Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Oil Painter's Confession

"Bella Buckskin" 24 x 24 acrylic on deep gallery wrap canvas (in progress)
After a super sunny warm fall it's suddenly freezing in the Mile High City today! As with all poor weather, this is the ideal excuse to skip my "non art" errands get some work done in the studio.

More specifically, I’m prepping for my painting demo tomorrow evening at the lovely Cherry Creek Country Club. My thanks again to the Club for the invite! Picking a demo painting subject is never easy (at least it's not for me) but I’m pretty sure I’m going to work on one of my favorite types of paintings—a contemporary colorful equine painting which is my post today.

As a daily painter I will always adore buttery alla prima oil painting. So I'm sometimes asked why I still use acrylic paint. The fact is that acrylic has many advantages which many of my painting students enjoy every day in the studio.

So I thought I'd share 10 reasons why an oil painter like me still uses acrylics depending on the project and why you too might appreciate this flexible and versatile medium:
  1. Do you tend to change your mind as you paint? Acrylics dry so quickly I can easily paint over a section or “correct” with some gesso.  .
  2. I’m braver and more experimental with acrylics—You can fix just about anything even if you paint thickly. (No “fat or lean” rule like oil.)
  3. Depending on the canvas size, I could (and have) change the entire background color in less than 10 minutes.
  4. I can quickly glaze a thin transparent layer of paint over a section to adjust or enhance a color. (Just about impossible in wet in wet oil painting.)
  5. If oil is "black tie" I think of acrylic as "casual Fridays." Plus it's more affordable. No fancy linen or sable brushes. And while I prefer pro grade paint like Liquitex Heavy Body I've done perfectly well with Hobby Lobby brand (love the turquoise!) and even 50 cent "mistake" hardware paint leftovers.  
  6. Large fresh acrylic paintings are easy and clean to transport. If you have thalo blue oil paint on your steering wheel or leather seats you'll appreciate this. 
  7. The harder edges of the acrylic work well for a bolder, more graphic style. 
  8. I could easily add a “mixed media” component like pastel, collage or a texture gel/paste for interest and variety.
  9. Blending acrylics and soft edges can be tricky but it becomes easier with alacrity, more paint, and practice. (You could also add a slow drying medium or blending medium.)
  10. Usually, I can complete a larger painting in acrylic faster than I can in oil paint—this is very helpful for art deadlines like shows, festivals, etc.
Thanks and best wishes for all the time you need to be as creative as you can be!

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Treats & Tricks

Painted Pumpkins on Pearl Street
TGIF and Happy Halloween Everyone! Thanks again to everyone who supported me through last month’s “30 in 30” painting challenge.  While I wasn’t able to keep posting the entire month (kudos to you if you did!), the challenge was a fantastic launch to super successful fall art season. It's been a warm and sunny October in Colorado but I've managed to keep busy in the studio too. Here are some highlights.

All Colorado Art Show
The little bird painting I featured on day one of the challenge was not only accepted in the All Colorado Art Show it sold on opening night to a delightful new collector. Plus my student won a ribbon for her beautiful abstract—congrats Nancy!
Framed Image Gallery Fall Show
Sold my horse painting (thank you another new collector!) and completed a another horse theme commission. I’m so glad buyers share my lifelong love of horses! I’ll be likely painting at least one other equine painting for the gallery’s upcoming January “Ranch and Range” show. For more equine art, please see my Pinterest Board "Horsing Around."
Favorite New Studio Product
As an oil painter I usually wear barrier cream and sometimes gloves but I still manage to get little bits of dried paint on my hands.  The solution? Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub. It’s tough on paint but leaves your hands super soft and moisturized—and it smells like a French garden. A super affordable treat!
Like a mini-spa for tired artist hands! Mmm...
Amazon’s Best Selling Painting Book
I’ve had Tues. November 4 on my studio calendar for ages in eager anticipation of Carol Marine’s new book “Daily Painting” which debuts that day. (You can pre-order now and save some money.) It’s already the best selling painting book on Amazon! Congrats and thanks Carol for sharing your painting insights!
Caroil Marine's New Painting Book Debuts Nov. 4 on Amazon

Free "Painting Preview" Software: FotoSketcher
Deciding what photo to paint from next can be a challenge but here's a program that can help. Typically, I'm very cautious when downloading anything from the Web but so far I've enjoyed this easy and free program that applies different paint effects (my favorite is "expressive brushstrokes") to your photos. (Note: Higher res photos may take a few minutes.)
Country Club Demo
I’m very honored to be a featured artist at the lovely Cherry Creek Country Club in November.  This is a private “members only” event but if you happen to be a member of the Club please stop by and say hi on the evening of November 14. I promise I’ll be painting not golfing!
October Pearl
Just in time for Halloween I’m posting a sunny pumpkin painting on DPW today.  FYI my 8x10 oil paintings now sell for about $400 at the gallery so these are a super value (like most DPW paintings) starting at $75.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Challenge Day 18: The Color of Peace & Joy

"Peaceful Petals" 8x10 oil on linen--in progress
Happy Thursday everyone! I’ve missed posting for a few days but have greatly enjoyed teaching this week, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and getting ready for the many fall art shows on the horizon in Denver.

(Speaking of shows, I’m very happy to report that my Day 1 challenge painting (my Blue River sparrow) was juried in the All Colorado Art Show.)

But today I’m back at the easel and my goal was high key ethereal colors. I’ve always loved this type of painting. (If you like really gentle light colors too you may enjoy my “High Key Heaven” art board on Pinterest.)

On a pigment note, I've been hearing a lot about Gamblin's warm white (which is a mixed white with a little hint of an yellow/orange) and thought it would be interesting to try in this. For those of you who feel your whites get too cool you may enjoy it.

I thought a sunlit peace rose would be a perfect high key subject. Originally cultivated in the 1930’s in France, the trade name "Peace" was publicly announced in the U.S. in April 1945. Later that year peace roses were given to each of the delegations at the UN inaugural meeting with this note: "We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace".

Interestingly in Italy rose is known as “gioia” or joy—also an apt descriptor for such a blissful and colorful flower.  Wishing you all a peaceful and colorful week as fall approaches!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Challenge Day 14: Reaching for the Sky

Rainy Sky Study--9x12 on linen (study for larger painting)
The sky is the soul of all scenery. It makes the earth lovely at sunrise and splendid at sunset. In the one it breathes over the earth a crystal-like ether, in the other a liquid gold.  American landscape painter Thomas Cole

Almost at the half way point in what feels like a painting marathon but in a good way...

Tomorrow AM I have to have a chipped tooth fixed. I'm lucky that I like my dentist but I’m already hoping I won’t be too uncomfortable to paint afterward.  I’ve already put the appointment off for a few weeks but felt it was time to just get it over with. Also, I didn’t think my dentist would quite understand about the 30 in 30 painting challenge.
Alaskan Sunset Study
In the meantime, I wanted to post a few sky color studies today. Why skies? If you enjoy painting landscapes I think the sky is one of the most interesting places to both study and inject color. On any given day, as Hudson River painter Thomas Cole points out, the sky can display a prism of painting challenges. Skies can be every color on the color wheel especially during unusual weather. So if you're working on a landscape that you feel needs some extra color interest look to the sky.
One of my fav sky photos this summer--double rainbow over Red Rocks
P.S. For all you sky, sunset, and cloud fans you may enjoy more colorful sky paintings on my Pinterest board: The Sky’s the Limit.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Challenge Day 13: The Beauty of Black


"Wise Guy" 30x40 Acrylic on Canvas Private Collection

"Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Coco Chanel

Happy September Saturday everyone! If there’s one really controversial pigment color for artists it might be black. It seems to be the one pigment artists either love or never use. Which brings me to the question I hear a lot: Is black even a color? 



It’s a good question..If you add white to your black pigment you’ll likely get some kind of gray that leans toward a hue such as blue. So in that case I use black a really dark neutral blue. Here’s an interesting post by the late RobertGenn about using black in art

In most cases, I mix a “chromatic” black meaning I create a really dark pigment that looks blackish. In oil for example, I might use ultramarine and transparent red oxide. This is a very nice dark neutral mix for landscapes or animals. 

In my contemporary owl acrylic painting today I just cut to the chase and used really opaque mars black (which also leans a little warmer). In a painting with more subtle natural colors the black helps add needed contrast especially to the focal area of the eyes. Thanks stopping by--have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Challenge Day 12: Not So Mellow Yellow

"Sour Lemons" 8x8 oil on canvas (unfinished)
What a horrible thing yellow is. (Edgar Degas)

Happy Friday everyone! A few posts ago I honored my favorite color (green). So I thought it only fair to confess my least favorite color. My color “nemesis” if you will.

As a painter it's my "job" work with all the colors everyday. But if I'm being honest I’m with Monsieur Degas-- I just can’t seem to embrace yellow with same joie de vivre. 

My apologies to all you gold, honey, canary, marigold, butter, saffron, ochre, and lemon lovers out there. But I realized the other day I don’t own one piece of yellow clothing. (I think I'm still recovering my dreary mustard high school graduation robe--Not a flattering color on anyone.)
"Sweet Summer Honey" oil on canvas SOLD

Here I tried a an all yellow dominant painting in this little knife painting study of lemons in a plastic bag (unfinished) to help me understand my yellows a little better. When you spend a long time with someone you hopefully understand them a lot better. Still I would have preferred a lime study...

That being said my favorite flowers are sunflowers so of course they are typically yellow. And I enjoyed this study of honey jars in the sun. Some artists really know how to make yellow shine as you can see on my “You Had Me at Yellow” Pinterest board. Do you have a color that challenges you? 

Thanks for all your positive challenge comments--they are greatly appreciated and remembered as I head in to the studio everyday. Have a fantastic fall weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Challenge Day 11: It's a Gray Area...

"Open Mind" 24 x 24 mixed media on canvas--Collection Artist
“The color of truth is gray.” Andre Gide

In a month of challenge painting devoted to color I felt I had to include my love of grays--particularly cool grays. This may seem a little strange coming from a self proclaimed "colorist" painter. But I'm sure you've heard if you really want your high chroma colors to "stay clean" it helps to balance them with some neutrals.

And for those of you who love neutrals (my Mom for example loves ivory) you already know that "gray" painting can be quite stunning and powerful as well--Just look at this iconic example from Whistler.
"Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1" J. Whistler image from Wikipedia

 And of course we've all seen how beautiful art can look on rich charcoal gray gallery or museum walls. I don't have many grays in my house as a I look around but I do love to wear gray--especially in the fall. There's also some rumor that the Pantone color for 2015 (it was orchid this year) will be some kind of gray (I think it will be olive) but that would be an interesting choice.


Once in awhile I like to take break from traditional representational painting and just play. It's kind of like a yoga retreat for my art brain. It's both relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time.

In this mixed media abstract painting which I've been playing with for a while I knew I wanted to work with some variety of grays along with some high key (pastel) colors. So I used both graphite (a gray I particularly like), gray oil pastel and some metallic steel gray Golden acrylic paint. Thanks again for joining me on my art adventure. Have a wonderful rest of your week!