Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chocolate~in Progress

Meet Chocolate, a Great Dane and what a beauty he is. My niece, Megan Russell graciously sent me the photo so I could paint him. He is actually a Chocolat Dane, the chocolate color being a recessive gene carried in the harlequin (white with black spots) danes and his blue eyes are considered a flaw so he is not considered 'showable' by AKC standards. According to Megan, technically the spots make him a chocoquin, the spot color combined with white. There are also merlequins (white with blue spots), fawnaquins (white with tan) and brindlequins (white with tiger striped spots). None of these colors are AKC acceptable. What a shame.

I'm painting Chocolate on #140 Fabriano HP and the finished painting should be approx. 12" x 18". My palette is just FUB and burnt sienna. I did use just a little very dilute cobalt blue deep for his eyes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Duck Duck Goose~Completed

I decided to go with the simple background for this. It may need more work to create depth in the grass but I'm calling it done for now.

At first I planned to do a simple blue sky and low grasses so I outlined a few areas of the goose and the ducks with a Prussian blue Derwent w/c pencil to prevent color bleed. It sounded like a good idea at the time! Unfortunately, the pencil didn't want to blend out as well as I would've thought so I have a nice blue outline showing in some spots and those lines absolutely refuse to budge. Lesson learned once again.

Seeing this on the blog just now made me realize the grass needs a lot more work. Maybe at a later date.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Deciding on Backgrounds & Intention

Do I want to continue developing the detail in this background and create a barnyard scene?

Or do I want the birds to be the main subject with a few simple stands of grass to frame them?

Planning the entire painting before actually starting it is always preferable. However, if you've ever found yourself stuck for background ideas after you've completed the foreground subject/subjects this is a great way to try different options without ruining your painting. Here I've printed out two copies of Duck Duck Goose on cheap printing paper and penciled in a couple possible backgrounds. I can even add color with Prismacolor pencils to see which colors will work best. I'm still undecided but I can continue to experiment indefinitely or until my printer ink runs out.

Another thing to consider is the intention of the artist which will impact the type of background chosen. Do I want to paint a farm scene with a few ducks and a goose in the foreground or do I want the birds to star?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Duck Duck Goose~in progress

I'm not terribly clever when it comes to titles but despite the fact that this title is obvious, it's also the name of a popular children's game in the U.S. and I remember playing it many times with the other kids in my neighborhood when I was growing up. I mentioned the game to a friend of mine that grew up in Great Britain but she wasn't familiar with it so I'm posting a link for those who are wondering how you play Duck Duck Goose.

My reference for this piece is a photo I shot last weekend of someone's barnyard. They had a variety of geese and ducks in a pen near the road and I couldn't resist taking a few pics. This is fairly tight (realistic) and it's been awhile since I've painted this tight and now I remember why I don't like painting tight....too much room for error.:( It makes me nervous and when I get nervous I mess up. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of thing. If all goes well I'll post the completed painting. If it doesn't...well, one more for the bin.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Purple Cat

Hey, why not? I've finally used up all the paint on my latest palette, too! This colorful kitty was painted freehand, wet-into-wet on #140 Fabriano Uno. I added some violet Bombay ink with a pen and nib after the painting was dry. I wound up with a few unplanned 'blobs', one right on the cat's face. I'm a menace with bottled ink and nibs. :(

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review~Cirrus Floating Picture Frame

The adhesive square has been applied and the backing plastic is ready to be removed.

Here's a closer shot of the adhesive tabs. I've lifted the backing plastic off slightly. One adhesive tab will have to be applied to each side of the mounting for the underside of the artwork, the other to adhere the work to the foamcore backing board.

The 1" adhesive squares actually contain only a 1/4" square of adhesive in the center, sandwiched between plastic. The adhesive is supposed to be repositionable and I've been putting that claim to the test. So far I've removed the mounting tabs from my paper 2-3 times with no damage to the back of the painting.

These are the 1" acid free foamcore mounting tabs and a sheet of adhesive squares.

The locking system is made of sturdy plastic. Flip the tabs up and grasping the sides of the top of the frame, simply pull straight up. When replacing, slide the clips into the frame's channel and once in place snap the tabs back down. Everything is locked in nice and tight.

The hanger system is simple and sturdy. No picture wire to deal with here. The hanger can be easily removed by gently prying up on each side below the holes you can see in this image with a flathead screw driver and it pops back in with some minimal effort.

Here's the frame as it arrived. Well, not exactly. I had taken it apart and replaced the original image crookedly before snapping this shot.:(

The instructions that Framatic included regarding the float mount tabs are incorrect. The adhesive is not already on the tabs when they arrive even though their graphic shows this.

I've received my float mount frame from Your Picture and I'm pretty darn happy with it. I ordered an 8" x 10" frame in bronze which will accomodate an image up to 7" x 9" but plan to use it for a 5" x 7" painting. The frame itself is made of aluminum and is 1 1/4" deep with a 1/4" reveal. The reveal is smooth, the sides are slightly brushed. With the combined thickness of the foamcore and the float mount tabs it allows for 1/2" space between the artwork and the glass(no Plexi). The backer board/mat is acid free foamcore in an off white/slightly ivory color(no other color choices). The float mount tabs are also acid free.

Overall I'm very happy with this framing system. The materials are all acid free and this system makes float mounting artwork extremely simple and easy. My only negative critiques...(1.)The instructions contained an error and (2.) I wish they would've included some of those little wall protectors that attach to the lower corners of the back of the frame.

This frame is produced by Framatic of Los Angeles, Ca. and sold through various distributors. I did have some questions when it arrived and found the representative at Your Picture Frame to be friendly, helpful and knowledgable. I'd like to thank Alisha Lee for being so patient and going out of her way to assist me with my concerns.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trillium Trio with WIP

Trillium Trio~5" x 7"

I'm still playing with the trilliums. I also plan to continue experimenting with different palettes. In this painting I added DS Moonglow (just love this mixes with practically everything) to the Phthalo turquoise and perm. yellow left on a previous palette. Moonglow's purple-y/grey served to neutralize the other colors and brought what I consider a slightly old fashioned look to the finished painting. I also used a working drawing and a small amount of misket to save some edges. I'm not particularily happy with the flower on the top left. The angle is too sharp and horizontal and leads the eye off the painting.

This painting was done on #140 HP and I'm still using Kemp's paper prep technique. I like the ability to lift paint on this surface, especially when dealing with white flowers.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Doodling Online

I found these links (see below) on Vivien Blackburn's blog and it's a ton of fun! She called it a time waster and she's probably right. Vivien also called it addictive and I have to agree.

Doodle Online

Mr. doob's Blog

Mr. doob is aka Ricardo Cabello, the man responsible for this graphic program

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trilliums~Fast and Loose

Last year I took several photos of trilliums for reference but never did a thing with them. Instead I went off on another tangent and the images were forgotten. In 2009 Spring came about 6 weeks late and stayed all summer so trilliums were scarce. This year Spring has arrived very early in N. Michigan. The trilliums aren't blooming yet, though. The poor things probably don't know what's going on!

This is more of a study than a finished painting. I wanted to try Kemp's paper prep technique with HP Fabriano w/c paper. Hotpress paper contains a lot more sizing than coldpress so I was able to achieve more detail and definition but it tended to dry out much faster which presented it's own problems. Lesson learned? HP paper needs to be soaked to maintain the same moisture levels as CP. Just brushing water on both sides of HP won't work. The good all depends on the end result you want which paper will work best using Linda Kemp's prep method.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Metal Float Mount Frames

I wasn't sure they even existed until I did an extensive search online. I don't have the supplies on hand to frame with wood and I really don't want to spend the money on them at this point, not to mention...wood frames are pricey! Even the simplest wood frames aren't cheap. Most of my work looks just fine in metal frames and they're so simple to put together.

In my search I found Your Picture Frames, a company which sells metal float mount picture frames(!) so I ordered a sample frame today. I'm not sure what I'm going to get but the description sounded good so I'll let you know what I think when it arrives.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I'm really enjoying using Linda Kemp's method of prepping w/c paper. No tape, no staples...just wet the paper liberally on both sides with a clean brush and water and place on Plexiglass. Voila!

I prepped a small (5"x 8") piece of #140 Fabriano Uno and dropped on some thick juicy Phthalo turquoise, Quin. rose and Cerulean blue. The paint fanned out beautifully into some lovely patterns. I got a nice violet from this palette and added a smidgeon of perm. yellow to make an interesting green. Some Indanthrene blue may have gotten into the mix because I haven't been bothering to clean my palette lately. I've been playing fast and loose with the attitude that whatever happens...happens.

I then let this dry completely and came back to see what I could see in the paint and what I saw were cardoons. A nice little cluster of large in the forefront, one in back and another smaller one to the right and down. I then decided to use colored pencil to further define the shapes.

I've been admiring Vivien Blackburn's recent sketches of cardoons on her blog and we seem to share a love of thistle-like plants. Vivien works plein air and I love her expressive style and bold approach to her subjects. Please check out Vivien's blog on my blog list.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Thinking in the Negative & Looking for Shapes

It's a school of fish! I'm not sure what kind of fish(?)but all kinds from the look of it. I simply 'picked out' the shapes I saw. I see even more now that I look at this on screen. Can you see the other fish?

Here I've expanded on my original landscape and tweaked some areas.

I'm still playing with the negative painting. It's also fascinating to look at random shifts in color and value on a piece of paper and pick out shapes. That's something I've never tried before but always wanted to attempt. It seems these two approaches go well together. The other obvious lesson one can glean from negative painting is the use of values and color to create depth. The darker or cooler the color the more it recedes. The brighter or warmer the color the more it moves forward.