Saturday, January 30, 2016

Friday 1-29-2016

1-29-2016  Frost Peach, pastel, 5 x 7 inches

Another afternoon with the local community center group. The past two Fridays I have brought an unfinished piece home and pushed it further. Looking closer, using more aggressive marks and color shifts. Transferring energy instead of the usual quietude of my work; it's difficult to get to sleep after that. I am loving this new pastel technique.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Took a pastel break

If you have followed my blog you know that I have a history of painting over old pastel paintings. I remember Albert Handell's puzzled look and comment to me, "Let me understand... you take a perfectly good painting and wash it off and start over?" Yes, I do. The reasoning might be complicated but it's what I have done since I started in pastel many years ago. It's what I have to do.

Today I hit a new low (or high?). I painted over a 6x6 inch and a 7x5 inch painting. At that size, it isn't about being frugal by saving the paper to use again. It's about a painting that missed the mark by a little. Both of these paintings were "perfectly good" but not exceptional. I pushed them farther today in color and in my mark making and I'm happy.

Study #3 for Dappled Path (revisited), pastel, 6x4 inches

House on the Hill (revisited), pastel, 6x6 inches

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Acrylic - another one on favorite ground

Another one on the black 4 ply rag mat - no markings and I've had it years, I think it is Alphamat. Making a little headway in feeling comfortable with acrylic. Putting the paint on the surface without frustration is my goal for now.

Barn #1, acrylic on black rag 4ply, 6x6 inches

Acrylic - finding the right ground

Of course there is no "right" ground, only the right ground for me. For acrylic I don't like the spring or texture of canvas, I don't like the slickness of Gessobord, I DO like a sanded surface but my brushes don't. Today I tried archival 4-ply black mat. I sort of love it, at least in the beginning until I make a big mess. Same subject, the old house with fire hydrant.

House with Fire Hydrant, acrylic, 6x6 inches

Monday, January 25, 2016

The rest of the story...

... or How Acrylic Changed My Life. In my effort to learn to use and like acrylic paint, I have been focusing on the feel of the paint from brush to surface and upon the application technique of color and value.

On Fridays I always work in pastel for my Daily Paintworks Gallery. Last Friday I brought home an unfinished painting, a close-up view of a flower arrangement. Today, as I went back to it, something from acrylic must have transferred to this little painting because I was oblivious of the whole (all 35 square inches of it) and instead, submersed in color and marks. Love the abstracted quality and I'm glad that what I have been teaching my hand over ruled my brain.

1-23-16 Among Friends, pastel, 7x5 inches

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Friday painting 1-22-16

Our little Friday Group at the community center is growing with several new people attending yesterday. The result is more art stimulation for everyone. I love to listen to them chat while I paint but then someone asked me a few questions and the end result is only one painting to show for my afternoon's work. I talked too much.

This is an usual subject for me, especially in the small 7 x 5 inch format. In my Studio it is easy to work a new subject past the point of no return, wipe it off and begin again. My self imposed challenge for these Friday sessions is to complete a painting so I am much more thoughtful in my color choices and stroke decisions. In doing that, the work retains a freshness.

1-22-16  Sunflowers, pastel, 7 x 5 inches

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Acrylic fun

My morning hours in the Studio today with acrylic were actually fun and my opinion about the medium is changing. As I continued work on the old house with fire hydrant, I am becoming familiar with the characteristics of this medium:

1. DRIES FAST. Because it dries so quickly (one of my previous complaints), I can rest my hand anywhere on the work to address small details without messing up the paint.

2. MUDLESS. I learned a fresh stroke of paint doesn't mix with preceding strokes and layers creating dreaded "mud." If a color is muddy, it is because I mixed it that way on the palette.

3. DRIES FLAT. I'm using GLOSS medium with the acrylic paint but it still dries looking flat so I am experimenting with applying small dabs of various values and hues next to each other to build up some depth. Also, I hope the final varnish will help.

House with Fire Hydrant, acrylic, 18 x 18 inches, progress continuing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Acrylic - big ahaa!

In and out of the Studio in one hour this morning (quit while you're ahead) with a pretty big ahaa! In my continuing exploration with acrylic paint, today I am happy.

1. Start with an old, really bad acrylic painting from about 10 years ago (yes, I've WORKED with acrylic before). Use a Sharpie to sketch an idea onto the old painting.

2. Put a blob of white, sepia and black paint on your palette. Put a blob of acrylic medium on your palette. Get an old ratty brush and start covering the old painting.

3. Stand there. Wonder what you're doing.

4. Wonder if you can lift color OFF. Twenty three years ago I was invented my colored pencil technique of lifting color with reusable adhesive. Ten years later, I began to wash ALL pastel off leaving a ghost image to begin again. Another ten years and I began subtracting oil paint with a clean rag or brush in mineral spirits. But acrylic (the regular kind, not Open or Interactive) dries so fast...I spray water and scratch the surface but it is futile. Hmm...what about a razor blade? Voila! I love it.

Now, I know that if an acrylic artist were reading this, they would be laughing at what a Rookie I am. but I'm actually inspired to continue. If you are one of the many who have emailed me with your own experiences and concerns about acrylic, I encourage you to continue exploring. If we can learn to work WITH the medium there might be hope.

Fire Hydrant House, acrylic, 18x18 inches, waiting next step.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Acrylic painging - tiny ahaa!

For a short time today I forgot I was painting with acrylic paint. I mixed acrylic medium to the paint (50/50) and it felt so much more like oil paint. A tiny ahaa! First step was to sketch the house (yes, again) on the acrylic primed stretched canvas. I brushed acrylic medium over the whole thing (smears the pencil but that's OK). Mixed a few colors and added acrylic medium. The FEEL of applying the paint was much improved compared to using acrylics with water. Eliminated that scratchy, raw look of my 1-15-16 version.   

Fire Hydrant #3, 10 x 8 inches, acrylic
Thanks to all who have emailed me with comments about this painting, my process/challenge and their own interest in acrylics. In response to Sandi's question below, here is a photo of the medium I used in this painting. This jar of medium must be 10 years old!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friday Paintings 1-15-2016

It's about discipline. It's about doing what I said I would do, no excuses. Each Friday I plan to paint two small pastels in a 50 x 50 foot room full of empty tables and chairs, under fluorescent lights. Sometimes there is background chatter of other artists or a group of people playing a game of cards. Today I was alone, committed to paint.

Being there instead of in my studio forces me to work through problems of a painting (and with limited supplies). When I am in my Studio I can abandon a painting if it isn't going well or I can wipe it off and begin again. I can throw it away and start working on something else. But, on Friday afternoons, I hold myself captive and accountable. I think it is good for me.

 1.15.16     Blue House     pastel, 5 x 7 inches

 1.15.16     Gold Creek Lake     pastel, 5 x 7 inches
available for purchase

Friday, January 15, 2016

Acrylic - a little hope

Took a slightly different approach this morning. Sketched the scene (the old house with fire hydrant) again onto a canvas panel. Laid in darkest areas with a palette knife. Sprayed the painting with water. Dragged the paint around for various values. Applied a few details with a small brush. Sprayed it with water. STOP.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Acrylic again, step by step

One of my goals for 2016 is to become familiar with acrylic paint. Why, I'm now asking myself?
I think it is because I have a lot of acrylic paint:  Utrecht, Liquitex, Daniel Smith, M. Graham & Company, Golden and Golden Open and Chroma Atelier Interactive. Am I going to use them or are they just taking up space in my small studio?

I started the year playing with Utrecht acrylics then Daniel Smith and Golden, trying to paint a subject I know well - a still life. I didn't like the way the paint felt when I applied it to the surface and it dried too fast. So I moved on to Open Acrylics which were a little better but I continued to struggle and whine about hard edges and difficulty in mixing color. I watched an online video by an artist using Interactive acrylics and my hope was renewed so I started with a 7x 5 Gessobord® and changed the subject to landscape. Horrible, then OK, then too controlled, painted over it, tried to pull paint back off, changed colors, wiped the whole thing off and began again. Over and over, all day long.

Since the first of the year I've been pushing acrylic paint around on a couple gessoed panels. There has been an abundance of conversation in my studio between me, myself and I. Mostly whining. I've eaten my comfort food (spaghetti) twice, chocolate covered pretzels and homemade chocolate covered marshmallows many times.

Then I changed my approach from more paint to less paint. I started with a 6x6 white Gessobord®, sprayed it with water and started applying strokes of thin color. I was pleased with the interaction between the paint and the water but I can't see myself doing this time consuming glazing to finally achieve what I could accomplish more quickly in another medium.

Today I went back to the beginning and got out my big jars of Utrecht Acyrlics. Before I give these paints away, I may as well use some (again). Here is the story, step by step in photos up to the point where I actually got a little bit enthused and forgot to take photos.

Fire Hydrant, acrylic on canvas, 10 x8 inches
When I began painting in oil with Master Qiang Huang, he encouraged me to keep my first paintings to see, after a period of time, how far I had come. He was right and I'll keep this one for the same purpose.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Two step by steps for Friday

I spent the morning in the Studio on this rainy, rainy day. One of the tasks was preparation for my Friday afternoon painting session. I selected two reference photos, both in the same color palette to minimize the number of pastels needed, put in a few guidelines with a pink pastel pencil and then laid in dry brush acrylic foundations. Just enough information to give me a visual map for pastel work.

There is a house I have been driving past for nine months. The 1949 Chevy is always parked in front, in the same place. I noticed today it has a For Sale sign in the window. I wonder if it runs?

I've painted this scene before. It is a body of water called Gold Creek though it looked like a lake to me when we visited in early spring a couple years ago. Once again, a dry brush application of acrylic for the underpainting. I like the feeling of painting in acrylic on sanded paper but my paint brushes say "ouch."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sunrise Fog and Morning Fog

Sunrise Fog, step 1
Sunrise Fog, step 2
I'm back to painting at the local Community Center on Friday afternoons. I can usually paint two small pastels in the time I am there depending on how much I visit with the other painters. Each of us have different art journeys but we all benefit from painting together. No one else is painting in pastel so it is fun to show them the relatively speedy progress of the medium as in the step x steps above.

This time I painted two views of our lake (see below).
1.8.16     Sunrise Fog     pastel, 5 x 7 inches

1.8.16    Morning Fog      pastel, 5 x 7 inches