CheeseboxIn university, I took several fine art courses. All of these were studio courses requiring textbooks.

Decades later, I still have most of these textbooks and I love exploring the images on these pages. How things have changed! But the one constant from the 70s to today seems to be repeat pattern, particularly repeat pattern for surface design.

I recently visited a quilt show with my wife where vendors displayed bolts of fabric. And when I explored the fabric designs, particularly the imported fabric designs, so much of what I saw is still inspired by the designs I grew up with.

So I’ve gone back to my early textbooks for inspiration. I plan on incorporating repeat surface pattern with contemporary, graphic designs on any surface I can find!

This design is an exercise in repeat pattern using acrylics, graphite and acrylic ink on a 12” diameter cheese box. The background is painted with alternating layers of drybrushed paint (oranges and yellows) sandwiched between layers of gloss gel medium to add both texture and depth.

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After I layered the bright oranges and yellows I decided I wanted a softer spring look so I mixed a little blue and yellow with white gesso, brushed it over the entire surface and wiped back with a slightly damp shop towel to expose some of the color below. To break up the expanse of soft green on the box I painted the rim a pale blue.

Since I wanted a spring feel, I loosely painted tulips using a round brush from white through yellow to a deep orange and leaves of mixed greens with touches of orange and pale blue.

The rim pattern was inspired by a design in one of my textbooks of an Indonesian textile. I used Liquitex acrylic ink in black and a nib pen to create the design then added touches of orange from the background palette to punch up the look.

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Then I covered the top of the lid and the bottom of the box with Tri-Art dry media ground. When the medium dried I used a graphite pencil (HB) to loosely outline the leaves, flowers and to add the circles and lines on the bottom of the box.

To preserve the graphite, I carefully spread a layer of gloss gel medium over the entire cheese box, let it dry, and then topped with a couple of coats of a matte varnish for protection.