Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another Double Exposure

"Our Mother's Legacy" -  acrylic
A couple of years ago, I participated in a joint collaboration with our local camera club and area artists for what they called a Double Exposure Exhibit.  The artists selected photos from the camera club and painted their version of the photo they chose.  Then both the photos and the paintings were exhibited in the camera club gallery.

This time I'm not painting from the camera club photos but one from my professional photographer sister and we'll both show the results at an art show in her home town in Colorado in July.

We chose this photo because it has meaning for both of us.  Our mother was an avid gardener and had a green thumb that wouldn't quit!  After she died, my sister tried to rescue as many of her flowers as possible as my dad is sort of the type to mow the lawn in a straight line whether there are plants in the way or not!  (I do have to say that he's done a really good job of taking care of her remaining flowers though). 

This beautiful clematis bloom is the result of the rescue of a start from Mom's original plant.  The photo of the bloom is lovely with its glowing back-lit petals and it was a challenge to capture that glow. 

You may not be able to tell, but this is painted on hardboard with another, smaller board glued on top.  After everything was completely dry, the whole board was prepped with a primer and several coats of gesso. 

The painting is acrylic (yeah, yeah, I know, not usually my medium of choice!) and is titled "Our Mother's Legacy".

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Art Accessories

I know I said I'm painting and I really am but I'm a slow painter and other things have interrupted my actual painting time. 

One thing was the search for 6 inch square picture frames - not to be found locally and really not too many to choose from online.  But, I really like working with wood and decided to make my own frames for these small paintings. 

I've done pretty well with just a miter box and hand tools in the past but I ended up messing up one frame section this time.  My husband couldn't resist harrassing me about it and decided that he'd cut the frame sections.  Well, that meant 4 sections messed up and a trip to our local home improvement store where he bought an inexpensive compound miter saw, something I've wanted for ages.  He also bought this nifty picture frame jig that really works!

As you can see, the miters are about as perfect as they can be but the set-up to cut them took a while to accomplish.  First the saw had to be assembled and checked to make sure the angles were true.  That all took an hour or so.

Then we made a simple jig to cut the frame sections to the exact same length and then mitered each end.  I have to say that saw is really sweet but probably wouldn't be much better than the hand saw if we hadn't made the cutting jig.

So you can see one of those things "cutting" (pun intended!) into my painting time but I really think it will be worth it in the long run.  With just these four frames, we've already "paid" for nearly half the cost of the saw and I have at least 3 other paintings in the works that are not standard sizes so custom frames will have to be made for them also.  These are relatively large frames so the saw will definitely be paid for with them with room to spare!

And I'm also working on the tile coasters doing a little experimenting trying to find a more cost effective way to produce them so I can sell them reasonably. 

And I'm working on producing some notecards for the show in July. 

And, I really am painting!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bison - Gouache Painting

Bison - varnished gouache
I'm still painting away but everything seems to take forever to do!  I'm still working on a collaborative effort between my photographer sister and myself but hope to finish it soon.  My sister took the photo and I'm painting it (in acrylic!  any wonder I'm so slow with it?)  and we hope to show both the photo and the painting at a show in her town in Colorado this coming July.  More about all that later.

In the meantime, I've painted a buffalo or bison for the first time and have to say it surprised me at how it came out.  Another painting that I actually like - maybe I'm finally on a roll!  This has been painted in gouache on a canvas panel.  I gave the panel a couple of extra coats of gesso primer and the texture was really good for painting.  After I finished the painting, I varnished it as usual so it wouldn't have to be framed under glass.  Varnishing a water media painting is a little controversial but is becoming more and more common every day.  The varnish gives life to the colors plus protects the painting from smearing and pollutants in the air.  Since I use several coats of a UV resistant varnish, it also helps protect from UV rays. 

And I have a couple of other paintings sketched out and waiting for their turn on the easel.  I won't say any more than that except it might be a few days before I get to them.

I'm also back to experimenting with the coasters (see THIS blog post) but will write more about that in a future blog post. 

It just seems as if I'm in a creative frenzy these days and don't have enough time and energy to get it all painted, crafted or cleaned!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Definite Final

I took Sue's (Pencilpix blog) advice and added some distant "somethings" to the right side of the horizon line.  I figure it's a stand of trees or maybe a jumble of rock - I'm not sure what it is but I do think it helps the painting.

I hope so as I varnished it and we went to Michael's and Hobby Lobby today to look for frames.

We bought two frames, one at each store, and we both like both of them equally!  I joked and said that since the painting is varnished and not behind glass, we could easily exchange frames every 6 months so both of them could be used!

Not only did we find frames we liked, but both were on sale.  Of course, both stores regularly have "sales" on their frames but Michael's sale was 60% off, plus, our son had given me a gift card for there so the one frame only cost me a dollar and 12 cents.  Can't beat that!

I was also looking for some small (6") square frames but they didn't have any.  Or at least Michael's didn't have any - I forgot to look at Hobby Lobby!  Oh, well, guess that means another road trip!

In the meantime, I need a title for this and for the other cowboy (pastel on black shown below).  While the other cowboy won't be framed, I did enough to it to get a decent scan so I can offer prints at FAA.  I'll offer prints of both of these as soon as I can title them.

One of my BIL's suggested Campfire Thoughts for the cowboy on black and I've gotten quite a few suggestions for naming this painting but none really click.  Any ideas out there?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

One of THOSE Days!

Here it is about 3:30 in the afternoon and I'm still in my pajamas!  Seriously, this is ridiculous, I know, but I usually get up before my DH and this morning I went right to work in the studio trying to rework the dark cowboy and give some interest to the light one!  lol

I'm just now realizing what time it is and crawling out of my den (er, studio) - good thing I have clean pj's for tonight.  I think I'll just stay as I am at this point and take a shower and put on my clean jammies right before bed!  Thank God we don't get many unannounced visitors!

I think I made some progress on the "almost" portrait of my husband but I really spent the most time on the dark cowboy that I posted yesterday.  I really worked on it but I think I'll just repaint it - I re-worked it then sprayed it again and this time the spray (SpectraFix) spattered and left those little splotches on the painting even though I saturated it well.

It also darkened the painting again after I'd worked so hard to lighten it and give it a bit more life.  I think I'm going to concentrate on painting with gouache and just play with pastel as pastel is just one of those mediums that really doesn't do well if you don't get it right the first time around.  It's pretty easy to overwork and muddy up colors whereas gouache can be overworked and muddied BUT you can usually wipe off an area and completely repaint if need be.

In the painting of my DH, for instance, I was following some advice from my friend, Sue, from the PencilPix blog and trying different things in the empty space to the right of of the figure of my husband.  I finally settled on some far away trees and painted them in only to discover the color I used wasn't exactly right. Since I was painting over an area of the sky, the under color was mixing into the new color and I actually got some mud.  It was a relatively easy fix to just wipe out what I didn't want (I used a damp cotton swab/cotton bud) and start again.  I'm not posting any new photo of it just yet as I'm waiting to see if it actually does help the painting.  I also tweaked some of the values on the jacket a bit and I just want to let the painting sit to see if it needs anything else.

Anyway, it's a gorgeous day here and I haven't been any further than the back porch when our dog wanted out!  It's supposed to rain for the next day or two so I guess I blew the opportunity to get some sun for a while!

Hope you all are enjoying the spring and that it's beautiful where you are too.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pastel Play

Pastel 8"x10"
This is a somewhat quick play with pastel on Colour Fix Suede.  I was beginning to think that I would have to spend a lot of time relearning to paint with pastel also but this wasn't too bad.

Of course, I wasn't 100% happy with it and will need to re-do it anyway as I sprayed it with fixative which really made it dark and grainy looking.  I lightened it in my graphics software but that just pointed up the shortcomings of the painting!

One of these days!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Adult Portrait WIP 2

I worked on the portrait of my western dressed husband yesterday afternoon and this morning and am very pleased with the quality and handling of the Schminke gouache so far.

I had already made a start on the denim jacket (back and sleeve) before the new paints arrived and had had trouble making the fabric look like denim.  When I repainted some areas, the bottom layer re-wet and mingled with the new paint layer.  That's a quality of gouache that can either work for or against the artist.  In this case, it is working somewhat against me as the new color is mixing with the old and it becomes a color I don't really want.  But, I'll be able to solve that eventually.

What is concerning me right now is the value of the different sections of the jacket.  Some of the highlights are very bright while others read as white but are very subdued.  With other paint media, I would use a wash to control the values but, as I've said, gouache lifts any previous layer which then mixes with the new layer.  This creates a new color and a new value and it's kind of tricky to get it right.  Also, gouache will either dry lighter or darker than the applied color and that also throws another problem into the mix.

Since I've not used this new paint color before, I'm just having to try one thing or another to try to get the look I need.  So, while I'd hoped to be finished with this painting by now, it's going to take a while longer.  I'll try to post updates along the way but I may just get into the "zone" and finish it all quickly.  I hope that happens but I'm not holding my breath!

Oh, I also played with the new color, Titanium Gold Ochre, in the background and I think I'll want to re-paint the background, at least partially.  We'll see how that goes when we get there.  Funny how one small change affects the whole painting!  This may turn into a totally different and unexpected painting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

They've Arrived!

Well, the new Schminke Horadam gouache paints arrived a little while ago and I've been busy playing with them.  The first thing was making a color chart which I've posted to the left here.

I've also painted some on my painting just to test how much they'll lift if another color is painted over the top.  I need to let that dry thoroughly before I attempt to add another layer so will let you know about that at another time. 

As you can see, the colors are very rich and it's evident that a lot of pigment is used in these paints.  I wanted the Dark Blue Indigo for my painting and I ordered the other colors because Roz liked/recommended them in various posts, especially the Delft Blue.  Actually, I have a blue that's very similar to it in another brand but as this is supposed to be a single pigment color, I'm sure it will stay clear and not get muddied as easily. 

That Titanium Gold Ochre is luscious and you can take that to the bank as I am definitely not a fan of the colors of yellow or orange!  This color is somewhere in between yellow and orange and just glows.  Yellows and oranges are the least used colors when I've gotten sets in any media but I'm sure this will have a permanent place on my gouache palette.

And the Helio Turquoise is gorgeous - wish I'd had it a few months ago as it reminds me of clear tropical seas and warm climates!  After the winter we've had, it could easily become my favorite color!

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the proof of the paint is in the painting!  I plan to do some quick paintings and also get back to work on the cowboy painting to see how the paints work in the real world!  I have a feeling I may have to take back any whining about the cost of these paints and may even be tempted to order some more!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Must Be Crazy!

In my efforts to learn more about the gouache medium, I've been reading the blog of Roz Stendahl,  Now Roz has some pretty definite ideas of how gouache should behave and there are only two brands that meet her standards - Schminke and M. Graham - both of which are pretty pricey.

Since I've always believed that you should use the best artist materials available (that will do what you want them to do), I decided I wanted to try out the Schminkes when I recently ran out of some colors of the gouache I'm currently using.

So I placed an order for 4 tubes (15 ml size) which were on sale and I nearly had heart failure when the total came to well over $60 even before shipping!  Would you like to see what four tubes of that size look like?

You can click on the picture to see it larger but please be aware that these aren't the gouache I ordered but some watercolor I already had.  (The actual gouache won't arrive until tomorrow or the day after.)

I'm well aware of the quality of the Schminke Horadam brand but I guess I haven't really had to order art supplies for quite a while and just got a case of sticker shock.  These are four relatively small tubes as gouache goes and I can only hope they're of such quality that they go a lot further than the brands I currently use!

I've just about decided that gouache is my current medium of choice as I like that it's water soluble but I can use it on just about any substrate.  It can be used either as a fairly transparent wash or very opaque like oil or acrylic.  But, cleaning brushes after every break or interruption isn't necessary - a quick rinse and the brushes are fine until I need them again.

While they do dry quickly like acrylics, they lack that plasticky look that acrylic will sometimes have.  And another plus is that even though the paint will dry quickly on the palette, it can be re-wet like transparent watercolor and isn't lost like acrylic paint.

Anyway, now that I'm over the sticker shock and both my heart rate and breathing has returned to normal, I'm ready to get those bad boys here and start playing with them!  The one color I really needed was over $20 a tube on sale so I'm going to look it over very carefully to see if there's gold embedded in the binder along with the other pigment!

These paints had better be far superior to other gouache paint brands and I almost expect them to paint the canvas for me for the money I spent!  I'll let you know how they work!  Maybe they'll even finish that portrait of my other half in his cowboy gear!