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.

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