Archive for April, 2010

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“Sargent and the Sea:” Houston MFA Exhibit

April 29, 2010

After dropping off my drawing in Columbus, TX for the upcoming group show next week, I drove on to Houston to visit the Museum of Fine Arts current exhibits they have of John Singer Sargent.

They’re running two shows of his works in different exhibition spaces. One is a traveling show “Sargent and the Sea,” and the other “Houston’s Sargents” which presents more of his works from the MFA and local collections. It’s a fantastic show on both counts, and I recommend it highly. No photos were allowed, unfortunately, but I did pick up some swag in the form of the catalog book shown above. “Houston’s Sargents” ends next weekend, and the other runs through May.

If you make it to Houston, drive up the I-10 to Columbus to see even more good stuff.

P.S. I also picked up some cool refrigerator magnets of Frederick Remington paintings from their book store. The “The Herd Boy” painting of snow seemed ideal for the fridge.

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Exhibition News

April 26, 2010

You may have noticed the recent posts of me building frames, and possibly wondered what all the activity was about. In truth, I’ve been offered an opportunity to have a one-person show at a local art gallery.

I was a little reluctant to mention it since it’s only been email exchanges up to this point, but I’ve worked with this organization on other events and know them to be reliable. Still, I want to wait until I “sign on the dotted line” before I mention the all the where and when.

In preparation, I currently have a dozen or so paintings framed, and have a few more frames still to build. The woman in charge of the space has an appointment to visit with me next week to look them over. Keep watching this spot for more information.

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New Strap Clamp for Making Frames

April 26, 2010

My rachet strap clamp became a problem to use while putting together more frames. The strap got bunched into the rachet mechanism and wouldn’t budge, so I was in the market for a replacement. I found this strap clamp made by Bessy Tools at the local hardware store.


It’s very simple to use. You turn the crank to pull the strap and turn the handle to tighten it further. Those “C” shaped plastic grips at the corners keep them clear from the glue. That metal clip on the strap was interefering with the grips on small frames less than @ 9×12″. It wasn’t described in the manual how to fix that, but I think if I take the cover off and re-thread the strap I can move that further out if I need to. Otherwise it works fine.

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Framing Tip

April 22, 2010

I may have mentioned this tip already, but I’ve been making new frames lately so thought I’d post this note.

These hangers are designed to be hammered into the back of a frame and the sawtooth grooves are for catching on a nail. There’s another style that uses screws, but these have points on the ends that act as nails and can be used as is. I prefer the old wire treatment myself for hanging pictures, but these are handy to use inside the frame to press the work forward and hold it in place. There are specialty staple guns that you can buy that will do the same job, but I find these easier to move around, and those staples don’t always work well. These cost more than staples but can be reused.

Essentially I just press them against the back of the artwork (stretched frame or mat board) inside the frame and press it in slightly with my thumbs. I then take a scrap piece of matboard to protect the outside of the frame as I squeeze the hanger further in with a pair of channel-lock pliers. They only need to go into the wood @ 1/8″ or so. Typically I don’t need more than 4 to 6 of these per frame.

I bought these at a local hobby store that also sells framing supplies (Hobby Lobby,) but if you Google “nailess sawtooth picture hangers” you may find other places in your area that carry them.

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Cloning a PC Hard Drive: Revisited

April 20, 2010

A little over a year ago I made a post here about cloning a PC hard drive as part of my regular back up procedure. A problem I had this morning demonstrated the benefit of that procedure.

Bad display screen


Correctly displayed screen

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When I booted up the PC this morning the screen display had somehow gotten all screwed up (see image on above left.) My neutral green wallpaper was bright orange, and the menus were all blown out in bright white. Nothing I tried would restore the view to the proper settings (screen on the right.) It looked to be a driver problem, but updating that didn’t help. Wasn’t a problem with the monitor, cable, or graphics card. I decided to fix it by just replacing this hard drive with a cloned drive I had made (unfortunately two months ago,) and rebooted the machine, which gave me the correct display settings saved at the time the clone was made.

I had to restore a few things on the old drive that had been automatically updated on the newer one since the last backup, such as Norton files and Windows updates, as well as transferring emails and Favorites I had saved since then. Took a couple of hours of going back and forth, but now everything is as it should be. Back ups are good.

Still unsure what caused the display problem, which bugs me. It might easily happen again, so I’d like to know how to fix it more simply. If anyone has input to share, I’d appreciate the comments. Now I plan on making a clone of this drive onto the one that had the display problem, just in case…

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Painting Brushes: Long Hair Is Softer

April 8, 2010

Brushes with long hairs will hold more paint but that also makes them softer. In the picture below you see examples of brushes with hair about 1 inch or longer. At the top is a Bill Alexander liner (a.k.a. script) brush that is like a long hair round made of red sable. Below that are two brushes from Andrew Mack. This brand is typically sold to sign painters, so you’ll have to look around for them in specialty shops or online. The short handled one is a quill brush, and the other a one-stroke. One-strokes are also sometimes called lettering or show-card brushes. The bottom two are from Loew-Cornell. The LC American Painter (gray handle) is labeled a “flat” but has a longer hair length than what is typical. The bottom LC brush is a “7100 Stroke” size ½. These LC brushes have taklon (polyester) hairs. The Mack one-stroke is squirrel and ox hair, and the quill is all squirrel.

These brushes are particularly useful with gouache paint, since it has a fairly weak binder, so the longer hairs will be softer and the narrow width makes them lighter. Those features make them less likely to disturb the paint underneath for over painting or glazing. You’ll still need a light touch, but they handle better in that application. Round hair watercolor brushes may be soft also, but the width of their belly makes them heavier.

They also work well with watercolor, casein, or egg tempera. You’ll get best results with paint that is fairly fluid. I find these extremely useful for layering casein. For a long time I had heard to not use natural hair brushes with casein since the alkali might frizz them out, but I’ve never noticed that problem. I’d be more worried about using acrylics with these, except for maybe the taklon. Mack makes brushes that are blends of taklon and squirrel hair that would work better for acrylics, and oils too I’d imagine, but I typically don’t need extra soft brushes for those mediums anyway. There is also a type of brush called an “egbert” that has a “c” shaped tip like a “filbert” but with longer hair. Where did they get those names I wonder?

One Stroke brush


Round brush

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By manipulating the angle you can get a variety of lines, and their length adds more flexibility. In the example above you can see a comparison between marks made with the Mack one-stroke and a Winsor & Newton Cotman round #4 brush that has about the same width. The image on the left above shows blue gouache made with the one-stroke, and after that dried was painted a fairly wet transparent yellow. Notice how the blue is not disturbed. Compare that to the image on the right where the same yellow was applied with the Cotman watercolor brush. The shape of the round brush causes the paint to plow up on the outer edges and the belly to drag into the paint below. The point of the round can be useful, but the shape can cause problems in this application.

Links:
Loew-Cornell
Alexander Brushes
Mack Brushes

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Painting Finished: “After Dinner”

April 6, 2010

I’ve made a few final tweaks to the painting and will call it done, at least for now, as I set it aside for study. (View the previous post a few days ago by clicking here.)

Final version

I adjusted the value of the outer livingroom area, mostly by just applying a coat of shellac to that doorway region, which I knew from experience will darken the colors down a notch. I then updated the figure some and brightened the lampshade.

Detail

I originally wanted to use a looser, rougher style of paint application than I usually do with this one, which I was worried how it would turn out with all these straight lines and edges, but I think it came out okay.

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Drawing Accepted for Exhibition

April 3, 2010

I received some good news in the mail today. The Live Oak Art Center near Houston will be hosting an exhibition of local artists from May through July, and this recent ink drawing of mine was accepted for entry into the show.

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