Tuesday, January 15, 2013

From the Painters' Notebook

Linda E here:
This weekend Annie, Jane and I met to consider how others respond to what we do and to us, and how can we catch the attention of others and bring them to us.

i.e.Self promotion. Defining what I do, how I do it, why I do it. then...refining how I say it, whom I am saying it to, and where to go with the information.

Annie here:
As I worked to  communicate my intention, style, aesthetic in words... I found I was talking to myself!

Linda again:
I think Jane would agree: yes, for sure!  We cobbled together our views and words,  looking to carve out a succinct message for others. Hours ....days...and it worked! Possibly because we worked as a group, and were honest, clear and direct with each other.

Between raindrops, we went out painting, old barns, marshes.

Annie here:
In the end  I know I have a clear[ er ] bio thing and a clear[ er ] sense of who i am as an artist.

Lost and Found    [Jane]
Real Stuff     [Annie]
Monumental Quiet    [Linda]

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Whites a few months later........

Well, it has been a few months (Jan 21, actually) since I posted a test on whites. It is interesting to see what has happened in even this relatively short time period. 

Recap: this is two pics of the same panel, the second does have two additions which show on the bottom pic. In the lead side I have added a dollop of Blue Ridge's cremintz which I got a week or so ago. On the titanium side I added a blob of windsor newton titanium about seven weeks ago. Both pics were taken in an afternoon indirect light.

Discarding the two additions, something to check later and I will find it interesting to see how they age, it is curious to see what the others have done. Remember these were smears dragged down with a knife and no medium.

The lead whites tend to be warmer anyway and have all yellowed. In this strip the Blue Ridge remains the whitest. Frankly, the Old Holland Cremintz alone or with zinc, the Natural Pigments flake and the Windsor Newton lead foundation yellowed about the same.  The Williamsburg flake yellowed the most to a deep french vanilla shade.

Onto the titaniums: I think the Blue Ridge edges slightly the Grumbacher but both stayed a smidge whiter than the Old Holland. Remember, the Windsor Newton on the end is still too new.

At the same time we mixed several mediums into the Blue Ridge flemish and the Grumbacher titanium. Firstly we were interested in the finish a medium imparted: matte, shiny, etc. I am including a pic of the board with the whites mixed w/ different mediums. It is divided in two: lead Blue Ridge white on top. Grumbacher titanium on the bottom. Below this board is the whites test board.

I have heard that placing a painting in sunlight will cause whites to brighten. Having not tried it I do not know. The test boards I have had spent their durations in the indirect daylight of an east window.

I do not have a pic of the mediums test from a few months ago, (fail as a "real scientist") as we were mainly curious for ourselves more with what quality each medium imparted into the paint. But for yellowing, well, I find it of interest that mixed with a variety of mediums mostly caused these two paints to yellow less.

So, what is the practicality of all this? Undoubtedly questionable! Seriously, it does depend on how one paints. Lead whites are, by nature warmer, more translucent than titaniums. How a paint handles come into consideration, and that is personal. And really, how much does one consider how a paint will yellow? Whites do tend to get mixed into a fair amount so that stays constant. If it fades, yellows, all fade, yellow depending on how much is in conjunction with what it has been mixed?

Well, okay, a warm undertone of skin may not be so changed by some yellowing and, as our test board shows, mediums make a difference here, too. But what of a snow scene? Well looking at my two test boards and considering that the mediums tests were done with Blue Ridge flemish and Grumbacher titanium, with only slight variations, a medium seems to keep whites, well, whiter.

Perhaps what this all shows mostly is the fine need to have more than one white on the palette, always allowing choice for the moment needed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting out

Part of painting is the tools we use and they can not be undervalued as good tools do make the process of painting easier. Good tools make anything easier. Think of things you wanted when young that just did not encourage you to go on and learn more about your chosen craft. I think of the bad ponies that would as soon bite, kick and dump the kid, any kid or that first guitar with strings so stiff and high off the fret board no way the average small person had the strength to form a decent chord, forget playing fluidly.

Some things become a matter of preference, nice, as that makes for many choices. It is coming hard on spring, warm and early in many parts of the country. Sorry for you if this was the year to see the cherry blossoms in DC over the holiday. Happened last month. But on schedule is the rounds of plein air competitions coming up, regardless of weather. So, along with daffodils and cherry blossoms, painters think about what to use when painting out.

Here are two painting in Ireland, wish I could walk up to the one on the left and see her set-up!

So, if you are anywhere near a good sized paint out? Go look. Best advice I can think to give anyone looking for the perfect paint box for themselves. If there is a good turn-out chances are you will see just about everything available these days. Of course doing an internet search will give you a heads up about what is out there.

Here is LindaW painting with her Art Box set-up. She is willing to carry all her paints, brushes, mediums and all else in another carry all. The very large folding palette is designed to hang off any tripod and there are several different size panel holders available. It does make for a compact set-up.

Here she is with it on a windy beach:

Even before searching the internet consider what you want the box to do? I can’t tell you what you want, but I can what I wanted. About twelve years ago, it seems the only thing available easily was the French easel, Julien by choice, and anyone I know who has an older model (like from way in the last century) likes them. Even though they have developed a history of wonky legs, screws, etc....seems the further away these get from Julien’s (whoever he was) touch the wonkier they can be. Those dozen years ago, though, I wasn’t painting out so much but was looking for a box to use in a figure studio. And, let me tell you, several French easels set up in a small space makes negotiating to the bathroom an experience. I wanted something with a smaller footprint.

I have had those wooden 11 x 14” or so paint boxes, also an old French sort with four legs (gave that away) both were heavy. I had watched people setting up to paint outdoors with more stuff than I take camping, boxes, bags, chairs, all but the butler and take so much time to set up. I didn't want to carry much. It had to set up quickly, like in a couple minutes.

So, I can tell you what I wanted after thinking about it and checking the internet. I didn’t know of “plein air” happenings so I did not go check any out.

Here is Annie’s guerilla box set up in Texas, note she has added wings which give her extra palette space. She also had a glass palette made for the inner section. Her box is a bit heavier than mine but between us we’ve flown, hiked, taken horseback, kayaked, canoed........

and Annie painting in Ireland, here you can see the panel holder in the top part or the box and the telescoping easel holding the panel at the top:

Anyway, I wanted a small box that could carry everything I needed to paint away from the studio. It needed to house paint tubes, brushes and caddy, several small panels, turps & medium jars, a palette knife, a few small odds & ends, paper towels. Enough to take care of my painting needs for a couple hours, a day or two, even a few weeks, (okay not all the panels needed for a few weeks) and even be shovable into a smallish luggage bag.

My choice was Judson’s 9 x 12 guerilla box, chucka block full it is about ten pounds (the box itself is, I think about 5). At the time I was looking solely off the internet and it was frankly cheaper than some of the other options. The Open M box, (my runner-up) has its merits and those I’ve met who own one of the Alla Prima’s just adore them. Some will say the French box is still the best (still think it is an unwieldy thingy that has more faults than pluses). Have seen some home-made boxes that are drool-worthy and have an old ebay find that is ever so small it can go anywhere.

My guerilla box showing the brush caddy, panel adapter, which I use to prop the panel on and the telescoping easel attached to the cover:

Here I am w/ a critic painting in R.I. This spot met many of my criteria: easy enough to get there, good parking, a restroom nearby and close enough to carry box. Being the shoreline it was lacking in shade –I can almost always find a good view from under a tree - so provided my own, although it was too windy for the clip on umbrella.

I can paint easily up to 16 x 20” on my guerilla box and have taken it many places. It, and most pochade type boxes, need a really good sturdy tri-pod. Get the very best you can afford. Meanwhile ‘tis the season, if you are looking for the perfect box, check a plein air event to see what others like. Here is my box and tripod, more than a decade old, ready to go and as easy to grab as pulling on those muck boots.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Get Out

Friends really matter. We just finished a "workshop" at my beach house. 4 of us hauled our equipment [and dogs] to Bethany to paint paint paint. Predictions of thunderstorms...
Well, what the heck.
Here we are ...
acknowledging the need /importance of support, shop talk and shared action.
I also keep in mind two key elements to creating good work ... ENTHUSIASM and DISCIPLINE [thank you, Dick Bond!] For me , both of these are fostered by my connection to fellow artists. I am charged up by conversations about the craft of painting, struggles to define "ART", the joint angst of a group of artists in an atellier, challenged by each other and/or a teacher to stretch techinique, improve skills, change perspective...
Its like breathing out in out
diving into my production mode ... creative mode and then surfacing to look around,
GET OUT and join with friends. Look back with new eyes at my work, their work... our work.
Somehow the word graceful fits into this pattern of creative movement. Get out and back gracefully.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good Hands

I grew up crazy for two things: drawing and horses. Living in a small New England city, one was for dreaming, the other to illustrate the stories of dreams. Part of growing up is getting to live your dreams. I have had that. The drawing developed into painting and training at a small school (Swain in New Bedford) that believed in basics. Most of my adult life has included horses. Of course as a subject, horses are grand. Love painting them. But there are other points where knowledge of horses and horsemanship relates to painting and the skill it requires.

“Good hands” is a term horseman use to recognize when a rider’s sensitivity with a horse is readily apparent.

Always when you get on a horse, you are training it, for better or worse. Pick up a brush and how, what you practice becomes a consideration. I have been working on a large, for me, painting on panel using a medium I like. It is a resin, Venice turp in this case with stand oil and spike, usually a medium sure to make a small work glow. Yet I am using it on a large piece and have been pleased with the results.

Things cycle through fads, what’s the newest and greatest, what’s the recipe used by the masters. And this holds true for painting as riding. And in both fads will hold sway.

In the horse world, often riders are looking for the perfect bit, that piece of metal that goes in a horse’s mouth and gives the rider control...like a medium. Snaffles, pelhams, full bridles, the terms may sound strange to a painter as would, stand oil, damar, spike oil, balsam to a horseman. Venice turp? A painter might mix it with linseed oil, a horseman would paint it on hoofs.

All these things are used to get a required result. And another thing that I think translates to each skill? The hand.

With a horse, you may indeed have a bit a horse likes better and that should be considered seriously. More, though, is the hand holding the reins, some are just better than others. Anyone may be more comfortable with one bit over another. Me? I am better with a snaffle or a pelham over a gag bit or a full bridle. (Annie will get this, lol!) For mediums? Give me a resin - balsam, Venice - with stand and a good turp, I will get results.

There is not doubt that, like a properly bitted horse, the right medium will enhance one’s ability to produce the painting one wants. So, it is good to be facile with different mediums when painting a picture, as with bits when training a horse. Knowledge of tools is good. But....but....it does all come down to the hands....and the brains behind them. The magic of the masters, equine or art, is not so much the tools used but the sensitivity of the hands through the brain.

It is not the mediums used, but the skill given. In riding the snaffle is considered a soft bit to the horse. But it can be as cruel as anything in a ham-fisted rider who has no feel for creature at the other end. As any medium, what happens at the end of brushes determines the beauty of the painting.

It has been said that good hands make the horse, perhaps the painting as well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reformed Radish / Jane Rowe

My intention to paint the oversize radishes from Joe's garden went from a morning studio exercise of 20 minute timed sessions to a finished painting. I'll try to describe how and why I ended up putting a frame on it and hanging it in a gallery instead of leaning it against the wall or wiping it down.

Image sent to Soupbones Gallery bloggers.

Reformed Radish, oil on panel, 12"x24"

With nothing particular in mind, but having a desire to put brush to canvas, I found myself casting about the refrigerator for veggies to place in a shadow box. There they were--Radishes, really large radishes, about 12 inches or so long--.no leaves--stark, colorful things, wonderful. I headed to the studio with my find. An aside to all this is that my husband Joe grows a lot of veggies and has a CSA. I frequently find unusual things from his garden in our refrigerator or he leaves little offerings of things he's found on our property in my studio. When my studio is in order I find them promptly, when it's not, it can take me days to find his contributions. So now, back to the radish painting. I put the radishes in a shadow box, spent less than a minute placing them and adjusting the light and proceeded to lay paint out on my pallet. I just wanted to paint--not create a masterpiece. No time to waste and I squeeze out ultramarine blue, titanium white viridian green, cadmium yellow light and dark, cadmium orange, alizeran crimson, and violet dioxazine--block in with burnt umber. Got it ready and working now, set the timer for 20 minutes, then another 20, then another 20, then no more timer. After an hour break or so, back to the easel to take a look. At this point I think I sent an image to other soupbonegallery bloggers. Comments back: you didn't think much about the background did you--oh right, and correct, I didn't; two lovers dancing in space or something like that--what? Yes, they are somewhat suggestive of anatomical parts that shall go unnamed, but what's that? an idea, Oh no, here I go in another direction. I'm reading "Caravaggio A Life Sacred and Profane" by Graham-Dixon and re-reading "The Body of Raphael Peale"by Nemerov, both of which artists, I find inspiring. Caravaggio for his bold compositions, disregard for convention and his use of light and dark. Raphael's Venus Rising from the Sea-A Deception is one of the first paintings I fell in love with as a child and his paintings of roasts and chops delight me. Alright, so now I working the radish idea in my head and talking to Peale and Merisi. They suggested that I add fig leaves, though I'm sure neither one of them would have utilized the convention. Hmm, fig leaves--its the dead of winter, but okay let's see what I can find. Lo and behold, lots of very brown, wet leaves piled under the trees. I need green leaves, bright fresh green leaves and to a garden book I go. A week or so later and after a lot of thought and angst, I'm back in the studio. Time to paint the fig leaves. An hour later, I'm done. Sign it and throw a frame on that thing and take it to the gallery.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Checking email & other things

this is a test, seriously to see if adding your email to the box at right works. Not yet.

Beyond that, the local wine shop is having a sale, 30 buck Artesa chardonnay for $12. Is this better than the 9 buck Feltzer, yup, two bucks better for sure, but would I spring for 30? Hah! And if I was going to? well I'd ask a wine merchant a bit further away in Snow Hill her thoughts.

And to keep this art related, it is needed to cut shellack flakes with alcohol. Usually it is denatured alcohol, but you can use vodka. Shaken, stirred? Oive, lemon?Lol, who wants to test the bennys of using Grey Goose over Popov?

Oh! and emails? Please considering adding yours to the handy icon at the right top and join us chatting about painting.