Monday, November 20, 2017

Thrift Stores and Turtles

I love a good thrift store. I am always looking for items for my art - either items to use in still life, or items I can reuse for a studio or plein air gear purpose. The key is to not go into a thrift store with only one item in mind. You have to be open minded and think outside the box! Sometimes I feel I enjoy tinkering for gear more than painting!

I have found good use of a couple office supply items. One is the metal paper sorter bin. These brand new would cost in the $35 range. So far, I have collected at least 5 of these "vintage era" models at thrift stores with prices ranging from $3-6 each. You can find something similar in a horizontal version, but this vertical style works really well for painting panel storage - either unpainted or finished paintings. I put a different size or style stack in each slot. I think I have enough of these bins, but each time I see one I can't pass it up! This one was at Goodwill for $3 just yesterday.

 Here's my supply closet with four different bins. I think I still have room for the newest one!:
 See how easy it is to find the panel you want without unstacking a horizontal pile?
Another item I always look for is a copy holder. Brand new, these can run between $13-35. You can find them used in plastic or metal for less than $5. These are nice for holding a reference photo, or even the board you are painting on - if you like to work sitting down like I do.

These are the metal pair I found this earlier last week. The smaller one on the left doesn't fold down and is very sturdy, so I decided to try this for a painting easel for small hardboard panels.
Here you can see I added some HandiTAK reusable adhesive putty. This stuff is useful for many things.
 I pressed this 6x6 gessobord onto it and it stayed put throughout my painting!
Another great find were these old stereo speaker stands. A pair for only $3!! What did I have in mind? Why an adjustable still life stand, that's what!

 Here I used an older 9x12 cradled board clamped into the jaws of the speaker stand for my platform.
Then I use a simple still life light box to set on top. (This is a small version, while I have a more complex model for bigger setups). I make a lot of stuff out of foam core board. Super easy to work with - this box is 3 sides and a bottom, glued together. I usually don't worry too much about it getting knocked over, but could clamp it down easy enough.

For a backdrop, I added a sheet of scrap booking paper. I buy this paper in a big book that gives me lots of options of colors or textures.

If I want a colored "floor" I could add another color of paper, add some fabric, or just leave it dark. On the left photo below, I have added a piece of white foam core board, and put a piece of styrene down so I would have clearer reflections of the objects. On the right, I added a loose piece of black foam core board to block some of the light from my overhead lighting. Easy to move around to cover as needed.
I used the second speaker stand for holding some light fixtures. I play around with different light bulbs with different hues or intensity. This view shows I used a piece of white foam core for the lid to reflect a bit more light into the setup from below.
And who is that little guy in the spotlight? Well, I call him the Goofy Turtle! Look at that cute little face!! A friend gave him to me a couple years ago. I was in the mood to paint something fun yesterday. It was a bit tricky capturing the glaze colors and shine though.

"Goofy Turtle", 6x6, oil on gessobord.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another Slump

I think I am moving out of another one of my frequent art "slumps". I've learned over the years, that I have several of these a year. I seem to have one in the fall and once the weather gets colder and dark earlier I usually get busy in the studio again. Although I am still working full-time, unless I already have a project started, I don't feel very creative coming home from work. I do most of my painting on the weekends.

I had recently tried to paint a couple 6x6" still life and wasn't happy with the results. Then decided that I just needed to paint something and picked one of the contemporary painters who I follow to study. I copied one of their paintings, so I will not show it here complete. It will stay in my private collection as I do not use another artists' work - paintings or photographs - as a reference for my own art.

This was a lesson to get out of my rut and it was really fun! I learned quite a bit, didn't understand what they saw in certain passages, but in the end, I really like the painting. I will take what I learned here to attempt my own still life painting.

I'll leave you a tiny snippet of my version here: