Issuing the Call

Issuing the Call
Issuing the Call

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Art Prints

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just in time for Christmas

"Santa's Littlest Helper"

I've been meaning to get this painting up on the blog for a bit now. So here it is. For those of you who don't know, The model of the boy is my nephew (one of the hazards of knowing me is you never know when one of your kids will end up in a painting). For Santa I used my head and my wife for the body. I have this red bath robe that drapes just wonderfully on her (seeing as she is fourteen inches shorter then me). I love then old world Santa Claus, so this is the result of it. Also I love Victorian Architecture so I modeled the fireplace and room after that style. I've been kicking around the idea of painting another Christmas painting, maybe this time I 'll use a little girl.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The all important Painting Surfaces

Canvas. For me canvas is a general term I use to discribe just about any painting surface I use to paint on. In reality only part of the time do I use canvas or to be more exact cotton canvas. Let see I have used stretched cotton canvas (either pre-stretched or stretched by me). To stretch canvas you wrap it around stretcher bars which typically are made of wood.
In recent years a newer type of canvas has come out on the market. It goes by several different names like, gallery wrap, studio wrap, museum edge and creative edge, just to name a few. But they are all basically the same thing.
The canvas is stretched from the front clear around the sides and fastened in the back. Thus leaving the front and sides to be painted on. Plus these types of canvases tend to be deeper thus giving the artist more room to paint. I've seen them go as deep as six inches, looking more like a box then a panel. Plus because the sides are painted there is no need to frame these paintings. Thus saving money on not framing.
Another type of option is canvas board. Where canvas is adhered to a board.

There are many different cloths you can paint on after they have been primed with gesso. The two I prefer are cotton or linen, with linen being my favorite. I like the interesting and unique variety of textures linen creates with out being too rough. Now my mentor Greg Olsen is a bit more brave then I am. He has painted on all sorts of surfaces, from silk, to polyester, plaster (which he carved first to make it a relief carving then painted it), wood panels and hardboard (both having done paintings on the smooth side and rough side). Also to add more tooth (texture) to the painting surface you can add some marble dust to your gesso. A small amount is like 200 grit sand paper and a large amount it like 20 grit (Greg has also add so much marble dust to one of his paintings that the gesso was like very think paste. So he sculpted it into trees and rocks for a relief like sculpture and then painted it too). I like a very smooth surface, so needless to say these approaches to surface texture do not appeal to me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ah Paint

Paint. Enough said right? Well sort of. Like I've said earlier I paint with what is called a limited pallet. Which means I use almost just the primary colors to paint with and then just mix these colors to get all the colors I need. To do this you got to first understand at least a little about color theory. Which basically is for example red and blue make purple, or yellow and blue make green and so on. But then there are also warm colors cool colors and then there are opposites, color chords and even opaque and transparent colors. And on and on and on... There are collage courses and 'clubbing baby seal' size books just on this subject.
I don't want to scare any one with how complex this kind of topic can become. For me when I first started to paint I painted with a limited pallet more out of cost than out of any sort of artsy high minding ideals. An average tube of paint will run any where between $20 to $75 (at least for the type of paint I use, but more on that later). So I went with as few a colors as I could get away with. Which is around 7-9. Burnt Sienna (reddish brown), Burnt Umber (dark brown), Ultramarine Deep (blue), Titanium White, Cadmium Red Deep, Cadmium Yellow Light, Indian Yellow (a warm orange-yellow) and sometimes Dioxazine Purple and Raw Umber.
Next I took a sheet of mat board and cut it up into four inch squares that I gessoed (it's a type of primer). Then I would paint each square with a mixing of various colors to see how each color worked with each other. Red and yellow to make an orange color. After I had mixed all primary colors, red, yellow and blue. Then I mixed primary colors with secondary colors. For example red (primary) and green (secondary, made up of yellow and blue) make brown. And then depending on how much of either color you mix depends on the kind of brown you get, more red you get a redish brown and more green a greenish brown.
Now I need to warn people that when you first start mixing colors everyone seems to go through a stage of learning I like to call, 'the gray mud' stage. This is when no matter what color you are trying to mix, all you seem to be able to mix is a dead looking gray mud color. I went through it and everyone I have ever taught goes through it. This stage for most people is often the time when they quit painting (mostly because they don't have the artist disease too*). It is their first real wall. I pushed through it (and wasted a lot of paint too).

The type of paint you choose to use will in the end be more about preference or as I like to call it, how the paint feels as you mix it and how it feels as you apply it to the canvas.
The paint I use is called Maimeri Puro. It comes from Italy. I buy it from Jerry's Artarama online. The reason I use this more expensive paint is because the pigment that the paint is made from is ground to a much finer consistency then with other paints I have tried. The colors are also richer and brighter. Plus I need less of it to cover the same area as with other brands. It mixes easily and glazes much better then other brand too. which is very important to me because I do more glazing then I use to. Glazing is to apply multiple thin transparent layers of paint. But thats getting into techniques than tools, which I'll talk about later.

*The artistic disease - I once read another artist describe painting for them as a disease with no cure. All he could do is push it off for a little bit by painting. It is like a nervous itch that build up over time and the only way to make it go a way is to paint. This is painting for me too. I've met some artists who just love to paint. They will spend every waking moment in the studio painting. I always felt bad, because I didn't feel this way. There are times when I'm like this. But they are short lived and few and far between. When I studied under Greg Olsen he told me that there are times for him too that he really struggles to sit down and paint. He calls himself the laziest painter (I doubt this because he is prolific). After hearing this and reading about other artists I didn't feel so bad.