Friday, July 17, 2009

Plein Aire Painting with Golden Open Acrylics

One Day Plein Aire Painting with Golden Open Acrylics
workshop taught by Corrine Loomis-Dietz
the workshop studio - top
our acrylic palletes - second from top (l-r: Allan's, mine)
Allan painting outside - third from top
Allan painting outside - fourth from top
teacher demonstrating in studio - fifth from top
Allan painting inside - bottom
Both Allan and I want to learn more about acrylics, so we registered for this workshop through Art Media. Golden Open Acrylics are a new product by Golden Artist Colors, designed to stay wet longer than regular acrylics. The workshop provided all the paints, brushes, paper, water and instruction. All we had to do was show up with some rags!
I really liked using these paints. They handled similar to oils, as far as brushing and blending, but I didn't have to worry about cleaning my brushes with thinner, or breathing any toxic substances, or transporing a wet painting. The instructor focused a lot on how economical it is to paint with acrylics when you blend them with medium, due to the per ounce cost of paint versus medium. An ounce of cadmium, for example, costs up to $8, versus an ounce of medium, which costs about $2. Thus, thinning your cadmium red with medium makes it go much farther, without any loss of brilliance or pigment power. Plus, I think the overall cost of acrylics is much less than oils.
Most of the workshop attendees had previous experience with acrylics. However, I've never used them! So it was a really eye-opening experience to create a painting that was dry enough to touch in an hour, yet could be worked over like it was still wet! Amazing. I asked Allan if this meant I was going to have to chuck all my expensive oils and convert to acrylic. He just shook his head! Like I haven't invested thousands of dollars into every type of art supply on the planet already!
Allan said he really liked using them too, because they didn't dry so fast.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Winsor Blue and Violet Color Charts

Winsor Violet color chart - top
Winsor Blue (Green Shade) - bottom
I think I'm in love! The two Winsor colors I experimented with (blue and violet) are amazingly powerful and vibrant. I've mostly shied away from the Winsor colors, because they're so strong, and because they aren't traditional, but I think I'll change my ways.
Winsor Violet (top chart) makes some great brown-grays when mixed with yellows (right side), but the violet shades are lovely. You can see the Violet by itself (not mixed with any other color except white) in the fifth row from the right. Oooh la la! Can you picture a violet like that in a painting?
The Winsor Blue (bottom chart) is so strong it overwhelms anything you mix it with, so you have to go easy. But if this color had a personality, it would be flashy! When mixed with different yellows, it makes many varieties of clean greens. You can see the Blue by itself (not mixed with any other color except white) in the fourth row from the right. What a gorgeous blue. Cest magnifique!
Why Winsor?
Both are made by Winsor & Newton , but althought I searched their Web site extensively, I couldn't find any reference to why they were named 'Winsor'. Was it because William Winsor, cofounder of the company together with Henry Newton, discovered and named them after himself? He was the chemist and Henry was the artist. Did it happen after 1900, when I believe copper phthalocyanine, the pigment in Winsor Blue, was either discovered or accepted as a pigment ingredient by the colourmen? I tried several Google searches, but found nothing. However, the Winsor & Newton Web site has some fascinating historical information in their historical catalogues. I'd love to visit the company someday, if I ever make it to England!
In the meantime, I'm checking out the other Winsor colors to see how they behave.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gessoing a large canvas

Gessoing the canvas for Rhododendron Explosion - 48" x 96"
scraping on the gesso - top
spraying it down - middle
brushing it in - bottom
The last step is gessoing the canvas. I worked one quarter at a time, scraping gesso on with a putty knife, spraying it down, then brushing it in with a house painting brush. After three coats I'll sand, then add two more coats of gesso and sand again, then a final coat. That should do it! It will take me about a week. Then it will be ready to paint on.
~ I will keep the gesso brush happy in my hand ~

Stretching and stapling a large canvas

Stretching the canvas for Rhododendron Explosion - 48" x 96"
one corner in the works - top
me stretching the corner - bottom

It was a week filled with nightly stretching and stapling sessions, one inch at a time. The corners came last, because that's where I worked out the last wrinkles. It was hard on my wrists, and oh my aching back. That's why I needed to see my massage therapist on Saturday!

However, the effort paid off, and pardon moi, but I now have one tight-assed canvas!

Coming next, gessoing the mother of all canvases!

See the frame for this canvas.

~ I will keep the canvas stretcher tool happy in my hand ~

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Getting ready to stretch a large canvas

Frame for Rhododendron Explosion - 48" x 96"
I'm preparing the frame for the largest painting I've ever done. At 4 ' tall by 9' long, it probably won't ever leave my house. The plan is to hang it in my livingroom.

Allan got stretcher frames at Utrecht on sale; a set of 48" and a set of 96". I wanted several cross braces, but they only had the one 48" center brace, and Allan said that would be strong enough. Since he's the one who has to hang it, I'll go with his recommendation. Plus, he assembled it for me because when it comes to anything carpenterish, I'm basically useless.

Then I cut my piece of cotton duck, 57" x 105", which will give me 4.5 inches to wrap around. I laid everything out on the floor, because I don't have a table large enough, and proceeded to stretch and staple.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out why staples kept shooting across the room, instead of going where I pointed them. Allan came to the rescue and pointed out that I was holding the gun backwards. Doh! He called me a retard. "Why don't you put that on your blog," he said. So I am!

Like I said, when I comes to assembling stuff, I'm challenged. I hope I don't shoot my eye out with the staple gun. But by gosh, I know how to hold a paintbrush!

~I will keep the brush happy in my hand ~
But staple guns, that's another story...