Friday, February 28, 2014

A quick and dirty colour study

I'm one of those people who believes that if something is really, really hard, I just haven't uncovered the easy way yet.  This is an offshoot of the "Work Smarter Not Harder" philosophy.  I have also observed that when something is really, really hard I'm less likely to do it.  That's just science.

Now I'm not whining about hard work.  I don't mind standing at my easel for twelve hours or whatever (who's counting?).  I'm talking about the studio practices that seem to be way more difficult and time consuming than they ought to be.  I'm talking about colour studies.

From the archives of Way Back When, here are some examples of colour studies:


They range from blocky and basic to somewhat detailed and are usually about the size of my hand or slightly larger.  The colour study is when I work out what colour arrangement I want for the final piece, and which paints I will need on my palette.

My problem with colour studies is that I find that I spend at least half of my time working out the drawing and then chasing the drawing around.  Generally speaking, chasing the drawing around also means muddying up my paint.

Furthermore, after ditching linen, I didn't have anything that I could paint a colour study on.  I didn't want to use dibond panels because that's a waste of time and materials.  I wanted a smooth, inexpensive surface that was ready to use in an instant.

Around this time I noticed some people on Facebook posting pictures of paintings they had done on vellum.  I don't espouse the archival nature of this support, but hey, colour studies are wastebasket fodder as far as I'm concerned.  So here are my vellum colour studies:


The surface is cheap, smooth, and ready to paint on as soon as I snip it from the roll.  And here is how the vellum allows me to make my colour studies a whole lot faster:


When I finish my preparatory drawing, I photograph it and print it out.  Then, I lay the vellum over top and paint with the image underneath as my guide.  I'm not a fast painter, but I can now get a colour study done in an hour.  And if it only takes an hour, I'm a lot more likely to do more than one.

There's another method I use when I need to make something larger or more complex.



At the top is my vellum study.  I was happy with it, but, knowing the finished painting was going to be one of my biggest figurative paintings yet, I knew that I needed to do a larger and more detailed colour study too.  Above is a larger study measuring at about a fifteen inches in its longest dimension.  I did have to draw this out, which took a while and made me yawn at least once.  On a piece of watercolour paper that had been sealed with acrylic gesso, I drew out my composition with the help of a grid.  I then worked out my colours over the course of two sittings.  I'm not advertising this latter approach as a fast method, although it is cheap.  This method is for the occasions when it's necessary to dig a little deeper than the vellum study will allow.

And by the way, we've started an image gallery on The Uncanny's website.  We will be adding new pictures to it as our work is completed.  Also, consider following us on Instagram or Facebook.  There you will find a lot of pictures of works in progress that haven't yet been covered here.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Icarus III, 5x7" --SOLD


This is a bona fide alla prima, for once.  I was actually able to resist going back into it.  So there.  It's a beautiful little Ruby Crowned Kinglet posed with an old prayer book.  You can take a look at the auction page here.

And yeah, I'm sorry.  I know I promised some people that I'd give them first dibs on my next painting.  I have completely lost track of who got in touch with me after the last sale because I had to close my email account and I just don't have the information anymore.  And being organized and on top of things is overwhelming.  I just want to have clean laundry and paint.  If you send me an indignant private message we can work something out.

In case anybody is interested in knowing what's involved in a dead bird painting:  I tend to find these guys while going on long walks with my dog.  I recently found out that starting the day with a long walk is extremely common with creative people.  Whether or not it's also common to wear ill-fitting yoga pants and to carry home dead birds, I don't know.  Maybe that's a narrower slice of the creative field.  But I spot these guys and WHOOSH! my plans for the day evaporate and it's all about rushing home to paint this poor, poor, beautiful, smashed birdy.  What killed it?  Did it widow a little girl songbird?  Orphan a nest of babies?  Why did it have to die?  Why?  WHY?  Finding a dead bird is the destroyer of weekly deadlines and the vanquisher of dinner plans.

I paired this bird with the book because I loved the echo between the wings and the book pages.  And of course, knowledge gives us wings.  Uh huh.

Evergreen OR Painting Seminars

I have 2 painting seminars coming up in Evergreen Oregon at the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational this Saturday February the 22nd..  Learn about some still life and portrait techniques or you can join me on my magical adventure through oil painting materials....or get a dolphin lower back tattoo from me.


"Still Life and Portrait Painting"
This seminar will explore a traditional approach to still life and portrait painting based on the techniques of the 19th century. Topics such as layering paint, lighting, materials, and glazing will be discussed.

Cost is 50 dollars.

"Oil Painting: Methods and Materials"
This seminar will explore all the knowledge needed to execute an oil painting from the ground up; from supports and canvas to varnishing and mediums. Good for all levels of learners.


Cost is 50 dollars

For more info click here.



Friday, February 14, 2014

Pearly Whites

Being one of those people who gets a bug up their ass and pursues a random project to the eighty percent mark before suddenly dropping it to pursue something else, spring cleaning is an especially interesting time of year for me.  It's when I uncover a half-finished, gender-neutral baby blanket made out of hypoallergenic wool; a perfectly organized tupperware box full of every size and shape of envelope that I could possibly ever need, unopened and forgotten; and fourteen separate notebooks and moleskines with the first ten pages filled out with really fascinating objectives: the properties and chemical structure of drying oils (riveting!), quotations about money (wow!), flowers and vegetables I want to plant (I even bore myself).  I also found... my old colour swatches!  Back from when I bought tubes of paint like they were five cent candies and then meticulously tabulated them in my precious, precious binder.

I'm going to throw it all out because I'm so over being a nerd and I've since blossomed into a sophisticated and carefree artiste who doesn't even read the pigment label anymore.  But before I do, take a look at these whites:

This advanced yellowing of something that should be white reminds me of something, but I can't quite put my dental plaque on it.
The key is as follows, listing brand, colour name, pigment, and binder:

A. Williamsburg, Titanium White, PW 6, linseed oil

B. Winsor & Newton, Titanium White, PW 6 and PW 4, safflower oil

C. Lefranc & Bourgeois, Titanium White, PW 6, soybean oil

D. Old Holland, Titanium White, PW 6, binder unknown because that's how Old Holland rolls

E. Winsor & Newton, Cremnitz White, PW 1, safflower oil

F. Gamblin, Flake White Replacement, PW 6 and PW 4, alkali refined linseed oil

G. Old Holland, Cremnitz White, PW 1, unknown

H. Rembrandt-Talens, Titanium White, unknown, unknown

All of these whites were tucked away in this binder in a box for the past several years, so the yellowing is quite exaggerated.  If these paints had been used in a painting and left on a wall where there was some light, it wouldn't be this bad.  But still.  It's worth thanking your lucky stars you didn't paint your masterpiece with Old Holland Cremnitz White.  I mean, you didn't, did you?

Word to the wise, if you're looking for a titanium white to use, look for something that says PW 6 only (no PW 4--that's zinc) and preferably a safflower or a soybean oil.  Good luck.