Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where did the time go?

It might seem odd to continue a project that was suspended over 30 years ago, but that is what I have done.  Back when I was in high school and college, I was interested in comic book art.  Along with my Brother and some friends, I drew a number of home-made comic books.  After college, when I realized that I was way too slow at comic art, I abandoned my dream of becoming a professional comic book artist and the comic I was working on at the time was left unfinished.  For various reasons, I have continued where I left off - over 30 years later! 

Here's how page 13 of Laser-Man #7 has looked for over 30 years...

And here's what it looks like now...

Hopefully, more to come!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First Acrylic Paintings in 30 years

I did a few acrylic paintings during my college days, but the quick drying time was always such a negative, that I moved on to other mediums, one of which is oil paints.  Oils, of course, dry very slowly, allowing blending and manipulating the wet paint, but there are many negative aspects to oil painting, too!  Since they dry very slowly, one often has to wait a couple days in between painting layers.  If you don't want to wait, then you have to deal with the difficulty of placing wet paint onto wet paint.  Then there are the issues with hazardous solvents, the necessity of working fat over lean, the differences in the gloss or matte level of the paints, etc.

Recently, I heard that there was a slower drying acrylic - Golden's Open Acrylics - on the market, so I decided to give it a try.  The paint piles stay wet on the palette for many hours - even days!  The thin layers of paint on your painting still dry much quicker than oils, but they do remain open and workable for quite a bit longer than traditional acrylics, which can dry in a couple minutes (or less).

Here is my first effort, from a reference photo that I took on Lake Ontario.  On canvas board, 12" x 9".


My second acrylic using the Golden Opens, from a photo taken in the Adirondacks. 
On canvas board 12" x 9".

I hope to do more!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Water mixable oils - in the style of the TV painters

One of my earliest influences in painting was Bill Alexander, the original TV wet-on-wet oil painter.  Watching him paint an oil painting in less than 30 minutes seemed like magic.  So the name of his show on PBS - The Magic of Oil Painting - was most appropriate!

I watched his show (and subsequent series) religiously for many years.  I did numerous paintings using his techniques - the same techniques that Bob Ross used, for those unfamiliar with Alexander.  While the techniques of the two popular TV artists were similar, they couldn't have been more different personality wise.  Ross was quiet and serene - Alexander loud and energetic!

Over the past few years, Mater Mixable oils (often called Water Soluble or Water Miscible, too) have become more popular among oil painters looking to avoid solvents or to simplify clean up.  Occasionally, on various discussion forums on the internet, folks will ask if it is possible to paint like the TV painters with the Water Mixable oils (WMOs).  The TV painters, you may recall, had their own lines of traditional oil paint and began their paintings with a thin coat of "special" white paint - Alexander's known as Magic White, Ross's as Liquid White.  Although these "special" paints have "secret" formulas, they are basically just a mixture of a solvent, an oil, and white paint.  In other words - a medium.  So, yes, you can paint like the TV painters with water mixable oils!

The following paintings are all done with water mixable oils and a few different mediums to try to replicate the techniques of the TV painters.  All are 12" x 9" on canvas board.

The first was done by starting with a thin coat of white paint mixed with a touch of water.  Water is a solvent when using water mixable oils.  Many WMO users have problems when adding water to the paint.  Some brands handle water better than others.  In this painting I am using Grumbacher MAX.  I have never had a problem when adding water to the paint, but one needs to make sure that water is added sparingly.  That first layer, replicating the Magic White, is very thin and mostly paint.  It can not be runny - it needs to maintain a tacky feel.  When stroking the brush across the canvas, you should feel a slight pull.  If it is too runny, continue stroking the brush back and forth to remove access paint and water.

You may not notice in the photo, but by adding only water (rather than any oil) to the oil paint, the paint becomes quite matte rather than glossy.  Generally speaking, the more oil on the mixture, the glossier the paint.  Adding a solvent makes the paint less oily - thus more matte.

As is often the case, even though the TV painters finished their paintings in one sitting, it was necessary for me to do additional work on this painting after the first layer was dry.  This is the finished painting.

The next painting was done with Grumbacher MAX paints using their Linseed oil medium, rather than water, mixed with the paint.  Again, the medium was added to the white paint (very sparingly) to create that first, thin coat of white.  Putting down that thin coat of medium and white creates an easier surface to paint on, allowing the paint to be blended and moved around with much greater ease than if the painting surface was dry.

Again, some additional work was done during a second session.  When paint is wet, it is difficult to add very dark, very light, or intense color to the painting, as it will usually blend in with the paint that is already on the surface.  So, one often needs to wait until the first layer is dry to add additional lights, darks or intense colors.

The next painting was done using Holbein Aqua Duos.  This time the medium added is Holbein's Duo Painting Oil Medium.  Done all in one session.


The final painting is still on my easel, done (so far) in one session.  This time I'm using a combination of Holbein and Grumbacher paints, along with the Holbein medium.  In this painting, I have used a very thin coat of medium only to start the painting.  You don't need the white paint in the mixture.  The medium alone will create a slightly slippery surface (but still tacky) to work on.

Hope you enjoy the paintings and the information on how they were created.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Spotlight on WetCanvas

As a guide for the pastel forum on the website WetCanvas.com, I occasionally host a monthly activity thread, and when I am not hosting, I have been taking part, too.  Each month we put the Spotlight on either a compositional or technical challenge, and focus on a particular subject.  It is fun to see how others interpret the same reference photos.  It's a great way to experiment and learn from others in a low pressure atmosphere.

Here are some of my pastels from the first few months of The Spotlight.

This one is done with a wet underpainting - watercolor in this case.  Approx. 11" x 15" on Pastelmat paper.  From a photo by Paula Ford.

The Spotlight was on flowers when I did this pastel from my own photo.  Also on Pastelmat, 15" x 11".

This month the Spotlight is on water.  Here are two paintings that I have done this week.  The first from a photo from the WetCanvas reference library, on Pastelmat, 11" x 15".

And this painting from another beautiful photo by Paula Ford.  On Uart 500 grit, approx. 17" x 11".

Sometimes it is a good idea to approach each painting as an experiment.  This way, there is no pressure to produce a masterpiece!  And by narrowing your focus, it seems easier to stay on track and keep your painting from getting too complex.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Penfield Art Association annual juried show

The Penfield Art Association is currently having its annual juried show.  I have two entries - both pastels!  For those in the Rochester area, the show runs thru February 27th.  Its at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Pittsford Plaza.  If you get a chance, check it out! 

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photos - Adirondacks Fall 2009

I try to take a yearly trip to the Adirondacks every fall to see the fall foliage and take some photos.  Like many artists, I have developed an interest in photography.  Here are a few of my favorite pics from my trip.

Lake Abanakee, near Indian Lake

The Hudson River near North Creek

From the "scenic view" near Indian Lake

Monday, October 5, 2009

My latest pastel

My latest pastel from a photo by Paula Ford.  On the new Pastelmat paper, size 12" x 15.5".  Pastelmat has been getting a lot of positive comments on WetCanvas.com and this is my first attempt using it.  The paper has a very fine grain - and feels almost smooth to the touch. but boy does it grip that initial layer of pastel.  For those who like to finger blend to cover the paper with their first layer (like me) - it's not happening!  That fine grain grips the pastel and it barely can be moved.  Yet, after the first couple layers are put down, the grain is filled and blending is possible.  But, at least to me, it seemed like the grain was filled fairly quickly and not that many layers are possible.  More layers, of course, than the textured (but essentially smooth) papers like Canson, but not as many as velour or the sanded papers.  How many layers depends, of course, on the softness of the pastel and the heaviness of application.

Still, the results were favorable and I will experiment some more with this paper.  This particular sheet was a color named buttercup (a bright ochre color).  The pad I bought has 3 other colors - maize (a lighter cream color) and dark and light gray.  It seems like the pads have either these 4 colors or a different combination of 4.  Pastelmat is made by Clairefontaine.