Tuesday, July 31, 2007
oil on panel
See my paintings HERE
Art Notes Blog HERE
Information about White
I like to use all of the below whites but I use Permalba White instead of zinc white alone. Permalba is a combination of whites. It is very creamy. I use it a lot in the winter.
Titanium White - titanium dioxide (oxide)Reflects 97.5% of all available light. Most opaque white, perfect choice for direct painting but difficult for color mixing because it takes so much color to tint Titanium. Titanium is completely inert, does not change by aging or normal chemical action, but it does require more oil to grind than other whites and can show some yellowing because of the darkening of linseed oil when it dries. It does not dry very quickly and is more Zinc white in this respect. Titanium White does not dry as hard as Zinc white eventually will, and consequently will make a more flexible film.
Flake White - basic carbonate of lead Flake white has a heavy pigment requiring very little oil, and combines in time with oil to make a very flexible film. It is regarded as the most reliable white on which to build a painting. It can be applied more heavily than other whites with less danger of cracking than other whites. Flake white dries well and is a "warm" white. Note: Being composed of lead, Flake white is poisonous it absorbed into the body, but this does not happen by external contact.
Zinc White - zinc oxide The most popular and transparent of the whites, it is also slow drying. It is a "bluish" (cold) white color, not nearly as strong and opaque as Titanium White and therefore can be very easily controlled. Zinc is recommended for scumbling and alla prima painting. Impressionists who painted directly liked Zinc White for its transparency and slow dry time. But Zinc's slow drying time and brittleness does not make it a good choice for general painting.
Monday, July 30, 2007
acrylic on panel
See my paintings HERE
Art Notes Blog HERE
I meet and talk with many artists in my travels and at Plein Air events. I see lots of creative approaches to equipment.
Here are some ways to safely transport your wet paintings from the field back to your studio.
Buy some of the corrugated plastic which can be purchased in sheets. Build various sizes of boxes with it and glue the sticks you find at hobby stores into the sides to make spaces for panels to slide into. The same can be done with foam board, but the plastic cardboard is much stronger.
You can also use fruit crates and do the same thing with the sticks glued to the sides in spaces apart. Any sturdy box would work and the spaces apart can be adjusted for canvas or panels.
Here is another very creative approach for small panels. I have seen people use dish drying racks to hold small paintings. The rack just sits in the trunk of the car and the little paintings go in like dishes drying. Very cool and very cheap. The rack can be lowered into a box so that it is more stable with less chance of sliding around.
For plein air events where paintings are likely to be sold unframed and wet, nothing beats a pizza box. The painting goes in the box, the lid is taped and your client is happy to take home a nice painting immediately. I always tell them they can leave the painting in the box for a few weeks to dry if they like before framing.
Of course there are many companies who make beautiful hardwood drying boxes, but they are quite expensive. I have two such boxes, which are nice, but I love some of these more creative approaches.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
mixed media on panel
Art Notes Blog HERE
Summertime Outdoor Painting
When you live in the South you must be careful painting out on location in the summer. Choose a location with lots of big shade trees or the side of a building with shade. Better yet, the open porch of a building where you will have air circulation.
Use sunscreen liberally. I have been exposed to the sun for many years being an outdoor painter. The more you are in the sun, the more you must protect yourself from skin cancer. Even though you are in the heat, it's not a bad idea to wear long pants. The biting insects are roaming around in the summer and it may protect your legs from ticks and biters. Use a repellent with Deet. Spray it on before you leave the car and then a couple of more times while you are painting. I sometimes spray my pant box, so that wasps and bees will not be attracted to my paints.
Bring a lot to drink. Bottled water of course but it is also nice to have a Thermos or large drink with ice to keep you cool and refreshed.
Umbrellas will help some against the heat and sun but not a bunch. Better to find shade if possible.
Paint very early or very late. I like to be out on location between 7 and 10 AM if possible, or out after 5 PM If you must paint all day, be sure to pace yourself, taking frequent breaks.
Don't over pack. The heat saps your energy so take only what you will really need out to the field and leave the rest in your car. I use a limited palette in the summer to cut down on the weight of my paint box. I carry only my Guerrila Box, tripod, my garden bench and some water. Remember You will be much more tired when you finish, than you were when you started. You don't want to carry anything you don't have to.
Use a damp cloth around your neck or on your head, under your hat to cool down. Wear cotton or linen clothing and avoid poly fabrics. You can also purchase a small battery operated fan.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
acrylic on panel
See my paintings HERE
Art Notes Blog HERE
I like to use acid free mat board for many of my acrylic painting studies. I get them free from my frame shop friends. They are small scraps that the framer would toss out. I turn them over and use the smooth white side. They make terrific little paintings and the surface is very nice. You can gesso them or not. They are easy to cut with an old paper cutter in various sizes and they are perfect for miniature paintings which fit in the little easel back desktop frames. I usually get pieces from 12x16 and smaller down to about 4x6 inches. Many of them are beveled on the edge, so I cut off the bevels.
Friday, July 27, 2007
oil on panel
See More Paintings HERE
Linda's New Blog Art Notes HERE
This is how I do clouds. I pre-mix my color on the palette for them. Depending on the time of day and weather conditions, they can be grayer or warmer. If you pay attention to the direction of the light from the sun you will have better clouds. There are many possible color combinations too.
First I lay in the shadow colors where ever the clouds will be darkest. I block in the basic sky color around the shapes I wish them to be, leaving the white areas blank on the canvas. I then start mixing some of the shadow colors a bit lighter in value laying them in here and there overlapping some of the darkest areas, so that they have variety in value. The next stage is to lay in the white paint, some lead white ,some titanium. The next stage is to soften up the white edges next to the blue of the sky, so they don't look pasted on. A few adjustments here and there and the clouds look pretty good. I then will add a bit of Naples yellow here and there, or other slightly muted earth color, bringing a bit of the land color up into the clouds, not enough to dirty them up.
I will try to get a step by step demo done of cloud painting and put it on my Art Notes blog soon.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
oil on panel
See my new blog ART Notes HERE
Look at the Sky
I do a fair amount of plein air work and my observation has taught me that as you look at the sun, the sky is bleached out around it. As you look away the color becomes richer. The same for the horizon area. As your eyes travel up further, the color changes and becomes a deeper richer blue. When you paint, think about that. Don't make the sky color the same unless the sky is minimal in the painting. That is another issue too. Depending on your composition, you will need to make decisions on whether to minimize the detail in the sky or emphasize it. If your emphasis is on the land or tree mass, with little sky, don't try to make the sky important. If you have a low horizon and beautiful sky conditions, emphasize the sky instead, minimizing the land mass.
I often see paintings with very little sky, and yet the painter has done all kinds of elaborate clouds, jamming them into the painting like filling a sack. They are annoyingly distracting and take away from the real focus in the painting, which are elements on the land.
Think about what is important in the painting, the sky or the land and let the focus dominate and be the star.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
oil on panel
See my paintings HERE
I have created a new blog about my process as a painter, my art journal, my travel stories, recipes and restaurants I have found around the South. It is to be a more casual blog and less structured. This blog will continue to show my paintings and give advice for painters. I hope you will enjoy the new blog too.
Linda Blondheim Art Notes
Using Your Signature
I think most of us know about the signature line we can insert into our email programs. Most all email providers have this feature, and yet I see few who are using it to advantage. Many artists don't use it at all, and most who do, simply have their web URL printed out over and over again.
The signature line can be a tag line for you, or give out information about where you are showing your art, such as gallery shows, museum openings and so forth. You can also advertise your studio parties, specific offerings such as a new book, poster, a series or new body of work. Don't forget to publicise your blog and it's offerings too.
My email program allows me to have five signatures at a time in it's memory bank. I can set a different default for each day I I wish to.
Think of your signature line as a teaser, peaking the reader's interest. Here is an example for you. I wish to promote both my web site and my blog. I can either give out my URL for both like this:
www.linda-blondheim.blogspot.comor like this:
I am always happy to gift wrap and ship paintings for you. See my North Carolina paintings at www.lindablondheim.com
Read about my painting methods and get painters tips each day on my blog www.linda-blondheim.blogspot.com
They are essentially the same thing, but number two entices me to click on it because it gives me the possibility of something interesting to look at or read.
Think of your email signature line as free advertising. Use it to the best advantage. You never know who may click on it.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
acrylic on panel
Choosing The Right Format Orientation, Support and Size
I don’t know why but I never sell 16x20 inch paintings. I sell everything from 5x7 to 14x18 inches and 18x24 inches to 36x48 or larger. The common middle size is no man’s land for my work. I have no good explanation for this. The other oddity is that my horizontal format is the most popular with square format being second, and vertical coming in dead last. Finally, my patrons do not like the deep gallery wrap canvases for my work in anything smaller than 30x40 inches. They even have that size framed. They really don’t like my paintings unframed.
It is important for you to pay attention to this with your own work if you want to sell it. Remember, it is not about what is convenient for you or what you might personally prefer. It is about your patrons desires.
I have a habit of researching what patrons like the best because it helps me to make a living. I’m not suggesting that anyone do cows because they think people will buy cows. I paint what I like. What I am saying is that if your patrons prefer paintings in gold frames instead of gallery wrap, then it might be a good idea to frame your paintings in gold.
I have run into a lot of artists over the years that have the attitude that they must do their own thing and to heck with what patrons may want. That works fine as long as you are willing to have another job to support yourself. If you intend to make a living off your art, you should pay attention to what your buyers are saying with their wallets about format, sizes, and framing.
Monday, July 23, 2007
acrylic on panel
Available at Veranda Gallery in Ocala, Florida
See more paintings HERE
Like most professional artists, I am always trying to balance my studio budget. Here are a few suggestions:
Never buy supplies unless they are on sale if you can possibly wait to purchase. Most of the big supply companies have regular sales on various supplies. Stock up on your supplies whether you need them or not, when they are on sale. If it is a product you will need, buy it now and save money. Look for coupons online. Go to web sites like Michaels and Hobby Lobby and download their coupons. It is a good way to buy brushes and especially large or heavy items, which will cost more to ship. I used a Michaels 50% off coupon to buy my studio easel. Use the largest tubes of paint available for studio work. It will be less expensive.
Use wholesale or bulk framing companies instead of retail frame shops, unless your local framer takes good care of you like mine does.
If you are selling your work, you need to get your sales tax number. You will save a lot of money with your exemption and if you are going to be a pro, you will need to be properly licensed anyway. Keep a copy of your sales tax receipt in your wallet. When you go to a local art store use it to get your exemption.
If you have fellow artists that you trust, get together with them and do orders of supplies in bulk. You can share the cost of shipping and save quite a lot of money. You can also share the cost of postage for mail outs and other promotions. Put together a packet of promotional materials for a group of artists and send them out, splitting the cost of the mail out. I would suggest that in this case, the artists should have different subjects and styles to market. It would not be wise to have all landscape or still life etc. packaged together. You certainly don’t want to send potential buyers to your competition.
Turn lights out when you don’t need them and don’t run the AC when you are not in the studio. If you have storage rooms off the main studio space, keep those doors closed so that you are not using the AC or heater in unoccupied rooms.
Try to match your clients with the mail outs that will do the most good. If you are doing a local event, only mail to local clients who are most likely to attend.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Paintings matted and ready to go.
I have a new and exciting project to work on. One of my friends is building a new home and she wants me to do a painting which will be made into ceramic tiles for the back splash in her kitchen. I can't wait to do this. It will be too cool. I have heard of this before from a painter I know in NYC who does paintings of chefs. My painting will be a rural farm scene with big Oaks and Spanish moss. I can't wait to get started. I really love being a painter. It gives me so many opportunities to do exciting things. I wake up each day being thrilled by the prospects to come. I think artists are so lucky.
Practice for Fun
I am a big fan of fooling around in the studio for fun. Sometimes I don’t want to do any serious painting. Here is one of the things I do to practice and just have fun.
I grid off a piece of index paper into 2½ x 3½ inch sizes. I make little paintings, practicing composition and brushwork with acrylic paints. It is a warm up for me and a chance to use unusual color combinations.
I cut out all the paintings and glue them to colorful 4x6 inch pieces of mat board. These little paintings will fit in a nice little table top frame. You can find them in most camera shops and places like Hobby Lobby.
Sometimes I sell the paintings in a browse bin or on Ebay. Sometimes I give them to patrons or friends. They will go nicely into an envelope to send through the mail unframed. It makes a nice surprise for friends to receive them. I often send them to people who have helped me in some way with my career.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Smokey Mountain Trees
mixed media on panel
Looking For Studio Space
It’s not easy to find a good studio space. There are a lot of issues for painters to make decisions on. Do you want the space for painting only or are you going to have patrons and students in the space?
If you are planning to make it an artists and patrons haven you will need to consider some safety and parking issues. Is it in a safe neighborhood or in an industrial area? Easy to park? Zoning issues and licensing from the city or county? What about liability insurance? I have to pay about 500.00 a year for public liability insurance, because I invite both students and patrons into my studio regularly. Your homeowner and rental insurance will not cover that kind of liability. Is the outside of the space clean? Do you have a plan for signage, making sure that it fits with city code?
What about space? Is the studio well layed out, giving you enough room to do larger paintings and store them? Room for a drafting table, supply shelves,work tables, taboret and easels? Have they provided adequate lighting to do art and if not, do they object to your adding shop lights? How do they feel about solvents, paint splatters on the walls and floors? Is there a sink for brush washing? I advise you to be very up front about these issues when renting a space. Often non-artists do not understand how much of a mess a studio space can be.
What hours are you allowed to be in the space? Any restrictions on how many people are allowed to be in the space, such as a class? Are there handicap and OSHA standards that must be met? Can you play music? Have a refrigerator? How about proper ventilation, heat and AC in the room?
I would first make a list of all the amenities that you want, your price range, your specific needs, and then write a list of possible problems which may come up. After you have it all straight in your mind, go out hunting. You will most likely need to make several compromises along the way.
Friday, July 20, 2007
oil on panel
See my paintings HERE
Deciding What To Paint
I had an email the other day from a beginning painter who wanted to know about how I arrive at subjects to paint.
I am one of those lucky people who likes a lot of things. You see my landscapes every day but I am really interested in many things. I paint a lot of different subjects but I don’t show most of them. I show my landscapes because that is what people expect to see and what I feel is my strongest work. I’m a terrible still life painter but I love that subject. I love Daniel Greene’s still life and subway paintings. I love his palette too. We can’t all be masters however. ( By the way, Daniel Greene Oils are superb. They are my favorite oils.)
I am visually excited about things like furniture, quilts, rugs, fruits and vegetables, trees, shoes, flowers, the sea, palms, and mountains of late. I am always collecting photos and objects that are interesting to use later for paintings. I never know what will capture my interest, and that is what makes my life as a painter a constant adventure. Whenever I travel, I am seeing new places and things which motivate and excite me.
If you are tired of what you are painting, find some new subjects which interest you. One reason I like being a landscape painter is that the category is vast, including many climates and terrains, and many subjects like architecture, mountains, the sea, desert, etc. Think about how many possibilities you have as a floral painter, or figurative or interior painter; endless possibilities.
The secret is to paint what you understand and love. I don’t paint the desert. Never been there, don’t understand or have an emotional connection to it. I love the South and so that is what I paint. I love the history, culture, food and land here and I celebrate it with my work. I want to bring it to life for all of those people who think theme parks are the South. I wish to celebrate my heritage and show my love for something which is precious to me.
The other issue is technical. Are you at a stage in your work where you feel you are ready to tackle difficult subjects? I have no problem at all with doing very bad paintings of subjects I don’t understand, like complex bridges, boats, portraits and so forth, because they help me to learn my craft. However, if you are sensitive about how your work will be viewed, you might want to wait until you can do simple subjects well, before jumping into the deep end of the pool.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Western North Carolina Farm
mixed media on panel
I spent a delightful morning with my friend, artist Carol Drummond, in her light filled studio. She lives in the historic district, in a fine old home, full of antiques and a substantial art collection. Carol is a fiber artist as well as a painter. Her quilts are colorful and narrative, with many themes. You can see one in the photo. She is enormously talented and charming as well. She is one of the best kinds of artists, humble and kind.
It is always great to visit another artist's studio. We learn so much and it gives us inspiration for our own work. Thanks Carol!!!
Painting on location is not the only way to gain knowledge for landscape painting. Have you taken the time to go out and simply observe? Go to a state park, botanical garden, or even your own back yard and just take a look around. I like to take a little journal or sketchbook with me to take notes about what I see. I write about how cast shadows work, direction of light, color temperature I observe, etc. What does the ground look like up close, and then receding? What do I see in the foreground,, middle and back ground in the place I'm sitting. What kind of texture on bark, grass foliage? In truth, it is the better way to learn about these things, because when we are painting, we are involved with the process of pushing the paint around and the difficulties of making it work.
Just sitting still and observing is a great way to build your knowledge about what things really look like.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
mixed media on panel
Imagine my surprise when I won a Blogger of The Day award yesterday. I have seen this award on other people's blogs, but now I have my own. What a treat!!
I get to go to another artist's studio tomorrow for a studio visit. I am looking forward to it. I don't get enough social time away from work. I become a hermit every summer, hiding in my studio, painting non-stop.
I decided to get rid of the floor easels that I keep for students and replace them with nice table top easels from Jack Richeson & Company. That gives me a lot more floor room in the studio and when I don't have workshops, I have more room for myself. I'm a minimalist by nature and don't like a lot of clutter in my workspace.
I am thinking about perhaps painting the studio walls a pale gray. They have always been white but I wonder if the art might show better on the gray. My other possibility is to install a gray carpet on one wall. One of my galleries has this and it looks great with paintings. Perhaps that can be a project next summer.
An artist friend suggested that I give you a list of my favorite art books. Of course I love all kinds of art books, including the big table top books featuring various artists, but for this list, I will stick to instructional and text books for artists. My criteria for a good art book stays away from cute tricks and gimmicks for painting methods and techniques. I am old fashioned and don't much care for weird stuff. I like books that stick with traditional methods of painting. I will leave off some books that others will think are vitally important. She asked me for my favorites, not to list all of the good art books available.
I have been a life long student of design and so many of my favorites are of that topic. My favorite design books are:
Principles of Two Dimensional Design-Wong
A painter's Guide to Design and Composition-Schulzke
The Complete Guide to Perspective- Raynes
The Simple Secret to Better Painting-Albert
For Oil Painters:
The Complete Oil Painter- Gorst
Guide to Landscape Painting- Carlson
Oil Painting, Develop Your Natural Ability- Sovek
The Big Book of Painting Nature - Schaeffer
How to Paint Flowers- Parramon-Crespo
Keys to Painting Trees and Foliage-Wolf
For Acrylic Painters:
Acrylic School- Harrison
Color Choices- Stephen Quiller
For Artists Who Draw:
The Elements of Drawing- Ruskin
The best illustrator for me is James Marshall who wrote the George and Martha and Cut Ups series of books.
Art Marketing 101- Smith
How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist- Michels
Cultivating Collectors- Stanfield
Promotion For Pennies-Viders/Johnson
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
How much time do you spend on the early stages of your painting? Perhaps you need to slow down and spend more time on your block it. The block in is critical for good composition and building the framework for your painting. Here is what I do. I start with the rule of thirds. This is a compositional tool which looks like tic tac toe drawn on your canvas with a stroke of paint. It divides your canvas into thirds in both directions. The four cross points are considered to be sweet spots on the canvas, where major elements will look their best. You can see my example here.
I start with a single color and block in my major elements. If I am having trouble, I'll use a second color for corections. After this stage, I use a large flat brush to simply lay in the various elements and basic colors of the painting. Like This.
The block in is your road map for the painting and should not be rushed. I spend most of my time in a painting in that session. if you get it right, the rest is easy.
Monday, July 16, 2007
mixed media on panel
If you have a topic you would like me to address, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making a Painting Work
Sometimes what you think was a good subject or scene is not. This often times happens when you paint from photos. A perfectly lovely scene in a photo, will not translate well to paint and canvas. Such was the above painting in it's early stages. The original scene was very minimal, with no bushes or trees other than the palms, the jut of land and the distant shoreline. The reflections of the individual palms showed in the water in the lower left. It was a beautiful photo but ended up being quite blah on my panel.
After leaving it to sit for awhile, I decided it needed more bushes and growth, and a bit of something happening in the sky and water to make a go. That did the trick. It now looks nothing like my photo but who cares?
My job as a painter is to make it work, not to copy what I see. This is important for both studio and plein air work.
When you have a painting that is not working, you must be prepared to make changes in it. A bit of analysis is in order. Check for values and contrast. Is it blah because it has no value ranges? Check the composition. Is it too boring? Are there too many dead spaces? That was the case for my painting. What about color? Is it all too much the same? No changes in temperature. Are all the greens the same? Have you given it a sweet spot where the eye can go to see a bit of color or texture which is dominant? Have you used intervals in the painting to pull the eye along?
Remember that the scene you are painting may not have these elements. You as a good designer must create them.
I have students tell me all the time that their painting sucks and it's not working. I insist that they go back to it and think about why it is not working. I always tell them that they must be able to coherently list the things that are wrong before they can hope to make it work. If you don't know what is wrong, how can you fix it? Telling them what needs to be done will not teach them much. They need to learn to analise first.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Dunes at Ormond By The Sea
oil on panel
Yesterday an artist emailed me to ask a few questions about promotion. She was going to be in an event at a strip shopping center. She was invited to paint there and show some work with other artists.
This is a kind of situation where serious painting is not the order of the day. You will be there to be part of the entertainment. It is far more important to use this as a promotional opportunity than a painting opportunity. My advice is to pre-block in several paintings, so that you can quickly get to the meat of each painting. People want to be wowed and see a painting come to life. If you have something partly done, that can happen. It is also a nice learning tool for spectators. You will be able to show them various stages of a painting from start to completion. Spend a long time on each painting, so that it gets refined as the day goes on. The better it looks, the more impressed people will be.
Be sure to bring a small table and cloth to put your brochures out, business cards, image post cards, bookmarks, a guest book and several pens. Try to get people to give you their current email as well as their postal address. After the event is over, send a post card to each of the people who signed your guest book.
Prior to the event, do a mail out to your mailing list with a post card invitation. You can include a 10% off coupon or a coupon for a free reproduction, whatever works.
Send out a press release for the event 6 weeks in advance to all the area style magazines, an then 2 weeks in advance to print, radio and TV. Include a link to images and your contact info, along with the contact info for the promoter of the event. Add some human interest to the PR.
The important thing here is to use every advantage you can to promote yourself. Don't just show up and hope for sales. Make it happen.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Trees on County Road 225
oil on canvas
Start a Painters Exchange
For those of you who teach painting, or belong to groups who meet to paint together, here is a handy way to assist each other.
I don't know about you, but I seem to accumulate brushes, canvases and paints that I thought I wanted, but discovered that I did not like for various reasons. I like to try a lot of different colors etc, and sometimes they are just not fo me.
Since I have lot of workshop students who come to my studio, I am going to start an exchange program. I keep a box of various used supplies that I no longer want and I'm going to put it out for painters to rummage through and try a tube of paint they might like or a brush. I used to do this regularly but got out of the habit. One of my students was able to complete her palette out of my exchange box for a workshop out of state. Yesterday, a student dropped by and got three canvases that had old paintings on them. She will sand them down and re prime them for new paintings.
Students and my artist friends can also bring their contribution of paints/brushes to me for the box, so the exchange continues. Don't forget art books, drawing materials, art paper and other items that you no longer want. Most of this stuff has little resale value, so it's a good idea to have an exchange instead. Everybody has a free art supply store.
You will need to have a designated studio for this where everyone meets regularly, or assign one person to run the exchange from the trunk of their car if you are meeting at painting places. Be fair and contribute your materials so that no one has the burden of giving out supplies alone. Don't be greedy. Take one item at a time, so that others may choose too. No need for paperwork or records. It truely is a free exchange.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Red Trees North Carolina
mixed media on panel
gold or copper frame
In addition to values we must consider contrast. Artlex gives this definition of Contrast:
contrast - A large difference between two things; for example, hot and cold, green and red, light and shadow. Closely related to emphasis, a principle of design, this term refers to a way of juxtaposing elements of art to stress the differences between them. Thus, a painting might have bright color which contrast with dark colors, or angular shapes which contrast with curvaceous shapes. Used in this way, contrast can excite, emphasize and direct attention to points of interest.
Contrast give your painting zip and pop!!! Granted, there are painters who don't care for contrast in their work but for those of us who do, we need to consider how important it can be.
I am convinced that painters actually see differently. People always tell me that I am a colorist and that I push color and contrast, but I don't always do it deliberately. In truth, that is really the way I see the world. Paintings just look bland to me without good contrast. One of my artist friends sees the world in muted tones of blue, gray, purple and green. It took me a long time to understand this phenomenon. That is why we all have different collectors.
Here is a little exercise in contrast that I do with my workshop students:
Painting One- Has a normal evenly distributed contrast.
Painting Two- Has a high key contrast, lots of bright light against small areas of very dark values
Painting Three- Has very strong darks against small areas of very bright light.
Just like in the value exercises, we are manipulating contrast for dramatic effects.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
North Carolina Road
mixed media on panel
gold or copper frame
I have had an incredibly productive summer and have produced many, many paintings. It is amazing what can be produced when you are not traveling and teaching. I have had a wonderful time hibernating in my studio since June.
I am teaching a fun workshop in August with an art pin theme. Wearable art is a lot of fun and really good advertising too. This workshop is sponsored by CHARTPAK, one of my very generous sponsors, who has given me most of the materials for our fun and creative adventure. We will be using all kinds of markers, paints, glitter, sequins and our imagination to create these pins. They make great gifts too. There is still room in the class, so please contact me if you wold like to spend the day with us making art pins. There are no supplies to bring, and breakfast and lunch will be provided. You only have to bring yourself.
The Fee is 75.00
9 AM- 5 PM
August 4, 2007
A lot of painters think that color is the most important element in painting. I personally think that value is more important. Values really can make or break your painting. The one thing I see consistently wrong in paintings, sometimes my own :>( is a mishandling of values. So often a painting is pleasant to look at, with nice color, decent composition, but it has little style or impact on the viewer. Everything looks the same. Most of the time it has a problem with values.
You can read endless discussions about values and the technical aspects of painting them in a number of art forums. All of that gobblety gook makes me tired and my eyes start to cross.
Basically, I look for ways to add drama to my paintings by manipulating values and contrast. The repeated comment from patrons about my work that most appeals to them are crisp values and contrast. Since I am not a realist painter, I do not concern myself with using the values that I might actually see on location. That is not to say that correct values are not important. Believe me, they are. But because I am an expressionist, I tend to push values to get the results I'm looking for.
All of us have done endless value studies, but to what end? Are we really learning anything or just going through the motions? Here is a suggestion for your studies which I do with my workshop students.
Start with the mid value and go high for a painting. From medium gray to white. In other words the mid value will be darkest. On the second painting, use the mid value as your lightest value and go dark. Then do both exercises with a color palette. Do the same subject for all of the paintings. This is a pretty good exercise and will teach you something about how to manipulate value to give a mood to your painting.
Also, try doing some five value paintings, a black, white, mid tone, the value between black and mid tone and the value between white and mid tone. Using five values will help you to keep up with which values go where in the scene and give you more control.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Western North Carolina Field
mixed media on linen panel
copper or gold frame
Casein-Transparent Oils process continued....
I have been experimenting with several different approaches to this process. In some paintings, I paint directly on the casein with the T Oils. The biggest problem I see with this is the possibility that the final dried painting will varnish unevenly because of course, a few spots are missed in the top layer of paint, leaving some of the casein unpainted. If it varnishes evenly, then it will be fine in the end. Time will tell.
The second method of painting over the casein with Garrett's Copal, gives the under painting a warm softer look because of the amber color. Using that method produces a more tonal painting, softening the overall color since the oils are transparent. It's a nice look. However, some of my paintings need a brighter lighter color, so another approach is also needed.
The third method is using Gamblin Galkyd painted over the casein prior to glazing. This method seems to be the best overall of the three. I simply stroke the Galkyd in a thin even layer over the casein painting and immediately start to work with the transparent oils. The color stays bright and crisp which is my favorite "look" for my work. The other advantage to this method is that it helps the transparent oils to dry faster. They are extremely slow drying taking months and months to dry.
I'm sure with further experiment and painting time, that I am going to be able to get this technique to a high level. I really like it and I think I am on to something for me with this. It has the advantage of time management, the beauty of transparent, luminous color, and good detail when needed. I plan to go out on location with the casein to paint, and then do the other process in my studio, another big advantage.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
St Vincent Peninsula
Cape San Blas
mixed media on panel
Mixed Media Results
It seems a good idea to give you an update on the technique I have been using this summer for studio paintings. I believe it will prove to be very satisfactory for plein air work as well.
First, a bit about the casein medium. Casein is a very old medium. Casein (kay'seen) is a quick-drying, aqueous medium using a milk-based binding agent, and is one of the most durable mediums known to man. Nine thousand year old Casein cave paintings have been discovered in Asia, and later, the medium was used by Byzantine, Roman and Renaissance artists including the Old Masters.
I have been using the medium for a few years. They’re very versatile, allowing loose, impressionist brush strokes and very tight detail. They clean up easily with water, and the palette cleans with water as well. Just a paper towel with water will scrub the palette clean.
They have a very similar look to Gouache, which I don't care for as a final finish. I have not been successful in varnishing casein, as it varnishes rather unevenly, with patches of flat paint and other areas glossy. For that reason, I had all but given up on them as a medium.
Luckily, in my research I ran across an article about a painter who was using casein as an under painting and glazing over it with transparent oils. As ,many of you know, I have loved glazing over my opaque oils for some time, but the process is very slow and the drying time very long. That is a problem for me because I often have clients who are in a hurry for work.
Discovering this process, speeds my time up considerably over doing traditional oils. Instead of weeks or months to do a painting, I can do it in a day or two if it is small. The caveat to this is that casein must be done on board, never stretched canvas. Casein dries extremely hard, and any flexing of the support would crack it. Therefore one is limited to the size of the paintings by weight and warping issues. I would probably not go larger than 20x24 for that reason. It might be better to do diptychs or triptychs.
My further research tells me that casein or gouache is a much better under painting medium than acrylic for oils. The archivalist I asked has frowned on having the acrylic/oil combination, but feels the casein /oil combination is fine.
More on this topic tomorrow.....
Monday, July 09, 2007
mixed media on panel
I discovered a great way to save money on brochures. It works whether you are having them professionally made or doing your own on your computer. I have the same information printed three times across one side of the paper and I use index paper instead of the regular thin paper, though you could use any paper you want to. The index holds up well and lasts longer. A tri-fold brochure is three columns with the same information. I print on each column a list of what I offer, one small image, and my contact information- web site, studio number, email.
These get cut into thirds, and fit wonderfully in one of the plastic brochure holders from office supply stores.
They look great and I get three times the normal brochures. It saves a lot of money. I use them at exhibitions, when I am out on location painting, and in the studio for folks to pick up.
I still make traditional brochures to send for museum proposals and more formal submissions, but these single column brochures are fine for most people.
Every penny counts.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
oil on canvas
gold or silver frame
A New Plan for Charity Auctions
I have given hundreds of paintings to charities that I support over the years. I always insist that the committee member come to my studio to pick up a painting for two reasons. First, I want them to see my new work, find my studio, and purchase work for themselves, which they often do. Secondly, since I am giving them a painting, I don't need to use my valuable time and gas money to deliver. If they are unwilling to come pick up the painting, they don't need it :>)
I've always supported charities because it is the right thing to do for my community, not because I have been getting anything from it in return. I am re-thinking this a bit of late.
Hence forth I am going to give gift certificates for my studio instead of paintings. I believe it will accomplish more because the actual patrons will need to do a studio visit to use the certificate or use my web site. It won't really matter if they end up not using it because the charity will have gotten their money from the patron. If they do use it, chances are they will make a more substantial purchase than the certificate is worth so I win too. They win because they are able to select a painting that they like.
I see no down side to this.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Salt Marsh Palms
mixed media on panel
There are many framing companies on the Internet in many price ranges. Simple mouldings work well for me. I don't buy the 300.00 8x10 frames because most of my clients tend to want to re-frame at some point to suit themselves. They like to hang the painting for awhile at home before they decide.
I look for decently made frames which are not too expensive. I use a variety of mouldings in metal leaf gold, silver, champagne silver, copper, and acid washed metal leaf. For some reason, I can't sell a painting in natural wood mouldings. They have to be metal leaf to sell. I made the very expensive mistake once, of buying a bunch of natural, solid wood frames, which were washed with a soft blue stain. They were beautiful and complimented my work nicely. I could not sell a painting to save my life in those frames. The minute I put a painting back in a gold frame, it sold.
I use standard sized panels and stretched canvas because those sized frames are ready made. Often these frame companies have specials and promotions on different mouldings each month and by using standard sizes, I can cash in on that. I just got some 12x16 frames yesterday which were on promotion. They are a beautiful dark copper metal leaf. Well made, and the paintings look great in them. The frames at this company only come in standard sizes.
I try to purchase frames when they are on sale whether I need them or not because there is always a need for more frames and it's easier on the studio budget.
Having a good friendship with my local framer is also wise, knowing I will need custom frames for time to time for certain clients. I sometimes sell unframed paintings in my studio and send all that business to my favorite framers. They are grateful. I know I can go in their shop and have a frame made within an hour, and that is so important.
I also order all of my framing hardware online, including mirror hangers (D Rings), framing wire, the little canvas offset gizmos, screws, framers tape and tools. I only have to replenish about once a year and get everything at once.
I have a framing table, padded on the top, to lay the frame face down and install hardware. All of my tools are in the drawers and there is a little parts cabinet on the wall over the table(old dresser). One thing I have learned is to keep the cardboard corners on the frames until the paintings are sold, or they go into galleries.
I do framing installation for my students once a month at my open studio session, or at other times if they need help. It is easy for me because all of the hardware and tools are right in the studio.
Framing is an expensive part of a painter's career and the more efficient and economical we can be, the better.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Mixed Media on panel
gold or copper frame
I was having a conversation with on of my sponsors yesterday via email. We were talking about loyalty. I think it's one of the most important things we need to think about in our professional lives as painters.
Loyalty to our own style of work is important. I don't know about you but I constantly see painters change their painting methods to make their work look like other more popular artists. How many Richard Schmids, Charles Soveks, Matt Smiths have we seen out there? The plein air world is full of this. Since California is the Mecca for plein air painters, I see more and more painters emulate the California painters. This is sad to me. Florida is a unique and beautiful place. It should be celebrated for it's uniqueness, and yet more and more work I see here looks like cookie cutter stamped out California copied work. It is difficult to be loyal to your own work sometimes. Sometime you feel that it is not understood or appreciated. You must be loyal to your own muse. Don't take the easy way out by jumping on bandwagons. Those bandwagons have a habit of falling off a cliff at some future time. Clients are fickle. Some other fad will come along soon enough. If you are sure of your own work and continue to produce the best you can, the clients will find you. I have learned the hard way not to be discouraged at paint out events. My paintings always find their owner, but not necessarily at that event. The sales come later.
Loyalty to our galleries is important. Promoting our galleries and keeping our work rotated in them is important. It works both ways though. The galleries that I am most loyal to are good to me. They put my work on their web sites, they communicate well, pay on time and make an effort on my behalf.
Loyalty to suppliers is important. I am loyal to the suppliers who treat me like a person, not just an order number. I want to speak to a real person, not a machine. I have the expectation that problems will be solved in a timely manner and with courtesy. It's not about discounts to me. Quality and service are more important. I know that I can go to my local framer and have a frame that I need made immediately if I need it. My other suppliers are the same way. They are loyal to me because I am to them.
Loyalty to clients is important. If my client wants a special frame, I will get it for them, if they need me to drive 50 miles to deliver a painting, I will do it. If they want to come to the studio at 3 AM, I will get up for them to show work. I will help my workshop students prepare for a show, do research for them, help them to frame paintings and give them advice. Clients are your life blood. No one is more important to you than they are. I never forget that they put the bread on my table. Most of them become personal friends. Loyalty to them is without question.
Who has helped you even in a small way to make your living as an artist? Do you eat in the restaurant that gave you a show? Shop in the bookshop who sells your notecards? Do you refer friends to businesses who support you?
Who deserves your loyalty? Are you giving it to them?
Thursday, July 05, 2007
gold or copper frame
Don't throw out that old furniture!!
My entire studio is furnished with old junk furniture. After all, it is all going to have paint splatters on it anyway. If you have an old dresser, chest of drawers and a night stand with a drawer in it, you have just about everything you need to furnish a small studio.
I took the mirror off an old dresser from the 70's and now use it as my framing table. I taped several rows of bubble wrap on the top, a long piece of foam rubber would work equally well. The drawers hold unframed paintings,and all of my tools, tape,glue, and anything related to framing. It is just the right height for comfort to frame and install hardware. I put one of those cabinets in the wall over it that holds screws, nails and so forth in little drawers.
I made a combination taboret/palette stand next to my easel with an old night stand with a drawer. I pulled open the drawer and nailed in the sides, so it is permanently open and holds my paint tubes. I put a marble tile on the top to use as my palette and the space under the drawer holds more paints in boxes.
I took an old but well made chest of drawers and removed the drawers. I cut and placed plywood in it for shelving and it is sturdy shelf unit now for supplies. I used the drawers to put paintings in like a browse bin by cutting a piece of taller board for the back to use as a rest. The drawers eventually wore out, but lasted a long time. I still have the dresser and it is in fine shape.
If you have an old dining table and chairs, that makes a great work table and will hold table top easels. If not, use one of the folding tables that you can purchase at Sams or Cosco.
My studio couch, well loved and broken in, is about 18 years old. It has a paint stained cover on it.
I have had most of this old junk studio furniture for at least 20 years and with the exception of the table, it was all free. I think re-using old things brings a comfort to my working environment. No one seems to mind seeing the old stuff when they come to visit. After all, I'm just a country painter.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
acrylic on panel
See my paintings HERE
Storage of Art
Some friends asked me to address this topic.
I know lots of artists and collectors who have too much art. They often ask me what to do about it.
You can never have too much art. Art is what sustains us and gives our life beauty and culture. Art is a mini-vacation each time we see it. it takes us away from suffering, pain, and apathy in our routine lives. I suggest rotating your collection once a year. Store half of your collection and show the other half for a year and then switch. In the mean time you can add a new painting when you find one you like. Don't forget your office at work. You can display small paintings on book cases and your desk. Kitchens and bathrooms are fine for art too. Be sure that paintings will withstand moisture in the bathroom; better to keep works on paper in other locations.
Don't forget what a wonderful gift a painting can be. Many of my clients purchase work for friends and family. Art is a wonderful gift for your children. You can build their collection over the years.
When you run out of space but you don't want to have a studio sale, you must find a way to store your paintings. One way is to remove the canvas from the stretcher bars and store the paintings in a flat file or in a plastic box that folks use for large sweaters or coats. You can find them at home improvement stores. They are large rectangular flat boxes. Stack the canvases in the box with freezer paper in between back to back and front to front. I like to put a silica capsule in the box to keep any moisture out but that is because I live in Florida.
I stack smaller paintings on panels on top of each other,back to back,front to front, after putting them in plastic sleeves, in a drawer in my framing chest (old Dresser). In a decent sized dresser drawer you can store 30-40 paintings unframed.
Stretcher bars can be dismantles carefully and stored together as four pieces wrapped up in tape or a bungee.
Of course there is also the under bed and sofa storage too. Utilizing furniture as a hidy hole for paintings is a great use of your precious space. A large painting will slide nicely behind your sofa.
Don't forget the possibilities on the ceiling. It is fairly simple to construct open ended shelves which hang about a foot down from the ceiling to slide paintings into. An even cheaper way is to connect bungee cords to the ceiling with strong hooks or eye screws. Four bungee cords, one on each corner of the space you wish to use. The length of the bungees will determine how much space you have for paintings. Take your largest canvas and run the bungees through each corner of the stretcher bar brace. That painting becomes your platform on which other paintings slide onto. I have used this in the hall way of my studio for years. No one even notices. You can disguise it with a colorful quilt tacked over the paintings after they are placed.
Don't leave out garages and workshops or out buildings like barns. You will need to properly wrap them against insect damage in out buildings but it can be done.
Climate controlled storage places are also a good option.
Start a lending library for paintings. You will know many friends and family who would love to hang works for you. Just be careful about your book keeping and have them sign a check out form with the understanding that you may pick up the painting when needed.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Casein Under Painting
Transparent Oil Glazes
See my Paintings HERE
I am working on a new technique I have read about recently. I've always loved the casein medium but I don't like the way it dries, very chalky. It doesn't varnish very well, rather unevenly. I read about a painter who was using it as an under painting and using transparent oils to glaze over the casein. I started the above painting yesterday. I like it. I have a bit of touch up work to do on the painting but I love the luminosity of the color and the detail is very crisp. It also has the advantage of developing much more quickly than traditional oils. I'll let you know how it varnishes up. Caseins and transparent oils are available through Dick Blick and Jack Richeson & Company.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Still Life Study
Oil On Paper
See my paintings HERE
The above is a little study I did during the first Sunday Studio Session yesterday. I had set up a little still life for us to use. Bob was drawing, and I painted it. I didn't feel that it was good enough to finish so I abandoned it at this stage. Valerie painted cool cats!! I really love the Sunday Open Studio sessions. I hope more people will start coming. We installed paintings in frames, painted, drew and enjoyed the afternoon together. I did this a few years ago and it was really fun. I let it go but discovered that I really missed the group and so I have started again. Yesterday was the first session. Open studios are a lot more fun than a regular class, because you get to work on whatever you feel like doing. I do frame installation, and give marketing advice and some informal instruction or demonstrations.
I always have some chips or munchies and cold drinks in the ice box. We play all kinds of music. It's a blast!!! My next session is August 5. Let me know if you would like to come.
Developing Studio Paintings from Location Studies
I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of years doing location studies rather than finished paintings. I still do some alla prima but that is usually only at paint outs where alla prima is required, or for small paintings. I like to do starts or block-ins on location and finish them in the studio where I have more time to develop them. It seems to be the perfect way to paint for me.
I am an expressionist after all, not a realist painter, so the scene in front of me is merely a jumping off place into the painting. It gives me an idea and then the painting take off on its own.
I also use the small field studies to do larger more complex paintings in studio.
Translating a small painting into a large one takes a fair amount of adjustment for success. In a large format there are going to be larger spaces or dead areas. This is not apparent in the small version. It will be rare that a small painting can be reproduced in a larger format exactly as you painted it initially.
Here are some ideas to help you make the transition.
Do several small contour sketches of possible improvements in the composition for a large format.
Use a grid to lay out the current painting, so that you see dead areas or potential compositional problems for the larger painting.
Think about color and value changes for the larger painting. Is the lovely rich color in the small version going to be overwhelming in a larger painting? This is something I have had to learn myself, because I like strong color saturation. I am learning to reduce the color a bit in larger studio paintings so that they don't overwhelm the viewer.
Now is the time to correct any compositional errors that were made in the first painting.
Start with large brushes and keep it loose, not getting fussy in a large format until much of the painting is done. You will want to retain the freshness of the original painting but refine it a bit more.
It won't hurt to take a few photos out in the field to use for reference, but try not to depend too much on them. Better to take field notes on values,color light direction, time of day and use the original study for your references.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
oil on panel
I found this information about the effects of deterioration of paper. This is for my friends who draw.
Current research suggests that paper will last the longest when kept at a relative humidity of 45%. Ranges of 50-70% are considered acceptable for private homes and studios. Some climates may require a winter humidifier and summer dehumidifier to maintain this standard.
If humidity is too low, it can cause the desiccation and eventual embrittlement of paper. Too much humidity accelerates the growth of mold and the internal decomposition of paper.
Mold is nourished by sizing and paper fibers, and can also feed on the binders used in pastels. The presence of rusty-colored patches indicates that foxing chemical action of mold on the metallic salts in the paper due to prolonged, high humidity is occurring. Exposure to direct sunlight for 1 hour, or enclosure in a closed container with thymol crystals for 2-3 days, will kill mold. Thymol is a fungicide, available at chemical supply houses and some drug stores. Since thymol softens oil paint, it should not be used on oil paintings.
While low temperatures are best suited to the storage of paper products, consistency of temperature is critical. Temperature/humidity fluctuations, called cycling, can often be more detrimental to paper than consistently high temperatures.
Cycling weakens, and eventually breaks down, the fibers of paper by causing expansion and contraction due to water contained within it.
Changes in temperature/relative humidity should be minimal (10' F and 10%), and gradual Some ways to prevent mold and minimize deterioration due to heat and humidity are:
Maintain the lowest, most consistent temperature you possibly can between 60-70' F.
Keep humidity between 45-70%.
Avoid hanging pictures on the outside facing walls, especially if they feel cold or damp.
Avoid framing pictures directly against glass or Plexiglas without a spacer or mat, as this provides an excellent surface for moisture and mold.
Dust framed pictures regularly, as airborne mold spores are contained within dust.
Keep frames away from the wall by inserting small cork squares in the two lower corners of the frame. This creates good circulation and reduces chance of mold growths.
Avoid leaving pictures in a closed room or house for extended periods of time without some form of circulation or dehumidification.
Never hang pictures over a heating register, air duct or fireplace.
Air pollution. Large urban and industrial areas promote a process called sulfation, which occurs when flue gas constituents (water, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, etc.) react to form sulfuric acid. Sulfur dioxide gas is absorbed by paper, where it reacts with moisture to create a destructive sulfuric acid problem within the fibers.
This is called acid hydrolysisCthe reaction of an organic compound with water in the presence of acid. This process breaks down the cellulose, causing discoloration, embrittlement and disintegration of the paper fibers. At normal temperatures, it occurs very slowly, but at elevated temperatures, the process is greatly accelerated.
Sulfuric acid does not evaporate or leave the paper, even after removal from the contaminated area.
Other major pollutants include industrial smoke and particulate matter, photochemical oxidants and haze, motor vehicle emissions, solar radiation, temperature inversions and sodium chloride (prevalent in coastal areas). Solid particles found in polluted air accelerate the deterioration of paper. Dust and grime are abrasive to the surface of paper. In the presence of moisture and in combination with the acid droplets around dirt, they promote a corrosive process which penetrates the fibers as well.
Many compounds are not dangerous themselves, but they promote paper deterioration because they form acids when they mix with atmospheric moisture.
If you live in the urban environment, the only way to combat air contaminants is through an air conditioning and filtration system.
While it is initially an expensive outlay, air conditioning with proper filtration will reduce restoration costs and capital losses of objects, and prove a good investment in time.
Insects.Paper contains ingredients, such as gelatin and glue sizing, wood pulp and flour paste, which are appealing to insects. Cockroaches, silverfish, termites and woodworms are the most common destroyers of paper. Silverfish love dark places and can make nice little homes inside frames as they nibble on sizing and wood pulp. Termites and woodworms like anything made of cellulose, as well as wood, so a rag paper picture in a wood frame is susceptible. Cockroaches can cause damage to paper by eating glue sizing or any painting media containing sugar.
To help prevent infestation of harmful insects:
Clean picture frames regularly.
Never store works of art in dark, damp places such as basements or attics.
Use screens on windows and doors to minimize insects.
Use powdered or aerosol insecticides if signs of insects appear.