylic painting (my dorm room being so small and all) and started to experiment with watercolor. I took a watercolor class, and continued to do some little doodles in my spare time just at my desk (really the only surface in my tiny dorm.) I saved the small doodles I did, and recently dug them up and began working back into them not with watercolor, but with acrylic.

I already use watered down acrylic in a lot of my works, but using this same medium on paper is interesting (and entirely different.) I quite like watercolor, and it really takes me out of my comfort zone of working on a canvas and getting that immediate payoff of acrylic/oil paint. Working on such an absorbent surface is an interesting change of pace.

Most of the painting here was done in watercolor, and I added the orange dots (and a little more orangey-ness) with acrylic. I also added the dark blue lines with acrylic using a needle-tip bottle, and painted in the green bars. I like the mixture of the wispyness of watercolor combined with the crisp sharpness of acrylic. Working in mixed media opens so many possibilities! Revisiting old sketches and doodles can be really rewarding. Sometimes we do our best work when we’re not even in “work” mode, and just let our mind wander onto the page.

Liquitex String Gel Medium

Recently I purchased This because I had a coupon and felt like trying out a new gel medium. I’m not really a huge fan of liquitex as a brand (I prefer golden), but I must say, I’m happy with my purchase! There are some drawbacks, but I’d recommend that any mixed media artist add this to their inventory.

I’d always struggled with trying to use ordinary gel medium to make clean, thin lines of texture. Obviously, it never really worked out. Instead, I just settled with my needle tipped bottle, where I could make these clean lines with liquid pigment, but they weren’t textured. Well, my conundrum was solved with this string gel.

Like the description says, the gel has the consistency of syrup or honey- distinctly different from any ordinary gel medium. It creates strings very easily, just from dipping a palette knife or paintbrush into the bottle.

You can make some really cool, intricate textures pretty easily! It’s fun to use, and all I really have to worry about at this point is not over using it. I don’t want my work to look like some string gel gimmick.

The only issue I’ve run into is when pigment or paint is mixed with the gel to give it some color. I wouldn’t recommend that paint be mixed with it (unless you don’t care about making strings), as it really ruins the texture of the gel, and the “strings” won’t come as easily. However, I’ve found that when you use fluid acrylics, it works a lot more effectively (since fluid acrylics have far less of a “binder” and are more pure in pigmentation.) The only thing I don’t like about this is that you can’t just make a small batch of colored gel, you have to use quite a bit so that you have a big enough glob to produce the strings. Since I’m so stingy with art supplies, this can be a bit difficult for me, but I’ll get over it. I can’t wait to incorporate this gel more into my work!

My Painting System

Every artist has some sort of system by which they produce their own work. Over time, they have no doubt honed in on their own unique way of doing things- in addition to classical (or not so classical) techniques and teachings, of course. After all, a painting is, at the end of the day, just a buildup of any number of layers of paint. How one applies said layers is a matter of preference.

My acrylic non-objective work is very much the result of a buildup of layer upon layer of watered-down pigment. It takes a long time to arrive at the effect that I want and I have my own system for doing so, which mainly involves me having to wait for (many) paint puddles to dry.

This is a painting I’m currently working on. I’ve already textured the surface- which is always my first step- with some gel medium. I always have a few paintings going, and this actually was an old painting I decided to work back into. Usually, my next step is to mix a color and really water it down- and simply pour it on the canvas:

I usually use a brush or other instrument to manipulate where the paint pools- I often also use a spray bottle to spread it around, or even just tip the canvas and see what happens. I like this spontaneity that water media affords. Sometimes, to get the pigment to really pool in a specific place/pattern, I’ll lay objects in the pool of paint:

In this case, I had a spool of wire handy, so I decided to lay it in the pigment! You can probably tell that I already did it in the upper portion with some  orange paint.

And then, I wait! Waiting for a painting like this to dry takes a while, simply because of the high volume of water. However, since I have multiple paintings going at one time, I can easily make sure that I’m not just sitting around watching paint dry. This painting obviously has many more layers to go- and I’ll of course eventually just work into it with regular, heavy bodied paint, but it’s well on its way!