Wednesday, May 30, 2012

House Portrait drawing - sort of a rush job

 This drawing is 8 x 10 inches, black walnut ink on bristol.  I only had a small window to get it done, soI worked fast on this one. It's not quite a "polished" as I usually like, but I'm pleased with it nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still so many basic things to learn

Pretty frequently I'm startled by my lack of art knowledge.  Sure, most people I know really aren't into art, and have almost little working knowledge of any media.  To them, I'm sure I seem like I really know what I'm talking about most of the time.  And to other, more established, experienced artists, my lack of knowledge isn't surprising at all.  There is so much to learn that, even you are devoted full-time to learning about art, there is always something new to discover.
Still, I regularly learn something that makes me think, "Wow, how could I not have known that?"  The most recent example is pyrrole red.  This is a pigment that was developed in the 1980s, so it's been around a while.  It's a relatively inexpensive red, cheaper than the expensive cadmiums.  I've learned (through internet research) over the past week that it's a great, versatile color, and very bright.  Many artists consider it a very important tool.
I don't have this color.  I don't have any reds that have this pigment in it.  Get this: this color is also nick-named "Ferrari red."  Hey! And I'm painting a Ferrari right now.  I guess I'd better buy a tube and check it out.
Another thing I think about, related to the above:  I feel like the technical aspect of painting was largely glossed over in my university studies.  What did we talk about instead?  Well, there were a lot of generalities (don't over-mix the colors…perhaps you want to try more muted tones…etc.).  Most of all, I think there was discussion of the drawing aspects of painting, such as getting value right (something that, honestly, probably can't be over-emphasized), proportion, paint application and brush strokes.
I can recall very little discussion, however, of opaque pigments vs. transparent pigments, or having on hand cool and warm versions of the same hue.  There was certainly little information presented on glazing, which frankly I'm not sure any student I was with every really attempted.
I'm not at all faulting any of my professors.  They had their hands full just trying to coax us into the ability to paint a portrait with vaguely human features, and I am forever in their debt.  The information has always been available for me to learn.  Maybe I don't really every learn it until I truly need it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bird: Beginning and Intermediate Levels

 From a start of four robin eggs in the butterfly bush beside our house, only one hatched.  We saw it the same day it hatched, tiny and feeble and limp, but I failed to get a photo.  It didn't take long, though, for the bird to be big and feathered.  The day after I took this photo I saw it standing on the edge of its nest, and a couple of hours later, it was gone.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ferrari Spider work in progress

Here is a painting commission I am working on. 16 x 20”.  I think the easiest part is done.  The upper layers of the painting will be the trickiest, but also the most satisfying.

Black walnut ink house portrait 5-20-12

I put in a little overtime on this drawing over this last weekend; it's another one of the multiple commissions I've accepted for a relatively short space of time.  It felt good to get it done!  I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.  This is 11 x 15 inches.

Shocking shopping

I shopped at Costco yesterday, and again I kept getting static electricity shocks from the shopping cart.  It happens on most of my trips there, but yesterday was particularly bad.  I'd say that less than once a minute, I'd be pushing the cart and ZAP!
What's weird about it is that the charge builds up with my hand on the cart.  The handle is plastic, and eventually the charge builds up enough to shock me through the plastic.  I'll be walking along with my hand on the handle, when I feel a sudden stinging crackle in my palm.
Sometimes it's not a single zap, but it'll manifest itself as a stream of electricity—like having my hand on a very low-voltage electric fence.  That's unpleasant, but not nearly as unpleasant as when big shock gets me right through the plastic handle.
This also used to happen to me at Sam's Club, and I've heard people say that it happens to them at Walmart.
It doesn't happen to Kim. I wonder if my shoes play a role?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Playhouse mural

Here are photos of the playhouse mural I did for some friends. They cleverly turned the recess beneath their basement steps into a play area for their little daughters, with molding around the door and square window, and a peaked “awning” over the door. Then they asked me to paint a house around it.

This is the result. The most time-consuming and tiring part was gridding in the bricks and then painting them in slightly varied reds. I guess they are what I’m proudest of, because they give a nice sense of sunlight and shadow, and I like the effect of having the “near” bricks slightly larger than the “far” bricks to give an illusion of depth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

School building drawing - black walnut ink

Whew! I finished the drawing of the school.  I’ve crammed in a lot of work over the past couple of weeks.  This is black walnut ink, 11 x 15 inches.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The rats like to sleep all piled up.  The girls at at top; they crowd together on the wooden ledge.  I just thought this was a funny picture.  The second photo is the boys, napping in their hammock.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Germantown street view

This painting is about eight years old, 16 x 20", oil on panel.  I am just putting it up here because I never put it up here before, and I sold it recently to a co-worker.
I painted these shotgun houses just off Ellison Avenue, next to Gnadinger Park, the smallest park in Louisville.  It might be the smallest park in the history of humanity.

Another black walnut ink drawing

 Here's another work-in-progress, one of several projects I am working on right now.  This is 11 x 15 inches.  It's getting there.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Thick black walnut ink

I just started using some of the black walnut ink I made last November.  I have four jars from that batch.  The first one I opened was oddly thick.  I could still use a paint brush with it, but it was too viscous to use with a dip pen.
The second jar I opened was normal, and worked wonderfully with a dip pen.
I wonder what happened with the first jar? (I haven't checked the other jars yet.)  It was pretty weird; not crusty at the top like it had dried out, just uniformly thickened.  That jar did have a small film of mold growing in it, but I've had mold in jars of ink before and not had it affect the ink flow.  I wonder if the gum Arabic I added did something strange?  But if so, why didn't it do that to the second jar?
I might be able to re-thin it with water, and even if I can't, it's not a great loss, and like I said, I can still use it with a brush.
I had the idea of obtaining a large number of small bottles and making ink to sell, but if I do that, I guess I better establish some quality controls!