Thursday, December 26, 2013

Recycling Bad Paintings

I'm experimenting with recycling some of my older bad oil paintings which are on hardboard into pastel surfaces. I decided to try covering up the paintings with my homemade pastel grit recipe. I had enough of my clear recipe and the black recipe to coat two boards with two layers.

I covered the lower left with the black and the right hand panel with the clear.

Here is the clear panel (upside down), along side a thumbnail. The thumbnail is older and I really don't remember what the reference was. So since I was experimenting, I thought this would be a good beginning for this pastel painting.
 Work in progress:

 Here is the palette I used:
And the final painting - I'm not sure I liked the feeling of this recipe on this hard surface. Soon, I will try the black panel for another painting and will post it here then.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Paint and Pizza

Today our painting group got together for painting and a pizza party to celebrate the holidays. I had stopped at the thrift store this week, looking for some interesting things to add to our still life. I found a couple brass pieces - a teapot and Turkish coffee ladle (cezve). The cezve is to the left of the pot below. I didn't add it to my painting though. I brought a piece of batik fabric also.
We got started a bit later than normal as the art center guy was late opening the door, and I was in charge of ordering/serving the pizzas, so I didn't spend too much time on my painting.
"Brass Teapot",  6x9, pastel on Belgium mist Wallis sanded paper

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cabin Fever Remedy

It's been COLD and SNOWY in Ohio for several weeks, much like the rest of the country. I've been hurrying home from work each night and hunkering down in front of the TV. Generally in the winter, I don't like to get up early on Saturday to meet the group at the arts center for the morning painting session, but this week, I'd had enough of being home and decided to go. We had several inches of snow in the morning and the forecast was for either more snow or rain. Luckily, by the time we finished, it was just rain.

We either work from our own photos or someone sets up a still life. I decided to bring simple tools today and work on my drawing skills. I brought some tan paper and a tiny box of Conte crayons. This was fun and was nice to be with my artist friends again.

 Here is mine:
 And some of the group and their pieces:

I had the funniest dream this morning. I dreamed it was the first day in spring of the plein air season! I was very unorganized and couldn't find all my gear. I couldn't find any painting panels and my oil painting brushes were stiff with paint from last year! One of the gals said, "Come on! We have to hurry, the light is changing!" I messed around for over an hour and a half. Finally, someone had setup my easel and told me to work on the painting that was there. I did not recognize it at all, but was told to finish it! By the time I was finished I had transformed it from a landscape to an interior view of an old parlor! - ha!

Yes, I have some complex dreams often. I think after that dream, I decided I needed to work simply today!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How Do You Decide on a Tripod for Your Painting Box?

I have linked a blog post below from Thomas Jefferson Kitts on his recommendations for tripods for the plein air painter. 

It’s a very good article, but I think his prices may be over-inflated. For less than half what he spent on his one tripod setup, I was able to get 2 tripods and accessories, although I opted not to spend the extra money on carbon fiber. I generally don’t hike much more than a ½ mile to a painting site, and although the lighter weight would be nice, I would prefer to spend less money.

So I thought some of you may be interested in what I researched and purchased this year. I spend WAY too much time online in general, and when I am researching a purchase, I spend even more time. I like to compare prices on eBay and Amazon, and also a couple good online photo supply stores – Adorama and B&H Photo. I purchased my tripod stuff from all of these. It pays to check around, especially this time of year when you might get holiday deals and/or free shipping.  I would also consider buying used from some of these sites, but this year, I found deals on brand new.  After researching, I decided that I really liked the features and reviews of Manfrotto tripods, and kept my research to this brand.

When I purchased my new Heilman pastel plein air box this year, I wanted a very sturdy tripod for that which would fit into my checked bag for a trip out west. Because I planned on using this one primarily for the Heilman, I didn’t want a ball head that would tilt.

I was able to find a great deal on Manfrotto 190XB Tripod Legs, which has a 11.02 lb load capacity – nice and sturdy for my fully loaded Heilman back pack box. This folds down to 22 inches. This can retail from $110 to close to $200, but I found a great deal on eBay for $93 with free shipping.

But keep in mind, this was just the tripod legs. Because there are many different heads which can be mounted on Manfrotto tripod legs, the tripod is normally sold without. So I searched for a quick release adapter with plate. This makes it easy to leave the plate on the painting box and quickly hook it up to the tripod.  After looking around for a head, I decided on the Manfrotto 625 Quick Release Adapter with 030-14 Plate. I think I purchased this at B&H Photo or Adorama for about  $60.  I also purchased an additional plate so that I could leave this one on my EasyL 11x14 painting box. The additional plate was about $22 bucks, but worth it for the convenience.This whole system works very well for me.

A few months later, I decided I wanted a lighter weight setup for my smaller painting boxes, which I may use if I know I will be working farther away from the car.  I have a smaller EasyL “ProChade” for up to 8x10 paintings, which is very compact and light. I also have a Judson’s Pocket Box for 5x7 paintings. The other tripod would work of course, but I wanted lighter.  On this one, I did want a ball head that would tilt, along with the quick release option. I found a Manfrotto 7322YB M-Y Aluminum Tripod with a RC2 Ball Head and quick release adapter with plate (4.4 lb load capacity) as a set on eBay for a really good price of $65 plus shipping. I also bought an additional plate for this one at about $18 so I could leave one on both painting boxes.

I also bought “stone bags” for each tripod. This is a sling you attach to the legs of the tripod. Most people use this to add to weight to the open tripod for stability, by adding some rocks or bottled water on top of the sling (it also gives you a place to put some supplies, or cellphone, etc.). I found these for about $10 each at Adorama.

So in the end, I bought TWO complete tripod setups with extra plates and stone bags, and shipping for well under $300 compared to Tom’s estimate of $400-500 for ONE setup. I do agree with him about looking for 3-section legs, the multiple leg angles, and the center hook or ring (where you can hang your backpack for extra stability to the tripod). It just takes some time and effort to research what you need and find a good price. Hopefully the work I did for myself will be useful for your plein air gear search.

Your local photo equipment place can be helpful and may have better deals, but that takes time to visit them. I find it easier to research online. Check out Amazon and eBay, along with these places if you want to research or purchase tripod equipment:

It’s been a very expensive year for me with purchasing a lot of extra gear, painting boxes, a big trip out west, a painting retreat, several local workshops, many tubes of paint, lots of new pastels, etc… but I really enjoy my time painting, so it is money well spent. Although I do plan on 2014 being a year of saving some money back for future painting adventures! Hopefully I can sell a bunch of paintings to help fill the coffers! All my artwork is for sale, so if you see something you love, please email me for a price.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Find a Unique Gift for that Special Person, This Sunday at the MAC

I will be selling affordable, matted and bagged, original artwork this coming Sunday at the MAC - come out and get one (or more) for that special person(s) who deserves something unique!

Sunday, December 8, 2013    12:00pm until 4:00pm

Join the MAC for the annual “Wrap-It Up” event, it is a wonderful opportunity to raise understanding and awareness of the local arts community, while spending a great afternoon with your family. The “Wrap-It Up” event has continuously been popular with our guests over the years and we hope to make it another success this year.

A very popular event, we look forward to another great holiday season making gifts this weekend!

Find affordable, artful gifts that will delight family and friends. Ceramics, jewelry, scarves, cards, ornaments and more.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

What Do You Do with Workshop Paintings?

Back into the studio this morning. I wasn't sure what I wanted to work on, but saw some of my paintings completed in a workshop this fall taped to a board in the corner of the studio. Most of my paintings showed my own style and design, but one was definitely based on the instructor's vision. What do you do with workshop paintings? I don't generally frame paintings that look like the instructor's work, so I decided to re-use the paper.  This painting was on Wallis Belgium Mist paper.
I found my own reference photo of the Galena Mud Flats area. It was a good fit to repaint this. I was fairly happy with the sky portion, but added a few more clouds. I knew the landscape area was too specific to the instructor, so I brushed out most of the pastel in that area to start over.

Below are process shots and the finished painting;

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Working Small

I got back into the studio this afternoon and did a couple little pieces. I had some pre-cut 5x7 mats with openings of about 4 3/4 x 3 1/4 and wanted to make a few pieces for those mats. 

I started with another scrap of UArt 400 grit paper. I had brushed off the previous class exercise to reuse the paper. I still had the pile of pastels out from the last painting, so I used these to get started and added a few as I went. Process shots below:

Here is the scrap paper on the left, with a reference photo on the right: You can see the ghost of the previous painting on the scrap.
 I started with lightly sketching in a design:

Finished painting:

I recently purchased some Multimedia Board for Pastels. This is a new surface for me, and it can be used in a variety of ways because it will not warp. Today though, I decided to just use it as a regular surface to see how the grit would hold the pastels. It doesn't feel very gritty, but it held many layers.

Below is the surface on the left with a quick sketch, and the reference photo on the right. I had intended to make this image fit within one of the pre-cut mats, but it ended up growing out of my boundary lines and it ended up being about a 4x6 painting.

The finished painting below. I liked the feeling of this surface and look forward to using it in the future for more complicated pieces.
 Here are the last three paintings with their mats:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slow Start

Today I puttered in the studio and then finally put some pastel to paper. This is just a tiny little painting on a scrap of UArt pastel paper.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stepping Back from a Painting

If you are an artist, you know that it is a good idea to step back from your painting regularly to get a better view. There are lots of tools artists use to look at their painting to see if it is working. Some use a mirror - either a big mirror across the room or a tiny makeup mirror held at an angle from their brow. Others turn their painting upside down. Some use a camera and may change from color to black/white to check values.

I know that stepping back is the best way, but sometimes when I am concentrating on a passage, I just want a quick view to lead me in the right direction. 

One neat little tool I use comes from my past quilting experience. Have you heard of a reducing glass? It is like a magnifying glass, but does the opposite - it makes the view look far away - just like you are looking at your painting from across the room! Jerry's has one that looks traditional, but it's pretty expensive:Jerry's- reducing-glass-lens And large!

But, I have a better version which is tiny. I keep one in my plein air gear and one in my studio. What I used in quilting design and now use for painting is a mini-reducing glass. Here is a link to one on Amazon: Dritz Design-Reducing-Tool and on JoAnn design-reducing-glass These are easy to find at your local JoAnn Fabrics in the quilting department. If you are a JoAnn coupon subscriber you can use your 40% off coupon on this. I recently found a brand new one at a thrift store for a couple bucks.

Actually, I believe these are door peephole viewers! I always forget to look in the hardware department to see what these cost - but I am sure they are less than the quilter's version. The advantage to the quilter's version is that it has a bright blue plastic sleeve in the middle with a hole to attach a cord. I am sure this makes it easier to find the thing in your gear, or you could put it on a cord around your neck!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Busy busy, but not in the Studio

I'm in one of my bi-annual artistic slumps. I've come to expect these times when I just can't seem to get motivated to paint. I usually get one about this time of year after the busy plein air season and another in late winter. 

I worked really hard this year, getting sites setup for my local plein air group. I think I only missed two paint-outs of the 30 sites I scheduled. One was because I was at a workshop and one other because I personally don't like the views at this particular site and it's a 45 minute drive, even though it is popular with our group.

I even did a survey and sent it to the group after the plein air season ended to get feedback for planning the 2014 locations. I found it was really easy using Google Docs to setup a really nice survey form, and it automatically tracks the results and puts it into pie charts and bar charts. I goofed that part up though, because I put some bogus responses in the results to test it, but all in all, it was really simple and gave good results. Not surprisingly, I only had about a quarter of our group respond. We have a really big email list, but only about 1/4 of those really paint with us, and those were the ones that filled out my survey.

Then, I was really busy getting the details for an artist's retreat for the group in 2014 worked out and getting people on board. I'm excited to have a larger group participating in the retreat for 2014. We'll have 20 people attending for a three-day retreat on Lake Erie. (This year, it was a very small group but the timing and day of the week for that one was probably the cause.)

I've come to realize I enjoy the planning part. I don't want to be in charge, but give me a project to plan and I'm in! Surprising to me, but I think I am getting more organized the older I get.

I've also been in one of my cleaning modes. Since I moved into my condo 3 1/2 years ago, I have continued to rearrange my studio and supplies. I have lots of storage space, but just not all in one place convenient to the studio. Hopefully this newest arrangement works. I am also known to be one to rid out stuff regularly - including clothes, knick-knacks, art supplies, etc. I hate having stuff stored away and not being able to find it when I want it, so I prefer to have less in storage. So I've been clearing away stuff to consignment stores, swap meets, charities, and ebay.

I also get those 'eye rolls' from my friends when I move all the furniture around in my place. They know that is just something I need to do regularly. My mother never ever moved furniture. I do it several times a year. I really love to get stuff moved out to clean well and then into a new arrangement. Makes it feel fresh and clean, and like a new place!

I have one last thing to take care of this week (replacing the dishwasher), and then maybe I'll feel like getting into the studio - maybe........

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saturday Painting at the MAC, Black Surface

Today I went to the MAC to paint with the group. Bill had asked me to come and spend about 15 minutes talking about pastel papers and grounds. Then I did a pastel painting on one of my homemade surfaces.

I've been intrigued by numerous artists online who like to do what I call, "back alley" scenes. This was from a photo I took in Powell, Ohio.
"Traffic Jam -Stop or Yield?", 6"x8", pastel
I really enjoy working on black surfaces for both pastels and oils. This one was a piece of museum board that I coated with my mixture of black gesso, matte medium and pumice. I like the texture I create with this mixture, as you can see the brushes strokes which remind me of a woodcut.

Below are process shots along with my photo and thumbnail.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Easing Back into the Studio

I'm trying to get over my recent artistic slump. I have finished cleaning and organizing, and have no real excuse not to get in the studio and play. Today, I decided to just get in there and pull out a couple of recycled pastel papers and see what I could accomplish.

I did this exercise in Stan's class a few weeks ago. It was a good exercise, but I wanted to reuse the paper, since it was Wallis Belgian Mist, which is expensive.

So I rubbed off most of the pastel.
 I used this photo as inspiration.
 I got started with the first layer and decided to use aerosol fixative. I should have taken the painting into the garage to spray it. STINKY!! I closed the studio door for awhile, but it was still smelly, so went out for a few errands for awhile. It was a good decision. The weather was supposed to be nasty today, cold and overcast. But surprisingly, the day was beautiful! Bright sun which really brought out the beautiful fall colors which are at peak here right now. The clouds were as pretty as this photo - like colorful platters in the sky, or as someone said - imagine them as biscuits - to get the shape correct in your painting. I didn't get any photos today but sure was happy to be outside.

First layer with the fixative.
 Here is how I finished the painting. Not a masterpiece, but a good sketch to get back into the groove!
While I had my pastels out on my table and had another scrap of recycled pastel paper, I decided to do one in the style of Mary Silverwood. When I was in Santa Fe this spring, I found Mary's pastels in the Ventana gallery and really enjoyed her work. She worked in a very simple, graphic way. Unfortunately, Mary passed away in 2011.

Here is my attempt to emulate her style: