Who woulda thought I’d be wishing for warmer clothes?
Got back yesterday (at about 6 a.m.) from eight days in Honolulu. Even though the weather wasn’t the greatest (I ought to create an illustration called, The Wardrobe I Should Have Taken), it was nice to go beyond simply thawing-out, all the way to sleeping with the windows open!
I am enjoying the Open Studio that the senior center in my hometown (Keller, TX) is letting me host. We have been meeting Wednesday afternoons. January’s session is over, but February we’ll be back at it. This is the picture I started this past Wednesday and finished at home.
6″ x 8″ opaque watercolor (Dick Blick premium tempera) on 140 lb. Strathmore 400 watercolor paper. If you are wondering what the “stucco effect” is from: I’ve been experimenting with acrylic mediums on paper (and just a few days ago, on artist’s canvas). This is Liquitex (R) modeling paste, applied with a palette knife then textured by pressing & lifting a scrap of very heavy/coarse artist’s canvas (#8 or #6 I think).
Have also been experimenting with final acrylic glazes on my most recent watercolors. This one has one coat of Liquitex matte varnish. I believe that has solved the scanner-reflection problem I had with the gloss finish (which I do prefer, but not if I can’t scan things).
Three Pears experiment
I did this quote-unquote very quickly…just so I could see how cutting my own squares of canvas and backing them with a FLEXIBLE cardstock would work out “in the field.” The wrinkles you see here, there, and running across the picture will never come out: I was so smart back when I bought the stuff that I decided to pre-shrink the enitre role of lightweight unprimed canvas. In a swimming pool. On a length of PVC pipe “to KEEP it from wrinkling.” Famous last words.
Please, DON’T you DO THAT. Repeat: the wrinkles will never come out.
When I found this particular photo of pears on PaintMyPhoto with the wrinkled white tablecloth, I thought, “pe(a)rfect.” After sufficiently thick-ish color layers were dry I varnished it (and got smearing of the near-black background) and then did some touch-up with more tempera. Before a second matte varnish I used a spray “workable fixative” to prevent any more smearing. It seems to have worked.
Moderate flexing of the fully-dry painting does not seem to leave/make any cracks, etc. I feel very comfortable about cutting PRIMED canvas to 8.25″ x 10.25″ and stapling each one (within that extra 1/4″) to, say, 8.25+” x 10.25+” single-thickness corrugated cardboard for working on-the-go. Keeping them small means they might fit in document sleeves for further “travel protection.”
Winston Churchill is quoted as saying this about painting:
We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint box. And, for this, Audacity is the only ticket.
For me, once I pick up a brush it’s hard to accept failure. And I know how egotistical that is. Especially considering I’m a “Sunday painter” at best, a vacation painter at worst. All skills require keeping one’s hands busy at that skill, so to that end I’ve become a facilitator at the Senior Center in my town. The first three Wednesdays, for two hours “recalcitrant” watercolorists are coming together and getting back in the painting game. Absolute beginners are also welcome to sign up for instruction in the very friendliest medium, opaque watercolor.
I have been searching for an alternative to oil paints for a while, not because I don’t lo-o-ove the smell and feel of the paint and turpentine and all. It’s the wet work in transit and drying-time storage that are the problems. Two years ago I believed I had the answer: super thin glazes with lots and lots of drier…then I tried the H2O kind. Both still took months to dry sufficiently. I even “invested” in a couple of egg tempera colors before giving up the Dream and going back to my watercolors (18 colors of transparent Winsor/Newton and Pelikan 12-color opaque tablets.
Since the latter allows for such great layering I began to wonder about the fully liquid tempera. So…I recently bought the three mixing-Primaries, along with a true-blue (vs. Cyan), brown, and white. Didn’t bother with Black; I virtually never use it in any other watercolor work, and besides, a neutral brown + blue = close-enough-to-black.
Started this last last Friday and finished it over the weekend. Painted-image, 8″ x 5″ on Arches 140lb. hotpress (i.e. smooth) paper. I failed to mention in “Have a beautiful summer” that you ought to add a block of White-tempera to your set. I prefer it over the tube of white that comes with the set of 12 Pelikan cakes. Here’s the link to the sizeable tempera “cakes” sold individually by, dun-dun-dun du-u-un…Dick Blick: http://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-tempera-cakes/ . Get a square of heavy foil and wrap it around the thng leaving the top open. This way you’ll keep your hands and everything else clean. I have a round covered tin it fits in perfectly but you can simply use a ziplock bag.