Sunday, December 21, 2008

Water Miscible Oils

I've been experimenting with the water soluble oils a bit, since some of my students for the Beginners Online Oil Painting class will be using them. The apple and the bottom piece were done exclusively with the Artisan Oils (water soluble) by Winsor Newton, and the little diptych at the top of the post was done with a combination of the water soluble and the traditional oils.
The brochure for the starter set I got says that yes, indeed, you can combine these with traditional oil paints, substituting the special Thinner and Mediums for your normal OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits) and whatever medium you normally use with your oils. I found the combination to be a bit difficult, my paints got tackier than normal. Or too slippery.
Here's what I've found so far:
I had to work harder to maintain my values with the water solubles. The paints seem to want to mix rather than lay on top of subsequent layers, as I'm used to.
The W.S. paints in the lighter colors seemed chalkier for some reason than my normal oils. Some of them were thick, some thinner out of the tube, but that's pretty standard for normal oils too. So that doesn't count really.
I will try some of the Duo Aquacolors by Holbein, which are supposed to be of better quality than the Artisans. I'll do another report when that happens.
I think that for people who can't tolerate the smells associated with traditional oils, these paints are a boon, and if you worked exclusively with them, you would get to know the capabilities better than by doing three little pieces. For that, I think they are wonderful. But I still prefer my oils, maybe since that's what I've gotten used to.
The final verdict is in the individual use. I think that if you try these and like them, then that's the proof in the pudding.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Of Interest

One of the EDM group members is gearing up to sell handmade sketchbooks that look pretty interesting. She now creates handmade journals and such that look to be both beautifully made and inviting to use. Her name is Janice Hook, and her artwork is also very nice. She is having a little competition on her blog for winning one of her handmade books, by way of market research into what kinds of sketchbooks people like. All you have to do is mention the size and style of sketchbook you like to use. Pretty cool way to find out what she'll want to market.

Good luck if you decide to enter.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mommy, Scatch - Painting in Progress

Progress on the "Mommy, Scatch" painting. Probably the reason I don't do more faces, figures, people is that they are so hard, so time consuming. Little brush marks, little smidgens can make or break each small feature. I saw a bit of yellow in the little face, so added some, now it's too much, so I'll fix that tomorrow. I can also see now on the screen that my daughter has webbed pointer and middle finger, so I'll fix that as well. Tell me if you spot anything else.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Little Dreamer

Little Dreamer, Painting in Progress
Or I may call it, as I originally thought, "Mommy, Scatch" since that's what she says, and pulls up her shirt for her belly scratch. It helps to put it up, to see the flaws. It looks okay, but not like her, really. The nose? Maybe too long? Maybe too big for her little face? Hmmm. Do like the eyes, though, they came out good.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mommy, Scatch

Mommy, Scatch will be a painting, and this is just the planning stage for the piece. My little grnaddaughter, Katie, loves to have her tummy scratched, and I caught her one day sitting dreaming in Mommy's lap, snapped a quick few photos. I hope I can do it justice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Watercolor Layers

Watercolor Value Study in Layers.
There are several layers of color here to produce this silver grey color.
One: Alizarin, Cobalt, and Cad yellow medium
Two: Manganese Blue and Quni Sienna
Three: Alizarin and Pthalo Green

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Little Curled Leaf and New Brush

Little Curled Leaf, Oil on Canvas Panel, 5" x 7"

We grow so accustomed to our tools, don't we? I've been using nothing but flats and bright for oils, which are square ended brushes, long and short. But I do use a round (pointed) tipped brush to draw in my roughs. The other day at the art store, the brushes were on sale, and so I bought a larger mongoose round brush, and played with it here on this little painting. It feels so different, more like drawing, but I like the way you have to let the paint be thicker, not much room for "fussy". Funny too, since watercolor rounds are all I use for watercolor. Go figure.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nappy Sketches

Sitting with little Katie during nappy time, waiting for her to fall asleep, sometimes I read and sometimes I sit and sketch, whatever happens to pop into my head. A few pen and inks from last week.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Value Sketch Pastoral

Value Sketch for Pastoral Painting, various pencils
I have a request for a large pastoral painting, and wanted to give it some prep time. So I'm sketching from photos and references. I plan to paint this one in a smaller version first, a 16" x 20", which is almost proportional to the 30" x 40" planned. This way I'm not committing to a painting that might not work out. I can work out the bugs before I go to the larger version.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 22

Magnolia in Pastel Pencils, and Carbon
Trying the magnolia blossom from a different angle, more for the shape than anything else. I kind of like the bowl facing right. The more I work with this, though, the easier it gets. By the time I'm ready to paint it for the request, it'll be a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze, but easier anyway.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Magnolia in Watercolor

Magnolia in Watercolor

I did an oil today of this fake magnolia, and wanted to try it in watercolor as well. It was really hard to control. I did a lot of scrubbing and used Chinese White in the end to perk it up some. Tricky to get the colors deep enough, but not too dark. Detail below:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Magnolia Oil Begun

Magnolia Oil Painting Begun
I wanted to see how the magnolia would look larger than "life," (it's a fake flower) so I started this little 8" x 10". I will also try this one with a cool light on it, since this is warm. The cool light will of course, produce bluer shadows. I like the front petal so far, but I'm not sure about the colors in the center yet. I'll have to wait and see how the other colors sit next to it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Value Study for Magnolia

Value Study for Magnolia Painting
I have a request for a white floral painting in a vertical format at 10" x 12" (to match a previously purchased painting I did) so I've been looking around for white flowers. I found a fake magnolia in the craft store, so now to see if I can do something vertical with it. Using my proportion scale from my graphics days, I cropped this drawing to manage that size. I think it will work. I'll do more drawings before I settle on a composition.

On another note, although I don't get many visitors to this blog, I would like to put out some feelers for interest in an online oil painting class, geared to beginners, come January. I was thinking a six week class for $60.00. Please send an email if you are at all interested. Write me at, and I'll see what the interest level might be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Poppy Samples

Today was a business day. The Daily Painters Gallery is doing a book, and I had to make up my page for that book (each painter gets his/her own page.) Being computer illiterate, it took me forever to decide on images, write up a blurb, figure out how to size the images, then go back and do it right. At one point, I lost everything I'd done (images were way too big) so had to start all over. I also did some samples on canvas paper for a revision of my poppy painting set, in which the colors were not quite right. Samples 1, 2, and 3 above. They are subtly different. I took notes on the color mixtures, and hopefully will get it right for the revisions. No time to sketch today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wonky Bowl with Onion

Day 16

Wonky Bowl with Onion

Graphitint Pencils, Watercolor, and Gouache on Watercolor paper.

One of the results of participating in the every day for a month project is my renewed interest in my tools and toys. I've used pencils and sketchbooks that have been sitting neglected for quite a while. I'm having fun with that part of it, although much like doing a painting every day, the crunch is always what to sketch or paint. I do always enjoy having made that choice in advance, and knowing way before I do the sketch what it's going to be. With my paintings, I try to at least start on the next painting the night before, so I can just set up in the morning and go about it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 15, Pastels

Onions in Pastel, Conte and Stablio Pencils on Craft Paper
Image size is 6" x 9"

In an ideal world, I would love working with pastels, especially pastel pencils. They blend, they layer, you can go darker, you can go lighter, you can erase, you can change your mind, you can build up colors. The colors themselves are rich and vibrant, but with varying pressure, you can change that too. You can be subtle. I love the nice grab and scritch on the paper.

However, with these pencils, I spent as much, if not more time whittling them down as I did drawing. A lot of carving with an Exacto blade, often to find the freshly exposed color crumbling as I carved. Yuck! Maybe they are too old, and that's why they are so brittle. Maybe I need a lighter touch, or a sharper blade. But for whatever reason, as much as I love the effects, the frustration may make them NOT worth it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14, 2008

Gesture Drawings, really quick, really loose.
Most of the time, my gesture drawings look really bad, really not cool. But these I like. Click to see them larger.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thumbnails Bowl with Stripes

Thumbnails for Painting

I'm not sure if you can actually make these out, but they are thumbnails for a painting I'm starting. I was trying to work out the placement of the subject mater in a square format. The first sketches showed me three ideas I didn't like. Bowl too centered, bowl too small in the format, main fold of the fabric too much in the center. The bottom sketches come closer for me, with the darkest and last one being the one I'm using for the layout of the painting. I really don't take the time to do these little sketches as often as I should, but when I do, they really help avoid drawing and design problems later on down the line. I'll add the painting to this post later if I can figure out how (I think you just do "edit post.")

Here's the painting done, two days later.
The composition is pretty strong, and I think that's because of the thumbnails.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

People in Pen and Ink with Watercolor

November 12, 2008
A couple of people sketches, but I cheated today. These were done in pen and ink earlier, and today I just did the watercolor part. BUT..hey, they count. I especially like the lady face. The pen and inks under her weren't especially good, so I just painted right overtop. It works.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 11, Value Studies

Value Studies for Painting, sketching with a purpose

The second one is done with a water soluble graphite pencil, a Derwent product called Aquatone, more fun than serious. The first one is more an effort to define the shapes and details of direction and interaction between the shapes, and darks and lights. Interesting that each one of these value sketches will make the actual painting part much easier. Working out the positioning and all the changes from the references that I'll make in the final painting.

Addendum: Here's the final painting. The sketches really helped.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Value Study, Day 10

Value Study with Markers.
I just plain like the look of marker drawings, so I'm not really sure how much good they do me as value studies, but it at least is a start when you are thinking about a painting. I'll probably do this again in pencil before I begin the painting, it's a little easier to see the actual values then.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Garden Bunny

Garden Bunny
Watercolor Pencils with Watercolor

This little polymer bunny is colored to look like weathered metal, copper maybe? He lived in my Mom's garden for quite a few years, along with a few critters and gnomes. She adored gardening, and passed it along to all of us, and many of the grands too. The bunny came inside before Ike, and he hasn't left the studio to go back outdoors yet. So today I thought I'd draw him.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Day Eight

Salt and Pepper Shakers

A quick watercolor study, done without pencil. I guess you'd call that freehand watercolor. Usually I like having even a small pencil sketch underneath, but I was thinking of inking overtop and so wanted it loose. No ink, right now anyway, I like this one as is. Maybe later, though.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Iris Face

Iris Face, watercolor on Arches rough scrap, 6" x 6"

A small watercolor today. I was thinking about good brushes as I did this one, since I have a couple of really, really good brushes for watercolor, and I didn't use one yesterday. Today I did, and what a difference it makes. I am convinced that for watercolors, paper and brushes are the key. For oils it's good brushes and the surface. Linen (yum) is my favorite, of course. And stretched linen is the nicest bouncy surface to work on. I haven't gotten to the point where the quality of the paints makes much difference to me, whether it's top drawer brands or the student grades. I know a lot of artists have their favorites, but at this point I haven't gotten fussy about that yet.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

November 6, Sketch 6

Day 6, trying to keep up with the sketching every day for the month.
This is just some color play in watercolors, since I have two freshly stretched paper mounts (on Gator Board) and I'm thinking of another watercolor for the Daily Painting. Wanted to mess around with the yellow shadows as a mix of purple and yellow. I have to find the right combination of the two, since I have a lot of different purples and different yellows. These don't work as well as I want them to. So it's good to have some scrap paper to experiment with.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kuratake Brush Pen

This little sketch was done with pen and ink, specifically, the Kuratake brush pen. I like this tool. It comes with cartridges of ink. The brush part can be very, very fine for detailed lines or with more pressure, a nice hefty brush stroke. Little farmer man, done in Earthbound sketchbook. The pages are paper bag colored, but show up more greenish here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

A little watercolor playing today. An imaginary scene, using the colors I love.
Wish that I had done the sky first, instead of last, but really was just playing around, so that's okay too. Keeping up with my resolve to do something sketchy every day in November.

Monday, November 03, 2008

November 3, Drawing 3

Avocado in Watercolor
Watercolor on Winsor and Newton Rough 14o lb Paper.

I was doing a small oil of this little avocado for the painting blog and decided to go ahead and do it in watercolor also, for my drawing every day project. The image is only around 7" x 7" but I like the paper a lot, in my MaryLou Sketchpad.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Beach Towels

It is so good for me to take the time to sketch. I was sitting at the patio table enjoying the sunshine when the two towels drying on the chairs caught my eye. The white towel had so many subtle colors in it. Not captured here at all, really, but the doing of the sketch started a small seed germinating for a painting, where maybe I could catch some of those wonderful subtle colors in oils. I used my Kuratake pen, which has a water soluble ink, but which is really fun to use. It bled into the soft blues, but oh, well, just a little sketch.

Maple Promenade

Maple Promenade
Oil on Canvas Panel, 11" x 14"
Available at $45.00 plus shipping.

Another Wauwinet Road rendition of the autumn maples. A little nostalgia again.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Louisiana Crabs

Louisiana Crabs
Watercolor on Richeson (top) and Arches (bottom)
My son-in-law, Jim, went crabbing Friday morning with one of the guys from work. Armed with string and chicken parts, they weren't at it long. The crabs went into an ice chest, with ice. I thought I had found a couple of frozen ones to draw. Such great colors. But one of them warmed up enough under the light on my drafting table to squirm around and scooted himself right off the table. He didn't like me trying to pick him up, either. But despite his claws, I got him back into the ice chest, for later with Old Bay in the pot. Doesn't the top drawing look like a dance?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Acrylics as Watercolors, More

Birds of Paradise, acrylics on watercolor paper, 13.5" x 18.5"

This is the last of my experimental pieces, exploring the use of thin "watercolor" layers on watercolor paper, using the acrylic paints. For now, anyway. It's a very time consuming process. I've leanred more, and have added a couple more notes on the list of handling these. I waited too long to do my incised lines in the leaves, the color had already sealed in the paper, so I learned that incising lines must be done early on in the layering stages. I also learned here that the blending and lifting technqieus that we normally use in watercolors can be done, but must be done in the first or second layer. You can lift the paint, blot the paper, bleed two colors, but the paint DOES act a lot differently, and you have to be even more quick in these techniques than you would with watercolors. You CAN get really rich and vivid color though, and it's nice to be able to have a black background, or to build up really nice deep colors. And that's it, so far.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Acrylics as Watercolors

Two Sunflowers paintings with their details. These were done as watercolors, using very thin layers of acrylic paint, on watercolor paper. The colors were actually paler and thinner than what I generally use for my watercolors, but to avoid shine, I kept the acrylic layers very watery. This is a new technique for me, so I kept some running notes, which I'm copying here for anyone interested in trying this technique. It's pretty fussy, for when you are in the mood to do details, not splashy.

- Have two pieces going to allow each to dry while working on the other.
- A butcher's tray works great for mixing and for cleanup.
- Just use an old bristle brush to scrub the old paint away and mop up with paper towels.
- Small amounts of paint, less waste, they will dry up, or crumble.
- Don't go "acrylic", keep glazes very thin, or it will shine.
- Spray paints often, keep brushes rinsed.
- Drying time between layers decreases as more "sealing" is added, more layers.
- Watch out for the little "curds" or flakes of dryed paint, they seal into the layer.
- Don't use watercolor pencil (see black detail) for original drawing, since it doesn't quite dilute.
- Use graphite pencil for the original detailed and careful drawing.
- For the opaque black, count on at least seven layers.
- Dry completely between layers, or it'll pick up.
- After several layers, the acrylics stop acting like watercolors (blending on the paper), then you switch to a poster paint or graphics mentality. The paper gets "sealed up" I think.
- Incised lines should be done early on, during the wet paper stage of the first layers.
- You can use blending and lifting techniques only during the first several layers. So paint carefully in the first stages, blotting and blending as you normally would.

And that's my notes for these two paintings. I like the technique, came across it used in an acrylics book, paintings done by Barbara Buer, just exquisite things. More about this process as I do more paintings with it.
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