Still Making Art

Life Gets Better as I Get Older


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Day 8 – Hiatus and Paints

I’m back painting again after a forced hiatus due to food poisoning. A week or so ago I was just finishing off a tub of humus when I came upon a posting about a humus recall. “What!!” I said, as I scooped the last bit from the tub with my finger. Turns out the humus I’d just finished was on the recall list due to a possible listeria contamination.

I was consoled when I read the symptoms and found that the dizziness I’d been experiencing was a symptom of listeriosis and probably not a heart attack or a stoke, but I was dismayed that much of the next week that I had off from work was spent in bed – not really sick, but tired and unmotivated to do anything.

Today I emerged from my hazy condition and began painting again.

Here’s progress so far.

at-work-again

Back painting. See my disorganized palette?

Notes on Paints

If you look to the far right, on the shelf beside my palette, you can see several tubes of Geneva brand oil paints. As mentioned, I am a devotee of drawmixpaint. Several years ago they came out with a brand of oil paints which are not mixed with toxic chemicals. You can read all about them on their website. After having a cold for months which I could not seem to shake, I began to wonder if it was brought on by my painting during the winter in my tiny unventilated studio.

I invested in the Geneva paints, and have never gone back to my old paints, except for the rare occasions when I need a turquoise or a color that just can’t be mixed from the Geneva limited palette. I have not had any health issues attributable to painting since, and in winter I have no ventilation except for the open door to the rest of the house.

I also find that the paints suit the way I paint. I don’t add anything to them – just use them as they come out of the jar (earliest packaging) or tube.

You might think I have a vested interest in talking up the paints, but I don’t. I just want to share my experience in the off chance it will be useful to someone else.

Notice how messy my palette is? I didn’t learn that from drawmixpaint. It’s my self taught method. Hey – if it works, don’t fix it!

progress

Here’s a close up of progress so far. There’s still work to do on that basket – not quite right yet. This is a still life of one day’s harvest from my garden this summer.

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Day 7 – How I Paint

my-work-station

My work station and tools of the trade.

I thought it might be purposeful to describe a bit how I paint.

Right up front I want to give a lot of credit to a particular website (drawmixpaint.com) which is crammed full of free videos (and some you can purchase) covering every subject imaginable on how to paint in oils, from start to finish. Everything you need to know is free, and the artist teaching you is very skilled in teaching.  One of the things I was most grateful for in Mark Carder’s videos is the fact that it is all in real-time speed. There’s none of this sped up painting that leaves you thinking that you should be able to throw the paint on the canvas and get a good result. You get to see how it’s really done.

I watched every video, and built most of the tools and equipment suggested. His style suits me, but even if your style of painting differs, the information on the site is invaluable to a self taught painter like myself. (Perhaps I can’t really call myself self-taught).

Some of the important things you see in the photo above are:

  1. A black cloth covering the window to block the glare in my face
  2. A special daylight bulb overhead which allows true sight of the colors you are painting (that light behind the easel is not used for painting purposes)
  3. A high quality photo of my still-life sized to match the size of my panting
  4. Paint pallet of glass over brown paper (for ease in mixing correct colors)
  5. Color checkers – a hand built black one (drawmixpaint) and a small piece of lamination plastic on which I put dabs of paint to hold up against the photo for color matching
  6. Tilted brush holder
  7. Easel that allows perpendicular positioning of canvas (my stretcher bar has an eyelet through which I run string to tie if to the easel bar – keeps the painting from falling forward
  8. Other things I use are q-tips (the hard rounded type, not soft cotton) for removing small areas that need correcting)
  9. Small jar of Geneva Fine Art Brush Dip [you can also make this yourself – see drawmixpaint]

I don’t do everything according to the Carder method. For instance, I use very small brushes – primarily #2, #0, and occasionally a #6 or #8. I just don’t seem able to use the larger brushes well. Just my style, I guess. This does mean that I paint very slowly. Therefore, I am not able to complete an entire painting before the paint has already started to dry in places. This means that I paint from upper left to bottom right so that I am always painting wet into wet. This also means that I must be continually diligent to get the tones and values correct as I go. I don’t use any mediums that increase the drying time of the paint.

You can see in the photo above that I have laid in the background which is a quick process. Then I start at the upper left with the subject matter. I’ll do all the items on the table first, including the cloth up to the edge of the table. Then I’ll paint the rest of the cloth. I do this so that even if the table cloth has started to dry when I come back to finish it, the transition will be a natural one (in this case, light area to darker area).

I use my mahl stick almost the whole time. I don’t stand back and then reach forward and make a mark on the canvas. Sounds fun, but I need more control.

I do continually get up and stand back to see view the painting fro a distance. I find this absolutely crucial to getting it right. It’s also great fun, because it is when you step back that the magic appears.

I hope this is useful, or at least interesting.

I will talk about paints in the next entry.

 

 


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Day 2 – Perseverance

On day two following my intention to paint everyday, I began a small oil painting of a sweet little bird I spotted on my back door stoop. Photos taken though multiple door windows. 

Sweet bird

Sweet bird

Spots me behind the doors

Waiting for me to leave

Waiting for me to leave

It was searching for bugs (I suppose). The ground was mostly snow-covered and this was one of the few bare spots. I didn’t recognize the bird – looks like a warbler, perhaps the yellow-rumped or cape may. I thought it was probably migrating and had stopped for a rest.

Not finished yet, but not rined yet either

Not finished yet, but not ruined yet either

I didn’t finish this painting in one day, and in fact it still needs some finishing touches and better definition of the pine needles. I would have loved to paint the pipes and frozen drips, but that would have been a disaster in the making. I’m finding it stressful painting in oil, and I needed a break. I’m trying to persevere through the stress, hoping to come out the other end more confident. Sometimes I think this is silly – that it is better to do what comes with more ease. I find it especially difficult to paint thin detail lines in oil. I wonder if I haven’t found the right brushes yet [she said hopefully]. If anyone has some hints in this regard, I’d accept them gratefully.


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Day 1 – Making A Start

One of my resolutions for 2013 was to paint every day.  I am eager to improve my oil painting skills (or lack of). I began with this egg still life. I have chickens, and this egg is one from my now grown leghorn hens. The painting took me the whole day to complete, but I’m pretty happy with it.

The Migty Egg  - oil on canvas board 5x7

The Mighty Egg – oil on canvas board 5×7

I thought I’d get this blog going and post this little egg painting. My intent is to make my artwork available for sale on this blog, but I have to figure out how to do this. Tomorrow I’ll update the “About” page, and do some investigating.