Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Midsummer's Dream Owl

"Sweet Dreams Owl" acrylic on gallery canvas 30x40 Private Collection
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. Steve Martin

What’s your favorite time of day to paint? For most of my artistic life I was a night owl painter especially in the summer. Now the more I paint and pursue my passion for color I’ve become a morning or afternoon painter.  I love the light and the calm in the morning when the fresh canvas is full of possibilities and my favorite part is starting out loose and free...
Start of "Night Owl" with primary color sketch (blue, magenta, yellow)

Once in a while though I still paint late into the night. I also love night paintings and moonscapes. Interestingly some owls--such as barn owls--are technically ”crepuscular” (one of my favorite Latin based art terms) meaning they're most active at dawn and twilight.

As much as I enjoy oil paint, fast drying high chroma acrylic is the perfect medium for these large colorful owls. My favorite part the multi-hued acrylic skins or “jewels” as I prefer. Basically pieces left over acrylic paint pieces (from mixing) recycled back into the piece for extra color and a unique texture. (FYI, I use a soft acrylic gel as the "glue." You can achieve these leftover paint jewels by using any palette that allows you to easily peel the paint up when dry.

I’ve tried the so-called peel off palettes buy but for a larger and much less expensive alternative simply wrap or tape a piece of heavier (at least 4mil) plastic drop cloth around or to a piece of Masonite, cardboard, gator board, plywood—any hard smooth neutral colored surface. If you prefer to paint large and use lots of paint you could also just cover your work surface with the plastic sheet (which comes on long roll) and let it dry afterwards.
New Holbein Gessoes come in a variety of colors and textures
One quick acrylic tip is that I prefer white and black gesso for my black and white acrylic paint. I find the gesso has better coverage, mixes cleanly, and is often less expensive. Speaking of gesso, I haven't tried these yet, but I just saw that this unique line of "squeeze bag" gessoes from Holbein which looks like a great idea. Thanks and have a colorful summer week--day or night!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Painting with a Magpie Mind

"Minty Magpie" 8x10 oil on Raymar cotton panel
I have a magpie mind. I like anything that glitters. Lord Thomson of Fleet

I think many artists I know, including myself, are attracted to shiny things too! It's been week of artistic I've thoroughly enjoyed painting some of my favorite summer subjects. First sunflowers. Then birds. And the minty background color is an homage to my favorite summer treat--mint chocolate chip gelato.

Artist Tres Taylor uses "house paint" for his colorful creations.
This Year's Cherry Creek Art Festival Poster--that dark background is tar paper!
Over the holiday weekend, I also enjoyed the amazing variety of art at our biggest local art event of the year at the Cherry Creek Art Festival.  This year I really enjoyed an entertaining and unique demo by this year's poster artist Tres Taylor who paints on tar paper--yes like for a roof--with beautiful layers of latex paint. I really loved the effect he gets and his "sgraffito" technique inspired me to scratch into the background of today's painting.

I’ve wanted to paint a magpie for some time but I just didn’t have any decent reference photos of them. Finally, a few weeks ago I spotted this magpie (which are related to crows and ravens) in the tall grasses near some fencing at the Cherry Creek State Park.  I've read that magpies are one of the most intelligent birds and like how their feathers are a mix of dark jewel tones-- emerald, amethyst,  and sapphire.

A few material and painting tips notes: 
Typically, I prefer using paint right out of the tube. As I’ve mentioned before I tend to avoid solvents, petroleum based products, etc. as much as possible. (Healthy studio= healthy artist!)
But, I’ve recently discovered (thanks to a student) that Gamblin offers safflower oil based solvent free oil gel painting medium.  So I tried a pea size amount in for this 8x10 study. The result?  I liked it quite a bit-- No or little odor, very smooth and clear, and so far so headaches or sneezing like I tend to get with most mediums.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just Like Vincent I'm Busy Painting These

"Flying Colors" 8x8 Oil on Ampersand Gesso Panel
SOLD--thank you!

I am working with the enthusiasm of a man from Marseilles eating bouillabaisse, which shouldn't come as a surprise to you because I am busy painting huge sunflowers. - Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

I don't always have the chance to do a painting specifically for the DPW weekly challenge. But this week Carol Marine offered up a subject I couldn’t resist—sunflowers.  (I you read m blog you know I’m particularly drawn to these red orange striped ones you often see at the grocery store.)

For me, the sunflower is the flower that I associate the most with creativity. And I'm often drawn to sunflower paintings such as this Charles Weed (above) and this glorious Klimt (below):

Looking for more sunflower art? Here's a Pinterest board dedicated to sunflower art or just type “sunflower art” in the Pinterest search window.

Speaking of Vincent, have you ever wondered why Vincent's sunflowers look a bit strange compared to sunflowers we typically see today? Here's an interesting article about why Vincent's sunflowers look the way they do. Thanks everyone--have a wonderful safe holiday week!

P.S.Did you know the world’s tallest sunflower (grown in Germany) was 27 feet tall? That’s 7 feet taller than the tallest giraffe!