Sunday, November 09, 2014

Liquitex Flexible Modeling Paste ~ product review

I'm always on the lookout for ways to add texture to some of my paintings. Today I experimented with this product and I highly recommend it to artists that prefer to work on paper like myself. It's flexible, as the label states, so it won't crack on flexible surfaces. Up to this point I've been relying on Liquitex gesso to get a degree of texture but there's a lot of moisture in gesso and it takes a long time to dry. Also it's rather runny, causing the paper to buckle, and has to be worked and reworked with a palette knife or other tool to produce an interesting surface. However this product is thick, easy to mold and dries much faster. It's also possible to get a high degree of texture not possible with acrylic gesso. I created this sample floral to see how well the modeling paste accepted watercolor and ink. It behaved very similar to gesso. Paint was pretty easy to lift but I think the surface tended to stain a bit more. If a non porous surface was needed a coat or two of high gloss gel medium over the modeling paste would accomplish that.  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Silverbark at Sundown ~ complete (acrylic and collage on paper)

I'm going to call this done now. It doesn't look like I've done much since my last post but I spent a lot of time just looking at the painting and deciding how I wanted to create the leaves. I finally settled on a paste paper that I copper leafed on one side, painted on the other. I used tracing paper so the copper leaf would show through and tone the yellow. This produced a fairly accurate representation of birch leaves in Fall. Then the issue was where to place the leaves and how many wouldn't be too many. Did they distract or benefit the painting? Branches were never where I needed them and I knew I should've added the leaf placement to the original drawing. Dang! Ah well, a Chinese white pencil and a violet Prismacolor Verithin solved the problem. Cutting those teeny, tiny leaves was a chore, as was using tweezers to handle them. I think it was worth the effort and time, though. I'm pretty happy with it. :) The final size is approx. 6 1/2" x 29".
Work in progress

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Silverbark at Sundown ~ WIP 2

Many glazes later...many, many glazes later, I finally started work on the markings on the birch trunks. I love the distinctive 'eyes' they display and am surprised so few artists that paint birch trees fail to include them in their paintings. The trunks will receive more washes of violets, yellow and cerulean blue. I plan to use cut paper collage to add the leaves when the paint work is complete. Birch leaves turn yellow in Fall so I need to make my own yellow paste papers to order. Then plenty of cutting and pasting is in my future.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Silverbark at Sundown ~ sketch and wip 1

This is the beginning of my latest project. It's another birch painting done with acrylic on 140# Fabriano HP w/c paper. I have a few stands of Silverbark birch across the drive from my home so I have plenty of reference material right outside my front windows. I plan to use the palette from my color study (see previous post). This painting will be much larger, approx. 6 1/2" x 29". An odd size but I've always wanted to do a long and very narrow format because I love the look. I've been waiting for a sunny day to forge ahead and that day has arrived. It's been so terribly gloomy lately that I've left lights on all day long. Not ideal conditions to create subtle color variations.

Side note: After painting 'The Rusty Gate Post' I contacted the photographer responsible for my reference image. I wanted to know more about this gate and he gave me enough information to locate the gate on Google Map. It resides outside a charming little B & B in the UK. Here's the Coach House B &B (link) on A413 Brackley Road, Silverstone, United Kingdom. Seems I guessed the wrong finial. Ah, well....

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Scene ~ color study (acrylic)

Here is my painted color study, just completed. It's small, roughly 5" x 13". I decided to use tube acrylic because acrylics can be more forgiving than watercolor and I wanted the freedom to change things up should I want to switch colors. I just may paint the final piece using acrylics!

I began by using the acrylic paint like watercolor and gave the entire paper surface a Yellow Cad. Light wash, including the birch trunks. I switched to Cad. Red Light, which is actually orange, and added a light wash while the yellow was still wet. I've never been happy with any tube orange but decided not to sweat the small stuff just yet. I knew I could adjust things later. I didn't bother masking the lower leaves for this study either. I just wanted to see how my chosen colors worked together. Once the yellow and orange were dry I mixed Deep Violet and UB to create various degrees of red and blue violet and laid in my darker values. Then it was all a matter of tweaking. At one point I was afraid I had gone too dark on the birch trunks but as I kept going it all began to work. Birch bark is so white it reflects color well, even in shadow...especially in shadow...which provided an excellent opportunity to bring some excitement to the trunks. I completed the leaves using mostly yellow and violet but hit a snag when I added Cerulean blue, my 'pop' color. Full strength it looked awful but mixed with a little white to soften it, it worked very well. I added the pale Cerulean to the background, some of the leaves and both tree trunks. To complete the study I toned the orange areas with a light wash of deep violet, very diluted. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Autumn Scene ~ color study

Autumn Scene is a temporary working title until I see how this goes. I just completed this color study with Prismacolor colored pencils on a thumbnail sketch, roughly 4 1/2" x 1 1/2".  I want it to be full of vibrant, unexpected Fall colors and blowing leaves. Lots of windswept action. I'm using a double complimentary palette here...yellows and violets with oranges and blues. Because these colors (yellows/oranges) and (violets/blues) are analogous, it should work. I want one 'pop' color. Not quite sure what that will be yet. Possibly turquoise or teal. Something blue-ish and vibrant.      

Monday, October 06, 2014

Rusty Gate Post ~ complete?

Hi! Remember me? Well, here's my rusty gate. I'm happy with the gate but got stuck on the background which threw me into a sort of paralysis. I hate when that happens. It's like I can't move on until I solve this problem or the world will end. Crazy, huh? I'm still not happy with the background but it's time to post this 'as is' so I can start something new. This piece will land on the 'complete?' pile along with a few others that never quite made the grade.

To be more specific, I was very happy that I was able to make the chipped paint on the fence posts, which I hand painted, mesh with the egg shell paint chips on the actual gate post. After attempting some sort of background there was a noticeable disconnect between the gate and BG additions. But what to do? The gate is so busy I felt the background needed to be understated so as not to compete so I didn't think I could add any collage material to the tree trunk. Did I even need a tree trunk? What else would I put there? I don't know! The solution is probably simple and right before my eyes but I've looked too long at this to see it objectively anymore. Time for a time out.

Reference photo courtesy of ESP on PMP  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rusty Gate Post ~ WIP 3

More work done on this piece. So far it's been figuring out how to recreate the look of many layers of peeling paint and rust without spending a ridiculous amount of time on fiddly detail work. I've added more cracked egg shells but think I've reached the limit of that on the actual post. I will probably add egg shells to the fence posts, though. I've also got some ideas for a finer cracked paint texture for smaller areas. I toned down the blue cast in the background. It doesn't show up much in the image but I have been laying in some foliage growth behind the gate post. I'll be adding more after the post in complete.    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rusty Gate Post ~ WIP (mixed media)

I developed a small case of artist's block and not even Crabby Cat could rescue me. He's still in the sketch stage where I left him in my last post. I detest that funky feeling when nothing seems to inspire me. In desperation I began going through my reference photos and kept coming back to an image I found on PMP. It was a rusty, ornate gate post and I loved all the wonderful colors and textures but had no idea how to go about painting it. Finally it was time to try. This is a mixture of acrylic paint, collage paper, egg shells and God knows what else before it's complete. It's a project that will keep me occupied for quite some time as I figure out how to recreate all that wonderful chipping paint and patina.