New Sketches: Doctor’s Waiting Room

February 4, 2023

Well, look who’s back! I’ve finally gotten around to posting, and apologize for my long absence, again. Work and recent health problems have keep me sidelined, but I haven’t stopped sketching. The pictures above were all made on a recent visit to the doctor’s office. It was a long wait. The drawings were made with a dark gray watercolor pencil, 8.5×11 inches.


Painting Final: Drive-Up Covid Testing

August 10, 2022

Here’s the “final” stage of my latest oil painting. I had to make a few digital edits again to get it look more like the actual painting, especially in the blues. There are a few painted adjustments also from last time: more details in the front, and sharpening up and toning down a few shapes. I’ll set this aside for awhile to see if I want to make more changes, but it’ll do for now.


Painting Update: Drive-Up Covid Testing

July 27, 2022

Getting a little further along on the new painting. Concentrating on keeping it loose and rough at this point. My camera has a difficult time accurately capturing shades of blue. It always comes out too bright and saturated in those areas, so I did a little digital tweaking to this to try and make it match up better. I have some work to do on the foreground areas still, and then fall back and make adjustments.


New Painting Started: Drive-Up Covid Testing

July 18, 2022

Okay, I think it’s time for me to see if I remember how to do this. Sorry for being absent for so long, but here we go…

This is a new oil painting I’m starting based on a couple photos I shot at a local place where people were driving up in their cars to get free Covid-19 tests. It’s a composite photo that I edited some of the colors and placement of things to get it to my liking. The surface I decided to use was a 12 x 16″ backing board, which is a thick, grey, acid-free paper board used for making book covers. I had primed the surface some time ago with casein, and am finally getting around to using it.

First I made a line drawing to roughly match the edited photo at the size of the board, and then rubbed some charcoal on the back to transfer the drawing to the board. Next, I painted very thin layers of oil to approximate the colors in the photo. Some of those colors were changed, along with shapes of the items taken from other places in the scene. I’m keeping it all very rough and loose at this point, with flat local colors, and will refine it more in the next phase.


Tradesman Building Painting on Exhibit

May 20, 2022

So, a couple months back I finished my painting, “Tradesman Building,” that was intended for a local art show, and tonight was the opening. Here’s a couple pictures that I took of the show:

The opening was held at the Czech Heritage Museum & Genealogy Center, and will be there for a few more weeks. It will be a touring exhibit to various locations around town until December, I’m told. I’ll post details in comments later as they send them to me. By the way, they gave me a 2nd place award for the painting!


Contemplating Justice Holding a Hammer

May 6, 2022

This drawing was inspired by recent news events. It’s based on a sculpture by James Fraser called “Contemplating Justice” that sits outside the Supreme Court building. The small figure on her right is said to personify blind Justice. I felt it needed something extra to represent how the execution of justice lately has been painful for some.

The drawing is on a 13 x 12″ panel coated with casein gesso. I applied the gesso with a texture of rough brushstrokes that are most apparent on the right side column. The figure is drawn in charcoal, and the rest with graphite to give a separate gray tone. I also brushed in the graphite background with mineral spirits to give that area a smoother appearance. The bottom steps were blended smoothed with a cloth.


Pump Spray for Homemade Fixative

April 21, 2022

I’ve written a couple articles in the past on homemade fixatives made from casein or CMC powder, but the aerosol sprayer I’ve been using made by Preval has proven to be unreliable. When it works, it works great; unfortunately, I’ve bought some that either only work for a few sprays or not at all, and had to be exchanged at the store. I suppose the compressed air inside sometimes leaks, so I’ve been hunting for a more reliable spray device, and think I’ve found it.

I had a conversation recently with an artist who wanted my opinion of the Spectrafix fixative, and I said that I had only tested the older pump spray bottle design which I found unsatisfying, since the droplet size from the spray was too large to get good consistent coverage. However, I looked at their new designed bottle online, and saw that they had a different kind of mister with a trigger style mechanism that this artist said worked well. This put me on the hunt for something similar as an improvement to the Preval sprayer.

Using an internet search phrase of “ultra fine mister” I saw that there were several types similar to the Spectrafix design with the same sort of trigger mechanism that were empty refillable bottles. The cheapest I saw was $5.50 not including shipping, which seemed a bit pricey to me, so I set that aside as something to purchase later at some point. Recently, I was at the store shopping for some dish soap, and saw a bottle of Dawn “Powerwash” on the shelf that had a similar type of trigger handle. It was only $5, so I decided to try it out. At home I poured all the soap into another jar, rinsed the bottle with clean water, and sprayed water a few times to clean out as much soap as possible from the handle. I then filled the bottle with some CMC fixative I had made. The spray worked very well. It gave me a very fine mist with a small particle size, much better that any other pump style sprayers I had tried in the past.

Comparing this to the Preval sprayer, it appears to be much more reliable since there’s no compressed air to deal with, so I won’t have to buy a new can when air runs out. As long as the mechanical handle doesn’t break, it should last a long time. It also holds more liquid than the Preval. However, this sprayer doesn’t give me a continuous spray like the Preval. I have to rapidly squeeze the handle to try and get even coverage. Since the mist is very fine, that’s not a big deal, and after doing a couple coats of fixative I should get all the drawing covered, but it might be a bit tiring if I’m spraying a large drawing. The Preval is especially good for thin paint because of that continuous spray. I’ll keep using this sprayer for awhile, and see how well it holds up. I might also buy one of those empty sprayers I saw online, and see if they work better in some way. The immediate difference I noticed is they hold less liquid; 10oz compared to the 16oz in the Dawn sprayer, and cost more.


Painting Final: Tradesman Bldg

March 21, 2022

Okay, here’s the final version. I changed the grey value at the top to better match my photo references, and sharpened up a few lines. Also put in the electrical power line at the top. It’s sitting loosely in a frame I had that I think will work well. I’ll set it up for a couple days to study it, seal the back and wire it, and then go drop it off at the show.


Painting Update 3: Tradesman Bldg

March 20, 2022

I’ve got the painting almost finished now with most of the colors and values set the way I want them. Still need to clean up a few edges, and makes some minor adjustments.


Painting Update 2: Tradesman Bldg

March 15, 2022

Here’s the latest state of the new painting. I’m gradually getting the color and values laid down, and trying to not get into too much detail just yet.


Painting Update: Tradesman Bldg

March 10, 2022

I’m showing the latest stage of the new painting I started. On the left you can see the loose wash of color I added to the whole sheet, and on the right I added a more areas of darker values. The colors are approximately complements of the base colors I intend for the final stage. I’m keeping a very loose texture at this point, and will sharpen it up in the next step. Most of this paint is acrylic gouache that is heavily mixed with acrylic medium and water to get the texture I wanted. There’s no specific reason to use acrylic gouache other than the pigment choice. I did use a little Open acrylic with the blue only because it was in the set I had placed out. The next step will use more of the Open colors so I can fuss a bit more with the details if I need to.


New Painting Started: Tradesman Bldg

March 6, 2022

Yes, I’m still active! Sorry once again for being away for so long. I’ve put my creative side a bit on hold lately as I’ve spent time gathering resource material for new projects with my camera and sketch book. Recently I became aware of a “call for art” in the city where I live with the subject of celebrating local architecture.

In my rounds I had come across a building that I liked downtown, so I went back and took a few more photos of it at different times of day, and settled on one I liked with an early morning sun. I made a line art sketch, and transferred it to a stretched canvas, but then went back to the art show requirements only to find that they had a size restriction of no more than 16×20 inches, and what I had started on canvas was 18×24, so I had to start over and scale it down. It happens. This time I decided on a sheet of watercolor paper also 18×24, but will trim it down when I finish.

The media I’ll be using for this is the Open Acrylic from Golden Paints. I’ve written before about how I stretch paper by wrapping it damp around a wood frame, and clamping it as it dries. I’m doing something similar here, but slightly different this time for the technique I plan to use. The undertone will be applied with a “bubble & streak” method, which requires a somewhat slick surface to start with. In this case, I’m using a spray of Krylon’s Crystal Clear varnish over the colored pencil lines. This will in effect “soak” the paper in the same way that my water technique would. I then clamp it to the frame before it completely dries. In a few minutes it dries tight as a drum, and is ready now for painting.