Monday, April 23, 2012

Amazing Glazing: A Rose In Progress

Transparent Oil Glazed Rose in Progress 9x12 Ampersand Panel

Happy Spring Monday! Last week a student asked if we could paint a photo realistic oil glazed flower.  While I greatly admire this glowing light and shadow style and technique, I tend to paint a bit more loosely and “painterly.”  So for added guidance we watched another Colorado artist Arleta Pech’s DVD –Transparent Oils The Basics, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning an easy method for transparent oil glazing.  If you’re a watercolor painter looking to try oils I think it would be an interesting way to start since the planning and thought process is much the same. 

Ms. Pech recommends a smooth surface for this type of painting—we used a 9x12 Ampersand gesso panel—it’s has a very nice velvety finish. Smooth but not too slippery.  Other key materials are all transparent oil paints, Walnut painting medium, synthetic brushes for thin (very thin) paint application and some softer sable brushes (or sable synthetic) for blending out.  If you enjoy blending your oils you’ll love this method. To clean up the edges we used the walnut medium and a clean bristle brush to “pull up” any unwanted color or to lighten areas.

There’s also very little direct mixing of color—mostly layering much like watercolor glazing if you’ve tried that. Give or take, this painting will eventually have 6-8 glazes. This is the first stage—starting with the lighter colors in the background (which will be much darker) and the lighter colors of the rose.  One of aspects of this particular technique that I like is that there is no under painting.  Another interesting feature is that the white in the painting is the white of the board much as you’d “save your whites” on your watercolor paper.  

For an “alla prima” painter like myself, this type of painting takes some patience but I think it will be worth the wait. Can’t wait to add the additional layers—particularly the dark background. As summer approaches I usually have some openings in my class schedule so please email for more info about my classes in oil, watercolor, or acrylic. Have a wonderful colorful week!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Showers Bring Flowers

"Blue Butterflies in a Jar" oil on linen panel 8x8
Like many artists, I love to paint irises. Iris means "rainbow" the velvety petals have that wonderful flying butterfly shape so it's no surprise it's a favorite artistic subject. These irises were in my garden last spring and I took a few reference photos of them since they last so briefly.  For this oil floral study today I had two specific painting goals:
  • More impasto texture in the petals
  • Working with an intense red background (in this case I had used an old red abstract painting as a background)
American Museum of Western Art: The Anschutz Collection
If you have a passion for western art like I do, be sure to note that the Collection is going to begin regular public tours on Mondays and Wednesday starting next month (May 2012) in Downtown Denver.  This should be an amazing collection that includes Western greats like Georgia O’Keeffe and  I can’t wait to see it.

My Favorite Oil Painting Supplies
I’ve added a new page to my blog (see tabs above) about my “must have” oil painting supplies for those of you interested. I’ve started with the oil supplies (which is the media I’m currently painting with the most) but will also add favorite my watercolor and acrylic supplies.  Also if you’re interested in my favorite art books check out my Scarlet Owl  Pinterest boards.  Speaking of Pinterest (I'm up to 200 pins already) thanks to all who’ve pinned my art so far!

To end today’s posting I’d like to share a recent fortune cookie fortune that I thought was perfect for artists: Your genuine talent will find its way to success. Keep practicing….And so I'm back to the easel. Happy practicing in your studio!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Sprang Sprung

Purple Tulips 8x8 oil on panel
Art Lovers Mark Your Calendars: Summer Art Market June 9-10, 2012
I’m happy to announce that I’ll be at the Summer Art Market (SAM) again this year on the June 9-10 weekend on 200 Grant in central Denver.  It’s my favorite art festival—I always meet so many great folks who really enjoy art. I’m in lucky booth number nine.

I believe SAM (which is celebrating its 20th year) is one of the best quality art festivals in the region. The quality and prices for original fine art (no reproductions are allowed) can’t be beat in IMHO.  I’ve said it before but if you’re a savvy art shopper who hopes to discover talent this is the art festival for you. And for artists it offers a ton of inspiration and variety from regional artists.

Darn it Jim—I’m an Artist, Not a Mechanic
Nothing perks a studio up like a new easel. Several months ago I posted that I was planning to try a new counter balanced easel.  I’ve read many positive reviews and after some debate settled on this style. Unfortunately, while it was well packed, one of the supports was cracked (which could be glued) but another part just didn’t seem to work very well as you know these are not inexpensive easels. 

Now I'll admit I'm not terribly handy so I had a pretty handy neighbor trying troubleshoot it with me. But after several hours of assembly and then re-assembly we decided that it wasn’t meant to be. Long story short, that easel was returned to Jerry’s.  About a week ago though, spring serendipity brought a gently used Renaissance crank easel and I so far I love it.  The easel is super sturdy, the cranking is very smooth, and I love the warm wood tone.  If you’re ready for a larger easel I highly recommend this one.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sign Me Up

"Sunseekers" oil on linen panel 8x8-SOLD

Happy April and Early Spring Everyone!

As a painting teacher, I’m often asked about signing a painting so here are 10 tips I’ve gathered to help you the next time you finish a painting and are ready to own up to it with you signature:
  1. It’s not a legal contract but do sign your work. Legibly and on the front.  Today, I think signatures are more important than ever with our artwork having potentially an international audience when it’s shared across the Internet on websites, social media, etc.  
  2. Your signature is a helpful design element. Along those lines, keep your signature in scale with your painting.  I’ve seen many petite paintings 10x10 or smaller with bold signatures that would be better suited on a 30x40.  A magnifying glass type signature on a wall size abstract is also unbalanced.
  3. Your signature should “blend” stylistically if possible. You might want to practice a few different styles with brush on paper before you decide on one. For example, some artist’s signatures look really nice in cursive and others in block letters. Think clean and pleasing. Lately, I’ve been scratching with my favorite rubber “wipe out” too into wet paint (as seen in today's painting). I like that look as long as it’s fairly readable.
  4. If you’re planning to frame or mat your painting, be sure to sign your piece after you’ve popped in a frame. I see many signatures that too close to an edge that end up getting covered by the frame or mat. Especially now that frame and mat styles today can be quite wide.
  5. When I paint a larger abstract for example I can use my signature to add interest to a corner. Usually it’s the lower right, but not always.  I had a student who cleverly integrated their name into the painting (in this case on a wine bottle tag).  You don’t want to get too gimmicky, be we are artists and so consider creative solution when the opportunity presents itself.
  6. Thankfully, I have a fairly unusual 8 letter last name so I sign only with my last name.  Many artists I know with short or very common names add initials. I think this is a good idea for more specific identification. Imagine trying to research a beautiful oil painting you find at a flea market signed “Jones” on the Internet.
  7. What if you have are blessed with an unusual first name or your last name is very long or hyphenated? Then I think signing with your first name on the front might be a good option. Then you can add your full name on the back.  Same with initials or a “symbol” type signature-I would add my current legal name to the back or at least on a certificate attached to the back.
  8. What about adding a date to your signature? I see this too quite a bit at galleries and festivals and personally, I’m not a fan. I think it’s OK on the back but I think the front of the painting begins to look cluttered with too much info. It’s a painting not your art CV.
  9. Again, this may take some practice but you may want to sign in the same media you created the art in.  I’ll be honest I don’t always follow this advice. For example, I sign watercolors with Sharpies or pen and ink sometimes. But in general, it’s wise to have the signature be consistent and cohesive with your work for posterity.
  10. I’ve read that Marilyn Monroe always signed her name using a red pen. Consider a way to make your signature unique. Ideally you want your body of work to have a fairly consistent signature that easy for collectors to identify you.  
Thanks for stopping by and happy spring painting everyone!