Posts Tagged ‘Art’

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A Couple New Sketches

November 18, 2017

My friend, Jennifer, has a dance class in Austin, which offers me a good opportunity to sit and draw the performers. I made a few quick gesture drawings, and this sketch of a woman sitting and watching the others.

Afterwards, I shot a photo of Jennifer in the parking lot looking up at a bright sun, and turned that into a sketch when I got home.

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New Sketches: Dripping Springs and San Marcos

November 11, 2017

I was driving around the area of Dripping Springs, TX a few days ago with my friend, Mary. At one place we stopped to do some sketching. She was drawing some cattle across the road, and I was sketching her. Later, she had to run some errands in the nearby town of San Marcos, so I drew up a street corner while I waited for her outside. All in all, a productive and enjoyable day.

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New Idea for Mounting Drafting Film (Mylar)

November 6, 2017

An old post of mine regarding the use of drafting film as an art surface remains one of my most popular posts with ongoing discussions today. The main concern is how to properly adhere this surface to a firm support for display purposes. All glues I’ve tried are no better than adequate, allowing the film to be easily pulled away from any type of firm backing. As a result, this surface is not my favorite to work with, but one I continue to explore ideas to improve this problem. One such idea is to not use glue at all, but instead use physical force to sandwich the film between two supports.

I got this idea by looking at clear packaging supplies online. You can buy gift boxes of various sizes made usually with PET plastic, but some are also made with polypropylene (“PP”) which is the same material Borden & Riley’s “Denril” film is made from.

To start exploring this idea, I took a large sheet of Grafix “Wet Media” film, and fit it to a 9 x 12″ piece of foamcore that is 1/4″ thick. In order to get the sheet to lay flat to the foamcore, I scored the film with a metal ruler to get a sharp bend.

Using cellophane tape to hold the film in place, I glued another sheet of foamcore to the back to press and hold the film.

The reason I didn’t fold over all four sides is that would require cutting the film corners, like stretching a canvas, and that makes the film easy to tear. You certainly could do that, carefully. In fact, that’s how the gift boxes are made, but it’s not necessary here if this panel is displayed in a frame where the sides won’t be seen. If you were to do a sort of “gallery wrapped” display, then you’d want to cut the corners to fold over all four sides. In that case, I’d recommend protecting the corners somehow.

This particular film is glossy, and since the whole surface is not glued flat, it has a slight waviness that can be distracting. That would not be noticeable if you were using frosted film.

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New Sketches: Watching the Ball Game

November 1, 2017

I was at the house of a couple of friends yesterday watching the World Series game. Well, some of us were watching, and I was watching the watchers.


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Two Sketches From the Weekend

October 16, 2017

Here are a couple recent sketches I picked out from over the weekend. One of my friend, Pierre, enjoying a bottle of wine. The other is a quick sketch I made at the library. That one I didn’t have time to finish, but at least the library will still be there to go back to.

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Appreciating Artist Jon Whitcomb

October 9, 2017

Recently I’ve been browsing through online archives of illustration art, and particularly spending time on one of the greats, Jon Whitcomb. Here are a few gems of his that I’ve picked out. Most of the paintings he made in his career were done with the gouache medium, and he was a master.


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Testing Gesso Made from Cellulose Gel

October 1, 2017

A few days ago I was scanning the internet looking for raw art supply materials, and I came across a site that sold a gesso mix using methyl cellulose. This was “Eco Gesso” sold by Natural Earth Paint. I was surprised, but intrigued. I’ve used methyl cellulose (MC) and Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) as art mediums before, but not in this manner. (Here’s a link to a previous post using MC mixed with oils.) I’ve made gesso before using rabbit skin glue (RSG) or casein for many years. My first reaction to one of this type was that MC or CMC would be too weak by comparison to serve as an effective foundation for painting; however, being naturally curious, I decided to try to make some of my own, and test it out. A $30 kit from Natural Earth sounded like too much to pay for experimenting.

I’ve read that CMC has a stronger bond than MC, so I took a teaspoon of CMC powder, and converted it into a gel by adding eight teaspoons of distilled water.

Next I added water to thin this out, and solids to make the gesso. That’s the gesso in the metal bowl.

I took a scrap panel I had, 8 x 10 inches, patched it up a bit, and applied the first thin coat.

Here’s the finished panel with 8 coats.

I had to make 3 different attempts at this. The first batch of gesso I made, using the same ratios of CMC gel that I use with either RSG or casein was too thick, and the end result on the dry panel was dusting off too much, leading me to believe the glue was too weak to hold that much gypsum. This panel is the second attempt, which had 25% less solids, but the same glue strength. It went down very smoothly, and although it didn’t powder off as badly as the first one, it still was rather weak. I could wipe the surface and get a powdery residue. I made a third attempt by using less water in the glue, and it didn’t brush on as smoothly, but still dusted off.

In summary, this gesso is much weaker than those made using RSG or casein, just as I first suspected. However, it’s not completely unusable. It’s like painting a fresco. Wet paint will turn pastel from mixing with the surface powder, but still hold. You can see the difference of this burnt umber paint on the CMC gesso panel compared to the same paint on a scrap piece of watercolor paper. If one doesn’t mind that desaturation of color, then it can work acceptably with either water based or oil based paints. The CMC powder can be found online very easily. I bought mine at a local ceramic supply store. It doesn’t have to be heated or refrigerated like the other glues, but can grow mold. A drop of preservative, like thymol, will prevent that. Personally, I’ll stick to the other glues. They make a stronger surface and are more versatile, but it’s good to know there’s an alternative.