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Painting Update 3: Curtis On Guitar

August 26, 2018

Only a little bit of progress to show on the new painting. I’ve worked more on the shirt and pants. They’ll need more work, but I’ll move on to others areas first, maybe the arms and boots.

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Painting Update 2: Curtis On Guitar

August 21, 2018

Back to the new painting. I’ve just got the background roughed in a little more to the sort of color scheme of blues and browns that I had in mind.

I’ve been working with the Open Acrylic Medium on this (see my previous post) for a couple days, and like how it’s working out. I’m mixing the Open Gel into regular acrylics, and thinning with just water. The paint/gel dabs I use are staying wet for a couple days in my palette, but the thinned paint dries quickly; although, a little slower than paint without the gel. I found that I can scrub the dry paint with a stiff wet brush and get it to lift, which makes it more workable. After drying for a longer period, it won’t easily do that.

Here’s what I put together as my palette for this project. I found an egg tray made of plastic with 14 holes and a clear cover. I also got a styrofoam plate to use as a mixing area. I squeeze out dabs of acrylic paint on the tray, mix in a small amount of gel, and use a palette knife to move that to the plate to mix into the colors and consistency I want. When I finish, I place the plate over the tray, and seal it with the cover.

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Previewing Golden’s Open Acrylic Gel Medium

August 16, 2018

I needed to run to the art store this morning (Jerry’s Artarama), and while I was there I noticed they had a section set up for Golden’s Open Acrylics. I’ve been meaning to try these out for some time now, and since I was starting a new acrylic painting it seemed like a good time to test them. This is a new type of acrylic paint Golden developed that has a slower drying (“open”) time than other acrylics, but still cleans up with water. Here’s a link to Golden’s site with a comprehensive video description of this paint medium.

The store had a large selection of the paints, a jar of the gel, and several bottles of Open medium. Golden also sells a special Open thinner, but there wasn’t any on the shelf. The thinner works like water, but doesn’t weaken the paint binder or speed up drying, or such is the claim. I bought the jar of open gel to try out. I didn’t buy any paints, since I have enough regular acrylic paints already, and this medium is supposed to be fully compatible with them. This Open gel is said to be the same viscosity as the paints, and the Open medium is slightly thinner.

In the photo above you can see where I’ve placed a small dollop of the gel on both an acrylic primed sheet of canvas on the left, and a sheet of plain 90# watercolor paper. According to Golden, the Open medium will dry faster on more absorbent surfaces, so the paper sample should dry faster than the canvas. I also mixed a little of the gel into a bit of regular acrylic paint, burnt umber from Liquitex, so I’ll see how that works out.

After about half an hour the thinnest part on the paper was still wet. An hour later, it felt like it was starting to set up some, but was sticky. The thicker section of gel at the top was still completely wet. The regular paint and gel mix was still completely wet in the tin after an hour. At that point, I painted a little swatch on the paper and it felt just like it did when I first mixed it. The thin area of paint was applied with a stiff brush and no thinning with water. The bottom section is from a softer brush. I can’t see any difference between it and paint out of the tube. At this point it seems to behave like oils, but I’m anxious to see how long it takes to finally dry. I’ll let this sit for a few more hours, and report back. So far I’m very impressed with the slow drying.

UPDATE: After 2 hours the paint swatch of burnt umber mixed with Open gel was dry to touch. The gel I placed on both the paper and canvas appears to be drying about the same rate. The thin areas are dry after 4 hours, but the thicker areas are still slightly wet. The mixed paint in the metal tin is still mostly wet after 4 hours, and dry around the edges of the paint. If the palette is kept covered when not in use, the claim is that the paint can stay wet for several days. You should be able to speed up the drying by either using no or less medium, thinning with water, or applying hot air. I plan on using this with the new painting I’m working on, so I’ll get a better idea how it performs. I might even experiment with this in gouache and casein.

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Painting Update: Curtis On Guitar

August 13, 2018

I have a little progress to show on the new acrylic painting, laying in an undertone base. I decided to take the canvas off the stretcher frame, since I never much cared for the spongy feel of a stretched canvas. I drew in rough outlines first using an orange pastel, and the bounce of the canvas was leaving indentations from the wood frame. So, I just taped the canvas to a sheet of plastic. Now the water won’t bother it. I may even add clips to the edges of the wood frame I took it off of, and stretch it like I do for watercolor painting, to keep the wrinkles away. We’ll see. I’ll glue mount it to a wood panel when I’m finished.

I’m using a rough undertone wash of colors complementary to what I have planned. I covered the pastel drawing with a thin coat of acrylic medium to keep that from mixing into the paint, and then added thin color washes.

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Starting a New Painting: Curtis On Guitar

August 6, 2018

I wanted to get back to painting again after all the ink drawings I’ve been doing lately, and for my subject I chose my recent sketch of Curtis playing guitar.

I got a general “future vision plan” of what I hoped it would turn out to look like in my head, and then chose an 18 x 24″ canvas that I had previously stretched a long time ago. I think this time the media will be acrylic paint, since I haven’t used that in awhile. I scaled up the original drawing on a larger sheet of newsprint as an outline drawing, and next I will transfer that to the canvas. Wish me luck!

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New Sketch: Curtis on Guitar

July 28, 2018

Apologies for being away for so long. I had to work on a project to get some spending money. Now it’s time to get back into some art making, so often not the same thing, unfortunately.

Here’s a sketch I made up recently of my friend Curtis from a frame of video I shot of him playing some Blues, ink on 11 x 17″ paper.

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The Evolution of a Norman Rockwell Cover

July 17, 2018

A major influence in the art work I make is the inspiration I get from great illustration art of the previous century. No artist ever achieved greater stature in that genre than Norman Rockwell. I recently came across a sequence of digital files that show the particular method he used to develop the idea for one of his many covers made for the Saturday Evening Post magazine. I stumbled across them out of sequence, but once I had them all collected, they made quite an impact to see how his final concept came together.

I was very familiar with the final printed cover, but when I found the first image above it didn’t register with me that it was the same idea, since it was so different from the final painting. I could tell it was a rough sketch, and had the format of a magazine cover, but that was as far as I could take it at the time. The reading I get on the scene appears to be a quiet evening setting with a young girl keeping an eye on the sleeping baby, perhaps her sister, while doing homework.

The next image I found was that of the girl wearing a blue blouse, the third image in the sequence. While I could immediately tell it was a preliminary version of the final painting, I still didn’t make a connection with the first image other than it was two pictures of a babysitter. Wanting to find a higher resolution image of this, I searched on “Rockwell babysitter,” and then found the second image. Suddenly the whole thing came together, as his final idea is fully developed. The quiet scene is now replaced with the tumult of a screaming child in her lap as she studies a pamphlet on babysitting. In the third image, he’s moved our point of view in closer, so that we’re not in a separate room with the crib. The furnishing are different, and he’s added a few more props, including bringing back the homework books now placed in the chair, and returned the clock now on the floor showing a late hour.

He brings it all home in the final painting by changing the color scheme again, and adding more details. If I can find a higher res version of the printed cover I’d like to see what the title says on the print hanging on the wall. Rockwell had amassed a devoted following of readers that loved to catch these sort of details, and would write in with their own impressions or when they felt he made mistakes, so he had to be careful, and he knew that holding their attention that way was of major importance.

So many of these works of art by the great illustrators of the past have been lost or stored away that it’s wonderful the see them in detail, especially when you can see how the artist worked out their ideas. Sometimes you need the printed page as well to see how they had to work with the limitations of the print medium, or that the original art has been damaged or destroyed to a point where the printed version is the more accurate example. A dream I have is a large gallery and library that brings all of this together for study and appreciation well deserved.