Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Canyon Waterfall: Nature's Font" '08 oil on canvas 36x36

I have had a great time using a palette knife on this painting. I feel quite comfortable with it now, except the part where I'm figuring out how many cents' worth of paint are getting gobbled up every time I have to squeeze out more. Old Holland isn't what you use when you're painting thickly. I went into studio time last night with one question: how can I really define what I see as the light shining warmly down into this canyon so that it makes sense for the boy to want to slide down that waterfall into the cold water below. The photo I was working from was taken in February and I can feel that it is the pale Spring light, yet my brother told me it was probably in the 80's that day (much like what we get here in Austin in February). Noel and I discussed how the cooler sections of light on the water were a reflection of the sky, the warmer sections were reflecting the light on the rocks. I needed to make all of the canyon walls darker the way the iris would shut down when it is hit with too much light. And lastly, put some reflected light (bounce light) in the canyon walls that has elements of the color of the rock it's bouncing off of. I managed all that in 2 1/2 hours and he said, "Sign it! You're done!" And now he's eager to see what I will come up with for my next project and how I'll use the palette knife. Not sure the palette knife will get much use in the next one, but I could be wrong...I often am.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I was reading a book the other day, "Living The Creative Life", by Thomas Kincaide. In one part, he describes how a friend was deeply worried and one thing or another kept piling up on top of the stresses she already had. Finally, she said, "Lord, what should I do?" And the worry went away.
Sami often comes to us with "What should I do?", but I don't often think to ask that of myself, of God. I just muddle along, sure that things will turn out right eventually.
But, I had some worries in the past week which were starting to affect how I acted with my family, how my art was working. I know when I push too hard at Life, Life pushes back, so I decided to try this lady's method and ask my higher power, "What should I do?"
I feel better now. My painting isn't sucking. My thoughts about selling my work are rearranging themselves to the point that if you want to buy something of mine, I'm willing to have you donate to my paint supply/framing fund. I don't want to deal with quarterly tax payments, getting a tax ID, itemizing when I have way more expenses than I suspect I will have sales, so I won't technically be selling right now. But, I will let them go to new homes.
And anything done in '07 can go for free if you're a good friend or relative. That way I have visiting priveleges. I just won't do what my grandmother used to do, take it home again to work on it!
My biggest goal, besides improving on my abilities, is to have a body of work that I feel is good enough to approach a gallery with. That means a whole lot more painting! I only have 2-3 that I would think could be considered. And that's probably flattering myself too much. Once I feel finished with this piece, I'll do an evaluation of the pieces I'm considering. It may be that, as usual, I only can consider the one I'm working on, since my work matures with each painting I do.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Like Buttah

I've been working with a palette knife for a week and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Yes, it does take a bit of bravery to work thickly over something that was already on its way to being wonderful, but you have to take an attitude sometimes that will allow you to take chances. It's hard to grow as an artist if your goal is to "not suck". I have a friend, who was once my fine art drawing teacher, who says that is the lesson she's learned from me. Just go after it and know that the outcome is going to be good because you will have learned something.
This painting is all about learning. I'm learning about perspective, light, cohesion, edges, blocking-in, design and intent. And how to handle palette knives.
Then there's the problem solving that is part of the learning process. I'm not entirely certain, but it seems that one of my problems may be the actual paint that I'm using.
When I decided to start painting in oils, I started looking through the selection on Jerry's Artarama website. The Lucas 1862 brand had a lovely write-up and sounded like just the thing. Plus, the price was manageable since they were on sale. But, of course, I didn't realize that they're on sale more than any other brand. I also didn't realize that the beeswax that purportedly gives it its buttery texture is what they call "filler" and this messes with the refractability of the pigment in the paint. They often put filler in student grade paints so they'll go further. And while I *am* a student, I don't adhere to that idea of using a poorer grade of paints for students. I think it's actually quite a drawback.
Not having used oil paints since I was 13 years old, I didn't know any better. I did notice that they weren't behaving as well as I'd like them to. They'd dry darker than anticipated. But, the weirdest thing is that some paint would dry with a sheen, but other parts would be totally matte! A lady customer at Jerry's pointed that out to me last week and it pretty much went over my head until I brought my painting to class Tuesday night and we both noticed just how off it was.
My only hope now is that I can put some retouch varnish on it to even out the sheen and hold it together, because the other problem with beeswax in paint is that it might crack! Imagine! All the fat texture I've been "buttering" my painting with, cracking off. I'm all for learning lessons in painting, but this one hurt a great deal.
I have to finish off this painting with the Lucas 1862 paints and then not use them anymore unless I paint on a solid surface, like Ampersand board, that won't give at all and the paint won't be liable to crack. But, my next painting is going to be done in my new paint: Old Holland. No more experiments in paint for me. I'm going with tried and true. The ultimate upgrade. A paint so saturated with pigment that you don't have to use a ton of it to get the results you want. A paint that comes in 40 ml. tubes instead of the standard 37 ml., so while it is an extremely expensive brand (the Cadmiums' price gave me heart palpitations!), it's like buying the premium brand as opposed to the discount brand. You know when you do that with paper towel or dishwashing detergent, the premium uses less and does the job better than the discount brand.
I may not yet be a painter worthy of the premium brand paints, but I will be someday. And just so you know that I haven't gone crazy, I only bought 6 tubes: Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna.
Dick Blick's has the best price I've seen, but you pay shipping, so I bought mine at Jerry's and used my Plein Air Austin discount card (20% biatches!!!), so it came in under $100, gah!
Anyone wanting to give me gifts for the next year can do it with paints. I have a feeling that if I do sell any paintings this year, it's all going to get turned into paints.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Now What???

This is how the painting looked on Monday. By Tuesday night, I'd taken a palette knife to the rocks and they now have some luscious texture. Of course, that means that I have to bring more texture to the rest of the painting and I'm okay with that, really I am. It's just kind of scary, since I thought I was so close to being done and was happy with how it was going.
I am excited about this new lesson I've created for myself. I bought three new palette knives today at Jerry's Artarama and I've already pantomimed how I'm going to use them on the painting, so I know they're a good investment. Wish me luck!