Thursday, February 28, 2013

Basic For Whom? Oils vs Acrylics

When you are in convalescent care, there really isn't much to do except eat, in my case exercise twice a day, sleep and read. Many of the people there either can't or aren't much interested in talking so its a great time to catch up on your reading.

My April PaintWorks  came and my wife brought it for me to read. I wasn't very far into it when I read an article by Sherry Nelson, "Basics for the First Time Oil Painter, Part 1" that gave me pause.

Now, I too was afraid of oils all of my life and only as a senior did I take my first oil classes and begin to create something that you could recognize that wasn't mud...the term used for those of us neophytes that make a mess mixing colors in oil. Trust me, its not hard to do either.

Nelson has been painting and teaching oil painting for 40 years and is certainly one of the most enthusiastic painters I know of. Her article just drips with enthusiasm. However, as I continued to read her article I realized that I didn't much agree with her. While I never got the opportunity to teach in front of a class, I was brave enough to sign up to teach both an oil and an acrylic floral painting. In fact, I taught the oil painting to a friend who had never painted before and we were both surprised to finish the painting in 2 1/2 hours. Oils do have a quality that allow you to blend out mistakes but the painting isn't fully dry yet either.
California Poppies using Oil & Acrylic paints

Nelson explains that oil paints are the most forgiving of all mediums. Blunder and clean up is instant and simple. She goes on and on about how easy oils are to clean up, change, etc. Well, maybe for her but I have taken many classes and painted in Las Vegas three times now and I can assure you, oils are not quite that easy. They don't dry and I can show you the clothes I've ruined carrying a wet oil painting. Acrylics on the other hand ARE dry and you can carry them with impunity!

She goes on to say that acrylics are truly a challenging medium. It takes layer after layer of washes to get the color you want. She goes on to say, and here I truly disagree, that "you have to be twice as skilled in acrylics to produce the same quality of painting as you can accomplish in oils."

My first floral in acrylics (now to be fair, I have been craft painting for many years now) was a Bird of Paradise that probably could be done in 2 hours, maybe three hours tops. And its true, the orange, red plumes of the flower were underpainted in yellow and the oranges and reds were put on in layers. I needed to get the shading of the light coming through the layers of petals and that was the easiest way I know of. What she doesn't mention though is that each layer could be applied because the layer below is already dry. Thats right, the acrylic paint had dried. If it were oil? Unless you put drying medium in the paints, depending on the thickness, it could be days or weeks before you could put on the next layer. If you don't wait, you WILL make mud or some of the paint below will contaminate the new layer above.

The truth be told I spend far more hours painting a birdhouse than I have ever spent on any of my paintings. Yes, I can hear the snickers that say and they look like it too. Yet they each bring a different kind of satisfaction and I feel, as an artist, I have come a long way and my paintings are an expression of how I see the world. I think that is all any artist can ask for. As my skill gets better, I expect the painting will get better as either medium.

She goes to say you don't need many paints or brushes and she's right. You REALLY don't need many for either medium. I have fallen into the trap of looking for just the "right" acrylic color. With oil you play around to create it. It can be fun but is often frustrating because you can't quite get the color you really wanted. When I paint with my oils I use a tan and yellow green from Blick that is the perfect color to use straight or with other colors. However, they were never on any palette list, it was something I discovered myself. I never, ever, leave home without them.

I could say more but I think what is more important here is for you to decide which medium you feel more comfortable with. Nelson has 40 years of experience and probably has using the oil paints down to a science. She doesn't even have to think about using her paints.

With the development of water based oils that truly do clean up with soap and water and Golden's amazing line of acrylics that take a few days to dry like oil paints, the lines are continually blurring. One class I had last year in Las Vegas had us using on the same canvas water based oils and acrylic paints. (See above). By the time I got the painting home it was a mess because the oils had not dried yet while the acrylics had. Luckily the teacher gave us extra paints and I was able to correct the smears and finish the painting so Danish friends, who fell in love with it, could take it home. I left it in the garage and it was dry by the time they left.

Oils need some form of turpentine to clean and thin with while painting unless you use the newer, more expensive water based oils. Some artists don't like them because they dry with a glossy, plastic sheen that makes people think they are acrylic. My experience is that they don't dry all that fast. Faster drying needs an addition medium. A good oil painting needs to dry for at least six months before varnish can be applied to seal the elements out. And by then it needs it too! I can remember how different my first varnished painting looked. It had become dry and drab. The glossy varnish brought the colors back and it simply glowed. However, remember, I had to wait six months.

Acrylics use water all the way. Even the more expensive, pigment rich acrylics use water to thin them, create a wash and to clean them. Plain old water. The average acrylic painting is usually dry in an hour or less and can be varnished that same day.

Which is better? I wouldn't even dare to say. Since I started having more success with acrylics I truthfully haven't touched my oils in months. I guess its up to the buyer to say. Is it oil or is it acrylic?

Be sure to check out my Etsy at  Many of the paintings I talk about are on for sale there. You decide. Could you tell which medium was used?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflecting - Defeat or Opportunity?

While I was in the rehab center trying to heal my spasmodic back, I had time to think about my lost opportunity to teach painting and what venues that might have opened. The lost opportunity of course was that in injuring myself, I wouldn't be able to go Vegas and teach my classes. While I have known about a blood condition for over 10 years, little did I realize that my back would be the culprit. I considered Vegas a time to start a new post retirement career. I didn't want a full time career but I did look forward to doing this as a part time opportunity, a way to be linked to the art world that I had always enjoyed even if I didn't like the petty feuding and elitist attitudes that so many artists display. I was both excited and terrified at the opportunity I was given!

Coming home yesterday, I realized that I would have been getting ready to teach my very first class. There was much sadness even as I was finally, after a week of rehabilitation, going back to my own home and bed. No more blood tests at 2 am, pills at 4 am, no more nurses moving or checking on my wonderful room mate, certainly no more marginal food.

We are told so many times that when one door closes, another door opens. But in the moments of despair and hurt you don't often see it that way. I surely didn't yesterday and I don't see think I can see it today when my second class was scheduled.

I don't want this to be a pity party. I have given myself enough tears and its time to move on. Yet, I wonder, how do I move on from this? I will submit classes to teach next year, in fact the operator of the show encouraged me to do this. I will try now, more than ever, to become more involved in the various local art groups and may even try to sell kits on my Etsy store of the classes I was to teach, including the materials I would have given out that cannot be used again. Even the canvases will be included. Why not? What on earth am I going to do with 25 canvases, markings in place that are ready to go?

There is much to consider but the biggest consideration is how to more forward and not look back!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is Andy Warhol Really An Artist?

When my room mate at the rehabilitation home I've been staying in, recuperating during the past week from a spastic back, asked me the question, "Is Andy Warhol really considered an artist?" there was a moment of stunned silence. Since I was missing my painting convention and was vocal about missing it, art has been a topic of conversation here all week. This question was a surprise however. He then mentioned the Marilyn Monroe prints and Campbell's Soup cans. And to be honest, I have had my doubts too.

I remember this same discussion during the 60's and there were many conservative critics who felt he wasn't. What is original about copying a trademarked product or copying a photo over and over and then making a bunch of variations with wild colors. Was this art.? If this was really art, the broader question then is, WHAT was art?

As I struggled to come up with an explanation, I suddenly realized that artists like Warhol and David Hockney, Jackson Pollack and so many others are a product of their generation. Just like Leonardo and Michelangelo, the Impressionists, the Hudson River School. These artists joined together with a similar type of subject and while their artistic styles were often different, they all seemed to share a vision of a subject they all agreed upon and liked. And in the 60's it was a kind of avant gard that won the day. (As a matter of fact, Peter Max is making a comeback! Talk about a blast from the past!).

If you go to a museum with a variety of impressionist artists, and have any art knowledge at all, you will recognize each ones style. What binds them together though is their willingness to show common people going about their ordinary lives.  City and street scenes were what was seen everyday, life was portrayed as it was, not some perfect vision that at first glance, heroic or not looked like a photograph. In fact the impressionists painted their "impression"of something and were often considered a reaction to photography.  If you wanted something exactly as it appeared, take a photograph... in those days a chore worthy of painting.

Once that bridge between realism and impressions was crossed, the way was opened for abstract art which took what an artist felt to new paradigms. The battle over what is and is not art has never ceased. So, while the paradigm has changed, the grouping of artists and styles has not.

So finally my answer was yes, Warhol was an artist as his art was a reflection of commercialism and how it invaded our everyday lives. He was far ahead of his time because he realized it wasn't just a Campbell's soup can, Brillo pads and such, but that commercialism had extended to certain people. In its own way, it was brilliant. It showed the world as it was. The same kind of vision of their (50's to 70's) world as the Impressionists had of theirs. Who would ever doubt that today the cult of the individual is as commercial as any product hawked on TV? If you doubt that, watch the Oscars.

Be sure to visit my store on

Friday, February 22, 2013

When Something For Nothing Is Exactly That, Nothing

As a country we have been trained to always look for a "deal." Why pay full bore when you can get the same thing for less if you either shop around or wait for a sale.  This clearly was the design of merchants trying to get one up on the competition. However, it has become the norm rather than the exception. Of course, no one has calculated how much time and effort is expended shopping around for that better price but I have a suspicion it raises the price substantially. That's why Amazon is such a hit. Rather than getting in your car and going to the mall or going from store to store, you can sit in your Jammie's, cup of coffee in hand and shop to your hearts content. Again though, consider your time.

I remember the mantra about shopping at Mervyn's and am now hearing the same things about Kohl's department stores; never buy something at full price. Wait a week, even a few days and it will be on sale! And they are right! It is!!!

This is the problem with Penny's. They tried to change that format from nearly constant sales to a simpler format. Prices on everything were lowered (they didn't have to keep marking things down to get to this price) and there was a monthly sale. It has NOT been popular because while women seemed to have no problem keeping up with the myriad discounts, the men did. So the new CEO, a man, decided he would make it simpler to keep track of and everyone would be happy. They aren't. Possibly a comparison showing how the new pricing was really saving shoppers money would have been appropriate but it wasn't done. Shoppers think they are paying more and have voted with their feet heading to other stores. While I can't say for sure, they could actually be paying less. Great idea but poor design. Shame on the CEO. He came from Apple where design of every aspect of Apple products IS king.

Internet junkies in many ways are the worst. They expect things to be free. Listen to the anger and rage if a site, usually after being free, starts charging to use their site. Of course music and movies are the biggest losers. After years of monopoly, music recordings started to flow free over the Internet. Recording companies who had padded their profits for years on the backs of their artists were suddenly forced to look at a new paradigm. Given a choice listeners wanted a song not a padded album and surprisingly most would pay for that one or two songs if the price was reasonable. That's why iTunes was such a hit. The buyer could spend 99 cents for the song they wanted, not $10-12-14 for the entire album. Even better, a musician who created and sold his own music on iTunes got 70% of that sale, far more than they were ever paid by a recording studio.

This blog site, Blogspot by Google, is free. Would I pay for it? It depends. When I get my web site up and running it has a blog feature. I may investigate it because, as a graphic designer this has many creative deficiencies and limitations. They also get to track my readers but my ability to track them is just about nil.

I am not familiar with WordPress but I hear its quite similar. I know that a successful seller on Etsy uses it for both his blog and as a site where Etsy sellers can list a few items for free. The problem there is before an item is shown it has to be approved and other than one, for me at least, the others never are. And no matter where I log in to it, it takes forever to load, if it ever does. I mean minutes not seconds. My feeling is that free or not, WordPress is not up to snuff dealing as a store.

Which brings us back to free. Nothing is free. We can fool ourselves all we want but someone, somewhere paid for it and that someone is usually us. When I hear people talk about their free Medicare, I see red.  We, you and I, paid for it during a lifetime of work. I get even angrier when politicians use it as a political cash cow seeming to forget their constituents paid into it, the government didn't. Possibly if they had to depend on Social Security and Medicare like the rest of the nation, things might be very different.

Before buying you need to determine if you really need it. If that passes the smell test, then decide when you need it. I remember being told years ago about buying a computer. Should I wait for the next best thing or buy it now. The measurement was ROI (return on investment). How much would you save if you bought now compared to waiting? I might add how much more effective or efficient would you be if you paid for something over free?

Nothing is free. You must decide which in reality is the better deal, the "free" item or one that you pay for.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dashed Hopes and Dreams

About 1:30 am Monday I woke up for my usual middle of the night potty run. The problem was I couldn't get out of bed. The back pain was so severe I couldn't even sit up. Realizing the severity of the pain and continuing spasms my wife called 911.

Somehow the paramedics got me up and helped me walk down the stairs to the waiting gurney, loaded me into the ambulance and took me to ER. After waiting there for test results and given morphine to ease the pain, when it was time for me to get up and leave, the minute I tried to sit up, all the pain and spasms returned.  I couldn't go home like this so I was taken to a rehabilitation center where I am writing now in the middle of the night.

It also became quickly apparent my trip to The Las Vegas Painting Convention, a week away, was not going to happen. After the first day here I realized I would be lucky to get home Sunday let alone drive to Vegas.

I can't even begin to say how upset, maybe even devastated, I was and am at the turn of events. All the planning and preparations for the classes I was to teach, wouldn't happen. The scheduled video of me painting wouldn't occur. The hopes for a minor new career were dashed. All because disks in my spine were flattening, between that and arthritis of the spine, they were pinching nerves in my back.

The irony was another medical event in my life, a heart attack caused by a blood clot that started in my heart, forced an early retirement at 62. That made it possible to learn much more about oil and acrylic painting and broaden my craft painting and gave me time to create new designs. I attended the Painting Convention several times where I met and have continued to go to my teacher and mentor Diane Trierweiler in Norco, CA.

It was her help and guidance that encouraged me to apply to teach my paintings and her years of experience teaching that helped me get ready to teach my classes. This week the final instructions were to be written up, the canvases prepped and packets made ready. This was hopefully the first step in a new career. I was even planning what classes to submit for next year! After this week I don't think that will happen either. If a medical condition stopped me this year, whose to say it wouldn't next year as well? Would you or anyone else take the chance?

What does the future hold? I don't know.  I will continue to paint and list items to sell on Etsy.  I've taken the first steps to building a web site where I can continue to show my items, chat with clients and maybe even show tutorials. However, the road to recognition is hard and the great hope was that between the classes and video I could reach a much larger audience because if I have learned anything over the past year on Etsy, finding an audience is far harder than creating something ever was! So...what will be will be.

Friday, February 15, 2013

English In A Post Modern World

When we heard Sir Ken Robinson speak recently at the Distinguished Speaker Series he made a rather wry observation. He noted that MicroSoft Word was dumbing down the language. It always suggested that you had to have a "positive" or upbeat manner. If you were to run some of the most beloved books of all times through it, the suggestions and comments would possibly bring tears to your eyes and give us a language fitting for what, Huxleys 1984? Or, what we hear just about every night on TV.

Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert" has also made observations about language, especially what our new "smartphones" do with language. The cartoon below, one that brought tears of laughter to my eyes, just about sums it up. I noticed on Pinterest yesterday a phone shot of a message obviously from a man to his girl that just about broke up that relationship when autocorrect took over. If you are on Pinterest check out the Mashable Web humor. Its priceless.

Or check this out:

What we need to be aware of though is that these features, like anything else in our lives, have been designed. And like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, things often don't work out as we planned.

I don't believe that anyone with a smart phone hasn't had an embarrassing moment. You type and send and only after a reply is made do we realize what we thought we said and what WAS said are often very different; maybe even revealing.

While just about everyone on the planet uses MS Word, haven't you ever noticed the wavy lines that then suggest another way of saying something? I don't know about you, but usually what I wrote is EXACTLY (yes I'm shouting) what I meant. I don't a need or want a computer to correct what I intended to say and how I said it.

Ironically I am learning from my wife about the new CORE standards that the Department of Education is rolling out for all school districts to follow across the nation. What is of critical interest, and it will start in kindergarden, is how it now wants students to ask critical questions about what they read. No longer are they to just parrot what they read, but to question what they read and try to understand what the author meant. Its about time. That is how I was taught over 50 years ago. I'd say, Word better get on the bandwagon as well. Just like there is happiness in the world, there is also a great deal of sadness. Pick up the paper, read the news on the web, watch the news on TVand no matter how you cut it, death and destruction are just about everywhere. Unless you are very sick, there is no way to put an upbeat spin on that. "To be or not to be, that IS the question!"

We can design things any way we want. Maybe its time for design to be realistic!

Check out my store;  See the first of the "Last Chance" western series!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Making Of A Birdhouse Saloon!

Every now and then we need a bit of whimsy. Here's my latest!

While I don't remember buying this blank birdhouse from Michaels, and you can bet it was on sale, I do know I found it in my garage when I was ready to start a new project. It was the perfect foil for a recent "cow skull" purchase I made in Arizona. I only bought one of these birdhouses because, at the time, I had no clue about what you could do it it. All the decorating that could be done would have to be on the back and sides.

The skull was one of those purchases that had no real aim except that it was pretty cool and I knew that I had to have one, or three in this case. Now I wish I had more as this could be a fun series, the "Last Chance" series. For now, at least, the limit is three.

Before my uncle died he gave me an old wooden crate filled with old photos of my family. In it was a very faded photo of an old ranch house dated 1909, Montana on the back. I put them all aside until one day I decided to scan the nearly invisible photo and was stunned to find a very clear, if very scratched image of my great grandparents, my grandmother as a child and more family members gathered around the high technology of the day, a Victrola! The other thing that garnered my attention was the cow skull perched on the peak of the roof. How cool is that? Maybe that was my inspiration. In fact, it was. I was looking for a suitable birdhouse when I came across the item above. I was inspired to a southwest scene when I put the skull in place after pondering what to do. After that it all fell into place.

I was doing two projects at the same time, this and an Easter-Spring Time basket realizing that even though they were very different I could pretty much use the same colors. So I painted away putting in the purple mountains, putting down the background clay for the dirt and two toned blues for the sky and a yellow sun, front and back. Next came the cactus, gully or roads, grasses and antiquing. I kept looking at the front and thought it needed something else. What is this?

Viewing the Disney exhibit at Ronald Reagan's Library I noticed a sketches of a western town and realized that was the final piece, a faded, run down saloon...the "Last Chance Saloon." I put in the sign, penciled in the letters, used a Sharpie to color them in but was shocked that even after several days, the ink ran when I sprayed a varnish over the entire project to protect it. Then I realized, it's SUPPOSED to be faded and worn and now it was for sure.

I urge you all to keep an open mind and be ready, often at a moment's notice to shift gears, to create a new plan on the run. That was hard for me at first but as I become more confident in my craft I realize that the greatest successes come from on the fly design and being able to seize a new item and on the fly create a plan for that as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Design of Ronald Reagan's Presidential Library

After many years my wife and I have managed to find the time to visit the two presidential libraries we are so fortunate to have in California. We visited the Nixon library first and in many ways I was disappointed (I wrote about that visit earlier). It seemed that while they did a wonderful job discussing his family and his own childhood history, it quickly degenerated to Nixon "light" when he entered politics. Whether you like him or not, there was much that he did and accomplished in politics. He was the first president ever to take the initiative to visit China, started the Environmental Protection Agency, made a stab at universal healthcare, even proposed a minimum income for working families. For the Communist debater that he was, to visit China as well as Russia WAS an accomplishment. 

The only place you see him unvarnished and almost naked is in the Watergate section, surely one of the most painful moments in American history. You felt that so many opportunities were lost, so many chances to fulfill his goals as president were never accomplished. As a museum it begged AND begs for a better story teller.

There was no such problem with the Reagan Library. From the moment you enter the grounds and take in the vista beyond to the well oiled machinery that is the library, you see what good "design" really is. Its not just a path around, it is an engaging path with print, video, photos that constantly not only show the man but in quotes "define" the man. It is fitting that the Great Communicator has such a home. The library communicates!

I remember seeing him on TV as a child. I was so impressed when he was a speaker at my "tech" high school in Portland, OR when tech meant that you had the option to learn a trade or went on the college prep course that still included lots of shops before you got out the door.

He had a constituency long before he ever ran for anything. He was a spokesman for GE visiting everyone of their plants and speaking to their workers, not just the managers.

He was on TV once a week with the GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE and of course his old movies played on Friday nights at midnight.

After a two year stint in the Peace Corps brought me via a job transfer to California in late 1970, I was able to watch his rise first as governor and then as a presidential candidate, and finally president.

Seeing his life stitched together in the library you felt that there had to have been some kind of design to his life...or was there?

Does life have a design, does it always have a plan or does it just happen? His life was filled with many opportunities and he took them all. Maybe that was the design! If an opportunity arises, take it.

I think that as a creative type there is much to learn from him. When you are invited to take a class, when there is a convention that could be beneficial, when you get the guts to stretch your talents and teach, these are all opportunities. Whether you take advantage of these opportunities or not is up to you. After a visit to the Reagan Library, I can tell you I saw the life of man who seized just about every opportunity given to him. I believe that was his design. I believe this is a lesson for us all.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

How Many Colors Does It Take?

After looking at a box that could be Easter or maybe simply a Spring Basket and longing to do something with the miniature steer skulls I purchased in Quartzite, AZ, I decided on a course of action. AND, the best part was that I might be able to use the same colors on both!

There's the rub. After one, then another and finally about 15 more different colors, it dawned on me, how many colors DOES it take? Sure I needed a pink, then after looking at about 15 oranges, added orange, then I needed a counterpoint so lavender. The fence was to be cream with maybe a bit of white added later. Then of course the additional colors in the flowers. Then on to the stems.

So far, I could use all of these colors for what will become "The Last Chance Saloon Birdhouse." Well, maybe except for the sky colors there. But, then I added them to green and got a new color for the flower stems. Each stem though shaped the same has a different paint coat. I hate them to be boring.

Its hard to believe I just cleaned out my work area. One, well really two projects, and it was a mess all over again. Paint bottles, brushes, Sharpies for details, water to rinse and paper towels to wipe and dry,  it was an overflowing mess.

The entire table top is covered with little and some not so little, bottles of colors. What ever happened to the concept of about 8 basic colors and you created all the rest. Ah, wouldn't the masters of past centuries envied us? Or, maybe not. Its hard to say.

With all the technologies we have today, we forget what it was like in the past. I heard recently a docent explaining an IBM Selectric at the Reagan library. She related that many of the students look at it with a blank expression asking what it is. Wow, has it been that long ago?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's All In The Details

As I prepare for my classes in Las Vegas it's become very apparent to me that painting is all in the details.  Not only in just the painting itself but the steps that go before, and after.

I realized this as I considered this week my next painting. I woke up with the one I wanted in my mind and even how I wanted to paint it.

After teaching my friend to paint one of my classes it was time to get ready. I hadn't asked for a sponsorship of the paints I would need, maybe a brush sponsor let alone made the kits that I would need to make for each student. Then to see if I used and mentioned suppliers in my video, do you get money for that as well? I did get the sponsorships but also increasing butterflies as the classes loom closer day by day.

After finding the missing notes for the acrylic class, I realized I took really lousy notes.  Both of the finished cactus paintings had better notes. But I wasn't teaching them. Luckily for once I took photos of the steps so at a glance I could see what I'd done. It's more than I used this color or that, it how I used them too! I must admit, when I am painting, instructions are the last thing on my mind.  That became SO apparent when I taught the oil painting.  I was so busy instructing and painting myself I completely forgot to take the step by step photos. Luckily I did write better notes.  Oh, I have so much to learn.

Painting for me, at least, is an elaborate puzzle. It's about shaping and forming, coloring and finishing. It's not often a logical process and I frequently find that what I did in one area must be altered because of what was done in another. Maybe as you move through a painting you become more confident with your subject and realize the beginning wasn't so great because it was, well, the beginning!

Then to consider teaching this painting you have to forget the missteps and write as if there never were any. I think unconsciously I realized this as I repainted my TWO LILIES. I could say paint this but leave these areas open. Now put this color in and blend it here. And so on.  I can guarantee you it wasn't that way the first time around. There were plenty of missteps, wiping out color and struggling to get the shading right. That said, the second version is not identical to the first either.

I've always marveled at how a class full of people painting the same picture really don't. Each one is different and in some cases you could say they are painting another subject. As a teacher, is that good or bad? If they don't paint exactly what you painted have you failed? I don't know but suspect I'll soon find out.

As for the after. Normally its waiting to varnish and possibly frame your painting. As a teacher I need to put the template, written instructions and any photos together in a bag. Then prepare the canvases with the traced template so they can create the vision I had. Like I said, to be a successful teacher artist, it's all in the details.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Finally, Learning From Past Experience Finished!

I did it. I went walking this morning and finding a cactus similar to the one I painted, I looked at it carefully, took a few photos and when I came home realized that yes, I really did need to put those cactus needles on my painting.

Its done. I don't want to mess with it anymore. Overworking is usually FAR worse than underworking.

So now you have it, the way I, Alan Krug, paint. It may not be the most elegant or even the recommended way, but I do achieve the affect I want or something close. If I don't get what I want, it is my painting, not the subject or materials.

I should also note that every one of the paints used here was from DecoArt. Most were those little bottles of their Americana line, the one with far too many colors (I mean where's the fun in not mixing?) and their superlative line of Traditions paint that comes close to oils in richness and opaqueness.

We have no idea how permanent this paint will be but it is wonderful to work with. I use it now for paintings, such as this, as well as on all of my craft items be they birdhouses, trays, clocks on wood, bisque and paper. There will soon be a paint that can be used easily on metal, fabric and glass as well as wood, bisque and paper. Won't that be exciting!

What do you think? I am curious if this step-by-step lesson was of any use for artists, even as a lesson on what NOT to do. Comments are always appreciated.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Learning From Past Experience - Part 4

I have been keeping you abreast of my painting of a flowering cactus with a single flower. It has turned out to be something much, MUCH more difficult than my first paintng that had three flowers on much fewer cactus flutes. In fact, on this painting, I wrote down everything I did thinking that it would be the perfect painting to offer for teaching at the 2014 Las Vegas Painting Convention. There, however, is simply no way this could be taught in anything less than 8 hours and I doubt that people would want to spend that much time on a cactus or take a class from a newbie instructor. Its one thing to paint a simple flower (little do they know) on a simple black background in four or less hours and another to fill the painting with cactus as I have here.

This is Thursday's result with, finally, the flower painted in. Basically I am very happy with the painting. In fact, the suggestion that I give more color to the flower, something that actually does occur in nature, gave the painting much more life. Did it add sparkle? That is up for you to decide.

As I continue to study it though, I realized that I had forgotten the spiny needles and that maybe I needed to tone down the edges, especially on the right side flutes. Yet, it  has a very harmonious feeling to it and all of the colors, reds, oranges, pinks, blues, greens have been placed all around the painting giving it a cohesive whole. I don't know. Do I spend more time refining it, because at a decent distance it could be mistaken for a photo or leave it alone? That really is the question.