Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now What

Now what….

That is one the things that voice in my head often will ask me. And usually it is when
I am staring at a blank paper or canvas. Now that I have shared that with you I will give you the latest answer I came up with. Grab a pencil, pick a spot in the room your in and do a quick sketch. If you are feeling brave do that sketch, but do not look at the paper you are drawing. Use very few lines just enough to capture the basic shapes of objects.
That sketch will be wild and strange, but that is good. That wild sketch will give you permission to go any where you want with it. It is not perfect to start with so you do not have worry about a perfect painting. (Love that line; think I will read it one more time just for a smile.)
Now grab about 3 colors, and make one decision do I want a warm or cool feeling.
If it is warm use two warm colors like red and yellow and one cool like a blue.
If it is cool use say, blue and purple with an orange. Throw in a black to help deepen some colors if you are using watercolor. If you are using acrylics also add white.
Paint the majority of the painting with the first two colors saving the last one just to highlight or add some spark to the picture at the every end.
This is fun and practice but also can be an amazing painting when you are finished.
Give it a try and see what happens.
By the way the pictures are from my bed room and my living room. And yes messing rooms are more fun to paint, now a reason to avoid house really is good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Preparing to be spontaneous

Preparing to be spontaneous......

As weird, as it sounds spontaneity can be planned.

I do this is with acrylic painting. I often paint with acrylics on watercolor paper.

Most of my watercolor paper is 140 lb weight cold press. By the time I am done working it is usually at least twice as thick. This is because it is coated with gesso prior to painting.

I coat the paper for 2 reasons. I love texture in my art work, and blank white paper or canvases scare the tar out of me.

Gesso comes in many forms, thin, thick, grey, white, black, colors and clear. If you only have white, it can be tinted with a color, or you can get colored gessoes from Holbein (China red is my favorite), or Daniel Smith (gold is really fun to use).

A basic layout or composition plan can also be started using a couple of colors of gesso.

Using gesso with color knocks out my two issues right at the start. I spread the gesso thickly with a spreader leaving scrapes and ridges randomly and generally use a mid tone color so that all I have to focus on are my lights and darks when painting.

When one side is coated and dry, I flip it over and do the back. By doing the back there are now two surfaces for me to work on, and it helps to thicken and flatten the paper.

I have started making my own spreader. Plastic snap on lids from food containers work great, and you are recycling at the same time. Clean the top off, then cut it in half, I also trim the corner edges a bit and they are ready to go.

These prepped sheets are set aside until I get in the mood to start painting, or as it really appears, dive into a spontaneous mess of splashing paint around.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Secret...

A secret I am sharing

This month’s blog is about how and where ideas can come from.
Never under estimate something that attracts your eye. Awhile back, I noticed that something on my amazingly messing work desk kept drawing my attention.
I had piled up a number of small sketches and paintings randomly all over my desk.
The spot that I noticed when ever I walked by was a small painting that was partly covered an ink line drawing. I knew it looked interesting but could not figure out why. After looking at it several times, I just decided to do a quick ink and watercolor of the small pile. What resulted was an abstract looking landscape that I decided to work into a completed painting.
Going with the abstract landscape idea, several more small watercolors developed.
From this, I learned a few things:

1. If something attracts your visual attention, work with it even if it is not logical to start with. The creative side of an artist mind can find a way to make it work.

2. Take a new idea or direction and do a series from it. It is like completing a thought and is very rewarding.

3. Give your self-permission to try something new and unexpected.

4. If a design looks interesting, try investigating it with a limited number of colors focusing on the lights and darks to work the design toward a finish.

5. Don’t second guess, go with an idea, and let the creative side of you mind do the work not the logical side.

6. It is OK to be messy….really like this one ;)

more paintings from that one original idea:

and a few ideas in wait, another pile of scraps, leaves on table, and a photo shop work up of one of the paintings, think this will keep me busy for a while. Now go and see what you can find.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

practice and play

Practice, practice, practice. I heard this as a kid growing up and really hated it. It might have been because I did not love what I was practicing. My mom want me to master the piano, later in life I found out I had some hearing disability, that explains why I never enjoyed learning to play music. Now that I have a true passion for visual art, I love practice and encourage it. The trick is to make it fun, even an adventure. Pick up a pen or brush when ever possible and draw, doodle, experiment with color, or just light and shadows.

These are examples of taking a simple subject and turning practice into an adventure.

Working on simple tree structure, play with the light, shadow, but with unexpected color combinations. Who says the sky needs to be blue, why not let the tree be blue. Paintings these I worked on simple eye hand coordination, yet adventured into a new area of color.

Pick a simple subject and see how many ways you can change just one part of the composition.

Monday, May 17, 2010

putting the PC to work

There are many art tools, paper, paint, brushes, but sometimes over looked, is using a photo.
The digital camera is important, for saving records of your work to files, and for sharing by email or on sites like Facebook, or Myspace.
But there is so much more that can be done with those photos. Playing with saved copies of the photos on Photoshop, or a free and easy one IrfanView, can help you create. Notice I mentioned using "saved copies". That is very important. A photo of art work you plan to experiment with should be a extra saved copy, with a separate file name so that the original isn't lost or destroyed.
The program I use is IrfanView it has options for creating negatives, and a number of special effects. I have a couple of pics of paintings that were cropped, turned into negatives, and I used a color swap program, that lets me see what other looks I can get from an original idea.
Give it a try with some of your work and see if it sparks some new ideas from your originals.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saving sketches

Over the years, I have taken many life-drawing classes. This has always been important to me. The human figure is the most challenging and the most rewarding process of creating art. For art, involving the figure or the face must present knowledge. When people view art of the figure or face there is a critical view, everyone knows what makes a person or face seem believable, whether consciously or subconsciously. Even when a painting or drawing leans toward abstraction, the key elements are up for criticism. The more I draw the more I learn about expressing the figure.

Most life drawing courses involve what are called warm ups. The warm ups are several one to five minute drawings, then a longer time to make a completed drawing. I save almost all my drawings for reference. Sketches that at the time may seem like failures, often when reviewed later, in a different frame of mind, show potential. Those simple drawings I enjoy playing with digitally for ideas. Often there is a line or shape the stands out in those quick drawings that will inspire new work.

I thought I would share some of these with you, rough sketches, digitals and finished works. Hope this give you new ideas for some of your older drawings....that hopefully you saved?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A time for play and a time to study

A time to Play and a time to Study

I just wanted to share this project with you, to show there are many ways to approach a painting. My first and favorite way is spontaneously, but occasionally I do plan. Working on a portrait that will eventually be part of another painting, an art instructor suggested working on studies to determine what would work for my project. I was not happy about the idea because I tend to jump head first in to an idea. However, it was a good suggestion, and I thought I would share the process her with you. I worked out many little problems that now will not plague me on the large project. The colors of acrylics paint used are Payne’s grey and white, on wet media paper. Now having completed the painting in the size that I will need for the project and having worked out the values, I feel much more confident and ready to go on to the larger project.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010



What to do when you just cannot fall asleep. Give up and put it to work.

The other night I just could not fall a sleep. Not particular reason why and luckily I did not have to be up early the next day. I gave up, got up and then went to the studio and started messing around.

I have a few tubes of water-soluble oils but really know very little about how to use them. Being curious as to how well they mix and how long they take to dry I set up a chart. Using a cheap canvas panel sectioned off into a grid, I started mixing colors with a pallet knife, making notes on colors and brands. I dated the chart, and have left it to dry.

So far, I have learned that Holbein Duo dries the fastest about 4 days, unless mixed with white. Artisan is the slowest. White seems to slow the drying process mixed with any color. I also found that mixing a small amount of water into the oils reduces shine and dries faster. Also that mixing a small amount of acrylic white paint in really speeds up the drying process but produces a matte finish.

I also did a small painting with the oils…not bad for one nights work. After that, I fell soundly asleep form 6 am to noon, and did not feel the least bit guilty. After all, I did accomplish something that night.

Just thought I would share my insomniac adventure with you.